Author: Cheryl Brooks

DEAUVILLE, THE RIVIERA OF NORMANDY, AND COCO CHANEL

Sketch of Coco Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, attached to the shop where she opened her first boutique. Photo, thegoodlifefrance

Just 2 ½ hrs from Paris by train, Deauville is a favourite destination for many well-heeled Parisians looking for a weekend getaway.  It’s often referred to as the Queen of the Normandy coast, ‘Paris-sur-Mer’ or the Kingdom of Elegance.  Notable for its long sandy beach, beautiful Belle Epoque hotels, casino and racecourses, Deauville has been a playground for the rich and famous since the mid 19th century.  There was a second wave of development at the turn of the century, and Deauville became a favourite resort with the “fast set” including the dashing English polo player, ‘Boy’ Capel and his mistress, Coco Chanel.  She was quick to see the town’s potential for the leisured classes to indulge themselves further with some retail therapy, and opened her first shop here in 1913, marking the beginning of her fashion empire.  Deauville has also been the background for countless films—the infamous Lord Lucan was once screen tested for the role of James Bond here!

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GREAT FOOD MARKETS TO DISCOVER IN PARIS

Springtime at Marche d’Aligre: perfect asparagus & morels. Photo, momentsparfaits

One of the great pleasures of a visit to Paris is spending time exploring the many wonderful food markets.  You can take your pick from 69 open-air and 13 covered markets in the city, meaning that some arrondissements have more than one market.  Everyone has their personal favourites, and we certainly have ours, but we also love to visit other markets in various parts of the city to see what’s on offer.  Produce is always seasonal and high quality, and one of the fascinating things is to observe which vendors attract long queues while others are slower.  Each market’s produce will usually reflect the profile of its neighbourhood, which means you can find the flavours of the West African community in the Marché Dejean in the 18th arr. or German smoked ham at Marché Saint-Martin in the 10th.  So take plenty of cash, a big supply of re-usable shopping bags, and head off to discover some edible delights.

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SOME LESSER-KNOWN GEMS OF THE CHAMPAGNE DISTRICT

The vineyards and village of Ay. Photo, Time.

There are many good reasons to plan a visit to the Champagne District.  By focussing on the two Champagne “capitals”—the city of Reims and the town of Épernay, the visitor is missing out on so many other attractions of this unique area.  This region is rich with World Heritage sites, history and art.  It’s easy to spend a couple of extra days divided between châteaux and vineyards, extensive underground cellars—called crayères—hewn out of the chalky earth, wandering through charming little villages, or hiking along quiet country footpaths and forests.  Some say it’s out in the countryside with its innumerable tiny villages where you’ll find the true beating heart of the Champagne District.

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THE CHAMPAGNE EXPERIENCE – THE REGION AND ITS PLEASURES

Just a small selection of great Champagnes! Photo, iO.wp

Say the word “Champagne”, and the first thing that springs to mind is the iconic sparkling white wine named for the region in N.E. France where it’s produced.  It’s an area that’s close to Paris for a quick weekend visit, but it has so much more to offer!  Champagne is world-renowned as a symbol of the French art of living, of festivities and celebration, literature, painting, music, cinema, photography and even comics, all testifying to the influence and constancy of this unique region’s image.

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DISCOVER THE FASCINATING MEDIEVAL CITY OF TROYES

The medieval heart of Troyes. Photo, thegoodlifefrance

Troyes is one of the most alluring and interesting medieval towns in France.  It’s easy to spend at least a couple of days wandering around, in and out of many historic buildings, fascinating museums, and the numerous beautiful churches.  Its medieval core invites you to stop and enjoy one of the many enticing cafés and restaurants, watch the world go by and enjoy the ambience of this friendly, historic town, surrounded by the most beautiful countryside along the River Seine.  Aside from its physical delights, one of the great attractions of Troyes is that it’s the historic capital of Champagne, with the nearest vineyard only about ten kilometres away.  For those of us who love fashion, Troyes has a surprise in store!

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