The city of Ozu

· Food, Illustration, Travel

Let’s go back to our Japanese road-trip which is more than a year old. This trip seems so far away now… as if it was lost in another dimension! I’m holding the good end to finish telling you everything but as I don’t think I’ll be going back to Japan anytime soon, this gives me an excuse to continue traveling with you by proxy.

Today’s stopover is the small town of Ōzu in Ehime prefecture. We did a day-trip and fell under the charm of this unknown city. More beautiful discoveries!

 

Go to Ōzu

If you followed our previous stop, you know that we were in Matsuyama and that we stayed there 3 days (2 nights). During this short period of time, however, we chose to go to Ōzu for one day knowing that the car ride is only about 50 minutes.

This would certainly not have been possible if we hadn’t rented a car (or else, we would have had to keep an eye on our watch all the time to not miss the train and manage the possible buses while here, we had a total freedom).

 

The city of Ōzu is nicknamed “Little Kyoto“, which already gives you a glimpse of its historical profile. Traditional alleys and remarkable monuments did not make us regret this escapade and you will understand while reading this article!

 

Hike in Shirataki Park

As soon as we arrived in the city, once the car was parked, we headed towards this completely deserted path.

 

 

The red Japanese bridge spanning the Hiji River and the sign indicating the route imply that it would be even better to go there in autumn. I let you imagine the same scenery tinged with flaming leaves.

 

In the meantime, these pictures taken at the end of May reveal the summer side of the place. It was so pleasant to walk on this shady path, discovering a waterfall, then traditional statuettes hidden in the moss: the “yume warabe (夢わらべ)“.

“Yume warabe” statuettes on our path

 

These jovial looking statues are supposed to make the person who looks at them regain the soul of a child and, in a way, encourage the walker in his ascent.

 

Even if the path is admirably well maintained (impeccable cobblestones and hiking poles graciously provided = Welcome to Japan), it’s steep!

 

At the very top, we can cross some altars and mini-temples to meditate: Spirituality is deserved given the steepness of the stairs to get there… but the reward is at the top with a nice view of the village.

 

Pokopen Yochoko

 

Back to civilization (or almost, since the village of Ōzu was particularly empty), we wandered through the alleys looking for an open restaurant, which was not easy (I will list some addresses at the end of the article).

 

During our stroll in this almost ghost town, we stopped at Pokopen Yochoko square, for a return to the 60s. It was quite confusing to wander in this fairground, without the laughter of children, the crowd and the animation.

 

Creepy? A little… but it makes you want to go back there on a Sunday because it must be more animated that day since they open these retro booths, as in the old days (=every Sunday from April to November and every 3rd Sunday from December to March: you’ve been warned!)

We still had the chance to visit this museum called “Coke & Van goods museum”. If you are interested in the Japanese pop culture of the 60s and 70s and you have a cult for vintage objects, this place is for you.

This Ali Baba’s cave is filled with anime figurines (Goldorak and Astro boy!) as well as an astronomical collection of Coca-Cola merchandise.

A traditional Japanese dwelling from the 60s has even been reconstructed to recreate this vintage atmosphere. A real time travel.

 

 Ōzu castle

This castle is older than the one at Kōchi since it was built in the 14th century. It also overlooks the city. I just have this picture to show you knowing that we didn’t arrive in time for a visit of the inside nor of the dungeon (the view from above could have been nice).

 

Garyu Sanso

 

Visiting this house was like a dream and zen. Garyu means “sleeping dragon”… not so zen!

In the past, this house was used as a place of contemplation and stroll for the Shogun but quickly fell into ruin and was then restored from 1897 to 1907 by a rich merchant, Torajiro Kochi, an aesthete in his spare time.

 

Thankfully he decided to spend his money in the reconstruction of this house! Beauty comes in the smallest detail, whether it is in the garden, the door handles that would please Batman or this round window with the light coming through, supposedly representing the moon.

 

And final blow with this “Furo-an” tea pavilion overlooking the river, with its pontoon looking like a boat. We liked this place so much that we chose to post a picture of it in our living room, to feel like we were there every day.

 

Stores and restaurants

During our period of visit we did not meet any tourists and hardly any inhabitants. In spite of this low affluence, we found some addresses where we could eat and bring back souvenirs.

 

TOKOTOKO Tearoom : The only address open for lunch that day (it was about 2pm, that explains it).

Zenzai

 

They mainly serve coffee, tea and sweets but we managed to find a delicious “Cheese on toast“: toasted bread with cheese that served as lunch and as dessert, the “zenzai”: a sweet red bean soup usually served with mochi but here, with a sticky rice cake and a dorayaki (Japanese waffle). We still remember how delicious it was!

 

RARIRURERO Restaurant :This restaurant next to the castle was also a source of delights and a change of scenery.

 

We discussed (a very big word considering the language barrier!) with the owner, who was also part of a team of traditional Yosakoi dancers (=the dance of Kōchi) considering the numerous photos and trophies which decorate the establishment.

She was happy to introduce her discipline to two French tourists… so I would like to pay her a tribute with this article!

Mmmmmmh ! A Parfait !

 

The menu was entirely written in Japanese, so we picked a little bit at random by relying on the pictures: spaghetti with mushrooms, stew with melting cheese, Parfait and fruit tart, sesame seeds for dessert. Copious and once again a delight!

 

HANANOHITONOHIBI : This dried flower store was a pure marvel: we bought this dried branch of ??? (if anyone knows the name of the plant I am interested) and a small glass bottle.

My little souvenir from this shop

 

If you are a fan of a refined and country atmosphere, this delicate store should be a must for you. Here is the instagram account of the store, for the pleasure of the eyes.

 

Other points of interest

Here are a few other ideas to visit, if you are lucky enough to stay around for a longer period of time:

INARIYAMA PARK : In November, a festival takes place in this park in the middle of the blushing maple trees.

TOMISUYAMA PARK :To be admired more in spring, when the rhododendrons are in bloom; in shades of pink and fuchsia.

LE PONT MIYUKI : A roofed wooden bridge built in 1773 over which the hero of Kōchi, Sakamoto Ryoma (I showed you his statue on Katsurahama beach) crossed.

 

 

I hope that this visit of Ōzu pleased you and made you travel.

The next step will be even different as we return to Kōchi Prefecture for a night in the mountains at Otoyocho, Nagafuchi, in a 100 year old house transformed into a guesthouse where the sweetness of life and the notion of “Slow life” take all their meaning. Slow down a little bit… and see you soon! (English translation by Quiterie)

My summer memories

· Food, Illustration, Travel

After more than a month of absence on the blog, here I am again for a “Best Of” article from this summer 2020. I didn’t move too much from Paris except for a few days in various places in France, they were short but at least it was a change of scenery and a feeling of well-being like never before.

There was no question for us to leave France and we managed to make the most of what this particular summer of 2020 had to offer. So here is a small summer summary of different activities, which may inspire you!

 

My summer destinations

Bike ride along the Canal de Bourgogne with Lionelou <3

 

DIJON

I use to go there from time to time to meet my friend Lionel and this time was an even more precious moment since it was the first time I went there this year, after this locked down that we lived/ endured as best we could. It was the first time I had escaped from Paris since January, which was very invigorating.

If you followed me on Instagram, you saw that our reunion was sporty and greedy: Bike ride along the Burgundy Canal, picnic, stroll in a Japanese garden, dinner on the terrace… We finally took advantage of the pleasures that we had been deprived of last spring… A certain freedom found again !

 

LA CLUSAZ

3 days of escape in the mountains near La Clusaz. An escapade decided at the last minute that allowed us to familiarize ourselves with the joys of the mountains in summer.

The experience was invigorating, brought me the dose of lightness and wide open spaces that I was waiting for these vacations (with some aches and pains as well).

 

 

PARIS

My Parisian summer was rather studious but interspersed with nice days during which I played the tourist in a relatively empty Paris. This doesn’t change too much from my annual habits because you know that I like to enjoy Paris in August.

The opportunity to quietly discover exhibitions with friends, new yummy addresses, to climb aboard the Paris balloon for the first time in the André Citroën park, to visit the Disneyland Paris park without crowds or long queues. To see the capital from another angle, it has its charm!

Disneyland Paris with Jérémy is always a good idea !

 

Le Ballon de Paris at André Citroën park

 

BELLE-ÎLE-EN-MER

Lighthouse of la Pointe des Poulains

 

The bonus destination at the end of summer, also decided at the last minute to enjoy the sea air from Brittany. Here again, we mostly enjoyed nature in a wild and unspoiled setting. Add to this a calm of early September and here we are with a perfect destination to recharge our batteries!

To reach this paradise, we drove to Quiberon where we left the car in a long parking lot (Parking Kerzon, the closest to the pier) and crossed the ocean by ferry (45mn). It is also possible to cross with your vehicle on board but we did not want to carry too much and preferred to explore the island on foot or by bike

Aiguilles de Port-Coton, sunset seen from our hotel and Pointe de St Marc

 

The program: seafood, crepes, walking and cycling under the skies and bright sunshine as well as quick swimming sessions. If you would like to have more logistical or touristic information, feel free to ask me in the comments or review my Instagram “Summer 2020” stories. I won’t detail too much here otherwise the article might become way too long.

 

My music of the summer

This summer was for me rich in musical discoveries since many artists I love have released OP and pop music is back  !

I compiled a SUMMER 2020 playlist that accompanied my summer holidays, which you can find on my Deezer : Here it is listed here with some small personal annotations.

 

  1. BASTILLE : WHAT YOU GONNA DO ??? New single with the more “Rock 90s” sound of my darlings Bastille along with Graham Coxon from Blur
  2. LITTLE MIX : Holiday Spicy Holiday Ambiance with this song of one of my favorite girl bands
  3. MILEY CYRUS : Midnight Sky Catchy melody and 80s vibes
  4. KYLIE MINOGUE: Say something Elegant and airy: Glad to see that Kylie has always been renewing herself since the 80’s.
  5. DUA LIPA, MADONNA, MISSY ELLIOTT (THE BLESSED MADONNA REMIX) : Levitating “Club » remix, dancing from the original track of the brilliant album “Future nostalgia” by Dua Lipa
  6. CLEAN BANDIT, MABEL, 24KGOLDN : Tick Tock Another very danceable track from the hit maker Clean Bandit
  7. KYLIE MINOGUE : Say something (acoustic) I insist on this one because this quieter acoustic version deserves to be listened to
  8. CHVRCHES : Forever  Discovered thanks to the Spanish Elite TV show.
  9. LÉON : And it breaks my heart Broken voice and heady melody with violin
  10. CARLY RAE JEPSEN : Summer love Light Pop music from the interpreter of “Call me maybe”.
  11. THE WEEKND : In your eyes I guess you haven’t missed this addictive song this summer: simple and effective!
  12. SAVAGE GARDEN : To the moon and back lovely flashback, ode to my favorite album of the summer 98 : I still love it!
  13. WALK THE MOON : Lost in the wild Discovered thanks to “The Kissing Booth 2” Netflix movie
  14. SELENA GOMEZ, BLACKPINK: Ice cream Sound delicacy and eye candy with this pastel videoclip
  15. HARRY STYLES: Watermelon sugar Sound delicacy again
  16. DUA LIPA : Hallucinate One of the most energetic track of my favorite album of the year
  17. TRAVIS, SUSANNA HOFFS : The only thing The come back of Travis the scottish band that I adore, with the Bangles singer : So vintage !
  18. THE KILLERS : My own soul’s warning Not really convinced by their last album but I’m still a Brandon Flowers and The Killers fan
  19. AMADOU & MARIAM : Sabali Discovered by listening to it in a cocktail bar in Dijon, this collaboration between Amadou, Mariam et Damon Albarn (team Blur again !) mixes 2 different styles for a great result !
  20. MELANIE C : In and out of love Catchy song by our Sporty Spice with some rythms that kinda sound like Dua’s Lipa “Don’t start now” in the verses
  21. LANA DEL REY : Happiness is a butterfly Nostalgic and light
  22. KODALINE : Brother One of my favorite tracks of this group, a real declaration of brotherly love
  23. ÁSGEIR : Higher Islandic charm and big wild spaces envy
  24. BTS : Dynamite South korean energy booster

 

My summer readings

I haven’t read much (and no novels for that matter) but here’s what delighted my summer: :

 

GOODBYE THINGS by FUMIO SASAKI : The very interesting experience of a former manga publisher Fumio Sasaki who went from a stressful, materially overloaded life to a minimalist life with the discovery of a new philosophy of life much more fulfilling.

Even if I understand the author’s enthusiasm, I would perhaps blame him for his excessive advertising for Apple over the pages (the brand and Steve Jobs are mentioned at length in the book). Having said that, the general idea of detaching from the material is very inspiring, something I’ve been adhering to (albeit in a less extreme way) for several years now.

 

MAGAZINE B : KYOTO : Korean magazine found at Centre commercial (2, rue de Marseille 75010 PARIS), in the same vein as the Monocle book : addresses, portraits, beautiful photos of the city of Kyoto.

 

RUMIC WORLD by RUMIKO TAKAHASHI : Short news from Rumiko Takahashi (the author/drawer of Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku) always full of humor and tinted with traditional legends.

 

DIM DAM DOM : I finally decided to subscribe to this magazine since I am a faithful reader since its release in 2018 by collecting each magazine. This summer issue was perfect, with a discovery of the west of France, in all its aspects: iodine and nature at its best.

 

My summer viewings

 

Once again, I didn’t want to stay screwed in front of my TV or at the movies this summer but I have a few series/movies to share with you anyway.

THE KISSING BOOTH 2 : I was waiting for it with a haste mixed with a certain fear of being disappointed because we all know what happens with the 2nd opus in general! As expected, it wasn’t as good as the 1st movie (probably because of the “cold” relationship between Noah (Jacob Elordi) and Elle (Joey King)… on the screen as in the city) but it’s worth watching. A 3rd episode is in the works : I’m not excited about it but I’ll watch it anyway… of course !

ELITE : 3 seasons of a series that kept me on the edge of my seat at the beginning of summer : Murder, suspense and high school romances sprinkled with eroticism. It seems that a sequel is in preparation but according to me, it will probably be the season too much. The plot is gripping without requiring too much thought/concentration: Perfect for summer!

TENET : First film I’ve seen in the cinema since the reopening of the cinemas and it was worth it! A spatio-temporal plot mixed with James Bond action, with several senses of reading as is usual with Christopher Nolan. With Robert Pattinson as the icing on the cake! I even feel like going to see him a second time to check all the advanced theses.

 

My summer good addresses

Seafood with a view at Castel Clara hotel

 

Here is a quick list of addresses that caught my attention this summer. It may still be useful if you come to visit these places, preferably in summer!

 

DIJON

  • La Brasserie des Beaux arts : The shaded terrace on the square des Ducs side is a pleasure to taste their home-made dishes
  • Glacier Simone & Maurice : Artisanal ice-cream parlour with flavours that change every day: gingerbread, tangerine or yoghurt: everything is good to taste (once again on a bench in the square des Ducs).
  • Monsieur Moutarde : Cocktail bar (with or without alcohol) in a place with a neat retro decor (bonus point for the inner courtyard).

 

LA CLUSAZ

  • La Scierie : Perfect Savoyard restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious tartiflette and conchiglionis stuffed with langoustines in a warm setting.
  • L’ourson : Cozy decor and mountain specialties.
  • Pâtisserie Patrick Agnellet : Great choice of fruity, creamy and favorite sweets for the Montagnard (Shortbread cookie covered with soft caramel and dried fruits)
  • Hôtel “Au coeur du village” : Warm service, cosy atmosphere of the rooms and breakfast with delicious homemade products..

 

PARIS

  • Mama Shelter West : A terrace overlooking the Versailles exhibition center (and discreet view of the Eiffel Tower) with a sunny atmosphere reinforced by two-colored parasols. The Italian-influenced food is good without being exceptional, but you really feel like you’re on vacation there.
  • La Javelle : At the foot of the balloon of Paris, guinguette ambiance to have a drink.
  • Hank Burger : Vegan burger that you advised me to try last time with my burgers top 5 : delicious and juicy !
  • Carré Pain de mie : Japanese soft bread sooo soft ! (you have to try the delicious “crémeux matcha” as a dessert !)

 

BELLE-ÎLE-EN-MER

  • Hôtel Castel Clara : A breathtaking view, an efficient and friendly staff as well as homemade cakes and delicious oysters at the breakfast buffet (what do you mean… oysters are not you in the morning? ;-)). The decoration (corridors, rooms, indoor swimming pool) deserves to be updated but the view, the service and the quietness of the place compensate for this lack.
  • Crêperie Les Embruns (in Sauzon) : Enjoy a complete “galette” and apple and salted butter caramel pancake with a view on the port, what else?
  • Biscuiterie La Bien Nommée : Cakes and shortbread with salted butterscotch caramel to bring back as a souvenir. (English translation by Quiterie)

A summer day in Paris

· Decoration, Fashion, Food

As I do every summer, I am enjoying what the Capital has to offer, and even more this year. Maybe I’ll get away from Paris a little during this month of August, but not for very long and preferably in a remote corner in the middle of nature.

That said, last weekend I tried to spend a “getaway” day in Paris and thought it might be interesting to share it with you. It might give you some ideas, since in one day, I discovered a lot of interesting and exotic addresses! Escape while staying in Paris: we totally validate!

 

9am : Japanese reading at breakfast

Let’s start the day with some reading! I told you briefly about this “favorite” book on Instagram. Let’s flip through it together today over a tasty bowl of oatmeal and green tea.

As I was saying, I’m very happy to have gotten my hands on “The Monocle book of Japan” because besides being beautiful, it’s a good compendium of everything I love about Japan.

It explores different aspects of Japan: Tradition, culture, nature, architecture, handicraft, inspiring portraits, good addresses, all with a very neat layout.

I let you judge with these pictures: anyways it’s a nice gift for the passionate people of Japan, whether we have already set foot there or not.

 

11am : Stroll in the gardens of the Quai Branly Museum

In this particular period, moving around Paris requires precautions of distancing and wearing masks that require our full attention… especially in museums.

Having said that, the absence of people in the alleys of the garden of the Quai Branly museum allowed me to take these “naked face” pictures and to breathe at full lungs in this small corner of greenery of the capital.

The access to this garden is free but for once, I didn’t take the time to visit the current exhibitions (I didn’t want to stay inside with such nice weather!), it was very nice to be able to rediscover this luxuriant vegetation in the middle of the city.

The museum shop is also a must every time I go there: you can find items and books from the 4 corners of the world… it makes you travel!

Japanese tabi socks and Vanessa Mitrani vases

 

MUSÉE DU QUAI BRANLY
37 Quai Branly
75007 PARIS

 

1pm : A break at Yamazaki

Italian and japanese salads, chiken teriyaki panini

 

Yamazaki is a bakery/pastry group that supplies Japan with konbini (=small groceries) in the form of sandwich bread and cakes. Overseas, it is more involved in pastry shops, like here in Paris. For the lunch break, we sat on the terrace, also taking advantage of the savoury menu.

Nothing spectacular there: a chicken teriyaki panini and salads (Japanese for me and Italian for my SO). Good but no surprise.

It’s at the dessert stage that it becomes interesting since the brand offers traditional French cakes with a little Japanese twist. We can think of Aki Boulanger… it’s in the same spirit.

Matcha and yuzu cream puffs and yuki ichigo

 

I fell in love with the Yuki ichigo = a big mochi with a soft rice paste filled with strawberry whipped cream (its matcha alter ego, the Matsuri, is also delicious, for your information). It’s melting and not so sweet: I could eat several of them! My SO has been tempted by the more classic but good yuzu and matcha cream puffs.

They also offer a Mont Blanc, a Japanese strawberry short cake and other specialties that look light and tasty. An address that allows you to vary the pleasures a little.

 

YAMAZAKI
6 Chaussée de la Muette
75016 PARIS

 

3pm : Decorative inspiration in the Marais

Creations by Sylvie Delphaut at Empreintes

 

The Marais may not be the most “relaxing” district in times of pandemic, since Parisians here don’t seem to have deserted the capital, but I like to go there to fill up on decorating inspiration. The mask is therefore more than ever necessary on every street corner to discover new addresses.

Pop up store “Ceramic and ikebana” at Heureux les Curieux

 

Here are some of them that caught my attention:

  • MARK’STYLE TOKYO (6 rue du trésor) : A selection of Japanese products (utensils, incense, kits, stationery, tea)
  • EMPREINTES (5 rue de Picardie) : A concept store featuring a selection of objects by French designers, whether for decoration, crockery or fashion.
  • HEUREUX LES CURIEUX (23 Rue du Pont aux Choux) : The theme of this store changes regularly. I really liked the ceramic-themed pop-up store a few weeks ago (with the fabulous floral arrangements from the Ryukubota florist) but right now it seems that it’s more fashion-oriented.
  • BOUTIQUE GENERALE (10 Rue du Pont aux Choux) : A nice selection of plates and objects made of natural materials from artisans from various areas (Africa, England, Japan…) in this very small shop.

 

8pm : The Burger Meetup

For a reunion over a good burger, I asked for your help on Instagram to give me your best burger address in Paris. I thank you for your numerous answers because I have managed to shortlist a TOP 5 of the best burgers in the capital, according to your votes and your tastes.

Before testing others, I rushed to try the big winner which is the restaurant LE RUISSEAU (there is a restaurant in the 18th but I tested the one in Le Marais: Le Ruisseau Burger Joint, 22 rue Rambuteau)

Blue cheese, BBQ et Goat burgers

 

We came out delighted: I can see why so many of you recommended it. The meat is tasty, the bread and fries are homemade and the combination of all the ingredients melts in the mouth.

I chose the Cheddar burger (Beef, melted cheddar cheese, candied onions, iceberg lettuce, pickles, condiment sauce) but everyone around me was delighted with their Goat burger (Beef, honey, mustard, St Maure de Touraine A.O.P cheese, candied onions, spinach, pickles), BBQ burger (Beef, barbecue sauce, melted cheddar cheese, red onions, iceberg lettuce, pickles) or Blue cheese burger (Beef, mustard cream, Bleu d’Auvergne, candied onions, aragula, mustard honey, pickles).

Here is your list of the 5 best burgers in Paris:

  1. LE RUISSEAU
  2. PNY
  3. BLEND
  4. DUMBO
  5. GOKU ASIA CANTEEN

I’ll try to check your good taste: I’ll let you know when I go to one of these addresses. But some other addresses were also mentioned several times like the HANK burger (for the vegan version) or the STARVIN JOE… Curious to go and test them too (I approve of the Starvin Joe that I already know) !

 

I hope you enjoyed this day and got some inspiration. I wish you a great vacation if you are lucky enough to take some. And even if I plan to disconnect a bit, I will certainly find you here or on Instagram before the end of the summer! See you soon! (English translation by Quiterie)


My Outfit

Dungarees “Hedwige” Make my Lemonade
Tee shirt Sézane
Flats Mango (already seen here and there)
Vintage basket (already seen here)
Earrings Vanina (already seen here)

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