Category Archives: France

The Eiffel Tower’s Rough Start


The Eiffel Tower was originally supposed to be in Barcelona, but the city thought it would be an eyesore, and rejected Gustave Eiffel’s plans. ThatFrench - Eiffel Tower meant he was forced to repitch the project elsewhere. Luckily, Eiffel found a home for his idea in Paris, where the Tower could serve as the main archway for the 1889 International Exposition.

The Tower didn’t exactly go over well with the Parisians, either. The enormous iron structure was immediately belittled by critics, and one especially harsh reviewer referred to the thing as a “metal asparagus.” The writer Guy de Maupassant had similar feelings. He famously patronized a restaurant inside the Tower because it was the one place he wouldn’t have to look at the building.

Truth be told, the Eiffel Tower wasn’t supposed to stay up for very long. In fact, it was offered for sale as scrap, and was only spared because it proved useful to the French army. (They found that its 984-foot height worked nicely as a communications tower.) Thankfully, Gustave Eiffel’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad structure has managed to endure.


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Filed under Eiffle Tower, France, Paris

French Travel Chateau Vincennes

Enjoy this lovely day trip to Chateau Vincennes: Chateau-Vincennes
France Chateau Vincennes

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Filed under Chapelle, Chateau Vincennes, France, Keeps

Gingersnap Palmiers

Gingersnap Palmier

Ginger syrup and spiced sugar make these crisp French cookies festive and fragrant.

Recipe: Gingersnap Palmiers

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Martha Stewart

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Filed under Cookies, Food, France

Orange-Cardamom Madeleines

French madeleinesThese shell-shaped cakey cookies are spiced with ground cardamom and coated with a sweet citrus icing.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Martha Stewart

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Biscuits Roses de Reims / Trotamundos

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Filed under Food, France, Traditional dessert

Pain au Cinnamon Raisin Recipe

Source: – By , Guide

Pain au Raisin – Mike Fleming

One of the most popular breakfast foods of all time, cinnamon raisin rolls, can be made in your own kitchen with this pain au cinnamon raisin recipe. Sweet vanilla filling, or a vanilla crème patisserie1, plump Cognac-soaked raisins, and a dusting of fragrant cinnamon are layered into the rich dough for an amazing pastry you won’t soon forget.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Rise: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: 18 cinnamon raisin rolls


  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Cognac
  • 4 teaspoons instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vanilla crème patisserie2
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk


Rehydrate your raisins at least 12 to 24 hours before you plan to make your pains au raisin. Stir together the raisins, water, and Cognac. Store the mixture in the refrigerator until use.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water for 5 minutes. Add the bread flour, milk, sugar, melted butter, and salt to the dissolved yeast and water and mix the dough on medium speed for about 2 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of extra flour at a time, until the dough is just firm enough to fold a shape.

Shape dough into a ball and loosely cover it with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roll the dough into a 10-inch by 15-inch rectangle, and then cover it loosely and allow it to rise for 40 minutes.

Brush the rectangle with the softened butter and then fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Roll the long, thin rectangle back into the original 10-inch by 15 shape. Fold the dough into thirds, again, and then cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Repeat this process one more time.

Roll the dough into a 10-inch by 30-inch rectangle and spread the vanilla crème patisserie3 across the surface of the rectangle. Drain the raisins, discarding the soaking liquid, and evenly scatter them over the surface of the pastry cream. Stir 1 tablespoon sugar and the cinnamon together and sprinkle the mixture over the raisins and pastry cream.

Roll the dough into a log and cut it crosswise into 18 slices. Arrange each slice on a lightly greased baking sheet with at least 2 inches between each pastry. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for 1 hour to 90 minutes, until they are nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons milk together to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash across the surface of each pastry. Bake the pains au raisin for 14 to 16 minutes, until they are puffed and golden brown.

This pain au raisin recipe makes 18 servings.

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Filed under Breakfast, Food, France, Pain au Cinnamon Raisin

Wild White Horses in the South of France Saintes Maries de la Mer, Camargue


The Camargue Horse

The Camargue Horse

Allow me to first claim that these photos are from a trip back in 2006. They clearly show how much technology has improved since that time. While the photos aren’t exactly the greatest, the experience and journey most certainly was.

In southern France is a remote town that is nestled along the Mediterranean sea on a delta flanked by the Rhone River. This 360 square mile delta is strangely barren, with salt flats and sea marshes but teaming of life and color with Pink Flamingos, black Camargue Bulls, and white Camargue horses. The Camargue could be viewed as the French wild west with Provencal cowboys and a rough and tough landscape.

St. Maries de la Mer

My friends and I reached the Camargue after a four-day long horseback ride from the Luberon Mountains to the flat salt marshes surrounding Saintes Maries de la Mer. The day had grown long and hot, and we were anxious to get back our land legs. We were riding in the heat of the summer, and the drought on the flat lands were clearly evident by the deep cracks in the dirt.

Along the dried flat lands.


Can you see the Flamingos in the distance?

After arriving to the Mazet de la Grenouillere Hotel we were greeted by a cool pool, and friendly white horses in the front waiting for us to go out and play on the beach.
Saintes Maries de la Mer offers everything in life that I love – beautiful natural scenery, a charming village, plenty of shops with local (say French Provencial) food, wine and handicrafts, fabulous restaurants, wildlife and bird watching and best of all – horseback riding!
It is said that the three saints, Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome, and Mary Jacobe sailed to this area after witnessing the empty tomb of Jesus after his resurrection. The town is now a pilgrimage destination for gypsies who honor Saint Sarah, a dark-skinned saint from Eqypt who is said to have been a servant to the three Marys.

Church where shrine for Saint Sarah is held.

The afternoon was enjoyed by a thorough gallop along the beach which progressively became more nude . There is nothing like being cussed at by a naked Frenchman because your horse kicked sand in his face !
The evening was spent in celebration for a well-ridden week at the Restaurant Le Delta with a traditional and local dish, Gardiane la Camargue ‘Bull Stew’ which you can make at home with traditional Beef Shanks.
Now time for the final day of our journey in the Camargue. The morning was planned for a three-hour trail ride in the Camargue National Park and Preserve. We were told that bulls and horses run free in the preserve, and is host to over 300 species of birds. The Camargue Preserve is now a Unesco World Heritage Site and covers over 350,000 acres of land.
To get to the delta, a short ferry ride was necessary. Loading people, horses, cars and other random items, all piled onto the small ferry for the quick ride over the river. On the other side is a small soda stand, perfect to refresh from the beating sun and high heat.
After a short break and back in the saddle, we headed out to the sea in search of the elusive black bulls. While we were able to see some far in the distance, they just seemed like black spots to me. Our trail guides prepared a wonderful Provencial lunch for us in the shade and allowed us plenty of time for lunch and a nap.

Working on my tan, although my hands were white when I got home. Gee, wonder why?


Provencial Lunch on the Camargue

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Filed under Camargue, Horses, Saintes Maries de la Mer, South of France