Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Paris in July - Tuesday Travels

Walking through two french towns - some photo's from my trip in 2011 (the year I went to France to see Cadel win the Tour de France!). Photo's are an important part of my life - my dad was a massive  photo taker, and my life is well documented. My partners dad was also a big photographer. When we got to know each other we learnt that his dad took photos of scenery and my dad took photo's of people. I clearly prefer my dad's style, learning towards taking photo's of people. But here, I'm posting some of the photo's I've learnt to take of 'things'. I hope the ones I've chosen tell a story.


Another travel writer (not myself) said this about Troyes
Troyes takes almost all visitors—French as well as foreign—by surprise. This lively town of narrow cobbled streets and half-timbered houses in ochre, pink and yellow was once the brilliant capital of the counts of Champagne. Today it’s an unspoiled treasure trove of art and architecture, a thriving modern city that wears its past with elegance and charm......Located in the Aube, the southern tip of the Champagne region, Troyes (pronounced Trwa, as in un, deux, Troyes) lies just 100 miles southeast of Paris.
Icecream, and afternoon tea time
 Troyes made it into our itinerary when we decided, at one point in our journey, to stop catching trains and hire a car. It was a random decision, but not one we regretted. We hired the car for four days while my partner was recovering from a head cold and didn't feel like doing the public transport thing. Troyes was our drop off point, so we didn't have to take the car back to Paris.  While my man was recovering from his head cold, he decided to investigate the surrounds on his bike - while I walked - and loved every nook & cranny I found.

Some other links to Troyes
Rainbows in Champagne
Virtual Tourist
Channel Hoppers - notes for a self guided tour
Tourisme Troyes


 We stayed in Montpellier for two weeks while we studied french.... as so many other tourists do.

 Another travel writer said this about Montpellier
In spite of such ambitious money-flinging, Montpellier’s real charm and character is to be found in and around the old city. Much is hidden to the untrained eye, but a bit of background works wonders.
Take the walls near the war memorial and Esplanade. Today they are surrounded with parkland and greenery, but have a look at which way the arrow slits are pointing. They’re not defending the city, but poised to attack it.
This dates back to the religious wars of the 17th century, when Louis XIII laid siege to Protestant Montpellier, and then built a citadel to secure it. Much of the newer parts of the city, therefore, are built on former military ground – it took an awful long time for the powers that be to trust the locals not to cause any trouble.
The old town is a delightful place to have a stroll, and takes the form of a shield-shaped mess of narrow streets and alleys. Little staircases run up past preserved buildings with medieval stone vaults, then miraculously break into square surrounded by bars and cafés.

After class, my man and I would find somewhere to eat lunch in the old town, then we'd find a sunny spot to do some study. Then we'd wonder around a new area. There's so many little alleys in the old city, we spend the whole two weeks exploring. There are art galleries, open music concerts, plenty of sales and shopping to be done in both modern and old city shop fronts.... it was definitely a walking tour I loved.

Other sites with info include:
Montpellier Now
Montpellier Gourmet Tours
The Grumpy Traveller

We studied with Accent Francais, a company that provides lessons for foreigners on an ongoing basis. If you are thinking about doing something like this, my only advise would be to ensure that you get placed in a class at the best level for your motivation and skills. I was placed in a class below my capacity which was frustrating, while my man was in a class too difficult. we learnt heaps, but it wasn't a good fit.

Walking in Paris and French towns is one of the best ways to dream. What are your favourite towns or places to walk in Paris and France?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Paris in July Monday Menu Wk 4

July is such an exciting month for Karen and I, and this year is no exception. We've been delighted and thrilled with the variety and depth of the posts that bloggers are contributing to Paris in July 2014... And here comes another week!
  • Monday 21st July - It's time to catch your breath, perhaps you could review the posts from last week links found here....
  • Tuesday 22nd July - Tamara's Tuesday Travel post will be about self guided tours of three French towns, and Adria will post an important message about the Paris Love Locks.
  • Wednesday 23rd July - Bellezza is going to post on a great love of hers - Chanel No 5.
  • Thursday 24th July - Tamara's Taste of Paris post, not yet decided - but possibly a wine review.
  • Friday 25th July - Karen will post her book review of the week. She says it is a wonderful novel 'All the Light we Cannot See' which is partly set in Paris and France in WW2.
  • Saturday 26th July - Adria and Vicki will be posting on the relationships writers in Paris have with cafes.
  • Sunday 27th July - It's my turn to do the weekly wrap up this week.
Remember, add your post details here so all the other participants can find you. You can enter as many posts as you do for Paris in July.

Keep up the Awesome Efforts.  This week Karen and I will be giving out some random prizes , Karen has her own Mr Linky up if you want to nominate for a prize - check out this weeks wrap up.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Food Bloggers with French flavour!

I feel like I should apologise because this post is totally virtual – I haven’t prepared any French food to rave about, I haven’t been to any French restaurants recently to share photo’s or reviews with you, I haven’t interviewed anyone interesting, or been to any French food workshops... this post is all about French food blogs that I have been following or recently discovered. I am preparing this post totally virtually, on my regular (2x week) 3 hour commute from the office to my home. Dreaming about French food is a great way to pass the time on a train. I’m hoping you enjoy the trip with me.

My first and favourite French food blog is David Lebovitz – and he’s not even French! Like some other bloggers we know, he’s an American living in Paris. This fact however, I find is appealing. He is living my dream, and vicariously I am transported with him. He regularly posts about new restaurants, favourite local haunts, new drinks, how to type posts, and he’s un ashamedly a bit opinionated. Some of my favourite posts include

Then my next favourite, and newest edition to my list, if Foodme.fr  Didier, who is married to an American living in Paris, recently allowed me to interview him for Paris in July (check it out). Didier shared with his followers recipes and his love of French food through his personalised cooking schools.  Some great recipes from Didier (I haven't made these but they look good) include;

Green Veloute Soup
Beef Fillet Mignon Medallions with Gorgonzo
Chocolate-Raspberry Paradise

I've recently stumbled across an Australian based food blogger, the French Wench, who has done a couple of great posts, very relevant for Aussie French food lovers.  Her recent post about Sydney based restaurant, Vincent, has me very tempted.

Check out the Everyday French Chef - she posts menu idea's, recipes and advice about cooking french food. I really like this
What to make for dinner? The everyday menus below provide suggestions for easy meals with a French touch that can be made any day of the week in 20-30 minutes. The weekend menus suggest more elaborate meals for days when you have more time. Use them as a guide, and improvise to create your own. It’s all part of the fun of cooking.
Meg Bortin, the Everyday French Chef, says ...it’s a modern, down-to-earth way of cooking that will allow you to put delicious French food on your table in the simplest possible way, any day, or every day

My next new discover and I'm loving this discovery, is Manger.  This is how our host at Manger describes herself...
 Ever since I was a little girl I have been deeply passionate about food. My childhood was largely spent scurrying between the restaurants of Hong Kong, where I grew up, and the bistros of Paris and the south of France where we spent our holidays at my French grandmother’s. Food was constantly on my mind, I’m the girl who was always happiest at the table
The author of A Kitchen in France; a year of cooking in my farmhouse, Mimi Thorisson, shares with us her beautiful photos, life on the farm in France, and amazing recipes!

There must be hundreds and thousands of French food blogs, facebook sites and pinterest pages, these are just my current favourites. And here's just a few more to mention.....
  • Canelle et Vanille - She posts beautiful photos, publishes recipe books and it's all Gluten Free!
  • Tartelette - a blog devoted to food photography, fresh seasonal ingredients and the simple things in life. Author Helene, is a Senior Photographer at Oxmoor House, the cookbook division for Cooking Light magazine, Southern Living, Coastal magazine, and many other. A French expat, photographer, wife, dog lover, traveler..... presents beautiful photos!
  • La Tartine Gourmande - born and raised in the countryside in northeastern France, has lived in New Zealand and now the United States, Béa (short for Béatrice), is a food writer, stylist and photographer based in Boston where she lives with my husband and daughter Lulu
  • Chocolate and Zucchini -  Cloltilde is our host, and she has some great pages devoted to hints & tips, interviews, travel, Paris resources, & reading recommendations. I love the name of her blog!
I love France for fresh food, and there's nothing better to remember your holiday to France, than enjoying the food you've eating when in France.

What are your favourite food blogs?
What are your favourite food memories of France?
It’s a modern, down-to-earth way of cooking that will allow you to put delicious French food on your table in the simplest possible way, any day, or every day.

– Meg Bortin
- See more at: http://everydayfrenchchef.com/about/#sthash.qYobI69T.dpuf
What to make for dinner? The everyday menus below provide suggestions for easy meals with a French touch that can be made any day of the week in 20-30 minutes. The weekend menus suggest more elaborate meals for days when you have more time. Use them as a guide, and improvise to create your own. It’s all part of the fun of cooking. - See more at: http://everydayfrenchchef.com/menus/#sthash.i4qIh21B.dpuf
What to make for dinner? The everyday menus below provide suggestions for easy meals with a French touch that can be made any day of the week in 20-30 minutes. The weekend menus suggest more elaborate meals for days when you have more time. Use them as a guide, and improvise to create your own. It’s all part of the fun of cooking. - See more at: http://everydayfrenchchef.com/menus/#sthash.i4qIh21B.dpuf

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Travels - Markets in Paris

When I can visit Paris, I have usually spent months and months preparing an itinerary, down to the hour, for my time in Paris. I can get consumed with the planning process and just enjoy the hours and hours of web searching, book reviewing and questioning friends about the things I want to do... In my previous trips to Paris, I've stumbled on Markets, but never planned for a market day. So here's some of my pre-planning research and thoughts on Paris Markets. I would welcome any ideas, opinions and advice on what to include and what not to include in a Market based itinerary.

I follow a food blogger, David Lebovitz, and he recently posted something about markets. David says
I’ve developed a bit of a “bottom feeder” mentality and avoid the traditional flea markets, the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (usually referred to as the Marché Clignancourt), and the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, and stick to the brocantes that pop up in Paris during nice weather in the neighborhoods. Prices are much lower and it’s more fun to see what pops up as people are unloading their trucks
While I appreciate David, who lives in Paris, can find les brocantes as they pop up from time to time, I suspect I will need to look at more established markets that are more likely to be there on the day I go looking for them.

Les puces de vanves is a popular trinket and antiques type market, although David Lebovitz (above) says this market is more expensive and perhaps more touristy, this website, in French, has so much information and background about these markets. Even if they are expensive and popular with tourists, I suspect this would be a fun market to hang out in.

For planning a trip, I found this useful one stop shop for market advice – even if you’re not going to Paris, its fun just to flick through these pages  Paris Top Ten says
Whether you're in Paris for a day, the weekend, or a holiday, paristopten.com gives you the freedom and flexibility to quickly pick and chose from among the very best attractions that the "City of Lights" has to offer from one convenient website.

For image source - personalised tours.
Looking for Food Markets could be fun too, especially if you're renting a self contained unit for a longer period of time. Food markets including Marche Raspail, Rue Montorgueil and Marches Bastille and Popincourt.Here's a warmly initing quote about Marche Mouffetard......
 This 'wonderful, narrow crowded market street', as Hemingway described it in 'A Moveable Feast', still sports bright and bustling stalls of fruit and veg in its cobbled lower stretches (its upper extremities largely harbour student bars and touristy shops), its atmospheric buildings making it one of the city’s loveliest street markets.
 Marjorie Williams has written a pocket-sized guide covers over 120 markets and offers options for every interest. She also hosts this interest blog and lists her favourite markets from around the world, including Paris.
 One of our own participants, Mardi at Eat Live Travel Write, has done this wonderful post about markets. She says
For me, there’s nothing more disappointing than arriving in a town or neighbourhood when the market is just packing up or when you’ve missed it by a day and you won’t be around for the following week’s
  • Have you ever been to markets in Paris? 
  • Any markets that you would recommend? 
  • Any advice on how to make the most of markets in Paris? 
I would love to hear your stories....

Monday, July 14, 2014

Paris in July Monday Menu Wk 3

This week in Paris in July, we have
  • Monday 14th July - Bastille Day posts from Adria and Vicki
  • Tuesday 15th July - Tamara's Tuesday Travels will look at Markets in the Paris region
  • Wednesday 16th July - Karen will be posting on some her daughters favourite French books, and Adria will be posting something titled "When in Paris, Where Does the Queen Go?" [How mysterious!]
  • Thursday 17th July - Tamara's Taste of Paris post and guest post from Janine from a Rustic Kitchen might share with us a recipe for an Onion Tart and something cheesy
  • Friday 18th July - Karen will be posting an interview with our co-host Adria who has authored a french based novel, and Bellezza is posting another review of a Maigret novel by Georges Simenon
  • Saturday 19th July - Nichole will post another great image post
  • Sunday 20th July - Karen will be doing out wrap up post for the week.
We're having so much fun with this - thank you to everyone participating. Dont forget to check out our week 2 wrap up here.  And now, pop your link to post for this week here at Mr Linky so we can all see whats happening and where to find you.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Paris in July - Week 2 Wrap up

It's my turn to do the weekly wrap up, and what a pleasure it has been to review all the posts that have been put up. Before I get into the official wrap up of Paris in July posts - I'd just like to indulge myself with a little wrap up of Le Tour de France! I love this race..... and I promised myself that I wouldn't focus on it during Paris in July - but what harm is a small detour?
Us Aussie do well in the tuff conditions!!! Go Richie!!

This week in Le Tour de France we have seen some amazing racing, absolutely terrifying conditions, and some fascinating developments.... The loss of Sky's lead out man, Froome, after falling on the cobblestone day, means a change in role for my current Aussie crush - Richie Porte has now been given a chance at putting Australian Cyclists back into the podium  (or close). I'm watching these Aussie boys... Richie Porte (Sky), Mark Renshaw (Omega Ph), Simon Gerrans (OGE), Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-saxo), and Adam Hansen (Lotto)... all up there are 10 Aussies in the race - and we have hopes to see one in the top 10 at the end!

Now - wrap up news; I like lists - so here's this weeks
Books reviewed
Travel related posts
 Food Posts
 Music & Film
 Now in conclusion - I am going give away some random prizes.... just because I've been touched by everyones eagerness to join us in Paris in July. I have a small present for these two lucky ladies. (Just contact me with your postage details - see my about me page for my email).
  • Molly @ Stepping Stones for her post on Moulin de la Galette, and
  • Deb Nance @ Readerbuzz for a fun post on the Perfect Meal...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursdays Taste of Paris

Ann Mah is the author of 'Mastering the Art of French Eating'. This was my choice of book review for this week because it's a foody book. I have to admit now that I haven't finished this book - but what I've read so far I've really enjoyed. If you read my Tuesday post, you'll know that I am easily transported to other places.... this book has been transporting  me to different places around France - many of them I've already been to, some I need to visit in the future.
When I selected this one to read for Paris in July, I did a quick scan of other reviewers. Some of them were critical, and I can see why. Ann ended up writing this book when she, and her beloved husband, were sent to Paris for his work. Not long after their posting to Paris, he was sent to Baghdad. She was left alone in Paris for a year. She was lost, lonely and directionless. She does spend some time reflecting on the confusion of her loss and her love of Paris. It could be a little draining. But for me, I have appreciated Ann's experience of loneliness and separation. My thing is that I work away from my home and partner... This book made me stop and think about how I make the most of my journey. 

Alongside her personal struggles, Ann decides to travel to different parts of the country to investigate the history, the recipes, the people, and the places of the regional cuisines. I've been quite impressed by the history she collects on each of the subjects. Some of her chapters include
  • Paris and le Steak Frites
  • Troyes and Andouillette
  • Lyon and Salade Lyonnaise
  • Toulouse and le Cassoulet
Here's a few things I've learned so far into this book;
Steaks true magic, Bernet explained, happens before the meat ever hits the heat - it's found in the aging process. He hangs whole cuts of well-marbled beef in a dry, chilled space for weeks, sometimes months, a process that concentrates the meat's flavor and breaks down its connective tissues, resulting in richly beefy, butter-tender fillets. In French, dry-aged meat is called rassis, a term that can also refer to stale bread or a stick in the mud!
What's the signature meal of Paris? The sandwich, he said without hesitation. He called it le casse-croute, an old fashioned term for 'snack' or 'fast lunch'. My mother use to make piles of these for the cafe. .... Madame Odette would slice an armload of baguettes lengthwise and fill them with butter and ham...
Andouillette has a pedigreed history. Louis II, known as the 'stammener', served it at his 878 coronation banquet, held in Troyes. Centuries later Louis XIV also declared himself an admirer, stopping at Troyes after a battle in neighbouring Burgundy to stock up for the victory feast.
Ann reported that 'every andouillete enthusiast I met in Troyes - and I met many - wanted to be the person who convinced me that andouillete was delicious. [I don't think she was convinced?]
Louise was born in 1934, which doesn't seem that long ago, and yet she can easily recall a time when crepes were made on a wood-burning stove. .. Many Breton homes have a special stove for making crepes, which was usually found outside the house in a small shed.... When Louise was a little girl living on her grandparents farm, Fridays were known as le jour de crepe..... and preparing crepes took the better part of a day!
 Like I said earlier, I haven't finished the book, but I will. I'm enjoying the trip. At the end of the chapters, Ann shares a recipe she's gathered by one of the people she's interviewed on the subject. So I think there's something for most people in this book - recipes, travel stories, the adventure of a woman discovering herself in her husbands absence. The only think I think this book is really missing is the photos.

What is your favourite regional dish of France?  Mine - Salade de Chevre. I think it's from Provence?