Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Throw your bra against breast cancer! Pink Bra Bazaar's annual bra toss at the Eiffel Tower on March 29, 2015.

Pink Bra Bazaar's annual bra toss at the Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Pink Bra Spring.
Sunday, March 29 at 3 pm, Esplanade du Trocadéro
Ultra-feminine rendez-vous in support of breast health awareness.

I Love My Boobs - J'aime mes seins !
by Julia Palombe Pink Bra Bazaar.

SING with us in the fight against breast cancer!

DANCE with the most beautiful burlesque dancers in Paris and learn the first steps in knowing your breasts.

START your bra in celebration of breast health.

JOIN US with your bras!

Team Pink Bra Bazaar

Pink Bra Bazaar on Facebook.

(Pink Bra Bazaar is a charitable organization dedicated to breast health education and supporting women with breast cancer. Registered Charity.)

Pink Bra Bazaar's annual bra toss at the Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Pink Bra Spring.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Napoleon Bonaparte returns to Paris on March 20, 2015!

French lawyer Frank Samson plays Napoleon as part of the bicentenary celebrations. Photo credit / AP

On March 20, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte entered Paris triumphantly and began his "Hundred Days" rule before his eventual defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

Two hundred years later, on March 20, 2015, Napoleon will once again return to the Tuileries. Frank Samson, a 47 year old French lawyer from Orléans, will play the role of the Emperor.

To mark the occasion, there will be an historical reenactment of the Emperor's return from his exile in Elba at the Carrousel du Louvre. 30 cavalry, 60 infantryman with fifes and drums, the ambulance of Dr Larrey (Surgeon of the Grand Army) and the Field Kitchen of the Grand Army will be in attendance.

The 200th anniversary of Waterloo will be marked by a two-day re-enactment on the battlefield, just south of Brussels, with 5,000 soldiers, 300 horses and 100 cannon on June 18.

The re-enactment will take place at the Arc de Triomphe at the Louvre Carrousel.

Le Souvenir napoléonien (Official website with complete information and schedule in French)
The Emperor rides once again in Paris streets (Interesting article in the New Zealand Herald)

French lawyer Frank Samson plays Napoleon as part of the bicentenary celebrations.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Club RaYé, a stylish cocktail and piano bar in Paris

Club RaYé, a cocktail and piano bar in Paris 

Tucked away on the cobblestoned Rue Dussoubs in the 2nd arrondissement, Club RaYé is the kind of place people hope to serendipitously stumble across while strolling the streets of Paris. Thanks to a tip about the city's most stylish piano bar from French chanteuse Caroline Nin, I was pleased to have the opportunity to check out the recently opened Club RaYé when a group of friends and I met there for Happy Hour drinks last July.

The first thing you notice upon entering Club RaYé is that almost everything, with the exception of some distinctive accents, is black and white. The chairs are black. The tablecloths are white. The waiters wear black and white striped vests. Even the popcorn that accompanies the drinks is a mixture of black and white. And, the straws are ...  you guessed it ... black and white, too!

What I didn't know during my initial visit is that both the building in which the piano bar is located and its owner Kein Cross have very interesting histories. The aha moment came last week when Kein offered to give Donna and me a tour of his entire establishment, including the private party space "Club Kafka" in the basement. I could see the wheels turning in Donna's head as we listened to Kein describe the challenges he had faced while renovating what was formerly a 13th century nunnery. When Kein mentioned that he had also restored an 18th-century courtyard house in the Marais, everything clicked and Donna asked if he had been featured in an article in the New York Times.

It turns out that Kein is a well-known designer from New York who had fulfilled his lifelong dream by moving to Paris in 2011. His trademark is black and white stripes, hence the name Club RaYé.

Charcuterie and cheese plate at Club RaYé.

Whether it's the stylish design, nightly musical events, inventive cocktails created by the Sicilian bartender, or surprisingly good food,  it's clear that Kein has set some high standards for his piano bar. All that you need to do is relax, listen to the music and enjoy!

For an extra special evening, check the event calendar to see when Caroline Nin is performing. At the moment, she's there on Friday night.

Club RaYé
26 Rue Dussoubs
75002 Paris, France
Tel: 01 40 13 72 93
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm to midnight

Click here to read Club RaYé's 5/5 reviews on TripAdvisor.

One of the intimate private rooms at Club RaYé 
Black and white stripes in the bathroom, with an environmentally friendly sink. The water drains into the tank of the toilet.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Elegant and refined. Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin presents "Harcourt, le dessert" by pastry chef David Doualan!

Harcourt, le dessert created by Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin and pastry chef David Doualan 

Life is short. Eat dessert first!

This morning started the way that every morning should -- with a dessert tasting at Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin's Cristal Room.

To better understand the significance of "Harcourt, le dessert", it helps to know a little bit about the history of Baccarat's iconic Harcourt glass. In 1841, when King Louis-Philippe ordered a ceremonial chalice engraved with his royal monogram from Baccarat, the French monarch and his guests were completely charmed by its innovative design. The like of this exceptional piece, with its six-cut crystal facets and hexagonal foot, had never been seen before. For more than 170 years, Harcourt glasses have been adorning the tables of royalty, statesmen and aristocracy around the world, from the Vatican in Rome to the Elysée Palace in Paris and French embassies in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Pastry chef David Doualan and Michelin-starred chef Guy Martin

As an homage to Baccarat's Harcourt glass, pastry chef David Doualan has replicated its graceful form in edible white chocolate. Given the delicateness of the material, it was no small feat! Sensing our reluctance to break something so exquisite, Doualan assured us that we could eat the perfectly proportioned white chocolate glass. But first, we savored the heart of the dessert, a harmonious combination of pistachio cream topped with wild strawberries, miniature vanilla marshmallows and gold flakes. King Louis Philippe and his guests would have been as enthusiastic about Harcourt, le dessert as they were about the glass for which it was named.

From March 28, Harcourt, le dessert will be available for your tasting pleasure.  

11, place des Etats-Unis
75116 Paris
Métro Boissière
Tél : 01 40 22 11 10
Open from Monday to Saturday with valet parking for lunch (12:00 to 2:00 pm) and dinner (7:30-10:00 pm).

Cristal Room Baccarat

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Navigate the Canal de l'Ourcq with a Marin d'Eau Douce electric boat. No permit required!

Marin d'Eau Douce electric boats on the Bassin de la Villette in Paris

Spring is getting ready for her annual knockout performance in Paris. During last weekend's dress rehearsal, she reminded us why songs have been written about her charm and warm embrace. Hipsters with picnics, books and assorted electronic devices lined the Canal Saint-Martin and the Bassin de la Villette. Others Parisians focused their full attention on a tiny orange ball, the "piglet", while playing convivial games of pétanque with their friends. Saturday and Sunday were a glorious promise of what's yet to come.

People enjoying a spectacular Sunday afternoon at the Bassin de la Villette in Paris

To celebrate spring's early arrival, Stéphane and I decided to do something that we had tried and failed to do last summer. Despite our tenacity, we hadn't been able to reserve an electric self-drive boat from Marin d'Eau Douce. This popular new initiative in sustainable tourism, which had received a lot of French press last spring, was so overwhelmed by enthusiastic customers wanting to cruise the Bassin de la Villette and Canal de l’Ourcq that it was necessary to book one of their 15 electric boats weeks in advance.

Thinking that we would have a better chance of securing a boat at the beginning of March than in the middle of July, Stéphane clicked on the "Réservez ici" button early Sunday morning. Lots of other people must have had the same idea because the only remaining slot was from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. We decided to jump on the opportunity even though we wouldn't be able to cover much of the 40 kilometers (25 miles) of navigable waterways in 60 minutes.

We arrived at the Bassin de la Villette around 4:50 pm, which gave us plenty of time to complete the paperwork, pay the security deposit and sip a glass of rosé at the marina café. After a short briefing about how to operate the electric boat, Captain Stéphane and I were underway.

La Géode (geodesic dome) at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, the biggest science museum in Europe

Leaving the bohemian charms of the Bassin de la Villette, Stéphane navigated our boat under the Pont de Crimée, the oldest hydraulic lift bridge in Paris. Suddenly, the landscape changed. We were in the futuristic Parc de la Villette with its geodesic dome, raised walkways and the largest science museum in Europe, the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie. As we had extended our boat rental to 90 minutes, we were able to cruise along the Canal de l’Ourcq until we saw the Grands Moulins de Pantin in the distance. The recently restored industrial flour mills were our signal to turn around. Next time, Stéphane and I are going to rent a boat for at least half a day. There's still a lot that we want to see!

Practical tips: If you would like to rent a boat during the weekend, reserve in advance. The good news for tourists is that boats are more readily available during the week. The bad news is that the website for Marin d'Eau Douce is only in French. I hope that will change soon.

Marin d'Eau Douce offers three different sizes of boats. You do not need a license to drive them. The largest can accommodate a group of 11 people. So, invite some friends, pack a picnic and discover a part of Paris that you may not have visited yet. The rental rate for the five person boat L'Ace is 40 euros per hour. For an additional fee, you can add a bottle of champagne, an aperitif or anniversary basket, or even pétanque balls.

Marin d'eau douce
37 Quai de la Seine
75019 Paris
Tel: 01 42 09 54 10 

Admiring the sunset while waiting for the Pont de Crimée, the oldest the oldest hydraulic lift bridge in Paris, to be raised.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

L'Hermione sets sail for the United States on April 18, 2015!

L'Hermione's return to Rochefort in November 2014

"Why don't we drive to Geneva via Chavaniac-Lafayette?"

While another woman may have questioned the logic of adding four hours to the already long drive to the Amalfi Coast, Stéphane knew that I would be tempted by his seemingly outlandish proposal for our upcoming trip to Italy. After all, the Marquis de Lafayette has been the impetus behind so many of our recent travels that it only seems logical for us to swing by the Frenchman's ancestral château in the Auvergne region in April.

If you'll be anywhere near the east coast of the United States in June and July 2015, Stéphane and I have a Lafayette related travel suggestion for you. Go see L'Hermione! The exact replica of the French naval vessel that transported the Marquis de Lafayette to America in 1780 will re-enact his Atlantic crossing this summer. The six-week tour starts in Yorktown followed by stops at Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Greenport, Newport, Boston, Castine and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

JUNE 2015

June 5, 6, 7 Yorktown, VA

June 9 Mount Vernon, VA (ship at anchor)

June 10, 11, 12 Alexandria, VA (city dock)

June 16, 17 Annapolis, MD (city dock)

June 19, 20, 21 Baltimore, MD (adjacent USS Constellation & Pride of Baltimore)

June 25, 26, 27, 28 Philadelphia, PA (with Tall Ships America/Independence Seaport)

L'Hermione in La Rochelle
JULY 2015

July 1, 2, 3, 4 New York, NY (with educational ships from U.S. east coast)

July 6, 7 Greenport, NY (with Tall Ships America )

July 8, 9 Newport, RI (with Oliver Hazard Perry – Fort Adams)

July 11, 12 Boston, MA – (Rowe's Wharf)

July 14, 15 Castine, ME

July 18 Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

My next couple of blog posts will be devoted to the Marquis de Lafayette and Stephane's and my trips to see L'Hermione in Rochefort in November 2014 and La Rochelle in February 2015. 

For more information about the French frigate's journey to the United States, be sure to check out the official website Hermione Voyage 2015.

L'Hermione's brightly painted transom