Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Merci, located in the Marais, is a great example. Merci was created by the owners of Bonpoint, the upscale children's clothing firm. The store is designed to resemble a house, and it is a house chock full of all manner of beautiful and useful objects chosen for their adherence to principles of solidarity. There is even a florist and bookseller-café included in the mix! And, a portion of profits are donated to aid disadvantaged children. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Marais. www.merci-merci.com
House of Organic is another terrific shop. International designers sell creations that are made solely of natural and nonpolluting materials. There is ready to wear, design and cosmetics included in the offerings. 7 rue Mahler, Marais. www.houseoforganic.com
Boutique Talents-Ateliers d'Art de France is a hybrid of a shop and an art gallery offering 100 plus works from 85 artists and craftsmen. 1 rue Scribe, Paris 9. www.ateliersdart.com
It is not a free event but is worth every chilly euro for the admission. You can always warm up with some chocolat chaud or tea at nearby Laduree or stroll down to Jean Paul Hevin's tea room on rue St. Honore for some of the best hot chocolate and chocolate patisserie in Paris (and that is saying something!) Happy holidays!
Runs through December 28th, 2009
Admission 14 euros or 12 euros under 25
Open 11AM-11PM. Where? Jardin des Champs Elysees
Avenue des Champs Elysées, 8th arr. Metro: Concorde
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Paris-lovers often ask me where to see holiday lights in Paris. This always festively illumined city pulls out the stops during late November and December. Here are some great tips:
The Eiffel Tower: The tower is celebrating 120 years of age and looks better than ever. From now through December 31st, the wizards who illumine the tower are offering a special light show four times each night, at 8 p.m., 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. You can see the show up close or in any of the zillion distant views of this iconic tower all over Paris.
The Champs Elysées is a veritable wonderland of lights from now through the New Year, with every tree strung with jewel-like lights along this stunning avenue. Parisians join with visitors during the holidays to stroll up and down between Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe, admiring the holiday window displays and reveling in the warm glow of the lights. With the early winter darkness, a stop in Ladurée for a pot of hot chocolate or tea, and a macaron would be a nice addition.
At the eastern end, just off Place de la Concorde, you can climb aboard the "Grande Roue" (Ferris Wheel) until 10:30 p.m. everyday until January 20th, 2010. The view is worth every bit of the 10 E fee for adults, 5 E for children, under 3 free.
The windows at the "Grands Magazins" along Boulevard Haussmann are always a treat with their remarkable design and lighting effects. Printemps sports an exclusive new creation featuring a shower of stars and snowflakes, capped off with red flowers on the facade. At Galeries Lafayette, enjoy the multicolored lights by artist Valerio Festi in the windows and go inside to see the 20-meter high tree decorated with gingerbread, lollipops and candies. You could stop in the splendid Galeries Lafayette food halls if all those goodies are just too tempting.
Finally for a more homespun but not less sophisticated holiday lighting reverie, the city of Paris also encourages neighborhood holiday lighting as part of "Paris Illumine Paris". Check out rue Vielle du Temple in the Marais for example, but over 75 merchants associations all over the city get involved. You may be delightfully surprised.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Merry Christmas: Christmas Market at La Defense (Paris)!
The biggest Christmas market in Paris and the surrounding area takes place on the forecourt at La Défense throughout December. Over 200 exhibitors offer a wide array of crafts from France and elsewhere, as well as local food, at the nearly 10,000m² market.
Throughout December 2009. Days and opening hours:
From Monday to Sunday: from 11 am to 8 pm If you need more information have a look on the website www.ladefense.fr
Merry Christmas program in La Villette (Paris 19th)!
The Christmas Market will take place in the Grand Hall La Villette in Paris.
From 18 to 20 December 2009
Days and opening hours:
On Friday: from 10 am to 7 pm
On Saturday and Sunday: from 10 am to 11 pm
The first International Tropical Christmas Market:
It is the first edition of MINT (International Tropical Christmas Market). This fabulous and exotic christmas market will seek to bring together the rich medley of afro-ethnic culture with a multitude of stands dedicated to discovery of arts and crafts, gastronomy and fashion design.
A magical place...
A whole host of events taking place throughout the chilly but remarkably festive month of December, the Grande Halle de la Villette will be transformed into Father Christmas' village. Decorated with fairy lights and the colours of the tropics, this warm and welcoming ambience will bring the magic and spirit of Christmas to all who love this Yuletide season.
Well wrapped up and with joy-filled hearts, visitors will experience the afro-ethnic flavours and spirit of Christmas. In addition to the fair there will be concerts, gospel singing, fashion parades, lectures, tombola and workshops. Internationally renowned sponsors and famous names will stroll through the stalls, stopping to peruse their favourite.
If you need more information have a look on the website www.cite-sciences.fr
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Ok. Slovenia. I know. This is way off the beaten path in Paris. Not even in France. But I can't resist sharing some images of a clean, green remarkably scenic and scenically diverse (tiny) country with wonderful wine. For twelve days following my Pays Basque and Paris tours in October I took the 'slow road' (and some fast roads too) in this splendid part of Europe that is largely unspoiled, untramelled and quite marvelous. I had heard that Slovenia was a convivial destination for travelers who appreciate gorgeous countryside and good, often organic food, good wine. It is all that and much more. A country with a population of two million who peaceably broke away from the former Yugoslavia and got on with growing their country's freedoms and actively aligning with Europe. A country that has a rich history as a cross roads of empires pre-Roman, Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and more. Slovenia was once even controlled, briefly by Napoleon! Go for the gorgeous Julian Alps, the short but lovely Adriatic Coast, the Unesco World Heritage caves like Scokjan, the charming capital city of Ljublana. Stay in one of the 200+ farmstays where your food and often your wine will be fresh, top quality and delicious. Wines include delicious Rieslings, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and local varietals like the deep red Teran from the Karst region. You will taste echoes of Alsace, Austria, Italy, Hungary in the wines, but, its all part of that lovely Slovenian melting pot of culinary and cultural influences. This is one splendid little country for a relaxed vacation.
Inside the mansion you will surely enjoy smaller Rodin works and also a salon dedicated to the exquisite sculptures of Camille Claudel, Rodin's muse and associate. Another benefit: the Rodin Museum and the Orsay team to offer a daily pass where you can visit the two museums on one combined ticket. They are easily walkable from each other. Until February 28 you can also enjoy a very interesting Matisse-Rodin exhibition at the Rodin Museum which explores the substantial influence that Matisse had on Rodin's sculpture and printmaking work. (Extra fee for the special show.) A wonderful, manageable collection in a gorgeous setting.... what more can you ask. www.musee-rodin.fr Metro: Invalides or Varenne RER: Invalides.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Fil O Fromage is GREAT. If you love to feast on French and other European cheese with perfectly paired charcuterie, perhaps some fig, cherry or other complimentary confiture, and, a glass or two of well-matched wine, treat yourself at this adorable cheese and wine specialist in the 13th near Bibliotheque Nationale and Bercy Village.
Cherif Bourbit is the proprietaire of Fil O Fromage. He is an extraordinary affineur with a wide selection of perfectly aged European cheese on offer. He also is exceptionally knowledgeable about wine and features several small-scale producers and their wines, all chosen for felicitous pairings with those delectable cheese and charcuterie plates. Cherif is also one of those infectiously engaging Parisian artisans whose heart, soul and mind are totally focused on perfection in their chosen metier. This is one very special little place. The word is out, TopTable, a London publication focused on things-gourmet declared that Fil O Fromage is the best place in Paris to pair cheese and wine. La Fourchette picked Fil O Fromage as a Coup de Coeur. Its been one of my favorites for seven years!
Cheese lovers can enjoy one of 24 formidable "Assiettes Gourmandes Degustations" for 15.50 Euro. There are six 'thematic' platters that gather a selection of a certain type of cheese.. eg. goat or sheeps milk, or perhaps blue cheeses or even bries. There are six choices for "Les Europeennes" or selections of Spanish, Dutch, Swiss, English, even cheese from Luxembourg! And, of course, celebrating a nation with more types of cheese than days of the year, there are twelve "Les Regionales" gathering selections of cheese from regions of France. One of my favorites is the Corsican plat. Superb. All of the grands assiettes include salad, bread, and a also a selection of appropriately paired artisanal charcuterie. Cherif will happily suggest a glass or bottle of wine to accompany your feast. You can also buy any of the cheese, charcuterie and wines to take to your hotel, apartment, or to nearby Parc Bercy for the picnic of your dreams.
Fil O Fromage. www.filofromage.com Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 to 8:30. Check the website for jazz evenings or other special events. 12 rue Neuve Tolbiac. Metro: Bibliotheque or Cour St. Emilion.
Monday, November 9, 2009
During my Paris Off the Beaten Path tour in mid-October, we ate in three marvelous very 'true' Paris bistros. The new to me 'find' thanks to Alex Lobrano's "Hungry for Paris" was the delightful Hier et Aujourd Hui on rue de Sassure in the 17th out beyond Batignolles and the rue de Levis market street. This is one of those super little 'true' Paris bistros that makes you want to pick up, pack up and move to that quarter. A husband and wife team of chef and server offer delicious bistro classics (with intriguing contemporary touches), well chosen, fairly priced wines and friendly ambience in this sweet, off the beaten track bistro. My braised saddle of rabbit with a deeply flavored wine sauce and savory notes of preserved apricot was worth the longish walk! Lunch formules run 26 E for three courses with several choices for entree, plat and dessert. The chef also sells his Foie Gras and Pain d'Epices to take home. Take some home!
During our Canal St. Martin/Belleville day, we enjoyed a robust lunch at the very true Auberge Pyrennees Cevennes, 106 rue de la Folie Mericourt, in the 11th. Take a look at the attached video. This is not a dining spot to nibble a salad. The Lyonnaise style menu includes hearty and exceedingly well-made classics like Cassoulet, Saucisson Chaud et Pommes à la Creme, Pied du Cochon, steaks, confit de canard and such. There is a delicious salmon with sorrel sauce for fainter appetities. Add splendid profiteroles, Ile Flottante that just about floats out of its dish, and a perfect Tarte Tatin, some hearty red wine.... and you will be deeply content. Lunch formule (including the enormous Cassoulet in a copper braising pan as a main course choice) runs 28 Euro.
Bistro Paul Bert on the rue Paul Bert in the 12th also upheld its high standards for French bistro classics with excellent duck, roasted rack of suckling pig and a completely decadent Molleux aux Chocolat and a superb cheese board. Happily yet another of my favorite central Paris bistros, La Ferrandaise on rue de Vaugirad just off the Luxembourg Gardens in the 6th remained superb as well with its good value 32 E dinner formule and nice choice of wines by the glass... good for a single diner. Dinner at La Ferrandaise was escargot on a bed of new potatoes from the Ile de Ré, braised confit of lamb, and, delectable roasted mirabelle plums in a cocotte accompanied by caramel-salé icecream. Their new seasonal menu has just been posted. Check their website.
Happy bistro-ing in Paris! Let me know about your favorites.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Paris in October. Palais de Thés tea and macarons from Pierre Herme at the hip Hotel des Academies et des Arts, cakes at Arnaud Delmontel on rue de Martyrs, an impossibly blue clear day with late-season roses by Notre Dame, and images of impossibly chic women who surely eschew chocolate and patisserie.
For travelers to Paris the fall is a robust season with a full cultural calendar. Go see the Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese show at the Louvre or the smaller, but fascinating Rodin-Matisse show at the Rodin museum. The Grand Palais has a major Renoir exhibition. News for Orsay lovers: in 2010 large portions of the museum will close for renovation. Go now. And finally, make it a point to visit the extraordinary Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine in Trocadero. I'll be posting a full article on this remarkable place shortly. For now, the historic plaster casts of the great architecture features of chateaus and cathedrals, the frescoes and 'wall paintings' exhibits and the fascinating contemporary architecture presentations present a heady view of past informing present informing future. And thru the end of November there is a remarkable show of 14 leading architects who have been invited to rethink how Paris should 'grow' including master planning to improve the suburban areas, thinking about how to be a 'green' city, looking at what tangibles and intangibles make for a great urban space. Wonderful stuff. And killer views over to the Eiffel Tower too.
Sleek, contemporary and multi-faceted, this is a tea place where you can buy one of 250 premium pure or blended teas and tisanes, drink a wide array of tea in a cleanly designed salon, and, eat your tea too.... in entrees or patisserie that incorporate teas deliciously. (The creative force behind the food worked previously with Patrick Loustalot Barbes at the marvelously sympathique L'Artisan de Saveurs, now lamentably closed.) Cannon pushes the bounds of tea-salon-dom in some wonderful ways. Not only can you enjoy a classic tea shop and salon, buy, eat and drink you teas.... but you can also venture downstairs to a lovely spa area and enjoy a massage, or, book a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in a serene tea room solely for that purpose.
Cannon is on to something good here. Check it out! 12 rue Notre Dame des Champs. Open Tuesdays-Fridays from 9-7:30, Saturdays from 10:30 to 7:30 and Sundays from noon to 6. This would be a great spot for a Sunday 'brunch'. www.georgecannon.fr
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Let Nuits Blanches have been so successful in Paris that various cities now replicate this idea but you can't beat that ineffable blend of art, style and creativity in the city of all-night light.
The Nuits Blanche celebrations include lots that is happening in historic buildings and public squares in the event-dense Marais and Latin Quarter, around Chatelet and other central Paris locations. But this year as ever, the Nuits Blanche also sets forth to lure visitors and residents into more off the beaten path quarters and celebrate their creatively with verve.
This year, the area around Parc de Buttes Chaumont in the 19th and in the new multidisciplinary live-art venue le Centquatre off near the edge of Montmartre are major venues. The Mosquee de Paris and Notre Dame will be sites for musical and light sculpture events, and other historic buildings and churches are highlighted as evocative performance spaces.
65 plus contemporary artists and musicians are participating in various venues and galleries all throughout the Marais also open their doors to expand the festival and celebrate their shows.
And best of all everything is FREE! Detailed booklets are available at ratp stations and Paris city halls. Or, google www.paris.fr for a detailed schedule. Get in the spirit. Do as much or as little as your sleep deprived self will permit.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Across town, check out Patrick Jouin's stunning new 5,000 square foot design store called Silvera Wagram, 41 ave de Wagram in the 17th.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
On Wednesday, October 14, we will explore an entirely different quarter, the charming Batignolles 'village' area and two superb market streets, rue de Levis and rue de Martyrs. A delicious cap to the day will be a chocolate tasting at Natier, one of my favorite chocolate shops in Paris.
And then back to 'bo-bo' on Thursday, the 15. This day we'll explore the 'hot' Belleville and Canal St. Martin areas, home to a remarkable multi-cultural mix and increasingly, home to artistic young Parisians priced out of the Marais. Each day in $450 per person including metro tickets and lunch with wine, and, tastings if scheduled that day. Email me at email@example.com if you would like to join us. Six persons max.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
remains robustly contemporary. Indeed the hours for enjoying Aperos are
considered to be valued times for prioritizing the simple pursuits of catching up with friends, indulging in conversation and perhaps a bit of flirtation.
This treasured Apéro-interstice before dinner has (no surprise France being
France) an entire culinary tradition associated with it. Aperitifs are not
simply a Parisian passion, indeed part of the fun of experiencing L’Heure
de L’Apéro is sampling regionally beloved aperitifs from all over France. Most can be ordered in Paris cafés or purchased in wine stores or foodie-troves like the Grand Épicerie of the Bon Marché.
The flavors are varied and the names are storied… Noilly Prat Vermouth, Suze, Lillet, Dubonnet, Kir, St. Raphael, Rinquinquin, Pastis. These herbal and fruit based potions, bitter or sweet, this galaxy of appetite-stimulating drinks is a long one. The mere notion of indulging in Aperitifs conjures up images of pleasant hours whiled away in languorous late afternoon Mediterranean- light- illumined café terraces or even on bustling urban terraces in Paris or beloved-elsewheres in France. Of course today, often a coupe of Champagne or a glass of dry white wine constitutes the drink of choice. Sometimes even a cold glass of beer seems perfect.
Food served during L’Apéro is mean to compliment the drinks and provide a
savory backdrop to conversation, not to be a star in its own right.
Thin slices of saucisse, paté, savory crackers, salted nuts, olives often
appear. Sometimes a hostess will serve savory hot hors d’oeuvres and even
end with a sweet. The idea is to gather, talk, relax, and set the stage for a transition to dinner. There are no expectations. No one gets drunk.
L’Apéro can be enjoyed at a public place, at a café or bar, and often is. Or,
friends gather at an apartment or at home to indulge. Parisians, like many
big city dwellers, live much of their private lives out and about in public spaces so a favorite Apéro spot is treasured.
Often I hear from non-French persons who have been invited to French homes for dinner that they are somewhat bewildered about the experience of being invited to dinner and arriving to find not a shred of evidence of any imminent dinner in sight. Rather, the hostess serves Aperitifs and small plates of savory snacks. Any they talk and talk and talk for what seems like hours before dinner appears. Or, conversely, an invite to Apéro-time can stretch on and lazily transition into an unexpected dinner.
A Parisian friend of mine who is a knowledgeable ‘foodie’ has decided to
offer an instructively engaging Apéro for visitors to Paris. She has
designed a two-hour perfect for “learning the art of the French Apéro” and will show a minimum of four guests how to make three varied Aperitifs ranging from simple to elegant while discussing the customs and cultural mores of Apéro-time.
Guests at this Apéro relax, sip savor and sample appropriate nibbles, if a tad more elegant than just olives and nuts. They take the recipes and the
experience to create their Parisian Apéro-time at home. Contact Sally at
firstname.lastname@example.org for details on this unique Parisian
Bottom line. I’m sure indulging in L’Apéro will be excellent for your mental
health. If you have a favorite café scene in Paris by all means become an
early evening habitué with your special someone or your posse of friends. Try a variety of Aperitifs over time and find your own favorites. Here's to you!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Jacques Genin is a master chocolatier who for years worked in an off-the-radar atelier out in qa quiet corner of the 15th. Known to foodies as an inventive fine chocolatier who produced superb chocolates and supplied many top gastronomic restaurants and hotels, Genin preferred to not operate a public shop. Now to all of our great good fortune, Monsieur Genin has opened an elegant, two-level "Chocolaterie" in the Marais, 133 rue de Turenne. Metro: Filles du Calvaire. The second floor tea salon offers the chance to sample his chocolates (how about Szechuan pepper ganache or mango-passionfruit caramels). There are also decadent chocolate patisserie choices, (eclair fans take note!). Customers can visit an area of the shop where they can watch Genin's on site team making the delectables. And of course, on the ground floor there is the chocolate boutique of your dreams. Open 7 days a week, 11-9 p.m.
I'll be posting some photos after my visit.
Also in the Marais, the venerable tea importing company, Dammamm Freres has opened a beautiful shop (no salon) to sell their top quality teas in the arcades surrounding the Place des Vosges. Can't wait to check this one out too!
Monday, August 17, 2009
The extensive Louvre website, www.louvre.fr is now accessible in English. Here is the intro from the Louvre site:
"The Musée du Louvre houses 35,000 works of art drawn from eight departments, displayed in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space dedicated to the permanent collections. Explore the works on display, taking a thematic or cross-departmental approach."
And remember, the Louvre complex also houses smaller museums, such as the museum of Decorative Arts, Fashion and Publicity (advertising arts). These are accessible via separate entrances off the rue de Rivoli from the main fine arts museum.
These resources are invaluable in scoping out your priorities for visits to this immense trove. Don't forget the evening opening hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. Less crowds, more flexibility though not every single gallery is open.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Classics like Les Trois Mousquetaires are joined by Tchao Pantin, Renaissance, Boudu Sauvé des Eaux, Ma Petite Enterprise, Dans Paris, Slogan, and more. Showing on Thursday and Friday Nights until August 23 locations vary from Buttes Chaumont Park to Porte de Charenton to Trocadero.
Pack a picnic, round up some friends and enjoy. Films begin at 9:30. Google Clair de Lune Film Festival for links to specific locations and metro stops. Who says Paris is 'dead' in August!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Celebrate Paris Summer’s End With Jazz à la Villette
When: 1 - 13 Sep 2009 Where: Parc de la Villette
Jazz à la Villette is an annual musical celebration with an emphasis on innovative and experimental jazz and well known performers. Performances are held at the Parc de la Villette and other venues around Paris. The Parc de la Villette is also home to the fascinating Cite de la Musique ‘museum’ and is the site for much music and film programming throughout the summertime. This is a part of Paris slated for ambitious cultural development in coming years.
Highlights of the 2009 program include jazz legend Ornette Coleman and his quartet, bandleader and composer Hank Jones, avant garde saxophonist/composer John Zorn, influential pianist Ahmad Jamal and Seun Kuti & Fela's Egypt 80's Afrobeat. There are also master classes and sessions for children. Check the website.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Tango by the Seine:
From late June through late August easy going crowds with people of varied ages gather on the left bank quais of the Seine in the Latin Quarter near the Jardin Botanique and the ‘En Plein Air’ sculpture collection. From dusk until late you can dance, often the dance is tango, and enjoy the music and the scene. No partner? No worries, you’ll find a ‘dance friend’. Metro: Jussieu or Austerlitz. Walk towards the Seine, you will hear the music. Nice weather only. Yet another summer treat in Paris.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
But.... there is more! France, as do most European countries, abounds in Festivals, Fetes, and various fairs that are equally social and shopping opportunities. In Paris, watch for signs for regional festivals where a particular region of France will show off its food and culture for a weekend or a few weekdays. Watch for 'Brocantes' which are temporary markets for nearly antique items from rugs to furniture to books to pottery and china, plus many other choices. These are typically frequented by Parisians and a few savvy visitors. A 'Braderie' is a rummage sale which is likely a spontaneous event not run by professional sellers. In all cases (except the regional festivals) it is fine to politely request a 'petite remise' or a discount, especially if you are buying expensive items or numerous items.
Paris is a moveable feast, fete, foire and always fun!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The rue de Lévis is the foodie street for the upscale and mostly residential 17th arrondissement. It is a splendid Paris Market Street. Excellent charcuteries, fruit and vegetable shops, boulangeries, patisseries, cafes, a fine cheese shop and..... great teas! La Route de Thé is an attractive small shop presided over by Olivier, an engaging young man with a passion for fine tea. There is an excellent collection of
'grands classiques', the renowed pure loose leaf teas from China, India, Ceylon, Nepal, Japan... all over the tea-growing world. And there are tons of choices for blended teas for any mood or time of day. I found an Oolong flavored with chestnut that I adore and plan to return for more.
Add a good selection of herbal teas, many unusual such as bamboo leaves for brewing, a range of attractive tea pots and tea pharaphernalia and you have a shop worth plotting out your best route to visit. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10-7:30, Sundays, 10-6. 77 rue de Lévis. Metro: Villiers.
And, just in case you buy far more than tea along this street and a picnic shapes up, the verdant Parc Monceau or the Parc de Batignolles are within an easy walk.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Lunch can be enjoyed at Lucien Legrand, at the Bistrot Vivienne, or A Priori Thé, a cute little salon du thé that is a great stop for afternoon tea and patisserie as well.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Pâques (Easter) simply has to be one of the most enjoyable holiday celebrations for French children and for chocolate aficionados of all ages. Every single one of those eternally beautiful Parisian Chocolate shops kicks up their fanciful-factor to ultra high levels as Easter approaches. The Easter-chocolate season begins weeks before the actual date. Giving chocolates to friends, family, and especially children is essential to a properly delectable celebration of the holiday. Shop windows are chock-full of a festive menagerie including white and dark chocolate rabbits, chickens, ducks, bunnies, bells and fish. Yes, bells and fish!
And of course, France being France, while there are abundant and adorable chocolate animals to give and to devour, there are also more refined delights like impossibly delicate real egg shells filled with rich chocolate, tiny candy eggs resplendent in spun-praline ‘nests’, or chocolate eggs filled with luscious hazelnut or pistachio creams.
While seasonal chocolates are central to the many nationalities that celebrate Easter it seems that bells and fish are uniquely part of French Easter traditions.
Those delicious candy fish are called Poisson d'Avril. Come Easter-tide, swarms of chocolate fish fill candy shop windows all over the City of Light. They come in varied sizes, some packed in shiny tin boxes holding small schools of fish all wrapped up in silver-blue foil. They are also sold unwrapped, by weight, in all their pure chocolaty glory.
The smallest fish, often called ‘friture’, are made with 70% dark, milk, or orange flavored chocolate. Sometimes the tiny friture are nested inside a large chocolate egg. Madame Dominique Leterrier, the charming owner of Natier, a worth-the journey little chocolate shop at 1 rue Henri Monnier in the 9th arrondissement tells me that the larger sizes of chocolate fish are often molded to resemble either a pike or a carp by the artisanal chocolate-makers that supply her delectable confections. Natier offers chocolate-fish large and small, all wrapped and be-ribboned beautifully at the time of sale.
Of course there is a story behind those fish and bells. Interestingly enough, the story behind Poisson d’Avril is both about Easter and about an April-Fools trick. Poisson d'Avril appear just before April 1st when mischievous French children stick paper fish on to the backs of as many unsuspecting adults as possible, then run away yelling "Poisson d'Avril!" The tagged adults, always graciously un-offended, respond by giving kids gifts of chocolate fish. Leave it to the French to turn April Fools into April Fish! And so chocolate fish enter the Easter candy menagerie.
Thus, April Fool’s jokes and gastronomic tradition blend in serendipitously lovely ways when it comes to Easter in France.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
39 rue Geoffroy St. Hilaire, Paris 5. www.la-mosquee.com
If you are looking for more of an upscale spa experience, check out Omnisens in Bercy Village in the 12th. www.omnisens.fr Bercy Village is well worth exploring for shopping and nice small restaurants. The adjacent Parc de Bercy is a verdant oasis with lovely 'garden rooms' and mature trees. Metro: Cour St. Emilion
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Here is one of my favorite off the beaten path spots, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays. Le Baron Bouge, 1 Theophile Roussel, just steps from the lively Place d'Aligre market and rue d'Aligre market street, is a gem of a winebar. A true 'market bar' of the unfussy sort, shoppers and lucky neighborhood residents spill into the Baron Bouge after marketing to enjoy a glass of wine from a good long list, share a cheese or charcuterie platter and enjoy conversation. There are very few places to sit be forewarned! This is a place to stow those shopping bags, find a corner of an upended wine barrel and soak up the atmosphere. In winter, there is a particular treat in store. On winter weekends an oysterman from Cap d'Archachon (near Bordeaux) sets up long tables outside the Baron Bouge and sells platters of oysters (3 sizes) at prices that border on charitable. You can also buy unopened oysters to take away. A douzaine or half douzaine, some rye bread and butter, a glass of dry white wine and change remaining in your pocket. Heaven indeed. Nearest metro is Ledru Rollin. About a 10 minute walk into the 11th beyond Bastille.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Here is the link: www.journeywoman.com/gfc/GreatshoppinginParis.htm
I will be taking guests to explore the wonderful Faubourg St. Antoine and also rue Levis areas noted in this article as part of my new four day Paris Off the Beaten Path tour in October. Check out http://www.yourgreatdaysinparis.com for details.
Monday, February 2, 2009
How great it this! My first post on my new Paris blog and it's about Chocolate in Paris.
Valentines day and chocolates are an iressistable pairing. Paris is replete with chocolate shops ranging from elegant emporia resembling jewelry shops to warm and wonderful neighborhood shops that sell an extraordinary range of delectables both beautiful and delicious. Check out Chocolat on rue Monsieur le Prince just off the Luxembourg Gardens for excellent chocolates. They just may still have some edible chocolate 'body paint'. I'll leave that one to you. Lars and Lene Boehme are the hip owners and they speak excellent English. There is also a sweet little salon on the second floor to relax and enjoy handmade hot chocolates. Nearest metro is Luxembourg.
Off the beaten path, head over to the 9th arrondissement to 1, rue Henri Monnier and visit the adorable little fine chocolate shop called Natier. Madame Leterrier, the proprietaire speaks excellent English and is a charming and hospitable person. She also sells fruit pates, chocolate covered raisins soaked in Sauternes (or Bordeau) and other delicious candies. Plus a nice selection of Le Palais de Thes teas in attractive tins. Nearest metro is: St. Georges.
For the master chocolatiers, you can't go wrong at Jean Paul Hevin, Michael Chaudun, Christian Constant, Maison du Chocolat, Debauve et Gallais, Patrick Roger and others. More on these fabulous chocolate artisans in coming posts.