Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Win One of These Beautiful New Books

Le Grand Véfour:
 the new book, the gilded dining room, a fish course, Michelin three-star chef Guy Martin.

Restaurant Sola: 
the new book celebrates the Michelin chef's exquisite  Franco-Japonais cuisine. 

From Must Eat Paris: the interior of Septime and pretty plates at La Verre Volé.

The good folks at ACC Art Books, a major distributor, just reached out to tell me about three new titles for the fall: two French cookbooks and and a guide to eating out in Paris. They asked if I was interested in receiving a copy of any one of them, perhaps to use in a give away. And I, well-mannered as always, said "How about all three?"

The answer was read on! Then leave a comment and you could win the title of your choice. All three books are in English.

Behind door number one we have: Le Grand Véfour (Editions du Chêne), with 56 signature recipes from the venerable Michelin three-star restaurant and its superb chef/owner, Guy Martin. One of the oldest "gourmet" restaurants in Paris (founded in 1784), Le Grand Véfour--next to the Gardens of the Palais Royal--is a true monument of French cuisine, a jewel of the 18th century "art décoratif" period and the cherished haunt of Parisian political, artistic and literary society for more than 200 years. (I ate there just once, 20 or so years ago, and finding my way back has been a goal ever since.) The book retraces the history of this splendid culinary landmark, with anecdotes and text about the many celebrities who've dined over the years, the chef's take on service and atmosphere and 141 color photos from food photographer Michel Langot, whose previous books include Chocolat (La Martinière, 2012) and Cuisine (La Martinière, 2011). 

The second book is the 288-page Sola (Editions du Chêne) featuring the exquisite Franco-Japanese fusion cuisine of Hiroki Yoshitake, chef of the Michelin one-star Sola, also in Paris. Considered one of the city's great talents, Yoshitake spent three years at the French restaurant La Rochelle in Sakai (Japan) before moving to Paris in 2009 and toiling in in a number of kitchens including L'Astrance. When Sola opened in 2010, Yoshitake was named its head chef...and he received his first Michelin star two years later. (Michelin says: "This restaurant is just a few yards from the banks of the Seine overlooking Notre Dame and yet you'd be forgiven for thinking you were already in Japan! The young Japanese chef is living proof that the cuisine of his home and adopted countries can combine to create harmonious and gracefully presented culinary creations.") This is the seventh book for author Chihiro Masui; previous titles include Petits Gâteaux, Astrance, Tartes and Amandine Chaignot.  Color photos (more than 100 of them) are by Richard Haughton a London-based Irish food photographer.

And last, we have Must Eat Paris (Lannoo Publishers), the fourth title in the Must Eat series. It's the perfect guide for anyone looking "for established values, new addresses and upcoming greatness" on their Parisian dining forays. The book has more than 100 tips from "super foodie" author Luc Hoornaert, who--with photographer Kris Vlegels--presents what he believes are the greatest spots right now for the best of French and international cuisine. From food stalls to small cafés to imaginative, high-end restaurants, Hoornaert sticks to his criteria: authenticity, devotion, high-quality ingredients and a no-nonsense approach to food. 

Ok, onward! To enter the contest, simply leave a comment under "comments" below. Tell me which book you'd most like to win and why. Make sure to leave your email address so I can reach you if you win; signing in with your Google account isn't enough. If you're confused by how to leave a comment, email your comment to me at and I'll post it for you. And don't forget your name, please. Bon Chance!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Posh and Becks are Selling in Provence

David and Victoria Beckham have listed their six-bedroom home in the Var region of Provence for €2.75 million. Marketed as "an exceptional estate in a pristine setting," the 200-acre property, Domaine Saint-Vincent, has three reception rooms, four bathrooms, staff accommodationan infinity pool and pool house, a two-story guest house, a chapel, various outbuildings "with additional potential" and far-reaching valley views. 

The Daily Mail reports that the Beckhams bought the 19th-century home for €1.74 million in 2003 and spent €5.7 million on renovation. If it sells for its asking price, that could represent a loss of €4.6 million for the couple, who are estimated to be worth more than €500 million. 

The Daily Mail also says that the house is reportedly haunted by the former owner, who committed suicide in the study.

The reason Posh and Becks are upping sticks, however, is said to be that the couple and their four children--Brooklyn, 17; Romeo, 13; Cruz, 11; and Harper, 5--prefer to spend their time in London (where they recently spent £31 milllion on a townhouse in Holland Park) and in Los Angeles.

Other reports suggest the Beckhams are offloading real estate because they're planning to divorce.

Either way, everyone seems to agree they've hardly used the house. A story in The Sun quoted "a source": "The locals won't miss them as they were hardly ever here. When they were, David signed the odd autograph and he once had a kick-about with the villagers, but that was their only contact with them. You wouldn't have seen Victoria queuing for a croissant in the boulangerie."

Domaine Saint-Vincent is 4 km from the village of Bargemon, 23 km off the A8 motorway (exit Le Muy) and 99 km from Nice International Airport.

For all the details see the listing here... 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Luminessences Opens Tonight in Avignon

Les Luminessences d'Avignon, a monumental 360°sound-and-light show at the Palais des Papes, is one of those annual spectacles (as the French call them) that seems to grow more and more popular each year.  This year's show, the fourth annual, opens tonight and runs until October 2, in the Palace's Honour Courtyard.

The Palais des Papes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was home to nine successive popes, considered the heart of the medieval Christian world and was the scene of several sieges. It played a very unique and vital role in European history...and Luminessences tells its story.  (For more on the Avignon papacy, click here.) The show--the same production as the one shown last summer--cloaks the four wings of the palace in enormous images and surround the audience "in a poetic fusion of architecture, light and music." Mostly everyone stands for the 35-minute show but small folding chairs and wheelchairs are welcome. 

This year, there will be three shows each week in English: at 10:15 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Shows in French will be at 9:15 pm (every night) and at 10:15 pm (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday)

Tickets can be bought online in English here...or at the Palais des Papes during opening hours... or at the Avignon Tourist Office (see link and phone below). 

Prices are 11 € for adults, 9€ (reduced rate) free for kids under age 8. Info on group sales, private events, getting to Avignon, tickets and much more  is on the Luminessences website in English here.  They're also on Facebook For info by phone, call the Avignon Tourist Office at +33 (0)4 32 74 32 74. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Uplifting Voices in Lumières and Vaison

Every summer, a group of talented singers from Nice and the UK known as the Ristretto Choir arrives in tiny, charming Lumières in the Luberon to enjoy good food and wine, the beauty of Provence, lovely warm weather and a week of intensive choral singing. This year's program will be two challenging works: "Concerto for Choir" by Alfred Schnittke (sung in Russian) and "Spem in alium" by Thomas Tallis.  Their open-to-the-public concert will be Saturday August 13 at 6 pm, in the Chapelle des Missions of the Hotellerie Notre Dame de Lumières, a very-special hotel in a former 17th-century convent. Admission to the concert is free...just show up! For a casual dinner afterwards, stroll over to Le Garage, grab an outdoor table and tuck into a terrific selection of tapas, small plates and cocktails. Lumières is just off the D900, just below the village of Goult...about 15 to 20 minutes from Gordes and the 12th-century Abbaye de Sénanque. And if you're planning an event of your own, the highly regarded Ristretto Choir and its musicians are 
available for weddings and other events. For more info:, +33 (0)6-17-71-71-70. 

*If choral music is your thing, you probably already know about the International Choral Festival, which happens every three years in Vaison-la-Romaine...when the streets literally are filled with the sound of music. It happens every three years, in early August, and it's happening now, until Aug 11. There are classes, free concerts, paid concerts, street performers bursting into song...and much more. Check out the daily free concert at 6 pm on the Place concerts in the place in front of the 15th-century cathedral in the Medieval village...and the 8:30 pm paid-entry concert at the Roman theater, with sing-along. For info: