Christine and the Queens at the 9:30 Club

Have you heard of Christine and the Queens?

Yes!? Then you know how awesome she is! You can skip the rest of this post and just click on this link to buy tickets to see her perform at the 9:30 Club on May 31. French musicians don’t grace US stages very often, and when they do, we – Frenchies and francophiles – have a responsibility to go cheer them on. Otherwise, they won’t come see us anymore 😉

If you have no idea who Christine and the Queens is then let me introduce you to the best French band you’re not listening to right now. 

Christine and the Queens is the androgynous alter ego of Héloïse Letissier, a  stylish 27-year-old Parisienne who took France by storm with her 2014 debut album Chaleur Humaine. She won four Victoires de la Musique awards, the French equivalent of the Grammies, one for best female artist of the year in 2015, for best video for her song Saint Claude in 2015 and Christine in 2016 and one for best tour in 2016. She’s a really great dancer who counts Madonna, Mark Ronson and Lorde as fans, performed at Austin’s SXSW Festival last March and did a mini-US tour afterwards that included a quick stop in DC’s Lincoln Theater. She’s also been written up about in the New York Times’ T Magazine and was Trevor Noah’s second musical guest ever.

And that was all before she rerecorded and retooled her album, now just called Christine and The Queens, for an international audience (check it out on iTunes!). Her songs always had a bit on English in them and now they have even more. She’s about to take the US by storm. Her song iT was featured in a recent episode of Girls on HBO and is headlining a bigger US tour that will take her to Cochella, New York (obvi!), Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and *yes* Washington, DC again, where she’ll perform at the 9:30 Club this time. Rather than bore you with words, I’ll let her music (and stunning videos) speak for themselves and share Jonathan which I can’t get out of my head right now and the catchy Paradis Perdus, a mash-up of Christophe’s 1972 chanson with some Heartless by Kanye weaved into it (because why not?).

 

See you at the 9:30 Club on May 31?? 

Paris vs New York: The Striped T-Shirt Edition

Paris mon Amour or New York my Love? That’s the question that JCrew’s little sister Madewell is asking in its second collaboration with the French label Sézane®. After a successful first capsule collection last year, Madewell x Sézane is back with flared jeans, a very Parisian-chic little black dress, Ulysse lace-up sandals, accessories like a flirty printed scarf to wrap effortlessly around your neck, a “Féminin et Masculin” gray sweatshirt that’s guaranteed to sell out as fast as the “Superbe” one did in 2014, and, my personal favourite, this set of two striped tees:

Paris Mon Amour New York My Love

Paris mon Amour New York my Love t-shirt image by Madewell

J’adore New York, but Paris will always be my home so I just ordered the red-striped shirt. I can’t wait to show it off around town here in Washington, D.C. The collection is only available online (check it all out right here) and will sell out so I wouldn’t wait too long if I were you. As a matter of fact, the madewell x sézane® striped knit dress is already gone. Le sigh. I really liked that one too 😦 

 

 

Six Budget-Friendly French Wines for Bastille Day

From a baguette relay race at Paul to diner at Bistrot du Coin or a fancy patio fête at the Sofitel Hotel, there are plenty of options to celebrate France’s national holiday, le Quatorze Juillet, in Washington, DC. If you’re more of a homebody, why not stay at home and watch a great French film while sipping a good bottle of French wine!

For the films, I’ve narrowed down 20 of the best French films available on Netflix right here. And to help you find the perfect bottle of wine to go along whichever flick you pick, I turned to Michelle Lim Warner and Michael Warner, co-owners of DCanter, for some suggestions.  One of the things I love about the Capitol Hill wine boutique (other than the amazing chandelier in the tasting room!) is their “good juice wall” featuring affordable bottles in the $15 and under price range. In the spirit of that wall, Michelle and Michael recommended these six affordable French sippers:

Six Affordable French Wines for Bastille Day

 

PIERRE OLIVIER BRUT VIN MOUSSEUX NV

Champagne is the ultimate celebratory drink, but the price of a bottle can put a damper on your French party. Luckily, there are plenty of sparkly alternatives that won’t, like this $16 bottle of brut. This “vin de France” isn’t made in Champagne – it’s actually made in Burgundy using grapes from around the French/Spanish border – so it’s labelled as a vin mousseux which literally means foamy or bubbly wine (a bubble bath for example is called a bain moussant in French). Light and fresh, this “mousseux” will be a great aperitif to kick off your evening! It would also be great as a kir royal, with a few drops of cassis added to it!! 

CLOTILDE DAVENNE SAUVIGNON 2013

When you think Burgundy, you probably picture full-bodied reds, but the region also makes some great white wines like this Sauvignon Blanc. Most notable white burgundies like Chablis tend to be made from Chardonnay grapes so this wine is a bit of an oddity for the region. Another fact that makes this wine a bit of an oddity: it’s made by a woman winemaker, which sadly is still not that common in the male dominated wine industry. Like other white Burgundy, this sauvignon blanc pairs well with seafood (oysters and mignonette anyone?). 

Le Petit Gueissard RoseGUEISSARD LE PETIT GUEISSARD ROSE 2014

Since my grandparents lived in Bandol, I’ll always be partial to rosés from that part of Provence. Doesn’t hurt that they’re some of the best in the world either! Unfortunately, it’s hard to find an affordable bottle of Bandol, especially in the US. Just a few kilometers away from Bandol, however, is Sanary-Sur-Mer which also produces fine rosés like this $15 bottle. Pair it with Ma Vie en Rose or La Vie en Rose, bien sur 😉

ALAIN JAUME & FILS “HAUT DE BRUN” 2012

Alain Jaume and his three children make a great Côtes du Rhône that’s complex, yet perfect for every day drinking.

CHATEAU FESTIANO CUVEE DES FOUDRES 2013

Ever since I started planning my trip to the Languedoc-Roussillon I’ve been obsessed with trying as many different wines from that region as I can get my hands on! For research purposed of course. This juicy bargain, which retails at $15, is from the Minervois, one of the AOC in the Languedoc, and it’s definitely getting me excited for my trip!! Try it with some herbed cheese like Boursin, or blue cheese like Roquefort, whose caves I will also be visiting during my trip in a few weeks! 

CHATEAU BLOUIN BORDEAUX RED 2012

Bordeaux is probably the most well-know wine region in France, and this small right bank chateau makes a great red (80% merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc) with silky tannins and a well balanced finish. At $14, it’s a nice bargain that’s light enough to drink throughout the summer. 

What will you be drinking for La Fête Nationale on July 14th?

DCanter is located at 545 8th St SE near the Eastern Market metro. You can follow the wine boutique on Twitter, Facebook and Instragram for some cool wine tips! 

Liberty Enlightening the World… For 130 Years

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty, this universal symbol of freedom, is technically French? Yep, one of America’s most iconic monuments was born in France to Mr. Frederic Bartholdi, a French sculptor who modeled her after his mother, and given to the people of America as a gift of friendship from the French people. 130 years ago today, she arrived in new York Harbour after a long trip across the Atlantic Ocean in 350 individual pieces. These pieces took about a year to be reassembled and the 450,000-pound statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886, by President Cleveland. To celebrate the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s arrival in the United States, google created a cool little doodle, bien sur!
Google Doodle Statue of liberty June 17 2015
Did you know lady Liberty has a little sister in Paris? Well, actually, she has quite a few… but there’s a little (11.50 metres or 37 feet 9 inches) one on l’Île aux Cygnes near Pont de Grenelle in the 15th arrondissement that was given to Paris by the Americans as kind of a return gift. The Parisian statue of Liberty faces west in the direction of its American sibling and if you go to Pont Mirabeau, or walk along the quai Louis Bleriot between Quai Mirabeau and the Pont de Grenelle, you can snap a pretty awesome picture of both the Eiffel Tower AND the statue of Liberty (the inside armature for the American statue of Liberty were actually made by Eiffel!)  

Everything is bigger in America, including the Statue of Liberty 😉

And while Washington, DC doesn’t have a replica of the Statue of Liberty we do have a fountain designed by its creator, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, in one of my favourite hidden gem garden, the Bartholdi Park, right behind the US Botanical Garden. 

Bread Furst Loaves Now Available at Whole Food P Street

Occasionally, I’lI venture out to Van Ness for great bread at Mark Furstenberg’ Bread Furst… but if I can get his loaves closer to home… well, that’s definitely something I’m excited about! And, as of last Friday, four of his loaves are now available at Whole Foods on P Street: corn rye, whole wheat, multigrain, and teff rye. Hurray!

Food P Street

 

Too bad they’re not selling his croissants too 😦

New Éclair de Dessert Collection at Paul Bakery

Looks like it’s definitely éclairs season in DC! After introducing two decadent new éclair flavours for Valentine’s Day (framboise & trois chocolats,) Paul Bakery  is keeping the momentum going with a whole month of new limited edition éclairs. A new line-up of tasty éclairs with join Paul’s traditional flavours vanille, café and chocolate.

Eclairs traditionels at Paul Bakery

 

Jot down this schedule! The Un Éclair de Dessert campaign will debut on February 25 by tackling one of France’s most beloved dessert: the Paris-Brest. What’s that you ask? It’s actually kind of like an éclair! Named after a bicycle race that used to take place way before the Tour de France was a thing between the French capital and one of Brittany’s largest city, it’s also made with pâte à choux. But, instead of being oblong shaped, it’s round to resemble a bicycle wheel and filled with whipped cream. It also lacks the fondant layer that typically tops the éclair. Paul’s Paris-Brest inspired éclair will be available from February 25 to March 3, and will be filled with a buttery praline cream and enhanced with caramelized hazelnuts. WANT.

Eclair Paris Brest

 

The following week will see the springtime return of one of my fall favourite: Paul’s noix de pecan éclair, typically available around Thanksgiving. Don’t miss it! It will only be in stores from March 4 to 10, 2015.

Pecan eclair

 

Next, from March 11 to March 17 will come the éclair coconut, topped with finely grated coconut instead of ganache,

Eclair coconut

 

Rounding up the series will be the éclair framboise-pistache (March 18-25) and the éclair fraise-pistache (March 25-31.)

Eclairs at Paul

 

All of these eclairs will be available individually during their respective time-frame (and only then, so plan your visits to accordingly) at all of Paul’s location throughout the Washington, DC area (you can find a Paul near you here) for $5.65 each. A special box set with 3 éclairs of your choice will also be available for $15.99.

I’m planning on hitting Paul every week to try each flavour because, well, do i need a reason beyond loving éclairs and pastries in general? Is there one you’re looking forward to trying more than the others? I’d love to hear! Eclair meet-up anyone?

Les Merveilleux de Fred Opens in New York’s West Village

I spent the past week in New York City for a work event, and just had to find some time to visit the newly opened bakery Aux Merveilleux de Fred. HAD TO.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred is now open in the West Village

The Manhattan version of Frédéric Vaucamps’ meringue-shop looks like his many Parisian outposts, with a stunning chandelier, rows of merveilleux in display cases and an open kitchen that allows passers-by on 8th avenue to see how the pastries are assembled by hand. And the pastries? Well, they’re just as marvelous on this side of the Atlantic 😉

Aux merveilleux de Fred New York

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If you’re not familiar with the merveilleux pastry, you’re not alone. This traditional northern France sweet had fallen out of fashion until the late 90’s, when Fred decided to make it the star of Aux Merveilleux de Fred, his Lille pastry shop. It’s a marvelously airy combination of soft and not-so-soft meringues, held together with flavoured whipped cream and rolled in pieces of nuts, coconut flakes, or chocolate shavings. It looks a bit like a snowball and, for many, bitting into one evokes delicious memories of childhood. In New York, they are sold individually in mini or regular or large size and declined in 6 different flavours with extremely French names you might find hard to pronounce: le Merveilleux (chocolate), l’Incroyable (speculos and white chocolate), l’Impensable (coffee), l’Excentrique (cherry), le Magnifique (praline, almond, hazelnuts – my personal favourite) and le Sans-Culotte (caramel). The shop also sells cramiques, which are brioche-y breads.

A box of 10 merveilleux will set you back $25

But let’s get back to how fred ended up in New York. Following on fellow Lillois Meert’s footstep, Fred brought his marvelous pâtisseries to the French capital, a rare feat in itself. As Olivier Magny, the best-selling author of “Stuff Parisians Like,” note: “it’s a rare thing for Parisians to adopt a provincials’ favorite.”  And yet, that’s just what Fred achieved. Parisians can’t get enough merveilleux, at one of the six pâtisseries that are scattered around the city. His newest Parisian shop is actually around the corner from where I went to middle school. If you’re in Paris, you should go and check out the houses across the street at 11 and 13 rue François Miron. They’re some of the oldest in the city! Swing by Izrael next door too, it’s a tiny but fabulous spice shop. But I digress. Back to Frédéric and his merveilleux….The pâtissier is now out to conquer the world… starting with outposts in Brussels, London, and now New York. I can only hope Washington will be next! Spoiler alert: it’s not. Geneva and Shanghai will get sweet merveilleux before I do. So I like knowing that I can get my merveilleux fix in the West Village. And I should note that Aux Merveilleux de Fred is not the first New York bakery to sell merveilleux. Belgian expat Anne Sophie Diotallevi opened O Merveilleux in the Upper East Side last year, just a few blocks away from Ladurée and the French bookstore Albertine. Stay tuned for posts on both O Merveilleux and Albertine. Because obviously, I had to check these out too. HAD TO.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred is located at 37 eighth avenue (at the corner of Jane street). It’s open every day from 8AM to 7.30PM. Click here to view the addresses of the Paris shops.

Postcard from France: Cour Bérard in Paris

Cour Bérard is a small street in the 4eme arrondissement in Paris. It’s the home of the Moretti & Moretti, an art galerie which focuses on street art, digital art and installations.

Cour Bérard, Paris

I headed to the galerie to check out its Konny Stedin exhibit. If you’ve been to Paris recently, I’m sure you spotted some of the German street artist’s work. Her signature black and white portraits, with the red paint tears, can be seen throughout Paris, like this one below which I snapped a few years ago outside of BeaubourgStreet art by Konny outside of Beaubourg

But the best street art wasn’t inside the gallery. It was actually outside, in the street, which was lined with graffiti black cats.IMG_1300

IMG_1304 IMG_1303 IMG_1301IMG_1299

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Cour Bérard is a small street, but it’s definitely a street art lover’s dream street.  And a black cat lover’s dream street too!

Postcard from Paris: a Paws Café at Café des Chats

Cafe des chats, rue sedainePaws Café… Pause café… get it? OK, that was a bad pun, but I couldn’t help it. Just like I couldn’t help visiting both of Paris’ cat cafés during my last stay in the city. In my defense, one of them is just a few blocks away from my parents’ apartment. When did rue Sedaine become so hip?

The original Café des Chats, located in the haut Marais close to Beaubourg, opened back in the fall of 2013 and turned out to be so popular that a second location near Bastille was added. Margaux Gandelon, the young entrepreneuse who launched the “café chat” concept in Paris after a successful crowd-funding campaign, was directly inspired by the “neko” cafés in Japan. She describes her project as ronronthérapie, or purr therapy, arguing for the potential health benefits of stroking a purring kitty. However, it’s the health of the cats that’s truly at the center of the projects, and all visitors must abide by a few rules:don’t force the cats to do anything they don’t want to do,do not wake up the cats  if they’re sleeping and do not feed the cats.

Humans shouldn’t feed the cats, but café des chats feeds its humans pretty well, and the kitchen is the only area where cats are not allowed. I hear the brunch is quite popular though when we visited, around goûter time, we simple settled for coffee, tea and cheesecakes. If you have a choice to visit one over the other location, I would recommend visiting the one in the Marais, which is a beautiful and cozy bi-level space with a faux-library and a 15th century vaulted ceiling (downstairs.) The Bastille location is more modern, but also easier to get into as it doesn’t require reservations. Both feature a group of twelve-ish resident cats, which, unlike in other cat cafés, notably in the United States, are not up for adoption. All of them, though, were previously stray or abandoned cats that were given a permanent home rues Sedaine or Michel Le Comte. and a portion of the proceeds from the cafés though is donated to animal protection organizations.

Cafe des chats

Cafe des chats, Paris

Cafe des chats paris

I can’t wait for DC to open its own cat café! If you too are excited about this prospect, visit Crumbs and Whiskers’ website for updates on their kickstarter’s campaign [update: here’s my post on my first visit to Crumbs & Whiskers.] Until then, I’m glad I have not one, but two places to go when I need my kitty fix in Paris!

 Café des Chats: 16 Rue Michel le Comte (3ème) | Bastille: 9 Rue Sedaine (11ème)

10 Paris Instagrammers You Should Follow

I follow all sorts of people on instagrams. My friends, of course. Foodies. Travelers. Cat owners. Even a few politicians (bonus when they post #FridayKitty pics every week!) But I have a soft spot for people instagramming from my hometown. Here are some of my favourite Paris-based snappers right now:

INSTA_Goutdfood
In addition to having a pretty dreamy job in PR for Ladurée, Delphine also runs Goût’d Food, a lovely French food blog with an accompanying instagram feed GOUTDFOOD that’s as sweet as you’d expect. 

INSTA_Desserted in Paris
DESSERTED IN PARIS is the instagram account of Taj Spiegel, a graphic designer and pâtissier with a passion for shoes and pastries. Follow him for snapshots of gorgeous-looking desserts juxtaposed against his extensive collection of colourful shoes.  

INSTA_Parisian Floors
PARISIAN FLOORS also looks down, this time to the ornate mosaics and colourful tiles of the city. Unlike I have this thing with floors (also one of my fave!), photographer Sebastian Erras doesn’t regram anyone else’s content… the repetitive floor shots are all his. And while his shoe collection could use a few pointers from Taj Spiegel, his elegant but plain black footwear lets the focus shine on the brightly patterned tiles underneath. 

INSTA_NAT PARIS
Nathalie Geffroy’s NATH PARIS captures daily slices of life in Paris, many taken in the rain or close to the ground. Nathalie is an artistic director at an ad agency and her creativity definitely comes through in her beautiful instagram pictures.

INSTA_Vuthrea
VTHEARA KHAM is a UI/UX Designer and one of the most followed French instagrammer in the world. In addition to instagram, his work has also appeared in little known travel books…you know, like, the official city of Paris tourism guide 😉

INSTA _ Paris je t'aime
Speaking of official tourism guide, Paris does have an official Instagram channel, PARIS JE T’AIME. It regrams a ton of people so it’s a great spot to discover new fun Paris-based account. Use the hashtag #parisjetaime in your photos if you want to be figured. Also official but a little more fun is the account of VELIB, Paris’ bike share network. You’ve guessed it, that one will be pretty bicycle heavy 😉 

INSA_Julien French words
Following the attacks of November 13, Julien created the instagram account French Words where he introduces his followers to a new French word everyday. FRENCH WORDS JOURNAL is his personal account where he shares beautiful pics from his daily life in Paris and from his travels.

INSTA_lost in cheeseland
Lindsey Tramuta is a writer and photographer behind LOST IN CHEESELAND, a blog that documents her life as an American expat married to a Frenchman in Paris. Recently, she started traveling the globe on writing assignments so her instagram pic extends beyond Paris. But don’t worry… Paris is still the main star of her instagram feed.

INSTA je ne sais quoiAt one point, I realized I was basically only following “expats” living in Paris and made a conscious effort to seek out more Frenchies on both twitter and instagram. That’s when I came across Juliette’s account JULIETTE_JNSPC and blog Je Ne Sais Pas Choisir and I love it. Her comments are in French but her pictures don’t need any translations. Bonus: unlike my furrbaby Chloe, her cat Sherlock is super photogenic…

INSTA _ Jean LucJEAN-LUC RAYMOND‘s feed combines two things I absolutely adore: cats and street art! Well, make that three if you include Paris 😉 

Last but not least, some bonus instragram accounts: HUGO KATSUMI‘s sky-heavy feed (cloud-haters abstain), MARTA LISBOA for some unexpected angles and bright colours, MECS METRO PARIS just for fun (and for some French dudes… in the Paris metro) as well as I_AM_UN_CHAT, the feed of Jean-Baptiste Delame, an advertising executive who owns the cutest tuxedo cat and takes some great snapshots documenting his daily life in Paris.

Did I miss one of your fave Paris-based grameur? Who are some of your go-to instragram peeps (Paris based or not)?

{this post was update February 4, 2016}