Category Archives: Paris

Paris In Winter

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Well bonjour!! Thanks for taking my call after I so rudely ghosted you. I seem to be spending a lot more time on Instagram (@maihem)  than I do on this blog, which I suppose is a sign of the times. However, my husband asked that I post about our recent week in Paris, and it seemed the least I could do. This one’s for you, mon amour!

Paris calls to me in all seasons, but I have a particular weakness for her in winter, when the days and queues are short. The light, though elusive, is especially golden, and reveals the silhouettes of the trees normally clothed in foliage. The beauty is more austere than in other seasons, but no less compelling.

When I lived in Paris, the one inquiry I dreaded from friends was where they should stay. I was ill-equipped to answer, as we spent very few nights in hotels  before we moved into  our apartment. I have returned several times since we moved, however, and can now recommend several hotels, all of which I have stayed on more than one occasion and found to be consistently good.

The Marriott Renaissance Arc de Triomphe is short on atmosphere but was a great hotel for us the times we were there on business. It is surrounded by fun shops and is conveniently located in the 16th.

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I have loved Hotel Le Saint both times I stayed there. This is a small boutique hotel located in the swank neighborhood of Saint -Germain -Des -Pres in the 7th. The quiet street is a short walk from the lively Boulevard St. Germain, lined with stores and cafes and bars. The rooms are generously sized and very comfortable.

Who wouldn’t love staying in a boutique hotel just off of the picture-perfect Place des Voges in the Marais? La Pavillon de la Reine is a lovely 17th century building with fifty-six rooms, a quiet bar, and an enchanting terrace perfect for tea or cocktails. I love the calm, unstuffy elegance of this place. An added bonus is that you will never have trouble  finding your way back to the hotel because of the frequent signs pointing to the famous Place des Voges.

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This was taken when I was there in August- not quite as verdant in winter!

None of these hotels are inexpensive; however, we were always able to use credit card points or to find special deals on travel sites. Obviously there are many less- spendy places to stay in Paris- I am just sharing my experiences, which were all wonderful.

It’s always tempting to return to old favorite restaurants in Paris, but this time we made a concerted effort to try some new (or new to us) places to eat. Our favorite discovery was Le Rigmarole, a tiny place in the 11th opened in October by a French-American chef. The tasting menu was original and vibrant and crazy delicious. I am sure it will quickly get harder to book, and will also become more expensive than the reasonable 49 euros currently charged for the tasting menu. Go toute suite!

Another exciting find was Le Grand Bain, tucked away in the (sort of) gritty Belleville neighborhood. Despite our early 8:00 reservation, the place was packed with (mostly French) people enjoying the creative small plates. Two dishes we wanted were already sold out, which happens in these small restaurants that cook their food fresh and in limited quantities. Our waiter was most helpful in steering us toward other choices, and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner.

For some reason we rarely ate Asian food when we lived in Paris, despite the abundance of good Asian offerings. This time we popped into a very popular Japanese restaurant in Saint Germain called Ippudo. Ramen and pork buns were the perfect antidote to the cold weather and to our empty bellies.

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I was even able to find a spicy one, which is not easy to do in Paris!

We did make the required return visit to one of our enduring favorites, Ellsworth, where we have dined many times and never been disappointed. Americans Braden Perkins and his wife Laura Adrian moved to Paris in 2007 and soon opened Verjus (another of our darlings) and then Ellsworth, both of which were received  with much approval by Parisians and tourists alike. The Ellsworth menu is shared plates from a fairly limited menu that packs a lot of flavor and food into a small space. The only savory to remain a constant on the changing menu is the fried chicken with pickles, and we wouldn’t dream of not ordering it. This time the raw scallops made my eyes roll back in my head.

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Hey- looks aren’t everything.

The malt ice cream with crispy bits is a regular among the desserts and for good reason.

I understand that the owners are in the process of opening a third restaurant, so we will have another place to add to our rotation. This reporter looks forward to giving you the scoop on it as soon as she possibly can. I’m here for you. mes amis.

We only had six days, but we hit several museums, a few parks, walked our Fit Bits into ecstasy, saw some old friends, and drank way too much vin rouge. It was glorious.

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Don’t go changin’, Paris. I”ll be back.

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Filed under Arc de Triomphe, Belleville, Paris, Paris dining, Paris hotels, Paris in winter, Paris photos, Place de Vosges, Saint Germain des Pres, Uncategorized

Europe, Anyone?

Bonjour y’all! Did a big poof of dust fly off your screen when this page popped up? My site has been quiet for a while, but I am on my way to Paris and other fun places and will be sharing it here with any of you who want to tag along. It will be in the 60’s and rainy when I land tomorrow, so grab your umbrella and a light jacket! Here are a few past photos to get you in the mood for Paris.

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I”ll be back soon, so don’t go far!

 

 

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Filed under Paris, travel, Uncategorized

Springtime in Paris

Bonjour y’all! Who doesn’t love April? NO ONE. That’s who. Here in Austin the  jasmine is in full flush and wildly redolent (all except the jasmine on my fence at the lake, which was burnt by the freezes and looks really skimpy and sad). Iris are still standing proud and roses have loved the recent rain and are showing off bigly.

My Paris-heavy Instagram feed has reminded me how much I loved springtime in Paris when I lived there. Of course, spring in Paris was well-earned and frequently took its sweet time getting there, making it even more of a celebrity than it is here. Hooray for spring everywhere, whenever it chooses to arrive.

I think we all deserve a little Paris this morning, so I gathered some of my favorite pictures of Paris pink, a color that embellishes Paris in springtime like pink frosting on an elegant confection. Enjoy.

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Have a good week, my friends.

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Filed under fashion, flowers, France, Paris, springtime in Paris, Uncategorized

Happy Valentine’s Day Y’all!

The Day O’ Love blew in to Austin with cold rain and grey skies! Dreary, yes, but it’s good to know that winter isn’t already over in these parts.

I gathered these photos taken in Paris on or around Valentine’s Day in the years I was there. Let’s break out some red wine and pretend we are back in the City Of Light for a while!

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Valentine’s Day was not the big commercial event it is here. No surprise, as every day is romantic in Paris, n’est-ce pas?

I took this last photo today here in Austin, or as I like to call it, the “Paris of the South”. It may be grey outside, but I got some raucous color going on in my house!

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I hope you are able to spend some time with people or things that you love today.

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Filed under flowers, Paris, Uncategorized

Good Morning, World

Fall has finally arrived here in Austin, Texas, and not a moment too soon. This morning was particularly beautiful.

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Tomorrow morning we point our car back to the west for a week in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. If all goes as planned, we will be having dinner in Santa Fe this time tomorrow night. We are taking this guy with us, but he doesn’t get to go to dinner. Don’t tell him.

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It’s hard to believe that a year ago today we were walking around Hyde Park in London.

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And two years ago we were in Paris, living the dream.

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If someone can figure out how to slow down this experience we call “life”, please let me know. It’s all happening way too fast.

Enjoy whatever life brings you in the next week, and thanks for checking in with me!

 

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Filed under Austin, London, Notre Dame, Paris, Texas, Uncategorized

Welcome To December

Whoa. December. How did that happen?

I am still shaking the sand out of my eyes and ears, having buried my head in escape from much of what was going on around me for several weeks following a certain day in November. I am back in the game, though still avoiding as much news as possible, which I am fully aware is not a mature way to deal, but it seems to help manage my anxiety so I am going with it. And also this.

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Anne never lets me down.

We made our first trip to Napa last month and I was smitten. What a gorgeous part of this country.

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We also made a second trip to Washington DC to visit our daughter. It was a lot more fun than the moving weekend- no trips to Target required. The city was aflame with autumn and refreshed us with crisp air.

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Thanksgiving happened at our house this year. Having my whole family at my table made me very thankful.

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but it was kind of hard to pass the salt

My November Nature Escape took me to Pedernales Falls State Park with my dog and a good friend. Still not many colorful trees to be found, but the day was glorious.

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Meanwhile back in the kitchen- did you know you can freeze pomegranate seeds? Well YOU CAN!

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I usually remove the seeds in a big bowl of water, but this time I tried a Martha Stewart technique which involved holding a half in one hand and spanking the peel side with a wooden spoon until all the ruby beauties fell out. I’m not sure it was any easier, but it did relieve some frustration.

Then I put spread the seeds out on a tray and froze them before sealing them all up into a large zip bag, where they await my December salads and cocktails and any other uses for them I can dream up. They taste pretty good by their little frozen selves, too.

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I have sought refuge in many a good book these past few weeks. This one particularly pleased me, and didn’t seem to get a lot of press. The author is British and wrote the short story on which the film 45 Years was based. (I also loved that film, though Mark yawned all the way through it. Anyone else see it?) The prose in this novel took my breath away.

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And yes, I would be lying if I said I haven’t fantasized about flying back to Paris for a good long while. Remember December in Paris?

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even though I never cared for those “hula hoop” decorations on the Champs

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Le sigh. Let’s go back.

But no- it’s onward and upward. Bring it, December! I am looking forward to a driving trip back to Pagosa Springs, Colorado (where it was 9 degrees this morning!!), lots of time in my kitchen, some fires in my fireplace, all the books, and good thoughts for 2017. What about you?

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Filed under books, Christmas, cooking, Paris, Paris in winter, Uncategorized

October

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Ain’t it the truth? I think of this quote every year when this glorious month rolls around. I have spent the last several Octobers in Paris or London, where this month is everything it’s supposed to be- cool and colorful- beckoning us to follow it into the darker and colder months ahead. Meanwhile, it’s ninety degrees here in Austin, Texas, and all my plants look as sick of the heat as I am. So I wait for a cool breeze and flip though some of my favorite photos of falls past.

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Now I’m really feeling nostalgic and maybe even a bit grumpier with my current October. This would be the time to slap myself and  be thankful that I am not in Haiti or any of the many places in Hurricane Matthew’s path right now. It’s hot and humid and green here, but at least my home is cool, dry, and comfortable. Reality checks are good.

September was a frenzy around here. Claire flew home from Paraguay, accepted a job in Washington DC, had some oral surgery (sorry about those two permanent teeth you never received but pretty sure it was the only mistake your dad and I ever made, and you’re right about dental implants not being the sexy kind), found a place to live and moved in, all in a period of three and a half weeks. This month should be a bit calmer, and we are hoping for great progress on our house renovations, which continue to charge ahead at a glacial pace. Apparently it’s true what they say about its being faster to build a house than to renovate one. They do say that, right? If not, they should.

I hope you all are safe and dry, wherever you are, and if you’re in a place where October is in full splendor, please send me a photo. Or maybe not.

P.S.- I have been reading some really great stuff lately and have updated my Books page accordingly. Check it out if you are in a reading slump.

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Filed under France, London, Paris, Uncategorized