Friday, June 24, 2011

Mixing it up in Paris

Check out the organic cake, bread and cookie mixes at Marlette, 28 rue Charlot in the Marais. Sourced from France's best artisans and farms the savory, sweet and bread mixes are a nice gift for cooks and for you. Beautifully packaged (of course!) these products are divided into sweet, savory and 'bread' categories. If you love pain d'epices the shop sells an excellent mix that only requires adding eggs.

Marlette products are also sold at the Grand Épicerie at the Bon Marche and at other gourmet shops in Paris but this shop is in a hip part of the upper Marais and is solely for Marlette mixes.

Summer Refreshment in Paris

Yes the French do drink tea, generally very high quality tea. And yes, you can can delicious iced tea in Paris, particularly nice in hot weather. It is called Thé Glacé.

Stop in at any of the numerous Mariage Freres shops with salons and order one of their premium pure or blended teas iced. They are featuring 'Babylonia' a green tea with aromatics this summer season. Of course you need to sit down, relax and savor your tea... this isn't a zoom in and get a take out opportunity.

Patrick Barbes, the friendly tea expert and superb patissier who owns TeaThéTcha out in the 13th makes a delicious hibiscus iced tea in his pleasant, neighborhood salon. He also makes delectable patisserie, often incorporating tea as a savory ingredient.

And, if you are in a rush, there is always Starbucks or Colombus Café.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Uptick in Paris Pickpocketing..

Parisian guiding colleagues of mine have mentioned repeatedly that there is a noticeable uptick in pick pocketing in the Paris metros and in crowded places this spring. May just be high season, may be the poor economies, but pay attention.... these thieves are extremely skilled and can relieve you of a wallet, I Pod or I phone without your having the slightest clue.

If you are arriving at CDG or other venues with jet lag and lots of bags it is always wise to spend the few extra Euros to book a van to your hotel or take a taxi. And always pay attention on the metro and in tourist spots, or in crowded markets or other spots. Not fun but sadly true.

Chips, Pins, Strips... Charging in Europe

Most Americans travel with credit card that use the swipe method... the black strip on the back of your card stores your information for charging. European credit cards are different.. they use an embedded chip and pin technology which apparently offers much stronger security. In general, American cards can be used in Europe since most machines in shops and restaurants can process both technologies. However, travelers who need to buy a ticket to the Louvre from a machine, or, pay for gas after hours at a machine, or, who want to rent a velib bike in Paris or pay with a card at a market, often find their cards are useless. If you have your heart set on renting one of those cool gray Velib bikes in Paris you can go to and buy a one or seven day ticket online. And remember Rail Europe... you can go to and buy European train tickets in advance (generally after 3 months prior to your trip) and pay in USD. Always a good idea to have a back up plan.

Safe travels!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer and Champagne

One of our favorite sources for wine classes, tastings in Paris is now offering a splendid looking Champagne tour on Wednesdays and Sundays. This is notable because you will be able to try seven different and delicious champagnes and also, visit a great boutique winemaker in the lovely vine-filled countryside in addition to visiting a cave of one of the Grands Marques. 180 E per person, pick up and drop off at your hotel or apartment. Small group, comfortable minivan, wine-savvy guide. You will learn how Champagne is made, why Champagne (the region) is perfect for Champagne, enjoy a delicious lunch and more.

Contact me for details! And if you have a small group or are one or two couples I can always book a wonderful Champagne day trip with one of my driver-guide colleagues in Paris that we can customize for you.. any day of the week.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer In Paris

Summertime in Paris always brings special events worth noting. Here is a selection to enjoy.

Paris Plage: oui, the beach returns to Paris. From the 20th of July to the 20th of August the quais of the Seine in central Paris are turned, somewhat magically, into a beach. Sand is trucked in, ephemeral cafés sprout up, volley ball nets appear, beach chairs abound. There are even palm trees. No, you can't swim in the Seine but there IS a temporary swimming pool placed near the lovely Hotel de Ville.

Speaking of the Hotel de Ville, this is the site of a gorgeous (and free) exhibition of French Impressionist paintings from the Musée d'Orsay until July 23. The Orsay is still undergoing its major renovation of the Impressionist galleries and this show, Paris At the Time of the Impressionists, is a winner. 5 rue de Lobau, Paris 4.

And, the Paris Jazz Festival runs through July 31 in the lovely Parc Floral within the Bois de Vincennes.