Holiday Bliss: Top 5 Reasons Paris Should be Calling your Name

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Wintertime has a bad rap of being gloomy, dark, cold, and insufferable.

A Paris holiday is the exception indeed! Let the City of Lights soften your winter blues. Paris becomes a glitzy, sparkling wonderland, bustling with beautiful people, food, and sights. Everyone in Paris enjoys the breathtaking Tour Eiffel, but not everyone gets the inside scoop. Here are a few tips for people who want to make the most of their Paris holiday:

These are the top 5 reasons you need Paris this winter holiday. Be in Bliss, you deserve it!

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5. The Christmas Markets

Of course you have heard of the bustling street markets that dazzle with their seasonal delicacies, flashing lights, and twinkling charms. Imagine taking a stroll in these seasonal Christmas markets, where you can grab a warm cup of mulled wine to warm up the belly. But, here’s an insider’s tip: A few of the formerly Michelin starred chefs have taken stands at one of the markets, and are offering tastes of great bistro food, and even music….Gourmet bistro food on the streets? Only in Paris!

 

 

mulledwine

what will you choose?

 

What will you choose in the sea of possibilities?

4. Bright Lights of the Streets and Storefronts

‘Tis is the season of giving (and of course treating yourself!) so don’t forget to pack lightly so you can fit all your new finds from the dazzling storefronts that glisten with light. Remember, the markets aren’t the only place to shop. There are fabulous finds in the 6th and also along the Grand Boulevards. Don’t forget Bon Marche, where you can indulge yourself in every category of purchase.

 

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stores

3.  La Seine

There is nothing quite as dreamlike as the reflections of all the lights on the main vein of Paris like La Seine. Stunning to stroll along, or perhaps view on your way to or from Christmas mass at Notre Dame or ice skating at Hotel du Ville……. Can you say romantique?
In past years the weather was nice enough that we brought some special gourmet treats and treated our clients to an impromptu “casse croute” and a street performance!  Worried it’ll be cold? Not a problem –last year we switched it up and had oysters and Champagne under the Tour Eiffel.

 

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2. The Magnificent Monuments

Imagine the stained glass windows of the cathedrals illuminated as the winter light passes through them, or how about the fairytale-like views leading to L’Arc de Triomphe? Surely there is nothing more magnificent than the glittering lights of Paris and her beautiful adornments!

monuments

 

 

and the TOP reason you need Paris this holiday season……..

1. The Food and Drink

Your taste buds will thank you for treating them to such excellent Parisian fare! It’s foie gras season, chocolate season,  truffle season, chestnut season, and more. The holidays are the culinary pinnacle of the year! From Champagne to Burgundy to Bordeaux, the wines enchant. From discreet patisseries to private dinners in the home of a chef (formerly of three Michelin star Arpege), discover foodie Bliss.  And share that holiday cheer with the new friends you meet along the way!

Yes that is a golden trees of delicious macrons, all for you!

Yes that is a golden trees of delicious macrons, all for you!

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a dish from a recent vacation in Paris!

Tour france visit paris over the holidays

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Tour France. Holidays in Paris

 

Tour France French food Paris for the holidays

Tour France Paris for the holidays

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Give yourself an incredible present this season: a holiday in Paris with Bliss!  Be an insider and put the treat in your retreat! Contact wendy@blisstravels.com for more tips and info!

 

A bientôt,

Wendy Jaeger

Bliss Travels

Tour France: Christmas in Paris

A “snapshot” of the holidays in Paris

Here’s our “photo essay” of the experience. We hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful holiday season.

Tour France

From the Tour Eiffel to the Louvre….
Tour France Paris

And Santa’s of all sorts!DSCF0603DSCF0605So many great things to see….

DSCF0599Have a great holiday!

A Bientot,

Wendy & Bliss Travels

Tour France: Best Summer Festivals in Provence (with schedule)

Tour France: Best Summer Festivals in Provence and Festival Schedule.

Schedule:

Cherry Festivals in mid and late June

Melon Festival in July

Lavender festivals in late July and August

Bastille Day –July 14

Tour de France –July 14 in Provence

Wine and art festivals…July etc.

Fete Votives: late June, July and August.

Summer is festival season. Provence is full of a huge variety of festivals.

There are themed festivals. There is a honey festival, several wine festivals, art festivals, a melon festival, a cherry festival…and pretty much a celebration of any food product you can think of. Below are some photos of past festivals.

Being inducted into the “royal order of the melon”. Really.
A special melon dish. Lobster or prawns are baked in this one of a kind “plat”. We have been privileged to do this with the chef several times.The meal following the festival celebrating the town’s release from the dragon.

Walking around the Lavender festival last August.

There are “fetes votives” in each village. Those include things like dancing in the town square to live music, Champagne “stands”, carnival games and perhaps even a special market. I love these local festivals. They bring such romance to a Provencal night.

The cafes take advantage of the closed roads to set up table everywhere. Bands play on the side walk –trumpets and all!

Evening fireworks over a Mediterranean village.

There is Bastille Day. This brings a weekend full of festivities. In Paris, it is dominated by parades andfireworks over the Eiffel Tower. In Provence, it is marked by celebratory town wide meals (Pistous and Aiolis), dancing and fireworks in the town centers and huge, luscious markets full of tantalizing treats and products.

Guest Post: From Monique Marriage

Please enjoy our guest post from Madame Monique

Marriage…Posted on French Wedding Style! And look at the

post as it was originally published

Elope to Paris

There are many different types of weddings from elaborate celebrations for 150 people to small intimate weddings and this is not forgetting elopements.  If you are planning on eloping to Las Vegas then the degree of wedding preparation can be as little or as much as you wish, but for those planning to elope to Paris a little more preparation is needed and indeed a good wedding professional!  After all you are still planning a destination wedding which does include a different language, different legal requirements and a different city and suppliers.Bliss Weddings was set up by Wendy Jaeger,  who traveled extensively throughout France for more than 30 years. Her relationships with chefs, restaurateurs, artisan producers, artists and others allow you to experience the real France on your wedding day – allowing you to concentrate on the romance of your Parisian elopement.

French Wedding Style Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, Bliss Travels

elope to Paris

Wendy shares with us one of her real life elopement stories: “Michelle and Jack called me less than three months before their wedding date to ask if I could create a Paris elopement for them…Running off to the City of Lights to get married. Just the two of them. In the end, his father, and her mother, and their best friends also traveled with them. During the weeks that followed, our celebrant spent time speaking with Michelle and Jack about their lives, their love and the ceremony ahead so that he could craft the perfect moment for them.

Parisian elopementOnce in Paris, we arranged to meet for the first time in an historic art deco building on the Left Bank. Sharing Laduree pastries and some Champagne, we talked about the weekend ahead. We arranged for a ceremony in the Tuileries Gardens, by the lily pool, off to the side, under a beautiful tree. When we arrived, there was a painter, in full white, paint splattered smock, with easel, working on an oil painting. We couldn’t resist the setting and held  the ceremony with the painter as our background. Along side the painter were some enthusiastic teens. Everyone was onboard with the romance of the marriage –and the teens threw rose petals at the bride and groom at the perfect moment, while the painter provided the most Parisian backdrop possible for this impromptu garden ceremony. After the ceremony, the couple was doused with a shower of rose petals and applause by family, friends, and locals…Everyone wanted to celebrate.

destination elope ParisAfter the ceremony we took the couple, and the photographer, by limousine through Paris for photos at all of the fabulous sites. In between stops they enjoyed gourmet treats, champagne and a miniature wedding cake –little treats before they joined their friends and family for the more formal Wedding dinner.

 This wedding was romantic, casual elegance at its best.”

There is something just so romantic about eloping especially to the capital of romance Paris.  After all the big wedding celebrations have finished it is still two people making a commitment to each other and starting their life together – just with a few less guests if you elope.  Thanks to Bliss Travels for opening the doors on the details behind couples who elope to Paris.

As a discussion point, for all those couples who did elope did you tell your family before the big day or after?

Happy elopement planning.

Monique x x

5 Highlights of our Christmas Day in Paris…

 

  1. The Day starts with a stroll along the Seine (mais oui) to…
  2. Lunch. But, you must ask, what does one have for lunch on Christmas Day in Paris? Well, a mon avie (in my opinion), this is a meal meant for comfort and relaxation –not “white table cloth” fine dining. Just friends enjoying a great time….Now, don’t be confused. I don’t mean that the food should be “average”. It should be superb –just not “stuffy”. So, my recommendation (and our menu) consisted of Oysters or Salmon or Foie Gras… followed by Roast Leg of Lamb or Duck stuffed with Dried Fruits, or Scallops. You get the idea, I’m sure. Dessert was a made to order Buche de Noel of Chocolate, Chestnut, Clementine. And, I for one, have to say, YUM. It ranked as one of my favorite meals of the season.
  3. A stroll to see the City Hall of Paris  –location of Robert Doisneau’s famous “kiss” photgraph, and site of Rodin sculptures –and iceskaters!
  4. Then, it might be nice to stroll the Ile St Louis? It has such an aura. Of course, Bertillon is a requirement if you stop there! As is the Felini-esque show performed, as is usual, in the most interesting way possible, along a bridge on the Seine river.
  5. Finally –an evening stroll along St Andre des Arts and a stop at St Michel –and perhaps a wine and cheese somewhere (nod to Brooke!!).

Now, that’s a Christmas Day!

In Paris & Brussels, Tis The Season for Chocolate

Now that the weather outside is frosty (hear the tune in your head), it’s time for chocolate! Real chocolate. Delicate chocolates. Chocolates that don’t like too much heat because they are filled with real, fresh, flavored cream, or stamped and painted with gorgeous drawings, or melted and stirred into thick unctuous decadent drinks. Is your mouth watering yet?

Each winter –in both December and February (Valentine’s Day, anyone?) Bliss Travels visits the most magnificent chocolatiers and patissieres to see what new creations and exciting treats are available.  (And, we don’t just visit, we taste, and taste…and then have a glass of Champagne –whoops, got distracted. Sorry!)

This year is no different. Even if you can’t come on our Christmas week trip (where we do this in Paris) or our Valentine’s weekend or add on a visit to Brussels, you can still look at these amazing treats and learn what to find here. What could be better ?

Smaller than American confections, and typically more delicate, with thinner shells, these treats also have significantly less sugar, making them (in the opinion of Bliss Travels) practically a health food! (Truth: they are less fattening, and less addictive, because there is less sugar and nothing that’s chemical in them.) If you talk to an artisan in Brussels or Paris, they will tell you chocolate in proper “doses” is medicinal and very good for you.  I wouldn’t argue with that if I were you. I sure don’t!

Some of the flavors below include lavender and a fresh cream of tiramisu!
The chocolates in this photo are from Neuhaus. You can buy this brand in the US, but you cannot buy the fresh creams. They are too delicate to travel. The photo here depicts chocolates filled with a very light flavored whipped cream (this is not the cloying sweet gummy stuff we call “creams” in the box of assorted chocolates you get in the US). You must get these in BRUSSELS.

So, what to do here. Look for small batch chocolates, make by artisans. Look for higher quality (and darker, more pure) chocolates. Avoid anything with a list of ingredients with things you personally wouldn’t cook with. Look for smaller pieces, interesting flavors, freshest ingredients.

Then there are other things you can do with chocolate…If you’re in Paris or Brussels! Take a look at a typical, well done treat. (But, you have to know where to go!)

What could be a better gift than Chocolate –well, taking that person tasting in Paris –but, if you can’t do that, find the real thing here. It makes a difference.

We wish you a truly sweet season….And hope you’ll join us soon! It’s Bliss

If you want to know more, write me. I love to hear from people! Wendy@blisstravels.com

How to Fall in Love in Paris: A True Story

Paris is the city of Love and Romance. Mais Oui! And never more so than over Christmas and Valentine’s Day. This is a true story about finding love in Paris. One I like telling as I begin to plan for all the holidays.

About this time, two years ago,  Bliss Travels, was leading a group through France for a photo shoot of wedding gowns for Nicole Miller Philadelphia, when the first of three paralyzing snow storms hit the East Coast of the US.  The photographer and I arrived in Provence for our destination wedding photo shoot, only to find that the model and all of the clothing were snowed in at home.

Our intrepid photographer and I were sitting in a tiny village restaurant having a Christmas lunch with the town (yes, pretty much the entire town)

trying to decide how to photograph a destination wedding without a bride or bridal clothing when our waiter appeared-handsome, blue eyed and very photogenic. As we munched on pâté and warm toast, followed by a red wine soaked Provencal daube (for her) and a duck confit (for me) and the traditional 13 desserts (okay, it wasn’t a hardship!) we hatched a plan with the town councilwoman whose hospitality we were enjoying.

When we told her we’d like to hijack the waiter as our model and she saw the look in our eyes, she knew we were serious. She jumped up from the table and ran out of the restaurant to find the keys to the ancient hilltop church before anyone changed their minds. She needn’t have worried. Once we told Julien it was “pretend”, our waiter graciously agreed to put on a suit and tie and come with us to the astounding church whose origins date back to the 5th century, and say “I do”.

For the next 36 hours as we received frantic updates from our ‘bride’ saying she (and our wedding dresses) were in transit, Julien continued to show up for photo shoots with a bow tie and a grin.

Finally, on our last night in this little village, we invited Julien to dinner and told him that our “bride” would be waiting when he arrived. Secretly, Sarah and I joked that Julien could not possibly believe we really had a model on the way. There had been so many canceled meetings.  As this became more and more comic, we plied Julien with pre dinner aperitifs and attempted to convince him -over his laughs and eye rolls — that our “bride” did exist. At that moment, our “bride” , Mia Calona, sauntered in as if she was only “fashionably late” for a party.  Julien took one look at her, smiled and said “oui, oui” (without asking if it was pretend).

However, like any ‘marriage of convenience’, theirs was over before it it began.  Julien was off to see his family for the holidays and we left for Chateauneuf du Pape and Paris. We spent three more days of photography and then spent Christmas Day in Paris (which I highly recommend) together celebrating the success of our trip.

The next morning, another paralyzing storm hit the East Coast, and Sarah found herself stuck in Charles de Gaulle airport for several hours, unable to leave France. So, she struck up a conversation with another delayed traveler (yes, part French) and, you guessed it, they hit it off. Within weeks, he had moved to Philadelphia. Within months they were engaged. And, now they are getting married! So, finding love in the City of Light and Love is always possible.  Just ask Sarah!