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France Travel News 03/21/2011

  • Michelin Announces France’s Best Restaurants

    One restaurant loses its third star and five — including three in Paris — gain a second in the 2011 Michelin guide to France. A total of 601 win a Bib Gourmand for value, overtaking the 571 star holders for the first time. The two-star winners are Passage 53, Jean-Francois Piege and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon-Etoile in Paris; Villa Archange, in Cannes/Le Cannet; and Thierry Drapeau Logis de la Chabotterie, in Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon. Restaurant Michel Trama, in Puymirol, drops to two stars from three. Four venues fall to one star from two: Le Bateau Ivre, Courchevel; Maison Bru, Eygalieres; La Bastide Saint-Antoine, Grasse; and Les Pyrenees, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Gordon Ramsay holds onto his two stars in Versailles and Helene Darroze fails to regain the second star in Paris that she lost last year.

  • Chef wins Michelin star two months after restaurant closes

    It was good news/bad news for French chef Max Bichot on Monday. He learned that he had been awarded a Michelin star… two months after his restaurant went out of business. Bichot, who closed Les Hêtres at Ingouville near the Channel coast on 30 December, put a positive spin on the situation. “I’m very pleased,” he said. “It’s an award that lots of chefs hope to win.” But he ruefully admitted that the award from the prestigious guide might have saved his restaurant. “Lots of people wake up [to your existence] once you have a star,” he commented, pointing out that his cooking is no better now than it was before Michelin recognised its qualities.

  • Sarkozy’s History Museum Plan in Paris Stirs Controversy

    Every French president since de Gaulle has imagined some Pharaonic cultural monument or other to honor La Grande Nation, as the mocking German media occasionally call their Gallic neighbor, and to enshrine himself, of course. François Mitterrand became a virtual Ramesses II, opening the Bastille Opera, a new National Library, the Arab World Institute and the Louvre pyramid. By contrast, Nicolas Sarkozy long seemed to flaunt his impatience with high culture. President Bling-Bling is what Le Canard Enchaîné, the satirical paper, took to dubbing this politician with his mirrored aviator sunglasses and expensive wristwatches, who hung out with showbiz pals, kept a photograph of himself with Lionel Richie in his office and married an Italian model-turned-singer, Carla Bruni. Otherwise, his biggest cultural initiative had been to back French chefs who campaigned to add French cuisine to the Unesco World Heritage List.

  • New Europe: The life of a French family

    Thierry Roussel sits down at the living-room table, opens the laptop, and heads for somewhere called Auchan Drive. Internet shopping? For food? What happened to the daily visit to the boulangerie, the épicerie, the boucherie; the bucolic weekly market under the shade of the plane trees on the proverbial sun-dappled village square; the petit verre de rouge at the café? Still there, says Isabelle, and we do use them: fresh meat at the butcher's once a week, fruit and veg at the Sunday market, and bread from the village baker every day, because frankly, the hypermarket isn't up to much for all that. Very poor quality. "But we shop online for the rest," she says. "That way we buy only what we need for the week, and we're not tempted by anything else: no treats, nothing not on the list. And once it's gone it's gone. No more biscuits is no more biscuits. No emergency visits to the minimarket."

  • The Republic Lives its Islamophobia Openly: France’s Newest Anti-Niqab Campaign

    In France, they really don’t like any type of head coverings. After decades of one headscarf affair after another, where generations of young women who wear hijab are forced to stop their education (way to go in liberating women, France), things got serious when France woke up in recent years to the threat of illegal polygamous niqabis and their “creeping Shariah.” To counter the 367 burqa-clad women (this is a real number, I kid you not) in France in 2009 (which must mean millions in 2015, of course), the French government brought out its big guns with a clear message: no more niqab! This most recent law, passed by the French senate, will go in to effect on April 11th .

  • France24 – France collects web users’ data

    Is the confidentiality of French web users’ personal data under threat? This is the question currently on the lips of France’s netizens, as on the 1st of March, a new decree related to the conservation and communication of data was added to the French law for trust in digital economy, the LCEN, established in June 2004.

  • Catherine Deneuve is still the face of France at 68

    Catherine Deneuve is France. That’s not just a turn of phrase. For years, Deneuve was the actual model for Marianne — the French national icon who appears on stamps, coins and even portraits hanging in dusty town halls. But she has been that metaphor for so long. And she shows you whatever side of that country you want to see, from the gorgeous mademoiselle to the bored bourgeois housewife to the indomitable matriarch. In her new film, “Potiche,” opening Friday in New York— the word is a French euphemism for “trophy wife” — she adds another character to the gallery, an ignored spouse who finally asserts herself.

  • The French expect their healthcare to be world-beating

    Average income here in Bobigny, in the banlieues – the outskirts – is half that of the rest of Paris. There are areas of the 93rd department, Seine-Saint-Denis, that the shrinking population of GPs considers too dangerous for home visits. But those referred to the Hôpital Avicenne – renamed after Ali Ibn Sina, the 10th century doctor, philosopher, poet and musician – get a standard of care likely to cause envy in equivalently blighted areas of Britain. There are no wards, let alone mixed wards. Rooms with one or two beds are the norm – the move is towards single rooms throughout. The windows are huge. There is space and no smell of mould or antiseptic or stale food. And the nurses and doctors give every impression of being cheerful and committed. "Well it's Monday," joked one, implying that they may feel exhausted by the end of the week. They work seven hours 36 minutes – it's a standard, union-negotiated shift – with half an hour of that for lunch.

  • What they’re reading in France

    To understand what literary life in France is like, imagine a pond. A pond that's getting smaller and smaller, with just as many fish in it, so that the water is getting more and more crowded. You can guess what happens: each one has less and less space to evolve, to find food, and even to develop the energy required to discuss ideas. Sales of books continue to be weak in 2011, after a particularly flat year for publishers and bookshops. Apart from the usual juggernauts, such as titles from the bestselling authors Mark Lévy and Amélie Nothomb, and more sporadic successes such as the latest novel from Michel Houellebecq (winner of the Prix Goncourt in November last year), most novels and essays struggle to make any money.

  • French urged to cheer up

    A French professor has launched a website dedicated to optimism in response to claims that France is heading for economic and social ruin. Jean-Herve Lorenzi, economics professor at the Paris-Dauphine University, said he started the Tous Optimistes (All Optimists) site to show France is in a far better state than "declinologists" say. The country is considered by many foreigners to be one of the richest, safest and most agreeable places to live. But a January poll found the French to be gloomier about the future than residents of Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Provence: readers’ tips, recommendations and travel advice

    The Telegraph has an excellent assortment of tips about Provence from many travelers who've been there and survived to talk about it with their fellow readers!

  • Paris in 2,000 Images – Intelligent Travel Blog

    Paris is a place that will forever be in the public spotlight, endlessly photographed by those who visit. There are the monuments that make it famous, and the clichés that add to its allure. And then there is Luke Shepard's Le Flâneur, which introduces Paris in a new light. What started as a project for his studies at The American University of Paris became an impressive undertaking, reflecting a side of Paris free of tourists, and one that locals often miss as well. Composed of just over 2,000 images, strung together in a complex time-lapse manner, it's clear a lot went into the making of this visually stunning project.