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When Americans think of an apéritif, they are likely envisioning a cocktail before dinner. In France the apéro is an afternoon gathering that includes cocktails, food, and friends in a social gathering that easily segues into evening. It’s the French version of happy hour, but it may be at someone’s home, a park, by a canal, or at a bar or bistro.

A few steps from the Place des Vosges is the Royal Turenne whose apéro offers both incredible deals and delightful fresh flavors on a perfect people watching corner. With very efficient servers, a lovely terrace for the rare days when Parisian weather is perfect.

You may choose a light albacore tataki,

 or traditional fish and chips made with haddock,

 or a wok stir fried Asian inspired sautée of chicken and vegetables. Two glasses of wine, coffee, and all three bites during their apéro, came to under 50 Euros.

Another French classic bite is the crêpe, which may also have a completely different connotation than what you may find in the US. Savory crêpes are called galettes and always made with buckwheat flour, whereas actual crêpes are made with flour, egg, milk, and sugar (like cakes). For a quick bite or a full meal at nearly any time of day, you may pick one up at a street vendor or enjoy an inexpensive meal at a crêperie all over France.

Les Embruns serves classic buckwheat galettes with the usual suspects of ham, cheese and egg and is an easy 2 blocks away from the Gare de Lyon, so many people stop by before or after a trip to get a satisfying meal served by very competent staff in a tight but light filled space. They have lunch specials for around 15 Euros, and nearly every item on the meal is not only well executed, but in some cases very very copious!

The biggest salad I have ever seen in Paris (they are famous for them); seriously this herring salad was big enough for a family of four to share!

Dessert was a lemon and sugar crêpe at another crêperie Au Beurre Salé about 2 blocks away.

 With a digestif of calvados 😉

I made meals out of “snacks” throughout the day because between jet lag and my shrunken Californian appetite, I couldn’t handle a large meal most days. Apéros and crêpes were both good ways to socialize, eat, and drink very well nearly any day of the week!

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When you book far enough in advance, the deals you can find are amazing, like this lovely Air BnB for under $120 per night for 50 m2 (540 Sq Ft) apartment with a charming bilingual host. She even stocked the fridge with essentials like juice, water, and eggs, and also had coffee and tea in the pantry, and laundry detergent in the cupboard! With a view of the Canal St. Martin, two major transportation hubs just 3 blocks away, and a big supermarket 2 blocks away, this was an easy location to live in, and if you wanted to party, the cafés along the canal were buzzing all night long with partiers.

The calm courtyard and not having neighbor’s windows facing one side of the building made for a quiet and peaceful retreat after a day out and about. The only things about this place that might put off a renter are that like most Parisian apartments, there is no elevator, so the two flights up may be a challenge, especially if you are lugging heavy suitcases or groceries. The only other caveat is the small step between the hallway and the living room which I kept tripping over until marking the step with a bright red tag 🙂

It was spacious enough to invite several friends over for apéro and chocolates, and an easy enough place to find that every LeCab came right to the building or the corner (if there was heavy traffic).

It was pleasure to “live” in Paris again, and even though I was prepared for the wet weather, the good sized umbrella left by the door by the owner Bathilde, was very much appreciated:)

Very large and light living room area.

 Lots of seating for friends to come over for a visit.

 A large bed (for France).

 Well equipped kitchen with full sized oven

 dishwasher, and washing machine!

 Big bathroom and bathtub!

When friends whom I’ve known for decades, come in from other countries to spend time in Paris with me, it is a given that we eat at a French bistro:) One surprise guest from Tahiti, two from Belgium, and one American who got to spend the day getting a taste of life in Europe with Europeans and expats:)

The coordinator of our lunch and our subsequent visit to Atelier des Lumieres (2 blocks away) chose 3 Passages based on reviews and the reviews were spot on, because not only was our meal fantastic, but our serveuse was as personable and funny as everyone at our table 🙂

I love steak tartare and I was so happy to find that my order was knife cut, using quality meat and served with fresh accompaniments befitting this classic French dish.

My American friend ordered the pasta special with quality ham and cheese unlike what would be served in most American restaurants.

One of my Belgian friends devoured the saucisse that was as hearty and savory as it looks in the picture.

The Tahitian guest chose the vegetable fish dish served in a crusty wrapping with a light tomato sauce.

The menu at lunch offers two courses for only 14 Euros or three for 17 Euros, so the prices are wonderfully reasonable for the quality and skill offered, not to mention the fun service!

Our wonderful serveuse who took our picture and entertained throughout our meal 🙂

Madame Shawn is a Thai restaurant that has a branch in Bangkok and four in Paris, so if you are craving something spicy in Paris, I highly recommend that you stop by and savor the flavors that are a rarity in Paris where anything spicier than pepper is met with shocked and frightened looks by the locals 😉

Luckily my friends are not afraid of spice and love to travel by both palate and plane, so we went to the Madame Shawn next door to my favorite Boulangerie Du Pain et des Idées in the 10th. I had discovered Madame Shawn because it was next door to the bakery and I was too hungry to just eat bread for a meal. they offer lunch menus from 14-19 Euros  and their dinners are fantastic!

Their 18 Euro sampler of appetizers will give you a taste of all the variations of taste they offer.

Their #47 with rice noodles and chicken was a delicious version of pad see ew in Los Angeles with vegetables and a citrus spark.

The #321, a spicy vegetarian stir fry with tofu, was a nice piquant plate to add to our assortment for 13 Euros.

Their #306 for 18 Euros was a beautiful coconut presentation with  creamy lemongrass flavored shrimp.

 This is the plated view of that curry 🙂

 Desserts ranged from sorbets and ice cream for 7.50 euros,

 to the best mango and sticky rice I’ve e er tasted for 8.50 euros.

You may not crave Thai food while in Paris, but if you do, you won’t be disappointed by Madame Shawn.

Milestone birthdays should be celebrated, and what better way to celebrate than to enjoy a Michelin star meal in Paris? Especially when the person has never eaten at a Michelin star restaurant and loves food 🙂

Montée is a tiny 15 seat restaurant in the 14th, and before it became a starred place, it was my favorite place to eat in Paris. It is now under the helm of Takayuki Nameura and the evolution of status in the culinary world is very well merited. They offer a lunch or dinner menu that is set by whatever is is in season and / or ignites the chef’s creative fire. Dinner is 10 courses, but they served 2 additional amuse-bouche and because it was a birthday celebration, they also presented us with a birthday plate.

I chose a lovely 2014 Graves that was mid range priced to accompany the meal and we took Le Cab there and back so that we could enjoy the entire bottle 🙂

I neglected to take a picture of the veal/spinach schnitzel, probably because it was one of my favorite courses and I enjoyed it so much I completely forgot about documenting it, but that is a good sign of living in the moment, rather than seeking to preserve it.

Enjoy the feast for your eyes until you can get there to feast your palate on these incredible flavors.

Multi layer amuse bouche

another amuse bouche with candied walnuts, dried shitake, and puff pastry

tomato ice and corn souffle

 blue lobster, cashew, and caviar

 foie gras, banana, and smoke

 cod, potato, and sorrel

 white asparagus, almond, and chives

 flounder and leek

 amazing veal, spinach and schnitzel that I forgot to photograph,

then this apple, cider and saffron dessert

 chocolat

 crisp powdered sugar oreillettes

 fabulous wine

 and a lovely birthday plate 🙂

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