Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Travel: Paris Recommendations & Day Trips

Being in Paris, you can’t miss the exciting colorful neighborhood of The Marais; reminded me of the East Village, New York City, with talented artists and one of a kind shops. In the vicinity, you must stop for lunch at my all-time favorite classic place, Mariages Frères, which offers more than 400 different teas, ranging from Cameron Highland, Malaysia to Darjeerling Mountains of India. 

                                                                                                            Mariage Frères at Marais
In between the visits to incredible museums, a few afternoon delights that one should not missed. The well-known  pastry shop le Nôtre where you can find succulent kouglof. Or stop by your local fromagerie and have a picnic with a slice of Poilâne, a famous bread  manufacturer who bake his bread like an old tradition. During my visits, I enjoyed the lively restaurant Chez Omar; if you like Moroccan food, they make succulent lamb shanks, great tagine and couscous. 

If you have a sweet tooth, Berthillon at L'ile St Louis is one of the must-vist Parisian spots for great gelato and a stroll around the charming island.

If you want to travel beyond Paris, there are many excursions within a day’s trip. Some of my favorites: 
  • Versailles's glass palace and his beautiful gardens, where Marie Antoinette resided.

                                                                                                           Marie-antoinette at Versailles
  • La Normandie - walk on the beaches of Deauville and lunch at restaurant Les Vapeurs in Trouville.
  • Other well known places such as the house of Jean Monet in Giverny.You can visit the garden which inspired him for his famous paintings.
  • If you like wine, do visit the beautiful wine road with region like Val de Loire and the castle of Tourraine, only at 1 hour from Paris by train, with its enormous chateaux.
  • One can also take a break in Bourgogne to taste Macon wine. One of the most famous roads is Champagne, near Reims, which is only 45 min by train.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Travel: September in Paris: Favorite Pastry Shops

This blog is not for those who are watching their waist lines!

Since I have been to Paris several times, I skipped all the major tourist sites except the Louvre, of course. This time my fascination is to visit and taste different boulangeries and new patisseries since I was here four years ago.  I can feel my heart beats faster as I walked into these beatifully arranged  shops.

I was overwhelmed by La Grande Epicerie de Paris, a part of Le Bon Marché department store, an entire floor with shelves stocked with black sea salt from North Africa, to pink fresh shrimp from Deauville, France. There I picked up a few bags of my favorite galette de beurre and  lavender soaps from Marseille, then headed out for lunch at Ladurée, known for its legendary macarons and others pastries. One afternoon, I was invited for lunch at Madame Depuis in the 16th arrondissement and I wanted to buy these delicious macarons as gift.

A friend of mine suggests to go to “La Carette” at Trocadero  (, an old classic. But then my film maker friend Joanne disagreed  that I  must go to the new hip “Pierre Herme“ (, the eponymous shop from the former pastry chef at Fauchon. One of his famous pastries is Le Deux Mille Feuilles and for his tiny macarons. 

At last I opt for Eric Kayser patisserie (, since my hotel is near this rustic, artisan shop. I picked up a few rows of delicious caramel and hazelnut chocolate macarons, while indulging in a few madeleines on site. It`s one of oldest bakeries in Paris, recognized for its seasonal  flavorful fruit tarts, which recently opened a chain of shops in high traffic neighborhoods.
A week in Paris is just not enough!

Patisseries La Carette
 La Carette, Trocadero, Paris    
Macarons Pierre Hermé
Pierre Herme, Saint-Germain, Paris