A handful of spots are still available for VIP, front-row seats to the greatest cycling sport event in the world. Though the 100th edition of the Tour de France kicked off over the weekend, official tour operators for the event have a few empty spots for select legs of the race.
Trek Travel, one of six official outfits for the Tour de France, still has availability for July 11-17, when the cyclists make their way through Ventoux and Provence.
Those keen on being a part of history also have the option of a Paris Finishing Package, a four-day itinerary that includes sweeping aerial views of the convoy as cyclists make their way along the Champs-Elysées and Place de la Concorde from the balconies of the Automobile Club de France.
Instead of bumping shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of fans in the July heat, guests will sip on champagne and cocktails and watch the arrival of the first-ever nighttime peloton.
Similarly, Thomson Bike Tours still has spots remaining for both hard-core biking enthusiasts and non-riders alike.
Segments that roll through the Pyrenees, Mont Ventoux, and the Alpes d’Huez are designed to give riders a taste of the course. Rides range from 30 to 80 km daily and include access to VIP viewing areas throughout the race and the chance to ride the last few kilometers of a Tour de France stage escorted by the Official TDF Car.
Non-riders can purchase spectator packages that include exclusive VIP access to the finish line, guided visits of technical areas, media centers and team zones and meetings with Tour de France celebrities.
Le Royal Monceau is the latest top-end Paris hotel to receive the prestigious Palace rating — one step higher than five stars — from Atout France, the French Agency for Tourism Development.
Located on Avenue Hoche, it has 149 rooms and suites. Its two restaurants, La Cuisine and Il Carpaccio, received Michelin stars earlier this year. It re-opened in 2010 after a two year transformation by Philippe Starck, revealing brilliant, witty contemporary interiors infused with artistic flair.
The vibrancy of les Années Folles of the late 1920s, when the hotel first opened, peopled by a cast of artists, intellectuals and adventurers, had been successfully recreated.
Le Royal Monceau is the sixth Paris hotel to receive the rating, the others being the Four Seasons George V, the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme, the Plaza Athénée, Le Meurice and Le Bristol.
The first 6,000 bottles of Miraval rose wine from a French vineyard owned by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt sold out Thursday within hours of going on general sale.
“Selling started at 9:00 am (0800 GMT) and everything was sold by 2:00 pm” during the online sale, said Vitabella, a public relations firm representing the vineyard.
The couple teamed up with the French winemaking Perrin family to develop the “Miraval Cotes de Provence” label, named after their Chateau Miraval estate in the south of France.
The 2012 vintage was priced at 105 euros ($138) per case of six bottles for the Internet sale. Another 100,000 bottles have been sold to wine merchants and restaurants.
Jolie and Pitt acquired the 500-hectare (1,200-acre) estate in 2008 and have used it as a summer residence. The estate includes around 50 to 60 acres of vines.
Marc Perrin said that the couple were involved in the production process and wanted to do more than “just put their name” on the label. “They want to be proud of the wine on their property. They are really looking for excellence,” he said.
Women in Paris can finally wear trousers without fear of criminal prosecution after the government said a more than 200-year-old ban no longer had any legal effect.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister of women’s rights, said in a statement that the ban, imposed on November 17, 1800, was incompatible with modern French values and laws.
The municipal order required women to seek permission from local police if they wanted to “dress like a man” by wearing trousers. It was modified in 1892 & 1909 to allow women to wear trousers if they were holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse” but had officially remained on the books.
Parisian women had demanded the right to wear trousers during the French Revolution when working-class revolutionaries were known as “sans-culottes” for wearing trousers instead of the silk-knee breeches favoured by the bourgeoisie.
Women’s dress continues to stir political passions in France, with Cecile Duflot, the Green housing minister, criticised last May for wearing jeans to the first cabinet meeting of Socialist President Francois Hollande’s new government. She was later subjected to jeers and wolf-whistles while wearing a floral summer dress in the National Assembly.
A number of women also broke parliamentary protocol by wearing jeans during an extended debate at the weekend over France’s planned legalisation of gay marriage.
French pastry chef Pierre Hermé is set to release a cookbook filled with some of the recipes and pastries that have made his name a powerful brand around the world.
Pierre Hermé gives readers a hundred recipes that reinvent classic French cakes and desserts into innovative new flavor combinations, like croissants filled with rose-scented almond paste and a raspberry and lychee compote.
The Saint Honoré cake is reinvented with green tea, chestnuts and passionfruit, while a ‘foie gras’ crème brûlée is adorned with caramelized mango. Continue reading →
Anna Wintour, Editor of U.S. Vogue Anna Wintour was awarded a Legion d’Honneur award by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on July 6
Wearing brand-new Chanel Couture that had walked the night before, Anna accepted her pin in front of a crowd that included Bernard Arnault, Karl Lagerfeld, Stefano Pilati, Donatella Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Alber Elbaz, Franca Sozzani, and Riccardo Tisci.
Wintour was awarded a Chevalier (Knight) of the Order, which was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and signifies the highest order of decoration in France. Continue reading →
After smelling, crackling, tasting, and scrupulously examining an interminably long row of baguettes, a panel of judges whittled down a list of 174 contenders, all vying for the Grand Prize for best baguette in Paris, to just one.
Tuesday’s competition crowned Pascal Barillon the best baguette maker in Paris this year, a competition that turns humble bakers into instant celebrities and attracts snaking lines of customers outside their bakery every day.
The edible icon of Paris is an institution not just for tourists, but for the French who also rhapsodize about the best baguettes in the city. Continue reading →
In an effort to distance itself from accusations of being elitist, this year’s Michelin Guide France 2011 has revamped itself to cater to the mainstream diner.
This year’s edition, to be released March 3, has expanded its “Bib Gourmand” section with a listing of 601 restaurants offering a complete prix fixe (fixed price) menu for less than 35 euros in France –the largest selection in its history.
Bib listings are considered restaurants that offer “good food at moderate prices.” Continue reading →
The Palace of Versailles is to transform one of its satellite buildings into a luxury hotel, paving the way for a series of French projects aimed at exploiting the economic potential of listed buildings while securing their renovation.
The Hotel du Grand Controle is to be converted into a “luxury hotel,” Jean-Jacques Aillagon, president of the Chateau de Versailles, said Tuesday.
The opening of the 23-bedroom establishment, in which some rooms will look out onto the “Orangerie”, the chateau’s elaborate greenhouse, is planned for late 2011. Continue reading →
Hundreds of unknown Pablo Picasso works worth tens of millions of euros have surfaced in France in the hands of a 71-year-old retired electrician who says they were gifts from the master.
Dating from the first third of the 20th century — considered Picasso’s most fertile period — the 271 pieces are valued by experts at more than 60 million euros.
And the new-found drawings, paintings and studies are now at the heart of a legal tug-of-war between the electrician, Pierre Le Guennec, and the artist’s heirs who believe they must have been stolen and have filed for charges. Continue reading →
When it comes to meal time, the French do it differently. That is the argument being put to UNESCO as it decides this week whether French cuisine deserves a spot on its intangible heritage list.
“The gastronomic meal of the French” is seen as a strong contender as the UN agency meets in Nairobi from Monday to Friday to consider new submissions for the list, set up in 2003 to safeguard cultural traditions, rituals and crafts.
France’s submission to the list centres around the ritual of the festive meal in a country where food is a key part of social life. Continue reading →