A 1680 -1780 Costume “Bal des Favorites”

Le Bal:

Held in the Hotel de France (l’ancien hôtel de Jean Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Saint Pouange et de Villacerf) in their “Galerie des Glaces” reception room, the period costume ball began with each person/couple’s entrance into the ballroom being announced by an “aboyeur,” then walking under an archway of swords into the room.

The music playing was period music by Lully for the evening’s festivities, accompanied by a dance instructor giving verbal instructions on how to do the various period dances, including the farandole. We even did the line dance “Madison” (equivalent to the Electric Slide) to period music, but with more graceful foot movements, of course.  There were period dance demonstrations and a sword fight presentation to entertain the 100 or so attendees (age range was 20’s to 70’s).

It truly felt like a Cinderella moment, as I was transported back in time and history – via dress, manners, dance, and etiquette – I didn’t want the evening to ever end.  Starting at midnight, the music changed to modern (Prince, Marvin Gaye, Robin Thicke), and it was fun, but somewhat strange, to dance in costume to rock/techno beats – and of course, Cinderella had to eventually leave the ball.

The following day, about 28 of the attendees (all in costume) visited the Conciergerie, then walked by the Louvre pyramid on our way to have lunch. Walking through Paris in costume was also a wonderful experience, as passersby and drivers looked and commented. This time, I felt like a star being ‘chased’ by paparazzi, as 15-20 photo takers at a time clicked away when we posed as a group every 5 minutes. Everywhere we went, people had a big smile as we approached, some commenting and/or asking questions, and of course, also posing with us for photos.

(3 dance videos & 1 sword fight video)

(Costume photo gallery to follow in a separate post)

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“Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!”

2012 BeaujolaisOddly enough, I happened to be in Paris for the November 15, 2012 release of “Beaujolais Nouveau” & was again in Paris this year on the legally regulated release day/time: the third Thursday of November at midnight.  The event is a world-wide celebration of a red wine from Beaujolais, located in the Burgundy region of France. By law, the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau is on the third Thursday of November at 12:01 AM.

Reportedly, in the 1950s the makers of the wine were keen to increase the sales of this young vintage – there wasn’t a huge demand due to ageing process of wines.

Beaujolais Nouveau wine isn’t really nouveau/new, since it’s been around since the 19th century.  Targeting Paris to carry the first bottles released in cafés and restaurants, as a marketing tactic, made this event an annual success since then, with the largest importers being Japan, Germany and the U.S.

Which promotional poster do you prefer?

November 21, 2013:

Beaujolais nouveau 2013

Parlez-vous anglais?

Provence & Côte d’Azur: France falls to last place in Europe:

Europe as whole may be moving towards better English language proficiency, but France is on an entirely different trajectory, says Education First. The latest figures from the international education organisation have revealed a trend of steadily declining skills in English among the French, with countries such as China, Russia and neighbour Italy moving ahead of the population when it comes to the anglophone mother tongue.

Education First’s 2013 report blamed cultural and educational factors for France’s poor rating

Over the last 12 months, Education First has complied information on 60 countries worldwide. Interviewing some 750,000 adults and matching the data with statistics from the previous five years, the study highlights the evolution of English language proficiency through balancing up the impact of English among national workforces and economic outlook.

France has come a lowly 35th place, with neighbouring nations Belgium (13th), Germany (14th), Switzerland (16th), Spain (23rd) and Italy (32nd) surpassing the country in terms of English language abilities.

The French nation was given a ‘low proficiency’ marker and a 50.53 score, dropping 2.63 points on the figures from 2012. Education First says, “While the rest of Europe is already proficient in English or steadily working towards that goal, France is on an entirely different trajectory. France currently has the weakest English skills in Europe.”

The study, released on 5th November, has pointed the finger at a range cultural and education related factors, saying, “In France, English is still often seen as a threat to French.” Low exposure to English in the media and the school system were both blamed by the study and its respondents.

Elsewhere in the report, eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary and Slovenia have witnessed a surge in English language proficiency over the last year, with all three making it into the top 10.

Turkey saw the biggest improvement, but remained in the lower echelons of territories included in the study (41th). An additional seven nations joined the ranking table in the 2013 report: Estonia (4th), Slovenia (10th), Latvia (15th), Ukraine (27th), Sri Lanka (30th), Jordan (50th), and Iraq (60th).

Source/Credit: Elsa Carpenter for The Riviera Times

NEW: ENGLISH LESSONS FOR THE FRENCH ON SNCF TRAINS

Skipping off to Paris

A relevant post, since I’m ‘skipping’ off to Paris, and will be ‘skipping’ through the city to savor it’s beauty and ambiance with child-like wonder.

I am planning to eat at Le Grand Colbert (they also have delicious, authentic chocolat chaud), to enjoy an apero at Le Meurice (original plan was Plaza Athenée, but it is closed for renovation), and bien sûr, to try this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau, after its official release tonight at one minute past midnight (the fourth jeudi (Thursday) in November).

So, here’s to being young at heart…….especially in the ‘City of Light!’ (city of lightS is commonly used, but is not correct)

Do you know why Paris is named the city of light?  Answer/guess in the comment section.

What’s your take on Monaco?

Most visitors to the French Riviera express a desire to see two places in particular: Cannes (due to the famous film festival) and Monaco (due to its reputation for fame & fortune). Interestingly enough, the majority of my friends, who have visited Monaco, were not impressed/disappointed, even referring to it as a “concrete jungle.”

Of course, Monte Carlo has many beautiful sites: the ports, casino square, the rock, and local parks. So, just wondering what’s your impression?

National Day of Monaco – 19 november

Photo credit: Michelle Locke, Associated Press

Photo credit: Michelle Locke, Associated Press – philly.com

Top Destinations For Romantic Getaways On The French Riviera

The following is a guest blog article about four of the many lovely places to visit on the French Riviera – BIENVENUE!

“Cote d’Azur, quite popularly known as the French Rivera in the English-speaking world is the beautiful coastline of southeast France that overlooks the Mediterranean. Whether you are searching the internet for a romantic weekend, a lifetime vacation or honeymoon you can find the most enticing experience in the French Riviera. We have listed below some of the best places that inspire romance in the French Riviera

Grasse

What could be more romantic than the perfume capital of the world? The rural hideaway is the best place to surprise your loved one with the best smelling gifts. The French perfumery took shape in this little town since the first settlers made it their home back in 1400. You could also find several perfume stores about, where you will be able to make a custom blend of perfume based on your preferences. Some of the hotels in these parts also have some of the world’s finest wines locked away in their century old cellars. If you ever visit Grasse, you should also travel to the old town of Cannes which is just 15 kilometers to the south of Grasse, where you will be able to relish in the finest pebble beaches the French Riviera has to offer. For adventures couples there are a couple of hillocks surrounded by serene forest nearby, where they can go on hiking and have the whole place to themselves.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

The Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is probably the best place to blend romance and luxury. The placidity and legendary hotels around the peninsula was the main reason it had been one of the most favored destinations of the European aristocracy. It is still a favorite holiday destination for a lot of millionaires around the globe. The picture-perfect peninsula will surely live up to your expectations of a romantic getaway. Take a stroll along the promenade Maurice Rouvier during the evenings past the pleasing villas towards the small fishing harbor. There are three popular beaches in the peninsula. Cro de Peï Pin, the biggest beach in the locality is also the most crowded. For couples who prefer privacy, there is the Paloma beach on the foot of a small cliff on the north. The beach is just 10 minutes walk from the fishing harbor. To the north of the main peninsula is the Passable beach past the Office de Tourisme which is also moderately crowded during the sunny days.

Old Town of Antibes

There is no best time of the year to visit the town of Antibes. It is one of the biggest pleasure ports in the French Riviera. The main attraction of Antibes is the majestically built Fort Carré. Walk along the ramparts of the old fort to get a stunning view of the ocean and the waves crashing against the rocks down below. There is also the Musée Picasso where you will be able to witness some of the best works of the veteran artist.

Nice

A nice city (pun intended) located in the heart of the French Riviera is Nice. The large and lively city might not be the best place to go if you need privacy, but there is a lot of exiting thing to do in the ancient city, which is very lively. The flea market which is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays located in the main square attracts a lot of tourists. It’s a true delight to your eyes with all the bright vibrant colors and your nose with enticing scent of flowers and fruits sold in the stalls. Some of the places one shouldn’t fail to visit around Nice are, Chapelle de la Miséricorde, the famous Castle Hill, and the ornate Opera.”

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Author Bio: Aiden Korr is a vivid traveler and loves to visit different places around the world. He specifically recommends Quintessentially Concierge.

Salon du Palais Gourmand (Culinary Expo)

Similar to the Salon des Vignerons, this annual exposition was equally impressive, with winemakers, artisans, and culinary specialists all enticing visitors to taste and sample their wares. Held over a five-day period at the l’Hippodrome/racetrack in Cagnes-sur-Mer, the event hosts regional productors from all over France.

Of course, my first stop was at one of the champagne stands, where I sampled their Brut Rosé – it was miam-miam!  Foie gras, super-size cheeses, meats and sausages of every kind, olives, nougat, macaroons, oysters, and cassoulet were on display in the pavillon – a feast for the eyes, as well as for the tastebuds – Bon Appétit!