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

Le Petit Zinc, Belle Epoque Dining

DSCN2371

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.

DSCN2376DSCN2365

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

DSCN2363DSCN2373DSCN2380DSCN2362DSCN2378DSCN2369

Le Meurice is Le Fab!!

DSCN6484DSCN6505DSCN6507

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!!

DSCN6488DSCN6490DSCN6503

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.

DSCN6502DSCN6499DSCN6500

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.

DSCN6508DSCN6511DSCN6509DSCN6512DSCN6491DSCN6492DSCN6497DSCN6501

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

DSCN5118  DSCN5123

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.

DSCN5122DSCN5125DSCN5117DSCN5142DSCN5126DSCN5128DSCN4992DSCN5141DSCN5146DSCN5025DSCN5138DSCN5120-001DSCN4991  DSCN5012  DSCN5027

DSCN5115

 

 

The Original Macaron

DSCN4364

On a recent day trip to Nancy, Sole Traveling Mama and her eldest daughter were delighted to discover and taste test what are deemed to be the absolute original macarons.    For over 200 years, the secret recipe has been carefully guarded and passed down through the generations.   The secret is currently “held” by Nicolas Genot of the Maison des Soeurs Macarons.

Originally created by the Benedictine nuns in their Nancy convent, the dear nuns escaped with not just their lives, but their baking secrets intact after the 1792 Act of Suppression for Religious Orders shut down their convent.    Seeking refuge in the home of  Doctor Gormand at 10 Rue de la Hache, they baked their macarons as a means of supporting themselves, and “voila”, the famous Nancy macaron became a commercial  success!   It took until 1952, however, for the city of Nancy to rename the street on which their convent once stood, La Rue des Soeurs Macarons (The Macaron Sisters Street!)

Unlike the macarons we are accustomed to devouring, the Nancy “original” macarons are what we would think of as the top half of a macaron – no filling.    Delicious with a coffee or tea, the macarons are a delicate blending of sugar and almonds.   Yum!!

Offering a variety of  gift tins and boxes, beautifully wrapped, these make a lovely edible souvenir of a great trip to an interesting city.

Located at 21, rue Gambetta, Nancy France 54000, just steps from Stanislaus Square in the heart of the Old City.

http://www.macaron-de-nancy.com

http://www.mangerbouger.fr

Just Around the Corner…..

Image

Sole Traveling Mama never ceases to be amazed at the gems that just seem to pop up out of nowhere in her travels around the City of Light.    Just a few days ago, she was on a mission to find her daughter boots at the sales, and wandering along in the 9th, they turned a corner and were astounded to see this view!!!!   How could they not have seen this before?!    Of course, the sky is the limit with what euros can buy you here in Paris, but the looking is always FREE, and oh what you can see when you just set out to wander!

This view is waiting to be discovered on Rue Laffitte, Paris 75009

Belle Epoque Dining at Bofinger

DSCN3099

A stop at the delightful Bofinger makes for a delicious respite in your touring of the Marais and is also a destination in it’s own right.   Serving traditional Alsatian Brasserie fare since 1864,  your senses will be nearly on overload with the savory smells, tastes and glamorous ambiance of it all!

Frederic Bofinger, a native of Colmar in the Alsace region of Northeastern France, founded his brasserie, that was the first one in all Paris to serve draught beer!   How cool is that?!    His business really began to boom due to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and subsequent annexation of Alsace and Lorraine in 1872 by the German Empire, causing a massive influx of refugees from those areas into Paris, looking for comfort food and camaraderie.     1919 saw a major renovation of Bofinger with the addition of the stunning Belle Epoque decor and dome that guests see today.     When you dine here, you are in the company of generations of discerning guests, including a past French President.    Francois Mitterrand chose to have his election party here on the first floor in 1981, celebrating his victory as the new President of France.

Bofinger is open daily for lunch, Mondays through Saturdays, 12:00-3:00 and  dinner  hours 6:30-12:00.  Sundays offer continual service 12:00-12:00.    There are 2 choices for the lunch set menu, both are a great deal at 29.90 euros for a 2 course meal of starter and main or main and dessert, or the 3 course meal offered at 36.50 euros for starter, main and dessert.     Sole Traveling Mama lunched there on a Friday with her daughter and received excellent, friendly service with an even better meal of salmon and vegetables and  a huge, rum creme brulee with the requisite crispy top for dessert.     It’s not just a meal, it’s an experience!

Located at 5-7 rue de la Bastille, Paris 75004, only 5 minutes from Place Voges.   Metro stop Bastille on Lines 1, 5 and 8.    www.bofingerparis.com  +33  01 42 72 87 82  Reservations a must.

Belle Epoque Dining at Bofinger

The Sisters of Napoleon

DSCN3105

Hurry!    You DON”T want to miss this exhibition like the STM almost did!    A petit problem with  living in Paris or planning your holiday there, is that there is always so much going on that you must be organized to not miss out on anything!   After all, aren’t you visiting because you want to do it ALL?!

Only showing until Monday, January 26, at the Musee Marmottan   http://www.museemarmottan.fr  if you are a lover of the Napoleonic era, or just a lover of things beautiful, put this exhibition on your agenda.

Elisa, Pauline and Caroline were the sparkling jewels in the diadem of Napoleon.   Intelligent, cultured, strikingly beautiful and at times, quite scandalous, they were great patrons of music and literature and held salons attended by some of the greatest minds o f the time.    With their fortunes tied to the rise of their brother’s power, they “married up” with Elisa becoming the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Pauline marrying the Prince Borghese  and Caroline marrying Joachim Murat a top General of Napoleon’s who was crowned as the King of Naples with her becoming  Queen.    

Many of the items in the exhibition are on loan from private collections, which makes it possibly your only chance to see these pieces and paintings.   A number of items are on loan from museums in Rome and Naples.    Personally, STM adored the court portrait of Caroline with her daughter, painted by her favorite portraiture artist, Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun.    Vigee Le Brun was the favorite painter of Marie Antoinette and was the back-up choice for Caroline as the painter she wanted was already commissioned for work.  The relationship between the two was quite contentious, although the stress involved in the sittings and personal dealing doesn’t show at all in the luminosity and beauty of this painting.     In typical Vigee Le Brun style, Caroline looks radiant and as if she is ready to step right out of the portrait.     A green and white court dress of Pauline’s is also displayed, which she wore during Napoleon’s “court in exile” and the regal coronation portrait of the man himself, Napoleon, in his ermine robes, gown embroidered with golden bees  and laurel wreath crown.     There are a few pieces of jewelry and gorgeous pieces of table service too.

The Musee Marmottan is located at 2 rue Louis-Boilly in 75016, Metro Line 9 stop LaMuette.     The museum is open 10:00-18:00, admission cost 10 euros for adults and reduced to 5 euros for under 18 and students to age 25 with ID

 Sadly, the Museum doesn’t permit photos, even without a flash.