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Posts tagged ‘Paris’

Finding Paris in Chicago

I have been traveling non-stop since I returned from Paris and collecting photos of “French America”.

I came across this awkwardly shaped piece of the Notre Dame de Paris embedded in the Tribune Tower. Inspired by the Button Tower of the cathedral at Rouen, France, “the Tribune Tower exemplifies the way American architects have elevated office buildings to sacred status.” 


The base of the Tribune Tower contains 120 stones from important locations all around the world, including the Parthenon, in Greece; the pyramids, in Egypt; the Taj Mahal, in India; the Alamo, in San Antonio; the Great Wall of China; Injun Joe Cave in Missouri, and of course a piece from Paris’ grand dame.

Is that a gargoyle’s nose? I hope so.

I love Chicago’s architecture. Who doesn’t? So much tradition blended with startling metal and glass. It is especially fabulous on a rare blue-skied spring day. It was wonderful to catch up with my lovely girls and take Kitcat out for her first legal drink stateside.

Chicago_Architecture_Skyline. jpg



Another Distributeur…Crossing the Line, Encore…

What the heck? First the DAB, and now this? France you’re killin’ me! S’il vous plaît, stick to your artisans. They make France so wonderfully French.


Distributeur Automatique de Baguette

baguette_dispenser_automatique_distributeur_de_pain_paris_1.jpgThe French are know for some pretty innovative breakthroughs: hot air balloon and hairdryers, pasteurization and pencil, mayonnaise and the metric system, and bicycles, Braille and bras. The Gauls gave us the guillotine and are also accountable for the Etch-a-Sketch. But the jury is still out on the recent brainchild of French baker, inventor and entrepreneur, Jean-Louis Hecht, the 2014 winner of the Concours Lépine—the French invention challenge held each spring at the Foire de Paris.

His invention? Le Distributeur Automatique de Baguette (DAB) or what I like to call the Baguette ATM.

When this contraption popped up in my Facebook newsfeed a few weeks ago, I was stunned. Zut alors! A baguette vending machine in the land of artisanal bakers? Sacrilege! I knew I had to see this with my own eyes to believe it.

A quick Google search yielded two addresses: one in the 19eme arrondissement and one in the 15eme. The automatic boulangerie in the 15eme turned out to be a short walk from my Pilates studio, so I grabbed my good friend Rachel and we made the trek.

When we arrived at La Panamette, 32 rue Paul Barruel, we found two dispensers filled with partially baked baguettes—one ready and willing to dispense. We drop our €1 coin, and after 10 seconds, it dropped our baton. I was expecting something more dramatic, and certainly more aromatic, unfortunately it was rather anticlimactic. The machines, swathed in bright pictures of a beret-clad lad wielding his wand among the wheat, were not much different than the chip and candy dispensers from home.

While online reviews promise “crisp and steaming” or “warm and crusty” bread, ours was warm(ish) and chewy, on the verge of being crisp, a super marché quality baguette.


That said, I understand the concept. It addresses a real need. While I wasn’t won over by the taste and texture of this bread, these round-the-clock boulangeries do allow people who work evenings or early mornings to enjoy fresh, warm bread when their friendly bakers lock up shop. In fact, his closed bakery doors are what inspired Hecht, a baker of 57 years, to design the DAB in the first place. Living over his boulangerie, in Hombourg-Haut, he was often disturbed by desperate customers knocking on his door after hours demanding bread. Wanting to spend uninterrupted time with his family and not wanting to worry about closing up for vacation, the idea was born. In addition to more sleep and quality family time, Hecht also hopes that his machines will shorten the queues for buying bread and reclaim the towns of France where the baker has disappeared.

I personally love the anticipation of lining up at my local boulangerie and inspecting the visual and scented edible art, but maybe that’s just an expat experience. To me the DAB is purely a novelty in this land that does bread so well. I’ll wait in line and stick to the real deal.

…lining up for a baguette...

…lining up for a baguette…

Meanwhile, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the machines dispensing Dom Pérignon in juice boxes.

Chocolat Chaud


As a child growing up in a Catholic family, I often chose to give up chocolate for Lent. Looking back it wasn’t a huge sacrifice because, one, I came from a very modest background and chocolate was already a rare treat, and two, the only chocolate we ever had either came in the form of a large block HERSHEY’S bar or Nesquik, the chocolate flavored drink mix which promised to “make milk fun” and enhance your muscle mass.

I imagine that for a child growing up in this Catholic land of artisan chocolatiers, with so many cold and dreary days leading up to Easter, the thought of snuggling up with a warm cup of herbal tea for 40 days rather than a lavish, velvety mug of hot chocolate must be daunting.

The origins of this dreamy, creamy drink are exotic for sure.

mamie_gateaux_hot_chocolate_paris.jpgMontezuma’s Aztecs were the first to brew this delectable drink, which they called Xocolatl. Sipped singularly by the ancient elite, life was grand in Aztec-land. That is until Hernan Cortez dropped by in 1517 and was mistakenly offered a nip of their elixir. Impressed and obsessed with the luxury beverage, he conquered their entire kingdom.

Recipe in hand and cocoa beans in the bag, Cortez returned to Spain and brewed up a batch for Charles V. Initially the Spanish royals were less than thrilled with the dark, bitter liquid, but with the addition of sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla beans, they soon were smitten.


The chocolate tonic hit the French court following the marriage of King Louis XIII to the Spanish Princess Anne of Austria in 1615; and when the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa (the original chocolate addict) was betrothed to Louis XIV of France, chocolate became the drink of choice for the Sun King at Versailles.

Nowadays, hot chocolate is obviously accessible to the masses, but that doesn’t mean the French have to suffer through mass-produced hot chocolate. Like so many things in France, chocolat chaud has been elevated to an artisan level.

Enjoy this visual sample of the best cups I’ve savored over the last 4 weeks.


Please check back next week for my carnet d’adresses.


carnet d’adresses: address book

chocolat chaud: hot chocolate


More Paris Rainbows

Following up on yesterday’s post on Rue Dénoyez , I thought I would share a few more Paris Rainbows:















Paris, je t’aime…

Finding Color: Paris’ Most Painted Street

Now that I have one foot in Colorado and one foot in France, I am able to appreciate things about both places that I previously took for granted. For example, back in the States I have come to realize how much I have missed color while I was living in Paris full time. Paris can be pretty dark, from the weather to the clothing to the mood. There are some days when I feel like the City of Light is the original 50 Shades of Grey, and that a sea of black has tempestuously wet washed the entire metropolis.



On the other hand, Golden, Denver and Boulder my tri-city community is awash in color.

Colorado Welcome Sign

Three hundred days of the year, the weather comes in three flavors: sunny and cold, sunny and warm, and sunny and hot. The rest of the days we may have snow or some cloud cover, but mostly we get a lot of blue sky. And under those blue skies, the people are dressed in rainbows. I live in the fittest state in the union where people mindfully reside because outdoor recreation is their number one priority, so you can image that the workout-clothes alone are a kaleidoscope of color. Sunshine and physical activity, like the smell of baking bread, inspires happy and contented people. Residents are friendly and courteous, and quick with a greeting. Jewel-toned moods glimmer and gleam.

Strolling through the Marais last weekend, being nudged and knocked by Parisians cloaked in black and eager to play sidewalk games of “chicken”, I found myself shoulders squared and tense (dressed in black!) and ready to stare down the on-coming traffic. While in Colorado you purposely catch someone’s eye to smile and say “hello”, in Paris I find eye contact to be a territorial marker, a penetrating moment of snap judgments or criticism. You very rarely catch a twinkling eye or friendly wink.



With the eternally sunshiny Kitcat in town, and the weather steely and dull, we decide to search for the tints and hues and blushes hidden among the gloom. We were delighted to find them in Belleville on Paris’s most painted street, rue Dénoyez, an original alfresco art gallery. Here’s a glimpse of some blazing graffiti and mosaics. Profitez!





photo credit: timeoutfrance

Rue des Boulangers, or Paris I Love You, but You’re Making Me Fat


I am happily installed in the same cozy, shabby chic apartment on rue des Boulangers that I stayed in during my fall visit to Paris. I am thankful that it was available again, as it feels even more like a homecoming, and I am finding out I adore this part of the 5eme arrondissement. It is easy to escape the crowds by slipping through the huge blue door leading to my cobbled courtyard surrounded by trees. I am always amazed by these get-away-from-it-all shared gardens you find in Paris, these tranquil hidden gems.

In 1844 this short horseshoe lane cloaked with bakeries became known as rue des Boulangers. I imagine the clay chimney pipes blistering with the hungry smells of freshly baked bread and golden croissants. It must have been a happy rue as a French friend recently told me that the aroma of fresh-baked bread not only makes your mouth water, but has also been proven to make you a kinder more contented person.

Nowadays there is only one boulangerie at the bottom of the horseshoe lane, possibly explaining my cranky next-door neighbor.

Still, there are at least five fabulous boulangeries within a 5-minute walk of my flat. Maybe it is the distance and time away in the States, or the processed, over-baked carbohydrate batons they sell in my small town; certainly it’s the lack of creamy French butter added to the mix, and the plastic-like crescents sold in flimsy plastic boxes, but I honestly have no desire to eat bread back home. The shadow of bread, the ghosts of Paris past, it has no appeal at all.

Mais, here is the land of artisanal bakers, the still enforced Napoleonic decrees requiring specific ingredients, quality control for flour milling and dough kneading, and the perfectly established shape and sizes for baguettes and croissants, make it impossible for me to say, “No!” I am far less satisfied with taking pictures of their edible art this time around, and much more eager to take one (or two) masterpieces along with me on a grey-skied stroll through my lovely Par-ee.