31 December 2019

Paris toujours

On this last day of 2019, "Paris Sera Toujours Paris":

Paris will always be Paris.
- Bonne Année / Happy New Year 2020 -

24 December 2019

Rois des forêts

Works-of-art pastries and Yule logs.

Which one(s) would you pick?

La Grande Épicerie, Bon Marché Saint Germain


Once more, with much going on over the holidays, I will be returning in the New Year.
To my cherished readers, my warmest wishes for a very Merry and Happy everything, and sincerest gratitude for your love and support. - BPJ

- Paris, je t'aime! -

21 December 2019

Still life with apples

Apples and crushed hazelnuts will make a delicious tarte aux pommes on a rainy afternoon.

20 December 2019

17 December 2019

14 December 2019


Over a hundred people packed into the tiny 12th century church atop Montmartre for Mass at dawn.

Above: 300 candles lit the way

12 December 2019

Bon bons

Artist Laurence Jenkell's signature bon bon sculptures along Avenue George V.

11 December 2019

10 December 2019

7 December 2019

A Christmas castle: Vaux-le-Vicomte

Due to ongoing train and public transportation strikes I am re-posting this w/an edit of getting there by car (below)

The stage was set with green so lush, and by a hundred torches lit; Once curtain raised, all Vaux was hushed. All strove to please this King of ours: Music, cascades, lanterns and stars.... - Jean de la Fontaine, French poet and writer, on the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte (1661)

(click photos to enlarge)

A unique experience of Christmas. An awe-inspiring setting.

Though closed in winter, as it does each Christmas, spectacular Château De Vaux-le-Vicomte has opened its doors from November 23, 2019 til January 5, 2020, transformed into a glittering Land of Enchantment. This year’s theme: thousands of colors and lights, including a magical evening light show set to music on the castle’s façade that rivals Paris’ Atelier des Lumiéres.

Master Interior Designer Eric Naudin and one of the chateau’s owners and current resident Count Patrice de Voguë explained to our small group that planning and executing an extravaganza of this scope can easily take up half a year.

Room after room elicited gasps: sparkles, glitter, twinkles, lights, garlands, baubles and bows. Around almost every corner a crackling fire contributed to the warmth and ambiance. There were whiffs of spices and chocolate (in the Cabinet des Jeux a Christmas tree decorated with unique pieces made of chocolate by the Comptoir du Cacao). Vintage toys, Christmas trees galore, enormous gingerbread cookies that appear as if they will spring to life and, on a rack in the front foyer, costumes for hire for children (and young-at-heart adults) who can, for a day, pretend they are princes and princesses, free to roam the castle and grounds.

This year's masterpiece is undoubtedly the main room of the chateau, the Grand Salon. Upon entering, we were stopped in our tracks as we beheld the gilded multi-level nativity scene, and every level had moving parts.

A charming touch of horse-drawn carriages in the sumptuous gardens signed André Le Nôtre adds to the festivities, and walking the grounds and pathways of the castle’s adjoining wood is a journey into Wonderland. - BPJ

Book online:
Château De Vaux-le-Vicomte

- Driving (from Paris):
54 minutes via A4 and N104
- By train (from Paris):
35 minutes from Gare de l’Est to Verneuil l’Etang where (free) shuttles await to transport you back in time

- Carriage rides (small charge)
- Carriage Museum
- Walks in the decorated gardens (weather permitting)
- Surprise gift to children under 6; ages 7-17 a gingerbread cookie by Maison Fossier
- Costume rental for adults / children. Free of charge on weekdays from November 27 to December 21
- Each child who brings a book to the Red Cross stall at the estate’s entrance gets a ribbon to tie on a Christmas tree and make a wish. Books are collected by the French Red Cross and are wrapped and given to underprivileged children and their families who will be invited to the castle

Every day from January 2 to 5, 2020, celebration of Les Rois (Three Kings Day): a galette des rois made by the château pastry chef will be awarded to whoever finds the giant squirrel charm hidden in the gardens.... (écureuil is French for squirrel; Relais de l'Écureuil is the name of the château's wonderful outdoor restaurant)

6 December 2019

Shaken not stirred

Holidays in Paris mean intimate apéros, toasting, and catching up chez des amis.

Above: the best Cosmopolitans on the planet

2 December 2019

Turkey time

Thanksgiving is not a holiday in France, and as it falls on a week day many wait until the weekend to celebrate, as we did.

Above: an all-American apéritif spread of patés, sliced cheeses and meats; homemade hummus; from-scratch pecan and pumpkin pies

Below: the roasted turkey gets carved in the kitchen

Where to find American-style ingredients in Paris:

La Grande Épicerie Bon Marché
Marks & Spencers
The Real McCoy

bread rolls [made w/orange blossom water] available at:
32 rue du Château d'Eau 75010


I grew up in the U.S. in a lively, and verbal, international family. French, German, mostly English (and sometimes Italian when relatives arrived from Rome) were spoken at home, and on Thanksgiving, besides traditional side dishes, some untraditional ones would put in an appearance every year. There might be calves' brains au beurre blanc, potato dumplings, apfel strudel and, depending on who requested what, gnocchi, sauerkraut, kugel or Caribbean red beans and rice, shiny with pork fat.

I was quite small when I accompanied my father one night to a place where hundreds of live turkeys were flapping about, and he picked one out. It was exciting. Soon after, that turkey appeared on our table, roasted to luscious perfection. My mother was an excellent cook (as was my father) and made sure that all the usual suspects - stuffing, cranberry sauce, candied yams, vegetable dishes - were made from scratch and (as much as possible) fresh not boxed or canned ingredients.

The list below are things not usually, if ever, seen on our Thanksgiving table when I was growing up, though I realize that for many, they are the stuff memories are made of:

- Canned sweet potatoes turned into casseroles covered in melted marshmallows
- Canned cranberry sauce (frozen berries were preferred)
- Ambrosia - what's that?
- Canned green beans w/canned cream of mushroom soup casseroles topped w/fried onions - also from a can
- Creamed onions (where's the cream?)
- Red (cherry?) jello mold fruit "salad" w/suspended canned fruits
- Green (lime?) jello mold made w/cottage cheese and crushed canned pineapple
- Tasteless canned black olives
- 5-Cup “will keep forever in the fridge" Salad
- Mashed potatoes from dried flakes in a box
- Ready-made stuffing from boxes or bags
- Mixed frozen vegetables
- Cakes from boxed mixes ("just add an egg")
- Store-bought pecan or pumpkin pie
- Canned pumpkin
- Whipped cream  from plastic tubs (where's the cream?)
- Cheese balls (today I love a good cheese ball but again, it wasn't part of our family holidays) - BPJ


- Here's hoping you had a very Happy Thanksgiving, whatever was on your table -