Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

An African Fair in Paris – Part I – The Opening Ceremony

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
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The 5th annual African Fair was held last weekend at Les Esselières, an exhibition hall in the Paris suburb of Villejuif. Organized by the Chambre de Commerce Africaine de Paris and sponsored in large part by Appolinaire Timpiga Compaoré, a businessman from Burkina Faso, the fair featured food, music, dance, and exhibits by artisans, non-profit associations, fashion designers, public relations specialists, telecommunications, cosmetics, and more…

Four Officers of the African Chamber of Commerce of Paris

Four Officers of the African Chamber of Commerce of Paris
From left to right: Maximilien Bouteillier – General Secretary, Boubacar Sabaly – Public Relations, Michel Réchal – Technical Manager, Marc Yao – President

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Daffirma Ibamu presided as master of ceremonies.

Daffirma Ibamu

Daffirma Ibamu – Master of Ceremonies
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

At the opening ceremony, a number of dignitaries took the stage to express their aspirations for African economic development.

Lasana Kouyaté - Former Prime Minister of GuineaSiaka Koné - Commercial and Marketing Director of Télécel FasoMamadou Sangaré - Minister Counsellor of the Ambassador of Burkina Faso

Lasana Kouyaté – Former Prime Minister of Guinea
Siaka Koné – Commercial and Marketing Director of Télécel Faso
Mamadou Sangaré – Minister Counsellor of the Ambassador of Burkina Faso

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

And then the fun began!

Academie Woyo

Academie Woyo
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The Academie Woyo, representing the Woyo people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, performed drums and dance. A video of their practice session held at Parc de la Villette in Paris can be viewed here.

Dancing…

Woyo drumming and dancing

Woyo Drumming and Dancing
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

and singing…

Mélodie Rémy and Celia Soulmusic

Mélodie Rémy and Celia Soulmusic
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Celia Soulmusic’s Facebook page can be viewed here.

Next…a fashion show.

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Alliance Française de Minneapolis/St Paul: where French culture meets the Twin Cities
by Sabrina Kennelly

Friday, November 13th, 2015
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Within a network of over 1,134 Alliance Française chapters worldwide, the Alliance Française Minneapolis/St Paul is the only French cultural center in the state of Minnesota. In the 1920s, Professor Jacques Fermand of the University of Minnesota began the Twin Cities chapter with only a small group of interested members. Now, AFMSP has over 1,000 members and welcomes 900 students annually.

A propos
Located in the Warehouse district in downtown Minneapolis, Alliance Française Mpls/St Paul serves as a center for French-language activities, including its monthly Wine and Ciné Club, the promotion and presentation of arts and culture of France and French-speaking cultures around the world with celebrations such as its Le Mois de la Francophonie, and various educational components such as our language classes and library consisting of over 5,000 books in French.

Alliance Française of Minneapolis - St Paul Open House

Alliance Française of Minneapolis/St Paul – Open House
Photograph courtesy of AFMSP

In addition to these events, AFMSP hosts numerous events for French-speakers of all ages (not to mention last month’s fantastic presentation with the owner of this blog). Activities include teleconferences with the grandmother of the French nouvelle-vague Agnes Varda, and French economist Thomas Piketty, viewing a documentary on the French liberation movement “Je ne suis pas féministe mais…” with director Sylvie Tissot, book clubs, monthly breakfast conversation groups for the community, Bastille Day celebrations, musical events, concerts, lectures, conferences, holiday celebrations, and more. Venez nous rendre visite on our Facebook page to see what we are doing next!

Evènements à venir
Our variety of special events includes an annual Fête D’Hiver, which will feature a Francophone-inspired holiday market, a celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau 2015 with Jeunes Cadres Dynamiques, and our mini-class sessions ranging from cooking to learning about winter holidays around the world. To get more information about our latest events and classes please check out our Website.

Haïtian Performance - Le Mois de la Francophonie

Haïtian Performance – Le Mois de la Francophonie
Photograph courtesy of AFMSP

With over 150 events annually and a staff from around the world, Alliance Française Mpls/St Paul has a lot to offer to the community. There is no doubt that we play an influential role within the Twin Cities and Rochester community through our cultural and educational opportunities as well as our Executive Director’s role as an Honorary Consul for the state of Minnesota. For more information on Alliance Française Mpls/St Paul please visit our social media pages (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook).

Sabrina Kennelly is marketing and communications intern at the Alliance Française of Minneapolis/St Paul.

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Liège and the Louvre – Partners in Art

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
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September 14 was a grand day for France and the city of Liège, Belgium. A series of events unfolded to announce a cultural partnership that will be anchored by a collaboration between La Boverie, Liège’s fine arts museum, and the Louvre museum in Paris.

Fabienne Reuter, General Delegate of Wallonia-Bruxelles in Paris

Fabienne Reuter, General Delegate of Wallonia-Bruxelles in Paris
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The last event of the day celebrated the La Boverie-Louvre partnership with a reception and presentation at the Belgian Embassy. Madame Fabienne Reuter, General Delegate of Wallonia-Brussels in Paris, opened the ceremony by recalling her childhood memories of the unique site where La Boverie now stands. She then introduced the first speaker of the evening.

Willy Demeyer - Mayor of Liège

Willy Demeyer – Mayor of Liège
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Willy Demeyer, Mayor of Liège in Belgium, took the stage and spoke passionately about La Boverie, which is currently under renovation in Liège.

Vincent Pomarède - Director of Cultural Programming at the Louvre

Vincent Pomarède – Director of Cultural Programming at the Louvre
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

He was followed by Vincent Pomarède, Director of Cultural Programming at the Louvre, who shared his enthusiasm for the partnership and spoke about the theme of “In Open Air,” the inaugural exposition to be held at La Boverie in May 2016. The show is still in the planning stage; details will be forthcoming in the near future.

François Dethier, Associate Director of Curtius Brewery - left - Michel Cloes,  - right

François Dethier (left) and Michel Cloes (right)
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Michel Cloes, Honorary Consul of France for the Provinces of Liège and Luxembourg and organizer of the event, was in attendance. He and François Dethier, Associate Director of Curtius Brewery in Liège, pose next to the Belgium flag, each holding a glass of Curtius beer.

Curtius Brewery was one of the supplies of Belgium products that were served at last night’s reception.

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Appels en Absence – An American Play in Paris

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
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by Monique Y. Wells

Appels en Absence is the French translation of an American play written by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Emily Wilson and translated by Isabelle Famchon, it is being brilliantly performed by an ensemble cast at the Lucernaire theater* in Montparnasse.

The play opens with all six members of the cast seated in various poses on a minimalist stage. At the fore are a woman who faces the audience (Jean) and a man whose back is turned toward the audience (Gordon).

Jean (Nathalie Baunaure) in the foreground

Jean (Nathalie Baunaure) in the foreground
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Gordon (Marc Marchand) sits with his back to the audience; Mrs. Gottlieb (Dorli Lamar) and Gordon's mistress (Fiamma Bennett) in profile in the background

Gordon (Marc Marchand) sits with his back to the audience;
Mrs. Gottlieb (Dorli Lamar) and
Gordon’s mistress (Fiamma Bennett) in profile in the background

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We quickly surmise that Jean is sitting in the cafe. Gordon’s cell phone rings incessantly at the next table. Jean tries to engage Gordon in conversation, first pointing out that the phone is ringing, then asking him why he refuses to answer. She soon realizes that he is dead, and uses his phone to call the authorities to have them remove his body. She attends his funeral, clutching the phone as Gordon’s mother exhorts everyone to turn off their mobiles in respect for the church and the occasion.

Inexplicably, Jean decides to keep the phone and “keep Gordon alive” by responding to his calls. Through this charade, she meets his family, his colleagues, and even Death itself, as she embarks on an existential adventure that transforms her life.

The characters in the play are Jean; Gordon; Gordon’s mother, Mrs. Gottleib; Gordon’s younger brother, Dwight; Gordon’s wife, Hermia; Gordon’s (unnamed) mistress; and an unknown woman. All the parts are played with finesse and wry humor. Gordon (played by Marc Marchand) is especially sardonic and his monologues are accentuated by movement that is reminiscent of modern danse. Mrs. Gottleib (played by Dorli Lamar) is the epitome of the mother who loves her eldest son desperately but never managed to convey this to him when he was alive. And Jean (played by Nathalie Baunaure) is captivating in her increasingly fanciful fabrications of Gordon’s last words and deeds as she encounters those who knew him best. As director Emily Wilson indicates in the press release for the production, the play is both touching and absurd.

From left to right: Nathalie Baunaure (Jean), Yves Buchin (Dwight), Fiamma Bennett (mistress/stranger); Audrey Lamarque (Hermia), Marc Marchand (Gordon), and Dorli Lamar (Mrs. Gottlieb)

From left to right: Nathalie Baunaure (Jean), Yves Buchin (Dwight),
Fiamma Bennett (mistress/stranger), Audrey Lamarque (Hermia),
Marc Marchand (Gordon), and Dorli Lamar (Mrs. Gottlieb)

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Emily Wilson, director

Emily Wilson, director
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The original title of the play is Dead Man’s Cell Phone. It was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons with funds from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Commissioning Program and Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California. It was produced on Broadway at Lincoln Center in NYC in 2009.

The Paris production at Le Lucernaire runs through May 10.

Le Lucernaire
53, rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs
75006 Paris
Internet: http://lucernaire.fr
Metro: Notre-Dame-des-Champs (Line 12), Vavin ou Saint-Placide (Line 4), Edgar Quinet (Line 6)

Regular entry fee: 25€
Senior rate (65+ years of age): 20€
Student / Unemployed rate: 15 €
Youth rate (less than 26 years of age): 10€

*Le Lucernaire is more than just a theater. It also houses a three-screen cinema, a restaurant, a bar, and a L’Harmattan bookstore.

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Which Dining Guide Do Most French Waitresses Recommend to Paris-bound Travelers?

Saturday, March 21st, 2015
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Waitress Admiring Our E-book

We like to think that the dining guide most French waitresses recommend is our new e-book Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light.

Entering into a restaurant in Paris can be a formidable experience for the uninitiated traveler. Not only do you have to contend with trying to make your wishes understood by a waiter or waitress who may or may not speak your language, but you must learn quickly how to adapt to local dining customs as well.

If you are a first- or second-time traveler to Paris, our new e-book, Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light, will provide you the with the knowledge and confidence that you need to enter into a Parisian restaurant to enjoy a fine meal and to have a wonderful dining experience.

Bonus!
Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light contains in-depth reviews of twelve of the author’s favorite restaurants.

Click here to order! http://amzn.to/1nkgCyu

Note: You don’t need a Kindle device to read Dining Out in Paris. Amazon.com provides FREE reader apps that work on every major tablet, smartphone, and computer so that you can read e-books on whatever type of device you own. Click here to learn more.

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Which Dining Guide Do Most French Waitresses Recommend to Give as a Gift to Paris-bound Travelers for Christmas?

Saturday, December 20th, 2014
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We like to think that the dining guide most French waitresses recommend for Christmas is our new e-book Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light.

Entering into a restaurant in Paris can be a formidable experience for uninitiated travelers. Not only do they have to contend with trying to make their wishes understood by a waiter who may or may not speak their language, but they must learn quickly how to adapt to local dining customs as well.

First- or second-time travelers to Paris will appreciate Dining Out in Paris because it will provide them with the knowledge and confidence that they need to enter into a Parisian restaurant to enjoy a fine meal and to have a wonderful dining experience. As an additional bonus, the book contains in-depth reviews of twelve of the author’s favorite restaurants.

Click here to order! http://amzn.to/1nkgCyu

Note: A Kindle reader is not required to read Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light. Amazon.com provides FREE reader apps that work on every major tablet, smartphone, and computer. Click here to learn more.

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Le Guide Hachette des Bières – A Book Review

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
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Elisabeth Pierre and Her Book <i>Guide Hachette des Bières</i>

Elisabeth Pierre and Her Book Le Guide Hachette des Bières

Elisabeth Pierre, who calls herself a zythologue (zythologist, or connoisseur of beer, in English), has just written an encyclopedic book called Le Guide Hachette des Bières. Breathtaking in scope, this 360-page, French-language tome (Hachette, 2014) covers just about every topic that an aficionado of French beer could hope for in a guide—from the origins of the beverage to the names of specific breweries, ratings of their beers, and specific suggestions of foods that would best accompany the beers that she rates.

Elisabeth hails from the Franche Compté region of France, where she had the occasion to visit a local brewery as a child. The wonderful aroma of malt and hops that she experienced there influenced her profoundly. Years later, with a university diploma in classics, she abandoned a teaching profession to take a position with the Brasseurs de France, a federation of French brewers.

From the start, she organized beer-and-food-paring dinners and had the occasion to meet top chefs with whom she explored different ways to pair beer with food.

She has been in the industry about twenty-eight years and now works as a consultant. While a consultant, she became interested in the revival of microbreweries in France that began about eighteen years ago. Her guide reflects this interest.

The first section of the book is titled “Connaître les bières.” It is devoted to the place beer holds in the history of civilization. Among the topics covered are beer ingredients and the process of fabrication.

In this section, we learn that the transformation of cereals into beer can be traced back 7000 years B.C. in China, and 6000 B.C. in Mesopotamia. While we now accept hops as an essential ingredient in beer, it wasn’t generally adapted until around the 15th century. Beer today is now recognized as a beverage that consists of four essential ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. To transform beer into its many different varieties, brewers substitute different cereals for barley, roast the cereals to different degrees of darkness, use different varieties of hops and yeast, and add different flavorings, such as honey, orange zest, and spices. The process of transformation is complex and the resulting beverages are infinitely varied in color, texture, aroma, and taste.

“Connaître les bières” also provides suggestions on how to read a beer label, where to purchase beer, how to store it, and how to appreciate its visual, gustative, and olfactory qualities.

The second section of the book is titled “La sélection du guide Hachette des bières – 800 bières à découvrir.” Here, French artisanal beers take center stage.

To present the French beers, Elisabeth divides France into five beer-producing regions, each with several sub-regions. For each sub-region she describes and rates beers of the microbreweries that are found there. Her rating system is straightforward: only beers that she determines are “successful” (no star), “very successful” (one star), “remarkable” (two stars), “exceptional” (three stars), or “favorites” (three stars plus ♥) get a mention. Beers that only scored “with a default” or “average” by her standards don’t get mentioned at all.

I found this part of the book to be fascinating, because the descriptions of each of the beers are quite detailed. We learn, for example, that the one-star beer La Loroyse (produced by a microbrewery called Les Brasseurs de Lorraine) has sweet flavors at the start that become spicy and fruity, and finishes with a persistent and pronounced herbal bitterness. Furthermore, we learn that this beer would go well with a pepper steak and a Saint-Nectaire or Ossau Iraty cheese. While the information that is conveyed here might not be immediately useful to readers who can’t readily purchase a bottle of La Loroyse, it teaches us that good beers are complex and that each has different structures of flavor that we should seek out the next time we open a bottle. We also learn that certain beers go well with certain foods, and that care should be taken to match them when we sit down to have a beer with our meal.

The final parts of this section are devoted to Belgium, Quebecois, and foreign beers. Only three American microbreweries are mentioned: Left Hand Brewing Company in Colorado, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Nevada, and Brooklyn Brewery in New York. Elisabeth is particularly enthusiastic about the beers from this latter company— she rates four of their beers as three star (one of which is a “favorite”) and two as two star.

At the back of the book is a helpful glossary and two indexes, one that lists beers by name and one that lists breweries by name.

A very good knowledge of French is required to read this book. It is probably the best source of information on the extensive variety of French, Belgium, and Quebecois artisanal beers that is on the market today.

Le Guide Hachette des Bières is available in North America from Amazon.ca.

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Which Dining Guide Do Most French Waiters Recommend to Give as a Gift to Paris-bound Travelers for Christmas?

Saturday, December 6th, 2014
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Waiter-with-xmas

We like to think that the dining guide most French waiters recommend for Christmas is our new e-book Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light.

Entering into a restaurant in Paris can be a formidable experience for uninitiated travelers. Not only do they have to contend with trying to make their wishes understood by a waiter who may or may not speak their language, but they must learn quickly how to adapt to local dining customs as well.

First- or second-time travelers to Paris will appreciate Dining Out in Paris because it will provide them with the knowledge and confidence that they need to enter into a Parisian restaurant to enjoy a fine meal and to have a wonderful dining experience. As an additional bonus, the book contains in-depth reviews of twelve of the author’s favorite restaurants.

Click here to order! http://amzn.to/1nkgCyu

Note: A Kindle reader is not required to read Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light. Amazon.com provides FREE reader apps that work on every major tablet, smartphone, and computer. Click here to learn more.

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Cooking Bœuf à la Bourguignonne with Ann Mah

Friday, October 10th, 2014
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Ann Mah bookcover

Last year Ann Mah published a delightful book about French cuisine called Mastering the Art of French Eating. I became aware of it because my own recently-published book Dining Out in Paris—What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light treats a similar theme, namely French food and dining culture. I read her book in two evenings, and then decided to try one of her recipes, Bœuf à la Bourguignonne.

Essential Ingredients for Bœuf à la Bourguignonne

Essential Ingredients for Bœuf à la Bourguignonne
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

She calls this dish Bœuf à la Bourguignonne rather than Bœuf Bourguignon, because she believes that the reader should be able to use any kind of red wine, not just Burgundy wine. I purchased most of the ingredients from the local food market on rue Mouffetard, including a bottle of Rasteau, a Rhone Valley red, from Nicolas. From Pascal Gosnet I purchased two beef cheeks; from Picard Surgélé I purchased a bag of frozen pearl onions and a bag of frozen sliced button mushrooms; from Halles Mouffetard, I purchased an onion, a leek, and carrots; and from Franprix I purchased a small bottle of Cognac, a jar of juniper berries, and lardon matchsticks (bacon chopped into small slivers). I already had the other ingredients in the pantry.

I allotted an entire afternoon for the preparation of the dish. By the time I was finished I had lots of pots, pans, and utensils to wash! But the next day, when my wife and I set down to dinner, I concluded that the hearty dish was worth the effort.

Chopped Leek and Carrots

Chopped Leek, Onion, and Carrots
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I chopped the leek, onion, and carrots into 1″ pieces as Ann instructed.

Cubed Beef

Cubed Beef
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I cut the beef cheeks into 3″ pieces. This was the hard part, because my knife wasn’t sharp and because a membrane on the cheek was too tough to cut. I removed it by cutting away at the meat rather than at the membrane. I saved this meaty scrap and boiled it later for beef stock. Then, I put everything in the pot (except the meat scrap) to await the wine bath in which the vegetables and beef would be immersed.

Pouring Wine into the Pot

Pouring Wine into the Pot
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I poured the wine into the pot. Naturally, I tasted the wine first: it was medium-bodied with a rich aroma of red fruits. Very nice!

Then I covered the pot, making sure that all of the meat was immersed, and put it in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

Browning the Meat

Browning the Meat
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The following day I removed the beef chunks from the marinade and put them in a frying pan with olive oil to brown. Ann said that they would turn golden and crusted, but they never did. Oh, well.

Browning the Vegetables

Browning the Vegetables
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I removed the meat from the frying pan and set it aside. Then I browned the vegetables. They never got very brown either, so I had to pretend that they were browned.

Flaming the Cognac

Flaming the Cognac
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I put the vegetables and meat back into the frying pan and flamed them with cognac. Then, I returned the beef and vegetables to the pot with the marinade and let them simmer for three hours.

Sautéed Mushrooms, Pearl Onions, and Bacon

Sautéed Mushrooms, Pearl Onions, and Lardon Matchsticks
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I prepared the garniture: sautéed mushrooms, pearl onions, and lardon matchsticks. This all went into the pot with the beef, vegetable, and marinade to simmer for an additional ten minutes.

Bœuf à la Bourguignonne

Bœuf à la Bourguignonne
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

It was finished. Voilà! (The vegetables are discarded. The beef is served without the marinade. Later, I used the marinade to make a rich cabbage and carrot soup.)

At the Table

At the Table
Bœuf à la Bourguignonne Served with Mushrooms,
Lardon Matchsticks, Green Beans and Quinoa

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

It was truly a dish that was suitable for serving on a chilly fall day. We found the beef to be tender with a somewhat gamey flavor. I speculated that the flavor came from the mushrooms, wine, and smoked bacon, not from the meat. (I tasted the meat in the beef stock that had been prepared without marinade, and it didn’t taste gamey.) There was enough beef left over for another meal, which we had two days later.

Thank you, Ann Mah, for writing the book and sharing the recipe for this savory dish!

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Which Dining Guide Do Most French Waiters Recommend to Paris-bound Travelers?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
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Waiter Holding Copy of Dining Out In Paris

We like to think that the dining guide most French waiters recommend is our new e-book Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light.

Entering into a restaurant in Paris can be a formidable experience for the uninitiated traveler. Not only do you have to contend with trying to make your wishes understood by a waiter who may or may not speak your language, but you must learn quickly how to adapt to local dining customs as well.

If you are a first- or second-time traveler to Paris, our new e-book, Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light, will provide you the with the knowledge and confidence that you need to enter into a Parisian restaurant to enjoy a fine meal and to have a wonderful dining experience.

Bonus!
Dining Out in Paris – What You Need to Know before You Get to the City of Light contains in-depth reviews of twelve of the author’s favorite restaurants.

Click here to order! http://amzn.to/1nkgCyu

Note: You don’t need a Kindle device to read Dining Out in Paris. Amazon.com provides FREE reader apps that work on every major tablet, smartphone, and computer so that you can read e-books on whatever type of device you own. Click here to learn more.

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