All posts filed under: France

Where to Eat in Paris: Les Papilles

When I travel, one of my first pit stops is twitter, where I ask the hivemind for recommendations. Results are mainly successful, sometimes bizarre, but always a brilliant starting point when travelling and wanting to eat well. Particularly when you want to eat as locals do and off the tourist track. When I recently asked for recommendations for Paris, two people I really rate resounded “You have to go to Les Papilles”, so I took that as an order and I did. Les Papilles is part epicerie, part wine shop, mainly restaurant. It is wooden and warm with a big round table in a bay window / alcove at the back and all other tables seemingly proceeding towards it, lining a long counter and shelves of wine with occasional food bits lining the walls.  There is also a downstairs area with a huge table, and lots more wine. The menu is fixed, you have it or you don’t, although a vegetarian friend in Paris has told me that they can prepare a vegetarian menu if …

Paris Break: Living it Up at Hotel La Tremoille

Paris Part 2! Last weekend I journeyed a speedy 2 hours on the eurostar early Friday morning and found myself in Paris for a bistro lunch, caviar & champagne late afternoon snack and a brasserie dinner. We had a sneaky indulgent champagne breakfast on the eurostar too – we couldn’t resist. I love it and that was just Friday too. We stayed at Hotel La Tremoille in the 8th, an old school hotel with some modern twists. It was perfectly central allowing us leisurely strolls along the Seine. There was even a local caviar shop and truffle shop and restaurant. Tres luxurious. Part of our package was a Baguette to Bistro walk led by Meg of Context Travel and Paris by Mouth, a fun, informative and really delicious morning tour of St Germaine taking in a lovely boulangerie, cheese shop and chocolate shop. The highlight for me was the cheese tasting. We visited one of the oldest cheese shops in Paris, Androuet (now also in London). Proud and rich in history there were stories of …

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Lyon: A Bouchon Lunch at Cafe des Federations

How lovely to visit Lyon again for the Bocuse D’Or last week. It’s such a warm city, charming and obsessed with food. I am definitely the last and so I always feel at home there. My trip last August was brief, and there was one bouchon I neglected to hit, Café des Federations. I didn’t miss it this time. I was there on a grey Thursday. I wandered by the Saone and meandered up the narrow streets, suitcase in tow. My French isn’t great, but it’s enough to get me by, and stumblingly, I secured a table for one for lunch. I love solo lunches, I can’t think of anything nicer than lovely food, intimate ecelctic surroundings, some delicious wine and a great book, whilst cosy in a corner with the occasional bit of people watching between chapters. It’s fairly uncommon here in London, not so in France. At the banquette ahead of me were two other solo female diners, one young Japanese lady, in town also for the Bocuse D’Or, and a wonderful elderly …

Eating Lyon: Bernachon

Chocolate is not a treat or a sweet but true gourmet food. Maurice Bernachon When Claude Bosi (chef-proprietor at 2* Hibiscus) starts giving tips on where you should eat in Lyon, you take notice. So happily he did exactly that, just a few days before I went to Lyon, in a piece in the Financial Times. I was a little smug (just a tiny bit – promise), when I discovered that the market we were planning to go to, and Le Bec, which we had already booked were on his list. Bernachon wasn’t on my radar, however, so I looked it up and added it to the list. Bernachon is like a museum for edible treats. A mini cathedral to food. You could hear a pin drop. The best of chocolate, sweet and excellent savoury treats. Before you even enter the shop, you’re salivating. Glorious cakes, springy brioche, perfect quenelles, macarons, chocolates, swoon. It has the air of a Sloane St designer shop, only here we are not paying homage to Jimmy Choo or Prada, here the macaron and chocolates …

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Eating Lyon: Le Garet, the perfect bouchon

Lyon has a promising culinary reputation. Reputed to be the gastronomic heart of France, friends and natives had talked it up and I was worried it may not live up to my increasing expectations. I quickly secured a reservation at 2* Le Bec, the reviews are exceptional and it looks exciting, but much to my misfortune, they had water damage on the day I was to dine ,and were closed. 3 restaurant La Mere Brazier was also high on my list, but sadly (for me) they were closed for summer holidays. Paul Bocuse was mentioned but I had already decided to save that for my next trip, the prices are lofty, and the reviews mixed. I’ll visit another time with another food obsessive. So, what to do? In truth, I was always more excited about the Lyonnaise Bouchons, peculiar to Lyon and serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. Bouchons were always going to be the heart of the trip and there was a few I wanted to try out. The highlight of these was a recommendation from …

Marché St Antoine: Food Market, Lyon

Ah, the glory of the French food market. Fresh produce, glorious flavours, bright colours, the smells of the fruit and lack of smell from the fish. As the heart of gastronomic France, you would expect Lyon to have a very good one, and it does. In fact it has several, but time was restrictive on my two night Eurostar trip their last week, so I chose one in the heart of the city by the Rhone, the Quai St Antoine Food Market. It winds along the river gently. Starting at 4 or 5 am and running until midday in the heart of the city, it’s a very popular and well sourced market. Everything was fantastic, the selection was varied, and better than all of that, in the main it was local. All kinds of tomatoes begged to be picked up, flat peaches radiated perfume and I swooned at the first bite. Bounties of herbs, garlic and fresh beans. Bright pink radishes with their green leafy hat, baskets of saucisson and legs of ham. Dripping gravy …

A Postcard from Lyon

Whoooooosh! I am not sure if that is the sounds of the Eurostar, or the TGV (super fast French trains), or my trip to Lyon, but it all seemed to go by far too quickly. It seems like weeks ago that I boarded the Eurostar and travelled to Lyon, but it was only Tuesday morning. We travelled swiftly from grey wet London, current home of the bad hair day and soggy feet, to sparkling hot Lyon, home of bright intense sunshine, great wine and food, and a peep of sunburn. My Irish skin could barely handle the 34 degree heat that awaited us. I love travelling by train. I could spend days and weeks travelling Europe by train, and anywhere else for that matter, it’s my perfect means of travel. The Lyon trip was a baby train journey but enjoyable nonetheless, taking a piddly 5 hours and allowing us a break for a glass of wine in Lille. A perfect two night break all in all. It was just lovely, holed up with my book, …