While in Paris, we were interested in trying a cooking class, but were looking for one taught in English. The cooking would be challenge enough-we didn't need to add French translation issues to it! After a bit of searching, I found La Cuisine cooking school on the Quai l'Hôtel de Ville. The location was perfect for us and they had several glowing Trip Advisor reviews. They offered a wide variety of classes, but unfortunately, many were booked for our week. Next time, I will book much earlier! Luckily, there was a class with four spaces available on a day we could go that focused on making the classic French cookie-the macaron. Having sampled many, many macarons from Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, and the Bon Marché food hall, I was eager to try baking some myself.
The teaching kitchen was an incredibly well organized space. Our class had eight participants, working in four teams of two. I think the classes often have a few more students, but there was plenty of room for a larger group. Our class consisted of the four of us (Americans), a Canadian mother and daughter pair, and a young couple from Mexico. We all enjoyed laughing about our own ineptitudes and taking each others' pictures as we attempted the many steps involved in making macarons. Chef Guillaume was a great teacher. As a teacher myself, I appreciated how well he taught the technical aspects of baking and cooking, but his sense of humor and funny comments really won us over. He was absolutely hilarious!
We learned to make two types of meringue for the cookie base-Swiss and Italian, then each team made a different filling. The fillings were fruit jam, chocolate, pistachio, and a vanilla cream. Assembling the cookies took some time, but at the end we got to sample four different macarons-all delicious! Everyone left the class with a box of cookies to enjoy over the next few days. The lady at the front desk of our hotel graciously stored ours in the fridge of the lobby bar-and was happy to taste some as a thank you!
I would definitely recommend trying a class at La Cuisine. It was fun for first time visitors to Paris, as well as a fresh experience for return visitors. They offer a bread making class that I would love to try!
Seine river cruise at night
The Vedettes du Pont Neuf leave from under the Pont Neuf on the Île de la Cité. There are plenty of signs to point you in the right direction as you cross the bridge. You head down some stairs towards the water, then join a line to buy tickets. You can also buy them ahead, but we wanted to buy them the day of so we could be certain of clear weather. It was chilly in March, but with proper clothing, it was not at all unpleasant. We passed all the sights along the Seine, including Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Conciergerie, and several beautifully lit bridges. We also got an interesting view of some of the gorgeous apartments along the river.
The boats had an inside seating area, and upstairs, an open air seating area. The view is much better from the outdoor deck, so we opted for that. You do want to be near the front of the line to board in order to have a good choice of seats. Drinks were available from a little bar downstairs. On a warmer night, a nice glass of wine would have been lovely, but it was too chilly!
The attacks on the Brussels airport and metro stations had just occurred, so the Eiffel Tower was lit in the colors of the Belgian flag. Having endured their own terrorist attacks in November, Parisians felt a sense of solidarity with the Belgian people, and lit the Eiffel Tower as a symbol of their support.
A few things to read over the weekend from three of my go-to blogs about Paris.
What is better than ice cream on a warm summer day in Paris?
Chocolate shops-with some great tips and French vocabulary
During a visit to Paris in March, I stayed once again in my favorite neighborhood in Paris, the area surrounding the Saint Germain des Prés church in the 6th arrondissement. The Hotel d'Angleterre, at 44 Rue Jacob, is in a wonderful location and I have enjoyed two stays there. The people at the front desk are helpful with directions, dinner reservations, and answering transportation questions. Yes, they all speak English! It is a quick walk to sites such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Luxembourg Gardens. There is great shopping-high end designers and more low key options-close by.
While it is fun to visit the famous cafes of the neighborhood, like Cafe de Flore or Brasserie Lipp, for an afternoon glass of wine, you may not want to have dinner there. I want to tell you about four restaurants that I especially loved during my most recent trip. One note, I am a vegetarian, but the people I was traveling with are not! So the restaurants below all had vegetarian, meat, and seafood options that suited our whole group.
Le Petit Saint Benoit
Fish La Boissonnerie