30 December 2023

Breath of fresh art

 
Outdoor sculptures dot the Esplanade de La Défense
 
Above: Deux personnages fantastiques (1976) by Joan Mirò
 

 

29 December 2023

Frosty Friday

 

An icy December morning in Parc Monceau.

Goodbye Tante Elli. 10 years already.

 


 

 

26 December 2023

Tea Tuesday

Candles add a holiday touch to morning chai at this local coffee and pastry shop.

 
Below: suitable for grabbing
 
 
 
P1 Bouche
151bis rue Marcadet 75018

 

 

25 December 2023

Merry Monday


A very Merry Christmas Joyeux Noël this Christmas Day

Monday December 25, 2023 - BPJ

 

24 December 2023

Night before Christmas

 
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.... - Clement Clarke Moore
 
Above: La Maison Rose - The Pink House, Montmartre
 

23 December 2023

Sightseeing Saturday


 
The region of Alsace in eastern France is sprinkled with enchanting villages, all within an easy drive from each other and right now, as it does every year, the magic of Christmas has taken over. And while the decorations alone are reason enough to abandon a comfortable couch and hop on a train (17 trains per day Paris - Colmar), its Christmas markets - with their unusual gifts, baked goods, local wines, regional foods and festivities - rival Europe's best, luring market-hoppers from all over the world. Adding to the charm are half-timbered houses, flowerpot bridges, lazy boat rides and narrow medieval streets, making a jaunt from Paris for even just two or three days exactly what Santa ordered. - BPJ

 


 




Must-visit towns / villages, some with Christmas markets still in full swing.
Most decorations will remain up until after the New Year:
 

Strasbourg

Colmar

Obernai

Mulhouse

Eguisheim

Kaysersberg

Ribeauville

Riquewihr

 
***

Alsace: 3 hours (or less) from Paris
via TGV train / plane
car rental on arrival
 

22 December 2023

21 December 2023

20 December 2023

Wine Wednesday

 
 
Rue des Martyrs in SoPi (South Pigalle) has been renamed Rue des Bulles, Street of Bubbles, through Sunday, December 31st. Celebrations, live music, Père Noël....
 
- See Nouveautés for more -
 
***
 
"All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne"
 

 🍾🍾🍾

 

 
 

19 December 2023

18 December 2023

17 December 2023

15 December 2023

Francophile Friday: a good life in France

  

The book that started it all.

Recommended holiday reading

Into the weekend with 4 great reads by Janine Marsh, guaranteed to make any Christmas bright 

***

Besides photography enthusiasts my stats show that visitors to this blog include not only the curious but regulars, many of whom have followed me here from my USA Today writing days. Most are Francophiles, those ardent admirers of France and everything French. And while some reside in France, of those who don't some have confessed that they envision themselves pulling up stakes and settling in The Land of The Gauls.

 Well that is exactly what author Janine Marsh, creator/editor of popular online magazine The Good Life France, where I am a contributor, did, not all that long ago, now detailed in a first book, My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream that shot up to #1 on Amazon shortly after its release, beating out J. K. Rowling at the time.

 It all started on a dreary day with zero expectations - except to find some cheap French wine on a trip to northern France with her husband and father. That trip turned into a true life adventure, and Janine found herself returning to England “a few hours later having put in an offer on a rundown old barn in the rural Seven Valleys area of Pas de Calais.”

Eventually leaving behind both life and livelihood in London, she leapt into unknown territory of what was to become a completely new lifestyle in the French countryside that included a plethora of animals (another revelation), local characters and many other, sometimes perplexing, discoveries.  

The writing is light and keeps the reader turning pages. If you are expecting a "how-we-fixed-up-an-old-barn-and-made-it-liveable" manual, you will be disappointed. It is a story of survival in a culture that turns out to be surprisingly different than anything she knew, often bemusing. This book is evergreen that is, it won’t grow old, especially now, post Covid, as the world has changed and such forays have become the food of fantasy.

Since then three other books, the second two, sequels of sort and equally delightful, have followed:

Toujours La France!: Living The Dream In Rural France 

My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life in France 

Her fourth and quite recent (October 31, 2023) How To Be French: Eat Drink Dress Travel Love, is a toast to French l'art de vivre and what it means to be French, filled with useful advice, insight and tips à la française. - BPJ 

 



Janine Marsh is a British writer "living in the middle of nowhere rural France, with 72 animals and a husband." - From her Amazon page
 

 
 


14 December 2023

13 December 2023

Wine Wednesday

 

Steamed shrimp and a crisp Château Le Puy Rose-Marie (Bordeaux) at a Marais wine bar.

 

12 December 2023

Treeful Tuesday

 
 Christmas trees lined up for sale seem to be saying, "Me! Me! Me!"
 

11 December 2023

Stollen moments

 
Stollen, the traditional German Christmas cake that originated in Dresden in 1329 as a result of a baking contest, is now considered French in France as it became a specialty of Alsace, a region that once belonged to Germany. During the holidays it can be spotted in boulangeries and pâtisseries everywhere, as it is here, direct from Alsace and usually displayed on bakery countertops.
 
 When I was growing up, along with mouth-watering poppyseed and apple strudels, it was one of my mother's holiday specialties, covered in finely powdered sugar that resembled snow. It is sometimes called the French panettone, that cherished holiday import from Italy, also studded with candied fruits and nuts, and leftovers, if there are any, will show up on the breakfast table and at tea time for days. - BPJ

 

9 December 2023

Weekend warmup

 

Let cold winds blow to their heart's content.
 
It's a time for tea and cakes and get-togethers and readying for the holidays.
 
 
***
 


(click to enlarge)


 

6 December 2023

4 December 2023

Market Monday


Marchés de Noël 2023

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Above: a Christmas market on Place des Abbesses

 

 (Have been receiving lovely "Happy Saint Barbara" wishes today in French -- Do you know your Saint's Day?)