Tea Time? Head to Mariage Freres in the Marais

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Most people naturally associate tea with England, where indulging in afternoon tea is practically a national pastime. But the tea trade also became a vital part of France’s economy and part of its aristocratic culture in the mid-17th century when entrepreneurs and explorers began to seek out and import exotic foreign goods, including teas. One of the best-known tea emporiums in France—Mariage Freres—has its roots in this global exploration. Brothers (freres, in French) Nicholas and Pierre Mariage became experts in the tea trade in the mid-1600s, and passed that knowledge on to successive generations of Mariages. Today, the family operates more than 30 tea shops and salons (including sales counters in luxury department stores) around the world, including it’s flagship emporium in Paris’s Marais district that is the perfect setting for a delicious dessert and a spot of tea. Continue Reading →

Saint Gervais, a Gorgeous Out-of-the-Way Church

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There are many huge—and hugely popular—churches in Paris that make it onto most tourists’ must-see lists: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Saint Sulpice, etc. But the City of Light is home to more than 125 churches, and some of the most interesting and most beautiful are among the less-popular and out-of-the-way houses of worship. One of my favorites of these less-visited sites is also one of the oldest churches in Paris (it’s roots going back to the 4th century)—Saint Gervais-Saint Protais, located just east of Hotel de Ville in the 4th Arrondissement. Continue Reading →

Was ‘La Jeune Rue’ a Swindle From the Start?

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A proposed “epicurean street” in Paris, dubbed La Jeune Rue, that was supposed to bring together artisanal craftsmen, top food producers, high-end restaurants and designer fashion shops to completely rejuvenate a nondescript area along the Rue du Vertbois in the Marais has turned out to be the nightmare many predicted. The grandiose plans and guarantees of financial support for all those involved with the project—from construction workers and contractors to the chefs, foodmakers and craftsmen who gave up lucrative shops elsewhere to relocate to the planned zone—have completely fallen apart, according to media reports. Continue Reading →

Paris Rooftop Photos Shown at Marais Gallery

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As anyone who has ever rented a Parisian apartment—even for just a short stay in the City of Light—knows, one of the true pleasures of non-hotel living in Paris is the views over the city’s iconic rooftops. The hundreds of tiny clay chimneys. The ornate sloping roofs adorning ancient stone buildings. The skylights and wrought-iron balconies peering out over the entire scene. It’s magical. And now, a photo exhibit staged at Paris’s La Galerie Particuliere, located in the artsy Marais, celebrates those picturesque canopies through the images of renowned photographer Michael Wolf.
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It’s Chilly. Time for Fondue at Pain, Vin, Fromages

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The weather’s getting colder, and that means it’s time for heartier French cuisine. I’m a big fan of French winter classics, like boeuf bourguignon, cassoulet, soupe a l’oignon and other tummy-warming dishes. And you can find these tasty concoctions at many restaurants throughout Paris. Oddly, though, one cold-weather dish is rather difficult to find in the City of Light—fondue. OK, fondue is not French per se, but given that France is world-famous for its cheese, it’s not really a stretch for visitors to Paris to hope to find hot, gooey, melted cheese on at least a few restaurant menus. Fortunately, there’s a fantastic cheese-centric restaurant in the heart of the Marais that offers up some of Europe’s very best fondue throughout the year—Pain, Vin, Fromages (which translates as Bread, Wine, Cheese). Continue Reading →

Picasso Museum Set for Reopening. Again

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Paris’s famed Picasso Museum is set to reopen on Saturday, October 25, after a planned two-year renovation project stretched to more than five years in length and resulted in cost overruns nearly doubling the initial eight-figure budget. The museum, established when Picasso’s family members donated hundreds of pieces of art to the French government in lieu of estate taxes when the artist passed away, shut in August 2009 for a planned two-year, $40 million renovation. Numerous times since, the museum’s administration announced additional delays and more expenditures. In fact, just this spring the renovation team announced a June reopening. Obviously, that never happened. So will Saturday’s reopening actually occur? There’s every indication that this time it’s done deal. Continue Reading →

Marcel Duchamp Show Opens at the Pompidou Center

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Opening today at the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris’s Pompidou Center is a fantastic new show highlighting works by French/American artist Marcel Duchamp titled “Marcel Duchamp. La Peinture, Meme.” Duchamp, who lived from 1887 to 1968, has been described as both the father of contemporary art and one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. However, the artist and his works are less well known in France than in other countries (particularly in America), and the new Paris show aims to introduce Duchamp to both the French and to international tourists visiting the City of Light. Continue Reading →

Does Paris Need ‘Epicurean Street’ La Jeune Rue?

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There’s a bit of a controversy brewing over plans by a wealthy French entrepreneur to turn a largely nondescript area along the Rue du Vertbois in the Marais into an upscale epicurean “village” called La Jeune Rue. Some say the initiative is the next big advance in urban gentrification, while others claim it merely turns the Paris neighborhood into a sort of Disneyland for the well-to-do. What do you think? Continue Reading →

Who is Chocolatier Extraordinaire Josephine Vannier?

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Paris is heaven for chocolate lovers, and there are many boutiques run by world-class chocolatiers in the City of Light that should not be missed by sweets connoisseurs—Christian Constant, Michel Cluziel, Pierre Herme, Jean-Paul Hevin and Patrick Roger, to name just a few. But one of my favorites is a Marais shop that is a bit of an enigma—Josephine Vanier on the Rue du Pas de la Mule just steps from the elegant Place des Vosges. It’s not the delicious confections or the gorgeous edible sculptures that are puzzling; it’s exactly who is the never-seen namesake of this fantastic chocolaterie? Continue Reading →

Marais Mansions: 18th Century Hotel de Rohan

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Another of the gorgeous 300-year-old mansions in Paris’s Marais district is the massive Hotel de Rohan, officially named the Hotel de Rohan Strasbourg as it was built in 1705 for the bishop of Strasbourg, Francois-Armand-August de Rohan-Soubise. This 18th century mansion was designed by architect Pierre Alexis-Delamair as the sister to the nearby Hotel de Soubise estate, Today, both manors are owned by the French government, and serve as the location for France’s national archives and the Musee de l’Histoire de France. Continue Reading →