|Special celebrations call for special drinks, like le Kir Royal…|
A friend commented there was no French twist to last week’s story about New York. My stories ALWAYS have a French twist, she said… Zut. (Rats.) We need to fix this quickly, I say. Cheer up, friend: Plenty of French twists in this story. Plenty of friends, too. Friends, old and new, are what makes a trip special. This New York visit was no exception.
One thing I have learned over the last two years: Friendships born out of blogging are a treat, a gift that keeps giving. Whether we travel near home, or around the world, some of us bloggers will happily grab an opportunity to let go of our cameras and laptops for a few hours, to get out there and meet fellow writers and photographers; wonderful people who take a few hours (or a few days) out of a busy schedule to show us their city. I treasure these encounters, what they teach me about a place, and the resulting friendships.
On my first day in New York, I had a lunch date. A special rendez-vous, with a special lady, M-T. Through her blog, The French Touch and her consulting business, M-Tprovides fashion and lifestyle tips to women who want to define their own style – with a French twist. As soon as I met her, I realized that the lady knows a thing or two about style. In fact, she knows a thing or two about French culture, the Opera, good food, good wine, and the power of a good laugh. M-T was born in the United States (just a few East Coast Falls ago,) but her parents and relatives are French, and she speaks both languages fluently. We kept switching back and forth, since her charming American husband Dan joined us that day. They drove almost two hours from South New Jersey to meet me, and they suggested a popular French brasserie (owned by legendary chef Alain Ducasse,) Benoît. As soon as I stepped in, I felt as if I were in Paris.
For the next three hours, conversation [and French wine] flowed. The food, (typical bistro fare,) was perfectly executed, from les escargots, to le poulet rôti, les moules-frites, and for dessert, a magnificent mille-feuille, big enough to share.
|Le Millefeuille’s traditional “glaçage” (icing) was drawn onto the plate,
instead of on top of the pastry. Oh, la, la!
Talking to M-T felt like talking to an old friend. Her warm personality, and her bonne humeur (cheerfulness) made for a special time in the big city. It was after 4:00pm when M-T and Dan walked me back to my hotel. I was sad to say goodbye, bien sûr, but I know we will see each other again.
A big city like New York can feel anonymous, especially when one travels alone. After my successful encounter with M-T, I was on a roll. I had planned to meet other special ladies on this trip. If you have followed French Girl in Seattle for a while, you may remember the story I wrote about the great artist Josephine Baker. The post remains one of the most popular entries on this blog. Josephine Baker raised a large, international family in a beautiful château in the Dordogne valley, les Milandes. Over twenty five years ago, in New York city, one of her sons, Jean-Claude, opened a restaurant honoring his mother’s memory. I had to reserve a table chez Joséphine and hoped to meet him. Unfortunately, Jean-Claude was away for a few days (even successful restaurateurs need des vacances…) On Sunday night, a cab took me to the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood where my table was waiting. The restaurant felt cozy and intimate. Le cadre was romantic, the decor old Hollywood and glamorous. I loved the live piano player. Josephine was everywhere around me, on the walls, smiling at visitors from old posters and vintage photos, all the way to the bathroom where paper hand towels were embossed with her effigy. Do you collect small souvenirs from your travels, too? I confess to snatching one of the towels and brought it home with me.
I was alone that night, and I had time to observe, and dream. If I closed my eyes, I could picture “La Bakaire” making a grand entrance, blowing a kiss to her son as he stood in front of the bar; acknowledging restaurant patrons, actors from popular Broadway shows; sashaying towards her table, the best in the house, of course, in one of her inimitable sequined dresses; and finally, sitting down, surrounded by admirers and friends, the center of attention, always.
Yes, big cities can feel anonymous. It is natural to search for des repères, familiar sights, points of reference. Oh, yes, I have been here before. I recognize this street. There used to be a bakery here, a French bakery as I recall. French? Oui. To my delight, France is everywhere in New York. All day long, I passed French people on the street. Some were tourists. Couples visiting la Grande Pomme, young families pushing an umbrella stroller, groups of teenagers, enjoying a few hours of freedom before meeting their parents or chaperones back at the hotel. It was good to see that New York still ranks high on my countrymen’s list of favorite cities. I also met local French people. New Yorkers by choice. Thanks to them, their restaurants, bakeries, boutiques, I felt so much closer to France, indulging daily in specialties from the Old Country.
|French restaurants at every street corner (well, almost.)|
|The French boulangerie… New York style…|
|Crêpe au Nutella… How bad can that be?|
|Enjoying a cappuccino and a mille-feuille in a beautiful setting…
Washington Square Park
(my friends at Mille-Feuille bakery use authentic boulangerie paper bags to deliver the goods.)
|The Salted caramel éclair chez Dominique Ansel bakery was simply extraordinaire!|
Maybe that’s why I love New York so much. It is 100% American, the New World; yet the city is proudly diverse and cosmopolitan. It is easy to spot her multicultural heritage in her history, her buildings, her food. And in many [good] ways, New Yorkers remind me of Parisians, a bit rough around the edges, impatient, but deep inside, proud of their city and happy to show her off.
Leave a Comment
Join la Mailing List
Be the first to read stories and travel tips I don’t share anywhere else!
You had a ‘grande’ time in New Amsterdam! Looks like you inflated yourself with culture and energy for making it into the new year for quite some months. It is super for being able to meet with writer friends. You made me home sick to our Tom Pouce (mille feuille) again! That shows only how much French my Province was in its culture. Happy for you and now chillin’ cooling down for winter. Enjoy the Advent season, leading up to Christmas.
Merci, Mariette. I looked up the Dutch pastry named TomPouce, and I have had to say it looks suspiciously like its cousin the French mille-feuille. I guess I know what dessert I will be ordering next time I fly through Amsterdam (a favorite city of mine 🙂 The Advent season is looking good so far, with the exception of the dreadful weather, part of the Seattle folklore I am afraid…
Any post that starts out with a Kir Royale is certain to be une merveille! Patricia Kaas sings Piaf??? What a dream! It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I’m always trying to find bits of France here in San Diego. You have inspired me to look a little deeper. French Girl you are the BEST!!!!!
I agree with you, Connie. Kir Royal is a favorite drink of mine. So pretty, so festive, and so delicious, of course 🙂 Let me know what you find out if you find bits of France in San Diego. I would like to return one of these days, and will likely be looking for them too…
Curieusement, la France parait plus belle vue de l’etranger que de l’interieur.La faute aux medias, peut-être, ou alors ailleurs on ne montre et garde que le meilleur.ça fait plaisir de voir que notre culture est appréciée à l’etranger, et sous toutes ses formes , y compris les plus novatrices(ah, ce mille-feuilles et son glaçage latéral!)
Les univers de Piaf et Kaas vont bien ensemble. Elle aussi (P.Kaas) semble etre maintenant plus appreciée ailleurs qu’ici, où on ne l’entend plus beaucoup.
Un bel hommage, multiple, J. Baker avait deux amours;il semble que toi aussi! :o)
A bientôt! bises!
A delicious post in so many ways. Wonderful food and drink! Adorable pooches, and an exquisite songstress! I’m glad you had such a fabulous time, Veronique. So many wonderful memories and friends you made. 🙂
Merci beaucoup Mary. You might say this was a successful trip, indeed. I got to cross out most of the fun things off my pre-departure list, and there were some surprises along the way as well… A trip can’t go bad if you catch up with a friend or two (furry or otherwise…)
So many wonderful things to comment on! I am a huge fan of Edith Piaf and the movie, although a sad, was excellent.
Your trip looked like it was wonderful! The photos you took are fabulous and it looks like you really took everything in. Yummy food, great sites, and wonderful time spent with a special friend.
Thanks for sharing!
Hi French Girl in Seattle, For ages it seems I have ‘known’ you through comments you make at other blogs I follow. Today on a whim I thought I’d finally visit your blog – what a delightful way to start my day! Loved the tale and especially the part about your blogosphere friends. I’ve felt much the same way. Perhaps one of these days we will meet at this ‘new blogosphere travel friend’ of yours lives in Kirkland, just across that little pond called Lake Washington when not out exploring the world.
Bonjour Jackie and bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle. So happy you decided to stop by and leave a comment! I can’t believe you live in Kirkland. We are neighbors! I, too, live on this side of the Lake. Why don’t we plan to hook up after the Holidays– if we both survive the busy season? A bientôt! PS: I will start Following your blog so I know what you are up to…
I’ve become your newest follower! And what great news that we are neighbors – I see a blog post in the making about meeting In Provence via our friend Heather. . .and yes, yes, would love to get together after Christmas.
A Joyful and uplifting post. Thank you for the kind words, Helen. This was a joyful trip indeed, with many joyful moments. Isn’t that what all trips should be? Come back and listen to the music. You won’t be disappointed!
Hello Sandy. Thank you for being by my side as I was waiting to get inside the Carnegie Hall on November 20. It was fun to “speak” to you Live thanks to Facebook that night. 🙂 And yes, if I ever make it to the 4 corners (great name, by the way,) I would love to meet up with you! That’s – almost – a date! A bientôt…
New York, vu sous cet angle, j’aime beaucoup!
Je te comprends, Richard… 🙂
OMG, Ma chère Véronique, what a glorious post! I felt as if I were (re)living the journey with you. And what a great idea to start off with our two kirs royales. Although, I must say that I look much better as a basic black backdrop for the two glasses than in the full-length photo with my disheveled, wind-blown hair. (Note to Self: In future, avoid overhead lighting which casts unattractive shadows on the face.)
That said, however, my husband looks très distingué holding the little bag containing the remnants of our fabulous poulet rôti from Benoit, which Victor and I polished off for lunch the very next day. Victor gave it two paws up.
The moment we met, I knew I had found a dear old friend. You were kind enough to mention my sense of style, and, indeed, I do know a little something about the perfect fit. After spending an afternoon in your delightful company, I do believe I can say that we are a perfect fit.
A la prochaine………….
Chère M-T, I wish we’d had a TAD less fun during lunch and we had remembered to take a couple of photos of “les convives” around our lively table… I agree the lighting on that last shot was not ideal, but you and Dan look good either way, standing right by “New York.” No matter, however, as memories of a wonderful afternoon à table remain…
Thank you again for meeting me in the big city that day. It made the trip all the more special. Hugs to you and Dan (and Victor, the poulet rôti-eating cat) 🙂
On reste en contact? Bises.
Bien sûr que l’on restera en contact. Cela va sans dire. La prochaine on prendra des photos des convives autour d’une bonne table. C’est promis.
Gros bisous et à très bientôt j’espère! Peut-être au mois de mars? Un petit thé au Plaza pour fêter ton anniversaire? Hmmmm?
Tentant… extremement tentant… 🙂
Très chère Véronique,
So many things to say..
1) Your photos are fabulous as usual
2) I feel jealous about the good time you had with MT and Dan. Good for all of you!
3) These pastries are to die for. I almost ate my computer screen when I saw your pic of the mille feuilles (not sure a computer screen is that good though …)
4) You are so lucky to have seen Patricia Kaas’s show
5) Whoever doesn’t know what a kir royal is should try right away (BTW do you know this other version of the kir with pinot wine from Burgundy and “liqueur de cassis”. Great too)
Your post was delightful as ALWAYS.
Anne (Playing with Scarves)
Ha. Ha. Merci, Anne. So glad you did not attempt to lick the computer screen. You might have scared your poor children and husband, who are used to living with an elegant French lady 🙂 Yes, it was lovely to meet M-T and Dan in New York. We were saying the three of us should try and hook up somewhere in the United States. Wouldn’t that be fun? I foresee Kir Royal flowing that day… (I have always liked it better than the traditional kir with Pinot.) Merci pour la visite et a bientot…
Thank you for following my blog, I bumped in yours by accident and I like the way you write and the interesting tours you make. New York is one of my favourites too and I like the way you vitited it by neighbourhood, after the touristic things we once did the same, you see so much more.
Greetings from Marianne
Bienvenue Marianne, and thank you for being a faithful Follower of French GIrl in Seattle. As I have said before, you do live in a beautiful European city, lucky lady; one I would not mind returning to so I can, once again, walk all the beautiful neighborhoods…
What a fun trip you had, Veronique! And so many French twists, too. I’ve been to Benoit in Paris, but not to the one in NYC. Next trip! Love seeing all of the furry Manhattan residents, too! XO
Bonjour Jeanne. Yes, I heard the original Benoit was in Paris, but I have never been… How funny 🙂 Maybe on my next trip, now that I have sampled their wonderful mille-feuille…
Bonjour Elizabeth. I, too, enjoyed the Marion Cotillard movie. This was a performance extraordinaire from another favorite French lady of mine… Hope life is running a bit more smoothly for you these days and the “bad contractor” is leaving you alone.
Although I lived many years on the eastern coast of Canada until my very early 20’s I never had the urge to visit New York. With a lust for food developing over the years as an “older” woman I would love to visit.
Absolutely! Thank you for visiting; for leaving a comment; and for becoming an official “Follower” of French Girl in Seattle!
I love the images on your blog 🙂 What a delightful post. Thanks for stopping by. The toy my son wants is called Beywheelz but there are two kinds hence the confusion 🙂 Happy Holidays! Anu
Great article. Your trip seemed fabulous. I shall have to visit the restaurant tribute to Josephine. How interesting the numerous cultural things in New York. Being the mecca for immigrants entering the US years ago, it is alive still. I love NYC. It is such a fabulous place to visit. I see something different each time I have been. Question: why does Nutella seem so Special? Thanks for sharing. It brightened my day as always.
It was a great trip, but then again, all my New York trips have been. Thank you for your support, Debra!
[…] read more about this trip to New York City, visit this story, and this one […]