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Around the World in 80 Plates: Blackberry Pastilles, France 5/80

Pastilles, wine gums, pâte de fruit, gumdrops. So many different names, one delicious candy.

These blackberry pastilles take some time and attention, but compared to most other pastille recipes, they use relatively common ingredients.

You probably don’t need to do any digging around in your local shop to find anything. The same can’t be said for recipes that require ingredients like pectin, glucose or gelatin (the last of which sadly takes most jelly sweets off the cards for vegetarians).

All you need for this simple recipe is fruit, more fruit, fruit juice, sugar and water. Easy peasy.
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The ‘merci stone’ walls of Nantes Cathedral, France

‘Merci stone’ walls of Nantes Cathedral

The walls of some cathedrals in Europe are lined with stones inscribed with the words ‘thank you’ (in the local language, of course), giving thanks for specific events or just a general ‘thank you’. In Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes (Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul of Nantes, France), I had my first experience with these ‘merci stones’.

The day I explored Nantes Cathedral, the sun was coming through the stained glass just right to bathe the ‘merci stone’ walls with bursts of red and yellow.

Check out posts about my time travelling around France.

Book review: The Devil’s Cup by Stewart Lee Allen

For all you caffeine fiends and java junkies out there, this is your book!

Stewart Lee Allen has travelled around the world and chronicled the history of the world according to coffee in The Devil’s Cup. From Ethiopia to India and from Paris to Oklahoma, this books leaves no ground unexplored – coffee grounds, that is.
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Book review: French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

French women must have magical powers. It seems they are somehow able to eat and drink whatever they want and still stay thin and healthy.

In French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, author Mireille Guiliano helps us understand their secret of enjoying local, seasonal and delicious food while still staying healthy and happy.

With spring approaching and summer on the horizon, it’s a good time to learn from the French and not go on a diet but change your eating habits for good.
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French bike-sharing article I wrote for ‘Spunky Girl Monologues’

Welcome spring by hopping on your bike! If you’re traveling to France, most cities have a community program that allows you to rent a bike for a day, month or year! Check out the post I wrote called Vélos Vert: Green Bike-Sharing in France.

You can find more posts from other spunky female travelers at their blog Spunky Girl Monologues.

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All you need is love… or wine, cheese and a good picnic spot

The Beatles said all you need is love. Well, they should take a lesson from the French. Yes, love is one option but good wine, decadent cheese and prime picnic spots are another way to go. France’s couples and singles really know how to live the good life. Whether they’re eating alone or in a rush (very rarely on-the-go), meals aren’t wasted on crappy food and when they drink something, they enjoy the hell out of it. Many times in France, my palate was blown away in ways I had never experienced in picnic locations straight from a postcard.
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La joie de vivre – the joy of living

France was certain to be a big change from Spain. I decided I would celebrate the French joie de vivre (joy of living) was by treating myself to a hostel in the center of Carcassonne, a hilltop fortified town in the south of France. While most tourists stay in the ‘ville basse’, the lower, modern town, I was staying in the Cité de Carcassonne, the actual historic fortified part of Carcassonne and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s strange, but while tourists come to Carcassonne to see the Cité, they don’t take the opportunity to actually sleep there. It would be like visiting San Francisco, but sleeping in Oakland. You are there to visit San Francisco, but for some reason you forgo the option of actually sleeping there. The hostel was beautiful, with a peaceful backyard (not what you expect in a small touristic town), plenty of space to relax and easy access to everything you’d want to see in Carcassonne.
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