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france ’13 [part three]

from Paris to Chartres [looking for the Ark of the Covenant, of course], back through the Loire Valley [warmer than when I biked on it late in ’12] and then down south for a wedding. it’s a good place, France – I might have mentioned that before. I’d like to move there soon… I might have mentioned that before, as well.

o.p.p. 54 [france]

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o.p.p. 53 [france]

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o.p.p. 51 [france]

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south of france and monaco ’13

france ’12 [part one]

France is where it’s at. I hate admitting that to the French, but it is. if – in 8 years – I’m not living there – or at least spending 4-5 months a year there- then something must have gone seriously wrong. am tellin’ ya – it’s where it’s at.

an email to a friend [part two] re: snacks in Paris

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in the second email to a pal [first one re: drinks], I share my Paris snack spots.

I hope someday, you can try them as well.

mmm.

[email begins]

okay…

what to eat:

macarons: Laduree off of the Champ Elysees. hands-down. might be a line, but you have to try [pistachio being the best.]

ice cream: okay – this is a must. right behind the Notre Dame and over the bridge, you’ll find this place – Le Flore en I’lle. amazing for sitting and people watching, but even more amazing for their ice cream. now, don’t order anything fancy, just a few scoops of vanilla, an espresso and a few chocolate truffles [see photo above]. you’ll die. I die. I’m dying while writing this. 

croissants: best thing you’ll ever eat. so simple, but so amazing. [let me know where you’re staying and I can tell you the best places in the area]

foie gras: Comptoir de la Gastronomie. the best – hands down. near the Lourve.

cheese: you all seem like you know good cheese and in Paris, the choices are infinite, but… you have to, at least once, go for a few faves: 1] ask any cheesemaker for a ‘double creme’ – something foul, stinky, terrible. pair this with a nice rouquefort and something mild [even a brie or something light] and you’re in business.

with the above cheese, you have to grab a jar of rillette. the cheese shop should have plenty. some of this, some grapes, a fresh baguette and a bottle of rose and find a park. so jealous.

cassoulet – this is a funny one. with all of the things you have to eat, I’d buy some in one of these tins and bring it home. surprisingly good, and gets the nod from even the most pretentious of Parisians. you can find them anywhere.

crepes you can find anywhere… but if you want to be very, very local, find a place that does galettes. hard to say where in Paris, as it’s a Normandy dish. but if you do, order it with ham/cheese, pair with a proper cider and you’ll be so happy.

now… my favorite thing. the reason I always put on weight in France… saucisson. [sorry for all of the wiki links] best thing ever. find a butcher, ask for his saucisson especial. stay between the 4 and 6 Euro range and you’ll be good. look for a dark red, less fat [still need some] and smell. they’ll let you sample it before you buy. put on a baguette with cheese or just snack on it alllll day.

ratatouille can be made here at home. you can miss it.

… I could go on-and-on, but these are your basics. the big thing is that you don’t have to go all haute cuisine. French food, as it’s base, comes from a love of home cooking and the fancy stuff rarely stands up to a meal you could get in a quiet little bistro. the more I know about where you’ll be, the more I can send you to different places. but plan on a lot of picnics in the park – Siene in view – with a handful of cheese, meat, grapes, bread and wine.

am so jealous! have fun.

-a

[email ends]

an email to a friend [part one] re: bars in Paris

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you might find this helpful.

or maybe not.

but here’s where I like to drink in Paris.

[email begins]

oh god… this one could go on forever. I’ll try and keep it short/manageable.

first things first, my two favorite bars and ones you have to visit. at least one of them… it’ll bring me great joy to know I passed them along to a friend.

the first is called Le Tambour. don’t be put off by any of the negative reviews about this place, it’s verrrrrrrry Parisian, which means the waiter will be a dick to those who he needs to be a dick to. you guys will be fine. I always forget his name, but if you sit outside [you must], he’s bald. and funny. at night, it’s a gorgeous setting, with decent food [not spectacular, but decent. which in Paris is still impressive] – go for the French Onion soup, but stay away from the charcuterie platter [it lacks]… but then, as the night goes later, it gets more and more interesting. it never closes, never stops serving drinks and is the best spot for late night people watching [and in a safe neighborhood].

my second favorite – Bar Ourcq [above, pictured] is a hike, but so, so pretty and if it were central, would be the BEST bar in Paris. it’s a South of France bar, which means very nice people, GORGEOUS funky design and amazing drinks. but what you do is grab one in a plastic cup and then walk across the street to where all the old fellas will be drinking their Pastis and playing petanque. photo attached – it’s a very pretty neighborhood and a place most won’t ever get to see.

my third favorite is a wonderful little place in BoBo [your daughter will probably be shopping in this area anyway] called Chez Prune. if you can get there right around 2p, it’s right out of the Paris of our dreams. small, dark wood, outdoor tables next to the water, amazing. food is okay, a coffee or Campari is better. 

next – something in the Latin Quarter/St. Germain [remember the book I begged you to read?! this is where Larry lived.]. you HAVE to sit where Papa Hemingway sat at Cafe de Flore and have a drink. never mind the crowd, it’s one of those thing you gotta do ’cause his ghost still walks around there, grumpy as hell. it’s a staple of French and tourist alike and simply has to be done. has to.

… now, as stated, I could go on-and-on and once I know which arr. you’re staying in, I can offer up a few more hints. 

that being said, there is no better place to sit and sip than on the banks of the Siene, looking up and out at the Notre Dame. grab a bottle of something [it’s allowed] and take in that gorgeous church. the more rosé you have, the more things get slightly blurred and it all turns into a Monet.

some stand out buys:

– a rosé [as mentioned] from the South of France. any kind will do.

– a Fernet after any meal.

– any punchy read from the Languedoc region. they’re doing some amazing things down there.

– absinthe. if you’re going to dare it, do it right at La Fee Verte. they’ll take it easy on you. other places it’s not to be trusted [fake]. 

– beer. skip it. you’re in France.

– white wine – a Sancerre from the Loire Valley. delish. 

… right, think that’s it for drinks. 

shall get back to you soon-ish on snacks.

do you know your dates yet? 

-a

[email ends]

[second email re: snacks]

the camino de santiago

Camino-de-Santiago-Route

I ended up on the Camino de Santiago by pure accident… or so I thought. it was an accident on my part, but not on whomever is in charge.

these photos are in chronological order – from starting at the bottom of the Pyrenees in the city of St. Jean Pied de Port [France] to the finish line – the cathedral of Santiago, and one that holds the remains of St. James, the apostle.

there’s a 6 page article I penned for Blindfold Magazine about the horror/adventure/lesson I learned which is worth a read, but if you ever have the chance to walk it – any of the routes – I’d highly, highly suggest you do. might be the holiest thing you ever do.

it was for me.