I love this whole European concept of a “name day” and I wish I had known about it earlier. Basically, every single day of the year is associated with a specific name of a saint. The church would then have festivals for certain saints on certain days. In today’s world, it’s basically a 2nd birthday and a great excuse to treat yo self!
Technically, I had a belated name day celebration because Saint Jacqueline’s day was February 8 and my workload was too heavy to partake in any festivities. Fear not, I made up for it this weekend!
I first stopped by the Pinacothèque de Paris to check out the latest Hiroshige and Vincent Van Gogh rêves de Japon exhibit. There was two different exhibits: one focused on Hiroshige and the other focused on how Japan’s artwork influenced Van Gogh’s work. I enjoyed both a lot, but if you only have time to visit one, I’d recommend the Van Gogh exhibit. They had banners up showing Hiroshige’s art and you could directly compare it to Van Gogh’s; it was really fascinating to see the direct influence. If you don’t read French, be sure to ask for an English translation at the information desk. The two exhibits are in town until March 17, 2013.
Afterward, I decided that I was going to walk the 3+ kilometers from Madeleine to the Marais and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air in Paris. I loved stumbling upon Galerie Vivienne, an alleyway full of restaurants, cute boutique stores and even a vintage bookstore. I came really close to buying that print of a girl holding a heart. It was a still a fruitful day of shopping at Comptoir Des Cotonniers and at FrenchTrotters. FrenchTrotters is this hip store in the Marais that totally reminded me of a French Anthropologie. The store features local French designers and they also produce their own line of clothing. At FrenchTrotters, I couldn’t resist a retro, multi-colored weekend bag and I have a feeling I will be stopping by the store every time I go to the Marais.
I had a specific destination in the Marais– Breizh Café. Originally from Japan, Breizh Café serves the most delectable crêpes in savory and sweet forms. I already knew that the actual restaurant would be crazy and full (you have to make a reservation) so I headed next door to the L’Epicerie Breizh Café, which is a small gourmet food store. They have one communal table with six seats, but they serve the exact same crêpes! I ordered the savory crêpe with cheese, egg, ham and artichoke hearts and also a salted caramel crêpe with pears and Chantilly whipped cream (not pictured). I’ve eaten savory crêpes at many establishments and I’ve come to the conclusion that I like sweet ones much better. Don’t get me wrong, my salty crêpe was good, but I just think the dessert ones are SO much better. Straight from Brittany, the salted caramel has that perfect smokey, acidic taste to complement the sweetness from the fruit. I like how the salted caramel wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t overwhelming. It was definitely the best crêpe I’ve had in Paris.
The celebration weekend continued with more excellent food like homemade sushi at a friend’s place in Poissy and dim sum with Diane and friends at Tricotin. It was my first time having dim sum in Paris and I was really impressed. At Tricotin, you place your order with the waiter (no carts full of steamers). I’m glad to know that I can get my dim sum fix somewhere. My favorites included the BBQ pork buns and steamed sticky rice.
My weekend wound down with a beautiful afternoon in the Parc de Belleville and Parc des Buttes Chaumont with Christophe. We basked in the warm sun and enjoyed the breathtaking photos of Paris from Parc de Belleville. Christophe was right when he compared the view to a less touristy Montmartre. It was really interesting to explore the less touristy neighborhoods of Paris and it was my first time in the 19th and 20th arrondissements.
I think I’ve found my new favorite holiday and I shall be celebrating my name day every year from now on!