When I first arrived in Paris from London one year ago, I was struck by the comparative lack of great cafés with expert baristas. In London, I would stop by my local for a decent flat white and muffin or croissant as a pre-work pick me up, or meet up with buddies on weekends to linger over several coffees and something more substantial to eat. Admittedly I’m a try-hard coffee snob, but the over-roasted blends available at most French cafés, and a certain multi-national coffee chain just don’t do it for me.
The Biennale des Antiquaires of Paris is perhaps the most renowned event of its kind, and this year, the 26th edition is the conclusion of an international, 13-city tour of an assembly of the most eminent dealers of fine arts, archaeological treasures, jewels, furniture, and other such luxurious and collectible items. What better venue than the nave of the Grand Palais?
As all tourist guide books will elaborate, Budapest is a city with a layered history spanning several epochs, beginning with settlement in 1st century AD by the Romans; punctuated by periods as city of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire, Nazi occupation, national revolution, and a crushing socialist regime. Straddling two sides of the mighty Danube, Budapest has been the site of power struggles since its beginning. Due to this rich history, the Magyards (as the Hungarians are known to themselves) have themselves a beautiful city with loads to see and do, complimented by a very diverse and active nightlife – so depending on mood or touristic aspiration, this city certainly has something for everyone – and won’t break the budget.
Budapest is walk-able, and the network of socialist-era-retro trains and buses relatively easy to navigate for those that prefer alternative means for traversing the city and its great bridges.
Currently and constantly undergoing piecemeal renovation, Neo-Gothic and Baroque is the predominant architectural style of Budapest’s built heritage thanks to war and destruction at the hands of the Mongols, Turks and Nazis. Budapest was subject to heavy Allied bombing during German occupation towards the end of the Second World War, only to have the retreating Nazis themselves bomb Buda Castle and the bridges spanning the Danube at the close of the war.
No visit to Budapest is complete without seeing these landmarks, now re-built and restored to former glory, together with other must-see sights such as the Parliament Buildings and the Basilica of St Stephen.
Also not to be missed are Budapest’s many outstanding Art Nouveau buildings, including the Budapest Great Market Hall where you can pick up cheap and fresh lunch or souvenirs.
It was the more recent and seemingly temporary spaces inserted within dilapidated buildings, vacant lots and side-streets that drew my attention, as this is where Budapest’s lively bars and clubs are tucked away like speak-easys, in neighbourhoods all over the city. Budapest’s ruin-pub scene is well known. My travel buddies and I enjoyed roaming the streets – finding so many several relaxed open air bars with people enjoying the warm Summer temperatures, supping on cheap beers and cocktails. A pint of domestically brewed beer is setting one back the equivalent of just over 2 Euro. And the food on offer in Budapest restaurants is typically super-stodgy, fat and carb-laden – though fresh salads and healthier options can be hunted out if you look hard enough.
Not so well hidden, but by no means less-cool, GàÆ’ ¶dàÆ’ ¶r Club is a Summer-time open air bar that occupies the site of a former Communist era bus stop overlooking Erzsébet tér in the Inner Town area of Pest. Electronic music emanates from speakers to the adjacent park on Friday and week-end evenings.
The area of Erzsébetváros, running North of Károly kert and East of Bacjszy-Zsilinszky àÆ’ ºt & Andrassy àÆ’ ºt has the densest concentration of bars and relaxed restaurants, though note that many are only open during the summer. Though our group never followed any set map or plan, a convenient summary of some great bars can be found on here, though we sadly managed to miss the famous Szimpla Bar on Kazinczy utca.
Castro Bar on Madách Imer tér and set in a cool colonnade in Erzsébetváros, has a varied menu offering fresh salads and heartier traditional meals.
Further North along Madách Imer tér is new café Little Melbourne, where most of the coffee beans come from Melbourne (or at least Melbourne via London), and baristas crank out coffees that do justice to the café’s antipodean origins. Whilst expensive by Budapest standards, the coffee and food is a great pick me up after a long night at super roof-top bar CorvintetàÆ’ ¶.
Get in touch with the author @twarbrick.
No longer up and coming, but well and truly ‘arrived’, all eyes are on Paris’ 10th arrondissment and its café and dining scene.
Ethicando is a deli/café and boutique located on rue de la Grange Aux Belles, in the Canal Saint Martin area, established by Italians Caterina and Ludovica. The café purveys Italian fare using organic produce as well as ethically sourced and produced items from Italy (from land confiscated from the mafia!).
In buying any of the products on offer, customers are giving support to socially responsible trade, as products are made by people from less fortunate sections of society in Italy: troubled youth, unemployed women, or prisoners in re-insertion programmes. Quality T-shirts, handmade bags, jewelry and chocolates are just some of the great things lining Ethicando’s shelves.
Compared to most other Parisian cafés, Ethicando has room! With a relatively spacious interior, the simple, clean and bright aesthetic contributes to a relaxed atmosphere. Though the café does lack the standard parisian terrasse in front, it compensates for this with a calm internal courtyard oasis that is shared with neighbours.
A leisurely Sunday brunch shared with members of the Untapped crew saw us tasting the tomato bruschetta, vegetarian lasagne and jambon cru with melon, washed down with great coffee and accompanied by relaxed and friendly service.
With most brunch and lunch dishes well-priced at between â”š ¬8 and â”š ¬13, Ethicando is set to be a brunching and lunching staple for the Canal area that will leave customers with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Get in touch with the author @twarbrick.
Back in 2010, Untapped Paris posted about the landscaping and architecture of the Parc de la Villette, as well as the fantastic music venues sited within. With this post, we give our tips for making the most of Summer sun and news of upcoming events in the area.
Pick a sunny afternoon to descend from Stalingrad or Jaurés metro stations to the terrace bar of La Rotonde de la Villette, which spreads itself across the Place Stalingrad. The Neoclassical building of La Rotonde was completed in 1788, the year before the French Revolution as the Barrière de la Villette. Tolls and taxes were paid by passing merchant canal boats to the Barrière, en route to the Seine. Works to modernise and remodel the building were completed in 2011, incorporating a brasserie, bar and club. Recently acquired umbrellas and seating provide the perfect outdoor setting for your first apéro, whatever time of day you are starting out. (more…)
French artist Daniel Buren is behind this year’s Monumenta installation, which has been drawing visitors en masse over the last few weeks to the majestic nave of Paris’ Grand Palais.
Already well known to Parisians, Buren’s works are site-specific and his parameters of ‘creating’ are derived from analyses of existing site and context. A fine example of this is Buren’s controversial Les Deux Plateaux, installed in the courtyard of the Palais Royal in 1983. The immense controversy and divided reception over this piece certainly raised Buren’s profile on the world stage. With In Situ, Buren has used the geometry and layout of the Palais’ nave and dome, among other contextual influences, to rationalise the layout of a series of coloured plastic canopies stretched over steel frames.
“Because of its size, its beauty and history, [the Grand Palais] is one of the most difficult places for an exhibition,” Buren said on commencing the Monumenta installation. Despite his apprehensions, In Situ is relatively playful. The frivolous orange, blue, green and yellow tensile plastic canopies are contrasted with the restrained and gridded black and white canopy frames. The canopies are all roughly set at the typical ceiling height of a Parisian apartment, creating an intimate space for visitors as they move through the nave and below the grandeur of its glazed vaulted roofs. The central dome itself has received some blue coloured plastic. Despite the extent and number, the canopies recede within the majesty of the nave.
As the intensity of the sun changes in the Paris sky above, so does the coloured light cast onto the floor below. When the sky dulls, the canopies become reflective, visitors animating the space below canopies with their own movement. Barely audible sounds permeate from the fringes of the nave, and at night roving spotlights turn the installation into something of a disco.
Visitors can pause at the cafe for a psychedelic lunch or refreshment break. The rear mezzanine provides an elevated spot from which the entire extent of the installation can be perceived and all of the coloured canopies are visible. Centrally located mirrored podiums reflect a view of the coloured dome and sky, above.
Last year’s Monumenta Leviathan installation by Anish Kapoor certainly made an impact, and provided subsequent Monumenta artists with a very hard act to follow. Kapoor’s gigantic pneumatic balloon sat proudly within the Grand Palais nave, a truly monumental piece. In Situ certainly respects the grandeur of the space, and is subordinate to the ‘size, beauty and history‘ of the nave.
The installation is a delight to visit, though one can’t help but wonder whether Buren’s parameters for design and creating could have been slightly relaxed, and if the installation might benefit from being more interactive.
Pre-purchasing tickets ahead of time online can save time if you are unable to get there during the week, but get there quickly as In Situ runs until the 21st of June.
As Untapped wrote last year, the Grand Palais plays host to the annual La Nuit Electro, last October’s edition was a stunner headlined by SBTRKT, Modeselektor, Crystal Fighters and Cassius among other electronic music greats. Details of the 2012 edition have not yet been announced, but keep an eye on the SFR La Nuit Electro site.
How to get there:
Get in touch with the author @twarbrick.