Tag Archives: family trip

Merci Paris for

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Merci Paris for

my kid’s first encounter with you and your generosity with architecture and entertainment for her age (and mine).

her amazement when the Eiffel Tower suddenly appeared in front of us at Trocadero (if you want such an effect on your kid, do not tell her/him what’s next 😉 )

the lovely Acquarium and for her first fish feeding&touching experience.

the Batobus and its unique hop-on hop-off feature, which takes you to 8 points of attractions.

the small zoo at the Jardin des Plantes of the Museum of Nature, which has quite a variety of animals, including the cuttest red panda, snow leopard cubs and baby orangutans.

the superbly done zoo in Vencenne forest, home to 2000 animals. It is our absolutly nr 1 and we have seen quite a few so far in Europe.

the Museum of the Humans – Musee de l’Homme – and its interactive displays to learn or revisit some of the stages of human development. Displays also raise awareness of the human impact on nature. It was fun to listen to different spoken languages and learn for example that Mand was spoken by 8 people (!) in 2015.

the magic of the four-hand baking for tea time with chef Antonio Cortez at the school of Alain Ducasse.

the best breakfasts at Carette and Stohrer, the 300 years old bakery in Paris.

and a silent promise to come back and explore more of you.

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Merci Hoerdt

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Merci Hoerdt

for your Celebration of Asparagus

150 years ago a priest had the idea of celebrating the plant.

Since then, each year farmers open their farm gates to visitors in May in the Alsatian village of Hoerdt, north of Strasbourg.

Local cafes and restaurants offer all sorts of dishes inspired by asparagus. We tried asparagus veloutĂŠ, quiche and salads at Cafe Creme, a family- run and family-welcoming business.

The celebration culminated with a procession headed by Miss and Mister Asparagus, the villagers elect the night before.

Hoerdt is a charming village to spend an afternoon, when touring Alsace and the region.

Monaco’s open-air art

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What I love about discovering Monaco is that it offers more than meets the eye. The art on street and in public spaces is not scarce in a place of exclusivity. I also love the art in the open on trips with my kid, when patience to visit museums is at its low. And you can continue to enjoy that ice-cream 🙂

Here is a selection of only a few art items on display in Monaco:

Sky mirror, by Anish Kapoor, a British artist

The sculpture “bring” the heaven on earth due to its special lenses. It was a gift by Lily Safra to the Principality. You can find it in front of Monte Carlo Casino.

Adam and Eve, by Fernando Botero, Columbian artist

Botero is known for mixing harmoniously naive primitivism, grotesque, kitch, folklore, Italian renaissance and colonial Barocco. “Adam and Eve” is a 900 kg, 3 meters high sculpture, placed behind the Casino.

Woman smoking a cigarette is another of Botero’s sculptures you can find in The Roses Garden of Fontveille.

Woman snake, by Mateo Mormar, Croatian artist

Mormar is a world renown sculpture who lives and Monaco. This sculpture depicts harmony between humans and animals through difference (mind the contrast of lines). The sculpture was created in 2010 and it took 2 years of work.

Hexa Grace, by Vasarely Foundation

It symbolises the sky, sea and land and was installed on the roof of Fairmont in 1979, to delight the visitors eyes.

Last but not least of my favourites, is the Jean-Baptiste le MonĂŠgasque bronze sculpture by Rachid Khimoune, French sculptor. You can find it behind the Gremaldi forum. img_1560

 

Thank you Monaco

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Thank you Monaco

for your Monaco Gastronomie. Its 23rd edition in Chapiteau, next to the Roses Garden, delighted small and big alike with a variety of goodies to indulge on.

We loved the demonstrations by chefs, all made in the spirit of sharing – le partage. So, I thank them all for quite a few chefs’ tips shared with a little bit of French nonchalance and humour.

We tasted Raviole Gyosa de volaille et foie gras by Lauren Colin of L’ Intempo at Le Meridien Hotel and risotto with pumpkin and Saint Jacques by Patrice Guillet, sous-chef at Brasserie Cafe de Paris.

We also tasted some of their wisdom. “La cuisine – la passion, un respect des ingredients, simple, sans la transformation exageree” Patrice Guillet, sous-chef at Brasserie Cafe de Paris.

We indulged on quite a number of good quality products of all sorts from ice cream, panetonni, chocolate to cheese to ham. Pity, I travelled only with hand luggage this time.

A birthday experience: cakes and more.

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For my birthday this year I wanted a new family experience around something we all love. And that is easy to choose. We are all into cakes and making a cake by learning from a French pâtissier in France sounded just right.

I chose Atelier de Yann in Colmar, Alsace. It is a multi concept store: boutique factory, tea time, ateliers de patisserie, opened in 2015 by Yann Navarro, maitre pâtissier, chocolatier. And it was a perfect choice. The first word which came to my mind to describe this place and the service is i m p e c a b l e from the registration to the class to the unboxing of the products of our hands at home. I am very happy to note how client-oriented are the owner and staff, something of a gem in France. I notice it when I encounter it. I am grateful that they adapted to the presence of my kid, in a workshop otherwise designed for adults. In fairness, she has better self-management and dexterity than many adults I know.

The class was conducted by Yann, the owner of the place. We navigated through the stages of the Succès Pistache & Framboises, under his patient and humble guidance. We all felt at ease with maneuvering, matching and spoiling, tasting and mixing, taste and quantity balancing, regardless of the age and level of baking skills. Now the pastry bag has no more secrets from me. I also loved that we could each manifest our own creativity at the decorating stage without being bound by French pastry rigors. And there are many.

We left with a sense of great satisfaction as all our questions were answered with the clarity of a great master and the generosity of the host manifested tiny yet significant details of the true hospitality.

It inspired us to share the experience with friends over a cup of coffee. No that we could not devour the three cakes at once.

We will no doubt come back for more and warmly recommend this temple of nurturing the love for French pastry, with our best wishes of success and prosperity to Yann and his team! If I would award Michelin stars, one would certainly go to Atelier de Yann.

Thank you, Netherlands!

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on our first night in Amsterdam we had dinner at Rianna & friends in Czaar Peter neighbourhood. It was close to her closing hours, yet she fed us. The home-made meals were delicious: carrot soup with ginger, rice with chicken and pineapple and lasagna. We tasted the Texels beer from her home town. Rianna, the owner, shared her story and ho she became a cafe owner and cook after her career as a nurse and in healthcare management. She enlightened our evening with her sunny personality and shared tips about places to see and things to do in the neighbourhood and the city. Thank you, Rianna! We also came back for her coffee one morning – a flavour rich coffee – served with Rianna’s warm and sunny smile. Check out https://riannaenfriends.nl/

Amsterdam was a reminder to me. someone smart said “you do not get to choose your childhood, but you get to choose your second childhood”. I became a child in the land of wonders at Nemo science museum. Running mesmerised from one experiment to another up to the roof, keeping the pace with my kid, was wonderful! I warmly recommend it to families visiting Amsterdam.

Artis – the zoo – is another wonderful spot to explore during an afternoon and admire the plants and animals. Baby elephant and baby giraffe, butterflies and the aquarium were the highlights of our visit.

if you want to understand more about how this nation developed, then the Maritime Museum is a must. The virtual reality experience on the replica of a Dutch boat is awesome.

Amsterdam has many things to offer and “Believe it or not” is another thing to discover with your little curious ones. It is home to the world-famous Ripley’s collection of wonders from all over the world.

We also loved the Amsterdam Hermitage and its inner courtyard. It hosted the Three Graces expo. We also learned about Amsterdam’s influence on Peter the Great and his subsequent development plans for the Russian flotilla and the city he built – Sankt-Petersburg.

A canal cruise with a young and fun captain – blue eyes included – was another highlight to see the city from a local perspective.

What I loved most about the Royal Palace was the square in front of it: a place for all kind of street artists to display their art and perform their shows. The inside of the palace is worth a visit: it seemed the least opulent of the royal palaces we visited.

Tropen Museum was a wonderful experience. It is humbling to see how Dutch present their colonial past: with acknowledgement and respect for all who felt the taste of their swords and bullets. The museum had a special exposition to experience Morocco. All visitors got passports with Moroccan visas, got “on board” and “descended” in Casablanca to stroll on improvised Moroccan streets.

We also ventured on seaside to Enkhuizen – a lovely town with an open air museum to see and experience the life of its inhabitants as it was 200 years ago. We get to craft and to taste the sea – the smoked herring was delicious. We also put our feet into the Nord Sea – unusually well-behaved that day.

Amsterdam has a museum for almost anything from bags to cats, prostitution and marijuana, art and diamonds. It also has plenty of outdoor places to see. For a sunny day, we chose Oosterpark and fed the ducks and pigeons. The Botanical Garden is also a beautiful destination: you get to be in two different climates inside the tropical greenhouse and outside in the open by the canal. The coffee and lunch at the Botanical Garden is delicious. The only downsize is that only visitors can benefit.

Back to our museums track, we popped in the Diamonds Museum and discovered why Amsterdam is called the city of diamonds. I am convinced now, I do not need a crown. I had my doubts.

We skipped the Rijks Museum this time and spent some time in its gardens and playful fountain.

Roof top dinner is a must in all my trips, so we tried The Kitchen in de Bijenkorf on pur last day and it was very pleasant. We said good buy to this wonderful city of joy, tolerance and freedom. I know now where do French go for the “Liberte” in their trinity of beliefs 🙂

How Haut Koenigsbourg fortress lost it to Monkeys Mountain

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Not literally, of course.

1 May. Labour Day. France. Family trip plan to one of most famous fortresses in Alsace: Haut Koenigsbourg. Incited by 1 May invitations “all – to the fortresses” which invaded Facebook, I bought the train tickets Strasbourg-Selestat on-line the evening before. They are polite, the French railway: tickets for itineraries offered on line are guaranteed strike-free.

The next morning, Labour Day lesson 1: no buses or trams. They expect you to know that. Especially, after some years one lives in France. So, we do some “kilomètres de solidaritĂŠ” to the railway station. Some celebrate the Labour Day. Some have to labour it.

The train is on time and we get to Selestat. Labour Day lesson 2: read the small script. The navette driver announces that of all castles only Haut Koenigsbourg is closed today, as he heard himself this morning on radio. I open the facebook event on Alsace castles, click couple of pop-up sites to finally get to the text in small letters: Haut Koenigsbourg is closed today. Merci beaucoup!

The driver’s entrepreneurial spirit comes to rescue. He tells us about La Montagne des Singes on the same itinerary and offers not to charge the kid for the trip.

20 minutes latter we are there, meeting the loveliest creatures. Sorry, Haut Koenigsbourg you lost it to monkeys this time. Without even a battle 😉

Time spent there was lovely: we fed them with pop corn distributed by the park’s employees

watched baby monkeys playing

witnessed a love story

and learned how to stay zen even when surrounded by hoards of curios visitors