One of the pleasures of travel within France is the ease of it. A fairly short train or car ride and you find yourself in a part of the country offering another piece of the country’s history. We finally went to the Loire Valley – yes unfortunately the ease of travel must also equate with the availability of time – or maybe that’s my poor excuse for why it took us so long to make a trip there.
Brunch is one of those wonderful meals that can be extended from late morning to early afternoon with absolutely no guilt. It’s even better when it’s combined with catching up with old friends, simple pleasures all round.
I recently re-discovered the hidden treasures in the Marais – more specifically around Place des Vosges.
Château de Chantilly is located 40km north of Paris – an approximate forty-five minute drive. Wikipedia lists it as a historic château – aren’t they all historic though?
As part of our historical reading in my french class last semester, we read the memoirs of Madame de Sévigné, and our french teacher advised that we visit the Château de Chantilly as this was where where some of her writings regarding the life of the court were set.
Once of the reasons I started this blog was to share, at the time, my culinary discoveries in Ghana. I soon realised though that I loved eating food more than I do writing about it. I can talk about it endlessly, and even photograph it fairly well, but somehow the words do not seem quite adequate when trying to tell about a tasting experience or culinary surprise that left my heart beating just a bit faster.
I was doubtful at first whether two days was enough for a stay in Brussels. It is. Between indulging in some of the national foods – chips, waffles and chocolate – seriously courting heart disease and obesity at the same time; we found time to do the hop-on hop-off bus tour, visit Mini Europe and go up the Atomium. We skipped the Museum of Chocolate but did the comic strip Walk. I would have loved to have gone to the Hokusai exhibition which is currently on at the Museum of Japanese Art, but between the diverse family interests and a lack of time, I settled for the extensive street art to be found in this city. I started photographing all the chocolatiers’ display windows, thinking it would make for a delicious-looking photo montage- I gave up after the fifth shop window. How many chocolatiers can one small city have? Did not mind tasting the products of these artists though.
Spring break and the weather has actually felt like spring. My children had never been up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, after almost two years in Paris. Mainly it’s been that same old reasoning; We live Paris, it’ll always be there. Yesterday though we decided that a visit to the top of the Arch was long overdue; so we made like tourists and made our way to the most photographed monument in Paris.
We climbed the two hundred and seventy odd steps to the top, up a narrow spiral staircase and views from the terrace were incredible. All of Paris lay in every which direction we looked – the famous étoile giving us splendid views of the city below.
He is first an artist, then a baker. This is what Bruno, just Bruno, the man who plies students and passers-by alike with his pastries and tarts from his boulangerie on rue St.Jacques in the sixth arrondissement tells me. For the first month while making my way to my French class, I would quickly slip in and buy a little something from his abundant and delightful pastries.
I had not really wanted to linger after our meal, but we found that the Relais de l’Entrecôte does not lend itself to that type of slow dining anyway. If you’re looking for the kind of place where a midday lunch turns into a late afternoon, and a bottle of wine disappears long before the conversation ends – try some place else. The service is efficient – think conveyor belt efficiency. You wait -inside if you’re early but most likely outside – in a winding long queue, to be seated so you can have a salad, their famous entrecôte and pomme allumettes – string fries. That’s the sum of the menu.
From the distance, the walled city of St.Malo seems imposing, but once within its walls and on its cobbled narrow streets its quaintness is charmingly modest. With its 18th century buildings, and equally historic shops and restaurants one gets a sense of having traveled back in time.
It was definitely not as interesting as the Seine cruises are, but it was good to learn about the Paris canals. We boarded the boat at Parc de la Villette – mistakenly thinking the boat would return there after the cruise. Note: It is a one-way trip between Parc de la Villette and Musee d’Orsay. It ended up being a long day after that because we’d left the car at Parc de la Villette.
There were parts of the cruise that were interesting along Canal St. Martin, like seeing the urban regeneration happening along the canal in the 19th arrondissement.