Hello! Welcome to Pichets in Paris Publishing. Here you will find travel stories and photos, the occasional Book Review and fictional piece based in Paris or France. ALL IMAGES ARE BY L'AUSSIE IMAGES (owned by Denise Covey). Contact me for permission to copy my images.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sorry I've been absent. Am working hard on my stories!

Hopefully I will have my first e-book out in December if all goes to plan. I am busy doing final edits on my first collections of short stories that will be published on Amazon and Smashwords. All have a Paris motif.

Here are some travel tips from the Right Way to Travel, a favourite website of mine that has heaps of tips on how to write about your travels.

Ziploc bags are just as versatile and can even be used to keep your
clothes wrinkle-free. Use them on your next trip to...

1.      Keep your important documents together -- your passport and
boarding pass while you’re hanging around the airport, for example.

2.      Sort your currencies -- dollars in one bag, euros in another,

3.      Make a “kit” of all the things you want to bring on your trip but
don’t need until your trip home: return trip itinerary, cab fare for
the ride home, house keys, etc.

4.      Keep precious items safe. Put the item you want to protect in a
Ziploc bag and close it almost fully, leaving just enough open to fit
a straw through. Then, inflate the bag, remove the straw, and close
the Ziploc completely. Presto...self-made bubble-wrap!

5.      Store your liquids or powders to prevent mess.

6. Keep your clothes wrinkle-free. Larger bags can hold rolled
clothing -- which makes for neater packing and less wrinkled outfits
on the other side.

7.      Make a pillow. Fill a large Ziploc with cotton balls for a light
and compact travel pillow.

8.      Keep your luggage contents clean. Wrap your shoes in bags to
prevent dirt from their soles rubbing off on other items.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

L'Aussie goes to the beach, but in Normandy. Bit different to Aussie beaches. Le Havre and Honfleur.

Le Havre boardwalk

The beach at Le Havre

The 10-kilometre bridge crossing the water to Honfleur from Le Havre

Hotel du Dauphin, our digs in Honfleur - from 17th Century. Isn't it gorgeous! Oh, those narrow, windy steps up to the third floor, no lift of course. Glad we were travelling light.  We find all our accommodation through booking.com and are rarely disappointed.

View to the square from our third story room in the above hotel. Groovy.

Part of the edifice of St Catherines, the oldest timbered church still standing in France. Correct me if I'm wrong. It's in my notes but I'm writing from memory.

The front of St Catherines, the oldest timbered church. See the shingles. Amazing.

We finally get down to Honfleur Harbour seeking food and drink. No wonder Van Gogh and Co painted here don't you think? So gorgeous.

More of gorgeous Honfleur Harbour. About to rain but it just meant we enjoyed huddling around the fire in the restaurant all the more. Cozy! Apparently it rains a lot and is very windy.

Me doing a pose at yet another old timber edifice. Here they use this as a wonderful theatre for live arts. 

This little artisan shop was so pretty had to take a snap.

Do they really name a street after my favourite French dessert? Yes, they do. Only in France..

I hope you enjoyed your little tour from Le Havre to Honfleur. Next stop Mont st Michel and the Tour de France. Day and night shots. 

  • Have you been to either of these cities? 
  • Did you enjoy these pics?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

La Roche Guyon, Normandy, France - living in caves

I'm fascinated that people used to live in these troglodytes (caves) in medieval times. Now these caves are still under renovation and have become artisan workshops as you drive down the hill into La Roche Guyon. This was taken in the early morning mist. I'm so fascinated that I'm going to write a non-fiction article about troglodyte living and how the people used to hide from marauding bands.

A funky bistro in the main street of La Roche Guyon

A half-timbered house we discovered in our meanderings in La Roche Guyon.

I will leave La Roche Guyon now but just wanted to share these pics with you all. Enjoy.

  • Have you got a favourite village in France? 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our French visit, 2011. Normandy - Monet's Garden, La Roche Guyon.

After a wonderful 9 days in Morocco, we flew from Casablanca to Paris. There's nothing like re-visiting favourite places, so after collecting our hire car at Orly Airport, we hit the road. One hour down the motorway we arrived at one of the prettiest villages in France in our opinion, La Roche Guyon, right on the border of Isle de France and Normandy. It's only a few minutes from Monet's Garden at the tiny village of Giverny which we'd vowed to revisit in summer (previously visited in winter.) It is a delight driving around this area with its picture-perfect farmlands growing apples and other produce.

Village of La Roche Guyon, all white cliffs and troglodytes. A right royal town in the past.

The wonderful restaurant at Les Bordes de Seine, the hotel we always stay. The best meals we've ever eaten in France are served here. Always full of Parisians on a day trip. Local produce is served, so we had plenty of duck and foie gras.

Sunset as seen from our hotel window overlooking La Seine. Pretty in pink.

That would be moi in the centre on Monet's steps.

In Monet's Garden, which looks just like his impressionist paintings.

Posing on Monet's famous bridge which appears in many of his paintings.

The Hotel Baudy, one of the oldest buildings in Giverny. Used to be a meeting place for many famous artists, Monet included. Once a brothel, now a restaurant. We ate our very first meal here - salmon rillettes.

The bucolic Normandy countryside. A picture in summer. We saw this scene many days as we drove towards the Normandy coast to see the D-Day Beaches.
  • What do you think of the first couple of days of our French tour? Have you visited these villages, or Normandy?
  • I'll have more on Normandy later...
All photos are taken by ourselves. 

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Parisian 'Moveable Feast.' Following Ernest Hemingway and his pals...

You always have to visit the Arc de Triomphe
I love the old jokes about people coming home from holidays and showing their photos while everyone sits around with glassy looks on their faces. I don't want to be that person inflicting boredom, but I'm launching into a little travel-inspired series, showing you some wonderful Paris/France pics.

So let's get this tour started. You can leave any time you want, ha ha! But I hope you'll at least see a few pics you like or read something that will encourage you to leave a comment.

When you visit someplace marvellous for the first time, you're a tourist. Your visit is usually a frenzy of checking out the famous landmarks, monuments, museums, art galleries...it has to be done. Who could visit London and not see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey? Who could visit Berlin and not see the Brandenburg Gate? Who could visit Paris and not see, er, let me see, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysee, the Seine, Sacre Coeur, Versailles, the Louvre, Notre Dame, St Chapelle, the bridges, the famous cafes..

Sacre Coeur, atop Montmarte, always worth of a return visit

Sure, we have to see these marvels when we travel. But the beauty of visiting someplace marvellous for the second, third or even the fourth time, is that we don't have to do these things; we're free to explore and find the beating heart of a place. This is how I felt when I visited Paris yet again. It wasn't about the monuments, although we revisited our favourite haunts, but this time it was more about getting into the heart of things and this included the bygone era of the literary Paris when it was the mecca for struggling artists, writers and actors.

We (husband and I) made our headquarters in this gorgeous little rustic hotel, Les Degres de Notre Dame.

This hotel was perfect for our stay. 

Notre Dame was just across the bridge.
We were given the 'Romantic Room' so that was sweet. Large by Parisian standards, with even a sitting room, this room was a great base for our stay. It is on the Left Bank in the Latin Quarter, across from Notre Dame and a stone's throw from Shakespeare and Company. Well, wasn't this a good start for a more literary focus?

Shakespeare and Company, just a few streets away! Doing very nicely thanks they tell me!

I trotted off to Shakespeare and Company to buy A Moveable Feast (they have a whole shelf of Hemingway's books. And of the other Lost Generation writers like Scott Fitzgerald and co.) After a day packed with adventure and a dinner in 'cheap street' in the Latin Quarter (3 courses for 10 - 15 euro, good sturdy peasant food like mussels, Bouef Bourguignon, creme brulee (gotta have my creme brulee!)) I'd retire with A Moveable Feast. It somehow took on more of a gloss reading it a short walk from where Hemingway lived most of his early, hungry days in Paris in his twenties and Paris' twenties.

Well, what would you choose? This one?

Or this one? Hmm, decisions...or should we just find a Maccas, more in Hemingway's price range?

I love most of Hemingway's work and I greatly admire his work ethic - writing from 5am - midday every day nearly without fail, always on the search for the 'one true sentence.' As Roland  posted recently, Hemingway said, 'you write to rewrite.' He drew heavily from his life experiences and these were enhanced with large brush strokes in his novels, some recreated into film with a lot of input from Papa himself.

 On a previous visit, I followed in the footsteps of some of my Parisian-based idols like Collette and Victor Hugo, and I did start walking up Hemingway's street, but just wasn't in the mood. This time I was.

I checked out Victor Hugo's apartments again at the Place des Vosges. Still kept as a shrine to him.  Then had coffee in the cafe Victor Hugo in the passages below his apartment. 

74 rue Cardinal Lemoine took on a mesmerising glow during my reading of Hemingway's novel. I wanted to see the apartment building he talks about so much. Where he shivered along with his wife Hedley as they were too poor for heating other than a few sticks. They had no private bathroom. No wonder Hemingway went to cafes to write! He was just too cold at home! So what were his writing habits? At this stage of his life he relied heavily on input from great writers like Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound, all living in Paris at the same time. After his morning spent writing, he'd meet up either casually or planned with one of the 'greats.' Remember he was in his twenties and hadn't yet written a novel. Of course he didn't always take the advice on his writing these luminaries offered; he was very sure about his own talents.

A waiter snapped us drinking rhum babas at the Cafe de Flore in 2004, one of Hemingway's favourite writing places.

So one afternoon, we stepped out of our hotel, headed to the quai, nodded to Notre Dame, and turned right. We walked past the booksellers and artists until we were opposite the Isle St Louis, then turned right into rue Cardinal Lemoine. It is quite a long street by Parisian suburban standards, but it was fun meandering our way upwards away from the Seine. Hemingway describes it as a 'steep street', which it is anything but. Not many steep streets in Paris except around Montmarte.

Hemingway admiring his Paris - source Google images
I guess it felt steep when dressed in your overcoat, feeling full of whisky and rum and shivering with cold. Anyway, to the left we passed James Joyce's Paris home, quite an enclave and much grander than Hemingway's (Joyce had Ulysses under his belt), but we soldiered on right to the top, to the last number in rue Cardinal Lemoine, no 74.

Knocking on Hemingway's door, but no-one's home

He said he lived on the third floor so we had a conversation wondering which was actually his apartment and who lived in it now. Sadly there was no one to ask (turns out they were all having dinner in Place Contrascarpe just down from Hemingway's apartment.) Fittingly there is now a bookshop underneath. Hemingway would have liked that. He says in A Moveable Feast that he loved that apartment, he loved the view and its proximity to everything he needed - his friends, his cafes, his beloved Seine where he would people watch and imagine his stories. He always left his writing when he knew what would happen next so his subconscious could work on it.

We should all be so lucky to live in an apartment like he did while writing in Paris.

The full article can be found on my writing blog, L'Aussie Writing.

Hope everyone is well. I'll be around to catch up when I can!

What have you been doing this past month while I've been jaunting around the world?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Up! Up and Away!

If you have landed here, just letting you know that this blog is closed from June 09 to July 25. I am on the road again. Korea, France, Spain, Morocco, Andorra.

I have lots to do before I get on that plane, so will just be using L'Aussie Writing blog until June 17 and then checking in there from time to time. (I'm taking my netbook on my travels, mai oui!)

When I come back I'll have lots of stories to tell.

Au revoir! Hasta la vista!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Travel itinerary, San Sebastian, Spain

SAN SEBASTIAN - ( DONOSTIA ) Basque Region of Spain

Donostia - San Sebastian -  Donostia is Basque for San Sebastian. Euskera (Basque ) is a language of unknown origins and is spoken by around 35% of Donostiarras (San Sebastian's residents).

San Sebastian is the undisputed queen of Basque resorts, with its chic La Concha Bay resort. The deep and sparkling still aqua of the bay and beautifull beach area bounded by lush, rolling hills has drawn celebrities and sun lovers to the mild winters and hot summers for generations.

We are planning to be in San Sebastian in late June, so I hope we don't have to have to push our way through the crowds.

The picturesque island of Santa Clara is situated closely offshore in the centre of the La Concha Bay and can be accessed from the pier located on the eastern side of the isle. It is home to one of the areas prettiest beaches in the area, although due to the tides it can only be used for part of the day. The island can be accessed by boat or why not join some of the locals and swim across !!

One of my commenters on the A - Z Challenge said I have to do this swim so I have packed my gear with this in mind!

Zurriola Bridge also known as the Kursaal Bridge , proudly showing off its original lamps of expressionist and futuristic style light up the mouth of the Urumea. The bridge was built on the site of the old Kursaal Casino.

I love bridges, do you? This one looks lovely.

The San Sebastian Town Hall is now a famous landmark which was inaugurated in 1897 as would you believe it, a casino although due to gambling prohibition laws in 1924 the Casino was closed down to be renovated and opened as the Town Hall of the city and continues to be used for that function to this day.

San Sebastian has three beaches: the Playa de la Concha, Ondaretta and the Playa de Gros. La Concha is probably the prettiest, with a wide crescent of sand stretching around the bay, but it's also the most crowded. Ondaretta is less packed and almost as pretty, and most consider Ondaretta to be the best beach for swimming. The atmosphere here is more calm than La Concha's bikini party atmosphere.

Once you're off the beach, you'll probably want to hit the old quarter for a go at the bars and waterside restaurants crowding the narrow and noisy streets. Tapas are laid out at all but the fanciest bars for delectable bites of special treats, and shellfish merchants hang out by the harbor to hawk the freshest of fish. I'm looking forward to this tapas party.

We have booked a gorgeous little hotel perched on a cliff, so we should have a lovely, albeit short, stay in San Sebastian before heading up to Bordeaux and the Dordogne Valley of France.

Have you been to San Sebastian? Do you have any recommendations of what to see?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bienvenue en France - the Dordogne - Sarlat, foie gras and the Lascaux Caves

The time for our next overseas trip is fast approaching. On June 18 we will be in Paris, but only for a few hours. Our itinerary takes us to Madrid, Spain, where we hire a car and drive to San Sebastian, Spain, then back into the Dordogne in France via Bordeaux. Very exciting.

We've never quite made it to the Dordogne, but it has fascinated us for years. We are staying in the very beautiful (I'm told, Sarlat) for a couple of days, where we will drive around admiring the fantastic countryside and architecture, sampling the regional food and wine...

Map showing the Dordogne

SARLAT (pronunced SARLAH)

A big attraction of Sarlat and nearby towns is the caves nearby with prehistoric paintings. The most famous is Lascaux, which is closed to the public. The French have constructed a replica named Lascaux II near the original. The only actual painted cave open to the public, or at least to 200 of them per day, is Grotte de Font-de-Gaume. Our guide, Philippe Mouret, was able to obtain tickets to both Lascaux II and to Font-de-Gaume.

Lascaux, won't it be wonderful to see these (reproduced) paintings
The paintings are truly remarkable. The folks who painted them used torches for illumination and wooden scaffolding to reach the ceiling of the cave, and combinations of minerals to create various colors. They painted animals utilizing the contours of the cave walls. The paintings are fairly large, with the largest animal being 15 feet long. They painted some animals at a 45-degree angle, not just in profile. And, they did this up to 18,000 years ago! Compare this with the builders of the Egyptian pyramids (6000 years ago), the New Testament writers (2000 years ago) and the writers of the US declaration of independence (225 years ago).

Foie gras anyone?

Sarlat is also famous (or infamous) for pate de foie gras. This translates to paste of fat liver. Farmers around Sarlat force-feed geese to enlarge their livers, which are then served as a delicacy. Another specialty of the area is truffles.

More information on the Dordogne,..

Monday, May 9, 2011

Death in the Dordogne, by Louis Sanders

Well, any book on France catches my eye, whether fiction or non-fiction, I grab them all with greedy passion. However, maybe I'll be sorry I found this one at my local library.

I'm preparing for a trip in a month where I am going to drive around the Dordogne region of France, probably the last region I haven't explored. Well, not just the Dordogne - I will then head to the South of France via Toulouse and Carcassone, before swinging up to Andorra and Northern Spain.

Anyhow...my point...I've just finished reading Death in the Dordogne. How did Sanders get the French Ministry of Culture (Centre National du Livre) to assist in its publication. It paints a pretty bleak picture of the Dordogne - the cold, the rain, the bleakness, the War, the Resistance (the French don't call it the Resistance), the murders, the odd people - locals and expats. Well, it wouldn't make me want to go there if I hadn't read all the other glowing tomes. As the blurb says, it's not "A Year in Provence.'

This is the Dordogne I hope to discover.
Here's a couple of short reviews:

The February weather may be dark and dismal, but the locals provide plenty of colour as "a newly installed Englishman" in rural southern France copes with odd neighbors (a secretive doctor, a reclusive Dutch woman, a goat-breeding English alcoholic) and odder fatal accidents in Louis Sanders's engaging debut, Death in the Dordogne, translated by Adriana Hunter. The genial narrator, lacking anything better to do, busies himself with investigating, and he turns up old grudges that lead to new crimes in the first of a series.

When you moved to France to a picturesque hamlet in the Dordogne no one said it would be like this in February: freezing cold, dark by mid-afternoon and so quiet. Members of the Caminade family keep dying in suspicious circumstances, and the doctor knows more about it than he's prepared to reveal…. Slyly funny and delightfully laconic, Death in the Dordogne is the perfect accompaniment for anyone thinking about a holiday in France! (Ya think?)

I've since discovered Louis Sanders is an editor at a publishing house and he now lives in rural France in the Dordogne with his English wife. I figure the reason he wrote such a bleak tale of the Dordogne is that it is already full of the English and he wants to stop the influx! Maybe I can track him down and ask him. He's supposed to be writing a series, the lucky dog!

Go to this link for more info...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Troyes in France. First stop after Paris. What a gorgeous city! Reprint of my A - z Challenge entry.

Sorry I've been away so long, but with my writing, then participating in the A - Z Challenge where I've been blogging every day on my travel blog, I've been slow getting back to Paris! And on June 16 I'm heading back to Paris, then travelling for a month. What exciting stories I'll have to tell you then.

Anyway, for the T in the A -  Challenge I wrote about Troyes in France, a little south of Paris, in the Champagne Region. To kick off PichetsinParis again, I thought I'd reprint my post here. Enjoy...

Map of France showing the Champagne Region with Troyes in the South-West

When I first hit France in 2004, I was on a mission to get to Italy. Sounds crazy, but Aussie travellers are crazy. After over 20 hours on a plane to reach civilization (((snicker, snicker))), we hit the road running, or speeding, whatever. So after ooing and aahing as the plane hovered over Charles de Gaulle Airport, our schedule meant we had a rugged drive ahead to get to a little hill town north of Rome. Well, why didn't we fly into Rome then? Well, there was a reason but I quite forget now!

Champagne Region. See Troyes in the South West. (We got back to Champagne in 2008 where we visited many of the other Champagne towns and drank lots of, yeah, you got it...)

Anyhoo, tiredness set in as it does when you've been in a plane for a day, so we we managed to find our way out of Paris after only one wrong turn, then found the A-whatever, and headed south. No fun navigating as night set in along with jet lag, so where to lay our weary heads? Oh, there on the map, an interesting little town, Troyes, let's investigate. (Even though our itinerary was micro-managed by our travel agent, she had forgotten to book us in anywhere on our first night!) We brought her flowers when we returned...

After driving round and round looking for the actual city, we finally hit paydirt and stumbled upon the medieval centre. Woo hoo. We like old stuff. I guarded the car while the hubs found us a room at the inn, or the Best Western whatever. Well, what do you know? Oui, oui, tres possible.

Our first night in France was spent in a hotel right in the medieval centre and the badly-maligned French staff couldn't do enough to help travel-weary Aussies - "Have another bottle of Evian, s'il vous plait." I thought they'd be tu-ing us before too long. Desole, our dining room is closed, but there is a good Chinese down the road - (((guffaw))). So our first meal in France was Chinese. Ah, such a global society! It was tres delicious so not complaining.

We staggered to bed (you know you can't get a decent wine in a Chinese restaurant, must have been all that Evian) and slept the sleep of the blissfully happy.

Ah, but next morning we really knew what happiness was! Hitting the cobblestone streets, we were blown away by the picture-postcard perfection (yes, it brings out the poet in me) of a medieval town dusted in icing sugar snow, with happy Christmas music wafting through the chilly air. Yes, Aussies also like to hit Europe at Christmas to escape the oven that is Australia at that happy time. We like to experience a 'white' Christmas once in our lives with not a prawn or a bbq in sight for once!

So, after ordering a petit dejeuner in a delightfully authentic bistro, with all these French people (((ha ha))) and little silver trays with bills, money, whatever - where's the Euros?, I was able to use my recently-revised French language skills on the uber-efficient waiter. It all worked so seamlessly that the hubs (who speaks only Strine) didn't even know I'd ordered until bowls of steaming cafe au lait and croissants came winging out way and were plonked without ceremony on the timbered table. Ah, who has tasted more delicious coffee or croissants? They tasted like nectar to a couple of starving Aussies.

Petit dejeuner over with, let's hit the streets. Bit bumpy these cobblestones and it doesn't help that they've been dusted with snow overnight, but how completely exotic! Instead of donning the bikini and hitting the waves, here we are rugged up in overcoats, boots, scarves, gloves and beanies, walking up streets of half-timbered houses which looked like they could topple any minute, all accompanied by dulcet tones of French music. Oh la la. France stole my heart that magical morning in Troyes.

Finding Troyes was just the beginning of a red-hot love affair that rages on...

Here are some of the delights of Troyes. Every time we have a rave to a French person, telling them about our Troyes' experience, they look blank. Reason? Recently found out they pronounce it Trwah and were too polite to tell us!

Here's the blurb:

Troyes (pronounced trwah), was once a center for stained glass and textiles. It was also the home of the 12th-century poet Chrétien de Troyes, who wrote versions of the Arthurian legends, and of andouillettes, sausages, made in Troyes from tripe and famous throughout France.

The many cobblestone, pedestrians-only streets in the town's historic center give Troyes an intimacy that belies its population of over 60,000. An outline of the city looks like a Champagne cork with the medieval and artisanal vestiges mostly in the St.-Jean quarter at the base, and the administrative and ecclesiastical center at the head.

Go here if you'd like to learn more abou this gorgeous place.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Sitting at a typewriter and opening veins...

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.                        -Red Smith

That's what I'm doing for the next month, opening veins. Sorry, I won't be posting, but I will visit occasionally. I'll be back early April.

I have a lot of writing to do before I embark on my month-long sojourn in mid-June to Paris, the Dordogne, S.W. France, Andorra, San Sebastian Spain, Bordeaux, Morocco, Paris...