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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.  It has also kept me very busy.  With just a couple of school weeks remaining, now seems like a good time to 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 to take part in a private tour of the Hôtel de Ville with a wonderful group of ladies from the American Women’s Group, an expat club I joined before leaving home.  The original building, completed in 1628, was burned to the ground by protestors during the Commune government of 1870. Reconstruction, from 1837 to 1892, combined a copy of the original Renaissance façade with a more “modern” interior.

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Inside, the Neo renaissance-style décor is as detailed as it is magnificent.  Using the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles as inspiration, the architects and artists created the Hôtel’s glorious Salle des Fêtes, 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 include works by prominent artists of the day such as Raphaël CollinJean-Paul LaurensPuvis de Chavannes,Henri GervexAimé Morot.

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

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Strolling down the rue du Four in Paris’s 6th, we discovered the smallest bakery in Europe. Literally. Cupcake & Macaron boasts about its diminutive size on a sign outside the door, and they are not overstating the facts.  The interior is barely wide enough for two.  It can best described as a nicely decorated closet…

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Our daughter, Avery

only this closet features a jewelry case full of delectable sweets!  We waited for just a moment before a delightful young man appeared from the other side of a slender door to take our order. Now, it’s important to know that while French cupcakes resemble those buttercream-covered sweets from birthday parties past, they have a style all their own.  Most notably, these aren’t as sweet.  Instead, emphasis is placed on flavors in combinations like coffee and hazelnut, vanilla and jasmine, even lemon and coconut.

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After much discussion, we chose lemon meringue and chocolate raspberry.  When we turned to leave with cupcakes in hand, our dessert advisor asked if we might stay and eat our treats right there.  He said he wanted to see our faces when we tasted them. O-kay, like that’s not weird at all.  Alas, the French habit of eating everything with a knife and fork applies to paper-wrapped, handheld desserts as well.  No peeling the baking cup off the cake, nope, use a fork.  Turns out this is a good idea because the filling tucked inside gushes out the bottom when bitten into.  Maybe our charming consultant had attempted to save us this embarrassment by inviting us to stay? C’est possible.  The lemon cupcake had a bright flavor with a balanced sweetness, while the chocolate raspberry was delicious, or so I was told.  Avery didn’t offer to share her cupcake.

 

Cupcake and Macaron, 1 rue du Four, 75006

 

School update: I fly to Paris tonight! I hear spring is already in full bloom so you can expect some photos of a gorgeous Paris soon!

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We are taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to share some exciting news here at French Cravings.  As many of you know, last September my Hubby went on a year-long sabbatical, we sold our house (not once but twice), had an estate sale selling a good portion of our belongings, and even gave the cat to the new homeowners (it was best for kitty).  All this was done with the plan to chuck it all and live a simpler life in some other country for a few years.  Trouble was, we couldn’t agree on a location.  Then cold feet set in and the decision was made to stay, at least until our older son finishes high school in two years.  It was a fair request.

Except, that’s not what I signed up for when I agreed to give up our comfortable life.  We had talked of adventure, of shaking things up.  We talked about doing something significant with this once-in-a-lifetime chance, but instead we quietly settled back into another version of our previous life.  However, not being one so easily deterred from our original idea, I set about charting my own course to adventure.

Now for the exciting news!  On March 16th, I will fly to Paris to begin the 3-month-long course in Basic Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu!!

My incredibly supportive Hubby will play the part of Mr. Mom while I live out my dream of studying at Paris’s most famous culinary school.  As for the kids, our daughter warned against having regrets if I passed on this opportunity while the boys are “cool with it”.  Let’s see how they feel after a few weeks of making their own school lunches and doing their own laundry.  Oh yes, this will be a growth opportunity for ev-ery-one.

The path to this point has not been an easy one by any means, but fulfilling a dream is, by its very nature, a challenge meant to push us beyond our comfort zones and follow the path we were meant to…if only for a few months.

So, in a mere five weeks, French Cravings will be reporting from Paris with all the latest on food, shopping, and culture.  And tales from The Kitchen of course!  I look forward to us enjoying this adventure together…

 

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” -anonymous