Archive for April, 2017

Auguste Rodin – in Paris and Meudon

April 17, 2017 @ 9:00 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Auguste Rodin Museum in Paris France

Grand windows, soft light and Rodin’s masterful works

I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need. ~ Auguste Rodin

Sculpture draws me, as if it wraps a silk scarf about my waist and tugs ever so gently, until I come into the fold. Naturally, Musée Rodin topped my initial list of things to do and see in Paris. But this museum eluded me. First visit – closed. Second visit – a minor ‘strike’. Third visit – a friend’s wallet went missing, before we ever arrived.

Finally, I was able to step into the mansion and through the gardens. The museum is housed in the magnificent 18th-century hôtel particulier known today as Hôtel Biron. Officially opened in 1919, the museum and all of Rodin’s works in plaster, marble, bronze and stone, as well as all of his drawings were given by Rodin to the French nation. What a miracle of time and preservation to be able to see the alabaster marble figures, to fathom the birth of sculpture from sketches and paintings.

And, then, to walk among the garden figures – the shy and shame-filled figures of Adam and Eve, the Gates of Hell and – bien sur! – The Thinker. My husband and I retraced my original steps during a recent visit. Time had taken no edge from the spectacular beauty of Rodin’s works, but we did notice the march of time and tourists over patched parquet floors and well-worn walls.

Paris musee rodin

Pleasant moments in the garden cafe

We were delighted to see that a 16-million Euro restoration took place from 2012 to 2015, restoring the lovely mansion, opening new visiting rooms and renewing the museography of Rodin’s collections.  One of the most exciting changes was the redesign of its interior to reveal the creative development of Rodin’s work and that of some of his contemporaries, including Camille Claudel.  Visitors now literally see can trace the works’ movement from plaster to completion in bronze or marble.  For the first time, we see the sculptor’s genius evolve.

Villa des Brillants, Auguste Rodin's home in Meudon

Villa des Brillants, Meudon

On our return to Paris, we definitely will spend a morning at this lovely museum and end our visit with lunch in the garden.  Just imagine – the wonder of visiting Rodin’s enchanting home, immersing yourself in his work, wandering through the sculpture garden and lingering over lunch like privileged guests.

Sadly, there are no more extended evening hours, but no problem.  We would not miss this precious experience.  We also look to add to our experience with  the discovery of The Villa des Brillants, Rodin’s Meudon residence and studios, where he lived with and later married Rose Beurret. They are buried here in Meudon, their tomb dominated by an imposing, full-size copy of The Thinker.

I really can’t help but compare the cost of this dual experience of museums – 13 Euros per person ($13.83) to the cost in Orlando for a movie or museum.  Incomparable – and one of the many reasons Paris spoils us!

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Easter in Paris? – American Churches

April 14, 2017 @ 3:25 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris France

American Church in Paris on quai d’Orsay

Throughout the Christian faith, Good Friday marks a somber beginning to a weekend that ends in hope and lily-filled celebrations on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, church bells throughout France fall silent from Maundy Thursday until Easter Sunday. With much of the French populace Roman Catholic, all of the cities, towns and villages have a church – many with a bell.   As Easter approaches, the somber reflection on Christ’s crucifixion and death is reflected in the quiet, and French parents tell their children – in fun – that the chimes have flown to Rome to see the Pope.

Easter Sunday – voila!  The celebrations of the Resurrection begin with the joyous pealing of the bells throughout the country. Lilies adorn the church, and Christians gather to rejoice that Christ ‘is risen indeed’.

One of many things we plan for our next trip to Paris is attending the American Church in Paris. The church offers a phenomenal gathering place for people of many denominations and interests. They offer traditional and contemporary liturgical services and host a number of specific interest groups. One, Bloom Where You are Planted, helps English-speaking newcomers settle in to their new life in Paris. Part of the church’s stated mission is “…to provide a place of English language worship in the American Protestant tradition, and to engage in ministries and services that enrich the lives of residents and visitors in Paris.

The first American church established outside of the United States, the ACP dates to 1814; though its official charter and sanctuary were established in 1857. Since 1931, the church has welcomed worshippers to the quai d’Orsay location along the Seine.

Not too far away on Avenue George V, the American Cathedral in Paris is a center of worship for English-speakers abroad. Permanent parishioners total about 400 and their numbers swell considerably with students, tourists and business persons in Paris on shorter-term assignments.

Appropriately, the Cathedral was consecrated on Thanksgiving Day in 1886, but its roots go back further to the days when American Episcopalians gathered for worship in the 1830s. The Cathedral serves as the “mother church” for the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Wherever you and your family will celebrate this season of renewal and joy, we wish you Peace and Hope for the days that lie ahead.

href=”mailto:swsheridan@luxeeuro.com”>We’d love to hear from you!

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Picard Gourmet Frozen Food

April 5, 2017 @ 6:13 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris frozen foods

A surprising and vast collection of frozen foods

Vraiment, leave it to the French to offer decidedly upscale choices in frozen food.  Several times we have walked past these Parisian stores with a mere glance in their direction, apparently without enough curiosity to take a closer look. I’m talking about Picard Les Surgelés, and I must steal a phrase from someone else who penned a word or two about this chain.  They likened the store to a cryogenics laboratory – not, mind you, that I’ve been to such a lab – and the reference seems to capture the cool exterior, relative lack of color, fluorescent lighting and refrigerated cases along the walls.

Then someone in our delightful “France Fanatics” Facebook group, stepped out with the question: “Has anyone else who travels to France found Picard great in a pinch, or am I alone on this?”  As with every other French-related question in this 2,000-member group of Francophiles, candid and enthusiastic responses poured through Mr. Zuckerberg’s gates.

The comments ranged from ‘very good products’ and ‘In the US, the closest thing … is probably Trader Joes’ to ‘the French homemaker’s best friend’ and ‘Everything was delicious!’  As I probed further, I found that the company was founded in 1906, is headquartered in Fontainebleau, and now has 1,000 stores in France and has expanded to Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Sweden.

So why all the excitement?  How are they different from Marie Callender, Stouffer’s or other prominent frozen food brands in the United States?  Well, I think the dominant differences are quite impressive – like raising their très haute offerings well beyond mac ‘n cheese and chicken pot pies to include an enticing collection of French recipes as well as fresh-frozen, unenchanced ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry.

Picard frozen foods of france

Chicken and asparagus – delicieux!

Let’s try a sampling, shall we?  How about Basque chicken or a savory potato-ham-Emmentaler cheese dish, saumon en croute or barbeque ribs?  Add lovely desserts – even coffee éclairs, starters and even some essentials like minced shallots, chopped herbes and a variety of sauces from Thai curry to beurre blanc.  With over 1,200 products, the range is pretty magnificent and even downright exotic – peeled chestnuts and pumpkin purée, to name a couple.

Especially appealing is the care that goes into production and distribution. Tapping into the deeply-rooted food culture of France, Picard stays close to farmers and other food producers to tap high quality sources – fully 67% of their products originate in France, where pesticide and fertilizer use is strictly limited.  Production standards are precise and rigorous; and the company controls every aspect of production, ensuring adherence to required temperatures and avoiding the need for additives and preservatives.

Shoppers utilize large, insulated bags to maintain those proper temperatures en route to their homes.  Not surprisingly, the French ranked Picard their favorite brand a couple of years ago, and it fails to be a well-guarded secret that Picard is well represented at many dinner parties.

I’m convinced.  Next trip, for the occasional at-home meal, we’ll stop in at Picard Surgelés.  I imagine we will start with the molten chocolate cake, apparently quite the favorite with over two million purchased per year!

 We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Sunday Brunch at La Mère Poulard

April 2, 2017 @ 1:45 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Airy omelets in the making

Just finished brunch on this lovely, if warm, Sunday.  In looking back through France Daily Photo archives, I come across this petite jewel – a reminiscence of a rainy but enchanting brunch in the North of France. Hope you enjoy the ‘memory trip’, as you relax this Sunday.

Once again, it is perhaps time for a Sunday adventure.  Shall we go for an elaborate lunch on Mont Saint-Michel?  Yes, time to climb the stairs to the rather elegant dining room at La Mère Poulard, but don’t forget to stop by the entry to see those fluffy omelets being prepared.

When Mont Saint-Michel opened its cloistered doors to the world in 1872, Annette Poulard was just twenty.  She and her husband opened their inn and restaurant in 1888, and their hospitality has been non-stop since, offering rest and fabulous meals to travelers.

After lunch, we’ll stroll through the village streets and look over the magnificent sea.  That’s exactly what we did, but I hasten to add that rain had swept in from the sea limiting vistas and the endurance that might otherwise have allowed thorough discovery.  C’est la vie!  Still an indelible experience!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved