a summery slice of life – the Atlantic coast of France

A few summers ago I went to Arcachon, located just south of Bordeaux on the Atlantic Coast. It’s a favorite seaside destination of mine, easily accessible by a direct high-speed train from Paris. France is blessed with three coastlines: the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the English Channel.

Here’s a two-minute video of the jetty which stretches out over Arcachon Bay. Just beyond is the island of Cap Ferret. I can smell that fresh, ocean air and hear the gulls wheeling overhead right now.


Below is a post with photos of Arcachon and Cap Ferret, as well as a good hotel recommendation.


fresh ginger lemonade


courtesy of David Lebovitz

Another heatwave today. As I sit typing this post, my Rowenta fan is oscillating to the right of me and my Rowenta air purifier is humming to my left. The windows are closed. During a heatwave the French keep their windows shut. Which makes sense I guess, otherwise all that hot air would drift in.

Earlier, I purchased a bottle of (industrial-made) lemonade. It was refreshing, but there’s a lot of sugar and additives in it. And that got me to thinking: why not make my own? So I fired up the internet and stumbled across a great recipe for fresh ginger lemonade on the famous DL website (all of DL’s recipes are great). Tomorrow I’m going to buy the lemons and the fresh ginger and make me a batch.

For those who don’t know – What?? You’ve never heard of DL?? – David Lebovitz is an American in Paris. Oh yeah, he’s also a cookbook author, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., website owner, and a very funny man. Here’s an excerpt taken from The Boston Globe –

Q. What’s a day like in the life of David Lebovitz?

A. I get up and stand at the edge of the roof and decide whether to jump. When I’ve decided not to, I come back in, have coffee and toast, watch the news for about five minutes because I can’t stand it, then check e-mail. If it’s market day, I’ll spend a couple of hours there. Then I’ll work, write recipes. People ask, “What do you do all day?” Well, yesterday I bought a sponge. Things take so much time here.

So, here’s his website (filled with restaurant recommendations in Paris, lots of other recommendations, funny anecdotes and great recipes.) Enjoy.


summer exodus

July and August are my favorite months in Paris. Why? Because the city, and my neighborhood in particular, empties of Parisians. Suddenly, a quiet descends and it’s wonderful. Cars and families head to the mountains, the seaside, the countryside and those left behind can breathe and reclaim the city.

Here’s a summer post I wrote two summers ago –

A perfect day today … far too beautiful to stay indoors. Grabbing my panier, I headed out to my local market this morning to buy papaya, mango, ginger-root and melon, among other things. Melons are in abundance this summer. Monoprix was selling them for a euro apiece last week.


Mountains of Cavaillon melons from the Vaucluse region side by side with peaches, cherries and heaps of fragrant basil. I plan to make a big batch of pesto as well as tomato sauce from scratch.

IMG_4837IMG_4855IMG_4853IMG_4839We’re spoiled for choice in this land of abundance. Here’s a trio of fresh-caught rouget, bass and shrimp (prawns). IMG_4860IMG_4852IMG_4859

I came across this stall where the most beautiful hand-woven baskets were being sold. “What is the material of these baskets?” I asked the saleswoman. “Plastic.” she replied.  Which means not only durable, but waterproof (great for the beach). I also loved her rings and bracelets.

IMG_4871These ones you could slip your laptop into. Or papers and magazines.IMG_4879She works with a Mexican associate, she told me, hence the bright colors.IMG_4875IMG_4869

I love them. Unfortunately I had no cash left. Even though I have a surplus of carry-all bags, I’ll return next Sunday to buy one.


Here’s the smoothie I made when I got home: melon, papaya, apple, coconut milk, orange juice and ginger-root. As usual, I forgot the mint. Why do I always forget to buy fresh mint?


apricot coulis and the reopening of the mythic Le Drugstore

Staring at a dozen ripe apricots this hot Sunday afternoon, I wondered what I could do with them (other than eating them, one by one, throughout the week.) An apple-apricot crumble sounded good, but it’s too hot to use the oven. So why not a coulis? Ridiculously easy to make, a coulis is a thin (or thick) puréed sauce. The word comes from the French verb, couler, which means to flow, trickle or run.

raspberry coulis

Using summer fruits is the best: raspberries, strawberries or peaches, for example, served atop a chilled panna cotta, cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, or just a bowl of quality natural or vanilla yogurt. Out of season, you can use frozen berries. The advantage of making your own coulis, or any recipe for that matter, is that you control the amount of sugar that goes into it. And the consistency.


courtesy of whatjessicabakednext.com

I just looked up raspberry coulis on the Martha Stewart website. Way too much sugar!

3/4 cup sugar

18 ounces (1 1/2 pints) of fresh raspberries

I’d reduce that sugar to 1/3 of a cup, you can add more to taste later. And I wouldn’t let it boil for longer than half a minute because summer fruit is delicate.

Martha says – Combine sugar, berries, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low; cook until sugar is dissolved, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Place mixture in the jar of a blender; puree until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh colander, and discard solids. 

I can’t be bothered to pass anything through a sieve, even though it’s a good idea because of the seeds. And I certainly wouldn’t discard the solids. A few drops of lemon juice and pure vanilla extract is good. Or vanilla sugar. The most important thing, though, is the quantity of water. Too much and your coulis is just a diluted, too-thin, insipid soup. So reserve some of the water from the saucepan, start blending with a small amount of water and add more, if necessary, as you whizz. Don’t forget that it thickens a little when you put it in the fridge. If it’s hopelessly thin, throw in a gelatin leaf.

This is a no-bake cheesecake. I like that the raspberries are kind of chunky. Obviously, very little water was used here.

fab coulis

Here are my apricots and coulis. I spooned some onto a bowl of natural yogurt, then later onto a plate of (home-made) crêpes sprinkled with lemon juice and granulated sugar.


During the week, I’ll put up a post about the re-opening of the famous Le Drugstore on the Champs-Elysées. 

bon appétit et très bonne semaine !

Paris, city of glamour and romance

The article below appeared in today’s The Guardian newspaper. 2,000 migrants and refugees sleeping rough in the streets of Paris.

You see them huddled along the sidewalks of the Champs-Elysées, “the most beautiful avenue in the world.”

You see them sleeping all over the city, in tents or out in the open. A few months ago and early in the morning while crossing the elegant Place St. Augustin in the 8th arrondissement, I had to step over two migrants sleeping on the pavement.

This is the new Paris.

Every day on my way to work, I pass individuals or whole families begging. Just yesterday, on my way to Monoprix to do some grocery shopping after work, I passed a migrant family standing in front of my local boulangerie. “Aidez-nous“, the woman said (Help us). “Can you buy us a baguette?”

In a totally callous manner, I walked on and ignored them. Help them?, I said to myself. Who do they think I am, the Red Cross? It’s governments who should be helping them. We didn’t create this mess. They did.

Yes. It has come to this. Utter disregard, indifference, and heartlessness towards the hundreds of thousands (millions, no doubt) of migrants flooding into Europe. Why the indifference? Cold, hard cynicism. And the sheer, overwhelming number of them.

Right now as I sit typing this post, many of the people responsible for this human migrant tragedy are gathering in Hamburg, Germany for the 2017 Group of Twenty (G20) summit. Many of the people responsible for this tragedy gathered at past G20 summits, one in particular the Los Cabos Foreign Ministers’ summit of 2012, attended by “Hawkish Hillary”, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.



Trump’s imminent trip to Paris

Donald Trump is due to arrive in Paris in exactly thirteen days. For reasons we do not understand, French President Emmanuel Macron invited him to attend the Bastille Day celebrations on July 14th.

We the People don’t want him in France. We don’t want him in Europe. We don’t want him in the White House leading the free world because he is neither a leader nor a role model. He’s a smarmy real-estate developer who received a massive inheritance from Daddy, then went on to declare bankruptcy six times. He’s a former reality TV host, a purveyor of Trump Steaks, and a president-elect who lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million.


Huckster Trump. You can keep your steaks.

He is unworthy. He is undignified. His personal and puerile attacks on various individuals, mainly women, have debased the presidency, not to mention himself. He is vulgar, incompetent and utterly unqualified to hold the office of President of the United States of America, and that goes for his entire creepy family.

“The most extraordinary and profound electoral mistake America has made in our lifetimes and possibly ever.” Charles Blow writes in his scathing article in The New York Times (link below.)

No other President in the history of that nation has ever behaved in such a disgraceful fashion. My American friends and my cousins in California: I feel for you. But we non-Americans are hurting too. Overall, we love America … but not this one.

Respect to Ana Navarro, Nicaraguan-American Republican strategist and political commentator, who unequivocally slammed Trump publicly. She refers to him as “this disgusting dude.”  See video below.

Simone Veil dead at 89 years


Feminist icon. Auschwitz survivor. Distinguished career as a magistrate. Health minister under President Mitterrand. Responsible for legalizing abortion in France in 1974. Her law became known as “la loi Veil” (the Veil law.) 

Mother of three boys and wife of Antoine Veil, former civil servant and business leader, to whom she was married 67 years. Antoine Veil passed away in 2013 at the age of 86.


On November 26, 1974, Simone Veil delivered a speech of forty-five minutes to legalize abortion. An act of bravery at the time when the Assembly was predominantly composed of men, most of whom were hostile to the project.

Beautiful woman and role model to many. Years ago, I read her memoir simply titled, A Life. Years ago, I worked in the law firm of her youngest son. Simone Veil is arguably the one person most responsible for advancing women’s legal rights in France during the twentieth century.

Here in France, the news of her death this morning is dominating radio, TV screens and headlining newspapers. A state funeral will be held for her on Wednesday afternoon at Les Invalides. Flags will be flown at half mast.


Born Simone Jacob in Nice in July 1927, Veil was deported first to Drancy and then Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps at 17 with her entire family. Her father and brother were last seen on a train to Lithuania and her mother, Yvonne, died in Bergen-Belsen just before that camp was liberated in 1945.

Veil and her two sisters, one of whom later died in a car crash, were among only 11 survivors of 400 Jewish children deported from her region.

She later said it was her experiences in the Nazi concentration camps that made her a firm believer in the unification of Europe.

“Sixty years later I am still haunted by the images, the odours, the cries, the humiliation, the blows and the sky filled with the smoke of the crematoriums,” Veil said in a TV interview broadcast in 2005.


In 2010, Veil entered the Académie Française and sat in the thirteenth armchair, that of Racine, the favorite author of her father. Never had so many presidents been gathered under the dome to attend the ceremony. On her Academician sword, engraved, is her deportation number: 78651.


Paix à son âme.