the lovely, leafy 12th arrondissement

If I were to start my life over again in Paris, I’d live in the 12th. I really like it. My friend just bought an apartment there, so I went over yesterday evening for a visit. Afterwards, we went to my favorite bistro for dinner.

It was pleasant strolling the boulevards at 6:30 pm on a warm midsummer July evening. Quiet, because most Parisians are away on summer vacation. Paris in the summer, especially August when it’s really quiet, is nice. I also like discovering new neighborhoods. I stumbled across this gleaming white campus of Sorbonne Nouvelle University, opened in 2020 and an adjunct to the historic Sorbonne in the 5th arrondissement. Like other distinguished learning centers in France, the Sorbonne is an affordable public university. (Higher education for all!)

My friend’s new apartment has an attractive ceramic fireplace in the ‘salon’ (living room). I’m guessing it’s over a hundred years old if it’s part of the original building. Haussmannian apartment buildings were constructed from the mid to end 19th century.

Many Parisian kitchens, remodelled, are small. Love that green tile.

We chatted, drank water because it’s warm out, and I gave him a copy of my new book whose colors matched, sort of, his coffee table.

Then we walked the streets to the neighboring 11th arrondissement to my favorite bistro, Paul Bert. The prices have risen since the last time I was there.

A light Loire to accompany our simple meal of parmentier, green salad and a shared dish of fries. Nothing exciting, just simple French fare. A parmentier (hachis Parmentier) would be called Shepherd’s pie or cottage pie in Britain, a savory dish of cooked minced meat (beef or lamb) topped with mashed potato and baked.

To start, I had a cold green bean salad with tiny croutons and my friend a medley of sliced vegetables.

And the best for last … dessert! Paul Bert bistro makes the best crème caramels … huge, firm and not too sweet. The mother of crème caramels, I said to my friend. In Spain, that would be called a flan, he replied.

Look at this beauty in all its silky, syrupy splendor. My friend had an île flottante (floating island) which consists of meringue floating in a pool of custard. I’ve never cared for that dessert.

As readers to this blog know, I’ve had many satisfying meals at Paul Bert. Here’s a blog post written about a fun evening spent there with two women friends – Beth from Toronto and Rosemary from London – way back in 2014 when I first discovered their crème caramel –

dinner at Paul Bert bistro

gigantic new triangular tower in the center of Paris that local residents don’t want

It has two names: the Triangle tower and the Toblerone tower (because its shape resembles the triangular chunks of the Swiss chocolate bar.) But whatever you call it, most Parisians don’t want it, especially those living in the 15th arrondissement near the Porte de Versailles. Funnily enough, the architecture firm that designed the tower is Swiss.

An investment of 700 million euros, the tower will be 42 floors high and will house a four-star hotel, offices, shared workspace (“coworking”), a health center and cultural space, street-level shops and a panoramic restaurant on the top floor. It will be the first tall building built in the city of Paris since the 1973 Tour Montparnasse.

Those against the project state the following reasons – Visual pollution, not ecological, a traffic nightmare, it will destroy the harmony of the neighborhood, an environmental disaster and “We’re not New York”.

an architectural visualization (Herzog & de Meuron)

From WIKI – Critics of the Tour Triangle opposed the project because of its controversial height. The 42-story project is to be the first skyscraper to be built in low-rise Paris in approximately 40 years since the construction of the Tour Montparnasse, the scale of the latter which still provokes animosity amongst Parisians.

It’s true. Low-rise Paris is not high-rise Manhattan. This is why La Défense – Europe’s largest business district with 72 modern buildings and skyscrapers in which a quarter of a million people work everyday (I am one of those workers) – was conscientiously constructed in its own “park” in the west end of the city.

To see the high office buildings and green spaces of La Défense, read the blog post below that I wrote exactly 3 years ago in July 2019. Back then, we were blissfully unaware of a disease called Covid. If someone had told the people in the blog photos that in exactly one year a global pandemic will cause more than eight million cases of infection and approximately 450,000 deaths worldwide by July 2020 alone, they’d look at you in astonishment. But that’s what happened.

food trucks at La Défense


what to eat during a heatwave

Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be the worst day at 40°C/104°F. (It went up to 42°C. Walking home from work at 6:30 pm was like crossing the Sahara Desert. At one point I thought I was going to faint; I had to sit on a shaded bench for awhile but even that was too hot. Clutching my water bottle, I staggered home in the scorching air.) Now I’m at home, windows closed, shutters down and two large fans blowing at cross-currents. No one I know in France has air conditioning in their home. My office, thank goodness, has A/C. This is a very short heatwave, nothing like the killer one of August 2003 that lasted two weeks and killed 15,000 people, most of them elderly.

The 2003 European heat wave led to the hottest summer on record in Europe since at least 1540. France was hit especially hard. 

Back then, I was working two jobs: days in a French law firm, nights in a British law firm. The day-job building had no A/C and the elevator broke down because of the heat. Every weekday at 5:30 pm, I’d sprint up the Champs-Elysées in the suffocating heat and dust, leaving my day job for my night job. Those were not glamorous times.

Eat only cold foods during a heatwave. My favorite tomato-mozza-basil-white onion salad, for example –

 Cold pasta with home-made pesto and lots of water –


Alcohol isn’t recommended, but one small glass of a light rosé shouldn’t hurt (well-chilled) –

A fresh berry smoothie with cold nut or skim milk?

Or how about a large quinoa salad filled with fresh crunchy vegetables, chick peas and herbs?

The Mistress of the House of Books – my first book review

Instagram themistressofbooks

I stumbled, as one does while googling, across this website that greatly appealed to me. I liked its aesthetic: sparse and clean, and at the same time chock-a-block with super interesting books, podcast recommendations, reviews and reflections (and more.) I’m happy to say that my memoir is now on this website, and I’m honored to be among such bookish company. Thank you, Molli!  Molli, a freelancer living and working in Paris, is the co-founder of The Mistress of the House of Books.

Here’s the link below (I’m on the far left) –


In Paris, two good addresses to share, and the Tuileries Gardens

Should you find yourself in front of the Gare du Nord (and you will if you’re taking any train north, including the Eurostar to London), pop into the new Carton, lauded for winning first prize in the 2022 best butter croissant contest in greater Paris.

Everything in this shop is exquisite … and reasonably priced too. When I take the Saturday morning train up to Lille, I order a continental breakfast for only 5 euros 90. Orange juice, espresso, half a baguette, a generous portion of butter and jam. Delicious.

Japantown offers a large choice of restaurants, and last night my godson and I found a pearl of a place that I will definitely return to.

Sit up at the bar so you can watch the sushi chef at work.  YOU restaurant, 56 Rue Sainte-Anne,75002 Paris. Rue Sainte-Anne is the epicenter of Japantown, also called Little Tokyo, with its Asian restaurants, grocers, shops, bakeries, and more.

Here’s the grocery store, K MART, stocked full of Korean and Japanese products. We went in and I purchased two bottles of soy sauce – one reduced-salt, the other sweet – and some Japanese candies that looked like Fruitella.

After our meal of tempura and sushi, we strolled down the avenue de l’Opéra, turned right onto the rue St. Honoré and left onto the rue Saint-Roch towards the Tuileries Gardens. Very much in vogue right now is this exterior ornamentation that graces many cafés and bistros around the city. Great bunches of colorful fake flowers.

It was still bright out at 9 pm. The rue de Rivoli and the Tuileries Gardens below.

If you could see the leaves of these magnificent, not to mention historic, horse chestnut, plane, elm and oak trees, you’d weep. Mottled gray with burnt leaf tips and scabs, they’ve been coated with air pollutants for so long they’re completely damaged. We sat on a stone bench and talked about the ravages of air pollution. “If I were mayor of Paris,” said my 10-year-old godson, “I’d ban all normal cars, trucks and motorcycles and impose only electric ones.”

Let’s fire all the adults and put kids in charge. After all, it’s their future.

bye-bye, Bojo!

And two-thirds of the population of Great Britain (myself included, here in France) heave a gigantic sigh of relief.

In the end, it was Boris Johnson who brought himself down. That’s what a journalist said on BBC television and I thought it was apt.

Too many lies, moral crimes and misdemeanours to mention. Brexit was all a lie. Bojo never believed in Brexit, but he pushed it, or rather, surfed it to become Prime Minister. Just as Trump ran and won on the slogan, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, Bojo did the same with his own facile slogan: GET BREXIT DONE to facilitate the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

British radio presenter, James O’Brien, has summed it up best. Have a listen. Gosh, he could almost be talking about Donald Trump and the Republican Party!

Democracy and decency are twins, he says. Nodding dogs and political pygmies, he calls Bojo’s enablers.

a simple summer salad

Oftentimes, the simplest dish is the most delicious. This is definitely a summer salad because that’s when fresh basil is in abundance and tomatoes are ripe and flavorful.

We’re currently enjoying perfect weather here: blue sky, cool breeze, bright sunshine, not too hot. Yesterday I walked to my local Sunday market and brought back a bounty of fresh fruit, vegetables, plump Greek olives, Italian burrata (a cousin of mozzarella with a creamy interior) and a bottle of wine.

And here’s my salad, how easy can you get? Drizzle with good quality olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.

It’s summer!