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Your new favorite cupcake shop: Cupcake Lovers in Paris

Cupcakes are my favorite dessert.

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I love cupcakes. After the Cupcake Camp Paris 2012 event last month, that love was officially declared over cyber space.  That being said, I am happy to introduce to you your newest love affair with the dessert. It is found at the following address: 11 rue d’Armaillé, 75017.  Where am I taking you? To Cupcake Lovers in Paris

Cupcake Lovers in Paris 75017 11, rue d'Armaille cupcakes paris
A delicious assortment of cupcakes

After meeting the lovely owner, Venata, at Cupcake Camp Paris 2012, I knew I had to visit her shop as soon as it opened.  When I stopped by her pink cupcake paradise, I spoke with her as we were deciding which of the gorgeous desserts we would bring home.I learned that her background is in management and marketing. She combined her MBA degree with her love of baking and voila, Cupcake Lovers in Paris was born.

Cupcake Lovers in Paris Venata Paris France cupcakes
The lovely owner, Venata

Of the four kinds we chose, each one was better than the next. The red velvet cupcake was incredibly moist, with a very complementary frosting.  As a person who likes the cake and not the frosting, this is a huge kudos to Venata’s culinary skills.  The Oreo cupcake was a first; I’d never seen one, let alone tasted one! The mini Oreo cookie on top was a cute touch. The speculoos cupcake essentially rocked my world, and dark chocolate was divine.

Cupcake Lovers in Paris red velvet cupcakes Paris oreo cupcakes paris chocolate cupcakes paris speculoos cupcakes in paris
Our four cupcakes

Also a smart incorporation to her store: party supplies.  You can find themed napkins, plates, party favors, you name it.  For those of us that hunt around and consult all sorts of online forums, I am here to tell you that you can find everything you need for your child’s party here.

Party Supplies Cupcake Lovers in Paris France 75017
A part of the wall of supplies

Deliciously-made and beautifully-decorated, Venata’s cupcakes come in themes, as well as a large variety of flavors.  You can also get a mini cupcake, for those that just want a little taste of something sweet.  Additionally, you can order customized cupcakes and/or full-sized cakes, so keep them in mind for a loved one’s birthday.  Whatever the case may be, I would head to Cupcake Lovers in Paris for a treat.

Christmas Cupcakes Cupcake lovers in paris france 75017 themed cupcakes customized cupcakes
Christmas Cupcakes by Venata

Cupcake Lovers in Paris

11 rue d’Armaillé, 75017

Metro/RER: Etoile, Ternes, Argentine

06.37.45.57.91

cupcakeloversinparis@live.com

http://www.cupcake-lovers.com

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Thanksgiving in Paris – and how to carry a fresh turkey safely across the city

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  Being away from the US, I was curious as to how the celebrations would fare this year.  Where does one get cranberries, a turkey, pumpkin pie ingredients, gravy, and stuffing in this city?

Thanksgiving Paris 2012 american holiday day of thanks

Thankfully, (pun intended) you can get it all in Paris! Not without a few treks across entire metro lines and hitting the store Thanksgiving in the Marais (without which the full meal would not have been possible), but you can definitely find everything you need to pull off a successful Turkey Day meal. In fact, at the store Thanksgiving, one can get all sorts of American food products! (Reese’s peanut butter cups, included!) Oh, the way to get a turkey across the city is to place yourself in the back corners of the metro, where you can put it under your seat, or behind you on your seat, because that thing is heavyyy.

Thanksgiving Paris 2012 France American holiday turkey where do you get a turkey in paris
Our lovely Thanksgiving spread!

I was fortunate enough to have not one but TWO Thanksgivings this year! Both involved including friends from all over the world and introducing them to our fabulous eat-til-you-burst holiday.  The best parts of the night were going around and saying what we were thankful for (which everyone loved! When an English friend heard what we were about to do, she said, “YES! I have always wanted to do this and I never thought I would get to!!!!!” Happy that this made her holiday!) and introducing European friends to my favorite dessert, pumpkin pie.  I loved seeing the concerned and curious faces take their first bite of the pie and immediately smile and say, “Oh my goodness! THIS IS SO GOOD!” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, pumpkin pie is amazing.

Whipped cream pumpkin pie Thanksgiving 2012 in Paris American holiday France
So excited for pumpkin pie!!!

Of course, the experience of being able to celebrate this important American holiday while being almost 6000 miles away from home was truly the best part of this Thanksgiving.  This year, I am thankful for: my family, of course, whose support and love is my biggest motivation to succeed and without whom my life in Paris would not be possible; my friends, old and new, who never cease to impress me, motivate me, make me proud, and make me laugh; my voice teacher and professors, who help and push me to achieve my goals; having met John, who every day makes me so incredibly happy; and last but certainly not least, Paris, which has shown me different sides of myself, has made me grow as a person with the new challenges and experiences that I see on a daily basis, and is the city that has introduced me to some of the most amazing people and things in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012 Thanksgiving in Paris Thanksgiving Paris France american holiday turkey
Happy Thanksgiving! Photo Credit: K. Leverton

As always, Paris, je t’aime.

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Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! – Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

It’s the third Thursday in November.  This can only mean one thing: Beaujolais Nouveau is here!

Beaujolais Nouveau Day officially starts at midnight on the third Thursday of November in Beaujeu, near Lyon, home of the vintage.  Barrels are rolled through the streets of the region, and the celebration lasts throughout the night.

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Barrels of Beaujolais nouveau are rolled through the center of Lyon.

French law prohibits the wine to be sold before the third Thursday of the month, which creates an exciting anticipation once the month of November comes around.  So today, all around France, people will celebrate the arrival of the newest Beaujolais!

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé paris france 2012 wine
Wine is poured for tasting at the official launch.

The 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau campaign this year revolves around the world of fashion, as they believe that this wine shares the qualities of “refinement and glamour” that fashion possesses.

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé paris france 2012 wine
Beaujolais Nouveau 2012 campaign poster

Although, the French are not the only ones to drink this light, fruity red wine.  Following the Parisians in Beaujolais consumption around the world are the Japanese, Americans, and Germans.

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé paris france 2012 wine

As tradition has it, on this festive day, restaurants, wine caves, bars, and wine stores will have signs out that say, “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” (The Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!”)  Can’t wait to celebrate!

le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé paris 2012 france wine
One of the signs you will see throughout France announcing the arrival of the new Beaujolais!

For more info, check out these links:

http://beaujolaisnouveau.beaujolais.com/index.php

http://www.beaujolais-wines.com/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2012/nov/15/roll-out-barrel-beaujolais-nouveau-2012-pictures

http://www.beaujolaisnouveautime.com/

http://www.karenmacneil.com/

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Cupcake Camp Paris 2012 Charity Event: A Success!

For all cupcake lovers in France: there is a mecca of incredible cupcake bakers in Paris.

I found many of them at the Cupcake Camp Paris 2012 charity event and was lucky enough to try their baked goods! The event was a Halloween-themed fundraiser, where the best cupcake bakers in the city came together to make over 2000 cupcakes. Entry to the event was free, and all of the proceeds from the cupcake sales, raffle tickets, and other purchases went to Make-A-Wish France.

Cupcake Camp Charity Event Le Comptoir General 80, Quai de Jemmapes
Cupcake Camp Charity Event

I was astonished at the fact that this incredible space existed near the Canal Saint Martin, let alone that you could rent it out for an event like this.  The line to get in was massive; I counted about one hundred people down the block – and I arrived halfway through the two-hour event!  There were countless varieties, styles, and flavors of cupcakes that were displayed at Le Comptoir Général.

Cupcake Camp Charity Event 80, quai de Jemmapes 75010 Paris Make-a-wish France
Cupcakes!

Upon entering, I didn’t know where to begin; there was so much to see! We ended up going for a counter-clockwise approach to scope out our options, and then we went to find the witch that would sell us our tickets.  (She was actually dressed up in a very convincing witch costume.) “Il faut trouver la sorcière!” the vendors would tell us.

Cupcake Camp Charity Event 2012 80 Quai de Jemmapes 75010 Paris Le Comptoir General

Cupcake Camp Paris 2012
So many cupcakes!
Cupcake Camp Paris 2012
Scottish Cupcakes!

Cupcake Camp 2012 Paris Charity

Cupcake Camp Paris 2012 Quai de jemmapes Paris 75010
Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes

After much thought and reflection, Kat decided on the speculoos cupcake, while I went with the spicy chocolate, Dia de los Muertos themed cupcake.  Both were amazing! At the end of the event, there were still a few cupcakes left, so we got the “Bartender’s Chocolate Delight,” which was quite tasty.

Cupcake Camp 2012 Paris Dia de los Muertos Cupcakes
Dia de los Muertos Cupcakes
Cupcake Camp 2012 Paris quai de jemmapes 75010
Our picks of the bunch 🙂
Cupcake Camp Charity Event 80, quai de Jemmapes 75010 Paris Make-a-wish France
Yummy!

Everyone left happy and full. A few lucky people went home with some of the amazing prizes and baskets that were raffled off, like an original Kasia Dietz bag. Click here for more pictures of Cupcake Camp Paris 2012. Can’t wait for next year’s event!

Cupcake Camp 2012 Paris PatriciaParisienne 80 quai de jemmapes 75010 le comptoir general
PatriciaParisienne and two copines

We were truly impressed with the number of cupcake companies here in Paris. Below are some of the sponsors and participants in this year’s Cupcake Camp.

Cupcake Camp 2012 Paris le comptoir general 80 quai de jemmapes 75010
Cupcake Camp Paris 2012

Bryan Pirolli – Lola’s Cookies – Paris Insights – Fairy Cooker – Faismoicroquer.com – Cake, Cook and Co. – LaVieMaraisienne – The Kale Project – NOGLU – Mimi’s Cupcakes – Sugar Daze – Ô Chateau – Beauty Cakes – CAKE & BAKE accessories – Once Upon a Cake – Paris Pastry App ~ David Lebovitz – COlunching – Sweetly Cakes – Bleekcup’s – Context Travel – La Cuisine Paris – Cupcake Lovers in Paris – Wrist Flick – Carolive’s Cupcakes

~~~

For those looking for a cool place to grab a drink with friends or for an amazing Sunday brunch in Paris, Le Comptoir General is the place to go.  The beers are cheap, the location is incredible, plus the glass roof makes you feel like you’re outside enjoying summer in a beer garden. Allez-y!

 Le Comptoir Général

80, quai de Jemmapes

75010

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United Buddy Bears in Paris!

Buddy Bear Exhibition ~ Champ de Mars (Eiffel Tower)

If you haven’t been able to make it to Berlin, you can come see the famous United Buddy Bears in Paris!  Last Thursday on the Toussaint holiday (loved that surprise day off!), a lovely German friend of mine and I went over to Trocadero to see these gorgeous works of art.

United Buddy Bears Berlin Paris 2012 Exhibition Peace
Some of the bears at the Champs de Mars (Eiffel Tower) in Paris
United Buddy Bears Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
United Buddy Bear – Paris 2012 – Champs de Mars, Eiffel Tower

Lined up along the Champs de Mars, the Buddy Bears add some most welcome accents of colors to the City of Lights. Each bear represents a different country, and the local artists came up with some brilliant ideas to showcase their country.  All of the bears are visually stunning; some even went beyond the canvas and added unique accents.

Irish United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
Irish United Buddy Bear
French United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
French United Buddy Bear
Israeli United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
Israeli Buddy Bear
Polish United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
Polish United Buddy Bear

The idea behind the bears is of peace.  The United Buddy Bear website explains, “Under this motto, the UNITED BUDDY BEARS promote living together in peace and harmony on their global tour. Around 140 Buddy Bears (each 2 m tall) represent as many countries recognised by the United Nations.”

Great Britain United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
Great Britain United Buddy Bear
Mexican United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
Mexican United Buddy Bear
American United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
American United Buddy Bear
Germany Mexico USA United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Exhibition Tour Eiffel Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
Germany + Mexico/USA
Chinese United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
Chinese United Buddy Bear
Irish United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
Back of the German United Buddy Bear

The bears will be in Paris through November 18, 2012.  If you can’t make it across the pond, check out all of the bears and their artists here.

Germany United Buddy Bear Berlin Paris 2012 Champs de Mars Eiffel Tower
With the German United Buddy Bear
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A Parisian moment

“What is life in Paris like?” is a question I get asked very often. Well, life is…life. It’s wonderful! It has its ups and downs, just like life in any other city in the world. “But you’re in PARIS! The City of Lights!” This is true. This I never take for granted. I attend the Sorbonne; my classes all take place in that historic, beautiful building. I walk by the Seine and the cathedral of Notre Dame on a daily basis. I see the Eiffel Tower every day when I go to the conservatory. I hear French around me every day. These details are not overlooked.

But everything truly sets in when I find myself in a café or restaurant that is so classically French or more specifically, classically Parisian. The red booths and chairs, the dark wooden tables, the smartly-dressed servers…and the steak-frites with a glass of wine. Here I am, post-lecture at the Sorbonne. I always walk down to take the métro at l’Hôtel de Ville. I say au revoir to the Sorbonne, cross over and think “hi!” to the twinkling Seine, wave to Notre Dame and her gargoyles, and continue on my way to the magnificent city hall.

Usually I head straight to the underground, but today was a different case. It has been a wonderful week. I’m finally feeling better after being sick for a few weeks, I had an incredibly sweet surprise yesterday that has left me smiling since and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world, and on top of it all, positive and happy events keep popping up in my life. I was feeling giddy and on top of the world! As I passed the gargoyles, it suddenly hit me, as it often does, tout d’un coup – I live in Paris!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the incredibly historic city where so many renowned public figures and people have been, passed through, and taken place. And I live here! Me! My family is so incredibly supportive of my dreams and my passions that I now LIVE here! This realization had me almost skipping. I turned and saw a restaurant, Le Parvis Notre Dame, that I’ve been wanting to try for almost a year. I told myself, “Why not?? Today is the day!” And in I went.

It is a quiet Thursday night in the neighborhood, but there are still a few couples in the quaint restaurant. I know what I want; I’ve been craving it for days now. “Un steak-frites, s’il vous plaît!” “Avec un verre de vin rouge?” asks the server. “Oui, pourquoi pas?” I smile back. There it is, a fully French meal. A steak-frites with a glass of red wine is on its way.

My glass of Bordeaux arrives first. As I take my first sip, I am reminded that this is, indeed, my favorite wine. Shortly afterward, my meal is served. The presentation is typical, save for the cute little metal basket that the fries are in. The sauce smells incredible! I cut into the steak, and it is perfectly medium rare and a light pink, just the way I like it. The sauce is even better than it smells; in fact, it is the best sauce au poivre I have ever had! The meat is tender and savory, and the fries are golden. I was hoping there would be a side salad, and they did not disappoint. En plus, it had just the right amount of dressing (and I am quite picky when it comes to dressing). I had to tell myself to slow down and savor each bite. It was SO good! And with the smooth red wine to accompany the meal, I am in heaven. I believe I have truly found the perfect steak-frites here at Le Parvis.

Even the staff is lovely! Forget what you hear about the awful service in France. Here, they are kind and attentive – AND they smile!! Every person on the staff has come by and chatted with me, checked that my food was all right, and asked how my wine was. The manager is charming, and the server is very knowledgeable about their menu and wines. I was both serenaded and entertained during my stay! To experience both a truly French meal and the renowned French charm, stop by this restaurant and see for yourself.

Happily full and more than satisfied, I sit back and bask in the music of Patrick Bruel that plays on the radio. His light baritone rolls the r, à la Edith Piaf, and the music is so wonderfully French. A delicious meal, a nice glass of wine, and a relaxed ambiance – this is what life in Paris is like.

Yes, there are days when you are crammed in the metro, and others when you ask yourself what people actually do in their offices (if and when they are there). There are also those moments when you feel very alone and foreign and so far from your country. (I have dubbed it Home with a capital h.) But these moments like tonight, THIS is life in Paris. You share delicious meals and wine and cheese with people from all over the world, and you communicate in this beautiful, complex language. You spend time in cafés and brasseries and parks and salons de thé because most students’ apartments are ten meters squared or less – and there’s no way you could all squeeze in there at the same time. You grab a café allongé in the morning at your local stop. And once you come in often enough, you walk in, greet the barman and the morning employees, and suddenly your coffee arrives without your asking for it, without sugar and with a little glass of water on the side because he knows that’s the way you like it. You walk by the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Cœur, the Louvre on a daily basis, you throw on your scarf and breathe in the cold air, and you smile. Because you, my darling, are in Paris.

Le Parvis Notre Dame
3, rue d’Arcole
75004 Paris
01 44 41 14 34

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L’art de Paris: Dominique Fury Exhibit Debut at Galerie Caplain-Matignon

Femininity Encompassed by Art: The Works of Dominique Fury

Thursday, September 28, 2012, marked the debut of the French artist Dominique Fury’s exhibit at Galerie Caplain-Matignon, a chic gallery in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.  Renowned for her use of untraditional canvases and materials, Fury’s works are captivating, stunning, and compelling pieces of art.

Electric Lady by Dominique Fury Galerie Caplain-Matignon
Electric Lady by Dominique Fury

In an enlightening interview with the artist, PatriciaParisienne learned about her adventure into the art world.  Originally a political science student, Fury realized halfway through her studies that she truly wasn’t cut out to be a student of politics.  Her heart and passion were in the arts.  She delved into the world of art and has never looked back.  She has collaborated with many artists around the world, and her works have been exhibited at festivals and galleries around the world, including Kyoto, Shanghai, Brussels, Bogota, Istanbul, and, of course, all over France.

Painting by Dominique Fury Galerie Caplain-Matignon Electric Lady

Regarding her artwork, Fury says (translated from French), “I have always been interested in collaborating with other artists…I have worked on several projects with other artists and especially enjoy working with a variety of materials…like the Americans, who would tell stories of a certain region with different materials. It really tells their story. For me, the starting materials are those that touch your skin, very beautiful gold materials that make a lacquer, that are sexy. Voila. At the beginning, when I would create my paintings, I didn’t want anyone to know that it was a woman who was painting them. So I called myself Fury. And Dominique Fury is a name [that can be male or female]. I would make these enormous paintings. I absolutely did not want anyone to know that it was a woman who was making them. It was more of a masculine work and quite harsh.”

Dominique Fury Galerie Caplain-Matignon Paris Art Gallery Women Artists

Dominique Fury Painting Galerie Caplain-Matignon Paris Art Gallery Women Artists

Dominique Fury with her painting "Tea Time" at Galerie Caplain-Matignon Paris Art Gallery Women Artist
Dominique Fury with her painting “Tea Time” at Galerie Caplain-Matignon

In regards to her choice to become an artist, she states, “Finalement, on fait ce qu’on doit faire.” (“In the end, we do what we must do.”)  Fury’s Electric Lady exhibit shows off this artist’s vast capacity to encompass femininity and human emotions and project them onto a canvas through various fabrics, textures, and materials. An absolute must-see if you’re in the City of Lights.

Dominique Fury Press Poster for Galerie Caplain-Matignon Paris art gallery
Dominique Fury Press Poster for Galerie Caplain-Matignon

We are happy to have this artist back in Paris with us for a short time. Fury’s works will be on display until November 6, 2012.

Check out the exhibit at the Galerie Caplain-Matignon.

29, avenue Matignon

75008 Paris

+33 (0)1 42 65 04 63

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Grand Reopening of Compagnie Française de l’Orient et de la Chine

Looking for some Asian-fusion cuisine and deco in Paris?

The newly-renovated Compagnie Française de l’Orient et de la Chine is back!  Though the design store and restaurant officially opens to the public on Saturday, September 22, at 10 a.m., the company celebrated their reopening and opened its doors Thursday night to a gorgeous crowd for a festive soiree.

View of Compagnie Française de l'Orient et de la Chine Chinese dragon dance Paris restaurant opening grand opening Asian-fusion in Paris
View of Compagnie Française de l’Orient et de la Chine

The party began with a Chinese dragon dance from the AFDDLC, Association française de danse du dragon et danse du lion chinois (French Association of the Chinese Dragon Dance and Lion Dance). Very appropriate, as we are in the year of the dragon (yours truly being a dragon herself!), according to the Chinese calendar. Guests were absolutely captivated by the dragons!

AFDDLC Performing the Chinese Dragon Dance at Compagnie Française de l'Orient et de la Chine
AFDDLC Performing the Chinese Dragon Dance on the red carpet at Compagnie Française de l’Orient et de la Chine

[wpvideo DIq9JCZd]

Dragons Dancing Compagnie Française de l'Orient et de la Chine
Dragons Dancing at Compagnie Française de l’Orient et de la Chine

The rest of the evening was just as impressive!  On the ground level, the two bars served an assortment of Asian beers and drinks, as well as a variety of delicious teas. On the second and minus one floors, the guests were also treated to fantastic wines and champagne.  It’s not a true French celebration without champagne!

Compagnie Francaise de l'Orient et la Chine window display Stephanie Moisan

The crowd downstairs at Compagnie Francaise de l'Orient et la Chine

Display at Compagnie Francaise de l'Orient et la Chine

The guest list had people from all walks of life and a variety of industries.  At the opening party, we chatted with Stephanie Moisan, the designer of the stunning window displays (scenographer), as well as Héloïse Mérat, the commercial director of la Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine.

Stephanie Moisan for Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine
APR
Some of the APR girls at Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine’s grand opening soiree
Héloïse Mérat - commercial director for Compagnie Francaise de l'Orient et de la Chine
Héloïse Mérat – commercial director for Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine

The event was a huge success, and the room was buzzing throughout the night with excitement and delight. Visit the Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine to spruce up your home or office decor, or to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner.

Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine

170, boulevard Haussmann

75008 Paris

+33 (0) 1 53 53 40 80

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Latest in Paris this week: “Shopping for Mr. Right”

On the Prowl?

Paris is full of exclusive experiences, and I am always on the lookout for unique things to do and see. Well, this one is for the ladies.  French dating site Adopteunmec.com (Adopt-a-guy) opened a store for the week, where women can come in and “shop” for men.  The twist? The men are actually there, in life-sized glass cases!

Adopte un Mec adopte-un-mec Paris
Women shopping for Mr. Right

The men switch out every hour, so the store is always in stock.  For those couples that hit it off and would like to continue the enchantment over coffee, there is a cafe downstairs where they can have their first date. There, you can also find a wall of polaroids, so in case you miss your guy when he’s on display, you can catch him (and his number) later.

The boutique on Rue de la Bonheur (Street of Happiness) is the dating site’s new approach to market their services.  Brilliant idea, don’t you think?  This first show will be in Paris for ten days, then will move on to other major French cities, and eventually over to Switzerland.  Only a few days left…get ’em while they’re hot, ladies!

Watch the BBC News’ full video report on the “Adopt a Guy” boutique here.

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Les Contes d’Hoffmann at l’Opéra Bastille

Today, I had the honor of attending an incredible performance of the opera Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach at the Opéra Bastille. It was my first visit to the opera house, and it couldn’t have been a more phenomenal introduction. I attended the matinee performance on this gorgeous day.

Opera Bastille
Opera Bastille

This opera is about Hoffmann, a poet, who has strayed from his Muse with three other women. The Muse reveals in the opening aria that she intends to woo Hoffmann back so that she can once again be his one and only love. Throughout the three acts, Hoffmann reveals his stories of the three loves of his life, each one more ethereal and dramatic than the previous.

From my seats in the second balcony, I could see the entire orchestra. It was wonderful to watch the dapper Czech conductor, Tomas Netopil, and his magnificent, fluid conducting. The orchestra played very well and kept up the energy throughout the three-hour performance. The strings were spot on, and I particularly enjoyed the flute’s flowing contributions. Also, it was wonderful to see not one but two female percussionists in the pit!

Orchestra at Opera Bastille
Orchestra pit at Opera Bastille

The show began with the Muse’s aria and swept us into Offenbach’s fantasy. This was also my first time seeing all of these performers, and I was impressed by each individual on the stage. Stefano Secco played a heart-wrenching Hoffmann. His gorgeous tenor voice soared through the theater, and he was rarely overshadowed by the orchestra. The Italian had us all in the palm of his hand by the end of the first scene. The Nova Scotian soprano Jane Archibald was one of the most brilliant singer/actresses I have ever seen, not to mention a fantastic comedian! She owned the epitome of vocal-gymnastics, Les oiseaux dans la charmille (“The Doll Song”), both vocally and theatrically. She was a robot! As a mezzo-soprano (MS), I always tend to want to love my fellow MSs, though I needed no extra convincing today. Both the roles of the Muse and Nicklausse were played by American Kate Aldrich, who has subsequently joined the ranks of Maria Callas, Diana Damrau, and Ana Netrebko on my “idols” list. Her voice is plush and rich, and I greatly admire her ability to carry through the orchestra, particularly in her lower range. I know, I know, as opera singers, this is what we have to do – but it’s hard! And Aldrich does it extremely well. Sophie Koch, who played Giulietta, seduced everyone in the audience in the third act with her powerful voice and raging high notes, particularly in the opening barcarolle of act III, Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour. Other remarkable voices include the baritone Franck Ferrari as Hoffmann’s nemesis Lindorf and Puerto Rican soprano Ana Maria Martinez as the troubled Antonia. The ensemble was incredibly cohesive on every level; from the singers to the aesthetics, this was a completely solid show.

The sets – oh, the sets! This show had some of the most simple yet beautiful sets I have ever seen! The opening scene at the opera bar was so modern; the only other stage I preferred to it was the final moment in opera. Other notable sets were the first theater set-up during act II, where the action primarily takes place in the on-stage orchestra pit until the end of the scene, when Antonia and her mother perform on the elevated stage. For act III, the talented Robert Carsen created a theater, which we as the audience viewed from the perspective of the performers. It was all absolutely lovely.

Les Contes D'Hoffmann
Set from Act II

I left the opera house feeling elated and enriched. I highly recommend seeing this show! It will be in Paris until October 3. I often suggest comedic operas first, for those who have never been to one before; Les Contes d’Hoffmann would be a perfect way to start your love affair with the art form.

Season 2012-2013 Opera Bastille
Season 2012-2013 Poster at Opera Bastille

Les Contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach – performances at the Opera Bastille on September 19, 22, 25 & 28 and October 1 & 3. Reserve your tickets on the Opera’s website.

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