Monday, September 15, 2014

A Very Affordable Lunch in Paris at Foyer de la Madeleine

Paris can be an absolute trap for tourists who want to eat well.  It's not unusual to pay $AUD10 just for a coffee in Paris, so when our friend Malcolm told us about the restaurant situated in the cellars of the Madeleine church, known as Foyer de la Madeleine,  we decided to give it a try.  Set up as a fund raiser to help the poor, it is a well patronised establishment, offering a 3 course meal with bread at the unbelievable price of 8.50 Euro.  You need to be a member and obtain a card, which costs an additional 5 Euro, but it still works out as great value for a meal right in the heart of Paris.  The membership card is valid for a year, so if you are in town for a while you can make good use of your memebership.

You will need to speak a little French, but only a little and the volunteer ladies serving the food are absolutely lovely.

To enter the restaurant walk around the side of the church (right hand side facing Place de la Concorde) and enter through the door marked with the sign above.

You buy the membership card at reception and then pay the lady sitting at another desk to the left of reception

Then find yourself a table and wait to be served.  The ladies will bring around a tray of salads with several choices.  On the day we were there there was rice, cous cous, green or potato and fish.

The is also a good selection of bread.

For the main course there was a choice of two.  Beef or fish with lovely carrots and fries.

The half bottle of rose was 3 Euros.

Dessert is also a selection of fruits, cakes, cheeses, yoghurts or creme caramel also bought around on a tray by the ladies.  This changes daily.

There was also coffee or chocolate ice cream served in an ingenious container, where the lid became the base.

Afterwards you can retire to the lounge at the left of the cellar to take in an espresso coffee and chocolate, for 80 centimes.

After lunch make sure you check out the interiors of the beautiful Madeleine

and the views from her front stairs back to Place de la Concorde, where Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI met the guillotine.

This restaurant is just down the road from Maxims and whilst it is no gourmand, it is great value and a really French experience.

Compare the Maxims menu here.

La Foyer de la Madeleine open weekdays from 12-2pm.  Closed Christmas Day, May Day and for the month of August.
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Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Spots To Get a Good Feed in London

With one  of these stores on practically every corner in London, Pret a Manger, translated  from French as Ready to Eat, is fast, fresh and really great value.  There are different prices for eat in or take away and you can pick up delicious salads, gourmet sandwiches and rolls, pastries and fruit.  We have eaten here several times and taken a light dinner back to our hotel room, when we were too tired to venture out for a big night.

If you fancy a little French on your shopping travels.  The beautiful Cafe Rouge is situated just behind Harrods in Knightbridge.  Sadly it wasn't open when we passed by, but it sure looked like the real deal.
27 Basil Street
Ph: 44 20 7584 2345
Opens daily  8.30am - 11pm

Speaking of French, the oldest French restaurant in London is Mon Plaisir in Covent Garden.  We did dine here and apart from being completely authentic, they have some great value options on the menu.  If you take the pre or post theatre menu you can have a 2 course meal for 13.95 pounds or a 3 course meal for 15.95 pounds.

Details of the times the theatre menu is available is here on the top of that menu.  We got out of there for around 61 pounds for 2 adults and 2 kids (2 courses each).  They also charge a discretionary 12.5% gratuity.  We chose to pay it, as the meal was fabulous and the service was gentle and attentive.

It is rare too that my kids eat everything on their plate.  That's how good the food was

19-21 Monmouth Street
Covent Garden
Ph 020 7836 7243

Monday - Friday
Open Lunch: 12pm -2.30pm
Dinner: 5.45pm- 11.15

Open Lunch: 12pm - 3pm
Dinner: 5.45pm- 11.15

Closed Sunday

For a Classic Pub Lunch you can get a great value meal at The Old Monk.  A traditional English pub just up from Westminster Abbey.

If it's Bangers and Mash, Fish and Chips or an Beef and Ale Pie you fancy, at 6 pounds it's not gourmet, but this is great value and more than adequate for a hearty lunch.
61 Victoria Street London SW1H 0HW
Ph: 44 20 7233 2248

The Beef Pies (Below)  at the Lord Moon of the Mall were amazing.  Just down from Trafalgar Square, this pub is about as traditional as it comes.  Don't let the "Hang on to your handbag" security signs put you off. Just make sure you don't leave your bag anywhere.

They also have a good kids menu, which is great value at 3.99 pounds.  Including a drink and bag of  fresh fruit. 

They also have a range of meals on the menu, which are below 500 calories.  That pasta bottom right is one of them.

The Lord of the Moon of the Mall
16-18 Whitehall

Now it's a toss up between Mon Plaisir and Jamie's Italian Kitchen, as to which was the best meal we had in London.  For star power, I would have to say Jamie's, purely because he is so inspiring to this home cook.

With a fantastic atmosphere, great food and lots of wow factor this restaurant in my opinion is one not to miss. We did not need to book.  You can see a full review here.

11 Upper St Martin's Lane
 Ph:020 3326 6390

Now Dishroom was one we did not eat out, but when you see a queue this long, you know you are on to something good.  It is next to Jamie's Italian on St Martins Lane Covent Garden.  According to it's website , the restaurant takes the best from the traditional Bombay cafes.  It serves Indian food and is definitely worth checking them out if you are in the area as it was rocking.

I will be dining here next time, believe me there will be a next time as Covent Garden and London in general was totally fantastic.

12 Upper St Martins Lane
London WC2H 9FB
0207420 9320.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Apartment in the Marias in Paris

These windows alone make you feel like you are in Paris.

I have had quite a few queries about our Paris apartment.  Well it's ours for a week anyway.

It's in the 4th arrondissement, the Marais.  Being the Jewish and Gay Quarter it is vibrant and a really cool place to be.  It's also very centrally located and within walking distance to the Louve, Jardin de Tuileries and Place de la Concorde, which to me is the spiritual heart of Paris.

Staying in an apartment is a much more affordable option than staying in a hotel and with a kitchen and laundry cupboard, it gives you the option to stay in and eat if you feel like it and catch up on the dreaded laundry, that inevitably piles up on a holiday.

The apartment in which we are staying, is one of about 7 owned by Australian, Tony Roberts, so all payments are made in Australian dollars at home before you leave.  There is a refundable bond of $500, which is returned subject to any damage caused.

There are free landline calls back to Australia included.  So I have been phoning my mum every couple of days just to check in.  There is free wifi too and also the use of either an ipad or lap top in each apartment. So you will feel connected if you want to be.

To date we have stayed in 2 of Tony's apartments and they have both been great.

The front door, small kitchen and dining area

On arrival you are met by the lovely Natasza, who is available to be contacted in case of any dramas. But you will need to be fit  in the first place to make it up there, as the apartment is on the third floor and there is no lift.  Very French.

The view through the kitchen and across the living room to the bedroom

The lounge, which converts to a sofa bed.  I slept on it last night an it was quite comfortable.

The view from our apartment.

Our apartment is a 5 minute walk from the Seine and 
Isle de la Cite and perhaps the most expensive ice cream in the world.  The rule is further you are away from the river the more reasonably priced everything is.

The Marais is full of many French bistros.  We had a beautiful meal on our first night at La Chaise au Plafond.

Poisson du jour avec haricots verte.  Sooooooo good.

Perhaps most importantly, the apartment is close to Place des Vosges.  Perhaps the cutest park in Paris and  definitely the oldest planned one, established in 1612 by Henri IV.

My kids would have stayed here longer, as there is also some play equipment.  The square is surrounded by chic cafes and once when I was here there was a beautiful symphonic orchestra playing under the cloisters.  To me to this park is a must visit whilst in Paris.

Today we spent half an hour chatting to a lovely Brit at the sand pit, minding his grandson, who had lived in Paris for 50 years .

The Marais also houses Musee Carnavalet, which describes the History of Paris. Tracing its development from prehistoric times.  It's free apart from specific expositions.  The parterre garden  at the museum is worth a visit by itself.

The Marias is also the home of this really cute square, oozing with atmosphere. Known as Place du Marche St Catherine.  We are heading out there for dinner tonight.

Also with great shops and other museums such as Musee Vitor Hugo, the Marais is a really nice part of town to be in.

And after a big day of eating too much and walking too far, what's not to love about this place?

Good night.

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