Democracy Is Never Free. Travel To Paris and Honor The Fallen.

eiffel tower night lights 2

For those of us who have had the privilege to enjoy Paris, as tourists, guides, writers and hosts,  the past week’s events came as a brutal shock.   Perhaps they should not have.  Democracy, pluralism, free speech, freedom of thought, the ideals that many of us around the world hold so dearly have never come without a price.  And now, that price was paid again, in the blood spilled on Paris streets, offices and grocery stores.

So the question comes to mind, should we travel to Paris this year in view of what just happened to so many innocent souls.  The answer more than ever is an emphatic YES.

To not travel to Paris is to give in to the very fear that the instigators of this tragedy wish to install in us.  To not speak up, to not enjoy the beauty and majesty of Paris is to dishonor the spirit of those who were lost.  So if you were thinking about canceling your plans to go to Paris and to France this year or considering changing your destination think again.

We are all Charlie, the policeman dying on the street, the 20-year-old proof reader at Charlie Hebdo, the father gunned down at the Kosher Supermarket.  We are free to travel. They are not.  So honor their spirits and go to Paris this year.







It’s Bastille Day, a great time to listen to French music.

Paris on your mind?  Lets take that thought into your ears.  Whether you are thinking about your upcoming holiday and want to get into the mood or already in Paris, here is our Yellow Flat short and subjective guide to French (or at least French singing) artists to enjoy.  Tune into your favorite streaming service or buy some CD’s, a baguette some cheese and a dry rose.  Can you see the Eiffel Tower in the distance?


eiffel tower night lights 1


1.  It will always begin with Edith Piaf,  France’s answer to Billy Holiday, a tragic figure with a powerful voice all her own.  Nicknamed the little sparrow, her music was covered by countless jazz stars from Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald.  Must listen to:  La Vie En Rose and  No, Je Ne Regrette Rien. (I regret nothing).  She rolls her rien de rien like no other.  You can learn more about her at  

2.  Django Reinhardt.  The father of what is now called Gypsy Jazz., born in Belguim of Romani or “gypsy” heritage.  His jazz hot style of guitar playing inspires countless musicians today in festivals throughout the world.  Try his work with violinist Stephane Grapelli with the Quintette De Hot Club De France form the 1930’s.  Timeless.  Learn more at:

3.  Jacques Brel.   Brel, another Belgian born singer, is cited as a powerful influence on many well know songwriters throughout the world and covered by singers from Ray Charles to Frank Sinatra.  Listen to Ne Me Quittez Pas to start and keep the tissues handy.

4.  Serge Gainsbourg.  Gainsbourg is widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of our century.  A provocateur and satirist, his late 60’s hit Je T’aime, featuring some rather explicit sounds drew a rebuke from the pope as is considered one of the most erotic songs ever recorded.’aime…moi%20non%20plus

5.  Johnny Halliday.  Is there a French Elvis?  If so, it is Johnny Halliday. Sure the music is derivative, but isn’t all of rock and roll just that?  Listen to Souvenier Souvenier as he sings in French with a country twang.  Following what seems to be a trend, he is of half Belgian, half American family roots.

6.  Carla Bruni.  Model.  Wife of Nicolas Sarkozy.  And decent singer too.   A good source of current French songs delivered in a variety of musical styles.  Follow her at:

7.  Keren Ann.  Contemporary, smooth and sensual, this Israeli born singer resides in France.  Her music could be described as easy listening but that would be unfair.  It is easy but not simple.

8.  Benjamin Biolay.    One of the younger stars of the French music scene and gossip pages.  Ennui lives on even when you are dating supermodels and look like one.

9.  George Brassens.   French song writer and poet.  Known for his scathing indictments of high French society, it’s just him and his guitar.   An amazing life story, like Gainsbourg, that influenced his songwriting.

10.  Maurice Chevalier.  OK, I couldn’t get through the list without it.  Finish the day with Maurice and try not to smile, you won’t succeed.  As he sings, ‘Paris sera toujour Paris.  Paris will always be Paris’.  He will always be the voice associated with cabaret and France.

Now where is that baguette and the rest of the Rose…..









Cooking, Shopping and Touring With Paris Passioinista EJ Keller, Much More Than A Lesson.

DSC_0819When visiting Paris earlier this year we (myself and three of my closest friends) had the opportunity to take a market/neighborhood tour with our  friend and Paris Passionista Chef Edward EJ Keller seen here piping blue cheese into slices of endive (our appetizer). EJ is a former resident of the US living in the 2nd arrondissement near the great shopping and pedestrian street, Rue Montergeuil.   Classically trained at some of the greatest restaurants in Paris including La Grand Vefour, L’Escargot Montorgeuil, Jacques Cagna and Cabaret, he now works with private clients offering home meals and culinary events including the market tour and cooking class that we enjoyed.

We met him on a Monday morning near metro Sentier and began our walk through his district going from the 2nd to the 1st visiting several institutions of French food and history along with way.

There was the always beautiful classic bistro Au Pied De Cochon:  DSC_0782

The famous kitchen supply store Dehlerrin, which I will blog about in more detail soon.


The beautiful church across from Les Halles,  Saint Eustache, wonderfully understated and with a touching memorial to the wholesale food market which dominated the neighborhood until the 1960’s when it moved to the suburbs and the controversial mall constructed and now being reconstructed again.


From there we walked about Rue Montorgeuil, one of the best shopping streets in Paris where Edward met his butcher to get the proper cut of veal for our lunch.  It was the further thing from buying packaged meat in a Safeway you could imagine, the butcher asked for what he was cooking first and then gave the alternatives.  You can find the movie where EJ talks about the pleasure of his local butcher by going to this you tube address:


We continued our tour up the street past the famous Patisserie Stohrer, home to what are arguably the best eclairs in Pairs (read the blog on this here).


And then on to his home kitchen.


Edward is a teacher full of techniques that you can take home with you.  Anyway, they say a photo tells the story so enjoy this pictorial with minimal commentary of the meal we made.

Cutting the endive for the appetizer.


And the result (stuffed with bleu cheese and home-made confiture and nuts)


As it was spring white asparagus was in season.




And the result?  Amazing.  But everything is better with bacon and a warm vinaigrette


 Mark patiently tossing the cous cous for 15 minutes.  It made a difference.


The veal before.





Along with this we enjoyed an easy to make vegetable soufflé and for dessert, a chocolate cake.

Somewhere along they way after several glasses of wine we forgot to take pictures of the finished plates.  Oh well,  just too much fun.



You can learn more about EJ at his website  When visiting the Yellow Flat Edward offers you a wide variety of cooking options including market tours, cooking classes and should you wish, he will come to the Yellow Flat and cook for you.  We had a great afternoon with Edward learning about French cooking and the area around Les Halles.






La Regalade. The Now Classic Bistro Holds Its Own.

IMG_5856La Regalade has long been on my list of I have got to get to this bistro soon destinations in Paris.  But something always got in the way or steered me elsewhere.  The restaurant sold in 2004 and worse yet there were soon a second and then another location.   Despite these questions, I booked a late reservation for our group of 4 for dinner a few weeks ago.

For those who wish a little history, La Regalade was one of the first ‘nouveau’ bistros that opened in the past 20 years as chefs left the more rigid Michelin starred restaurants to start places of their own in less popular districts like the 14th.  Yves Camdeborde was one of those chefs in this movement and his restaurant was legendary.  The food was traditional, forward and reasonably priced.  He was also part of great group of chefs that remain large on the Paris bistro scene as the anniversary parody poster to the left attests with his compatriots Christian Constant and Jean Pierre Vitagot.

The chef who has been running it since 2004 is Bruno Doucet, with an equally strong culinary background he has continued to build out this vision of a updated traditional french food served in a brusque but warm atmosphere.  Camdeborde has moved on Le Comptoir in the 6th where I enjoyed a quick meal at their less formal space Avant Le Comptoir (you can read about that meal here).

We arrived on time at 930 to a crowded house with people spilling out the door onto Avenue Jean Mouliln.  The host/bartender saved the day, quickly getting us a bottle of bone dry bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc and directing us onto the street  where a bench and a large oak barrel awaited us.  There sat a huge terrine of very rustic homemade pate, sliced baguette and a crock of cornichon (pickles) and onions, plates knives and forks.  Just try that under most health codes.  The message was clear, eat as much as you want.   We tried but after 30 minutes we were growing cold, impatient and hungry.  They did not forget us, brought us inside and apologizing (yes in Paris) seated us around 1015pm.  Here is our motley crew, out in the dark just before being seated.


The house was loud and rocking. Servers moved throughout the small farm house like room telling jokes and keeping the place loose.  I can’t remember a meal where I laughed as much in recent times.

My appetizer was particularly delicious while light, Coquilles St. Jacques marinated in lemon juice so it cooked ceviche style with wild mushrooms and what was called pesto but was more of a basil vinaigrette.  Although I wound not have guessed it, the slice of parmesan provided a good counterpoint to the barely cooked scallops.


My main course was properly cooked (rose) magret (duck breast) over a bed of wilted spinach with small potatoes and sliced garlic.  No sauce to annoy either.


Fred’s 14 oz Entrecôte  (rib eye) came with a warning that matched the attitude of the house, it is served cooked only one way: Signant.  And it was gorgeous covered in chopped shallots and parsley and some butter perhaps.  And was it rare.  Note the lack of a side dish. Why bother?

blue steak

As we finished the bottle of Cotes de Brouilly (a clean dry Gamay from Beaujolais) another question emerged.  Could it be that some of the best wines never make it out France?  At 38 euro it was an easy pour and not overpriced.  Hmmmm.

Things actually got better from there when dessert appeared.  Now I am not a dessert person so maybe my opinions are not the most erudite but the Grand Marinier Souffle jiggled and shook like a willow tree (thanks BB).  It was light as a feather though to me so sweet!  The soufflé is famous for a reason.  Order it as it must be cooked in advance.


Ron practically sank under the weight of an enormous porcelain tub of Riz Au Lait (rice pudding) with the usual warm caramel sauce.  Enough dessert for 2 or 3 which he somehow ate.  Yes, that is a wooden spoon and that is the serving dish.


We spilled out onto a quite sidewalk after midnight fully satisfied.  The tab was 60 euro each, about 75 dollars a person.  Remember, this is a 35 euro prix fixe diner.  I can’t imagine matching this meal in terms of food quality, fun quotient and wine in the States.

La Regalade is a place to go have fun. Rub elbows.  Relax.  For us to enjoy a meal so thoroughly after being seated 45 minutes late is testament to their approach.  Keep the client happy.  That can happen in Paris too.


La Regalade

49 Avenue Jean Moulin

33 1 45 68 58

We secured our reservation through The Fork, the on-line reservation service about a month in advance.  I suggest you do the same.

Closest Metro: Alessia

About 20 minutes cab from the yellow flat.

How To Order The Steak You Want Cooked The Way You Want On Your Visit To Paris (and for that matter France).

IMG_0331Has this happened to you? You are seated in a wonderful French restaurant and the time has come. You want a steak. An identifiable cut of beef.  You have had enough guts, lamb, duck and fish and you ready for some serious meat eating. Yet you have no idea what to do.

The waiter is looking at you with a Gallic eye tapping his pen on his order pad. “Monsieur?” he asks. The table looks at you. Well what are you going to do?

Don’t panic. Here is a guide which will teach you how to order a steak during your  visit to France with confidence. We start with what kind of meat you are going to order and more importantly focus on how you want it to be cooked so you will be looking at plate just like this when your arrives.


Let’s start with cooking methods and meat quality.  On the menu French steaks are referred to as grilled or grille.  This means cooked on a very hot and hopefully heavy metal plan. It does not mean on an open fire. Open fire cooking is referred to as Charbon (charcoal) or Feu Du Bois (wood fire). Don’t be put off by this, the heavy hot pan sears the meat wonderfully and creates a great crust.

French cattle are typically grass-fed although the use of feedlots is creeping in. Quality is good to very good but as grass-fed meat, steaks will be tougher and as such don’t lend themselves well to longer cooking times due to the lack of fat.

French cuts are very different from those in the US and UK.  Look at this guide to french butchering for help:



OK, Now what is on the menu?

Entrecôte. The most likely steak that you will encounter on the menu is referred to simply as “steak frites”. The cut of meat will be an entrecôte, throughout most of the world known as the ever-reliable rib eye. Portion size will vary from 250 to 400 grams, or 8 to 14 oz. Smaller sized stakes are much more likely and weight is rarely spelled out. Be careful here, a 250 gram steak is going to be very thin so don’t over cook it.

Chateaubriand. A very thick cut from the tenderloin. Never ever to be ordered well done.

Filet Mignon. Well known in the US, it is the same filet cut.

Bavette. Now familiar and called Skirt Steak.

Onglet. Now common in the US, called a Hangar Steak.

Rumsteck. Sometimes called a Top Butt in the US and UK and often in France a ‘Pave de Rumsteck”.

Faux Filet. Closest to our Sirloin.

Steak Tartare. Not a steak at all but a plate of raw ground steak not ground meat.

Steak Hache.  A hamburger.

How will it be cooked?

French terms for how to cook steak are much more complex and nuanced then those in the US and even vary from meat to meat. With thanks to Chef EJ Keller of Carottes & Caviar in Paris, here is your guide from least cooked to most.

Bleu. Used on beef only. This means what it translates to, bleu means blue, cooked on a very hot grill pan very briefly so as to sear both sides. Inside should be very very rare and liquid should pour out onto your plate.

Saignant. Pronounced ‘signon’.   Rare and on the rare side of rare at that.  Many restaurants want to serve their steak this way and why not? Look at this entrecôte, cooked the only way they will let you order it at La Regalade in the 14th:


blue steak


Saignant Plus. Not used frequently but essentially between rare and medium rare.

A point. Medium Rare. Chef’s choice.  Grilled crusty on the outside, pink inside.

Rose. More likely to be used with veal and or lamb. Medium

Rose plus. Medium well.

Bien cuit. Well done. Be forewarned that this will be well done and subject to you to the wrath of your waiter.

And don’t forget the fries.  What is a great steak without them?




Some thoughts on where to get a great steak in Paris:

La Regalade, mentioned above, 49 Avenue Jean Moulin, Paris 75014.  Email:

The very trendy Beef Club Ballroom.

For more choices go to:

Had a great steak in Paris?  Then add it to our list.

How To Enjoy (And Then Book) The Meal You Want In Paris.

DSC_0026The word enjoy keeps coming up again and again in my writing about travel and Paris.  Enjoyment. Pleasure. Adventure.  That is what we seek when we travel. And far too often we create expectations that can’t be met or we don’t do the simple things needed to make sure our trip is maximum good and minimum bad.

Eating, and in particular eating out, in Paris is a prime example of this yin and yang of joy and pain in travel and for that matter life.  Get it right and the moments become magic for you and those who share them.  Get it wrong and you pay top dollar or euro to be disappointed and wind up yelling at your kids.  Or wife.  Or just pissed at the world.  Not good.

For many of us travel to Paris means food, at least after the sightseeing is done.  Paris despite some articles to the contrary has a dynamic healthy restaurant scene  It offers a broad variety of places to eat ranging from tourist traps to Michelin starred palaces of gastronomy to trendy hangouts. This post will guide you through what we have learned over the years of eating in the City of Light with some simple rules to follow to help you have a good time.  It’s an overview so take it at that.


Before you do anything else, do your research.  We are lucky to live in an era of abundant food blogs and information. At the same time, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of writer on the subject, so here are a few research tools for you to follow:

IMG_2096When you do the work think about your budget.  Stay comfortable with whatever choices you make.

Try not to travel to far from where you are staying, especially if your trip is less than a week. Keep it local.

Go out to lunch instead of dinner.  You will save up to 50% of the bill most of the time.

Look for the prix fixe menu.  This set menu will reduce your bill significantly as opposed to ordering a la carte.  Many restaurants offer a variety of prix fixe menus, appetizer and main, main and dessert or appetizer main and dessert and several choices from each category.


Once you have narrowed your search start reading.  Our favorite food websites include:

NY Times Paris.

Lots of comments on what is going on the food scene.

Time Out.  A detailed and accurate guide to Paris eating.

You can use Fodor’s, Trip Advisor or even Yelp once you have narrowed your choices, I don’t find the sites easy to work with when searching or innovative.



I enjoy these blogs a lot:

Ask your friends where they eat, it seems obvious but they may know someone who has a tip.

And of course, enjoy our own Yellow Flat guides to the 7th and 15th.

The Roses.

A couple of other things to note:

Many restaurants close on Sundays.

Tipping in Paris is not expected as service is included in the bill.  If the service is good you can ’round up’ your check making sure to leave a few extra euros to show you were happy.

Many restaurants have an English menu or someone who can help you.  Remember, they want to sell to you.

Tap water is safe but doesn’t taste very good.


Now you have found some top choices.  The next rule is to make a reservation.  It is worth the effort, Parisian restaurants are crowded and you don’t want to spend vacation time waiting in line.

There is an online system that allows you to search and find the restaurants website.  If you aren’t directed to it automatically, most will have an English translation, look of the letter EN or a UK flag.  From there you will find the reservation policy.

And most importantly, there is an excellent on-line reservation site is known as the Fork.  You can find it at  It works. Use it.It also has lots of guides as well  to every area and type of food.

If that does not work then call the restaurant.  That’s right.  Even if your French is scary bad if the restaurant is well know someone will speak English.  If not, find a friend (or travel agent) who speaks French and have them help.


There is not enough time and too many choices so enjoy every meal, even if it isn’t what you dreamed it would be.  And if you aren’t comfortable where you are, do what my French father in law would do.  Walk out and find another place to eat.   Then again he had five children and his wife with him but that is another story.

As always we invite you to share your comments with the Yellow Flat community!



How To Enjoy Your Vacation In Paris.

eif quiet


-This traveler’s opinion on how to enjoy your vacation Paris.

I started into the business of renting apartments for vacation because I enjoyed the experience of staying in them while I was on vacation.  It gave me a sense of adventure and reality that I never found in hotels.

Yet where you stay is only part, albeit a critical one, of what a vacation means.  Vacation is personal time, something we often lack in our daily lives.  It’s freedom, away from the boundaries of home. What you do on vacation, and in all cases what you don’t do, is what defines this precious time.  It will make all of the difference in your trip.

young in the park

So here is what I learned over these years of being an American tourist in the city of Light and what I want to share with you:

I want you to travel with purpose.    Now, just what does that mean?

Let’s start with what you do.  As you plan your trip and well before you leave ask yourself this question:  Why am I going to Paris?  And once you answer it (and if you can’t then skip to the second part of this article) prioritize those reasons.  It is not hard to find the experiences you are looking for There is an overload of information on the web, you will find what you need quickly and easily and there are plenty of resources to turn to.

There is another key lesson about what you do in this great city:  Don’t try to do it all.  Paris is a big city and that means travel times, traffic and all of the things that can go wrong.  Prioritize and then localize.  That means planning.   You need to shape your trip around your priorities.

Here is an example, if you are going to eat, then search for Paris food blogs and go from there.  Start with  It is always current, deep and unbiased.  When you have found a number of restaurants you like then base other activities in the same district to maximize your time.

Be open to new foods and tastes.  Ask your server what they would eat or what the chef recommends.  It won’t always work but when it does the magic that is vacation starts to seep into your experience.


That is the easy part. Now here is the hard one, how to work on what you don’t do.  That is right, you have to work on it. I know that this sounds counterintuitive, but you need to set aside time not to do things.  Vacation is about leisure and discovery and it doesn’t hurt to prime the pump.

Let me give you some suggestions:

If you are following my suggestions you are looking to localize your day.  That is critical.   The less ground you cover the better you will do it and the more you will enjoy it.

Plan a walk a day.  Walk to one of your destinations and give yourself plenty of time to be surprised by something along with way whether that is a park, a bakery or a view.   Have an apple tart for breakfast.  Treat yourself.

tarte tatin

If you get tired then find transport.  Never exhaust yourself unnecessarily.

Sit.  You may never do this in your day-to-day life so sit.  Sit on a bench. Sit in a café.  Watch life unfold.

Explore life as locals live it.  Pick something you like to do be it sports, yoga, a work out or a bike ride and do it.


It’s a funny balance, to prioritize yet plan enough so that you hit your must haves and leave enough space for leisure and surprise.  You may not get it right the first time but any effort will yield results.

Finally consider extending your trip.  An extra day in Paris means the difference between being rushed and finding the center of what a vacation is all about.

My last blog was on the top 25 things to do in Paris.  Next, I will write about 25 steps you can take to help you do less on your vacation and places where less is more.

I hope to see you there one day, looking out at the Seine smiling and watching the river go by.  Take an extra moment and let it all seep in.  Remember, you are on vacation and it takes a little work to make great things happen.  Or not.

bridge on seine