Art of L'Apéritif: St. Germain Spritz Cocktail

July 21, 2017

The French and l'apéritf (or l'apéro for short) is nothing new.  It's similar to "Happy Hour" or "cocktails" in America.  The purpose of this French ritual is to stimulate your appetite before dinner, usually with a simple alcoholic beverage.  The apéro is also an opportunity to be surrounded by good company and enjoy the French way of life.  Today, I want to share one of my favorites for apéro.  St. Germain Spritz is perfect for the apéro, especially during the summer.  I like this drink because it's refreshing and has a fragrant flavor thanks to the St. Germain liqueur, which is made from elderflowers and it just so happens to be one of my favorite French liqueurs.  Here's a simple recipe so you can make your own:  
St. Germain Spritz
(Serving size:  1)

40ml St. Germain French liqueur
60 ml sparkling water or club soda (I used San Pe [Sohn Pay]...short for San Pellegrino)
60 ml Prosecco or sparkling wine
Ice cubes enough to fill a tall 'collins' glass (I didn't have one so I used my champagne flute)
Garnish with lavender (as pictured) or slice of lemon or mint

1.  Fill the glass with ice.
2.  Pour prosecco or sparkling wine over the ice.
3.  Add St. Germain
4.  Top it off with sparkling water
5.  Add a garnish.  Here I added a garnish of lavender since I had some available.  Voilà!

5 Ways to Celebrate Bastille Day Wherever You Are

July 14, 2017

If you're a Francophile at heart, as I am, you know that today is Bastille Day!  C’est quoi le jour de la Bastille?  What is Bastille Day?  Bastille Day is the common name Anglophones (English-speakers) use to describe this French National holiday.  In France, it's rather known as le 14 juillet (the 14th of July) or la Fête nationale (National celebration).  Le 14 juillet commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, which was the turning point of the French revolution, and Fête de la Fédération, commemorating the unity of the nation in July 14, 1790.

The official celebration in France includes a military march along the Champs-Élysées and a phenemonal feu d'artifice (fireworks) at the Eiffel Tower.  If you're not in Paris to watch the festivities, don't fret.  I've listed 5 ways to celebrate Bastille Day and French culture when you're not in Paris.

1.  Bastille Day Feast
Because a celebration without food is no celebration at all.  We usually venture out to French bistros to enjoy a delicious meal.  Below are some of my favorite French restaurants in LA.

Bouchon  closed

Church & State

Le Petit Paris


Petit Trois

Trois Mec


Figaro Bistrot


Garçons de Café

Crêpes Sans Frontières  closed

Café Beau Soleil

2.  Indulge in Pastries
A lunch or dinner is not complete without least for me.  Like all things French, I'm very passionate about pastries.  I'm always on the lookout for the best of the best French pâtisseries in Paris and here in the US.  When I'm not in Paris and missing the desserts from "home", I get my fix at these locations in Southern California:


Le Mervetty

Bo Nuage

Sweet Nuns



Bottega Louie

Napoleon's Macarons


Crêpes Sans Frontières  closed

Bouchon  closed

3.  Watch French films
Catching a firework show on le 14 juillet is hard to come by when you're not in Paris.  So why not celebrate French culture by watching French films.  There's a great list of them on Netflix that is worth checking out.

4.  Wine, cheese and charcuterie tasting
What better way to celebrate le 14 juillet and French culture than with wine, cheese and charcuterie tasting!  You can enjoy this at specialty establishments or at home.  Here are a few of my recommendations:

Wine and cheese bars
Garçons de Café

Little Next Door

Shop and enjoy at home
Cheese Cave

Urban Radish

The Butchery

5.  Festivals
As you can see, there is a plethora of ways to celebrate.  However, festivals are a great way to meet other Francophiles and French expats alike.  Here are some events in LA where you can join Francophiles and French expats alike:

Bastille Day Soirée
This soirée hosted by French Tuesday in LA is an evening celebration.  Watch a Can-Can performance and sip on some champagne!

Pétanque tournament
Do you know how to play this traditional French game?  You can either join in as a competitor at the Los Angeles Pétanque Club Bastille Day Tournament or just simply watch while enjoying coffee and pastries.

French Festival
The French Festival in Santa Barbara is an annual celebration held in the weekends of Bastille Day.  Enjoy live performances, French music and celebrate French culture with food and wine.  The admission is FREE!!

Tell me how you celebrate le 14 juillet.  Have any suggestions?  Comment below.

Brunch at Ladurée

July 6, 2017

Petit déjeuner (breakfast) is my favorite meal.  My usual, small, yet simple breakfast consists of a small bowl of oatmeal or yogurt and coffee.  If I have an extra few minutes to spare in my busy mornings, I might grab a good croissant and chocolat chaud (hot chocolate).  Once in a while we will treat ourselves to a bit of luxury.  Why not?  We work really hard and deserve a petit déjeuner fabuleux every now and then, especially if it's petit déjeuner at Ladurée.

I have dined at Ladurée in the past.  Yes, we frequent Ladurée in Paris for their famous macarons and pastries, but my husband, who has heard me praise their breakfast, has never eaten there before.  When the opportunity presented itself, he couldn't say no.  So we ventured to the newest location in LA at the Grove.  We dined en terrasse, which we prefer to do whenever we are in town in Paris.  Our meal consisted of Toast Brioché, Ecrasé d'Avocat et Œuf Poché (Toasted brioche, crushed avocado, poached egg and pumpkin seed), 3 mini rose croissants, Le Pain Perdu à la Rose (French toast served with raspberry coulis, rose whipped cream and fresh raspberries) and chocolat chaud Ladurée.  Our meal was absolutely delightful as you'd expect at Ladurée.  Every bite was pure bliss.  The scent of rosewater as we ate our way through the rose croissants and the french toast was remarkable.  Is your mouthwatering yet?

Exploring Montmartre

July 4, 2017

Prior to the film, "Amelie", when people think of Paris a good majority of them would think of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Champs-Elysées as "must-see" places.  Since the popularity of the film, the village of Montmartre has been added to that list of places to see.  Montmartre is one of my favorite places to visit away from the center of Paris.  I wrote an article about exploring Montmartre in 2015 as part of "Wanderlust Wednesdays" for the French Wedding Style blog here.  If you want some honeymoon ideas, check out French Wedding Style blog's "Wanderlust Wednesdays" section.  Below is an excerpt of the article I wrote:

In Paris's northern section of the Right Bank, sits a large historic village on a hilltop in the 18th arrondissement called Montmartre.  The name Montmartre was derived from 'mountain of the martyr'.  As the story goes, the Bishop of Paris, Denis, was led to the top of the hill of Montmartre, where the Romans decapitated him.  It is said that he picked up his severed head and walked about 6 miles before he died.  The village where he died is now called Saint-Denis.  The Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis was erected in Saint- Denis's honor.  His remains are buried there along with the Kings and Queens of France.  Saint-Denis is now the patron saint of France.

Over the years the village of Montmartre has made its transformation from a quaint village to a bustling bohemian district.  However, a part of the district retains much of the village charm.  By the turn of the century, Montmartre became known for it's illustrious bohemian lifestyle, art scene, and amusing night life.  Montmartre was once home to many artists, writers, and philosophers like Modigliani, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Picasso just to name a few.  Every street corner is full of rich artistic history and more colorful buildings than central Paris.

Places to Explore
There is more to see than Montmartre's most iconic landmarks.  Whilst walking through the narrow winding cobblestone streets, discover the secret gems from the past that stay hidden in every corner.  You will notice much of the bohemian spirit from yesteryear still exists in Montmartre today.

Moulin Rouge
The red mill on the foot of butte Montmartre in the Pigalle district is none other than Moulin Rouge.  This landmark is famous for their cabaret shows dating back to the Belle Époque era.  You can book tickets for dinner and a show on their website.

Sacré-Cœur and Place du Tertre
For stunning views of Paris, trek to the butte Montmartre to the famous Sacré-Cœur.  This basilica is one of the most famous churches in Paris, but it's not as old as many think.  Despite the magnificent Romano-Byzantine architecture, the basilica was only completed in 1914.

A few streets away from Sacré-Cœur is Place du Tertre, which is a famous cobblestone square that was once and still is the gathering place for young artists.  Although the square is very touristy and can be overcrowded, the bohemian charm still remains.

Rue Cortot
Down the road from Place du Tertre is one of the most picturesque streets in Montmartre.  On Rue Cortot, you will find the former residence for a number of artists including Auguste Renoir and Suzanne Valadon.  Currently, this former residence is now the Musée de Montmartre.  It is here where Renoir painted his pièce de résistance, "Bal du Moulin de la Galette."

Au Lapin Agile, Clos Montmartre, and Fête des Vendanges
After visiting Musée de Montmartre, stroll down Rue des Saules to visit Au Lapin Agile and Clos Montmartre.  In the early twentieth century, Au Lapin Agile became well known as a cabaret and hangout spot for struggling writers and painters who often mingled with a bizarre crowd that included pimps.  However, the atmosphere has changed to more of an artist's cabaret.

Paris is not well known to produce wine.  When it comes to vineyards most people think of the regions of Bordeaux, Loire Valley, etc.  What many do not realize is that Paris has a vineyeard tucked away across Au Lapin Agile called Clos Montmartre.

Rue de l'Abreuvoir
The picturesque street of rue Cortot extends to rue de l'Abreuvoir.  The pink house aka La Maison Rose, the house with the sundial, and vine-covered homes are among the highlights of this old village street.

Other places to visit
Whilst visiting Montmartre, check out these other sites:

If you're in Paris in the beginning of October, there is a lively festival called Fêtes des Vendanges de Montmartre.  you can watch a parade of people dressed in costumes, enjoy listening to live bands, and sample artisanal specialties like sausages, cheese, honey, charcuterie, and wines.  During this festival you can also attend a prestigious wine auction that includes wine produced by Clos Montmartre.  The proceeds from the auction go to charity.

If you're a foodie, visit the open market streets (rue marchés) for to-go meals or shop for specialty ingredients to prepare a gourmet meal.  There are several around Paris, including rue du Poteau in Montmartre.  You'll find a vast selection of cheeses, fruits, and sausages in the specialty shops.

A list of must-try restaurants in Montmartre include:

Pied-à-terre (Where to Stay)
It's always a good idea to rent an apartment if you're staying for more than one week.  Not only is it a less expensive option than hotels, but you can also experience living like a local.  If you're looking to stay for a few nights near a beautiful garden, check out the charming Hôtel Particulier.  It's a hidden gem tucked in a quiet neighborhood.  It's not a large hotel and rooms tend to book quickly.

Hôtel des Arts is also a charming and coy hotel located on rue Tholoze about 4 minutes away from Abbesses metro stop.

Getting to Montmartre
From Charles de Gaulle Airport, the preferred transportation to your destination in Montmartre is by way of taxi assuming you have luggage you don't want to lug around the many steps and narrow streets.  If you're already in Paris, you can get to Montmartre via metro lines 2 and 12.  Another way to get around the 18th arrondissement is by le Montmartrobus, but the best way to explore the beauty of Montmartre is to let your feet and curiosity wander.

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