Archive for the ‘Restaurants – Cafes’ Category
You discover everything appetizing with French dining. Like this lovely pear tarte, so appealingly beautiful, with sweet aromas and a golden crust….and we haven’t even tasted it yet, but the promise is so alluring.
Last year … and the year before … we couldn’t be in Paris for Valentine’s Day; so we did the next best thing. We stopped in for breakfast at our favorite local ‘patisserie’. The atmosphere was so pleasant, complete with quiet “bonjours” and customers gazing over the expansive pastry choices to selects their croissants or quiche.
In that natural French way, we lingered over our coffees and heard the simple bits of conversation that drifted our way. One couple shared quite a delicious looking ‘breakfast croissant’ complete with egg, ham and cheese; while two ‘rowdy’ garcons spread Nutella over their pastries, the evidence peeking at us from the corners of their mouths.
To expand our enjoyable petite dejeuner, we went a step further. A lovely pear tarte caught my eye … and imagination! Alas, we would be able to share this elegant dessert at home with our Valentine’s meal. We still would have preferred to be in Paris for the day, but we were able to bring a touch of Paris to us. And on another day, we even made our own pear tarte at home – perhaps not as delicate looking but every bit as enchanting in taste.
Life lesson? Even if you can’t travel when or where you want, you can create your own atmosphere and experience to enjoy. A tip of the hat to France from us.
Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.
During a delightful 3-day visit to Aix-en-Provence, we enjoyed the added benefit of the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales.” Aix is famous for its many fountains and talented favorite son Cezanne, so it’s not surprising that artisans are celebrated here.
At any moment Cours Mirabeau offers an enchanting, tree-lined boulevard; but the fair magnified the magic. Elegant hand-painted scarves danced in the breeze, while artisans warmly greeted visitors explaining their crafts, demonstrating the potter’s wheel and generally serving as welcoming ambassadors in this dynamic city.
Hand-crafted shoes and sandals, exotic jewelry, perfumes and pottery spread all along the boulevard. The cobbler followed generations of the art of shoemaking; the silk scarves were painted by hand.
After a pleasant stroll to examine the many gorgeous crafts, we stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes. Ummm – delicious ham and cheese galette, a pichet of wine and a strolling guitarist made for a relaxing Aixoise experience.
We would offer a hearty thumbs up to any planning a trip to this lovely area. An easy drive from Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding area immerse you in an enchanting landscape, exceptional architecture and abundant dining choices.
You might wander through Cezanne’s landscape and stop for dinner in Greoux-les-Bains or take in the grand Pont du Gard aqueduct; but parking yourself at a café along the boulevard provides plenty of enjoyment!
For a royal experience, one might expect a royal price tag; and Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc does not disappoint in either category. A luxurious and lavish resort delightfully positioned on the tip of Cap d’Antibes, the hotel has long been the chosen mecca for celebrities and privileged guests through the ages. No doubt they have left a trail of interesting tales in their wake.
Words simply cannot capture the legendary hotel. From 1870, the “Villa Soleil” welcomed writers looking for inspiration, but in 1885 a Piedmontese hotelier set his vision in motion and transformed the Napoleon III-style villa into the unparalleled Hôtel du Cap. One of the most interesting hotel embellishments is the seawater swimming pool carved into the rock, though the seaside “cabins” (33 cabanas, in all) and Eden-Roc Pavilion are equally alluring.
Now celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the hotel was recently refreshed with a €45million refurbishment that preserved and enhanced the resort’s stunning, authentic quality; while adding every contemporary convenience and several new amenities. Imagine refined, spacious rooms and luxury appointments, the sumptuous Bellini Bar, gourmet restaurant and assorted intimate bars and grills. There’s even a fresh Juice and Ice Cream Bar in the shade of the Alep pines – parfait for the children!
Open only from mid-April to mid-October, the five-star hotel rates are equally ‘handsome’ for accommodations ranging from standard, classique and Supérieure rooms to a private villa complete with your own butler. Gala events planned for the celebratory year include a magnificent gourmet evening with some of the world’s best sommeliers and Michelin-starred chefs.
But I have a humorous twist to this story. The postcard shown was sent to my father in Paris from a lady friend staying at the hotel in 1932. In part, her message reads, “Here I am at this wonderful place – $6.00 a day for room, bath and meals (in between seasons) … You ought to see the scanty one-piece bathing suits. Oh, I don’t know where I’ll end – the temptations are lovely and many.”
The prices surely have changed, but I rather imagine the temptations to still be … lovely and many.
On the first day of the hottest month of the year – throughout out America and particularly in Florida – let’s just get away. Let’s imagine an escape to a lovely Provençal farmhouse, surrounded by natural beauty and infused with unnaturally warm hospitality.
We arrive at our Relais et Chateaux hotel and restaurant – La Cabro d’Or & Spa – in a magnificent garden setting in the valley of Lex Baux de Provence. The Alpilles mountains stretch across the landscape; where olives and wine share the fertile land, and the jagged white rocks of the Val d’Enfer provide a delightful contrast.
Your Maîtres de Maison, Geneviève and Jean-André Charial, perfect the mood of peace and quiet with graceful rooms, elegant living areas and a dining room and terrace that celebrate the incomparable cuisine of the land. Imagine confit tomatoes and asparagus from the garden, suckling pig and scallops from the seas. Following the seasons, the cuisine and wines mirror the rich land that surrounds La Cabro d’Or. We shall end at least one meal with a magnificent creation – bourbon vanilla, grand cru chocolate mousse and Camargue salt.
We will slide through the cool water of the huge pool, stop here and there in the garden, explore the historic villages of the area and, perhaps, discover a special antique in Saint Rémy de Provence or visit the famous Windmill of Daudet. And at day’s end, we will yield to tranquil farmhouse evenings.
One guest perfectly described his La Cabro experience: “…There is one thing that stands out above all others: the freedom to do just as you please.”
Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.
Today we seem to live at the speed of light, hooked to little electronic gadgets that nag us – with our permission, thank you – throughout every waking moment. That’s all the more reason to appreciate Meert.
Nothing happens in France overnight, least of all a blossoming friendship or a thriving patisserie. No, the maturation of either requires patience, tender care, growing trust and a touch of vision. And so it is with Meert. Over 250 years ago – in 1761, to be precise – a sweets and chocolate shop was born at 27 rue Esquermoise in Lille. Some ten years later, the addition of Meert’s famous ice cream inspired the reverence of the Count of Lille and transformed the establishment into one of Lille’s most fashionable sites, proving once again that the touch of royalty ‘gilds the lilly’.
Flash forward to 1839, when the decision was made to renovate the establishment. The creative team included the architect César Benvignat – the official architect of Old Lille, painter Stalars and sculptor Huidiez; who combined their brilliance to create the impressive, ornate oriental style you find at Meert today. Ten years later, Meert became the official supplier of King Leopold I and concocted one of the stellar products of the store – the famous vanilla-filled waffle.
Along the way, the house added a first-in-class restaurant poised along a sun-bathed interior courtyard with a 19th century glass roof. Now, the distinguished clientèle enjoys the multi-faceted historic boutique, traditional tearoom and gastronomic restaurant all presented in the extravagant and tasteful surroundings of Maison Meert. A second restaurant at Lille Printemps has been added, as well as two Paris locations in the Marais and Saint-Germain, in Bruxelles and Roubaix.
Now, about that infamous waffle….
Ten years ago, the EphéMeert waffle appeared beside the traditional vanilla waffle that is particularly known for its’ flavorful Vanille de Madagascar. Flavors range from praline and puffed rice, pistachio and morello cherry to blackcurrant and violet flavors. You can be certain that the enticing combinations are tucked away quite carefully in the little tattered notebook that guards the Meert’s cherished secrets!
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.