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Dining French Style- Oui!

French pastries

Elegant pear tarte – delicieux!

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.

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Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Artisans in Aix-en-Provence

France artisans

Hand-painted scarves in Aix-en-Provence

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.

French dining

Greoux-les-Bains

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!

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Elegant Villa & “Cuisinière Lyonnaise”

Vieux Lyon France

Overlooking Lyon, Villa Florentine

In visiting Lyon for the first time, we were so fortunate to have a connection … through our landlord in Paris, no less!  We phoned him and enjoyed several outings in the city he knew so well.

One evening he told us about a very unique cook book; and so, after dinner in Vieux Lyon, we climbed with him up to Villa Florentine in the Fourvière district. Not only did our friend know the book would be available there, he understood we would be enthralled with the five-star hotel and view over the old city.

Over a mellow drink of brandy by the pool, he told us the appealing story behind “Cuisinière Lyonnaise”.  On a misty morning the Villa’s chef, Stéphane Gaborie, wandered through a flea market.  He discovered an old recipe book, beautifully calligraphed and filled with family ‘recettes’.

The book opens with “Remarques Préliminaires” (preliminary remarks).  One entry, for example, deals entirely with the making of mustard – with water, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Monsieur Gaborieau poured his heart into the making of this exquisite cookbook that fellow chef Paul Bocuse described as a “tribute to an unknown Mother”.

Not only do we see page after antique-looking page of the beautiful script and succulent recipes of this unknown woman, we have an exceptional treat at the end – the comments and recipes from 15 of the world’s most renowned chefs.  How touching to read the nostalgic comments about cooking by the side of their own grand mères.

Repeatedly each chef refers to seasonal fresh vegetables and fruits, free-range chickens and field-grazed cows.  Their devotion to the highest quality ingredients offers a testament to their profession.  The comments of a Lyonnais chef, Pierre Orsi, are particularly sweet.  “… these traditional family recipes take on a new and unusual dimension in the pen of a young woman, who, in my mind’s eye, is precise, refined and delicate.  This is an exceptional work.”

[Note: the book is part of the Stéphane Bachès collection of cookbooks – a delightful range of regional and themed books.]

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

 

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French Copper and Cookware

French copper cookware

Lovely cookware at E. DEHILLERIN in Paris

My grandparents lived in Paris for seven years before World War II and among the no-doubt vast array of experiences and collections, I most remember my grandmother’s gorgeous Mauviel copper pans. Made all the more beautiful with age, the pots not only shone with beauty but served ideally in exceptional meal preparation. Didn’t hurt that she had a maid to handle the sometimes tedious business of cleaning the copper!

That reminds of a lovely Jacque Pépin show, in which he explained the magic use of the copper bowl in whipping up egg whites for your favorite soufflé or meringue – “The metal interacts with the egg whites to make them more stable, as they take on air.” Hand beating is his preference, when he begins with rapid beating and slows to lift the whites that have begun to set up … without touching the bowl a lot.

Isn’t it the perfect moment to tell you that my favorite chef has a new book out? Mais oui! Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen underscores one of the reasons I am drawn to this special chef. Probably the most important ingredient in his magnificent meal preparation is his love of family and friends and the intimate occasions for sharing special meals together. I have watched him on television with his daughter, granddaughter and a special friend here and there. Without exception, he refers to the delight he takes in the warmth of shared meals.

French cookbooks

The ever delightful Jacques Pépin

His new book includes a wide variety of recipes (200 in all), and even shares how to raise a child who will eat almost anything. I can say from experience, my mother accomplished just that with three exceptions: Brussel sprouts, shrimp creole and liver. No thank you. Period.

Time and again, I have given Monsieur Pepin’s lovely cookbooks to friends, daughters and daughters in law; so you can be sure the same will be true this holiday season.
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Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

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Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

French cooking Pepin

An exceptional cookbook – Julia Child & Jacques Pepin

No grand secret in this admission:  when I really embrace a place or product, I can’t wait to share the good news.  When available on television, the fabulous cooking duo of Julia Childs and renowned Chef Jacques Pépin have entranced us.

One need watch but one episode of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home  to appreciate how much Monsieur Pepin must miss his cooking accomplice, Julia, who died in 2004.

So many elements in the show are appealing.  The in-depth look at each chosen subject – meat or fish or potatoes – is enormously rich in information, covering everything from what to look for in cuts of meat to the chemical reactions that impact cooking (don’t you know that’s why wine is a central part of their repertoire!)

It’s doubtful that you will sit with pen and paper to record the recipes, as the friendly banter and demonstrations between the two capture your attention.  And besides, “sprinkle some sea salt” and “add some Vermouth” are not exactly precise directions.

No problem.  Not only are DVD’s of the shows available, but a companion cookbook that is one of the finest I have ever seen.  In-depth chapters cover soups and eggs, salads and sandwiches, potatoes and other accompanying dishes and vegetables, a wide selection of fish, fowl and meats and the pièce de résistance – desserts.

The book’s photography is excellent in illustrating the steps of cooking, methods of garnishing, preparation of meats and poultry and even directions for serving and carving.  And then there are those little extras, like Julia explaining how to rid your hands of onion odors and Jacques showing us how to quickly peel garlic.

Both are geniuses in their arena and play off one another in a very entertaining way on the show – a bit like Maurice Chevalier’s duet with Hermione Gingold in Gigi.

“We met at nine.  We met at eight.

I was on time.  No, you were late.

Ah, yes, I remember it well.”

Jacques doesn’t worry about de-veining shrimp; for Julia it’s absolutely a must.  Jacques always, always has his eye on special presentation of meals (could all of those years in Lyons and other restaurants be the reason?)  Julia ‘collars’ her soufflés – not so with Jacques.

Trust me on this:  if you love cooking; you’ll love the show and recipe book.  If you don’t love cooking, you just might change your mind, after watching these cum laude chefs!  Bon Appétit.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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French Gifts for “Him”

French Champagne

Elegant French flutes

I love to theme gifts – French gifts or otherwise – so let’s call these gift ideas for Monsieur “A Matter of Taste”.  For the budding to the mature wine connoisseur, we begin with a focus on very appealing champagne from France.

Perhaps to whet his appetite, you will include an engaging and comprehensive book by one of the world’s leading wine authorities, An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France.  Author Clive Coates shares his expansive knowledge of wine, its character, the meaning of appellations and the finest of French wine estates.

Now, let’s get right to the heart of the matter with an enticing bottle of Taittinger Champagne!  Go to your favorite specialty wine shop for guidance.  In Orlando, that would be Tim’s Wine Market, where they have been helping customers with personal guidance for over 20 years.

Taittinger is one of the distinctly historic champagne houses of France and one of only five to cellar its wines in the renowned “Crayères” of Reims – the chalk caves originally dug out by the Romans. Since their discovery early in the 18th century, champagne merchants found the cave conditions ideal for aging wine.  The Taittinger family is one of the largest vineyard owners in Champagne, and this esteemed brand was the official champagne at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Perhaps you will choose Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, chosen in 2012 as “Best Champagne” by Fine Champagne Magazine. 

Reims fr

Taittinger chalk caves, Reims

Round out your themed gift with a pair – or a set of champagne glasses – yet another opportunity for learning the ins and outs of the heavenly nectar.  Flutes, coupes and tulips are your choices, and there are myriad designs from which to choose.

Champagne flutes aid in capturing the flavor and aroma of champagne with their tall narrow shape, medium to long stem and point at the bottom of the glass.  Champagne coupes (saucers) are the wide-rimmed, shallow glasses with a short stem.  A favorite in the early 1900’s, they are not as popular with ‘experts’ today, in that the shape allows the aroma and carbonation to escape.  Finally, the aptly-named champagne tulip is similar to the flute but curves inward at the rim.  Especially recommended for finer French champagnes, the wider base allows flavors to be captured and taste enhanced.

French champagne

Taittinger – voila!

Voila!  So there you have a wonderful assortment of French gifts for him, and I’m certain you can find a handsome bag or box in which to present your refined collection.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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5 Traits to Love in Jacques Pépin

French cooking

Beloved French Chef Jacques Pépin

Accomplished chef.  Cookbook author and star of television.  Conspirator with Julia Childs.  Former personal chef to President Charles de Gaulle.  Columbia University graduate with a B.A. degree in General Studies and a Master’s degree in French Literature.

  • Knowledge and science of cooking – We have come to know this delightful chef through our local Public Broadcasting System, where his various television shows have entertained, amused and informed us. Despite the sad loss of beloved Julia Childs, we are still able to enjoy Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, and Emmy award-winner in 2001. Their energy and amusing give-and-take approaches to cooking blend their enormous knowledge of cooking with practical tips and no small amount of fun-poking humor. And Monsieur Pépin’s explanations of the science of cooking are as fascinating as they are helpful – from the use of copper bowls to the difference in texture of whipping warm versus cold egg whites.
  • Innovation and Practicality – Perhaps many of us are intimidated by French cooking, by this entertaining Chef certainly makes the activity look easy and tosses in many everyday shortcuts and practical tips to ease your way. Other television shows that demonstrate his ease and expertise are Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way (based on his 2004 book of the same name) and Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way. I was really intrigued to try his innovative Pear Tarte, as he used a tortilla for the ‘base’ in lieu of pastry – delicieux!
  • Presentation – His years of work at distinguished restaurants like those of Grand Hotel de L’ Europe in France and New York’s historic Le Pavillon shine through in those lovely finishing touches that make meals so appealing. Whether a main course or inviting dessert, he regularly serves the pièce de résistance in the center of an appropriate sauce and garnishes with fresh sprigs of parsley, mint or other such savory choices. In fact, we have never seen him prepare any dish without these final appealing strokes of the Master’s hand!
  • Joie de vivre – That is a quality that permeates Monsieur Pépin’s presentations. Whether by himself or In cooking with his daughter, granddaughter or Julia Childs; he takes such delight in cooking and invariably reveals that special ‘spark’ in sharing his knowledge with others.
  • Rewards – Essentially part of that joie is the reward he relishes in pouring a glass of wine, after serving up delicious entrées – perhaps the real sign of a happy Frenchman!

    Favorite French chefs

    One of many Pépin cookbooks

You can enjoy daily interaction with this endearing chef on his Facebook page, and don’t forget to find his shows on your own PBS stations.  Finally, I have made it a practice to make gifts of Jacques Pépin’s many cookbooks.  They are a special treat for anyone who loves to cook.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Meert – # 1 Palate Pleasure in Lille!

Lille, France

Patisserie to royalty in Lille

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!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Golf Retreat in the Dordogne

Dordogne luxury retreat

Château des Vigiers golf retreat

Near Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion, the 16th century Château des Vigiers is an appealing golf retreat – a blend of classic and contemporary.  The 4-star Château is regal, set like a Grand Dame in the undulating Dordogne landscape with a spectacular 27-hole golf course.   The beautifully restored centerpiece and resort have been designated one of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”.

A little side note is interesting.  I know France hasn’t much of a golfing tradition.  Perhaps, with so much beauty, culture, history and “je ne sais quoi”, they simply haven’t the time or desire to chase a little white ball around grassy knolls.  But there was one notable French golfer who made history more for his loss than Paul Lawrie’s win at the British Open at Carnoustie.  In a virtual bow to the theme of the movie “Tin Cup”, in 1999 Frenchman Jean Van de Velde stepped to the 18thtee with a healthy 6-stroke lead. To make a long story short, he made one bad decision after another, spending twenty excruciating minutes working his way in and out of the barns and water.  Though his triple-bogey took him into the playoff, he would not walk away with the Claret Jug.  An interesting story, but let’s get back to our golf escape.

You will enjoy distinct room choices, from a classic Chateau room to spacious patio wing rooms with your own terrace overlooking the gardens or golf course.  All rooms are beautifully furnished with every comfort.  And you can cap off your round of golf with a visit to the beauty and spa centre.  After enjoying a leisurely lunch, by all means explore Saint-Emilion and local vineyards.

4-star luxury hotel, France

Golfside dining

At day’s end, dine “al fresco” on the scenic terrace overlooking the lake, while the wine steward uncorks your favorite rosé from the wine cellar.  Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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The French “Stradivarius of the Kitchen”

How could you not be drawn to a company so devoted to excellent craftsmanship that they see themselves as “the Stradivarius of the Kitchen”?   That is exactly how Lacanche views the production of their exquisite French stoves, those stunning works of art that combine beautiful decoration with technological precision to elevate the realm of cooking.

A little village in the hills above Beaune is home to Lacanche factories.  Bearing the name of that village; the famous Lacanche stoves literally rose from the iron and timber of the land in the 18th century, when artisan skills were devoted to the manufacture of stoves for stately homes and the professional trade.  Today those traditional values and exceptional products generate considerable demand from the top chefs and the general public who want authentic stoves.  And adding further appeal is the Lancanche owners’ devotion to rural traditions, country life and the value of fine craftsmanship over mass production.

French bath fixtures

Elegant Herbeau powder room

In a similar manner, Herbeau devotes fine craftsmanship to the manufacture of sinks and faucetry for kitchens, bath and powder rooms.  Herbeau’s delightful designs range from rustic Provencal to elegant Chateau creations with hand-painted finishes.  Started in 1857 by Louis Herbeau, five generations have created beautiful baths and kitchens for great homes and establishments.

Staub applies the same type of exacting standards to the creation of fine enameled cast-iron cookware.   For over 40 years, Staub has merged exceptional craftsmanship with attention to performance detail.  From tight-fitting lids with self-basting spikes and heatproof nickel-plated steel knobs to the textured cooking surface of matte-black enamel,  Staub has elevated kitchenware to unprecedented function and design.

For anyone who appreciates creations that enjoy the “touch of the master’s hand”, these fine products celebrate the French art de vivre and become treasured heirlooms at the heart of your home.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Basque Luxury – Saint Jean-de-Luz

Down in Basque country in southwestern France, everything from the language to the regional cuisine is decidedly unique. Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a happy, sauntering kind of village of about 15,000, a lovely retreat to visit.

Imagine a relaxing “Cote Basque” seaside and lively fishing port with medieval, Moorish and Spanish influence; and you’ll begin to envision the charming resort. On the Bay of Biscay, almost as far south as you can go in France without entering Spain, the town sports a blend of Spain’s Andalusia and Basque building styles – definitely the prototypical “Old World” charm.

Consider a luxurious getaway at Le Parc Victoria , when you plan your visit. A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux, the hotel is just minutes from the beach and offers a sheltered 19th century setting from which to explore the village.

The enticing beach offers a bit of everything – boutique shopping and sporty surf shops, casino, hearty Basque dining, brightly-colored fishing boats and plentiful sun for beach worshippers. The village is on the bank of the river Nivelle; and the port is on the estuary, just short of the point where the river joins the ocean.

St.-Jean-de-Luz Beach

Begin your discovery ‘tour’ at Place Louis XIV – the main village square. The King married Marie-Therese here in 1660, thus uniting Europe’s then two most powerful countries. The Eglise St. Jean-Baptiste is the one notable historic attraction in the town. On Place Louis-XIV, visit Maison Adam, the confectioner who has satisfied many a sweet tooth since 1660, specializing in the flavor of almonds, caramels and fruit confits. Indulge in shopping along pedestrian rue Gambetta for leather goods, brightly-colored Basque textiles, mouth-watering chocolates and macaroons.

But there’s far more to the exceptional Basque cuisine than sweets. The Basque gastronomy pulls from the land and sea, from French and Spanish cuisine. Fresh seasonal ingredients and simple, home-style cooking techniques produce Basque pumpkin soup, wild mushroom omelets, ewe’s milk cheese spread, grilled fish and Basque tapas.

One of your daily pleasures should be a walk at sunset along the promenade. When you look over the calming waters of the Atlantic, you won’t quite believe that this port once was a center for privateers. Today it is pleasure, not pirates, that attracts vacationers to set aside the daily routine for a restful stay by the ocean.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Sweet Luxury at La Bonne Étape

Provence Luxury lodging

La Bonne Étape – balcony views

I have a new mind ‘game’ for those nights, when sleep is a fighting proposition instead of an easy transition from wakefulness to sweet dreams.  I’ve never been a sheep counter.

Lately, though, I comb through my memories for beautiful views … from patios and courtyards to balconies and seaside overlooks. And instead of fretting about things left undone or chores for the morrow, I am lost somewhere in France … and then sleep settles in and feels welcome.

Perhaps that’s just one of many reasons I am taken with La Bonne Étape. One of their delightful descriptives – “Cosy corners for your sweet dreams” tells me they understand my search for beautiful sights and peaceful sleep.

The lovely 4-star Relais & Chateaux post house dates to the 17th century and has been carefully looked after by generations of the Gleize family. Jany Gleize is the current proprietor – Chef de Cuisine and Maître de Maison.

His personal touch permeates La Bonne Étape from the charming, lacy balconies and almond-green shutters to a kitchen that pours forth the Provencal recipes of his grandmother, Gabrielle. I always research places we visit and write about, and I was most impressed with what I found on TripAdvisor.

Each comment by a guest of La Bonne Étape was responded to – in detail – by Jany. That is the sign of one who pays attention, who cares enough to make things perfect for guests – though doubtless we all know there are some folks who cannot be satisfied!

Each room is uniquely situated and decorated to exude its own character and comforts. Some rooms overlook the organic garden; others offer a view of the pool or the rolling landscape of Chemin du Lac. More elaborate first-floor rooms offer inviting private terraces, and all accommodations include modern comforts – air conditioning, Wi-Fi, en-suite baths and satellite television. In all, La Bonne Étape offers 18 rooms and suites in a delightful boutique hotel atmosphere in the countryside of Provence.

Jany presides over two enticing restaurants, where le Chef produces exceptional regional classics from local herbs and produce and his own kitchen garden to enjoy in the more upscale La Bonne Étape or in the more simplified Au Goût du Jour.

Within easy reach, you can discover the sunlit wonders of Provence – the stunning Gorge du Verdon canyons and winding river, countryside biking or rounds of golf, a visit to the Citadelle de Sisteron. Take in the local markets or search out antique shops. Picnic by the gorge or horseback ride along the rolling landscape. No two days need be alike in this magnificent area of France.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

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French Gift of Pure Luxury

Le Bernard Loiseau in Burgundy Franche Comte

Le Bernard Loiseau Relais & Chateaux Property

Naturally,  you can count on an elite organization like Relais & Châteaux to assemble a French gift of pure luxury. Drawing on their many superior lodgings and gourmet restaurants, the organization presents very enticing “Gift Box” offers.

The “A la Carte Dream” for two includes either one weekend night or two weekday nights in a double room, a three-course dinner for 2 (sans drinks) and 2 breakfasts to be enjoyed from Sunday to Thursday at one of their 127 global properties.

I can’t imagine a more memorable gift, one that combines comfort and relaxation with refined hospitality.  The range of R & C properties is nothing less than spectacular, as you can easily understand from a couple of profiles.

Step off a little side street at the peak of the Provencal village of Castillon-du-Gard into a world of handsome Renaissance architecture and panoramic views. Le Vieux Castillon hotel and restaurant blends sun-drenched cuisine, refined decor and unparalleled hospitality for that oh-so-ideal sojourn in Provence.

And in the Burgundy region, it is Le Relais Bernard Loiseau that provides a spectacular welcome. Tucked away in the village of Saulieu, the cuisine is a top attraction as is the historical breakfast room and the sumptuous lounges and guest rooms.

In every sense, your Relais and Château selection guarantees an experience that imprints luxurious memories for all the days to come. Other gift selections are available and are beautifully boxed and presented with a copy of the Relais and Châteaux Guide.

We’d love to hear from you!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

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Les Prés d’Eugénie – Aquitaine

One of three Guerard dining choices Aquitaine France

One of three dining choices

If we can no longer continue to invent and as a result find pleasure in our creativity, then we must ask why.”

—Chef Michel Guérard

Introducing a phenomenal property today, bienvenue to the charming village of Eugenie-les-Bains in southwest France and to the incredibly refined Les Prés d’Eugénie.  One of the prestigious properties of the Relais & Châteaux Association, Michel Guerard’s accommodations could be described as a gated enclave in a serene setting just steps from a village that could as easily be part of that pristine principality of Monaco.

Their own signature description is an “echo of colonial India”, and it is accurate – refined, elegant, a mix of antique furnishings and original paintings within a tasteful setting.  Every single element seems designed to inspire warm hospitality in this Landes department in Aquitaine.

Monsieur Guérard’s story and his success are apropos and interesting.  Early on a celebrated French chef, Michel and his wife, Christine, bought the existing chateau and property in the early 1970’s with the thought of creating an ideal south-of-France experience.  Such was the birth of Eugenie-les-Bains and Les Prés d’Eugénie, a retreat with beautiful, lush grounds, a relaxing spa and a country restaurant – Fermes aux Grives.

Chef Michel masters his style of cooking, one of the first of the nouveau cuisine that blends the bounty of the area with the artistry of the chef.  One might expect a lofty air from such a property, but no – warmth and courtesy abound.  You can enjoy a bike ride in the country or a Michel bottle of wine on your own garden-oriented terrace.  In no time, you can visit glamorous Biarritz on the Atlantic or cross the Pyrenees to San Sebastian.

My ‘bucket list’ definitely includes a visit with Michel and Christine!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Beaumontois en Périgord

France Dordogne

Beaumontois en Périgord

Today we have a combination of amusement and revelation in recommending a sparkling little jewel in Dordogne.  First, there is the lovely old bastide town of Beaumont du Périgord in southern Dordogne.

On the humorous side, I admit to being unaware of the ville’s existence, until my Parisian friend sent me Julia Stuart’s first novel, the Matchmaker of Périgord.  Stuart’s novel is the fictional side of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, in which she captures so many of the endearing (and not so) idiosyncrasies of provincial French in the story of the barber turned matchmaker.

So that is the amusing side of our introduction to the old mill town, but we move along now to make your acquaintance with an historic ‘mill house’ that proves you needn’t boast five stars to offer charm, warmth and refined but ‘home-like’ lodging.

Given the owner’s talents and passions, none of that hospitality and grace is surprising at Moulin de la Ville Beaumont du Périgord.  Your hosts combine the professional interior design of Sue with the Michelin Star master craftsmanship of Chef Steve.  Is it any wonder that the resulting Chambre & Table d’hôte is infused with their inspired talent?

Dordogne FR

Chateau in the Dordogne region

Less than a quarter mile from the center of the village, the old mill and house combine delicate and thorough restoration, contemporary comforts and historic Moulin features in an appealing streamside country retreat.  Breakfast on the verandah?  Mais oui!  A visit to the night market?  De rigueur!

The medieval bastide town and surrounding countryside invite you to explore and absorb the scenic treasures, history and hospitality of southern Dordogne.

Do not take our modest word for it, but do take the time to visit their site.  Like us, we think you will find that a peaceful retreat, exceptional hospitality and fresh, gourmet meals are not the sole province of sophisticated star-bedecked lodging.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Corsican Luxury Resort – Calvi

Corsica France

Villa Calvi, Corsica

Today the spotlight is on a dreamy Corsican resort on the port of Calvi.  The five-star Hotel La Villa is poised between the mountains and the Mediterranean with spectacular views of the sea.  The Villa’s Chef – Sébastien Sevellec – has earned the prestigious “Rising Chef” award for his “…hymns to Corsica that this son of a fisherman has created, having worked at this property for 12 years now …”

The Villa’s extraordinary pleasures begin with stunning views of the bay, easily enjoyed by taking in one of the Chef’s savory menus at La Terrasse or one the other restaurant offerings at the resort.  Imagine a seaside lunch of poisson freshly caught in the bay of Calvi!

Established over fifty years ago, Relaix & Châteaux sets the standard for excellent hospitality in over 500 associated luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants throughout the world.  I particularly appreciate their emphasis on the genuine hospitality and uniquely authentic regional cultures and tastes their properties represent.

Whether you fancy an intimate Villa experience in Italy or an elegant Château in France, you will discover a world of pleasure for that very special holiday you plan.  We carry their directory with us when travelling, so we can discover unique restaurants or lodging, we would not otherwise have located … like Bernard Robin – Le Relais in the quaint village of Bracieux.

Wishing you a delightful Relais holiday or memorable gourmet meal!

We welcome your comments and recommendations!
We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Maxim’s de Paris – A Charming Boutique

Paris France

Maxim’s de Paris

Maxim’s de Paris.  Literally an Art Nouveau universe of its own, Maxim’s was founded by Maxime Gaillard as a bistro in 1893.  That is well over 100 years of entertaining diners in one of Paris most fashionable restaurants.  Today, Pierre Cardin owns the stunning restaurant that has entertained a host of sophisticated patrons through the years.

We recommend, though, Maxim’s charming boutique for delightful gifts to take back home with you.  Each and every time we go to Paris, we enjoy shopping there….finding just the right coffee or tea tin, chocolates, Maxim’s porcelain and assorted food products.

Not only are the gift choices sophisticated and handsomely packaged, the service is discreet and personable.  On our first shopping excursion together on our honeymoon, we stepped into the atmosphere of rich wood and tasteful product presentation. We chose strikingly attractive tins of Arabica coffee and assorted teas and a handsome demitasse set. Each selection was carefully placed on the unobtrusive desk to be packaged with care by our shop manager.  We talked with him throughout our visit, and he recommended a couple of favorite gifts.  We told him we were on our honeymoon, and he seemed very pleased to be waiting on us.

As we checked out, he offered us our shopping bags.  In the final bag, he said, “This is a gift for you on your honeymoon!”  It was one of the iconic Maxim’s menus with Toulouse-Lautrec’s Parisian artwork.  We now are Maxim’s customers for life….and the menu is framed and enjoyed in our home.  What a wonderful reminder of one of many of our shopping excursions!

We welcome your recommendations and comments.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

 

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Hôtel Cour des Loges – Lyon – Bienvenue!

Lyon France

Cour des Loges lobby, Lyon

Nothing quite imprints the distinct feeling of history like staying in the former mansion of an Italian silk merchant. Tucked discreetly along the cobbled lanes of Vieux Lyon, Hôtel Cour des Loges offers exactly that experience. You feel as if the old merchant’s staff welcomes you, but alas – they are contemporary concierges well schooled in warm, refined hospitality (as you might expect of a 4-star luxury hotel).

Every glance through the hotel, from the arched reception and dining rooms to your own handsomely outfitted boudoir provides an agreeable blend of antique and contemporary. The hotel actually is a complex of 14th to 17th-century buildings that encircle a glass-covered courtyard.

After checking in, ask your concierge about nearby “traboules” to explore. The passageways first were used by workers in the silk industry and later by members of the Resistance to evade capture by the occupying Germans. They weave through the old city with a mystique of their own, hiding the stories of long ago.

Cour des Logees

Merci garcon! Parmesan hand scooped!

Our friend provided an after-dinner tour, pushing open a door here and there, that appeared to be the entrance to a home or apartment. We followed him along silent corridors, around corners and through other doors, only to exit a few streets away.And speaking of dinner, you will want to enjoy a memorable experience at the hotel’s Café-Épicerie, a restaurant that artfully mixes contemporary décor with stone walls, graceful arches and silk tapestries. Our excellent waiter guided our menu choices and scooped fresh parmesan from a large cheese wheel to accent our selections. The experience reminded us that dining is not eating.

After a restful night, head to the interior courtyard for a delicious breakfast buffet. We look around the upper and lower arches imagining the life of the original owner and his family in Renaissance France. You cannot fail to absorb the ancient life, the stories and history of this unique Lyon dwelling. The hotel serves as a wonderful anchor, after wandering up the hills and by the rivers of this remarkable city.

We welcome your comments and recommendations!
swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

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Le Grand Colbert – Paris

Le Grand Colbert Paris

Beautifully-appointed brasserie – Paris

We would love to be ‘regulars’ at Le Grand Colbert in Paris.  The brasserie is authentically ‘old school’ Paris, with lovely mosaic tile floors that match those in the nearby Galerie Vivienne. Soaring ceilings and brass and glass globes, over-sized floral displays to fit the scale of the rooms.  Banquettes and movie posters – yes, this IS the place where they filmed “Something’s Gotta Give”!

Some call Le Grand Colbert a real table Parisienne.  I rather like a description of their customers.  “They welcome and serve a cosmopolitan clientele among which are actors, top models, designers, movie stars, businessmen, tourists and some regulars.”  That’s why we want to be a ‘regulars’ in a world of irregulars.

We ducked out of the cold into a welcoming tea room atmosphere and indulged in their pièce de résistance – chocolat chaud.  Across the room a small family celebrated with a birthday cake.  Behind etched glass screens, a handsome business couple murmured no doubt of important matters.

Le Grand Colbert brasserie

Near Galerie Vivienne in Paris

With all of the choices for fine dining in Paris, you really don’t want to miss this lovely brasserie.  Expect a mix of elaborate seafood trays and gratin dauphinois, steak with sauce bérnaise and their specially roasted free range half chicken with savory herbs.

You enter a world of comfortable tradition in the décor and in the menu.  You will leave with the feeling that you have indeed touched part of the heart of Paris.

We welcome your comments and recommendations.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

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Brasserie Georges – Fine Dining, Lyon

Lyon France

Art Deco Brasserie, Lyon

Ernest HEMINGWAY Table 10

COLETTE Table 20

Auguste RODIN Table 15

Jules VERNE Table 17

… Just a few of the renowned diners at the ultra-popular Brasserie Georges in Lyon. I can almost see them in one of the handsome booths. I wonder what they ordered.

Brasserie Georges has entertained discerning customers since 1836, with traditional cuisine served in a classic art deco setting.  And despite its’ majestic architecture and immense popularity, the brasserie brews beer on the premises and is moderately priced.

I love the way they tell their story… “The Brasserie George has witnessed an Empire, three wars and four republics…. This establishment held by Alsatian brewers from generation to generation knew how to keep their traditions, despite the numerous revolutions which the French table has known since 170 years.”  Clearly, not every brasserie can boast such a distinguished lineage!

In 1836 the young Alsatian brewer Georges Hoffherr discovered the exceptional water properties of Lyon and decided to establish a large brasserie on the old marsh of Perrache.  Drawn to Lyon by the excellent water, no less than 26 brasseries were in the city at the time.

With changing tasstes and the birth of cinema, the Brasserie decided to reinvent itself around the turn of the century.  In 1924, the Brasserie was entirely transformed to pure “ART DECO” style by Bruno Guillermin, a painter from a Lyon art school, whose stucco creations celebrated the harvests of the grape and the hops.

A couple of the “Entrees Chauds” are most appealing –La Célèbre Gratinée au Madère – prepared at your table – Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée with an egg yolk and Madeira

Ravioles du Dauphiné– Specialty Ravioli from the Dauphiné region in chive cream with Parmesan

Paul Bocuse France cuisine

Brasserie L’Est Lyon

To our dismay, we did not discover Brasserie Georges, while in Lyon….but, we did enjoy lunch at l’Est, one of the wonderful Lyon brasseries associated with renowned chef Paul Bocuse.

Located in the elegant former Brotteaux railroad station, the brasserie experience imprinted us with warm memories, exceptional service and such appealing cuisine!  While we enjoyed la rôtisserie du jour, genteel servers offered ready, but unobtrusive service; while quaint little trains ran about the brasserie on tracks near the ceiling.

And this is just one of the many reasons we enjoy sharing insights with you – that you might be able to plan your trip around some of the recommended sights, hotels and restaurants.

We welcome your comments and recommendations. swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Corsican Resort in Calvi

Corsica France luxury

Corsican resort views – Hotel La Villa

Poised between the mountains and the Mediterranean, the five-star Hotel La Villa launches your holiday experience with spectacular views of the sea. Just last year the prominent Relais & Châteaux group honored La Villa and its gourmet chef as a “rising star” that has joined the exclusive group of luxury hotels and restaurants.

The Villa’s Chef – Sébastien Sevellec – earned the prestigious “Rising Chef” award for his “…hymns to Corsica that this son of a fisherman has created, having worked at this property for 12 years now …” At the Villa stunning views of the bay serve as the very appealing backdrop to one of the Chef’s savory menus at La Terrasse – imagine a seaside lunch of poisson freshly caught in the bay of Calvi!

Established over fifty years ago, Relaix & Châteaux sets the standard for excellent hospitality in over 500 associated luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants throughout the world. We particularly appreciate their emphasis on the genuine hospitality and uniquely authentic regional cultures and tastes their properties represent.

French luxury resorts

La villa pool bar

We carry their directory with us when travelling; so we can discover unique restaurants or lodging, we would not otherwise have located … like Bernard Robin – Le Relais in the quaint village of Bracieux. Simply look up the region of your planned trip, and the directory will unveil multiple options for lodging and dining.Wishing you a delightful Relais holiday or memorable gourmet meal!

We welcome your comments and recommendations!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Lovely Aix-en-Provence Hotel

Elegant Aix en Provence retreats

Villa Gallici, Aix-en-Provence

Among our top four favorite cities in France, Aix-en-Provence definitely holds a treasured position.  We enjoyed everything about the city – the cuisine and seemingly endless dining choices, the fabulous flower and produce markets, the artistic niches and galleries around every corner, the fountains, the dynamic night life …. Yes, I could go on for quite some time, but shall I sum it up by adding that if it was good enough for Cézanne, it was good enough for us.

Provence, France

Elegant rooms, Villa Gallici

And we have an ideal recommendation for your visit – La Villa Gallici, a charming 22-room mansion  ideally set in a seven-acre hillside garden.  You will relish your Provençal room and private terrace with lovely period furnishings and welcoming toile fabrics, all perfectly suited to the 18th-century honey-colored manor.  Comfort, effortless style and the appeal of just-the-right-size hotel from which to explore Aix-en-Provence makes La Villa a wonderful choice.  And you are but a 15-minute walk from the leafy boulevard of Cours Mirabeau.

Provence, FR

Serene outdoor dining, Aix-en-Provence

 

Despite all of the unique Aix restaurants available, you will want to spend an evening ‘at home’ enjoying dinner on the terrace with a blend of Provençale,  French, Mediterranean dishes and appealing local wines.  Regional specialities range from la soupe au pistou (aioli, garlic and basil vegetable soup) to fougasse bread and calissons.

The engaging concierge will be happy to recommend side trips to the calanques at Cassis or the quaint villages that spread across the Luberon and Cote d’Azur regions.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Idyllic Château in the Midi-Pyrénées

Elegant French retreats

Chateau de la Treyne

I am not an historian, but I understand the reasons for locating various Chateaux in France in strategic locations. Fortifications were extremely important to people threatened from within and without by enemies. But that’s not really my thinking, as I recommend an enchanting holiday in the country.

The desire for hunting and quiet retreats also drove the locations of chateaux and manors. One such place is the Relais & Chateaux-designated Château de la Treyne in the Midi-Pyrénées. Though the original Château’s history goes back, back, back to the religious wars and beyond, the delightful castle that greets visitors today is a wonderful blend of the authentic past with the imprint of today’s modern comforts and amenities.

Remarkable, Scenic Location

The 4-star lodging overhangs the Dordogne River, high on a cliff with magnificent views and French formal gardens – an oasis, it would seem, in the middle of nearly 300 acres of forested land. That alone calls to mind the retreats that served as ‘hunting lodges’ for French royalty.

Your hosts are Philippe and Stéphanie Gombert, who manage to mix warm hospitality and refined décor with an oasis of calm and quiet. Enjoy breakfast under ancient cedars or dine on the terrace overlooking the Dordogne. Naturally fine cuisine is a part of this unique establishment, where the Chef has tapped the goodness of local products and embellished them with his own creative genius.

French Chateau retreats

Stunning riverscape views – Dordogne

You can stay quite close to ‘home’ and enjoy leisurely garden walks, the outdoor heated pool, hiking and biking and canoeing along the river. You are in the “Land of Marvels”, between the Lot and Dordogne Rivers, and your accommodating hosts arrange themed sojourns to help you discover the rich land and many chateaux and villages in the region. You might even jog along the former cliff-side path of the Postman to enjoy scenic river sights.In a land so filled with quiet surprises and historic sites, it is no surprise that the Château de la Treyne is designated one of the “Grand Sites of Midi-Pyrénées”.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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5 Mistakes to Avoid in France

Paris dining

Refreshing gelato along rue Mouffetard, Paris

Following the “When in Rome…” mantra, there are a few things for you to keep in mind as a visitor in France. Out of courtesy and to maximize your experience, observe local customs and traditions. Just making small efforts to appreciate French people and their language yields warm benefits.

1. Parlez vous – Even if your French is minimal or ‘elementary’, begin your conversations or questions in French. In so doing, you acknowledge that you are the guest and you defer politely to the ‘host’. Does that sound terribly ‘Book of Etiquette’? I hope you don’t think so; because we all have our points of pride, and the French have great pride in their language and go to great lengths to preserve it.

Just a few French phrases will earn you smiles … and even warm responses instead of the French shrug. Purchase a simple French phrase book and visit on-line resources for pronunciations. I’ll assume you understand everyone should go armed with please, thank you, hello, my name is….etc. Others to learn might be:

Je suis désole I’m sorry.

Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.

S’il vous plait – J’ai une question (probléme) Please – I have a question/problem.

The small amount of time and effort you apply to learning a few phrases will yield incalculable results! (And by the way, if your French is painful to them, they will speak to you in English!)

2. Lunch breaks & tipping – Don’t fight the noon to 2 p.m. break, when everything is closed. Everything. As in banks, brocantes, fashion houses, boutiques. Yes, the occasional supermarket might be open; but for the most part cafés and brasseries and restaurants steal the mid-day thunder … and business. Yes, we are used to tipping handsomely for good service; but that’s not the way in France, where the tip already is included in your meal cost.

3.  About those ‘strangers’ – Don’t grin your way down the street with a happy American smile for every stranger. You might be from the deep South or the frozen North, but French people don’t extend blanket friendliness to complete strangers. That is not to say they won’t be friendly; they just don’t spread the sunshine on their faces quite as much as we do. Unless …. we employ those magical French phrases we have learned!

Gien porcelain

Porcelain shopping? Stunning choices – Gien

4. About those ‘friends’ – Strike up a modest friendship, and be prepared to kiss! Pardon? Yes, kiss – sometimes even several times, traditionally twice in Paris- three times (or more) for those from the country or other regions. And I don’t mean planting a grand kiss on the mouth. You’ve seen it in movies or on TV, no doubt; when greeters sort of kiss the air by the cheek on both sides of the head. This subject deserves its very own post, but just flow with the French experience and tradition for now. Don’t be the first to initiate the kiss, but don’t reject this type of greeting or ‘adieu’ kiss either.

5. And speaking of shopping, always greet the store owner/help, when you enter a store. “Bonjour Monsieur/Madame”. Sounds so simple, but I well understand the hesitation and shyness one can feel at first in France. Forget that simple rule, and you might find your shopping experience to be chilly with little, if any, service. And don’t forget your, “Merci, au revoir” on departing.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved. 

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A la Mere de Famille, Paris

Paris chocolates

Appealing French chocolate collection!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a taste must be worth several hundred thousand!  And so it is, indeed, at the oldest chocolate shop in Paris – the fine confiserie and epicerie by the name of A la Mere de Famille.

Tucked away in Montmartre on rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, the store was founded in 1761 and still occupies the original building.  Antique cases and cashier station, displays and vintage tiles simply enhance your visit; where the family  perfected the savoir-faire artisanale to the delight of generations of confectionary … and ice cream lovers.

The marrons and glaces are equally delicious, but the chocolates are definitive works of art.  Superb ingredients, deft artisan skill and the subtle mix of citron and pistache, truffles and caramels –  all contribute to the sublime offerings of A La Mere de Famille.

Paris ice cream

A la mere de famile, Paris

As you can easily imagine, a family (and the addition of  talented Julien Merceron), that takes so much pride in excellence does the same in delivering personal service.  We were residents of Montmartre for several weeks and found the epicerie to be one of our favorites, where widow displays tantalize the palate and lure the heart – perhaps a fresh macarron or truffettes savoyardes today and candied fruit or calissons tomorrow.

A La Famille is the perfect place to pick up assorted chocolates for your ‘hostess’ gift on the way to dinner.  It would seem that excellence has its just rewards because several other Paris locations are available:

rue Montorgueil, 75002
rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006
rue Cler, 75007
rue de la Pompe, 75016
rue Jouffroy d’Abbans, 75017
rue Legendre, 75017

Paris shops

Calissons, marrons – delectable treats of Paris

By all means enjoy shopping at any of their locations, but a visit to the original A La Maison de Mere is de rigueur.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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La Vague d’Or – Saint Tropez

Saint Tropez

Saint Tropez

I suppose if they awarded ten Palme d’Ors for “Best Picture of the Year”, it would rather dilute the meaning. Either you’re the “best”, or you’re one of ten.

And so it is with the esteemed Michelin star system. If the etoiles were handed out like baubles in a Mardi Gras parade, few would pay attention.

Only one French restaurant in Saint Tropez added a third Michelin star to the 2013 guide to top restaurants in France. Chef Arnaud Donckele of La Vague d’Or is now one of only 27 restaurants in France to join the elite three-star club; and at 35, he is the youngest chef to hold that rating.

I suppose if one has to ply one’s trade, one might as well select the French Riviera as the place to do it. Imagine a mix of golden sun, seaside panoramas, parasol pines and passionate cuisine. The restaurant is located in Saint Tropez’s Résidence de la Pinède, where the chef’s fine touch focuses on Mediterranean cuisine with the abundant use of local vegetables and fruits.

My cooking tells my past, my region, my desires.

Our only aim is to give of our best, and during the process of learning

To be worthy of these products and the people who produced them. – Arnaud

La Pinede’s restaurant combines the highest quality ingredients with elegant attentive service – very much the tradition of the Delion family, owners of the esteemed resort. Dine, evenings only, in the refined restaurant or, during the summer, surrounded by umbrella pines on the lovely terrace overlooking the Gulf of Saint Tropez.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Le Grande Cascade Restaurant In Paris

Fine Parisian dining

La Grande Cascade, Paris

There is obvious comfort with finely-aged grandeur at Le Grande Cascade Restaurant in Paris. Once the private pavilion and hunting retreat of Napoleon III, the stately manor now houses an exemplary Michelin-star restaurant with a stunning terrace setting overlooking the shaded Bois de Boulogne.

Not surprisingly the setting is very reminiscent of the wonderful old Tavern on the Green in Manhattan’s Central Park, but this park is Paris’ second largest – over twice as large as the Big Apple prize. The architecture alone is startlingly beautiful with an enormous steel and glass rotunda pavilion that became a restaurant for the World Fair in 1900 – what a remarkable year that must have been in Paris!

Paris France

Elegant interior dining

As impressive as the setting is, even grand architecture and serene grounds cannot hide poor service or less-than-perfect cuisine. No problem for La Grande Cascade.

Chef Frédéric Robert and his able staff offer very tempting gastronomic cuisine with exceptional a la carte offerings and a host of flavorful embellishments – like their renowned and inventive stuffed macaroni! Naturally the clientele tend to mirror the exactingly groomed waiters in tuxedos, so the entire atmosphere is very upscale and Old World.

Imagine, for example, the sensitivity the following scene demonstrates. A group of four friends were dining, and one ordered an extra dish. So that person wouldn’t feel awkward eating ‘alone’, the waiter served each member of the party a small tasting plate.

bois de boulogne Paris

Delightful terrace dining

Classic, wouldn’t you say? The fact is, dining at La Grande Cascade is a memorable occasion unto itself; the food is simply a wonderful partner to the event. I believe we will choose terrace dining, when the weather permits.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.
swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Gourmand DALLOYAU House – Paris

Paris patisserie

Elegant DALLOYAU desserts

Some things in life require few words – like the magnificent gourmet creations at Dalloyau Paris. No, the simple word ‘gourmet’ won’t suffice. Royal orchestrations? Je ne sais pas! With nine shops and tearooms in Paris alone, the Dalloyau artisans have been creating masterful pastries, chocolates and prepared meals since 1682.

Imagine Lollipops Saint-Honoré or Lemon-Raspberry Swirl, Saint-Jacques and Summer Vegetables urchin shell. Each night the chefs and confectioners must dream of expansive kitchens, well-stocked pantries and beaucoup sugar.

Paris gourmet foods

Les Lunch Boxes

The DALLOYAU House also applies their expansive talents to Les Lunch Boxes and business meals – everyday trays that are as healthy as they are enticingly delicious. Sad to say they only deliver in Paris and in the region around Paris; but now you know where to order that special ‘lunch box’ or business luncheon.

Paris DALLOYAU

Les Cocktails

We welcome your comments and suggestions!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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La Bastide Saint-Antoine – Grasse

Cote d'Azur France

La Bastide Saint-Antoine

Isn’t it time to reward yourself to 5-star luxury in the South of France?  Fluff your pillow, set your worries aside and prepare for a dream holiday.

From the heart of Grasse in the South of France, wind your way  up Avenue Henri Dunant, lined with grey stone walls and canopies of parasol pines, to La Bastide Saint-Antoine.  Set in the midst of lush Mediterranean vegetation, the 18th-century retreat welcomes you to pristine comfort overlooking the Bay of Cannes.  Naturally you can’t go wrong with a premiere Relais et Châteaux property, particularly with the perfect blend of the spirit of Provence and refined hospitality.

Enter your special room with antique furnishings, plush linens and your own fireplace; but expect every contemporary amenity needed and desired. “Bio Tea” in my room?  We wouldn’t otherwise consider this choice!

In all seriousness, we can’t imagine a more satisfying combination of tranquility and stimulation – the quiet hills and ancient olive trees, Provençal villages and sun-swept Mediterranean beaches of the Côte d’Azur.

Take in Antibes and Saint-Jean-Cap Ferrat. Discover perfumeries in Grasse and glass-making in Biot.  And see if you can arrange a round of golf at the historic Golf Country Club de Cannes-Mougins, founded in 1923 by the likes of Aga Khan, Prince Pierre of Monaco and Baron Edouard de Rothschild.

In between appealing journeys through the area, return to your country manor for gourmet meals on the terrace overlooking 1,000-year-old olive trees and the perfumed air of Provence.  Then cozy up to the lounge fireplace for an after-dinner drink.   You might even challenge fellow guests to a rousing game of petanque on the boules court near the kitchen garden.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Hôtel d’Europe – Avignon

Avignon 5-star accommodations

Chambre at Hotel d’Europe in Avignon

We’ve found the ideal lodging for a long weekend in Avignon, one of our favorite ancient, walled cities. We happened to be there during the peak of the summer festival, so a calmer weekend in May will be ideal for really enjoying this historic city.

The long list of positive referrals points us to Hôtel d’Europe  for an enticingly comfortable stay. Built as his residence by the Marquis de Graveson in 1580, this lovely five-star hotel enjoys a spectacular setting on one of Avignon’s most beautiful squares. In 1799 the Pierron’s founded the hotel, and in a testament to its fine lineage, Hotel Europe is the only Avignon hotel that appeared in Michelin’s first Guide in 1900.

We’re very much inclined toward mid-sized accommodations, as large hotels seem overwhelming and small gites a little too cozy. With 39 rooms and 5 suites, Hôtel d’Europe applies that deft French touch in low key elegance throughout the common (and not so ‘common’!) areas and spacious, beautifully-appointed guest rooms.

Hotel D'Europe Avignon

Fine cuisine to match the hospitality!

Seasoned travelers in France know well, though, that décor and amenities can quickly be sullied with poor, haughty service.  Not so at this hotel, where welcoming staff help you plan your days of exploring the historic city or the renowned Luberon countryside and welcome your return with a glass of wine at the handsome bar.We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

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Café de France for Mother’s Day

Winter Park FL

Mother’s Day lunch at Cafe de France

Just one of the reasons our son enjoys considerable success in wine sales is his focus on listening and responding to client needs.  Obviously he applies that same talent to personal relationships, because he hosted me for a wonderful mother-son lunch at Café de France for Mother’s Day.

Appealing to the Francophile in me, he chose an especially delightful restaurant in Winter Park, Florida.  I told him how typically French Café de France is – with quaint limited seating, a welcoming warm atmosphere and personable hospitality.

Located on Park Avenue, where few restaurants garner a loyal following for years and years; the restaurant has entertained customers for over 30 years!  In a decidedly upscale and well-traveled community, that feat is record breaking.

Now let me tell you why.  Beyond the inviting atmosphere, mix ultra fresh ingredients and daily preparation on premises with varied daily specials that take advantage of seasonal foods and the chef’s own palate.

French dining Cafe de France

Cafe de France, Winter Park

We began our lunch with Kir Royale – mais oui! – and steak tartare topped with a petite speckled egg.  (I should have asked what kind, but I was too busy enjoying!)  Though I was tempted by the roast beef, I chose a wild mushroom omelette.  It was undoubtedly the most savory I have ever enjoyed thanks to four types of wild mushrooms and touches of gruyère cheese.  Magnifique!

My son, the seafood lover, chose well with Noix de Saint-Jacques – pan-seared scallops with carrot and ginger cream and creamy pearl couscous with leeks.  Naturally, my wine connoisseur chose a light Provençal Rosé to perfect our meal.

My husband and I will return soon to enjoy crêpes au poulet with Mornay sauce … or perhaps crêpes au jambon with gruyère and béchamel.  How we appreciate touches of France in our own back yard.

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

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Restaurant L’Oxalys – Val Thorens

Val Thorens France

Val Thorens at the top of the world

I am not a gourmand in the true sense of the word; but if I am a connoisseur of anything, I earn that ranking in my appreciation of spectacular views. You can imagine, then, how I would be drawn to Restaurant L’Oxalys, literally the highest situated gourmet restaurant in Europe.

In the heart of the Trois Vallees ski region as far east in France as you can travel without reaching Italy, this two-Michelin-star restaurant is yet another ‘diamond’ in an Alpine landscape brimming with jewels. A distinguished member of the Relais & Chateaux organization, L’Oxalys fits well with their selection of luxury restaurants and hotels.

Wisely, the contemporary décor doesn’t try to compete with the panoramic mountain views or the inspired cuisine. An active skier himself, Grand Chef Jean Sulpice pays homage to the dramatic mountains of Val Thorens with inventive creations and the abundant use of local fresh mountain fish, Wine Route wines, honey and high-pasture Reblochon and Beaufort cheeses.

L'Oxalys France

Cuisine as pretty as it is delicious

We all have noticed a certain degree of snobbery can attend fine dining, but no such attitude exists here, either on the side of the staff or the clientele. Perhaps the purity of nature, the relaxed atmosphere and the plentiful talents of the staff come together in just the right measures to deliver a memorable experience.At L’Oxalys you might be directed to eat your little trio of hors d’oeuvres in a certain order or six tiny desserts in the same manner. Fine chefs understand the science of taste as well as watercolorists understand the order of paint colors. Each blends together in the right order and measure to deliver a masterpiece.

By all means, end your dining experience at L’Oxalys with coffee and dessert on the balcony overlooking the land. We suspect you will forever remember this dining experience!

Restaurant L'Oxalys We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Château Puech-Haut – Elegant Rosés

Puech Haut, Languedoc

Exceptional Languedoc wine

What better subject to identify regional favorites than Languedoc wines!   We recently enjoyed a lovely Languedoc wine that had an elegant glass stopper in lieu of a cork.   While that unique feature captured our attention, the delightful Rosé in the bottle was “Le précieux nectar” promised by Château Puech-Haut!

With summer – at least in Florida – just around the proverbial corner, it’s time to think of light, chilled rosés.  The very refined Château Puech-Haut Cuvee Prestige couldn’t make a more elegant statement for your dinner table or a special gift to friends.  Their now-famous glass stopper – with a rose ‘blush’ – simply anoints the entire experience.

Château Puech-Haut is one of the prestigious types of wine producers in Languedoc referred to as récoltants – vintners who make and bottle their own wine on the premises.  Most supermarkets, for example, stock négociant or co-op wines.  The first buys and mixes together other people’s wines in great quantity; the latter pools grapes from all area growers to make wine.  Generally, mass production yields cheaper wine without the deft personal touch of the récoltant producer.

Château Puech-Haut continues to produce excellent wines from 400+ acres of vineyards in the Languedoc countryside of southern France.  The soil, climate and grape varieties of the 40- to 75-year old vines interact perfectly to yield exceptional wines.

As much as we enjoyed our introduction to their Cuvee Prestige, nothing compares with visiting a vineyard for a tasting and loading up the trunk of the car with a couple of cases of wine.  We look forward to that!

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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French Kitchens – Classic & Classy!

Julia Child French kitchen

Julia’s Smithsonian kitchen

Julia Child’s kitchen resurrected at the Smithsonian – now THAT’s a famous cuisine!

I have so many Francophile preferences – for windows and light, for colorful textiles and pottery, for old rush-seat chairs and for ‘imperfect’ touches that underscore the real life lived in that lovely kitchen.

We neither need nor want grand décor – though one of those classic French stoves by Lacanche would be perfectly acceptable! I think I’d settle quite well with a nice square kitchen with big windows. Some open shelves could hold old copper and brightly-colored pottery casserole dishes.

French design

The Cluny French range by Lancanche

As I do now, I’d have space on the counter for my copper basket filled with potatoes; and the coffee-fixin’ area would have everything within easy reach. A colorful Provençal pitcher next to the range would hold my handled kitchen utensils, and a handsome French lamp would shed light over the aged country table and chairs.

Now, doesn’t that sound like the perfect place to fix a lovely French Onion soup….and sweet raspberry and chocolate crepes? There I go back to My French Neighbor for their exceptional Dijon mustard, because savory vinaigrette would be the perfect touch for a salad to go with the soup.

Daydreams are such fun. Enjoy your own today and, who knows? You just might make your way to a bric-a-brac store to find a fresh addition for your kitchen.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Discover Haute-Savoie Gîtes & Lodging

Chinaillon France

Hearty mountain cuisine in the Alps

Sometimes we are so fickle in cherry-picking our favorite memories and places or in evaluating what we might have done differently in traveling through France.  Annecy is just one example of an incredibly charming lakeside city, in which we wish we had spent more time…like settling in for a week of exploring the Alpine countryside.

C’est la vie – after a day and a night, we sought out the local office of the Gîtes de France for help in reserving a room in the area.  If you are not familiar with the organization, the Gîtes de France developed the first European network of ‘homestay’ accommodations and celebrated 50 years of service in 2005.  They focus on rural areas and promote hospitable and comfortable tourist stays.  Their latest count of offerings was 43,000 French homesteads that open their unique homes to welcome tourists.

Alpine France

Gorgeous Alpine villages near Chinaillon

The GDF helped us to reserve a charming room in the little village of Chinaillon, just up the road … or mountain from Annecy.  Though we vowed to return to that gorgeous city, the Alpine countryside began to weave its’ spell around us.A couple of roosters welcomed us in our ‘car park’, and a few hikers passed by on trails up the hillside looming behind our gîte.  The owners – Isabelle and Jean Louis – were very pleasant, and each morning we joined with other guests (5 or 6) for a nice breakfast, before taking to the local roads to explore.

Over a three-day period, we simply wandered … along winding roads that rose to offer spectacular, flower-framed views, before dropping down into one charming village after another … through artisan hamlets and chapel-centered bourgs… over to the Mont Blanc tunnel, where we emerged in Aosta, Italy and wound our way back to our little village for a warm café meal.

When you plan your adventures in France, we heartily recommend you stay a bit in the Haute-Savoie region.  For all of the other benefits, surely the Savoyard cuisine and famous regional Reblochon cheese will reward your decision for all time!

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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