Philarmonie de Paris and Saint Germain

To all of you who take the time to read my blog I wanted to thank you for doing so .   I enjoy sharing our culture , our experiences , a bit of France with you . The hardest part for me is always to find the time to do it….and then overnight , here we are , confined at home with all the time in the world …Pascal and I are very fortunate to be able to take this pause and try to make the best of it . Is this a preview of what retirement could feel like ?? We love having this time for us , time to rest , to connect with friends in France via video chats , repaint the shop …but we realize that for many it will be a period of stress , pain ,  financial struggle so we will keep bringing you some happy images to brighten your day during this time of turmoil .    Stay Safe   Stay Healthy  Stay Home please .

Philarmonie de Paris and Saint Germain :

I always look for special installations when going to a big city …I got to see  some fabulous photo exhibitions : Richard Avedon in New York , Helmut Newton at the Grand Palais  and  these have made lasting memories . So going to Paris I was hoping for something special again . L’atelier des lumieres ( the Parisian version of the Carrieres de Lumieres we have in Les Baux de Provence ) was closed in January to prepare its new show . This is always fabulous and I would recommend you to see it or even better in the quarries of Les Baux .

The Cité de la Musique “City of Music” known as Philharmonie is a group of institutions dedicated to music and situated on the outskirts of Paris . It consists of an amphitheater, a concert hall that can accommodate an audience of 800–1,000, a music museum containing an important collection of classical music instruments dating mainly from the fifteenth- to twentieth-century and a music library . The architecture itself is worth going and the exhibition they have now is right up my alley !IMG_0636 (Large)IMG_0632 (Large)IMG_0633 (Large)

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Next to the concert Hall is the Music Museum

The exhibition from Pierre et Gilles is designed as a musical and visual installation through an assembly of more than a hundred of their photo-paintings .  The 2 French artists have a vision that is unique to them . Since 1976 iconic musicians , singers or actors have come to their studio . Pierre takes the photo in a set they create , then Gilles paints over it ….all over it !  The final image float in between photo and painting in a bright color haze with crazy  frames they also make. I’ve been a fan since the mid 80’s and always thought these were collages, mixed media  when in fact it is all real props in a studio set up . What was so cool for me is that you would listen to the music from the artist photographed at that time . It gave a whole other dimension to this pop culture exhibition . IMG_0651 (Large)

Fashion Designer Jean Paul Gauthier and his boyfriend below :IMG_0653 (Large)IMG_0668 (Large)

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IMG_0688 (Large)IMG_0657 (Large)IMG_0687 (Large)Some of the props from their studioIMG_0660 (Large)IMG_0661 (Large)The exhibition is following us back to Paris IMG_3209 (Large)It took time and some help from the locals to figure out how to get back “intramuros” The line we took to come had closed until 4pm due to the strikes , the other we could take just 10mns away was not stopping to all stations right now and not going all the way to the left bank …a couple of hours later we were finally in St Germain ! We had missed lunch but thought there would be plenty of  temptations along the way…

Now is actually time to confess …that I delete ALL my photos from that day except for one I took with my phone .Why is the trash button next to the import button ? and why did it never asked if “I wanted to delete all 86 items” ? It only took 2 breaths to realize the check marks were not turning blue a usual when importing but just checked and all had vanished from the memory stick of my camera within 4 seconds . So now i will have to rely on my poor writing skills and a few photos that thankfully Alice took !

I always love St Germain . It has historical cafes , brasseries , bookstores as well as chic boutiques , designer shops big and small , Le Bon Marche department store , La Grande Epicerie de Paris , The Conran shop and many of my favorite patisseries from Pierre Herme to Angelina and Pierre Conticini’s Patisserie des Reves . But Pierre Herme fell short for me this time . His encyclopedia of pastries recipes is my bible but the shop felt corporate ,the half empty cases had pretty generic macarons …so we kept on going but we needed something to fuel up . Nothing better than a hot chocolate from Angelina . It is pretty small but I promise there is no way you can drink more . It is that rich , thick and creamy ! (Large)I discovered Angelina when I was modeling for a couture line showing during Fashion Week at the Intercontinental Hotel rue de Rivoli ( now the Westin Vendome ) I did not care for macarons much and sure had to stay away from them at the time… that was until I tried the XL version from Angelina . It was the smoothest texture with  more ganache or creme au beurre, a real cake , decadent and addictive ! Now when I make macarons at home , I make them large as well …not to mention it is also easier to pipe IMG_0696 (Large)Wondering through Le Bon Marche in search for products for our shop …I was happy to see that we sell some of the Brands they carry  .

Their coffee shop had a real impressive table .

Wondering through the Conran Shop is always interesting .IMG_0700 (Large)A lot of my favorite shops have changed style, some have closed like Blanc d’Ivoire (we sold their quilts and beautiful candles for years) , Christian Tortu the famous florist had closed and La Patisserie des Reves had closed just a few weeks ago …Things are changing and evolving … you can never rely on your success and let your guard down … people move with the flow and you have to be able to bring it or stay behind where you may die . Out the blue we stumbled onto this new store : Des Gateaux et du pain . A breath of fresh air in this world of traditional pastries . We are tempted by every single cake and after much deliberation , we finally settle for this beautiful and delicious one combining pistachio and rose . It was as delicate in flavor as it looked  ! (Large)We walked 25 000 steps with a matcha latte , 2 croissants for breakfast  , half a coke at noon to get some more caffeine , a hot chocolate at 4pm to warm us up as it is rainy and chilly … We are jet lagged , pretty drained and we need some dinner witch we found by accident along the way .  Across an Alain Ducasse restaurant ( serving  all things Alice will not dare to eat) Le Colvert is a tiny little bistro bustling with local patrons . We are happy to just seat down and enjoy some simple comfort food casseroles . The young couple who owns it also owns 2 other restaurants nearby .This one is the most basic , the others are bistronomie and gastro-bistro . We are intrigued and happy to think that we could have some real good food close by . Many of the places I wanted to go are way to far to walk to;  taxis and Uber are slammed and it takes twice longer to drive than walk with all the traffic !

We crash in our comfy pad with pretty fantastic views . Paris will always be Paris !IMG_3372 (Large)IMG_3280 (Large)The next day will bring a lot more fun and exciting discoveries as we spent the whole day in Le Marais and Haut Marais , the SoHo of Paris , the brewing area for new designers, small brands and shops , trend setters …we’ll have the best meal of the trip and I have ALL the photos !! Next post will have more visual and less talking so I hope you will stay tuned .


Paris is always a good idea …strikes or not !

Paris is magical even to us us French . Whether it is on your bucket list or not at all , this city will sweep you away . I rarely have the opportunity to go so I totally feel like a tourist when I go and that makes me appreciate this place even more ! This January was calling for a visit . The Show Maison & Objet was just days before my Mom’s 90’s birthday … Even though I research for new things outside of conventions a lot , this Show has always been amazing , a fantastic source of inspiration and on Alice ‘s bucket list . Paris in winter and during public transportation strike …that won’t lessen our excitement ! It will be cold and we will walk a lot so we will NEED to eat a lot …all indulgences allowed !IMG_0772 (Large)Alice has been working for us for 10 years and her creativity transforms the shop with her beautiful windows and displays . I am sure this trip with get her creative cells in overdrive and she’ll come back with more fabulous ideas for our little shop . It is about time we go to France together ! IMG_3010 (Large)We just landed and yes it is confirmed …the strikes are still going on ; but there is always one going on and I’d rather be that than protests with shops boarded up , so we decide to take the shuttle bus from the airport and then a taxi from the Opera to our hotel . And here we are in the heart of Paris …got to take  at least one tourist selfie ! But the best is that we will have that same view from our hotel window for the next 5 days . Now I am really glad I switch from my old favorite tiny hotel l’ Hotel du Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower (  ) for this one . I’ve been a huge fan of French designer Christian Lacroix  probably because his fashion creations were always inspired by his roots from Provence . Not everybody gets it or like it but I love it ! And the central location is key specially when you cannot rely on public transportation .

The hotel revamp was done a few years ago and since there are plenty of new hip hotels , the prices have gone down.  I found it very affordable with nice size rooms . Plus when the subway is reliable the line goes straight from here to the airport in less than 40mns . (Large)We dropped our bags and head out …we are seriously hungry and it is time for lunch . Serious lunch ! IMG_3012 (Large)I’ve been dreaming about a real choucroute Alsacienne since we missed out when in Strasbourg a couple of summers ago ( there were no way we could eat this kind of food when it is 95F )  Brasseries serve a very typical french menu and in general serve NON STOP all day and that is a big difference with restaurants that will only serve lunch from  noon to 1.30 pm . I still like to go at lunch time so you get the ambiance with the locals who will certainly not go out to lunch at 2 … We love Brasserie Lipp in Saint Germain ( )  had wonderful meals at Le Wepler before to go to the Moulin Rouge  ( ) and we really enjoyed our meal here at Brasserie Flo ( )

We tried both the regular choucroute and the one cooked in beer …loved the rich flavor it brought to the sauerkraut . Ad some real hot French mustard , thick smoked bacon, sausages , knacks, pork shank, potatoes and this will fuel you for the next 10-15 miles you are about to walk ! Ad bottle of mineral water for a total cost of 43E for 2 … amazing to have such great food for only $46 .

IMG_3021 (Edited) (Large)Now we need to walk off these calories … window shopping or “lèche vitrine ” as we say  ( literally “licking window displays ” ) Le Printemps is a bit old fashioned …

The Galeries Lafayettes are always a stand out . You have go to the old building to see its glass dome and the art nouveau architecture . Plus you can find all the top fashion brands . IMG_0783 (Large)IMG_0785 (Large)The roof top offers magnificent views of the Opera Garnier , the Eiffel Tower and to the other side Montmartre Sacre Cœur . They even have an outdoor bar / snacks in summer .IMG_3033 (Large)Next door is also the Galeries Lafayettes Home decor and Food Hall …a concentrate of all the best pastries and chocolatiers like Alain Ducasse

IMG_3043 (Large)One of my favorite is Sadaharu Aoki who opened his very first shop in Paris in 2001.  Using traditional Japanese ingredients and flavors in French-style pastries was a real novelty back then . His style is defined as a combination of minimalistic aesthetics with rigorous French techniques .

King cakes are everywhere right now and eclairs are way more fancy than ever

You cannot miss Laduree …they are everywhere ! All over Paris all the way to the airport . I don’t think you can leave France without buying a box ; even I did after resisting  dozen boutiques, stands in various corners of town until the very last cart inside the gate terminal in Charles de Gaulle ! After all the box alone makes a wonderful souvenir gift that your friends will adore !

The Prada windows were already very spring like …IMG_3031 (Large)While Repetto was all about Valentine’s day IMG_0790 (Large)An other of our favorite designer , Celine Wright  had a whole display of her paper clouds lights  . I find her work poetic and inspiring …an other French made with some Japanese influence

Our first day after just landing here has already been very fullfilling and it is time to head back to our hotel …on foot ! Traffic is crazy at this time and it takes 40mns by car versus 25 by foot . As we are making our way down from the Opera to Place Vendome I remember The Ritz hotel having a cart during the Holidays , selling pastries from their newly crown Best Pastry restaurant of Les grandes tables du Monde . ( )  The cart is no longer there so we wonder inside the galerie and into the patisserie . Cakes look like nothing we’ve ever seen so we decide to buy a couple to take back to our room …we had no idea these 2 would cost us more than lunch …Oh well c’est la vie a Paris and they were delicious ! (Large)IMG_3058 (Large)Please subscribe to the blog to get the next blog post on Le Marais , Maison et Objet …

La Saint Valentin

Here at Maison en Provence we keep  Valentine’s Day merchandise classy with beautiful clutches from Japan , bags from France, Jewelry by our designer and friend Lisiane ….but since I was in France in January I will give you a taste of  how Valentine’s  windows looked liked in Paris already and what is the big new thing when it comes to underwear ! IMG_1221 (Large)IMG_1219 (Large)IMG_1222(Edited) (Large)IMG_1225 (Large)

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Paris’s windows are always beautiful and I will write more about this past trip soon but here is what’s the new trend when it comes to underwear …after all it’s Valentine’s Day and a lot of froufrou lingerie is “de rigueur” that day ! But I’ve never seen such an enthusiasm for men’s underwear …shops popped up everywhere in Paris , young men proud of their  All Made in France brands , showing off fun , revamped underwear . Let me tell you ,  your father’s brief is making a come back big time in Paris ! IMG_3251 (Edited) (Large)

Well made , very nice packaging , all together a perfect Valentine’s day gift for him ! But I am not sure American men would spend 45Euros ( $50 ) for their father’s brief 😉

Repetto shop was all dressed up in soft pinks and reds IMG_0790 (Large)

LaDuree macarons were all kisses and hearts IMG_0781 (Large)And my new favorite chocolate shop in Le Marais had the most beautiful chocolate bars I ever seen !

IMG_3191 (Edited) (Large)Subscribes to our blog to stay in the know 🙂 A bientot

Home made pizza are the best !

Making pizza at home is fun and easy ! The trick for a perfect pizza is in the stone you use . Cookut makes one with wholes throughout so your pizza will cook evenly ! This French brand makes very ingenious cooking gadgets , we use and love all of them  .IMG_0108 (Large)IMG_0109 (Large)Because we get heartburn with tomato sauce , I like to make a different kind of pizza using white fig jam for the base then pancetta , ricotta , arugula , capers and depending on the season fresh figs or tuna . Sprinkle with some oregano, olive oil and in the oven until fluffy and crisp ! A little balsamic cream before to serve ad just enough acidity !

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Tarte Tatin in less than an hour !

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I do not know anybody who does not love a Tarte Tatin .  There is nothing better specially on a cool day !  Makes the house smell so wonderful .

For 100% success what you’ll really need is an 8″ cast iron pan . If you do not have any , you will still need a pan that can go from the stove top to the oven .

4-6 medium size Apples ~ 100 grs ( just a little less than a stick of butter ) ~ 100gr  (1/2 cup ) of granulated sugar ~ 1 vanilla bean , 2 sticks of cinnamon ~ 1 pie crust ( i use  Trader Joes frozen ones)

Set the oven at 375F

Spread the butter with your hands in an even layer at the bottom of the pan . Sprinkle with the sugar . Scrape the beans of vanilla evenly and put on the 2 cinnamon sticks . Peel , core and cut the apples in quarters . I use Fuji apples , they give out enough juice but not too much , get soft but do not compote when cooking , These are the most important criteria for choosing them . You do not want an apple that stay very crunchy either . IMG_2645 (Large)

Arrange the apples round side down over the butter . Make sure they are tight .IMG_2648 (Large)

Start the cooking on the stove ( high -medium high ) Do not touch the apples , let the butter /sugar melt  and bubble . You want to stay close to make sure you do not burn your caramel as it goes fast toward the end ( you can lower the setting a bit to make sure you do not over cook the caramel since it will still cook a bit after you take it off the flame ) . I rotate the pan to make sure the coloring is even , you want to avoid one side to caramelize faster than the other . This process should take about 12-15mns .  When the caramel has the perfect color not too light or dark ( taste bitter ) take off the stove and let rest a few minutes before to cover with the crust .IMG_2649 (Large)

Once you put the crust over the hot apples , you have to act fast . Using a spatula , tuck the sides of the crust into the pan and poke some holes so the steam can come out .

Bake for 18-20 mns . When the crust is golden brown , it is ready !

Carefully turn over into a plate when still hot . I like to use the juices left at the bottom of the pan . Pour some Calvados , Grand Marnier or Rhum in the pan , warm up and flambe. (Do not put the hood on or the flames will be sucked up)  Pour immediately over the tart . Serve warm with creme fraiche , vanilla ice cream or whipped cream .IMG_2654 (Large)



Fall is here !

The sun is still high but evenings are crisp and it definitely feels like fall even in California ! And in our shop that means things are moving all the time as new inventory keep coming in every day !

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Those felt ornaments are the cutest and flying out the shelves already !IMG_0022 (Large)Entertaining season is upon us …stock up on tappers candles in rich colors for the season

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Dripless tapper candles made in France by Bougies la Francaise . The touch of color your table needs!

Heavy linen napkins in bold colors are pairing well with all printed tablecloths for a traditional look or mix en match colors for a more contemporary feel .image4 (2)image1(3) (Large)Paper bags from Tuscany are washable lightweight and can be used as a catch all , cache pot or bread basket ! Wears like a good pair of jeans…image2 (Large)Clean , natural , made with essential oils …we love everything about these candles and room sprays ! New this fall are the ceramic containers . Comes in 3 organic scents image1(3) (Large)

We imported their linen napkins for years now and have decided to import their throws this season . 100% wool in hip tartan or stripes , recycled cotton or mixed cashmere/wool all at a reasonable price .image1 (2) (Large)image2 (2) (Large)

New find for us : those beautifully made baskets from Ghana have finally made it in . Dominic who we met this summer is supporting woman by selling these hand crafted baskets with leather handles . More than a picnic or market bag , these  simple yet elegant baskets can hold blankets near a sofa of towels in a bathroom. Think outside of the bag !IMG_0018 (Large)IMG_0019 (Large)If you prefer paper …here are some paper options with a vintage look . IMG_0026 (Large)Now that days are cooler …it’s time to bake something that makes the whole house smell good ! The new updated Tartine book has again fabulous recipes for fall , Holidays or just because i really want to try out that matcha crème brûlée tart !

Felt is not only lightweight , dirt resistant , strong, durable and sustainable but this world’s best merino wool felt  also does not pill ! I’ve used and abused my bags and pouches for the past 2 years and they still look impeccable . My favorite are the cross body bags to travel as well as the boat bags for week ends and carry on .IMG_0029 (Large)Our Inouii scarves from France are also in . Known for their large prints, bold designs with animals , it is hard to resist the new collection ! But a scarf will make any woman elegant and any classic outfit chic and hip . Come check out the two dozen patterns soon ! image1(4) (Large)Need a small hostess gift ? Our favorite scented wax botanical sachets are now also available in tin candles .

New line of stationary from France image8 (Large)With fall comes dry weather . Ode scrubs are loaded with essential oils that will leave your skin soft and hydrated . I love it on my feet to keep the hills smooth . Mix some body oil with body lotion to get the perfect hydration depending on the weather ! Lavender , citrus oro or bohemian rose.IMG_0027 (Large)