Results tagged travel from David Lebovitz

Les Crayères

desserts

I realized that a little while back I posted some pictures about my visit to Les Crayères, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Champagne region, about an hour from Paris. But I never wrote about the meal or my experience. Since I’ve been planning another trip back—hopefully soon, it prompted me to share my lunch, at last.

Champagnes

Perhaps some people coming to Paris want to take a day trip out of the city. Or for those of use who live here, it’s a nice break away from the hectic city life and away from the stress of it all. (Especially after tangling with those Monoprix cashiers.) If you fall into either of those categories, a swift, new TGV train will whisk you from the Gare de l’Est and right into the heart of Champagne country in less than an hour. And before you know it, you’ll be sipping sparkling wine in high-style, surrounded by trees and servers waiting on you dressed in sharp suits, with a bottle of bubbly always ready and waiting.

French butter King Crab

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: I love Champagne. When I worked at a well-known restaurant, we had a rule (which, admittedly, we made up on the spot one evening), that every night that we did over a hundred diners, we’d open a bottle of Champagne from the cellar for us.

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10 Things to Do If You’re Stuck in Paris

Air France mob scene

Yesterday, I was passing through the Place de l’Opéra, and saw this mob outside the Air France office. And the line snaked around the block. I took a picture and went home to happily finish packing for my trip, which was going to start tomorrow.

I must be living in a volcanic cloud of my own, and indeed, when I woke up, there was an e-mail that my trip has been canceled. So instead of facing the dreaded task of unpacking my suitcase, which included a swimsuit (grrrr….) I made a list of things you can do if you’re stuck in Paris:

1. Book a spa day. I can’t tell you where I’m going, because I’m waiting for my confirmation. But many folks like the Mosquée de Paris, which is inexpensive and located in a lovely building where you can sip mint tea after your steam. There are specific days for men and women and prices start at just €15. I’m not sure if the treatments there are as luxe as one might want, but my friend Heather is a bit more generous than I am and has a list of spas in Paris that are a bit more posh.

2. Hit each and every place on my 10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris.

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10 Romantic (and Sexy) Things to Do In Paris

For those of you who have The Perfect Scoop, you may already be familiar with my friend Heather Stimmler-Hall, who writes the popular website, Secrets of Paris. She’s the one who attempted to seduce her Parisian neighbor with a batch of my ice cream. Not that she needs my assistance (I didn’t ask her how it turned out since I’m such a gentleman, and she’s the model of discretion). But for the rest of us, I tend to take help whenever—and wherever, I can get it.

Heather is the author of Naughty Paris, a guide to the sexiest and most romantic things to do in Paris. Because so many people come to Paris looking for a little romance, on our recent dessert date, I asked Heather for a list of her favorite, most sensual things to do in the city…just in time for Valentine’s Day. So here is Heather’s list of Ten Romantic (and Sexy) Things to Do in Paris. Merci ma chèrie! -David

heart-shaped tart

A lot of people ask me advice on romantic things to do in Paris, and if they’re visitors, I usually reply, “It’s Paris, what’s not romantic about it?” After all, you’ve got a gorgeous setting of historic monuments and scenic bridges over the Seine, a fashionably-dressed cast of Parisians sans baseball hats and “Who dat?” emblazoned sweatshirts, and some of the most mouth-watering cuisine on the planet.

Well, that is if you know where to go.

I can already hear the locals and Paris habitués groaning that they’ve already done all of the Valentine’s Day clichés: a show at the Moulin Rouge, a cruise on the Seine, dinner on the Eiffel Tower, macarons at Ladurée…and I think everyone should try all of those things at least once in a lifetime (okay, once a week for the macarons). But then what?

Then you ask me, the woman who wrote Naughty Paris, for a few ideas—of course! Some of these are obvious, others less so, but all are perfect for a romantic rendez-vous when you’re hungering for more than just a kiss. ; )

1. Oysters and Wine at Le Baron Rouge

Candlelight, soft music and a quiet table in the corner? Please. There’s nothing more intimate than being crammed against each other in a cozy wine bar, jostling with the friendly locals and market stall-holders from the neighboring Marché d’Aligre for a glass of Burgundy and a platter of cheese and charcuterie.

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Thanksgiving in Paris…and above & beyond

olivier winetasting instructions

When folks ask me what the French do for Thanksgiving, I don’t think the word they’re expecting to hear are “Um, nothing.” And why should they? It’s not as though America shuts down for le 14 juillet.

Still, a few places around here do get into the spirit and you’ll see a few bags of cranberries at the market, a few more sweet potatoes piled up, and smart volaillers stocking whole turkeys, normally a rare site in France.

wine taster

Since it’s pretty much life-as-usual around here on the fourth Thursday of November, when a message from Olivier Magny of O-Château popped up in my Inbox earlier in the week, asking if I’d like to go to a wine-tasting, at 30,000 feet that day, I said, “Sure!”

So there I was, stepping out of my apartment, at 7:15 am Thanksgiving morning, heading to Orly airport to meet up with Olivier and his team of sommeliers.

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Coasting la Côte

When I heard there was going to be an inaugural voyage for the recently refubished Club Med 2 sailboat, I was so excited to go, that I actually invited myself to come along. Since the trip was a press preview, with a sprinkling of the rich and perhaps famous to rub elbows with, and since I lived so close, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t be able to easily race down to catch some sunshine, and participate in the buzz—cruising past St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and Portofino.

Portfino

So after spending a few days on land in Provence, I was ready to set sail and meet my travel mates. Having not gone on many press trips, I wasn’t sure what to expect and happily, our rag-tag group was from all over the map: Japan, the United States, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Italy, and, of course, France. We boarded boat and set sail eastward.

sailboat

I’d been on one boat before, a medium-sized cruise liner, and was less-than-impressed with that one. It was freezing cold from the boat being severely overly air-conditioned, so I was wearing sweaters indoors, while sunny Mexico was right outside. Not only was it cold physically, it was also uninspiring and I felt like I was on a floating hotel, it was so big and impersonal.

But this was a small vessel, a 5-masted sailboat, with less than two hundred rooms and sure enough, it was just the right size and pace for cruising the Côte d’Azur.

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Renting an Apartment in Paris

building

The other evening I was having dinner with a group of folks from out of town, and not one of them was staying in a hotel. Each had rented an apartment and were having a great time—and saving money, while doing so.

There are scores of websites and companies that rent mid- to high-end apartments, which are great places to stay if you’re looking for more plush surroundings. But while many owners will rent a short-term vacation apartment from an agency, the most economical way to stay in Paris is to find an apartment that’s for rent by owner. (FRBO). These deals may require a bit of digging, as residents will often post to online bulletin boards or send out e-mails to friends to pass on rather than listing them with agencies.

Aside from being less-expensive than a hotel, a benefit of renting an apartment is that you can save big-time by skipping hotel breakfasts and get your own freshly-baked pain au chocolat from that charming little pastry shop on the corner.

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The Pâtisseries of Paris: A Paris Pastry Guide

parispastryguidebook.jpg

There’s a nifty guidebook to the bakeries, chocolate shops, and tea salons, called The Pâtisseries of Paris. This handy little book is full of great addresses and tips, and is just small enough to slip in your shoulder bag when hitting the streets of Paris, should you come to Paris on a mission for sweets.

I was surprised at how in-depth this guide takes you. Naturally, the usual suspects, like Ladurée and Stohrer, are in there. And chocolatiers like Jean-Charles Rochoux and Patrick Roger are always a stop whenever I’m on the Left Bank, so I was happy to see the nods toward them.

There’s few places that aren’t quite worth the calories. Such as Au Panetier bakery, where the pastries don’t make up for the glorious art nouveau tilework, although it is gorgeous.

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Lisbon

If anyone of you has been planning to go to Portugal, I’d say “Don’t walk…run!” to get there. Except that’s perhaps only possible if you live close by, in Spain. And in which case, you’d probably take the train.

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Here’s some various and sundry impressions and images from my trip. Apologies to any Portuguese folks for mangling their language. And thanks to the readers who offered ideas for places to go and things to eat. I would agree that Lisbon is a terrific place to spend a few days, but if you go, it’s worth either renting a car or taking the train to explore some of the beaches and small towns outside of the city.

And if you don’t learn any other word in Portuguese, the most important word in the language is churrasquiera….or ‘barbeque’.

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What I love most about Lisbon is that there’s still plenty of relics from the decades of the recent past, namely bits and pieces of art nouveau and art deco everywhere. And the tilework, which you can find all around the city is marvelous, constantly surprising and very colorful.

Equally marvelous, and edible to boot, are natas; small custard-based tartlets meant to be consumed en masse. Believe me, if I could’ve fit all three into my mouth at once I would have. No one is shy in Lisbon: you simply belly-up to the counter and order a plateful.

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Although they vary in quality from place to place in Lisbon, some of the best natas and other pastries are at Pastelaria Versailles.

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