27.7.15

Tour de France 2015: the Paris Finale

Tour de France 2015 - Paris

You don't have to be a loyal Tour de France fan or even an avid cyclist to be completely mesmerized by the sheer skill involved in the competition. For the first time since I've lived in Paris, I found myself with a front-row spot to witness the riders, buffeted by wind and heavy rain at the start of the ride in Sèvres, whip through Paris for a momentous finale. Stationed at the Place de la Concorde, the riders cracked smiles as fans beamed and cheered from the sidelines and from the edge of the Tuileries Gardens. There is truly something to be said for the sense of community spirit that bubbles uncontrollably to the surface during moments like these. As I snapped photographs in wild succession, the man next to me guided me forward for an unobstructed view. We smiled at one another as if old friends but really it was the tacit knowledge that we both were living a unique experience that fostered the camaraderie. 

Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris Tour de France 2015 - Paris

With such palpable energy, I returned home with not only a deeper respect for the sport but a desire to get myself back on a bike and ride.

Sincere thanks to TrekTravel who provided such a fantastic viewing space for the big event! Visit their website to review the cycling trips they offer around the world.

For more Tour de France photos, click HERE

13.7.15

Hilton Paris Opéra: Before and After


I love a good revival story and even more so when there are archival photos to illustrate the evolution.

In March, I visited the renovated Hilton Paris Opéra, a soaring hotel adjacent to the Saint Lazare train station. Its bandages had just been removed after an 18 month transformation (for the cool price tag of $50 million) and I was there to review the space for Afar Magazine. Formerly the Concorde, the 125 year old hotel was the first to have electricity in Paris and had a strong legacy as a business and social hub.

What left me slack-jawed was less the fact that the hotel had been completely redesigned, updated to beautiful effect, but rather that in an instant, my sole memory of sitting in the Terminus Café some seven years ago, still the name of the street-side restaurant seen in the photo below, came flooding back with vivid detail. I was there to meet a friend for a quick drink before she had to head home to the suburbs, hopping onto the RER A which she picked up right at the train station mere feet away. I remember thinking to myself, what a strange place to have an apéro! The neighborhoods situated immediately around train stations aren't typically the cleanest, safest or most appealing destinations but beyond that, the café itself was in serious decline. It was a place to take shelter in the rain or caffeinate in a hurry but hardly a meeting point to look forward to visiting.

It was the first and only experience I had with the space but it left a lasting impression. 'I hope someone gives this spot a second chance,' I thought to myself. When I returned earlier this year, I was overjoyed to see that it will flourish once again.
Perhaps the most incredible story I learned about the property, specifically with regard to the Grand Salon shown above and below in the recent photos, involves an 80-something Parisian woman who has lived each stage of the hotel's existence firsthand. As a child, she joined her father at the Grand Salon where he would go regularly for business meetings. As he chatted and discussed important matters, she would sit rapt before the spirited commotion of lunching ladies, busy hommes d'affaires and hotel staff zipping between tables to keep everyone comfortable. It was grand, frenetic and exciting, full of life and activity, the kind that latches onto memory and remains a fixture of childhood. As she got older, the grand salon played host to her own adult conversations and served as the backdrop to many lunches where friendships were built and nurtured. 



Today, she returns to the Grand Salon yet again to lunch weekly in the lofty, gilded epicenter of her own nostalgia. The furnishings may have been updated, the dust and tired columns revived, but the integrity and history of the place remains wonderfully in tact, eager and ready to be the frame for new memories.


---
Read my review on Afar! 

Hilton Paris Opéra
108 rue Saint-Lazare
75008 Paris
Website

28.6.15

Turning 30 in Paris

CakeBoy Paris Cake

Today, I turned thirty. So naturally this was cause for self reflection - the good, the bad, and the on-the-way-up experiences that make me excited for this new chapter in my life and even more so to reach this milestone in Paris. To keep this succinct, I came up with 3 reasons for this upbeat outlook on the birthday, one for each decade:

1/ A firmer sense of self and a solid groove in the city. 
Nine years ago, when I officially settled in Paris, I didn't have a creative outlet, I didn't know what each day would bring let alone an entire post-college career and I was perpetually doubting my choices. In hindsight, that seems par for the course. In our early twenties we barely understand ourselves as young adults and are, in many cases, grappling with the anxiety attendant to transitioning from four years of a familiar routine. I couldn't count the number of times I questioned what I was doing in Paris, particularly as former classmates took to Facebook (the only widely-used social platform at the time, if you can believe it!) to broadcast their new jobs. On top of that, I hadn't yet formed my own network of friends and acquaintances and relied heavily on C's built-in group.

Grad school kicked things into new gears, as did this blog which I launched after graduating. From there, the city became my playground and I connected with others in the process of finding their way in an adopted home. It took years of nurturing, refining and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone but it is this experience that has helped harness my understanding of who I am in the world and, on a smaller but no less important level, in France. My interests and expectations from my environment and my friends have also evolved in the last decade and I am thrilled to see how they grow in the next.

2/ It all gets better from here 
I distinctly recall conversations with women considerably older than me prior to arriving in Paris (a time when I was fraught with angsty, late adolescent anxiety about everything) in which they would assure me that personal greatness and self contentment and assurance lay ahead in my thirties. They insisted that all the insecurities and unhealthy self-flagellation would ease and I would start to appreciate myself, body and mind. I'd tackle the future less by blind enthusiasm and energy but with directed fervor. And by the time I turned 28, that truth finally began crystallizing. I feel liberated from what was once paralyzing doubt. It should be said that Paris as a landscape when you're transitioning into adulthood and womanhood is as terrifying as it is exhilarating, particularly if you're a woman uneasy in her own skin like I was. I wish I had had faith in the wisdom imparted by older women but I suppose I had to arrive at the realizations myself. And now, I'm focused on paving my own route with my own voice and vision, less interested in comparing myself and my work to others who share similar core interests. It's upward and onward from here!

3/ The next journey
Where the unknown is less petrifying and far more exciting. My forthcoming book will certainly, hopefully, be part of that unknown and I look forward to seeing where it leads me! And as always, I keep myself open to where this city will take me. A voir....!

Any thirties wisdom you can impart as I begin this new journey?

22.6.15

(NEWS!) The Paris Book

Lindsey Tramuta Book

I have been living in Paris for nine years, writing this site for six and contributing to newspapers and magazines for over three. At some point, the prospect of taking the knowledge I have built up over the years a step further certainly crossed my mind. But in what form? I knew I would only pursue a book project if an idea emerged organically and if it felt right. An idea that I would be excited to research and write.

Well over year ago, after a marathon catch-up in Paris with my dear friend Nichole during which we discussed some of the changes in Paris I've observed over these last nine years, that idea crystallized.

But I sat on it. I wasn't ready. So I let it germinate for months.

Until Rebecca Plotnick, a photographer who splits her time between Chicago and Paris, unwittingly presented me with a challenge. It was during our first in-person rendez-vous and we were getting to know one another. She asked if I had ever considered writing a book - a memoir, a guide, whatever - to which I politely replied "Yes but I don't have an idea. It's not the right time". She smiled kindly but I sensed she wasn't about to stop there. Cutting the pause in the conversation were words that would set a new plan in motion. "Why not make it a goal? To sell a book idea by the time you're thirty?" Turning thirty looms large as the impetus for many people to stop inventing excuses for delaying their passion projects. It begs us to 'just go for it!' because there really is no use in waiting.

My thirtieth birthday, 6 days away, was the end zone for my book concept, whether I realized it or not.

I sent my proposal out into the world at the end of January and met my editor in New York city just last week. Although I hadn't planned it as such, I reached my goal before thirty. And that feels, well, like a basket of superlatives waiting to explode. Special! Fulfilling! Exciting! Bananas! Un truc de fou!

So now I am working on a book that I am ecstatic to write and share with the world! The fantastic team at Abrams Books will bring it to life (for early 2017) as will Charissa Fay, the talented New York based photographer who travel to Paris in the fall to capture the best of the city today. I can hardly wait to hit the streets and start shooting with her!

WHAT'S NEXT?
Well, I will share more details as soon as I can (could I be any more vague?) but I wanted to thank you, dear readers, for following me on this journey. For reading, commenting, sharing, and above all, loving Paris.

Down the road, I will be offering book exclusives and goodies to my monthly newsletter subscribers so don't miss out, sign up today and share with a friend.

For behind-the-scenes photos and highlights from the process and forthcoming photo shoot, be sure to follow me and Charissa on Instagram: @LostNCheeseland , @Charissa_Fay.

Richelle Hunter Photography

Thank you for all your continued support, it means the world to me! xoxo

20.6.15

Paris Pastry Crawl: Rue du Bac

Jacques Genin Pâte de Fruits

With the number of pastry shops, bakeries, chocolatiers and other confectioners that line the rue du Bac in the 7th arrondissement, the street could very well be officially monikered 'sweet street'. Until that happens, residents and gourmands will simply have to settle for a weeklong event that celebrates the street as a delicious destination.

Bac Sucré is the first initiative of its kind to pay homage to the exceptional indulgences produced on and around the rue du Bac and with resounding support from the 7th arrondissement mayor Rachida Dati and her team. 16 pastry shops, chocolate shops and confectioners have all opened their doors, and in some cases their locked boxes of secrets, to share their love of sweets with the public.

As an avowed fan of chocolate and pastry, I had to go scope out the scene. My curiosity naturally fed into several purchases which will keep me content at home for weeks days. In case you can't make it to Paris this weekend before the event ends on June 21, here are some of my favorite pastries and shops from the rue du Bac that you can bookmark for a pastry crawl on your next visit.

PIERRE MARCOLINI

Ganache hearts by Pierre Marcolini

Who / what is it?
One of several divine little shops in the capital peddling the chocolatey genius that is Pierre Marcolini, a Belgian chocolatier whose work has become far more well known since he became a judge on the French television show Qui Sera le Prochain Grand Pâtissier? (who will be the next great pastry chef?)

Signature treat? 
Those colorful fruit or nut filled ganache hearts, seen above. The classic raspberry red is my favorite for its burst of fresh raspberry from the very first bite.

Address: 78 rue du Bac, 75007 

CHAPON

Chapon

Who / what is it?
Patrice Chapon's fantasy land of chocolate. At least, that's what I've been calling it.

Signature treat? 
Meg Zimbeck of Paris by Mouth introduced me to Patrice Chapon's chocolate mousse bar a few years ago and life has never quite been the same. Choose between six chocolate origins: Madagascar, Ecuador, mix of Ecuador / Ghana, Venezuela or Peru, the latest addition. They will all be over-the-top and outrageously indulgent.

Address: 69 rue du Bac, 75007

JACQUES GENIN 
  Jacques Genin Pâte de Fruits et légumes

Who / what is it?
The man for whom the words average or off-day are missing from his vocabulary. Jacques Genin consistently reaches perfection with his vast selection of chocolates, mendiants, flavored caramels and his pâte de fruits or légumes. In the photo above, you'll find a mix of both the veggie and fruit flavors. Only the best possible fruit pulp is used for each cube and in the case of the cucumber, pepper and turnip, only the best produce available. I legitimately dislike pâte de fruits 99% of the time - too sticky and saccharine - but Genin's edible rainbow is my 1% and the only varieties I will eat. Other-worldly, flavor-bomb and WOW seem to be the key signifiers when I talk and/or recommend Genin's work. You'll have to try it for proof!

Signature treat? 
Pâtes de fruits et légumes, caramels, chocolates. Basically anything in the shop should be taken home and savored. Genin has mastered his product offering and is a reference in all three major areas.

Address: 27 rue de Varenne, 75007 

DES GÂTEAUX ET DU PAIN BY CLAIRE DAMON

Pamplemousse Rosa, Des Gâteaux et du Pain, Claire Damon
Claire Damon ice cream (Des Gâteaux et du Pain)


Who / what is it?
Claire Damon, co-founder and expert pastry chef at Des Gâteaux et du Pain, is one of the only female pastry chefs with her own establishment in the city and also my French pastry idol. But more than that, she is the fairy godmother of fruit, known for teasing the flavors out of fresh, seasonal-only fruit (which means: no superfluous levels of added sugar) and crafting pastries that emphasize flavor, texture and taste versus. color, a common preoccupation.

Signature treat? 
I could point you to the Lipstick, one of her most iconic creations updated seasonally, but instead I encourage you to try the ice cream/sorbet and her Pamplemousse Rosa (seen above), which is a newer pastry composed of rose-flavored mousse, a whole grapefruit wedge and grapefruit jelly anchored on a rice flour crust. If you come in the fall, she will surely be working with a whole different batch of fruit at which point I would say pick up the autumn Lipstick.

Address: 89 rue du Bac, 75007

LA PÂTISSERIE DES RÊVES 

La Pâtisserie des Rêves La Pâtisserie des Rêves Kouign Amann La Pâtisserie des Rêves Paris Brest La Pâtisserie des Rêves Tarte aux Fraises

Who / what is it?
This pastry shop hardly needs an introduction- its divine confections encased neatly in bell jars evoke a dreamlike sensation (which its name suggests). Philippe Conticini popularized the art of pastry reinvention when he opened his shop in 2009 with Thierry Teyssier and has continued to win accolades for his work. 

Signature treat? 
If you're in the mood for pâtisserie, his award-winning Paris-Brest is a wise, solid choice especially if you like hazelnut and praline. My other favorite is his tarte au citron which is more tarte than sweet, which I love. And in viennoiserie, I have a particular affection for his Kouign-Amann which he presents as a long stick vs. its traditional rounded shape. Either way, you can't go wrong! 

Address: 89 rue du Bac, 75007

What's your rue du Bac favorite?

Lost In Cheeseland Food and Restaurant posts

8.6.15

Paris Snapshots: Favorites du Moment

Happy puppy at Palais Royal

For the next week, I'm stationed in New York City (and hopefully I can soon share what motivated the visit!) - feel free to follow my adventures on Instagram! In the meantime, here is another edition of Paris snapshots with some of my favorite sights and edibles of the moment.

  Spring flowers Palais Royal, ParisSpring flowers Palais Royal, Paris Cake Boy Paris Cake Boy Paris Carl Marletti, Paris Profiterole Chérie, Paris Steel Cyclewear and CoffeeShop

// Pooches frolicking
// Nature showing off
// Friends who bake (and bake well!) 
// Everything by Carl Marletti (but particularly the Lily Valley)
// Dressed up profiteroles by Philippe Urraca, Meilleur Ouvrier de France & President MOF Pâtisserie
// The perfect cup at Steel (more on Steel in my story for T Magazine! Photo by Jesse Morgan).

What's on your must-try list?
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