Tag Archives: paris

city of lights, part three: bike tour

I have a confession to make.

I’m obsessed with bike tours.

Think about it: the wind in your hair, a knowledgeable (and in this case, Scottish!) guide, pain-free feet…  In my humble opinion, bike tours are the very best way to see and experience a new city, big or small.

Case and point: the Fat Tire Bike Tours Monet’s Gardens Tour.

Giverny (via Vernon) is a short 45 minute train ride from Paris’ Gare St. Lazare, and my oh my is it WORTH THE TRIP.  Sitting here on my couch in Dallas, I’m at a loss for words to describe the beauty and the… purity and the “fraîcheur” of the French countryside.

After a picnic “à la française” (consisting, of course, of bread, cheese, pastry, and cider), we hopped on our bikes and, led by our fearless leader, Dave, headed for Monet’s estate at Giverny.

Giverny is… paradise.  If I could describe my dream home, it would look (and smell!) a lot like the estate Monet designed for himself.  It’s colorful, it’s inspiring… it’s truly unlike any other place I’ve visited.  We started our tour in the waterlily garden, where Monet painted hundreds of his iconic “Nymphaes.”  I could almost feel his presence there–it’s so easy to see why he was awestruck by the wild beauty of the water, the vines, and the flowers.

I was thrilled to have a chance to walk through the pastel-colored interiors of Monet’s home and see what he saw through his bedroom window–a painting in and of itself.  Drop dead beautiful, seriously.

So without further ado (and because I’m realizing that my words are inadequate to describe this wonderful place), here are a few of the many, many photos I took in Giverny:

the famous water lily garden

Giverny?  Definitely worth the trip.  Fat Tire Bike Tours?  Awesome.  Truly a wonderful day, y’all.  Wonderful.

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city of lights, part two: la porte

Parisians love beauty.

From their heads to their toes… to their doorknobs.

One day, my front door will look just like this one.

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city of lights, part one: jacques genin

I’m sure you were expecting a long, drawn-out blog post, weren’t you?  A detailed chronicle of my week in Paris?  Well, sorry.  I’m going to give you little glimpses instead.  Easier for me, less reading for you…  Sounds like a win win, does it not?

And what kind of tourist would I be if I didn’t start with what is quite possibly THE best pastry shop in the entire world.  (Disclaimer: I have not tried every pastry shop in the world, so we might be stepping in to the realm of hyperbole there…)  Tucked in to an unassuming building in the Marais, near the Filles du Cavalaire métro stop, is the factory, the workshop, the wonderland: Jacques Genin.

Monsieur Genin is known worldwide for his pastry, his chocolate, and his caramels.  And stepping in to his shop (which also houses a modern little café) is like stepping in to sugar heaven.   So much so, in fact, that I visited twice.  Calories don’t count in France, right?

Anyway.

I did a little research prior to my trip to Paris, and knew (thanks to Adam of Paris Patisserie), exactly what I wanted to order Chez Genin: a mille-feuille, assembled on demand.  Translating to “thousand sheets” in English, the mille-feuille consists of alternating layers of pastry and pastry cream…  And, on this day in particular, raspberry preserves.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

The mille-feuille vanille framboise (or vanilla raspberry).

My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The flaky, delicate layers of pastry complimented the not-too-sweet vanilla pastry cream perfectly, and the raspberry preserves (also not-too-sweet!) added a delectable hint of tanginess.  The pastry looked like it would be crunchy and dense, but it literally fell apart when I touched it with my fork.  Delicate, buttery, surprisingly light…  Oh man.  I am not kidding when I tell you that this is one of the most delightful things I’ve ever eaten.  Worth the price of admission (or airfare) for sure.

No crumb left behind, people.

And the awesomeness doesn’t stop there.  Monsieur Genin knows how to treat his guests.  With every order comes a tiny little plate of candy, just enough to taste.  This time?  Milk chocolates with hazelnut crunchies (not the technical name, but an accurate descriptor nonetheless).  Well SURE, I’ll have some free bonbons to go along with my pastry and coffee!  Twist my arm!  (And I was not shocked to discover that the chocolates were *almost* as yummy as the mille-feuille.  Almost.

Say it with me: “I will go to Jacques Genin.  I will sit down in the café.  I will savor every tasty bite.”  Your taste buds will thank me, I promise.  And don’t forget: calories don’t count in France.

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i’m going baaaaaaack!

… to Paris, that is!

In spring 2010, I spent four months living in Paris, studying French and having the time of my life.  (Check out sarahsaysbonjour.wordpress.com.)

Since May 14, 2010, I’ve been counting down the seconds until my next opportunity to jump across the Atlantic and revisit the City of Lights.  And now, thanks to discounted travel privileges and six days of precious vacation time, I finally have my chance.  In 22 days.  And man oh man, I am PUMPED.

So please excuse me if, for the foreseeable future, you hear a lot about Paris.  Excuse me?  Yes.  Sorry?  No.

À bientôt, mon coeur.  À bientôt.

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