Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

The most original Valentine’s Day chocolate in Paris! – Getting a French Driver’s License – Part 1 – European Capital of Culture 2013

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A break from Barcelona for this week’s bloggers’ round-up, starting with Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris, who ferreted out the most original Valentine’s Day chocolate in Paris.  Abby from Paris Weekender tells us how to go about getting a driver’s licence in France. Don’t forget to read Part 2 as well!  Andrea from Rearview Mirror takes us to Marseilles, one of the European capitals of culture for 2013. Enjoy!

The most original Valentine’s Day chocolate in Paris!

by Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris, an American by birth, Swiss by marriage, resident of Paris with a Navigo Pass for the metro that she feels compelled to use

valentine_lovelocksFor the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pounding the pavement and scouring the city for the most original Valentine’s Day chocolate. Peering through store window after store window, all the while trying to keep my cravings at bay, I’ve seen chocolate hearts, shoes, dresses, cigars, wafers with “I Love You” written in multiple languages, hearts appearing to be on fire, Eiffel Towers, birds with heart-shaped nests, and, did I mention, hearts?

Just when I was about to throw in the towel and give up on finding anything truly innovative, I paused in front of A la Mère de Famille on rue de la Pompe to look at what I thought would be more chocolate hearts. Studying the window, I noticed some chicken wire festooned with red roses, white hearts, and …. what’s that? Read more

Getting a French Driver’s License – Part 1

by Abby from Paris Weekender, an American living in New York and Paris who offers suggestions for Paris weekends, either staying put or getting out of town

Arc de Triomphe, ParisIf you have been residing in France for more than 1 year, you are required to get a French driver’s license. There are two ways of doing this. The first and easiest option is to trade your current driver’s license in for a French one – but this route is only available for EU license-holders, license-holders of select other countries and holders of licenses from a handful of the 50 United States. (When I last checked, the list included: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.) The second way is to re-do driver’s ed. Read more

European Capital of Culture 2013

by Andrea from Rear View Mirror (formerly Destination Europe), a fellow Australian who, after 6 years of living in France, has given up herParis apartment to live a nomadic life slowing travelling around Europe, experiencing each destination like a local.

marseille-6It used to be that there was one European Capital of Culture per year until 2000 when they went a little crazy and made 9 different cities the ‘capital’. In recent years there have been two or three per year and last year was the first time I got to visit one of the capitals when I went to Guimarães in northern Portugal. The title of European Capital of Culture 2013 is held by both Marseille, France and Kosice, Slovakia.

European Capital of Culture 2013: Marseille-Provence

It’s not just the city of Marseille which is the Capital of Culture but also the surrounding area including Aix-en-Provence, Arles, La Ciotat, Martigues and Aubagne. Read more

La Saint-Valentin

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As my 9-year-old nephew in Sydney pointed out to me yesterday when I mentioned Saint Valentine’s Day to him, the “Saint” has disappeared from Valentine’s Day in English. Francophiles may wonder why it’s “la” Saint-Valentin and not “le”. Well, like all feast days, it’s short for “la fête du Saint-Valentin”.  Hence the feminine for what looks like a masculine.

Back to the day itself. Relationnel, who is a real romantic, arrived with a bunch of roses at lunchtime. He had taken the afternoon off so we decided to go to a couple of depôt-vente and find some things to furnish and decorate Closerie Falaiseau, our new house in Blois. The temperatures have risen since our previous excursion last Saturday so my hands and feet weren’t completely frozen this time. There is a website called www.troc.com that now has 190 second-hand shops in France so we chose one about three-quarters of an hour from the centre of Paris in the western suburb of Orgeval.

We found quite a few goodies, including a coffee grinder, a long-handled bed-warming pan, a set of pewter jugs, a coffee pot, some scales and a Moustier fruit bowl in troc.com and a new expresso/cappuccino machine and a steam iron in another place called Cash Converter, also a chain, which has a lot of musical instruments, hi-fi equipment, small appliances and other household goods. We learnt that you can see the items for sale at troc.com on-line and even reserve them. We’re going to see if we can get some dining-room chairs that way.

We got back to Paris just in time for dinner at La Bastide Odéon, which specialises in cuisine from the south of France. As we were walking along towards our destination, I suddenly saw a restaurant which looked as if it had towels rolled up on the tables outside.  How very odd! I was trying to imagine what sort of Valentine’s celebration was in the offing there when Relationnel said they were blankets for people to sit outside. The blankets even have the name of the restaurant on them – Le Comptoir!

Our restaurant didn’t have a terrace with rolled-up blankets so we sat upstairs.  Relationnel thought he had discovered a new venue but in fact we had eaten there once before with friends from Canberra and enjoyed it. The tables are fairly spread out but there was a lot of noise in the room next door which we weren’t too thrilled with. At one stage, two of the people came out and Relationnel immediately recognised Robert Badinter, famous in French history for having successfully abolished the death penalty on 9th October 1981. After that, we didn’t mind the noise!

They had an excellent set menu for Valentine’s Day at 49 euros per person, starting with champagne and a little sweet pepper (piquillo) stuffed with goat’s milk cheese (very tasty). It was followed by a choice of two entrées – creamy scrambled eggs with black truffle or carpaccio of sea scallops with spicy avocado, sauce vierge (which just means olive oil) and horns of plenty (excellent) – and a choice of two main courses – grilled fillet of bass with candied lemon, creamy risotto and sea shell bouillon (which we didn’t take) or roast rack of lamb (extraordinarily tender), mutton stew gravy (sounds better in French – jus de navarin), eggplant caviar and candied tomatoes (they didn’t look very candied to me).

For dessert, you could have a soft-centred chocolate cake (moelleux au chocolat) with chestnuts and condensed milk ice-cream (all very tasty) or candied pineapple with lavendar honey, fiadone (a Corsican soft cheese dessert) and brown sugar biscuit ice-cream (speculoos) (Relationnel’s choice).

A bottle of wine per couple was also included in the menu. We could choose from two wines – a pouilly fumé sauvignon from the Loire Valley or a côtes du Rhône. We took the red, which we regretted afterwards – not because we didn’t like it, but because it was 15° !!!

As we walked past Le Comptoir on the way back to the car, we noticed that all the outside tables were taken and everyone had their blankets around their knees.

La Bastide Odéon, 7 rue Corneille, 75006 Paris, tel 01 43 26 03 65, contact@bastideodeon.com, www.bastideodeon.com, M° Odéon lines 10 and 4, RER Luxembourg, open every day. 

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