Monday, April 25, 2011

Prepsters in Paris: Tommy Hilfiger's Pop-up Prep Store

Prepsters in Paris

Boys in polo shirts and bright-colored pants. Girls in flowery dresses sipping drinks on a grassy knoll. A house with a white picket fence. For a moment, I thought I was suddenly back at Dartmouth College in bucolic New England surrounded by preppy frat boys and sorority girls. Or possibly at a friend’s Hamptons beach house.Then, I heard the French accents and stared up at the unmistakable Georges Pompidou museum. Tommy Hilfiger has made a pit-stop in Paris for the brand’s world tour of Pop-up stores celebrating la vie de Preppy. The traveling pop-up shops meant to look like an East Hampton beach house are traveling from Manhattan to Paris then to Milan, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Tokyo, Madrid and Belgium. The house is stocked inside with Hilfiger’s signature designs and all things preppy like plastic ducks, bow ties and a book titled "True Prep". Hilfiger’s capsule collection “Prep World” features 60 men’s and women’s pieces plus a croquet set, leashes and toys for dogs and backgammon-themed beach towels. The opening night cocktail to launch the Parisian pop-up took place under sunny skies and featured appearances from French actress Zoe Felix and other trendy Parisians as DJ Josephine de la Baume regaled everyone with music. I know the pop-up store has to go, but can we keep the boys dressed in polos and colored pants please?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 Things I Love About Paris This Week

My Philips super-blender-juicer-[insert function here, this machine can do it]

Juicer, blender, food processor, - there’s an attachment for everything. 10 to be exact, with more than 30 different functions. If I actually read through the whole instruction manual, I’m sure there would be a “build a house” or “solve world peace” or “cure cancer” function in there somewhere. It does EVERYTHING. Well, other than actually cook for me, which would be quite spectacular. (Hey Philips, want to invent an “Alain Ducasse attachment” ?) Or clean up, mind you…
Let’s start with the professional juicer function. Not sure what makes it professional, other than the fact that it makes such good juices, I could probably change career paths and make a fortune on Philips-made carrot-apple-ginger drinks. According to Philips, it’s the stainless steel micromesh filter that squeezes out every last drop, but I think there must be some magic involved.
The machine has some food processor basics like an adjustable slicing blade, chopping and crushing blades, a balloon beater for whisking and whipping, a citrus press, plus an amazing blender that now has me embarking on a warm-weather “how many smoothie combos can I invent?” mission. (More ideas welcome please!) More importantly, it’s quite compact and it’s 3-in-1 setup allows it to fit into even the tiniest of Parisian kitchens (cough cough) no problem. So what if it’s about half the size of my entire kitchen? Philips HR7775, I think I love you.

Samsung camera

I call it “the Vanity Cam.” Samsung’s full HD camcorder has a flip screen that allows one to film oneself! (Yes, one is extremely vain, but one is very happy that one no longer has to ask a friend or stranger to film one, one can do it all by one’s self.) The camera is small, yet powerful, professional and so easy to use (even one has no problem shooting and downloading oneself with no help. One is very proud of this.) Just point, shoot, then plug in to download and edit. The sound quality and image are great, and it’s compact enough to take anywhere. The camera even manages to drown out background noise and produce great sound quality even at crowded, noisy parties. Check out this video of my interview with French actress Julie Ferrier at Gerard Darel’s launch party for their new boutique with Robin Wright Penn. As a nomadic (and, admittedly, party-hopping) journalist, the Samsung camcorder has actually changed my life – I am Samsinging its praises!


Gregory Marchand, I love you…r cooking. There’s actually nothing better in Paris. Certainly nothing better for 38 euros. Every time I return to Frenchie, I think “It can’t possibly be as good as last time. I will inevitably be disappointed.” And, every time, without fail, Marchand manages to regale me with his down-home (well, if your home happened to be an authentic French country kitchen) cooking with a modern twist. The vibe is relaxed and the small room with only around 20something seats makes for a quaint and calm backdrop to enjoy the great wine, delicious food and, if you’re lucky, wonderful company. We drank a fabulous Spanish red wine then dined on smoked mackerel with pickled onions and a creamy sauce, a hake filet served atop stewed lentils and a green pesto and garlic sauce (that I happily mopped up by the delicious country bread served at the table) and without hesitation the best panna cotta I’ve ever had in my life served with a creamy avocado sauce (and a chocolate sauce, but mine was sans chocolat in true Lafleur fashion). The other option du jour was a spring salad with veal madallions, a steak filet and a lemon and passion fruit tart with a brûléed topping and caramel sauce. It’s worth the weeks and weeks and months and months of waiting for a reservation for this gem of a restaurant. And, exciting news: Frenchie is opening a wine bar across the street in a couple of months complete with a fantastic wine list, Marchand-made tapas and, I predict, a fun, young, 2nd arrondissement crowd. I am a New Yorkie in love with Frenchie!

Biscru crackers

I have a “cru de coeur” for these delicious crackers that may be low on cooking temperature, but are high on flavor. These raw, dehydrated snacks come in both salty and sweet varieties. I’m currently addicted to the olive-onion flavor and the coconut date sesame variety (the sweetest date I’ve had in awhile!)
Xoxo Rawbecca

My Maje perfecto jacket

“Perfecto” is an appropriate name for this short black leather jacket that goes perfectly with pretty much everything I plan to wear in Spring and Summer by day or by night. It’s Maje-ical!


I’ve been a little bit nuts for coconuts lately. The flakes (in muesli or muffins), the oil (in my fantastic coconut lemon cupcakes with coconut vanilla frosting), the milk (in cupcakes, soups and smoothies) and the water (in smoothies or by itself), not to mention my new Alba coconut-flavored lip balm I picked up during my last trip to the US. I imagine that kissing me must taste like coconut cream pie…or like my coconut cupcakes (even better!) And, this just in, coconut macaroons! A Passover-friendly recipe that would make Moses’ mouth water.

I’m currently addicted to Vita Coco coconut water.

They sell it at Beyoga, but that’s the only place I seem to be able to find this incredible substance. It is incredibly refreshing and, while I do love an overpowering coconut flavor don’t get me wrong, the subtle coconutiness (not sure if that’s a word, but it should be) is just enough to infuse my mouth with hydrating goodness. It’s like all-natural Red Bull – no caffeine, just nature’s own version of a pick-me-up perfect for this beautiful weather we’re having in Paris.


In America, they call it “spring fever.” In Paris, the appropriate translation is “terrace-fever” (well, actually, the appropriate translation is “fièvre de terrasses” but you get the idea). The French are crazy about les terrasses – so crazy that they’ll actually do anything necessary to get a spot on one in the sun during peak hours. As soon as the sun makes its way out from behind the clouds, every Parisian and their mother (and likely their father, brother, sister, cousin, and distant aunt) are terrasse-bound. Sitting – gasp! – INSIDE to eat lunch when the weather is nice outside is an offense punishable by death according to French law. Well, maybe not death, but certainly ridicule from the Parisian community which isn’t far off. I am quite certain that Marie Antoinette MEANT to say “Let them eat cake … on a terrace!” And the Napoleonic Wars must have started when someone wouldn’t give up their seat in the sun for Napoleon. Try finding a spot at La Palette around 7 pm on a weeknight on a 70-degree night – I dare you. Want to meet me for lunch at 1 pm at Café Charlot on Saturday when it’s 80 degrees? If so, then go sit there around 10 am, order a coffee then three cheeseburgers and wait for me, otherwise sorry, but we’ll have to make other plans. Yet, it’s worth the wait to partake in this unique Parisian experience of watching as cafes place more and more chairs outside to accommodate the lines of customers waiting to sip wine with friends and enjoy the warm weather. Walking down the rue Montorgueil last night after dinner as people spilled onto the streets smiling made me remember why, despite all of the inconveniences, despite the horrible winter weather, the strikes and the daily, as the French say, “galères,” we do love la vie Parisienne.

Jake Gyllenhaal

“Do you, Rebecca Leffler, take Jake Gyllenhaal to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold in sickness and in health until death do you part?” “I do...” That is, I do, on occasion dream about my marriage to Jake Gyllenhaal. While we’ve never actually met, it is clear that he is my future husband.
I recently watched “Love and Other Drugs” on the airplane and, just when I’d gotten over my Jake-lag, I went to a screening of “Source Code.” The premise is absolutely ridiculous – Jake is dead, yet still alive, travels back in time to uncover a terrorist plot, jumps in front of a train, deactivates a bomb, saves the world and even has time to drink a cup of coffee and fall in love with Michelle (I warned you: ridiculous) yet, despite the too-esoteric-for-its-own-good plot, the film is, I dare say, entertaining. The special effects are impressive and, thanks to a strong cast (Gyllenhaal and Monaghan and the always wonderful Vera Farmiga), we don’t mind being stuck on a train for two hours. I, in fact, would welcome the idea of being stuck on a train for two hours (or even twenty two) with Jake G and friends (well, forget the friends – Jake, you and me, it’s ON.)

Gogo Paris iPhone app

Just when I thought my iLife couldn’t get any better (see: my new ipad2 – love it!), Gogo Paris came out with an app for the iPhone. I’ve been a Gogo fan for years – Kate Van Den Boogert and her hip Parisian team always know about all of the new hot spots in the city and if there’s a new restaurant opening, gallery expo or soirée, Gogo will tell you about it. Admittedly, I haven’t had much time to peruse their pages lately, so their new iPhone app (which, by the way also works on my iPad2!)(did I mention I have an iPad2?)(Yes, I’m a little bit obsessed with my new “toy” can you tell?) is just perfect. The Gogo app has all of the hottest spots to eat, drink, sleep, shop; sleep, hang out and party in the city. You can filter addresses by neighborhood and category (think: EAT in the 6th or SLEEP in the 17th) plus stalk your favorite neighborhood celebrities. So, in sum, Paris for just 1,59euros – a bit less than a plane ticket, oui ?

L’Heure Gourmande

I hesitate to share this spot, since I like my privacy (can’t you tell from this blog? ;) However, I absolutely adore the Passage Dauphine, a little alleyway that separates the rue Dauphine from the rue Mazarine. I’d walked by likely a zillion times for years before I discovered it. It’s an open passage with trees (yes. Trees. In the middle of my crowded, urban Parisian neighborhood) and cobblestone street and, right in the center, is a cute little café, L’Heure Gourmande. The name “Gourmande” is applicable as a slice of cake is about the size of one’s head and it’s my new favorite spot to sit and write, just around the corner!

Monday, April 04, 2011


“I love Paris in the Springtime…” Who doesn’t? But after weeks of cocooning indoors, eating rich comfort foods and lounging around during the long, cold, winter months, Spring is the best time to get back into shape. And while Paris may be the world capital of steak frites and sitting around in cafes, it’s also becoming a center of health and well-being. From gyms to yoga centers to healthy eateries to spas, Paris offers several spots to blow off steam or relax in a steam room. Here is my guide to staying light in the city of lights.

Le Klay

This young and sporty sports club in the appropriately young and sporty 2nd arrondissement of Paris feels like a NY gym transplanted in France. Watch all of the action below from a treadmill, bike or elliptical machine on the 3rd floor , lift weights, box or use the high-tech machines in the vast open space on the second floor, try out the cycling on the first floor, relax in the lounge or enjoy a bite in the restaurant on the ground floor, or opt for a soothing swim or hammam break on the lower level. Take advantage of the collective classes like Cassandra's amazingly wonderfully incredible power yoga classes on Sundays and Mondays, pilates, spinning, cardio funky, TRX or body thai courses or sign up for one of Klay’s personal trainers like the fabulous Adèle Van Damme who will whip you into springtime shape.
Klay is the younger, more affordable sister of the sleek Ken Club in the 16th arrondissement, which also offers luxury exercise for an elite right bank crowd.

Guerilla Yoga – an Ohm away from Home

Marc Holzman’s no-frills yoga-for-everyone guerilla yoga movement has arrived in Paris for a self-described “100% organic, free-range, studio-free yoga.” Every Saturday, Holzman and/or fellow Anusara teacher Anne Vandevalle roll out their yoga mats for their open-to-anyone two-hour classes held at the American Church in Paris or at Blanca Li’s Studio Calentito. The classes are conducted in English and always filled with an upbeat crew of downward dog-loving expats and Parisians alike. Escape the city’s chaos and pigeons for your own zen version of pigeon pose. The suggested donation is 20 euros and worth every centime. Enlist in guerilla yoga and fight for your right to zen.

Spring Detox at Beyoga

Marc and Anne are also among the team of fabulous yoga teachers at the recently-opened Beyoga. Beyoga offers a range of classes spanning several yoga disciplines and levels and taught in both English and French. Break a sweat and have fun with Carol’s vibrant Sunday Jivamukhti class, find balance with ying yang yoga, reach new heights with acro yoga or try out the brand new soul yoga class. Not sure how to pick among all of the choices? You can pay 35 euros for 10 days of unlimited yoga classes to find your favorite. If you missed Anne Vandevalle’s spring “Detox” workshop this month, have no fear – “detox” is on the yoga menu all month for a cleansing of mind and body all spring.

The Gentle Gourmet

The City of Lights is also the City of Light Dining thanks to vegan paradise The Gentle Gourmet. Open since July 2009 just minutes from the Champs-Elysées, the Gentle Gourmet offers a haven for Vegans and Vegan-friendly visitors in the Capital. You can stay for days at the B&B or just pop in for a cooking class, dinner or brunch. Now, on Saturdays and Wednesdays, the Gentle Gourmet is offering a “Spring Renaissance” cooking class which they describe as “trendy vegan French cuisine that helps you renew yourself too!” The low-fat, low-sugar meals will feature carefully chosen high-quality and both aesthetically and palate-pleasing fare that mix nutrients with visual delight. And why not enjoy some watercress against a backdrop of water lilies? Color your springtime with a trip to Giverny with the Gentle Gourmet team who will give you their own vegan interpretation of one of Monet’s fondest meals served at a B&B at his famed gardens.

Anne Fontaine Spa

She may be known for her white buttoned-down shirts, but Anne Fontaine has also made a splash with her spa. The Franco-Brazilian Fontaine brings a “Parisian chic meets Brazilian natural” concept to the downstairs haven on the rue Saint Honoré. All of the body and facial treatments at the spa are superb, and make sure to enjoy their sauna and Jacuzzi while you wait. From Daniele’s magical hands for the best massage of your life to Soraya’s facial treatments that will leave your skin feeling smooth for spring, Anne Fontaine offers something for everyone. Don’t miss their brand new “Spring Veil” facial designed to get your skin ready for the sun complete with an exfoliating white marble powder scrub, deep cleansing massage with essential oils and an oxygenating mask. Or opt for their special seasonal “White Mist” formula with exfoliating scrub and massage under their faux rainy sky that will make you feel like you’re in the Brazilian rainforest in the center of Paris.


After a wheatgrass shot, a plate of sprouts, grains and veggies, a juice and some fresh pollen and spirulina to go at Pousse-Pousse, you’ll be ready to brave the hilly streets of Montmartre where Lawrence Aboucaya’s tiny gem of a café sits behind the Notre Dame de Lorette church. Not only can you sit and enjoy a well-balanced lunch, but Pousse-Pousse also has juicers, dehydrators, seaweed, seeds for sprouting, propolis and other dietary supplements rarely found in the French capital. Enjoy a vegan-friendly plate complete with a gluten-free tart, a sprout salad, a bean caviar and a creative salad, a smooth vegetable soup and Aboucaya’s famous raw chocolate cake before you inhale oxygen from their Jacquier Air Bowl. And don’t miss Aboucaya’s cooking classes where you can learn how to detox out of the comfort of your own “petite maison.”


While your visit to Paris will likely only provide beautiful, happy memories, memory can sometimes have a negative impact on our well-being. Enter… Samten, master of Tibetan medecine. Samten specializes in digitopuncture, a form of acupuncture without the needles that heals the body without chemicals or medecines – just a simple “qi” healing pressure that rebalances the body’s vital energy. The guru, who has studied with the Dalai Lama, offers analytic therapy sessions and relaxation techniques according to Tibetan meditation, and really works with combining the physical with the emotional to rid you of your inner demons and get you ready for a new spring season. Samten will open a new office in the coming months, so stay tuned, but you can already check out his info at :


There’s a reason this left bank spot is synonymous with a movement focused on pleasure. Kristin Scott Thomas, Isabelle Carre and other rive gauche-dwelling Gallic stars and chic locals flock to this little gem on the rue des Mezières, just next to Saint Sulpice. Hédonie offers hard-to-find local and organic fare carefully handpicked by Hédonie’s team. The staff are always friendly and well-informed and the clean and classy interior is perfect for the très chic 6th arrondissement. Pick up your own "panier" filled with the week's freshest produce from local farms or opt for more exotic products from across the globe like spirulina or "fifi" bananas for your own at-home detox.

Bio Moi

Bio Moi means “organic me” and the organic me absolutely LOVES this shop in le Marais. Despite the limited space, they seem to have EVERYTHING (Why is it that Naturalia is five times the size yet I can never find ANYTHING?). They select the best products and I can always find what I’m looking for (though seem to always leave with what I’m looking for…plus 7-10 other items that catch my eye on the way out). The friendly staff make the shopping experience a pleasure and they even seem to have answers for all of my thousands of inquiries (“How do you say “arrowroot powder” in French?” Or “How does a goji berry taste exactly?”) So join Moi at Bio Moi, Toi ?

Babsie Steger: Personal Coaching

This woman-of-all-trades is an ex-dancer, well-known actress and former restaurant owner who has now gone back to her Austrian roots to publish a Viennese pastry cookbook, with recipes featuring wholesome, healthy ingredients. Babsie Steger, health and wellness counselor and dietician, is now offering her personal coaching prowess for Parisians and visitors to the Capital. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain energy, find your zen or deal with the link between your emotions and your health, Babsie adjusts her coaching techniques to each individual client. Her intuition will startle you during the first session as she analyzes your needs, then meets with you regularly and gives you health tips, lifestyle advice and recipe ideas to have you feeling good inside and out. Plus, don't miss her new book "Strudel, Kouglof et Cie" featuring delectable, authentic Viennese pastry recipes with a secret (they're healthy!)


Paris in the Springtime is the perfect time put on your walking shoes and move. Some of the greatest detox in the city is, in fact, FREE! Go for a run in the Luxembourg Gardens, stroll along the Seine or passionately embrace your lover on the Pont Neuf (it burns more calories than most exercise!) Clear your minds, and enjoy Paris “when it drizzles and when it sizzles…”