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Uncovering Nice, Paris and New Orleans

Photo by Geraldine Kaylor, for her blog, The Travel Oyster https://traveloyster.blogspot.com/2024/02/paris-out-our-window.html
Photo by Geraldine Kaylor, for her blog, The Travel Oyster

NICE UNCOVERED

Jeanne Oliver has uncovered Nice. She’s speaking at our upcoming Après-Midi in Nice about her book, Nice Uncovered: Walks Through the Secret Heart of a Historic City. You won’t want to miss the talk, nor will you want to miss reading it and having this book on your shelf.

Jeanne Oliver

Jeanne Oliver

I’ve been living part-time in Nice since 2011, and have explored it like anyone might, discovering the best restaurants, enjoying its beautiful scenery, meeting friendly and interesting people and of course, getting to know the neighborhoods and their beautiful buildings…but this is an in-depth look at the city from its very beginnings that will astonish you.

Jeanne takes you on walks around the city that allow you to see it from a very different perspective. You can feel its trials and tribulations, its glory days and its moments of pain and suffering, from the 3rd century before Christ when the Greeks established a colony on Château Hill and the present day under the auspices of Mayor Christian Estrosi.

The cover of Nice Uncovered, by Jeanne Oliver

There’s a reason Nice is so nice. We can see it on the surface, but do we really know why? I’m learning and loving it. Get a copy of Jeanne Oliver’s book before you come to hear her speak so you’ll be ready to ask all the right questions. And get her to sign it for a special place on your shelf. Here’s how to get it.

The afternoon coffee gathering takes place at Oscar Restaurant, 15 rue Masséna in Nice, upstairs on March 28th from 3 to 5 p.m. See you there with your book in hand.

PARIS OUT OUR WINDOW

So inspired by the view from her temporary Paris apartment, Geraldine Kaylor got out her rusty keyboard to write her Travel Oyster blog after a few years of neglect.

The inspiration might have come from the double rainbow she saw as she approached the building from the other side of the park. Or from the antics of the chefs in the kitchen of the restaurant in the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection that she can see using binoculars, especially easy at night. Either way, she and her husband, Jeffrey have been awed by the benefits of living at the Les Halles location, just over the restaurant, Au Pied de Cochon.

Geraldine Kaylor

Geraldine Kaylor

Jeffrey recanted about the groups of dog walkers who meet in the park daily at the same time to let their dogs run free and play with one another while their owners have their own fun. Geraldine learned some interesting tidbits about the centuries-old tower that adorns the Bourse which was once free-standing and part of an elaborate manor house. And the scene fascinates them as they watch all that goes on from their 5th floor perch.

Be sure to read it, as it’s Geraldine’s version of “Paris Uncovered.”

NEW ORLEANS UNCOVERED

I flew to New Orleans via Atlanta Friday afternoon on Air France. Once before, on the very same flight, I had the entire rear section to myself out of 77 seats. Another time, there were only four of us in a section of 144 seats! It was a first, and a last, as the route became more and more popular and they filled the plane. Still, I’ve learned to book the back section because the chances of scoring more than one seat are high, as they book the plane from front to back, leaving the back of the plane for last.

This time, while I didn’t have it all to myself, at least there was a vacant seat next to me and that makes all the difference in the world when flying economy. It gives you space to stretch out and use the adjacent tray table making maneuvering the small spaces a whole lot easier.

Arriving in the evening, my sister had fresh boiled crabs and crawfish waiting for me, knowing that’s my favorite thing to eat, period. Nothing comes even close. She sent me a text while I was waiting to board the flight from Atlanta to New Orleans with little symbols of both Gulf of Mexico sea creatures to whet my appetite. She knows how to push the right buttons. I’d been dreaming of them for weeks before embarking on the trip.

Crustacean platter

The oldest sister, who also lives in New Orleans, and her husband, came over to say hello and have a coffee while the two of us chowed down on the seafood. They told us a story of having traveled to Barcelona and had some sort of “special” oysters that came from some “special” place (I assumed it might have been France) and that they got a good chuckle about how they weren’t “special” at all—meaning they didn’t stack up to Gulf oysters. I know exactly what they meant as I feel the same way about French oysters. The French LOVE them, but that’s because they haven’t had the ecstasy of downing a fresh Gulf oyster! C’est la vie they haven’t yet had!

Gulf oysters

Gulf oysters

On the agenda for the weekend was a lot of family, a lot of friends and a lot of eating. That’s what you do in New Orleans…eat, drink, party and be merry. New Orleanians just go from one party to another, one festival to another, one parade to another…any excuse to have a good time. Mardi Gras just passed, so the city is a bit calmer, but that won’t stop them from “laissez les bons temps rouler” (letting the good times roll). It’s French, but not really…this expression is unique to New Orleans and Louisiana, and pretty much sums up the sentiment.

One stop we made was a classic—to Morning Call for coffee and “beignets.” I was weaned on this kind of coffee and chicory. My mother literally gave me a cup of dripped coffee and chicory, a piece of toast and sent me off to kindergarten. It’s no wonder I’m hooked on the taste of coffee.

Morning Call in New Orleans

Morning Call in New Orleans

The practice of adding chicory to coffee dates back to the Civil War when coffee was scarce and expensive, so people turned to chicory as a way to stretch their coffee supply. Beignets are fried pastries introduced to New Orleans in the 18th-century by French settlers. They are typically square or rectangular in shape, crafted from leavened dough rather than “Pâte à Choux” (choux pastry). A breakfast staple in New Orleans, or any time (!), they are served piping hot (the best way) and with tons of powdered sugar.

Coffee and beignets

Coffee and beignets

My only request for the entire weekend was a trip to Kenner Seafood, a restaurant and market that the tourists will never see. It’s not far from the airport—in the suburb of Kenner in Jefferson Parish—that is strictly a local affair. I call it a “dive,” but it’s basically a family-style restaurant with big tables and big people, too.

Kenner Seafood

Kenner Seafood

Once when waiting for a table, which can take a long time since it’s so popular, a group of enormous people walked out, each of whom must have been several hundred pounds. Eyeing the group, my sister turned to me quietly and whispered, “They were thin when they came in!” I roared with laughter and that stuck with me ever since.

Before heading over there Saturday night for dinner with the family, there was a report on the local TV news channel about the price of crawfish! Can you imagine devoting a good portion of the news to this one subject? It’s a big deal in this part of the country where the freshwater crustaceans are considered a staple. Again, I had a good chuckle, but then worried that Kenner Seafood might not have enough of the swampy “crawdads” to suit my taste.

Price of crawfish on the tv news in New Orleans

We did wait a while for our table while eyeing the pounds and pounds of fresh-boiled crawfish were dumped into the bin, just waiting for us to order them up. They seated the five of us around the largest square table I’ve ever seen. We were miles away from those opposite, but it was a good thing we had the space for when the two huge round platters of fresh shucked raw Gulf oysters came out first. We also ordered three pounds of crawfish (still hot and very spicy), cups of seafood gumbo (rivaling my mother’s own recipe), and two whole “oyster loafs” (fried oyster po-boys), one fully “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise) and the other not (what my brother-in-law says is “pure”), to be split between us.

Seafood gumbo at Kenner Seafood

Seafood gumbo at Kenner Seafood

One half of the oyster po-boy, "dressed"

One half of the oyster po-boy, “dressed”

This was my idea of heaven and everything was spicy and delicious…a virtual “party in your mouth.” I ignored my stupid strict diet and went for broke, not regretting a single morsel.

Sadly I’m missing the Carnival de Nice while traveling in the U.S. It’s a very different experience than Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but colorful and fun, nonetheless, even if not drowning in food and drink!

Poster for Carnaval de Nice

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds at Kenner SeafoodAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian at Kenner Seafood

P.S. Tomorrow I’m headed west—really far west—flying via Dallas on a very early flight to the Hawaiian island of Maui, to visit my daughter who has been living there during the winter. Next week you will hear more about my remaining time in New Orleans and then get ready for a lot of double rainbows as I take you to Paradise with me!

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