by Cindy Yu

#VANBLOGPFW - The Vancouverite at Paris Fashion Week

Bonjour! Thanks so much for subscribing to my exclusive, behind-the-scenes updates from Paris Fashion Week! It's been a crazy, busy week and it's all over but hopefully you were able to catch a glimpse of my adventures from the City of Light! And now it's time to put down the camera, at least until September for New York Fashion Week! Would love to hear from you - let me know what you'd like to see more of! Shoot me a note at thevancouveriteblog@gmail.com

 

MARCH 11, 2017

The Vancouverite's Paris

Since Paris is my second home, I'm often asked by friends for travel tips in the City of Light - things to eat, see, do... where locals hang out. So I've compiled a quickie list of my favourite spots and hang outs. Consider this your cheat sheet!

EAT

Au Pied de Fouet (7e) – best duck confit I’ve ever head. Hole in the wall but great value, tiny and rustic restaurant run by a lovely family. They have a couple of locations but I always go to this one in the 7th arrondissement. Read my write up on it below.

Paperboy (11e) – really great place for brunch. Nice, light and airy space that’s modern and not too expensive. It’s often packed so make sure you go there early. Besides yummy egg dishes, they also serve freshly pressed veggie and fruit juices that you can have made to order.

Café Le Brebant (9e) – very, very pretty bistro with gorgeous lights, lanterns and lush greenery throughout the space and the bar area is stunning. The food is great and cocktails are fantastic.

Café Kitsune (1e) – in Palais Royal, very hipster café that makes really great chai lattes. Tiny seating area so grab your coffees to go and wander the grounds of Palais Royal. It’s so stunning there.

Daroco (2e) – Used to be John-Paul Gaultier’s flagship store-turned-Italian trattoria, really good antipastis and pizza. One of the hottest restaurants in Paris at the moment. Call a week ahead for reservations. 

Derrière (3e) – quirky restaurant. It’s basically a converted house where the tables are all over the house in weird places. And there’s a bit of a Narnia thing happening upstairs where you can open up a wooden armoire, step into it and it can lead you to a smoking lounge that looks like a 1970s frat house. It’s SO weird – and super cool. The food is excellent too.

David Toutain (7e) – if you have any opportunity to visit a “nicer” restaurant at all, go here. It’s got a Michelin star, but the prix fixe lunch menu is only 55 euros and that’s an amazing value for the food you’re getting. I had 8 courses. They were tiny but I was so full at the end. Absolutely stunning food.

Racines 2 (1e) – casual restaurant with excellent food that’s not far from the big attractions

Le Fou (2e) - great place for an after work cocktail

Le Perchoir (11e) - inventive cuisine and a great rooftop patio

Saturne (2e) - fantastic modern French cuisine with a powerful wine list and a dining room that bathes in natural light

SHOP

Flea Markets – Porte de Vanves (14e) is my favourite but the Marche aux Puces at Clingancourt is the largest

FREEP*STAR (4e) – if you like thrifting and bargain bin hunting for vintage clothes, this place is a mecca. You definitely have to spend time and dig though. I have managed to find some amazing coats there for 40 euros each.

Tilt Vintage (4e) – Good vintage clothing in here too – less messy than FREEP*STAR and a bit more expensive, but great finds. 

Le Grand Epicerie de Paris (7e) – huge food emporium next to Le Bon Marché. It’s gorgeous inside and a bit pricey but you can find a lot of delicacies there.

Maison de la Truffe (8e) – near Madeleine, this place has everything related to truffle (sale, mayo, pasta, chocolate, etc.)

Maille (8e) – also near Madeleine, the famous mustard house

Mariage Frères (4e) – legendary tea shop, this one’s the flagship in Le Marais

DO

Jeu de Paume (1e) – Photography museum near Place de la Concorde, this is a secret hiding spot of mine when I want to simply escape the rain or the outside world. The photography in this museum rotates and usually has great stuff. But I always hide for a few hours in the café to catch up on work or simply sit and read.

Grande Rou de Paris (1e) – Near Place de la Concorde, this is Paris’ answer to the London Eye. Great views and worth the 12 euros each ride.

Bateaux Mouche – take it during the day or night, it’s beautiful. During the day you can buy a bottle of champagne (not expensive) and bring it on board with plastic cups! Classy!

Cooking Classes – From learning how to make croissants to macarons to mastering French sauces to deboning a chicken… there’s something for everyone. I always take a class every time I’m in Paris. I highly recommend La Cuisine. Classes are in English.

See something (ballet, opera, symphony, modern dance, whatever) at the Palais Garnier (8e) – one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris, it’s an old opera house. Or head to the more modern Opera Bastille.

Walk around the 6th near St. Germain-des-Près, and the Sorbonne  – historical area where intellectuals hang out.

Sit and have lunch in the Rodin gardens

Get a view of the city at the top of the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame

 

MARCH 8, 2017

The Best Duck Confit in Paris

Some of the best cuisine comes out of France; they’re so inventive with a plethora of cooking techniques like sous vide and molecular cuisine. I do feel, however, that some of the best dishes in France are its simplest ones.

One such dish is duck confit. From Gascony in the southwest region of France, the technique of 'confit' generally means cooking and storing food in fat. Sounds gross? Think again. For duck, the salt breaks down the meat and the flavour as it's rendered in its own fat makes the flesh so tender and tasty. And upon preparation, when the chef takes the leg out of the fat bath and searing the skin till it’s crispy... oh my. And it’s tremendously satisfying when you cut into the skin and tear, er… slide, the meat off the bone. It’s just ridiculously good. Pair it with a bottle of wine from burgundy and you have a bit of heaven.

So where, oh where, would you find the best duck confit in a country where they invented it? You go to the 'hole in the wall’ eateries that are all over the city. The non-touristy places, which also often means more value for the dollar as only locals go there. Often when I travel, I find that I get immense satisfaction eating a local dish at a hole in the wall than at a Michelin Star or Relaix et Chateau restaurant. And for duck confit, you should never, ever pay a lot of money for it as it is traditionally a peasant dish. 

Each visit to Paris means that I have an opportunity to try out different versions of this dish all over the city. To date, I have yet to find a restaurant that makes this duck confit better than Au Pied de Fouet in the 7e.  Their version offers a duck whose meat is tender and perfectly balanced with flavour and a delicate crispness on the skin. It is simply paired with a bed of whipped potatoes, sans jus. Not fussy, not complicated, and a blessing in every bite.

Local's tip: get there early to grab a table. The restaurant is packed with locals every night and the duck usually sells out within the first hour of seating. 

MARCH 4, 2017

How Paris Fashion Week Really Works

As I eluded to in my last email, Paris Fashion Week works a little differently than other Fashion Weeks, say like New York. For NYFW, the shows are generally confined to a couple of locations - and usually in the same neighbourhood.

During PFW, the shows are scattered all over Paris. You could be watching a show in the 2nd arrondissement and then need to bounce off to another show in the 20th arr. Zipping back and forth happens all the time and you just have to go with the flow. 

PFW is incredibly frenetic. I can’t even begin to tell you. I’ve been going for a number of years now and I still find the pace to be crazy but exciting. The shows often start late - some even up to an hour late. There’s so much anticipation while you wait, excited for the show to start. And then when it does, it’s over in seven minutes. That’s it. Lights come on and everyone jumps up and heads off to the next show across town. 

While you may not be going to every show - and some are nearly impossible to make when they’re back to back and across town - but that’s just how it is at PFW. You roll with it until you get incredibly exhausted and need to head back to your AirBnB for a quick power nap. 

You’ll likely forget to eat as well. The shows don’t take a break for lunch, they just power through and so will you. I’ll usually pack a banana and a bottle of water or a protein bar in my bag just to make sure I’m okay in case my blood sugar levels suddenly drop, which they’ve been known to do.

In the evening, you’ll hang out with friends or fellow bloggers at a wine bar and then it’s the after parties. Those are generally invitation only, much like the invitation to the shows. If you’re lucky enough to go, it’ll be at a hot spot somewhere and will go till the wee hours. So if you don’t have time to change, make sure you bring along foldable ballet flats. 

The metro trains close at 1 am (except Friday/Saturday where they close at 2 am) and so you’ll either be grabbing an Uber or a Parisian Taxi back to your hotel or AirBnb.

Imagine doing this every day for seven days… you’ll need a vacation after this!

Pic of the Day

What happens when there's a torrential downpour and you really don't want to go out? You head to the epicerie and pick up some snacks, a bottle of wine and Netflix.


MARCH 1, 2017

Paris Fashion Week Essentials

There’s a common misperception that when you head to Fashion Week, you have to pack your entire closet plus all the gadgets that you can imagine. I mean, a girl needs options, right?

After having been to several years of shows in Paris, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. Yes, you’ll need options to wear for each day you’re there - and perhaps even something different for day versus night (ah yes, those wonderful, never-ending after parties). 

But when it comes to reality, things are usually super hectic at PFW. Unlike New York, where the shows are centred around a couple of venues, Paris shows are all over the city. You could be in the 1st arrondissement and then need to immediately head off to the 17th arrondissement for another show and then back into the Marais in the 4th arr. for yet a third show. And that’s just the morning. Phew!

Needless to say, you gotta dress comfortable and practical. In March, the weather in Paris is similar to Vancouver. Lots of grey and rain - and cold. And yesterday, it was absolutely pouring. You’ll get the odd sunny day if you’re lucky but it’s generally not stiletto weather. If you can stand it, go for it. But I’m usually pounding the cobblestones in my ankle boots.

Ok, now that’s just your wardrobe - and it’s only the beginning. In terms of gear - unless you’re a pro photographer - you really don’t need to lug around a whole lot. 

Here’s my list of essentials that as a fashion blogger, I’ll always bring with me to Fashion Week:

NOTEBOOK

Fashion Week is a spectacle - a feast for the eyes. It can be very overwhelming. So if you think you’re gonna remember what you were thinking that very moment in the Jacquemus show when you saw that stunning dress and the details, guess again. You’ll need the notebook to quickly jot down key notes about a collection so you can reference it later when you do your writeup. Think you can simply type it into your phone? Nope - cuz your phone will already be occupied with taking IG Stories or that quick snap. 

PHONE

For taking the quick snap for Instagram, Insta story or a video. Plus that selfie - dude, you’re sitting front row at Fashion Week. If there’s any time to take a selfie, that would be it.

BUSINESS CARDS

Mine are always in my Gucci business card case. You never know who you’re gonna run into and networking at these shows and after parties are super important to maintaining your brand presence internationally. Plus, it’s just fun to meet people and exchange info.

WATCH

Not to tell time - hello, iPhone - but because it’s a bit of arm candy. Plus, I feel naked when i don’t wear one.

CAMERA

Forget about only relying on your iPhone to take pictures. Depending on which show you go to, the lighting on the runway can be tricky so you’ll need something much more powerful to capture the images that you want. And the benefit to having a digital SLR available? You can interchange lenses to get the perfect shot. Make sure you have one that is WIFI-enabled so that you can immediately transfer the shots onto your mobile device.

HEADPHONES

Cuz in between the shows, you gotta start typing up content and I don’t know about you, I write much better when I’m listening to music. It’s about tuning people out and being with your own thoughts.

HKFG PARIS AW17 PRESS DAY

Following a beautiful debut show in Paris the day prior, HKFG - a fashion group representing emerging designers from Hong Kong - held a press day to showcase its featured labels of Berayah, Cynthia & Xiao, FFIXXED STUDIOS, HANG, i d, kenaxleung, Methodology, and Vanessa Tao. There are some pretty exciting things coming out of Asia these days and it was very exciting to see these collections in person!

PIC OF THE DAY

Following a long travel day from Vancouver, it was lovely to see the pastoral landscape of the French countryside as we flew overhead near Charles de Gaulle airport.