Chapon chocolate

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The good news is that Chapon Chocolatier is located far from my apartment. Far away on the other side of town. Across the river on the Left Bank. (I live on the Right Bank.)

The bad news is….well, there is no bad news. Other than the fact that Chapon Chocolatier is closed on Monday mornings.

Patrice Chapon has won numerous awards for his chocolate concoctions. But the biggest prize should go to the four bowls of rich, silky mousse in the shop window. As I stood in the hankie-sized shop, at least eight people pressed their faces to the window to gaze at them. Each mousse is made from the cocoa beans of a different region: Madagascar, Venezuela, Ecuador. Each mousse has varying degrees of sweetness and intensity. In the cold weather, thick take-out hot chocolate is on offer.

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Does chocolate make you happy?

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Studies show that eating chocolate affects the levels of endorphins in the brain, thus causing feelings of euphoria.

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Here’s my euphoria: buying some Chapon chocolate then crossing the street to the café, standing at the counter to order a double espresso and slowly savouring the coffee and chocolate together.

Cocoa and coffee bean heaven. Amen.

69 rue du Bac
Paris 75007 (7th arrondissement)
Metro: Rue du Bac

Here’s the website with a few other addresses:

Gail’s artisan bakery and Local Hero diner in Fulham

porridge and flat white coffee at Gail’s

Run, don’t walk, to Gail’s artisan bakery, there are many dotted around the city, some take-out, others sit-down. Never have I tasted such scrumptious baked goods; not even in Paris. I visit the one on Fulham Road in south-west London. Thirteen years ago I lived and worked in London for a year. It was wonderful. A girlfriend of mine named Maya rented out her house to me; she was in Kenya for a year and didn’t want to leave the house empty. So we agreed on a “prix d’ami“, a friendly rate, and I paid her a modicum rent of only £300. a month (for an entire house in fashionable Fulham, unheard of!) I signed on with a temp agency and had interesting short, medium and long-term temp jobs working mainly in law firms in central London and The City. I also enrolled in an evening photography course at Central Saint Martins, the arts and design college. Back then, it was located on Charing Cross Road in central London.

Nights, after my course at around 10 pm, I’d jump onto the number 14 bus and climb the stairs to the top deck. From my front seat up top, London by night would unfold before my dazzled eyes: Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner, South Kensington, the Brompton Cemetary, the FFC (Fulham Football Club) and all along the very long Fulham Road. Those were happy times. Unfortunately, Maya died young of lung cancer in 2011, just after selling her house on Munster Road for nearly one million pounds. Her Polish parents, after emigrating to England in the early 1950s, had scraped their money together and purchased that house for a thousand pounds.

Over a decade later, I still visit that area because I have happy memories of the place (mingled with sad memories because Maya is no longer around.) If you walk or take the bus to the very end of Fulham Road and head towards Putney Bridge, there’s a beautiful sprawling park called Bishop’s Park. It has large old trees, a beautiful church called All Saints’ Church, and a lovely rose garden. Running alongside the River Thames is a riverside walk that I did often on Sundays. I loved it there.

Here’s Gail’s located at number 341 Fulham Road. I had porridge served with date molasses and a “flat white” coffee. Yummy-yum!

Now, if you can believe it, there’s an even yummier place further down the road, much further, you’ll need to jump on the bus to get there. Located at 640 Fulham Road, it’s called LOCAL HERO.

I had this memorable breakfast which I’m going to re-create this weekend: smoked salmon and smashed avocado on lightly toasted Danish rye and topped with rocket (arugula), sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil (not sure what the seeds were.) All of the ingredients are high quality, and with two cups of “flat white” coffee, the meal was divine.


It’s a small local place, and the best reason to go there is because it’s INDEPENDENT and not part of a chain. Sit inside, out front, or out back where there’s a really nice terrace.

In Paris, you just don’t find this sort of inventive food, or at least, I’ve never seen it.

Across the road is an independent bookshop called Nomad Books.



Here’s a charming and very English B&B in the Fulham area, located just down the road from where I lived, and near the river:


Chelsea Bridge and the Battersea Power Station

On a hot Tuesday evening, I walked from Sloane Square down Chelsea Bridge Road to the south bank of the River Thames. Here are photos of Chelsea Bridge taken at precisely 7:10 pm. A cool breeze was blowing, it was rush hour, and cyclists and joggers were barrelling past me.

Does anyone recognize these factory chimneys?

Pink Floyd’s iconic album cover, Animals, released in 1977, featured London’s Battersea Power Station. Here’s the story –

Photographs for the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals album were taken in early December 1976. For the photo shoot, an inflatable pink pig, made by the Zeppelin company, was tethered to one of the southern chimneys. However the pig broke free of its moorings and rose into the flight path of London Heathrow Airport to the astonishment of pilots in approaching planes. The runaway pig was tracked by police helicopters before coming to ground in Kent. Whether the pig escaped, or was released on purpose to increase publicity, is not known. Animals was officially launched at an event at Battersea Power Station in January 1977.

So what has become of the Power Station? That’s one of the reasons I went to have a look. After languishing for over three decades and eventually falling into ruin, it passed through the hands of half a dozen bidders and buyers with redevelopment plans, all of them ambitious, expensive and then abandoned. Today it is owned by a consortium of Malaysian investors who plan to develop the site to include 250 residential units, bars, restaurants, office space, shops and entertainment spaces.

Situated on the south bank of the River Thames, in Nine Elms, Battersea, an inner-city district of South West London, the building comprises Battersea A Power Station, built in the 1930s, and Battersea B Power Station, in the 1950s. They were built to a near-identical design, providing the four-chimney structure. The station is one of the world’s largest brick buildings and notable for its original, lavish Art Deco interior fittings and decor. The structure remained largely unused for more than 30 years after its closure; in 2008 its condition was described as “very bad” by English Heritage which included it in its Heritage at Risk register.

Photo by David Samuel
Photo by Gaetan Lee


leafy London, heatwave

Arriving in London from Paris, the visitor will notice how leafy and verdant the city is. Bloomsbury is my favorite district, a leafy enclave in the middle of the city and only a 20-minute walk from St. Pancras train station. For the first four days, from Saturday to the following Tuesday, there was an unexpected heatwave.

On the Sunday I met my childhood friends, Kathy and Claire (and Claire’s husband), at The Foundling Museum, the UK’s first children’s charity and London’s first home for abandoned children established in 1739.

Afterwards, we headed to Lamb’s Conduit Street, in the heart of Bloomsbury, to a pub called The Lamb.

Lamb’s Conduit Street – Such a lovely, leafy street lined with interesting shops and eating and drinking places. Just a few streets over, at 48 Doughty Street, is the Charles Dickens museum. Worth a visit. Just down from Charles Dicken’s house, at 11A Northington Street, is a posh pub called The Lady Ottoline. The upstairs restaurant serves modern British cuisine.

Later on, on that warm late-summer Sunday evening, me and my camera wandered the streets of Bloomsbury near my lodgings.

See these iron stumps on the wall? They were once wrought iron railings, but during World War II they were cut down to help the war effort (recycled iron for munitions.) All over Britain the stumps of removed railings can still be seen.
Me behind the camera, and Kate. We were childhood friends a long time ago in Canada.
View from my bedroom window.


Quiet London


A decade ago I purchased a small book entitled Quiet London. I treasure this book and take it with me every time I go to London. In total, author Siobhan Wall has written a quartet of quiet books including Quiet Paris, Quiet New York and Quiet Amsterdam.

The book promotes not only quiet places, but supremely interesting and unique places that the traveler wouldn’t ordinarily stumble upon. Here are just a few of the historical and beautiful places that I’ve explored thanks to this book:

The Foundling Museum. A former orphanage, the museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity. Established in the 18th century to care for babies at risk of abandonment, it housed around 25,000 children before its closure. Alongside works of art, objects and archive documents that reveal the story of the Hospital, a diverse programme of exhibitions, displays and events offer different ways of engaging with its history.


Benjamin Franklin House. The style of the unadorned interior of the house could be described as 18th-century minimalism, as most of Franklin’s furniture and belongings didn’t survive. The house comes to life, however, through the narratives told during organized tours makig it easy to imagine what it must have been like living here 300 years ago. Franklin was not only the unofficial United States Ambassador to Britain, he was also a prodigious inventor.

Carlyle’s House. Renowned Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle lived here from 1851 to 1881 with his wife Jane who was not only a prolific letter-writer herself, but who encouraged her illustrious rather shy husband. Built in 1708, this beautiful house located at 24 Cheyne Row in Chelsea is a joy to wander around.

Doctor Johnson’s House. There aren’t many residential 18th-century houses still standing in the City of London, but fortunately this is one of the few to survive. Built in 1700, this is where Samuel Johnson lived and where he wrote the first comprehensive English Dictionary.

Freud Museum Archive and Library. 

The Cinnamon Club. Set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library, The Cinnamon Club is an institution in the world of Indian fine dining. The original modern Indian restaurant in London, The Cinnamon Club has a long history of serving innovative and creative Indian cuisine in a magnificently majestic setting.

3 bookshops – Primrose Hill Books. Persephone Books on a favorite street of mine in Bloomsbury: Lamb’s Conduit Street, and Daunt’s bookshop.

London Review Cake Shop. Steps away from the famous British Museum and located in Bloomsbury at 14 Bury Place. But to be honest, I think the management has changed because the quality of the cakes is not what it used to be. But the cake shop is inside a very nice bookshop. I pop in when I can to see the new book titles and have some Oolong tea.

Wallace Collection restaurant and the Courtauld Gallery Café. London museums have an added benefit: gorgeous coffee shops attached to them.

Bishopsgate Library. I spent a wonderful few hours here in July 2015 seeking cool refuge from the heat outdoors. See link of my city wanderings and the Bishopsgate Library here:

Too many places to mention. Buy the book! It’s divided into the following sections: Museums, Libraries, Bookshops, Restaurants and cafés, Places to have Afternoon Tea, Pubs and Wine Bars, Galleries, Hotels and Places to Stay.

I’m off to London on Saturday for six days. Stay tuned for a travel report when I get back (after the annual Lille flea market.)