Paris

In praise of the humble French classics

In praise of the humble French classics

We didn't eat at any creative new restaurants on our recent trip to Paris. But we weren't disappointed. This wasn't that kind of trip. We went for the Paris sales and decided to save our euros for our purchases. We limited meals to somewhat casual establishments, grabbed breakfast on the go at a pâtisserie, indulged once a day in a modest bistro meal, and made lunch or dinner a hot-to-go option. The humble classics of French casual cuisine never let us down and never left us hungry. One of our standbys is the kind of croque monsieur shown at the top of the post. Is there anything more honest? It's little more than a slice each of ham and cheese—either Emmenthal or Comté—between thin slices...Read More
From the market’s parish church to the tastiest street in Paris

From the market’s parish church to the tastiest street in Paris

In Paris this winter, we visited Saint-Eustache as consolation for the closure of Notre-Dame cathedral. With its soaring spaces and grandest pipe organ in Paris, Saint-Eustache (saint-eustache.org/) provided a real spiritual uplift. Although the church's present structure dates mainly from the 16th century, part of the plan was loosely modeled on the 12th-13th century French Gothic cathedral—a hint of glory by association. Saint-Eustache was originally the parish church of the market district, known as Les Halles since medieval times. When Paris moved the central fresh market to the suburbs in 1971, many people viewed the destruction of the old market buildings as a crime against the spirit of the city. One of the side altars in Saint-Eustache memorialized the loss in a mass of statuary...Read More
Shopping for cookware in the shadow of Escoffier

Shopping for cookware in the shadow of Escoffier

When it comes to making food, the right tools make all the difference. A dull knife, a thin pot with hot spots, and trying to make do with a microwave when you really need a conventional oven are the kind of inconveniences that keep Grubhub and DoorDash in business. To cook with enthusiasm and joy is much easier with the proper batterie de cuisine, as the French call the arsenal of kitchen utensils, pots, and pans. And, let's face it, dinner tastes better when eaten on something other than paper plates and plastic cups. So save some extra room in your checked bag the next time you visit Paris. Two shops within steps of each other in the former Les Halles district of Paris sell...Read More
Warming up with hot drinks in wintry Paris

Warming up with hot drinks in wintry Paris

We were happy to go to the Paris sales in January and early February because the climate there is notably milder than our home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But winter is still winter, and cold rain and mist can be even more chilling than drifting snow. While tramping all over the city (the transit strike had slowed the Metro), it was nice to duck in for something warm. True, there was an enterprising vendor near the north side of Notre-Dame who sold cups of vin chaud to go. But drinking mulled wine from a plastic cup on a crowded sidewalk turned out not to be quite as warming as we hoped. So we explored a few salons de thé, the undisputed queen of hot chocolate shops,...Read More
SOLDES! Chasing Parisian style at the winter sales

SOLDES! Chasing Parisian style at the winter sales

Of all the mellifluous words in the French language, none has a better ring than ‶Soldes.″ Usually written in all capital letters, it's the term for the twice-annual sales in Paris. We don't really know why the government regulates markdown seasons. But whatever the reason, the winter and summer sales are a real boon for travelers who want to score a bargain and bring home a little memento of Paris style. This year, winter sales took place January 8 to February 4. (Summer sales will be June 24 to July 21.) When we arrived in the City of Light during the third week of January, SOLDES signs were everywhere. We had admittedly missed out on the frenzy of the opening days when the sales racks...Read More