Chocolate ganaches flavored with Guinness beer? Realistic polar bears carved in pure cocoa? Nutty, fruity concoctions called "mendiants" (meaning "beggar", inexplicably) and a couture stiletto heel made of chocolate? It's all in this short but delicious travel video, which takes you on a whirl through the workshops and boutiques of some of Paris' cream-of-the-crop chocolate makers.
- Top Paris Chocolate Shops
- Best Hot Chocolate in Paris
- Interview With Paris Chocolate Artisan Patrick Roger
- Best Patisseries (Pastries) in Paris
Image: Paris chocolate maestro Patrick Roger at his chocolate workshop south of Paris. ©2010 Courtney Traub.
Late last month, Parisians were given a major mood booster in the midst of the late-autumn dark and rain: the city came back to life with light and holiday-inspired cheer. From the Champs-Elysées to Saint-Germain-des-Prés (yes, it rhymes), major thoroughfares around the city were trimmed and adorned in the festive holiday spirit that December in Paris represents so well. And if you're planning to be in town on or around the 25th, Christmas in Paris can be a memorable and relaxed experience, provided you plan well by following our tips for a stress-free Noel. For those of you celebrating Hannukah, several festive events are planned at the Kehilat Gesher center in Paris, and menorah lightings make the city even brighter this month.
- New: Christmas Decorations and Window Displays in Paris in 2013
- December Events in Paris
- Christmas Lights in Paris: 2013 Guide
- Paris Christmas Markets in 2013 and 2014
Pictured: A Christmas market in Paris in 2011. Jacob Kleinman/Licensed to About.com.
Readers often ask me whether they should consider giving the Paris bike rental scheme, Velib', a chance. I usually tell them that it's a great option for experienced urban cyclists who feel totally confident in their capacities to react to unwieldy behavior from cars and pedestrians, or for those who want to take a spin on bike trails in the vast city parks known as the Bois de Vincennes or Bois de Boulogne. Otherwise, I tend to advise against it as a means of getting around. Consider a bike tour with trained professionals if you really want to get on two wheels to see the city (see our review of one very good one by reading further). And if you nonetheless decide to give the Velib' a whirl on your next trip, make sure to learn about how it all works and read my notes on safety ahead of time by consulting-- and bookmarking for future reference-- the complete guide below.
More Practical Paris Features:
Image credit: LWY/Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.
No visit to Paris would be complete without visiting a few of the city's many beautiful-- or just weird and wonderful-- cathedrals, churches and basilicas. From the commanding splendor of the twelfth-century Notre Dame Cathedral to the thousands of panels of sublime stained glass adorning the nearby Sainte-Chapelle (pictured), or the astounding and legendary effigies of French kings and queens resting at the Basilique de St-Denis, reserving time to visit Paris' most stunning cathedrals and churches is definitely recommended, particularly in the winter months when blustery conditions make outdoor activities less appealing.
- Visual Highlights at Notre Dame Cathedral
- In Pictures: The Subtle Beauty of Sainte-Chapelle
- Top Monuments and Historical Sights in Paris
- Paris History in Brief
Image credit: 2010 Courtney Traub/Licensed to About.com.
Tokyo's craze for feline-centric cafes has finally caught on in the city of light, a place slow to change or latch on to fads. The Café des Chats opened just a couple of months ago, and the buzz was immediate: cat fans and journalists eager to get a peek inside made the waiting list long. Fortunately enough for the feline lovers among you, our persistent Contributor Colette Davidson managed to get a reservation-- read her hilarious and frank account of the Paris Cat Cafe here (cute cats await, guaranteed...)
- Visiting Paris With Kids: What to Do (and Avoid)?
- Zoo at the Paris Jardin des Plantes
- Are Dogs Allowed in the Paris Metro?
- Top Parisian Cafes: Best Spots to Loaf and Dream
Image credit: Colette Davdison/Licensed to About.com
Having formerly written about the fragance industry and observed firsthand how some of France's most coveted perfume houses create their scents, I went from being not at all interested to appreciating fragrance-making as a genuine art-- at least when it's taken seriously. Arguably the world center of the luxury fragrance trade, Paris is quite simply ideal if you're looking for a limited-edition or bespoke scent that you can't find at any corner department store, and with the holiday season around the corner, why not take a stroll around the city's best perfume shops, from iconic brands like Guerlain to up-and-coming and niche artisan scent purveyors such as Serge Lutens, whose gorgeous shop on the Palais Royale is a treat in itself (pictured)?
Read More: Top Paris Perfume Shops
- Holiday Gift Shopping in Paris
- Top Paris Boutiques and Concept Stores
- Complete Guide to Shopping in Paris
- Shops Open on Sunday in Paris
Image: Courtesy of Serge Lutens.
Paris city officials and French actress-slash-supermodel Laetitia Casta flipped the switch Wednesday evening to illuminate the Champs-Elysées with holiday lights and decorations. Some 200 trees situated alongside the iconic avenue, and stretching from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, will be lined with shimmering, ecologically friendly blue lights through January 8th, boosted by thousands of garlands and light-emitting diodes placed in the treetops that progressively change from blue to red to white hues, making the scene especially bright and cheerful. As in past years, the famed avenue will also have a full-blown Christmas market, so expect large crowds if you venture there.
Meanwhile, Christmas lights and holiday decorations in other areas of Paris will start showing up around the city in coming weeks-- read the complete guide for details on where to head for seasonal cheer.
In Paris for the holiday season? Make sure to consult our newly updated guide to December Events in Paris, highlighting all the major seasonal happenings around town, as well as major exhibits on major figures such as Georges Braque. Finally, don't procrastinate any longer on making holiday dinner reservations: consult my guide to Paris restaurants open for Christmas to secure your table.
Parents visiting Paris with their kids in tow often anticipate giant headaches when it comes to eating out in Paris. It is, after all, a city reputed for gastronomic complexity and a rigid restaurant culture in which the customer is rarely king. They conjure up nightmarish scenarios in which their picky young eaters are served too-rare meat, leave behind picked-at platefuls of "weird" vegetables complete with funny-tasting sauces, or worse, throw temper tantrums when favorite foods or restaurant chains cannot be found.
The question of impatient restaurant staff members unwilling to cater to the needs of kids and their often simple tastes is another nail-biting point. How to avoid embarrassment or wasted meals when you want to go somewhere reputed for its excellent fare, but not necessarily for its family friendly philosophy?
To assuage some of this ambient anxiety, I've put together some tips for parents on how to keep mealtimes drama-free while traveling in the city of light. Luckily, there are plenty of places to eat that happily cater to kids, despite the horror stories. Read on, and find some reassurance.
Paris Photo, the city's annual rendez-vous of choice for professional photographers, buyers, and admirers of the medium, runs from November 14th to 17th at the Grand Palais. If you have a weakness for photography, be sure to check out this year's show, which brings together some 136 galleries, 28 book publishers and around 1,500 established and promising new artists, for an absorbing and exciting look at contemporary photography from around the globe.
Wine fans, take note: every third Thursday of November, a humble, lightly fermented wine made from Gamay grapes cultivated in the Beaujolais region of France is ushered in joyfully in celebrations across the country-- and Paris is no exception. Wine bars around the city will be ushering in the 2013 harvest of Beaujolais Nouveau wines with tastings and, in some cases, all-out celebrations-- and many will continue the festivities throughout the month.
To get inspired and find out where to head for tastings of "BN" this year, check out our visual guide to Beaujolais Nouveau tastings in Paris. About.com Paris Travel Contributor Jacob Kleinman was on the scene to celebrate the arrival of the new vintage in several bars and "caves" (cellars) around the city, and this year many of the same spots are hosting tastings. Oh, and remember to fill up on plenty of bread, cheese and other goodies while you taste: Beaujolais Nouveau may be a light wine, but it can get to your head more quickly than you think!
- Best Wine Bars in Paris
- Vendanges de Montmartre (Wine Harvest)
- Complete Guide to Food and Dining in Paris
Image credit: Jacob Kleinman/Licensed to About.com.