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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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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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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!

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

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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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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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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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