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Avoiding Bad food In Paris: 5 Things You Need To Know

Dinner Series & Mike Fleming

I have a friend who travels for the museums, spending each day snapping photos next to ancient art, otherworldly architecture, and every single monument she comes across.

All I can say is: pfft.

While I adore her, if you’ve seen one thousand-year-old building, you’ve seen them all, right? Okay, I’m teasing. But for me, history, art and language are pleasant fringe benefits best served on the side. Call me names and throw Monets at me, but I travel for the food.

jimmyweee & ktylerconk

In one flavorful bite, I experience history, art and years of culture passed down from generation to generation. For this humble foodie, an entire plate will tell me a story far longer and more interesting than the line at the Louvre on a free Sunday. You stand in line, mon amie, and I’ll skip around the corner to a 500-bottle wine bar to taste and learn the history of French wine.

Sadly, all Paris food spots don’t tell such fine tales. In fact, Paris food can be – gasp! – kind of bad sometimes. If you’ve dreamed of perfect foie and crispy frites on every corner, wake up, lovely. You actually do have to work for your food. And since I’ve narrowly escaped a lot of bad dishes, I’d like to share here five bits of advice that may help with your next visit to Paris – or any city, for that matter.

pdbreen & Sarah and Iain

1. Charm doesn’t mean quality. Quaint Parisian bistros may bewitch you, but often the beautiful facade is not reflected in your plate. In fact, it feels like there’s a direct and opposite correlation between the two: the higher the cheesy charm quotient, the worse the food. I found charm and deliciousness at Coquelicot, Le Baron Rouge, Bistrot Paul Bert and Le Petit Pontoise. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food | 14 Comments »

Three Weeks in Paris: Maggie’s Top Food & Shopping Picks

Alecska

In a few days, I’ll be sipping wine at un petit café in the Marais, just in time, we all hope, for the weather to finally swing toward Spring. There’s too much to squeeze into this 3-week trip.

Besides visiting Verjus and Au Passage bien sur, I hope to dine at Septime and Bistro Volnay. Perhaps I’ll splurge on a meal at L’hôtel Thoumieux. Though, the best part of being in my own Paris pied-a-terre is stocking up at the Marche des Enfants Rouge for home-cooked dishes that always seem to taste better in Paris.

Merci concept store (Liquidx)

While I hope to buy something special at Merci (a girl can dream), I’ll definitely pop into Les Mauvaises Graines, an urban garden concept store in Montmartre, and will likely fall in love with a handcrafted souvenir at Le Petite Atelier de Paris.

On one of my weekends abroad, I’m jetting to Copenhagen. Being a New England girl, I suppose I’m a sucker for the cold weather. I’m also eager to visit what’s hailed as the best restaurant in the world and after several odd-hour phone calls to Denmark, lucked out with a reservation at Noma. We’ll see if Copenhagen food stacks up to Paris culinaria.

Septime (Lindsey Tramuta)

More than anything though, I simply want to find my favorite spots near my Marais flat. I hope to take my daily espresso at Merce and the Muse, lunch at Glou and unwind with an evening wine at La Perle. I promise to only visit Jacques Genin’s fabulous boutique once or twice if, and only if, I take a few strolls around the Square du Temple. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Shopping | 11 Comments »

Foodie Christmas Gifts: Five French-Inspired Cookbooks

French Feasts, Dutch Oven (Ames Lai)

Christmas is four days away et bien sûr, I am quite tardy in purchasing some very special gifts for the very special people in my life.

Since I work for a company that rents boutique Parisian flats, I do tend to gift friends and family with French-inspired goodies, items that will inject the everyday life with a bit of la vie française. Better yet, if those goodies can be French food-inspired, I’m practically guaranteed une note de gratitude before the ball drops on New Year’s.

Alas, time is of the essence and a quick trip to Paris is not in the cards before Christmas. But I can still be the belle of their hearts and kitchens by gifting an old standby: a favorite French cookbook, with all the most delicious recipes well-marked, and a quickly-assembled glass jar of sel de mer, glistening and studded with herbs de Provence.

Drying Herbs (Porter Palmer), Salt (Little Brown Pen)

If you’re also delayed in holiday shopping, I don’t mind if you take my idea and make it your own. In fact, I’ve got your back with my favorite French-inspired cookbooks of 2011. Just don’t say I never gave you anything…

1.  Based on the sweet boutiques in San Francisco, Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop is a darling cookbook filled with scalloped pages of classic tart, cake and cookie recipes. I can imagine gifting this girly book with everything needed to make owner, chef and author Meg Ray’s famous Tomboy Cake, pictured on the book’s cover.

Miette (Yuichi Sakuraba, A Baked Creation)

Miette (Violet Blue)

2. I was at a gala celebrating Jacque Pepin’s contribution to culinaria recently and while he had a last minute hiccup that prevented his appearance, his new cookbook Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food stood in for him proudly. Delivered with some very good chocolate to make his version of Chocolate Mousse, this cookbook would be a prized possession.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Shopping | 3 Comments »

ThxThxThx: Le Thank You? C’est Très Chic

ThxThxThx on Hip Paris

Like a foulard worn just-so around the neck of a Parisienne in jeans and a t-shirt, thank you notes can add a touch of class to otherwise banal encounters. In fact, gratitude is experiencing a serious comeback, thanks in no small part to Leah Dieterich, an advertising creative director and writer who just last month released her book, thxthxthx: Thank Goodness for Everything, based on her popular blog of the same name.

ThxThxThx on Hip Paris

Leah is visiting Paris at this very moment, falling in love with all the little things that make this city so perfect. And, lucky us, she’s agreed to write a note exclusively for the Hip Paris blog. This note in particular made me personally smile, as it’s sometimes a bit of a struggle to keep Parisians engaged with my very poor French…

Continue Reading »

Posted in Travel | 6 Comments »

Haven in Paris is Hiring: Paris, Luxury Properties, Fabulous French Food and You?

Haven in Paris is HiringKari Geltemeyer

I searched for a while for my job at Haven in Paris, a role that finally combined my passions for hospitality, travel and writing into a true mash-up of, to put it mildly… utter joy. My passion for almond croissants has been totally fulfilled too. Regularly.

In a single day, I can spend equal parts discussing Paris with prospective visitors, luxury flats with their owners and all things French-inspired via this very blog. Would you like to love your job this much?

Haven in Paris is searching for our next team member, a Sales & Service Specialist based, ideally, in the Boston area. If you like Paris, luxury apartments and all things French-inspired, this may be the perfect job for you too. You must like sales and customer service too. Oh, and croissants.

Learn more about our available Sales & Service Specialist role now. (I’m kind of kidding about the croissants. Kind of.) Please email your resume and cover letter to careers@haveninparis.com.

Haven in Paris is HiringDave Bloom

Written by Maggie Battista for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 5 Comments »

Chateau de Raissac: A Long Weekend in the South of France

Chateau Raissac, Beziers, FranceEntrance to Chateau Raissac, Beziers, France

It’s still cold in New England and we’ve managed to get another light coating of snow this week. When it’s this cold, there’s really nothing else to do but daydream of warmer times… in France. Remember when I did that last month? I shared my little trip to Mont Saint Michel, where I was amazed by the towering abbey on the ocean.

This time around, my thoughts are drifting further south, way south, down to a tiny town near the coastline. This time, I didn’t just SEE the towering almost-other-worldly structure in the distance. This time, I got to LIVE there. Erica, the founder of this very blog and my very favorite company (where I also work), whisked her team away to the Chateau de Raissac in the small city of Beziers, just a short drive to the Mediterranean, to unwind, do a bit of brainstorming and meet the fabulous couple who own the chateau and run a local vineyard of the same name.

What do I remember?

I remember getting to know the friendliest little dogs who stood watch over their enormous home. The structure was astounding and unlike anything I had ever seen. I’m typically not a chateau sort of lady, but as I kept whispering all week to my colleagues, “I could adjust to this.”

Chateau Raissac, Beziers, FranceEntrance to Chateau Raissac
Chateau Raissac, Beziers, FranceThe tower that was home to my blue bedroom at Chateau Raissac

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Homes, Travel | 15 Comments »

Mont Saint Michel: A French Tourist Destination That Still Inspires

Mont Saint Michel (Jean-Christophe Dichant)

With four feet of snow piling up around my New England home, it’s no wonder I’m dreaming of Paris. This happens a lot. New England snowstorms are perfect for daydreams about somewhere else. Anywhere else, really.

France just so happened to be my last trip, so I keep drifting back to a little rendezvous just two hours north of Paris. We were three ladies in a rental car, armed with iPod, rain boots and a destination: a little-known spot called Mont Saint Michel. I knew virtually nothing about the cultural significance of this big pile of granite on the ocean. I just wanted one night in the country, in the dark, away from the dazzling Paris lights. (Sometimes we need a break from all the dazzle; it makes us miss it and eventually appreciate it more upon our return.)

The view from the top of Mont Saint Michel (Maggie Battista)

Two hours later, glowing from a cidre and mille feuille tasting (though both didn’t occur in the same place because that would just be too dreamy), a chance encounter with the sweetest apple orchard puppy, and barrels of rain falling around us, we came upon this rock with its abbey and elegant spire in the far-off landscape. My mouth went permanently agape and I just snap, snap, snapped photos. Continue Reading »

Posted in Travel | 19 Comments »

Paris Vacation Rental Scams: How to Avoid Them & Live the Dream Safely

The rooster, the emblem of France, as a door knocker and a friendly neighborhood dog keeping watch (mksfca, Ian T. McFarland)

This time last year, I was packing up my life to move to Paris for three months. I remember the butterflies spinning inside me as I made my way to my first Paris apartment in the hours just before sunrise. I was nervous, but delighted to finally live the French life.

Navigating the maze of cozy streets, shopping for my basic necessities (mainly cheese) daily, and assembling effortless meals in my tiny kitchen, I can understand why living in your very own Paris apartment is the quintessential American girl dream. There’s really no other drug better than living in Paris (except for maybe living in New York City, but that can be battled out over here.)

However, renting just the right apartment for you can be quite a process and one with its share of potholes, especially if you do what I did for part of my stay abroad: I rented one of my flats online, sight unseen.

Now I may approach this with some bias, as I do work for Haven in Paris (a boutique vacation rental company) and we recently discovered that someone, pretending to be the owner of one of our flats on Craig’s List, very nearly scammed a couple people who by chance found us before putting down any sort of deposit. But I want to write this with as much objectivity as I can muster. And since I always rent apartments when I travel, I felt compelled to share some of the wisdom I’ve gained from first-hand experience.

Even Parisian window latches are beautiful (artistfriendship)

First, you should take note that there are anywhere between one and four sometimes-lovely people involved with an apartment rental. There’s the renter – that’s you. There’s the owner who actually owns the apartment, but they often hire the agent to do all the nitty gritty. The agent typically manages the rental process and greets you at the flat. Sometimes agents also list their flats on vacation rental sites or Craigslist and sometimes they have their own web sites. (For your information, Haven in Paris is actually an agent, with exclusive rights to rent our owner’s properties and we’ve used all the previously mentioned venues to match renters with our apartments.)

Finally, there’s the most dreaded member of this process, and one I hope you never encounter, the scammer. They pretend to be an agent or an owner, but really lie by attempting to rent you the most amazing Paris pied-à-terre for just a few Euros. Oh, glorious Craigslist, please forgive me but scammers usually hang out on you.

Unfortunately, scammers are rampant these days. They’re showing phony apartments on vacation rental sites, classified sites and on made-up agency sites. In fact, scammers tend to steal photos from legitimate agent sites only to showcase them elsewhere, usually for an unbelievable price.

Fortunately, a scammer never tricked me, but they’ve hoodwinked too many people, including a dear friend who contacted me moments before she sent off hundreds of Euros. Luckily I got to her in time, so here are a few bits of advice to consider before getting tricked: Continue Reading »

Posted in Travel | 11 Comments »

The HiP Paris Blog: Spread the Paris Love via Social Media

Photographer at Musée Rodin, courtesy of Karigee.com

Life is incredibly busy for the ladies of the HiP Paris blog. Not only do we run this little corner of the world where we ramble on all things French, but we also spend our days helping our clients experience Paris like a local via our boutique vacation rental business, Haven in Paris. Business is booming and we need help with all the fun stuff. That’s where you come in, hopefully!

Haven in Paris is searching for one or two interns to support our corporate objectives through social media. In other words, to share the Paris love! We’re looking for a lot, but we’re sure you can send us some strong candidates through your network of friends, family and fellow bloggers. Do you mind passing this on to possible candidates (preferably, in the Boston area)?

Photos of Paris, France, courtesy of Karigee.com

Haven in Paris / HiP Paris is looking for social media interns to share the Paris love via all sorts of social media. The ideal candidates may be asked to perform some or all of the following duties:

Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 6 Comments »

When You’re Missing Paris in November: 7 Cool Events & Classes

Seine, Paris, France

Boat ride on the Seine; photo by Maggie Battista

I’m dreaming of Paris. Again. This happens when I’m in the States.

I just returned from a month-long trip to France. I traveled up and down the south of France, exploring most of Provence while fighting the devious Mistral winds. I spent a fabulous girls weekend in Normandy, sipping cidre and finally visiting Mont Saint Michel. And I drank small cups of espressos and not-so-small glasses of red wine all over our favorite city, Paris. I’m home in cold, rainy New England, missing out on too many fun November events across the pond. Here’s a peek into what I’m missing:

1. I really wanted to learn how to make macarons in Paris, and La Cuisine Paris offers a wonderful class on the subject. I’m living through their wonderful posts on their Facebook page.

Jean-Michel-Basquiat Paris France

Basquiat artwork; photos by mauidw and Eduardo Nasi

2. I adore the artist Basquiat, and spend tons of time in his old stomping grounds, downtown New York City. I was hoping to make it to the new exhibit at the Paris Musee de Art Moderne. The show is on through January 30, 2011, so perhaps you’ll be able to see it and report back?

Continue Reading »

Posted in Events, Food, Parisian Living, Travel | 14 Comments »