Awaken to Seine River Cruises

Posted in French Books, French Travel, French Women, Paris with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

Can you picture yourself floating along here…

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aboard a boat on the glassy waters of the Seine? A twilight cruise with other tourists, although cliched, can be one of the best ways to see Paris transform into two worlds; the glittering city of Paris by night comes to life at twilight as it glides by on its glorious, mirrored world of reflections.

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Go with a friend. Go without. It makes no difference here. Feel the breeze and relax on board any one of the boats referred to by the French as ‘ les bateau mouche”. Buy your ticket at the dock. Most boats dock at Pont d’Alba near the Eiffel Tower which you’ll see from here…

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and it will cost you about 12.50 euros. You may want to pick up a bottle of bubbly from here…

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as well. I do recommend you go a little earlier to get your tickets and be top of the queue to secure your choice seats- undercover or at the bow if you feel like doing a ‘Titanic’ with arms outstretched.

You can reserve tickets online at the official site here: http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en

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To capture the experience, my french awakening insists you give a thought to employ the lovely and creative Australian- come- Paris- resident, photographer  Carla Coulson who offers a four hour photo shoot anywhere in Paris. Her unique forte lies in photographing women in Paris. She not only highlights Paris glamour and sheer femininity but manages to intensify inner beauty so well that it makes not only for an unforgettable momento of portrait shots but an altogether uplifting experience in itself. You can see her gorgeous work at  her website gallery in ‘Carla Loves Photography’ at  http://carlacoulson.com or her many published books.

Imagine yourself under Paris light. It’s not too difficult is it?

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Best Wishes, Therese

Copyright@2014 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Five French Men for dinner.

Posted in French Affair with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour friends,

My curious female friend asked me the other day, “If I could invite five French men (from any era) to dinner, who would they be?” I really had to think hard. There were so many to choose from. I had to base my decisions on some very important criteria.

I wouldn’t invite anyone who would not appreciate my cooking nor did I want someone who would dominate the conversation across the dinner table. It was then that the delightful Marcel Marceau sprang to mind who I knew would be duly appreciative, behave himself impeccably, sit non prejudicial of other guests, remain a decorative chap in harmony with his surroundings. What you see is what you get with Marceau as the sublime French mime artist. He’d wear a broad red grin when happy, frown when sad, be an undeniably good listener not to mention very hygienic wearing his trademark white gloves so he could help with the dishes.

Then I gave a thought to sitting at the table with Francois Hollande, France’s current Prime Minister. Without his wife of course. Though his powers of seduction may intrigue, I doubt he would stay long in the company of predominately male guests and he would consequently be preoccupied with affairs on his mobile to be of any real interest. Well, perhaps he can stay for a while and talk Socialism and equality for women but let’s not mention marriage and film stars in the one sentence.

Now let me think …Perhaps Johnnie Depp would be by next guest and yes I know he’s not officially a Frenchman, he does act like one and has a house outside the little French village of Plan de la Tour with its little French vineyard. Besides, he was very nice on our first encounter, stopping at the roadside crossing for me in Saint Paul de Vence, remember (https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/awaken-to-saint-paul-de-vence-france/)

According to People’s Magazine, Depp has been voted the “Sexiest Man Alive” so naturally he’d be instantly forgiven if he arrives a little disheveled. I know he’d appreciate good wine and my chocolate for sure, though I read his taken to devouring scorpions which are currently not on my menu. I’m certain though a tad shy and hibernating, Johnnie would no doubt feel freer as the night went on and conversations of a bohemian life and his music would be easy listening especially with a guitar at hand. He’d do party tricks and make his tattoos dance and trying to focus on them after much wine appreciation would make for a jolly evening. Yes, Johnnie’s good value at dinner. Let’s not put him too close to Marcel though as I believe he has a fear of clowns.

My fourth guest has to be Napoleon. Now given he’d have a strong competitive streak and so the wine that Johnnie brings would be depleted in no time but he has been known for Plan B assertiveness and will no doubt have his hip flask of favourite cognac inside his top coat. Some people don’t realise that’s why he’s given to losing one arm underneath. Napoleon will relish my beef bourguignon (my recipe can be yours at: https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/awakening-to-french-recipes/

And it’s a loyal act when Napoleon would tackle any man to the floor who doesn’t eat. Dear Napoleon with his feisty thirst for adventure and beautiful spirit may add be a touch of rivalry among the ranks but he’d have a lot in common with Francois Hollande and I’m certain that Deppe could lull him with a song or Marcel would place an invisible box over him if that fails. One can’t deny Napoleon would make great conversation with sordid tales of war and frenzy,  socialism and political dramas in his redefining France. He does well generally under pressure, though I think I stand for the whole party when I say that I hope he doesn’t bring up the whole, boring “construction of roads through France”contribution but mention the part he played in his renewal of the Catholic Church in France instead. That could certainly encourage debate.

Lastly, it would be a toss between Jacques Cousteau, the Marine Conservationist with the lovely tan, (who on second thoughts, wouldn’t enjoy my St Jacques scallops nor appreciate sucking claw meat from our deep sea lobster as much as the others) and either the existentialist thinker Jean Paul Sartre or maybe Voltaire the poet and philosopher would come instead.

I have an overriding sense that if Jean Paul will not acknowledge he’s actually present at the table it leaves me with no other choice but to invite Voltaire. After all, Voltaire with his ill health needs a good feed and wouldn’t waste any morsel of food. Besides, he also understands spirited liaisons (just ask Emilie du Chalelet) and with his sharp wit and hilarious verses, we’d all be enlightened by his truthfulness and candour. He’s sure to remind us at the table that, “Anything too stupid to be said is sung”.

So there you have it- my list of five for dinner. Have I left anyone out? Who would you invite?

Bon Appetit!

Therese

copyright@2014Therese Waddell

Awaken to the Guillotine!

Posted in French Travel, Paris with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

Many people including Parisians, are not aware that here at ‘Place de la Concorde’ was the site of the Guillotine during the French Revolution.

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In the shadow of today’s Hotel de Crillon – one of the most expensive and most luxurious hotels in Paris, was once the site that locals referred to as ‘Place de la Revolution’.

Set in a blood stained field and now dark cobblestones, it was around 1794 during the ‘Reign of Terror’ that Paris mobs, thirsty for execution and bloodshed, stood in anticipation; For when the bell was rung, (a signal to release the guillotine’s handle) and the drums would stop beating, crowds stood motionless to witness the drop of a large single angled blade which lopped off the heads of Royalty and commoner alike. It’s been recorded that over 2500 people died by the dreaded guillotine just in Paris alone, including Louis XVI, his wife Maria Antoinette, Madame du Barry-mistress of Louis XV and many more, not to mention 92 year old Mary Anne Duay and the youngest victim who was merely 14.

The sound of the blade piercing soft flesh and hitting the bloody splintered wood underneath bought momentary silence (no doubt in the case of their King), then cries of “Vive la Republique!” And the crowds  would burst forward to the dripping head held high on a pole, to dip their wiry fingers and handkerchiefs into the gushing blood of a warm, decapitated head, particularly one which was blue blooded. Sometimes the mouth and eyes gave into opening and closing while the next cage of quivering victims rattled down Rue St Honore (today, the site of luxury chocolate shops) -prized victims like white circus tigers nearing extinction, from the Conciergerie Prison.

My french awakening to guillotines went haywire when I learnt that the last death by guillotine was in 1977!  The same year that Apple released its first computer with keyboard, the same year that Elvis Presley died, the same year that Barbie Road Trip with Motor Home goes into toyshops.

Paris….always raw.

AuRevoir,

Therese Waddell

copyright@2014 Therese Waddell

 

Awaken to L’Orangerie, Paris.

Posted in French Gardens, French Painters, French Travel, Paris, Paris gardens and all things green with tags , , on February 19, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

People often asked me, “If I had limited time in Paris, what would be a MUST to see?” Apart from the obvious icons, I tell them this:

“Head straight to L’Orangerie Museum on the western corner of the Tuileries garden”. You’ll need to enter through the main gates off the Place de la Concorde, pass the library…

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and a two minute walk upwards…

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to the lawn of statues outside the Museum.

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Be an early bird and beat the crowds as I do. (This pic was taken after my visit not long after opening time.)

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Go straight ahead to the white rooms at the back of this small museum – the dedicated space of Monet’s “Nympheas.” Sit down on the leather bench dead centre of the room wrapped by enormous panels of French Impressionism and the gardens of Giverny (remember, https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/awakening-to-monets-garden/ ) in all its serene colour.“Nympheas” It’s nothing like you’ve ever imagined.

For a small virtual of what to expect go to the museum’s own website at:  http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/homes/home_id24799_u1l2.htm (Click onto Salle One and Salle Two to see the two rooms dedicated to Monet) . This doesn’t however, impart how you feel when you’re actually in there. Trust me. I have the same reaction every time I visit. And I watch others’ reactions and wait for them to simply exhale.

It’s  as if the very breath of Paris  essence has smacked each of us in the face.

If you do have more time, wander downstairs and see amateur artists copying the real thing in the Paul Guillaume Collection. There’s a saying here that “if the imitation is too good, the gallery will keep it” and you’ll find very friendly student artists such as Frank who will allow you to chat with him as he changes a small area of his work in order to take it home.

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Because that’s really what it’s all about here at L’Orangerie….

Everyone takes a piece of Paris home.

Happy travels and Best Wishes,

Therese

Copyright@Therese Waddell 2014

Awaken to the Closure of Le Rouvray Fabric Shop, Paris

Posted in French fabrics, French Quilts, Paris, Paris Shopping, Therese Waddell's Quilts with tags , , , , , , on February 9, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour friends!

For those of us who do some quilting, I have some sad news. It is with deep regret to inform you that the beautiful Paris fabric shop across from the foot of Notre Dame, ‘Le Rouvray’, which many of you have used, is now closed. After 45 years of patchwork and adventure in Paris, the lovely owner and co founder, Diane Obaldia passed away some time ago now and Le Rouvray has closed its doors for good.

Before her death, Diana wrote to me a expressing great interest in ‘My French Awakening’ and the article I did on her shop at: https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/awakening-to-le-rouvray-french-fabrics/

Good business deserves acclamation I’ve always thought and Le Rouvray was no exception. Diana was “touched and dazzled” by the article (which I felt was by no means brilliant) but beckoned “come have lunch with me” and that’s the kind of lady she was. No wonder her shop was filled with beautiful fabrics and beautiful service from quietly passionate people. Diana and her team made for a very successful business and above all, a business of friendship building. Well, that’s how I see it anyway.

I shall always regret not being able to share that meal with Diana Obaldia and hearing about her road to success and adventures in Paris. It would have made a much better story than the one I told.

What was your experience in Le Rouvray?

Best Wishes,

AuRevoir, Therese

copyright@2014Therese Waddell

 

Awaken to Chocolatiers in France

Posted in Chocolate Shops in Paris, Food and Recipes, French Travel, Paris, Paris Shopping, Therese Waddell's Chocolate Art and Facebook Page with tags , , , , , , , on December 10, 2013 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

One of the very best things to do in Paris is to go chocolate hunting. Like jewels in the crown, chocolatiers are dotted around the city of Light, breathing aroma and gorgeous chocolatey creations in a rich tradition of expertise.

When we were kids, treasure hunting for sweets in unexpected places was great fun. Some of us (you know who always cheated)  became really deft at discovery, but these days when the back drop is Paris and the prize is couverture chocolate, it makes the game so much better! I’ve hunted down and tasted some of the world’s best chocolates from the hands of the best chocolatiers in Paris. My French Awakening hopes you may find the list of chocolate shops in Paris helpful when you visit. It’s just the tip of the ice berg but it makes for a great day when sightseeing.

1. Patrick Roger- Number ONE on my list, residing at 108 Boulevard, Saint Germain and several others shops across Pars.(see his website below).

This bearded bad boy is totally unconventional from the rest of chocolatiers… an extraordinary chocolate sculptor, artisan and motorbike rider all in one! No wonder he has chocolate which is so earthy and herbal! He’s a creator of insanely different flavour combos and new taste sensations. Even OUTSIDE,  his shop windows alone will captivate you, with his over sized chocolate creatures. Apes, drinking Hippos and waddling hens  in glorious detail, reflecting his superb mastery of an age old craft bought to the contemporary platform with wild humour. Something rings in my own heart here.

Many of you don’t know but MY OWN passion is chocolate. Really. Working with chocolate is like nothing else. My French Awakening will give you a sneek peep of my chocolate sculpturing ….doing what I love (besides writing about France…)

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My new FACEBOOK PAGE  at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Belle-Epoque-Couture-Cakes-and-Chocolate/211250185696289  shows you more of my work and contact. I would really appreciate you LIKING the page and a very big thankyou to all those who have generously done so already and/or ordered a celebration cake with chocolate work. Your comments as well only make for better business. If you would like a spectacular cake for a special occasion contact me here or on my facebook page! I would love to make you something extroadinary!

But back to Patrick Roger….He really encourages the public to go out back of his shop and taste test to constantly keep in touch with today’s changing palette. His umbilical cord to the public is uncommonly tight even though he works unconventionally with great freedom and little constraints. There is no arrogance here which some other chocolatiers aerate.

My French Awakening refers to Patrick Roger as Le Willie Wonker du Chocolat for Patrick works outside the chocolate square. You must try his pralines if nothing else. They’ll tingle all your senses…and that’s why he’s my unquestionable  hero in the chocolate world.

Check out his world of eight Paris addresses at http://www.patrickroger.com/en/index.php and you’ll see what I mean. While you’re doing so, try this….

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The other chocolate shops in Paris on my list are not in any divine order but are WELL WORTH VISITING. It includes:-

2. Michael Chaudun- also a talented chocolate sculptor producing whimsical pieces at 149 Rue Université, 75007 Paris. A lovely  gentle soul who loves his work and you can tell when you walk in the shop. There’s a friendly warm air here dotted with plenty of oohs and arhhs as we spot replica European sausages hanging from the ceiling, stylish chocolate stilettos and faberge eggs amongst a classic repertoire of  glossy chocolates including his fabulous pave.

3. Jean Paul Hevin at 231 Rue St Honore. He’s been at it for a very long time and has taken out numerous conventional awards along the way, offering high end, precisional chocolate with some Asian inspired tastes. No wonder he’s opened up in Japan. Website at: http://www.jeanpaulhevin.com/en/

4. La Maison Du Chocolate at 225 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Here you’ll find wonderful, creamy ganaches. Website at: http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.com/en/#/home

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5. Pierre Herme – 39 Avenue de l’Opéra and 185 Rue de Vaugirard and 72 Rue Bonaparte, Paris at http://www.pierreherme.com

6. Michel Cluizel- originally from Normandy has his shop at 201 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris at http://www.cluizel.com/fr/

7. Godiva-237 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris.Found at  http://www.godivachocolates.eu/en/godiva-chocolatier-since-1926

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where executive chef (chemist to chocolatier), Thierry Muret makes gorgeous chocolates at Godiva.

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8. Christian Constant- author of two award winning books on Chocolate and a fine chocolate maker at: http://www.christianconstant.com/intro/

Of course there are many, many more. Now that you know my passion, what’s yours? 

What’s YOUR favourite chocolate shop in Paris?

AuRevoir,

Therese

Copyright@ Therese Waddell 2014

Awaken to Saint Remy Market Day, Provence

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Travel, South East France with tags , , , , on December 4, 2013 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

The market day in Saint Remy de Provence needs little introduction. My french awakening to Saint Remy is celebrated with photos for you- filled with touchy, tasty and aromatic goodness. Just imagine another sunny day in Provence, music in the air and the aromas of fresh bountiful produce right in front of you.

Do you think you can suffer a day at Saint Remy?

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Au Revoir and Best Wishes,

Therese Waddell

copyright@2013 Therese waddell