Category Archives: Activitites

Rue Cler market street

IMG_7915In the morning, we walked from our apartment to nearby Rue Cler, a famous market street in the 7th arrondissement with a wonderful selection of specialty food stores, patisseries, butchers, delicatessens, cheese specialists, fishmongers, greengrocers, chocolate shops and cafés.  Most of the street is a pedestrian area and still has its original cobblestones.  This authentic market street is where the locals go to buy their favorite foods or to meet friends and enjoy sitting on the terrace at one of the many cafés, while they watch the world go by.

Some of our favourite places on Rue Cler:

davoliDavoli – La Maison du Jambon: The lines leading onto the street indicate that this is one of the best and most popular shops in the neighbourhood. This Italian delicatessen sells homemade specialties from Italian sausages and meats to pasta, Italian cheeses, side dishes such as roasted peppers, desserts and the best sauerkraut choucroute in Paris. This is an excellent dish for a cold day. Tell the salesman how many you’ll be feeding they’ll suggest the delicious sausages, ham, meats and side dishes. All you have to do is heat and serve for an easy and fabulous dinner at home !

Darius Rotisserie – Chickens! The smells from this shop will make your mouth water and you may not get any further. This is a chicken brasserie; they cook flame roasted chickens, sold in bags which remain hot for an hour. You can buy whole chickens, breasts or legs so everyone can have their favorite meat. Another convenient take away option for dinner at home in your Paris rental apartment.

fromage4Fromagerie – this is an excellent cheese shop and very popular. This is a real dairy store where you can find a delicious selection of butters from Normandy , yogurts and fresh eggs. Excellent goats cheeses…everything is good! When you want a soft cheese, such as Camembert, Brie, Epoisse, St. Marcelin (the same as St. Felicien) or Neuchatel  — tell the salesperson when you plan to eat it.  “Ce soir” or “Demain”, etc. Your specialist will squeeze the packages until they find the cheese that will be perfect (or ‘fait’) at the moment you want to savor it. It’s really a treat! If you haven’t had St. Felicien or Marcelin (same cheese), try it and make sure it’s fait (ready to eat). It’s so creamy you almost need a spoon and you will be back the next day for more.

Top Halles – A large greengrocer with good quality produce and competitive prices.  They will help you to select the best products for ripeness and flavour, and they have great specials that are beautifully displayed outside. deli3

Deli Zius Gastonomia Italiana – Excellent Italian Specialties: you recognize it by the Olive trees outside. Delicious olives, pastas and other Italian specialties.

Oliviers and Co (O&CO) – This high quality group of stores is becoming known in the US, as their products are now distributed by Williams Sonoma.  Their prices are significantly lower than in the US, so it is worth stopping in and sampling their oils and specialties. We love their lemon flavored olive oil especially on salads, and their basil flavored olive oil on grilled fish.

Bacchus – This wine shop is a good one and they do a good job recommending wine for a particular meal. We also recommend the wine shop at 145 rue St. Dominique where they do an excellent job of recommending wines and offer good value for money. 

Charcuterie Jeusselin – Increasingly popular, this Charcuterie sells all French specialties and is located across the street from Davoli.  Their growing popularity and prepared casseroles and dishes make them a popular stop for locals.  Specialties are displayed in the glass cases in front of the shop and they have won several awards for their sausages.

Leonidas Chocolatier – Belgian chocolates which are excellent and reasonably priced.pastries

Boulangerie Patisserie – This boulangere is kitty corner from the Cafe du Marche. They have good pastries and breads, including the flute and grain breads. Note the beautiful windows and original features. We like their pain au raisin – our favourite morning pastry.

 

Cafe du Marche – The Cafe du Marche’ is one of the most popular cafe’s in the neighborhood, with a covered area outside where you can eat winter and summer. It’s a fun place to sit and people watch. Its also a great place for lunch with a number of daily specials on blackboards at reasonable prices.rue-cler

After we browsed the fabulous and tempting selection of products and made our purchases, we stopped at the Café Marché for a coffee and a pain au raisin from the boulangerie and sat on the terrace under the heat lamps to watch the morning activity unfold.

These experiences are part of the joy of renting an apartment in Paris, where you can live life like a local Parisian.

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Apt market

371The weekly Saturday morning market in Apt has taken place since the Middle Ages, and is considered an outstanding market and one of the best in the region. The atmosphere, quality and range of the products are superb.

A kaleidoscope of colours and fragrances tempt shoppers and passers-by as they wander through the streets of the historical centre of Apt.

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At the market stands, you will find local produce and products, food, flowers, herbs, soaps, clothes, fabrics, table cloths, baskets, musicians, and more. Many shops along the market also stay open or have stalls on the pavement, adding to the selection of goods.

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We love to discover local artisans and specialty producers at the markets. At the Apt market, we we found a fabulous selection of fresh wild Cèpes mushrooms that are in season in the fall. Their French name cep comes from the Gascon word for ‘trunk’, referring to the mushrooms’ thick, creamy stem. Their Italian name porcini however translates as ‘piglet’ and refers to the little, plump, spongy cup which has mild, nutty notes.

030Cèpes mushrooms are quite large and one of the most flavourful mushrooms making them a sought after delicacy and a favourite of French chefs. They have a delicious hearty rich flavour with the perfect combination of earthy and sweet taste. Cèpes also retain nearly all of their taste when dried, making them one of the most versatile varieties found in many French and Italian dishes. Watch for an upcoming post about how to prepare cèpes mushrooms & some recipes.

Also at the Apt market, we sampled foie gras produced by a charming gentleman from Gers in the Midi Pyrenees region of SW France, who has a farm and has been raising ducks and producing excellent foie gras for decades.

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The market sprawls and swirls through several alleys and squares in the heart of old Apt, which is centered around the 11th-century Cathedral, on what was once an island between two branches of the river Calavon. Two ancient towers, the 18th-century Bouquerie tower and the 16th- century Tour de l’Horloge both have beautiful campaniles. In some of the narrow, paved streets you’ll see vaulted passages and some very lovely fountains.

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In the village, we discovered a fascinating shop & atelier where beautiful handmade marbled faience pottery is made in the traditional methods established in Apt in the 18th century. The elderly gentlemen explained the ancient technique passed down from generation to generation, and took us through the atelier to show us samples of  pottery pieces in progress. The mixing of coloured faience with yellow and red ochre and other natural pigmentations (manganese and cobalt) is covered by a light film of transparent glaze to bring out the veins and the enhance the marbling to create depth and movement.378

We really enjoyed our visit to the Apt market. It is one of the biggest weekly markets in Provence, and has been going on for some 900 years.  The market is definitely worth a visit, and takes place on Saturday mornings until about noon, year round.

 

 

Roussillon

326Roussillon is an incredibly picturesque Luberon village and classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

As you walk through the village you will see the clock tower and its campanile, the vestiges of the ramparts, the remains of the 10th century castle, narrow cobblestone streets, squares and vaulted passageways, and lovely 17th & 18th century homes with ochre washed facades & tiled roofs.

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333Roussillon was long specialised in the mining of the natural pigments contained in the ochre lands – and only stopped in 1945 with the advent of synthetic products.

Next to the village there is an ochre path through the heart of the old ochre quarries, where you can appreciate the great beauty and many shades of the ochre colours contrasted against the green pine trees and intense blue skies.

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You can also explore the history of the ochre mines by visiting the “Conservatoire des Ocres et des Couleurs” set up in a former ochre factory just outside the village, where you can learn all about the use of ochres, and take part in classes.

 

Roussillon has many restaurants from simple cafes to high end fine dining with views of the ochre cliffs. Most restaurants are clustered around the square near the top of the village and the picturesque mairie and clock tower. There is also a great ice cream and sandwich shop “Côté Sucré Salé”, just as you start walking up the hill towards the ochre quarry and cemetery. You can sit on the wall overlooking the ochre cliffs with your ice cream, or take your sandwich into the quarry, where there are a few small picnic areas.

8465-terraceWhere to stay in Roussillon:  In the heart of the village, Maison Jolie is an exceptional and very well appointed vacation rental house with 3 bedrooms & bathrooms, wonderful views, a heated pool, surrounded by terraces, luxury amenities, and lots of charm. The house is characterized by large rooms with typical, warm Provencal decoration, including a vaulted ceiling kitchen with an antique oak table. The house is elevated and the terrace is up one floor from the street level, so it is a private and calm space with magnificent views of the Mont Ventoux, the vineyards of the Luberon valley, and the ochre cliffs of Roussillon.

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Contact http://www.francebound.net for reservations.

Gordes

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Gordes is a very beautiful village, perched on the southern edge of the Vaucluse plateau. The stone buildings and houses cling to the cliffs and spill down the southern hillside. The view of the village on approach is stunning, and from within the village the view is a southern panorama out across the fields and forests and small perched villages to the Luberon hills.

gordes-squareCrowned by a Renaissance castle, the narrow cobblestone streets wind around a small square with a fountain and terrace cafes. The stone paths and steps meander through the village past lovely stone houses built on several levels and spectacular views of the Luberon valley. The village has many restaurants, cafes, art galleries, and several other shops plus a market on Tuesday mornings.  Gordes offers exceptional charm, and is one of the most beautiful villages of France.gordes-bories

Just outside Gordes , you can visit the Village de Bories, an ancient hamlet of all dry-stone buildings that are found in this area, including a fascinating collection of houses, walls, barns and a variety of other enclosures, including a period silk-making shop. gordes-senanque

 

 

Nearby, just to the north of Gordes a small roads leads to the picturesque Abbaye de Sénanque only 4 km away. The Abbaye de Sénanque is particularly beautiful in June when the fields of lavender are in bloom.

 

Where to stay: Domaine Gordes is an exceptional villa for up to 12 guests with 6 bedrooms & bathrooms, heated pool, incredible views, sumptuous furnishings & decor, and a tennis court. Contact http://www.francebound.net for reservations.

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Lourmarin

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The village of Lourmarin lies in the southern Luberon valley, at the base of the Luberon range and sheltered from the Mistral winds. Lourmarin is one of the loveliest villages: it has a special art de vivre, charming boutiques, art galleries, cultural sites and a beautiful Provençal market, which are all reasons why Lourmarin is so popular for visiting and living.

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This perfect Provencal village is one of our favourites. The village is filled with outdoor cafes and restaurants spilling out onto the cobblestone streets throughout the village – a fabulous place to spend a morning or an afternoon enjoying the sunshine and the Provencal lifestyle.

The beautiful Renaissance castle is worth a visit and is surrounded by beautiful green fields, The impressive belfry Castelas stands at the highest point of the village, and is built on the remains of the medieval moated castle that once dominated Lourmarin.

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Many artists lived and worked In Lourmarin, including the Nobel prize-winning French author Albert Camus, whose L’Etranger is one of the great novels of the 20th century. Albert Camus is buried in Lourmarin cemetery and has a street in Lourmarin named after him.

There are lots of pretty cobblestone streets and walking paths winding into the village, where you will find lots of charming boutiques. Lourmarin has a market every Friday morning, which fills the main street leading into the village. It is a good sized market and one of our favourite in the area.

397During our week in the Luberon, we had coffee or lunch several times in Lourmarin at the outdoor cafes in the beautiful late October sunshine. We had great salads at L’Insolite and Chez Gaby on the Place de la Fontaine.

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The Michelin starred chef Reine Sammut has her famous gastronomic restaurant  and hotel – the Auberge la Fenière, in Lourmarin. And we enjoyed a lovely Sunday afternoon lunch with friends at the newer Bistrot, which was excellent. Highlights were the peach and grapefruit cocktail, and the seabass served with a caper, olive and tomato sauce – delicious.

Bonnieux

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Rising above the valley, Bonnieux appears on the hillside after the last curves in the road, which is the passage-point for crossing the massif Luberon dividing the northern and southern Luberon.  027

The road winds back and forth through the hills and up into the village of Bonnieux – a popular ride for cycling enthusiasts. In the village, the views of the surrounding valley are superb, with a patchwork of vineyards and orchards, and also across the Vaucluse plateau to the equally picturesque perched village of Lacoste.

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In the village you can walk up through the narrow streets of the village passing through arched tunnels beneath the houses, and up 86 steps to the top, where you can discover the 12th-century “Eglise Haute ” church with a high, pointed steeple, and take in the spectacular views.

Past the end of the high church, there is a lovely little park with lush green grass shaded by tall pine trees and magnificent centuries old cedars with a view of the gorges cutting through the Luberon to the south.

The Musée de la Boulangerie is located in the village in a 17th-century house. The museum explains the history of bread, from Roman times through Medieval and the French Revolution. Explained is the entire sequence of bread making, from the agrarian civilizations and their farming equipment, through the milling to the distribution. The museum is open in the summer, daily except Tuesdays. In the Spring and Summer the museum is on weekends.

Menerbes

menerbesMénerbes also ranks as one of the most beautiful villages in France.  This medieval stone village is perched at the top of a ridge with outstanding views of the Luberon and overlooks the cherry orchards and vineyards in the surrounding valley. Menerbes has now returned to is origins as a quaint and quiet village, after the onslaught of visitors that came to the village following Peter Mayle’s book ‘A Year in Provence’.

011The village streets are lined with 16th and 17th century architecture, including the Citadelle, a 16th century miniature fortress, and the chateau du Castellet.

The Maison de la Truffe et du Vin is located in the Place de l’Horloge at the top of Menerbes in a beautifully restored mansion, where you can learn out all about truffles and taste the excellent Côtes du Luberon wines. Wine appreciation courses are offered in the summer.

005Menerbes has several shops, cafes and restaurants, and a market on Thursday mornings. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch on the sunny terrace at Le Galoubet. The vegetable quiche (tarte du jour) was excellent, and was served with a delicious side salad.