Saturday, November 20, 2010

Art de vivre moving to wordpress

Dear readers and friends,

That's it ! I'm done with Blogger. Fed up waiting for google to fix bugs and invest in developing the platform. Any day passing the gap becomes bigger with wordpress. So i've exported my blogger blog to the following URL and already started to post new cool stuff. 

With such a powerful tool in hands i hope to be able to publish more often and more importantly propose significantly higher quality. 

Find you on wordpress. Share the link as much as you can. 

I also take this opportunity to thank you all for reading me. 



Saturday, November 13, 2010

1st secret : buying cheese when visiting Paris

We know quite a lot about cheese ! We just can't conceive a meal without it. But that place called "Barthélémy" just knows all about. Plus it's located in one of the nicest area and street of our beloved Paris. The staff could appear to be a bit arrogant sometimes. Which unfortunately is kind of a parisian trademark.

Which one shall i pick ?
Isn't life beautiful ?
Yesterday evening we bought some "raclette" cheese. The swiss one. Very smelly and unctuous. A perfect fit with the terrible weather currently hitting Paris. Count 200 gr per person.

Barthélemy : 51 rue de grenelle, 75007 Paris. 
Another excellent "crémerie" close by is "Quatrehomme", located 62 rue de Sèvres.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Azabu , fine Japanese cuisine in Paris

Dear Art de vivre readers !

We only write here when we have something really worth sharing. Yesterday evening we were at AZABU restaurant, recommended to us lately by a Japanese tea and massage institute. 

Paris by night - November 4th 2010
What else ?
Azabu's speciality is Teppan Yaki. Thus my first recommendation : book a table at the bar and enjoy looking at the chef cooking ! This is extremely impressive and full of learnings for those of you passionate about technique.

The staff is absolutely wonderful, extremely patient to explain the menu, very delicate and humble. You feel that the client is king at Azabu. For those of you living in Paris, this might be something you've not felt for long ! ;-) 

The restaurant is located in the very heart of Saint Germain des près. Once passed the frontdoor, you feel well immediately. A minimalist but warm design. Quiet and peaceful place which extracts you from the everyday rush within seconds. 

We both opted for the 39€ menu which is composed of two "mises en bouche", one starter, one main dish and the dessert. Which is given the quality an excellent price/quality ratio in Paris for fine Japanese cuisine.

In disorder we've had Zensay Bento, salmon tartar, Saint-Jacques shells, Filet of turbot, green tea ice cream with red beans purée. An explosion of flavors served by the impeccable freshness of the products used there.

Salmon Tartar 
Gren Tea ice cream with red beans
All in all a wonderful moment we can only recommend. 

AZABU , 3 rue André-Mazet, 75006 Paris. Tel : 0146337205.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Make good things happen :

Hello to all of you following us for a couple of months. I normally do not deviate from the "Art de vivre" editorial guideline. But today i would like to let you know about a recently born company and internet crowdfunding platform called Ulule.

Better then a long email and pitch explaining what ulule is about, i invite you to take a look at the following video.

From wherever you are in the world you can post your project and pitch for people to donate and give birth to your ideas. 

In those times when the access to micro lending can be very complex and time consuming, Ulule does offer and represent a great alternative to the traditional banking system. 

And last but not least, this is not about money or return on investment. This is about helping individuals live their dreams, sharing richness and knowledge. This is the internet i personally like and find useful.

Find below one of the nice projects you can find those days on ulule. If you can not support financially, then just share with your own network. 

Long life to ulule and to its founders which i have been lucky enough to meet recently.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A taste of Luberon at "Le Pavillon de Galon" B&B

We've been silent the past weeks as we are working hard on our next professional adventure. But do not panic ! ;-) We still do have time for long week-ends and will continue to post our "Art de vivre" findings on a regular basis.

Just back from a short stay in "Le Pavillon de Galon" B&B, i just could not resist sharing this experience with you. The "pavillon" is located in the little village of Cucuron, South Luberon, Provence. We decided to take the TGV train from Paris to Avignon (2h40mn). We then rented a car ( i do recommend Sixt which i booked through their iphone app ) and thanks to my great tomtom app we reached Cucuron after an hour of relaxed driving.

The 18th century mansion - Roman Pool
The little village of Cucuron is nice and is a central spot to discover Luberon. "Le pavillon de galon" is located at the exit of the village along a small road. A "remarkable" garden will welcome you entering this multi acres domain, bought 12 years ago by Bibi and Guy, a parisian couple. 

Apart from an amazing restoration of the 18th century main house, they planted more then 10.000 fruit trees along the years. They also have a decent number of olive and truffle trees, as well as a small kitchen garden. All they will serve you for breakfast is home made except the fresh goat cheese coming from a neighbor. Be ready to re-discover the forgotten and genuine taste of apricot and fig. They even produce their wine called "Hocus Pocus".

10.000 fruit trees we did say !
Fresh goat cheese from the neighbor at breakfast
You got the point ! This place is designed by and for "Epicureans". The owners even propose cooking and wine tasting classes mainly during the summer. In their own wonderful kitchen, the largest room of the house !

There is also a very nice minimalistic pool to refresh, as well as a couple of fountains and basins dating from the roman empire. So relax and feel the history, you're in good hands at Pavillon de Galon.

For eating, wether at lunch or dinner time, we do recommend "La Closerie" in the very charming village of Ansouis, ran by Delphine and Olivier Alemany. Book long in advance for dinner at +33(0)490099054. We went for lunch and opted for the 23€ menu which was simply exceptional. In particular the starter "Cauliflower soup with local black truffle". "Un sans faute" as we like to say in French. They also strongly recommend "La bartavelle" restaurant in Goult, 40 mn away from Cucuron. Should you try that one, let us have your feedback at

La Closerie - Ansouis - Luberon

Cauliflower Cream - thin chips - black truffle
In Cucuron you will also find a one star michelin called "La petite maison", ran by chef Eric Sapet. We had diner there which i would qualify just average. Completely overrated and overpriced. Unless they had a bad day that night ! Which can always happen.

All in all another long week end we will keep for long in our memories. We wish you to discover this wonderful region and experience the flavours of Luberon.

Hasta pronto !

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Folegandros - Cyclades - Greece

In our permanent search of unspoilt places, we decided mid August to discover further the Cycladic islands, which we already visited a couple of times the past years. In such a popular destination as the Greek islands, one could say this is an illusion. Or a lost battle. 

The very good news is that it's NOT ! You can still find very well preserved places. Authentic villages. And local people still living like centuries ago. 

The first one we would like to share with you is the very small island of Folegandros. Various options to reach the unique harbor called Karavostasis :
  1. You fly to athens and then take a boat from Piraeus port. ( Count on a minimum of 4 hours by speedboat and the double with regular ). You can check timelines and book tickets here.
  2. You fly to Santorini ( direct flights from most European capitals ) and then take a fast boat from there ( 1 hour cruise with seajet )
In terms of lodging, you can wether stay at the port or at the main town called Chora up in the hill. We did stay at the port in a boutique hotel called Anemi for which a dedicated post will follow. 

Pool at Anemi hotel - Folegandros
Another 2 great lodging options we did visit and recommend are located in Chora ( old white washed village overlooking the Aegan and a great spot to admire sunset ) :
Wether you stay at the port or in Chora, you'll be just 10mn away by scooter to reach the beautiful beach of Agkali. From there you have a few trails to reach some other small ones. Or you can take small boats leaving every other hour dropping you along the south Coast should you look for empty spots.

Agkali beach - Folegandros
In agkali beach you have several options for lunch or dinner. We tested one and quality was very average. We would recommend you to drive 10mn to the little village of Anomeria and stop by the 3rd "Taverna" when on the main road. We just can't remember the name of this family owned restaurant. But it's damn easy to find. We've had lunch there a couple of times. They exclusively serve products from the island. All is fresh and delicious. Count on approximately 15€ per head wine included.

Greek salad with local cheese from Folegandros
Folegandros, just like most of the other cycladic islands, has got churches at almost every corners ! They are all extremely well preserved and maintained. They absorb and captivate. We particularly recommend you to walk up from Chora to the top of the hill church. An hour before sunset. Just feel the peaceful atmosphere, breathe and dream ! 

White washed trail - Church up from Chora - Folegandros
Mi Amor
Magic sunset - View to Chora and Aegan - Folegandros
I hope this island will bring you the peace of mind and happiness we felt. Or at least a parenthesis of it in the everyday life we are all up to. Next stop is Sifnos. So stay tuned and keep on sending your comments or sharing your own experiences.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thank you Greece !

We are just back from Greece where we spent 3 weeks visiting 4 islands : Santorini, Folegandros, Milos and Sifnos. This explaining why we kept silent on our blog for some time.

We had possibly our best holidays there. We could not have expected anything better : authentic places and people, excellent food, great small hotels and B&B's, fantastic weather, unspoilt nature, amazing sunsets, and all quite cheap.

Before to share more, here are a couple of pictures so that you can have a taste of Greece. Of our Greece.

Enjoy and stay tuned.

Benoît and Carolina.

Sifnos - Inlands
Sunset from our terrace - Nefeli studios - Milos
Full moon - Chora -  Folegandros
Octopus drying - Folegandros 
Pasta alla langosta - Amoudi restaurant Santorini

Friday, August 13, 2010

"Bedandbruges" lovely B&B in the charming Bruges

We're just back from a long weekend in Bruges, Belgium. The best way to reach this UNESCO protected town is with no doubt by train. From Paris it took us around 2H30 mn and you can easily book your tickets on SNCB network. I will not here detail how beautiful and charming bruges is. You will find that on so many other blogs or websites. But it is indeed very true and a stop there when visiting Europe is a must.

You will find dozens of boutique hotels, luxury ones or bead & breakfast. We did stay at Bedandbruges , a lovely B&B ran by Louise and Francis Hardy. Should you go there, stay in "La tour" which is a medieval tower completely restored in 2009. You will enjoy the entire place for you ( 2 people ) at a bargain of 95 € per night breakfast included. The owners do also offer to swap their personal home and that could be an option for large families and a week stay.

"La tour" at Bedandbruges
Peaceful Bruges

This B&B is situated slightly off the touristic heart of the city and you will need a 10mn walk to join the most visited monuments. Which for us was a plus as we could stay out of the crowd. Another possibility is to rent a bike at around 10€/day as this is the perfect way to discover the city and its surroundings. We would even suggest you to bike along the canal from Bruges to Damme ( 7km away, a lovely medieval village ) and then to Sluis ( Holland, 18km from bruges ). You will need around 3H back and forth. We'd suggest to stop for lunch at Damme which offer various excellent options. We personally ate at "Restaurant ZuidKant" whom the chef has been working quite some time with the famous Thierry Marx chef in Cordeillan-bages.

"ZuidKant" restaurant terrace
Langoustines marinées, crème d'avocat et fines herbes
Cappuccino et ravioli de Homard, parmesan et huile de basilic

One of the best and most creative cuisine we've experienced lately. By far above most of the 1 or 2 star michelin restaurants we were lucky to taste in France those past years. Count on 50€/person with 1 glass of wine. Another option when in Damme is to eat at "De Bonheur" which has been indicated to us by several locals. The next day we went to have lunch at the Refter which is ran by the son of the nextdoor 3 star michelin "De Karmeliet". Should you have the choice, eat in the patio. We ate twice there for around 40€/person. Excellent products in general, succulent fish. I personally recommend the fish soup which beats easily many of the ones i could taste in sunny southern France.

La carte, Refter Bistro
Soupe de poisson et sa rouille
Velouté d'asperges, crème de brocolis
The kitchen , Refter Bistro

We also had excellent dinner at Rock Fort ( likely to be rated soon 1 star michelin ). Really amazing quality and very good and affordable wine list. But quite disappointed by the atmosphere ( we were at the bar, not in the main dining area ) and more problematic by the time we had to wait between each plate ( around 30mn ).

All in all we spent a wonderful time and discovered new flavors and tastes, met passionate and friendly people. Without a doubt, the belgian gastronomy is about to play a major role and taking over its French neighbour ( if not already the case ).

Some other places where to SLEEP : B&B Côté canal and B&B number 11

Enjoy bruges !

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kitchen Galerie Bis - Haute cuisine in Saint Germain des près

On the contrary to what still many French people tend or like to believe, our "cuisine" does not lead the way anymore. Worse, it became quite complex to eat well, especially in Paris and Côte d'azur ( aka "French Riviera"). That becomes even more true when you're lucky enough to travel and experience other tastes, culinary and service oriented cultures. 

Italy is my number ONE. Still. You will eat well in 90% of the restaurants there. And quite cheap still. Spain has been catching up the past 10 years, mainly driven by Ferran adria and a young talented chef's generation. But they still have to improve the average quality and diversity of the offer.

By combining creativity and simplicity, remarkable sea food products, and a great respect of the customers, the North of Europe has been shaking us up the past few years. You can now eat extremely well and for a very reasonable price in Belgium, Holland, Denmark and sweden. To a lesser extent in Norway and Finland.

Rascasse grillée, Vinaigrette Sésame - Balsamique Blanc
Hopefully a couple of people or restaurants in France did understand the need to react. And decided to put back the product and the client at the center of their approach. While avoiding astronomical prices.

Sister restaurant of the 2 michelin stars "Ze Kitchen Galerie", Kitchen Galerie Bis does offer a "bistro" approach of haute cuisine. And a flavour of what is being served at the michelinized restaurant next door. As a starter i would recommend you to share the 6 tapas plate they offer. Then opt for fish for the main course as this is really their speciality and trademark.

Grilled John Dory, "Sauce Vierge" & Orange

You will notice a lot of flavours from Asia as the chef is passionate about it. Count on a budget of 60€ per head with the wine. Which is quite affordable for a taste of haute cuisine.

Enjoy the trip !

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lagacio Mountain Resort - San cassiano in Badia

What a trip ! After a couple of days spent in Verona ( a post on that city will soon follow ), we headed 200 km North to the Dolomites region. In san cassiano in badia to be precise. The first excellent surprise was the hotel we picked up called Lagacio Mountain resort, recently opened in December 2009. They indeed do not offer rooms as a typical hotel but apartments. The smallest being 42sqm. We opted for the 47sqm one. Room 602 exactly. 

Bar at Lagacio
View from room 602 terrace
Their website is perfectly designed and really does reflect accurately the spirit and the architecture of the place. What i can add after 6 days spent there is that the staff is extremely well prepared and very friendly. Always with an "anything is possible" approach. The apartments do mix modernity and Alpine standards perfectly. The breakfast is amazing, serving exclusively products from the BIO farms around. The spa and massages ( from Evelyne ) are also of very high standard and affordable ( 65€ an hour ). Within the resort you will find a top end bike shop and rental, which turns into ski/snowboard from November onwards. This is very convenient and quite cheap actually. We've paid 23€ for the entire day for an excellent mountain bike + safety equipment.

1 hour walk up in the mountain from San Cassiano
Lagacio is situated at the very heart of the beautiful village of San Cassiano. And is a great base for hiking, cycling or riding your car or bike. However you will decide to move yourself, you will be amazed by the majesty of the Alta Badia and Dolomites region. All in all a place and destination that we cannot recommend enough to escape the brutality of our world sometimes.

Just breath the fresh air and relax.