Benoit Castel such a great Boulangerie and Patisserie in Paris.

Do not expect a fancy place, it is more a kind of a loft of the Bakery itself and this give a fantastic ambiance and a relaxful place where to go for a Sunday brunch. I adore as well to go there for daily bread that is made like in the old days and the pastries are delicious. I have a cruch for the Tatin…

Soon you enter the store, you realise that the staff is happy here. They are lucky to work at Benoit Castel. Lots of fantastic pastries, wonderfull Croissants and awesome bread, this is what you will get there.

A delightful brunch idea for Sunday. Climb on the Hauts de Belleville and discover the former bakery Galal taken over by Benoît Castel. This Breton from Redon, who was a pastry chef at Hélène Darroze and Jean-Louis Costes, but also at the Grande Epicerie, proposes in a spacious, relaxed, open-style baker’s loft, a quality buffet, every week-ends.

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Scrambled eggs with herbs, pizzas, salads, macaroni, quiche with vegetables or cheeses, without omitting a choice of quality cheeses, sweets in scrounge (chocolate fudge, identical mousse, strawberry mousse, rice pudding) are worth more than one Back and forth. Not to be neglected, homemade confectionery delights, such as the famous custard tart blending custard and whipped cream, with a Saint Honore on a shortbread, plus a cheese cake, a fine lemon tart or an exquisite cheese cake. Take as much as you want from the very generoous buffet. You might have to wait if you arrive late…

Country bread, walnuts, cereals also of quality  baguette. Add exquisite leaky juices (apples, pears, oranges…) and a delectable coffee. Nice atmosphere.

150, rue de Ménilmontant – Paris 20e
Tél.01 46 36 13 82

Terroir makes them much better.

It’s pretty common for French wines not to be labeled with the grape varieties in the wine.

France is the leader in value. France also produces the 10 most expensive wines in the world.

Wine, and wine growing region. With Burgundy and Champagne, the Bordeaux region of Aquitaine is one of the three most famous French wine-producing regions. Historically, its fame is at least in part due to the fact that of these three big grape-growing areas, the Bordeaux vineyard is the only one with immediate access to the sea, an advantage that has enabled it to be France’s major wine exporting region for many centuries.
In 1152, when queen Eleanor of Aquitaine married the English king Henry II, the Aquitaine region became economically integrated into the Anglo-Norman world, the Bordeaux region becoming the main supplier of wine for England. This historic wine exporting tradition helped Bordeaux to develop far stronger commercial links in the ensuing centuries, firmly establishing Bordeaux wines, often referred to generically in English as “clarets”, on the international market.

The Bordeaux vineyard is centered round the port city of Bordeauxalong the estuary of the Gironde, and the rivers Garonne and Dordogne. It is a large vineyard, and the geo-specific appellation “Bordeaux” covers an area stretching some 100 km both north-south and east-west.
While the appellation contrôlée covers wines of medium quality from all over this region, many if not most of the top quality clarets grown in the overall area benefit from more specific and distinctive area appellations, such as Médoc , Graves or Saint Emilion, and even more local appellations such as Pauillac, Graves and Saint-Estèphe.

Unlike other French wine-growing areas, the Bordeaux area operates classifications of many of its top wines, notably those from the Médoc and Saint Emilion vineyards. The best estates in these areas have the right to sell wines designated as grand cru. Below the grand crus come other high quality wines designated as cru bourgeois.

The vineyards of the Burgundy region cover a narrow strip of land on the eastern slopes of the hills running south-east from the Burgundian Capital, Dijon. the heart of the Burgundy wine growing region is the historic city of Beaune, where the autumn wine sale in the historic “Hospices” building is one of the high points of the wine year. Burgundy wines are classified on four levels, the lowest being the generic “Bourgogne” appellation. Selected areas of the Burgundy vineyard have their own classifications, such as Côtes de Beaune. Within these, there are smaller areas, villages and groups of villages, reputed to produce higher quality wine, such as Meursault or Aloxe Corton . Finally, at the top of the pyramid, there are the “grands crus”, such as Clos Vougeot, with its mere 51 hectares of vineyard. Finding ones way around Burgundy wines is sometimes a daunting task. The best Burgundy wines are the reds, the best of which can keep for a good 20 to 30 years. However, Burgundy also produces some top quality, though not too distinctive, whites. It is often said that generic burgundies “Bourgogne Rouge” or Bourgogne Passetoutgrains” white are overpriced and not particularly good value for money.

Although there are some excellent wines produced in the large Loire Valley area, there are few Loire wines, whites, rosés or pale reds, that rank among the greatest French wines. “Anjou Rosé” is a good everyday rosé, and “Muscadet” and “Gros Plant” from near the mouth of the Loire are dry white wines that go excellently with seafood.. Another good appellation is “Pouilly Fumé” (not to be confused with “Pouilly Fuissé”, a white Burgundy). The Loire valley, however, is also France’s second largest producer of sparkling wines, after Champagne. The region also produces vin gris, “grey wine”, which is actually a very pale rosé, being a white wine made from black grapes like those from Vendome. Two of the more prestigious varieties are Vouvray and Saumur.

Côtes du Rhône is one of those French wines that has become famous on account more as a result of the extent of the vineyard than of the quality of the wine. The Côtes du Rhône vineyard runs for over 200 kilometres down the Rhone valley from the south of Lyon to the Camargue. Within the region, there are a number of prestigious smaller areas such as Côte Rotie in the northern part of the region, Hermitage or Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas near Avignon.

The southern end of the Côtes du Rhône appellation area is actually in Provence.
The vast majority of Côtes du Rhône wine is sold under the generic appellations, “Côtes du Rhône” or “Côtes du Rhone Villages”.

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Côtes du Rhone wines are mediterranean wines, and generally speaking they are blended from the different classic grape varieties of the South of France, including most notably Viognier, Syrah, and Grenache.

Life in a French Chateau.

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In my career, I had the chance to work for a family who owned a Château in the Loire vallee in France. This property is huge and five persons were there working all year long. Three of us who travel from the US to manage and help in summer as the owners invited some guests.

We would be there in June, July and September. Of course we did a few trips during the year as our base was in Philadelphia.

On site, we had an organic garden with not less than 30 different kings of tomatoes from white to black ones. A barne for 8 horses with a fantastic ring. Their son was at the time a horse rider specialised in jumping. We had around thirty hens, chicken, guenea hens, quails and so on. None of the animals were for cooking but just for fun as some of them  were rare, and of course for fresh eggs.

Horses were oftenly hosted, of course extremely nice champions.

The whole property is 74 hectares and the main part are woods where in the season we could find mushrooms and one year we got over 150 kilos of Portobellos.

We had to prepare a lot of flowers arrangements in this home and had a flower garden were all sorts were available. Of course regarding the season…

All the cooking was home made, pastries and sweets as well. Only the bread was not, but extremely good bakeries are in the village next to this place.

During our stay, some Nobles, ex President and lots of family and friends were welcome. Dinner was a bit sofisticated and lunch was not so casual.

As the owners were American, we use to celebrate the 4th of July with a big party for them and the whole staff. After the dinner, some nice fireworks at the ring {to avoid a bad surprise}…

Tables for the owners, were always nicely organised and realy rich, Superb Fine China, some antics, cristal glasses and siver plated cutlery. Linen was very precious and I had so much various kind that changing tables setting everydays was easy.

It was a long and hard day everytime we stayed at the Château, but we had a lot of fun and very often when we had no guests, my boss would take us out to the restaurants around.

I must say that with twelve bedrooms , three salons and two dinning room plus a tv room we did have some work to do !

I had a two bedrooms appartement in the attic and three homes for staff were available for the permanent employees.

It is not possible to visit this superb Château as it is a private home.