Archive for January, 2010

Awaken To The Eiffel Tower

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, Paris, Paris gardens and all things green with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

The Eiffel Tower, erected for the Paris Exposition of 1889, does not need any tempting to be visited. When in Paris, whether it is your first or subsequent trip, take a new look at it and experience it’s beauty in a different way.

Whether you’re a thrill seeker wishing to soar into the clouds and boast out loud at the very pinnacle or wish to climb the first seven hundred and four steps to the second level, or perhaps just want to glide effortlessly into the above in a glass lift- that’s entirely your choice.

The view is spectacular no doubt.

You do have the opportunity to admire the view while experiencing impeccable cuisine by Alaine Ducasse, if you decide to dine at the famous’ ‘Le Jules Verne’ on the second floor.

You will find it at:

http://www.lejulesverne-paris.com/

to book a table. It’s wise to book MONTHS before you leave for Paris. That will give you enough time to lift yourself from the floor after reviewing the prices! Once there, there’s no backing out but be ready for a magnificent-often-once-in-a-lifetime-experience!

Naming the restaurant ‘Le Jules Verne’ is so appropiate for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Jules Verne wrote the book  ‘From The Earth To The Moon’ ( as well as others including ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’ and ‘Around The World In Eighty Days ‘ and so on). Given the fact that Gustave iron made his beautiful iron construction as tall as an eighty one story building -(that’s three hundred and twenty four metres), I would say it’s pretty much to the moon as Parisiens are going to get!

And secondly, Gustave Eiffel spent the last thirty or so years working at the Eiffel Tower with his passion at this stage being aerodynamics and telecommunications and looking generally outwards from a world he had known. I’m certain he would have approved of the name ‘Le Jules Verne’ whose imagination led him to other worlds as well!

Alternatively, you may choose the other restaurant on the first floor. It used to be ‘Altitude 95′ but is now known as ’58 Tour Eiffel’. Book early given it’s unmistakable popularity, as it now caters better for families and groups who are visiting the Tower. It does turn into a really lovely brasserie/restaurant in the evenings, so check out the website for a booking at:

http://www.restaurants-toureiffel.com/

If you don’t want to dine and you really want to examine the Eiffel Tower itself, I would recommend experiencing it by day AND by night. Let me show you the ambience it conjures and how it appears at different times.

With a hamper of wonderful french cheeses, a baguette, your favourite gourmet delights and a bottle of wine, arrange a picnic on the lawn nearby.

That reminds me of Omar Khayyam’s poetry (originally written in Persian):

“Here with a loaf of bread beneath the bough

A flask of wine, a book of verse-

And thou beside me singing in the wilderness

And wilderness is paradise enow”.

This may be just a corner of Paris, but the experience can be simply sublime. (No wonder Paradise has PARIS in it!)

Take your time to walk right under and around the back of the tower to see local toddlers riding their bikes and swinging in the small enclosed playground…

or feed the  ducklings in the small body of water just under neath.

You can always arrive in style darlings and take a horse and carriage ride around the Eiffel Tower and perhaps venture further into Paris. Some or these tours last for up to two hours. ( I’ve already told you of my fabulous experience in a horse and carriage at Versaille, so I can highly recommend it!)  Most of the time, you don’t have to book these rides at all- just turn up and have a chat to the carriage man! Prices are usually displayed on a board nearby.

During the evening, you can still enjoy a picnic under the stars depending upon the weather. Take a look at what you’ll see if you do.

Aah, when seven thousand tonnes of iron turn into a three hundred and twenty four metre blissful glow piercing the night sky, it makes for one very romantic setting for a picnic and more!

I can only say that Gustave Eiffel’s mother must have been one very proud mum!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

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Awakening To Paris’ Natural History Museum

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, Paris, Paris gardens and all things green with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Ross from the television series “Friends” would seriously sink his teeth into the Gallery of Paleontology at the Natural History Museum in Paris. Otherwise known as Museum Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle which was once under King Louis XIII,  it is located on Rue Curvier and is easily reachable by bus, train (stop at Gare Austerlitz) or batobus ( personally my favourite way of getting there- alighting at Jardin des Plantes.)

We can accredit the entire place to the wonderfully innovative naturalist, Georges Leclerc, the Compte de Buffon- honorable Keeper of The Kings Garden (Jardin du Roi) in the sixteenth century.

This  garden contained many medicinal plants for royalty and opened in 1640. Leclerc dedicated his entire life here  and later turned it into the fabulous museum and its gardens ( known now as the Jardin Des Plantes) for the next four hundred or so years and it is still enjoyed by everyone today.

As you enter the gates, you’ll be greeted by the statue of Jean Lamarck, another famous naturalist who had his own specific ideas on Evolution. He (and Darwin for that matter), were  influenced by the formidable  Leclerc.

That’s Lamarck thinking still….

Also at the front there are many gigantic models impressive to both young and old. One year, the dragon blew it’s fiery breath…

On the next visit, people were clambering to see the huge Meccano whale much to the delight of the child within!

Walk down The Allee Buffon which is a wide gravelly path lined  by English Plane trees  to the Museum in the distance. Discover the different gardens along the way like the Alpine, Rose and Winter gardens and the Mexican Glass house.

There’s also a huge herbarium stashing away  forty two thousand drawers of dried plants! Then just when you think that’s it, there’s the Gallery of Minerology, a girl’s next best friend with six hundred thousand mineral samples glimmering  from giant crystals and precious stones in rainbow colours. Lots of french oohs and arrhs around those of course!

Then my dear friends, my french awakening was alerted again once inside the Great Hall of Evolution.

You don’t have to be a nerd to be impressed. You can join the evolutionary trail of colossal animal specimens in a queue somewhat akin to entering Noah’s Ark!  Kids fully expect anyone of these animals to open their mouths and devour them instantly!

The displays and all specimens of flora and fauna are fantastic! Shoals of fish lurk  in corners, coral reefs are so lifelike and whale skeletons hover the entire length of the Gallery. Genetic models of  DNA double helical coils glow in lime green  and the story of life  is made colourful and awesome! They’ve gone to amazing lengths to keep everyone fascinated and they succeed brilliantly! So much to see, so much to learn here!

It’s 2010 and this I believe is the Year Of Biodiversity. The Natural History Museum takes you a step further into looking at biodiversity across our planet and you can get absorbed with the current Mozambique and Madagascar Expeditions as well. Learning about different destinations is afterall a great thing don’t you think?

Just like learning about Paris!

The Natural History Museum official Website is found at:

http://www.mnhn.fr/museum/foffice/transverse/transverse/accueil.xsp?cl=en

Do look it up and see the panoramic view of the main Gallery. You can also discover the walks and upload a map of the gardens before you visit.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Awakening To Paris Train Stations

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Travel, Paris with tags , , , , , , on January 26, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

While in Paris, you can wait for things to happen or better still, you can have wonderful experiences while you’re waiting. My pearl of wisdom came true at one of Paris’ largest train stations- Gare de Lyon, where my french awakening widened while I was waiting.

Take a walk around Gare de Lyon and you’ll find a myriad of things to admire and experience.  Why wait for your train on a bench seat underneath, when you can enjoy a glass of wine and delicious French cuisine under a chandelier, looking down from above?

Yes, look up and behind the bright neon lights is the absolutely delightful, ‘Le Train Bleu’.

Le Train Bleu is a fabulous restaurant to enjoy. Take a look at their website and you’ll see a little corner of the old Paris within a brasserie and restaurant combined. You’ll find it at:

http://www.le-train-bleu.com

Like The Petit Palais, Gare de Lyon was built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900. ‘Le Train Bleu’ is from that era and has all the trimmings of vintage Parisian charm. Go and eat there while waiting for your TGV.

To make a booking go to:

reservation.trainbleu@ssp.fr

Give yourself plenty of time to soak up the ambience and the drop dead gorgeous setting. You will be surrounded by  leather studded seats, enormous gilded mirrors and lavish gold decor of a time gone by making you feel undeniably prestigious as Brigitte Bardot and Coco Chanel and even Salvador Dali who have all eaten there!

Their website also offers French Recipes from their restaurant for all of us who love French cooking. I’ve added a recipe from one of my favourites here so I hope you try it out and tell me what you think.

Recipe for Roast Rib or Veal Foyot

The following ingredients are for EACH person:

1 thick (250g) veal cutlet
1 small tomato which has been stuffed with salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, parsely and butter.

Mixture:
20g soft part of the bread crumbs
30g ribbed gruyère cheese
20g butter
Mix bread crumbs, cheese, butter like a pastry. Keep in fridge.

Cooking:
Salt and pepper the veal cutlet, sprinkle with flour and cook it gently in butter in an ovenproof dish. When half-cooked, turn it over, and place the mixture on top. Put the tomato on one side and finish cooking in the oven, basting frequently with the cooking butter and until it is coloured.

Presentation:
Lay the cutlet and the tomato in the serving dish. Put the chopped shallot in the cooking butter, deglazed with a 1/2dl of dry white wine and the same quantity of good veal stock. Allow to reduce by half. Add 30g of butter, stirring lightly. Away from the heat, thicken the sauce, and coat the veal cutlet. Serve slightly buttered tagliatelli on the side.

In the words of Julia Childs, “Bon Appetit!”

Once you’ve eaten at ‘Le Train Bleu’, take a walk and check out the line up of beautiful TGV trains before you board.

These high speed sleek trains are so futuristic in style and will get you to your destination in no time.

Remember darlings, it’s always the journey and not the destination my friends which can matter more. And it’s in the waiting that can bring you great moments in Paris!

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken To Musee D’Orsay, Paris

Posted in French Affair, French Music, French Travel, Paris, Paris Shopping with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I hope your all enjoying my Paris blogs. Come with me and we’ll go to Musee D’Orsay, Paris today. Step inside the Central Nave…

The layout of Musee D’orsay provides abundant space and flooded light from the original glass roof of what was once the Gare D’Orsay railway station.It’s the ambience of the place which continues to inspire me and it will for you too!

There is  an RER stop right outside the Museum and you’ll meet the famous iron Rhinoceros by Henri Jacquemart before you go in!

The entry is just behind it and one handy hint is to purchase the Paris Museum Pass to help you bypass any queues on entry. Let’s not  forget to pick up your free map once you’re inside, then wander till your hearts content!

Walk in and be thrilled with plenty of  room to amble. It’s much smaller than the Lourve and you won’t be overwelmed with the numbers of tourists.

There is a huge range of nineteenth and twentieth century artworks to admire within a very unique setting.

What will you find here? A glorious Impressionism and Post Impressionism display as well as Art Nouveau and Oriental Art and so much more!

One of my favourite rooms is The Salle des Fetes. It’s beaming with crystal chandeliers and mirrors and was once the ballroom of the Hotel D’Orsay. Walk with me will you…

And look at this…

Against a backdrop of gold and reflection, there stands on honey coloured parquetry floors, many all- white marble statues in various stages of emotion.

I was enchanted to hear the whisperings of a delightful little  group of French school children ,who were making up stories about the sculptures on which we gazed.

While you’re at musee D’Orsay you may feel like attending a fabulous lunch time concert or recital by some up and coming music sensation,  (on level two) or even a film in it’s own cinema!

If you’re really lucky, go up to the roof terrace and catch an artist sketching the views across Paris. Now, that’s a treat!

You will find Musee D’Orsay at number 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur and for all events and acquisitions, films and recitals,  check the  details at:

http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/overview.html

Opening times from 9:30am to 6:00pm (except later on Thursday evenings until 9:45pm). Remember that it’s closed on a Monday!

There are renovations of level 5  being carried out at present to  March 2011, but the collections on this floor can still be seen in another newly designed area of the Museum. The best part about this is Paris is always trying to make things better and more beautiful for everyone!

The Musee D’orsay has to go on your list of  Places To See In Paris!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Awakening To Sacre Coeur, Paris

Posted in French Affair, French Music, French Travel, Paris with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

The beautiful white Basilica of  Sacre Coeur is now a Pilgrimage site and stands high over Montmartre, Paris. It lulls my french awakening everytime I walk into it when the nuns are singing their vespers – a stark contrast to the cries of St Denis before he was beheaded on the very same site back in the third century!

The high pitched  harmonious sound of choral nuns in this sacred space takes my breath away and it echoes over the foothills below. I was told by some locals that you can actually listen to their vespers live with Radio Notre Dame !

The walk through the gardens around Sacre Coeur is lovely and the view from the top across Paris is sensational. Take a look at this. You can even climb the spiral staircase at the top of  Sacre Coeur to get a more spectacular vista.

Follow down the back of  Sacre Coeur where fewer tourists go and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find some great inexpensive restaurants and cafes.  By the time you’ve eaten, go back up to Sacre Coeur and take a final look at dusk. It’s just superb!

To approach Sacre Coeur, you can  take The Funicular or cable car if you don’t fancy the steps. It runs from Place Suzanne-Valadon to the Place Willette just below Sacre Coeur. It’s magic to experience, especially with children who will be doubly excited when they finally set eyes on the swirling carousel at the bottom. (or perhaps you can use your child as an excuse to go on yourself!)

I’ve only ever had great days here in this very bohemian part of Paris, but I do suggest you be prepared for sometimes forceful  sellers of junky souvenirs at the bottom of the stairs.

Montmartre holds such an array of quirky shops and great experiences. You can do what I do and go fabric hunting as well.  Fabric houses three storeys high will keep you occupied for hours. (Go with a girlfriend!)

It’s a sewing and quilting paradise around here and you’ll find all sorts of gorgeous fabrics including toiles and also beautiful French tapestries.

Be wary though that you’re buying’ ‘Made in France’ and you’ll be so pleased to show it all off to your friends back home!

For night entertainment, there are plenty of bars and bistros and the famous Moulin Rouge is under the Moulin de La Galette,the last windmill in Montmartre- painted in bright seductive red. You can’t miss it!

Contact: http://www.moulinrouge.fr/home-flash-gb.html

for prior bookings to a fabulous show of dancers- a feathers and sequins extroadinaire!

Visit also the Place du Terte  near Sacre Coeur, filled with some very fine enthusiastic artists ready to sketch your portrait.  Albeit the Place is filled with tourists but that doesn’t deter their artistic talent and creativity! Take it all in. Nothing beats the smell of conti pastels in the hands of struggling artists!

Postcard shops also are in a frenzy for very good reason. Many here have a huge range and I  bought some wonderful vintage ones for friends back home.

Walk the cobblestone steep streets (with flat shoes of course) and get yourself lost through the maze of side streets and alleyways of Montmartre. Get yourself lost for a while.

It won’t happen for too long as you can always look upwards towards the hill of Sacre Coeur and it will lead you home!

Enjoy your day,

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Awakening To The Petit Palais, Paris

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, Paris with tags , , on January 19, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Look no further than the Petit Palais (otherwise known as The Musee des Beaux- Art de la Ville de Paris) for the perfect combination of Relaxation, French Art, Culture, History and not to mention a very good coffee, next time you’re in Paris.

My french awakening came by sheer accident as I , put off by the snake of tourists by the entry gates of the Grand Palais off the Champse Elysee, walked against the throng of more tourists and crossed the road.

The stone steps of The Petit Palais are most welcoming and I enter this “small palace” under the magnificent ironwork banner of 1900 or thereabouts, with an air of relief (and importance I might add!) There’s nothing like a dramatic entrance!

I could not have agreed more at this point with the famous poet Robert Frost, in taking the “road less travelled”. The Petit Palais was a fabulous decision!

Come with me and enter The Petit Palais,Paris.

First of all, it’s free to enter any of the permanent exhibitions. There is such a diverse collection of artworks here and something for everybody. It’s not the Louvre- so tourists are not a problem and because most people it seems , want to see the Impressionists when in Paris, they can do so here surrounded by a huge collection of  paintings by French Painters  such as Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Ingres, Delacroix, Gustave Courbet and more.

I was so delighted to see Gustave Courbet’s  easel and other art materials like the  paint box and palette belonging to him, right in the centre of a room! These personal items bring you closer to the artist himself and does say a great deal about the aspirations of the Palais’ curator. A wonderful touch! Take a peep!

If that isn’t enough, you’ll be surprised to see a fantastic display of eighteenth century furniture in the Tuck Collection. Also, lovers of Dutch Art will be delighted as well to see a good range and generally, artwork of the Petit Palais goes way back to the first century.

As for the kids, there are great Discovery Tours and storytelling and workshops here to educate and inspire. Contact the Petit Palais in advance to check it out at:

http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr

When you need to rest or eat, the Petite Palais offers a thriving yet quiet space in the inner sanction and courtyard cafe, ‘le Jardin du petit Palais’  and restaurant. It’s really lovely!

The coffee and soup is excellent and tables overlook a unique garden courtyard where peace is assured. A great reflective space for journal writing and/or rekindling the energies or just planning the next hours of your journey.

Don’t forget to look at the magnificent ceilings on your way out. Ceilings that make you feel you’ve died and gone to heaven. What do you think?

Feeling refreshed, calm and inspired- you’ll be now ready to tackle the tourists outside!

The Petit Palais is open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday). Also on Tuesday until 8pm for temporary exhibitions only.

Opening times from 10am to 6pm.

Enjoy my friends,

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Awakening To La Defense

Posted in French Travel, Paris, Paris Shopping with tags , , on January 18, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

La Defense is Paris’ answer to Planet Krypton! So different from Paris, you’ll love the contrast of this very unusual sky rise business district encased in glass- so take yourself out there on your next trip.

You can see La Defense quite easily from the top of the Arc de Triomph. Take a look here.  It’s that huge concentration of very tall buildings at the very end, masking the horizon. 

La Defense is easy access by train from Paris and is a new and contemporary world on its own. It’s different- my french awakening opened to something entirely new with its reflective glass surfaces and  bold geometric shapes soaring high into the sky.

One of the most famous landmarks at La Defense is The Grande Arche. You’ll love it. Keep an open mind! It’s glass and steel at it’s best. The past French President Mitterand who initiated it, was looking for a twentieth century version of the Arc de Triumph. I think he certainly found it! What do you think?

Travel to the top of this hollow cube and besides viewing an art exhibition on the way, the view is amazingly different.

Grab some fabulous takeaway food at the very popular bakery inside “Quatre Temps”  shopping mall and have it alfresco on the steps under the Arch. It’s a really popular setting to catch some sun like we did. Take a look  

at my salmon salad. It was wonderful!

After lunch, take a stroll around a showcase of modern art with fun statues and sculptures and interesting modern pieces dotted everywhere in this perfect setting of outdoor space.

La Defense is an emergence of office blocks and units with entertainment and  inexpensive eateries, shops, restaurants, supermarket and artworks , offering plenty to see and do.

So, for you mon ami, try something new and perhaps you’ll be really surprised. It’s not at all like Paris itself but, everyone thought the Eiffel Tower was an aweful extreme too when it was first built.

Viva la difference!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes,

Therese Waddell