Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Prime Route for Fine Teas

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

Paris in the Springtime...

Springtime in Paris. The stuff of song and romance. I revisited a favorite haunt, the lovely Galleries Vivienne, off the Palais Royal and the rue de Petits Champs. This 1890's era passage couvert is one of the prettiest of these historic 'shopping malls' that still remain vital in Paris. Among the shops and galleries in the passage, here are some favorites. Lucien Legrand Filles et Fils is a beautiful small worth-the-journey winebar and shop, selling regional French wines, brandys and Eau de Vies for generations. Great for a winebar lunch and for picking up a special bottle or two. Legrand's adjoining Epicerie is a sweet little store chock full of jams, mustards, candies, oils and more. Great for gifts. There are numerous wonderful one of a kind shops in the Galleries Vivienne including those focused on fashion, kids toys, art, homewares, even antique postcards. If you have the slightest interest in superb scarves and shawls be sure to visit Wolff et Descourthis to be smitten by the intricately designed and coloured silk offerings. Gorgeous is just a starting point!

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.

Lyon: The Culinary Capital of France?

Lyon is a fabulous city, well worth a visit on its own substantial merits, and easy to visit in combination with Burgundy or with a trip to the South of France from Paris. Thanks to la Maison de la France I had the delicious opportunity to visit Lyon and the Rhone Alpes region for three days this spring. I was reminded all over again what a delight this town is. Lyon is a city of engaging neighborhoods, characterful 'bouchons' full of piggy delights, a fabulous permanent food market named in honor of legendary Lyonnais chef Paul Bocuse, and, terrific marché volants. There are two well preserved Roman amphitheatres on the Fourviere Hill, both used for concerts, festivals and special events. There is a delightful Renaissance-era quarter. There are top bakers and chocolate makers. The house wines tend to be fruity beaujolais, from the nearby countryside. The city straddles the Rhone and Saone rivers with innumerable pretty bridges and broad quais to stroll. Add to this a palpable joie de vivre and a relaxed spirit that begins to hint of the French south, and you have a lovely city to explore and enjoy.