Monday, June 30, 2014

Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe? Hotel Raphael's terrace has outstanding views of both monuments!

View of the Eiffel Tower from the Raphael's terrace

It's summertime in Paris. A time to sit outside, soak up the sunshine and revel in the warm weather. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing some of my favorite terraces in the city with you. Since I'll need photos for the posts, it will give me an excellent reason to re-visit some of my preferred spots and discover new ones!

First up is the magnificent Raphael La Terrasse. Located on the seventh floor of the Hotel Raphael, the rooftop terrace offers some of the most stunning panoramic views of the city: the Eiffel Tower on one side and the Arc de Triomphe on the other! The hidden nooks and crannies created by precisely trimmed boxwood and fruit trees make it the perfect place to linger over a romantic meal or relax with friends.

A bottle of Perrier-Jouët champagne was chilling on ice and the scent of roses wafted through the air when I made an impromptu visit to the terrace around 4:30 last Thursday afternoon. With the lunchtime crowd back at work and the hotel's guests out exploring the city, only a few of the tables were full. It was quite a contrast from the times when Stéphane and I have passed by La Terrasse on the weekend and tried (always unsuccessfully!) to get a table.

To reach the terrace, pass through the lobby, with its rich wood paneling and oil paintings by old masters, to the rear of the hotel. On the left hand side, you'll spot a charmingly old-fashioned elevator. Take it to the 7th floor terrace. When the doors open, enter the verdant oasis with its breathtaking 360-degree view of Paris. Enjoy!

Raphael La Terrasse
17, Avenue Kléber
75016 Paris

Lunch: Monday to Friday from 12:30 - 2:00 pm (Reservations required)
Dinner: Monday to Friday from 7:30 - 10:00 pm (Reservations required)
Bar: Every day from 4:00 pm

With special thanks to Élodie Berta of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau for telling me about Raphael La Terrasse. Click here if you would like to read about some of Élodie's other tips for visiting Paris.

View of the Arc de Triomphe from the Raphael's terrace

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Celebrating the 4th of July (American Independence Day) in Paris

Statue of Liberty in Paris

Wondering where to celebrate the 4th of July in Paris? Here are a couple of ideas.

The American Church in Paris will host an old-fashioned 4th of July party, featuring BBQ, Bluegrass music and lots of fun from 5:00 until 10:00 pm. A children's corner will have face-painting and games.

Entrance to the party is free but tickets must be purchased for food, drink, games and rides.

American Church of Paris 
65 Quai d'Orsay, 75007 

The Mona Bismarck American Center is celebrating with a "Talk and Tasting" featuring Thomas Abramowicz of The Beast: Maison Deviandes Fumées (Smoked Meat House), a soon-to-open Texas-style barbecue joint in the Marais, and Thomas Deck and Mike Donahue of the new craft brewery Deck & Donahue. The event will be animated with music by Irina. Meet the artisans and sample their products during an aperitif/picnic from 6:00 until 9:00 pm.

Mona Bismarck American Center
34 avenue de New York, 75116
RSVP before June 27 rsvp @ - €30 per person payable at the entrance.

Meetup's Americans and Internationals Group has organized a special "July 4th Celebration" at Café de la Presse. The venue is fully privatized for their group and has a maximum capacity of 450 people. It also has a large terrace, two bars, dance floor, stage and restaurant seating upstairs. 

Entrance to the 4th of July party, is €10 per person, which includes a free drink. There will be free finger food during Happy Hour (until 10:30 pm). American comfort food is on the menu all night long: hot dog €5; fries €5; burgers €8. American movies will play during Happy Hour and dinner. Afterwards,  the party starts on the dance floor with the DJ playing memorable hits.

Café de la Presse
36 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012

If you would like to add some culture to your 4th of July celebration, Context Travel is offering their regular "Le Jazz Hot, An American Art Form in Paris" tour at 5:30 pm. The tour, which is €65 per person, ends near one of Paris’ premier jazz clubs where you can enjoy an evening show.

Breakfast-in-America, Blues Bar-B-Q and Ralph's (as in Ralph Lauren) are restaurants serving American food.

For a uniquely "American in Paris" experience, picnic on the Île aux Cygnes, an artificially made island in the Seine, with Lady Liberty. Access the island from either Pont de Birhakeim or Pont de Grenelle.

From 2:00 until 5:00 pm on July 5, a representative of the Union of Overseas voters will be at Shakespeare & Company to help Americans register to vote.

Please let me know if I missed any Independence Day events!

Statue of Liberty on the  Île aux Cygnes in Paris

Saturday, June 28, 2014

New Books: "Dining Out in Paris" and "Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City"

Tom Reeves of "Paris Insights" presenting his new book,
"Dining Out in Paris: What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light"

Have you ever wondered about the differences between a brasserie, bistrot, café and restaurant? Has it ever struck you as odd that a highly recommended Parisian eatery is devoid of diners at 7:00 pm? If so, be sure to take a look at Tom Reeve's Dining Out in Paris: What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light.

At the launch party for his new e-book last week, Reeves explained that he wanted to provide first-time and return travelers to Paris with the sort of information that he and his wife Monique wished they would have had when they first arrived in France.

Thierry Poincin of En Vrac 

In addition to demystifying French dining culture, Dining Out in Paris includes reviews for twelve of the author's favorite restaurants, as well as interviews with the owners. The launch party was held at En Vrac (2, rue L’Olive, 75018 Paris; tel.:, a wine bar selling a selection of natural wines in bottle or in bulk. Thierry Poincin, a wine shop owner for 20 years, explained that buying wine in bulk is simple. Customers fill their own bottle with the wine of their choice, or they can pay a small deposit for a cool "En Vrac" French lemonade bottle. The sulfite free wines are ecological, economical and enjoyable to drink. En Vrac also serves cheese and charcuterie platters.

Purchasing wine in bulk has become so popular that Poincin opened a new location at 69 rue Maubeuge in the 10th arrondissement this week.

Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City

If you're one of the women who eagerly awaits the arrival of Heather Stimmler-Hall's bi-monthly newsletter "Secrets of Paris", you'll be delighted to know that the second edition of her award-winning travel guide, Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City is available for a limited time.

In a video shot in her local café, Stimmler-Hall asks readers to show their support by making a token pledge to her Kickstarter campaign prior to July 8. The cost? Less than a "(crappy) cup of coffee". The official campaign goal of $20,000 is to raise funds for the printing of her guide.

According to the description of Naughty Paris on Kickstarter, the revised, improved and expanded second edition with 352 pages and 295 photos includes:

  • How Parisian women embrace pleasure and beauty in their everyday lives
  • How to flirt like a local and decode French pick-up lines
  • Intimate hotels and packing tips to set the scene for seduction
  • The best Parisian fashion boutiques, beauty salons, and perfume shops
  • Lessons in pole dance, striptease, pastry-making, or finding your personal style
  • Erotic museums, art galleries, and book shops to get you in the mood
  • Female-owned boutiques specializing in naughty toys, lingerie and fetishwear
  • Drinking, dining, and afternoon tea recommendations for couples or solo ladies
  • The best clubs and cocktail bars for mingling with the locals
  • Kinky cabarets, burlesque shows, and masked costume balls
  • An introductory peek into swingers’ clubs, fetish parties and couples-only parties
  • Useful vocabulary and detailed resources for finding more information 

Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City

Friday, June 27, 2014

KIA Cabana - A Brazilian paradise with a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower

KIA Cabana in Paris until July 13, 2014

Something odd is happening in Paris. The metro and cafés are full of people with unusual blue, white and red marks on their faces. Cries of joy, occasionally punctuated by screams of despair, emanate from the open windows of apartment buildings. People with French tricolor flags draped around their necks shout Allez les Bleus at the top of their lungs. The diagnosis is clear. Parisians have World Cup fever.

One of the hippest places to watch the soccer games is KIA Cabana, a Brazilian oasis moored near the Pont Alexandre III. Last Sunday, Donna and I finagled our way onto the "reservation only" barge, kicked off our shoes and wiggled our feet in the sand. Who needs to travel to Rio de Janeiro when you can sip a fresh fruit juice or cocktail while relaxing on a Brazilian beach in Paris?

Even though KIA Cabana is already fully reserved for all of the soccer matches, it's still possible to enjoy the stunning riverside views of the Eiffel Tower during off-peak hours. Simply click on "Visitez KIA Cabana" and complete the online reservation form for your preferred date/time. Entrance is free.

Starting on Monday, June 30, soccer fans can watch live-streaming of the World Cup games on a giant screen in of the Hôtel de Ville. Allez les Bleus!

Click here to view more photos of KIA Cabana.

KIA Cabana in Paris until July 13, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Perhaps the most confidential address in Paris - Le Bar à Rosés (Rosé Bar) at the Saint James Club

It doesn't get much better than this! Le Bar à Rosés (Rosé Bar) at the Saint James Club.

"Why didn't I know about this place? I've lived in Paris for eight years and I've never been here. What a waste of time. I want to move in ... tonight!" That's how Donna of Best Friend in Paris greeted me when I arrived at the Saint James' ephemeral Rosé Bar last night. Even though her rapid fire exclamations made it impossible for me to get a word in edgewise, I understood exactly how she felt. The Saint James Club is the kind of place that you really want to know about. It's enchanting!

As an ode to the days when the property served as Paris' first airfield for hot air balloons, Franco-American designer Bambi Sloan installed fanciful balloons and old-fashioned glass houses in the garden. The result is a magical terrace in the heart of the exclusive Sixteenth Arrondissement.

Terrace restaurant at the Saint James Club

The Saint James, a majestic Napolean III residence, was built by Madame Dosne-Thiers as a memorial to her husband, Adolph Thiers, President of the French Republic, in 1892. As part of the Thiers Foundation, it served as a residence for France's most talented students for nearly a hundred years. In 1986, the neo-classical mansion was turned into a gentlemen's club by a British businessman. Although it continues to function as a private club, it's also the city's only château-hotel.

Non-members are invited to enjoy the Michelin-starred restaurant serving the cuisine of Chef Virginie Basselot, the cozy library-bar and the terrace after 7:00 pm and for Sunday brunch. Head barman Judicaël Noël has created a couple of rosy drinks for the summer: the Pink Panther, with vodka, fresh strawberries, Malibu and ginger, and Paradize, with Vodka, Saint Germain, fresh passion fruit and kiwi, basil and spicy sirup.

Summertime is a time for dreams and whimsical flights of fancy. It's for long evenings spent chatting with friends, old and new, over glasses of rosé in a jasmine scented garden. Don't wait eight years to go to the Saint James Club. Go tonight, or at least before le Bar à Rosés (Rosé Bar) closes on September 30, 2014!

The Saint James Club also serves one of my favorite brunches (11:30 am - 4:00 pm) in Paris. Reservations are required. Click here to read my review: Stéphane's pick of the day: brunch at Saint James Club.

Thanks to the delightful Ruth of Smash Porcelaine and her charming Parisian husband, Joe, for joining us and making our evening even more enjoyable.

Note: I'm still trying to figure out if it would have been less expensive for each of us to get a glass of Sancerre rosé (12 euros) or a bottle (60 euros).

Click here to view more photos on Facebook.

Saint James Club
43 Avenue Bugeaud
75116 Paris
tel: +33 (0)1 44 05 81 81

Saint James Club

Monday, June 23, 2014

Martin Pouret: The Last of the Traditional Vinegar Makers in France

Martin Pouret, producing vinegar the traditional way since 1797

I've been making vinaigrette for years. It's my favorite salad dressing. But, much to my disappointment, I've never been able to duplicate my regular vinaigrette while visiting family back home. Does the olive oil give it a different flavor, or perhaps the salt? These are the questions that swirled in my mind as I minced a shallot for some vinaigrette during my recent trip to the USA. Suddenly, it hit me. It's the vinegar!

Not surprisingly, for a country that produces excellent wine, there are some delectable vinegars in France. On a busy street on the northern periphery of Orléans, an ancient city on the Loire River, you'll find the country's last traditional vinegar maker, Martin Pouret.

In 1394, Orléans became the home of the newly formed "Vinegar, Sauce and Mustard" makers guild, after which a royal decree limited vinegar production to this city. During the Middle Ages, its network of waterways made Orléans the logical place to offload Bordeaux wine that had soured en route to Paris. Not only was vinegar used in sauces and as an eau de toilette, it was diluted with water for a thirst quencher and valued for its medicinal properties. By the late eighteenth century, the vinegar business was booming.

For 500 years, Orléans was known for its vinegar, but it lost its natural advantage as a port with the arrival of the railroad in the mid-19th century. Of the 200 to 300 traditional vinegar makers, only one remains today.

Jean-Francois Martin in the fermenting room.

During the short drive to Martin Pouret, our guide warned us that the scent of fermenting vinegar is rather pungent. But nothing could have prepared me for the acidic aroma emanating from the 3,000 oak barrels in the fermentation room. The smell was as impenetrable as a solid wall between me and Jean-Francois Martin, the 6th generation vinegar maker, who explained the traditional Orléans process. Not wanting to look like an American wimp, I wrapped my scarf around my nose for a quick foray into the room. My eyes watered as I snapped some blurry photos of the oak barrels before hastily retreating.

Whereas industrial production in giant steel tanks turns thousands of gallons of wine into vinegar within the short span of 24 hours, the slower traditional process requires three weeks. The payoff is that it produces a vinegar with greater intensity and depth -- perfect for vinaigrette.

Classic Vinaigrette

3 T vinegar
4 T olive oil
1 t Dijon mustard
Fleur de Sel

Depending on what I have on hand, I also like to add shallots, a little bit of milk or yogurt, crushed garlic and herbs. Combine all of the ingredients with a whisk or in a shaker.

236 Faubourg Bannier
45400 Fleury Orléans                                                                    

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday's picture and a song: "Le premier bonheur du jour" by Françoise Hardy

Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.
-William Arthur Ward

Have a wonderful Sunday!

For more photos, information about upcoming events and insider's tips, visit "Out and About in Paris" on Facebook. You don't need to have a Facebook account to view the page. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

What's that smell? Send and receive electronic aroma messages with the oPhone

Laurent Milan, Rachel Field and Harvard professor David Edwards

Imagine the smell of a freshly baked baguette, creamy Bordier butter from Normandy, homemade strawberry jam and a frothy café au lait. Breakfast in Paris. Now, imagine taking a photo of your breakfast and sending a text message, along with the accompanying aromas, to your friends back home. If that sounds like something out of the future, think again.

Last night, Harvard professor David Edwards and former student Rachel Field presented the oPhone (“o” for olfactory), a revolutionary device that allows you to send and receive electronic aroma messages, to an enthusiastic crowd at Le Laboratoire in Paris. With oSnap, the accompanying app, users tag photographs with unique scents, which are then sent via text message, Facebook or Twitter.

oPhone launch party at Le Laboratoire in Paris

Earlier this week, Edwards sent the first trans-Atlantic olfactory message -- fresh bread, orange juice and strawberries -- from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to his colleagues across the ocean in Paris. They responded by transmitting the aroma of macarons and champagne.

"Scent is the world's natural tweet, because it takes just a few seconds to get a scent," Edwards told Fast Company. "The notion of people saying, 'I miss you in New York,' by sending a scent is really interesting and powerful. Or imagine taking a scent selfie and posting it on Facebook."

But did Edwards really transmit the smell of a New York breakfast to his friends in Paris? Not exactly. The oPhone, which is designed to sit on a table or desk, allows users to mix and match different scents to create more than 300,000 unique aromas. The device uses small cartridges called oChips to send 32 "primitive aromas" through the device's two receivers. The oChips are good for hundreds of uses and can be replaced when the aroma is depleted.

Too bad I can't embed an aroma message in this post.
These strawberries smelled amazing.

Nibbling on a strawberry dipped in Pop Rocks frosting at the oPhone launch party, I chatted with a young couple who spoke of aromas that triggered powerful memories from their past: a grandmother's favorite perfume, chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven and the salty smell of the ocean. Vapor Communications, the company created by Edwards and Field, is betting that we'll want to share our favorite sensory experiences with others via electronic communication. I think they're right.

If you would like to support this revolutionary new product, oPhone has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Their goal is to raise $150,000 by July 31, 2014.

In April, I visited Le Laboratoire to sample WikiPearls, bite-size pieces of food wrapped in edible packaging, with my friend Abby of Paris Weekender. Click here to read her post, Eating Our Way Through Le Laboratoire

Testing the oPhone in Paris

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Walking Catie Copley - Boston's Most Famous Dog and the Fairmont Copley Plaza's Canine Ambassador

Out and About in Boston with Catie Copley

First of all, let's set things straight. When I showed up at the Concierge's desk for my 9:30 am appointment with Catie Copley and naively asked where I should take the black Labrador for her morning walk, the receptionist placed the canine ambassador's leash in my hand and said not to worry. "Catie," she declared, "will walk you."

Having originally trained as a guide dog in New York City, the 13 year-old black Labrador was hired as a full-time staff member at Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza in 2004 after a visit to her veterinarian revealed a mild vision problem. On the day of our walk, Catie arrived at the hotel with concierge Joseph (Joe) Fallon when he began his shift at 7:00 am. In addition to greeting guests with a friendly wag of her tail and posing for photos in the hotel's ornate lobby, Catie has her own e-mail address and sends care packages to other dogs staying at the Copley Plaza.

After walking Catie Copley, I saw an Old Town Trolley Tours stopped in front of the
Copley Plaza and overheard the guide telling visitors about Boston's most famous dog.

Catie's nails clicked down the mosaic-tiled hallway, known as "Peacock Alley" for the elegantly dressed men and women who have frequented the hotel since its opening in 1912, as she led me towards the main entrance. When we passed Catie's red dog house, a talking point for Boston tour guides, I suddenly wondered if I should have brought along some of Catie's business cards and paw autographs for her many admirers. But even though she's a star, Catie hasn't let fame go to her head. Boston's most famous dog magnanimously greeted all of her fans with a happy tail wag.

Concierge Joe Fallon frequently escorts the black Labrador to schools in the Boston area, where the book Catie Copley is a favorite, and to local charity events. Much to the delight of the Copley Plaza's younger guests, Catie recently made an appearance on PBS Kids' "Who's that Dog".

While the idea of pet ambassadors isn't new -- the Peabody in Memphis has ducks and Le Bristol in Paris has a cat -- Catie gets my vote for making people feel at home. Catie is so popular with the hotel's regular guests that those wishing to walk her are advised to book three months in advance. The Copley Plaza recently hired another Black Labrador, 4 year-old Carly Copley, who is equally adept at charming visitors.

Fairmont Copley Plaza
138 St James Ave, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
(617) 267-5300

Catie Copley by Deborah Kovacs is available in the hotel's boutique.
Catie Copley doing what she does best -- interacting with a guest.
Catie Copley - Boston's Most Famous Dog and the Fairmont Copley Plaza's Canine Ambassador