The surprise I promised yesterday? A wonderful little jazz bar that sits in the shadow of the Panthéon in Paris’ Latin Quarter. Just around the corner from that grand edifice at rue Laplace, Piano Vache (oui – Piano Cow!) has entertained customers for 25 years with the appealing promise:
« Ici le bar est roi et la convivialité est Reine. » (Here the bar is King and the friendliness is Queen).
And that promise doesn’t even taken into account the ultra-reasonable prices (no cover and a modest increase in drink prices during shows) and the excellent music. Every Monday, for example, the Rodolphe Raffalli Gypsy Jazz trio from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Bon week-end à vous!
I have enjoyed a lovely beginning to mine. I savored a long pre-dawn phone conversation with my friend in Paris, where she described a dark, rainy morning in the Latin Quarter. So, as she sipped her coffee and I did the same in Orlando, we shared our news and plans… which are not so very different except for a musical treat … more tomorrow on that!
I will get in my car to run my errands, drive to the grocery store, choose among thousands of products and, yes, some fresh fruit and produce and perhaps a rotisserie chicken. We have the pleasure of shopping here in Orlando at Publix, a very nice supermarket with a strong customer focus.
BUT….yes – all caps….my friend will walk out of her door for a few short blocks to begin her descent through the Saturday market along rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter.
Since they will be dining with friends in the evening, her focus will be on tantalizing desserts to bring; though she will likely pop in to say hello to Fred in the wine shop and stop at the fromagerie for a wedge or two of cheese. She will pass by the sizzling rotisseries filled with plump chickens and potatoes roasting in their juices. Gorgeous fruit and vegetables will invite her attention as will very appealing floral bouquets.
I know my friend. She will stop for another coffee, perhaps at the bottom of Mouffetard at Cave la Bourgogne, where she can enjoy the fountain view and people watching from an outdoor table.
Voila…then across the street to Saine Saveurs, a wonderful bakery, where we purchase our Galette des Rois to celebrate the New Year.
I would far prefer my friend’s experience, bien sur! No problem. On my own ordinary shopping trip, I will select a little bouquet and fresh croissants to enjoy a vicarious French experience.
Wishing you a Bon Week-end!
We’d love to hear from you!
Today I thought about the many fabulous Paris museums – grand and petite – that we have had the privilege and pleasure to visit. From the monumental Louvre to the petite Musée Rodin, any visitor may relish some of the world’s finest art treasures in the City of Light.
As always though, my thoughts wandered directly to the art of the entire city – in the gardens, supporting building columns, gracing bridges and soaring upward in grand old department stores. One tiny memory surfaced, when my dear friend led me like a gently-tethered pet to catch glimpses of grandeur in her adopted city.
During an evening walk, we crossed Pont des Arts headed directly toward the magnificent gilded cupola of the Institut de France. Stunning enough, I would say, but no. My friend said, “We need to duck around here to the hotel where Oscar Wilde lived.”
I needed no prompting, as we worked our way behind the Institut to rue des Beaux Arts and stepped into one of the most charming venues of Paris. Before extolling the hotel’s virtues, I have to share the moment of beauty that seared itself indelibly in my memory – the six-story staircase that winds like an elegant serpent upward to the twenty rooms above in such a quietly spectacular manner.
How hard can it be to take in such a visual feast and imagine the moments enjoyed here by the likes of Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace and Salvador Dali? Yes, I would very much welcome my husband and I adding our names to that esteemed guest register!
Fortunately, genuine connoisseurs understand the subtle blend of opulent and understated. L’Hotel is one such place, a timeless jewel – the smallest, 5-star hotel in Paris. The name itself speaks volumes – a simple, refined statement for a far-from-ordinary hotel.
In this case, pictures are well worth thousands of words, so step through the hotel with me to take in the venue that has presented privileged Paris visitors with stellar hospitality for over two centuries. And, by the way, regardless of room rates, I love the fact that L’Hotel doesn’t quibble over details, offering a complimentary continental breakfast.
Many readers and friends have asked about my book publication – How long did it take? How did you choose what to include and what to omit? Why does a relatively small book cost nearly twenty dollars?
Who am I to generate such questions? Certainly not Jeanette Steinbeck or Ernestine Hemingway! Yet, I did do this thing. I did publish my Fired Up for France: The Promise of Paris. Whether or not “mon livre” represents the respectable non-fiction genre, an appealing impetus to travel or a nostalgic walk through The City of Light; it most certainly embodies a painstaking labor of love and an authentic entreaty to GO TO PARIS!
How long did my book take to complete? Certainly the first tiny seeds were tucked away, when I launched my blog – Francedailyphoto.com – in 2011. Though time constraints prevent my posting as frequently today than in the beginning, I enjoy the outlet for my teeming feelings about Paris and France. The serious ‘lets-write-this-book’ initiative began with a query to a fellow author in June of 2013. With an overwhelming number of interests and ideas, I believe he and my husband Leo helped me to filter down to the crux of The Promise of Paris. And that core of the book is sharing my genuine love of Paris with a mix of travel tips and authentic vignettes designed to prompt those delaying their first … or fifteenth trip to GO TO PARIS! Our lives have been so enriched with each and every trip that I wanted to share that passion.
From defining that core purpose and theme to actual publication took nearly two years. Two years to write, re-write, edit, re-write again, question myself, add a few paragraphs about famous Americans in Paris, delete an anecdote or two that I felt didn’t really matter. And several months to organize, re-organize, choose photos, and work hand-in-hand with a fabulous design team. We spent many weeks trying to produce a book that would be visually appealing and personally satisfying.
How did I choose the subjects and photos included in my book? I wish I could say that I crafted a scholarly outline that grew from prolonged research and informed focus groups, but that isn’t true. I wanted a spontaneous and fresh look at my favorite city – a book with a touch of serendipity and an honest evaluation of what matters in making travel decisions. I wanted to share delightful moments and meals, pinch-me-moments along the Seine and the pleasure of vacation rental experiences that to some degree mirror the everyday life of Parisians. And I haven’t even touched on shopping in Paris! I must be one of the most self-controlled travelers ever to visit Paris, because undoubtedly I have purchased a mere 1/1000th of the goods after which I lusted. No problem, though – the lusting was fun too!
Why the price tag on a relatively small book? Part of the cost of production has to do with print-on-demand economics. I know that many books have been written about Paris, and neither a publisher nor I was ready to invest in a big print run only to face the possibility of hundreds of books gathering dust. With print on demand; you want it, we print it. I do keep a personal stash, though, for direct orders; so I can sign, as desired and include a small gift with the purchase of a book.
Printing in color is the other considerable part of the price equation. As we began our layout, we started with black-and-white photos. They looked ‘nice’, but they did not jump off the page and wrap around your heart like my beautiful color photographs do. Given that so great a part of my purpose in writing was to encourage others to GO TO PARIS, I felt the use of color was essential to conveying that meaning and message. A Kindle version is another possibility for lower pricing, but I want to make sure the demand exists and the finished product will do justice to the printed book.
And what’s next? Good question. With some degree of learning curve under my belt, I intend to get Fired Up for other areas – Lyon, the Loire Valley, Provence and beyond. In our 700+ strong France Fanatics group on Facebook, I see so many questions about travel throughout France – questions that make people fearful or unsure about how to go about their planning. So, I am looking at producing other editions to cover different areas and potentially the launch of a personal, customized service to help travelers plan their specific itineraries.