Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Where to Eat in Paris: L’Avant-Comptoir for Wine and Tapas

Charcuterie plate at L’Avant-Comptoir

Chef Yves Camdeborde’s casual and crowded standing room only tapas bar was one of my favorite discoveries on my recent trip to Paris. It’s cramped (try to get there as close to the noon opening time as possible) but a good time- and great meal– is had by all. This is great spot to try with friends, especially those who don’t mind giving up their personal space for a good meal.

Chin chin at L’Avant Comptoir

The Basque-inspired menu of small plates hangs from the ceiling. We headed to the back of the zinc bar to enjoy simple tapas and a few glasses of wine.  You can practically make a meal out of the bread, butter, sea salt and jars of cornichons which rest on the bar. Seriously. Do not miss the Bordier butter.

Even the bread and Bordier butter is memorable

The menu also features lots of petit sandwiches and dips, croquettes, and various specials. There is large and reasonably priced wine list to pair with the simple but tasty small plates. Service is upbeat and friendly. The whole experience was devoid of snobbery and left me smiling.

Finger food goodness: artichokes and cured ham waffles

The decor is porcine inspired, with cartoon pigs adoring everything from the wine glasses to the bathroom decor.

Left: the pig motif runs throughout Right: don’t forget to sprinkle the fleur de sel on your bread and butter

L’Avant-Comptoir is about enjoying the simple things without the fuss, making it a perfect find for foodies who like finger foods.

The hanging menu at L’Avant-Comptoir

Most plates are priced under € 10 and portions are pretty generous. For it’s simplicity and deliciousness, I preferred L’Avant-Comptoir to the highly acclaimed Le Comptoir next door.

Chef Yves Camdeborde of L’Avant-Comptoir

Address: 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon,
75006 Paris, France
Phone:+33 1 44 27 07 97
Hours: 12pm – 11pm

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Where to Eat in Paris: L’Ecailler du Bistrot for Oysters

The shellfish plate at L’Ecailler du Bistrot

Looking for a great oyster bar in Paris? Head to rue Paul Bert in the 11th. There is Bistrot Paul Bert just down the street, and the unpretentious maritime-themed L’Ecailler du Bistrot, which has combines classic French ambience with excellent seafood.

Plateau de Fruits de Mer Time Lapse at L’Ecailler Du Bistrot Paris, France

It’s all about the seafood here. While my crab and scallop allergy kept me from the shellfish platter, my friends devoured it over the course of an hour.

One of L’Ecailler du Bistrot’s maritime-themed rooms

The fresh oysters from Normandy and Brittany, cockles and various other crustaceans all received rave reviews from my friends. The sole muniere was a standout, as was the half lobster served with frite, and the linguini with clams.

The half-lobster at L’Ecailler du Bistot

The entire meal was complemented by a few bottles of reasonably priced (for Paris) wine from the menu.

The oysters are ready for their close-up

Left: the empty shells Right: oysters on the half shell

Linguini with clams

This was a meal I had absolutely no expectations about, and wound up one of my favorites of the trip. The cozy atmosphere and good service did not hurt.

The Sole Muniere (before and after)

No doubt– L’Ecailler du Bistrot is a seafood standout.

L’Ecailler du Bistrot

22 Rue Paul Bert 75011 Paris

phone +33 1 43 72 76 77

Opening hours:
Monday-Friday, noon to 14h30 and 19h30 to 23h

Closed Sundays & Mondays

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We All Came Out To Montreux: A Swiss Photo Essay

Editor’s Note:

Today I’m pleased to feature this fabulous Swiss photo essay by Anastasia Chernykh, My Life’s a Trip’s Ukraine-based Social Media Manager. I’ve not seen much of Switzerland beyond it’s airports, but these gorgeous fall photos and interesting musical and literature factoids now make me want to visit Montreux in person.

– Jen

The sun, the lake and the mountains

I don’t remember exactly when I heard the Smoke On The Water for the first time, but even in my school years I knew there would be something special about this Swiss city. Indeed there is.

Beautifully located on the shores of Lake Geneva, Montreux is one of the most frequented resorts in Switzerland. Due to its mild climate and picturesque location Montreux is often called the capital of the “Swiss Riviera”. Once a small village, lying in the heart of the traditional wine-growing region, Montreux now is surrounded by posh coastal suburbs, which host a trail of famous (and not famous) guests all year-round.

The town stretches along the shores of a large bay and rises to heights covered with woods and vineyards

The flower-bordered lake promenade…

…with nearly 800 varieties of plants & flowers!

One of the main attractions of the city is the building of the hotel Montreux Palace, opened in the early XX century. The Montreux Convention was signed here in 1936, Vladimir Nabokov lived in this hotel with his wife, Vera.

Luxury hotel Montreux Palace, is still not only a landmark in the city, but also one of the most popular hotels on the shores of Lake Geneva

Lord Byron, Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Courbet, Scott Fitzgerald, Charlie Chaplin all are among the famous guests once stayed in this region.  Montreux Jazz Festival, held annually since 1967, brings even more celebrities to this list- B.B King, Miles Davis, James Brown, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Norah Jones, Pharell Wiliams, David Bowie have all stepped in Palace Montreux’ corridors. Along the quay, at the square Place du Marche, there is towering bronze statue of another famous resident of the town— Freddie Mercury.

Memorial to Freddie Mercury, long-time resident of Montreux

Among the city highlights there are special “speaking benches”(and a free app to explore them) located on the promenade and dedicated to famous guests of the city.

Stormy weather & majestic mountains

Even palm trees grow in here

Going back to where we started, Deep Purple wrote their famous song after they witnessed an unfortunate event in Montreux, in December  1971. During a concert by Frank Zappa, held in casino “Montreux”, one fan fired a flare gun into the ceiling and started a fire that destroyed the building. The image of smoke on the water haunted the band members, who saw it from the window of their hotel. I was happy enough to see a nice reminder of the smoke incarnated in the rainy clouds above the lake.

Not exactly the “smoke”, but still impressive

The infamous “gambling house”, 40 years later, fully refurbished

Adorable vintage car near Casino Montreux

It’s a 3 kilometer walk along the lake’s costs leads to the most visited Swiss historical sight, Château de Chillon. You walk through an endless promenade of Montreux to the castle, which appears to grow directly out of the water. But that’s an illusion – Chillon Castle stands on a rocky island, designed to appears unapproachable.

Château de Chillon, the Switzerland’s most visited historic monument

Chillon Castle is a complex consisting of several buildings, each built over various time periods. Lord Byron had a major role in popularizing the castle when in 1816 he described it in detail in his poem “The Prisoner of Chillon,” based on the true account of the capture of Francois Bonivard. The “speaking bench”  dedicated to Byron unfortunately didn’t work during my visit, so I only was able to enjoy the inspiring view of a castle that looks like a fairytale fantasy.

The first of three courtyards of Château

Inside the castle

The view of the courtyard from one of the castle’s towers

The fisherman near Chillon Castle

The sunset view of lake and mountains at the entrance of Chillon Castle

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Fijian Dancers at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji: A Photo Essay with GIFs

A group of school aged children performing at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort

One of the things I liked most about my recent glamping trip to the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji was that it felt authentically Fijian. There was no chain hotel vibe and Fijian culture was front and center.

A group of dancers from Nukubalavu Village

Two nights a week the property has groups of Fijian dancers perform. One dance troupe is from Nukubalavu village, which is the village where most of the hotel’s staff reside. Many of the dancers are related to the hotel workers which made the performance extra special.

Fijian dancers twirling GIF

Busting a move, Fijian style

The dancers perform a meke– a traditional Fijian dance performance– that is usually done at celebrations and festivals.

Fiji’s answer to Twerking GIF

I liked that the dancers were various age groups and performed in a variety of styles.

I adored this dancer’s traditional outfit and sweet smile

Hips Don’t Lie: Fiji Edition

There are no televisions at the Jean-Michel Resort, but with entertainment like this you definitely do not miss them.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort

Lesiaceva Point, Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji

+679 885 0188

info@fijiresort.com

You can read more about my stay at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji on the Glamping.com blog.

 

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A Stay at the Belmond Villa San Michele in Florence, Italy

Gorgeous views of Florence from the Villa San Michele

There are a lot of luxury hotels to pick from in Florence, but there is only one in Fiesole hills in a converted 15th century former monastery that has a facade attributed to Michaelangelo– The Belmond Villa San Michele.

An alter from Villa San Michele’s former life as a monastery in reception

My husband and I chose the property from among LHW’s excellent edit of Italian properties. I love repurposed buildings and the Villa San Michele has managed to keep much of the Renaissance charm of the monastery intact while providing all the expected perks, luxuries, and excellent service that are expected from a Belmond property (note: The Belmond Brand was formerly known as Orient-Express).

Interior hallway at Villa San Michele

With gorgeous terraced gardens, a pool, a fabulous restaurant, a fitness center and a kids club on site, you don’t have to leave Villa San Michele to have a great time. But the staff wants you to get the best out of your time in Florence so the hotel offers a complementary shuttle for the 15 minute ride to the city center.

A simple and elegant room at Villa San Michele

The 21 guest rooms and 25 suites are classically elegant and surprisingly spacious considering some of them used to be monks cells. The bathrooms are modern and stocked with Bulgari amenities.

Marble drenched master bath at Villa San Michele

A bowl of fruit and bottle of Champagne were our welcome amenities. There was also a card from General Manager, Aaron Kaupp, inviting us to a wine reception on the lawn. When the General Manager goes out their way to meet with guests, you know that the service is top notch.

I’m guessing the monks didn’t eat this well

The breakfast spread is impressive, with an amazing selection of baked goods, meats, cheeses, and fruits in addition to cooked items. Eating delicious pizza for breakfast on the covered terrace overlooking Florence was especially delightful.

The baked goods on the breakfast buffett

The hotel’s concierge, Maurizio, the concierge was so great, we had him make our dinner reservations for our entire stay in Florence. He also set us up on a crazy good wine tasting tour of the nearby Chianti region.

Buffalo mozzarella, tomatos and pizza in the atmospheric La Loggia restaurant

Eggs Benedict and breakfast delights

Lobster pasta for lunch at Villa San Michele

Such a pretty dining experience

The covered terrace of the hotel’s La Loggia restaurant

Villa San Michele’s Gorgeous green lawn and terraced gardens

Stunning views overlooking Florence at Villa San Michele

A dreamlike archway at Villa San Michele

You can check out special offers (including stay two nights, get your third night free LHW offers for Villa San Michele here.

Belmond Villa San Michele

Via Doccia 4, 50014 Fiesole, Florence, Italy

Tel: +39 055 5678 200

Email: reservations.vsm@belmond.com

Reservations: + 39 0185 2678 803

Rates start at $711.39 (534.00 EUR) for Classic Double Room (with complimentary American Breakfast)

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