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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

L’APPART: THE DELIGHTS AND DISASTERS OF MAKING MY PARIS HOME

DAVID LEBOVITZ’S LATEST BOOK IS A MUST-READ                                (EVEN IF YOU SKIP OVER RECIPES SHARED AT CHAPTER ENDS)


L’Appart has plenty of details, often told in sardonic humor, about life, food, culture, cost and rules of living in the culinary capital.

But it mainly focuses on the never-ending setbacks experienced by a results-oriented American in a city whose laws seem designed specifically to delay closing the deal on buying that perfect apartment…

…then going through endless torture with untrustworthy and (it turns out) incompetent contractors.

We live in Miami, so evil...careless...corrupt...disappearing contractors are actually considered the good ones!

Many here exist only in a circle of hell below corrupt/incompetent.

So we feel Lebovitz’s pain while he endures strings of five figure costs for perpetually delayed, always shoddy work worth less than four figures when the dust clears.

Will our hero live, sans nervous breakdown, to see the completion of his dream Paris kitchen in an apartment that he will own?

Find out at
https://www.amazon.com/LAppart-Delights-Disasters-Making-Paris/dp/0804188408/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=&linkCode=sl1&tag=davidleboviswebs&linkId=76c7bc04325a5c6cae423c22cbec67b7&language=en_US





Tuesday, July 30, 2019

L’APPART: THE DELIGHTS AND DISASTERS OF MAKING MY PARIS HOME

DAVID LEBOVITZ’S LATEST BOOK IS A MUST-READ                                (EVEN IF YOU SKIP OVER RECIPES SHARED AT CHAPTER ENDS)



The author’s DavidLebovitz.com blog shared recipes, as one would expect a cookbook author to do, but it gained popularity has he also shared matter of fact tales of everyday life in a beautiful city that can be rather unforgiving in etiquette, tradition and red tape.

L’Appart (busy Paris contraction for The Apartment) comes with the bonus of recipes from an expert chef who has been featured in: Bon Appétit, Chocolatier, Food+Wine, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Travel and Leisure, The New York Times, People, Saveur and USA Today.

But for those of us who enjoy memoir over a countertop of bowls, mixers and dozens of ingredients -- it's easy to skip over, or speed read them.

My fingers were eagerly flipping pages to keep up with his perfect blend of storytelling spiced/spiked with details about peculiarities of Paris, French bureaucracy and contractors.

Monday, July 29, 2019

ZeroThreshold: Perspective from Designer Jackie Holzheimer

L’APPART: THE DELIGHTS AND DISASTERS OF MAKING MY PARIS HOME

DAVID LEBOVITZ’S LATEST BOOK IS A MUST-READ                                (EVEN IF YOU SKIP OVER RECIPES SHARED AT CHAPTER ENDS)


I have just completed L'appart and commend Chef/Blogger/Cookbook Author/ExPat in Paris David Lebovitz for his ease with the language and ability to to season trying tales with good humor.

To me, the kitchen only is a place to store, refrigerate, freeze and re-heat stuff.

So the having recipes part of the book scared me away from buying it for a half year.

Lebovitz began working in restaurants at the age of sixteen and ended up at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, working with the famed Alice Waters and co-owner, Executive Pastry Chef Lindsey Shere, who he credits as his pastry mentor.

He moved to Paris in 1999 and started an early blog to coincide with the release of his first book, Room for Dessert. 









Sunday, July 28, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 17

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN


At Centre Pompidou, people with disabilities who cannot walk stairs must journey very long distances to reach one elevator that only reaches the main, first and basement floors. 

Another elevator, a very long stroll away, serves the upper floor galleries 5 and 6.  

On the opposite side of the more than one million square foot building, elevators reach only galleries 3 and 4.

The idea of forcing folks to go on tour of the building to reach elevators might have seemed cool to the architects.

Or maybe they were trying to promote fitness.


But it is a disaster for folks who push their own wheelchairs, are slow walkers, have respiratory issues or just plain are pushing 60 husbands pushing their wife's manual wheelchair all over creation -- not to see world class art -- but to just go from one floor to the other.



Saturday, July 27, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 16

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN


The views are worth the price of admission to the Centre Pompidou and can be had without buying lunch, dinner or drinks from Georges.

There are stunning vistas from any number of outdoor plazas on the gallery levels.  

While the main system of transport is through see through glass tubed escalators, all of the open air observations points are accessible via elevator.

Seeing the Eiffel Tower to the southwest and Sacre Coeur atop Montmartre to the north is breathtaking.

Friday, July 26, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 15

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN



The Pompidou has a countless galleries, one of the best contemporary art collections anywhere, fabulous traveling exhibits and areas focused for children.


It also has one of the most exhaustive art and design-focused bookstores/gift shops on earth, plus a hip design store.

While it may not be a candidate for a Michelin star in a city filled with top chefs, beloved bistrots and brasseries, the rooftop Georges restaurant serves quite memorable cuisine.

We almost avoid all revolving or rooftop restaurants -- as you are paying for the view not great cuisine.  

While the views are worth the price (our lunch with dessert and drinks was 100 euros), the kitchen more than holds its own.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 14

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN


Though the Louvre is arguably the most famous museum on earth, the D'Orsay is a powerhouse since it opened in the late 20th century and Paris is filled with dozens of top drawer museums...

If I had just once half day to spend indoors, I most likely would suggest the Centre Pompidou.

While considered a non-contextual affront to the neighborhood, and all of central Paris by many, I love the modern architecture and the theory behind it: that visitors see all the mechanicals on the outside.


This not only creates breathtaking interior spaces free from obstructions, but it also does a great deal of teaching about architecture and engineering.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 13

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN




The Bateaux Parisiens captain, before leaving the dock, invited us to sit up front, beyond the passenger seating, where my wife could truly see out onto the Seine and all the monuments along it.

The price was very reasonable (15 euros).

Next to the accessible restroom was a pair of vending machine that had ice cold sodas, waters and more -- and it even took credit cards.


We got hundreds of great photos from or digital SLR and iPhone cameras.

It was a smooth, safe ride.

It lasted about an hour -- a perfect amount of time to get a feel for the location of Paris' grand monuments.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 12

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN



Bateaux Parisiens assured that because one of us uses a wheelchair for mobility, we would benefit from early boarding.

We were assured that there is a larger restroom on the main deck level reserved for people with disabilities.

We were taken by ramp and boarded without having to bump up or down any steps -- and without my wife having to worry about being carried in her wheelchair.

We were seated near the front.

We found the great accessible restroom.

Monday, July 22, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 11

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN


Thank you so much -- Bateaux Parisiens -- for caring about visitors who use wheelchairs for mobility.

We showed up one morning.

We had not made advance arrangements.

We were not sure if there was a restroom on board and if so, was it on main deck level (very rare).

We didn't want to spend a ton of money.

We wanted to get bottles of water for the trip.

We were met at the ticket booth by a person who spoke flawless English.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 10

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN
The Louvre Museum has made great strides in wheelchair access.

It is true that wheelchair using visitors must use a dozen or more elevators just to get around one main wing of the old palace.

But docents are great about pointing out the lifts and they seem to be well-maintained.

Great strides have been made for access to the Mona Lisa.

It's temporary display room features a large area in front of the roped off crowd -- for disabled visitors to get an unobstructed view of La Giaconda.


Here, Heidi Johnson-Wright checks out her direct-view shot of the fabled Da Vinci painting.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 9

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN



Passage du Grand Cerf in the 1st arrondissement, very close to the great eating street Rue Montorguiel.

Abandoned for nearly a century, it was restored to its former glory a few years ago and gets our vote for the most beautiful Parisian arcade.

It's off the usual tourist track and home to a host of tempting shops, including the artisanal jewelry boutique, Satellite.

We could not find an accessible restroom within the building.

Also, the side closer to Montorguiel is a level entrance, while the other end has a few steps to negotiated.

Otherwise, the main walkway is bright, beautiful and 100 percent barrier-free.

Small shops are tight for wheeling through, but not impossible.

Friday, July 19, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 8

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN




Jardin des Tuileries is a lush, formal garden in central Paris immediately west of the sprawling, enthralling Musee Louvre.

The main access points -- Place du Carrousel to the east, next to the Louvre, and Place de la Concorde to the west, near the ancient Egyptian Obelisk – are accessible.

The pathways are sand and gravel, not paved, but generally wheelchair accessible.
Beware, on windy days, the dust kicks up something fierce.

Beware even more – most entry/exit points to Tuileries along Rue Rivoli or the Seine consist of a number of steps that create a barrier for wheelers.

The 50+ acre gardens, full of statues, ponds and cafes, feature fully-accessible toilets near Concorde.

That western edge of the once royal, now open to the public garden also hosts a pair of worthy museums.

The Orangerie Museum’s collection includes Monet's impressionist masterpiece, his Nympheas (Water Lilies) series.

The Jeu de Paume National Galleries next door feature contemporary art, photography and film.

For people with disabilities, plan on a long walk and roll up long ramps of hard packed sand/gravel to get up to the museums elevated about one story above ground level at Place Concorde.

Once up the long ramps, access is easy within the pair of museums that are gems let overshadowed by the massiveness of the nearby Louvre and D’Orsay across the Seine.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 7

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN


Canal St. Martin connects waterways on the far north side of Paris to the Seine.

Though some of it is tunneled, the north part provides a beautiful waterway in the up and coming 10th arrondissement.

Plenty of up and coming chefs have located along the canal, drawn by much lower rents in the still somewhat working class, not that long ago rough and tumble district.
Walkways along the water are often narrow, devoid of curb ramps and brutally bumpy.

The streets are narrow, so sidewalks along the building (vs. water) side of the canal side roads are a good option for people with disabilities who use assistive mobility devices.

The Hotel du Nord, once a small hotel and forever famous as the setting for the 1938 classic Marcel Carne drama.

The Hotel du Nord building still stands, but people no longer visit for a place to sleep.
Now it is a bar, restaurant and brunch spot – with plenty of those little tables with side-by-side chairs pointed at the canal for maximum people watching.

There is a fascinating 2-plus hour boat tour twice a day, one heading from Bastille north and the other from Basin de la Villette south.

Though the boat has a water closet on the main deck, boarding for a wheelchair user involves being carried down/up a few steps.

And while the Villette Basin area is easily walkable, the docks in Bastille are down a very long, bumpy cobblestoned ramp.

So we passed on the Canauxrama canal tour, through many locks and under picturesque steel bridges, till a future visit.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 6

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN




Les Halles, the market stands that served as Paris’ belly for centuries, are gone.
Rue Montorgueil lives on.

While Paris is famed for the temporary food markets that usually set up twice per week in various neighborhoods – Marches Bastille and Daumensnil are fine examples – Rue Montorgueil is a gourmet fresh and prepared food marche the opens every day in permanent quarters.

Americans used to drive through fast food and overly processed items at the grocer will weep at the amount of organic produce, fabled French fromages, chocolates, pastries, wine shops and more.

Wheelchair access is not perfect, but there are a decent amount of curb ramps and the majority of shops and restaurants can be entered on level ground.

The main street has limited vehicular access, so many folks walk and roll along it rather than the narrow, crowded sidewalks.

Most of the side alleys have hip new restaurant by young chefs while the main drag tends to have more stayed and steady bistrots, brasseries and the like.

Because the buildings are old, finding a restroom that isn’t down a long flight of stairs, or sometimes up several steps, is a challenge for wheelers.

Thankfully, some places without accessible restrooms have deals with neighboring properties that have main floor, zero threshold, generally accessible restrooms.

If worse comes to worse, roll into Paul – a chain but respected boulangerie-pastisserie – has a great family restroom, a level entrance and a front counter staff that will buzz you into the accessible restroom whether you buy a baguette and croissant or not.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 5

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN





Institut du Monde Arabe is worth visiting for what’s outside and on top of it as much as what’s inside.

The large rooftop terrace provides stunning vistas of Paris landmarks – including Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and Centre Pompidou.

Taking in fresh air, free of the endless cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust that permeates street level Paris, is worth the price of admission.

The modernist building features at least a half dozen large, modern elevators – a great feature for visitors who uses wheelchairs.

Unlike older museums in Paris, where the lifts are hidden away in corners, the elevator core is logically and usefully in the center of the building.

The Arab World Institute features permanent and visiting exhibits, a huge gift shop/book store with premium items, a rooftop celebrity-run restaurant and Arab geometric pattern-inspired modern architecture by star designer Jean Nouvel.

“From an urban point of view the Institute is a hinge between two cultures and two histories. If the south side of the building, with its motorized diaphragms, is a contemporary expression of eastern culture, the north side is a literal mirror of western culture: images of the Parisian cityscape across the Seine are enamelled on the exterior glass like chemicals over a photographic plate. These patterns of lines and markings on the same façade are an echo of contemporary art.” –Jean Nouvel.

Monday, July 15, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 4

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN




Paris is filled with famous final resting places:

The underground, mystifying Catacombs

Pere Lechaise – covering more than 100 acres and filled with unforgettable personalities from Oscar Wilde to Jim Morrison.

Montmartre, with some celebrity tombs and well, the charm of Montmartre.

But for people with disabilities, Montparnasse is the place to be.

The Catacombs, down hundreds of steps; Pere Lechaise, with harsh cobblestones to roll over and some hills; and Montmartre, one of the hilliest places in the City of Light.

Montparnasse is paved, most of it is on quite level ground and it even has a fully-accessible restroom at the main entrance.

A laminated, borrow and return large map leads you to all the famous interred here.
Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, Porforio Diaz, Serge Gainsbourg, Man Ray, Susan Sontag and Tristan Tzara provide plenty of star power resting in peace.

Paris’ second largest cemetery also has the only moulin (mill) left of 30 that used to stand on the farming plain of Montrouge.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 3

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN


The Musee D'Orsay is another world class museum in a re-purposed building.

The artwork of famed Impressionists and others is displayed in a grand Beaux Arts former rail station.

Like the Louvre, elevators are used to transport people with disabilities to the various galleries.

Also like the Louvre, and all other state-operated museums, admission is free for a disabled visitor and one able bodied companion.

Proof is required – a European Union “disabled person” card is often mentioned.


But once they saw that Heidi, pictured above and below by the grand clock in the Orsay, uses a wheelchair for mobility – we were not hassled about official documentation of her right to free admission.




Saturday, July 13, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 2

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN

Les Duc Lombards has been a popular jazz club for more than three decades.

Centrally located, it has outstanding national and local acts.

We saw Laurent de Wilde, who we have seen perform every time we’ve been in Paris.

Unlike some underground “cave” clubs that are off limits to wheelchair users, Duc Lombards is on level ground.

While the main restrooms are downstairs without an elevator – a very common thing in the heart of Paris – there is a main level bathroom reserved for people with disabilities.

There is not a bad sightline in the house and they are excellent about seating wheelchair users.

As for acoustics, the room is perfect to hear classic jazz trios.

Friday, July 12, 2019

PARIS BY WHEELCHAIR -- Part 1

PROGRESS MADE, BUT MANY CHALLENGES REMAIN

The Coulée verte René-Dumont or Promenade plantée or the Coulée verte is a 4.7 km elevated linear park built on top of obsolete railway infrastructure in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, France.


It provides beautiful views and a green garden respite from the bustling city.

It is smooth and paved with plenty of space for wheelchair users to maneuver around.

It is accessible via level ground at about its midpoint between Bastille and Bois Vincennes.

There are multiple elevators, but they have been broken for years.

To address access for all, the city MUST keep the elevators in good repair.

Otherwise, disabled visitors must backtrack for more than a mile – while all others can take the stairs down to Bastille and other interest points.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

THE HAPPIEST FELINES OF ESSAOUIRA -- 7

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE WRIGHT/WORDS BY:
AKEES VAN UNEN AND SANNE ZURNE – THE INDEPENDENT TRAVEL



Essaouira fishermen seem to have a special connection with the port cats, giving them fine cuts of fish, along with the odd chin stroke. 

The leftovers – which a cat might usually be expected to eat – are for the seagulls.

With their bellies full the cats have a siesta on a bed of soft fishing nets, away from the wind.

Anyone want to swap places?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

THE HAPPIEST FELINES OF ESSAOUIRA -- 6

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE WRIGHT/WORDS BY:
AKEES VAN UNEN AND SANNE ZURNE – THE INDEPENDENT TRAVEL


Why? 

Probably because they have certainty in life: a daily supply of more fresh fish than they could ever eat. 

Sardines, barracudas, eels – if it swims, the fishermen will sell it. 

And the cats are taking advantage.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

THE HAPPIEST FELINES OF ESSAOUIRA -- 5

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE WRIGHT/WORDS BY:
AKEES VAN UNEN AND SANNE ZURNE – THE INDEPENDENT TRAVEL


At Essaouira’s port lives possibly the happiest cat colony in Morocco. 

Well fed and completely relaxed, its inhabitants are quite a contrast to their counterparts across the rest of the country.

Monday, July 8, 2019

THE HAPPIEST FELINES OF ESSAOUIRA -- 4

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE WRIGHT/WORDS BY:
AKEES VAN UNEN AND SANNE ZURNE – THE INDEPENDENT TRAVEL



One thing that’s rarely mentioned in guides to Essaouira, however, is its status as unofficial cat nirvana. 

Here, on the shores of the tempestuous Atlantic, is a place that offers true joy for felines – and their adoring human friends.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

THE HAPPIEST FELINES OF ESSAOUIRA -- 3

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE WRIGHT/WORDS BY:
AKEES VAN UNEN AND SANNE ZURNE – THE INDEPENDENT TRAVEL

A charming coastal town, with none of the chaos that you’ll find in busier Moroccan cities, 

Essaouira has long been known for its surfing culture and the quality of its seafood restaurants.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

THE HAPPIEST FELINES OF ESSAOUIRA -- 2

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE WRIGHT/WORDS BY:
AKEES VAN UNEN AND SANNE ZURNE – THE INDEPENDENT TRAVEL


And while Istanbul, Rome and places further afield jostle for status as “travel cat” heaven, 

laidback Essaouira is quietly making things happen organically.

Friday, July 5, 2019

THE HAPPIEST FELINES OF ESSAOUIRA -- 1

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE WRIGHT/WORDS BY:
AKEES VAN UNEN AND SANNE ZURNE – THE INDEPENDENT TRAVEL


There are two types of people who go on holiday. 

Those who go straight for the local cats, and the misguided few who don’t.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

PARIS TO THE MOON

BY LONGTIME NEW YORKER WRITER ADAM GOPNIK


Before our 30th anniversary (one year belated) two weeks in Paris, I re-read Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik.

Though the book came out nearly two decades ago, based on experiences Gopnik had with this family nearly a quarter century ago, it holds up perfectly.

Paris is timeless.

Here’s the Penguin Random House blurb on the modern classic:

Paris.

The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner–in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans.

In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light.

Gopnik is a longtime New Yorker writer, and the magazine has sent its writers to Paris for decades–but his was above all a personal pilgrimage to the place that had for so long been the undisputed capital of everything cultural and beautiful.

It was also the opportunity to raise a child who would know what it was to romp in the Luxembourg Gardens, to enjoy a croque monsieur in a Left Bank café–a child (and perhaps a father, too) who would have a grasp of that Parisian sense of style we Americans find so elusive


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO -- 5

FAMOUS FISHING BOATS



The smaller blue boats go out for fishing when the wind is blowing little from north and there are no high waves.

The fish is sold in the port market.

Several market stands grill fresh fin and shellfish and serve them with salad, fries, French bread and beverages to tourists and locals.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Insider's Guide to the 11th Arrondissement in Paris

Confirms what I've said for ages; 11th is hippest district in Paris:

Insider's Guide to the 11th Arrondissement in Paris: A convivial melting pot, the 11th arrondissement in Paris is known for its excellent nightlife and dining scene. Here are our insider picks.

Gypsy: Paris Cirque d’hiver new summer terrace - Sortiraparis.com

Gypsy: Paris Cirque d’hiver new summer terrace - Sortiraparis.com

ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO -- 4

FAMOUS FISHING BOATS



By 1950, the port of Essaouira was the most important for Sardines in Morocco.

Also for export of cereals.

Today the port is non-commercial except for fishing and ship maintenance.

The waters are not deep enough for bigger ships.


Monday, July 1, 2019

Caravan performed by Steven Reinhardt at La Chope des Puces


We are back from Paris and want to share one of our faves -- Espace Espace Django Reinhardt

ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO -- 3

FAMOUS FISHING BOATS



By 1780, the port was handling almost half of Morocco's international trade. 

Export items included ostrich feathers, almonds, gum arabic, ivory and dried camel skins (which were imported from sub-saharan Africa through the caravan trade.)

The British brought Manchester cotton and tea.