Le Bon Marche’ Paris. A Stunning Food Hall In A Historic Department Store In A Great Neighborhood.

The area around Metro Sevres Babylone in the 6th androissement  does not always come up on the radar of a trip to Paris.  That is a pity.  It is home to good food, a great hotel which has been under renovation for who knows how long (over 2 years actually) and one of the finest if not the finest food hall in Paris located in the historic department store Le Bon Marche.  You can plan a walk, a visit to a wine bar after your walk or lunch at a number of good restaurants. Or just go shopping.

 

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On exiting the metro station you will see a non descript park, more of a square.  From there walk onto to the intersection of Rue de Sevres and  Boulevard Raspail.  Looking across the street, you will see the Hotel Lutetia.  This famous landmark has been under construction since 2014 and should reopen this year. Now looking the other way down Rue de Sevres, you will see a monument to the world of shopping, Le Bon Marche. Well you won’t exactly see all of it because it too is being renovated.

 

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Le Bon Marche is the world’s first modern department store. It was founded over 100 years ago in 1857 and it too is being completely remodeled to highlight its beautiful stately architecture.  The interior is simply stunning.

 

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But we weren’t there for the architecture.  As I have often written, eating in Paris is about a lot more than the restaurants.   European produce is exceptional in quality and look.  It is a cornucopia of this part of the world,  French salads and chicories, Spanish asparagus and squash, Belgian endive.  And rather than trying to list them, just all look at their beauty and the way they are presented.  We can all learn.  Lighting please American grocery stores?

 

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This food hall has everything you might need to cook a very very good meal including a full service butcher and fish monger.  Or do what we did.  We stayed at the Yellow Flat and enjoyed a simple dinner featuring artisan quality Italian pasta and pesto with shaved parmesan, steamed asparagus with Normandy butter and a salad composed of butter lettuce and chicories.    For Flo a cold Sancerre for me a dry Chinon.  Dessert two pastries from their bakery, a coffee eclair and a strawberry tart.  Why go out?

And all of this from a true temple of food.

If you need a little refreshment or lunch after shopping try these local establishments:

For lunch an old favorite, L’Epi Dupin, Address: 11 Rue Dupin, 75006 Paris, France. Phone:+33 1 42 22 64 56.  Very tourist friendly without sacrificing food quality.

For a glass of wine Le Sauvignon.  You can order light food there as well,  80, Rue des Saints-Pères – 75006.  Just past the Lutetia.  Phone 01.45.48.49.02. An honest simple establishment.

To reach Le Bon Marche from the Yellow Flat take the line 10 direction Gare D’Austerlitz.  Its just 4 stops.

Bon Appetit.

Jules and Flo.

10 Things We Love About Our Yellow Flat.

It’s rather amazing but it has been ten years since we finished renovating our Yellow Flat Paris and began sharing it with our guests.  Along they way we have gotten to know a wonderful community of people who enjoyed our pied a terre as much as we did.  So to celebrate the 10th anniversary Florence and I took a moment to think about what makes this place so special and why we enjoy it so much every time we visit Paris.

Number 1. Something new! Our comfortable queen sized bed. We sleep well after a day of enjoying a day in the city.  Good reading lights too.

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2.  Our living room couch.  We love the wonderful late afternoon light on the corner seat of the couch reading or just relaxing and taking it in.   It makes a great second bed for our extra guests.

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3.  The third thing that the we love about the Yellow Flat is our remodeled kitchen, efficient as hell and fully stocked. And our new espresso machine.

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4.  Our shower. It has so much hot water and great pressure. Perfect for relaxing after  a day of touring or walking.

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5.  The two-minute walk to the Champ De Mars park to look at the Eiffel Tower. We never get tired of looking at.  It is spectacular at any time of the day.

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Or night.

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6.  Walking to Poilane bakery for their amazing breads and morning pastries. Yes those are some amazing apple ‘chansons’ that make a perfect breakfast.

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7.   Two glasses of rose’ on the terrace enjoying the afternoon sun.  No comment needed.

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8.   The views of the Parisian skyline from our floor to ceiling sliding glass windows in the living room and bedroom.

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9.   Buying a salad at the Grenelle Marche bringing it home and enjoying it with a plate of artisan cheeses and a fresh baguette. And perhaps a lightly chilled Chinon or Bourgogne Aligote to go with it?

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10. The 10th reason to love the Yellow Flat is that we are celebrating our 10th anniversary. So please take 10% off of any booking of a week’s stay during July or August 2016. Just mention our 10th anniversary celebration when you book. And enjoy this shot from 2006 when we were finishing construction.

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As well as that wood paneling from the old kitchen.  It seems so dated in style.

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As a further thank you to everyone who has stayed with us over the years I am happy to send you an 8 by 10 print of any photo that has appeared in this blog  Just tell us your story on our Facebook page and mention the photo you have in mind.  Or ask me to pick one.  Like this one for example.  I think its pretty cool.

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All the best.

Jules and Florence

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www.yellowflat.com

Don’t be scared, it’s only French cheese.

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Going to Paris and not enjoying French cheese is a sin. There are hundreds and hundreds of kinds to choose from, a cornucopia of taste, texture and color. But finding the right one is often confusing as they vary by age, % of butter fat, region and the animal that produces the milk to start with.

Cheese lovers traveling to France can be divided into the aficionados, the scared and the curious.   This article is for the latter two groups. Hard core cheese lovers have plenty of books and blogs to enjoy (for example, look at: (chezlouloufrance.blogspot.com).

For the rest of us, French cheese is often a daunting subject.  Just look at this one ooze out of its skin.

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Now I have a confession to make.  I like mild cheese.  White cheese.  Mozzarella.  Jack. Queso Fresco. Always have and will.    And I am here to tell you there are plenty of French cheeses even the timid amongst you to enjoy.  Cheeses that are flavorful, delicious and very accessible.  And better yet, unpasteurized.  No soap box here, those cheeses taste better.  Period.

Still scared? Look at these little squares of fresh goat cheese covered in finely chopped chives.  How could anything so cute hurt you?

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Better yet, with the current exchange rate, cheese in France is a good deal.  Remember, you are buying in grams, so 200 grams (about 7 ounces so almost half a pound) is a good portion and what seems like an expensive price of say 25 Euros a kilo is only $12.80 a pound).

There is really only one place to buy cheese in Paris and that is the local cheese shop.  Take the time to find one close to where you are staying as every neighborhood has one.  Some have special owners that have passed the strict French regulations and been awarded the title of  ‘affineur’.  Affineurs are a part of the process of finding and creating great cheeses as they play a roll in the aging process as well.

In the 7th district there are two affineurs that we enjoy:

Marie Cantin (www.cantin.fr).  Marie and her husband Antoine’s shop has sold fine French cheeses since 1950.  They offer cheese classes as well.  The shop is located at 12 Rue Champ De Mars, metro Ecole Militaire.  Tel: 33 (0)1 45 50 43 94.

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On the other side of the Champ De Mars is Fromagerie Laurent DuBois.  (www.fromageslaurentdubois.fr)  There are three shops, the one we go to is located at 2 Rue De Lourmel, Metro Dupleix.

To get a sense of how an affineur views cheese, here is a quote from the Laurent DuBois website:

“The quality of a cheese depends on a complex series of steps. First, the search for good producers with whom we need to create a lasting partnership, and the selection of the cheeses. Then comes the aging in our cellars, keeping in the mind that the talent of the ripener lies in bringing the product to the point of excellent flavor. This precise moment also defines my taste for cheese, the particular time at which I think the cheese has the reached its peak of flavor. Then you need to know how to sell the cheese at the right moment, and thus advise clients who share our curiosity and our pleasure in the taste of good cheese.”

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Here are some basic vocabulary that you will need to know to select cheese.

Goat:  Chèvre.  Cow:  Vache

Sheep:  Brebis.  Made on a farm: Fermier

Made by a coop. Cooperative.

Artisanal is artisanal.  No surprise there.

Soft.  Doux. Aged: Gardes

Fresh: Frais

Which brings us to a list of five choices for you to try:

Goat cheese is chèvre.  Look for chèvre that is soft and fresh and when in doubt in a restaurant it is always good on a salad. Unless you know what you are getting into stay away from the ones called crotin, they are aged and strong.

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Tomme de Savoie.  Mild semi soft cheese from the French Alps.

Ossau-Itray  Semi soft sheep’s cheese from the Basque Country.

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Comte.  Unpasteurized cows cheese from Eastern France.  Slightly sweet nutty taste.

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Brie. Brie has a reputation for gummy soulless cheese that lack character.  But if you can find an unpasteurized versions of this creamy cows milk cheese in Paris, it will change your mind.

And last but not least, stay away from the Epoisse.  Avoid this stinker at all costs.

To my way of thinking, if you take the time to make a meal out of 30 euros of cheese a baguette and a good bottle of wine you can’t go wrong. It has always worked for us.

Jules and Flo. www.yellowflat.com.

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The Eiffel Tower Is Paris. Photos, Reflections And Meditations.

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The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris.  Built in 1889 to celebrate the Worlds Fair, it contains a combination of history, engineering, location and visual power unmatched by any other urban landmark.

It is the sense of visual dominance that amazes during a visit to Paris.  It seems to pop up wherever you whether you are walking near the Seine, taking an elevated metro ride or looking out from a balcony.  When you see it, the Eiffel Tower commands your attention more than 125 years after it was built.  And for bonus points it sparkles every hour at night once in a show of thousands of small lights reflecting against the dark sky.

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It starts with a massive base.  Powerful yet delicate, an erector set gone mad.

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It rises in a lattice work of metal.

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Up into the sky.

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It is beautiful in the day.

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And night.

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Winter.

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Spring.

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Summer.

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Fall.  (Well sort of this was shot in August when it is really quiet).

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Even though it has been photographed a million times, it is often not any easy object to shoot.  It has a sense of scope, size and shape that make it a challenge.  But that hasn’t stopped anyone from trying.  Indeed, it the subject of millions of poses.

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And selfies.

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It is a scene. The scene of numerous weddings.

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And bike rides.  With a stop for coffee of course.

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It peeks out from behind buildings.

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And trees.

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Or just plain dominates the skyline.

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You can enjoy the view from the left bank on a foggy night.

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Or the right bank on a sunny day.

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From the deck of a barge.

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Or the splendor of the Trocadero.

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And many times it is simply a great place to chill on a sunny day.

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The Eiffel Tower is much more than a tower.  It is what makes Paris Paris.

The Eiffel Tower is the subject of our new Yellow Flat fridge magnet.  If you would like one, just drop me an email at jkragen@prodigy.net and I will get it right out.

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Want to dig deep? Here is a link to some history: http://www.history.com/topics/eiffel-tower

The Yellow Flat is a vacation apartment located 5 to 10 minutes from the Eiffel Tower, a very easy walk.  We look forward to hosting you there and seeing your photos of the Eiffel Tower.

Jules and Flo.

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News And Views From The Yellow Flat. And A Deal Too.

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Change is in the air at the Yellow Flat Paris.

For the past 10 years we have enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie of Thierry, the manager of the Yellow Flat.  He is a large part of what makes it so special.  But he is ready to spend more time with his family, his wife and his 4 grandchildren and will be leaving us at the end of the year.  We wish Thierry the best and thank him for the professional and graceful way he worked with our guests.  We will miss his humor and most of all his laugh.  To his health!

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Sante!

Change is part of life and we take this opportunity to offer new services and options to improve your vacation in Paris.  Let us introduce you to Lisa Elias and Sasha Romary of Savoir Faire Paris (SFP).  Their boutique agency will manage the Yellow Flat starting in January of 2016. Both are fully bi-lingual.  They are also charming, attentive and professional.

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Every guest at the Yellow Flat will receive a welcome basket including tea or coffee, sparkling water and a snack such as a croissant in the morning or baguette and cheese in the afternoon. The apartment will be set with fresh flowers.   The apartment will always be stocked with the things you need to enjoy your stay, dish soap, hand soap, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo etc.  You will still have the package of services we offered in the past including airport pick up and return by a reliable driver for the same price as a taxi or lower as well as the option to stock the refrigerator full of groceries when you arrive. And as always, if you are missing something, just ask.

We have a new espresso machine (Nespresso) and flat screen TV waiting for you.  We are updating our wi-fi to a fast fiber optic system for easy communication.  Free calls home will continue as well.

Do you need help planning your trip, making dinner reservations or travel plans?  Would a personal concierge in Paris be of help to you?  You can purchase 2 hours of planning services through SFP, just let us know and we will send you more information.

The events of November 13 rocked Paris and frankly our family as well.  We want to show support for everyone who works and lives in Paris and to thank those of you who stayed at our Yellow Flat.   We offer a 10% discount on any rental during 2016 to previous guests.  That offer extends to any referral that you make to your friends and family.  Just make the reservation by March 31, 2016 and be sure to let us know when you stayed with us.  Drop us a line and let us know when you want to come.

Our very comfy couch is waiting for you and so is that view from the terrace. Come visit Paris and enjoy the Yellow Flat in 2016.

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My favorite spot to relax.

All the best,

Jules and Flo.

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We Feel The Pain Of Paris. What Can We Do Now?

The Eiffel Tower Shines On

The Eiffel Tower Shines On In The Night

The city of Paris has a Latin motto which is: ‘Fluctuat ned mergitur”. The translation to English is ‘tossed by the water but not sunk’.

When visiting Paris the week the before the November 13 massacres, I enjoyed the hospitality of a city full of spirit, wonder and warmth. The first night there I had long-planned a visit to the wine bar at Verjus to enjoy the explosion of informal drinking and enjoying smaller plates that has spread across the city.  Imagine my surprise. When I arrived I found that it was closed for a private party.  We lingered for a moment on the street and struck up a conversation with a man who turned out to be the host of the party. Seeing our disappointment, he invited us into his birthday celebration for a glass of red wine.

Doors opened to us.

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Verjus Wine Bar Paris

Now doors need to remain open for them.

I walked the streets of the 10th and 11th.  The district was packed with people out enjoying their lives in these vibrant neighborhoods.  7 days later hell would break loose.

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The decision of whether to travel and where to travel will always be personal. Only you can decide whether to travel to Paris, or for that matter Beirut or Tel Aviv or whatever city struggles with the horrors of this modern world.

I ask you to go. When you do, think about this: By doing so you stand in defiance of those that who act without regard to human life. You stand in support of the working people of Paris, from the maid that cleans your room to the chef at a gourmet restaurant to the bartender who pours your wine.

Parisians are returning to their cafes.  They will not back down. Will you join them?

A glass of Calvados at Odeon.

A glass of Calvados at Odeon in the 6th.  The way to finish a night.

We are tossed by turbulent waters but our spirit must not sink.  When you wonder, when you doubt, do not give in.   Go to Paris for the first time or the 10th.  It is the loudest statement that you can make to honor the 128 innocents who died.

Walking The Marais: Charlie Hebdo Is Not Forgotten.  And You Can Find World’s Best Sandwich Too.

Walking The Marais: Charlie Hebdo Is Not Forgotten. And You Can Find World’s Best Sandwich Too.

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The world was overwhelmed by the events that stunned the City of Paris on January 7, 2015. While events quickly fade into the collectively memory of new tragedies, short news cycles and equally short attention spans, a recent walk around the Marais showed that the spirit of those cut down that day lives on in graffiti and street art throughout the area. This brings a new dimension of interest to an already authentic and historic part of the city, perfect for a mid day walk featuring a self-described ‘worlds greatest sandwich’ and a visit to an up and coming new bakery for dessert.

Start this walk at the metro station Republique. Take a moment to enjoy this bustling square in the heart of the theatre district and be careful as you exit, it is easy to lose direction and get confused.  Once you find Rue Beranger head away front the square, turn right on Rue De Picardie and continue to Rue De Bretagne.  Once there and if your walk is early stop for breakfast at the very neighborhoody Cafe Charlot where you can enjoy poached organic eggs and a good cup of coffee.

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Lunch is a toss-up, you can have it there the cafe or continue on to the Marche Des Enfant Rouges, the oldest covered market in Paris dating to the XVI century.  The Marche is just across the Rue De Bretagne, you can’t miss the entry sign. It is a beautiful covered market full of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

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And this massive block of cheese.  Think about it.

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This man has a food stall in the middle of the market with the longest line.

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He said that he makes the world’s greatest sandwich.  We had already eaten lunch but I would love to hear from a reader who has tried one to see if this true.  It looked amazing and he may be right.

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As you continue to walk you will see posters and graffiti reflecting the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. They are everywhere.

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This one really got me, it translates to maybe it is time to start to get back to playing with paving stones again, a shout out to the 68 demonstrations.

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Continuing on Rue De Bretagne you will reach the Bontemps Patisserie with their amazing ‘sable’ cookies that I mentioned previously on my post on Parisian bakeries.  Worth the stop.

Patisserie with amazing cookies in the Marais

Patisserie with amazing cookies in the Marais

From here you have a wide choice of designations.  You can turn right and head up Rue De Temple and back to Republique or go straight on Rue Reamur to the metro at Arts Et Metiers.  For a longer outing the Musee de Picasso, newly reopened, is only 10 minutes to the south towards the Seine.  Another alternative is to see if there is an event at the refurbished event center, Le Carreau Du Temple.  It’s worth it for the architecture along and features everything from jazz to food trucks.

Cafe Charlot, 38 Rue de Bretagne, 75003.  01 44 54 03 30

Marche Des Enfants Rouge, 39 Rue De Bretagne, 75003

Bontemps Partisserie 57 Rue De Bretagne 75003 01 42 74 10 68

Le Carreau Du Temple,  4 Rue Eugène Spuller, 75003 01 83 81 93 30