E. DEHILLERIN- the ultimate kitchen store

I admit it- one of our “guilty pleasures” is to watch cooking shows (maybe it got more interesting since one son became a chef?) Anyway, if you are also one of those people who find all of that specialized language fun, and all that cool equipment, you should take a trip over to E. DEHILLERIN at 18 Rue Coquillière, in the 1st arrondisement in Paris. http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/en/home.php

This is a GREAT store and it’s right in the center of Paris, next to Rue Montorgueil, a wonderful market street (see David Lebovitz’s blog post on it at http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/04/rue-montorgueil-les-halles-paris/

It’s also next to the former “Les Halles,” the central marketplace in Paris since the 12th century (which was demolished, unfortunately, in 1971 and is now an underground shopping “mall”) called “Forum des Halles.”

Anyway, we thought we’d go in there and pick something up for our son– easy, right? Pick out a couple of knives- should be fairly simple. An expensive knife is an expensive knife, right? Wrong. What if you don’t know what he likes in knives- does he like carbon steel, which can be very sharp and holds its edge well, but is more vulnerable to rust, or maybe he prefers stainless steel, which doesn’t take quite as sharp an edge but is more resistant to corrosion (who knew?). Suffice it to say, we decided to just buy a couple of “specialty” knives: one for fish filleting; and a small, sharp paring knife that seemed like it would be useful no matter what.

But before we did that, we spent a good thirty minutes just wandering through the various sections of the store and there is every possible kind of kitchen item you can imagine! Knives….

IMG_3105 or what about beautiful copper pots?


or what about skewers (at least I think that’s what they were).





Quick update for Kindle Users

The book is now out on Amazon.com, but my husband and I realized that we had no idea how to format for Kindle (I have read on an iPad, but never on a Kindle). So, for $69, CreateSpace will do it for you! We have submitted the story and now it is up to them to do the uploading. I’m very interested to see how it turns out, especially the two-page map at the beginning of the book, since it’s my understanding that you can’t see two pages at the same time on Kindle. You Kindle users will have to tell me what you think.

I will post as soon as I hear that it’s available. So far, CreateSpace has delivered on everything quicker than predicted, so we’ll hope it’s within the next week or so.

Finally, I would ask a favor. If you have ordered Four Sisters In Paris, THANK YOU. If  you like it, please write a review on Amazon.com.

After a week, we are at  87 sold! photo-1

It’s Official- I’m now a published author- YIKES

So I thought I was done on Sunday and ordered a hard copy proof of the book….and saw the various typos that were still there! Then I fixed those and then we found more…. It makes you realize that no matter how many times you look at something (and others look at something) that it’s still easy to miss things.

Today’s version looked good, so I’m taking the plunge and have pushed “approve.” It’s AVAILABLE! It’s at www.createspace.com/3610000 and also at Amazon.com! Now I just have to get the word out!

I would love to get comments/critiques from you and also, if you belong to a book club, would you consider sharing it with them and letting me know what people think?


Manuscript is SO CLOSE!

We received the hard copy proof from CreateSpace today– how cool is that! I did find a couple of small things I want to fix, so we’re headed up to the computer to make the changes, re-download it, and it will then go to Amazon.com! The Kindle version is a little more complicated so that will take a couple more weeks to have available, but it will happen. Watch for the official announcement!


Architecture- the clothing a city wears

It would be fun to have a time machine and be able to jump from one city to another, comparing their architecture, especially in the “neighborhood” areas. Could you tell where you were? Are you in New York? In Paris? In Venice? In Asti? Each city has a personality and you get a glimpse of that in the buildings where people live. I don’t know the age of some of these- anyone who does, feel free to chime in. I just like looking at them side by side….and imagining myself living in each one.


DSCN0312VezelayIMG_0767New Orleans IMG_2780Asti   IMG_2901Venice Gretchen and Marty at hotel window Thursday Sept 24Venice IMG_0055Tucson

IMG_0401Rome  IMG_3269Paris

Buying an Apartment in Paris

At dinner with friends last night, talk turned to the process of buying an apartment in Paris. I think the internet has opened up more ways to do research and search for possible properties, but the old fashioned way was to go to the neighborhood that you were interested in, wander the streets, and look at the listings in the windows of local agencies.

When we were looking nine years ago, there was no MLS (multiple listing service- I don’t know if there is now), and the problem for us was that we wanted to look at a variety of neighborhoods before deciding where to focus. Wandering the streets was not going to work. In doing some research, it turned out that we had a friend who had a friend who had found a solution to this problem. She had hired Ghislaine, a native Parisian, who, for a flat fee (rather than a brokerage commission), was willing to show properties in several different arrondisements. Having that opportunity to experience a wide variety of apartment styles and neighborhoods helped enormously in making our decision. (The internet also played a role, but more on that later).

My girlfriend, Pat, and I went over to do the initial search (leaving hubby home with the kids) and after visiting several great neighborhoods, we focused on the Marais area, which is very centrally located. We found a place I liked and I made an offer on it. I didn’t get it, but I learned a valuable lesson, which was that the first offer that comes in has the last right of refusal.

At home once again, I found the “For Sale by Owners” website at www.pap.fr and happily daydreamed about a life in Paris. Now that I knew the general neighborhood I wanted, I could focus on just those apartments that became available in that area. When I found one I liked, I immediately called Ghislaine with the instructions to “go and take a look as my friend.”

I told her that if she thought it was comparable to the one I had liked when I was there that she should make an offer on my behalf. She thought I was a crazy American but she did it. I followed up with a call to the owner the next day to explain that I was NOT a crazy American, that I was familiar with, and loved, his neighborhood, and that my friend knew very well what I liked. The long and short of it was that when he called me back on Monday to say there had been another, slightly higher, offer that weekend as well, I had the right to match it because mine had been the first offer he received, and that was all it took. The apartment was ours for that price. No bidding wars like in the States.

Next came the first set of paperwork, the “Promesse de Vente” that had to be created (once that is signed, there is another, more in depth, set of final purchase documents that are then prepared). In France, there is a special kind of attorney called a “notaire” who handle all real estate transactions. Again, I found myself explaining, to the notaire this time, that I was NOT a crazy American and that I needed him to go ahead and prepare the papers for us, EVEN though we had not yet physically seen the apartment, so we could sign when we came over three weeks later. We simply couldn’t afford to come once to look at the place and then return a second time to sign this first set of papers (remember I had already been to Paris once for the initial tours and I would have to return YET AGAIN to sign the full, final documents several months later). He reluctantly agreed and three weeks later, my husband and I flew over and when we saw the apartment, we knew it was the right decision. We signed the papers and three months after that, I went over one more time to sign the final, official documentation and VOILA! It was ours!

There are lots of fun and quirky stories related to the apartment which I will share over time, but I will close with one specifically related to the purchase process. When you buy an apartment in Paris, NOTHING conveys- not even the kitchen cabinets (!) unless you’ve specified that in the documentation. Luckily, our consultant advised us about that. The cabinetry was a big reason we were buying that place– it had all just been re-done. What we did NOT know to write in was the light fixtures so we arrived the first day to find just wires hanging from the ceiling in each room!

A bit of a shock, but an excuse for our first trip to BHV, our wonderful department store, to find new ones!IMG_0772