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There’s something magical about sitting at the bar of a 2* Michelin restaurant in Paris and watching the chefs in action in their open kitchen.

A couple of weeks ago I gave you a sneak preview of our fabulous dinner at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. I love eating here. The menu is tantalising, the food outstanding. This is the reason it is listed at number 15 in San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Bookings are only taken for the 12.30 lunch sitting or for a 6.30 dinner. If this doesn’t suit, you arrive and keep your fingers crossed. I’ve tried to figure out how the booking system works but I’m still confused! We were lucky on this visit. Arriving at 7pm, we were fully prepared for the “come back at 9 reply” but instead were seated. Hurray!!

L' Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris

Looking across the bar

The menu features many tasting plates.  Choose a selection of these or you can order traditionally with an entree and main course. Whatever you do, leave room for dessert.
Dishes with names such as Les Anchovies, L’Oeuf, La Langoustine and Le Jambon grace the menu.

Our first dish was ‘Les Tomates’, a lesson in simplicity. A mixture of ‘les tomates anciennes’, was served with sumac and extra virgin olive oil. This was a reminder back to the days when tomatoes tasted like tomatoes.

L' Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris

Les Tomates

We also enjoyed ‘Les Sardine’ – a picture perfect stack of sardines layered with fine melba toast provencale. It bought back memories of our fabulous meals in Sicily.

Les Sardines at L' Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris

Les Sardines

Mozzarella and basil in a mille feuille of aubergine was a french interpretation of a classic Italian dish. Beautifully presented and tasting as good as it looked.

L'Aubergine at L' Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris

L'Aubergine

I had to try Les Girolles. The combination of wild mushrooms cooked in milk and served with foie gras was perfect.

Les Girolles at L' Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris

Les Girolles

My husband had to have his meat! The most tender and succulent baby lamb cutlets were served with thyme flowers. He was in heaven!

Lamb Cutlets at L' Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris

Lamb cutlets with thyme flowers

From past experiences, we knew the souffle was a must. Sensational as usual.

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Always perfect, always fabulous.

What is your favourite restaurant in Paris?

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
5 Rue de Montalembert
75007 Paris
Tel:+33 1 4222 5656
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

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Today’s postcard is of Vernazza, long before the heavy rain and floods devasted the town.
Monterosso was also affected. The images of mud rivers flowing through the streets where we have all walked, were unbelievable.
Our thoughts are with everyone as the clean up begins.

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I love visiting the Palace of Versailles. Often the crowds can be a bit daunting but there is nothing better than letting the history of the time come alive in these beautiful rooms with their over the top, opulent decororation.
This time, we decided to go behind the scenes and visit the King’s private apartments. Our guide, Deborah Anthony, had excelled with her tour of the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon as well as Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet, so we were looking forward to this visit.

The interior court of the Palace was looking stunning. The gilt on the roof and balconies had recently been restored and everything was sparkling.

Palace of Versailles

Beautiful Versailles

The Palace of Versailles

Decoration on the buildings

The Palace of Versailles

Detail on the roof

Silhouettes in the waiting room at the Palace of Versailles

Silhouettes in the waiting room

To see the private apartments, you must be accompanied by one of Versailles’s own guides as well as a security guard.
Our guide, Dominic, was extremely knowledgeable. His own personal interest was in the fashion of the time, so he was often pointing little titbits out in the paintings or decorations.
One of the interesting things he mentioned was that after the Revolution, all the furniture and works of art were sold. Whilst some have been returned and gifted back, a lot of the furniture and has been bought back by Versailles. The Friends of Versailles , a group which we happily joined, raises funds for the restoration and purchase of these when they come up for sale.

Guide at the Palace of Versailles

Dominic pointing out Marie Antoinette as a baby in the family portrait

The King's bedroom at the Palace of Versailles

The King's bedroom

In one of Marie Antoinette’s rooms, this beautiful box caught my eye. It was used for storing her babies’ clothes

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The clock room at the Palace of Versailles

The clock room

Both Louis XV and Louis XVI were interested in the sciences
This clock belonging to Louis XV shows the time, the day of the week, the month, the year and the moon’s quarter. It has been designed to last up to 9999!
The planets can be seen revolving around the sun in the chrystal dome on top.

Louis XV clock at the Palace of Versailles

Louis XV clock

The dining room was created originally for Louis XV but used a lot by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette for their ‘society suppers’. It is called the Porcelain Room not only because of the porcelain on display ( including the paintings) but because each year at Christmas, the King, who owned the Sevres factory, would use it as a showroom where the courtiers could come and buy presents.

The Porcelain Room at the Palace of Versailles

The Porcelain Room

Marie Antoinette's private sitting room at Versailles

Marie Antoinette's private sitting room

Marie Antoinette's Boudoir at Versailles

Marie Antoinette's Boudoir

Louis XVI’s dressing room is entered from a door hidden in his bedchamber. It is quite an extraordinary space lined with wood carving decorated in gilt.

King's Dressing Room at Versailles

King's dressing room

The secret passage from Marie Antoinette's Library

The secret passage from Marie Antoinette's library

Looking at the crowds from behind the scenes at Versailles

Looking at the crowds from behind the scenes

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As we were saying goodbye to Dominic, I gazed at the new modern sculpture at the entrance. Whilst I love modern sculpture, I am not sure that this is the place for it.

What do you think?

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With summer fast approaching in Australia, my thoughts go back to our summer in Sicily and in particular, Favignana, where this photo was taken.
Favignana is the largest of the Egadi Islands and an easy day trip from Trapani. I’d love to return for longer and explore the island and its hidden bays. One day!

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Finally the day had come for our long awaited dinner at Ze Kitchen Galerie.

I had been wanting to eat at this one star Michelin restaurant for a while now but last minute bookings had proven difficult to obtain on our previous visits. This year, I was smarter and made the reservation before we left.

The restaurant is situated in Rue Des Grands Augustins, a small side street off Quai Grand Augustins in the 6th. It is a popular street for restaurants. Guy Savoy’s bistrot, Les Bouquinistes is on the corner, Ze Kitchen Galerie’s bistrot, KGB (Kitchen Galerie Bis) is down the street and the one star restaurant, Jaques Cagna is on the next corner. The fabulous tea salon, Mariage Frères is over the road.

Ze Galerie Kitchen is an intimate restaurant with an open kitchen at one end. It is also a gallery with exhibitions of modern art displayed on the walls.
The service is friendly and impeccable. We didn’t have to wait long for a glass of champagne to be bought to us as we perused the menu.

Everything sounded delicious. I wanted to try it all, so we ordered the tasting menu, though I did have one small request. I was desperate to try the tempura crab with crab filled zucchini flowers and calamari strips but it was not on the tasting menu. However our gorgous (and good looking) waiter said it was no trouble for it to be included.
Out went the beef and in came the crab. Easy.
This was our dinner!!
We started with an ever so lightly, pan cooked salmon with sweet potato jus and radish. The addition of the radish was interesting and worked perfectly with the salmon.

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Salmon with sweet potato jus and radish

Our next dish was an delicious combination of a slightly cooked egg floating in a pea soup with peas, girolles and wasabi.
I popped up to the kitchen to watch the chef making this dish.

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Floating egg in pea soup with peas, girolles and wasabi

The kitchen is actually quite small and, with twelve chefs working shoulder to shoulder, it was amazing to watch. Each chef was responsible for one or two courses and had everything they required for their dish ready at their fingertips.
Here the chef is putting the dish together before it is bought to the table where the pea soup was poured into the bowl

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Chefs at work

Another salmon dish followed. This was in a completely different style to the first course. It included cappelletti pasta, fresh tomato sauce and bottarga eggs with the salmon.

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Salmon with cappelletti, light tomato sauce and bottarga eggs

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A very nice Bordeaux

At last the course I had requested arrived.  The delicate flavour of the crab filled zucchini flowers contrasted with the crispiness of the tempura crab, with the calamari adding yet another dimension to it all. So tasty!

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Tempura crab with crab filled zucchini flowers and calamari strips

This was followed by a dish of veal and sweetbreads with turnips and carrots. I’m not usually a sweetbread fan but these were very tasty and perfect with the tender veal. The only trouble was that I started eating and forgot to take the photo!

And then came dessert….

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Cherries and lychees with sauce with peach and lemongrass icecream

and another………

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White chocolate and wasabi icecream with fruit sauce, meringue and roses

A fabulous finale to one of our best meals in Paris.
Can I book now for next year?

Ze Kitchen Galerie
4 Rue des Grands-Augustins
75006. Paris
Tel: +33 1 44 320032
Ze Kitchen Galerie

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The Queen’s Hamlet, Marie Antoinette’s quaint little village and farm which is also known as the L’Hameau de la Reine, is one of the highlights of Versailles.
Why hadn’t I been here before? I’m not sure how, but in my previous visits, I had managed to miss one of the stars of Versailles. Thank heavens for our guide, Deborah Anthony from French Travel Boutique

The hamlet was created in the style of a minature Norman village. It contained the farm, twelve thatched cottages, a dovecote, mill and tower, all of which Marie Antoinette had built in 1783 by her favourite architect, Richard Mique and landscape gardener, Andre Le Notre.
She loved the simplicity of country life and wanted to indulge in it. She also wanted the farm to help create the illusion that the Petit Trianon was in the countryside.

As you walk through the gate, you do feel as though you are in the country. Goats, ducks and geese roam the grounds around the buildings whilst children gather to pet the pigs in the sty.

Farm Buildings at the Hamlet, Versailles

Animals roam in the grounds

Farm Buildings at the Hamlet, Versailles

Children love to pet the pig

The buildings are beautiful in a rustic way. Left to disrepair after the revolution, they were thankfully restored in the late 1990’s. They all have a thatched roof complete with grasses growing from them and flowering window boxes. Marie Antoinette and her companions often collected the eggs and milked the cows here.

Farm Buildings at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

Another beautiful farm building

Farm Buildings at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

Another view

Flower boxes on the farm buildings at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

Pretty flower boxes

Decoration on the wall of a farm building, Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

A beautifully painted wall of one of the farm buildings

A farmer was appointed by Marie Antoinette to manage the farm, so that it’s vegetable gardens, fields, orchards and vineyards supplied produce to the palace kitchens. You pass these on your short walk to the lake and village houses.

Looking back over the vineyards to the farm at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

Looking back over the vineyards to the farm

The vegetable garden at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

The vegetable garden

The orchard at the Queen's Hamlet, Versailles

The orchard

The largest house is the “Queen’s House” at the center of the village, overlooking the lake. It is actually two buildings joined by a wooden gallery where, we are told, Marie Antoinette, dressed in white muslin, would watch over the workers.

The Queen's House overlooking the lake at the Hamlet at Versailles

The Queen's House overlooking the lake

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The Queen's House showing the walkway connecting the two buildings

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Another view of the Queen's House

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Balconies at the Queen's House

Most of the houses in the village had their own vegetable garden surrounded by hedges.

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The Maison du Garde-the housekeeper's cottage

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The Mill.

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The Dovecote

The Marlborough Tower, next to the lake, was used as the starting point for boat rides as well as an observatory.

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The Marlborough Tower

This truly is a fairytale village. I can’t wait to come back for another visit, maybe with a picnic lunch, and spend time surrounded by the intriguing history of Marie Antoinette’s playground.

Have you found this special corner of Versailles?

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'Les Tomates' at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

A sneak preview of my fabulous dinner at L’ Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris.
The dish is ‘Les Tomates’, a simple but stunning dish of different types of tomatoes dressed with sumac and extra virgin olive oil.
Tomatoes as you don’t often taste them- incredibly flavoursome. If your produce is the best, nothing else is required.
Joel Robuchon never disappoints!

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