Monday, November 30, 2009

Paris Zen

There’s no place like ohm. Click your heels and – actually, better yet place two heels together, stretch your arms over your head and reach down and breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out… Welcome to the wonderful world of yoga. Looking for a place to find your inner Zen among the craziness of Parisian life? Well, I certainly was until I found… Rasa Yoga. This yoga center in Paris’ 5th arrondissement was voted one of the top 25 yoga centers in the world by Travel & Leisure Magazine and has been voted the #1 Yoga Center in Paris by La Fleur de Paris. OK, so it’s the ONLY yoga I’ve done in Paris, but why go anywhere else when this is clearly the best? Rasa offers classes every day of the week, morning, afternoon and evening and offers classes in both English and French (some instructors end up doing the classes in “franglais” to please everyone, even better!) There are classes for every level – bring your grandmother or your friend the yogamaster visiting from India, there’s a class for both of them – and disciplines range from Vinyasa to Anusara to Ashtanga to Iyengar. I am currently mildly obsessed with Vinyasa yoga and enjoying the classes led by Brazilian instructor Adriano, but also enjoy the Anusara English-language classes* (*see: sometimes things, such as body parts are lost in translation. Story to follow…) led by the lovely Ebba and the charismatic Rajeev. The French-language classes were a good lesson in anatomical vocabulary for me. During one of my first classes in French, the instructor said “mettez les orteilles sur le sol” (“put your toes on the floor”). Now, the French word for ears is “oreilles” which, come on, sounds JUST like “orteilles” does it not? The word for “toes” in French can also be “petits doigts” so I was expecting that. In any case, I mistook “orteilles” for “oreilles” and, following instructions – or so I thought – placed my ears on the floor and lifted my arms. Everyone else was standing up, two feet firmly planted on the floor, hands in the air, as I was in a half-fetal position with my face plastered to my mat and my hands attempting to reach the sky. I unfortunately, don’t have a photo witnessing this, but you can imagine the ridiculousness of the situation. I now am fully familiar with the French word for toes. Not to mention, do not advise any yoga-like positions involving putting ones ears to the floor and lifting ones hands (I was sore for weeks).
But check out what I can do now!
(Just kidding, but one day perhaps?)

If you’re not Zen enough after a Rasa Yoga class, then head to the Anne Fontaine spa for a massage or facial that will – and you can quote me on this – change your life.

Located on the basement level of Anne Fontaine’s famous boutique on the rue St Honore, the spa is a haven of peace and beauty. Enter looking like Shrek and the talented Soraya will leave you looking like a supermodel. (*see my before and after photos below – incredible!)



I don’t know what they put in their oils – actually, I do, all-natural organic ingredients from Brazil – but they are quite magical. For all of you world-travelers out there (or even those of you in from the suburbs, once you’ve done it, you’ll be finding any excuse you can to return), I recommend the anti-jetlag massage. It’s 50 minutes of pure pleasure – a full body massage complete with oils (and, if you’re lucky, the magic hands of masseur Daniele), focus on re-energizing the legs and patches under the eyes to get rid of any trace of undereye circles and fatigue. Sip a cup of their “in-house tea” to purify your body and your mind. Every detail of the experience is perfect – from putting on your robe in the dressing area to waiting with a cup of tea and a magazine in the waiting area to a dip in the pool afterwards. Ooh baby, heaven IS a place on earth… and it’s right on the rue St Honore.

For those ladies looking for the best facial of your lives, ask for Soraya who will give you a “face evasion treatment” complete with exfoliating scrub, oxygenating mask and revitalizing massage with essential oils. If you don’t have the time – or the money – to go often, many of the beauty products used in the treatments are for sale. 50-minute massages and facials cost around 150 euros – yes, it’s not cheap, but can you really put a price on a trip to heaven? Plus, rumor has it, they’re opening a location in New York. To be continued… In the meantime, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Peanut Butter and jell-BRIE ?? Children, hide your lunchboxes !

Peanut butter and jelly is a winning combination. Peanut butter and honey – fabulous too. Some like peanut butter and banana – not bad either. But peanut butter and brie ? As the French say, “sacre bleu!” However, despite the ostensibly disgusting idea of mixing cheese and peanut butter, my favorite bakery (Eric Kayser organic bakery, rue Monge in the 5th arrondissement) is now offering the following sandwich: raisin bread with peanut butter, brie and tomatoes.
“Are they joking?” I wonder as I glance at the small poster advertising the new special sandwich. Or, perhaps just a typo? Just brie and…butter, the peanut-free variety? But no, they are in fact selling such a sandwich. The (French of course) lady working in the bakery confessed “I don’t like peanut butter myself.” Well, Madame, maybe that’s because YOU’RE EATING IT WITH CHEESE? She then added: “And I’ve heard people eat it with – gasp! – jelly! How awful…” Incredible. Have I entered the Twilight Zone? A place where a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is blasphemy, but where it’s quite acceptable to mix peanuts and brie, and add tomatoes no less.

Who is to blame for this strange creation? Is it the product of the Americanization of France? Is Sarkozy and Obama’s newfound friendship to blame for this strange mélange? Or is this sandwich actually a metaphor for Franco-American relations? The strong, rich , all-American staple peanut butter meets the delicious yet rather smelly French brie – just as the strong, rich, all-American USA meets the delicious yet rather smelly French people.
However, it’s true – I have yet to taste this strange combination of flavors. My very-French friend has actually tasted the sandwich in question. His response? “It’s ignoble.” But could it be that these two things thought to be mutually exclusive, actually come together in perfect harmony? Commercialized, manufactured peanut butter meets natural, unpasteurized brie – it’s a microcosm of international import-export politics. First a sandwich, then…the world !
Speaking of international politics, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy have just been parodied in an episode of “The Simpsons.” French politics meet American pop culture. It’s the peanut butter and brie sandwich of television if you will, and the result is incredibly delicious, check it out:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

France 24 Film Friday

This week's France 24 movies segment - in memory of Jocelyn Quivrin and Heath Ledger...

Friday, November 06, 2009

"AWAY WE GO" / France 24 Movies

Bonjour !

Here's a clip of my weekly France 24 movies segment (in English!) This week's topic, a film I absolutely loved, Sam Mendes' AWAY WE GO !