C’est MARnifique!

Regular readers will know that I have often been inspired by Great Britain: the wonderful English gardens, the English countryside, and the manor houses of that wonderful isle. But lately, I have a renewed appreciation for France, too: it’s incredible love of the outdoors, the artistry of its decorative touches, and the overall aesthetic that is uniquely French.

That said, I decided that for this year’s birthday I would try to arrange as much of a French-inspired celebration as possible, without having to cross the Atlantic. I wondered: Can I do it? What would be available? How would I make it happen?

Close friends embraced the idea, and a wonderful week of French-inspired activities and treats were planned and have now unfolded. How was it? In a word: MARnifique!

Curious about what occurred? Voilà, here are some of the details:

Naturally, there was a little birthday champagne to kick things off. (Doesn’t everyone there drink it?)

It’s no secret that French cuisine is an incredible export to every country around the world. So there were many stops at places that offered such delights. L’Escale in Greenwich was the scene for a lovely dinner. Located in the Delamar Hotel, the food was simply scrumptious.

I do love macaroons and have treated myself to their chewy and delicate textures ever since I tasted my first ones in Paris. So it made sense to have a lovely lunch in the tea room of Ladurée, in SoHo, New York. (The company has been making them in Paris since 1862, and they now have locations around the world.) Behind the celadon green storefront lies a rainbow of decadent treats – and a quiet and elegant cafe, where the decor, upholstery and pastel-bordered china transported me to my first visit to the shop on the Rue Royale. Ooh la la! My favorite flavor? Pistachio. (Although the rose-infused ones are a close second.)

To further conjure up the spirit of Paris itself, I knew some evening entertainment would fit the bill perfectly. Last night I attended a performance of An American In Paris, the new musical. With a toe-tapping Gershwin score, this stage production is inspired by the 1951 movie starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. I expected good things, but I was not prepared to be so wow-ed. More than any musical I’ve seen in recent years, this featured such extraordinary dancing from the principal characters that it was almost a ballet fused within a musical. Talk about triple-threats: these folks could sing, dance ballet, and act, which brought the crowd to its feet more than once.

Next stop? I’ll take a break for a week from all things France-inspired, but next Friday I jet off for a long weekend in New Orleans. I have never been there, but as it truly is a center of French-inspired American life it will be a fun excursion. I’ve arranged a tour that will take me around the French Quarter, and even out to some plantations. (And I’m sure I will get my fill of some amazing food.) Plus, as a fan of the TV show American Horror Story I know I’ll get to delve into some of the Coven locations. (More on this trip in my next blog!)

Until then, wish me Bon Voyage. Au revoir, my MARtians!