Trip to Gare de Lyon

Located in the heart of 12th arrondissement of Paris, Gare de Lyon welcomes 110 million visitors a year. Trains depart to serve central-eastern and south-eastern France. Built in 1855, and redesigned by the Toulon architect Marius Toudoire for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the station is also famous for its impressive architectural features, such as the Clock Tower (by Charles Garnier, who created the opera of the same name). This has been classified as a historical monument and (allegedly) offers a panoramic view of the capital from on high.

Gare de Lyon

The station is divided into three large halls. Hall 1 is the historic hall of the station, dominated by the emblematic bar and restaurant Le Train Bleu, a true Parisian institution that is worth a visit on its own. Its large forecourt is enlivened in summer by terraces and pop-up stores. Hall 2, modern and bright, welcomes mainline travellers and offers a wide range of restaurants. Hall 3 – underground – provides access to the OuiGo trains and offers fast food. These three halls are linked by two shopping galleries: the Galerie Diderot (beauty, accessories and ready-to-wear shops) and the Salle des Fresques.

Paris Gare de Lyon - a brief station guide

We love travelling by train to Paris and do so at least twice a year. Our trips always involve a lunch, either on arrival or on departure, in the magnificent Le Train Bleu restaurant.

Le Train Bleu

Le Train Bleu is a gastronomic restaurant in neo-baroque and Belle Époque style from the 1900s located on the 1st floor hall of the station. Saved from demolition by André Malraux in 1966, some of its rooms were classified as historical monuments in 1972 by Jacques Duhamel. Its magnificent entrance and glass canopy is currently undergoing renovation.

The restaurant was built in 1900 as the station buffet for the Universal Exhibition and only later became Le Train Bleu. It was built by Marius Toudoire, the famous architect behind the Gare de Lyon façade. The management of the railway company hoped to create an unmissable gourmet experience in a luxurious, modern and legendary setting – I’d say, they’ve succeeded.

The station buffet was unveiled in 1901 by the French President Emile Loubet and quickly attracted high society and celebrities.

Photo Gallery | Train Bleu | Restaurant in the Heart of Gare de Lyon

In 1963, the buffet became “Le Train Bleu” as a tribute to the “Paris-Vintimille” line dating from 1868, the legendary train that served towns in the French Riviera along the Mediterranean coast.

If you’re taking a train from Gare de Lyon, don’t forget to pop into Le Train Bleu, if only just for a coffee.


Wordless Wednesday #144

Wednesday is devoted to photos from Australia taken on one of my many #adventuresdownunder.

Trip to Le Musée des Arts décoratifs

The Musée des Arts décoratifs is dedicated to the exhibition and preservation of the decorative arts. Located at 107 Rue de Rivoli in Paris’ 1st arrondissement, it occupies the most north-western wing of the Louvre, known as the Pavillon de Marsan. With over one million objects in its collection, it’s the largest museum of decorative arts in continental Europe.

How it all began

The museum collection was founded in 1905 by members of the “Union des arts décoratifs”. Its deep holdings range back to 13th century Europe. Today’s collection is primarily composed of French furniture, tableware, carpets such as those from Aubusson, porcelain such as that by the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, and many glass pieces by René Lalique, Émile Gallé and many others. It includes numerous works in the Art Nouveau and Art Déco styles and modern examples by designers like Eileen Gray and Charlotte Perriand.

There are also period rooms. Examples include part of Jeanne Lanvin’s house (decorated by Albert-Armand Rateau [1884–1938] in the early 1920s) at 16 rue Barbet-de-Jouy in Paris. Others are graphic artist Eugène Grasset’s dining room of 1880, and the 1752 Gold Cabinet of Avignon. And, peculiar to a French museum it seems, there is the 1875 bedroom of courtesan Lucie Émilie Delabigne, purportedly the inspiration for the main character in Émile Zola’s novel Nana (1880). There is a distinctive ceiling there once owned by Jeanne Baptiste d’Albert de Luynes, mistress of then duke of Savoy.

The Surreal Worlds of Elsa Schiaparelli,h_990,c_limit/018elsa_schiaparelli_4sep17_jpg_5006.jpg?lang=eng

However, none of this was on display when we visited as it’s being renovated, again. Instead we were treated to a visual feast in which I freely admit I lusted after most of the exhibits. Yes, I’m talking  about works from the bold, inspiring, avant-garde, shocking (even) fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

Schiaparelli was a fashion designer from an aristocratic Italian background. She created the house of Schiaparelli in Paris in 1927, which she managed from the 1930s to the 1950s. Starting with knitwear, Schiaparelli’s designs celebrated Surrealism and eccentric fashions. Her collections were famous for unconventional and artistic themes like the human body, insects, or trompe-l’œil, and for the use of bright colours like her “shocking pink”.

She famously collaborated with Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau.

Along with Coco Chanel, her greatest rival, she is regarded as one of the most prominent European figures in fashion between the two World Wars.

 The exhibition displayed 520 works including 272 costumes and fashion accessories.  Spread over two floors at the museum, it includes sculptures, jewelry, perfume bottles, ceramics, posters and photographs signed by the greatest names of the time.

The exhibition highlights her remarkable and revolutionary collections, as well as her surprising collaborations, through an immersive and spectacular scenography. In particular, there are hundreds of fabulous drawings and sketches by her, which trace her awakening to fashion and haute couture. The Museum had also reconstructed her atelier.

Schiaparelli's spring-summer 2022 haute couture transcends the natural

Sadly Schiaparelli fell out of favour after WWII and the couture house was shut down in December 1954. In 1957, she created a company mainly for her perfume licences, which is the actual company today. In 2007, Italian businessman Diego Della Valle (owner of Tod’s) acquired it and re-opened the couture house  at Hôtel de Fontpertuis, 21 Place Vendôme, her former atelier.

Schiaparelli (entreprise) — Wikipédia

But it wasn’t until Marco Zanini was appointed artistic director in September 2013 that details of the brand’s revival became public. The house was nominated for a return to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture list of members (granted in the summer of 2017) and presented its first show since nomination in January 2014.

In 2019, American Daniel Roseberry (formerly at Thom Browne) became artistic director of Schiaparelli. During his tenure, Roseberry has become known for resurrecting some of the Maison’s most beloved and influential codes and iconography, while paying homage to its founder, Elsa Schiaparelli’s love of Surrealism; at the same time, he has subverted many of those same codes, contributing a new aesthetic vocabulary with his frequent use of gold jewelry and hardware, repurposed denim, and moulded leather and metal breast plates and body parts. Like Schiaparelli herself, who was known for her technical innovations, Roseberry is particularly interested in experimenting with new or unlikely fabrics, and exploding the idea of what couture can–or should–be.

Schiaparelli, back to the future et renaissance - CiCi-consulting

Lady Gaga famously wore Schiaparelli Haute Couture to sing the national anthem at the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden. On her dress was a gilded brass dove holding an olive branch as a symbol of harmony and peace. That seems somewhat ironic now.




Musical Monday: BB King

For more than half a century, Riley B. King  (1925 – 2015) – better known as B.B. King – was an American blues singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. He introduced a sophisticated style of guitar soloing that influenced many later electric guitar blues players. AllMusic recognised King as:

The single most important electric guitarist of the last half of 20th century.

He performed tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing on average at more than 200 concerts per annum well into his 70s. Since he started recording in the 1940s, he has released over fifty albums, many of them classics.

Soon after his number one hit, Three O’Clock Blues, B.B. began touring nationally. In 1956, B.B. and his band played an astonishing 342 one-night stands at a variety of venues from small-town cafes to, juke joints to symphony concert halls, nationally and internationally.

Over the years, B.B. developed one of the world’s most identifiable guitar styles. He borrowed from many,  integrating his precise and complex vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of the rock guitarist’s vocabulary. His economy, his every-note-counts phrasing, has been a model for thousands of guitar players. He really could make the guitar sing.

In 1968, B.B. played at the Newport Folk Festival and at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West on bills with the hottest contemporary rock artists of the day who idolised B.B. and helped to introduce him to a young white audience. In 1969, B.B. was chosen by the Rolling Stones to open 18 American concerts for them

B.B. was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He received NARAS’ Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1987, and has received honorary doctorates from Tougaloo(MS) College in 1973; Yale University in 1977; Berklee College of Music in 1982; Rhodes College of Memphis in 1990; Mississippi Valley State University in 2002 and Brown University in 2007. In 1992, he received the National Award of Distinction from the University of Mississippi.

French fancies: Chabé

Of course a lot of France’s companies are involved in food, clothing, perfumes, jewellery, cosmetics ……but not all! Here’s a family-led group founded in Paris in 1921, which today is established throughout France and operates globally.

Chabé’s ten subsidiary companies are experts in bespoke transport.  Historically its  expertise served clients of luxury hotels but it has greatly diversified in the last thirty years. Now, many companies trust Chabé with the daily travel arrangements of their executives. Chabé also works with a growing number of public and private organisations and luxury businesses, managing the customised travel arrangements for their different events and needs.

Chauffeur privé | Chabé expert de la mobilité sur mesure depuis 1921

How it all began

Maurice Chabé, a visionary with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, returned from WWI and, during the roaring twenties, decided to serve clients staying in luxury Parisian hotels. Backed by the experience of his father, who had owned a handful of hansom cabs, Maurice bought his first car in 1921 and drove it himself.

In 1929, Maurice Chabé witnessed the creation of the Clefs d’Or, the professional association of hotel concierges which proved to be a strong point of contact for the business then and now.

In 1947, Chabé signed its first contract with a prestigious client, the Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris, which has remained one of its most loyal clients.

Our mission is not to transport a client from point A to point B, but rather to ensure that the hotel’s clients feel as if they have arrived at their destination the moment they get into our vehicle.

A guest’s first and last impression of a hotel begins and ends with the transport
which is why Chabé works tirelessly to offer its hotel guests an outstanding transport experience.

In 1959, when Maurice Chabé died, his daughter, Eliane Lo Jacomo, took over the reins of the company. From an early age, Eliane Lo Jacomo was involved in managing the company, which became Etablissements Maurice Chabé in 1953.

Agnès Lo Jacomo PDG de Chabé Limousines et ex présidente du Medef Ile-de-France | Les Echos

In 1991, two years after the arrival of Agnès Lo Jacomo (pictured above) , the founder’s grand-daughter, the company bought the Verjat company and was renamed Chabé Ver-jat, leading to the Group creating its first logo in 1995 and starting on its expansionary path.

It opened its first agency in Cannes in 1997, followed by Lyon the following year and then its third branch in Toulouse in 2005. From 2011 onwards, Chabé’s geographical development accelerated with the opening of 6 new offices in France: Biarritz, Bordeaux and Marseille (2011), Courchevel (2012), Megève (2017) and Saint-Tropez (2020). At the same time, the acquisition of a Swiss company in 2012 and the opening of an office in Monaco in 2019 marked the group’s international debut.

In 2020, the opening of a new office in London boosted Chabé’s presence in Europe and marked a new stage in its international development. Chabé is now present in 13 cities in Europe and offers its services in 100 countries.

The fourth generation is represented by Guillaume Connan, Maurice Chabé’s great-grandson. He began as Managing Director of the Group in 2014, and in 2020 was named President of Chabé, bringing innovation and modernity alongside his mother who is President of the Strategic Committee.

Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR)

In 2019, Chabé launched an ambitious and voluntary CSR initiative which prioritises environmental protection and job sustainability.

Chabé is offsetting all the carbon emissions generated by its services through the Good Planet Foundation. Chabé will replace all of its fleet with the lowest emission vehicles possible – as soon as they are available on the market.

All its chauffeurs are trained in eco-driving techniques in its in-house training school. All our teams recycle consumables wherever possible (ink cartridges, wastewater, water bottles, etc.).

The group seeks to digitise its business wherever it can replacing the need for paper. Today the order process is digitalised (from the creation of an order to the transmission of data to the chauffeurs). The same is true for all of training materials that are delivered on line and accessed through mobile devices.

Chabé prioritises permanent positions for professional chauffeurs. Over 75% of full-time Chabé chauffeurs have permanent contracts. All its chauffeurs are paid fairly, and significantly above the legal minimum.

The modest  “Établissements Maurice Chabé” company has grown throughout 20th  and 21st centuries, going on to become the Chabé Group. Over 100 years later, Chabé is now the expert in bespoke journeys, working in a range of different sectors globally. But even better, it’s still managed by a member of the founder’s family with the same aim of providing a high-quality service for influential clients.

All images courtesy of Chabé

Silent Sunday #123

It’s Sunday and today’s photo is from ma belle France.

The Musette: Chickpea Soup

This simple chickpea soup has a delightful creamy texture, and is flavoured with rosemary, smoked paprika and garlic plus miso for a punch of umami. Cooked slowly on the stovetop, this easy vegan soup is hearty and comforting – just what we all need as summer (finally) becomes fall.

This simple chickpea soup really does taste like autumn to me. The smokiness of the paprika, the unmistakable woody quality of rosemary, and all of those earthy-savoury chickpeas to which I add a number of store cupboard flavourings. This is definitely a pantry-friendly recipe!

Normally I stress homemade vegetable stock, but I find that the pastes and stock concentrates sold in shops also have great flavour, and they’re so easy. Just use whatever works best for you.

Ingredients (serves 6)

      • 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
      • 1 large onion, diced 
      • 2 sticks celery, diced
      • 2 medium carrots, diced 
      • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
      • 2 tsp smoked paprika
      • 4-5 fat cloves garlic, finely minced
      • 3 tbsp tomato paste
      • 850g (5 cups) cooked chickpeas
      • 11/2 ltrs (6 cups) vegetable stock (plus extra)
      • 2 tbsp light miso paste
      • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
      • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
      • chilli oil or harissa paste to serve (optional)


1. Set a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s nice and hot, pour in the olive oil and swirl it around. Add the onions and sauté, stirring here and there for about 10-12 minutes. You want them super soft and quite translucent. If they’re browning too quickly, lower the heat. Season with salt and pepper.

An up close, 3/4 angle image shows chopped carrots, celery, onions, and spices being sautéed in a large pot.

2. Add the celery and carrots to the pot and sauté for another 8-9 minutes, or until the edges of the carrots and celery are softened. Season again with salt and pepper. Add the rosemary, paprika and garlic to the pot and stir. Keep stirring until the spices are very fragrant, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir. Keep stirring and mixing it up into the vegetables until the raw, tin-like flavour is cooked out, about 1 minute.

4. Add the cooked chickpeas to the pot and stir to coat in the seasoning and vegetables. Then, pour in the vegetable stock. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Bring the chickpea soup to a boil. Then, lower the heat to a light simmer. Place the lid on top of the pot and simmer the soup for about 40 minutes.

An overhead image shows a blender pouring a puréed portion of a soup back into a pot.

5. Remove about 2 cups of the soup,  add the miso and blend this mixture on high until creamy. Add the puréed portion of the soup back to the pot and stir. Bring the soup back up to a strong boil for about 5 minutes. At this point, if you need to thin out the soup a bit, add more vegetable stock.

An overhead shot of a bowl of pale orange chickpea soup that is topped with ground pepper, a few rosemary leaves, and drizzles of chili oil. A piece of crusty bread is dunked into the top towards the right of the bowl.

6. Stir the sherry vinegar into the soup and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the soup hot with a swirl of chilli oil or harissa, a sprinkle of freshly chopped rosemary and crusty bread – so heartwarming.

One from the vaults: Whiling away the hours

I’m heading back to this post from November 2011 on what is a French Bank holiday – perfect for a spin on two wheels!

I woke this morning (strictly speaking, yesterday morning), opened my eyes, looked out of the window and the sky was a deep blue with nary a cloud in sight. I waited patiently until I thought the roads would have dried out somewhat before heading off into the wild blue yonder. Actually, it was only up to Vence but it was just so heavenly to be out on my bike, in the sunshine, with my beloved.

I was keen to see whether or not I had managed to maintain my excellent pre-monsoon form. I had. I recorded another “best ever” time for my ascent. There were surprisingly few cyclists out enjoying the road. Where was everybody? Most clubs, ours included, have club rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Maybe they were saving themselves for tomorrow’s Bank Holiday ride.

In any event, my beloved and I had a most enjoyable time, a taster for tomorrow’s main course. I’m keen to profit from these next few days of fine weather and log plenty of kilometres as Sunday we have the twice postponed club pointage, which will be taking place down on the seafront, where I’ll be on duty. I have spent this week replenishing my stocks so that we can offer a good mix of bought and home-made cakes to the hordes of cyclists.

No need to provide anything savoury, just biscuits, cakes, chocolate, dried fruit plus hot and cold beverages. We’re anticipating in excess of 500 riders; that’s a lot of cake. I’ve also discovered that they eat more if you provide home-made cake. They feel it’s incumbent upon them to pass knowledgable judgement on my baked goodies. This means the volunteers manning the refreshments table have to eke out the home-made cakes to give everyone a fair crack of the whip, otherwise they’re the first to be eaten.

I have made my usual selection of crowd pleasers (pain d’epice, banana cake, fruit cake) plus a couple of  new offerings (date loaf, flapjacks, lemon drizzle cake) which have already found favour with my English class. After Sunday the cupboard will be bare but I’ll have to quickly re-stock for the Telethon (charity) ride on the first Saturday in December.  I am hoping to persuade one of the other wives to take responsibility for distributing this bounty thereby enabling me to participate in the ride. It’s quite a spectacle and I missed taking part last year thanks to a bad cold.

I’m already thinking about tomorrow’s/today’s ride. Where shall I go? I could do with riding the last part of the amended longer Kivilev course to check my Google map calculations for the revised mileage and amount of climbing. I don’t need to ride the entire parcours, just the bit that’s changed. I am hoping that my beloved will ride with his clubmates leaving me to go when, where and for as long as I want. When he’s home we tend to do everything pretty much according to his timetable.

He’s fast asleep in bed attempting to rouse the dead with his snoring. I’ve asked him nicely to stop snoring. It hasn’t worked so I’m trying to tire myself out on my laptop. If this fails, I shall turn to yet another of my recent book purchases. I find that nothing sends me off to the land of nod quicker than reading, except maybe some soothing music but I can’t enjoy either of these in the bedroom. I think the Queen may be onto something with separate bedrooms. Ours is big enough to split in two. I would however have to sound proof my half otherwise it would defeat its intended purpose.

The snoring has abated somewhat, he must have rolled over onto his side.  Maybe, I’ll venture back.

Thursday doors #176

Here are a few more doors from our summer trip to Uzès and Montpellier.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Trip to Le Palais-Royal

Not so much a visit, more of a stroll around one of Paris’ most delightful colonnaded areas and its gardens.

It’s odd that the Palais-Royal, while situated right in the centre of historic Paris, is so often missed by visitors. One reason for that, perhaps, is that it’s not easy to spot, surrounded as it is by other famous buildings and the fact it’s now used for French government offices.

The garden of the Palais-Royal is the only garden in Paris classified as “Remarkable Garden” by the French Ministry of Culture. Bordered by the Palais-Royal and the adjacent arcaded galleries, the garden is a peaceful haven in the French capital, not far from the busy thoroughfares of avenue de l’Opéra and rue de Rivoli.

How it all began

Palais-Royal Garden © French Moments

Back in the 1630s, Cardinal Richelieu, at the height of his powers as Louis XIII’s Chief Minister, commissioned a mansion for himself, to be built on land just across the street from the royal palace of the Louvre. The mansion was named after him, Palais-Cardinal, but he was only able to enjoy it for three years before he died in 1642. Richelieu bequeathed his house to Louis XIII and over the next 150 years it passed through the hands of various members of the French royalty,

Palais-Royal Garden © French Moments

Over the decades the Palais housed many notable royals, including the wife and daughter of Charles I of England after that king was deposed and executed in 1649. Henrietta Anne, his daughter, married Louis XIV’s brother and it was she who created the famed gardens of the Palais Royal. During her lifetime the Palace was famous throughout France for its grand parties and royal affairs.

Valois Gallery, Palais-Royal, Paris © French Moments

Just before the French Revolution, Palais Royal passed to Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, a man famous for both womanising and being short of cash. Thinking he could add to the gardens some rent-paying properties, he built uniform blocks of apartments around three sides of the garden, with arcades and shops at ground level. He also opened the gardens to the public.

Duke Louis’ other work included building a new Paris Opera to replace the previous theatre that had been destroyed by fire. After that replacement opera, too, was razed by fire, it in turn was replaced by what became the two most important French theatres of that and subsequent eras — Théâtre du Palais-Royal and Comédie Francais, which are still there today.

During the French Revolution Palais Royal was temporarily renamed Palais de l’Égalité, Palace of Equality. After the Revolution the palace regained its place in the centre of Paris social life and the most popular cafés were to be found around it.

The Buren work of art © French Moments

Today it’s the home of France’s Constitutional Council and of the Ministry of Culture. The gardens remain open to the public and are a great place to spend a perfect spring day. It’s located across from the northwest wing of the Louvre, on Rue Saint-Honoré.

Orleans Gallery, Palais-Royal, Paris © French Moments

The Palais-Royal Garden

The garden covers a surface of 20,850 sqm  and was created in 1633 by Pierre Desgots. Later, in 1674, the great landscape architect André Le Nôtre redesigned it. Then, Duchess Henrietta decided o make it one of Paris’ most beautiful ornamental gardens.Today it contains some 500 trees, including four double rows of lime trees planted in the 1970s and red horse chestnuts planted in 1910.

Palais-Royal Garden © French Moments

Palais Royal