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Welcome 2 France Newsletter November 2009
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November Newsletter Highlights

· Searching for the Yummiest Hot Chocolate
· Plan Now for February in Paris
· Cent Quatre: New Art Space in the 19th Arrondisement
· Merci, A Shopping Alternative with Heart
· Paris Restaurants Classic and New
· Looking Ahead to December

This Month's Featured Apartments

Champs Elysées -- Gabriel
When you walk into this large two-bedroom, two-bath penthouse apartment, you'll first notice the space, the light and the beautiful furnishings. And then you'll gasp at the views. It overlooks the Grand Palais, and you can see the Eiffel Tower and the Panthéon from the terrace.

Louvre - Square Louvois
This spacious one-bedroom apartment is within walking distance of the Louvre, the Palais Royale, the grand department stores. Inside you'll find windows that look out onto a garden, a bright living/dining area and marble bathroom with contemporary fixtures.

Marais - Francs Bourgeois Mansion
Located in the heart of the Marais, this three-bedroom apartment is set in a 17th century private mansion, but it's fully updated for modern use. You'll particularly like the large dining room; tall windows look into a garden from every room.

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November, 2009
With November in Paris comes the season for indoor activities: visiting museums you haven't seen before, doing some pre-holiday shopping, settling in for a good dinner, trying new wines.

Searching for the Yummiest Hot Chocolate in Paris
Colder weather means we now have an excuse to take a break in the afternoon and treat ourselves to chocolat chaud. The French have been drinking this decadence in a cup since 1615, when Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, and she brought the recipe with her. The luscious potion is generally made not with cocoa powder, but with actual melted chocolate.

Among foodies, there's lots of debate about who serves the best hot chocolate in town. I'm no expert, but on my latest trip to Paris, I made it a point (all in the name of research, of course) to sample as much chocolat chaud as I could get my hands on. You'll have to go out and decide for yourself which is your favorite, but here are some places to start:

Angelina's Chocolat Africain is no doubt the most famous cup of hot chocolate in Paris. It's a thick dark chocolate, often described as drinking a chocolate bar. Whipped cream is served on the side, as is a pitcher of cold water, and you might need both to cut the intensity of the chocolate.

The decor is over-the-top rococo, with lots of gold gilt to remind you of more lavish days. (If you're from New York City, it might remind you of the long-gone Rumplemeyers; the original Angelina was a Rumplemeyer.)

Angelina's is so popular that you usually have to wait in line for a table. Several years ago it was bought by a company that owns a number of Paris restaurants and saloons; so far they haven't tinkered with the very successful formula here.
Open daily from 9am - 7pm.
226, rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondisement, Metro: Tuileries.

Queen Ann
Queen Ann, despite its regal name, couldn't be more different from Angelina. It's a small tearoom on an unprepossessing street right behind the Pompidou Centre. The outside looks utilitarian, but inside it's warm and welcoming. The tables are covered in orange and red plaid tablecloths, and the metal garden chairs sport green cushions. Paintings -- mostly faces and nudes -- adorn the beamed walls in brilliant tones of cerise, chartreuse and cobalt.

Their chocolat a l'Ancienne, less expensive than Angelina's at €5.50, is served in a big white cup and saucer. The chocolate is so thick it coats the side of the cup. No additional sugar is needed; the deep chocolate-y flavor's already there. Queen Ann, like most tea rooms, also serves lunch. It's a perfect place to relax after an hour or two at the Pompidou Centre.
Open Tuesday - Saturday, noon - 7pm. Open Sunday noon - 4pm, but the Sunday brunch is so popular you probably can't get in just for a cup of chocolate.
5, rue Simon le Franc, 4th arrondisement, Metro Rambuteau

Comme a la Maison
Relatively new on the hot chocolate scene, Comme a la Maison is quickly establishing itself as a favorite of people who live in Paris. You have to be looking for it; the tiny café is tucked into the Cour Verte, a courtyard in Village Saint-Paul. Clustered outside are pink garden chairs and tables under an awning. Inside there are only about 10 seats, but owner Cathy Abt told us she's planning to add heaters and an enclosure so people can enjoy the garden seating in the winter.

The hot chocolate is served on a tray in a pitcher, with a packet of sugar (not needed) and a small packaged cookie, for just €4.50. The chocolate is a light brown color, but full of dark chocolate taste, very rich. Cathy also serves up tartes, quiches, salads and other pastries.
Open Tuesday - Sunday, noon - 6pm.
9, rue Saint-Paul, 4th arrondisement, Metro St. Paul

Patisserie Viennoise
You definitely don't come to this Left Bank café for the ambiance. It's a scruffy hole-in-the-wall kind of place, on a scruffy bit of street. Prices are low, and students from the nearby medical school crowd in for lunch. The tables are shoved closely together; tabletops are made of plastic imitation-wood. Still, connoisseurs flock here for the hot chocolate and other sweets.

You're given a choice of a large or small serving of the chocolat Viennoise. Trust me, a small cup is plenty. Although the chocolate here is typically served with whipped cream, I ordered the cream "a coté," on the side, so I could compare it with other hot chocolates I'd been tasting. Served in a small white cup, the chocolate is dark in the cup and even darker in the mouth. It's served unsweetened; I added a packet of sugar to make it just about perfect.

And then if you swirl in the rich whipped cream...well, let's just say you forget the tacky ambiance and lose yourself in chocolate flavor. They charge only €2.80 for a small cup of chocolate, and another €1.60 to add whipped cream.
Open Monday - Friday, 9am - 7pm
8, rue de l'École de Médicine, 6th arrondisement, Metro Odéon

Jean-Paul Hévin
Perhaps the most sophisticated in appearance of the chocolate shops I visited this fall, the tea room sits above the shop of master chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin. The walls are paneled in wood so dark it's almost black, contrasting with the white slipcovered chairs. Lunch is served until 2:30pm, and it's quite reasonable for quiches, omelets and salads in this high-priced neighborhood.

The chocolate arrives in a white cup, light brown in color, with white and brown sugar cubes on the side. A cup is €6.60, or €7.00 with whipped cream. I didn't find the sugar necessary; the chocolate tasted dark, but slightly grainy, and it was less thick than many of the others I'd tried. I'm not a food critic, but I think I'd stick to lunch here, then go downstairs and buy chocolates to take home.
Open Monday - Saturday, noon - 7pm
231, rue Saint-Honoré, 1st arrondisement, Metro Tuileries

La Charlotte de l'Ile
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get to every hot chocolate place recommended to me. So I haven't actually been here, but friends have told me they love it.

Situated on the east end of the Ile Saint-Louis, this café is rumored to have decadently rich hot chocolate. At least from the outside, it also looks like a charming place to while away a restful half-hour.
Open Thursday - Sunday, 2pm - 8pm
24, rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile, 4th arrondisement, Metro Pont-Marie

Plan Now for February in Paris
Not many visitors come to Paris in February, and that in itself is a great reason to be here then. I spent two weeks of this past February in Paris, with a friend who'd never been before, and it was absolutely delightful. We never stood in line for a museum; we could get into just about any restaurant where we wanted to eat.

In the first half of the month, the winter sales are still on. Since it's the end of the sale season, prices are slashed, and we picked up quite a few bargains on clothes we would never have afforded otherwise.

And if you're looking for a romantic place to celebrate Valentine's Day, Paris is the place to be. The chocolate shops try to out-do each other in coming up with the most enticing Valentine's creations. Romantic restaurants abound, but be sure to book early for a great table.

As for the weather, yes, it's cold, and, yes, it rains. But it's not bitterly cold; I find the weather much like it is in Washington, DC. And the sun shines more often than you might expect. According to the official weather averages, February gets less precipitation than March, April, May, June, September, October and December.

Best of all, because February has fewer visitors, you can get terrific prices on an apartment from Welcome2France. And chances are there will be bargains on airfare as well.

Cent Quatre: New Art Space in the 19th Arrondisement
Last fall an innovative new art space opened in Paris: Cent Quatre, named for its address at 104, rue d'Aubervilliers. It's not far from the Canal St. Martin, in a district characterized by couscous and falafel restaurants, charmless high-rise apartments and over-stock shops. In other words, exactly where you'd expect to find cutting-edge artists.

The building dates from 1873 and has been restored (they're still doing some work on it) to a light airy space with salmon and white striped exterior stone walls, enormous glass windows and a thoroughly contemporary feel. In 1905, when the separation of church and state was made official in France, the city of Paris used this cavernous place to arrange funerals for people who otherwise wouldn't be buried by the church. Back then, the church buried divorced women only at night, and suicides weren't eligible to be interred in consecrated ground. The space bustled with coffin makers, coach builders, seamstresses, hairdressers, painters and masons.

Today 104 is dedicated to bringing art and culture directly to the public. Artists from all over the world are invited to stay on-site and develop their works, including performance art. In the afternoons and on weekends, you can walk through the individual ateliers and engage directly with the artists. Entrance is free unless there's a special exhibit or show.

Inside 104 is a light-filled bookstore with high-quality art books, cards, journals and such (most are only in French). The children's book section is full of pop-up books, old favorites and new releases, all again mostly in French, but extremely visual.

A restaurant is due to open next spring, but there's already a delightful café where you can have lunch. Walls are covered in pale wood slats contrasted with a black background, a sleek and yet still inviting look. There's a three-course lunch menu for only €12. I ordered an endive, apple and walnut salad, meatballs in tomato sauce and quince crumble for dessert. Of course they serve wine, and there's a full bar as well.

Cent Quatre is well worth a trip by Metro out to an area most of us don't visit very often. While I was in the neighborhood, I bought a couple of spectacular scarves for very little money at one of the many tiny (but not fancy) shops on the streets around 104.
Cent Quatre
104, rue d'Aubervilliers, Metro Riquet
Open daily except Monday from 11am - 9pm.

A Shopping Alternative with Heart
Artfully displayed merchandise, well-known French designer labels at a discount, and doing good while shopping are what characterize a new concept store in Paris called Merci. It was developed by Marie France and Bernard Cohen, who founded the chain of upscale children's clothing stores, Bonpoint.

Now they've decided to dedicate the profits from this new venture to raising funds for a women's co-op in Madagascar. Merci features clothing, housewares, fresh flowers, furniture, books and garden accessories. Most of the merchandise is the latest fashion, but look hard and you'll find vintage pieces as well, some at terrific prices. Labels like Bonpoint, A.P.C., Isabel Marent, YSL and Annick Goutal have either created new offerings specifically for Merci, or have forgone some of their traditional mark-up.

The store is fun to explore, as you move from room to room, with its cement floors, exposed brick and lots of glass. When you tire of shopping, there's a café tucked into the bookstore. Best to go on a day other than Saturday, though, as the store can get quite crowded with Parisian shoppers.
?111 boulevard Beaumarchais, 3rd arrondisement, Metro Saint-Sébastien Froissart
Open Monday - Saturday, 10am - 7pm

Restaurants Old and New
With the explosion of new and innovative places to eat, can you still re-visit some of the old classics and have a great meal? Definitely, a Parisian friend tells me. In one week, she'd eaten at Le Train Bleu, which has been in operation since 1901, and Christophe, open only for the last two years.

Le Train Bleu, with its opulent Belle Époque style, is a visual feast. It's located upstairs at the Gare de Lyon and is justly famous for the murals of destinations reached by train from there. There's gilt everywhere. The banquettes are upholstered in well-worn leather, lighting comes from chandeliers, and huge windows overlook the train tracks below. It harkens back to a different age, at the time when the Grand Palais and Alexander III bridge were going up. And you can still find classic French dishes on the menu: fois gras, escargots, steak tartare prepared tableside, profiteroles and baba au rhum for dessert.

The dining room is enormous, and it's still quite popular with both business people and tourists. They do take groups; it's just that kind of "typical" Parisian experience that actually isn't so typical anymore.

But the food, while not in the forefront of French cooking these days, is better than you might expect in such a landscape. In fact, Le Train Bleu actually made it into Alexander Lobrano's book Hungry for Paris, which many people take to be the best guide to Paris restaurants in English. Main courses run €22 - 38.

Christophe couldn't be more different. It's a small place in the Latin Quarter - only 29 seats - so reservations are a must. Chef Christophe Philippe has put all his emphasis on the food and its sourcing. The place is located on a busy street frequented by students and studded with bars. The decor is basic, with warm-colored walls and black and white photographs on the walls. You don't come here for the the ambiance, but for the food.

The chef is passionate about searching out suppliers of the very best beef, duck, pork - even the lemons are from a limited source in the south of France. Americans are discovering Christophe, so you may hear English spoken at the next table. The menu is short, only six or seven main dishes, but every one is perfectly prepared. Main courses run €24 - 28.

Le Train Bleu
Gare de Lyon, 2nd arrondisement, Metro Gare de Lyon

8, rue Descartes, 5th arrondisement, Metro Cardinal Lemoine

Note: all the times and fees we've quoted in this month's newsletter were accurate when we published, but things do change, so it's always a good idea to check before you go.

Sheila Campbell, Washington, DC Web:

Do you have a favorite place in Paris you'd like to tell us about for the newsletter? We'd love to hear your suggestions. Just click on and give us your ideas.
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Calendar of Events, November, 2009

Through December 6
In Fragonard's Studio: Marguerite Gérard, Artist in 1789
Musée Cognacq-Jay
8, rue Elzevir, Metro Saint-Paul, Chemin-Vert or Rambuteau

Through December 13, 2010
Veilhan Versailles (Modern art sculpture in the courtyards and gardens of Versailles)
Chateau de Versailles

Through January 4
Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice
Musée du Louvre, Metro Musée du Louvre or Louvre Rivoli

Through January 4
Renoir in the 20th Century
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
3, avenue du Général Eisenhower, Metro Champs Elysées Clemenceau or Franklin Roosevelt

Through January 10, 2010
Deadline (Ideas of Mortality among International Artists)
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11, avenue du Président Wilson, Metro Alma Marceau or Iéna

Through January 11, 2010
Bruegel, Memling, Van Eyck...the Brukenthal Collection
Musée Jacquemart André
158, Blvd Haussmann, Metro Miromesnil or St. Philippe du Roule

Through January 17, 2010
Chasing Napoleon
Palais de Tokyo
13, avenue du Président Wilson, Metro Alma Marceau or Iéna

Through January 17
Federico Fellini
Jeu de Paume
1, place de la Concorde, Metro Concorde

Through January 25, 2010
From Byzantine to Istanbul
Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais
3, avenue du Général Eisenhower, Metro Champs Elysées Clemenceau or Franklin Roosevelt

Through February 4, 2010
Art Nouveau Revival
Musée D'Orsay
2, rue Bellechasse, Metro Assemblée Nationale or Solférino
€5,50 - 8,00

Through February 7, 2010
The Dutch Golden Age
La Pinacothéque
28, place de la Madeleine, Metro Madeleine

Through February 20
Fauves and Expressionists, from Van Dongen to Otto Dix: Masterpieces of the Von der Heyt
Musée Marmottan-Monet
2, rue Louis-Boilly, Metro La Muette

Through February 28
Matisse and Rodin
Musée Rodin
79, rue de Varenne, Metro Varenne or Invalides

Through March 7
Isadora Duncan: A Living Sculpture
18, rue Antoine Bourdelle, Metro Faiguiére or Pasteur

Exhibitions and Other Museums

Through November 11
The Grand Dukes of Burgundy
Tour Jean Sans Peur
20, rue Étienne Marcel, Metro Étienne Marcel or Les Halles

Through November 22
Le Grand Pari(s): Ten Visions for the Future of Paris
Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine
Palais de Chaillot, 1 place du Trocadéro, Metro Trocadéro

Through November 29
165 Years of Iranian Photography
Musée du Quai Branly
55 Quai Branly, Metro Alma-Marceau, Bir Hakeim, École Militaire

Through December 13
Get Out of My Sun (furniture and household objects by Sylvain Dubuisson
VIA Gallery, Metro Gare de Lyon or Ledru-Rollin
29, avenue Daumesnil

Through December 31
Tales of the Eiffel Tower
First floor and stairs of the Eiffel Tower, Metro Trocadéro or École Militaire
€4.50 - 13.00

Through January 3, 2010
The French Revolution, Hidden Treasures of the Musée Carnavalet
Musée Carnavalet
23, rue de Sévigné, Metro Saint Paul or Chemin Vert

Through January 11
Gold of the Americas
Musée d'Histoire Naturelle (Gallerie de Minéralogie)
36 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Metro Gare d'Austerlitz, Jussieu, Censier-Daubenton

Through January 17, 2010
Louis Comfort Tiffany: Colors and Light
Musée du Luxembourg
19, rue de Vaugirard, Metro Saint Sulpice

Through January 24
City of Gods: The Art of Teotihuacan
Musée du Quai Branly
55 Quai Branly, Metro Alma-Marceau, Bir Hakeim, École Militaire

Through January 31, 2010
Madeleine Vionnet - French fashion designer of the interwar years
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
107 -111, rue de Rivoli - 1st Arrondissement, Metro Palais Royale - Musée du Louvre
€6,50 - 8,00

Through February 7
Louis XIV: The Man and the King
Chateau de Versailles
Avenue Rockefeller - Versailles, France

Music, Theater and Dance

November 3, 6, 9, 15, 18, 24, 27 and 29
La Boheme, Puccini
Opéra Bastille
Place de la Bastille, Metro Bastille
€5 - 172

November 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22 and 25
Salomé, Richard Strauss
Opéra Bastille
Place de la Bastille, Metro Bastille
€5 - 138

November 7, 10, 11, 13 - 15, 19 - 22
Amoveo/Répliques/Genus by Millepied, Paul and McGregor
Palais Garnier
Intersection of rues Scribe and Auber, Metro Opéra
€6 - 67

Through January 17
We Want Miles: Jazz Face to Face with Its Legend
Cité de la Musique
221 avenue Jean Jaures, 19th, Metro Porte de Pantin


Through December 29
Grande Ecurie - Grand Stables of Versailles
Chateau de Versailles
Avenue Rockefeller - Versailles, France

Through January 3, 2010
Crimexpo - Interactive display of crime scene investigation
Cite des Sciences
30, avenue Corentin Celtou - 19th Arrondissement
€7,00 - 10,00; Under 7: Free

A Look Ahead for December, 2009
December 1 - 31: Notre Dame Sound and Light Show
December 2 - 13, Disney in Ice, Zénith
December 4 - 5: Great Wines Fair, Carousel du Louvre
December 5 - 13: Paris Boat Show, Porte de Versailles
December 5 - 13, Paris Horse Show, Paris Nord Villepinte
December 5 - 20, Fairies of Auteuil Nativity Display, Fondation d'Auteuil
December 9 - 14, H20 Festival of Dance and Hip Hop, various locations
December 19 - 20, Ben Hur Live, Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy

We highly appreciate our readers help in making this newsletter as interesting and helpful as possible.
If you have any comments or suggestions, they are quite welcome on our

Comments and Suggestions Page

Thank you for your interest and best regards,

The Welcome 2 France team
Tel. 1 (650) 267-4328
(free local call number in U.S. or Canada)

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