October 6, 2015
With its place firmly staked as one of the most happening areas of Paris, the 11th arrondissement does not lack in new, fresh spots to eat or drink. But with so many locations cropping up seemingly daily, all filled with inspiration spanning the globe, it’s nice to find a place aiming to keep alive the culture that the French people love so dearly. Tucked away in a nondescript side street off of the southern end of boulevard Voltaire, À La Française is a very French neighborhood favorite with a twist: incredible craft cocktails at exceptionally reasonable prices.
Owner Stephen Martin got his start in the restaurant industry at the age of 17, and has worked in numerous high-profile bars in France and elsewhere in Europe. He began to notice, however, that there was a lack of the true presence of French culture in bartending, so he dove into the project of rediscovering the art of classic French cocktails. Armed with his research and an impressive collection of cocktail books- some dating back to 1850- he opened À La Française to bring the Paris bar scene back to its formidable roots.
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September 15, 2015
It’s been a belle année in France and the annual grape harvests are upon us. Due to the beautiful summer weather and almost ideal conditions throughout the year, the harvest – or vendanges – are taking place much earlier than last year. Sun-soaked southern winegrowing regions, like Beaujolais and Languedoc-Roussillon, began their harvests in mid-August and cooler regions, like the Loire Valley, will start the harvest in these first few weeks of September.
Taking part in the vendanges is almost a rite of passage for French youth. Broke high school and college students often take advantage of this opportunity to make some money before the school year starts, while spending time under the sun and making friends from all around the world. In smaller vineyards, the vendanges feel like a family affair, with communities forming among the harvesters who come back year after year. I kind of think of the vendanges as the French version of summer camp, only instead of making lanyards you’re helping to make wine.
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