Category Archives: champagne

That Day I Drank Champagne In The Morning And Dined In The Orangerie At Night

Bonjour from Houston, where it is currently colder than it is in Paris! My days at home are quickly winding down, as we fly back to Paris on Sunday. These three weeks have flown by quickly and have been too much the boring stuff of real life- car maintenance, doctor appointments, etc. I think this is the first time that I don’t quite feel ready to return to Paris, not having had my fill of friends, family, and Texas Hill Country. But alas, this is the life I have been given. So I will board that Air France jet on Sunday and I predict that by the time we drive by that amazing view of Sacre Coeur from the airport, I will be “all in” for Paris once again. I will definitely be excited to hug my mom and niece when they arrive at our apartment an hour after we do. Another Spring Break in Paris- where there are no umbrellas in the drinks but there are umbrellas everywhere else. Yippee!

Shortly before we left Paris I had the most amazing day. It started out like this.

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An early morning with snow flakes the size of dinner plates! The snow stopped by the time my group and I boarded our small bus and headed for Reims, home of the The Bubbly.

Our destination was the Ruinart champagne house, which was established in 1729, making it the oldest of the champagne houses. Now owned by the LVMH conglomerate, Ruinart has a much smaller production than other LVMH houses like Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, and Moet & Chandon. Ruinart has just recently entered the American market, albeit discreetly. Look for it in select restaurants and specialty wine shops. After visiting and tasting Ruinart, I know I will be on the hunt for it. It was delicious.

The Ruinart house sits above an elaborate series of caves dug by the Romans in the 4th century A.D. The Romans wanted the chalk found down there to build their homes. That same chalk in the cave walls is ideal for storing champagne. The temperature remains at 53 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. The chalk is sponge-like and soaks up moisture, keeping the chambers at a constant 88 percent humidity. Additionally, there isn’t much light or vibration going on down there. Perfect, as it would turn out, for storing those elegant bottles of bubbly goodness that I have grown to love so much.

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Lets descend to the old chalk caves, excavated by the Romans to build their homes.

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looking up

looking up

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After our very interesting tour, we rode the elevator back up and enjoyed a lovely tasting.

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Hey Handsome....

Hey Handsome….

Our guide was excited to tell us that scenes from the upcoming film “The Widow Clicquot” will be shot in the beautiful caves of Ruinart. I plan to read the book  and will look forward to seeing the movie when it’s released.

We were treated to a very nice lunch after the tasting, which helped all of us to doze on our ride back to Paris. The nap was much-needed, because our day was not yet complete. That night we had the fabulous opportunity to experience the Orangerie Museum all to ourselves.

Located in the Tuileries gardens, the Orangerie is a small art gallery best known for housing the much-beloved Water Lily panels by Monet.  I have toured this gem many times, and although the water lilies are pretty fine, my favorite part of the museum is its collection of early twentieth century paintings. Never did I dream that I would have a private tour of the gallery, followed by  a lovely candle-lit dinner in its foyer. But guess what? I did!

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I hope that man doesn’t block my view of any of these paintings.

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love these gals

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Yep- all in all that was a pretty good day.

I guess I am kind of looking forward to getting back, now that I think about it. Champagne in the morning and Monet at night- who could complain about that?

I’ll be broadcasting from Paris next week- same Bat channel, same Bat time. Bring your own bubbly.

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Filed under art, champagne, Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris, Tuileries

Bonne Année!

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Happy New Year to all!

I am so proud to report that I didn’t fall asleep before midnight!’ At 11:30 we joined the crowds and walked to the  Arc de Triomphe. We were expecting a laser light show on the Arc, similar to what we saw for the Tour de France, and we got one at 11:45. We were so surprised, however, when fireworks started at the stroke of midnight! Paris NEVER does fireworks on New Year’s Eve (much to the disappointment of throngs of tourists every year), but this year she pulled out the stops and put on a show.

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What an auspicious beginning for the new year!

Cheers to 2015, and cheers to all of you!

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Filed under Arc de Triomphe, champagne, Champs Elysees, New Year's Eve, Paris photos, Tour de France, Uncategorized

Home Again

Bonjour, mes amis! I have been back in Texas for a week and a half but it seems like thirty minutes. No sooner had Easter brunch at the Houston mini-casa been cleaned up that daughter Martha and I drove to Austin. She had to return to school, and I was happy to drive her so that I could spend some time with my mother and my sister and my poor, neglected lake house. It was so good to be back. Spring is lingering in these parts. I haven’t even turned on the air conditioning at the lake, which is just the way I like it. Fresh breezes and sounds of birds floating through the open windows. Yeah, that’s pretty much heaven to me.

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One evening “severe weather” was reported to the west of us, but of course not a hail stone nor a drop of rain fell here.  As consolation, we received a few moments of gorgeous light through our cove, just as the sun was setting.

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Thanks but next time we'll take the rain, please.

Thanks but next time we’ll take the rain, please.

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After ten days, I am really missing some good bread. Mom and I had startlingly good bread at 34th Street Cafe in Austin. When I inquired about it, they told me it was flown in from a California bakery. Is that really what it takes to get amazing bread around here?  I am also missing locally grown produce. In a grocery store the size of several football fields, I have to buy vegetables that would have higher airline status than I do (if they awarded miles to vegetables, of course). In my relief at finding large shrimp that were already peeled and deveined (I detest that chore), I inadvertently bought them from Indonesia. A stone’s throw from the Gulf Coast, and I buy Indonesian shrimp. Arghhh. Fortunately, they were delicious. But still. I lashed myself about that all the way home from the store.

This week we head into a family wedding, which portends lots of laughter, champagne, and trying to make my hair look good. The good news is that after enough of the first two, the third becomes unimportant.

I hope you have many causes for celebration this week. Rain, good hair, a juicy local melon- rejoice in the small things!

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Filed under Austin, champagne, grocery shopping

A Night of Champagne and Shoes

When my friend Mary Kay (Out And About In Paris) and I were trying to schedule a time to get together during my week in Paris, she suggested lunch or coffee one day, and then mentioned that she also had an invitation to an evening cocktail party at the shoe boutique of Roger Vivier on Rue Saint- Honore.  Not being a fashion maven, I had no clue who Roger Vivier was, but I do know a few things about cocktails and shoes, and I quickly jumped on that invitation before she had time to reconsider.  Mama didn’t raise no fool.

We began our evening at the lovely Mandarin Oriental Hotel, also on Rue Saint- Honore, which was promoting its new “pop-up” champagne bar.  The bar is temporarily in the glass-enclosed courtyard of the hotel while its rooftop bar is undergoing renovation, and only serves champagne and champagne cocktails.  That was not a problem for us.  Like at all.

I ordered a peach bellini and Mary Kay tried a cocktail with honey in it.

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My bellini had little balls of peach goodness in it, and also was embellished with pretty gold flecks floating in the bubbles.

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Yes, the flecks were pretty, but they had an annoying way of sticking to my lips.  Just in case you were already thinking of adding gold flecks to your champagne offerings at home.  You might want to think again.

After our bubbly (sadly, we could only afford one each) we had a short walk down the oh so fashionable street to Roger Vivier, which was festooned with lovely white paper roses.

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This party was to celebrate the  publication of a lovely book, Roger Vivier, which goes on sale in April.  I’m sure the fact that the party coincided with Fashion Week was no accident.  I saw several faces that I had seen earlier that day at the fashion shows.

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I love things made from folded and cut-out paper, and the paper roses were only the beginning of the charming paper decorations at this party.

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So cute!

In addition to the paper decorations, the guests provided more eye-candy with their style and, of course, their shoes.  Oh, their shoes.

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But perhaps my favorite pair of shoes was worn by this woman, the gorgeous and much adored (in France) Ines de la Fressange.  A model and a designer and author of the widely popular Parisian Chic, Ines is also an ambassador for the Roger Vivier brand of shoes.  She is just as beautiful up close as she is on magazine covers.  And did I mention that she is 56?  Yeah.

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her shoes

her shoes

Yes, it was a very fun evening, and so different from the way I usually spend my nights in Paris (which may or may not involve pajamas and Apple TV by 8:00).  Once again I am thankful for the friendships I have made through blogging, including Mary Kay and the effervescent Sylvia of Finding Noon, who provided the magic ticket to the Roger Vivier soiree.  Merci, Sylvia!

And as always, I am thankful for my faithful readers!  Thanks for sticking around these parts.

P.S.- I forgot to mention that Catherine Deneuve was at the party before we got there!  I travel in such glamorous circles, don’t I?

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Filed under champagne, fashion, Paris, Paris Fashion Week, Uncategorized

Bubbly!

As much as I (responsibly) enjoy my (occasional) wine, beer, and frozen concoction, champagne is my true love.  Which is yet another reason why I was meant to live in France.   The French understand that there is absolutely no need to wait for a celebration before popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly.  Champagne IS the celebration!  In addition to knowing how to enjoy champagne as it was meant to be enjoyed, the French know how to make the stuff- and they do it a short train ride away from Paris.  Let’s go to Reims!

We arrived in Reims on a Saturday morning, just 45 minutes after we boarded our fast train in Paris.  Why do the train rides always seem too short?  Our first stop was the market, because they tend to shut down around noon.  What a surprise it was!  We were fortunate enough to be there the very month that the newly- renovated covered market re-opened.  It was very cool. First, the history.  Reims was 80% destroyed in the First World War, so in the 1920’s there was a burst of new construction, financed heavily by Americans.  This market was built in 1929 in the Art Deco style of the times.  In 1989 the building was closed and slated for demolition, following deterioration of the concrete vaulted ceiling.  However, in 1990 it was declared a Historic Monument , and was restored from 2008 until its reopening this year.

inside view of market dome

Upstairs there was a fabulous viewing gallery, which allowed me to get these nice shots from above.

Reims has its own Notre Dame Cathedral, and it was almost as impressive as the one here in Paris.  The Reims cathedral was started in 1211 on the same site where Clovis (the first king of the Franks) was baptized in A.D. 496.  Since Clovis’ baptism, the cathedral has seen the coronation of 25 French kings and queens.  It was almost completely re-built after the destruction of World War I, (financed largely by John D. Rockefeller) and finished just at the beginning of World War II.  The cathedral is revered for its stunning Gothic style and impressive stained glass windows, including a set by Marc Chagall.

We were treated to a rehearsal of a (primarily) children’s choir.

After a gourmet lunch, we walked to the Taittinger champagne house and took a very interesting tour down into the chalk caves where the bottles are kept.  As we descended the many steps to the different levels of caves, the temperature dropped significantly.  We even saw ancient graffiti on the walls of the caves, left by the poor Romans who had to dig them out by hand.

cool light fixture

Of course, the grand finale was a tasting of the house specialty.  (Hint: if your husband tells you to pour the rest of your champagne in his glass and then go score another glass, don’t do it.  There might not be any more glasses for the taking.)

I got my eye on you, lady. NObody gets a second glass on my watch.

The good news was that since we were limited to one glass of champagne, we were in fine form to tour the St. Remi Basilica and the Saint-Remi Museum, housed in the old abbey associated with the basilica.

abbey

I didn’t take any pictures of the basilica because there was a wedding in progress.  I did mingle with the wedding guests when they exited the church, because I wanted to show you the hats.

Is that a paper plate stuck to the side of her head? And how does it stay there?

So after all the wedding excitement it was time to wander back to the train station, where we discovered that our return tickets were for the next morning.  Oops.  Thankfully, the customer service was better than we usually find here in France, and we were able to get them changed to that evening.

We had time for one last drink on the “strip” in Reims, which was full of activity.

Here’s a toast to all of you- salud!  And remember- you don’t need a celebration to pop a cork of bubbly!

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Filed under champagne, reims