I could not believe how fast the trip to Paris went. We were there for five days and then done and off to the next class in Prague. It was an informative and interesting trip and what a way to spend a week walking around one of the most exciting city’s in the world. It was an open air classroom for me.
All I know is that I had a productive week. My walking tour of the Gourmet Stores and Shops went by really well and I learned a lot from it. When we had the wrap up class on Friday afternoon, everyone complimented me on the tour and how much they enjoyed it. One of my classmates said it best, “It could have been a disaster with all the twists and turns but you made it fun.” I filled them full of candy, fruit ices and chocolate and paid for all the samples they ate so it was an engaging walk and not just “Here’s a store. It’s wonderful.” Altering the program did not make me happy but I understood and reworked it so that everyone benefited. I just had a collective sigh of relief when it was done and everyone liked it.
My last morning in Paris was wonderful. I did not have to get up for a tour early and run around. I was already packed and ready for Prague and had checked out of my dorm. The rest of my class was staying on Saturday and had planned a picnic dinner on the Quad of the University of Paris for that night. Most of them were taking their free day off going shopping or going to the museums or exploring Paris on their own tim. We were so busy that we did not have much free time for ourselves. Remember this was a class and not a vacation.
What I was bummed at is that I never got to explore the Louvre and see the “Winged Venus” sculpture and Botechilli’s “The Birth of Venus” painting, which I have wanted to see since I was four years old. We did not have the museum in our agenda. I also did not get to see Le Nain Bleu, the Children’s toy store or Galeries Lafayette or Printemps Department Stores and barely scratched the surface at Bon Marche. For the next trip to Paris I figure. Those were things on my bucket list and I will have to come back. At least I know Paris really well now.
I got up late and walked around the campus by myself with a lot of quiet which I enjoyed. No 8:00am wake up calls and no running around. I ate breakfast on my own time and just relaxed.
The University of Paris campus in the mornings
There were not too many places open at that time and I did not want to eat at the residence hall cafeteria so I ventured outside and walked around the campus. With the help of Google Maps (I am turning into a Gen Z now) and my What’s App on Paris, I was ready to go.
The University of Paris in the mornings is so quiet
What was nice was there was a branch of Bakery Thevenin two blocks from campus so I could go there for those incredible croissant. I walked over to bakery which was only three blocks away and got to finally have the time to explore the neighborhood. The University of Paris was right on the border of Left Bank of Paris and was a unique, racially diverse neighborhood that you could see was starting to gentrify. It was a mix of students, middle class families, immigrants and business people all vying for space. I thought it represented what cities all over the world are all about.
Bakery Thevenin at 14 Rue Daguerre had the same selection as their Saint Germain branch
I stopped at Bakery Thevenin at 14 Rue Daguerre and had breakfast. Even though it was a smaller branch of the one we went to on Wednesday, it had the same assortment and was just as mouthwatering. I don’t think that staff had seen an American with an appetite like mine for breakfast. I ordered a mini Quiche Lorraine, a Beignet filled with cream, a Croissant and a large Orange Juice. In my broken French I ordered the whole thing and they warmed the quiche for me. They guy who served it did not speak much English and was floor about how hungry I was that morning. I am like the English and I love a good breakfast.
I ate it outside and got to finally enjoy a quiet breakfast on my own. I sat at the little cafe table they set up outside and watch the neighborhood come to life. What really got to me was that I never had the time to explore the neighborhood because the second I got to Paris, I got off the plane, got to the dorm and it was run, run, run, run and run (see My Walk in Paris-Day Two Hundred and Sixty-Six: https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/32933). It was so nice to just sit and enjoy the moment.
Did I enjoy the breakfast! The croissant here is truly the best in Paris and it was a pleasure to eat them again and not have to stand up. I really dug in. I don’t think a group of French people saw an American eat so much, so fast and really enjoy it. I was in high heaven as I love breakfast so much and this was such good quality and such a great assortment of baked items. The woman who waited on me so how happy I was and she had a smile on her face.
Me digging into breakfast. I was in heaven! Everything was delicious!
After breakfast was over, I got back to my dorm room, checked everyone one more time and checked out of my room. I had the security guard call me a cab and I handed in my key. I thanked him in my broken French and he continued to talk to me in French where I could pick up every third word. I guess he thought I knew more than I did.
My cab driver was an older, well dressed Frenchman who proceeded to grab my heavy luggage and throw it in the back of the taxi with gusto and we were on my way to the airport. This guy must have been doing this for years because he was amazing how we got to the airport so quickly and so professionally. When we arrived at Charles Laguelle Airport, he got me right to the gate and I was on my way. He even added in his own tip (those clever French!).
United Airlines arranged Business Class for the flight to Prague so I got through the airport really quickly and got to the gate. What was nice was we were in our own section and we had this amazing little bakery cafe at the airport where everything in the case looked amazing. I was ready to eat again but I did not want more in my stomach before a flight. I said goodbye to Paris and boarded my flight to Frankfurt, Germany and then onto Prague. We got there in record time and then I had a six hour layover.
The Frankfurt Airport looked brand new and was so well organized. I just had to go two gates over and I was at my gate. I was going to start working but I was now getting hungry again. I am not sure where my appetite was coming from but I think it was from finally relaxing. I did not want any more baked items or sandwiches because I had enough of them in Paris. I passed this small restaurant near my gate and thought everything coming to the tables looked good. I had the time and ate there. It was a great decision because I ate one of the best burgers I ever had in my life since Jeff’s Pirate’s Cove in Guam.
I ate at Goodman & Filippo, which is in Terminal A at the Frankfurt International Airport and I highly recommend it. The food, service and views of the grounds around the airport makes you feel that you are not even in an airport terminal. The whole meal was reasonable and delicious.
The Goodman & Filippo Restaurant in Terminal A is fantastic!
The food and service were great for an airport restaurant and I wish more restaurants were like this at Newark Airport. Everyone was so friendly and professional. I felt like I was in a three star restaurant on the way they treated me, speaking perfect German English ( the German’s speak better English than most Americans) and the meal came really quickly. I had a Bacon Cheeseburger with BBQ sauce, crisps (potato chips) and a tiny but flavorful side salad. I could not believe how good everything was for lunch and the quality of the food.
The Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger at Goodman & Filippo was excellent!
I later told the waiter who cooked everything because the burger was so good and everything including the pastas coming out of the kitchen looked wonderful. He pointed to this older German woman who looked stern and ran a strict kitchen. The kitchen looked immaculate and she looked no-nonsense with the staff. God could she cook! I would visit this airport again just to sample her pasta.
After lunch, I just sat at the terminal until 9:45pm when the flight to Prague was called and I got into Business Class again. This is when I met this jerk from Toronto who by mistake I sat in his window seat. Do you know that he had the gaul to say to me, “Are your in my seat. Do you know your on your way to Prague? Are you sure your in the right section?” I was about to tell the guy off but then I remembered all those videos of people on planes fighting and I just remained calm, acted like the gentleman I am and changed seats. I just said, “I thought I had the window seat” and changed seats without a fuss. When he knew that he didn’t get to me, he proceeded to talk to me the whole flight and would not shut up or stop bragging. I could not wait to land to get away form this jerk!
We got into Prague with no problems and since the airport was not that ibig, we got our luggage pretty quick and I ran as fast I could to the Prague Courtyard Hotel to get away from the jerk. What was nice about the hotel was that it was brand new and it was located between the two terminals.
I walked over the Marriott Courtyard at the Airport for the evening. I could not check into my room at the dorms until the next morning and was lucky that this hotel was located between Terminal I and 2 at the airport. I needed a good night’s sleep after never getting any rest in Paris and never really getting over the jet lag.
I ‘slept like the dead’ that night and woke up completely refreshed knowing that I did not have to be anywhere until later that morning. The cab would not be picking me up until 11:00am and I could sleep in and relax and have some breakfast without rushing around. The breakfast buffet at the hotel was really nice. It had the usual Marriott breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and breads, cereals and yogurt. The thing was that it catered to a more International crowd so there was rice, miso and kimchi and most of the breakfast meats were not the Americanized ones but the European ones.
I relaxed for a bit and then it was time to get to the dorms and settle in. The shuttle service got there on time and we got off to the dorms. I did not know Prague at all in comparison to Paris on what to expect so when we got to the dorms, I was pleasantly surprised. The residence halls were located in an old historic Ham Factory building and that it was part of a complex that included shops, offices and a small cafe, Osada, that was terrific for breakfast. I felt like I landed in a hipster neighborhood.
The NYU Residence Hall is located in an historic Ham Factory building
I got to my room and settled in. The best part was that I had the whole room for myself. The room looked like a small studio with a view of the trees and the outside neighborhood. I swear I could live here it was so nice.
Cafe Osada and the courtyard just outside our residence hall room
The wonderful meals and pastries I would have at Osada for a week. The Cherry Tart was amazing.
Once I settled in I wanted to explore the neighborhood and discovered what a vibrant hipster neighborhood that NYU was located in. We had a great array of restaurants right around the block. We had a fantastic pizzeria, a great Vietnamese restaurant and innovative bakery just around the corner.
Isadore is a hipster pop-up Tapa bar and Coffee Shop
We also had an art gallery, a music bar and several great design shops just a block down. The graffiti art was amazing and I should known when later on our tour guide called this neighborhood the ‘Williamsburg’ of Prague. It did look like a former warehouse industrial district.
The inside of Isadore with its tables and paintings
The artwork was so creative
I talked with the RA for our hall, Eva and she gave me some great recommendations to eat. She recommended the Vietnamese restaurant around the corner for their glass rice noodles. I knew where I was eating that night. I had to get my laundry done, get my paper written and get some journal entries done so there was a lot to do first. That took up most of the afternoon and I was still jet lagged.
Pho C & A at Osadní 642/23, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice
After I finally got all that done, I went for dinner. I tried Pho C & A, the restaurant that Eva suggested for dinner and settled outside for dinner. I had not eaten outside in a Vietnamese restaurant since I was in Vietnam in 2016. The food was excellent.
I had the Spring rolls that were excellent. The were full of ground pork and fresh vegetables and fried perfectly. I ordered for the main dish which was the Chicken Tempura with a curried cream sauce that was different from anything that I had before and was nice with the white rice. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal.
The Spring Rolls were delicious
When I showed the owner my pictures for our social media site, she just laughed and thought it was amusing. I know she did not speak a lot of English but she seemed please by it. He husband was the same way and seemed to get a kick out it.
The Chicken Tempura with the spicy milk sauce was great
After dinner was over, I decided to walk the rest of the neighborhood to get a feel of what was there. There was a lot of great attributes the surrounding neighborhood had to offer. There were small hipster restaurants, tiny art galleries, furniture design stores and wine bars tucked into office buildings.
The vibe inside of Isador
Here and there was street art and commercial art all over the sides of building and signs for musical and art performances during the week. In the parks and cafes, there was a real vibe. This neighborhoods was happening.
The converted fire station to a bar and studio
It was a good sign of more good things to come. It would be an interesting week.
Me leading the Culinary Retail tour with a group shot in front of Lady Liberty in Le Jardin de Luxembourg Park on May 24th, 2023
Well today I lead my tour on the ‘Gourmet Retail Shops and Stores’ in the Saint Germain section of Paris on the Left Bank of the city. This is one of the best and unique shopping areas in Paris with all sorts of quaint and quirky independently owned and operated shops with some of the most innovative concepts that I have seen in a while. I really had to do my homework and learn this neighborhood online as best as I could considering that I had never been to Paris before. It took a lot of time to research these stores and see when they were open. I prayed to God every night that we would have perfect weather for the walking tour and my prayers were answered. It was a gorgeous clear and sunny day and the temperature hovered around 67 degrees. What a day to walk!
We started our day at the Cafe Cercle Luxembourg at 1 Rue Gay Lussac right on the northern section of the Le Jardin de Luxembourg and it had a beautiful view on the park. I had planned something else but was pleasantly surprised by the food and the service. When I asked my professor later on why he chose this place was because “the door was open and we walked inside.” It’s an interesting way to choose a restaurant.
The waiter was not prepared for twelve people to enter the dining room at once considering there was only three small tables in the restaurant but like all the French waiters I met on this trip handled it like a pro. They had an “English Formula” breakfast that consisted of Orange Juice, a Croissant, a Hot Beverage (I chose Hot Chocolate) and two fried eggs with ham. Even though the croissant were slightly better the day before, the breakfast was wonderful and it was a great way to start the tour. The waiter started to kid around with some of the women at the table and it was said by more than one person commented that they liked them speaking English with a French accent.
The inside of Cafe Cercle Luxembourg that morning
the entrance of Cafe Cercle Luxembourg
The start to the perfect “English Breakfast”
The Ham and Eggs were so good that morning
There is nothing like a great breakfast to start the day
After breakfast was over, we walked a few blocks and visited the Pantheon which was right around the corner from the restaurant. This was perfect because most of the stores did not open until 10:30am and it would give us a chance to see more of the city. The Pantheon is located in the center of the “Latin Quarter” of Paris atop the Montagne Sainte-Genevieve in the center of the Place du Pantheon (Wiki/Tour guide).
The Pantheon has originally had been built as a church between 1758 and 1790 and was designed by architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot for King Louis XV of France. The king has hoped to dedicate the church to Saint Genevieve. With the outbreak of the French Revolution, the king did not live long enough to see its completion and over the years it had many uses. It is now used as a mausoleum and religious services. It is also a major tourist attraction (Wiki).
Entering the Pantheon
I was impressed by the architecture and by the statuary all over the building. This was a church that was meant to last the centuries which it has. I wonder if Louis XV ever realized what it’s future would be almost three hundred years in the future. In each of the corners, there are amazing details to the building. Since we had plenty of time, I just walked the entire building and enjoyed it.
The inside of the Pantheon
After we left the building, our professor explained the significance of the building in film as the steps were used in the film “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen when Owen Wilson kept being picked up by the carriage. I had not even thought of that.
The ‘Midnight in Paris’ steps at the Pantheon
Then around the corner was the small park and restaurant used in the TV show “Emily in Paris”. I would not have known that since I have never seen the show. What I love about Paris so much is the small parks tucked into neighborhoods and the tiny restaurants and shops that dot them.
You see this only in certain sections of New York City and like Paris, mostly the older sections. It was such a beautiful little park. Right across from the park where the restaurant is located where her chef boyfriend worked. It really is a great little neighborhood.
“Emily in Paris” Park: Place de L’Estrapade
“Emily in Paris” Restaurant: Ristorante Terra Nera
The “Emily in Paris” trailer-you will see these sites
It was then off to La Jardin du Luxembourg to start my “Culinary Gourmet Stops and Store” with my class. I was really nervous. I knew what I wanted to do and the stores and restaurants that I wanted to visit but my professor wanted me to change the tour and flip it so that we started the tour at the gardens and ended at Bon Marche Department Store instead of starting with Breakfast at Bon Marché’s Gourmet Department. I was scared because I had planned and rehearsed the locations that other day (we would get lost twice).
The entrance to the fountains at Le Jardin du Luxembourg
We started the walk in Le Jardin du Luxembourg, which to has to be the most beautiful park in Paris. It is a place that I would want to meet Audrey Hepburn for a stroll. It had been a former estate and palace that was now one of the most beautiful parks in central Paris.
Situated on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, the Luxembourg Gardens, inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence, were created upon the initiative of Queen Marie de Medici in 1612. The gardens, which cover 25 hectares of land, are split into French gardens and English gardens. Between the two, lies a geometric forest and a large pond (Paris Tourism Office).
I can not tell you how in awe at the beauty I was of this park. It was more gorgeous than the pictures I had seen online. The fountains and the statuary and then of course the beautiful palace that was in the middle of the park. This blew Central Park away in a heartbeat and I still consider it one of the most wonderful parks in the world.
The beauty of the park was seen that morning by the palace in the park
The park had such amazing places to take pictures
The park is where I had originally wanted to end the tour with a picnic lunch from two of the cafes I had researched online. This was now the starting point after the wonderful breakfast and the tour of the Pantheon and the “Emily in Paris” sites. It is great when things work out in the end because it left us plenty of time to relax in the park and take our time taking pictures. Everyone in my class was floored by the beauty of the park as well as I was that morning. The pictures online do not do the park justice.
Our starting point in the park that morning was the Statue of Liberty located at the west side of the park. This statue I found out later on in my research is a copy of the original that has since been moved to a museum because of its age and maintenance but the statue has stood in the park since the original was created back in the late 1800’s.
The copy of the original “Liberty Enlightening the World”
This version of the statue was created for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 by sculptor Frederic Bartholdi of the original “Liberty Enlightening the World”-The Statue of Liberty. It was cast in 1889 and he then donated it to the Musee du Luxembourg. In 1906, the statue was placed outside the museum in the La Jardin du Luxembourg where it stood until 2011. In 2012, it was moved to the entrance hall of the Musee d’Orsay after it’s conservation and the statue we saw is a replica (Wiki).
This is where I wanted our group shot to be but we ended up having it at the beginning of the tour. With everyone in awe of the park and the beautiful weather on my side, I knew it would be a successful tour. I only got us lost twice (my Google Maps went down when my Internet service gave) but isn’t that the fun of a city like Paris? To get lost and see other wonderful things? It worked to my advantage as we were able to spend a bit more time at some stores and pass by others that had not been on the list. I learned a lot from the experience.
Our group shot at the Statue of Liberty in La Jardin du Luxembourg
After we left the park and all our picture taking, we started the door. The first time I took the wrong direction is when we left the park. They were landscaping the exit that I had planned right next to the statue and we had to go out of the southern entrance of the park. This is when we got lost for the first time. Google Maps was working fine and I got us on track immediately. We started the tour on the Rue de Fleurus with stops at Cafe Fleurus and Bread & Roses, two wonderful bakery/cafes right next to the park and two wonderful places to go to lunch.
Because it was so early, Cafe Fleurus was just opening up for a late breakfast/early lunch and we were able to take a peek inside this wonderful little cafe. This was one of the two places that I had suggested for lunch that afternoon for a picnic in the park. The food was highly rated on both TripAdvisor and Google and their pictures online were just amazing. The food looked so good and it was a small but very nice looking restaurant.
The Cafe was just getting really busy with people coming in for a late breakfast when we passed by so it was tough to get inside
The second bakery/cafe we stopped by that morning and my second suggestion for lunch for the original tour was Bread & Roses Cafe, another wonderful cafe just down the block from Cafe Fleurus. This delightful cafe was small also and is more for take out. This was another wonderful choice that had been recommended for planning a picnic in the park. I could see why with all the wonderful choices and the mouth watering pastries on display. There was a lot to choose from.
Bread & Roses Cafe at 7 Rue de Fleurus was also opening up for the day but their bakery section is opened early for takeout. Don’t miss their delicious pastries.
I led a quick tour inside the bakery section of the restaurant where the pastries were on full display. I was going to have the group stop but the bakery was getting really busy and I did not want to bug the staff with the lines that were there. Still it is place that I want to revisit again on my next trip to Paris.
The selection at Bread & Roses Cafe and the lines of people buying their delicious food
The selection at Bread & Roses. I was able to sneak a picture in of their savories in between the crowds.
The delicious bakery products were flying out of the store that morning they were so busy.
Even though we had just eaten breakfast and was still stuffed, I wanted to buy a few things here but I figured I would get back at another time. I will have to wait until that next trip to Paris to sample the delicious treats here. The sandwiches looked wonderful and their selection of beverages would have made the perfect lunch in the park.
We went on to our next and most popular location, Bakery Thévenin Saint Placide at 5 Rue Notre Dame des Champs, a excellent bakery at the corner of an intersection of Rue de Rennes and the Rue Notre Dame des Champs right off the Rue de Fleurs. It was a major intersection of many roads and the subway stop and came highly recommended on Google, TripAdvisor and the “Les Frenchies” videos as the “Best in Paris” for their croissants. I swear, no one was lying about that.
Bakery Thévenin Saint Placide at 5 Rue Notre Dame des Champs
When I talked about Bakery Thevenin Saint Placide (there was another branch closer to campus that I ate at the last day in Paris), I explained to everyone that these were voted the best croissant in Paris and that we had to try them. No one seemed to believe me so I said “If anyone wants to try them they are on me.” That got everyone into the store.
The inside of the Bakery Thevenin
I explained to the sales people at the bakery who we were and that we were NYU students on a Culinary Tour. I explained to the three women that I had read that they were the best croissant in Paris. She replied in perfect American English, “They are the best in the whole city. You have to try them.” I proceeded to buy seven of them for everyone who wanted to try them and then all three women started to talk to me in English about the bakery. The croissant (in both locations) were the best that I had when I was in Paris.
The wonderful selection of baked goods at Bakery Thevenin
Everything else in the case looked amazing as well including all the pastries and the sandwiches. One of the women in my group commented she wished we could have had breakfast there. I agreed and said we probably would have loved it. The staff was so excited that we came to visit.
To any doubters, they were the best croissant I ate in Paris!
From here I got us lost for the second time by walking up the Rue de Rennes instead of the Rue Saint Placide and then we had to double back. It is hard to control a crowd of eleven people some of whom are walking so fast ahead that they are missing most of the talk. Even Blaine did not have these problems even with the changes to his program but he did not have as many stops as I did.
We finally turned around and we walked up the Rue Saint Placide to make our next stop, the wonderful little pastry shop L’Etoile du Berger at 56 Rue Saint Placide. Since I had just filled everyone up with croissant at Bakery Thevenin, I just showed everyone the colorful pastries and the merchandising concepts of the patissiers of Paris. Each one of these unique shops beautifully displayed their products so nicely.
The beautifully displayed desserts at L’Etoile du Berger looked mouthwatering
Our next stop was supposed to be Le Cafe Pierre Herme but we had already had been to the other store the previous day and they were so rude to us, I just skipped it. We had already seen their concept anyway and tried the pastries in the other branch. There was nothing wrong with the pastries but the service. Oh God!
Cafe Pierre Herme Paris at 43 Rue Saint Placide we by passed
I made another wrong turn and we missed La Maison du Mochi, a Asian rice inspired dessert concept but we were beginning to run a bit late and we did not want to double back to the store. Maybe the next time I am in Paris.
La Maison de Mochi at 39 Rue du Cherchi-Midi we missed because we were now on a time budget but their reputation was excellent online.
We continued up the road and stopped next at La Meringaie Cherche-Midi at 41 Rue de Cherchi-Midi and I stopped in to talk to the woman working at the counter. I again spoke in French to her asking her if we could come in and look around.
La Meringaie Cherchi-Midi at 41 Rue de Cherchi-Midi
She only spoke French and let us come in. A couple of people came in to look around and I bought a bag of merianges to take out of the store so that we could sample them. I knew it would be tough on her to help us. She looked like she appreciated the sale.
The merianges were packaged so beautifully and there was a variety to choose from. I got a bag with raspberry crystals on them and passed them out to everyone. The group seemed to enjoy them. We would finish munching on them on the boat ride later that afternoon.
The beautifully arranged candies and treats on the shelves of La Meringaie Cherchi-Midi
Our next stop at the end of the block was Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse, a high end chocolate shop created by famous French chef Alain Ducasse 47 Rue du Cherchi-Midi. This is an extremely tiny store and we were only able to go in a few at a time but the store could not have been nicer and more generous to us.
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse at 47 Rue du Cherchi-Midi
I explained to the woman who was working the counter that we were a group of students from NYU and I had not even finished the sentence when she said in perfect English, “Please have everyone come in and try a sample of the chocolates.” What a nice invitation from her and everyone in the group stopped inside and she gave each person a sample cube of the chocolate, which was very generous of the store since one piece is so expensive. They have me as a customer now.
The beautiful display of product at Alain Ducasse
The mild chocolate sample that I tasted was smooth tasting and was delicious. Since everyone got a taste and more people walked in the door after us, she got busy with them and I decided to head to the next store. Still I was able to look over their displays and they treat their product like a jewel in a jewelry shop. With such care and refinement.
The wonderful products at the chocolate shop
After everyone left the store very content after the light snack, we walked to the next store Mille & Un to look at their beautiful displays.
My classmate, Blaine in front of Millet & Un at 32 Rue Saint Placide
the wonderful sandwiches and quiches at Mille & Un
The bakery products like the other stores in the area were very impressive and I could see by this point in the morning, my classmates were getting hungry for more than samples and stopped in to get some baked goods. When I walked in, I was really impressed by the selection of baked goods and the way the products were displayed. I had to hurry everyone along as we had to head to the next store. Everyone was walking out with bags of pastries when we visited the next spot.
The delicious baked goods at Mille & Un
Our next store just down the block was Fruitti by MO and had another wonderful visit. This one was rather strange and proved to me that the Parisians like to test you. I stopped in and the talked to the woman behind the counter. I explained to her in my broken French that I was leading a group of students from NYU on a Culinary Walking Tour and could we come into her shop for a visit. She explained that she did not speak much English and I in return explained the same thing but with French and continued to talk in French.
The fun little dessert shop Fruttini by MO at 24 Rue de Saint Placide
I asked people if they wanted to try a dessert on me and that I wanted to treat who ever wanted to try something for a snack. That in turn had the whole conversation in English from then on. She really tested me but she and her partner were the highlight of the visit. One of the owners who pretended to give me a hard time Marie-Laure Pollet and her partner in the business, Olivia Berdah could not have been nicer to everyone and joined us for dessert and pictures.
Owner Marie-Laure Pollet talking to our class and taking our orders for dessert
The beautiful display of fruit and ices at Frutti by MO
We sampled the Passion Fruit ice, the Banana ice and the Strawberry Fruit ice and they were very cleverly scooped out of the fruit, mixed with the ingredients and then put back very carefully in the fruit shell and frozen and then put on display. It was very different from desserts that I had seen before. The quality and the amount of time these ladies put into their product is just amazing. The displays were so unique.
Where the magic happens at Fruttini by MO
Two of my classmates with co-owner Olivia Berdah after having the Banana Ice dessert
My professor and classmate Blaine sampling the delicious desserts
The owners Marie-Laure Pollet and Olivia Berdah could not have been nicer to us and more generous with their time. They were both the highlight of the tour and I could not have been more appreciate of their kindness.
We had such a great visit with the owners of the store!
After the great visit and enjoying our wonderful desserts with the owners of the store, it was time to go to the last two stores. Our next stop up the block was Maison Paries at 9 Rue Saint Placide and I knew at this point, I was starting to lose the class as they were tiring of seeing so many bakery and pastry shops and wanted to head off to their lunches and take a break.
So we made a quick visit of it and looked at the displays of the store. No one was in the front of the store to talk to so we just popped our heads in the store and went to the last store before we got to The Bon Marche.
The selection of candies at the store
The selection of baked goods at Maison Paries
The wonderful chocolates at Maison Paries
We were beginning to run low on time before we got to The Bon Marche for our tour of the Gourmet Department so we had to bypass our last stop, a wonderful little chocolate shop Les Chocolats Yves Thuriès at 3 Rue Saint Placide.
Our last stop on the walking tour and one of my favorites that I had wanted to see for a long time was The Bon Marche, one of France’s leading department stores and home to one of the best gourmet grocery departments in the industry. La Grande Épicerie de Paris is the food hall at Bon Marche and was specially built to house the all the delicious foods and drinks in the department and on the upper floors all the houseware and decorative items of the store to complete your gourmet kitchen.
This is where I ended the tour for the afternoon. The store was crazy with customers as lunch hour in Paris was in full swing and everyone was coming into the store to buy their lunch for takeout.
I just concentrated on the very front of the store and told my group of the history of the store and how the department store built this particular section of the store because the department had outgrown its original department in the main store. We just walked around the entrance and the bakery and part of the grocery department because I had seen that everyone had had enough of the bakeries, dessert places and chocolate shops and wanted to get on with their lunch as well. I told everyone that this was a wonderful place to eat and they were now on their own for an hour before our boat ride. Everyone scattered to do what they wanted. I went into the store to explore the department more and have my lunch. What an amazing store!
The Bon Marche is nothing like its American counterparts, who got rid of the gourmet departments back in the early 1990’s during the recession. Macy’s and Bloomingdales led the way with their departments starting in the early 1970’s when both stores were renovated and Dayton-Hudson and Marshall Fields also once upon a time had wonderful departments as well. All of this ended in the 1990-1995 recession which between the buyout of American Department Stores by Campeau and the money crunch, the stores closed down departments with marginal profits.
At European stores like Bon Marche, it is part of the culture. This is part of the city grocery shopping experience. This department is not all gourmet foods but fancy grocery items that can be used in everyday cooking. It is a place you can shop for the weeks groceries but you would have to spend a bit more plus it is great for the tourist. Once department was more picturesque than the other.
The Bon Marche Petit Cafe where we ended the tour is perfect for coffee
The Bon Marche Prepared Foods Department where I started to look around for lunch options
The Bon Marche Fruit and Vegetable Department is colorful and well-organized
The Bon Marche Meat Department has its own butchers working cutting the meat in front of you
The Bon Marche Grocery Department
The Pasta Department at Bon Marche is extensive
The Deli Department at Bon Marche where you can get sandwiches
The Bakery Department where I eyed lunch
The Bon Marche Bread Department
The other Prepared Foods Department
The Bon Marche Cheese Department
Buying my lunch at La Cuisine was a tough choice
I had seen Anton Dupont eating the Croque Monsieur in the “Les Frenchies” video and I had to have that for lunch. They also warmed it up for me as well.
“Les Frenchies” Best Sandwiches in the winter-My inspiration for the stop
I went to the Bon Marche Bakery Department for dessert
I wanted the St. Honore dessert but the woman took so long to come over and help that I ran out of time. She insisted that I order it at the Cafe next door and I did not have time for it. Well for the next trip.
After lunch was over, I met the others for the boat ride on the Seine River. I finally decompressed after lunch was over as my tour was finished. I thought that everyone had a nice time and we had a good experience. We walked a lot of neighborhoods and visited a lot of stores and met many great people. We also sampled a lot of good food. I was just surprised that more people did not eat at Bon Marche. Their loss!
We walked around the Saint Germaine section of the city to meet up with everyone else who were eating a small bistro a few blocks away. I could not understand why they would spend that much money on lunch.
We met everyone else at Les Deux Magots who were finishing lunch
After we met everyone else, we walked to the boat ride on the Seine River. I like everyone else was exhausted at this point with getting up every morning and running around. I was coming down from a big high and I was just wiped out.
The Seine River sightseeing cruise down and around the city. We all were ready to fall asleep
Literally we were all blacking out on the cruise. I could see everyone nodding off. I knew I almost fell asleep a few times. If we were all not so nervous about pickpockets, we would have fallen asleep. Either that or had there been chairs, the whole group would have dozed off and missed all the sites we had seen on land. Still, it is an experience to see all of this from the river.
The Seine River is really beautiful
After we got off the cruise, it was time to start the other group’s tour of the Cafes. I have to admit it was not much of a tour. It consisted of them getting a reservation at a restaurant and confirming it. We walked around the Seine River again and passed the Eiffel Tower where we took more pictures.
Me after my tour, lunch and the river cruise. I was less stressed and could enjoy the rest of my trip.
We toured around the Right Bank for the rest of the afternoon and then prepared for dinner which I was not that hungry. We just kept eating. Dinner that night was at a classic French Bistro, Bofinger which was at 7 Rue de la Bastille and had been around since the late 1800’s.
There seemed to be a bit of confusion on the reservation and we ended up having a large table upstairs. Our captain was terrific and spoke great English.
The restaurant starts the meal not with bread but with pretzels that shows it German roots
They had a wonderful Prix Fixe menu and I decided to have the Fish & Chips, which seems to be a big bistro item and I started my meal with Escargots, which I had not had in years and they were excellent. They were loaded with garlic and pesto inside and as the sauce.
The Escargot at Bofinger was excellent
Thank God there was plenty of bread to soak that up. The fish and chips were perfectly cooked and came with a large side of French Fries. For dessert, I had the Floating Islands, which are Meringues in a Vanilla sauce. Some of my counterparts did not get them and didn’t want to eat them. I thought they were good.
The whole meal was wonderful and we had such a good time. The Captain and the back waiters did a good job at our table and the restaurant was not kidding when they said it would fill up. The place was packed by 8:30pm. The Parisians really do eat late in the evening. The restaurant was still going strong when we left at 9:00pm.
I collapsed when we got back to the dorms. It was a long day but a productive one. I could not believe the weather had cooperated so well and we had such a good tour. I was proud of the fact that I led a tour of a city I did not know where I did not know where I was going and it worked out so well. Later when we had the class wrap up at the end of the week, everyone in my class told me how much they enjoyed it and with all the sampling of the items we tried. People were still talking about the desserts at Frutti by MO and the croissants at Bakery Thevenin. I thought they were amazing too.
I still did not get over the jet lag from the first day in Paris but I was feeling a bit better. The good night’s sleep was really helpful. We got off to an early start this morning as we would be traveling all over Paris for one of the student’s walking tour. He really had us in many different sections of the city.
We started the morning in the Maubert Mutualite of the Quarter Latin on the left bank. When we got off the Metro station, we were faced with the ruins of Notre Dame Church, which is still under reconstruction from the fire several years ago. Construction workers were all around the church that morning but we were still able to get a good view of the church.
Notre Dame Church on 6 Parvi Notre Dame Place in Paris
The church stood quiet while it was being repaired but there was still lot activity around the church as the day started and people arrived for work. It was a rather gloomy Tuesday morning and since it was still around 8:30am, no one was really out and about in the neighborhood but us.
We crossed over the bridge to Square Renée Viviani and took pictures in the quiet but beautiful little park. There were a lot of these tiny pocket parks all over Paris and it is fun to just sit and relax when you are tired of walking. These tiny parks have all the classic makings of a French park, tiny benches, colorful plantings and statues.
The Square Rene Viviani near Shakespeare & Company Cafe and Bookstore
We walked through the park to Shakespeare & Company bookstore where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out when he was in Paris. This was not the original spot but one of their store’s in Paris. This is a very well known tourist attraction.
The second Shakespeare & Company bookstore at 37 Rue de la Bucherie
We took another group shot in front of Shakespeare & Company
We made our way to the end of the block and had breakfast at Cafe Panis Paris, which was a cute little cafe/bistro just off the square and looked like the classic French restaurant that you see in the movies with the banquettes, the wooden brass fixtures and our waiter, who could not have been nicer and spoke English in that beautiful English French accent that Americans find so charming and welcoming. He could not have been nicer and more accommodating to us since we showed up thirty minutes early. He had it all under control and knew how to read the table.
The baked goods that came to the table were excellent! The buttery croissant and the crusty and crunchy baguettes with jam and butter were delicious and we devoured two baskets of these delicious treats. The hot chocolate was amazing in that the cups were filled with melted chocolate and then served with hot frothy milk and a cookie.
The wonderful croissant basket
They melted the chocolate for the Hot Chocolate
With a pitcher of hot frothy milk created heaven in a bowl
It was when the waiter offered to get us omelets that things turned in the food. The omelets were cleverly folded in such a way that you could not see that they were chard on the inside. On the outside they were a little too caramelized but on the inside four of the omelets were burned. I could not believe a chef would serve these to a customer (we did not complain so it was our fault. It tasted good but with a burnt flavor). I was disappointed when we left. I will remember this meal (See review on TripAdvisor).
My breakfast at Cafe Panis Paris
Take a closer look at the burnt edges and the over-caramelized top. Not a good attempt on an omelet.
Our next stop was on the tour was to Cafe Pierre Herme on the Rue de Saint Germain. What a beautiful store. The pastries are treated like jewels. I wish I could say the same about the customers. Our group ordered our pastries and were sitting down while the others finished their orders. This jerk of a salesperson (or he could have been a manager, we did not know) ordered me to stop taking pictures in the store. He then proceeded to tell us to stop sitting down because we did not but our pastries to stay. We just left and this left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. We talked about that for the rest of the trip.
The Raspberry Brioche was delicious (second to the left)
If you see this jerk in the Cafe, go to someone else. You don’t need his attitude problem.
When we left the store, we had about an hour on our own time and I was finally allowed some time to explore the neighborhood. I wanted some me time to visit the stores, explore the streets and visit the open air market that I had passed down the road. That was a lot of fun. The market sold all sorts of items like gourmet foods, clothing, hand carved products and gifts. I ended up buying my mother some jelly spreads from a vendor whose product was just excellent. I ended up buying a few of the smaller jars and had to hike them home through five countries.
The open market on the Rue du Saint Germain on a Tuesday
The open air markets are all over Paris on certain days and I was able to visit two of them on the hour and a half break that we had to walk around the neighborhood. I had been watching so many of those “Les Frenchie’s” videos that I knew where they all were and what time they ran. There really was all sorts of things that you could buy at them. One lady I watched open up asked me to sample these delicious honey/jelly spreads and I have to admit they were delicious. I ended up buying some small jars for my mother as a late Mother’s Day gift.
There was all sorts of delicious things to buy as well such as hot waffles, crepes, ice cream and pastries. I was really beginning to love Paris. Being in a place that took pastry and sweets so seriously was my type of place. I love how food was treated so differently than in the United States.
The market was starting to get busy when we arrived. With the Sorbonne close by I saw a lot of students.
The Candy Stall
Fresh Waffles and Crepes
After I walked around the markets and viewed all the vendors and had my purchase, I started to walk around the side streets looking at all the little stores and restaurants. These little streets had an array of hotels, cafes and shops one nicer than the other in all these older buildings. I wish I had more time to spend here.
Walking around the Latin Quarter
There were lots of little cafes all over the neighborhood
The wonderful little streets to walk around on
One of the tiny hotels in the Latin Quarter Hotel Mont-Blanc
Another market by the Fountain Saint Michel at Place de Saint Michel
The Fountain Saint Michel in Place Saint Michel is a beautiful statue
The tiny shops and restaurants around the square in the Latin Quarter
I would have loved to explore the Latin Quarter more and walk its tiny streets to discover its secrets but it was time to leave for lunch. I swear that I had no appetite after the burned omelet. It did not give me much faith. We had to take the bus to the other side of the city because we were going to eat at an extremely famous restaurant, La Grande Cascade that was located in Bois de Boulogne, right near the real cascade waterfall.
Le Grande Cascade in the film “Belle de Jour”
It was an experience because we were running and there was an accident that blocked the route that the bus needed to take to get to the restaurant and Blaine, who was running the tour that day, started to panic and called the restaurant to tell them we would be late. I was not too sure what to expect at that point. We finally arrived at the restaurant and the whole patio area was closed at the time. We walked into this really elegant dining room where everyone was in suits and so beautifully dressed. I felt like one of my students when they would not follow dress code and failed the group project. This was a first class Michelin restaurant and it was the first time in a long time that I felt out of place.
As we walked through the door, I felt like a fish out of water in my polo and khakis. At least I had not worn shorts. Even the staff was completely dressed up in suits. I had not seen a dining room like this since I took my father to “21” for Father’s Day in New York City. Still it would be an experience to eat here. I had not realised what a famous restaurant this was in Paris.
The gardens in front of The Grand Cascade Restaurant
Entering the dining room at The Grande Cascade Restaurant feeling really under-dressed
It was quite the exchange between our professor and the captain of the restaurant and we never really knew what they said to one another until further in the week. I found out later on he thought we were coming in to try the $200 Euro Tasting Menu (that is everyone one of us). That would have blown the whole budget and somehow they settled in the $70 Euro Tasting menu. I did not ask many questions and just looked at the menu.
Honestly I had no appetite for lunch after the burned omelet but figured that I could handle a little something for lunch and ordered the macaroni. I was not sure what to expect with this meal but it was one of the best we had in Paris. We had one delicious course after another. I had not enjoyed a meal like this in a long time. What I liked was it was served “French” style where all the plates were placed down at once by the servers and they worked as a Team to get the job done. The food was just amazing and our group was extremely impressed by the cuisine, dishes and the service. The staff really came through for us and as a group of students on a Culinary Tour were floored by the experience.
Our first course: The Amuse-Bouche “The Gift from the Chef” concasse in a shell and a tiny Croque Monsieur
The freshly baked Brioche
The freshly baked Baguette
Macaroni with black truffle, foie gras, celery, and a parmesan gratin
This was a special dessert of a Twill Cookie filled with sauteed Pineapple and served with fresh Pineapple/Coconut Ice Cream with a Coconut Sauce
The tiny cream puffs were served to each table as a gift from the Manager of Le Grande Cascade. I thought this was a nice touch.
When we were done, we gave a very welcoming goodbye to the staff there. We really appreciated the hospitality of the restaurant and how they came through for us. I never really knew what the student who arranged this lunch promised but we had one excellent experience in the end. I won’t forget their generosity and gave them an excellent review on TripAdvisor.
Our Class at le Grande Cascade in Paris
After lunch was over, we took a tour of the Right Bank where I swear we must have covered five miles. I had no problem with the trip but I was still fighting jet lag so it was a little tough at times.
Our first part of the tour was walking through the Bois du Boulogne, the former hunting grounds that is now a park. I swear I thought we were getting lost in the woods. For a park that was going wild, it was really beautiful. Even the weeds in the park looked really nice. I was amazed at the colors. Even the French do this correctly.
This picture does not do the weeds justice as they were tiny blue, purple and white flowers on a bed of green.
Our next stop was the Musee Marmottan Monet at 2 Rue du louis Boilly just outside the park. This tiny museum had once been a private home and now housed a collection of Monet paintings that were donationed by the artist’s son upon his death.
While we got to tour the whole house which was decorated in early Victorian decor and early 1800’s furniture, the star of the this museum was the collection of floral and water lily paintings that Daniel Monet donated. I had not seen some of these paintings since the big “Monet” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The elegant furnishings of the Musee Marmottan Monet at 2 Rue Louis Boilly
Most of us toured the whole house and then spent more time in the Monet section of the museum. As usual, they had to drag me out last because I was enjoying seeing the paintings so much. The paintings were so beautiful and talk about vibrant colors. I could not believe that Monet had problems selling these wonderful pieces of art.
The Water Lily painting that I saw at the MoMA
The Monet floral paintings
The Monet Floral Paintings
After we left the museum, we proceeded to walk through the 16th District of the city down the Boulevard Beausejour. Here we explored the neighborhood, walking down small side streets, visiting grocery stores for water and snacks, peeking in shops and looking at the amazing architecture of buildings, windows and doorways.
A grocery store on the Right Bank everything was displayed so beautifully
There is much to see when you stop for a moment and look at it. I see this all the time when I walk in Manhattan.
I thought this was the most perfect door
Walking through the neighborhood past the Jardin du Ranelagh and watched little French children running around playing tag and what looked like ‘Stop Light’ while the parents talked amongst themselves.
A beautiful townhouse on the Right Bank
They did not hover over their children like American parents do today. It reminded me of when I was growing up where parents did their thing while we did ours.
The little French cat we saw in the restaurant window
We walked down the Boulevard Delessert and explored some of the side streets as we passed by on our walk to the Eiffel Tower. I loved all these little side streets with their tiny food stores with their equally tiny baskets of strawberries and tomatoes, restaurants with residents sipping coffee and eating crepes and homes with small gardens and arches with faces. It was my kind of neighborhood.
I snapped this as we were walking through the Right Bank
We walked to the foot of the Jardins de Trocadero and saw the Eiffel Tower in full view. That was truly amazing. I had only seen pictures of it but to see it up close. The books and the Internet do not do it justice.
The area was loaded with tourists and picture takers and you had to kind of maneuver your way around the site. Still it was a pretty amazing site to see. It is like when I pass the Statue of Liberty on a boat ride. You know it’s there and very touristy but you are still in awe of it. The lines to get in were not as bad as everyone said they would be and we could have gone up to the top. It was not high on priority list but it would have been fun.
I got my ‘tourist’ shot in before we left to take the rest of the tour
I had to get my picture in with the Eiffel Tower so I did my own share of snapping pictures. It still is an impressive monument and it is surprising how jaded Parisians were when it was constructed how much many thought it was a joke. It has become a symbol of the city and of the country. Its funny how the attitude to things change and morph over the years.
After this, everyone had time for themselves before dinner that evening. Blaine and a few of the others ran off to do their thing and I went with the professor and a couple of my classmates to the Four Seasons George V for a tour of the hotel. I have never been floored by a hotel before and I have stayed in five star hotels all over the world. This was another version of true luxury.
On our way to the George V, we walked up the Avenue de New York and I thought this was pretty clever. A little piece of home away from home.
The sign for Avenue de New York
I saw this beautiful doorway just at the beginning of our tour on the Avenue de New York
A little symbol of home by the Avenue de New York by the Seine River
We got to the Four Seasons George V and again I felt a little out of my element being so under-dressed. I thought khakis and topsiders would be a nice outfit as I was not sure what we would be seeing that afternoon but everything we did, visited and ate at were all first class and I looked a college senior out on a tour. If I had known the significance of the places we went to that afternoon, I would have dressed up a bit more.
The Four Seasons George V I had only seen in the movies and heard about from my older brother who had stayed there many times when visiting Paris. Talk about a palace of luxury. The hotel exceeded every expectation that I thought it would be. Talk about security all over the place. There were guys in ear pieces that looked like retired police officers at each entrance and of course the hotel picked the best looking ones.
Everyone working at the hotel was so well groomed and well dressed and many so young. The only people I saw closer to my age were a few of the security guards and waiters and there were not even many of them as well. I got the impression that the entire staff was hired by their look and their age. I felt like the hotel was ‘window dressing’ their staff. This was nothing like the staffs I worked with at Holiday Inn, Prince Hotels or the Hyatt Regency over the years.
Our tour guide in Guest Relations was this beautiful, young Italian woman who did her Internship at the hotel and had moved up the ladder in about three years. I was amazed on how quick they got promoted at the hotels in Paris but then I remembered the stress I dealt with at Hyatt and people moved around a lot in management. She took us on a tour of the lobby, where the hotel must have spent a small fortune on flowers alone to decorate the place.
The lobby of the Four Seasons George V that afternoon
The three restaurants in off the lobby were all Michelin rated with one to three stars. The commitment that the hotel takes to quality and service are what makes it such a special place to stay and dine at for the afternoon and evening. Although we only saw the first floor on this impromptu visit, that was more than enough to satisfy me. I could never take my eyes off her.
Taking a group shot at the Four Seasons George V at 31 Avenue George V
Our last part of the tour of that day before we left for dinner was walking up the Avenue George V to the Avenue des Champs-Elysees to the L’Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile at the circle of the Boulevard at Place de Charles LaGualle. Now this was an impressive visit. I remember my father talking about this when he came to Paris several times on business.
He would talk about Christmas in Paris with all the white lights looking down the Champs-Elysees and the pictures of the Nazi tanks rolling down it but to see it up close, was a site to see. It is about ten times bigger than the Arch at Washington Square Park which one of my classmates commented on. Talk about in awe.
L’Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile at the circle of the Boulevard at Place de Charles LaGualle
The details on the Arc are just beautiful. You really have to walk around and underneath it to appreciate it.
We had just enough time to walk around and underneath the monument. You can see the detail work best this way and I would not wait in line for tickets when you can see it from any angle on your own. I looked down the Champs-Elysees and really thought about those tanks going down it during WWII. Parisians must have been scared out of their minds.
Me in front of the L’Arc de Triomphe before we left for dinner that evening
I was in awe of the surroundings and kept wanting to pinch myself as I could not believe I was actually here. It still never registered with me on my second night in Paris.
Dinner that evening was at Le Fouquet’s, a film industry hangout at 91 Avenue des Champs Elysees. This is the industry equivalent of “21”, “Sardi’s and “The Russian Tea Room” in New York. This was part of the film tour because Blaine wanted to show us what film industry places were like and why they were so important. I think he secretly wanted to go there because he thought there would be someone important he could talk to or meet. I was just impressed that we got the front table by the door as ordinarily this is the table you want to be in so that people could see you when they walked in.
At this point of the day, I was not hungry at all. We had a big breakfast, a big lunch and now a big dinner. Since it was after 7:00pm, ordering a simple sandwich was not possible and I do not like onion soup. So I decided on a Cheeseburger and Frites. Now I have to admit that I do not come to places like this for dinner for a burger but I was at dinner and had to eat something.
God, it was one of the best Cheeseburgers I had eaten in a long time. The meat was so flavorful and juicy and the French Fries were cooked perfectly. Now I know why people order the burger at “21” all the time. It was wonderful and the service that night was flawless. I guess they get a lot of tourists ordering these cheeseburgers.
The Cheeseburger with Frites at La Fouquet’s is worth the money
After dinner our group just walked around a bit before heading back to the NYU dorms while a small group stayed behind to wait for the rest of their meals. I was not too sure what to expect from Blaine’s tour for “Food in Film” since so many changes had to be made but in the end I think he did a good job. We ate at some high quality restaurants, got to see a wonderful museum and did a lot of people watching while toured some of the most luxurious locations in Paris.
I am not going to lie to you. Jeg lag is a serious thing when you arrive in a location.
I was taking a course in “Culinary Tourism-How the Culinary Arts play a role in Tourism” for a week in Paris and it was like planning on going to the moon! I have never planned for a trip or watched to many videos to prepare for a trip. I watched every “Les Frenchie’s” YouTube video at least four times before I left and became an expert on getting back and forth from the airport. That and how to maneuver around the subway system.
We all had to arrive on our own time, so we were coming from each direction and arrived at different times of the day. I got in early in the morning on May 21st and then got to Charles LeGault Airport and then had to clear customs when I was half dead from no sleep on a six-hour flight. Actually, I felt pretty good until I stood in line for forty-five minutes and that’s when it hit me. I got a personality minus cab driver at the airport who did not say a word to me and just dropped me off at the University of Paris and then left (mine with me).
When I arrived, I thought we had to stop by security and these three French security guards at the college looked at me like I had just arrived from a foreign planet. One of them actually followed me to my dorm to be ‘sure I got there’. I must have looked strange with all my luggage, totally Jeg lagged and tired lugging those bags. At least check in to my dorm was seamless and I was able to get to my room and relax for a bit.
After I settled in and took a nap and a shower (the two things my father always said to do when you arrive at a destination to acclimate yourself to the time zone), we met for what was supposed to be a short walking tour of campus. It ended up my professor decided that we would take a tour of the Montmartre and we toured the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre and the Square Louise Michel. For dinner, he had tried this restaurant in a very touristy area around the church named Au Clarion des Chasseurs for a light dinner. He had been there many times and wanted us to try it. Thank God I took that nap!
We stopped at the Anvers subway stop and walked up to the square to visit the church. I thought I had arrived at a French version of 42nd Street with all the tee shirt shops and tiny little tourist restaurants. These streets were totally geared to foreign tourists with the “I love Paris” tee shirts, the vendors selling small souvenirs and water and the bracelet vendors who chased after you to put those stupid bracelets on you. I had seen enough videos online where I was watching for them and the scammer cabbies.
We started our walk up the hill at the Square Louise Michel, which was in full bloom in the late Spring. The park was packed with tourists and locals taking pictures, riding the merry go round and buying food. That late in the afternoon people were out and about enjoying the warm day.
The Basilique du Sacre-Coeur du Montmartre and the Sqaure Louis Michel in the front
While the rest of my class took the tram up, I climbed the stairs passing dozens of tourists snapping shots of the church and the vendors who would not stop bugging me to buy things. It was interesting to see the French police walking around with machine guns and these guys running away quickly. I do not see this in Manhattan.
Walking up the Rue du Steinkerque past the touristy spots
One of the tiny restaurants on the Rue du Steinkerque that I admired.
The flowers and the lawn of the Square Louise Michel was so beautiful. All the flowers were in bloom at the same time (Paris seems to be a bit behind New York with the season) and people were out picnicking and talking on the lawn while enjoying the beautiful sunny day.
Each set of stairs led to another level of the gardens and with each I got to set beautiful beds of flowers showing off their blossoms and the beautifully landscaped tiers of the gardens.
The gardens and lawns of the Square Louise Michel
The view from the top of the stairs by the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur was spectacular. You could see an amazing view of the city from this spot and really soak in how big Paris and its surrounding suburbs are in the borders of the city.
The views from the top of the stairs at Square Louise Michel are spectacular.
The fountains below the Basilique were beautiful and reminded me of some of the fountains in New York City that were created by Italian stone crafters during the late 1880’s. The stonework and the carvings were beautiful, and I took the time to admire them as I continued to walk up the steps.
The fountain at the Square Louise Michel
We walked through the Basilique du Sacre-Couer with its quiet elegance and many different dedications to the saints around the exterior of the pews. The church was a nice place to relax and contemplate a thought. People were inside praying, relaxing and taking tons of pictures which, we were asked not to take but everyone does it anyway. The is the power of cellphones today.
The Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montremarte at the top of the stairs
The detail work at the top of the church from below
I took my time and walked around the church, admiring the displays to the saints and relaxing myself in the pews. I was exhausted from the trip and could not believe that I was taking this tour when I was still jet lagged. Still, I carried on and figured that we would only be in Paris for five days and I wanted to see as much of the city as I could for this trip.
We walked around the church complex on the Rue du Mont Cenis and then down the Rue Norvins to a little restaurant cafe that my professor had been to many times. I thought it looked a little touristy, but the food and the service were wonderful, and we sat outside on this warm sunny night and the three of us with our professor enjoyed dinner and people watching.
Rue Novins with La Boheme Montremarte in the background in the Place du Tertre across from our restaurant
Another view of the Place du Tertre with the musicians in the background and the La Boheme Cafe to the right.
Since we were on a Culinary Tourism tour of the city for class, I kept snapping pictures of all the food, the service, the people and restaurant. I have really turned into one of those pictures obsessed tourists with a cell phone. I just could not believe how beautiful Paris is and how I underrated it in comparison to New York City. It is just as spectacular but in a different way. It is just older city but with just as many wonderful things to see and do.
We relaxed at the Au Clarion des Chasseurs Cafe and sat outside. It was fun to watch all the people walking by who seemed just as excited to be in Paris as we were that evening. It was a warm sunny evening and the perfect time to eat outside. I like the cafe culture of Paris where people take time to relax and enjoy their food and not seem rushed or have to be somewhere. I needed to sit because I could really feel the traveling catching up to me.
Our waitress spoke perfect English with a French accent and I could tell she was used to American tourists. We kept dinner light. My professor ordered for us, and we decided on a Meat & Cheese tray and a Salmon Pizza. I thought the food would be just okay in a spot like this, but the meal was wonderful, and it was just enough where I did not have a big meal in me before going to bed.
My professor with my classmates at dinner at Au Clarion des Chasseurs on the Rue Novins
The Place du Tertre was said to be a big artist hangout, but I mostly saw tourists walking by with cameras, people eating ice cream and crepes and typical French music being played by accordions as if on cue from a movie. I loved every minute of it. I am not as jaded as I thought I was and soaked it all in. It was just a place for people to gather and have a wonderful time and that’s what dinner was, just getting to know one another and the reasons why we took this class. Also to enjoy a good meal with people sharing an experience.
Our ‘light’ dinner of a Meat & Cheese tray stacked with different meats, cheese and pates and a Salmon Pizza with poached Salmon on top and the wonderful French bread.
The pizza that evening
The Salmon Pizza
Our Meat & Cheese tray which was more than enough food.
The wonderful French baguettes that our table seemed to inhale at dinner.
My meal I really enjoyed.
Part of my dinner: the wonderful Salmon Pizza and the Pate on the Baguette
After a wonderful relaxing dinner, we made our way back to the college for an early evening. I could feel the trip across the Atlantic Ocean catching up to me. After dodging an evening of pickpockets, wristband workers and vendors selling everything under the sun, it was time to go back to the room and just relax. Trying to go to bed was tough.
Just like at home, my window was right next to a highway so I get to hear traffic, ambulances and police cars and people walking around campus all night. Who says that home does not follow you around the world. It really dawned on me as I was walking down the steps at the Square Louise Michel.
One of the nicest events we have as members of the Cornell Club is the walking tours that the club offers during the year. It really does give you an interesting perspective of New York City. I have toured the historic bars and saloons of Lower Manhattan, walked through historic Midtown Manhattan for a Victorian Christmas through the Ladies Shopping Mile, walked through the haunted historic sites of lower Manhattan and toured Chinatown through some of its oldest buildings and then lunch at a local restaurant. I even got to sit next to the gentleman who helped the President of Bloomingdale’s organize the big “China at Bloomingdales” exhibition. Now that was interesting.
The latest tour I went on was the “Secrets of Grand Central Station” tour on a recent Saturday. A group of about 25 of us met at the club to tour Grand Central Station and learn about various points of the history of the building. The tour guide was over an hour late so everyone on the tour got to know one another before we left the club.
When the tour guide arrived, we took the two block walk to the club and started at the staircases as you enter the building at Vanderbilt Avenue.
The Grand Central Terminal is right around the corner from the club
The terminal was not that busy that Saturday morning and we were still able to walk around with no problems. We started the tour at the top of the stairs leading into the Great Hall of Grand Central Station. We were able to admire the room from a distance and all the activity that train travel brings.
As the tour guide explained, Grand Central Terminal was meant to impress a visitor when they arrived into New York City from wherever they were traveling from. You entered the room to see the elegance and vibrancy of Manhattan.
Though splendid in its day, the original Grand Central Depot of 1871 had become a 19th century relic struggling to meet the demands of a 20th century city. Its 30-year-old rail tunnels couldn’t handle the steadily increasing traffic. The building lacked modern conveniences and signaling technology, as well as the infrastructure for electric rail lines. And having been designed for three independent railroad companies—with three separate waiting rooms—the terminal was badly outdated, crowded, and inefficient.
On top of that, the old station no longer reflected its surroundings. In 1870, 42nd Street was still a relative backwater. By 1910, it was the vibrant heart of a dynamic, ambitious, and swiftly growing New York City (Grand Central Terminal History).
The new Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903-13 and opened in 1913. This beautiful rail station was designed New York Central Vice-President William J. Wilgus and the interiors and some exteriors by architects Reed & Stem and Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux Arts design. The exterior façade of building including the famous “Glory of Commerce” were designed by French artists and architects Jules Felix Coutan, Sylvain Salieres and Paul Cesar Helleu (Wiki).
Grand Central Terminal Great Hall
The architects brought in Parisian artist Sylvain Saliéres to craft bronze and stone carvings, including ornamental inscriptions, decorative flourishes, and sculpted oak leaves and acorns (symbols of the Vanderbilt family.) Playful carved acorns festoon the Main Waiting Room’s chandeliers. The architects specified Tennessee marble for the floors, Botticino marble for wall trim, and imitation Caen stone for the walls (History of Grand Central).
The Great Hall of Grand Central Terminal right before COVID 2020
The view of the Great Hall from the stairs at the Vanderbilt entrance
The Landmarks Preservation Commission protected Grand Central from demolition, but the dilapidated terminal was still ailing. Restoring its former glory required an owner that recognized the station’s beauty and potential, craftsmen able to renovate its battered décor, and strong public support. It also required money. In 1982, Metro-North took over the terminal—now primarily a commuter hub—and launched a four-year, $12 million repair program that stopped further deterioration but didn’t erase decades of decay (Grand Central Terminal History).
In 1990, Metro-North announced ambitious plans to restore the station’s structural, architectural, and decorative glory. Peter E. Stangl, Metro-North’s first president and later Chairman of the MTA, led these efforts. Metro-North’s vision went far beyond simply refurbishing the building. Its master plan reimagined Grand Central as a vibrant shopping and dining destination, reclaiming its role as New York’s town square (Grand Central Terminal History).
The windows and the ceilings of the Great Hall
All the art on the window arches is dedicated to travel. The friezes were dedicated to travel, motion and speed. The theme of the sculptures was travel. The sculptures were designed by Sylvain Salières, who designed many other decorations around the terminal.
Artist Sylvain Salieres was born in France. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He taught at Carnegie Institute as a Professor of Art.
The interior of the building is just as spectacular. When you walk into the building and stare from the top of the stairs, you see the power and bustle of New York City. When you look up you will see the famous ‘Constellation’ ceiling cleaned and lit with all the stars in the sky. There is still a small portion of the ceiling that was not cleaned to show how dirty it once was before the renovation.
The ceiling of the Great hall shows all the constellations
The ceiling had been designed with the help of a professor from Columbia University who taught astrology. The tour guide told us it was after the completion of the ceiling that the constellations were upside down and backwards (which was also noted in the video as well). Still you can see its magnificence in the details and the fact that it is lit up with lightbulbs to represent the stars.
The dirt on the ceiling
This small spot left in the ceiling in the corner was what was left after they finished cleaning the ceiling and renovating the rest of the terminal in the early 1990’s. Both the tour guide and the video said that this was from years of allowing smoking in the terminal. That was banned in the late 1980’s and early 90’s by both the Giuliani and Bloomberg Administrations.
The windows of the Great Hall which have walkways going across balconies
The tour guide explained to us that the windows were also skyways where people could walk across them. I did not believe it until I looked up and actually saw people walking across the windows. They are actually skylights that are double paned and there are three levels of walkways for people who work in the building to walk across.
The tile ceilings of the “hallways”Whispering Hall” of Grand Hall
In all the years I have been visiting Grand Central Terminal the “Whispering Hall” was the most fascinating part of the tour. You can stand on one side of the hall and hear someone talking on the other side of the room. It was fun testing it out and it really does work.
This remarkable acoustic oddity is caused by the unusually perfect arches, which are a version of Catalan vaults, that compose the gallery. The distinctive tile work in the gallery is known as “Guastavino” tiles, named for the patented material and methods of Spanish tile worker Rafael Guastavino in 1892, whose meticulous work and herringbone patterns can be admired here and elsewhere in the city (Atlas Obscura/Wiki).
The Grand Central Oyster Bar Restaurant inside the main terminal
The Grand Central Oyster Bar was closed that day but is one of the oldest restaurants in the city and was located there for the commuters who came and went from the terminal. It has been there since the beginning.
The chandeliers of Vanderbilt Hall make quite a statement. These were created to show off the new modern technology of electricity which was new back in 1913 when they were installed. The modern light bulb replaced gas lamps and candles of an earlier era. The Vanderbilts wanted to show how progressive they were with the railroads so these were created to dazzle the modern train rider.
The first part of the use electricity with these chandeliers
The vaults and chandeliers on the side of the Great Hall
A combination of soaring ceilings and modern lighting were to show the progress of the rail system and to dazzle customers as they came into New York City. These halls were meant to impress travelers when they entered this part of the Terminal.
The Vanderbilt’s wanted travelers to know that Grand Central Terminal was electrified which was unusual at the time when the building was built. This was very important as they wanted travelers to know that they were in the modern age of travel.
Next we toured the Graybar Passage Way which is part of the Graybar building that is part of Grand Central Terminal. The tour guide noted the very decorative chandeliers that lined the passageway.
The Graybar Passageway of Grand Central
The details of the chandelier in the Graybar Passageway
The mural on the ceiling
The tour guide and the video you can listen to below both explained that this mural was part of the original terminal from 1913. The mural is a bit faded and I had walked these hallways before and never noticed it. It is a depiction of train transportation. The video said that at the time murals should represent what the building was all about (Grand Central Terminal Video). I thought that was very interesting. It is very easy to miss.
The Food Court
We took a quick tour of the Food Court area in the lower level and some people had to go to the bathrooms. This is one of the many money making parts of the terminal and the profits help with the continuous renovation and upkeep of Grand Central Terminal. Since COVID, this are is still not at 100% of what it was pre-COVID but is still slowly making its way back. It has a lot of popular restaurants that are convenient to commuters, tourists and office workers alike.
The Food Court like most of the retail spots in the Terminal was created to bring in income for the renovation and upkeep of the Terminal. We headed back up the ramps to the main room and headed up the ramp and out the door. We stopped first in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer. This was dedicated to the former First Lady.
The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer leading to East 42nd Street
Notice the lamp in the shape of an acorn. This was part of the Vanderbilt coat of arms. The coat of arms symbolized “from an acorn a mighty oak will grow”.
This entrance way was dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who with members of the Municipal Art Society and the City helped save this treasured building. With the recent destruction of Penn Station, the former First Lady lent her celebrity to helping save and preserve Grand Central Terminal.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis with Bess Myerson and Ed Koch in front of Grand Central (The Attic 2020) trying to save this landmark
Grand Central was symbolic of old Manhattan, a city her grandfather, James T. Lee, had helped build (highlights include 740 Park Avenue). Onassis also cared about historic preservation, having restored the White House to its former glory and saved Washington’s Lafayette Square from being replaced by ugly government office buildings in the early 1960s (Bloomberg 2013).
She was the star of a press conference in Grand Central’s Oyster Bar. “If we don’t care about our past we can’t have very much hope for our future,” she said into a bank of microphones over the din of flashbulbs popping. “We’ve all heard that it’s too late, or that it has to happen, that it’s inevitable. But I don’t think that’s true. Because I think if there is a great effort, even if it’s the eleventh hour, then you can succeed and I know that’s what we’ll do.” (Bloomberg 2013).
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Plaque in the foyer
This entrance was dedicated to her for all her work in preserving the building for future generations.
When we walked outside, the tour guide pointed at the grill work that surrounds the building. I never really thought of it because I had never looked at it before. All over the grill work is tiny acorns and leaves, the Vanderbilt coat of arms that was created by Alice Vanderbilt. They were all in the details of the grill work. This was a symbol of the Vanderbilt’s influence at that time.
The Grill Work on the outside of Grand Central Terminal
The Acorn Coat of Arms of the Vanderbilt family
Acorns and Oak Leaves are all over the Terminal as a symbol of the Vanderbilt family and the lasting of the family business. Within one generation the railroads and the family fortune would be gone.
The Statue of Mercury and the famous Grand Central clock “The Glory of Commerce”
There is a true beauty to the statuary and stone carvings on the outside of the building. Each of these were done by different artists. Some of the statuary was taken from the original railroad terminal such as the statue of Commodore Vanderbilt and the Eagle statues on both side of the front of Grand Central Terminal.
The Commodore Vanderbilt Statue
The statue was designed by artist Ernst Plassman a German born American artist who moved to New York in 1853. The artist studied under many famous artists in Europe before founding the “Plassman’s School of Art” in New York City in 1854.
The Eagle statues were taken from the previous terminal.
They are two of the 11 or 12 eagle statues that ornamented the terminal’s predecessor, Grand Central Station. In 1910, when the station was demolished to build Grand Central Terminal, the eagles were dispersed throughout the city and New York State (Wiki). These two statues now are located on both sides of the Terminal. This eagle was returned to the Terminal in 2004.
The Eagle Statue on the outside of the front of the Terminal
The Vanderbilt Eagle plaque in the Vanderbilt Plaza
The terminal housed the New York Central Railroad and some of the busiest routes. It now houses the New Haven, White Plains and Poughkeepsie lines and stop overs for some Amtrak lines. In 2020, it was house the new lines of the Long Island Railroad.
The new Grand Central Madison Avenue Concourse:
The Grand Central Madison Avenue is a brand new terminal that is situated deep underneath Manhattan’s East Side. In the next few months, 296 LIRR trains per day will be rolling in and out of the terminal. This will mean more frequent train service to Long Island and better access to the East side of Manhattan.
The project was first proposed back in the 1960’s and then began in the 1990’s. After 25 years, the project was finally finished with an 11 billion dollar price tag. The project delays were because of budget cuts, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy and other issues that the City was dealing with over the last forty years. The terminal finally opened fully in March of 2023 (Tour Guide/Wiki).
This is the new Madison Avenue Concourse to the Madison Avenue Terminal
In the lower terminal, steel and glass creates a sleek, modern feel. As passengers rise toward the 350,000 passenger concourse and street level, however, visual references to Grand Central’s Beaux-Arts style will create a smooth transition to the century-old landmark above. The Grand Central Madison Terminal provides eight new miles of track to connect Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal. Transportation efficiency meets energy efficiency! Green design at the new LIRR concourse and terminal will combine maximum comfort with minimal power and water use (Grand Central Terminal History and tour guide).
The new artwork that dots the terminal and all the hallways is just beautiful. Many artists were commissioned to decorate the new rail terminal. These glass mosaics decorate the halls and subway entrances to the new part of the terminal.
Kiki Smith is a West German-born American artist whose work has addressed the themes of sex, birth and regeneration. Her figurative work of the late 1980s and early 1990s confronted subjects such as AIDS, Feminism and Gender but her most recent works concentrate on the human condition and how it relates to nature. She studied at the Hartford Art School and is a member of Collaborative Projects, an artist collective (Wiki).
Further down the hall, we were greeted by this delightful and whimsical wall of surrealist images of happy and playful pictures. These engaging images were by artist Yayoi Kusama.
The artwork on the hallways of the new terminal area by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama “A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe 2022”
“The other part of the artwork”A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe 2022” . The other side of the piece.
Artist Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese born artist who studied at the Kyoto School of Arts & Crafts and is known for her installments and sculptures but also works in film, performance art and fashion among other mediums and is known for influence in ‘Pop Art’ . She is currently the most successful living female artist in the world and is still going strong in her early 90’s. She currently is working on a second line of merchandise with Louis Vuitton (Wiki/Artist Bio).
Please watch the video of Yayoi Kusama
On the lower levels at each subway platform entrance, there is a new piece of art by Artist Kiki Smith, who continues to show here creativity in a series of local points of nature as she interprets it. Each work of art has a different theme and use of creativity and color.
The artwork at each track entrance “The Sound” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Spring” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Presence” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Water’s Way” by artist Kiki Smith
“I made images from nature that hold affection and personal significance to me as I hope they will for others,” Smith said. “I am very honored to be included in the tradition of artists making work for the MTA, particularly as I have rarely had the opportunity to make something that lives within the public realm.” (6SqFt 2023)
We finished our tour at the last piece of artwork and then made our way back to the Cornell Club. I stayed for a half hour taking more pictures around the terminal and admiring the architecture one more time now knowing its history in more detail. It is amazing to walk around a building your whole life and never really know its history or its details. It was a wonderful tour.
The new modern entrance is now open for business and people can enjoy these wonderful pieces of art created for them to enjoy on their way to their trains and subways.
Grand Central Terminal at night
When I left for the evening, I got to see Grand Central Terminal at night and it really is nicely lit. You get to see the building at its best. It really is a beautiful building.
This was the closest tour I could find online of what I experienced:
Listen to the YouTube video while you are reading the blog. We had the same tour as on this video.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Executive Board with HHMA “Member of the Year” Ron Tagliabue at the Annual HHMA “Man of the Year” Awards Dinner on April 21st, 2023
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association met for their Annual Dinner on Friday, April 21st, 2023, at Segovia Steakhouse and Seafood in Little Ferry, NJ. It was a wonderful evening out especially since the pandemic put a damper on previous year’s festivities.
We were honoring our “Man of the Year”, a member who has contributed a lot to the Hasbrouck Heights Community and our “Member of the Year”, a dedicated member of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association who represents the best of the organization.
It was a wonderful evening of good food and wonderful drinks under a relaxing and warm Friday night. The food at Segovia’s is always wonderful and the selection was excellent. We started off with a wonderful appetizer platter that included chorizo, calamari and tiny empanada. The members dined on fresh salad, a pasta dish and for the entrees, we had steak, paella and for dessert, we had a wonderful, iced cake that was the perfect way to end the meal.
The delicious Salmon everyone enjoyed.
The delicious paella that was one of our entrees.
The marvelous beef entree that was served to us.
We ended dinner with a marvelous, iced cake that everyone enjoyed.
The HHMA Executive Board under the direction of President Steve Palladino met earlier in the month to decide who this year’s “Member of the Year” would be to represent the organization. The Board unanimously voted for long time member, Ron Tagliabue.
HHMA Member Ron Tagliabue winning “Member of the Year” for the organization.
Ron Tagliabue has been a member of the HHMA for over twenty years, has assisted in many special events and fundraisers and sold his share of Christmas trees, our major fundraiser which the community looks forward to every year to decorate their homes. He even served as Santa’s representative at our annual “Visit Santa at the Christmas tree stand”, a festive pre-COVID event we hope to bring back soon. After twenty years with the HHMA, he has been a dedicated and loyal member of the organization.
Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association “Member of the Year” Ron Tagliabue
Our “Man of the Year” who the Executive Board felt best gave back to the Hasbrouck Heights Community we looked no further than our own member, Steve Feuss. Steve owns IDesign Creative Services LLC. Steve has done so much for both our organization and many others in town.
Steve does so much for our town in way of providing services at discounts and participating in all sorts of programs that the town sponsors. He is also very involved with the Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce and gives back so much to the Hasbrouck Heights community.
HHMA “Man of the Year” member Steve Feuss of IDesign Creative Services LLC with the HHMA Executive Board
“Man of the Year” Steve Feuss with his wife, father and daughter at the dinner
Both members were very touched by the awards and the Executive Board could not be happier with both men’s participation in the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. It was a wonderful dinner and all the members and their spouses had such a wonderful time. Thank you to all the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association that give so much back to our town!
Members and their spouses enjoying dinner at Segovia Steak & Seafood in Little Ferry, NJ
The New Kamboat Bakery & Cafe (or just Kamboat Bakery) is one of the liveliest bakeries in Chinatown. I started visiting the bakery after seeing videos on YouTube mentioning it for a great place to have a snack.
Since then, I have been visiting often after class for their Roast Pork and Cream filled buns, Curried and Pepper Chicken Puffs, Egg Tarts and other bakery delights that I enjoy for lunch and for snacks.
The bakery section at Kamboat Bakery
The selection of baked goods and entrees is extensive and there are all sorts of puffs, tarts and twists filled with sweet and savory fillings including roast pork, hot dogs and even breakfast sandwiches.
Kamboat Bakery also has a selection of rice rolls and entrees over…
The Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House at 118 Front Street
The Lewes Historical Society promotes and advocates the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Lewes region, through museum exhibits, educational programs, historical research, and publications.
About The Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House
The Cannonball House was built c. 1765 and was once the home of Gilbert McCracken and David Rowland, pilots for the Bay & River Delaware. The Cannonball House has come to symbolize not only the Society, but the town of Lewes as well; previous uses included a restaurant, a laundry store, and, for a time, the mayor’s…
I have always loved Easter. It is my favorite holiday even over Christmas. It is a more relaxing time of year and there is not the rushing around that the Christmas holidays bring. Both work and graduate classes were taking up so much of my time that it was nice to just relax on Easter and have dinner with my family. It didn’t really turn out that way but I got a lot accomplished and it ended up being a productive weekend.
Classes at NYU have been tough as there have been so many projects to do and the semester ends the second week of May. I have never seen time fly by like this. I would have thought the semester would have ended closer to Memorial Day Weekend but it ends much earlier and everyone is scrambling to get their work done. I was able to sneak down to Washington DC last Sunday to see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom and this time around I got to see them.
My blog on “Visiting the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Two”:
The Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC the week before
They bloom so much earlier than the festival (almost two weeks) and last year the basin was loaded with people looking at bare trees. Everyone was taking pictures under the dozen or so trees that were the last species to bloom (the same ones in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) and you could barely take a picture without a dozen people pushing you out of the way. At least this year the storms did not disrupt all the petals.
The Cherry Blossom at the basin and the crowds following them
Even though it was for one day, the trip to Washington DC is always a treat. I was looking forward though to seeing the other great Cherry Blossom displays in both Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in Brooklyn, NY. Those always follow this display and are just as spectacular.
It was Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ that was in full peak bloom this week. I was able to get to the park later in the afternoon around 4:00pm when the crowds started to thin out. I did not realize that the Visitors Center and parking lot were closed for renovation. That really backed up traffic in the park and there were wall to wall people by that section of the park. I parked toward the entrance (always a good move) and was able to walk all sections of the park with no problems. What surprised me but didn’t shock me was the behavior of people towards the Cherry Trees.
Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ at Park Avenue & Lake Street
Just like in DC the week before, people were climbing all over the trees, tugging on the branches, pulling off the blossoms and sticking in their hair and pockets or just taking the branches home. Even with all the signs, people just don’t listen. I never really thought about it until I started taking classes at NYU and was learning about the concept of over-tourism. People really have no consideration for the world around them and abuse the very things that they are there to see. I was constantly walking into someone’s picture from every angle.
The brilliance of Mother Nature in full bloom
Still the park was beautiful and the trees and shrubs were at the peak of bloom and that made it special to me. I still remember coming here with my dad every year and then we would go to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ for a hot dog after our visit. I never remember it being as busy as it is today but this was before 2010 and the IPhone was not as prevalent as it is now. It is amazing how social media has really changed this park.
The crowds in the late afternoon in Branch Brook Park
I just walked along the paths by myself enjoying the Spring day and admiring the trees and flowers of the park. I had never seen it at its peak and it was truly brilliant. I had never see the blossoms so vibrant and the colors so strong. It was Mother Nature at its peak and it only lasts for about a week.
With all the rain we have had lately it knocks the petals off the trees quickly. Branch Brook Park is one of the most unrated parks in the New York area and Newark does get knocked a lot but still the city offers its treasures to us if we seek them out.
How beautiful the river was running through the park
I spent about two hours exploring all parts of the park, watching baseball games, watching parents jump around with their kids and watching couples just holding hands and admiring the trees. There were so many Sweet Sixteen and Wedding pictures being snapped that again you had to maneuver correctly.
It’s always best to park by the entrance so that you can get out of the park easier when it is busy
After about two hours of walking around the park and enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful views, I had to get something to eat. Not in the mood for a hot dog as tradition states I stopped at Pizzatown Pizzeria in Newark for a slice of pizza. I had been there a few times over the years finding the pizzeria in pre-COVID days when all the food trucks were mobbed and not much options on the Bellville side of the park.
Pizzatown is one of those old Newark, NJ businesses that existed when this side of the city all around Branch Brook Park was all Italian up until about the early 1980’s when the last of the elderly Italian families either moved out or had passed away. It is the only business left from that time. Still the pizza is fantastic and I look forward to coming here every year when I am looking at the blossoms. I had a slice of Sicilian pizza that was delicious and it was just nice to relax and eat. I had taken so many pictures of the restaurant before I walked in that the owner asked if I was a relator. In that neighborhood? I thought he was kidding. I guess not too many 6:3 white guys go walking around this place.
Pizzatown Pizzeria & Restaurant at 883 Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark, NJ
The inside of Pizzatown harks back to the 1960’s when this was an Italian neighborhood
The Sicilian pizza here is so good!
After lunch was over, I took on last look around the park and admired all the trees that were newer that were planted in the park towards the entrance. It is interesting how they just keep planting more trees around the park. I heard that this is the largest collection of Cherry Trees in the world.
The Cherry Trees right by my car on the edge of the park
It was a nice afternoon of walking around and enjoying nature. I had never seen the Cherry Trees this brilliant and so vibrant in colors before. This is what it means to see the trees at their peak!
In between classes before the Easter weekend started, I walked around the City after my classes were over on Friday and walked into Macy’s for the Annual Flower Show at the Herald Square store. I could not believe it has been thirty five years since my interview that started my job at Macy’s in 1988. I had gone in for my interview on a Saturday morning and was mesmerized by the store and Flower Show which lead to my second and third interviews and my seven year career with the company. It dawned on me how long ago that morning had been.
The entrance to Macy’s Flower Show in the Herald Square main store
The Flower Show on the first floor of the Macy’s store is always a treat. There were a lot of interesting displays this year but not so many flowers on the tops of the display cases. At least not the ones that I had seen in the past. It seemed more scaled down from the flowers on the upper displays and more the hanging displays that lined the main aisle.
The entrance to the Flower Show from the Broadway side of the store
Most the displays were hanging from the main aisle of the first floor so it was a much different display from those of the past but still it was very creative and people stopped every three feet to take more pictures. I was just as annoying but the store looked so nice.
The first floor by the escalators that did not exist when I worked there
The Floral Display by the Cosmetic Department
Not quite the hanging gardens of the past but still nice
The hanging floral arrangements by the escalators on the first floor
It was not the show that I remember as there were many more floral arrangements that were much more detailed and elaborate as there was more space on the old tops of the display cases. This was a more modern view of the Flower Show. I thought it was fun and they did a nice job. New Management and a new way of looking at the show.
Macy’s Display windows-My favorite
Macy’s Display windows
The display windows outside were a lot of fun and the display people did a great job on the them. It was really funny though. I was not in the City for class on Good Friday so I did not see the full extent of the show until Monday morning when the store reopened (the store is closed on Easter).
Macy’s Display windows
When I returned on Tuesday for my next class, the windows were already closed and we being dismantled and the whole show must have been taken down Monday night after the store closed. Everything was gone by Tuesday afternoon. Another Flower Show had passed.
Macy’s Display windows
Easter morning was really nice as I got to spend it with my cousins and my aunt at a wonderful restaurant in Red Bank, NJ. It was a bright and sunny Easter but a bit chilly. It was the first time in years that I had not been to church on Easter morning but I would go another day. We had an 11:00am reservation for brunch and I got picked up at 9:45am.
The weather was really windy when we got the Oyster Point Hotel where we were having brunch. I could not believe the winds off the water but by the time we were finished, it ended up being a nice warm afternoon. I guess it rough in the morning.
The bay right next to the hotel parking lot
The bay area of Red Bank is so beautiful and everything was just coming into bloom. We were able to walk around the docks for a bit before brunch. People were just getting their boats serviced and ready for the season. It was a spectacular morning looking over the water.
We were one of the first tables to arrive that morning so I got some great shots of the buffet and all the delicious and creative displays at all the stations of the restaurant. It was a very nice presentation and there was so much to choose from.
Oyster Point Hotel Pearl Room Banquet space where the brunch took place
The Dining Room
The food and the service were just amazing. I could not believe the view of the bay and the dazzling blue water in front of us. Thank God though our table was not by the window because the buffet line stretched in that direction when we were eating.
The Seafood on Ice Station
I could not believe the choices at brunch. There was a complete salad section to make your own salad, a seafood display on ice, an omelet and waffle bar with potatoes, bacon and sausage on the side if you wanted to start with breakfast. The baked good section for breakfast was extensive with fresh doughnuts, pastries, muffins, bagels and cookies. There were also slices of white and coffee cake if you wanted those as well.
The Breakfast Pastry display
There was a pasta station with ravioli and penne with chicken and broccoli, a carving station with turkey, beef and salmon, a complete lunch bakery section and fruit display. The Candy station was really unique with a display of chocolate lobsters and peeps in a tree.
The display of candy was very clever
The Candy display was really unique and very creative
The Pastry Chef really has a a sense of humor
The best was that they had a complete crab cake station with all sorts of sides such as mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. They were all served in champagne glasses. The portions were small but you could go back as many times as you wanted.
The Lunch Bakery table
The Fruit Dessert display
There were also chafing dishes of wild rice, mixed vegetables, chicken piccata, roasted potatoes and a beef dish. The quality of the food in the chafing dishes matched all the stations and nothing was soggy or tepid. Everything was perfectly cooked and spiced. There was so much to choose from that I must have made twenty trips to the buffet line to the amusement of my family.
Being in the culinary arts and working in a soup kitchen for almost twenty years, I know not to waste food, Watching people pile their plates high is so silly when you can go back as many times as you want. I walk around a buffet, survey what is offered and then go back for many small tastes of everything. I think it is a sin to waste food and throw it out when there is no reason for it.
A little taste of the pasta section, the carving section, the chafing dishes and those marvelous crab cakes. The food was excellent!
After brunch was over, were were there for almost three hours eating and talking and watching the people on the bay in their boats, we made an early afternoon of it. I had wanted to go to the cemeteries and had some yard work to do (I can’t believe I had that much to do as I was in the yard for two hours) and then had some writing to finish. My life never sits still. We took some pictures around the hotel and walked around the dock for a bit. We said our goodbyes to my cousin and his wife and then toured the town of Red Bank, NJ. What a pretty downtown. It really has some nice stores and restaurants.
My cousins, my aunt and I at Easter 2023
I always enjoy spending time with my family. I hope every had a wonderful Easter and Passover!
The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association at the April 2023 Meeting
On April 16th, 2023, the members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association met for our quarterly meeting. We discussed the happenings at the NJ Firemen’s Home and following the State regulations as we prepare to host our Summer barbecue in June for the residents and their guests. We are also planning a second barbecue in August with a special party planned for member who is turning 100 this year. More detail on that are forthcoming.
We were impressed by the number of donations from our fellow fire departments all over Bergen County, NJ for their generous donations to help fund the entertainment, refreshments and gifts to the NJ Firemen’s Home in the future. We want to thank our Brother Firefighters for thinking about the residents of the home and assisting our brothers and sisters. We…