The Christmas Market

Every December, Christmas markets pop-up around the city - offering everything from ornaments for your tree to beautiful gifts and delicious treats.

A holiday tradition not to be missed!


Notre Dame

Another gorgeous day in Paris!


Haut de gamme sur l'Avenue Kleber

I just love stumbling upon these sort of street scenes in Paris - everything from the classic Inglesina pram, to the Fragonard shopping bag, to the leopard print coat is high-end French style. Even the baby is decked out in a fur-trimmed ensemble from Tartine et Chocolat. It's a nice start to a Saturday morning.


Azzedine Alaia

If you're familiar with Azzedine Alaia, you understand perfectly Cher's distress at the thought of laying down in a greasy parking lot wearing one of his creations. 

This Tunisia-born couturier came to Paris in the late 1950s, and he has been a staple on the fashion front ever since. Although Alaia has no boutiques and refuses to advertise, his dresses are worn by celebrities, models, and society women the world over. Known for his ability to cut cloth, his signature style is marked by highlighting the shape of a women with only fabric and no adornments. The exposition runs through the end of January.


La Toussaint

I woke up this morning to the sound of church bells ringing throughout my neighborhood. It's All Saints Day and, even though I saw some scary people in the metro last night, this holy day is celebrated in France far more than All Souls Day or Halloween. Offices, shops, and museums are closed, transportation is limited, and most people plan to spend the day with their family. 

All Saints Day was instituted as a day of remembrance by Pope Gregory IV in 835 AD. Tradition calls for visiting the grave sites of deceased family members, leaving a bouquet of chrysanthemums, and then going to Mass to pray for their souls.


Le Musée Rodin

I am ecstatic about the weather. Last year, it rained every day. Yesterday, it could not have been more beautiful. It was the perfect day for visiting the Rodin Museum

The museum in undergoing a two-year renovation and the number of works displayed is limited. But, there is a Camille Claudel exhibit on the second floor that is well worth seeing. Claudel was a student of Rodin. They had a torrid love affair that some speculate contributed to her demise. She died in an insane asylum 70 years ago. There is also a nice selection of Rodin's primary works, including the Thinker, the Young Girl in the Flowered Hat, and the Kiss.

The Rodin Museum is in the l'hotel Biron, a site chosen by the sculptor himself. He lived in the house and petitioned the state on numerous occasions to turn it into a museum, giving his personal collection in the process. 

The completion of renovation will mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the museum in 1919.


Le Berkeley

I had lunch with a friend and former classmate Sylvia at Le Berkeley, just steps from the Champs-Elysées and next door to Christie's auction house. This fabulous restaurant has been here for nearly a century, but one would never know it from the sumptuous décor of Pierre-Yves RochonRochon also designed the Savoy in London, the Hermitage in Monte Carlo, and the Sofitel in my home town of Chicago!

With its library gallery, the interior of the Berkeley is reminiscent of an English reading room or a Parisian café littéraire. I'm reminded of the opening scene of Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn. Unlike the characters in the film, however, the Berkeley clientele is a well-heeled group of executives and art dealers flowing in from the surrounding galleries on Avenue Matignon or the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. 

The weather has been great, so we sat on the terrace. It was the perfect spot on this crisp and sunny day in autumn. More and more, I've noticed overhead heaters mounted in the eaves of cafés and restaurants. I'm thrilled at the sight of them and the thought of the season is being extended by their presence. After lunch, we headed to Christie's for auction previews - another favorite past time. Previews are like going to a museum with price tags! It's so much fun to see what someone might be willing to pay for something. 


Molkky - la nouvelle pétanque?

It's a different game, but everything else is the same and it's so refreshing to see the continuation of French traditions. I cannot help but wonder whether these guys will be here on a Sunday afternoon forty years from now. I hope they will. 


FIAC 2013: The International Contemporary Art Fair

Celebrating its 40th year, the International Contemporary Art Fair takes place this weekend in Paris. With 184 galleries from 25 countries participating, it is one of the largest contemporary art fairs in the world. Touring the galleries and taking in all the sites was a great way to spend my first day in Paris. 


Avenue Montaigne

There is no better time to watch a French film than the day after you have booked your airline ticket to Paris. One of my all-time favorites: Avenue Montaigne or Fauteuils d'Orchestra.



Raphael Hotel - The Perfect Place for a Classic Cocktail

I have always heard the Raphael Hotel is a great place to go for cocktails, so I decided to check it out.

The Raphael is on avenue Kléber, just steps away from the Arc de Triomphe. The Bar Anglais on the ground floor offers a warm, cozy atmosphere. But, when the weather is good, the roof top terrace is the place to be. True to it reputation, it's nothing short of spectacular with its panoramic views of Paris. From this seventh floor terrace, the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur and just about every other significant monument is in full view.

The ambiance is terrific too: planked flooring, teak furniture, rose covered arbor and boxwood hedges bordering the perimeter of the roof. It is truly like an outdoor terrace that one would find in the French countryside. 

During my cocktail hour visit, the weather was perfect. So, there was a bit of a wait to be seated, as the place was filled with elegantly dressed businessmen. No worries: the staff was welcoming and a small waiting area with high-top tables is located near the hostess desk. 

During the wait, I met another "Jeannine" who was meeting a friend for cocktails before heading out to dinner. We chatted a bit and when a small seating area (for four) opened up, she invited me to join her and her friend. How nice and so much fun. She is studying interior design at the Grégoire-Ferrandi school, so we had plenty to talk about. Her friend was also in the design business. I love these little meetings!

Hôtel Raphael Paris
17, avenue Kléber
75016 Paris


D-day Remembered

Today marks the 69th anniversary of D-Day and all along the coast of Normandy, from the little town of Sainte Mère Eglise to the American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, the French are remembering the occasion with ceremonies, parades, and festivals in honor of the 160,000 American, British, and Canadian troops who risked their lives to liberate France from German occupation in World War II.  

Visiting the American cemetery in Normandy is not for the faint of heart. While there, I felt a tremendous sense of national pride and extreme sadness. After reading the monuments and visiting the grave sites of fallen soldiers, I stood at the northern edge of the cemetery and looked out at the water. It was a warm and sunny day in July, yet the sea was stark and gray. It churned with incredible force, and I could only imagine what those men must have endured as they came ashore. 

By the end of that fateful day in 1944, more than 9,000 soldiers lay dead or wounded on the beach. 


Happy May Day

It is the first of May and the French are celebrating. What else is new? Known as La Fête du Muguet or la Fête du Travail this national holiday, celebrating the rights of workers, is symbolically recognized with a sprig of lily of the valley. 


Luxembourg Palace

In 1622 Marie de Medici, widow of Henri IV (my favorite French king), built the Luxembourg Palace. It is modeled after the Pitti Palace in her native Florence, Italy. As a student, I passed by here every day, and I think it will always hold a special place in my heart. 


Molten Chocolate Cake

My all-time favorite dessert: moelleux au chocolat at Cafe Marly overlooking the courtyard of the Louvre. There is simply nothing better after a long day of touring the museum than recharging and taking it all in over this delicious chocolate treat and an expresso. When you dip into it, the warm chocolate center oozes onto the plate and the distinctive scent of chocolate fills the air. 

The recipe below is adapted from "Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef." It is absolutely fantastic and not difficult to make. Your dinner guests, on the other hand, will think you are a master chef.  


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter for the recipe and a bit more to butter the molds
  • 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
  • 2 eggs - whole
  • 2 egg - yolks only
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour, plus more for dusting

  • Method:
  • 1. In the top of a double-boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. While that's heating, beat together the eggs, yolks, and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.
  • 2. Beat together the melted chocolate and butter; it should be quite warm. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.
  • 3. Butter and lightly flour four 4-ounce molds, custard cups, or ramekins. Tap out the excess flour, then butter and flour them again. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)
  • 4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 7 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set.
  • 5. Invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Remove from the mold by carefully lifting up one corner. The cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.


Galerie Vivienne

Tucked away is the heart of the second arrondissement is a little indoor mall called Galerie Vivienne. This hidden spot is filled with darling shops where one can purchase unique and unusual items, have a quiet lunch, or visit an atelier where paintings are restored.

At Wolff et Descourtis, for example, wool, silk and blended scarves and shawls are colored in the Lyon tradition. Historically, Lyon is the center of textile manufacturing in France. Scarves inspired by artists Klimt and Delaunay line the walls like beautiful paintings.

Wolff & Descourtis
18, Galerie Vivienne
Paris 75002