Babymoon in Paris

A day trip to Giverny

One of the best day-trips Paris has to offer is a visit to Giverny, the historical property that was once home to the founder of French Impressionist painting, Claude Monet. The beautiful gardens of Giverny inspired Monet to paint such

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Coutume instituutti – 60 rue des Ecoles, Paris 75005Coutume_instituutti

Whether it’s for school, business, or pleasure, if you would like to enjoy working from a coffee shop in Paris, this place is perfect.

With reliable Wi-Fi and great pastries (with a Scandinavian twist!), this lovely café is hidden in the Finland Institute. You have to know about it to find it, which makes it the perfect off-the-beaten-path place to enjoy some Wi-Fi time in the morning while sipping on coffee.

It’s almost like home, actually, it’s better than home. Gosh, those Scandinavians are good at design! This is truly a rare gem in Paris, and who doesn’t appreciate a cold brew coffee for the extra burst of energy on a studious day.


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After November 13th the walls of Paris became adorned with cries of love and rebellion, expressed with aerosols and paint brushes. In the aftermath of the attacks artists from the Street Art spontaneously went to the city facades to pay their tribute. New works thus added to the capital’s already impressive urban art heritage.

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Since the prehistoric caves the walls of all eras have served as a support for man to express his feelings, his tributes or decry. Long considered vandalism, graffiti is now recognized as an art in itself (although still punishable by law in unauthorized places). It is often expressed thru calligraphic messages, signatures with elaborate lettering, designs using stencil work techniques, from sophisticated paintings to fully decorated buildings and batiste. In Paris, this form of expression becomes noticeable during the events of May 1968. The urban development taking place in the post war era provides an ideal support for this new art. It takes a beauty leap in the 80’s with Jerome Mesnager’s famous “White Man”, a poetic silhouette he will replicate all over the world to the Great Wall of China, or the luscious brunette created by Mistic. Banksy takes the relay in the ’90s with his provocative illustrations. Urban art finally gets integrated in France in the early 2000s with the creation of numerous artist groups and has since become very popular. The Street Art Festival held in the United Kingdom last July as an indication attracted by over 25,000 people.

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Just walk the streets of Paris to discover this public art, knowing a little attention will make you appreciate its subtleties. Sometimes it is in a corner, an unexpected place, by raising or lowering the eye that one discovers a message or illustration triggering a memorable emotion. To immerse in this culture “StreetArtParis” offers tours to discover the graffiti of Belleville, Montmartre or the Left Bank:

Happy Discovery!

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Galette-des-Rois_landscape1The Galette des Rois is the French version of the King cake and is eaten through the first part of January to celebrate the Epiphany Festival. 

Traditionally, a small plastic or porcelain trinket is hidden inside the Galette. The finder of the trinket is designated the King (Le Roi) or the
Queen of the evening (La Reine), and gets to wear the paper crown that comes with the pastry!

The Galette is paired with Apple Cider or Champagne.

Here are our three favorites addresses to get the Galette:

Sebastien Gaudard on rue des Martyrs ! Sebastien was a celebrated pastry chef in the upscale restaurants circuit until he decided to go back to the roots of his art, and bought a bakery in the 11th arrondissement. His croissants are to die for, and of course, he makes the best Galette.

22 Rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris

In le Marais, les Fées Patissières, a small patisserie located on busy and narrow Rue Rambuteau is not to be missed.  It is becoming our favorite patisserie in the Marais, their galettes are delicious.

21 Rue Rambuteau, 75004 Paris

In St Germain, the Rue Du Bac has two of the best pastry shops in Paris. We always indulge by stopping at both, and buying two galettes makes a perfect excuse to visit Des Gateaux et du Pain and La Patisserie des Reves.

89/93 rue du Bac, 75007 Paris

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Paris is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for New Year’s Eve. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people gather on Paris’s Champs-Elysées to celebrate the “Réveillon,” which is what the French call December 31st. There is also a light-and-sound show at the Arc de Triomphe.

This year, the show will last ten minutes and will start at 11:50pm. You can see last year’s light and sound show here. There will be no fireworks this year but it will still be an amazing show. Also, public transportation is free the night of December 31!
On January 1st, there will be a parade on the Champs Elysées , with floats and marching bands coming from dozens of countries. The Christmas market will still be open in the afternoon.

What is our favorite thing to do during Holiday Season? We love to ride the Ferris wheel! Ideally located on Place de la Concorde, the wheel offers a great view of the Eiffel Tower, the Jardin des Tuileries, the Louvre and the Christmas lights on the Champs-Elysées. This is the world’s largest Ferris wheel.

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La Tatin

So much has been said and rumored when it comes to the origins of the Tarte Tatin!
Could this delicious upside down caramelized apple tart be the result of a goofy baking mistake or is it simply an old recipe from the Sologne region of France? At least everyone agrees the sisters Caroline and Stephanie Tatin gave it its name and originated it’s success.


At the end of the 19th century the two sisters ran the Hotel Tatin, a guest house across the railroad station of Lamotte-Beuvron in the Sologne.

Soeurs_Tatin-c1f58Some say it was there during a lunch service rush that Stephanie placed a tart in the oven without the dow, adding it later in the baking process. Others say that when a sister forgot the apples in the oven they over caramelized and stuck to the pan; unable to dress the tart she decided to place the dow on top.

It is also said the tart was dropped by the sisters and flipped upside down when it was repositioned to bake as such. Or that the sisters came up with the desert during a rushed service after realizing they had forgotten to plan for one. Another rumor claims the tart was created by noble man Earl Chateauvillard’s private chef!

Beyond the creative speculations lies a more common reality as the upside down apple (or pear) tart is in fact an ancient Solognote recipe that was widespread in the Orleanais.

In the 1920’s renown “gastronome” and food critic Maurice Edmond-Saillant (aka Curnonsky) brought the desert to fame in Paris. The tart was served for the first time at the mundane Maxim’s restaurant on Rue Royale. It is possible that much celebrated Curnonsky initiated the rumors simply to amuse the public.

In any case, don’t leave Paris without indulging your taste buds with a traditional Tarte Tatin.
Below is our list of bakeries most recommended for this delicacy.

It is advised to eat the tart lukewarm with “creme fraiche” or “a la mode” with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To enhance your privileged moment consider a sweet wine, preferably young, a Jurancon or Muscat Beaume de Venise. You can also pair your “gourmandise” with the soothing wisdom of a French Breakfast tea from Mariage Freres in the Marais.

If you stay in one of our St Germain apartments four of the best Tatin makers are at your doorstep:

– Gérard Mulot 76 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris
– Arnaud Lahrer 93 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris
– Eric Kaizer 10 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie 75006 Paris
– Pierre Hermé 2 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris,

On Ile Saint Louis island don’t miss the legendary Berthillon:

– Berthillon 31 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, 75004 Paris

And if you find yourself on the right bank these are a must-try:

– Laduree 75 Avenue des Champs Elysees, 75008 Paris
– Yamazaki 6 Chaussée de la Muette, 75016 Paris

Happy tasting!

(published by Franck Bechade and Pat Combrisson – Dec. 1, 2015)

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Paris Markets

Parisians often go to the market. Refrigerators are smaller in Paris, therefore the city’s inhabitants need to shop for fresh produce more regularly. And  going to the market is a pleasure of a Parisian life, as this is where one may socialize with friends, meet neighbors, and take in some fresh air. Most Paris markets are outdoors, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “open air” markets. It is common to stop for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while shopping, and to see the terraces cluttered with shopping bags.

There are several butchers, fish mongers, and cheese shops at every market, but Parisians soon develop a relationship with one of each and often always buy at the same place. These particular shop vendors will become their fish monger, their butcher. They will talk and brag about them : “Mon boucher a les meilleurs gigots” (my butcher has the best legs of lamb). This special relationship with the shop vendor will insure that they get the best products every time, and it is really common for French people to follow the vendor’s  advice and tips

When visiting the open air markets in Paris, remember, the early bird get the worm! It is better to go early to the market, so you may choose from the best looking salads, strawberries, and grapes. Use small politeness formulas while entering and exiting the shops. Even if you don’t speak French, it’s valuable to learn simple phrases such as “Bonjour Madame” (Good day ma’am), “Bonjour Monsieur” (Good day sir), “Merci” (Thank you), and “Au revoir” (Goodbye). These little sentences will show your desire to take part in Parisian culture, and endear you to both the vendors and other shoppers. There are no rules other than don’t touch the produce. Browsing markets in Paris is a great way to get to know the city and its occupants.

(published by Patrick Rech – Nov. 24, 2015)

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