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istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-21Istanbul had been on my bucket list for quite some time. The land where east meets west, in my mind it was a Mecca of sweets, coffee and other wonderful things. The Turkish pop music only made me want to go more, the culture that was always said to be so hospitable and full of life.

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My friend Olivia and her free spirit and craving for travel and the discovery of culture, moved to Istanbul late last year. Louis and I thus had been dreaming of stopping by, so we spontaneously booked some round trip tickets for a long weekend. A whopping 3 hour flight from Paris, we made it to the land of bling and baklava. We were welcomed by freshly folded Turkish towels in Olivia’s love shack, topped with soap sporting Louis’s last name, which we quickly learned is a soap brand and literally means “pure”. Cherry on top.

A few tips on these cliché but fantastic places: Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, beyond worth it. You could spend hours in both. Accept the tea they offer you in each stall and don’t be afraid to bargain your eye candy. Grab some freshly squeezed pomegranate juice on the street to boost your body. Buy some Turkish delights to bring back home for friends and family, nuts or olives do the trick as well. Wander around and find secret rooftop cafés where you can sit and chat with a local, enjoy a random pastry.

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istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-28 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-29 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-30 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-31 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-32 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-33 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-34 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-35 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-36 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-37 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-38 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-39 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-40 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-41istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-01 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-42 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-43 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-44 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-45 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-46 istabul-turkey-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-47One dish that is a must try while in Istanbul is Çiğ köfte (pictured just below). It’s a local dish that we gave a whirl in O’s neighborhood. It is traditionally a raw meat dish in Turkish and Kurdish cuisine, but that is now commonly made with bulgar. It was sort of like making a Turkish burrito by throwing in some lettuce and pomegranate molasses.

On a side note, one of my favorite parts of the trip was strolling in the neighborhood market to make our own Turkish breakfast (did you see my video of the Turkish breakfast Olivia and Elif made in Paris? Well, there will be a version 2 coming up). If you whip out your best “merhaba” the vendors will give you a big smile.

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As for our Saturday night in Istanbul, we kicked off the evening at the lovely Akin Balik (in Beyoğlu, reservations recommended). If possible, bring a Turk with you to make sure what you order is spot on, but regardless, order heaps of mezze, some Raki and enjoy. The main fish we shared at our dreamy dinner were leverk and çupra… unfortunately I don’t have the translation (cough, Sedat). This restaurant has hanging lights, Turkish music, Efes and the works. It’s all outside on the seaside, and to allure despite the winter chills they heat the tables by burning coal at your feet — which is initially hot hot hot but then you realize it’s pretty fantastic. We then wandered to the Karaköy area, followed by taxying (why not) up to Taksim to check out a nameless mysterious and trendy cocktail bar ran by a American fellow off of Istiklal Street.

Our Sunday, and last day, was filled with sunshine and was perfect for our touristy excursions. We strolled around the breakthtaking Blue Mosque and  Hagia Sofia, visited the rainbow staircases and strolled through the trendy Galata neighborhood with coffee breaks at adorable cafés. We finished off the weekend with a stop by the Bosphorus Brewing Company, for some Turkish beer action. I’m not sure we could have had a better 3.5 days in Istanbul. There is still so much to see, and we certainly plan to go back.

Tips on playing tourist in the city: Don’t be afraid of the public transportation. The metro and trams in Istanbul are easy to navigate and can get you to and from major points of interest (you can buy individual tickets at all stations, so keep your lira coins!) Taxis are a good deal if you’re not going far, but try to know where you’re going, as can happen in any city, tourists can get taken on the long route. Wifi is everywhere, so don’t fret about being connected and looking up places to go while you’re out and about.

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Akin Balik – Traditional restaurant on the sea, perfect for a dinner out. Mezze/seafood. Reservations recommended.

Bosphorus Brewing Company – Brewery / Taproom / Restaurant

Café Galata – Café / Sweets

Constantinople – Hagia Sofia / Blue Mosque

Grand Bazaar – Turkish Marketplace

Karakoy Gulluoglu
– Baklava heaven

Kavalti Evi – Turkish Breakfast (Order menamen!)

Mavra – Café / Restaurant / Concept Store

Miss Pizza – Italian Restaurant / Pizzeria

Spice Market – Enough said

Unter – Restaurant / Bar (with music at night)

Velvet Café – Trendy Café / Snacks

 

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For a double date with Sasha and her beau, we opted for the Bar Demory, a place that had been on my “to go to” list for quite some time, in the heart of the Beaubourg neighborhood.

As soon as I opened the door the minimalist, industrial feel and neons of the decor drew me in. The space is open, with a large bar in the front aside long wooden tables, with more seating in the back with foosball tables and such. The interior is modern with tasteful graphics and lettering, tiling and wood carvings. Geometric shapes and tessellations cover the bottoms of the walls, and tube lighting in the shapes of diamonds on the ceiling give off reds and whites. The stools and bar have an industrial feel, with mirrors making the space seem even bigger than it already is.

As for the beers, Demory had 5 of their own beers on tap: Astroblonde, Cosmoblonde, Roquette Blanche, Atomique and the Nova Noir. I kicked off the night with the Roquette Blanche (which I had often  tasted at Yelp Events) and finished with the Nova Noir which I really liked…malty and fruity notes with a sweetish but bitter aftertaste. On top of these delicious treasures, they also serve some of their friend brewery’s beers and beer-inspired cocktails.

On the Monday night that we went, only the front area had some people, but in general I’m sure on weekend nights this place gets pretty packed, especially with the heaps of events the bar throws (DJ sets to concerts to expos). De plus, the Demory Bar has a Happy Hour from 6-8pm with snacks on the house, which for us was a mini soup and savory cake. On top of our beers, we went with a hearty terrine plate, which was served with delicious breads and pickles. Their menu also features individual meals and delicious additions like hot dogs, just sayin’. If you’re there before 9pm and dig their brews, don’t forget to buy a 6-pack of their beers for 6 euros.

I am hoping my next excursion there will be for their brunch. Anyone wanna join?

Bar Demory
62 rue Quincampoix, 75004
Tél: 09 81 12 53 06
Métro: Rambuteau (11), Etienne Marcel (4)

canal-saint-martin-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-01 canal-saint-martin-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-02 canal-saint-martin-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-03 canal-saint-martin-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-04Any time of year there’s few things as lovely as a stroll along the Canal Saint Martin. We all know that scene in Amélie where she skips the stones, and we all know how fabulous it is to sit outside on a Saturday night in the summertime with a bottle of wine (if you don’t, you should go and discover the magic!). The hustle bustle of this area will have you trying to decide where to get a little coffee, and new places are opening up left and right and making it harder and harder to pick which spots you fancy most. The list below are a few of my favorite spots in this area, and worth a pick me up if you’ve got the chance.

MY FAVORITE SPOTS ON THE CANAL :

Chez Prune
36 Rue Beaurepaire, 75010
Tél: 01 42 41 30 47
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent (5)

Holybelly
19 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010
Tél: 09 73 60 13 64
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent (5)

La Chambre aux Oiseaux
48 Rue Bichat, 75010
Tél: 01 40 18 98 49
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent (5)

La Patache
60 Rue de Lancry, 75010
Tél: 01 42 08 14 35
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent (5)

Le Cabinet de Sa Majesté
4 Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 75011
Tél: 01 43 55 14 40
Métro: Goncourt (11)

Sésame
51 Quai de Valmy, 75010
Tél: 01 42 49 03 21
Métro: Goncourt (11)

Tuck Shop
13 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010
Tél: 09 80 72 95 40
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent (5)

Caen-De-quelle-planete-es-tu-12Every November, Louis and I go to celebrate birthdays with the family that I lived with when I was 16, where I caught onto French and fell in love with French culture. This marvelous family that I adore has since moved to Caen, and I was so excited to discover their new city and the sea on our little weekend getaway. On the sunny winter afternoon we drove up to the historical seaside, popping by the fish market to prepare for the lunch that followed.

On our way back to Paris, we spun through Pont Audemer, the town where I lived for a year with them, for a little dinner date before heading back to the city life.

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9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-029-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-01 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-03 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-04 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-05 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-06 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-07 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-08 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-09 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-10 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-11 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-12 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-13 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-14 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-15 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-16 9-10-11-de-quelle-planete-es-tu-17After our dreamy lunch at Abri, Anne and I strolled eastward. The winter days have some sunshine, which makes for great stroll weather. We embarked with bellies full and headed aimlessly in the direction of the canal over good conversation.

We zigzaged past the canal and ultimately followed the route of the line 2 metro line, one of the areas of Paris to discover more of. We strolled along the avenue stopping at windows filled with Algerian pastries and admired the street art while soaking up some winter sunbeams. Before we knew it we had arrived on the street of Paris’s new cookie shop, Scoop Me A Cookie, and other fabulous places like Le Perchoir or the Edith Piaf museum. What a rad neighborhood, right next to La Fine Mousse, too.

Holybelly
19 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010
Tél: 09 73 60 13 64
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent (5)

Scoop Me A Cookie
5/7 rue Crespin du Gast, 75011
Tél: 06 86 12 41 56
Métro: Ménilmontant (2)