paris to provence

Melbourne’s French Festival Paris to Provence is back at the National Trust’s Como House Friday 21 November to Sunday 23 November 2014.

The French artisan market is a great outing for the family, with stalls, music, food and roving entertainment. Every year there are some familiar faces like La Parisienne Pates and new businesses to discover, which keeps things interesting for annual visitors like us.

paris to provence

This year’s was the best set up for kids that I’ve experienced so far, so here are my highlights for families.

Young and old alike love crepes and there were several crepe stalls to try. There were generally waits of up to 15 minutes for your crepe so I suggest ordering, wandering around neighbouring stalls, then coming back. Or divert kids’ attention by enjoying a macaron, petits choux or cruffin.

paris to provence

paris to provence

We were really excited to discover the petits choux by South Yarra patisserie A La Folie. Macarons are almost a bit passe now but not everyone is doing eclairs and custard-filled petits choux. These small, light delicacies were each filled with a different flavoured crème patissière and because we couldn’t choose we bought one in each flavour (eight). They were beautifully packaged in a slipbox and disappeared in under 2 minutes! My favourite being the subtly flavoured pistachio.

Agathe Patisserie is a blog favourite, a bakery business run by a French mother of three. She’s famous for her caneles and croissants but I think her outstanding menu item is the cruffin ($6).

paris to provence

Mon Dieu! The cruffin is a croissant-muffin hybrid with a custard centre and we tried one pumped full of Nutella and another with crème patissière and a salted caramel topping. It’s the flaky, multi-layered pastry and crispy outer shell that makes this an amazing treat a standout. Don’t miss it if you like French pastries.

paris to provence

The Children’s Garden was near the bottom of the area this time, a perfect secluded space away from the bustle and noise of the main precincts. The only thing to watch was the pond which fascinated Baby 2.0 but meant that he had to keep a close eye on him.

In the Children’s Garden Petit Atelier are running free craft classes but they are generally for older kids as it seemed to involve sewing and threading. Throughout the day there is also French story time and face painting.

paris to provence

Under 5s can colour in Le Tour Eiffel (which kept Lady AB amused for 20 minutes) or make shapes with lavender scented playdough.

paris to provence

In the Children’s Garden was a stall for Le Club Enfants, a preschooler French, dance and art/craft class in Camberwell and Canterbury. As well as promoting their classes for 3-5 year olds they were selling cute little wooden Janod cars ($3 each or 2 for $5), tricolore headbands ($5) and hairclips ($3) and even a tricolore tutu which I loved but couldn’t think of a reason to buy!

paris to provence

paris to provence

There’s also a large playground in Como Park right outside the gate if you want to really tire the kids out.

Note that we went to Paris to Provence on Saturday around midday. This was probably peak period and thus quite challenging with young kids, as it was crowded in areas, there wasn’t much seating and thoroughfares often involved stairs or grassy hills, making pram moving a bit cumbersome. Given the number of people we didn’t get to see as much as we’d like to (especially the Carousel, I was really looking forward to it!). If you’re going tomorrow Sunday I recommend turning up first thing at 10am. I’m making a mental note to try and go on the Friday instead next year.

Note also that parking is problematic around the area and your best bets are the residential streets east of Williams Road (or public transport). Given that one of the entrances is on Williams Road I think they need the French equivalent of a Lollipop Lady to help people cross traffic, as the traffic lights are quite far away.

Paris to Provence, Como Houe & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

Friday 21 November 12pm to 8pm,  Saturday 22 November 10am to 6pm, Sunday 23 November 10am to 4pm

Adults       $17 pre booked online  & $22 at the gate (ages 17 and up)

Children    $5 pre booked online or at the gate (ages 6 to 16).  Ages 5 and under are free.

 

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playfest

PlayFest is Melbourne’s new music and arts festival just for kids and for a first-time event we thought it was fantastic!

Sidney Myer Music Bowl was the perfect location for the event, with a large stage for performances and spacious grounds for exploring and roaming. The playlist was huge and there were fun activities to keep everyone amused, from sporty to artistic.

playfest

Our favourite area to hang out was the IKEA Little Play Zone. There were toys to play with and furniture to climb over, as well as drawing activities.

Playfest

But the best bit were the comfortable couches and lounge chairs with a fantastic vantage point over the main stage up on the hill. If there was a VIP section at PlayFest then this would be it!

playfest

playfest

We also enjoyed pedalling our own smoothies with Bike n Blend ($5 each) and playing with Duplo and Lego in the subterranean BrickFest behind and underneath the main stage.  We would have loved to decorate a bun with Baker’s Delight but couldn’t find the Fun Bun Station.

playfest

To my surprise noise-sensitive Lady AB wanted to go ‘look at the music’ after a while playing and exploring so we listened to some acoustic acts in the ‘PlayFest Unplugged’ stage and the jazzy numbers in the Ali McGregor CabaRAY! Spectacular in the Cabaret tent.

playfest

As with any great kids festival there were free balloons, face painting, an appearance by Spot and Peter Rabbit plus smartie cookies and pizzas for lunch.

playfest

While every adult seemed to have a backpack with snacks with them it would have been better to have more food options to reduce the queues and waiting time. An ice cream van would have been a great hit!

There are plenty of toilets (not portaloos thank God), baby change facilities and even a ‘milk bar’ breastfeeding area. I recommend using the pram valet parking at the entrance, otherwise you’ll be hiking up and down grassy hills with a pram. For carparking I parked at Alexandra Parade just after Swan St which was only 80c per hour for an unlimited period.

Our morning session 10-1pm was perfect for 4yo Lady AB as we had enough time to see most things without rushing around and we weren’t completely exhausted at the end. PlayFest was a really fun outing for the under 5s and I hope that it will continue bigger and better next year!

You can buy tickets to PlayFest from Ticketmaster or at the door for tomorrow’s full day session.

PlayFest, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Fri 21 Nov and Sat 23 Nov 2014

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Common Galaxia Shop 3130 Victoria St Seddon 3 HOT: Common Galaxia, Shop 3/130 Victoria St, Seddon

Common Galaxia sounds like a solar system from outer space, but in fact this cafe’s name derives from something more prosaic – Common Galaxias are silvery little whitebait which are found in the nearby Maribyrnong river (and in many rivers around the world).

I really like the poetic tale about them on the website ‘The Common Galaxias is a tiny reminder that nature will survive everything we build, and you can only ever borrow a spot on the bends of a river. A spot like this one…’ – being increasingly gentrified Victoria Street, Seddon.

In this still evolving strip of neighbourhood cafes and shops Common Galaxia stands out for its consistently excellent Seven Seeds coffee, the famous ‘Morkchocolate’ and the award-nominated interior design by previous owner Luke Mutton (who also owns Dead Man Espresso) in collaboration with the builder Fido Projects and with custom fittings by Justin Lamont of Life Space Journey.

The result is like being inside a beautiful wooden ship, with a mixture of American oak veneer, raw steel, copper, powder-coated fixtures and the whoosh of the coffee machine like the tooting of a steamer’s horn (for more interiors photos, click here).

Common Galaxia Shop 3130 Victoria St Seddon 4 HOT: Common Galaxia, Shop 3/130 Victoria St, Seddon

I’m also particularly enamoured by the beautifully crafted adjustable wooden stools by Illogical Study that line the window bench.

Common Galaxia Shop 3130 Victoria St Seddon 2 HOT: Common Galaxia, Shop 3/130 Victoria St, Seddon

And despite the designer digs it’s a surprisingly kid-friendly space. Early on a weekend morning the place is filled with families with prams and babies in tow, all dangling from high chairs. The disabled toilet has a change table too.

Now for the food. The cafe is open daytime only so the menu is split into bakery, fruit and cereal, eggs and brunch and then sandwiches and larger lunch dishes from 11:30am. There’s a small kid’s menu with bread-y basics.

I try the fried egg with pancetta, potato and leek which is filling and loaded with hearty, rib-sticking savoury flavours.

Common Galaxia Shop 3130 Victoria St Seddon 1 HOT: Common Galaxia, Shop 3/130 Victoria St, Seddon

T has a grilled ham and cheese sandwich which is fairly unexciting on its own but is saved with some spicy tomato relish that we also took home.

Common Galaxia Shop 3130 Victoria St Seddon 5 HOT: Common Galaxia, Shop 3/130 Victoria St, Seddon

And while it was still technically breakfast time we couldn’t go past the iced chocolate made withJock’s Ice Cream and Mork chocolate ($6). It’s a delicious, icy, sweet concoction which is really just an excuse to drink dessert – go on and indulge!

Common Galaxia Shop 3130 Victoria St Seddon 6 HOT: Common Galaxia, Shop 3/130 Victoria St, Seddon

Common Galaxia is a firm favourite of westside families for good reason – designer surrounds with a kid-friendly vibe.

Features:

  • pram access;
  • high chairs;
  • change table;
  • kids menu; and
  • standard menu suitable for kids.

Common GalaxiaShop 3/130 Victoria St, Seddon +61 3 9689 0309

Tue – Fri 7:30am – 4pm

Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm

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GoldieBlox and the Parade Float

GoldieBlox creates constructions sets for girls aged 4-9 years in order to teach and inspire future female engineers.

We have previously reviewed GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine and GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank and the last kit in the first release of toys is GoldieBlox and the Parade Float.

GoldieBlox and the Parade Float

I admit I had some misgivings about this kit when I first saw the title. I thought GoldieBlox were aiming to ‘disrupt the pink aisle’ by moving away from pink girly toys involving princesses and beauty pageants. So I wasn’t sure why they chose a parade float as the structure to teach the engineering concept of a wheel and axle. Why not a train or moon buggy or tractor?

GoldieBlox and the Parade Float

That thematic issue aside GoldieBlox and the Parade Float is actually my favourite of the three sets we’ve reviewed as I think it presents the most options for creative building.

GoldieBlox and the Parade Float

The same building tools are present – short axles, long axles, wheels, blocks, spacers, a ribbon and three rubber characters. Again we had the same issues as previously with the connectivity of the pieces which meant that adult assistance was needed.

GoldieBlox and the Parade Float

The story involves a pageant, ‘Miss Princess Engineer’ and a rolling parade float. This was a pretty cool construction which has one character sitting atop and two characters spinning wildly at the front as the parade float moves. The final product was sturdy enough for Lady AB to trundle the parade float around proudly.

GoldieBlox and the Parade Float

The end of the story were some really creative alternative constructions using the same materials, including a plane, a double slide wagon and a space-r-launcher.

GoldieBlox is available through Australian Geographic, Kidstuff, Myer, Target, Toys“R”Us, Toyworld, toys2go.com.au and all good toy retailers.

Giveaway! Thanks to U Games (GoldieBlox‘s Australian distributor) I have one of each of GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank and GoldieBlox and the Parade Float to give away.

To win follow the instructions below and make sure you tell me which set you want to win in the comments. The three winners will drawn randomly and the prizes posted out. Competition closes midnight Monday 1 December. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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What’s on in Melbourne for families and under 5s – Friday 21 November to Thursday 27 November

November 20, 2014

It’s the last week of November and then full steam ahead for Christmas preparations! Lots of fun pre-Christmas and non-Christmas events happening this week. (Photo from our visit to Santa’s Magical Kingdom) CBD/DOCKLANDS PlayFest at Sidney Myer Music Bowl (Fri 21 nov – Sat 22 Nov) - Melbourne’s newest family music and arts festival. The Roller […]

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HOT: Maribyrnong Makers Market, Seddon Uniting Church, cnr Gamon and Mackay Sts, Seddon

November 19, 2014

Maribyrnong Makers Market is a sweet little arts and crafts market held several times a year in Seddon. The market is at Seddon Uniting Church, a small and charming venue which hosts stalls inside the church hall as well as the outside grounds. The focus of the market is about showcasing the work of local craftspeople and artists. […]

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