lunch in Paris’s Little Tokyo

My 9 year-old godson’s favorite food is sushi, so off we went to Japantown on a cool and sunny Thursday afternoon.

After eating at a sidewalk table at Sushi Gan, 41 rue des Petits Champs, we walked over to AKI, a popular Japanese bakery at number 16 rue St. Anne for dessert. Lining both sides of the rue St. Anne in the 1st and 2nd arrondissements, you’ll find sushi and ramen restaurants, bakeries, bubble tea shops, Japanese supermarkets and a Korean butcher.

Unbeknownst to us, and as we sat at a small table enjoying our mochi and my double espresso, my godson’s 17 year-old sister was on the other side of town hurtling down the boulevards of Paris on an electric scooter with three girlfriends who had come down from Lille for the day. They were four: two standing on each scooter, the one behind holding onto the one in front who steered. No helmets and scant knowledge of the city. I was horrified when she told me later in the day. They had rendezvoused on the Champs-Elysées before scooting (scootering?) over to the Eiffel Tower and back. I mentally plotted what route they might have taken: avenue George V to the river, across one of the bridges, and then along the Quai Branly? Rue Pierre Charron to Trocadero and then across the Pont d’Iéna? It’s quite a hike. She didn’t know how she got there, she said; it was their Smartphone that guided them.

After dessert, my companion and I ambled down the narrow street of the rue des Petits Champs, popping into shops along the way, towards the Place des Victoires which used to be a great shopping area. Sadly, most of the boutiques are shuttered permanently due to Covid.

Here’s the Bistrot Vivienne below which sits at the entrance of one of my favorite passages in Paris: the beautiful Galerie Vivienne. A must-visit for tourists and residents alike; at Christmas it’s all lit up with fairy lights. We went inside and popped in and out of the boutiques. La Marelle: a designer second-hand clothing shop I’ve been buying from (and selling to) for two decades. Legrand Filles et Fils: a pristine wine shop and restaurant in which I purchased a nice bottle of Chinon, my favorite wine from the Loire Valley. They also sell old-fashioned candies which my godson didn’t want because they looked ‘bizarre‘.

From there we backtracked and headed to another must-visit place: the Jardin du Palais Royal. At its far end you can catch the metro on the rue de Rivoli directly across from the Louvre museum. I’ll never tire of these beautiful arcades and the hidden garden within. Never ever. The Jardin du Palais Royal is my most favorite spot in all of Paris.

Earlier in the week we went twice (with his sister) to my local swimming pool, ate Five Guys burgers late at night on the Champs-Elysées, went twice to the funfair and did a bunch of other things. A good time was had by all. I put them on the train Friday and their father picked them up at the other end in Lille. Today is Saturday afternoon and I’m in relaxation mode. Now, where’s that nice bottle of Chinon?

The Secret Garden

This is my most favourite spot in Paris. If you promise to keep the address to yourself, I’ll tell you about it.

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It’s called the garden of the Royal Palace – le jardin du Palais Royal – and it’s a heavenly and sheltered retreat tucked behind a courtyard near the Louvre. The long, rectangular garden is hemmed in by elegant arcades that border its perimeter. Exclusive boutiques are to be found in 18th-century shopping galleries. As well as two or three restaurants.

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I love the faded grandeur of the buildings. The author, Colette, lived in one of these upper apartments overlooking the garden.

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You could easily spend half a day here. There’s a beautiful fountain in the middle. And tree-lined allées that provide shade.

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There are little squares of rose garden in which to read a book, contemplate life, people-watch … or write that memoir!

rose garden

Where young princes once strolled, today local boys play soccer.

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At the far end near the entrance is an inner courtyard containing the controversial columns designed by artist, Daniel Buren.

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I like the interplay between modern and classical.

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I love the jardin du Palais Royal. It’s French, it’s fabulous, it’s forever. Pour toujours.

And remember … it’s a secret.

lunch, shopping, Saturday

One of my favorite places to rendezvous is at the fountain in the Jardin du Palais Royal. I’ve been enjoying the graceful splendor of this hidden garden for ages.

There are restaurants and elegant shops under the arcades. Or you can just sit on a bench or chair and enjoy the sound of birdsong and the splashing fountain.

The garden is a perfect starting point for shopping and lunch. My friend, Monique, and I rendezvoused at the fountain at noon. We headed north to the Galerie Vivienne, built in 1826. See this splendid mosaic tiled floor? It’s the original floor created by Giandomenico Facchina, an Italian mosaic artist who did much of his work in France.


It was lunch hour, but we got waylaid by some linen clothes in a boutique called Manuelle Guibal. We chatted awhile with the woman who worked there. She gave me the address of their boutique in Lisbon where I can find the same clothes.


We then headed towards the Place des Victoires where I wanted to visit the English boutique that I rave over in London, The Designers Guild. This one had just opened. It was a lot smaller and, I’m sorry to say, the customer service didn’t hold a candle to the service you’d get in London.

Directly across the road was this restaurant where we sat at an outdoor table. I ordered a tomato mozzarella salad and a tiny glass of wine, Monique ordered a grilled chicken niçoise salad.


When you think that you can buy a decent bottle of French wine for 6 euros and you’re charged 6 euros for a tiny glass, it’s a little bit scandalous. But this is the price you pay for the privilege of eating in a chic Parisian neighborhood.


Speaking of chic, directly around the corner and located on the Place des Victoires is this gorgeous little boutique where I’ve been shopping for decades.


Upon entering, we spied a bunch of gorgeous scarves. Italian made, some were silk, some were a blend of silk and modal. A type of rayon, modal is a bio-based textile made from the beechwood tree. Modal fabric feels silky-soft on the skin yet is hard-wearing and colorfast when dyed.

A woman can never have enough scarves, is my opinion. Again, we spent a long while talking to the friendly saleswoman and trying on scarves. 


I ended up taking this (blurry) photo of myself in the mirror because no-one could figure out how to work my camera. Sigh. I always end up doing everything myself. The scarf I ended up buying – half silk, half modal – is a gorgeous swirl of mauves, greens, pinks and yellows. It’s lightweight, soft and warm and you can scrunch it up (great for travelling.)

Our last stop was Dehillerin, the kitchenware store located off the rue du Louvre. I was in search of a strainer, called une passoire in French. I have a cone-shaped chinois and a colander but, as you know, a strainer is a different animal entirely. I was also in search of a teeny-tiny strainer for my jasmine tea leaves. Not easy to find!


The place is a sort of Aladdin’s Cave for people who like to cook. Before tourists discovered it, it was a sleepy dusty place. Now it’s super-popular and has a new lease on life.