mercredi 26 décembre 2012

Belated Christmas greetings from Paris

Thank you to friends and family who have contacted us to wish us a merry Christmas. I have been very slack about updating my blog and also not individually responding to emails. I do apologise. Your kind thoughts and best wishes are nevertheless greatly appreciated.

Here are some miscellaneous photos of some of the wonderful times from Paris over the Christmas period.
Christmas Trees are everywhere. These are near Saint Sulpice, Saint Germain des Prés.

Somedays the weather is perfect, and everyone is out to enjoy it. 
Family time. 
Maybe not Christmassy, but at 110 metres tall, La Grande Arche is striking architecture at La Défense
Love looking in the windows at the fresh goods on offer.
The department stores have amazing window displays many of which are animated and are created by well-known designers. My photos just do not do justice to them.


Champs-Elysées and its markets and illuminations

For truly beautiful photos of Paris see Carina Okula's blog and website. She is an Australian expat living  just outside of Paris.

mercredi 19 décembre 2012

Christmas Drinks with Paris Rooftop Views

A quick Google search or checking your favourite Paris blogs reveals a number of bars, cafés, restaurants and terraces that have wonderful rooftop views. I am not sure if it is a new trend but there are a couple of temporary 'popup' additions to existing terraces that are worth considering if you are fortunate enough to be visiting Paris over Christmas and New Year.

Angelina's, a rue de Rivoli institution famous for its hot chocolate and Mont Blanc patisserie, has taken over one end of the 8th floor terrace at Galeries Lafayette. It is free to go up to the terrace and enjoy the views of Paris. With heating provided in the café you can enjoy the view of Opera Garnier, Madeleine and through to the Eiffel Tower for a little longer. It still does get quite chilly. You do need to make a bit of a sprint if it is raining. I think from memory we paid about 7-8 €uros each for our hot chocolate. Not exactly cheap - but it is delicious and the view is stunning.

View towards Madeleine and Eiffel Tower
View back towards Sacre Coeur
Le Bar Etoilé à BHV: I was just planning on taking in the view from the restaurant lower down in BHV early one evening. I love reading signs. As soon as I saw the sign I was interested in spite of not knowing that it was a bar sponsored by Grey Goose vodka. Technically you are supposed to book ahead via their facebook page but we just turned up. You pay 10€ for your cocktail. They are vodka-based although a non-alcoholic one is available. The area is very exposed and not much seating.

Enjoying a cocktail (just for the photo of course)
Hôtel de Ville from BHV rooftop bar
Angelina's (12 November to 31 December 2012)
8th Floor Galeries Lafayette
40 bd Haussmann
PARIS 75009
11.00am to 6.00pm 

Le Bar Etoilé (12 November to 23 December 2012)
52, rue de Rivoli
PARIS 75001 
5.30pm to 7.45pm Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri and Satu
5.30pm to 8.45pm Wed
5.30pm to 7.15pm Sun

samedi 15 décembre 2012

Outstanding Dinner in the Outskirts of Paris

I am very fortunate to have a wonderful local restaurant in La Garenne Colombes on the outskirts of Paris. Le Saint Joseph was recognised earlier this year for its excellence with an entry into the Michelin Guide. It is not hard to see why they have received this commendation.

It was my second visit, and once again the welcome was both warm and sincere. It is a very popular place, as evidenced by the need to book at least 3 days ahead. I was stunned that the helpful and charming lady in charge of front of house waitress remembered me from my last visit nearly 4 months ago. 

The 29€ three course dinner represents excellent value. We paid a supplement for some of our dishes. I was guided towards the snails with chorizo, mushrooms and red wine (cocotte escargots bourgogne, chorizo, champignons) which was served in a small cast-iron casserole dish. I have only ever had snails with garlic, parsley and butter before. As much as I like them that way - this was much better. The individual flavours were detectable with the rich flavour very warming on this cold, December evening. So enthused, I mopped up the last of the remnants of the sauce with the fresh, crusty bread.  The staff were so thoughtful that they even brought out a second dish for me to photograph when I thought I had lost the first photo. 

Cocotte escargots bourgogne, chorizo, champignons
My main course was lighter and more subtle in flavour but equally rewarding - scallops and prawns lightly flavoured with vanilla (noix St Jacques à la vanille).  The recommended riesling was the ideal accompaniment for this dish. The scallops were succulant and plump, perfectly cooked.
Noix St Jacques à la vanille
Dessert was equally rewarding. I can't recall the description on the menu but it was like a chocolate mousse served in a glass jar with biscuits. It was smooth, rich and very chocolatey. Not too sweet. The perfect finish to an outstanding meal.

The very personable chef, Denis Jublan, does an amazing job balancing the flavours in his dishes. The freshness and the quality of the ingredients are evident. He is ably supported by knowledgable, enthusiastic front of house staff. This is not a fancy restaurant where you leave feeling hungry. It is down to earth with the focus on providing quality food prepared with attention to detail and passion. It feels like you a sharing a very special meal surrounded by friends and locals who enjoy good food. I am looking forward to my next visit.

Monsieur Le Chef was kind enough to invite me visit the kitchen
Le Saint Joseph
100, boulevard de la République
La Garenne-Colombes 92250

mardi 4 décembre 2012

Snow in Alsace and Strasbourg Christmas Markets

I had always wanted to spend at least one Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere. Even in Australia we have images of Christmas with snow. Imagine my unrestrained delight as the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) sped towards Strasbourg in Alsace and I looked out and saw snow in the fields and forests. I am not sure what the other passengers made of my excitement and incessant photo-taking. Of course the photos are really not much more than a blur.

Not quite so exciting was having to descend from the train in the Arctic conditions when we reached Strasbourg. By now it was actually snowing. I was rather pleased with my foresight in booking Hotel Cathedrale directly opposite the cathedral and surrounded by Christmas markets. What's more there is a bath so I can duck back to the room for a long, hot soak between checking out the markets.

Our hotel is the blue building
We started our visit with the Cathedral so that we could see the nativity scene and the special exhibitions of tapestries and Neapolitan figurines. The tapestries were extraordinarily well-preserved with their colours and patterns still very clear.

Although it was very cold, I enjoyed wandering around the market. Storeholders and visitors alike were good-natured. I found the mulled wine too sweet for my taste but I did enjoy one of the best crepes I have ever bought on the street. It was huge and topped with cinnamon sugar. Delicious and very warming. The markets sell Christmas decorations, foods such as pain d'épice (although I am not sure if they are as good as Aussie in France's homemade one), bredle, macaroons, etc and handicrafts.  

So much better than going to the local discount store to buy a tree

One very large Christmas tree

View from our hotel
Dinner at Dôme Café was rather unremarkable. The prices were slightly higher than I saw elsewhere but it was warm and convenient. The vegetable soup was a little too watery and the flammekueche of cream, onions and bacon was crispy and generously proportioned but somewhat lacking in taste. I did however really enjoy my glass of champagne.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...