Tonight I had a Madeleine. I wasn’t reading Proust and I wasn’t munching a the French butter cookies from the pâtisseries of France.
The Madeleine comment is best explained by comparing it to a déjà vu (itself a French expression). The French author Marcel Proust wrote Remembrance of Things Past in which he explained that our memories are linked to events that happened earlier in life. He found that whenever he smelled Madeleines, he was brought back to his childhood when he fondly awoke to the aroma of Madeleines baking in the oven at his Aunt Léonie home. Thus when someone “has a Madeleine”, it can mean that memories are being illicited as a result of some strong smell, flavor, or happening. I find it a great image and I did have a Madeleine tonight.
I had a trip to Paris before dinner. I nibbled it a bit and delighted in my vicarious trip.
My friend Elena just returned home from Paris. Elena is my very special octogenarian neighbor who possesses more energy and zest for life than all of us put together! She rather defines the fabulous French expression joie de vivre and I love her dearly. It had been over a decade since she’d been to Paris and she spent the holidays with her daughter and family in St. Cloud (a very lovely suburb in western Paris pronounced St. Kloo).
We got to meet and greet her at the shuttle when she arrived back in Bellingham last night (having flown all day from Paris to Seattle and then having taken the shuttle to Bellingham). Her body clock told us it was 2:00 AM, but her energy and enthusiasm radiated a sunny afternoon sparkle. As to be expected, we chatted nonstop during the 20 minute drive home and encouraged her to go to sleep (but I was not at all surprised when at 11:30 PM, she zipped me an email telling me that she’d loved the dinner we’d made for her, had unpacked and done two loads of laundry, and read 68 emails…but was off to sleep!). That’s Elena!
I digressed there, but now back to my vicarious Paris story.
This evening, the bell rang and my husband said “I’ll bet that’s Elena!” Yes. She came across the street bearing my dinner plate and goodies for us (gotta love it when someone returns from Paris with gifts for you!). Dave got chocolat noir (like that was a surprise…she knows Dave!) and I got some most splendid Roger Gallet soaps and for us both -- a very big bottle of Grand Marnier (is that redundant?!?! Anything else would be Petit Marnier, right?). What followed was my vicarious Paris story.
It was a brief account of her trip, but as usual, it went to food (I like food, as anyone who knows me knows to be undeniably true!). Elena spoke of the wonderful apéros that her son-in-law created each night (think of an apéros as an appetizer but done well). I asked if she had eaten foie gras during her trip and she said bien sûr…why of course! She had me there and the back and forth after this was almost too tantalizing for I was with her in Paris! I adore foie gras and when she described the special jam (probably an oniony, slightly sweet flavored and subtly mouth-watering delight to accessorize foie gras…adding to its beyond-belief-superb-nature already…okay, so I really like foie gras!), I wanted to get on the night flight to Paris. Instead, I snapped back to reality.
She said that we’d have to try to make la salade au chèvre chaud (warm goat cheese salad). My mouth was watering as I remembered this delicious so available salad in French restaurants. Elena spoke of the wondrous baguettes that she had each day and how she spoke to the baker in the local boulangerie in St. Cloud learning that she make the wondrous baguettes three times a day (morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon) and those last ones would be bought out for the apéros and to accompany the dinners in Paris homes. Oh and just to torture myself, I needed to ask about cheese. I mean why not complete the voyage to Paris this evening.
“Did I have cheese? Mais oui!” It was then she virtually laid out the cheese boards that she had enjoyed each night whether at home with her family or in the homes of people she visited. It’s an art (one of the many that the French have mastered!) and a science to learn to properly combine the various colors, textures, and flavors in balance (cow, goat and cheese milk varieties). I personally have never met a cheese that I didn’t like and Elena’s enthusiasm told me that she shared the same affections!
We were just starting to cover wines when she remembered her roast was in the oven and being European (Elena was born in Romania), she appreciates meat saignant (rare), so we knew we could not keep her longer and that with the promise to return to this vicarious Paris to further taste more Madeleines, we bid her adieu with bisous, those most wondrously affectionate displays of affection with little cheek kisses.
I floated to the kitchen to prepare our dinner and felt so refreshed, so well-traveled, and so happy! What a joy and privilege is travel whether doing it ourselves or sharing in the vicarious Paris of another.
I think this calls for un petit Grand Marnier! Santé! Cheers!
In case all this talk of food has made you want to experience food, A Paris Travel offers a Decadent Gourmet Tour to visit a Paris cheese shop, an award-winning baker, and a renowned chocolatier.
If you enjoy classical music and you are going to be in Paris, you can search for a classical music event and book an event that interests you with Classictic.com. Truly, this is the most amazing experience. Enjoy the music!
Paris is alive! While the ancient buildings remain a constant, the city seems to change with every season and even with different times of the day. When you visit Paris, you will be able to discover an amazing city! As the Seine River meanders through its center, the views of this magical City of Light, LaVille Lumière, are different. The lively joie de vivre, a wonderful expression describing the French spirit, is everywhere and this combines with the history of this most remarkable city to give the world a most unique place to visit!
It would impossible to describe all that you can do and experience in this city, but do check our Paris day tours page to learn what À Paris Travel can arrange! Join us for a fully-escorted trip to Paris which also includes Normandy! We will do this trip in the spring of 2012 to celebrate the 68th anniversary of the Normandy D-Day invasion. We invite you to join for our Normandy and Paris 68th Anniversary of D-Day tour.
When most people think Paris, they think of three big landmarks – La Tour Eiffel, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Built in 1889 as a temporary exhibition in celebration of the World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower exists today as the most visited monument in the world (France is the most visited country in the world). Be sure to put it on your Paris night-time itinerary because on the hour 20,000 twinkling lights light-up the tower.
The Arc de Triomphe was originally commissioned by Napoleon. He wanted his victorious troops to march through it. Sadly this didn't happen because he met his Waterloo. However, it does commemorate many of his victories and remembers those killed in WWI with the grave of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame of remembrance.
Notre Dame Cathedral, a marvel of Gothic architecture, had its first stone laid in 1163. The medieval craftsman (most of the architects and sculptors remain anonymous) passed along their knowledge from generation to generation and the work was completed 170 years later.
Admittedly, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame Cathedral must be visited. Click here to read about A Paris Travel's Paris tours.
When you travel to Paris, it can be overwhelming to select a hotel for your stay. A Paris Travel wants to help with your France travel planning.
Here are some favorites. We've enjoyed our stay in these Paris hotels and our clients have also enjoyed staying in these Paris hotels. Every traveler wants the comfort of a great hotel. We do care where we rest our heads and after all, your hotel is your home for the night or nights you'll be in Paris. Therefore, it's a crucial detail in the planning process. Click here to contact us to help you with your plans for France beginning with a hotel in Paris.
Paris Left Bank Hotels
Melia Colbert: Left Bank Four Star
Hotel Dauphine Saint Germain: Left Bank Three Star
Hotel Sully St. Germain: Left Bank Three Star
Hotel Central St. Germain: Left Bank Three Bank
Hotel St. Paul: Left Bank Three Star
Victoria Palace: Left Bank Four Star
Hotel d'Aubusson: Left Bank Four Star
Hotel Melia Colbert: Left Bank Four Star
Hotel Dacia Luxemboug: Left Bank Three Star
Jardin le Brea (Left Bank): Left Bank Three Star
Hôtel Observatoire Luxembourg: Left Bank Three Star
Hôtel de l’Odéon: Left Bank Three Star
Hôtel Trianon Rive Gauche: Left Bank Three Star
Le Lutetia: Left Bank Four Star
Paris Right Bank Hotels
Hotel Rochester: Right Bank Four Star
Hotel Moliere: Right Bank Three Star
Hotel Tronchet: Right Bank Three Star
Hotel Brescia: Right Bank Three Star
Hotel Courcelles Etoile: Right Bank Three Star
Hôtel de Sévigné: Right Bank Three Star
Hôtel du Bois (Arc de Triomphe): Right Bank Three Star
Hôtel Jardin de Villiers: Right Bank Three Star
Hôtel Londres & New York: Right Bank Three Star
Hôtel Mayfair: Right Bank Four Star
Hôtel Queen Mary: Right Bank Three Star
Hôtel Regina: Right Bank Four Star
The essence of Paris. Qu'est-ce que c'est? What is it? It's a mystery and every traveler to Paris tries to figure it out, to discover it, to emulate it, to savor it, and to take some home.
Youíve got to experience the accessorized Paris. And exactly what is this accessorized Paris? Well, anyone who has seen a beautifully dressed Parisian woman knows that the accessories are impeccable! The French can accessorize their outfits perfectly. Whether itís the perfectly tied scarf, the oh-so-chic hat, the designer boots, or that wonderful self-assured Paris walk, the Parisian look is just put together par excellence.
Just as a Parisian bedecks herself and can accessorize like none other, so is the city of Paris accessorized in the most unique of ways. As you tour the streets of Paris and appreciate the sights before you, without question the accessorizing of this city is what you see and what it's all about! In walking, you'll be close enough to the heart of the city that you cannot help but notice this phenomenon. This is the way to experience Paris! Contact us to book a Paris walking tour.
While the famous landmarks of the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, and La Tour Eiffel should not be missed, there's more to see in Paris. To truly see Paris, you must stroll the avenues and along the River Seine! By doing so, for example, you discover the "bouquinistes", the second-hand booksellers, who sell their treasures from the green boxes along the Seine. There you'll discover a potpourri of souvenirs, artwork, jewelry, antique books, and mementoes for sale. The concept of the bouquinistes has been around for centuries and is just one aspect of life along the Seine River.
As Blaise Cendrars, a Swiss born poet who moved to France, expressed "I could spend my whole life watching the Seine flow by...It is a poem of Paris."
Walking along the side streets of Paris, you discover neighborhoods where the children are playing games and enjoying a patch of green. You may even catch sight of men deeply concentrating on their summer game of boules in a Paris park (yes men...I challenge you to find a group of ladies playing boules...in Paris or anywhere!). Wandering the avenues, you see the cafÈs where the Parisians are all facing the sidewalk as they sip their coffee. They don't sit around the table, but on one side, towards the street! It's oh so charmingly Parisian to see and be seen!
In fact, you usually feel compelled to pause and do the same! Besides, chances are you'll get to witness the traffic of Paris. This is something to behold! Small and smaller cars buzz the streets and somehow those Smart Cars manage to squeeze into parking spots whose dimensions seem to be smaller than the car! More walking takes you by countless p‚tisseries, where the array of sumptuous delights is irresistible. Donít miss the decadent hot chocolate at LadurÈe and do sample a kouign aman pastry. This buttery pastry from Brittany gives you a taste of the region until you can take a trip there. When youíre ready, contact us for booking a tour in Brittany.
It's a thrill to happen upon Paris picture perfect points! After photographing the Ile St. Louis side of Notre Dame (the more majestic side, in my opinion!), it's a short walk to a special spotóa very dramatic yet quietly moving memorial. It's the Memorial de DÈportation and should never be missed. The inscription says "1940 ñ Aux deux cent mille martyrs FranÁais morts dans les camps de la dÈportation ñ 1945". The translation is ìTo the 200,000 French martyrs who were killed in the concentration camps between 1940-1945. Because this memorial is less well known, it is often missed...but try to get there! I never go to Paris without paying my respects to this humble, but very powerfully done memorial.
Left Bank, Right Bank. Everyone who has been to Paris has an opinion about where to stay and where to stroll in the capital. The Seine River splits the city and the lingo therefore becomes Right or Left Bank (of the Seine River). With the miracle of the metro and more effective than the metro -- the foot -- the traveler to Paris can soak up both sides of the Seine River without excluding one or the other and in my opinion, this is best done on foot! By walking, you can pop into a courtyard to see what's there. By walking, you can stop to sample a pastry in a local shop, or pause to enjoy the charm of French children returning home from school, or catch sight of a wedding in a park, or see an architectural treasure that just isn't possible from a metro, or a myriad of other magical moments that arise during a walk.
Just as each person tries to describe the Right Bank/Left Bank phenomenon, so will the essence of Paris forever be defined (or a definition be attempted!). Perhaps this is the very reason that Paris calls us back and after that...back again! Its qualities are timeless and its soul is fluid. It has a spirit that charms the traveler, a fascination that intrigues the curious mind, powerful places of interest that mesmerize a tourist, and has elements of pleasure to delight everyone! A Paris...off to Paris!