The Most Elegant Hardware Store

April 7th, 2016

BHV 3There used to be a few more grands magasins (major department stores) in Paris than there are now. When I first visited long ago, there was even still the Trois Quartiers, a store by Madeleine. It has been through many metamorphoses since then but has never seemed to be commercially successful. There was also the beautiful (from the outside) Samaritaine, which closed 10 years ago for extensive work that everyone understood the need for; the place was a firetrap with its narrow wooden escalators and crowded floors. At the time, the management said it would rehire everyone after the renovation, but no one believed them. In the end, they fired everyone after paying severance, and the Samaritaine is now supposed to be turning into a much more profitable office and apartment building. We Parisians miss the old place because it was on the Seine, with public access; the rooftop restaurant of the Samaritaine had one of the best views in the city.

bhv 5Now there are still the four stalwarts, Galeries Lafayette (one of the two or three biggest department stores in Europe), Printemps, the Bon Marché (in spite of its name, which means “cheap,” it’s one of the more upper-crust ones, not as frequented by tourists and in the heart of the most expensive Paris real estate), and the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, or BHV, pronounced Bay Ahsh Vay. It’s across the street from the Hôtel de Ville–which is the Paris City Hall, not a hotel, as some tourists find out every day!

bhv2BHV is especially famous for its quincaillerie or hardware section. That may not sound fun to you, but that’s because you haven’t been there. When you wander the halls of its fabulous bazaar of brass numbers, hooks, door-fittings and keys, its gardening tools, its classical old French enameled signs, its bells and its birdhouses, I promise you will find something you like and haven’t seen before. This is the place Parisians go for hardware if they can’t find it in their local neighborhood shop.

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Care for a Deer Heart Salad?

April 6th, 2016

yard 1 yard 2I went to Yard with a friend who told me the chef Nye Smith was famous for his offal at St John’s in London, so I wasn’t surprised to see game and fish on the menu (pigeon, deer heart salad, rabbit, and whole dorade cooked in salt). The gnocchi starter in a doe ragout was so good I considered ordering it again as a main dish. For a former industrial space near Père Lachaise, it’s surprisingly small, seating maybe 20-25 people. With an open kitchen, it quickly gets very noisy. I look forward to trying out the Back Yard (tapas and wine bar next door, with an outdoor terrace) when the weather improves. If you go, be sure to reserve in advance.

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The Casino Scene in France

April 5th, 2016

casino de parisWe often think of cities outside the French capital as the places to find casinos. The classic French film Bob Le Flambeur focuses on a glamorous casino in Deauville, north of Paris, while Jacques Demu’s 1963 film La Baie des Angels (Bay of Angels) takes place in Nice. So notable are the French Riviera casinos that they appear in many a James Bond film. The Cote d’Azur is as famous for its glamorous casinos as it is for its topless beaches and the annual Cannes Film Festival.

inside a french casinoBut Paris does in fact have casinos–quite a few of them. They are all, as it happens, on the Right Bank, the part of town that traditonally was the business and governmental center of the city. The Right Bank is where you will find the majority of the large department stores as well as the presidential palace and the Louvre, which was once a royal palace. The Left Bank was, back in the day, considered more academic and bohemian; this is where you will still find the Sorbonne and the heart of the publishing industry. Today, of coourse, there’s a bit of everything on both banks.

casino in monte carloNorth of the Louvre and skirting the streets close to the Seine are the 3rd, 9th and 8th Arrondissments (the city’s administrative districts). This is where all of Paris’ casinos are situated. The Cercle Anglais and the Cercle Haussmann are the two most notable before you get to the Champs-Elysees. The Cercle Haussmann has the most poker tables of any Paris casino, but don’t look for Las Vegas-style slot machines here. They are nowhere to be seen!

It’s natural to find casinos all over France. After all, this is the national that gave us roulette and baccarat. (You always knew those names sounded French!). Blackjack, roulette, poker and baccarat are all favorite games at French casinos.

craps-chipsFurther along the river and more toward the commercial centre of Paris is the Aviation Club de France, a members-only club playing host to some of the world’s best poker players. It is located near the Arc de Triomphe.

For game-lovers who may not be in Paris, or in France, for that matter, there’s a way to access that casino ambiance without leaving the comfort of your home. www.casinofrancaisenligne.fr is a gaming site in French, and it offers all the games that players know and love.

Sneak Peek at the Brand New Les Halles

April 5th, 2016

leshalles1
A third incarnation of Les Halles is now ready to be unveiled – with a design somewhat implausibly known as the canopée des halles, and supposedly apeing a tropical rainforest. Ahead of the opening (scheduled for April 6), I was given a sneak preview.

leshalles2Conceived by architects Patrick Berger and Jacques Antiziutti, the green structure is certainly impressive, as is the goal of the project: to make Les Halles the centre of Paris once again. Whereas the previous construction – the work of several architects and a hodgepodge of conflicting visions – was more akin to a bunker, this time the aim is to open the forum to the light and make it a place of passage.

leshalles3A colossal project – delivered late and over-budget – it has of course already attracted much criticism. One writer recently described it as a “bony whale,” the mouth wide open and ready to swallow a shoal of krill (hordes of shoppers who will shortly be diving into its depths). In the same article, the metallic structure is also compared to a “horizontal Eiffel Tower.” One can only hope it follows a similar trajectory in public opinion: rejected at first, adopted and loved later.

Whatever the merits of the design may be, and how relevant a mega shopping complex is in a world moving online or back towards the small-scale, the engineering is worth celebrating. The roof is at once open and closed, providing an air escape to avoid transforming the centre into a gigantic wind tunnel but with panels positioned at an angle that ensures rain doesn’t slip through. In fact, not only does it stop the rain, but it also captures it, channeling it towards new fountains being put in place in the surrounding gardens.

leshalles4All architects seek the perennial, hoping that their construction – particularly one as central and historic as Les Halles – will become a new visual symbol. Will the canopée last longer than the previous design (barely 40 years)? Looking at photos of that design (such as the one below), I’m surprised to note that I can hardly recognise it. Demolished only a couple of years ago, it has already been erased from my consciousness, perhaps a sign that it was never saved there in the first place.

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“Sundance” on the Seine

April 4th, 2016

7 parnassiensThink of it as Sundance for Europe. Ecu, the European Independent Film Festival, brings cinema from all over the world to Paris from April 8 – 10. Think of these films as the antidote to Batman vs. Superman nonsense. And, just like its Park City spiritual forebear, this festival counts parties as an integral part of the fun.

Shorts and features will unspool from Estonia, Lebanon, Slovakia and, yes, the US and France. Daylong passes are just 15 euros, a weekend pass goes for 25 euros, and all festival guests are invited to the awards ceremony on April 10. The fest takes place at the 7 Parnassiens, a trio of cinemas in the 8th, 9th and 14th arrondissements.

Get ramped up for the fun by spending some time on the Film Channel run by Ecu, featuring movies and shorts from fests past.

The Circus Hits the Gallery

April 3rd, 2016

mullins 2“Cinq en Seine” opens in two weeks at the Etienne de Causans Galerie (25 rue de Seine) and runs until April 20. The exhibit features the work of five internationally recognized artists—two sculptors, a painter, and two photographers. The blog Eye Prefer Paris has invited its readers–and, by extension, those here–to attend the vernissage (opening) on Monday evening, April 11 from 6–9 pm.
mullins 1
Says Meredith Mullins, one of the artists:

I will be showing work from my new “The Circus is (Always) in Town” series. I also have a passion for Paris in the snow (a rarity these days, but, fortunately, I went wild during the snows a few years ago so that we can be reminded how beautiful Paris is covered in white). And, finally, I am sharing the “Free Floating” series, the result of a few years of taking deep breaths to go under water in swimming pools to capture grace, suspension of time, and defiance of gravity in all its beautiful and mystical glory.

>see more images from the show

A Heavenly Tour!

April 2nd, 2016

Angels-of-ParisScattered around the third and fourth arrondissements of Paris are sculpted angels on buildings. The buildings range in century ages from 1400s to 1600s to 1700s to 1800s to the early 1900s. After 1914, the angels become living relics of the past yet still enjoyable to admire.

To reach each of these sculptures, Rosemary Flannery took us on her Angels of Paris No. 2 guided walk, based on her book Angels of Paris. Passing through passages to avoid street noise, through gardens, narrow medieval streets, we made a culinary stop at a modern chimney cake factory. On the tour, we heard architectural anecdotes about buildings with and without angels.

Saint-Louis-en-Isle_angelDoors opened and closed for us. We slipped through a locked door to view an historical courtyard when a resident held the door open for us. As we observed the false façade to protect the symmetry of the Jewish museum’s courtyard, the guard closed one of the doors for us to better hear Rosemary’s stories. She made the grey, chilly day quite warm and bright as she smiled and enjoyed telling the stories.

We began the visit at the Rambuteau metro entrance by the Centre Georges Pompidou and ended the visit at the northern Rambuteau entrance close to the angels of the Nicolas Flamel House. Rosemary gave us each a Marais map, courtesy of Parismarais.com to show our route. Later, she retraced our route on the map for whomever asked.

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An Alpine-Themed Pop-Up Bar

April 1st, 2016

Cafe A 3

The ever-morphing hangout Café A has been temporarily transformed into an Alpine ski village complete with evergreens and chairlifts known aspopup cocktail bar paris Café Altitude, where you can warm your cockles at their Żubrówka Biala bar. While there are a few other options, the main focus here is on the four cocktail creations based on a newer offering from this polish vodka. Żubrówka Biala is a clear version of the popular Żubrówka vodka, which is flavored with bison grass giving it a clean, but earthy/grassy flavor.

Cafe A 2There are four 10-euro cocktails to choose from, such as the Biala Folie Blanche (Żubrówka Biala, camomille syrup, lemon juice, simple syrup and apple/pear juice). The Biala Folie Blanche is refreshing enough and easy to drink, but it doesn’t really allow an appreciation for the more subtle flavors in this vodka. I noticed a few gentlemen ordering vodka straight over ice, which is a good alternative if you really want to taste it. And something about vodka on ice feels very snowscape to me, fitting right in with this popuop’s theme.

cafe A 1And for the American readers, Żubrówka vodka was banned in the US for some time (giving it an absinthe-like illicitly interesting edge) and a FDA acceptable one was created called Zu a few years back. (which I haven’t tried, so can’t comment on)

In addition to drinks, there is the Bon Coin chalet, decorated with second hand goodies, all of which are for sale. They are offering different workshops for both adults and children and have a schedule of live music. You can reserve the cable car for a special evening or event. Plus the space is just fun and cool (both decoratively and figuratively.) And, it’s this complete packaging that makes Café Altitude worth a visit.

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French Films That Hit the Jackpot

March 31st, 2016

moulin rouge paris 75009Living in France is so incredible that it makes you feel like you’ve just won the lottery. After all, is there anything more luxurious than taking a stroll to buy freshly-baked brioche from your local boulangerie?
This association isn’t too far-fetched in reality. French history has been changed dramatically due to the lottery – it even created Voltaire’s fortune. And its impact continues to the present-day through France’s lottery-funded projects. Even non-French lottery fans from all over the world get into the French lottery action through sites like theLotter, adding to French lottery’s prestige. It’s no surprise then that France and luck have paired up in cinema for over eight decades. If you’re feeling lucky – and want to practice your French listening skills – here are three excellent options for your next movie night.

Le Million (The Million) – 1931 Nearly thirty years after George Méliès released his silent masterpiece Le Voyage dans la Lun (Trip to the Moon), French cinema glided elegantly into the era of sound film. One of the country’s first talkie gems was René Clair’s Le Million. Like so many of the first sound films, Le Million is a musical comedy. The plot surrounds Michel, a struggling artist who is being suffocated by debt. His luck changes when he wins the lottery, but of course, the story doesn’t end there. Michel leaves the winning ticket in the pocket of an old jacket, which his fiancée gives away before he can claim his prize. The two of them go on a wild chase through the city, encountering dazzling song numbers along the way.

barge on the seineLes Tuches (The Tuches) – 2011 Much had changed in France eighty years after Le Million was made, but Les Tuches’ 2011 release showed that the fascination with lottery winners remained the same. Definitely not as glamourous as Le Million, Les Tuches still manages some charm as a modern-day rags to riches comedy. Follow this zany, messed up family as they win €100 million and travel through France on their way to Monaco. The family is large, the jackpot is larger – the only question that remains is how large are the laughs?

La Liste de mes Envies (The List of My Desires) – 2014 Jocelyne and Jocelyn seem to be a match made in heaven, from their matching names to their perfect family life in northern France. Jocelyne is a wife, mother, and blogger, while her husband Jocelyn is a worker at an ice cream factory. Now that their children are all grown up, Jocelyne has more time to daydream about how different life could be. Her friends convince Jocelyne to buy a EuroMillions ticket – how will fortune change her life? La Liste de mes Envies is based on the best-selling novel by Grégoire Delacourt and has won a place in moviegoers’ hearts.

Make Some Money and Have Some Fun on Long Commutes Around Paris

March 31st, 2016

paris france eiffel tower winOne key quality of a reputable and organized betting site is that it gives you many excellent options. With a large number of mobile and Web-based casino games to choose from, you will definitely find the one that is just right for you. Trying to make a few hundred bucks on the side while on holiday, will make your holiday even more enjoyable. The purpose of this article is to discuss some of these exciting and fun options as well as point out their advantages while traveling and relaxing on your holiday in Paris.

euros winBetting on sports Any successful punter out there will tell you that betting on sports is not just gambling. Sports betting can be considered an investment in the sense that you are using your knowledge of the sport to make good money. The key to making money from sports betting is to understand how different sports work. Once you have this knowledge, you can easily make money if you do your homework the right way.

Success tips for soccer betting Soccer is definitely one of the most popular sports out there. In fact, most bookmakers and gambling sites offer more soccer events than any other sport. Now, this does not mean you should bet on soccer if you do not know the intricacies of the game. Your aim is to make money so place your bets so that they give you the best return on investment. You can bet on the home team to win if a strong team is playing at home. You can also bet on the “double chance” (away team to win or draw) if a good team is playing away. In low scoring leagues, you can bet on under 2.5 goals. Bet on over 2.5 goals in high scoring leagues and you will increase your chances of making money.

Success tips for basketball One of the best things about betting on basketball is that there is no draw in this game. The game only has the home win or the away win so you should choose these options at the right time. In many cases, the odds for the home win are not that high. This is particularly true if a strong team is hosting a weak team. However, you can get higher odds if you bet on the “overs” and “unders” market. If you follow top basketball teams, you can easily tell when a match will end with overs or unders. Put your knowledge to use and you will make good money.

Betting table games If your specialty is table games, you can make good money if you join the right betting site. Many gambling sites have games like poker, blackjack, roulette and baccarat. The best thing about these games is that you do not depend solely on lady luck to make money. In games like poker, skill is vital. If you know how to play the game, you will be more likely to win and make good money.

Final word There is good money in online gaming but you have to understand how this business works before you start staking. The first step is to join the right website and do a bit of demo-betting first. Fund your account and start playing with real money. Finally, bet only on sports and games you understand very well. This is how to make money from online gambling.