During our Spring vacation to Andalucia, we were planning a day trip to Malaga. I was even more excited than usual about this trip as I’d recently discovered that El Piano had a cafe there. After a glorious morning of sight-seeing, I couldn’t wait for lunch!
El Piano is a small tapas caféand take-away located on Calle San Juan de Letran. Despite being tucked away down a side street, we had no trouble finding it. There are a couple of small tables inside the café and a couple more outside. Fortunately, we were early enough to grab a table right next to the food counter.
During May half term, we headed off on the Eurostar to spend a few days in Paris. Our buddies are living there for a year, so it was wonderful to see them and share in their amazing adventure! We stayed at their fab apartment in Issy for two nights, then moved to the heart of the city and spent two nights in Montmartre.
We were determined to make the most of our short visit and packed a lot into each day. We visited the classic Paris sights – Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Galerie Lafayette – as well as a contemporary art market and Marvel Super Hero Expo (much to Lil’ L & M’s delight!)
Most of my visits to Paris have been in Autumn/Fall, so I’d forgotten just how busy the city can be during the summer months. After quick stops at the tourist hotspots (which were heaving with people), we took up our favourite activity which is to simply wander the streets (or “flâner” as I think they say in French). For me, this is the best way to truly experience Paris.
As well as soaking up the Parisian atmosphere and admiring the stunning architecture, we had lots of fun spotting street art by the infamous French Invader. Apparently, there are over 1000 pieces of his art in Paris alone!
I also loved spotting all the love graffiti that’s sprinkled across the city. I wish all graffiti had this sentiment!
Lil’ L has never been to Paris before and he was most excited about seeing the Eiffel Tower. I was keen to take him at nightfall so he could see the tower lit up. I didn’t tell him about the hourly ‘sparkle’ as I wanted it to be a suprise 😉 We were on a bus heading to the tower when the 10 o’clock sparkle happened. Luckily, the bus turned a corner just in time, and we caught the whole show. I loved watching Lil’ L’s face as it sparkled. It was really special ♥
We also caught the 11 o’clock ‘sparkle’ from the Trocadero. As an added bonus, the Paris Slalom World Cup Inline Skating battles were taking place and we got to watch the top three men in the world battle it out for first place. The Korean guy that came first was totally awesome! He wasn’t even phased when some idiot kept flashing a laser in his face. If you’ve got a keen eye, you might even spot me, M & Lil’ L in the background 😉
We made sure to balance the walking and sightseeing with plenty of chill-out time at cafés, parks and the apartments.
If the sun’s out, Jardin du Luxembourg is a great place to spend an afternoon. I loved watching the sailboats gliding across the pond. Very relaxing indeed!
And of course, we spent a fair amount of time eating too 😉 I was amazed at the amount of veggie options that are now available in Paris, catering for all kinds of dietary choices from raw, macrobiotic, gluten-free through to hamburger joints and fast food. There are also ‘Bio’ (organic) supermarkets where you can stock up on health foods.
If you’re planning a visit to Paris, I highly recommend checking out the restaurant reviews on HappyCow and Trip Advisor. We tried a few places (including M.O.B. vegan burger joint and Pousse Pousse), but there were two clear favourites. For a quick lunch option, we loved Maoz Vegetarien near Notre Dame, which serves falafels stuffed in pittas to which you add salad and dressings from the self service bar. There was a great selection of salad options, including yummy beetroot and cumin-spiced carrots.
In the evening, we enjoyed a visit to Vegebowl which serves Asian cuisine. We arrived as it opened and the place quickly filled up (always a good sign!) 90% of the dishes are vegan and those including dairy are clearly marked. A 3 course meal cost 12 euros, which is cheap for Paris. The dishes are named after their meat counterparts (which me and Lil’ L found a bit creepy) but the ‘meat’ was essentially tofu. We tried a whole range of dishes and all bar one (the Lemon “Chicken”) were really tasty. We especially loved the Basil Stir Fried Tofu, ‘Cashew “Chicken”’ and ‘Sweet and Sour “Pork” balls’.
After reading Vegan Miam’s review of the Gentle Gourmet Café, I’d really wanted to check out their vegan French desserts. Unfortunately, the two occasions we happened to be nearby it was mid-afternoon and the café was closed. Next time!
Finally, to round off what was an incredibly special trip to Paris, in the departure lounge at Gare du Nord, we spotted Hannah and Dan from our favourite band, London Grammar. They were on their way home after playing at the We Love Green Festival. I’ve listened to their album ‘If You Wait’ hundreds of times and it still sends shivers down my spine. I couldn’t resist popping over and saying hi to Hannah. She is so lovely! ♥
Hi everyone! I’ve finally made it back to blogging world!
I hope you’ve all had a fantastic summer ♥
After a refreshing break, I’m very happy to be back ‘plugged’ in. I’m really looking forward to catching up with you! I’ve got lots to share this month, including some exciting giveaways and yummy recipes, but I thought I’d kick start my return to blogging by sharing some pics of one of my favourite family days out this summer.
I’m not sure whether my international friends will have heard about Wallace and Gromit, but they are the most endearing couple that feature in a series of stop-motion comedy films, created by Nick Park at the Aardman Animations Studios in Bristol.
This summer, 80 Gromits were ‘unleashed‘ on the streets of Bristol and surrounding area. The 5ft tall Gromits were individually designed and named by famous artists and celebrities.
While the trail finishes this Sunday (8th September), from the 18th to 22nd September, all 80 Gromits will be on display at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in Clifton, Bristol. They will then be auctioned in October to raise money for the Bristol Children’s Hospital ♥
The trail has been hugely popular with people of all ages. And what a fantastic way to encourage kids to go walking! I reckon we must have spent over 4 hours walking round the streets of Bristol, but Lil’ L was far too busy Gromit spotting to notice. Every time he spotted one, he photographed it, checked it off on his trail map, then he was straight onto the next one!
We ended up spotting about 25 Gromits, so there are still plenty more to discover. If we don’t make it over to Bristol this weekend, we’ll definitely have to go and see the display at the RWA at the end of the month.
In addition to the Gromits, we also enjoyed spotting all the amazing street art in Bristol. I just love wandering round the streets taking it all in. Every time we visit, we seem to stumble upon new pieces.
This visit, we also stumbled across this fantastic vegetarian community cafe called ‘Roll for the Soul‘, which promotes cycling (it even has a bike workshop upstairs).
I don’t think there could have been a more fitting place for us to have lunch! It was awesome! A large proportion of the food served at the cafe is vegan too 🙂
This time, all three of us chose the falafel wraps. They were HUGE, perfect for hungry cyclists (and Gromit spotters) and very tasty indeed. I can’t wait to go back again to try their soul burgers and vegan cakes. Maybe if I cycle across to Bristol I’ll have a big enough appetite to fit it all in 😉
All in all, it was a fantastic family day out. One that I’ll treasure forever ♥
Do you have any community or not-for-profit veggie cafes where you live? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
p.s. Thank you Lil’ L for allowing me to share your Gromit and street art pics. They’re awesome!