Relié

837AA6C0-317A-40AD-A0F7-CF3628127965This spring, I discovered the vast properties held by The Trustees of Reservations, who protect over 100 properties in Massachusetts from development or falling into ruin. I bought a family membership and my husband and I have enjoyed visiting a different property several weekends since.

E41AD8DE-C268-4F0C-BCBF-8F0084959946Recently, we visited the delightful Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in nearby Canton, Massachusetts. Eleanor inherited the estate, built in 1902, from her uncle and eventually passed it to the Trustees. Until recently, the house served as administrative space, but now the remarkable formal gardens have been restored to their former glory. This year, in fact, there were three successive plantings, 5,000 tulips in the spring, rare lilies raised from seeds imported from England in the summer, and when we were there, a dozen humming birds were dive-bombing the late summer flowers.

3947740F-494A-4423-9B83-E24389EE293DThe interior of the house has elegant bones but contains very little that originally belonged to Eleanor, as all went to her heirs. The guide told us that there used to be two Monets, because Eleanor’s aunt, American Impressionist Lilla Cabot Perry, studied with him in France. She spent nine summers working with Claude Monet at Giverny. Cabot Perry also played a significant role in introducing the Impressionists to wealthy Bostonians. I’m always amazed by the way people are relié (ruh-lee-ay), or interconnected, across countries and centuries.

E1A1ED69-13F2-4F77-B765-8F6B6457DB21American Impressionism

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Donner un conseil

Every time I visit Paris, I find some great new places to shop, dine, or just soak up the joy of being in my favorite city. Here are a few:

DAECC3E4-2244-4679-ABA5-A3FF2C2727F3Thomas Antiquités (98 rue Oberkampf, 11th Arrondissement) This is a charming little shop has many affordable and packable pieces, although the knowledgeable owner, Thomas Annie, told me that someone took a chandelier to Canada in her luggage. I had more modest ideas and picked up a pair of adorable cavorting cherubs that now live on my desk.

E9887485-6064-4428-8F46-2633AC3EB7EEAu Bain Marie (59 blvd Raspail, 6th Arrondissement and 56 rue de l’Université, 7th Arrondissement) is chock full of pieces to set a beautiful table – some vintage, some made for them, and some carefully curated. The merchandising is so inventive, it’s worth a visit just to gawk at the thousands of covetable objets.

306C122B-F759-4ABD-AB9A-B987B6466384La Meringaie (41 rue du Cherche-midi, 6th Arrondissement and 21 rue de Levis, 17th Arrondissement) Just down the road from one of my favorite lunch spots (Mamie Gâteaux), I did a literal double-take when I caught sight of the beautiful desserts in the  window of La Meringaie. As the name states, each desserts starts with a base of meringue, topped with whipped cream and crowned with glorious fruit – both light and delicious.

1DB3725E-7B76-448A-B325-7C5D8D8CB6BFLa Vallée Village is an upscale outlet in a Paris suburb. I’d known about it for years, but thought I’d have to go to great lengths to get there. It was actually very simple: take the RER A to the Val d’Europe station (one prior to Euro Disney), walk through the mall beside the station, cross the parking lot, and there it is. The deals on the big names were quite impressive. And it’s a beautiful place to shop, even with Instagrammable backdrops, with hashtags already prepared.

Donner un conseil (dun-ay uhn kon-say) means “to give advice.” I hope you enjoyed this little round up of advice of some places to check out the next time you’re in Paris.

6AA16A62-E86D-4BB5-997B-232B02AAA8B7Paris in Stride

 

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La Coulée Verte

D667EA72-882D-4010-8378-12F86C74B8BFThis summer, I finally was able to see a spot in Paris that I’ve been wanting to visit for a few years. La coulée verte, formerly known as La Promenade plantée, is similar to New York’s Highline, a former elevated rail line, converted to a walkway. The former rail line, which extended from the train station at the Place de la Bastille to La Varenne-Saint-Maur, operated from 1853 to 1969. It was transformed in the early 90’s into a charming three mile long garden.

 

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To find it, go to the artisan boutiques, the Viaduct des Arts, on avenue Daumesnil, near the Bastille in the 12th Arrondissement, and climb the stairs that lead to La Coulée verte. It’s just elevated enough to give you a different perspective on the city. You’ll see rooftops and tree canopies instead of the street, and even in Paris, that’s pretty sweet. If you like, you can contine all the way to the parc de Vincennes, have a picnic, and then catch line 1 on the métro back to the heart of the city.

DBDC95A4-56D9-45F2-AF3F-620C123542C9La Coulée verte (lah koo-lay vehrte) can be translated as “the green flow” and that’s what this pathway is like, a river of green flowing through Paris.

6AA16A62-E86D-4BB5-997B-232B02AAA8B7Paris in Stride

 

 

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Où manger à Lille

 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent a week in Lille in August, seeing the sightes and EATING. Où manger à Lille (ew mahn-shay ah leel) means “where to meet in Lille. Here are the places that I can heartily recommend to you.

My lovely hotel, had breakfast at an equally “lovely” price tag, so I went out in the morning. Two places that I can recommend are Le Pain Quotidien (22 bis Rue Basse and 14-16 Rue Pierre Mauroy and Be Yourself (2 Square Morisson).

Now, yes, Le Pain Quotidien is a chain, but it has consistently good, (mostly) healthy options. The location on rue Mauroy is near the Flandres train station in the center of the old town, right off la Place de l’Opéra. They are open from morning until night, although they had shorter hours in August.

Be Yourself is a local, cafeteria-style restaurant that is open for breakfast and lunch. It’s got a hipster vibe, which means free wifi! The location is just steps away from the Tourism Office.

Touring builds up hunger and thirst, especially in the long hours between lunch and dinner! A tea room is the only place to go for a pick-me-up. Here are two that I can heartily recommend:

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Méert (27 rue Esquermoise) is an elegant salon de thé that has stayed true to its 18th century roots. They are famous for a dessert known as a Merveilleuse (Marvelous) that lives up to its name – a creamy chocolate confection on a meringue base. You can dine perched on a red velvet chair or in the umbrella shaded courtyard. They also serve full meals.

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L’Impertinente (9 blvd Papin) is at the foot of the Porte de Paris. When I went there, I was in the mood for lunch, so I was a little disappointed that they only sold cakes and other sweets. I decided to start with dessert and look for lunch later. After I tasted my apricot cake, I forgot about the rest of lunch.

For lunch and dinner, a number of restaurants that I had wanted to check out were closed for the August holidays. Fortunately, I still had lots of good choices to enjoy.

Basilic Café is on rue Esquermoise, one of the main arteries off the main square in the old city. They served me a terrific and inventive tuna salad and an even yummier raspberry and cream dessert. They serve lunch and dinner.

La Crêperie (64 rue de Gand) is on a street of nothing but restaurants. I had a scallop crêpe followed by a tour de force of a dessert crêpe, called a Citroneige. It had a filling of lemon cream and was served with lemon ice cream and whipped cream. It was one of the best dessert crêpes I have ever enjoyed. La Crêperie is open for lunch and dinner.

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La Petite cour (17 rue du Curé St-Etienne) is a cozy place. The night I was there, they turned one group after another away from the door, so I felt very lucky to have gotten in without a reservation. I had a massive summer salad with small peppers filled with hummus. So good! The dessert (Pain Perdu) was less exciting, however.

If you’ve been to Lille, I’d love to hear about your dining experiences and recommendations.

7BE483F7-D7F3-4D77-A5C9-E0458B19851ELille, France in Three Days

 

 

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Que voir à Lille

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Every year, I try to visit a new city in France, either before or after my summer job in Paris. This year, I decided to go to Lille for a few days at the beginning of August. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and wanted to share some of my favorite places to eat and places to go. In this post, I’ll just focus on where to go and in a follow-up post, I tell you where I enjoyed dining.

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1. Lille City Pass: My first stop, after checking in to my very nice hotel, the Clarance, was to go to the tourism office on the Place Rohan and buy a 72-hour City Pass. They are also available for 24 and 48 hours. This gave me access to numerous historical sites, as well as the network of trams, trains, buses and the two-line subway system. Not having to pull out my wallet each time I visited a site certainly freed me up to check out places I might not have gone to otherwise.

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2. Guided City Tour: At fist, I couldn’t make any sense of Lille’s tangle of street in the historic town center, so the guided City Tour really helped me to understand the why as well as the where of Lille. Lille grew exponentially in the industrial 19th century, due to the textile industry. Its success, however, also brought difficulties in the form of disease and an astronomical infant mortality rate. Originally, like nearby Bruges or more exotic Venice, Lille had been crisscrossed with canals. These were used by the factories as well as the citizens for, well, everything. The city walls kept the population contained within a fairly restrained footprint.  Eventually, the decision was made to fill in the canals when three successive waves of plague swept through in the course of a century. There are still places in the city where a smell of stinky drains emphasizes the wisdom of that decision!

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3. City Bus Tour: The following day, I went on the bus tour with recorded  commentary (and an over-eager driver who kept talking over that commentary),which helped me get a sense of where things were outside the historic core of the city and plan more visits, such as to the Porte de Paris and Befroi, a deco-era tower with a panoramic view of the city.

6AE6E3D3-E471-405F-9AD7-E2AFE5588E9F4. The Palais des Beaux Arts: Although its relief maps from the 18th century are currently being restored, there was still enough to see in a pleasant hour. The second floor houses several Rubens’ and this rather lovely sculpture of Napoleon’s son, for example.

Que voir à Lille (kuh vwar ah Leel) means “What to see in Lille” and I hope I have given you some ideas. Of course, the most enjoyable moments are the little corners one stumbles across par hasard. And to do that, just go for a wander. No admission required.

 

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L’Atelier des lumières

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One of the perks of my summer job is the ability to tag along on visits to the latest Parisian exhibits each summer. Yesterday, I had the immense pleasure of visiting L’Atelier des lumières, where three immersive sound and light shows are currently presented. The most fabulous one, in my opinion was the Gustav Klimt show, marking the centenary of the Austrian painter’s passing and also considering his artistic heirs, such as Egon Schiele. The shows are projected on the floors and walls of a former foundry in the 11th Arrondissement. You are bathed in light and music as one image is absorbed into the next. The Klimt show is on until November 11, 2018 and I highly recommend that you make it a priority if you will be in Paris before it closes.

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L’Atelier des lumières (lat-el-e-ay day loom-e-air) means “workshop of light,” and I will definitely be adding it to my list of places to return to when I am in Paris.

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L’échapper belle

5ADDC3ED-E0EB-46CD-9493-909CF7F16143A tradition at my summer job in Paris has become doing an Escape Room as a bonding activity during the week that we prepare for the students to arrive. This year, a colleague suggested that we try a new venue, Inside Opera, right inside the Opéra Garnier.

TF1, SOIREE INSIDE OPERA, 4 JUIN 2018, OPERA GARNIER, PARISCostumed actors played the role of a troupe who have lost part of a musical score to the Phantom of the Opera. Our mission was to find the missing letters in order to complete the score. As usual, we had one hour to complete our task. If you are successful, your group will earn admission to hear the completed aria with the missing notes restored.

013AC1CE-32DD-49AA-BACF-443542D6CABFI don’t want to say too much in case I end up spoiling this for you, but it was a lot of fun in a tremendous setting. I think the setting was actually the biggest handicap for my group; several of them had never been to Opéra Garnier before and we lost time as they gazed around in awe at the ornate interior.  It was an inventive way to explore a great Parisian landmark. L’échapper belle (lay-shap-ay bell) is to have a narrow or lucky escape. I hope that is your fate if you try Inside Opera.

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