presidential dinner

How to host a presidential dinner

In November 1975, an important world event took place – the first ‘Group of Six’, or G6 summit was held. French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing invited the other five largest and richest industrialised nations – UK, USA, West Germany, Italy and Japan – to a three day summit in a beautiful château surrounded by an ancient forest. There were informal chats, serious meetings about the world economy, and presidential dinners in a sumptuous salle à manger. Versailles? No. Chambord? No. Only 48 kilometres from Paris, the setting for this momentous event was…

5 places to smell the roses in Paris

I adore roses. My favourite time of the year is early June, when the delicious honey scent of hundreds of climbing yellow roses infuses every room of my old stone house. On another side, the gnarled trunks of an ancient rose tree rest against the cobbled wall, giving life to slowly unfurling pale pink roses with their heavenly scent. Are you a rose lover as well? If so, here are 5 places in Paris where you can go to see, admire (and smell) the roses.

french easter

A French Easter

Easter, or Pâques in French, is a beautiful time of the year. The bright yellow flocks of daffodils dance in the sunlight, joyous after a long winter. The first of the pink blossoms twirl their way around branches sprinkled with tiny green shoots, alive with tiny birds flitting to and fro, creating a nest for their soon to be babies. In the markets, the first of the sweet, luscious strawberries appear. And chocolate! Sitting proudly on the counter of every…

camembert

Which came first, the camembert or the brie?

In the lush, green hills of the Normandy countryside, in the north of France, lies the tiny village of Camembert. Home to around 200 people and a cheese museum, legend tells us that it was here, in 1791, a priest by the name of Abbot Charles-Jean Bonvoust sought refuge whilst on his way to England, to escape the persecution of the new revolutionary government in Paris. Luckily for the priest, he was found by a local fromagère, cheesemaker Marie Harel,…

4 women who totally owned the French Revolution

The supposed heroes of the French Revolution are names embedded in history – the evil Robespierre, the brave Lafayette, the tragic Jean-Paul Marat. But what of the women of France? They were not idly sitting at home with their embroidery waiting for an end to the chaos: they picked up their pikes and stormed the Bastille; they dragged their cannons to Versailles; they petitioned for the right to bear arms; they dressed as men and joined the army. Here are…

napoleon

Napoléon’s Pavillon

There is a stone bridge on the outskirts of a nearby town, where fishermen cast their lines and friendly locals stop and ask about the morning’s catch. It is a bridge I see often in the distance from my car. On either side the water glistens, or glares, depending on the season and the time of day…

Riding the Blue Train to Nice

Feeling the winter blues? Take a ride on the exclusive Train Bleu, all the way to the sun-drenched coast of the French Riviera. You’ll be in good company – the Blue Train to Nice saw the likes of The Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson, Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and all manner of celebrities.