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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.

We’d love to hear from you!

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!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc

Cote d'Azur

Seaside pool of the Hotel Cap du-Eden-Roc

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!

Eden Roc, France

Love the ‘scanty’ suits of 1932

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.

 

We’d love to hear from you!

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Provençal Retreat – La Cabro d’Or & Spa

Avignon France

Tranquil gardens of La Cabro d’Or

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.

at home near Avignon FR

Exceptional cuisine in a warm setting

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.

historic sites of Provence

Daudet’s Moulin, Provence

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.”

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005, 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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Paris Dining Guides

Fabulous Paris retaurants

La Grande Cascade – Paris

Whether you have visited Paris one or a hundred times, you will always be on the lookout for excellent dining choices.  We have enjoyed scenic park-  and riverside dining, simple bistros and elegant brasseries; and we always welcome new information and insider tips.

Allow LuxeEuro to introduce a valuable resource for your Paris trip planning and search for dining options.  There are so many excellent choices for atmosphere, price and cuisine; and Paris Best Restaurants provides an exceptional guide. Easy to use. Comprehensive.  Reservations and ‘coupons’ available.

The team at Paris Best includes food addicts, who aim to provide visitors with up-to-date information about the best restaurants in Paris.  They are independent, with no commercial relationship with the restaurants they list; and as important, they are well organized with listings by categories of cuisine and arrondissements. Cuisine categories run the gamut from Michelin-starred and Brunch options to Terrace & Garden and Exceptional Views.

Beyond helpful menus and prices, they include reviews that simply add more detail and credibility to help you make your choice. Let’s look at a couple of listings.

In the 16th arrondissement, La Grande Cascade is a rather fascinating choice in an ancient hunting lodge dating back to Napoléon III. Discreetly poised in Bois de Boulogne, the restaurant is especially nice on sunny days on the pleasant terrace. The gastronomic cuisine from chef Frédéric Robert includes a la carte offerings like Roasted Filet de Saint-Pierre with almond, summer truffles in ravioli, butter à la parisienne and far more. Definitely haute cuisine Française!

One of Paris’ most historic – and famous – restaurants overlooks the Place du Tertre on

Paris restaurants

Place du Tertre, Montmartre

Montmartre. Founded by Catherine Lemoine in 1793, Chez la Mère Catherine is warm and inviting with traditional and rustic antiques. The ever-evolving typical French cuisine includes Honey Confit of Suckling Pig, Ginger Grilled Frog’s Legs and Sea bream with Mango Coulis. Cabaret singers entertain every evening, while you enjoy your dinner in the romantic atmosphere of the Montmartre village.

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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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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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

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

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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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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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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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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

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

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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

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

 

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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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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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