This past week Paris dished up a full-flavored smørrebrød of must-do’s which bordered on sensory overload. At what point does all this seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching turn the senses into senseless? For me, it was last Wednesday at 9am. At the 4-week marker, I caught a 24-hours case of comatose.

The day started badly. I was excited about my day – a Market to Lunch cooking experience with top-ranked Le Foodist. That quickly switched to alarm when I spotted a text Fraud Alert from my credit card company. Ironically it was a back-up card that I had used only once. I called Chase (thank you, Verizon, for mobile access) and within the hour we shut down that card. Done.

Getting the lowdown on oysters, mussels (“No, not now”.) and clams from Fred.

However it was an unexpected blip and I was rattled. Just Me being Me. I admit that throughout the entire cooking class, Focus was not my friend. My classmates were lovely, our instructor, Fred, terrific and the class, well-organized. However, my head was still in Berlin where some jerk had apparently been running rampant with my credit card.

If it hadn’t been a participatory class, my eyes glazing over would have been “pas de probleme.” But Fred was precise. Although my peeled carrots and potatoes were pas mal,my shallot slicing was found wanting. What’s good enough in Aspen is not good enough in Paris.

Our delicious menu: Crème Dubarry (Cream of Cauliflower soup);
Coq au Vin Ballotine;
Purée Billes de légumes and Poire Belle Hélène

During our great-tasting, made-by-us déjeuner (lunch), Fred asked each of us the best thing we had learned in the class. To my everlasting regret, I mentioned that it was his throwing in a teabag while poaching the pears to even out the color. Readers, did you know that? Anyway, that finished me off for Fred.

Pears. Teabag. Amazing.

While walking home from the Latin Quarter where the school was located, I gave myself a pull-it-together, Mary, talking-to. (Silently, not mumbling.) You see I have this theory that if you don’t wake up happy and grateful, perhaps you need to go back and try again. Thankfully, Thursday morning I didn’t need a do-over. Except for Wednesday’s meltdown, all five sensory cylinders were back on-line and firing properly.

My week in photos:

With apologies to General DeGaulle, presently there are more than 1,600 varieties of cheese made primarily by small producers.


During the past four weeks I’ve taken four food-related classes/tours with four different companies, all top-rated, all well-done: La Cuisine Paris, their Marais Soirée Gastronomy Food Tour and Galeries Lafayette wine and cheese tasting which I’ve written about in earlier posts. Then, Le Foodist. My last was a phenomenal French Cheese Tasting Workshop with 11 different cheeses and five different wines offered by Paris by Mouth. Each class was special in its own way, worth every euro.

Jennifer, who taught the course, was waiting for the eight of us with an endless supply of wine, cheese and baguettes.

It wasn’t until we got to the Roguefort and Epoisses that Jennifer began losing control of the group. But she managed to finish her spiel and we polished off the wine before grudgingly handing the tasting room off for another tasting.


If it’s Sunday, National Museum of Natural History. If it’s Monday, a Mary Cassatt retrospective at Musée Jacquemart-André. If it’s Thursday, Le Musée Curie at Institut Curie.

The natural history museum, which has been in existence for 400 years, is HUGE. It houses nearly 180 species and over a thousand animals. This savannah migration winds its way through the entire first floor. The animals occasionally roar and are noisy. The first time that happened it was a bit alarming.

Spending the day at the natural history museum is deserving of a Berthillon ice cream cone, double dip, salted butter caramel and spéculoo.

Housed in the magnificient mansion’s former dining room, the Café Jacquemart-André is considered the most beautiful museum restaurant in Paris. It’s walls are cloaked with seven 18th century Belgium tapestries recounting the history of Achilles.

After viewing 50 of Mary Cassatt’s works in the galleries, I had lunch in their dining room. The ceiling is covered by a 18th Century fresco made by Giambattista Tiepolo.

I will admit to being a bit awed by Le Musée Curie housed in one of the oldest buildings at the Institut Curie. Led by Madame Curie, this family received 5 Nobel Prizes. Tucked into a private Paris neighborhood, this was hard to find but well worth the visit.

This is Madame Curie’s private laboratory. Her office, which can also be visited, is through the door. Although there were about 15 people visiting the small museum, it was quiet, almost reverent, with everyone talking very softly. In anticipation of this visit, I am reading “Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women, ” which is sobering and sad.


Early Sunday morning I walked out my front door to join the excitement as more than 50,000 runners passed by, circling around the Place de la Bastille. They were just getting started. It was only the three mile marker and many had not yet broken a sweat.

The Elites, the front runners – Here they come.

Here they are. (The eventual winner is in that group but I can’t spot him.)

There they go. Whoosh. You cannot believe how fast they were running.

50,000 strong

They came in waves, depending on their speed.


Paris is recognized as one of our world’s most cultural cities. Saturday morning I listened to a talented mishmash of musicians, channeling the Christy Minstrels, entertaining passengers in the metro tunnels. Saturday evening I walked across the street to The Church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis commissioned by Louis XIII in the early 17th Century to hear the Alegria Orchestra playing Vivaldi.

Tunnel Music – happy, fun and good listening


  1. says

    I’m glad your meltdown was a momentary blip as you continue to make the most of your adventure. I love the picture of the animals at the National History Museum and you with “hanging out” with the Curies. Hope you enjoy your remaining weeks abroad. xo

  2. Nancy Miller says

    Wow, Mary, this sounds like an amazing week…and far more interesting than waiting room conversations! Enjoy every minute!

  3. says

    Sorry on the blip Mary but I see your positivity determination quickly resolved toward your next fabulous experiences food, wine, and museums!
    Enjoy your remaining time- I’m sure you will!

  4. says

    You made the most out of your time in Paris!! I’m a bit green over all your classes—so much fun! And the instructor losing control at the end of a WINE and cheese class??? Hard to believe 😉 xo

  5. Karen Carozza says

    This is way too fun following you around in Paris. And why didn’t you insist I meet you there?? I may have to insist you run your travel schedule by me before you book your next one!

  6. says

    Ugh, that would have rattled me too. How annoying. We had the same thing happen to my husband’s card a few years ago. It’s an icky feeling.

    I find that on longer vacations, a few days of down time need to be sprinkled in. The problem (if one can really call it that) is that one feels almost guilty about being lazy when in a city like Paris. After all, it’s Paris, and when am I going to be back, and there’s so much to see and do and what if I miss something! But a day spent sleeping in and making it no further than the nearest cafe can really recharge the batteries. Have fun!

    • Mary says

      Spot on, Rose. I just needed a Time Out. I look forward to seeing (and, meeting) you in Boulder in October. I promise, no credit card snafus. XOX

  7. Cathy And Fred says

    You won’t believe the withdrawal you will go through after you leave Paris. It’s the shop windows I miss the most with their pastries and cheeses and charcuterie and unique items. Though the chains stores have their presence, just as in most the world now, the sole proprietor is still alive and well in France. Vive la France!

  8. Cathy And Fred says

    You won’t believe the withdrawal you will go through after you leave Paris. It’s the shop windows I miss the most with their pastries and cheeses and charcuterie and unique items. Though the chains stores have their presence, just as in most the world now, the sole proprietor is still alive and well in France. Vive la France!

  9. Donna Grauer says

    I am intrigued by the teabag … I think that was the correct answer or should have been .
    You are having the most phenomenal time.
    I bet you “ate” up the Achilles murals at the museum . I am going to check out on internet .
    I agree with cathy and Fred that it will be difficult to leave Paris and go back to the farm.
    Btw, you look wonderful

  10. says

    I am having a wonderful time on your trip to Paris, Mary! Living vicariously as an armchair tourist from my easy chair:) Thank you for the adventures and education. I did NOT know about tea bags and pears!

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