Solidarity and Peace for Paris

Paris holds a special place in all our hearts, and we have all been following the events in France recently. The world has been focused on France as it rallies from the terrorist attacks that touched at the very heart of country’s dedication to free speech and liberty. The outpouring of support from all corners of the world has helped to bring peace and healing.

It has been a remarkable experience to see the Paris and the country stand strong and come together. And this culminated in the massive Unity Rally on January 11th where over a million people filled the streets of Paris. With this unprecedented gathering, Paris demonstrated that it’s not only the City of Light, but also a city of peace – united by a desire to defeat terrorism of all kinds. It was a moving display of support for France and for every country around the world that has been, or continues to be, shaken by terrorism. Major cities and small towns around the world also held unity rallies as a reminder of how important it is to remain united and to stand strong and together.

Paris is in our hearts more than ever, and the city has shown us that solidarity can be a positive influence to change the world. As daily life continues; with shops, museums and restaurants open as normal, the Parisians are, perhaps even uncharacteristically, warm and welcoming. Its in moments like these when differences fall away and what unites us stands out clearly. Paris is in our hearts always and forever.

Cèpes mushrooms

cepes4Cèpes mushrooms, also known as porcini, grow wild in France and Italy, In the autumn, these prized mushrooms are fresh and widely available in markets and restaurants. Cèpes are one of the tastiest wild mushrooms, and are popular on many menus in the fall season.

Cèpes are low in fat and digestible carbohydrates and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and dietery fiber.  Although they are sold commercially,  cèpes are difficult to cultivate. However, they are found wild in autumn and are often dried, packaged and distributed worldwide. Fortunately, cèpes keep their flavor after drying, and are then reconstituted and used in many recipes.

Sautéed fresh cèpes and wild mushrooms with herbs and cream IMG_8056

Serves 4 as a side dish. Excellent with roast chicken and potatoes.

500g (2 cups)  of fresh cèpes and wild mushrooms (chanterelles, trumpet, brown button)
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of fresh flat leaf parsley, thyme, and any other fresh herbs
cream or sour cream to taste

cepes2Clean and prepare the mushrooms (see below). Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Don’t overcrowd the mushrooms, cook in batches, and don’t over salt the mushrooms (see tips below). Sauté the mushrooms until golden brown on one side. When the first side of the mushrooms are cooked, add the shallots, garlic, and sauté the mushrooms on the other side. Make sure the mushrooms are cooked through. Add 1 tablespoon of butter per batch. When all the mushrooms are cooked, deglaze the pan with white wine, then add the velouté and cream (see below).

Tips:

  • Cook mushrooms on a high heat so the moisture will evaporate quickly
  • Cook mushrooms in a large pan in a single layer and in batches so that moisture will evaporate.
  • Don’t overcrowd the mushrooms or too much water is released at once, and the mushrooms will be soggy and won’t brown
  • Don’t disturb the mushrooms until they have stopped “singing” in the pan. Do not stir the mushrooms or swirl the pan until the mushrooms are golden brown on one side.
  • Cook different types of mushrooms separately, as some will require more or less cooking than others.
  • Season cèpes with salt as soon as you start to cook them, but don’t add too much salt when cooking because the mushrooms will shrink. More salt can be added later if required.
  • If using dried herbs, add the herbs to the mushrooms with the garlic and shallots. Fresh herbs will lose their flavour when cooked, so should only be added at the last minute to preserve their flavour.

cepes3Cleaning cèpes is simple: use a knife, a soft brush, a damp cloth or a potato peeler, but do not wash them in water, because they are like sponges.  Cut off the tip of the mushroom’s stalk, scrape off as much earth as possible, peel a single layer of the stalk. You can wipe them with a damp cloth for a proper final cleaning. If you want to store cèpes, wrap them in a cloth and store in the refrigerator. Never put them in a plastic bag.

Velouté:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stockIMG_8057

In a separate saucepan, whisk the butter and the flour together over medium heat. Cook the roux without stirring until it smells like hazelnuts and is golden brown. Add the chicken stock and salt and stir over low heat until the sauce thickens.

Add the velouté and cream to the mushrooms and simmer until heated through. Add fresh herbs and serve hot. If preparing in advance, turn the heat off, then reheat and add fresh herbs before serving.

Air France announces non-stop flights between Vancouver and Paris

IMG_8148As of next spring, Air France will fly non-stop between Vancouver and Paris up to five times a week. The new service between Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) will begin March 2015.

Flights will be operated by Boeing 777-200 with 309 seats: 35 in Business, 24 in Premium Economy and 250 in Economy. The non-stop seasonal service will operate:

  • From March 29 to May 3, 2015, flights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
  • From May 4 to September 13, 2015, flights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • From September 14 to October 24, 2015, flights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Flight schedules (in local time):

  • AF 379: Leaves Vancouver at 14:00, arrives at Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 8:35 the following day
  • AF 374: Leaves Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 10:35, arrives in Vancouver at 11:50 the same day

In addition to Air France’s co-carrier KLM’s daily flights between Vancouver and Amsterdam, the opening of the Vancouver-Paris route five times a week now offers customers greater choice for connections to 55 destinations in Europe. According to Air France representatives, the new YVR-CDG flights will also contribute to develop trade and tourism between France and British Columbia, and add $13.7 million in Gross Domestic Product, $8.8 million in wages and 248 jobs to the B.C. economy.

YVR representatives are “… thrilled to welcome a premier carrier like Air France to YVR’s growing list of business partners. Our customers have long been asking for Air France’s non-stop direct flights to Paris. We recently surveyed Metro Vancouver residents and results showed Paris as the number one requested destination from YVR.”

Tickets for the new Air France Vancouver-Paris service are now available for purchase. For booking information, visit www.airfrance.ca

A Great New Find in Paris

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We love to find small intimate chef-run restaurants with great food and ambiance. During our stay in Paris, we discovered REED restaurant: a small charming restaurant tucked away on a small street in the 7th arrondissement.

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The restaurant is owned and operated by Catherine Reed, a Canadian from Quebec City, who was a private chef for 17 years in Switzerland and France. Catherine is a talented chef, and a warm host, and will ensure you are well taken care of.

Her small cozy restaurant accommodates about 16 diners, and offers traditional French food in a friendly and leisurely atmosphere.  All the dishes on the menu are home made using the freshest ingredients personally selected from the neighbourhood markets, and the French wines are carefully selected to add another dimension to your Parisian dining experience.

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The restaurant has an open kitchen concept, which is perfect for the cooking classes that the chef offers on Wednesdays.
The cooking classes are taught in English and feature seasonal ingredients and techniques cooks can use at home. Classes are limited in size to provide participants with an intimate experience.

IMG_8046No matter how experienced a cook you are, this class encourages beginners and the more skilled alike to experience a new twist on cooking. You will learn useful tips, basic techniques and classic French cooking principles.  The class menu (starter, main course and dessert ) is set according to fresh seasonal products and technical interest.

IMG_8052We thoroughly enjoyed the morning preparing an outstanding menu, beginning with a three cheese soufflé served with a side salad of mâche lettuce with sundried tomato and balsamic vinaigrette. The main course was an outstanding combination of herb stuffed free range chicken roasted in a salt crust served on a bed of crushed herbed potatoes with a medley of sautéed fresh mushrooms and a wedge of baby romaine lettuce. For dessert we created a divine fresh strawberry shortcake. IMG_8043

After the hands on class, we sat down to enjoy our delicious dishes with a glass of wine or two! The class was a highlight of our stay in Paris, and highly recommended.

Reservations are required for the class and friends can join later for the lunch.IMG_8050

Cooking classes are €135 per person from 9:30 am – 3:00 pm on Wednesdays.

Reed restaurant is open for dinner Tues-Friday (closed Sun & Mon). Dinner reservations are recommended.

 

Reed
11 bis rue Amélie
75007 Paris
01 45 55 88 40

Impressionist Exhibit at the Musée Luxembourg

luxembourg1On another sunny fall day in Paris, we set out for the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens to see the Paul Durand-Ruel Impressionist exhibition:  The gamble of the Impressionists Manet, Monet, Renoir.

Museums have never before dedicated an event or comprehensive study to Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922), one of the greatest art dealers in the world at the turn of the 20th century and a major figure in the history of Impressionism. From the beginning of the 1870s, Paul Durand-Ruel discovered and supported Impressionist painters with flair and passion, buying and selling thousands of Impressionist paintings, including the masterpieces of the movement, often in difficult circumstances. A painting “missionary” as Renoir liked to call him, he also contributed to the invention of the modern art market and gave an unprecedented international dimension to his gallery, particularly in the United States. At the turn of the 20th century, the dealer had established the largest European and American Impressionist collections, both public and private.

IMG_20141106_144344Through some 80 paintings, drawings, photographs and documents, the exhibition recounts a crucial time, from the end of the 1860s to the turn of the 20th century, where an artistic avant-garde gained international recognition driven by an enterprising and inventive dealer.

By considering the part played by a gallery in actually writing the history of an art movement and its appreciation, both the exhibition and the catalogue, which is designed as a richly illustrated reference work, will reflect the detailed research that is kindly and generously supported by the Archives Durand-Ruel.IMG_20141106_144145

An exhibition organised by the Réunion des musées nationaux- Grand Palais in partnership with the Musée d’Orsay and in cooperation with the National Gallery, London, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It will be presented at the National Gallery, London from 4 March to 31 May 2015, then at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 18 June to 13 September 2015.

We really enjoyed this exhibit, and were delighted to see many Renoir pieces that we had not seen before. Definitely recommended.IMG_20141106_144844

 

Musée du Luxembourg. October 9,  2014 – February 8, 2015. The museum is open daily from 10am – 7.30pm, and until 10pm on Fridays and Mondays. Last entrance 30 minutes before closing time.

Musée du Luxembourg
19 rue de Vaugirard
75006 Paris

Baccarat legends of crystal exhibition.

IMG_7985We visited a sparklingly beautiful exhibit at the Petit Palais. To mark Baccarat’s 250th anniversary, the Petit Palais is hosting the amazing masterpieces of the world’s most celebrated crystal maker.

This is the first Baccarat retrospective in France since 1964. This new exhibit at the Petit Palais, a Beaux-Arts building constructed for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, focuses on the creations designed by Baccarat for the big exhibitions in Paris between 1823 and 1937 – the shows which brought Baccarat an international reputation and commissions from leading figures and celebrities all over the world.

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The show presents an exceptional selection of more than 500 pieces, mostly from Baccarat’s own private collection, plus some significant items on loan from several of the most prestigious museums in France.

In addition drawings and other archival material on display for the first time allow visitors to follow the history of the exhibits, and to trace the sources of inspiration for the company’s artisans over the last 250 years.

baccarat01The exhibition includes such exceptional pieces as the monumental ‘Negus’ vase, the Duchesse de Berry’s crystal dressing table and chair, a stunning 23-foot-high crystal fountain, and the intricately engraved ‘Simon’ vases created for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867.IMG_7957

 

Dinner services commissioned by royal families and other potentates including Tsar Nicholas II, the emperor of Japan, and various maharajahs offer further testimony to the skills of the Baccarat craftsmen. A table featuring some of these commissioned place settings underscore Baccarat’s triumphal contribution to the art of living. A special space is set aside for the history of the legendary Harcourt Glass: commissioned by King Louis-Philippe in 1840, this iconic piece inspired by the shape of a ceremonial chalice was engraved with the king’s monogram.

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The exhibition also features a dazzlingly series of majestic chandeliers hung in the Petit Palais’s Galerie d’Honneur, the most monumental of them gleaming with 250 lights.

Baccarat Exhibition: October 15, 2014 – January 4, 2015.
Petit Palais Opening hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Late opening until 8pm on Thursdays for temporary exhibitions. Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Admission: Adults: 11 €

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.

Paris Vacation Apartment Rental

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We arrived at our Paris apartment, and were immediately drawn to the spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower from every room in the apartment. Our beautifully decorated apartment features a comfortable living room where you can relax after a busy day of sightseeing, and enjoy stunning views of the hourly light show as thousands of lights twinkle on the Eiffel Tower.

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pp0784cThe charming bedroom has a queen bed lots of storage and two large windows with enchanting views of the Eiffel Tower.

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The romantic dining room has an oak dining table and chairs set in front of an antique fireplace mantle and picture perfect framed views of the Eiffel Tower – an elegant setting for dinner at home.

An island separates the dining room from the kitchen, which has been beautifully remodeled with all the modern conveniences and appliances, including a Nespresso coffee machine. The renovated bathroom has a walk in shower with glass doors, toilet, and an antique marble sink.

 

The apartment is conveniently equipped with elevator access and air conditioning.

Contact France Bound for reservations at this Paris Luxury One Bedroom Apartment.

 

The apartment is located in the 7th arrondissement – one of the best neighbourhoods in Paris. Once we settled into the apartment, we were eager to get out for a walk along charming Rue St. Dominique, which is filled with enticing shops, cafés, boutiques and restaurants. After a stroll, we made our way to Café Constant – a favourite bistro style restaurant. Although it was busy, we were able to get a table upstairs and enjoyed a fabulous meal, as always. Highlights were the artichoke salad, and the crab and avocado salad starters; the roast chicken and grilled prawn main courses; and a shared crème brulée for desert. It was a great start to our week in Paris.

Provence to Paris by TGV

After two glorious weeks in Provence with sunshine and warm weather everyday, it was time for us to leave Provence and take the TGV fast train up to Paris. From our base in Cucuron, we estimated about an hour drive to Avignon TGV train station. Although the traffic was light and we stopped to fill up the gas station, we found the drive was closer to 1 hour and 30 minutes on the D973and the N7 roads. When you reach the outskirts of Avignon, follow signs to La Courtine, which is the area where the TGV station is located on the southern outskirts of Avignon.

avignon_tgv_stationUpon arrival at the Avignon TGV station, we found the station parking areas under some construction, which made finding the car rental return area a bit confusing. Car rental returns used to be located on the south (back side) of the station, but are now located on the north (front side) of the station. As you approach the station, enter the P1 parking area through the gate and veer right, then follow the signs to the car rental companies offices. Park in one of the designated spots and return your keys to the car rental office.

If you are travelling on a rail pass, make sure your pass has been validated by the ticket office on the first day of use. Enter your passport number and the first date of travel in the numbered dates of travel boxes provided. Note that the dates are entered vertically: i.e. day in upper box and month in lower box. The year is not required in the dates of travel boxes since the first and last day, month and year of the pass validity are already printed above. Repeat for subsequent dates of travel.

IMG_1460If you are travelling on the TGV or any other premium trains, you will need a reservation, and your reservation ticket must b e validated in the yellow borne  machines in the station prior to boarding the train. Put the reservation ticket into the validation machine (borne)  with the right side of the ticket into the machine with the print side down.

Once the platform (quai) number is posted on the departures board, make your way to the platform and look for the composition de train  to determine where on the platform you should wait to board the specific coach number indicated on your ticket. Many TGV trains are duplex with upper and lower seating areas, and your ticket will indicate whether your seats are located in the upper duplex or lower duplex.

There are luggage areas at the entrance to each coach, but these can fill up quickly. More luggage areas are located mid-coach and also at the entrance and midway in the upper duplex area as well. It can be a challenge to drag large and heavy suitcases up the stairs. Make sure you dont overpack and keep your luggage as small and light as possible. You can wait in the entry area until the other passengers are seated, and then take your luggage to the upper level if necessary. Make sure you pack all your valuables separately in a bag that you will keep with you at all times, then you can leave your luggage downstairs even if your seats are upstairs and you won`t have to worry about your valuables.

10140_zshopThere are dining cars on most TGV trains where you can get snacks and beverages, but we prefer to buy a sandwich and a drink at the station prior to boarding. Many stations have a good boulangeries and sandwich shops such as Paul, one of our favourites.

Once you are settled in your seats, you can relax and enjoy the views of the passing countryside en route to Paris.

Bon voyage!

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.