Waiting for my blog updates is a little like waiting for a bus – none come for ages, then two come at once. I suspect that’s probably a case of when I have time versus when I don’t, but whatever the reason, there will be two updates today.

We’re into the summer season of public holidays in France. Yesterday was a public holiday, and nearly everyone in the country takes today off to make a four-day weekend. Anne-Laure was left stranded in Paris by Neil (who, due to his UK contract, was forced to work on Thursday and Friday) so we took pity on her and had her over for dinner. It was also a great excuse for me to see my local butcher about a beautiful rack of lamb.

So cold cucumber & mint soup to start, rack of lamb with balsamic reduction, roast potatoes, and long-stemmed broccoli, and a tarte aux fraises for dessert, all washed down with a bottle of Côtes de Provence to mark the beginning of summer. It’s nice to finally have some time off to get back into the kitchen and begin cooking properly again. Picard’s frozen foods are a Godsend when you’re busy during the week, but they’re no substitute for the real deal.

Anyhow, a nearly perfect execution. Nearly. The balsamic reduction was more complicated than I had imagined, so it is understandable that I forgot to add the seared cherry tomatoes I had so carefully selected (even having made a special shopping trip to find tomatoes that were still on the vine so they would look nice on the place). They were meant to be the centre-piece on the place, but luckily the lamb turned out so perfectly that no one noticed. Until Aude asked “what are these tomatoes doing here by the stove? Did you mean to use them?” Never mind, they’ll go nicely with some pasta, shrimp, white wine and basil tonight.

Sadly, Anne Laure had to drag herself into work today – but Aude and I managed to take the “pont” and had the day off. Aude suggested we head down to my favourite Vietnamese restaurant for something to eat – so off we went. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall near Tolbiac, but it’s one of my favourite restaurants in Paris for lunch. Quick, cheap, and the food is great.

Song Huong Restaurant in Paris

Song Huong Restaurant, just around the corner from Tolbiac Metro and one of my favourites. Many thanks to Julien for introducing me to it!

This place is always busy, as is the restaurant next door, which specializes in pho. Both are cheap and cheerful, but I prefer this one as it has a wider variety of food (the other one serves nothing but pho in about 16 different combinations) and I think the quality is a little better. There are typically waits to get into both, but the one next door is always busier after having found its way into Lonely Planet. Neil insists that his Vietnamese place is better – we’ve yet to experience it ourselves (any time you want to invite us, Neil, we’ll be happy to join you!) but for my money, this place is pretty good.

After lunch, I headed up to Concorde to hit WH Smith, the English language bookstore. I rarely buy anything here – the choice is limited and the books are all twice the price, but it’s still a great way to pass an afternoon. And the walk back from the bookstore to the apartment, through the Jardins des Tulieries, is a nice 30-minute stroll, perfect for people-watching.

Photographically-speaking, I’ve been uninspired recently, hardly taking any photos at all. The weather was beautiful and I was convinced I could find something to snap, even if it was just touristy shots of Paris. “Getting back onto my horse” and all that. So here are a few shots of touristy Paris on a perfect spring afternoon. Wish you were here?

Jardins des Tuileries, Paris

Looking down the Jardins des Tuileries

Tour Eiffel from the Jardins des Tuileries

Tour Eiffel from the Jardins des Tuileries

Statue with pigeon, Paris

You know what they say… Some days, you’re the pigeon. Other days, you’re the statue.

Sunbathers on the lawn in front of the Louvre

Sunbathers on the lawn in front of the Louvre. The trick to enjoying the sunny weather in Paris is to find your patch of green grass, stake your claim, and soak up the sun.


Looking into the courtyard at the Louvre


Detail of one of the buildings at the Louvre

Finding solitude at the Louvre, a quiet corner

Paris is an interesting city. Despite throngs of tourists, there is nearly always a quiet place to lose yourself if you look hard enough.

Pont des Arts, Paris

Tourists take over the Pont des Arts, enjoying the good weather.

View of Seine from Pont des Arts, Paris

A view of the Seine from the Pont des Arts. I didn’t notice until after I had taken the shot that someone had drawn a cheeky smiley face on the lamp. Which I think makes it even better.

French car, Parisian parking.

French car, Parisian parking. Not a centimetre to spare!