You can visit The Steins Collect
in Paris at the Grand Palais
, October 3 - January 6 and then in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art February 21 to June.
BOOK EARLY FOR 2012Large Paris apartments for the month of June-those with 2 bedrooms/2 baths or larger.
Large houses in Provence with a bathroom for each bedroom-those with 3 bedrooms or more.
Houses in Provence with pool which are walking distance to a village.
Rome or Florence apartments in the months of June and September.
Paris rentals over Christmas and New Year's
Any rental for 3 or more consecutive weeks.
Provence or Tuscan country rentals between July 15 and August 15.
Here are the types of properties that can start booking up in the fall for the following year. See if you recognize your own desired vacation for 2012. If so, get started with your planning now!
A Swiss cheese which has a slightly nutty, distinctive taste, ideal for cooking as it melts easily and doesn't overwhelm a dish. It is a classic ingredient in a croque monsieur. Emmenthal cheese is a good substitute.
GERTRUDE STEIN, HER ART COLLECTION AND OUR PARIS APARTMENT by Carolyn Grote
I've just returned from a visit to the SF Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) where I saw the spectacular art show, The Steins Collect. This impressive exhibition offers 200 works of art collected by the Stein siblings while they lived in Paris starting in 1905. Originally from Oakland, California, Gertrude, Leo, Michael and Michael's wife Sarah all had moved to Paris by 1905 where they started to collect art with funds that Michael had earned and then set aside for the family's use. As Gertrude famously said, "You can either buy clothes or you can buy pictures," and they did. More importantly, as they acquired art from young artists like Cézanne, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec, they opened their homes on Saturdays and invited interested persons to view the paintings. Thus they became a driving influence on the birth of modern art.
Many of us know of Gertrude Stein for her writings (The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas among others), her lifelong relationship with Alice B. Toklas, and her role as part of the literary and artistic community in Paris. But I, for one, didn't know the important role she and her family played as art patrons during the beginning of the 20th century. Stein actually introduced Picasso to Matisse! Leo and Gertrude lived at 27, rue du Fleurus. When Leo moved out after the two siblings no longer agreed on their way of seeing art or life, Gertrude stayed on in the apartment. Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude's life partner eventually shared this home, and together they continued the Saturday evening salons and patronage of the arts.
This famous apartment is just half a block away from our rental PA062 on Rue d'Assas at the corner of Rue du Fleurus. So it is remarkable to be at our apartment and think of the famous artists who walked on that very street to visit the Steins and Alice and discuss the future of art! A visit to Paris is always filled with many layers of enjoyment. Appreciating and remembering the famous creative people who walked the streets before us, just adds to the richness of our visit.
VAISON LA ROMAINE-HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION By Carolyn Grote
A town square lined with café tables under spreading shade trees.
Market day with streets lined with booths displaying melons or lavender or honey or olives or straw baskets or hot paella.
A medieval village perched on a rocky cliff overlooking a river.
A Roman bridge arched over a meandering river.
Roman ruins warmed by the bright Provencal sun.
This is Vaison la Romaine, a terrific market town in the Vaucluse and one of my favorite places in Provence. In fact last year my family and I once again spent our summer vacation at one of our houses located there. Vaison is located in the Côtes du Rhône region of Provence, which is northeast of Avignon. From Vaison you can easily visit the major vineyards like Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, and Vacqueyras. The town is vibrant with a charming town center filled with cafes and many streets lined with shops of all varieties. Its Tuesday outdoor market is famous for the quality of its produce and the variety of its wares. Across the river and reachable by a Roman bridge is the medieval cité with its cobblestone streets reaching up to the ruins of the castle. And there are significant Roman ruins in town (Vaison "La Romaine" . of course) including a 7000 seat theater where performances are held in season.
But let me tell you about my stay at PR005 Le Pré in June 2010.
In the morning I'd take my coffee on the patio, looking out at the vineyards gently sloping up the hillside and the castle perched above the remparts. Then several of us would walk down the hillside across the Roman bridge to the pedestrian-only street and then up to the food shops beyond. We'd purchase fresh bread from our favorite boulangerie in the town square, some fresh goat cheese, white peaches, local ham, and marinated olives. Then, tempted by the café tables stretched out in the morning sun, we'd select one of the cafés and enjoy another tasse de café. We'd watch folks crisscrossing the town square as they conducted their morning grocery shopping going from boulangerie to tabac to épicerie to the poste. Then we'd leisurely stroll back across the river, along the edge of the medieval village and around to our house. Breakfast was a matter of putting food out on the outside table and enjoying the flavors while we enjoyed the view.
What shall we do today? Sometimes it was a visit to a winery. Some days we explored Vaison and its ruins. Sometimes we checked out the many charming villages nearby. Once we drove to the impressive Pont du Gard, the tiered Roman acqueduct. We swam in the river, walked the acqueduct and visited the museum. Then we'd return to our lovely house by the vines where we would swim in the pool and relax. Even when we made dinner at home (vegetable ragout with pistou from a Patricia Wells' recipe), we still couldn't resist an evening stroll. Often, we'd walk into the cité medieval, explore the narrow cobblestoned streets, and climb up to the castle ruins.
You can see that although there was lots of see and do in the area, Vaison and our house were so appealing, that it was a treat just to enjoy being there and becoming a part of the pattern of Provencal daily life.
Ville et Village has several houses in or near Vaison.
PR004 Le Rocher, PR005 Le Pré, PR018 Mas de Miel, PR014 Dessus la Garde, PR011 Le Vignoble
Visit our Regional Info page for more details about this beautiful part of Provence.
OUR GUIDE TO FAMOUS PARIS FOOD SHOPS by Erin Eaton-Zaleski
Part of the joy of living like a Parisian is eating like one, and if you visit Paris, prepare to be seduced (and a little overwhelmed) by the colorful outdoor markets and numerous standalone shops selling every imaginable goody from chocolate to cheese. Whether perusing the produce at one of the city's shopping streets, admiring the rows of too-pretty-to-eat pastries at a local patisserie or lining up with the locals for a freshly-baked baguette, food shopping is an essential part of Parisian life. To help you navigate the hundreds of options, I've put together a roundup of some of the best places for stocking up on food à la française.
Rue Cler, 7th Arr.
The late Julia Childs' favorite food shopping street is on a pretty pedestrian walkway not far from PA079, PA074 and PA077.
Pick up some fruit from Quatre Saisons, a wedge of pungent-smelling-but-delicious brie from La Fromagerie and a bottle of lemon-flavored olive oil from Olivier and Co. Or just spend some time window shopping alongside the chicly dressed Parisians who frequent the street.
Rue Mouffetard, 5th Arr.
Just two blocks from PA052 is another food shopping street-one of the oldest in Paris. Strolling along the Rue Mouffetard yields a colorful assortment of bakeries, cheese shops and fruit stands. For some food on the go, grab a crêpe at Au Petit Grec (66 Rue Mouffetard).
Marché Biologique, 6th Arr.
Known as the Marché Bio, this organic outdoor market on the Blvd. Rapail is held every Sunday from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm and is a favorite of French celebrities like Catherine Deneuve, Girard Depardieu and Juliette Binoche, who come for the fresh produce, meat and goat cheese. The market is not far from PA064, PA062, PA0693 and PA0617.
Le Bon Marché, 7th Arr.
The city's chicest department store at 22 rue de Sèvres is also home to La Grande Epicerie - a scrumptious emporium of gourmet goodies that is nothing short of a foodie's paradise. There are aisles of everything from wine to ornately packaged jelly to boxes of spiced rice.
Boulangerie Artisanale, 7th Arr.
A daily trip to the local bakery is a Paris must. The perfect place is at another of Rue Cler's tasty treasures. Although tiny, Boulangerie Artisanale is easy to spot-the line usually stretches out the door. Ask for a "tradition" or a light, flaky pain au chocolat-you'll agree it's worth the wait.
Poilâne, 6th Arr.
The famous bakery at 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi (just down the street from PA062) has been luring locals with their monogrammed sourdough loafs since 1932. The buttery cookies and pain au chocolat are the perfect compliment to a morning coffee or tea. Poilâne has additional locations at 49 Blvd. de Grenelle near PA074 and at 38 rue Debelleyme in the Marais.
Barthélémy 7th Arr.
Behind its eponymous green façade, this tiny jewel box of a shop at 51 Rue de Grenelle offers a veritable floor to ceiling assortment of some of Paris' tastiest cheeses. A quick stroll from PA070, the shop is famous for its rounds of goat cheese rolled in different spices. The small crocks of runny St. Marcellin are perfect for smearing on a still-warm baguette.
Quatrehomme, 6th Arr.
Run by Marie and Alain Quatrehomme, the shop at 62 Rue de Sevres opened in 1953 and features some 200 varieties of authentic, farm-crafted French cheeses. Besides local favorites like goat cheese and brie, you will also encounter many cheeses you have never heard of. Marie is happy to answer questions or advise you on an ideal "tranche" to take home.
One of the oldest wine merchants operating in Paris (its first store opened in 1822), the chain has about 522 stores in France. If you stay in one of our apartments, chances are there will be a Nicolas nearby. In addition to an impressive selection, the shops are known for their helpful staff that can assist you with selecting the perfect bottle.
Lavinia, 8th Arr.
Touted as the biggest wine store in Europe, Lavinia boasts an impressive selection of wine and spirits-everything from Alsatian wine to absinthe. Visit the onsite tasting bar to help narrow down your selection. Located on the bustling Boulevard de Madeleine Lavinia is easy to access from PA013 or any of our Rue Montpensier apartments.
Gourmet Traiteur (Pre-Prepared Foods)
Renowned for its ornate (and stratospherically priced) sweets, Lenôtre's window displays are nothing short of edible works of art. Think delicate rows of candy-colored macaroons or towering cakes that can be confused with ornate sculptures. You can also pick up foie gras and sandwiches for a lunch at home or a picnic outdoors.
Fauchon, 8th Arr.
The pink and black exterior at 24-26 Place de la Madeleine suggests a high fashion house or a designer boutique, yet it is indeed a gourmet food store. Like Lenôtre, Fauchon's allure lies in its museum-quality displays. Heart shaped cheeses, foie gras laced with ribbons of raspberry or fig, and éclairs featuring the Mona Lisa's likeness are among the delicacies you will find. Here, too, it's a great place to pick up cold dishes for an elegant meal at home.
Ladurée, 8th Arr.
Feasting on Ladurée's iconic melt-in-your-mouth macarons at its flagship location at 16 Rue Royale is like indulging your sweet tooth inside a gilded jewelry box. La Durée also serves cakes, pastries and pudding-thick hot chocolate. Several other shops are sprinkled throughout Paris, including at 21 Rue Bonaparte (near PA061 and PA062) and at 75 Avenue de Champs Elysées (not far from PA163).
Patrick Roger, Various
Considered a "chocolate artist," Patrick Roger's creations are known for innovative flavors like thyme and lemon or tonka bean with caramel vanilla. The giant chocolate sculptures that decorate Roger's shop windows are as awe-inducing as the chocolates are delicious.
Gérard Mulot, Various
Known for his fruit tarts and buttery, sorbet-hued macaroons, Mulot's shop at 76 Rue de Seine often features window displays with rows of elaborate cakes that look more like elegant floral arrangements. Recognized as a pastry chef extraordinaire, his creations are worth trying if you can pull yourself away from the hypnotic window displays.
A RECIPE FOR CROQUE MONSIEUR: FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN PARIS IN YOUR OWN KITCHEN!
You know those melted, crusty, cheesy, tangy-with-ham sandwiches you get in Paris? They usually are served with sa petite salade.a small green salad on the side. For me, a trip to Paris just isn't complete unless I've sat at a sidewalk café and enjoyed a croque monsieur.
I've recently acquired an easy recipe for this classic French sandwich which absolutely duplicates the experience! My husband and I made it for lunch, and I was transported to Paris. This is the next best thing to being there. Make sure you buy good ingredients-that's the key.
Makes 2 sandwiches:
1TBSP unsalted butter
1TBSP all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk (although we used 1% and it was still good)
4 slices pain de mie (rustic white sandwich bread)
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
4 slices Gruyère cheese 1/8 inch thick
4 slices Black Forest ham
3TBSP unsalted butter softened
¼ cup grated Gruyère cheese
Prepare the sauce in a small saucepan. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes. Whisk the milk into the roux and cook, stirring, over low heat until the sauce thickens about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Preheat the broiler and place a rack at the highest position. Lightly coat one side of each slice of 2 slices of bread with the mustard. Place a slice of cheese on each, then top with a slice of ham. Close the sandwich and butter the outsides of both pieces of bread with the softened butter. Cook each sandwich in a broiler-safe pan on the stove top (wrought-iron is the best) carefully turning to brown both sides and melt the cheese. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
Divide the béchamel sauce in half and spread with a spoon on the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly on top over the sauce and place the pan with the sandwiches under the broiler. Watch this carefully (just a few minutes) until the top is nicely browned. Then let sit for a few minutes to cool and harden a bit. Slice diagonally in two and serve with a tossed green salad and a glass of rosé wine.
RENTING IN ROME
Years ago, before I had opened Ville et Village, my husband Ray had a professional conference in Rome in the summer. We decided it was an ideal opportunity for a family trip, and we booked two rooms in a hotel for our family of 4. Midway through our 5-night stay, we all desperately needed clean clothes. I checked out the local lavanderia only to discover it would have cost us nearly $50 for a load! So I decided to wash our things in the bathtub at the hotel. What a job that turned out to be! Bending over a tub in a small Rome hotel room to wash dirty clothes, wringing them out and then finding places to hang them to dry remains one of my most outlandish domestic experiences.
I often think of that when I book clients into one of our apartment rentals in Rome. It's satisfying to know my clients can enjoy the amenities that make travelling so much more convenient-like a washing machine!! That's in addition to the pleasure of staying in an authentic building in the heart of Rome and feeling like you're a resident-if only for a few days.
This year we've had more folks than ever booking a rental in Rome. There are many advantages:
The nightly rate is the same or better than a hotel, and you get more: A hotel room in the historic center for one night has cost me 160 euros/night or $240! And that's for a small room with no view. For the same nightly, per-room rate, you can book an apartment and get a spacious living room/dining room and kitchen.
You get to save money on meals. Ever gaze in the window of one of those enticing food shops at grilled vegetables, salamis, marinated seafood and wish you could enjoy? With your own apartment you can easily purchase antipasti and local wines for a delicious and economical lunch or dinner. Enjoy it in your own dining room without having to cook.
You'll feel like you're living in Rome. Turn the key in the massive exterior door. Enter the courtyard and look up at the interior balconies. Gaze around your living room with high ceilings and decorative original floor tiles. Our apartments are located in the historic center and in other well-located adjacent neighborhoods where you'll be surrounded by locals and will feel like you're living in Rome.
Although many folks book an entire week, we can accept rentals for as few as 4 nights. Rome rentals can start any day of the week.
Here are a few examples of our favorite apartments:
RMGI2 on Via Giulia. This apartment is in the historic center on a pedestrian-only street from the 16th century. It has high ceilings, exposed beams and large rooms. You'll feel like you've gone back in time while still enjoying modern bathrooms and a renovated kitchen.
RMFR in Trastevere. Want be in a neighborhood? Trastevere is the popular area just across the Tiber river, but still just a short walk to the historic center. This area has its own vibrant community of shops, cafes and restaurants. The apartment is on a typical side street and has been fully renovated to offer a bright and light interior. The view of the little square below is charming.
RM001 The Monti District is a part of the historic center closest to the Forum. This charming apartment has 2 terraces with views of the Forum. You'll love returning to this romantic spot after hours of touring.