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Planning for Paris: Spoiled by Luxury Services in the City of Light

Haven in Paris Victor Hugo Luxe

Haven in Paris, Julien Hausherr

I’ve just booked my Haven in Paris apartment for a week in the City of Love. Sigh… Going to Paris has always been a dream of mine, and I want it to be just perfect. I am working with Haven in Paris to fill my days with the luxury service discounts they are offering during this winter’s low season. While my activities aren’t fully booked, I have already started daydreaming about how I will spend my days. 

Luxe, Paris Wine Company

Luxe, Montage, Palmyre - Les Deux Stations, Le Bon Georges

Champagne from Paris Wine Company; Les Deux Stations/Le Bon Georges, Palmyre Roigt

Continue Reading »

Posted in Tours and Classes, Wine | 2 Comments »

Paris’ 20ème: History, Culture, and Shopping in Belleville and Ménilmontant

20eme, Rue Denoyez Street Art

Rue Denoyez

The 20ème is one of the largest neighborhoods in Paris, covering the areas of Nation, Gambetta, Ménilmontant, and Belleville. Largely overlooked by tourists, this unique quartier is full of locals-only bars and restaurants, art galleries, theaters, charming backstreets, hidden pockets of nature, and a diverse population. As much as I love the familiar streets of the Marais and the Latin Quarter, after spending three months living here this summer, a part of me will always be called back to the 20ème. Here are a few of my favorite historic and cultural spots worth discovering.

20eme, La Bellevilloise

View from La Bellevilloise

A historically working class neighborhood, the 20ème was the center of opposition to Emperor Napoleon III during the eve of the First World War, and the very last neighborhood to surrender during the Paris Commune of 1871. Predominantly an immigrant community for the last century, nowadays young entrepreneurs, artists, and bobos flock to the area for its affordable rents, active nightlife, and thriving arts scene.

20eme, Rue Denoyez

Rue Denoyez

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Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping, Tours and Classes | No Comments »

Brocante Shopping in Normandy with My French Country Home

Brocante finds in action (Laurence Amélie)

At My French Country Home in Normandy, we love to go antiquing. We welcome guests from all over the world, from private shoppers looking to experience real French brocantes (flea markets) and hopefully bring back a special souvenir of their holiday in France, to professionals looking for hidden gems to add a little French je-ne-sais-quoi to their boutiques.

Bedrooms decorated with brocante finds

Here is how it went for a recent client, Jeni, who came to shop for her vintage rental company in California. She was only here for 24 hours, but thanks to careful planning and her ability to make quick decisions, she managed to purchase all kinds of amazing loot! Continue Reading »

Posted in Shopping, Tours and Classes, Travel | 13 Comments »

Experience Gertrude Stein’s Paris: Picasso, Matisse and Other Stein Favorites Reunited at the Grand Palais

It’s 1905 in Paris. Visitors to the Salon d’Automne are outraged. Who is that flamboyant woman with the audaciously colorful hat? Or rather who could have painted such a daring work? Matisse’s Woman with a Hat shocked most viewers. However, it was avidly appreciated, and swiftly purchased, by two new art connoisseurs; Gertrude and Leo Stein, sparking a fabulous legacy of 20th century art patronage and perhaps the greatest collection of Modern art of the era. This collection is currently brought together for the first time in decades in Paris, in a special exhibit at the Grand Palais.

The Stein family, based in San Francisco, first came to Paris in 1878 when the siblings Gertrude, Leo and Michael were still children. This initial visit must have struck a cord, as they each eventually gravitated back to Europe as adults by 1904. Having sold off their family’s holdings back in the U.S., the Steins could live a comfortable bohemian life in Paris and were quickly drawn to collecting art.

The Grand Palais exhibit opens with some fine examples of their earliest acquisitions, several works by late impressionist masters, in particular Renoir and Cezanne, purchased during their first visit to the Salon d’Automne in 1904. These works would not only adorn the walls of the Steins’ respective apartments on rue Madame and rue Fleurus, they would also serve as inspiration for the next generation of young artists who started frequenting the Steins’ Saturday night Salons, lively evenings of conversation and debate over the ensuing new ideas of the modernist movement.

The next year’s Salon d’Automne also featured the more “traditional” artists, however, just as the impressionists had shocked the art world with their innovative works forty years prior, new artists such as the bold Fauves were causing a stir. While it was Gertrude and Leo who purchased Matisse’s aforementioned masterpiece, it was Michael and Sarah who became avid collectors and friends of the artist. Over the next few decades, they almost exclusively focused their collection on his works, many of which are shown here, several displaying the unique bond Matisse had with Michael and Sarah such as the two portraits he made of them and some paintings featuring their son Allan.

Matisse might have been one of the most important leading artists of the turn of the 20th century, however, he was fervently rivaled by another visionary artist; Pablo Picasso – who in turn was greatly supported by Gertrude and Leo. Gertrude first met Picasso in 1906 and they quickly formed a strong, if not turbulent, friendship. The exhibition features a number of wonderful Picassos from their collection, including the imposing Cezanne inspired pre-cubist portrait of Gertrude, but perhaps the most intriguing are eight original sketches and studies for Picasso’s first cubist work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), tightly displayed together on one wall, just as they might have been hung on the walls rue Fleurus. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Tours and Classes | 5 Comments »

Inside Paris – Ariel’s Favorite Paris Walks and Tours

Contemplating Van Gogh in Paris - Giovanni Giorgini

There are so many tours to choose from in Paris… Whether you want to be whisked off on your adventure by bike, boat, balloon, Segway or foot (I have yet to find a horseback tour, but I’m sure someone, somewhere is cooking one up), a tour exists to help make that dream come true.

Having that many options at your fingertips can be overwhelming. That’s why we make it our duty here at Haven in Paris to scour the city tirelessly for the very best tours to recommend to our clients. I’ve been lucky enough to meet more than my fair share and have compiled a list of four of my favorites, chosen because they are so original, in depth and because the people behind them are amazing characters themselves!

Musée D’Orsay (Manolo Blanco)

Time Travelers Tours

Sara Towle’s “Time Travelers Tour” StoryApp (downloadable to the iPhone) is one of the most original Paris tours I’ve experienced. This labor of love started out as a book geared towards children and has evolved into an fully interactive, fact-filled, historical adventure through Paris. The first tour in the series, “Beware of Madame la Guillotine”, reveals the stories behind the landmarks and personalities associated with the French Revolution. It’s perfect for adults and children alike (I had a great day out following the tour with my husband)!

You can download the Time Travelers Tour App for your iPhone here or here. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Tours and Classes | 3 Comments »

Antique Shopping in Paris: A Guided Tour of the Marché Aux Puces

Typical Parisian flea market (Josh Leo)

I first visited the Marche aux Puces (Les Puces de Saint-Ouen) 5 years ago. I was feeling adventurous and had a new house I dreamed of filling with amazing finds from the famous Parisian flea markets. As soon as I arrived, however, my confidence and sense of adventure plummeted. There was so much, and it was all so beautiful, I couldn’t decide where to begin. I didn’t know if bargaining was de rigueur, and I was timid about asking for prices because I assumed most of the dazzling objects that caught my eye had to be out of my price range (especially since most of them looked like they came right out of Versailles). I found some amazing light fixtures and chairs, but they weren’t going to fit into the overhead bin on my flight home, and I hadn’t the first clue about how to arrange to shipping. In the end, my eyes got their fill of gorgeous pieces but I left empty handed.

Random finds at the Marché aux Puces (Michael Tucker)

My experience, sadly, is not uncommon. The flea markets of Paris can be very intimidating and the vast maze of memorabilia is more than a little overwhelming.  My fellow HIP gal pal Andrea knows exactly what I mean; she’s suffered from the flea market frazzle too!

So this summer, when Toma Haines and Franca Giagnacovo from Antiques Diva reached out and offered to take us ladies at HIP on a shopping tour of the Puces, we jumped, of course! After all, these women are bonafide experts on all things antique – maybe they could do something to salvage our dream of decorating our American homes with authentic French finds.

Walking the Paul Bert market at Clignancourt (Dave Bloom)

Our fabulous guide Franca met us in the morning with mini bottles of bubbly and personalized tote bags to carry home the treasures we were to collect that day. She gave us a great info package with maps and a brief description of each market within the Puces so we could pinpoint exactly where to go and what we wanted to see.  Andrea and I were both on a mission to feather our nests, so we focused on furniture, house wares and art. She steered us effortlessly through the slightly rough looking streets leading to les Puces and around the sea of cheap plastic knickknacks and designer knock offs that precede the “real” flea markets. Once inside, she knew exactly which vendors had what we were looking for, and she was willing to help us haggle (a very accepted practice).  Andrea has the scoop on the amazing treasures we saw. Continue Reading »

Posted in Shopping, Tours and Classes | 13 Comments »

Day-Trip From Paris: A Visit to Champagne Includes Tastings In a Private Chateau

Spending a summer in Paris is a dream come true, but as the Parisians rushed away to enjoy the famous French summer holidays, we got a bit envious and started dreaming of our own escape into the countryside. Thankfully, we were in for a treat: a day trip to one of the most famous regions of France…Champagne! We were invited along by Sydney Kruger, owner of A Tasty Side to Life, a private tour service that specializes in unlocking doors to some of the best small producers of the region.

 

Picked up in the morning by a private driver, Sydney, a girl who knows her way to my heart, had croissants waiting for us in the car. As we made our way out of Paris to the fresh air of the countryside, she filled us in on the history of the region (still one of the least visited in France), and gave us some great information on how champagne is actually made. By the time we arrived at the first vineyard, we had enough knowledge to taste like the pros. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Tours and Classes, Travel | 6 Comments »

The Inside Scoop: A Foodie Tour of the Rue du Bac

Do you know Amy Reverdy, of the wonderful blog C’est La Me? If not,  prepare to be wooed. This sweet expat from California charms with her self-deprecating, I’m-too-west-coast-to-take-myself-seriously tales of adapting to life with the Frenchies. In this post she shares her mouth-watering Context food tour in Saint Germain with fellow HIP Paris contributor and fabulous Parisian foodie, Meg Zimbeck.

The Inside Scoop (Photo by Little Brown Pen)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live like a Parisian? Unless you’re prepared to travel with a dog or take up smoking, I think the easiest and most enjoyable way to experience la belle vie while visiting France is by shopping and eating.

I’ve been living in Paris for five years now. While I’d like to pretend that I spend my days strolling along selecting cheeses and chocolates from small shops, I’d be exaggerating. Sometimes I’m forced to go to the supermarket due to time constraints, hours of operation, or the simple fact that I need to buy toilet paper.

On the weekend, however, I really do try to frequent the farmer’s market and small shops in my quartier. Little by little, you start to develop a relationship with the vendors and they remember you. With my accent, it usually doesn’t take all that long.  My second visit to the produce shop on rue Mouffetard, I was greeted with “Bonjour, Miss California.” I’m still smiling. And a few weeks later, after I’d paid for all my fruits and vegetables, I realized that I’d forgotten a lime. When I told him it was for my vodka tonic, he placed it in my hand with a wink and refused my money.

Caramel pastry from La Patisserie des Rêves (Edwardkimuk)

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Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Tours and Classes | 9 Comments »

La Cuisine Cooking Classes in Paris: HIP Paris Makes French Apple Tarts

Tarte Tatin, Tarte Fine aux Pommes (Julien Hausherr)

Eating and Paris. No matter how much you might try to dissociate the two, a stay in Paris without its fill of delicious treats could be a holiday in any other northern European capital, albeit one with some pretty nice architecture.  Letting yourself be tempted by the window displays in patisseries and the cozy banquettes of corner brasseries is all part of the charm of living in Paris.

You won’t be blamed for spending your time here eating your way through neighborhood markets and various restaurant guidebooks, but you may find upon returning home to a routine of simpler meals (what, no Coq au Vin for dinner tonight, Mom?) you wish you had brought some of the mythical recipes back with you.

To answer the ever more popular dream of the food-blogger/cook/tourist, scores of great and not-so-great cooking schools have opened up in Paris to teach eager visitors la cuisine française. If you are not serious enough to book a semester at the Cordon Bleu, though, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the options out there. Lucky for you, Ariel and I recently tried out a class at “La Cuisine”, a wonderful cooking school geared towards visitors and locals that we feel confident recommending to anyone looking to delve a little deeper into the secrets of French cuisine.

La Cuisine: Ariel peeling an apple, Geneviève stirring the Crème Anglaise (Julien Hausherr)

Oliver and Jane started “La Cuisine” just over a year ago, and its popularity has already supported their move to a fantastic location right next to the Hotel de Ville. Tired with the demands of her banking job, Jane decided to drop it all, work her network, put together a group of serious culinary professionals and open a cooking school. With a soon-to-be degustation room and cellar, in addition to the two lovely kitchen/classroom spaces, La Cuisine is a great place to soak up a few recipes & tips in a welcoming environment.

On our recent visit, Ariel and I learned from the lovely Nathalie how to make the elusive Crème Anglaise. As side dishes to this queen of creams, we also learned how to make a perfect Tarte Fine aux Pommes and a traditional Tarte Tatin. Ariel has the scoop on the recipes below… – Geneviève

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La Cuisine: Crème Anglaise (Julien Hausherr)

Mmmmm, I could just live off of Crème Anglaise alone! I miss that sweet ambrosia when I’m back in the states, since Americans tend to prefer the frozen version as a garnish to our pies and cakes.

For someone like me, an abysmal cook who can’t even fry an egg, the idea of actually making Crème Anglaise from scratch was madness, something best left to professionals for fear of botching one of the complex intermediary steps.

Au contraire mon amie! After taking the class at La Cuisine, both Genevieve and I have been able to recreate the sweet sauce (to the amazement of our family and friends)!

Here are Nathalie’s foolproof steps for a perfect Crème Anglaise: Continue Reading »

Posted in HiP Recipes, Tours and Classes | 16 Comments »

Art Paris: Monet at the Grand Palais

Lily Heise from the Paris walking tour experts Context Travel recently stopped by the Monet exhibit currently taking place at the Grand Palais. Since Paris is currently overrun by an imminent shortage of petrol, enduring public transport strikes and the madness known as contemporary art week, we thought it would be fitting to give you a little dose of tranquility, starting with Monet’s lovely waterlilies…

Monet Grand Palais Paris

Every season ushers in a series of new exhibits in Paris and one of the most talked about this autumn is certainly “Claude Monet 1840-1926″ at the Grand Palais. Slightly skeptical due to all the buzz, I visited the show last week to see if it was actually worth all the hype… and left two and a half hours later completely enchanted by the artistic impressions of the master impressionist.

The retrospective is certainly a must for impressionist art-lovers, bringing together over 200 works from 70 international collections, it offers a once in a lifetime chance to see so many of his paintings united side by side. Many of the works come from the Musée d’Orsay, however, dozens come from North America, where an avid appreciation of the Impressionists developed much ahead of France.

I was rather lucky to tour the exhibit with artist Marie Theres Berger who gave us some wonderful insight into the works on display, the artist’s career and his personal life. The show was beautifully curated, with the works organized thematically instead of purely chronologically, demonstrating how Monet’s style evolved through his subject matter, often revisiting the same subjects years later, such as the stormy Normandy coastline. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Tours and Classes | 15 Comments »