Apero Culture

August 10th, 2014

laperoThe apéro is one of the many French traditions around food. And as a true francophile, you understand that food is sacred to French people. Today, we are going to demystify the French apéro for you and give you tips to impress your French hosts when you’re invited for an apéro.

L’apéro is the short name for l’apéritif (we say un apéritif). L’apéro is a pre-dinner drink with finger food (similar to a cocktail party). You normally have it between 6PM and 9PM and it can be a full meal. If it’s a full meal, it’s called Un apéro dînatoire. There’s no fixed length for an apero. It can last any where from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Sometimes, it’s just a quick drink with olives. But most of the time, it’s much more than that.

apero coupleThe apéro is one of the many French traditions around food. And as a true francophile, you understand that food is sacred to French people.

If you’re invited to someone’s place for an apéro, it’s always a good idea to bring something. And bring something sophisticated. Not cheap beer and crips.



August 9th, 2014

picasso museum reopensThe wait was long – and it is not over quite yet. But, I am sure, on Saturday, October 25, I am going to say that it was worth waiting for. On that day Paris’s Picasso Museum is to reopen after a five-year closure for renovation. And on that day I will be there! That date was chosen because it is the anniversary of Picasso’s birth 133 years ago. He died in 1973 aged 92. Superstitious, when he was asked, by family, friends and colleagues, to make a will and to decide on his burial – where it was to be, for example – he bluntly refusedm saying that should he make plans for his funeral, he will be dead the very next day.


South Beach? No–Paris!

August 8th, 2014

molitor hotel parisThe Molitor Pool was originally opened in 1929 in the 16th arr. near Roland Garros tennis stadium and Bois de Boulogne, an Art Deco gem that was the pool of its day and continued to be one of the most beloved pools in Paris till it closed in 1989. Ironically, it was classified as an historic monument after it closed when it was in disrepair and became a haven for street artists to have free reign, who freely spray-painted their works all over the pool and surrounding area.

In August 2007, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe accepted bids from three companies for the renovation of the pool. The Accor Hotel Group won the bid and proceeded to completely rebuild the pool and add a luxury hotel, spa, and pool club.

The results are stunning! I think its now the chicest hotel in Paris, a resort right in the heart of the city but far away from the tourist attractions and hubbub of the city.

I was invited to take a tour of the hotel and to have lunch last Friday. As I approached the hotel, the intense mustard color caught me instantly along with the MOLITOR in bold black type. I actually felt I was in the Art Deco part of South Beach in Miami.


Fresh from Ile de Ré

August 7th, 2014

marlette1You may have heard of Marlette, the trendy culinary brand originating from île de Ré that has taken Bretagne by storm with its savory and organic pre-made mixes. Now you can have it all in Paris at Café Marlette, opened by sisters, Margot and Scarlett; this tearoom boutique can be found on the famous rue des Martyrs. Compared to a typical Paris Café, Marlette is not very large, but it’s cozy with its comfy couches and big windows. We opted for a large assiette Marlette (Marlette signature plate) for 13,50 euros, a barre fruites sec et sésame (dried fruit and sesame bar) as well as a citronnade (lemonade). The signature dish was perfectly assembled with red cabbage, mescaline and a rare bleu cheese that really came together well with the most perfect seasonings. In my opinion, the barre sésame et fruits secs hit the nail on the head: the whole ensemble was scrumptious even though we would have preferred it to be a bit softer.


A Place in the Sun

August 6th, 2014

jdlAfter such a wet and cloudy spring, what Parisian *wouldn’t* want an app telling you exactly where to find the sunny terraces around town? I actually saw a sticker for the Sunny Chairs Paris app on a traffic light pole this morning while walking the dogs and downloaded it immediately. You can search by arrondissement, by name, or what’s within 500m of your location by categories like “Bon Burgers”, “Bar du Quartier” “Rooftop” and “Bar à Vin”. The info includes address, hours, number of chairs in the sun, and what time it gets sunshine. The selections seem rather random, it’s only in French, and the info isn’t perfect (“Starbuck” (sic) is listed alongside the correctly spelled “Starbucks” and some locations are listed twice), but it’s free and seems like a useful tool when you get an immediately craving for a sunny sidewalk café. Also available for iPhone.


Velib by the Numbers

August 4th, 2014

velib infographicIt’s already been seven years since the first fleet of Vélib bicycles rolled out into Paris, grey and shiny and ready to offer Parisians a new mode of transport. That’s nearly as long as I’ve been a Paris resident. In that time, Vélib has become a fixture of the cityscape, a bike-share model of excellence that has inspired the systems in Chicago, New York, London and surely beyond, and, to everyone’s great surprise, an example of excellent customer service on and offline.

To put those seven years into perspective, the Vélib team created this fun infographic.


Seaside Sensations

August 1st, 2014

trouvilleCan’t get to Deauville or Trouville for “the season”? Enjoy an armchair journey thanks to Richard Nahem of Eye Prefer Paris.

A Triumphant Return

July 31st, 2014

1 la ferme st simonThe reopening of the restaurant La Ferme Saint Simon is without a doubt one of the events of the 2014 culinary season after months of well-deserved hype. This mystical Parisian restaurant address had lost some of its glamour in the past; however, with a new team that has strategically rethought the menu and interior design, it’ll be as chic as ever.

From now on, it will be open seven days a week and we were easily seduced into going there for lunch. With that being said, we would have needed to win the lottery in order to pay the 80€ per person (not including alcohol) bill. To be honest, the 29€ lunch deal (appetizer-main dish or main dish-dessert) was very appealing, but we decided to skirt away and order from à la carte.

2 la ferme st simonI ordered the salade de homard breton et jeunes pousses (Breton lobster salad with sprouts). The pistachio vinaigrette had an oomph to it that elegantly perked up the sometimes bland crustacean. It was a beautiful homage to a classic. My friend treated himself to the velouté aux legumes oubliés (rustic vegetable cream soup of forgotten -old-fashioned- vegetables); everything was there, from the smoothness of the soup which was well blended to the powerful and hearty flavors of the vegetables. In short, it was a meal not to be forgotten.


Paris Zoo Reopens!

July 30th, 2014

paris zoo giraffesThe Paris Zoo (Parc Zoologique de Paris) celebrated its 80th anniversary with a reopening in June 2014. The six-year closure was necessary to plan renovations. The zoo had never had been renovated or upgraded since 1934.

Now, instead of being cooped in cages according to their type, the one hundred eighty park species, including the insects, birds and reptiles are grouped into five world regions. The visitor winds through the zoo on a voyage to Europe, Patagonia, Sahel-Sudan, Guyane and Madagascar following the “suite du voyage” signs through 16 bio-zone habitats.

zoo parisThe larger animals, rhinoceros and zebra or the ostrich, kudus and giraffes share spaces and know when to mingle and when not to. At 4:30 pm, the park guide told the crowd giraffe anecdotes (in French). He said, that only the male giraffes are separated from the family herd. The males have visual contact but not physical. Since the females are “in heat” every fifteen days, there would be a lot of giraffe neck fights among the males and pain and suffering if they weren’t.


The French “Manana”

July 28th, 2014

Hotel de VilleMy least favorite word in the French language was and may still be the word normalement. Normalement basically means “if all goes according to plan”. When you add normalement to a response, it means the thing should happen. For example:
Question: « Le magasin est ouvert demain ?» / “The store is open tomorrow?”
Response: « Normalement, oui. » / “It should be, yes.”
Why do I hate this word? Because it denies all responsibility. It turns a “Yes” into a “Yes, you obnoxious inquirer, but don’t come blaming me if something changes. I didn’t promise anything.” In effect, normalement is a just a CYA addition.
But my latest pet peeve or bête noire as the French would say, is « pas du tout », sometimes shortened to just « du tout ». Of course there are legitimate reasons to say “not at all”, but I think it is far overused in French. Two examples:
Example 1: A couple of weeks ago, I was walking with a friend down rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, the border between the 9th and 10th arrondissements. I was looking for a place to get photocopies done. We came across a shop that said, among other things, “Printing”. My friend suggested that I fermaturetry them. I said no, I’ve lived in Paris long enough to know that if they don’t specifically say “Copying”, they will not do copying, and not only will they tell me know, they will laugh at me for even asking! “Don’t be silly,” he told me. Might as well ask. So I did. And the response? « Pas du tout, Madamoiselle ! » Was this really necessary? Had they just said “Sorry, no” would that have left some doubt in my mind that maybe they still did some copying, if I just asked more politely? When I asked if the shopkeeper knew where I could make copies, he said “all over!” but it still look me another 20 minutes to find a place.