Trying to fix a bug. 聽We need that makeover ASAP! 馃檪

Hey stranger! 聽 I know, I know, it’s been forever since we last visited. 聽Where have I been and what have I been up to, you might be asking? 聽I’m excited to tell you that聽I recently earned my聽Dipl么me聽de Cuisine from the famed Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Paris! 聽What began as a dream, to attend that first class way back in 2014, morphed into a sort of prize fight that I just had to win. 聽That meant spending several months a few thousand miles away from my family, but hey, I was in Paris, right? 聽All I can say is, thank goodness for Skype and WhatsApp! 聽And a very supportive hubby!

It has also been a time for reflection, an opportunity to set new goals and reset others, like here at French Cravings! Not only will we聽continue to share travel adventures through la belle France, we’ll start cooking up some delicious French recipes, shop as we decorate a project in Provence together, and of course talk about where to eat when we visit.

With all of these exciting changes coming, we are in serious need聽a makeover. 聽We’ll be unveiling a brand new look here at French Cravings very soon. 聽I hope you come and stay a while…I聽know we’ll have a great time together!

 

In the mean time…

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A bient么t!

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Les nymphs in bloom near the Japanese bridge

If the lazy days of summer could have a poster child, I would make the perfect candidate. Late night movies and even later morning coffees. 聽Easy going schedules, or even better, no schedule at all. 聽Well, all that laid-back living comes to a聽screeching end on Monday as our kids go back to school. 聽So, I thought what better way to mark聽the end of all the pleasures of summer than with a trip through Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, a 45-minute drive west of Paris.

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Le Petit Giverny just as they opened for lunch

Two friends from the States were visiting, and we planned to take the train, but this being France, there was a strike. Rail schedules across the country were cut in half or canceled altogether. 聽Either way, the rental car聽agencies were happy as could be, and so were we when we found an available car at Sixt in La Defense, on the far western edge of Paris. 聽We were聽eager for an adventure, but not one that involved risking life and limb, okay, my rental insurance deductible, navigating the traffic circle聽at the Arc de Triomphe!

Giverny Lunch 2 Part of our derailed travel plans included picking up picnic supplies and renting聽bikes in Vernon, then pedaling the half hour to Giverny. 聽Instead, we enjoyed聽a lovely lunch on the patio at Le Petit Giverny, located right next to the gardens. Seasonal dishes of market fresh veggies and delicious聽meats grilled simply over聽an open pit, served with a side of charm by our host. 聽They say travel requires flexibility and we were certainly rewarded for ours.

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The main alley in the garden

Next door, the sprawling gardens surrounding Monet’s home are bursting with color and displayed in a very natural style. 聽No perfectly trimmed boxwoods here.Monets garden 3Paths wind lazily through the lush landscape surrounding the iconic lily pond, encouraging visitors to linger while they enjoy the wide variety of flora. 聽Who wouldn’t be inspired by such a lovely setting?

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Monets gardens 4You know we’re going to talk a bit of history, so here it is. These beautiful grounds and house are the result of years of restoration beginning in the ’70s. 聽Following Monet’s death in 1926, his son, Michel, inherited the property, but never lived there. Instead, Monet’s step-daughter took care of it.聽 Unfortunately, after World War II, both the house and garden were neglected, leaving both in a terrible state of disrepair. 聽In 1966, Michel left it all to the Academie des Beaux-Arts. 聽Thanks to generous donations, repairs finally began almost a decade later and took nearly as long to complete.

To be perfectly honest, I’m having a terrible time breaking my lazy days habits…it’s now Tuesday and the kids have already started school.

 

 

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As many of you know, I began the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu Paris back in March. It has been such an amazing experience, one filled with excitement, anxiety, and joy while living and studying in the most beautiful city in the world. 聽It has also kept me very busy. 聽With just a couple of school weeks remaining, now seems like a good time to聽go back to the beginning and share some of my Paris experience with you.

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During my first week in Paris, I was fortunate聽to take part in a private tour of the H么tel de Ville with a wonderful group of ladies from the American Women’s Group, an expat club I joined before leaving home. 聽The original building, completed in 1628, was burned to the ground by protestors during the Commune government of 1870. Reconstruction,聽from 1837 to 1892,聽combined a copy of the original Renaissance fa莽ade with a more “modern” interior.

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Inside, the Neo renaissance-style d茅cor is as detailed as it is magnificent. 聽Using the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles as inspiration, the architects and artists created the H么tel’s glorious Salle des F锚tes, which plays host to celebrations both state and cultural. Paintings between the arches feature activities specific to the various regions of France.

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Murals聽include works by prominent聽artists of the day such as聽Rapha毛l Collin,聽Jean-Paul Laurens,聽Puvis de Chavannes,Henri Gervex,聽Aim茅 Morot.

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All chandeliers in the H么tel were created聽by the world-famous French crystal maker, Baccarat.Hotel de VilleAmidst all the is grandeur, the H么tel de Ville serves as the seat of the local government, housing the offices of the mayor and the city council among many others. 聽Our tour was stopped at the doorway due to official city business in the next room…

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