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A Day in Champagne with Tasty Side to Life Tours

Champagne, Tasty Side to Life ToursSince becoming à la mode among French and English nobility in the 18th century, Champagne has symbolized royalty, celebration, and the elite. However, few are familiar with the other side to the unique, bubbly beverage; one that’s close to the earth, rooted in the terroir, and reliant on the men and women who spend their lives in the vines, artfully and painstakingly toiling, experimenting, and taking risks to produce a blend that honors and embodies the complexity of the land. Champagne was born of an accident and a regional envy of Burgundy’s acclaimed reds. And today, tourists still prefer the Loire and sunnier Provence to Champagne, the country’s second least visited region. But a new generation of passionate organic and biodynamic growers is changing that.

Champagne, Tasty Side to Life Tours

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Posted in Tours and Classes, Travel | No Comments »

Insidr Paris: Friendly Frenchies Deliver Smartphone Rentals & Local Tips to Travelers

Insidr: The New Digital Guide for Travelers in Paris

Paris is the third most visited city in the world, but it’s also one of the hardest to figure out. “The hype [about Paris] is so big, but when you get here and are confronted with the complexity of everything, it can be difficult,” says Benjamin Forlani, co-founder of Insidr, a new service for travelers to Paris.

Sixth-generation Parisians, Benjamin and his sister Nina love this city, but after years spent living and working in over ten countries, both realized that there is room for improvement. “We are deeply in love with our home city, but at the same time we look at it from an outsider’s perspective and it’s not the best city to travel to,” says Benjamin.

Insidr: The New Digital Guide for Travelers in Paris

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Posted in Parisian Living, Tours and Classes | 1 Comment »

Sacrebleu: Insider Paris Experiences Fit for Locals and Tourists Alike

Sacrebleu Travel Assistant: Crafting Your Perfect Parisian Experience

I’ve lived in Paris on and off for the last two years, so I was curious what I would learn about my adopted city from Stephanie of Sacrebleu, who, I soon realized, is not your average Paris guide.

Before we met, Stephanie wrote to me to find out my age, interests, favorite kinds of stores and food, and whether I preferred to walk or drive around the city. Normally, Stephanie likes to set up a Skype call to meet each client and get a sense of who they are, what they want to see in Paris, how they travel, and answer any questions before they arrive.

Sacrebleu Travel Assistant: Crafting Your Perfect Parisian Experience

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Posted in Tours and Classes | No Comments »

Inside the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Part II: Where to Find Designer Vintage

Flea Markets: Where to find designer vintage at Paris' marché aux puces

AnnieAnniePancake; Zylenia

We wrote in October with tips for navigating Paris’ Marché aux Puces St-Ouen, specifically where to find the best in oh-so-popular mid-century modern furniture. Why? Because with more than 1700 vendors spread out over 14 different markets hawking wares from 1960s lighting to vintage copper pots, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the idea of a visit to this market, which is the largest in the world. But identifying what you’re seeking in advance and knowing how to find that item will make for a smooth day of treasure hunting.

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Posted in Fashion, Markets, Shopping, Tours and Classes | 2 Comments »

All That Glitters: Paris for Lovers (of Fine Jewelry)

Fine jewelry in Paris. Discover the city's precious stones at museums, historic neighborhoods, and vintage markets

Empress Eugenie’s Diadem

From the glittering Eiffel Tower to the lights dancing on the Seine, Paris is a city that shimmers, and not only on the outside. Considered by many to be the capital of fine jewelry, the city is a treasure trove for collectors and enthusiasts with its famed jewelry houses at Place Vendôme and historical pieces in museums across the city. However, it can also be an exclusive and secretive world. Graduate Gemologist and antique jewelry expert Alexis Vourvoulis is trying to lift the veil through her company Bijoux Society. On her website she blogs about up-and-coming jewelers and jewelry auctions and offers excursions to places like Place Vendôme, the Marché aux Puces, and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs.

Fine jewelry in Paris. Discover the city's precious stones at museums, historic neighborhoods, and vintage markets

Start of Opera tour; Marché aux Puces

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Posted in Arts, Fashion, Shopping, Tours and Classes | 3 Comments »

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

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Posted in Tours and Classes, Wine | 3 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 | 1 Comment »

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 »