Paris Postcard: La Place des Victoires

Today’s Paris Postcards were taken at La Place des Victoires. When I told my sister-in-law that the little square was on my to-see list, she was quite surprised. It is a fairly non-descript public space close to her work in the 2nd arrondissement. What intrigued me was the history of the square and the symmetrical buildings around it. The square was inaugurated in March 1686. The first architect to the king at the time made very strict laws regarding the buildings people could erect around the square. Thanks to those rules only symmetrical buildings were allowed. The sculpture in the middle was of Louis the XIVth and was dedicated to his victories. However, during the Revolution it was taken down and melted into guns! Later, in 1810 a new sculpture was installed, but this time the general was in the nude. Not such a popular option, so today we see the third version of Louis, this time on a horse!

The Foundry

Over the weekend the three of us went to try out The Foundry, a new restaurant in the Parktown Quarter that opened in September. I love the décor of the place! The big windows create a lovely open space with beautiful rustic wooden ceilings, fantastic lighting and a very striking exposed clay brick wall feature. It is like the artist chiselled the plaster away to expose the brick work to create a New York street scene. 

With our toddler in tow we obviously do lunch earlier than the rest of Johannesburg – when we arrived there was lots of space but by lunch time the place was packed. Their menu (they change it on a regular basis) consists of gourmet sandwiches, pizzas (all unusual choices, but they did bring Daniel his “bacon and mushroom” kiddies pizza off the menu), salads and pastas. My husband ordered the trio of sausages with homemade gnocchi and my pasta meal was one of the best I’ve had in ages. It was called Curado Zucchini Carbonara - penne with crispy pancetta, zucchini and spring onions sautéed in a Grano Padano egg cream. Absolutely delicious! 

The atmosphere in the place was great and it reminded me a lot of a restaurant we visited exactly a year ago in Durban (see here). Luckily The Foundry is closer to home so we shall definitely be back soon!


The Foundry 
Parktown Quarter
3rd Avenue
Parktown North

You can visit their Facebook page here.

A day to celebrate

On Sunday mornings (and almost every other morning of the week!), Daniel usually wakes up at around 6 o’clock and climbs into bed with us. He takes the middle spot and we normally all just turn around and take another half hour nap. This past Sunday he asked if he could play on the iPad. When he opened my husband’s iPad, a reminder peeped. My husband leaned in to have a look – it is his iPad and his reminder. When I leaned in to have a look – being my super curious and nosey self - we looked at each other and burst out laughing.

So, if you are my mother and you forgot it was our wedding anniversary, don’t worry J. So did we!!

Hartford House

We love Hartford House! We spent time there during our honeymoon, then we went back for our 10th wedding anniversary and I am already planning the next trip (it is my birthday soon….hint, hint). So, staying within walking distance from Hartford House during our little meander of the Natal Midlands meant a few trips to the beautiful country lodge. They probably had to re-order cola tonic after our visits J

The enchanting colonial house is on Summerhill Stud, a world class stud farm, and features fantastic accommodation. But the real draw card, in my opinion, is the restaurant run by Chef Jackie Cameron. Dinner, especially, is a spectacular affair during which Jackie guides her guests through each course, explaining her creative inspiration behind all five courses. It is served bathed in very romantic candlelight on the beautiful veranda or in the formal dining room. 


With Daniel as our dining companion we opted for lunch at the manor house this time. Overlooking the beautiful gardens, making a selection for the Chef’s à la carte menu was not easy. While Daniel played with a bit of bark as a boat in one of the many fountains in the garden, we had a truly memorable lunch. As my husband tweeted, “probably too epic for a normal Monday lunch”!

Daniel was quick to forget about his “sinking ship” at dessert time and joined us for the beautiful desserts.

It is very clear why this restaurant has been in the TOP 10 restaurants in South Africa more often than not in the last decade. Actually, I think the entire place needs to be on the top 10 list of every category imaginable, because it certainly makes my top 10 and shows no sign of relinquishing its crown. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

You can visit their website here.

A surprise for Heritage Day

Our first day of Midlands Meander took us south, from Mooirivier where we stayed, down towards the towns of Howick and Hilton. (The Midlands Meander is one of the more organised tourist areas, with a large fold-out map that covers everything from the shops, restaurants, lodges, venues and everything in between that the route offers.)

Almost at the end of our day, and after having that one last cappuccino before heading home for the day, we noticed that there was a museum dedicated to Nelson Mandela just a small drive away. Not expecting much, we decided to make this the last stop on our travels for the day.

What a surprise awaited us! The museum exists on this site because it is here, on the R103 just north of Howick, that Nelson Mandela was finally arrested on 5 August 1962. He never regained his freedom after that until 27 years had passed. The museum consists of a small building off the road that houses a collection of photographs, quotes and stories that essentially chronicles his entire life, but without a doubt the centrepiece of the site is the awesome modern sculpture of his face, deep in thought, instantly recognisable and taken from one of the most famous portraits of him.

The sculpture is by Marco Cianfanelli, and it features an ingenious design of upright metal prods that have been laser cut so that the image appears only when you stand on a certain spot. At over five meters tall and on the side of the road at the exact spot of the arrest, the effect is that of making Mandela, what he stands for and what he became, loom large over the site where, seemingly, his enemies triumphed over him in 1962.

That sculpture is in effect the entire museum, and believe me, it’s enough. Enough to form the highlight of the day. Enough to make the sight of my son playing hide and seek in the bars an emotional one as you realise that this one man was responsible, in large part, for the fact that I can raise my child in a country that is free. 

The Woodturner

Mooirivier, the town where we stayed during our long weekend, is on the one end of the Midlands Meander, an arts & craft route that extends over a distance of about 80kms down to Pietermaritzburg. All along the scenic route, different potters, weavers and artists display their crafts in small shops and studios.

We only spent one and a half days meandering, so we did not see all that the area has to offer, but if I can choose a favourite from what I’ve seen, I have to say that the beautiful wood articles from the Woodturner are my favourite!

Andrew Early and his dad, John, are responsible for the beautiful grained bowls, but also many other obects. I read that each bowl is turned from wet wood, left to dry for up to four years, then re-turned, sanded and waxed or oiled. I also read that Donna Karan owns some of his bowls and you can see why when you wonder into their beautiful shop in the Dargle Valley. The bowls, and his other furniture and objet d’art, are breathtakingly beautiful.

 You can visit their website here.

Back into the swing of things

Lately I’ve been on a bit of a blog sabbatical. I was less out and about than normal, and it seems that when I did go somewhere, my camera stayed home more often than not. But it is time to get back on the horse :-)

About a week ago the three of us went to the Natal Midlands for an extended long weekend. So, I have a few pictures that I want to share with you from that trip. For today, here are a few I took of Daniel on the swings at the Old Rearsby farm where we stayed. We forget how much pleasure there is in the small things in life…. 


PS. During my hiatus on this blog, an article that I wrote for Jozikids was published on their website showing some of our favourite child friendly places in Johannesburg. You can read it here