Archive | Voyages RSS feed for this section

Frenchie and la Rive Droite

12 Jun

I need to admit I’ve never given much thought about the right bank of Paris when I used to live there.

Too far.

Left bank is of course so much better.

What to do there?

Why even bother to go after all?

This thought process definitely did not help the rive gauche vs. rive droite bitter battle.

But since I lived in the 15th, went to school in the 14th, college in the 5th and hanging out in the 6th, with the occasional Châtelet-Le Marais trip which part of me always deliberately accused of being on the wrong side of the Seine, I never had any reason to cross the river and go north.

Until all my friends moved to the right bank. Well, most of them.

The perfect opportunity to explore new areas I did not know enough.

All joking aside, I did make my way there once in a while when I still lived in the city and have continued to explore the northern arrondissements during vacation time.

However, my home has always been rive gauche.

Surprising myself this time around, I mostly roamed and scouted the right bank during my last Parisian trip.

Offbeat. And unusual for me!

I had already explored a bit in a previous colorful post with plenty of places and addresses to share.

But there was more to discover.

With one exception noted below, the following list is exclusively rive droite.

– From the Big Mamma Group, East Mamma (11th) opened a couple of weeks before I arrived in the space La Main d’Or used to serve delicious Corsican food. I will miss La Main but am delighted East Mamma renovated, remodeled and revitalized the dinning and kitchen areas to make it an inviting open space filled with colorful plates and fresh Italian produce. The vibe is, well, very Italian as the wait staff takes your order with a slight accent and the bright yellow menu holds hidden tasty treasures. Go early! There is a line outside the door.

– Keeping up with the Italian theme, le Comptoir Gourmet (4th) is small, narrow, loud, cheerful, lively and that wall paper – a real Instagram magnet!! If you manage to grab a seat at the counter-height tables you’re in for a treat. Don’t fill up too much on the bresaola carpaccio with fennel, Italian desserts are eyeing you on the counter.

– Cheating on the right bank a bit, this gem of an ice cream place is on the other side of the Seine. Il Gelato del Marchese (6th) will show you how real pistachio ice cream looks like and how it’s supposed to taste.

Le 975 motto in the 17th is bien manger, bien boire, bien vivre. And in this yellow “fish bowl” as they call it, the food is the perfect marriage between French dishes with a sprinkle of Japanese flavors. Taiki Tamao, one of the two chefs, explained to me that Japanese chefs are now flooding the Paris food scene because they bring something distinctive and special that traditional French chefs do not think about. Book now before there is a line outside the door.

– Impasse Poule, Impasse de la Confiance, exploring the area around rue des Vignobles in the 20th. And how could you not fall in love with Le Vingtième Art and its newly painted façade displaying green, red, yellow, pink, and blue color blends?

– A quick stop at the Libre Ère bookstore 111 boulevard de Ménilmontant will make you green with envy when you see the storefront and some of the treasures inside. Cité Durmar and Cité du Figuier nearby – the memory keepers of a Paris long forgotten. Les cités d’artistes du 11e.

– Surfing on the Nouvelle Vague Paris renewal by expats, Le Mary Celeste (3rd) provided just the right cocktail I was looking for in a Haut-Marais quaint setting.

– An inside courtyard, a food truck, plush couches with round mirrors above and colorful pillows, an old school map of the various mountains and rivers of France, a reading nook, and pistolets aka small bread rolls from Belgium, all of this can be found and enjoyed at L’Improbable (4th). Unpretentious and seriously cute.

– Rarely have I seen a space like the one at Les Chouettes (3rd) in Paris. While I did not try their menu and food, I thoroughly enjoyed a cocktail on the third floor, all the way to the top, in a somehow industrial aesthetic Eiffel Art Nouveau style with arcs, geometric shapes, old books, imposing nuts and bolts, giving an Industrial Revolution/WWI vibe with modernist elements to the space. A must see. Oh and did I mention the 66-feet high ceiling under a glass roof?

– Thanks to Lindsey, I was able to enjoy a delicious lunch at laid-back yet chic Tannat (11th). Fresh seasonal food and menu with a modern twist makes for my big coup de cœur of this trip. The wall and ceiling mirrors definitely brighten up the space and make the intricately plated meals even prettier.

– The beautiful small villas off of rue de Mouzaïa in the 19th, walking on rue de la Liberté, rue de l’Égalité and rue de la Fraternité. Si français. And I always say that tourists should have the Buttes Chaumont parc on their radar because it is worth a visit.

So little time yet so many unknown areas still to discover.

Cheating on the rive gauche was clearly much-needed as far as I’m concerned.

Till next time.

PS: last special kudos to Merci and La Maison Plisson (3rd) for fun shopping and eating.

Frenchie and Chinon

29 May

When a friend buys a hotel in a small serene historical town nestled in the Loire Valley, you just have to go!

I arrived in the very petite gare de Chinon during a foggy morning.

Bleak and oppressive.

I knew my train was surrounded by a very lush bright green nature as it made its way to the station but I could not enjoy any of it.

The cawing crows seemed to follow me as I made my way to the hotel.

A bit eerie yet exciting to be somewhere I had never been.

A quick walk. Already seized by the quaint homes and color accents in the old streets.

It’s very promising I thought!

Jamie and I know each other from blogging.

I’ve followed her life, adventures, thoughts and recipes for years now.

Her words, her stories. Sa vie.

They are tiny glimpses into her heart and soul.

They make me strive to write differently and better every time.

They take you on a journey – a slice of someone else’s life.

And it’s no secret she has a sweet tooth, which means her blog features delightfully enticing recipes.

We always talked about meeting when I am visiting family in France.

It never happened. C’est comme ça.

Until now…

As the sun started to peek through the thick Chinon morning fog, the hotel courtyard appeared.

I don’t even know where to start to describe the place.

The outside white spiral staircase, the second floor terrace with swinging French doors, the roses, the garden, the stylish arbor with climbing plants, the open bedroom windows under the eaves with curtains floating in the morning breeze.

I know I am forgetting a thousand other details.

The first thing you’ll notice when stepping inside Hôtel Diderot is how warm and cosy the place is.

The second thing I noticed, of course, is the armoire à confitures. 

Hundreds of home-made jams of various colors, each carefully labeled and piled up in an open armoire for everyone to admire.

Made avec amour by Hôtel Diderot” some of the labels read. Is it time for le petit déjeuner yet?

And in true Frenchie and the Yankee style, multi-colored serving spoons were adorning each open jar still decorating the breakfast tables as the last guests were leaving the dinning room.

Appetizing names such as gelée de cassis, pêches rafraichies à la menthe, fraises et framboises, bananes aux raisins did indeed keep me good company during breakfast.

I unfortunately hit my sugar intake for the month and did not get to taste all 20-some variety of jams on the breakfast tables but if you read this site you know that I’ve been obsessed with banana jam since Tahiti so Jamie’s impressive range of banana-based jams were a hit.

And I could have pocketed some of the orange cocoa marmalade jars.

No shame. Non, non.

Chinon was everything I could have hoped for.

An attractive architectural wonder with Gothic and Renaissance gems to discover.

A sprawling wine country and tastings available pretty much everywhere.

A warm welcome by Jamie, her husband Jean-Pierre and the staff at the hotel.

A cosy, fun and colorful room – a home away from home in a charming setting.

Private castles to admire in the countryside at every street corner.

Surprisingly good seafood.

Winding streets to discover and the enjoyable game of getting lost in a medieval setting.

Roses, roses and more roses. I don’t think I’ve seen that many roses in one place. Various shapes and colors. A delight for the eyes.

Meeting a friend for the first time and already looking forward to reading more of her new adventures as a brand new hotel owner in Chinon in her upcoming book.

Congrats Jamie!

If you go:

– from Paris, take the train to Tours and change for Chinon

Hôtel Diderot

– follow Jamie’s blogs: Life’s a Feast and Plated Stories – you can also catch her on Twitter and Instagram

– for a wine tasting in a historic family château and vineyard: Le Château du Petit Thouars

Pierre and Bertrand Couly also had an interesting wine tasting worth a visit

– walk the historical streets in the old town leading up to the Château de Chinon because the view from above overlooking the old roofs is breathtaking

L’Océanic for seafood

La Part des Anges for a more intimate dinner either with a loved one or to catch up with a friend – merci encore Jamie!

Frenchie and Weekends Away

7 May

I’ve been very lucky these past few months.

Lucky that I was able to visit friends who no longer live in the same city.

I came to realize I am surrounded by friends who, like me, enjoy moving and end up in interesting cities and countries.

Keeping in touch, optimizing the quality of a friendship with long-distance allies, buddies, mates, can prove to be difficult.

What is the secret to staying in touch?

How do you stay close when the long-distance barrier stand in the way?

Weekends away and mini trips for one-on-one face time – quick reunions to catch up and explore together.

These escapes are something I look forward to.

What do you do to keep up with friends who live far?

Please share your favorite getaway places, cities, memories.

IMG_9775 IMG_9721_2

Continue to discover Washington, DC has been on top of my travel list for a while now.

Food hunting of course. But also immersing myself in the quaint architecture of its various neighborhoods.

A different kind of historic town in comparison to Boston, which I continue to miss dearly.

Washington always surprises me for its colors and random happy spots that I soak up along the way.

From one lone bright yellow house on a busy street surrounded by other gray houses, to the eye-popping colored walls of Georgetown.

Un vrai délice.

In no particular order, my DC list goes as follow:

– the ham croquetas, the manchego and ham open-faced sandwich, the barely spicy thick tomato sauce with eggs at Estadio were a brunch highlight

– the magnificent bold colors, pastel tones, and whimsical look of 12th Place NW off of W Street NW caught my attention.

– the fennel pollen and orange peel saucisson, the home-made punch and the crusty bread at Etto proved to be the perfect afternoon snack.

– relaxing on a bright Sunday morning at the Big Bear Cafe outside terrace while waiting for a lemon blueberry muffin showed me Washingtonians can think about something else other than work.

– the Meridian Hill Park off of W Street NW is a place I had never explored before. A high point in the city and a high point of my visit as I thoroughly enjoyed the walk from Dupont Circle through the various off the beaten path streets leading up to the park.

– the pastrami hash, the bagels, the smoked salmon, the challah French toasts, the rye bread… yes, it is DGS Delicatessen and it is as good as it sounds.

– the unusual elongated and narrow location of Iron Gate restaurant, tightly nestled in between two townhouses. You actually eat in what was once an alley. The old stables in the back turned into a bigger dining room. If you can get seated near the bar at the front of the restaurant in the alley, it is the perfect spot. Oh and I forgot to mention the charred feta stuffed squid with currants, pine nuts and mustard cream.

– if you are lucky to be in DC during the cherry blossom season, the walk around the Jefferson Memorial is stunning.

When talking about Atlanta, I can’t say I know the city well.

Work trips mostly took me there.

Hotels, conference rooms, no real city experience.

I caught up with Atlanta recently and unearthed its unique side.

I focused on the following:

– biking the BeltLine – an all day biking trip featuring colorful walls, murals, parks, and peculiar corners. What fun!

– how could you say no to lamb merguez, chickpeas, olives and mint at One Eared Stag? I couldn’t!

– the Krog Street Market has been on my list of places to visit for more than a year now. Enfin ! GC BBQ, The Little Tart Bakeshop, Superica, Yalla… too many things to try.

– the beauty of old Victorian houses in the Inman Park area.

– the blue and white bright interior at Jake’s Ice Cream and Sorbets shop.

– the walk through the Botanical Garden filled with flowers each prettier than the other.

– a winning gazpacho with lobster meat at King + Duke.

Now that I am back, I can’t wait to go back. I saw a side of the city I had never seen before.

Pictures in this post are from DC and Atlanta along with quick snaps weaved in the story from other weekend getaways in NYC and Blowing Rock, NC.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 360 other followers

%d bloggers like this: