3 Village Squares in Paris

Yeah, sure, okay. We get it, starting from now, you’re all going hunting for a spot in the outdoors. So we couldn’t possibly just give you one sunny square to relax in, you need at least 3. These city squares are picturesque, cheerful and super sun-drenched.

The most charming It may not be the prettiest one, but it’s definitely the most lively. Admire its church, its old-school drinking fountain and its passers-by. Get close to Ménilmontant, go up Rue Etienne Dolet and settle yourself on the terrace of L’Emir before ordering shisha with mint tea. It’s tanning time.
Place Maurice Chevalier, 20th arrondissement. Metro stop: Ménilmontant. Another terrace: La Pétanque Bar.

The one for early birds This one is best in the morning, preferably with a croissant in hand. Of course, it’s already well-known, but have you ever thought about having breakfast in the sun at Le Bar du Caveau?
Place Dauphine, 1st arrondissement. Metro stop: Cité. Another terrace: La Rose de France.

The most ‘Provençal’ “Keep your eyes open, this one tends to play hide-and-seek,” said the nice little florist who showed us the way here. And he was right to warn us: turns out Place Sainte Marthe is as lively as it is hidden. Take a seat at nearby bar La Sardine and make sure you choose the blue table (hint: it enjoys a permanent ray of sunshine.)
Place Sainte Marthe, 10th arrondissement. Metro stop: Belleville. Other terraces: Le Sainte-Marthe, Le Galopin.

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Hôtel Drouot

Hôtel Drouot

Hôtel Drouot

Next visit to Paris be sure to check out the Hôtel Drouot which  is a large auction house in Paris, known for fine art, antiques, and antiquities. It consists of 16 halls hosting 70 independent auction firms, which operate under the umbrella grouping of Drouot.

Auction Calendar

The firm’s main location, called Drouot-Richelieu, is situated on the Rue Drouot in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, on a site once occupied by the Paris Opera’s Salle Le Peletier. The nearest Métro station is Richelieu – Drouot.

Other locations are Drouot-Montaigne, Drouot-Monmartre, and Drouot-Véhicules.[1]

Details of forthcoming auctions are published in the weekly Gazette de l’Hôtel Drouot, sold at newsstands and by subscription.[2]

In 2008 Hôtel Drouot was ranked fifth by sales amongst Paris auction houses, after Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Artcurial (fr), and Ader-Picard-Tajan.[3]

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New Posts

We’ve moved Blog posts for Island vacations under the tab Places to Visit/Caribbean Islands

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Home from Paris March 3, 2014

Were home, we had a great trip.

We rose at 0500 and were at the terminal at about 0545.  We checked in and found the there were actually 146 tentative seats on the flight.  At roll call we were #52 on the list with about 10 cat 6s behind us.  There were a good huber of single travelers ahead of us so we new were were headed back to the good old US of A.

The flight departed at 1000 and the wether forecast was dismal in Baltimore, but by the time we landed at 1305 the weather had cleared.

By the time we cleared immigration, got our bags, which they had to manual throw down the oversized bag scute because the conveyor was frozen, and cleared customs it was 1400.

We left the Long Term Lot A at 1500 after scraping and defrosting the car.  One draw back to a Hybrid Vehicle is the gasoline engine often does not start and it sits idling on battery power so you have to depend on the electric defroster that runs around the parameter of the windshield.

The traffic was great, Government was off and they begged business to keep employed home.  Good for us home in 2 ½ hours, a new record.

Stopped at the grocery on the way and stayed up until 2030 EST.

Home Sweet Home!


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Paris/Germany 2014, Day 26 Headed to Ramstein

Our train departs Paris Gare L’Est at 1310.  We are planning to depart at 1130 for the

Bus at our stop on Rue Kleber

Buss at our stop on Rue Kleber

station.  We left the apartment a bit early, and because it is

Gare de l'Est Paris France

Gare de l’Est Paris France

Sunday, even though the buses run less often there was relatively no traffic so were at Gare De l’Est early, but we got a bench and nestled in.  The train boarded on time and we headed toward Germany, unfortunately the train was a German DB train, which means or included meal was only so-so, TGV has better food.

We arrived Kaiserslautern at 1535 right on schedule.  We opted for a taxi to the base so I asked the driver if he could get on the Air Force Base and he wain he could so were were off to the Ramstein Inn across from the Terminal where we have a two night reservation, trying to cover the chance of not getting seat on Monday.

We checked in, store or bags and then when across the street to the Terminal to see if we could find out how many tentative seats are available at the time, about 1600-hours.  The checkin agent said he had about 63 at the time, not the perfect number but were hopeful we will get tow of them.

We’ll have dinner tonight at the Macaroni grill here in the KMCC Mall, they have the best Calamari Fritti in Germany, as the story goes, it may actually be the only calamari but it is good.

As of 2000 there are now 87 tentative seats.

Roll call tomorrow is 0620.




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Paris 2014, Day 26 Last Full Day in Paris for now!

It another rainy day here in Paris.  It our last full day and we really do not have a lot planned. If the day clears a bit were thinking about maybe heading over to the 13 to the La Butte aux Cailles. Here is a Walking Tour we found.

The Butte-aux-Cailles (a name that could be translated into “quail hill”, although it originates from its former landowner Pierre Caille, who bought a vineyard here in 1543) is a hilltop neighborhood of Paris, France located in Paris’ south-eastern

Small cobblestone street abound

Small cobblestone street abound

13th arrondissement . A now extinct river, the Bièvre (from Latin ‘Beaver’), once made this area important for the tannery and tissue trades.

Today the Butte-aux-Cailles area assembles a young, trendy and festive Parisian population in its many small bars and restaurants. Since its incorporation into Paris along with the northern extremity of the now Paris-bordering Gentilly commune to which it belonged, the Butte-aux-Cailles has managed to retain much of its village ambiance.

Our Navigo monthly metro pass expired yesterday so we used some paper ticket that I bought the day before we went to Versailles.  We jumped aboard the #9 at Rue de la Pompe and transfered to the #6 at Trocodaro on our way to Corvisart, from there it was about a block from the metro to rue du Moulin des Prés to start the walk. (Visit the

Setting up for a street Market on Sunday

Setting up for a street Market on Sunday

Walking Tour link above).

This area is known for its Street Art, not to be confused with Graffiti, the art is actually coordinated and sanctioned by the Art Council.

Miss Tic

Miss Tic

Bienvenue to the Butte-aux-Cailles. With such a mellow mood, and lack of car traffic, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d found yourself in an ancient village in la France Profonde. But there’s a distinct urbane air, and political vibe, to this hamlet. One clue is the street art, with witticisms coined by celebrated artist Miss.Tic, who first rose to fame in this quartier in the 1980s. “Be happy while waiting for happiness,” one of her stenciled heroines

An apartment house resembling an Alsace Village

An apartment house resembling an Alsace Village

proclaims. Like sassy pin-ups, these mademoiselles painted on restaurant walls and store facades spout poetic slogans, often with a smoking gun in hand. “You make me dream… to better fall asleep,” another says. These sexy silhouettes confront gender stereotypes and entertain passers-by with political double-entendres: “Il y a de la rage dans l’ére.”

You can read more about the area in France Today Magazine

Dogs of Paris, maybe a Coffee Table book in the future.

Dogs of Paris, maybe a Coffee Table book in the future.

article about Butte-aux-Cailles.

On our walk back, closer to home, Pat never misses and opportunity to snap a photo of the local dogs.

Here is a slide show of the area, please sit back and enjoy it.  Consider that we walked the hills and narrow cobblestone streets so you just have to watch.

Vegetables rolls
Chicken and curry
Beef and basil
Shrimps and coriandervideo width=”160″ height=”100″ m4v=”http://frenchbychoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Butte-aux-Cailles-2014-2-SD-480p.m4v”][/video]

Restaurant Bon

Restaurant Bon

Restaurant Bon 25, rue de la Pompe

Restaurant Bon 25, rue de la Pompe

We just returned from Bon, a restaurant here in the 16th arrondissement, it’s an asian influenced menu. We selected the Mixed Rolls to start,one each of Vegetables rolls, Chicken and curry, Beef and basil and Shrimps and coriander.  All very good with the beef and shrimp being the standouts.  Pat selected the Black Cod and I got the crispy duck, we switched half way but I could tell Pat was longing for the Cod so we switched back.  While the duck was very, very good the Black Cod was outstanding, honestly the best either of us has ever had.  We finished the meal wit the Choco Bon dessert to share, ripe mango with a coconut cream with tapioca and and a mango sauce.  A great finish to a great meal, we would highly recommend it to all.  We select a bottle of rose, Côtes de



Provence Château Minuty Prestige, which was also excellent.  Total cost with coffee 141€ ($193.17).  A great value.  Reservation suggested, especially on a Friday night. If your french is not too good you and book on line at there website.

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Paris 2014, Day 25 Cooking Class and Shopping

Oh no!  we woke to another day with out water as the sewer problem continues here in the building.  When we left the plumbers were snaking something in the court yard.

We were headed for E. Dehillerin so I could get a lid for one of my pots.  Of course I had to spend a bid of time reviewing their current stock of products and a brief conversation with Monsieur Franck who I have purchased my copper pots from years ago while France was still on the Franc.  Mr Franck lamented that we are all getting older but things were good

Plain omelet with salad

Plain omelet with salad

with him. Afer my purchase we headed over to rue Montigueil for lunch at Point du Saint Eustache Pats had and omelet and I IMG_0019had a salad with hot goat cheese and we order a carafe of Rose from Provence.  We enjoyed our lunch and then headed for rue de Rivoli for some shoe shopping, after a bit I left Pat to continue shopping and headed over to La Cuisine Paris for my Brioche cooking class.

We had two Pastry Chefs, Chef Diane and Chef G, Guiemette trained as a chef but then chose pastry because it was far less work and shorter hours in the kitchen, at least in a french kitchen. I took my Macroon class from Guiemette in March 2012.

Pastry Chef Diane at La Cuisine Paris

Pastry Chef Diane at La Cuisine Paris

So you take a cooking class in Paris and 4 of the students are from Maryland and one a

Brioche - Baba au Rhum

Brioche – Baba au Rhum

young woman from New York now living in Paris. Small world!

We had two pastry chef teaching the class where were learned

Brioche fisk

Brioche fisk

to make brioche and baba au rhum. We also made pralines and brioche

Brioche la tete

Brioche la tete

roses, brioche la tete, filled brioche, and brioche in the shape of a fish.  The class was interesting and helpful and I learned a few new trick for making brioche and I think I may have solved the problem with mine at home.  I learned a new technique to hurry the rising process by using a poolish so this may also help when time is important.

Filled Brioche

Filled Brioche, I made mine filled with chocolate chips but others use the pralines, raisins,et.

On the way out I ran in to Jane, Jane Bertch and her French husband Olivier Pugliesi-Conti actually are the owners of La Cuisine Paris and immigrated her from Chicago to start the school.  Jane and Olivier worked in corporate banking and management consulting, respectively. Both avid foodies, the couple decided to make a jump and create a cooking school catering to English and French speakers.



Brioche in Rhum sauce

Brioche in Rhum sauce


After the class I met up with Pat at Martin and Paul’s apartment.  We had a glass of wine and the had dinner at a local Italian restaurant on rue Turenne. Ristorante Caruso. I had the Gnocchi Leonardo and Pat had the Penne Arrabiata which

Penne Arrabiata

Penne Arrabiata

remix us both of this funny cartoon called the Death Star Cafe that we have included a link to for your amusement.

Gnocchi Learnado

Gnocchi Learnado

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Paris 2014 Day 23 Musee Marmottan

Life is hard here in Paris, were now living more like the French than we want to.

No Water today!  We woke to found no water, its not our apartment but rather the building.  I when to the Bakery while Pat when to the grocery store to purchase water.  We found out the water was turned off after midnight due to a Sewer problem and the plumber was to arrive at 0830 according the the building superintendent, we left here about 1430 and no plumber was seen on the property.

We headed off to the Musee Marmottan, the home of Claude Monet’s sons collection who died in 1966 in an auto accident and left his collection to the museum.  Our purpose of the visit, hover, was to see an Impressionist collection of 100 pieces from private collection, some that we had never seen before.  Some we were familiar with from previous catalogues  but some we had never seen before.

Boules in the rain.  It's a very important game!

Boules in the rain. It’s a very important game!

While walking from the bus stop we came across some Frenchmen playing Boules in the rain under umbrellas, this was a hardcore game, maybe even a grudge match.  Ha Ha!

There was a long line, not sure why because the exhibit is here

Exhibit of 100 painting in private collections.

Exhibit of 100 painting in private collections.

in Paris until July.  The weather was rainy, at time, and cold with the temperature between 37-43 degrees depending on the wind. We waited the better part of two hours.  We finally got into the heated space at about 4:30 PM, the museum is open on Thursday evening until 8:00 PM so there was no time problem.

Included in the exhibit:Bazille, Boudin, Caillebotte, Cassatt, Cezanne, Carot, Degas, Gonzales, Guillaumin, Jongking, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Rodin, and Sisley.

Museum History

The Former hunting lodge of Christophe Edmond Kellerman, Duke of Valmy, the Marmottan Monet Museum was bought in 1882 by Jules Marmottan. His son Paul settled in it, and had another hunting lodge built to house his private collection of art pieces and First Empire paintings.

Upon his death he bequeathed all his collections, and his town house – which will become the Marmottan Monet Museum in 1934 – and the Boulogne Library’s rich historical archives to the French Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1957, the Marmottan Monet Museum received the private collection of Madame Victorine Donop de Monchy as a donation inherited from her father, Doctor Georges de Bellio, one of the first lovers’ of impressionism whose patients included Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley, and Renoir.

In 1966, Michel Monet, the painter’s second son, bequeathed his property in Giverny to the French Academy of Fine Arts and his collection of paintings, inherited from his father, to the Marmottan Monet Museum. This donation endowed the Museum with the largest Claude Monet collection in the world. On this occasion, the academician architect and museum curator, Jacques Carlu, built a room inspired from the Grandes Décorations in the Tuilerie’s Orangerie to house the collection.

The works acquired by Henri Duhem and his wife Mary Sergeant splendidly completed this fund in 1987 through the generosity of their daughter Nelly Duhem. A painter and post-impressionists himself, Henri Duhem also was a passionate art collector and gathered the works of his contemporaries.

The Denis and Annie Rouart Foundation was created in 1996 within the Marmottan Monet Museum, in compliance with the benefactress’ wishes. The Museum was hence enriched with prestigious works by Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Henri Rouart.

In 1980, Daniel Wildstein gave the Museum the exceptional illumination collection put together by his father. Throughout the years, other major donations have come to enrich the Marmottan Monet Museum collections: Emile Bastien Lepage, Vincens Bourguereau, Henri Le Riche, Jean Paul Léon, André Billecocq, Gaston Schulmann, Florence Gould Foundation, Cila Dreyfus, and Thérèse Rouart.  The current admission is 10-Euros.

Escargot from Burgundy

Escargot from Burgundy

We decided to stay in the neighborhood tonight.  We have been walking by the Cafe Le Chalet du XVI for a almost a month an decided to give it a try.  I order snails (Escargot) from Burgundy and the Chicken Pat when for the scallop.  The snails excellent, the chicken good

Snails with the appropriate tools almost looks like an operating room.

Snails with the appropriate tools almost looks like an operating room.

it was a thigh and leg, my personal favorite and Pat’s with Basmati rice was outstanding, I can always tell when she like something because there was no taste forth coming although I did get to taste the sauce and the rice.  I

Waiters at the Cafe Chatlet XVI

Waiters at the Cafe Chatlet XVI

think we would definitely recommend the place.





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Paris 2014 Day 22, Chateau Versailles

Mike and Pat February 2014 at the Chateaue Versailles

Mike and Pat February 2014 at the Chateaue Versailles

Chateau/Estate/Palace de Versailles lies south west of the City of Paris (about 15 Km), a short metro/RER/Train/Bus ride away.  There are

Chateau de Versailles from the court yard

Chateau de Versailles from the court yard

many ways to get there for most it’s via the RER C5, purchase a zone 4 ticket or simple select Chateau Versailles Rive Gauche from the list of destination at an automated ticket machine. The cost 4.10€ for a one way ticket, you will need two per person, one for the trip out and one for the return.  The RER can be a bit tricky to use, so be sure to check the TV Monitor in the station and make sure you board a train head for Chateau Versailles (Rive Gauche).  When the train enters the station it will have the 4 letter code on the front of the train!  When you

Gardens of the Chateau de Versailles winter 2014

Gardens of the Chateau de Versailles winter 2014

arrive at the Versailles RG  train station exit to the street and turn right and go one block and then cross the street and head in the direction of the Chateau, you will see it in the distance about a 10 minute walk.

Hall of Mirrors (See video for more details)

Hall of Mirrors (See video for more details)

When you arrive follow the signs to the ticket office and buy a 1 day passport (18€) which will get you in to both the Chateau and Petit Trianon.

We explored the estate, visiting the Palace, with it’s Hall of Mirrors, King’s Chamber,  and the Queen’s bedroom, the gardens, with their fountains, statues and giant reflecting pool and the Petit

Chateau de Versailles Reflecting poos

Chateau de Versailles Reflecting poos

Trianon, with it grand staircase.

 There is so much to see at this historic location you can get overwhelmed.  We tried to capture as many photos to share and video of both the Hall of Mirrors and the Queen’s chamber.

Grand Staircase in the Petit Trianon

Grand Staircase in the Petit Trianon

There is a great deal of walking involved with a good percentage on cobble stone streets so be prepared.

Below is a partial history and more information is available on the Palaces web site.

Enjoy a slide show of some of the more interesting photos that we captured during our vista to the Chateau de Versailles in February 2014, it was our third visit one in June  2000, one in October 2011 and this year.  Always something new to see and of course the month provide a whole new perspective on the gardens and architecture.

The Palace

The Château de Versailles, which has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for 30 years, is one of the most beautiful achievements of 18th-century French art. The site began as Louis XIII’s hunting lodge before his son Louis XIV transformed and expanded it, moving the court and government of France to Versailles in 1682. Each of the three French kings who lived there until the French Revolution added improvements to make it more beautiful.

The Hall of Mirrors, the King’s Grand Apartments, the Museum of the History of France. The Château de Versailles, the seat of power until 1789, has continued to unfurl its splendour over the course of centuries. At first it was just a humble hunting lodge built by Louis XIII. But Louis XIV chose the site to build the palace we know today, the symbol of royal absolutism and embodiment of classical French art.

In the 1670s Louis XIV built the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen, whose most emblematic achievement is the Hall of Mirrors designed by Mansart, where the king put on his most ostentatious display of royal power in order to impress visitors. The Chapel and Opera were built in the next century under Louis XV.

The château lost its standing as the official seat of power in 1789 but acquired a new role in the 19th century as the Museum of the History of France, which was founded at the behest of Louis-Philippe, who ascended to the throne in 1830. That is when many of the château’s rooms were taken over to house the new collections, which were added to until the early 20th century, tracing milestones in French history.

The Gardens

From the central window of the Hall of mirrors the visitor look down on the grand perspective that leads the gaze from the Water Parterre to the horizon. This original perspective, which preceded the reign of Louis XIV, was developed and prolonged by the gardener André Le Nôtre by widening the Royal Path and digging the Grand Canal. This vast perspective stretches from the façade of the Château de Versailles to the railings of the park.

In 1661, Louis XIV commissioned André Le Nôtre with the design and laying out of the gardens of Versailles which, in his view, were just as important as the Château. The works were undertaken at the same time as those for the palace and took forty years to complete. But André Le Nôtre did not work alone: Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Superintendent of the King’s Buildings, directed the project from 1664 to 1683; Charles Le Brun, appointed First Painter of the King in January 1664, produced the drawings for a large number of statues and fountains; and, a little later, the architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart drew up increasingly understated scenic plans and built the Orangerie. Lastly, the King had all the projects submitted to him and wanted the “details of everything”.

The laying out of the gardens required enormous work. Vast amounts of earth had to be shifted to lay out the flower beds, the Orangerie, the fountains and the Canal, where previously only woods, grasslands and marshes were. The earth was transported in wheelbarrows, the trees were conveyed by cart from all the provinces of France and thousands of men, sometimes whole regiments, took part in this vast enterprise.

Since 1992, the gardens have been gradually replanted, and after the devastating storm of December 1999, the work speeded up to such an extent that quite a few sections have already been restored to their original appearance.

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Paris 2014, Day 21 Addendum

A ticket to the ballet is in store for this evening, so dinner had to be early – ballet was projected to end at 10 PM (way too late to eat!)

We headed over to the Marais, to dine on our favorite fallafels in Paris at l’As du Falaffel on rue Rosiers. To our surprise, there was no line and we quickly grabbed a table. We had allowed sufficient time before I needed to make my way over to Opera Garnier. I had the usual: Mike opted for a taste of something different. This will now be our go-to place if we ever have the opportunity to indulge in a performance again. Besides the lunchtime crowd is just plain crazy.

Mike's Dinner

Mike’s Dinner

Hopped the 29 bus for Opera Garnier where Mike and I parted ways – he went to the Apple store, I went to the ballet. Again I had a great seat, 4th row in Orchestra, just 3 seats from the center aisle. Center aisle is quirky in Opera Garnier; there are fold-up seats that during a performance people sit in. Wonder if it adheres to the fire code? The obvious issue is that  no one seated there can take their seat until every one else is seated.  I preferred my seat in the balcony to this orchestra seat – visibility and knee room was better up there

Ballet was ONEGUINE, a story ballet depicted in three acts. There are two friends, Onegin and Lenski; two sisters, Olga and Tatiana; a Russian Prince; a duel between the friends; and unrequited love. The scenery and the costumes were fabulous, prima ballerina was artistic, talented, able to portray deep emotion, strength, and precision while dancing through the three acts. This ballet was choreographed by John Cranko in 1965 for the Stuttgart Ballet and was performed by the Paris Ballet for the first time in 2009. The music was by Tchaikovsky, full of drama and occasional sweetness. The most difficult prospect was getting out of the theatre and into the metro for the ride home to our apartment in the 16th.

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