French Theater in Paris… luckily, it’s not just for French speakers anymore!

Ah, Paris… oh, how I love you, and oh, how I love immersing myself completely in all you have to offer. I love theater and had always jumped at the chance to see shows in New York, London and Amsterdam, but they had something Paris didn’t when I moved here… they had shows in English.

Show Poster at Théâtre Edouard VII - Paris, France Photo Credits: Bellanda

Théâtre Edouard VII – Paris, France Photo Credits: Bellanda

After studying French, the day finally came when I felt comfortable enough with the language to understand conversations and express myself. It was far from perfect, but when opportunity presented itself, I didn’t hesitate to join my dear sweet French man and a group of his French friends to see a show. We had only been living in Paris a few months, and I was so excited to see the inside of French theater.

Here I was, living the dream. Paris, theater… what’s not to love? Well, about 45 seconds into the piece, I began to sweat. I looked around, and everyone seemed to be following along. The audience even began to laugh. I thought, Yep, it’s not the actors. It’s me! At first, I kept fixating on why I was having so much trouble understanding everything, but after about 40 minutes, I didn’t care or even bother to try to figure out what was being said. My brain was on overload. So much for my French!

I’m an optimist, so I tried to enjoy the fact that I was inside a French theater. I examined every detail of the décor, watched the expressive faces of the actors and the reactions of the audience. Eventually, my mind wandered off and I caught myself running through a list of things that I needed to do the next day. I know… shameful! I quickly brought my attention back to the show, and tried not to look so ridiculously lost.

Now, there is nothing worse than realizing all of the hours you spent studying hasn’t paid off… Oh wait, there is something worse. It’s when your boyfriend and his friends look over repeatedly during the show, with a kind but cringing half-smile, as they mouth the words, ça va?  Of course, I nodded that all was great. I even added a big smile.

Who was I kidding? I knew in my heart that they had all realized that the vocabulary, play on words and speed in which the actors delivered their dialogue was as if I had never taken a class. So much for living the dream! I mean, really, what was I thinking?  The French are masters of using tongue and cheek, and their dialogues are amazing. Did I actually think that the fact that I was just getting by with my French was enough? I still ordered 3 croissants instead of 1 because it was easier in French to say trois than to make a mistake using un when it was supposed to be une. I know, you’re wondering what happened to 2 croissants. Well, that wasn’t an option either because when I tried to pronounce it, it sounded like do or du, and it left the person serving me with a perplexed expression. Anyway, trois was easier…and as long as it was, my French was apparently not ready for theater in Paris.

Psychologically speaking, I think that this experience back in 2003 turned me off from even the possibility of seeing a show here, and the lack of confidence in my French remained. It didn’t matter that my current French accent is at times decent enough to fool even the French; I avoided French Paris theater as much as anchois in my Salade Niçoise.

That said, a few years ago I saw, How to Become Parisian in One Hour. Which, by the way, was a fabulous show… 100% in English! It’s a definite must, but it still didn’t satisfy my need to truly immerse myself into a real French show, with a French audience, while watching fabulous French actors.

Fast forward to 2018. I heard about a company called, Theatre in Paris that claimed to have a service that gives non-French speakers the opportunity to experience French theater. I did a little research and found out that they use a sort of English subtitling. I’m familiar with reading subtitles for films, but I couldn’t figure out how all of this would work for a live show.

I kept thinking about the concept. Could this really work? Would you be able to read and watch the show at the same time? Could I help my friends, family and readers avoid what happened to me? I decided to test out Theatre in Paris for myself. It would certainly help with the anxiety I had developed about Paris Theater, and I figured that it could help all of you if their service lived up to expectations.

A little further research, revealed that apparently I’ve been living under a rock, because Theatre in Paris began as a Parisian start-up back in 2014. Yes, 2014! Their English website makes ordering tickets easy, and their partnership with various theaters across Paris gives theater goers a chance to see a variety of shows: comedies, musicals, classical and more recent drama adaptations. Some of the shows are in English and others are 100% French.

I wanted to try to see one of the shows in a larger theater, with well-known French actors, and of course, it had to be 100% French. My heart did a little skip when I saw that Théâtre Edouard VII was on the list of theaters. It dates back to the early 1900s. Somewhere in this life (Quelque part dans cette vie) was playing there. Although I’m terrible with knowing the names of actors, I had actually heard of both Emmanuelle Devos and Pierre Arditi who star in this show. Perfect!

Upon arrival, Theatre in Paris greets their guests with an English speaking staff member and it’s all so very subtle. I was afraid of being pointed out like a fish out of water and was relieved not to see someone holding up a stick with a flag, yelling, Over here, you non-French speaking losers trying to fit in. I know, I’ve been told that I have an over active imagination.

We did a quick visit of the theater and discovered that we should have arrived earlier… what a place!

lounge bar etc

Théâtre Edouard VII – Paris, France    Photo Credits: Bellanda

theater

Théâtre Edouard VII – Paris, France Photo Credits: Bellanda

As my dear sweet man and I were shown to our seats, we were given a complete program of the show in English. It included a Synopsis, Notes on the play, Creative team member and actor biographies, as well as, a brief history of the theater.

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Subtitles projector for Theatre in Paris – Photo Credit: Bellanda

Once seated, I was relieved at how painless and efficient this all was. In addition, I loved that there was nothing to distinguish us from the regular theater goers. Theatre in Paris had selected seats that were located in the center of the first row of the balcony. We had a perfect view of the stage and of the English subtitles which were projected on a black background above the stage directly in front of us. This made reading text and watching the scene as easy as possible. (Word of warning for tall folks… there wasn’t much leg room with these seats, but it was a perfect view).

I wanted to show you a photo of how the subtitles appear above the stage, but of course, my phone was off during the performance. I’m someone who can’t help following rules… no matter how hard I try! Luckily, Theatre in Paris came to my rescue and were kind enough to send me a photo of a different show at this theater. Below, you can see how easy it was to read the English text and watch the performance at the same time.

Photo Credit: Theatre in Paris … Thank you, Jessica and Amanda

What a pleasure! Not only was the show fantastic, but Theatre in Paris has taken away the language barrier that has kept so many non-French speakers from enjoying Paris’s theater. They’ve made the whole process easy with a translation service that was great.

When I began this theater adventure, I had hoped that their service would help, but they’ve far exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to take my Mom to see her first show in Paris!

For more information about Theatre in Paris:

Website: https://www.theatreinparis.com

Twitter: @_Theatreinparis

Intragram: Theatreinparis

Facebook: theatre.in.paris75

 

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Paris: Winter Wonderland 2018

It’s snowing… real snow, not the usual dusting that disappears almost as soon as it hits the ground. If you’ve seen some of the photos of Paris this week, you might be shaking your heads. Yes, I know what real snow is; I lived in NY before I moved here. No, it’s not like in NY, Canada or any other winter weather place BUT it is the most snow we’ve had in Paris in decades. For that reason, I’m going to ask you be kind and to forgive our excitement over a couple of inches of snow. For us, this snow storm has been a BIG deal.

I was like a child running around the apartment to look out of all of the windows. Paris is beautiful in white! I jumped up to get ready to go out and explore when I realized that I don’t own snow boots. No problem! Almost instinctively, I threw on my 11 year old daughter’s boots and let out a sigh of relief as I realized they fit. I probably I should  have been relieved that my daughter has cool taste in shoes, but if I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t even think about it until I sat down to write this post. I would have worn just about anything not to miss out on this. Her funky looking brown mountain boots were perfect.

We are not used to getting snow, so it makes sense that Paris is not equipped to handle the kind of snow we’ve gotten. As a result, it was a no bus, no car kind of day. Things tend to slow or shut down here in situations like this, but it was the perfect excuse to do nothing but walk around and admire ones surroundings.

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Paris Winter Wonderland 2018 – Daumesnil Lake, Bois de Vincennes, Paris – Photo by Bellanda

My first stop was the Bois de Vincennes, Paris… Lake Daumesnil to be exact. I’ve had my own little love affair with this place since 1993. In all of the years I have been visiting this spot, I’ve never seen such a transformation… a literal winter paradise!

 

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Lake Daumesnil – Bois de Vincennes, Paris – Photo by Bellanda

Lake Daumesnil - Bois de Vincennes, Paris - Photo by Bellanda

Winter Wonderland at Lake Daumesnil – Bois de Vincennes, Paris – Photo by Bellanda

Paris Metro

Paris Metro – Photo by Bellanda

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Between Paris, Bois de Vincennes and the adorable Charenton le Pont – Photo by Bellanda

Charenton le Pont

Church in Charenton le Pont, an adorable town across the street from the Bois de Vincennes, Paris – Photo by Bellanda

By night fall, the snow was still very much present around the city.

Paris under a blanket of snow

Paris under a blanket of snow – Photo by Bellanda

Eiffel Tower snow 2018

Eiffel Tower – Photo by Bellanda

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Paris Metro – Photo by Bellanda

Eiffel Tower by Bellanda

Eiffel Tower, Paris – Photo by Bellanda

 

Surrounded by snow, this little lady is even more beautiful.

I would have liked to take more photos, however, I don’t think I will be out and about anytime soon. This little lady caught a cold. No worries, it was worth it. I’ll just have to put out missing ads in the lost and found for my ego and my NY skin. *Yikes!

Sending you all snowy (germ-free) greetings from Paris…

Paris never gets old…

As old as it is, Paris is a place that never truly gets old. Walking down its historic streets, soaking in the sights, I can’t help but notice that its beauty never ceases to amaze me. The light changes with each day, casting new shadows and highlights.

Paris, France

Paris never gets old… nor does this view.    Photo credit: Bellanda

Yes, in the grit and grind of any passing day, it’s possible to focus on the negatives and on the imperfections that this and every other city hold… but for today, after the 2 year anniversary of November 13th, I choose to focus on the beauty of Paris, on the courage of its residents and on this city’s resilience. Paris, Je t’aime…

Paris se souvient... Nov 13th

Paris se souvient… Paris Remembers… November 13th   Photo credit: Bellanda

Water Levels Rise in Paris & Seine Overflows

 

Feature Photo Paris Flood 3

Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

Although nothing like the Great Flood of Paris in 1910, the Seine has risen to impressive heights. As you can see, it has taken over the Quai and continues to rise.

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Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

 

 

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Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

 

Paris flood fallen tree

Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

 

Feature Photo Paris Flood

Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

As a result of the rising levels of the Seine, metro and RER closings have begun for reasons of security. RER C in Paris, the central section, will be closed from 4 pm today.  Due to its close proximity to the Seine, Metro Saint-Michel Notre Dame station is already closed, and several other connections are no longer possible.

– Bir-Hakeim sur la ligne 6

– Invalides sur les lignes 8 et 13

– Assemblée Nationale sur la ligne 12

– gare Saint-Michel (RER B et ligne 4)

– Cluny La Sorbonne sur la ligne 10

Please check with RATP for further updates on metro/RER closings/openings:

http://www.ratp.fr/fr/ratp/c_15907/l-etat-du-trafic-sur-nos-reseaux/

UPDATE: 

Exceptional closure of the Musée du Louvre & Musée d’Orsay on Friday, June 3, 2016 due to the rising level of the Seine. The museum staff will be doing what is necessary to protect works located in flood zones.

Are you this guy? Remember… life isn’t only about work. 

Remember:  take time to break away and have some fun!

We had a blast creating this video & finding the most amazing locations in Paris.

All rights reserved Bellanda ®

All rights reserved
Bellanda ®

 AGAIN AGAIN – Music performed by AFTERMOON

Video  –  A Story developed & created by Steve Guibert & Bellanda

Thank you to AFTERMOON for trusting us to create this clip for your music.

Recorded and mixed by Benjamin Le Jean @Gaijin Studio

Mastered by Chab

Video  –  A Story developed & created by Steve Guibert & Bellanda

Directed and Edited by Steve Guibert

Actor – Jean-Rodolphe Laclau

Film locations : Paris, France – CD&B offices and Caveau des oubliettes

Special thanks to CD&B, Ramcesprod, Crisprod, Caveau des oubliettes, Kasia Dietz, Fanny Mikol Frequelin, Zoé Mikol and to all of you in the bar scene who helped make this clip happen.

Aftermoon Official YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVxF

Aftermoon Official Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/aftermoon

Aftermoon Official Website : http://www.aftermoon-band.com

Aftermoon Official Twitter : https://twitter.com/Aftermoonband

Steve Guibert : steve.guibert@gmail.com

Steve Guibert LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/SteveGuibert

Bellanda LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/bellanda

Bellanda Twitter : https://twitter.com/BellandaInParis

Bellanda Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Bellanda

French Bread: Total Addiction!

A love affair with French bread! Bellanda ®

When people think of France, they often think of bread, cheese and wine. The products are so incredibly good that I have had countless meals consisting of just that, and would highly recommend it. However, before you run off and randomly pick a place to buy your bread, there are some things that you should know and look for. Not all bread in France is equal and not all bread sold here would be considered good by the locals. *Gasp!

Perhaps I have had too much time on my hands since I became ill two years ago, but have you ever wondered what makes French bread so good? Here is a little information that I wish I had before I came to France. In order to increase your chances of buying quality bread, look for the words boulangerie, boulanger or artisan on the exterior of the establishment. In 1993, an act concerning bread was passed and then amended into law in 1998 under the leadership of Jean-Pierre Raffarin.  As a bread lover who gained about 10 pounds on my first trip over to France, this is really a plus.

The bread act reserves the words boulanger and boulangerie for those establishments that use raw materials such as flour, water, yeast and salt. They knead their dough, monitor fermentation, shape and bake the bread in the place of sale. It also stipulates that the products used to make bread should at no time be frozen and that the bread in itself should not be frozen at any time. If these rules are not applied, the establishment must write the term dépôt de pain(s) or pain(s) on the exterior of the bakery.

This little piece of trivia might save your taste buds, and your meal. In addition, it could even save you the embarrassment of offering stale and dry tasting bread to your French friends. Yes, I’m not proud, but I have shamefully done this.

So, what is the secret is to making French bread? What do they do to it to make it so crunchy and delicious? Is it possible for nonprofessionals to make decent bread? Could I make French bread? While wondering all of these things, it struck me that I was living in a city full of truly amazing bread. Why would I even want to try to bake my own bread? Yeah, I’m crazy… my dear sweet man and I began testing whether we could come close to baking what might be considered, French bread. That is to say, if any bread could ever be considered French having been made by someone from New York. In doing so, I have eaten more bread than any petite woman should be proud of, but it was a lot of fun trying.

One of our many attempts at making bread. BELLANDA ®

One of our many attempts at making bread… I forgot to slant the knife when slicing the top, so it doesn’t have that pretty flaky layer crunch. Just another excuse to make more bread.
BELLANDA ®

I am not a professional baker, nor do I claim to be. This experiment gave me new-found respect for all of those bakers out there, making bread to feed the mouths of many. After more trial and errors than I can count, using various kinds of flour, proportions and techniques, we I have finally come up with an easy way to make bread. It is as close as we can get to the real thing. In addition, it stays good and fresh for 4-5 days!

In fact, we actually prefer our bread to that of any dépôt de pain(s). I know that this is going to sound crazy coming from someone who lives in France, but after realizing that I had turned more stale bread from uneaten baguettes into breadcrumbs than we could possibly use, we eventually stopped buying all kinds of bread.

We make bread about once a week (1 kilo of flour), that is unless my French in-laws are here. Then, we need to make it almost daily. Apparently, it is our fault, we are told. They just keep saying, “We can’t stop eating it!” Coming from my in-laws this is a true complement… both of their fathers were French boulangers!

After their most recent 10 day visit, I decided that opening a boulangerie is out of the question for me. I had a hard time keeping up with their bread appetites and couldn’t even imagine the number of hours it takes to make enough bread to feed such a bread loving country. As easy as our recipe is, I would have no life! Instead, I have decided to share the recipe with all of you. Depending on where you live and on your tastes, you will need to adapt the ingredients to your liking. For those of you who live in the USA, this might be a challenge due to the lack of flour varieties. Before I moved to France, I thought there was only one kind of all-purpose flour… silly me! Apparently, there are many different kinds. If you do manage to make the recipe work over there, please let people know how you did it in the comments section of the blog.

Let’s get started! Believe it or not, you don’t need many ingredients to make delicious bread.

Ingredients: Flour, Fresh Bread Yeast, Water, Flour BELLANDA ®

Ingredients: Bread Flour, Fresh Bread Yeast, Water, Salt, Flour
BELLANDA ®

For those of you who have been waiting for this recipe, I’m so sorry for the delay. I hope that the wait will be well worth it.

UPDATE:

Due to a “Nouvelle Recette” (New Recipe) for the brand of flour we used in our original recipe, we have made changes to our recipe. We now use 1/2 a kilo of flour Type-65 and 1/2 kilo of flour Type-80. This has gotten us as close to our original finished product as possible. If you find something that works better, please don’t hesitate to mention the flour in the comments section, and we will give it a try.

Ingredients for original recipe:

1 kilo of flour – ( 1/2 a kilo of flour Type-65 and 1/2 kilo of flour Type-80 )

625 grams of warm water

25 grams of Fresh Bread Yeast (I buy GB Extra Duo Cubes 2 x 25 g ) No, they are also not paying me to write about them. 😉

14 – 16 grams of salt (to your liking)

We use a mixer with a hook and carefully place the ingredients in a certain order. I am sure you can do this your own way, or even mix it by hand, but now that we found this to work best, we try to do it the same each time.

  • Add half of the water into the bowl. Then, add the 25 grams of Fresh Bread Yeast broken up into pieces into the warm water.
  • Add half of the flour on top of the water/yeast mixture.
  • Add the rest of the water, followed by the rest of the flour.
  • Lastly, add the salt (Be sure not to let the salt get in contact with the yeast)
Mix Ingredients BELLANDA ®

Mix Ingredients
BELLANDA ®

  • Mix ingredients until the flour mixture comes completely off of the sides of the bowl.
Mix ingredients until the flour mixture comes completely off of the sides of the bowl. Bellanda ®

Mix ingredients until the flour mixture comes completely off of the sides of the bowl.
Bellanda ®

  • Remove dough from hook. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let sit in the bowl for about 30-40 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.
Bread Dough Should Double in Size after around 30-40 minutes. Bellanda ®

Bread Dough Should Double in Size after around 30-40 minutes in a bowl covered in plastic.
Bellanda ®

  • Remove dough from bowl and knead with a little extra flour on the counter, pushing the air out.
  • Form dough into desired shape or shapes. You can make one very large loaf or divide it up as you would like.
  • Place on wax paper and cover with a cloth.
  • Let rise for another 20-30 minutes.
  • Warm oven to 240°C Bake  // 460°F  Bake – Place a water recipient in the oven. You can put the water in at this moment or  wait until your dough is ready for baking (we wait until we put bread dough in oven). The water will help give the bread that crispy exterior/moist interior that French bread is famous for.
Various Bread Forms and  Bellanda ®

A Couple of the Many Bread Forms you can make and Tools Bellanda ®

  • Slice the bread in a slanted, sideways motion.
  • You may want to use a spray bottle to mist a little water on the surface of the dough before popping it into the oven.
  • Promptly place the dough into the oven (on the same wax paper you used when making the dough rise).
  • Immediately lower the temperature to 220°C // 430°F
  • Bake for around 20-25 minutes, or until desired coloring of the bread.
  • Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
Fresh bread hot out of the oven! Bellanda ®

Freshly baked bread, hot out of the oven!
Bellanda ®

Sit back and enjoy the smell of freshly baked bread wafting throughout your kitchen. Your ears will also get a treat from the wonderful crackling sound the bread makes when removed from the oven. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Total bread addiction! Bellanda ®

Total bread addiction!
Bellanda ®

 ENJOY!