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Marche´Biologique: The Best Organic Street Market in Paris

It’s Sunday, and whether you are planning a picnic or stocking up for the week, one of Parisian life’s great pleasures is a trip to the Marché Biologique Raspail in the 6th arrondissement.  Some of the city’s best celebrity spotting is found here; keep an eye out for the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, who has an apartment near by, or film icon Catherine Deneuvre, incarnation of Marianne, the symbol of the French republic. Although a traditional market on Tuesday and Friday, Sunday is devoted to all  things organic from produce, dairy products, nuts and spices, to wine.  The stalls line the middle of the street just down from the Luticia hotel, from rue Cherche Midi, to rue de Renne.  Posted hours are from 9-1:30 but savvy shoppers get their early to beat the crowd coming after church. The closest Metro station is Rennes.

Here are some favorites:
Entering at the Cherch Midi end of the market, the first stall on your right is “Les Gestalins” dishing up delicious potato-onion-gruyère cheese galettes as you watch.  The line is long, the following faithful, so you may have to exert some patience – but it’s worth it.
Farther down on the left at “Natural Vitis is Bruno, selling organic wine.  He’ll offer you generous samples.

The produce vendors are artists at arranging their wares to look like Old Master paintings and they vie at having the most tempting displays.  Grab one of the baskets stacked for customer use, gather your choices and hand the basket over to the seller to be weighed.

Exotic jams and honeys are in abundance and the selections of cheeses cannot be outdone.  The stall “La bio Fermière” is especially helpful in assisting with information and sample tastings.

A cautionary note:  The popularity of the market coupled with a narrow aisle means you’ll have to dodge jostling crowds with their “chariots”  rolling shopping carts).

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The Scent of French Women

French women didn’t have to wait to learn from scientists that our sense of smell is by far the most powerful of the five senses. Estimates are that 75% of all our emotions are generated by what we smell. Since the time of the Bourbon courts, scented fans, gloves, and rooms have been used to beguile and bewitch, equipping today’s French woman with several centuries of perfume lore at her disposal. Some of the most scent savvy woman stick to signature fragrances. As French Vogue editor, Carine Roitfeld advocates “Scents remind you of people and you should be faithful to them.” Other women collect perfumes throughout their lives (perhaps none so adventurous as Louis XIV who reportedly ordered his courtiers to use a different fragrance every day or Louis XV who requested a difference fragrance for his rooms daily.)

Knowing the fragrance someone chooses makes us feel we know them in a more intimate way than just their biographical information. Below are scents favored by some of France’s most famous women and it should come as no surprise that French fragrances predominate. Artists, entertainers, writers, business women, designers, royalty, and courtesans, all are represented in the list below. Some are French by birth, others adopted France as their home. All are endlessly intriguing and lend their own special “je ne sais quoi” to whatever scent they wear.

Catherine Deneuve: Chanel No. 22, Chanel No 5, L’heure bleue, Chamade, Chanel No. 19, Un Lys

Andree Putman: Nombre Noir

Annick Goutal: Passion (which she created for herself), Folavirl

Brigitte Bardot: Jicky, Vent Vert

Carla Bruni: Vol de Nuit

Chantall Thomass: uses her own fragrance, and also loves Serges Lutens

Carine Roitfeld: Opium for Men

Coco Chanel: Chanel 19 (created as her personal fragrance)

Colette: Jicky

Edith Piaf: Bandit, Le Cinq de Molyneux

Empress Josephine: was so fond of musk that even permeated her rooms decades after her death

Empress Eugene: Eau de Cologne Imperiale, Jasmine Imperatrice Eugenie

Fanny Ardant: Jicky

Gertrude Stein: Jolie Madame

Ines De La Fressagne: Apres l’ondee, Ines

Isabelle Adjani: En Avion, Fantasia de Fleurs, Apres l’ondee, Eau de Camille, Eau du Fier, Heure Exquise, Passion, Ce Soir Ou Jamais,

Isabelle Huppert: L’heure bleue, Folavril

Jacqueline Bisset: Arpege,

Jeanne Moreau: Eau de Charlotte, Folavril, Aubepine Acacia

Josephine Baker: Joy, Sous le vent was created for her

Juliette Binoche: Cristolle

Madame Dubarry: Houbignant cologne

Marie Antoinette: Houbigant, Sillage de la Reine (recreated by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian who based his interpretation on Elizabeth Feydeau’s book, A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie-Antoinette’s Perfume)

Marlene Dietric: Angelique Encens (made for her) Bandit, Fracas, Tabac blond, Indiscent, Vol de Nuit

Miou Miou: Zeste Mandarin Pamplemousse

There are also some “make your own” mixtures worth noting:

Madame de Pampadour to seduce Louis XV concocted a love potion of 5 drops rose otto, 7 jasmine, 10 orange and 10 mandarin

Madame de Montespan to seduce Louis XIV: 8 drops ylang-ylang, 7 patchouli, 4 cinnamon and 4 clove

Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor: layered L’heure bleue and Mitsouko

In addition to various publications, sites, special thanks for the information above go to http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/, a fabulous resource for anyone interested in all things related to fragrance.


Filed under Beauty & Fashion, Paris

Travel Alert-What You Really Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

Travel is for fun, carefree, away from the real world experiences, right? That’s true until you wind up in a hospital and the doctors trying to take care of you need vital information you don’t have. This nightmare became a reality some years ago when my husband developed what we thought could be a blood clot after a long flight. We raced to a French hospital and struggled with trying to supply doctors with useful information about his medical history. After exhaustive tests our fear turned out, mercifully, not to be the case, but it scared us into constructing portable medical files containing every scrap of information we thought we might need to provide should another emergency arise in the future. This has worked fine – and “yes” it’s been helpful on a number of occasions — although adding unwanted bulk to our paired down baggage.

This time, for our upcoming trip to Paris, I’ve gotten smart. Each of us will carry our own USB Flash Drive containing all of our medical information including: emergency contacts for doctors and family, most recent medical reports, lists of medications and procedures (down to vitamins and supplements), insurance information and even our health care directives. Digitized records are not universal, so we asked our physicians for Xeroxed copies of the information they judge to be most important, scanned them into our computer and then transferred them to the Flash Drive. All this slips on a key ring and will be easily available at all times. Current prescriptions are kept in a small folding wallet that can be taken to be filled wherever we may be. If only we’d thought of this when we lost that pair of glasses in an Amsterdam café in the pre-medical file days and groped our way through the rest of the trip. (Caution: Not all medications are available outside the US, so be sure in cases where you cannot do without that you have an ample supply.)

Having your emergency and medical information available for any doctors who may be called upon to treat you is not a precaution just for people who have complicated health situations, it’s for EVERYONE. It could save your life – don’t leave home without it.

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What Can We Learn from the French?

The French have given the world haute cuisine and haute couture but perhaps their greatest untapped gift is “haute civility.” Haute civility is not the gallant hand kissing the rest of us cannot quite get the hang of or that seductive accent that makes whatever they say sound great, it’s the way they treat each other – and us — in public places. That old stereotype that the French are rude and unfriendly is kept alive by people who simply haven’t spent time among the French. Take shopping for instance, French shoppers enter a boutique with a polite “Bonjour” to the proprietor and they leave with an appreciative “Merci” (which is reciprocated) whether they have made a purchase or not. A “bonjour” is routinely offered to fellow passengers when entering an elevator – no staring at the ceiling pretending you are alone, and other patients waiting in doctors offices are greeted the same way. Civility even extends to public transportation. In the Paris metro, elders can be assured they will be offered a seat no matter how crowded; and travelers routinely hold swinging doors open for the person behind them. Imagine that on a subway elsewhere. Recently, an American friend living in Paris told of riding a Paris bus and seeing an elderly woman defy the posted and commonly observed direction that passengers should enter through the front door and exist from the rear. Instead, this woman was making her way from her seat in the back against the stream of on-coming passengers. Not only were there no shouts of recrimination, the bus driver and some passing pedestrians stopped to help her make a safe exit. Hurray for the French fine art of social civility – we can all learn from it.

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How better to say "Je t’adore" on Valentines than with Parisian lingerie?

The old warning about “wear nice underwear in case you have to go to the hospital” is something Parisian women never have to worry about; they see having beautiful – and matching — lingerie as one of life’s necessities. It’s a private pleasure and one we all deserve. And what better time that Valentine’s Day to update your lingerie wardrobe – or, better yet, have someone special do it for you. Here are some top picks from our insiders’ little black books.

Since 1889, the bra was invented here by Herminie Cadolle, this legendary custom and ready to wear boutique has never been without its loyal devotees.
4 rue Cambon, 1
Métro: Concorde

Chantal Thomass
Saucy and seductive Chantal Thomass makes naughty very nice — always in luxurious fabrics.
211 rue Saint-Honoré, 1
Métro: Tuileries

Les Folies d’Elodie
The sweetest of sweet-nothings that turn every woman into a coquette.
56 ave Paul Doumer, 16
Métro: Trocadéro

Sabbia Rosa
Supernova of lingerie with clients such as Madonna, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Catherine Deneuve.
73 rue des Saints-Pères, 6
Métro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés


Filed under Beauty & Fashion, Paris, Romance, Shopping

Finding the best hot chocolate in Paris

Reaching a consensus on the best hot chocolate in Paris is as difficult as agreeing on the definition of beauty or what happiness is but it doesn’t keep us from questing after them. In your own pursuit for the ultimate “Cocolat Chaud” here are candidates suggested by our insiders at I Know A Little Place:

226 rue de Rivoli, 1
Métro: Tuilleries

Conversations about hot chocolate in Paris usually begin with Angelina; but, Paris being Paris, they do not end there. A handy spot with unforgettable ambiance, after visiting the Louvre or browsing the bookstores WH Smith and Galigani, Angelina’s Chocolat Africain is a welcome treat.

Café de Flore
Corner of boulevard Saint-Germain and rue Saint-Benoit, 6
Métro: Saint Germain-des-Prés

An international fashion icon living in Paris confided to me that her quest for the city’s best hot chocolate ended here among the friendly spirits of Jean-Paul Sarte, Simone de Beauvoir, and Picasso. It was a chilly night when I met her there, the boulevard Saint-Germain was at its’ most captivating, and it was hard to disagree. To savor the experience even more she always gets a table facing the street.

Jean-Paul Hévin
231 rue Saint-Honoré, 1
Métro: Tuilleries

Enjoy the drink of the gods upstairs in the tiny tearoom and for an extra treat pick up a jar of seriously decadent “pate a tartiner” hazelnut spread on the way out.

La Charlotte de Isle
24 rue St. Louis-en-I’le,4
Métro: Pont Marie or Sully-Morland

Relish this thick confection served in petit cups with an intensity that defies description, surrounded by one of the most enchanting spots in Paris.

Any of the three locations:
21 rue Bonaparte, 6
Métro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés

75 avenue des Champs Élysées, 8
Métro: George V

16 rue Royal, 8
Métro: Madeleine

The Grand Dame of Parisian tea rooms, each with their own personality but all with authentic hot chocolate, only enhanced with a selection of their memorable macarons.

La Maison du Chocolat
8 blvd Madeleine, 9
Metro: Madeleine

The tasting bar offers my own personal favorite “Caracas” – but it’s not for the feint of heart, along with other exotic combinations and flavors.

Ritz – Bar Vendome
15 Place Vendome, 1

For glitz and glamour, and on a day when price doesn’t matter, the hot chocolate at the Bar Vendome is like drinking liquid gold.

SiP Babylone
46 Boulevard Raspail, 7, 9
Métro: Sèveres Babylone

After an afternoon shopping at the near-by Bon Marché reward yourself with a sinfully divine hot chocolate with hazelnut topping.

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