Don't be a tourist. Be our guest!

Stories from our groups of women traveling to France, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland. Plus info and travel tips about the countries we travel to.

Archive for the ‘Paris’

No more business for Lacroix

December 01, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Art, Cultural tours to France, French news, Paris, Provence No Comments →

Designer Christian Lacroix was born in 1951 in Arles, Provence, and his fashion shows and collections were often inspired by Camargue colors, gypsies and corridas.


              lacroix1    lacroix       lacroix2  

He opened his own fashion design business in 1987, sponsored by French luxury company Louis Vuiton Moet Hennessy. He became internationally successful right away, and later diversified his business by creating a line of perfume, linen, table ware and accessories. He even participated in designing of the interior of the Mediterranean TGV.

However , financial difficulties appeared in 2005, and today, the company was officially closed when no potential buyer showed up to make an offer to buy the famous brand name.

Top restaurants in France : New Stars in 2009 Michelin Guide

March 08, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: "How to" Tips, Customs and Traditions, Food and Recipe, French news, Paris No Comments →


This year was a very special year for the new Michelin guide, as it was its 100th edition. The first one was issued in 1900 (no issues during the 2 World Wars and in 1921) as a promotional brochure for the Michelin tires) and it is therefore the oldest European gastronomy guide. In the first editions it only mentioned addresses of car mechanics. The first restaurants  only appeared in 1920. It is now a prestigious hotel and restaurant guide covering over 20 countries and published in several languages. Over 30 millions guides were sold over all. Many city guides are now also published, Tokyo being the city with the most starred restaurants.

This year’s  edition can also be purchased in a collector box or on your i-Phone. This year’s edition only added one  new 3-star restaurant among the 548 happy few to receive stars, and of course, others have lost the prestigious award.


Too much pressure?

Many chefs have recently quit the painful race   because of  overwhelming  pressure. Celebrated chef Marc Veyrat who received 3 stars for his restaurant “l’Auberge de l’Eridan” by the Annecy lake in Veyrier-du-Lac (French Alps), declined his nomination this year. A few months ago, chef Olivier Roellinger even closed his 3-star restaurant, “Maison de Bricourt” in Cancale, Brittany. These are just a few examples that show the infernal moral and physical tension bearing on these top professionals whose business highly depends on the red  guide to succeed or not. When chef Bernard Loiseau committed suicide in 2003, some said it could be related to the rumour that he was about to lose one of his 3 stars.

Another criticism consists in tagging the guide of conservatism and of favoring traditional cuisine. For the fans of the guide, however, the biggest problems will be to manage to make a reservation in one of these starred restaurants. Indeed, the 548 awarded establishments attract gourmet clients from all over the world and are difficult to access.



Our selection among the new establishments in the 2009 edition:

*** star restaurants = 26 restaurants in this category (only  1  new one)

  • Chef Eric Frechon , “Le Bristol”, Paris 8eme.

** star restaurants: 73 restaurants (9 new ones)

* star restaurant:   449 restaurants (63 new ones )

+ 527 bib gourmands = good value for money (meals under $45).

Clickable useful links:



The winners: Eric Frechon, Gordon Ramsay and the Auberge Basque team.

4 Major Exhibits in Paris this December

November 25, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Art, Paris 2 Comments →

1351_04_9_thumb     160x160_526_vignette_ESSAI_1_NEF_copie    parterres-deau-versailles_small 

If you are not afraid of the freezing winter gales that will blow in the Parisian streets this December, and have decided to travel to France in the coming weeks, it will be nice to take shelter in some of the warm places that host great exhibits this winter. Here are my suggestions:

  • Picasso and the Masters: 210 works by Picasso, Velasquez, El Greco, Goya, Gauguin , Cezanne… at the Grand Palais until Feb. 2, 2009 .

  • From Miro to Warhol: the Berardo Collection at  Musée du Luxembourg until Feb. 22, 2009

  • Picasso and Manet at the Orsay museum until Feb. 1, 2009

  • Jeff Koons in Versailles until Dec. 14, 2009

Picture1: Eiffel Tower, Paris from

Picture 2: the Grand Palais Glass Dome from

Picture 3: Versailles gardens from

What to visit in Paris during the winter?

November 23, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Customs and Traditions, Paris 3 Comments →

Winter has arrived in France and snow has fallen in many places . Sunbathing by the Mediterranean sea, walking in the lavender fields of  Provence, enjoying the flowery open markets, all these pleasures are over.

So, no vacation in France for the winter? Wrong. Right now, the first Christmas market of the year has opened in Paris. Guess where? On the “Champs Elysees”, no less.

Hot wine, santons of Provence (terra cotta statues that are only on display at Christmas time), candles, sugar frosted gingerbread, Christmas tree decorations but also some gifts not related to Christmas.

(Picture from

The real Christmas markets can be found in the North East of France, in Alsace. The first ones to open are in Colmar and in Metz. Enjoy this unique Christmas ambiance till Dec. 28th.

Watch the video of the Christmas Market , “Marche de Noel, in Strasbourg, France:

Le Marche de Noel in Strasbourg is known for being one of  the finest Marche de Noel in France.

If you are in France during the winter, don’t miss “les marches de Noel”. That will warm you up (your body with the hot wine and your spirit with the ambiance).

Kathy and Susan’s stay in Paris after their trip to Provence

October 09, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Cultural tours to France, Paris, Travel notes from our guests No Comments →

Today I decided to post the diary from Susan and Kathy who were our guests in Provence. They went to Paris on their own afterwards while Eppie adn Joan went to La Cote d’Azur and Italy. Tomorrow, I will post their comment about Italy.

From Susan and Kathy, Castro Valley, California.

We had a great time in Paris.  Our apartment was just as it was described—and with the 10 or so pictures we saw of the apartment, there were no surprises–except a pleasant one–we even had a bathtub!  We were never more than a 10 min metro ride from anything.

We spent Sunday at Versailles where they were having a special musical fountain display in the gardens—which meant they turned on the fountains and piped in classical music.  It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed it immensely.  Then on the way home, we stopped at the Eiffel Tower and saw it in all its night time glory–sparkles and all.  Yes, we had to go to the top!  The rest of the week was filled to the brim and we saw everything we had intended to see.  Thursday afternoon the weather turned very cold and by Friday AM, we were ready to leave Paris in a pouring rain.  It is good to be home—–Joan and Eppie–are you ready to come home yet?

Thank you all for a wonderful time in Provence.  We enjoyed being with you all and the memories will last a life time.  Jac and Valerie—you two rock!!”"


Here is a picture of Kathy and Susan in Provence

kathy and susan