View from our Dorado Beach Hotel terrace.

Rafting in the Rio Paquare, Costa Rica was an exhilirating, heart thumping experience

" On the way to Tilcara and Humahuaca, the landscape is unreal, the color tones of the earth, and the huge mountains, are all overwhelming"

I ticked off another destination on my bucket list and, in retrospect, am finding it hard to determine which vacation I loved more: the South African Safari http://singita.com/ or a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Aperitif on the beach at sunset, in Grand Cayman, is priceless

Quechua ladies of Peru

Three Days in Paris

By: Esilda Buxbaum

I love Paris and I would go there at the drop of a hat. So when I had to go to Europe recently on a business trip, I figured out a way to end it in Paris. My colleague Esty and I decided to visit some hotels in the 6th and 7th arrondissement and in between have a few nice meals and perhaps do some shopping. We stayed at the Hotel Le Fleurie http://www.hotel-de-fleurie.fr/ , a small typical Parisian hotel on Rue Gregoire-de-Tours in the 6th just half a block from Blvd. St. Germain; the Odeon Metro is just a block away. They have 22 rooms and a very friendly and helpful staff.

Our first night we were invited to have dinner with the sales manager of the Hotel Lutetia in their brasserie. A big plateau of seafood and a chilled bottle of Muscadet arrived and we soon started planning the rest of our meals. The next night we dined at the very rustic Chez L’Ami Jean http://www.lamijean.eu where the Basque chef Stephane Jego, from one of our all time favorite bistros La Regalade, reigns over a crowded and cramped tiny restaurant. If you are not careful, your elbow will end up in someone’s duck dish. The mushroom Vol au Vent, the Chipirrones served with a red pepper sorbet and some lardo, and the Cochon au Lait (roasted suckling pig) were memorable dishes. The fare here reminded me of that of Aux Lyonnais, a small bistro owned by Alain Ducasse, which also has gutsy food.

The following day it was raining cats and dogs and dinosaurs too when we got off the bus, five blocks away from the Le Violon D’Ingres http://www.leviolondingres.com . We did not have umbrellas, not that they would have helped. We waited under cover until the deluge abated a little for us to make a dash for it. I am glad we did as chef Christian Constant did not disappoint. I had the Feuillete d’Escargot (snails in a pastry shell) and then the Tatin d’Andouillette on top of the creamiest mashed potatoes ever, as good as Robouchon’s. The andouillette was barnyardy and at the same time very elegantly plated with a jus that was so rich it made my lips stick together.

The day we were leaving, we had a quick lunch at Le Comptoir du Relais. The chef, Yves Camdeborde, was once part of Christian Constant’s team at the hotel Crillon and gained fame by opening La Regalade. This traditional bistro, which is extremely small, is part of the Hotel Relais Saint Germain. If you are staying at the hotel (which we saw and is very pleasant with large rooms), you are assured of getting one of the coveted tables. The restaurant opens at 12 noon for lunch and since they do not accept reservations, the line outside starts forming at 11:30AM. We shared an Assiette de Saucisson, a platter with several types of sausages and pickles, then I had the Filet Canette, the tenderloin from the duck breast, which was tender, gamey, and luscious. Some salad, wine, bottled water, and coffee came to 86 euros including service and taxes for two persons.
The restaurant does not seem to have a website, but the hotel does: http://www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com


Addresses:
Hotel de Fleurie
32 Rue Gregoire du Tours, 6th arr.
Ph: 01 53 73 70 00

Chez L’Ami Jean
27 Rue Malar, 7th arr.
Ph: 01 47 05 86 89

Le Violon D’Ingres
135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 7th arr.
Ph: 01 45 55 15 05

Le Comptoir du Relais
5 Carrefour de l’Odeon, 6th arr.
Ph: 01 44 27 07 97