Posts

Renoir Tour: Chatou – Carrieres-sur-Seine

Want to avoid the Parisian tourist crowds and venture out of the city for something a bit different?  This Renoir Tour between Chatou and Carrieres-sur-Seine is a must walk along by the Seine when the weather is as beautiful as this – and expect a few surprises!

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Only 10 km west of Paris, Chatou is remarkably quick to get to by express commuter train. A few visitor friends from abroad have been surprised to discover that coming to les Yvelines is such a breath of fresh air. So, what’s better than taking one of the four Impressionists’ walks in the area, compiled by the Office de Tourism?

The Renoir Tour lasts about 1h30. Here’s our map at the ready so let’s do it together now. Sitting comfortably?

Renoir Tour Chatou - Carrieres

Part of the boucles (buckle) de Seine, following the Impressionists

Renoir Tour: Chatou to Carrières-sur-Seine

The Renoir Tour starts at the Hameau Fournaise, situated on the Impressionists’ Island on the Seine in Chatou looking over to Reuil Malmaison. There are a few buildings, notably the Fournaise Restaurant and Fournaise Museum. This houses temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection of what life resembled at the end of the 19th century.

It’s a time when bourgeois Parisians and artists were attracted outside Paris by les Guingettes, the good life on the banks of the Seine – drinking, eating simple, hearty food and dancing – thanks to the new railway line that brought them to Chatou.

renoir tour chatou carrieres

Pierre-August Renoir was a regular at the Restaurant Fournaise in the summer, painting a few portraits of the owner’s daughter, Alphonsine.

During the summer of 1879, it’s here that Renoir met Aline Charigot who became his wife. She figures in perhaps his most famous painting, “Le Déjeuneur des Canotiers”, painted in 1880.

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres

It never ceases to amaze me that Renoir and his friends were here.  Here on that balcony under the orange-striped awnings. Each time I look up at it, it’s as if we can hear the laughter and the clinking of wine glasses echoing along the Seine.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

It doesn’t stop there.  Just a few metres away is another billboard showing us the other Renoir masterpiece painted in 1881, “Les Canotiers à Chatou”.  Next door, the boating workshop is worth a visit, as they prepare the same boats. Just smell the wood and the varnish!

Renoir tour chatou carrieres

Sadly the restaurant doesn’t open for teatime so I tend to bring my own box of macarons with me! Now the actual 4km walk begins by crossing over the bridge, past Notre Dame church and a walk right down to the Seine along the pretty Quai du Nymphée.

Pass the Barrage de Chatou, the hydroelectric dam. This feat of engineering was re-constructed in 2013. In the distance are the locks for the barge traffic plus a fish ladder. Keep your eyes out for some magnificent birds.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Making the most of the glorious birch yellows and golds along the walk, the view over to the Impressionist Island includes the club-house of the 9-hole golf Ile Fleurie. Thankfully the Seine levels have gone down since I was last there, as I tend to shoot most of my balls in the river!

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres Sur Seine Walk

Turn left into the Parc de la Vallière, listed as one of the prettiest gardens in France. Designed by Le Nôtre, it took its name from Louis XIV’s favourite mistress, who stayed in Carrières-sur-Seine from 1661 for 9 years.

Renoir Tour secret walks just outside Paris

The park in summer at Carrieres, inspiring Monet’s painting – Secret Paris

At the entrance to the park, is the billboard showing the exact location of Monet’s painting, Carrières-Saint-Denis (1878) in the Musée d’Orsay.

Renoir Tour Chatou to Carrieres sur Seine

Carrières-sur-Seine was previously known as Carrières-Saint-Denis, as the rocks that were used to build the royal chapel of Saint-Denis came from Carrières. It’s possible to visit the Carrières, although this is currently only 3 times a year. Thankfully I took part in the visit very recently so I’ll post it soon before the next French tour.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Why mushrooms? Because the carrières were also used as Champignonnières. Caves are perfect for mushroom-growing and, although they don’t grow as many mushrooms here now, local mushroom producers are not far away and sell their excellent fresh champignons blonds, full of flavour, at our local markets in les Yvelines.

Speaking of mushrooms, have you tried these recipes yet? Mushroom Cappuccino, mushroom truffle savoury macaron filling, Blanquette de Veau?

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres sur Seine

The majestic Mairie sits at the top of the park. Incidentally, did you know that locals from Carrières are called  Carillons (masculine) or Carillonnes (feminine), which translate into “Chimes” and “Ringing,” respectively.[1]

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres sur Seine

This is where this walk took on new meaning recently. During a discussion with my friend, Emilie at the Saint-Germain Boucles-de-Seine Tourism office, I realised that for years I’d completely missed a little street just across from the park and the Mairie.

Follow the little lane of Rue Victor Hugo and the house at N°14 shows us a first glimpse of les maisons troglodytes, houses built into the limestone.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres Cave Houses

Following the lane further emits a relatively spooky ambience.

These mysterious caves echo Medieval times when the first habitants settled while looking for stone for the eventual gothic buildings constructed in Paris.

Renoir Tour Secret Paris

I wonder if we can open that door?

No doubt is has centuries of stories to tell.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

The curious built-in rock dwellings serve as cellars, caves, barns or garages.  Just walking around, however, it’s not that obvious when everything is closed. Silent. Muffled.

Secret Paris Renoir Tour Walk Along Seine

Imagine that this is just 10 km and about 20 minutes by train from central Paris?

Renoir tour Chatou Carrieres

This is my kind of Disneyland.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Further up the lane is private property but the view across to the Park from rue Victor Hugo is testament as to the Impressionists’ love for the area.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Venture up the hill past the Mairie, the trickling fountain

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

and at the top of the steps on Passage de Fanil is another billboard depicting “Le Village” painted by Maurice de Vlaminck.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres

Just across the road is a renovated beauty, complete with rose-tangled balcony. Imagine the view over the Seine overlooking the west of Paris and La Défénse?

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

By this time I can imagine you’re peckish for a French teatime goûter? Venture up to the centre of the village, enjoying all the little lanes and steps.

renoir tour chatou carrieres

Simply follow the fragrances of chocolate, tarts, éclairs from Le Carillon Gourmand (Maison Boé). They make macarons just on the weekends so, for the sake of art, I took a coffee éclair (recipe in my book, Teatime in Paris) for you to enjoy in the park before returning back to Chatou.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

Follow that barge and continue back on the same walkway along by the Seine.

Renoir Tour Chatou Carrieres

How to Get There

RER Line A (red) from Paris to Chatou (direction Ouest, Saint-Germain-en-Laye).
For more information on the area, boat rides on the Seine etc. visit the Saint-Germain Boucles de Seine Tourism Office in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Renoir Walk Chatou Carrieres

Pin me for later – or keep this a secret!

 

 

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Do you need a quick and easy solution sometimes? Mine is often a batch of almost brownie-like, intense dark Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies – especially after making chocolate macarons.

Why? Surely seeing a batch of finished, sandwiched macarons together, there’s no problem, right?

chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies – BEFORE …

Sit down with a cup of tea and imagine the scene: there’s this large batch of dark chocolate and hazelnut macarons sitting sandwiched together with gooey ganache on a baking tray and their incredible aromas are snake-drifting around the house. Suddenly, a numbed expectant devouring silence hits the air, as my chocolate-loving teenagers and husband remember… they are NOT ready to eat just yet.

They’ve learned over time not to pinch one. Instead, it’s totally worth the wait for macarons to mature to their ultimate, crispy and fondant perfection. So, as the heavy macaron-laden box disappears in the fridge for a couple of days to perform their magic, my favourite nutty cookies come to the rescue.

Why haven’t I posted my favourite cookie recipe yet? Perhaps because, paradoxically, I make them so often. Or perhaps it has been my safely guarded secret, passed to me by our local chocolate factory.  Yes, one of our neighbours a couple of blocks away was the Chocolaterie du Pecq. Alas, I say ‘was’, as they are permanently shut down following a fire that took place a couple of years ago.

Every December, they would open their doors for a few hours to the public. Us locals would queue, unusually for the French – even if it was more sideways than a normal straight British-style queue – on our allotted early morning Saturday slot. As we were tasting their latest magic (another reason for going sideways and becoming high on cacao), we’d complete our order forms for bulk packs of the most exquisite dark chocolate chips, praline, unsweetened cocoa powder and ballotins of our favourite filled chocolates.

chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies – AFTER …

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies – with Toasted Nuts & Salt!

Thankfully, the chocolate factory’s recipes go on – and this is one of them. Over the years, I’ve used their original recipe, cutting down on the sugar (if it’s too sweet, how can you appreciate all the flavours in there?) but if you have a few more minutes (that’s all), take the cookies to the NEXT LEVEL and toast some hazelnuts and add a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s all in the recipe below!

Have you put dark chocolate and good quality salt (fleur de sel from Brittany) together? The chocolate becomes even more intense in flavour. If you’ve never tried this before, then I urge you to give it a go.  Added to these cookies, it makes them even more addictive.  And speaking of salty cookies, have you tried these palets bretons, the deliciously salty butter biscuits from Brittany?

chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

Gooey and intense in dark chocolate with toasted hazelnuts and a hint of fleur de sel salt

Next time you make a batch of chocolate macarons, just remember this quick and easy cookie recipe – and, if you have extra whites left over, then make some crunchy Tuiles or delicious buttery Financiers from my book, Teatime in Paris!

I can sense that this will be seen as “just another cookie recipe post”. Am I right? Prove me wrong and try the recipe. If you do, please tell me and rate the recipe below!

5 from 3 votes
chocolate chip hazelnut cookies
Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
17 mins
Total Time
37 mins
 

Perfectly gooey, crumbly and intense in dark chocolate, these toasted hazelnut cookies are addictive with a touch of French fleur de sel salt to add that extra oh-la-la factor while waiting for your chocolate macarons to mature.

Course: Breakfast, Snack, teatime
Cuisine: American, French
Servings: 12 cookies
Calories: 158 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 80 g (3oz) unsalted Butter softened, nearly melted
  • 50 g (1.75oz) cane Sugar or Cassonade French sugar
  • 50 g (1.75oz) ground hazelnuts hazelnut flour
  • 80 g (3oz) plain flour all-purpose
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Van Houten) OPTIONAL
  • 1 egg (organic) at room temperature
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt fleur de sel
  • 100 g (3.5oz) dark chocolate chips (good quality)
  • 40 g (1.5oz) hazelnuts OPTIONAL
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas6.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until it looks a moussy mixture

  2. Dry fry the hazelnuts for about 5 minutes over a high heat until toasted.

  3. Add all the other ingredients and mix together using a spatula or spoon. If adding the extra toasted hazelnuts, chop them roughly or break them up in a mortar & pestle or crush them in a ziplock bag using a rolling pin. 

  4. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or a silicone mat. Using a dessert spoon or ice cream scoop, form about 10-12 balls well spaced apart. You may need a second baking sheet, depending on the size of yours. 

  5. Turn down the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/320°F/Gas3 and bake them for 17 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Recipe Notes

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION per 40g serving (makes 12 cookies): 158 Calories; 3g protein; lipids 10g; glucides 14g.

Best eaten on the day but store in a cookie jar and eat within 24 hours so they're at their best.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

chocolate chip hazelnut cookies

Never Miss a Post!

Sign up for your free email alert, straight to your inbox: daily, weekly or monthly.
Your email is never shared so don’t be shy…

 

Cheesy Red Onion Pepper Cornbread

If you love Cheese Scones, then you’ll love this Cheesy Red Onion Pepper Cornbread. Like Scones and Irish Soda Bread, Cornbread is a fast bread that’s quick and easy to make since it doesn’t rely on yeast to rise over time.  So it’s handy to have up your woolly sleeve when you’re snowed in, or just for a nourishing, homemade snack or supper at little notice.

red onion pepper cornbread

You may remember seeing photos of the snow hitting Paris recently. As Antoine luckily avoided it being abroad on business and the girls and I were magically snowed in with no school, us mice turned to more British-style lunches with hot, nourishing bowls of soup (such as pumpkin & leek, sweetcorn & pepperrocket soups) and something rather special to go with it.

Round cheese scones

I quickly discovered that a walk to our local boulangerie was pretty precarious; with the streets un-gritted and discovering my boots were needing new soles with proper grips, it was preferable to stay in slippers.

So, rather than slip about like some mad woman in the search of a good French baguette, I turned to my roots and made a few batches of my favourite recipe for cheese scones with spring onion & rosemary – even cheating (why does the snow make me lazy?)! I made just one big ball, flattened it slightly and gently criss-crossed it with a knife before putting it in the oven.  It didn’t look perfect but the result was fabulous!

cheesy red onion pepper cornbread

Cheesy Red Onion Pepper Cornbread

After trying a delicious Cheesy Jalapeno Soda Bread from Camilla at FabFood4All (I love how she uses beer instead of buttermilk), and with cornmeal about to reach its sell-by-date in the pantry, I was inspired to turn to a more savoury version of cornbread, adding cheese, onions and red peppers.

For traditional American cornbread lovers, please don’t be offended that I have omitted any sugar or honey from the recipe.  After experimenting and playing around with various versions, the girls have given the thumbs up to this final savoury version – it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s healthy, delicious – and colourful too. Moreover, as I don’t have a traditional skillet to cook it in, I just used a cake pan and it slipped out so easily.

cheesy red onion pepper cornbread

The additions of salt (or fleur de sel) and fresh rosemary or thyme (I saved from the garden!) when serving, just add that extra delicious touch. For the cheese, you could use a good, mature cheddar or French Comté – but here I grated in matured Mimoulette cheese, which has much less fat and just as sharp on the taste.

If you love things a little spicy, then sprinkle on some smoked paprika to the vegetables before baking.

5 from 3 votes
Cheesy red onion pepper cornbread
Cheesy Red Onion Pepper Cornbread
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 
If you love Cheese Scones, then you'll love this Cheesy Red Onion Pepper Cornbread. Like Scones and Irish Soda Bread, Cornbread is a fast bread that's quick and easy to make since it doesn't rely on yeast to rise over time.  So it's handy to have up your woolly sleeve when you're snowed in, or just generally feeling like a nourishing, homemade snack or supper at little notice.
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American, British
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 262 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 150 g (5.5oz) cornmeal
  • 100 g (3.5oz) plain flour all-purpose
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt fleur de sel
  • 1 tbsp rosemary or thyme finely chopped
  • 100 g (3.5oz) comté, mimoulette or cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 egg organic
  • 340 ml (12oz) buttermilk* (or milk with 2 tbsp lemon juice) SEE NOTES
Topping
  • 1 red onion finely sliced
  • 1 red pepper roughly chopped
  • 1 cob fresh corn kernels (or small tin sweetcorn)
  • 1 tsp salt (fleur de sel) for sprinkling before serving
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika optional
Instructions
  1. Prepare the topping: fry the red onion and pepper in one tablespoon of the olive oil for about 10 minutes over a medium heat until translucent (not browned). Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.

  2. Prepare the batter: in a large mixing bowl sift in the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, grated cheese and rosemary.  Using a large spoon, mix in the egg and buttermilk until smooth.

  3. Oil a 24cm cake tin with the other tablespoon of olive oil and pour in the batter.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

  4. Remove from the oven, top with the onion and pepper mix, sweetcorn and (if using) the smoked paprika and return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

  5. Leave to cool slightly in the tin then remove and enjoy while still warm.

Recipe Notes

* If you don't have buttermilk, use full fat normal milk, add 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice and leave to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes then use as buttermilk.

Nutritional Information: Per 170g serving (serves 6): 262 Calories, 11g protein, 8g lipids, 37g glucides.

Delicious served with sweetcorn and red pepper soup.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Cheesy red onion pepper cornbread

Never Miss a Post!

Sign up for your free email alert, straight to your inbox: daily, weekly or monthly.
Your email is never shared so don’t be shy…

 

 

Raspberry Clafoutis with Lemon Verbena

A delicious twist to the classic French clafoutis recipe using raspberries and a lemony twist of verbena – and it’s gluten free!

Gingerbread Apple Caramel Trifles

A must try! Autumnal trifles with a hint of spice – delicious with salted caramel macarons from Teatime in Paris.