Thursday, April 23, 2009


I forgot to mention that last Friday J and I celebrated our (first of two) one-year wedding anniversaries. Last April we were legally hitched at the mairie in the 16th arrondisement where we used to live. It wasn't anything like the grandiose fête we had this past September but I was very lucky because my mom flew all the way to Paris to surprise me, my belle-mère bought me a beautiful bouquet of white roses, and after we celebrated with friends at one of my favorite restaurants of the quarter, La Gare. In honor of this J and I headed back over to the 16th where we we wined and dined. Champagne, foie Gras, tomato mozzarella, rolled salmon filet with herbs, filet de boeuf, and to top it all off, a moelleux au chocolat...there was no holding back! With both of us being students, we don't dine out like we used to so this was a real treat.

La Gare, as it's name implies, is actually a former train station. The restaraunt is a wide open space with atypical decorations and the prices are great. (entrée+plat+ dessert = 22€ for lunch, 33€ for dinner). There is also a lovely terrace, perfect for sipping chilled brouilly on sunny afternoon.

Restaurant La Gare
19, Chaussée de la Muette
75016 Paris

A Field Trip au Louvre

For one of my MBA classes the professor brought us all to the Louvre where we were given free entry into the museum and a sort of scavenger hunt à la Divinci Code. We had 4 hours to answer all of the questions on the list which had us running all over like chickens with our heads cut off. This wasn't my first time at the museum but I never before realized how big it is! I'm just glad I brought comfortable shoes...

Monday, April 20, 2009

In a castle far far away.....

Not really but almost. J and I decided we really needed to get out of Paris to breathe some fresh country air and thought the Loire Valley would be perfect. Easter weekend couldn't come sooner! Although I had class saturday afternoon we did have Monday off so it gaves us a good 2 days away. I had been googling "chambre d'hôtes" like crazy and was excited to find that many were in old renovated castles! I guess everyone had the same idea as I did because everything was booked! I almost gave up until one of the castle owners gave me the number of Château de Nanteuil located in Huisseau sur Cosson, not far from Blois. The owner was extremely friendly and even invited us to eat at the "Table d'Hôtes" where everyone staying in the castle dines together.

Saturday afternoon after having wine marketing class in the Musée du Vin in the 16th arrondisement, I set off to J's parents house so that we could borrow their car for the weekend: a white Smart! Belle-mère had packed us some food as well as two giant chocolate bunnies for Easter (just what I needed). The GPS was ready and we were on our way. And so was the rest of Paris. What should have taken an hour and 1/2 took a good 3 hours! We arrived at the castle tired and hungry but the owner, Frédéric, was more than welcoming. He let us pick our room: a modest, antique French country-style bedroom with large windows and a view of the river. We got settled and then made our way downstairs to the dining room for an apératif with the other guests: a French girl and her Argentinian boyfriend who currently live in London, a couple from Brussels and a couple from Romania: an interesting mix! Frédéric served us all champagne and toasts with foie gras and then we sat down for dinner: salmon and chèvre rouleaux, fresh bass with grilled zucchini and sautéed mushrooms, local cheeses, and homemade apricot sorbet. He then taught us how to take down a strong digestif: Armagnac. I'm not really a brandy-kind-of-girl but I didn't want to be the only one not willing to try! He said a real dégustation takes 20 minutes: you must first put a small amount on the tongue and swirl it around. Then wait a few minutes and swallow some..and so on. It basically prepares your body for the alcohol. After such a long delicious meal we were more than ready for bed.

The next day visited Château de Chambord, the largest castle in the Loire constructed in the 16th century by Francois Ier. I regret not having done a guided visit - because of the size of the castle you get too lazy after a while to read all the information! We then headed over to Chaverny for lunch and a quick wine tasting. La Maison des vins de l’AOC Cheverny et Cour-Cheverny (located right next to the castle) offers an automated wine tasting where you pay for a kit including a glass with a microchip allowing 7 tastes, a notebook and a pen. 100 different wines are available and you simply pick a wine, place it on a little plateau where your microchip is recognized and wine pours out of a spout. It was really fun and afterwards we picked a bottle we enjoyed to bring home with us. We then spent the afternoon visiting the old city of Blois but didn't have enough time to visit the castle.
On Monday we decided to get one more castle in before making our way back to Paris and returned to Cheverny. Apparently the castle was lived in until 1985 so the rooms are rather well-preserved with all original furniture and decorations. It's hard to believe people actually lived in a place so grandiose and with such history!
Overall the weekend was a success and I would recommend a weekend trip to anyone coming to Paris. The people are friendly, the food and wine delicious, and if you enjoy history then there is so much to see. I just wish we had had more time there!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Metro No-No

Saturday night on my way out to meet a friend for her birthday dinner, I was jammin' out to God knows what on my iPhone while changing metro lines when I suddenly found myself at the bottom of a long set of concrete stairs.  I must have missed a step or something and tumbled down head first, purse flying through the air.  Somehow the front of both of my ankles were gouged and it was so painful I just sat down at the bottom of the dirty escaliers in shock.  I didn't even care that I was wearing my new Comptoir des Cotonniers dress or that my purse had flown 10 ft in front of me. Some sweet woman was nice enough to bring it over to me and ask if I was OK.  I finally got the courage to pick myself up and get into the metro only to discover that I had taken it in the wrong direction by mistake.  

I quickly forgot how much my leg was throbbing upon arrival at the restaurant - GR5, known for having all-you-can-eat raclette.  Yes, I let unhealthy amounts of cheese and wine soothe the pain (and the embarrassment) away.  

14, rue Saussier-Leroy
75017 Paris
Metro: Ternes (2)

Note to self: 4-inch heels + music + stairs don't mix well.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Le Marché du livre ancien et d'occasion

Last weekend J and I spent a quiet afternoon having lunch with his grandmother at her flowery little apartment in the 15ème arrondisment. She's a great cook and always puts second and third helpings onto my plate even when I insist I'm no longer hungry. I always leave her place feeling stuffed. This time, after having a salad, way too much lasagna and at least 5 homemade choux à la crème, I told J we needed to get a little exercise. There is an open-air used book market right by her apartment that we passed by several times but had never gotten the chance to visit. J said he used to go often during his childhood and that we should check it out. It's located under old metal horse stalls- apparently it was formerly used as a horse slaughterhouse. yum. Today, between 60-80 bouquinistes (book dealers) set up shop every weekend.

I particularly enjoyed looking at the old French children's books. There were several "Caroline" books and J said his mom used to love them as a child. I found an old fashion history book that I really wanted but when I opened up the cover I was shocked: €30! J said we said we should try and negotiate but when we offered only €10 the seller laughed and said we had to be kidding! I put the book down, grabbed J's hand and decided it was time to leave. I was a little disappointed by the prices but I'm sure if you are someone that knows how to cut a deal, you might find yourself a bargain. There's also a nice little park next store so I would definitely recommend checking out the marché on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Le Marché George Brassens
104, rue Brancion - 75015
Métro: Convention (12) ou Porte de Vanves (13)