Paris tea time: Stay Calm and Sip



These are stressful times in Paris. A timeout for tea is recommended with two of the local brands that I particularly like: Kusmi and Mariage Frères. Favorites:  Kusmi DetoxMariage Frères De-Stress (a tea to escape the maddening world). I’ve purchased both at the Bon Marche and Galeries Lafayette epiceries.


The story begins in 1867 when Pavel Michailovitch Kousmichoff opened his teahouse in St. Petersburg. By the turn of the century he owned eleven teahouses and sent his eldest son, Viatcheslav, to London to learn about tea. Viatcheslav took over the family business after the death of his father and then transferred the business’ operations to Paris on the eve of the Russian Revolution. He died just after World War II in 1946 leaving his son Constantin to take over a family business much weakened by the war years.

But Constantin didn’t have the same business acumen as his father or grandfather. He was a man who loved life and burned the candle at both ends. An artist and a tea lover, he just didn’t understand figures. On the brink of bankruptcy in 1972 he sold the business for a pittance. In 2003, Kousmichoff was bought by the Orebi brothers who now carry on the tradition. The colorful packaging will tempt you, so will the open tin displays. You’ll find this tea in supermarches, boutiques, department stores and the airport.

Mariage Frères – Rive Gauche, 13 rue des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris

District : Musée d’Orsay – Saint-Germain-des-Prés
24, 27, 58, 70, Balabus
Metro: Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame

Tea House: Address: 260 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008


If you’re looking for smooth, this brand with more than 500 varieties is a standout and the one I’m turning to as winter approaches. Start at their website for ingredients:

Their Secrets of the Himalaya line is full of allure:

Un thé en majesté

Thé noir des hautes montagnes himalayennes aux belles feuilles torsadées, roulées à la main. Riche en bourgeons argentés, il délivre un arôme épicé doublé de senteurs de fruits exotiques.

L’infusion de couleur abricot offre un bouquet sensuel, un fruité malté presque épicé, une fragrance originale, chaude et opulente.

Shop online or better yet, step up to the apothecary-style display counters at one of their outlets in Paris and tell the expert what you’re preferences are. Have him fill up a sachet and start your tea adventure. A little history:

The tea trade in France began to boom in the middle of the 17th century. At this time, King Louis XIV and the French East India Company encouraged the exploration of distant lands in the search of exotic goods. Around 1660, Nicolas and Pierre Mariage began voyaging on behalf of the royal court: Pierre was sent to Madagascar on a mission for the French East India Company, while Nicolas made several trips to Persia and Indiabefore being named part of an official deputation sent by Louis XIV to sign a trade agreement with the Shah of Persia. Successive generations of the Mariage family remained in the tea trade and in 1843, by then reflecting their experience and knowledge of the tea trade, members of the Mariage family opened their first wholesale shop in Paris.

Henri and Edouard Mariage, in June 1854, founded the present-day Mariage Frères Tea Company. For over 130 years the company was managed by four generations of Mariage tea merchants who maintained a wholesale-only business from their Parisian warehouse. The business consisted of importing premium quality leaf teas from the Orient, which were then traded to first class hotels and tea shops in France.

In 1983 the company transformed itself from a wholesale import firm into a retail company. Under the leadership of Kitti Cha Sangmanee and Richard Bueno, Mariage Frères started opening tea houses within central Paris. The first tea emporium and tea salon, located on rue du Bourg-Tibourg, opened in the same building where Henri Mariage had his offices over 150 years ago. The illusion with 19th-century colonial and exotic furniture, cash registers, counters and tea instruments is nearly perfect. But they all come from the historic former tea office and deposit in Rue du Cloître-Saint-Merri.

Today, the company operates over 30 Mariage Frères points-of-sale within France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. There are four Mariage Frères tearooms in Paris. DeanDeLuca carries it in New York.



Liberté, égalité, fraternité


Good news! November 12: Rodin Museum reopens



It is the first major renovation for the two-story Hôtel Biron, which stands within a seven-acre formal garden in view of the golden dome of Les Invalides. The museum has been closed since January as part of a three-year construction project that is nearing completion, with a public reopening scheduled for Rodin’s birthday, November 12.


The aim of the restoration, according to the museum’s architects, is to evoke the creative atmosphere that inspired the sculptor, who retreated here because, he said, “my eyes encounter grace, sitting here surrounded by light.”


The makeover features more natural light, new colors and the reappearance of Rodin’s personal art collection, which also includes ancient Greek sculpture fragments. Many of the marble sculptures, including “The Kiss,” have been cleaned for the first time and restored to their original luster.


Throughout the mansion, the architects have followed the same meticulous approach. Workmen disassembled the creaky oak parquet floors on two levels, which were braced and put back together again with original parts and wooden nails. An English paint company burrowed through layers of wall paint to unearth the original colors from Rodin’s time, which were shades of gray with blue and green tones. The wooden interior partition walls had become exposed and begun to rot. As they weakened, the stone cross walls became overburdened by their load and by the structural imbalance. Large, worrying cracks were hidden over almost all the Hôtel. Probably since Rodin’s day, no restoration work had been done to the mansion.


Within the salons, all of the tall windows were fitted with custom molten glass to filter the natural light as Rodin saw it. The architects also added a computer-generated lighting system to alter the mood with light sensors that track the changing weather, seasons and hours of the day.

Be sure to save time for a tour of the garden where there are more sculptures, winding paths, exotic shrubs and hidden fountains. Sit down and digest Rodin’s world.


Open daily, except Mondays. Museum, garden and shop : open from 10am to 5:45pm. Last tickets sold at 5.15 pm. Late night opening on Wednesday until 8.45pm. Last admission at 8.15pm. New admission rates from November 12. Full rate:10€, reduced rate:7€

Musée Rodin, 77 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France
Phone : +33 (0)1 44 18 61 10
Metro : Varenne (line 13) or Invalides (line 13, line 8)
R.E.R : Invalides (line C)
Bus : 69, 82, 87, 92

On a blustery day this secret ingredient makes French onion soup magnifique.



You’re walking along the banks of the Seine, a brisk wind blasts at your back, the gusts are getting stronger, your scarf untwirls from your neck and hat goes flying into the water……whatcha gonna do? Head for the nearest brasserie for that French comfort food mainstay: SOUPE A L’OIGNON AU FROMAGE.


7 small yellow onions (about 5 pounds), sliced thin (small have more flavor)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 quart beef broth
1 qt chicken stock
1 jigger cognac (secret ingredient)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

3/4 pound coarsely grated Gruyère, Emmenthal, or Comté, twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices of baguette, toasted
2 cloves garlic

In a large cast iron pan melt the butter and saute the onions until they are a translucent carmel color. A few black crisp edges add some character and color to the soup. Stir in the flour. Transfer to a large soup pot and add the beef broth and chicken stock. Salt and pepper to taste. Add cognac and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Cover and simmer on low for 1/2 – 1 hour. Rub toasted baguette slices with garlic. At serving time ladle soup into individual ovenproof tureens, top with baguette and cheese, place under broiler until top is lightly browned. Vegetable broth can be substituted for the meat based broths.

This recipe originated from an old hotel kitchen in Mersch, Luxembourg that is part of my past. Madame Barthelemy was the owner and chef-in-charge. Her Green Bean Soup – Bou’neschlupp (potatos, bacon and cream) was also legendary.


Halloween is approaching: costume or couture?



Sometimes there’s a fine line. Paris Fashion Week delivered some question marks. You be the judge:








Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing, for a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble.   -William Shakespeare, “Macbeth”

Sailing with Frank Gehry’s masterpiece in Paris: Fondation Louis Vuitton




It’s genius: daring and innovation punctuated by surprises. A visit to Foundation Louis Vuitton is hard to put into words, you have to climb all the levels, admire the views, the architectural lines, it’s exhilarating.  Frank Gehry’s mission was to “design in Paris a magnificent vessel symbolizing the cultural calling of France. He succeeded.  I’ll let my photos speak for themselves.



Twelve glass sails play with the light and reflections of water from the basin in which the building stands. It’s a constant interplay of outside and inside and invites the visitor on a walk through a space of shifting perspectives to create a unique architectural experience.




Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris, adults 18 euros. Ipod touch devices can be borrowed from the reception desk.

Here are directions how to get there, it’s a little tricky by metro and requires some walking.


No Worries Paris and a free Starbucks: A perfect match




Trailblazer Travel Books says merci beacoup to readers who enjoy our No Worries Paris guidebook and write a review on Amazon or Barnes & Once your review is posted, you can get roasted—by having a free Starbucks on us.

  1. Go to (click here:) No Worries Paris (Amazon) or here No Worries Paris (Barnes & Noble)

2.  Buy the print or ebook version

3.  Write a review on Amazon or B&N

4.  Notify us at noworriesparis@gmail when the review is live, and we will email you a $5 Starbucks gift card.

Illustrated by more than 300 color photographs, No Worries Paris takes readers on a visually luscious journey to the city’s striking monuments, as well as into the cobblestone crannies of its villages and along the glamorous fashion boulevards.

Virtually all of Paris is covered in 10 Walking Tours, each with its own map. Walks take from a half-day to a day to complete, starting at one Metro stop and ending at another. The tours are complemented by 10 Promenades, which are shorter in length, taking in the sights around a single attraction, mainly on the fringes of city’s arrondissiments. 

The text offers enough detail to make the walks interesting while not getting bogged down in exposition. Key locales of French history are covered, spanning centuries and involving famous figures from the breadth of Europe. Walks also point out the former hangouts of artists, writers, actors, and performers. Walks visit street markets, notorious restaurants, and many film locations. The world of shopping is well represented by swingbys of glamorous high end stores, avant grade boutiques and galleries, as well as vintage passages.

Practical travel tips and get-around information are included. The common thread is that each walk is along a visually aesthetic pathway that has a story of its own to tell. Readers who want to get to know Paris by seeing it on foot pausing occasionally for a gourmet taste or perfumed sniff along the way have found the right guide.


Paris Now: Spectacular exhibits worth seeing



One of the most famous portrait artists of her time, and the official painter for Marie-Antoinette (creating over 30 paintings), is the subject of a big new exhibition at the Grand Palais, the first ever French retrospective of her work.

paintingLong appreciated for her delicate and flattering style, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was an extraordinary woman who managed to raise a family while also nurturing her career, becoming the most sought-after portrait artist in Europe. Born in Paris in 1755 into a modest family, her mother was a hairdresser and her father a pastel artist.
As she wasn’t allowed to paint male nudes, she turned her hand to portait painting and  succeeded in making a place for herself in the French Royal Court.
Being close to Marie-Antoinette, however, has its disadvantages. Élisabeth was forced to flee France during the Revolution and start what was to become a 12-year exile across Europe.


Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, 23 Sept. 2015 to 11 Jan. 2016, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, everyday (except Tuesday) from 10am to 8pm ; Late opening on Wednesday till 10pm, adult admission 12 euros


Picasso Mania from 07 Oct. 2015 to 29 Feb. 2016, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais

Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was one of the main precursors of modern art in the 20th century. A spearhead of the artistic avant-garde, he used all kinds of media and materials in his work and was to produce over 50 000 works throughout his long career.


The exhibition looks back over the artistic interaction with Picasso’s work that contemporary artists have explored since 1960. Walking into the exhibit you are greeted with a wall of interactive artist squares in b+w that pop into color as each takes their turn explaining how Monsier P influenced their work and that of the art world in general.


The first part of the exhibition presents the figure of the artist as a theme, including Picasso’s self portrait from his blue period. Next come the visual art revolutions, including Cubism and the annihilation of representation. Then the exhibition traces Picasso’s political involvement. Sandwiched between art galleries is a movie room showing personal interviews, stills of his family life, celebrity snippets of Yves Montand, Dali, Bardot. You won’t get bored.

Works by contemporary artists, (Lichtenstein, Erro, Warhol, Jasper Johns and Kippenberger) are shown alongside works by the great master himself.

Monday, Thursday and Sunday from 10am to 8pm ; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 10pm; admission 14euros

Warhol Unlimited


The Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris is devoting a remarkable exhibition to Andy Warhol (1928-1987). Comprising over 200 works, Unlimited highlights the serial side of the Warhol oeuvre – a crucial aspect of his work – and his ability to rethink the way art should be exhibited.


Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris

11 Avenue du Président Wilson
75116 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 53 67 40 00
Open Tuesday–Sunday
10am – 6pm
Late closing: Thursday 10pm
Exceptional opening on November 1st and 11th from 10am to 6pm

Happiness is shopping Antoine and Lili…..Paris


Antoine_LiliSmiling head to toe, ear to ear, am I after a visit to the 3 Antoine et Lili stores on the Quai de Valmy. It’s not just the colorful goods they sell, it’s the ambiance, the feeling you get just being in the boutiques. The staff is incredible and I spent time with some of the managers who, in French and English, gave me a run down of their concept and management styles.


I began my journey in the children’s (apple green exterior) store which is sandwiched between the other two and was met by Alice who said her name suited her. She had just finished the window treatment and explained her interpretation of Alice in Wonderland a la A&L. Alice was upside down (of course) in a pink tutu and all the other characters were in logical order surrounding her. The window radiated gaity, jubilation, esprit. Alice said this was her arrangement of the week and what she loved about being manager of this boutique. Sweet kids clothes, were A&L color palette arranged, toys and books in the mix. Prices very reasonable.


AntLilKidsNext door, along the Canal St. Martin, 10th arr. is their women’s clothing store, pastel lavender exterior. Walk in and your eyes will “pop” dazzled in floor-to-ceiling color. Signature A&L dresses, sweaters, hats, shoes, jewelry. I was met by charming, effusive Marianne with a contageous smile who gave me a complete tour. They produce two collections a year, winter/summer and the theme at the moment was Mary Poppins. The store takes clients on an imaginary voyage (their clothes travel well) and Marianne picked up a pair of blue laceup low-heeled shoes just like Mary’s to illustrate. Fabrics from France, Japan, India in rich colors and patterns dominate, the wrap dress being their signature item.


Marianne said customers can come in wearing clothes from previous seasons and find that their colors still compliment. My “happy meter” kept escalating the more I conversed with Marianne, however, it was clear she needed to get back to business and help customers.


From left to right, Juliette, Albert and Marianne met me at the door to say goodbye…..their passion for what they do and their bon vivant personage connected us, tres bon visite.


The yellow store is full of household decor, all nested artistically, all unique and fun. The merchandise comes from all corners of the globe. A place to pick up the perfect gift to brighten the home. Note: location is right on the romantic St. Martin canal where the movie Amelie was shot.

95 quai de valmy, 75010, For a list of all their stores go to their website.


Paris: garbage a la carte


garbage_strike_Paris“Je comprends que les clients ne veuillent pas aller dans un restaurant ou même se poser sur une terrasse pleine d’ordures, de poubelles et de sacs-poubelle”.

Certain quartiers are hemorrhaging garbage today. The sidewalks are choked with stuffed green plastic containers overflowing with plastic sacks. The areas affected are the II, V, VI, VIII, IX, XII, XIV, XVI, XVII et XX. Forty-five percent of the city’s wasteworkers are on strike. Not an attractive site staring out your restaurant window or an incentive to shop.


There have been promises that it will end today. The cleanup will be monumental. For now, am aiming my camera high and holding my nose.



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