Off limits at Hôtel de Ville, Paris

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Hotel de Ville ParisNormally admission to the Hotel de Ville is by guided tour only.  But, once a year, Paris’s mayor opens the doors to the public on Heritage Days. This year I was lucky enough to spend three hours at City Hall wandering the halls dazzled by the crystal chandeliers, stained glass, sculptures, paintings, elaborate ceilings framed in gold, adorned with pink cherubs, winged horses, historic insignias, French portraits.

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The library and council room were open for inspection. Many works from the collections of the Municipal Contemporary Art Fund added a visual twist in many of the salons and governmental offices. In the back of my mind was the fact that the inside of the building was totally destroyed by fire during the 1871 revolution. It took 19 years to reconstruct and furnish this treasure.  Make it to next year’s open house or schedule a guided tour.

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The Protocol Department organizes free visits of the Hôtel de Ville‘s Reception Rooms, with commentary, from Monday to Friday.

For groups contact the department at 00 33 (1) 42 76 54 04. Book approximately two months in advance – but late-comers can also try their luck! Languages: French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian Duration: 1 hour

For individuals a weekly visit is available in French (two weekly in summer). Groups can accommodate 30 people max. The dates and times are fixed on the Thursday preceding the visit.

Register at the Hospitality Suite, 29 Rue de Rivoli (4th arr) from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm. or call 00 33 (1) 42 76 43 43 (Monday to Saturday 10am to 7pm).
Or call the Protocol Department: 00 33 (1) 42 76 50 49 or 00 33 (1) 42 76 54 04

Access for visits is at 5 Rue Lobau (4th), at the back of the building.
Metro: Hôtel de Ville.

A peek inside the No Worries Paris guide

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Some sample pages to introduce you to our guidebook. Walking around Paris the practical, fun and easy way.

No Worries Paris guide

No Worries Paris guidebook

Paris guidebook

Paris guidebook

Buy a print copy or one for your Kindle at Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

Scenes from Paris’s Trocadero Gardens

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Trocadero gardens

The Warsaw Fountain is great “selfie” territory. In summer the water cannons run every hour and in the remaining months run irregularly, sometimes not at all. Freezing temperatures crank them in the “off” position.

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The view from the terrace where you’ll get your quintissential shot for posterity.

trocadero gardensNight or day, put it on your itinerary.

For all our No Worries Paris friends

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French wine: how to read the label

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french wine

The highest quality designation is a Vins d’Appellation d’Origine Controlee or AOC wine, “Grand Cru”. Read the bottom of the label carefully. Labels will also indicate where the wine was bottled, whether it was bottled by a single producer, or more anonymously and in larger quantities. Just over half of the wines in France are AOC quality wines. Ninety-nine per cent of Bordeaux wines fall into this top category.

“Mis en bouteille au château, au domaine, à la propriété” have a similar meaning and indicate the wine was “estate bottled”, on the same property on which it was grown or at a cooperative (within the boundary of the appellation) of which that property is a member. When I’m in a hurry at the supermarche I always snatch bottles that have these words.

“Dans la région de production” indicates the wine was not bottled at the vineyard but by a larger business at its warehouse within the same winemaking region of France as the appellation. If a chateau or domaine is named, it may well not exist as a real vineyard, and the wine may be an assemblage from the grapes or the wines of several producers.

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“Dans nos chais, dans nos caves”: the wine was bottled by the business named on the label.

“Vigneron indépendant” is a special mark adopted by some independent wine-makers to distinguish them from larger corporate winemaking operations and symbolize a return to the basics of the craft of wine-making. Bottles from these independent makers carry a special logo usually printed on the foil cap covering the cork.

Vin de Pays is country wine and focuses on geographical origin. Introduced in the 1970s, by the year 2000 there were more than 150 individual VDP titles, covering about a quarter of French wine production.

Vin de France replaced the outdated Vin de Table category in 2010, but remains the most basic quality tier for French wine. It’s the least regulated (and least used) of the three categories. These wines can be made from grapes grown anywhere in France and their labels do not mention a specific region of origin.

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If you’re looking for advice, head for these wine shops and enjoy recommendations from their staff. Santé!

Legrand Filles et Fils
1 Rue de la Banque, 75002
+33 1 42 60 07 12
http://www.caves-legrand.com

La dernière Goutte
6 Rue de Bourbon le Château, 75006
http://www.ladernieregoutte.net/vins/index-swf.php

Les Caves Augé
116 Boulevard Haussmann, 75008
+33 1 45 22 16 97
http://www.cavesauge.com

Lavinia
3-5 Boulevard de la Madeleine, 75001
+33 1 42 97 20 20
http://www.lavinia.fr

Where to catch the lights of Christmas in Paris

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The City of Light has turned on it’s Christmas magic. Luminous arches, multi-colored bulbs, incandescent flames and sparkling projections of light deck out the avenues of the French capital.

christmas paris

Here’s where to find them:

Illuminations de Noël du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré
rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, 8th arr.
Métro Pont-Neuf ou Louvre-Rivoli

Illuminations on the Champs-Elysées
Metro: Etoile
the 200 plane trees along the Champs-Elysées are decorated with light rings and sparkling Christmas lights.

Avenue Montaigne
Metro: Alma Marceau | RER: Pont de l’Alma
Thousands come to Avenue Montaigne at Christmas to kiss under the mistletoe.

Place Vendôme
Metro: Place Vendôme
Place Vendôme, rue de la Paix, rue de Castiglione, rue Saint-Honoré and rue des Capucines are some of the outstanding streets and squares in Paris’ 1er arrondissement.

Forum des Halles
Metro: Les Halles | RER: Châtelet Les Halles
Miguel Chevalier, an avant-gardist in digital art, has created a virtual reality work featuring snowflakes which turn, open out, and change shape on contact with the public.

Montmartre – Upper district
Metro: Anvers (Line 2), Abbesses (Line 12)
Follow the stairs to the top of the village and enjoy the lights of the plaza.

Bercy Village
Metro: Cour Saint-Emilion | Bus: 24, 64, 109, 111
Bercy’s paved streets, which date back to the Middle Ages, are decorated with neon tubes mounted on aluminum structures creating a ceiling of stars and snowflakes illuminating the village in a star-spangled sky.

Most of the lights are turned off after January 5. If time is a factor, consider taking one of the open-top double decker bus tours.

One more thing, remember to put No Worries Paris on your Christmas Wish List.

Truffles, Caviar, Fois Gras: Gourmandise De Luxe for the holidays

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Delivering the goods: Maison de la Truffe with two locations in Paris. This establishment has been sharing the black diamond of French gastronomy with the most delicate palates in the world since 1932. Don’t know much about this unappetizing looking earthnut?  In short truffles are a kind of subterranean fungi, a mushroom that grows underground. Most commonly found in Europe, Asia, North American, and North Africa, truffles tend to grow in forested areas around the base of trees. They are still traditionally hunted by pigs, but more and more dogs are being recruited for the job as they can be trained to not eat the little prizes.

Even more about truffles: http://maison-de-la-truffe.com/en/contemplez.php.

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In 1978, Guy Monier, a chef by trade, took over the house and pursued its development by creating a tasting area and transforming it into a luxury food shop and restaurant. Today, the family business has become a key location for truffle enthusiasts and amateur gourmets wishing to discover a variety of quality products.

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LA MAISON DE LA TRUFFE, 19 Place de la Madeleine, 8th arr., +33 1 42 65 53 22, open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. boutique and tasting

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LA TRUFFE MARBEUF, 14 rue Marbeuf, 8th arr., +33 1 53 57 41 00, restaurant and boutique

Selections from their main course menu: 

Tagliatelles à la truffe brumale, 29,00 €
Risotto aux langoustines et truffe brumale, 29,00 €
Bar poêlé, sauce aux perles de truffes et tagliatelles de légumes, 29,00 €
Filet de boeuf Rossini, sauce aux truffes, 55,00 €

from a reviewer:  “Good food, spacious tables, quiet clientele and great service. When you enter the restaurant and take a deep breath, there is no doubt what is the main kitchen’s ingredient. The truffle smell is so powerful. Truffles are displayed everywhere in beautiful black and white pictures witnessing the comings and goings of very professional servers.”

If you’re looking for a unique Parisian experience and have the urge to splurge, wander on by for a taste or make a reservation for lunch or dinner. Can’t make it to Paris this year? Maison makes it very easy to order online: e-shop: http://www.gourmandisedeluxe.com/nos-produits-maison-de-la-truffe.htm

Grand Palais: Paris has largest indoor ice rink

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palaisglace

No snow yet but ice skating is ON right now in Paris. The incredible setting is the Grand Palais. For 15 euros (adults) and 10 euros (children 3 to 12) you can strap on skates which are included in the price and glide around under the fanciful glass roof. Musical animations plus light show at night, hot drinks, catering points and at night it turns into a dance floor.  Who can ask for anything more.

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Le Grand Palais des Glaces – Avenue Winston churchill – 75008
Metro 1 and 13 Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau

http://www.legrandpalaisdesglaces.com/fr

Crème Brûlée: recipe for a decadent French dessert

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creme_brulee4Unexpected company? Whip this up with simple ingredients that you most likely have in your cuisine. Here’s one of my favorite recipes that can be prepared in less than half an hour. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

La Crème

6 egg yolks

6 tablespoons white sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

Beat egg yolks, 4 tablespoons white sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy. Pour cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it almost comes to boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture very SLOWLY; beat until combined. Pour cream mixture into the top pan of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish or 6 ovenproof ramekins. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

The Topping

Preheat oven to broil.
In a small bowl combine remaining 2 tablespoons white sugar and brown sugar. Sift this mixture evenly over custard. Place dish under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until custard is set again.

creme-bruleeSome Parisian restaurants where this custard dish is exceptional.

Le Verre Volé
67 Rue de Lancry, 75010
Phone:+33 1 48 03 17 34, www.leverrevole.fr/
Open:· 12:00 – 2:30 pm, 7:30 – 11:30 pm

L’Atelier Maitre Albert
1 Rue Maître Albert, 75005
Phone:+33 1 56 81 30 01, www.ateliermaitrealbert.com/
Open 12:00 – 2:30 pm, 6:30 pm – 1:00 am

Au Petit Marguery
9 Boulevard de Port-Royal, 75013
Phone:+33 1 43 31 58 59, www.petitmarguery-rivegauche.com/
Open today · 12:00 – 2:15 pm, 7:00 – 10:15 pm

Le Bistro de Breteuil
Address: 3 Place de Breteuil, 75007
Phone:+33 1 45 67 07 27, www.bistrocie.fr/
Open today · 12:00 – 3:00 pm, 7:00 – 11:00 pm

Le Dix-Vins
57 rue Falguière, 75015
01 43 20 91 77
Métro : Pasteur ou Montparnasse
http://www.ledixvins.fr

A la Biche au Bois
45, avenue Ledru-Rollin (12th), https://fr-fr.facebook.com/alabicheaubois

Hey, it’s Paris Fashion Monday

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parisfashionmondayKicking up our heels on a Monday. Paris fashion is always full of surprises. Take a look, buy the book (that’s all about walking around the city, catching the vibe).

ParisFashionMonday2We’re all about promoting our book here but I have to digress being a fashion photographer at heart.

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More cool places to visit around town coming up later this week. I promise.

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