Paris vs. New York City

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

New York City

New York City

While Audrey Hepburn famously says in her title role of Sabrina, “Paris is always a good idea,” Robert DeNiro rebukes her and says, “I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome, and I always say, “There’s no place like New York. It’s the most exciting city in the world now. That’s the way it is. That’s it.”

In fact, I was thinking of Robert DeNiro this weekend.  Up and down Mulberry Street, Little Italy was celebrating the Saint Gennaro festival.  You know the scene in The Godfather,  don’t you?  The young Vito Corleone kills Don Fanucci and returns to his family to celebrate the feast of Saint Gennaro with the tiny Michael in his lap…it’s an iconic moment in cinema history and it happened in NYC.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s description of NYC is, “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”  Did he mean it?  After all, the essence of Gatsby is illusion and falsity.  Of Paris he wrote, “The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older—intelligence and good manners.”  So which is it, Scott?  Can’t we have both?  After all,  Gertrude Stein said, “America is my country, but Paris is my hometown.”

Which do you prefer?



   Paris   vs.   New York City

The Tuileries Garden and Luxembourg Gardens or Central Park

The Eiffel Tower or The  Statue of Liberty

The River Seine or The Hudson River

The Opera House or Broadway

Rive Gauche or The East Village

Croissants or Bagels and Lox

Flan or Cheesecake

The Ritz  or The Plaza and The Waldorf Astoria

Boat rides on the Seine or  Carriage rides in Central Park

 Tour First with 52 Floors or  The Freedom Tower (1776 feet high)

The Louvre or The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tour de France or NYC Marathon

Avenue des Champs Elysees or Fifth Avenue

New Year’s Eve at Champs des Mars or New Year’s Eve in Times Square

Boulevard Montparnasse or 42nd Street

Marais or The Lower East Side

Rue Mouffetard or South Street Seaport

Le Bon Marche and Galleries LaFayette or Macy’s and Saks

Notre Dame or St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Paris St. Germain F.C. or The Yankees

Pont Neuf or The Brooklyn Bridge

Charles de Gaulle Airport or JFK

Crepe Stands or Hot dogs and knishes

Outdoor cafes or rooftop pubs

Jardin des Plantes zoo or The Central Park Zoo

Vent de Voyage: Artisan Handbag Shop of Saint Malo

photo 1
Vent de Voyage

Vent de Voyage 3 Rue St. Thomas Saint Malo

 

IMG_2939

Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best things about shopping on vacation is discovering local treasures.  While anyone can bring back an Eiffel Tower key chain (and I do that too,) it’s more special to have something that speaks to the region and reminds you of your wonderful vacation long after you’ve returned home.  A shop just like this can be found in Saint Malo.

A notorious pirate town, Saint Malo is nestled in the crook of the English Channel and the Celtic Sea.   This hamlet IS nautical.  Saint James Breton shirts abound, pirates in costume and seafood galore, this lovely seaside resort is also home to a lovely little jewel of a shop, Vent de Voyage.   Located at 3 Rue Saint Thomas this workshop is a one of a kind place making one of a kind bags.

Inspired by their nautical home, Yann and Christine, the proprietors, complete all their work in the shop creating beautiful bags from sailcloths.

The Port of Saint Malo

The Port of Saint Malo

Yes.  Sailcloths.  Water resistant, sturdy, and durable, these beautiful bags are clean, modern, simple and sleek, much like the shoreline.

To walk inside the shop is to know you’ve found something special.  Each bag is hand-crafted, signed and dated.  They offer sizes from tiny clutches to beautiful tote bags.  You can buy off the rack or customize a bag.  If you don’t plan on being in Saint Malo, they even offer a webcam service where you can Skype with them to plan your bag.  The shop, much like the town, is charming and unique.  Of course, I had to purchase a bag, and I decided on the “La Conchee” in canvas.  I swear I can smell the ocean when I carry it…

La Conchee Tote

La Conchee Tote

Ten Things To Know About Eating In France

Kir Royal at Le Lutetia, Ile Saint Louis

Kir Royal at Le Lutetia, Ile Saint Louis, Paris

People have made the “rude French waiter” into a cliché.  I don’t really understand why.  Every single person who waited on us in France was kinder and more personable than the next.  That being said, there are some things that you should know in order to, well, order.

1.  Do not call your server, “Garçon!”  That’s a derogatory title much like, “Hey, boy.”  Call him “monsieur” or if it’s a woman, “mademoiselle” or “madame” depending on her age.

2. Do not ask for extra condiments.  The chef prepared the meal for you and it’s seasoned the way it’s meant to be.  It’s like a lead balloon asking for salt.  It’s an insult.

3.  Your server will not return.  When they bring you your meal, that’s going to be it.  You know how in America you get your food and then three minutes later when you have a mouthful they’ll ask you, “How is everything tasting?”  Doesn’t.  Happen.  In.  France.  Their culture dictates that it’s rude and too intimate to speak to strangers as they eat.

4.  Don’t be in a rush.  Paris, especially, is a people watching kind of place.  The cafe chairs are set up outside in theater style.  You don’t even face your companion.  People like to sit and watch the world go by.  With the purchase of your meal (or your kir royal,) you are entitled to all the dinner theater you can imagine.  They won’t rush you and you certainly won’t get your main course while you’re still eating your salad.  You’ll have to ask them for the bill, (Le Cheque.)  They feel that angling sideways up to the table as they put the bill on it, even if they say, “I’ll take that whenever you’re ready” is the same as, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”

5.  Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Olive.  Olive who?  Olive France.  Rather, France loves olives.  Everywhere you go to eat, when they bring you your cocktails, they also bring a bowl of olives.  Both green and black, the only utensil you’ll receive is a toothpick.

6. Don’t tip.  In France, most of the servers, waiters, bartenders, etc. are grown men.  You’ll nary find a teenager with his phone in his back pocket.  It’s a life long career here, not a stepping stone for unemployed actors or college kids.  They take exceptional pride in their work.  The bill has a 20% gratuity built right in, it’s called “Le pourboire.”  It’s a respectable profession and it’s insulting to leave a tip.  That being said, if you leave just a few coins, (under a euro or so) that’s just a little “thank you.”

7.  Secondhand smoke comes free with every meal.  I’m sorry, but it’s true, especially if you eat outside.  I tell myself that smoke inhaled on holidays doesn’t count much in the same way as calories consumed on vacation.  If you make a big stink about it, you’ll be the one led to the door.  Ask to sit inside to help alleviate it.  You’ll be the only one in there.

8.  A Rosé by any other name…Especially in the summer, the French drink rosé wine.  It’s not that super sweet bubbly rosé we drink here.  Rather, it’s a bit more dry and it’s served cold.  Everyone drinks it.  If they aren’t drinking this, they’re having a Kir that consists of white wine with a splash of fruit liquor in it.  (So it’s a homemade rosé.)  You could go crazy and ask for Kir Royal so they switch out the white wine for champagne.  The point here is, folks, they drink simple wine based drinks.

9. Keep your elbows on the table.  Yes, you read that correctly.  At least, keep your forearms firmly planted on the table ledge so your hands are visible.  The French get funny if your hands are in your lap.  They want to see what you’re up to.  I’m serious.

10.  Bread goes on the table.  Well, duh.  I’m not talking about the bread basket, I mean the actual bread.  You won’t get a bread plate.  You’re expected to rip the bread with your hands and then you leave it on the tabletop.  This works closely in alignment with #9…keep your hands where I can see ’em.

 

 

A Photo Essay of Saint Malo: The Walled City of St. Malo in Bretagne, France

 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Saint Malo is a beautiful port city that keeps watch on the northern tip of France overlooking the English Channel. Steeped  in history, legend and faith, this tiny hamlet that lives “Intra Muros” (inside the walls) encapsulates the beauty of Bretagne. I have ownership of all the photographs, but please inbox me if you’d like to use one.

La Cour La Houssaye: 15th Century House of Anne of Brittany in St. Malo

La Cour La Houssaye: 15th Century House of Anne of Brittany in St. Malo

IMG_2978 IMG_2980

 

Saint Malo, France

Saint Malo, France

At low tide, you can walk out to this island.

At low tide on St. Malo, Brittany, France. You can walk out to this island in The English Channel

Crepes from St. Barbe of Saint Malo

Crepes from Biniou, Saint Malo, Brittany, France

Menu from Biniou

IMG_2519

Grand Rue of Saint Malo

IMG_2515

Bakery of Saint Malo on Grand Rue

The Port of Saint Malo

The Port of Saint Malo

IMG_2517

Saint Christopher in the Wall of Saint Malo

IMG_2427

Charming town of Saint Malo

IMG_2428

Bookstore of Saint Malo.

The Oldest Bookstore in Saint Malo

The Blessed Mother over the doorway of the oldest bookstore in Saint Malo

 

IMG_3039

Intra Muros cobblestone streets of St. Malo

IMG_2945

Hard Cider, the speciality of St. Malo

IMG_2946

Saint Malo’s Crockery

IMG_2947

Creperie le Saint Barbe, Saint Malo, France

IMG_2948

Creperie le Saint Barbe, Saint Malo

IMG_2949

Crepes of Saint Malo

IMG_2950

Crepe Complete: Cheese, Eggs and Ham

 

Dessert crepes at Creperie St. Barbe

Dessert crepes at Creperie St. Barbe

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2447

Place Chateaubriand, Saint Malo

Shores of St. Malo

Shores of St. Malo, Brittany, France on the English Channel

 

 

 

 

 

Train Station of Saint Malo, France Photo by Cynthia Dite Sirni

Train Station of Saint Malo, France 

The fortress of Saint Malo

Ramparts of the fortress of Saint Malo, France

 

The beaches of St. Malo

The beaches of St. Malo: The English Channel

The Train of Saint Malo

The Train of Saint Malo

Over the Main Portal of St. Malo

Over the Main Portal of St. Malo

The Cathedral of St. Vincent

The Cathedral of St. Vincent

Walking the Ramparts on the Wall of Saint Malo by Cynthia Dite Sirni

Walking the Ramparts on the Wall of St. Malo

A feisty pirate lass from Saint Malo.

On The Wall, St. Malo by Cynthia Dite Sirni

On The Wall, St. Malo 

The Shores of Saint Malo, France by Cynthia Dite Sirni

The Shore of Saint Malo…look how clear that water is!! Did you know the English Channel could look like this? Me neither!