RATATOUILLE DU MARAIS
Bonjour Parismarais Readers,
The new Disney movie “Ratatouille” is definitely one of the best advertising campaigns for Paris to come along in years. I’ve now seen the movie twice – once in Paris in French, and once in English while in Monte Carlo at a gigantic open air cinema.
Practically everything about Paris in Ratatouille is true. Statistics say there are approximately two rats for every resident in Paris, probably the same proportion as in any city. We know you would not want to go to any restaurant where you may find rats in the kitchen, even one as cute as Remy.
In the movie there are many references to well established places located in the historic center of Paris which are quite easy to recognize, even if the names have been changed.
For anyone who is not familiar with ratatouille, it is a stew made in Provence and the region of Nice, but popular everywhere in France. To make a good ratatouille, you take a cocotte, fry red onions in olive oil, add garlic, then eggplant, green and red peppers and tomatoes, all sliced in equal sizes. At the last minute, add thyme, rosemary, sage and as many herbes de Provence as you wish. Cook slowly for about 30 minutes on a low flame. You can make a large quantity of ratatouille for a main dish, and it is also delicious served cold as a starter.
The origins of the word are quite interesting. Here’s what they don’t mention in the film: “Rata” means a mix of cheap food, thrown together quickly. “C’est du rata” means it is basic and not exactly a delicacy. Rata was often served to soldiers in the army as a unique dish, a kind of goulash. “Touille” comes from the verb touiller in French slang, which means to turn slowly in the sauce pan. So literally, ratatouille is a vegetable “rata” that you “touille” to make it cook quicker!
It is hard to imagine that this was the origin of ratatouille when it can be so divine and so Provençal when it is done well.
Another internationally well-known French classic is Kir, the aperitif that has been popular
Mr. Kir was a priest, and during WW2 was famous for being part of the resistance to the German occupation. It was for this reason that for nearly 30 years he was elected the mayor of Dijon, the capital of Cassis (red currant and good burgundy wine). What we know today as Kir was then called “blanc cassis” until he gave it his name.
The true Kir is composed of 1/6 crème de cassis from Burgundy, and Bourgogne Aligoté, a basic Burgundy white wine. Anything else is simply not the real thing for someone like me who was born and raised in Burgundy! With fashion and trends came Kir Royal, made of crème de Cassis and Crèmant de Bourgogne, the sparkling wine from Burgundy that tastes like Champagne but cannot rightfully be called so. Now you know the true story of Kir. And another true story – Mr. Kir was a great friend of my godmother and as a priest, it was he who baptized me. So I can say that I’m one of the few French people who were baptized with Kir!
Now that you know everything about Ratatouille and Kir, here’s what we have discovered for you recently in le Marais and on the French Riviera…
P.S. You can eat as much ratatouille as you like because it is very low in calories and very healthy, but slow down on the Kir. Only two glasses and you would be over the legal alcohol level that you can drink and still drive your “Velib” bicycle in the Marais streets!
SELECTED RESTAURANTS WE LOVE
Here is a selection of restaurants we found in le Marais district where you can order Ratatouille.
F & B
Le Gai Moulin
See his hilarious video about the restaurant owners on…
The video is in French, so here is a brief translation:
Enjoy your own dining experiences and tell us where you’ve found the best ratatouille in Paris!
Michael Moore’s “Sicko” September 5
The French health system is shown as a model for the rest of the world. It is true that the French system is classified as number one for providing good care and almost free services for all French and European residents. A visit to a doctor in France costs 22€ and the insurance system pays about 21€ – so you are only out of pocket 1€. We wish, as does American Michael Moore (the U.S. ranked a dismal 38th in the classification) that other countries would have such a good health care system. But naturally the French complain about it as they complain about most things even if they are close to perfection – the French never seem to be satisfied.
To see a preview of the movie visit: http://www.michaelmoore.com/sicko/trailer/
EVENTS NOT TO MISS
Rugby Men in le Marais
In September you’ll definitely have a rugby overdose, as the Rugby World Cup 2007 is being played in Paris. This huge event will be covered by all media and the hotels are filling up fast. We still have some last minute vacancies in certain hotels and apartments, but write to us quickly with your dates before they’re all booked.
Check our hotel selection they are the top 20 hotels in le Marais…
You know le Marais has plenty of gay bars with rugby men look-alikes, but you certainly don’t want to miss the real thing if you can still get tickets: http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/
If you can’t get a ticket, you can always buy the French rugby men calendar online… and dream of big muscles every day of the year.
More sexy men to check out next month are the Paris Horse Guards, performing their annual show at their Marais headquarters on October 7 and 8.
See last year’s report:
This is one of the most incredible shows you can see in central Paris. For two days enjoy beautiful horses in imperial costumes riding to orchestra music, and an extravagant motorbike show featuring 20 guys stacked in a pyramid driven by four bikes! Don’t try this at home, but come out to see the show, and maybe take home a souvenir t-shirt or key ring.
Heritage days in le Marais
On September 15 and 16, all of the fantastic mansions and museums in le Marais open their doors to the public for free the entire weekend. You can discover many great sites that are normally closed to the public. This year the event focuses on professions: men and women working to preserve cultural property.
Begin your day with the most exquisite of all Marais museums, Carnavalet, former house of writer Madame de Sévigné, friend of King Louis XIV who lived in this fabulous place for most of her life.
Barbie Marais! No joke...
Barbie gets around, we all know that, but we did not know that she was showing her best dresses in le Marais! Of course, she does not have a dress with the fleurs de lys (at least, not yet) but do not miss the Barbie Expo at Musée de la Poupée.
BACK TO THE CLUBS
Les Bains Douche
Le Bourg Tibourg
The Marais Guesthouse
For the price of one ticket to the Rugby World Cup, you can travel back to the 17th century for a few days! Don’t wait…book your stay now!
For all these 4 star category places, book direct with the hotel to get the best rooms:
TIPS ON TRAVELING TO LE MARAIS
As always, September and October are the busiest months of the year in Paris. The entire city is packed and completely booked at full price. Every day we receive requests from clients who want to book our hotels or apartments at a discount because they think it is low season. When you’re planning your Paris holiday, keep in mind that the only two low season months in Paris are August and January.
It has become common practice to think that booking last minute means last minute deals. This is true for many destinations, but not for Paris, especially in the most popular districts such as le Marais. If you wait until the last minute, you may have to pay a higher price as the hotels know that they can fill their rooms and someone is always willing to pay top dollar, er, euro. The only way you may be able to get a discount is by bargaining after 7 p.m., but this can be risky and time consuming, and you may not get the best room.
The hotels recommended by Parismarais.com are the most charming, with rooms decorated in unique styles, and the nicest ones go first at full price. These are not made available to the tour operators or reservation centers, but are kept for the direct clients of each hotel – clients like us. That’s why when you book your hotel room through Parismarais.com, you’ll always get the best selection as we connect you directly with the hotel of your choice.
Book now for November and December! October is also high season and a very popular month – and already it’s almost full…
NEWS FROM THE RIVIERA
Learn to really speak French!
If you’re looking for an exciting experience, both human and intellectual, look no further. Head south to one of the gems of the French Riviera, the picturesque fishing village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, between Nice and Monte Carlo. There sits, overlooking one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful bays, the world renowned Institut de Français.
Since 1969, this language school has been offering with unwavering success, a unique French immersion program of 8-1/2 hours a day for 2 to 4 weeks. Adults have been coming from all over the world with a common motivation: to learn to speak French in the shortest time possible and have fun doing it.
Added to that, the evening outings (with teachers) to a theater, an opera or a restaurant enjoyed in such interesting and varied company, these are just the normal happenings taking place every month at the Institut de Français on the exciting Côte d’Azur.
Read more and book your class:
Discover the most beautiful resort you could ever find on the Cote d’Azur...
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