Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Things to do in Paris: Salon Du Chocolat

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

 

 

If your heaven is a warehouse full of chocolate, look no further than the Paris Salon Du Chocolat. From the moment you walk through the door, every turn you take you are surrounded by every imaginable variety of chocolate treat. Shoes, dresses, and sculptures of chocolate in every color abound, and Bolivian dancers bring the cocoa-harvesting culture to life. Take in a chocolate cooking class, or simply wander through hundreds of booths and collect free samples.

Our Guest Blogger, Lisa

 

Salon du Chocolat

The festival, hosted in Porte de Versailles convention center on Metro Line 12 is open from October 31st-November 4th 2012. The enormous convention space transforms in to aisles and aisles of chocolate vendors and craftsmen displaying their creativity and talent. Tickets are available online or at the door of the exhibit, and are 13 Euros for adults (6 Euros for children under 12)

http://www.salonduchocolat.fr/ 

Lisa Gabrielson is a current undergraduate student at American University in Washington, DC. Before attending college, she spent a gap year abroad as an Au Pair and fell in love with Paris. When she’s not in the classroom or daydreaming about the city of light, she can be found sailing for the university sailing team or working as President of her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. You can find Lisa on Twitter @Lisa79

5-Star Food on a 2-Star Budget

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Our Guest Blogger Lisa and her brother in front of Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert

 

Paris may be the city of light, but it is also arguably the cuisine capital of the world. Of course, with the incredible edibles also comes the unbelievable price tag. While restaurants like Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, Guy Savoy near the Champs Élysées, or Restaurant Lasserre may serve up some of the best food, the prices put them far out of reach of mere mortals.

Years ago, my mother came across a gem of Parisian cuisine that at first sounds too good to be true, but after a taste of their lobster mac n’ cheese a few years ago I can tell you that it does indeed exist. Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert is one of Paris’ best-kept culinary secrets.

Right around the corner from Michele Rostang, one of Paris’ priciest spots, the Bistrot sits in quiet obscurity. Those who choose to forgo the golden doors of Michele Rostang and instead venture into Bistrot D’Acote, owned by the same family, are in for an experience like no other. The charmingly small bistro, with its collection of beer steins and Michelin Tire Co. artifacts (a nod to the coveted restaurant grading system), is the last place you would expect to have a mind-blowing dinner.  Yet, the fact that the Bistrot shares its kitchen with Michele Rostang is a good indicator of what is to come.

Between their Gratin de Penne et Crème de Homard (my favorite) and their rotisserie veal for two, you’ll be lucky if you have room for their out-of-this-world Petits Pots De Crème. Perhaps the most satisfying part of the meal, however, is the after-dinner stroll down the block to see the posted menu of Michele Rostang, and noticing your 30 Eur. Entrée et Plat would barely get you a glass of wine there.

The Bistrot was recently featured as a set in the movie “Sarah’s Key”, but on our last visit still seemed blissfully undiscovered. Even so, reservations here are a must on the weekends, and the Bistrot is only open certain days during the week for lunch or dinner, so be sure to check before you go! Reservations can be made through opentable.com or by visiting the restaurant’s website: http://www.bistrotflaubert.com/

Bistrot D’Acote Flaubert

10 Rue Gustave Flaubert

75017 Paris, France

Lisa Gabrielson is a current undergraduate student at American University in Washington, DC. Before attending college, she spent a gap year abroad as an Au Pair and fell in love with Paris. When she’s not in the classroom or daydreaming about the city of light, she can be found sailing for the university sailing team or working as President of her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. You can find Lisa on Twitter @Lisa790

 

Paris After Dark

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

 Guest Post by Daniella Carrese      

 La Ville-Lumière. The City of Light, Paris got its nickname from all the lights that illuminate the night sky. During the evening in Paris, the streets light up with the lamp posts and lights from around. All the lights make the city seem as if it is always awake.  Along the Seine, there are beautiful lights that seem as though they have been there forever. Due to the lights, you can take a nice stroll along the river at night. Looking down from the Eiffel Tower in the evening is magical.  The streets are light up beautifully.  Along the Champs Elyseès the trees are strung with lights that make the night seem as if it day.  Although you cannot see the stars in Paris, due to all the light pollution, the sky is normally covered with a navy blue blanket. The city dies down a bit, but there are still a number of things to do during the evening.

You can take a tour of the Seine and explore all of its canals at night. You can visit the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge is a cabaret and music hall, built in 1889 by Joseph Oller this building has seen many stars including Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra. Today it is still used, there is a nighttime cabaret show. You can see shows at this historic concert hall at most times of the day. Le Procope is Paris’ oldest cafe that was established in 1686. Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Hemingway and Picasso were some of the few who regularly ate at this establishment. Closing at 11:30, this cafe is a great place to hangout for the night. Walking around the streets near your Paris vacation rental is a great way to get a feel of the city and what it is actually like all the time.

To read more from Daniella, click “here

For even more tips  and tricks to make Paris travel easier, ask for our “Insider’s Guide to Paris”! 

 

A Free Woman in Paris by Karen A. Chase

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Wandering the streets of Paris, especially at sunset, always makes me feel like I’ve traveled back through time. Even the cars in shadow feel like they are from another era.

A guest post by Karen A. Chase,  author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log (40 years. 40 days. 40 seconds.)

 When I realized I had to turn forty, I decided I could that gracefully in Paris. I had been to Paris fifteen years earlier but only for five days and it hadn’t been long enough. Although many writers have changed their lives and moved there, I didn’t need to do that. (Okay, I wanted to, but I couldn’t.) So, I settled on going for nearly forty days.

I rented an apartment, planned for a year, put work on hold, and said, “Bonjour 40!” It was delightful. Days were filled with all sorts of food, museums, writing, experiences, people, and did I mention the food? I kept a blog while I was there, and this entry is one that lingers with me as the most perfect day for a woman alone in Paris.

Day 15 ~ May 5

I got lost. Hopelessly, wonderfully, nowhere in particular-ly lost. I did start out my day with a planned visit to a museum (Musée Jacquemart-André), but once I left it I just got wanderlust for the next eight hours. It sounds frightening, but no, wandering in Paris is delightful. Every corner I went around had another little strip of charming stores, grand statues, festive cafés, gardens, architecture, flowers, or monuments to behold.

With no phone, and limited email access, being unplugged is giving me the freedom to go out for these aimless excursions whenever writing hits a wall or my curiosity gets the best of me. My favorite spots are the really small, short streets that wind together in a jumbled, crooked mess. There, the traffic noise is reduced significantly, the shopkeepers are a bit friendlier, the wares are more unique, and cafés are quainter. It’s there that Paris feels more like Paris.

In my meandering, I tried to visit the overcrowded Arch de Triomphe and ended up on the Champs Elysées yesterday. Within about five minutes, I grabbed a free bicycle and escaped the area entirely. I didn’t come to Paris to see tourists eating fast food and buying overpriced American designer clothing. It isn’t the romantic boulevard it was when Joni Mitchell sang about it.

Bandit

My footsteps finally led me to the crab shack and bar, L’Amuse Geuele, at the end of my block in the 4th arrondissement. It is fast becoming a favorite. It is managed by Bandit-the-dog who barks at everything he’s never seen before and sits next to me begging for food. Dorothée, his owner, speaks wonderful English, so here I can learn and share equally. We chat until she closes for the night. As my day of wandering ended, words from that same Joni Mitchell song come to me: “I was a free man in Paris, I felt unfettered and alive. There was nobody calling me up for favors, and no one’s future to decide. . . .”

We were thrilled to have Karen submit a post to share with our guests!  You find her on Twitter @KarenAChase, on Facebook or on her website here: http://www.karenachase.com/

Paris: Your Home Away From Home? by Meghan Sexton

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

A guest post by Meghan Sexton

Watching Midnight in Paris, recently, made me fondly reminisce about my brief time in France.

See, my introduction to Parisian life was as a child.  In an instant, Woody Allen’s cinematic representation of softly lit gay Paris brought it all rushing back.  I vividly pictured myself as a young girl soaking up the experience like a sponge.  At a tender age, I had my own romance with the City of Lights.  It was a dazzling introduction to such a historic and iconic culture.

There was a certain je ne sais quoi.  I was in store for a dizzying array of activities.  Viewing the Mona Lisa in the tightly packed Louvre was a shock.  She was the size of a stamp!  Being such a staple of Parisian culture, I thought she would have been larger than life.  One misty afternoon in a sidewalk café, my family and I indulged in the largest slice of tart cherry pie.  I couldn’t get over how opulent the café was with its wrought iron details and delicate bistro tables.  Everyone seemed impossibly chic and I was enveloped in an inner glow.

Originally my family had reservations in a centrally located posh hotel, but due to the insistence of a family friend, we stayed with them in their flat in Paris.  What a contrast!  What a way to experience the culture, the food, and the atmosphere – all from the front row seat of a local’s perspective.  Staying in a home environment as opposed to a hotel imparted a totally different vibe.  My curiosity was peaked!

Travel is my passion, but Real Estate has been my profession.  I can appreciate the essence of a home away from home.

Experiencing Paris in a vacation rental gives you the opportunity to pick up the essence of what it must feel like to be a local.  The very activities that would normally be so mundane at home are suddenly a novelty.  A hotel room can be comfortably bare and short on sentiment.  It can be beautifully decorated, but stripped of the local flavor.  The owner of the vacation rental has taken the time to pull together elements of daily life.  Perhaps they have a drawer filled with local menus with random penciled in notes.  Maybe they’ve dotted the space with quirky local trinkets.  You’d never get any of these personal touches if you were simply a guest in a hotel.  You have all the comforts of home, without the corporate feel; it’s far more intimate.

Had my family and I not stayed with friends, how else would I have been able to learn about the ins & outs of scamming the local transit.  Apparently, there was some sort of honor system.  Clutching a booklet of pre-purchased tickets, our friend demonstrated how a lot of locals would casually keep rotating the same hole punched ticket for admission.  Hardly scandalous, but I enjoy snickering at those little aspects of daily life.

Next up for this starry-eyed traveler will be jaunting through the grounds of Versailles, every nock and cranny of Champagne, and the rocky beaches of Nice.

Meghan Sexton is a Southern California native who is passionate about travel and all its accouterments.  Check out her blog geared toward first hand travel tips, insight, and anecdotes for women travelers.  Are you in the know?  Meghan’s Guilty Pleasures Travel Blog  You can also find Meghan on Twitter @MGPTravelBlog and on Facebook

The Walkability of Paris

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

July Column, Place de la Bastille

A guest post by Matt Davids

As a city, Paris is notorious in terms of traffic and holds a reputation as one of the toughest cities to drive around in Europe. This is often typical of such historic cities and it more than makes up for this by providing a decent underground train network (Metro), as well as wide pavements for walking, cycling and roller-skating, and plenty of excuses to want to take your time and explore on foot.

There are several approaches to walking around Paris that are dependent on the type of traveller you are. For experienced visitors to the city, you can use your prior knowledge, French skills and the handy help of the many metro stations nearby to figure out where you are. Ambling along in this way, without a specific map helps facilitate the discovery of new side streets and shortcuts and travelling on a whim, guided by a loose sense of knowing where you’re going, and the many distractive sights, sounds and smells along the way.

For those less experienced, there are plenty of maps both print and online to help you get around and perhaps plan your route before you leave. Furthermore, booking an escorted tour is an excellent option if you’re a newbie to Paris or want to supplement previous trips with a little extra knowledge. These can be themed as well, so if you’re interested in a certain period of French history such as the French Revolution or WWll then go for one of these options.

Great locations around Paris for ambling around:

Due to its layout, with the Seine winding its way from East to West, a standard walking route can take in all the most famous parts of Paris, either as an action packed morning, or stretched out leisurely throughout the day, with walking time between 3 and 4 hours a good guide. For a few suggestions, or a less demanding stroll, the following areas are great places to focus:

The Marais

The Marais is a district in Paris very much a part of the city’s history. Full of buildings that were built by Parisian aristocrats as well as many dating back to the 16th century, it has an amazing historic feel as well as fashionable restaurants and a strong art scene. These buildings, as well as immaculately kept outdoor areas make this one of the most expensive places in Paris to live, and it is conveniently close to many museums, including the Carnavalet Museum which reveals the history of Paris.

Montmartre District

The Montmartre District is another area that is well represented by the art scene. Spending a few hours strolling around the Place du Tertre which is a square where artists paint and sell their works is delightful, and there is also the Montmartre Cemetery which is a popular tourist attraction and the resting place of famous artists. There’s also the Moulin Rouge, a cabaret that needs no introduction.

Les Bouquinistes, Paris 

Les Bouquinistes

For an authentic cultural experience, the Bouquinistes along the river Seine are stands that sell books, photos and various other unique souvenirs for tourists, that having been around since the 16th century consequently offer an authentic location for purchasing a little something to take home. Hours can be whiled away strolling amongst these with the River Seine as your backdrop, conveniently located in the Latin District which is home to Notre Dame, has a strong student presence and many winding, charming streets.

General

To orientate yourself generally with Paris, then make your way to the square in front of the Notre Dame, which has a bronze plaque which represents the point to which all distances in France are measured. From here, the Eiffel Tower is to the West and the Place de la Bastille, a square where the July Column stands lies to the East. Zigzagging between these two points will take you across Paris, allowing you to see the Louvre, Notre Dame, Champs Elysees, Parc du Champ de Mars, Parc Luxembourg and many other tourist sites, whilst discovering the little hidden delights along the way that you would miss on the Metro or tour bus.

About our guest blogger:

Matt is a frequent traveller who has just returned from travelling round the world. He plans this summer to explore much of Europe, starting in Paris and finishing with his Greece holidays.

We love to have posts written by our CobbleStay guests and other travel experts.  Feel free to share your insights about Paris and travel with us.  You can send your ideas to Cassie at Community@CobbleStay.com

French Art Through the Ages

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Monet’s Lilies

By Daniella Carrese

            From Eugene Delacroix to Claude Monet, the world has seen a countless number of French artists. Throughout the ages, art has gone from Classicism to Modern.

The Renaissance (15th to 16th century) pushed forward a new age of expression. Artwork from this period sought after a subject that told a story, most popular was the story about how the world was created. Realism, shading, and symmetry were seen in the paintings for the first time. Oil paints were first introduced during this period.  During the 17th century French Baroque and Classicism were seen during the time of Louis XIV and the Scientific Revolution.  The paintings from this period were associated with the religious tensions between the Catholics and the Protestants.  Many portrayed biblical scenes with rich colors and sharp details. Rococo was introduced in the 18th century.  Compared to Baroque, Rococo was lighter and more decorative art. The French Revolution was going on toward the end of this period, and a portrayal of liberated subjects and hardships were popular.  The Romanticism period expressed a connection to nature. The “realists” wanted to get away from the industrial innovations and get back to all that is not man-made in the world. The focuses were emotion, imagination, and passion. This was a revolt against Classicism of the Enlightenment. Between WWI and WWII there were a various assortment of styles from Impressionism to Surrealism. The artists expressed the uncertainty and disillusions of the time through disoriented figures and mysterious backgrounds.

All of these types of art are displayed throughout the city of Paris in various museums. The Louvre houses many types of artwork from the periods. Some other museums include the Musée d’Orsay, the Pompidou Center and the Musée du Montmartre. These museums are within walking distance from your Paris vacation rental or just a short metro ride away.

Daniella is a frequent guest blogger for CobbleStay.  She recently wrote about street art in Paris and Coco Chanel.

Tips From a Paris Insider: Stephanie Frasco

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Stephanie Frasco

We love passing on great tips from Paris Insiders!  Meet Stephanie Frasco.  Stephanie is a Social Media Consultant and as the Community Manager for Dashlane, she just returned from living in Paris for the winter.  She recommends:

1. Massage 

Book a massage for the day you get in.  It helps to rid your jet lag.  Not only will it melt your airplane kinks away but you will leave feeling fresh and ready to walk your heart out!

I recommend Institut Thai Rachawadee -  in the 5th  thai-rachawadee.fr

 

2.  Food 

It should come as no surprise that eating your way through Paris can be worth the trip itself.  Of course the French food is spectacular, but Paris is filled with ethnic restaurants that might surprise you.  Eat everything that calls your name!  You will be happy you did.  Some of my favorite restaurants in Paris (ethnic and French) 

L’Office – (contemporary)  - http://hungryforparis.squarespace.com/blog/2011/11/16/loffice-good-eating-in-this-in-box-b.html 

Dans les Landes (small plates) - http://hungryforparis.squarespace.com/blog/2011/5/5/dans-les-landes-southwestern-french-tapas-and-a-really-good.html 

Hyang-Ly - (Korean BBQ)http://www.yelp.com/biz/hyang-ly-paris

 

3.  Flea markets and food markets -

Paris is filled with Flea markets and food markets selling everything from fresh cheeses at the food markets to vintage Chanel bags and Victorian Era furniture at the antique markets.  Hopping from stall to stall and market to market is a great way to spend an afternoon.  If you find yourself in Paris during the warmer months, make sure you take your bounty (from the food stalls) and head to one of the many public parks for an enjoyable picnic.  If you happen to be in Paris in the winter don’t forget to check out the Christmas Markets.  

Favorites: Rue Monge market & Christmas Market at La Défense

 

For more about Stephanie, you can go to her website: http://www.stephaniefrasco.com

You can also follow her on Twitter @StephanieFrasco

 

Street Art in Paris

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Photo Credit: MaiLaifu

Written by Daniella Carrese

Street art is a part of any major city. Although street art is associated with graffiti and is not commonly seen as art but more as vandalism, in Paris the art is enjoyed by many spectators from all around. Street art gives a city character beyond it’s history. Today’s generation sees beyond the tagging and sees the originality and creativity that is put into the art form. All around Paris, as in any major city, there are many streets which have such art. The graffiti is embraced by many Parisians and seen as a way for many artists to express their emotions, and a way to liven up the city. Parisian street art is very different than most city art. Street art in Paris generates a picture with imagination and creativity. The color brought among the grey and brown walls in the city create a brilliant image to show the vibrant colors and scenes expressed by artists.  There are some tours around the city, of the art. To find certain areas that have these art forms visit this website. Even though some of these this may not be near your Parisian apartment rental, you can take a walking tour around the city and finds some of these locations.

To read more by Daniella, click here:  Coco Chanel

Les Coins, a guest post by Brandon Smith

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Photo Credit:  Brandon A. Smith

Les Coins

I’ve been to Paris a number of times.  There are so many destinations that I could choose from, that I’d love to climb aboard a plane and be whisked to, yet each time I find myself ready for some time to bask, a vacation of sorts, my heart is tugged in the direction of that ever changing City of Lights.  “Certainly”, others begin, “you’d be better off expanding your horizons”.  I’d be better off, in the words of my friends, trying new places, experiencing yet another culture, playing resident in a new city. Yet even with that sage advice, I open my passport and collect another stamp from an ever-familiar country.

You see, for me, Paris has never been a stagnate city. A city that after spending time under its moon and in the arms of its streets, you feel you’ve seen it all.  A locale that continues along the same never changing path of modernization and politicalization. Is that a word? In some cities it must be.  For me, Paris is an onion begging to be peeled.  Every corner, a city anew.   To walk an arrondissement is to dive head first into the deep end of an ever growing puzzle.

I don’t carry a map with me when I’m in Paris.  Maps are too stifling. Too directive. Too distracting.  Certainly it is against second nature to leave the plat of the city behind in one’s hotel but to do so ensures a simple stroll will unfold to become an adventure.  I’ve seen the Louvre.  I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower. Montmartre is a promise of a beautiful view. But to experience these monuments to Parisian culture is to peel away only the first of its layers.

To leave the map behind. To promenade the rues de la ville.  To turn corners at will with no final objective.  That is to experience the city that is Paris. I’ve found odd shops where a single word of English is not uttered.  Stumbled upon a bistro with a delicious, authentic steak frites.  Discovered the oldest magasin de chocolat.  Decadent discoveries are bound to be made by simply turning the corner.  Experiencing les coins. Paris makes no promises but never fails to excite. Though a warning, once found, there is the possibility of never finding these places again.

But that, however, is what makes Paris so intriguing. The excitement that is the corner.

Brandon Smith is the founder/principal/therapist of d.coop, a boutique spatial design and development firm in  San Diego, California.  You can read more from him on his blog, d.coop and Tweet with him @dcoopsd.