Brasserie Le Petit Zinc, Belle Epoque Dining in an Art Nouveau Setting

Le Petit Zinc, Belle Epoque Dining

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Taste the elegance of a by-gone era with a visit to the charming,  Parisian brasserie, Le Petit Zinc.    In the St. Germain des Pres area just minutes from the Luxembourg Gardens, you can treat your palate to delicious foie gras or the house seafood specialties.

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Although it’s tempting to sit outside and watch the hustle and bustle of the street, the interior is a “can’t miss”.   Decorated with parts of old Metro stations, a large zinc bar and even part of a former Biarritz casino, it’s difficult to focus on the delicious food amidst all that grandeur!    Sole Traveling Mama didn’t find it one bit “stuffy” or pretentious.   The clientele is a good mix of ages, including locals and tourists, children welcome.   Continual service from noon to midnight with a well-priced menu makes this brasserie a big winner.

Located at 11 rue Saint-Benoit, Paris 75006, Metro Line 4 stop St. Germain des Pres

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Le Meurice is Le Fab!!

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Recently, the Sole Traveling Mama spent a delightful, better half of the day with a few dear friends at the gorgeous Le Meurice.    It may have been something about a Jubilee birthday celebration that started it all, but whatever the pretense, it was the perfect venue for reveling in glamour and luxury.

It all probably really started a year ago with STM’s darling Irish friend, “Miss Tiny but Mighty”.   Having 10 children between the 2 of them, they would desperately try to find the time to meet for a rushed coffee after the school drop-offs at a corner cafe, every few weeks.    For the sake of convenience, they would sit at a small, cramped table in the noisy cafe with their notebooks trying to align children’s playdate schedules and weekend activities while catching up on Life in general.

It was only in another coffee meeting in the elegance of Fouquet’s one morning that it dawned on Sole Traveling Mama…”I can pay 10 euros for a cup of coffee sitting in a huge, comfortable, velvet-upholstered chair with a mini croissant included and spend a pampered hour, OR pay 5 euros for a coffee with my uncomfortable wooden chair being jostled around amidst constant chaos…..hmmmm.   Now I’m no genius but even I can figure out that we’ve been doing something wrong and need to change our ways!!”

When the next Irish coffee meeting rolled around, STM suggested the Shangri-La, and so began their  tradition of splurging on themselves for a monthly fancy coffee/children strategy session.    And as their friend Long Island Lolita is one to say, “It’s cheaper than therapy!”

Now, STM is not one to just throw money around and she is always looking for a bargain, so don’t think she is advocating this on a daily basis – although it sure would be nice!   The value-added is in the pampering and living for a bit like a princess!!

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The Le Meurice coffee at approximately 12 euros is served with 2 delicious chocolates and considering the Philippe Starck decor in which one is ensconced  – it’s a bargain!!!      And the true beauty of it, is that one can sit and enjoy for as long as time permits – noone to rush you there.

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STM adored the fanciful chair legs and design.   What do you think about these well-heeled chairs?!    The vitrine with the hanging old hand mirrors and candles was stunning and the Dali like cubic tables  gave an edgy feel to the sumptuous furnishings.

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Le Meurice has been on the Rue de Rivoli, Paris, adjacent to the Tuileries Gardens since 1835.     Rulers from countries such as Jordan, Thailand, Serbia, Russia, Belgium, Iran, England and Spain, to name a few, have all stayed there.    Salvador Dali was a frequent guest at Le Meurice and possibly one of the most eccentric, with his outrageous demands of the staff.     It wasn’t ALL about the extravagance and Society though; during WWI it was closed as a hotel and used instead, as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

So what are you waiting for??!!    Step off the Rue de Rivoli and into the divine – after all, you work hard, you DESERVE it!!!

Le Meurice, the “Hotel of Kings” is located at 228 Rue de Rivoli, Paris 75001,  Metro Line 8, Concorde or Line 1, Tuileries

http://www.dorchestercollection.com

Sculptures of the Louvre

Cherubs of the Louvre

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Sole Traveling Mama says that it can be a real treat to go to the Louvre and NOT seek out the big names art works.      While hordes of tourists mob Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, you cana leisurely stroll through random galleries and get up close and personal with other stunning creations.    French, Italian, Ancient Greece,  Rome, and busts galore, get off  the beaten paths and discover your own favorites!

Avoid the long lines and buy your tickets online at http://www.louvre.fr/en.   Open late on Wednesdays and Fridays until 21:45 and daily except Tuesdays.    FREE admission on the first Sunday of every month EXCEPT April through September.

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American Battle Monuments, Suresnes

DSCN6622    This weekend, Sole Traveling Mama and her childen had the great privilege and honor of placing American and French flags at the gravesites of over 1500 patriots who truly gave ALL, in a foreign land.      A small group of ex pats from the American Women’s Group of Paris, journeyed out just past La Defense to the Paris suburb of Suresnes, to the Suresnes American Cemetary and Memorial.     I had never heard of this site, but was eager to volunteer.

A long heritage of service to Country exists in my family, dating back to the American Revolution where my ancestor, Nathanael Folsom, served in an Exeter, New Hampshire militia and I am proud to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.    As a child we were taken to battlefields all over the US, making our heritage come alive for us and kindling the love of history that I have today.    I remember my paternal Grandmama going every year to the local cemetaries, November in Asheville, NC and May in Exeter, NH, to lay flags on the veterans graves but am ashamed to say, I never went with her, nor have I ever participated in a project like this.    Living in France now and having this opportunity, felt like things coming full circle for me, with honoring my Grandmama, my ancestors who served country, and paying tribute to the sons and daughters of fellow Americans, who had loved ones left forever on foreign soil.

DSCN6625    The old addage “many hands make light work” certainly applied to the task!   This wooden platform with 2 nails on the bottom, is used to line up flush with the base of the gravemarker, and puncture two holes in the soil for the placement of the flags,  American on the left and French on the right.    The 3000+  flags were in the back of a truck and the children took turns as “runners” bringing the bundles down the long rows of headstones.     It didn’t take too long to get some good teamwork and a sytem going!!

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WWI saw the loss of 81,067 Americans on European land or in European waters, with approximately 2,400 burial places across Europe at the War’s end.     In 1919, eight permanent American cemetaries were established in Europe, of which Suresnes is one.    It was dedicated on May 30, 1919.   The cemetary honors the dead from both WWI and WWII and the land was granted for use in perpetuity to the United States, free of tax and/or charge.

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Of the 1,565 headstones, there are 1,543  Crosses and 22 Stars of David, 6 Unknown comrades from WWI and 24 Unknown comrades from WWII.   There are also two pairs of siblings buried there, a set of sisters and a set of brothers.     It struck us how the dead are buried here in complete equality with Captains next to Stevedores – no life is worth more than another.    The curator of the Cemetary was fantastic and made us feel the pain of sacrifice even greater when talking about the African American troops of WWII.     Still segregated in the US at the time, they had the lowest of the lowly Army jobs, even having to ride in the back of the troop convoys behind the white, Nazi prisoners.    They were fighting for freedom and equality in Europe and those fortunate to go home, did so to continued segragation and oppression.   Those remaining on hallowed soil, died for a freedom for strangers that they didn’t yet have as Americans in the US.

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The chapel on the grounds has a solemn grandeur, with the mosaic Angel of Victory and her palm branch looking out over her fallen warriors.   There are four large bronze plaques with the names of the 974 men lost or buried at sea in WWI.

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The WWII loggia has a bas-relief of soldiers carrying an unknown soldier and a carved list of the other WWII foreign cemetaries.     The bas-relief pictured here is in the WWI loggia and depicts soldiers carrying an empty bier and again, a carved list of the other WWI cemetaries.

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It was also interesting to learn that this was not a combat cemetary.    When the Armistice was signed on November 7, 1918, the American Expeditionary Force had 192,844 troops and support staff in hospital beds.    A large number of those who died, succumbed to the Spanish influenza pandemic, or it’s complications, that began sweping through Europe in September of that year.

Having this opportunity to be humbled by the tremendous sacrifice of each soul here, I will never look at Memorial Day the same way again.     Our family is changing their ways and beginning a new tradition in 2014 of decorating veterans graves annually.    For too many years we have been off having fun at pool parties and picnics or attending sporting events, without reflecting on the true meaning and purpose of the day.   It doesn’t have to take much time but the benefit is great.     My 16, 14 and 12 year olds, who big-time grumbled when I said we were getting out of bed at 7:45 on a dreary Saturday morning to do this, absolutely loved it and said they wished they had brought friends along for the experience.

The Suresnes American Cemetary and Memorial can be reached easily from Paris by taking the Line 1 Metro to La Defense, then switching to the 360 Bus for a 7 minute ride, exiting at the Mt. Valerian stop.     The cemetary is a 2 minute walk from the bus stop with sweeping views of the Paris skyline.   The address is  323 Boulevard Washington, Suresnes, France 92150.    If you are only in Paris for a short time and don’t have the ability or time to get out to Normandy, take a few hours to make this very worthwhile visit.   There is a Visitor’s Center on  premises with bathrooms.

For more information on the American Battle Monuments Commission and other Sites see http://www.abmc.gov    DSCN6619

 

Classic Car Rally, Paris to Venice

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Sunday morning, May 25 from approximately 10:00-10:45, some of the most amazing cars you will EVER see, will be on the Ellipse of the Champ de Mars, using the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop, as they begin the Classic Rally from Paris to Venice. Check out the race website and be sure to also check out and LIKE the Facebook page Chantal Hoogvliet Paris.  
Sole Traveling Mama is honored to call this Dutch knockout rally organizer and former Supermodel a friend. The “beast” that Chantal will be powering tomorrow is still being kept under wraps – can’t wait to see her pull up tomorrow! VROOM, VROOM!!!   For more information on this race and others, see the website at www.classic-rally.nl  (there is an English translation) and follow her journeys on www.instagram.com/chantaltv or www.chantal.tv
The race is Paris to Venice, beginning May 25 and lasting 6 days.   What can be better than a  great route, beautiful hotels and.. Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Mercedes SLS, Bentley, Wiesmann and McLaren!!    The cars will convene at Versailles, in case you happen to be at the Chateau or in the town of Versailles on the 25th and the actual “race”  begins from Paris.    Come and have a look!
(And remember to LIKE  and follow Sole Traveling Mama’s  own Facebook page too so you can see her daily photo posts and get even more travel ideas!)

 

Math and Science are more FUN in Paris!

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This is the 15th year for the Math and Sciences Exposition for Children, taking place this weekend, at Place St. Sulpice.    This FREE exposition is a fantastic way for kids to explore Math and Science theories in a fun, interactive way with great manipulatives for excellent hands-on teaching and experiential learning.     THIS is the way to fire up the brains and creativity of children and make these subjects (especially Math!)  come alive.

The Expostion opened on Thursday, May 22 and will run through Sunday, May 25.  Hours of operation are Friday from 9:00-19:00, Saturday 10:00-17:00 and Sunday 10:00-18:00.     There are over 60 salons with everything from astronomy to games of probability and statistics, geometry, gravity and puzzles.

A few of the exposition sponsors are Casio, Institut du Monde Arabe, Musee du Quai Branly and Societe Mathematique de France – this is a high quality event!!!    Volunteers are engaging and helpful and the children everywhere STM looked were engaged and having so much fun playing the games, they didn’t realize they were learning!

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Don’t be concerned about the weather for the weekend, as the majority of the salons are under tents.     Easy access is had from the Line 10 Metro, stop Mabillion, then a 5 minute walk to Place St. Sulpice, Paris 75006.  Tired from all that thinking?!    A wide variety of interesting cafes are only steps away from the Exposition, right around the Place St. Sulpice.     For more information on the event, check out http://www.cijm.org.

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Off to the French Galop!!

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This Sunday, May 18, come on out to the Hippodrome of Auteuil for the Grand Steeplechase of Paris races.    A part of the “Les Dimanches au Galop” series (The Sunday horse racing series), this Steeplechase has been a part of Paris history since 1874!   This Spring racing series begins  annually in early April and runs through mid-May, taking place every Sunday at either the Longchamp or Auteuil courses.   (Photos shown were taken at the Auteuil races on Sunday, May 4th.)

The events also feature themed “spectacles” that take place between the races.    On the day we attended, there was an incredible hawk and eagle exhibition.    We  couldn’t believe how close up we could get to these birds of prey and how accurately they flew over the heads of the audience!!!

Gates open at 12 with the first race beginning at 1:30.  There are 8 races per day, finishing at approximately 5:30.  Take advantage of the varied activities for children both educational and pure fun, such as the Shetland pony rides, the carrousel and a simulated race course ride.   Food is reasonably priced, and you can also bring your own food in.    Minimum bets start at 2 euros, so you don’t have to break the Bank to enjoy your day there.

Entrance to the Hippodrome Autueil is very conveniently located at almost the end of the Metro Line 10, stop Porte d’Auteuil and the gates are literally, steps from the Metro exit.  The Hippodrome has been completely renovated this past year and is looking better than ever.   On a sunny day, the views to the Eiffel Tower and the hot air balloon at Parc Andre Citroen, are superb!   Children under 12 admitted FREE for every Sunday race day.  Adult admission 8 euros, reduced fare for students or Seniors, 5 euros. Hats not obligatory!

Check out http://www.clubfrancegalop.com   to join for FREE and receive reduced and/or  free admissions for various races in the Paris environs.      www.dimanchesaugalop.com    is the website in English and French with the full calendar of races and special events in the Spring, Sunday Racing Series.

Missed the Spring series or won’t be in Paris until October?    Check out my blog post of October 3, 2013 on the 92nd running of the Prix de Qatar

Need a little more horse in your life?!     Mark your calendars for the Paris area upcoming races out at the Chateau Chantilly racetrack, June 1, Prix du Jockey Club and June 15  for the running of the Prix de Diane Longines.   http://www.prix-de-diane.com

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