Living abroad has it’s high points (pastries, baguettes, wine!) and it’s low points (taxes, paper work, paper work, bureaucracy, paper work). Most of the times I credit the incredible network of friends that I have here for getting me through so many of the obstacles that there are including… French Taxes.
Did it bring chills to your heart just as it did for me?
This year I had the privilege of doing not just my US Taxes (it doesn’t matter that I’m officially living in France), but my French taxes as well. Both completely different with utterly different due dates. One of which I completely put from my mind until about a month before when I was talking to Laura and she said, oh hey Molly, don’t forget, French taxes are due on May 18th (I love my friends). ah ha! I said- not a problem! I have no idea how to do them but I have a couple of weeks to figure it out. Laura said- umm how about I send you the links I used and the website where you can find your local tax office. And by the way, for you Molly, wink wink, they’re due on the 1st. ha ha! Do my friends know me well.
Me getting my taxes done went a little something like this (side note, my days off from work are Wednesday-Thursday so that’s when I get all of these fun things done):
Wednesday, May 4th– Well, I’ve passed the “Molly Deadline” eh not really feeling it, I’ll do it tomorrow.
Thursday, May 5th– ah hey Jenni! I’m going to go do my taxes at the Services des Impots after yoga today. pause erm Molly, it’s a holiday….
May 11-12– Bruges trip! yippee! I’ll just do my taxes when I get back. No worries!
Friday, May 13th– Panic attack, omg they’re due on Wednesday! Uber to my local tax center, the Services des Impots, with all my paperwork during my hour long lunch break to find there is a massive bee swarm happening by the office and it’s closed because it’s… you guessed it…isn’t a holiday, but it was a holiday the day before…
Monday, May 16th– Resigned to the fact that I’ll probably just have to do them on Wednesday, the day they’re due, and pray that all goes well.
Wednesday, May 18th– Tax Due Date! Wake up throughout the night. Make it to the Services des Impots by 9:30am.
The place was smelly with BO and hot. A single bead of sweat went down my back as I passed the security guard. Two people in front of me in the line?! What luck! Five minutes later and it was my turn.
Bonjour Monsieur, est-ce que vous pouvez m’aider avec mes impots?
The very unlucky Monsieur in French, you know that they are due today right? Would you like me to speak in English?
I said, sure! Thank you!
And thus commenced the easiest taxes I’ve ever done in my life with the tax guy that insisted on speaking in English with me, got covered in sweat in the process, and would not switch back to French even as I politely tried to change it back by responding in French to every question in an attempt to save his shirt.
I was handed a three page form and pointed the particular sections I needed to fill out: name, address, the usual. And then a pause, a grimace- do you have proof of your housing? Because we will need it today. You can return later with it.
And out comes my massive French paperwork binder with my whole life in it. (ah I am so prepared! even though I’m doing it on the day it’s due!) Would you like my housing contract and proof of housing insurance? Work contract? Passport? I got it all! Massive look of relief and I was pointed to a seating area where I filled out the necessary form in a matter of 5 minutes, returned to the desk, he looked it over, and it was done, in 10 minutes…! Seriously.
I left wanting to do a little jig and call everyone I know to say- ha! I win!
So much different than what I would lovingly experience with my US taxes a mere month later (expats have an extension until June), where I was up until 3 in the morning, cross-eyed, trying to decipher sentences like:
If line 38 and the number of days in your 2015 tax year (usually 365) are the same, enter “1.000”. Otherwise, divide line 38 by the number of days in your 2015 tax year and enter the result as a decimal. Multiply line 37 by line 39, then subtract line 36 from line 27.
Long story short- procrastination paid off this time… for my French taxes. Or rather, it didn’t bite me in the butt.
French Tax Resources/Info:
The first year doing it here I had to go into an office, but next year, I should be able to just login online!
One last note: Was it easy? oh ya! And luckily I shouldn’t really owe anything this year. Next year though, I’ll probably owe the equivalent of a month’s pay check. ouch!
A couple of months ago, I was talking to my friend Cara about how I really wanted to take advantage of my days off during the week and take mini vacations to different places in France or beyond. It took absolutely no convincing and two suggestions on places to go and we were already looking at hotels and dates. Cara sent me 10 hotel options, of practically all I loved, and in a matter of a work day hour, it was planned. Bruges. The hotel Cara had stayed at before with her man and a city I had long wanted to discover.
Side story: Cover your ears mom, but the plan had been to visit it on a day trip back when I went to Brussels two years ago, but the Beer tour the night before completely changed my morning plans. Continue Reading →
Imagine a Strawberry Shortcake in a layered cake format and you’re just about there. Introducing the Strawberry Rosemary Charlotte!
After snagging an entire plaque of strawberries I got to baking in the kitchen of the lovely home in the 16th arrondissement I was watching.
Whipped cream infused with rosemary mixed with fresh strawberry puree and whole strawberries to make a mousse and encased with handmade and pipped lady fingers. Then all of this is topped with a little lady finger hat and more fresh strawberries.
Let’s take a peak inside shall we!
oh Spring do I love thee!
As the interior mousse can be made with any kind of fruit puree this one is great to have at any season- Pear Charlotte? Apple Charlotte? ohhh ya!
A quick hour train ride away from Paris and I felt like I was in another country and it was exactly as I expected. Cows, fields of green grass, and an immediate downpour of rain. I was in Normandy for the first time and breathing in as much fresh air as I could fill my lungs with!
I had been invited to join the last two days of the Fabulous Feast in Normandy Trip organized by Delicious Connections to photograph their exciting adventures!
The rain shower had just let up when the whole van of food discoverers pulled up at the train station in Le Mans to pick me up, complete with a huge grin from the owner of the Chateau where we were staying, Charles-Henry, and long time friend of Patricia’s, the owner of Delicious Connections. Regaled with stories of the countryside and the winery they had just visited nearby, we made our way back to Chateau de Saint Paterne, a family owned little hotel in the most magnificent setting.
Traditionally French with a gorgeous yard, fabulous food, and access to Normandy and the Loire valley, it is a wonderful place to stay- I might have been dancing in circles in our room and lounging outside to catch some much needed sun that would peek through the clouds every once and awhile.
The next morning we were off to the market in nearby town Alencon and there was just something about it! I’d visited several markets before but this one felt really special. It was bustling with locals doing their daily shopping and I think we were they only ‘tourists’ there. The produce was outstanding, covered in dirt from the fields, lush rich healthy colors, and incredible quality. A quaint little market that was everything you imagined one would be in the French countryside.
oh how I wished I lived nearby so I could have bought eggs from this lady! Best advertising ever!
And then there was the apple guy, with crates upon crates of different varieties of apples and bottles of cider.
With our knowledgeable guide, Charles-Henry, we picked up produce for a cooking class and the meals they would be cooking at the Chateau for the next few days.
Then it was off to explore the city, including this cute chocolate shop, Chocolats Glatigny.
There we tried a regional specialty, a chocolate with a ganache center and a hard meringue shell.
The next stop was a lovely little town for lunch. In France there is a designation of “les Plus Beaux Villages en France,” and this one was most certainly beautiful! It was made ever so sweet too by the clear skies that awaited us after dodging thunderous rain and hail(!) on the drive over.
Lunch was at a little cafe that had been around for quite awhile. After we’d finished eating, our waiter motioned us upstairs where he showed us artwork that had been painted directly on the walls by starving artists to pay for their meals.
The afternoon ended with a cooking class in the family’s private kitchens at the Chateau where we learned how to make (and flambe with Calvados) apple chicken in cider, a vegetable torte encased in cabbage leaves, and a frozen meringue and cream dessert called Vacherin that was customary to the region.
The cherry on top was that the meal we prepared was served to all the guests at dinner that night!
Here is the recipe we made for dessert. The finished dessert tasted much like ice cream and is great to make-ahead and keep in the freezer for any occasion. A special thanks to Delicious Connections, and Charles-Henry and Ségolène de Valbray of Chateau de St. Paterne for the recipe.
VACHERINS MAISON ST. PATERNE
4 large meringues with almonds (either purchased or made at home- each meringue should be about 6 inches in diameter)
1 cup crème fraîche
4 eggs (pasteurized)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a bowl, mix the egg yolks, crème fraîche, sugar and vanilla.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the egg mixture.
Crush the meringues into big pieces and add them to the above preparation. You might not use all of the meringue, just watch the consistency. Any extra meringue is great to serve with the finished dessert.
Put in the freezer in crown molds (round molds) and serve with chocolate sauce or a red fruit coulis.
It was such a wonderful trip and I’m so thankful to Delicious Connections for having me along!
Now usually there’s a bit of a heads up when something opens: construction, a coming soon sign, maybe a news article, but this one seemed to pop up literally overnight. One minute I’m jumping on the train to go to Normandy and the next, a text from a friend saying Fou de Patisserie is opening a boutique on Rue Montorgueil (a street I live off of and walk down almost every day).
Now my first thought was hmmm– what could they be selling because Fou de Patisserie is an incredible magazine that is focused entirely on pastry with amazing pictures and loads of recipes. (They will send the magazine all over the world too.) I seriously texted my friend and said, are they just going to be selling the magazine, surely not! It’s great but I don’t see it paying the rent.
And no, this is a brand new idea actually and a nice deviation from the crop of mono-product shops that have been opening up in the past years. The Fou de Patisserie Boutique will not be selling just one type of pastry like eclairs or macarons, but a variety, and even better than that… lots of different pastries from… a mix of the top pastry chefs in Paris. Just think- a place to go and sample handpicked pastries from several different fabulous patisseries. Made fresh and brought in each morning!
THIS IS HUGE!
And so. dangerous.
Therefore my resolve of just buying one pastry changed from two to three in a matter of seconds.
Currently at the Fou de Patisserie boutique are the following pastries in the case:
Le Baba au Rhum by Cyril Lignac, rum cake with creme chantilly
L’Equinox by Cyril Lignac, vanilla bourbon whipped ganache, center of salted caramel on a praline speculoos biscuit and covered in white chocolate
Le Phil’goût by Philippe Conticini, chocolate, hazelnut, and craquounet
Le Cheesecake Cassis/Mandarine de Sicile by Jonathan Blot, sable cookie made with Sicilian almonds, ricotta mousse, confit of cassis and mandarine from Sicile
La Tarte au Chocolat et Thé Earl Grey by Jonathan Blot, tart shell of pate a sucrée with cocoa powder and fleur de sel, chocolate ganache infused with earl grey topped with whipped ganache, toasted hazelnuts and cocoa nibs
L’Eclair Caramel/Beurre Salé by Christophe Adam (l’Eclair de Genie), pate a choux, salted caramel ganache
L’Eclair Parfums de Saison by Christophe Adam (l’Eclair de Genie), pate a choux, and a selection of seasonal flavors, made exclusively for Fou de Patisserie Boutique
Le Mille-Feuille by Hugues Pouget (Huge & Victor), puff pastry, ganache, lightly whipped cream with Madagascar vanilla
La Tarte au Citron-Vert by Hugues Pouget (Huge & Victor), pate sablée, almond creme, lemon/lime curd, and italian meringue
La Tarte Pistache/Pamplemousse by Olivier Haustraete (Boulangerie BO), pate sucrée sablée, light frangipane cream, pistachio, and grapefruit slices All are 5.90 euros and made fresh daily. They’re kept in refrigerators behind the pastry case- probably a nifty storage solution in a tiny Paris space. Let’s just note that I barely made it past the glazed Madelines by Gilles Marchal.
So ordering got difficult as my first selection of the super cool looking cheesecake turned into a quick addition of the Chocolate Earl Grey tart and then because the lady that was helping me was near them and the customer before me had bought them and because I love them, a financier. whoops. :-D
The cheesecake was so light and delicate with the perfect crust and right amount of flavor from the cassis/mandarine.
Chocolate upon chocolate with a subtle note of Earl Grey tea and a nice contrast in textures between the ganache and cream. And bonus- the crust wasn’t hard to get through like so many tart crusts can be.
Along the other side of the boutique is a selection of chocolates and caramels. Unrefrigerated goods are at the front in the store window just begging you to grab one without even asking.
Am I happy about this shop opening? NO! Because I will be there seriously all the time! This is NOT good. New life goal: try all the offerings at the boutique and any new rotations.
The oldest pastry shop down the street, Stohrer, will probably still get my visit for the classic no frills caramel eclair though. :-)
Fou de Patisserie Boutique – 45 rue Montorgueil, 75002 Paris
Open Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 8pm, Saturday from 9:30am to 8pm and Sunday from 9:30am to 1:30pm