meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8b08da541f8a920e6 Marie Z Johnston: 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Versailles: A Private Tour

More than 70 million people visit Paris each year. That's a lot of people.  Of that, only 3 million venture out to the Chateau of Versailles (one million in July alone!) making the odds of sharing the Hall of Mirrors or the Queens Bed Chamber with 1000 strangers highly likely.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June in Paris

Fountain of the Palais Royale
There are few places on earth as lovely as Paris in June.  Paris is stunning, even in the rain.  And we've had lots of it - 48 days of rain in a row to be precise.  But that doesn't dampen Parisian spirits in the least.  Everyone has an umbrella and if they don't, well a short wait in a cafe or under a building overhang is just another welcome part of the day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Omaha Beach on the Normandy Coast


Just the other day while having lunch with my daughters, the elderly man sitting with his family at the table behind us began talking to me for some reason. Upon finding out we were American, he stood up, put his hand over his heart and sang 'God Bless America" at the top of his lungs. His name is Jean-MarieJean-Marie is a retired veterinarian and in his wallet he carries three black and white photos taken (by him) when he was 17 years old on the day US troops arrived in his village back in 1944.  It was his first glimpse of an American.
 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chasing Normandy


Having spent many a childhood summer on the vast and dramatic Normandy coastline, it wasn't difficult to say 'YES' when invited along on an expedition to the area. The purpose of this trip?  To locate, once and for all, a lovely little 'Folie' (maddness) built as a hunting lodge for Louis XV that my friend had seen in a book and obsessed about ever since!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chateau de Chambord & the May Day Brocantes


As the largest castle in the Loire Valley, the Chateau de Chambord seems an unlikely, yet perfect, location for the biggest annual 'brocantes' (flea market) in France. Built by Francois I in the early 16th century, this palace is a classic example of French Renaissance architecture, and a gorgeous site for the most enormous selection of treasures (and trash) I have ever had the pleasure to lay eyes upon.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Marché des Batignolles - Organics in the 17th


With so many amazing shops and marchés to choose from in my quartier (the 15th), people sometimes wonder why I'll travel across town to check out what is being offered at another marché.  It's simple: every marché is different.  I'm also just a bit neurotic about Organics, so when my favorite organic butcher told me they could also be found at the Saturday marché at Batignolles, I had to pay a visit. What I didn't know at the time is that there are TWO Marchés des Batignolles...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Excideuil in Dordogne - Gite "Lo Meijou"


My dad, Sidney, did not gamble.  Nor did he drink (much) or live a reckless life.  Heck.  He married a French woman with 2 small kids (and adopted them) while having a complicated family life of his own involving 2 daughters.  He did, however, have a weakness for airplanes, cars and boats - which in a round about way brings us to Excideuil and the medieval Knights Templar Commanderie he fell in love with and subsequently bought in 1998. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sunday in Paris and Bergamot Marmalade


Sunday in Paris is sacrosanct, first and foremost comes sleeping (In my building for instance, you won't hear a sound in the courtyard until well past 10am). Years ago my aunt, uncle and cousins lived in this same building where we now live; Sundays held the promise of a wonderful if VERY long lunch, extended playtime with my cousins, lots of laughter and best of all, a late supper of beer batter waffles served up with a dozen or more preserves my Tante Helene had put up in the summer.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Marché de Clignancourt - A day at the flea market

When I was a little girl, my maman and uncle Jacques loved to visit the outskirts Paris to 'chiné **; I didn't get it.  But now, there is nothing like a day spent at 'Les Puces' (which all Parisian's know means Saint Ouen / Clignancourt).  No other flea market in the world compares, which apparently is not a secret since more than 11 million people visit Clignancourt annually. When friends Mo and Jean Charles asked if I wanted to join them on a light fixture hunt, there was no saying 'non'.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dead of Winter Inspiration and a Celery Gratinée

February is a dismal month in Paris.  The weather is bitter cold, even when skies are deceptively blue.  Outdoor markets can be empty of trusted vendors (leaving produce merchants with stands looking far too much like summer to even be considered) or crowded with people (such as myself) looking over farmer stands well stocked with root vegetables for which inspiration has begun to lag. The promise of Valentine's day fills store windows... but I know it's a sweet ruse, something to help us through till Spring.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Marché President Wilson - Wednesdays and Saturdays with Joel Thibault

There are some markets I visit but rarely shop from, some markets I go to because they're convenient (just up - or down - the street from where we live) and then there are those I'm willing to get on the metro for (with my cart no less)The Marché President Wilson is just  one of those markets.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Into the New Year

The Tuilleries on January 9, 2012 - notice the lack of heavy coats... or snow
Winter.  It's here. Well, it's supposed to be though I've not seem much sign of it in Paris. The temperature has steadily remained in the high 40's low 50's, and based upon the produce available most everywhere, you'd think we were in a summer cold snap.