Monday, August 31, 2009

Savor fine teas during Terre de Chine's fall 'Ateliers de Thé'

Terre de Chine is a terrific small tea shop on the ancient rue de Quincampoix in the 4th (near Chatelet).  There is always a first rate offering of quality chinese teas and beautiful tea implements in this pretty shop. This fall, Terre de Chine is offering numerous 'Ateliers de Thé' where you can taste fine green teas, Oolong teas and Pu Er teas.  The Ateliers are 90 minutes long and cost 25 Euros.

Perfect for cool autumnal days.

Check out the dates and offerings at

For a fuller list of tea shops and salons du thé in Paris check out the complimentary articles on or order my e-guide "Paris.Tea Capital of the World".

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Apéro Hour(s), a Time to Savor Conversation and a Good Drink

Taking ample time to enjoy aperitifs in Paris is a time-honored pursuit that
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 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

Two Superb Newish Spots for Tea and Fine Chocolate

I'm planning my precious few free October days in Paris prior to my Pays Basque Culinary Tour and my Paris Off the Beaten Path tours to follow (some openings still available for each)and I'll be visiting two relatively new sources for fabulous teas and chocolates.

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

New Louvre Website in English is Available

Thirty-Five Thousand Works of Art, historic castle, mother of all museums, hip cafes, classic and contemporary architecture.... the Louvre is indisputably a remarkable place.

The extensive Louvre website, 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

Cinema By the Light of the August Paris Moon

The Clair de Lune Film Festival is off and running. This festival, in its eighth year, is showing films in parks and public locations all over Paris...locations that were actually featured in the films... and attending these films can take you to some wonderful parts of Paris you might otherwise miss.

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!