Doni Belau of 'Girls Guide to Paris' Shares Her "Best of France"
In honor of Best of France, which will be taking over Times Square September 26-27, 2015, we've asked a few of our favorite bloggers to weigh in on their "Best of France!" For a chance to meet Doni Belau and pick up a signed copy of her new book Paris Cocktails, come to her Best of France signing on September 26th from 6 to 7 PM! #BestofFrance2015
1. What is the best meal you have ever had in France? From which restaurant or French region was it from? Why is it your favorite?
This is very difficult. The meal I remember most may not actually be the best meal but it was absolutely the most memorable experience. Dining with good friends in 1998 at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, when none of us could afford to be there. The service was off the charts incredible and it was the first time that my purse ever had its own little stool. A more recent sensational meal was at Sergent Recruteur on the Ile St. Louis, an incredible no-choice multi-course meal!
2. If you are looking for a place to relax while you are in France where is your go to spot? Is it a beautiful beach or a tranquil spa? Where in France is it located and why is it your favorite?
My home in the southwest of France, in a tiny village called Flaujagues just east of St. Emilion, the famous wine town and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The house which was formerly a priory sits right on the Dordogne river. Relaxing outside my kitchen door staring at the river and sipping my coffee in the morning, listening only to the birds is my idea of paradise.
3. Where is your favorite place to shop in France? What are your “must- haves” or a favorite item you have purchased? Where did you get it?
Too many to name but j’adore; Drouot auction house - the cheaper location in Montmartre, the Marche aux Puces, La Grand Épicierie for gourmet food, Causses for same, Pierre Hermé for macarons, Patrick Roger for chocolate, Merci for gifts, Bensimon for sneakers, L’Eclaireur for clothing when there’s a sale or I’m feeling flush, Shakespeare & Co for books. My best all time score was two walnut armoires from the 1700’s and an antique clock face for my apartment on Ile St. Louis for 600 euros at Drouot. Consult my top 10 souvenirs page for more of my faves.
4. What is your favorite site to visit when you are in France? Why? Where in France is it?
I’m a sucker for Notre Dame, I’m not a traditional religious person, but lighting a candle in the 800-year-old Cathedral makes me feel one with loved ones past and present.
5. What is your favorite bar/club/music venue in France? Where do you like to go out at night? Why?
I just wrote a book on the Paris bar scene called Paris Cocktails. Some of my favorites after going to a whopping 55 craft and serious cocktail bars in just six weeks this winter are: Baton Rouge, a hip new casual place, Bespoke for the nicest owners, Lockwood for a gritty rock n roll vibe, Artisan for people watching Rosebud in the 14th for a classic martini, L’Apicius for the best bloody mary on earth and Le Perchoir especially on the occasional Sunday nights when Michael the sommelier takes over and does a special pop-up event called Les Endimanchés with DJ’s, appetizers, killer drinks, a shared family style meal made by a famous chef plus dancing, and all on the roof!
Doni Belau launched Girls’ Guide to Paris www.girlsguidetoparis.com in September of 2009, a travel website and guide about everything Paris related. After 6 years as an on-line guide to Paris with over 20+ writers on the ground, GG2P now has over 1.5 million readers per year and 75,000 social media followers (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest). Recently Ms. Belau was asked by Cider Mill Press to write the first book on the new Paris Craft Cocktail movement from the press release: “Paris Cocktails transports you to the heart of this trendsetting region with more than 100 artful cocktail recipes. Paris Cocktails also takes you to 100 of the best French bars in Paris and around the world. Evocative photos, scene-setting bar descriptions, mixologist insights, soirée planning themes, and shopping tips make this the perfect guide to the art of French drinking. Paris Cocktails features unique Parisian libations shared by the best bartenders in Paris as well as creative new twists on old classics, Paris Cocktails brings the romance of Paris into your own home!” Paris Cocktails was released on Sept. 15, 2015.
BEST OF FRANCE® is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote the image of France abroad, through major events which highlight the expertise and “Savoir-Faire” of France. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience France in a brand new way, through events and programs which explore the diversity of the French world through its Cuisine, Lifestyle, Tourism, Fashion, Culture, Technology and Innovation.