Dec 21, 2019

Paris is Corked: Au Bouchon


It's been over two weeks, and it's well beyond what most Parisians can comfortably take. Yet the strike goes on. What with the impeachment dominating America's news, and the elections and ramifications for the impending Brexit dominating British news, and devastating wildfires polluting and endangering Sydney and dominating Australian news, it's quite possible that whatever English-speaking country you're from, you're barely aware of the massive, debilitating transportation strikes in Paris and France right now. Somebody (and I'd love to give credit but don't know where this originated) redrew the iconic Paris metro map to reflect the new reality:

Oct 23, 2019

The Chinese are Back!: Mystère de Chèvre au Yuzu


If you only had a day in Paris, most likely you'd see the Eiffel Tower, pass by Notre Dame (the outside only, post-fire), and maybe try to squeeze in the Louvres, or the Musee d'Orsay. But there's an alternative: Your tour bus could visit the pharmacy at Place Monge so you could buy shampoo. That's what an awful lot of tour groups, especially Chinese and Korean, do on their one day in Paris, during a six-countries-in-one-week whirlwind European tour.

Aug 8, 2019

Castle for Sale: Tomme du Vernet


Have you ever dreamed of owning a castle in the French countryside? Of course you have. Well, for less than a small apartment in Paris, or London, or San Francisco, you can indeed be the proud owner of a real French castle. Several of my French friends have castles of their own. Sure, many of them inherited the castle from their ancestors, but that doesn't mean that even a nouveau-semi-riche Bourgeois can't own a piece of noble French history. We were lucky enough to stay at this small castle that our friend bought in the Loire Valley.

Jul 25, 2019

Life's a Beach: Sablé du Boulonnais


When you think of the French coastline and the beaches, I know that what pops into your mind is the Côte d'Azur and the Mediterranean. The Côte d'Azur is indeed beautiful, but not only is it not France's only coastline, it's not even France's longest coastline. For that, you need to head to the Atlantic -- with wide, almost-white-sand beaches that expand down for around 1000km from the North Sea down to the Spanish border.

Jul 11, 2019

Digging La Digue: Le Plaisir Passe par Courseulles sur Mer


There are plenty of boardwalks that are more famous, but to me none are more special than the boardwalk that runs between Courseulles-sur-Mer and Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer on the English Channel coast in Normandie.

Jun 27, 2019

New-fangled Old Art: Crottin de Champcol


You've seen Klimt before, but perhaps never quite like this -- projected onto the walls of an old converted foundry in a residential-industrial section of Paris. It's air conditioned, dark, and cool and turns out to be a great way to immerse yourself inside great works of art on a hot day, as long as you're OK with sitting on floors.

Jun 13, 2019

Isn't it Romantique?: Germollin


This is not the most romantic thing you can do in Paris, but it is the most Romantic: the Musée de la Vie Romantique (Museum of the Romantic Life). In fact, it's a charming little museum with a garden and some sweet art, all tucked away in a hidden courtyard. But none of this will make any sense if you don't know the difference between Romance, romance, romantic, Romantic/Romantique, and Romanticism.

May 30, 2019

Au Revoir Notre Dame, Hope and Resolve: Valbrie au Poivre


I am thrilled to report that it's not "adieu" to Notre Dame ("good bye forever") but rather "au revoir" ("till we see each other again"). By now you all know the horrible news that Notre Dame burned but the wonderful news that the stone exterior and even much of the interior art -- including stained glass windows and organ -- survived the fire, though with extensive damage.

Apr 15, 2019

Adieu Notre Dame, Flames and Tears: Brique Cendrée


When we first moved to Paris, Pippa was just six years old. Every time we passed by and pointed out Notre Dame to her, she corrected us: "Not Notre Dame, Ma Dame." Meaning "Not Our Lady, My Lady." And that is how she, and I, and all of our family still feel about Notre Dame de Paris. Yes, I know it belongs to the world, to France, to Paris, to the Catholics, but also -- specifically and personally -- to us and our family. It was the playground where our kids grew up. Gigi's handprint is still on the tree just outside the church, a remnant left from a day of finger painting in the garden about seven years ago. Notre Dame was the backdrop to our Parisian lives.

Feb 27, 2019

La Vie est Belle: Petit Breton


Life is beautiful or, as they say in French, "la vie est belle." In the case of this tiny river named "La Vie" ("Life") in the Vendée, it's quite literally true. La Vie is beautiful. And even though it's a tiny river in a tiny town, it packs a big wallop of fun in the form of the inflatable water park, something that France and Europe has embraced.

Feb 13, 2019

Those Three Little Words: Biquette de Vendée


Though I have hundreds of thousands of photos, and I seem to have lost the ability to keep up with my careful cataloguing system a couple years ago, it only took me a few minutes to find a photo of me smooching one of my kids. You can see it happens so frequently, Pippa looks a little bored ("Yup, my mom loves me. Ho-hum."). I have warned the girls that it's one of my life's missions to kiss each and every freckle on their faces. That ensures me infinite kisses.

Jan 30, 2019

Radishes and Butter: Baba Périgourdin


If you're French, you will not even be able to understand why I'm writing about radishes and butter; its a pairing as common as cheese and bread, coffee and cream, croissants and jam. For the Americans, it's like peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers, nachos and salsa. In other words, they just go together.

Jan 16, 2019

Those Roamin' Romans: Lingot de Gâtine


And speaking of megalithic stones (having recently written about them in a post about our trip to Malta)... One day while visiting my friend's house in the tiny town of Apremont, I leave the house with my camera to see what I find. What I find is a very well-educated history buff of a French gardener who takes it upon himself to send me on a  walk to a local Roman megalith.

Jan 2, 2019

The Rainbowfication of the Marais: Tomme au Génépy


You may know of the Jewish history of the Marais, especially prevalent on the Rue des Rosiers (end 19th, beginning 20th century). You may know of the history of the Marais as a place for nobility (13th-16th century, and especially 17th century) or artists (latter 20th century). And while you still have people who are rich, artsy, and Jewish living in the Marais (and sometimes all three), there's no mistaking one of the newest and biggest identity markers in the Marais nowadays, thanks to the quick and complete rainbowfication of the neighborhood: it's been the gay neighborhood of Paris -- the LGBQT center since the 1980s.

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