7 Small French Towns That Could Star In A Hallmark Movie


In North America, Hallmark movies have become part of the Christmas tradition, a celebratory viewing of feel-good movies together with the whole family while snuggled on the couch, with Christmas decorations surrounding you. But what about those of us who want to travel over the holiday season, but would still like that warm feel-good feeling that small, Christmassy towns give you in the films?

If you find yourself in France, fret not, there are plenty of small, friendly towns and villages that give you that Christmas cheer and charm. I have selected some of my favorite places that give you a warm fuzzy feeling, with a quaintness that makes your heart soar, and doubly so around Christmas time.

Here are some not to be missed.

Amazing house near the small picturesque waterfall in Moret-sur-Loing.
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

1. Moret-sur-Loing

Picture yourself walking through medieval city gates, across an ancient bridge, looking down to an old watermill sitting in the middle of the river. Nearby are restaurants looking out over the river, and a main street decorated with pretty lights. Moret-sur-Loing lies on the perimeter of the Fontainebleau Forest and is picture perfect. If you ever wanted to send a Hallmark postcard from France, the view from the bridge at Moret-sur-Loing would certainly be on the front. Not surprising that the painter Sisley was inspired by the town, and you can follow in his footsteps on a private walking tour hitting all the scenic spots. 

Pro Tip: While walking along the Loing River will occupy you for a while, this is a small, if hugely quaint town, so why not combine it with nearby, and also rather pretty, but a bit more lively Fontainebleau?

Exterior of La Petite France, Strasbourg.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

2. La Petite France, Strasbourg

Strasbourg is well known for its Christmas cheer, but when it comes to Hallmark movie-perfect settings, head straight to the old quarter by the river. La Petite France was, in the Middle Ages, the home of the tanners, because of its proximity to the river Ill. In those days, I am sure it was not a desirable place to be, with the tightly huddled houses, narrow lanes, tiny squares, and those smells. Today, Petite France is not just a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but at Christmastime, it is still the same as centuries ago, but much improved. Tightly packed half-timbered buildings, all a little crooked, tiny squares filled with huts and stalls and twinkling trees, and the smells lingering in the air are that of mulled wine, hot chocolate, sausages with sauerkraut, and plenty of sweet things. The river is now clean and gurgling through locks and a double-decker 17th-century dam. Add covered bridges, and the cutest houses on little peninsulas right in the river, and you have probably found the most Hallmark movie spot in France. I would never suggest that you don’t look at the whole of Strasbourg, it is so lovely, but La Petite France is where you could easily imagine a film crew capturing the utter prettiness and charm of this quarter. And, you have a good chance of it snowing at Christmas.

Pro Tip: To really soak up the romance of Petite France, stay at the Hotel & Spa Regent Petite France located in a 17th-century former watermill, and you will be right in the movie.

Produce and fruit stand in St-Germain-en-Laye.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

3. Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a community just across the Seine from Paris. Perched high on a hill, with Paris stretching out below, not only are the views movie-appropriate but so is the small town. The marketplace of St-Germain-en-Laye is filled with a gorgeous selection of fresh food and produce stalls every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday, and together with the narrow, cobbled streets that lead out to a grand castle and those views across Paris, are reason enough to love this community. But add the Christmas sparkle and the Christmas Village which has the backdrop of the chateau, and it gets very picturesque indeed. This is the place many choose to live in preference to central Paris, mostly because of the community, charm, and quaintness, all within a 20-minute RER A train ride of Paris.

Pro Tip: Sit with coffee and a croissant on the terrace of Café de l’Industrie, at the back of the market square, and watch the hustle and bustle, and you will see why this community is included. Everybody knows everybody else, stopping to chat, and then go about their daily business, and you can just imagine a Hallmark plot taking place here.

4. The Saint-Louis Quarter, Versailles

Versailles is beautiful at Christmas, but for that extra touch of charm, away from the rather grandiose palace, head to the Saint-Louis Quarter. Here you find no imposing grandeur, nor rugged medieval history, but the superbly quaint and charming “Carrés Saint-Louis.” A village within the small town of Versailles, so very different from the rest of the town. There are squares hemmed by tiny buildings, the ground floor usually housing an individual boutique, an art gallery, an artisan workshop, or a small café, and on the floor above, former living accommodations. All painted in beautiful colors, and too cute for words, these little buildings cover a few blocks. They surround picturesque squares where children play and old people sit and chat and were constructed under Louis XV as accommodation for a new market, still perfectly retaining their unique charm that would be a perfect setting for a Hallmark movie.

Pro Tip: Stay within Saint-Louis so as to not lose that Christmassy feeling and sleep in the small and utterly romantic Hotel Berry.

exterior of Dijon.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

5. Dijon

Dijon has so many cutesy corners, crooked half-timbered houses, and small historic spots, that it is always a delight. But at Christmastime, all these special little corners are lit up, filled with market stalls, and turn into a Christmas wonderland. Especially the corner of Place Francois Rude, nearly too charming for words.

Place Darcy and Rue de la Liberté contain around 60 chalets selling beautiful arts and crafts and offering the best of Dijon’s famous cuisine, which is even better when sampled in winter. Who can beat a warming beef bourguignon? For that little bit of an extra special treat at Christmas, head to the truffle market held in the market hall.

The pretty market hall, designed by Monsieur Gustave Eiffel of tower fame, is one of the most iconic would-be Hallmark movie locations, with families doing their seasonal shopping, people meeting friends at the various stands over a glass of wine, and everything twinkling with pretty lights.

Pro Tip: For that old-world charm, stay at the Maison Philippe le Bon, which is a lovely hotel in the center, which has kept the old features of the house and enhanced them with modern touches. The restaurant is superb, too.

Reims Christmas decorations.
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

6. Reims

The capital of France’s Champagne region comes into its best at Christmas, with a Christmas market huddled around the ancient cathedral where France’s kings were crowned. Ignoring the rest of the city, however lovely and historic, and just strolling through the market, with its miniature train, Christmas trees everywhere, chalets full of mulled wine and warming food, and stalls of pretty Christmas decorations hand-crafted in the region, gets that warm fuzzy feeling going pretty quickly. Families are walking hand-in-hand, enjoying the miniature fairground and the large snow globe where Santa resides, and Christmas cheer is everywhere. What makes Reims stand out when it comes to potentially starring in a Hallmark movie, are the small champagne outlets that pop up throughout the market. Cozy little corners where you are provided with a warm blanket and a flute of champagne, and you can just visualize someone meeting up with the (future) love of their life.

Pro Tip: For a lovely, cozy meal after walking around the city, pop into the romantic L’Alambic for dinner.

The Place du Tertre with tables of cafe and the Sacre-Coeur in the morning, quarter Montmartre in Paris.
France kavalenkava / Shutterstock.com

7. Montmartre, Paris

Ask anybody, and most people will say that Montmartre is their favorite neighborhood in Paris. And the reason? Because it is a perfectly preserved village within a large city. Perched on the hill Butte Montmartre, it not only offers great views but is distinctly different and separate from the rest of Paris. At Christmas time, this village is prettier than ever. Even the carousel, which always stands at the bottom of the steep steps up to Sacre Coeur, looks prettier at Christmas if that is possible. But twinkling lights, stalls, and decorations enhance every feature of this neighborhood and if you cannot imagine a romantic girl-find-boy movie set right on Place du Tertre, the one with all the artists exhibiting their wares, then you don’t have a romantic bone in your body. On Place des Abbesses, the one with the gorgeous metro stop, a Christmas market takes over the square, and you can wander from there past the small shops and cafes and find yourself in movieland — quite literally, because this is where Amelie was filmed.Pro Tip: To soak up the atmosphere and run your own film edits in your head while watching life go on at Place du Tertre, sit in La Mer Catherine, one of the oldest restaurants in Montmartre, dating to 1793.

Visiting France at Christmas offers opportunities for other activities:



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5 Charming Towns In New Mexico That Could Be The Star Of A Hallmark Christmas Movie


Set in locations like Connecticut and Salt Lake City, most Hallmark Christmas movies feature winter wonderlands filled with snow scenes and halls decked to the fullest. While December snowfall is not guaranteed throughout the Land of Enchantment, when you visit any of these charming New Mexico towns this holiday season, you’re still sure to fall in love — not necessarily with a tall, dark, and handsome stranger — but with experiences you can only have in New Mexico.  

What makes New Mexico so unique? The 47th state is a rich blend of the Pueblo, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures. While the state’s multicultural heritage is visible year-round, from a commitment to preserving the Navajo language to a state constitution that provides equal support for Spanish and English, it shines most brightly during the winter holidays. So regardless of your cultural background, when you celebrate the holidays in New Mexico, you’ll embrace traditions and foods that you won’t typically find elsewhere in the other 49 states (or in any of this year’s Hallmark movies).

Christmas In New Mexico

From celebrations to decorations to food, Christmas in New Mexico is unique.

While communities from coast to coast may celebrate Christmas with a pageant, procession, or nativity play, many New Mexicans commemorate the season with Las Posadas. Literally translated as “the inns,” Las Posadas commemorates Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. Using a lantern to light their way, a young couple leads a procession as they ask for a place to stay at multiple “inns.” Each inquiry is met with a denial, and the journey ends by celebrating Mass.

When it comes to holiday decorations, look for luminarias (“festival lights”) in lieu of electric strings of multi-colored Christmas lights. These little lanterns are made by folding down the sides of a small paper bag, adding a scoop of sand, and placing a lighted tea candle in the center. They certainly add an element of magical beauty to Christmas in New Mexico! In Northern New Mexico, luminarias are often called farolitos (“little lanterns”), so don’t let that confuse you!

Lastly, there is the food. While many Americans serve turkey or ham with an assortment of side dishes that loosely resemble a traditional Thanksgiving meal, New Mexicans often enjoy Christmas tamales, Christmas enchiladas (which feature both red and green sauce), and steaming bowls of the “chicken noodle soup alternative” posole. Instead of gingerbread men or decorated sugar cookies, look for biscochitos, crisp cookies flavored with anise and citrus and dusted with cinnamon sugar that have earned bragging rights as the state’s cookie.

And now back to the best New Mexico Christmas towns! 

Christmas in Taos, New Mexico
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

1. Taos

As the first snowflakes of the season start to drift into Taos, so does holiday magic start to fill the air. Kick off the holiday season with Lighting Ledoux and Bonfires on Bent Street. As you stroll through the streets illuminated by the soft glow of farolito lanterns and pinon-log bonfires, enjoy live music, delicious holiday foods, and warm beverages. 

Finish your Christmas shopping by supporting the merchants at John Dunn Shops, a pedestrian shopping district near the historic Taos Plaza, and find unique and handcrafted gifts at Taos Folk, a famous pop-up store with jewelry, home goods, apparel, and other goods for sale.

As Christmas Eve draws near, witness the moving way the Taos Pueblo embraces the winter season through ceremonial dances. You may wonder why Christmas, a Christian holiday brought to North America by Europeans, is celebrated by Native Americans. When the Spanish arrived in this area centuries ago, they worked hard to convert the indigenous people to Catholicism. As a result, today’s Pueblo people celebrate the holidays by pairing their tribal traditions with a drizzle of Spanish culture and a sprinkle of Catholic faith. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center shares this detailed list of pueblo feast days for all 19 pueblos of New Mexico. Remember that when tribal members are singing and dancing, it is a form of prayer, so be sure you understand the appropriate etiquette before you go. 

Stay for even more magic between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve with the torchlight parades during which skiers guided by torchlight gracefully glide down the area’s ski resorts against a backdrop of colorful fireworks.

Pro Tip: Regardless of when you visit Taos, enjoy this self-guided walking tour that begins at the Taos Plaza and discover other great things to do outdoors or over a long weekend in Taos.

Canyon Road in Santa Fe at Christmas
Photo Credit: New Mexico TRUE

2. Santa Fe

About 90 minutes south of Taos, Santa Fe is another beautiful New Mexico town that pulls out all of the stops during the holidays. Get in the Christmas spirit the day after Thanksgiving with the Plaza Lighting Ceremony on the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Then return to the Plaza in mid-December to participate in Las Posadas. 

On the western edge of Museum Hill, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden is illuminated with thousands of lights during GLOW. And near the Plaza, the 150-year-old Gothic Loretto Chapel is filled with the sounds of Handel, Vivaldi, and traditional carols during its Baroque Christmas series.

If Santa Fe were a Hallmark Christmas movie location, the climax would surely occur during the Canyon Road Farolito Walk. While viewing holiday lights is a common Christmas Eve activity across the country, the Santa Fe version is truly breathtaking. As the sun sets on December 24, a section of Canyon Road and nearby streets are closed to traffic as pedestrians flood in to admire the soft glow of thousands of farolitos lining the sidewalks, stone walls, and flat adobe roofs before heading home or to church to continue their holiday festivities.

Pro Tip: Read here for more magical experiences in Santa Fe during the holidays.

Christmas in Albuquerque
Photo Credit: Kristy Graybill

3. Albuquerque

While it doesn’t typically snow much in Albuquerque, the city’s historic Old Town would surely be the perfect setting for two soon-to-be lovers to meet at the start of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Dating back to the early 1700s, a picturesque gazebo stands in the middle of the Old Town Plaza, the epicenter of holiday festivities in the state’s largest city. Welcome the holiday season with the lighting of the Old Town Christmas tree. The streets are closed to traffic, giving visitors plenty of room to stroll through Old Town, admiring the luminarias and supporting the shops and restaurants.

Another delightful way to kick off the holiday season in Albuquerque is by attending the Twinkle Light Parade. Held annually on the first Saturday in December, hundreds of floats, trucks, cars, and even bicycles slowly roll through Historic Nob Hill aglow with lights. If you prefer to be the one in motion, then jump on an ABQ Ride bus at the convention center for a luminaria tour through Old Town and adjacent neighborhoods filled with soft, glowing lanterns.

Albuquerque’s BioPark Botanic Garden is a beautiful destination year-round, but it’s especially magical during the holidays when millions of dazzling lights, animated sculptures, and a music light show truly make it sparkle. Even better, this brilliant event is an important fundraiser, with proceeds from the River of Lights funding a variety of ABQ BioPark projects to help this jewel of a space shine for years to come.

4. Carlsbad

Located in the southeastern corner of New Mexico, you’re not likely to see snowfall in Carlsbad during the holidays. But you will experience a romantic holiday outing that’s unlike any other in the Land of Enchantment. By the river, homeowners spend hours lovingly transforming their backyards, boat docks, and islands into a floating Christmas parade known as Christmas on the Pecos. Bundle up with your cutest wool hat and matching striped scarf and climb aboard the Rudolph or Holly for an enchanting 40-minute ride past beautiful holiday displays that cast shimmering reflections that dance like sugar plum fairies in the calm water of the Pecos River.

Six boat tours a night depart from the Pecos River Village between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Tickets are just under $20, with discounts offered to locals, children, and military service members. Both boats are accessible and you can indicate any accommodation needs when you purchase your tickets.

Luminarias organized in the shape of a Zia sun symbol
Photo Credit: New Mexico TRUE

5. Mesilla

About 15 minutes from Downtown Las Cruces, Mesilla is a small New Mexico town with a big past. Before the Stars and Stripes, the flags of four countries flew over this important stop on the Butterfield Overland Trail that connected St. Louis and San Francisco. Today the historic Mesilla Plaza at the center of town is surrounded by unique boutiques and delicious restaurants. And on Christmas Eve, thousands of luminarias fill the historic plaza while Christmas carols float on the high desert air and visitors stay warm with hot chocolate. 

These are my favorite shops in Old Town Mesilla — all of which are great places to finish your Christmas shopping (ideally before Christmas Eve) with unique and delicious gifts while supporting small businesses. And who knows, maybe you’ll bump into a Hallmark Christmas movie-like stranger who will change your life!

Pro Tip: If you love Mesilla, here are seven other charming small towns you’ll want to visit in Southern New Mexico.

Whether you visit a snowy destination in Northern New Mexico or a milder climate in the south, the holidays in New Mexico are filled with unique traditions, decorations, and foods that are sure to stoke your holiday spirit well into the new year.



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TikTok star Jesús Morales gives away $1,000 tips to street vendors


During Hispanic Heritage Month, TODAY is sharing the community’s history, pain, joy and pride. We are highlighting Hispanic trailblazers and rising voices. TODAY will be publishing personal essays, stories, videos and specials throughout the month of September and October. For more, head here.

Feeling unfulfilled with his content, 24-year-old social media star, Jesús Morales, known as @juixxe online, turned to TikTok last summer looking for inspiration. That’s when he came across other users on the platform raising money from their followers to give out generous tips to food service workers during the pandemic.

“I remember just sitting there thinking, ‘Wow, I wish I could do that, but I want to do it for street vendors and I want to give them thousands of dollars,'” Morales told TODAY Food. “That would be so amazing.'”

Jesús Morales, aka @juixxe on TikTok, poses with street food carts.Leo Gonzalez

A year later, Morales has been able to raise $135,000 to support over 90 street vendors in Southern California thanks to the generosity of his 1.3 million followers on TikTok. Now, he hopes other people will take inspiration from his work and support their local vendors however they can.

Taking $100 out of his own pocket, Morales began filming his donation videos in August 2020 by handing the tip to a local street vendor in San Diego and recording his reaction. The vendor was in complete shock and fell to his knees and thanked him. “In that moment, (with) the way he reacted, I just knew I wanted to do it over and over again,” Morales said. From there, he started driving around San Diego in search of more vendors to support.

Morales recalls how his family taught him the power of giving from an early age. His parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, took service and auto industry jobs with the goal of working their way up and achieving the American dream. Despite the hardships, Morales remembers how his family still managed to visit their homeland every year and bring boxes of unused clothes and other items to those in need.

“They always had someone they could give things to,” Morales explains. “So and so could use this, so and so could use that. I think that’s where the inspiration (to give) came from.”

As the views on his tip videos began to rise, the more and more people began to donate directly to Morales though the Venmo and CashApp linked in his social media bios. Gradually, $100 tips turned into $200, then $500 and eventually the donations snowballed into the $1,000 the tips are today.

Morales then realized he could support more people in Los Angeles where street vendors are more common. Now, he typically takes trips to LA, driving around different neighborhoods to see who he can tip. His followers will often leave comments on his videos suggesting locations or specific vendors he should visit, and while Morales tries his best to help where he can, he still prefers to tip vendors at random. Often, this means that he never sees the same vendor twice.

“It’s just, you’re a stranger, I’m a stranger and we meet each other in this moment,” Morales explained.

But one instance that particularly stuck with him was with a fruit vender he noticed on the side of a busy street one evening. Morales got out of his car, ordered something and handed him the donation. Filled with gratitude, the vendor grabbed Morales’ shoulder, bowed his head and began praying.

Jesús Morales poses with one of the 90+ food vendors he’s been able to support through crowdfunding on TikTok.Courtesy Jesús Morales

“It was just a timeless moment I just had to soak in. Those words he was saying were just so powerful,” said Morales. “He was praying for me and my family and everyone who contributed. (They were) words I’ll never forget.”

But, Morales explained, not all reactions are the same. He still encounters vendors that are skeptical about why they’re receiving such a large tip, which is why he takes the time to explain how the money is crowdfunded online from supportive strangers.

“It goes to show how humble and hardworking street vendors are and it speaks volumes about the Latino and Hispanic community,” Morales said.

Transparency is one of the main reasons he believes that his initiative has become so successful. People can see the money being physically handed to someone and their immediate reactions in his videos. But above all, the safety and dignity of the person who receives the tip is his main priority. That’s why Morales never shows the vendors’ faces. He explains that most people don’t understand the hardships street vendors go through, especially when experiencing theft or facing harassment from people who want to cause them harm.

“Every vendor sells with a purpose. I just want people to know that these are real lives, these are real human beings who are just trying to make an honest living,” he added. “If you can leave a tip, $2, $3, anything, it helps. At the end of the day, you’re supporting a hardworking individual that may be working to support their family or (pay off) bills.”

Morales dreams to one day travel across the U.S. handing out donations in different cities. But at the moment, he is taking the process of receiving and handing out donations day by day.

“Who knows (what will happen),” he continued. “This just started about a year ago and I am incredibly blessed and thankful that we’ve received so much support to this day. I can only imagine what we can do in another year.”

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5 star luxury, 1 best friend: How I used credit card travel perks for the ultimate reunion






5 star luxury, 1 best friend: How I used credit card travel perks for the ultimate reunion – The Points Guy
























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Hawker Chan: Famed Singaporean hawker stall loses its Michelin star


Hawker Chan, founded by Chan Hong Meng, became famous for its simple-yet-delicious $2.50 soy sauce chicken noodle dish when it was included in Michelin’s first-ever guide to Singapore in 2016, earning one star.

But when the food bible unveiled its latest Singapore edition on September 1, Hawker Chan — previously known as Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodles — was nowhere to be found.

After his Michelin triumph, Meng’s career took off. His brand has grown from one humble stall in a Chinatown hawker center to a franchise restaurant with locations in Thailand, the Philippines, and more.

He changed the name of the restaurant to Hawker Chan and began branching out to other dishes.

In response to a request for comment on the loss of the star, a representative of Hawker Chan sent the following statement to CNN Travel by email: “Chef Chan Hon Meng has prepared his famous soya sauce chicken rice since 2009 with his secret recipe and cooking method, which has not changed since the beginning of Hawker Chan in 2009. He has always believed that his food should be freshly prepared daily and cooking should not be done in (a) central kitchen.

“We do hope to understand why the Michelin Guide has left us out of the list this year. However, we also understand that everyone has their own opinion when it comes to food choices. We will continue to serve delicious and affordable meals as that is our vision and mission.

“We are thankful to our all Hawker Chan customers who have been supporting us since it was founded 12 years ago, and we will do our best to earn the star again for the upcoming year.”

‘Michelin has correctly stuck to their guns’

While some have applauded the Malaysia-born chef for capitalizing on his hard work, others felt the quality of the food slipped following the opening of his new establishments.

Singaporean food expert KF Seetoh tells CNN, “I think Michelin has correctly stuck to their guns and protected the dignity of the stars.”

Seetoh was a longtime friend of the late Anthony Bourdain and took the chef to several hawker centers in the Lion City. Bourdain’s support of these small, local food stalls, many of which specialize in just one dish, helped to show travelers outside of Singapore how much great food the city had to offer at every price level.

The two had been working on a hawker center concept in New York City when Bourdain died in 2018.

For Seetoh, though, the future of Singapore’s food scene depends on much more than just one chef or one restaurant.

“On a bigger note, and with due respect, Michelin should stick to their core strength and power the restaurants as the restaurants need help now.”

Singapore, like nearly every country in the world, has seen its tourism industry devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Amid border closures and local lockdowns, the food and beverage industry has been particularly hard hit.

However, the country’s high vaccination rate has spurred the Singaporean government to begin slowly reopening and developing a strategy to live safely with Covid.

Hawker Chan received a Michelin star in 2016.

Hawker Chan received a Michelin star in 2016.

Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Michelin under the microscope

Michelin, which is owned by the tire company of the same name, is one of the most secretive publications in the world. The names of its editors and contributors are closely guarded secrets.

The company originally began publishing travel guides for people driving in Europe, making the leap from tires to cars to tourism. In the travel guides, some restaurants would get special mentions.

Later, the star system emerged and took on a life of its own. The highest number of stars a restaurant can earn is three.

The Michelin brand became so respected in the world of fine dining that some chefs were driven into a frenzy trying to score its accolades.

French chef Marc Veyrat sued Michelin in 2019 when his famed restaurant, La Maison des Bois, was downgraded from three stars to two. Veyrat, the first chef ever to sue Michelin, wanted the company’s mysterious criteria to be more transparent, and to know the names of people who worked on the guides and what their backgrounds were.

Ultimately, Veyrat lost his suit. But he isn’t the only chef to speak out against the food bible recently.

Korean chef Eo Yun-gwon, whose restaurant Ristorante Eo was awarded a Michelin star in the 2019 guide to Seoul, complained that he did not want to be included in the book at all.

“I have filed a criminal complaint against Michelin Guide’s behavior of forcibly listing (restaurants) against their will and without a clear criteria,” Eo wrote in a Facebook post.

“Including my restaurant Eo in the corrupt book is a defamation against members of Eo and the fans. Like a ghost, they did not have a contact number and I was only able to get in touch through email. Although I clearly refused listing of my restaurant, they included it at their will this year as well.”

Over the years, Michelin had been criticized for focusing too much on Europe and North America while ignoring the rest of the world and for prioritizing high-end establishments.

Amid this criticism, Michelin created a new category, the Bib Gourmand, in 1997. According to the company, the Bib Gourmand designation recognizes a “simpler style of cooking” that is “something you feel you could attempt to replicate at home.”
It released its first guide to Tokyo in 2007 and its inaugural guide to Hong Kong and Macao two years later.

Article updated with comments from a representative of Hawker Chan.

Top image: Singaporean chef Chan Hon Meng, founder of Hawker Chan.



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Reggaeton Star J Balvin on Teaming up With Miller Lite and Where You Can Find a Taste of Colombia in the US


Reggaeton Star J Balvin on Teaming up With Miller Lite and Where You Can Find a Taste of Colombia in the US | Travel + Leisure

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Report on B.C. school board – Vernon Morning Star


A report that found systemic racism in a British Columbia school board and called for a provincewide review is “vindicating,” the deputy chief of a First Nation in the province said Saturday.

Jayde Chingee said the McLeod Lake Indian Band and its partners at the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation have tried raising concerns with school officials about anti-Indigenous racism. The report offers a path forward that could be replicated across the province, she said.

“I think it proves our concerns were real,” Chingee said in an interview. “Sometimes we have to reveal the ugly truth in order to make things better.”

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside appointed special advisors Kory Wilson and Catherine McGregor to review governance practices at the Prince George Board of Education in February.

Their report, released late Friday and based on 56 interviews and a review of documents, found Indigenous students are disproportionately held back, placed in alternative programs or classes and removed from the typical graduation path.

“Unfortunately, we heard many examples of behaviours and practises that are clearly discriminatory and systemically racist,” the report says.

“Though some will argue it is not intentional the outcomes have disproportionate effects on Indigenous students and can only be explained as such.”

There is a clear and palpable lack of trust between many Indigenous stakeholders, First Nations and the school district, as well as a “substantial culture of fear” around raising concerns, the report says.

It quotes one respondent saying they were told not to use their Indigenous name because “this isn’t the place for politics.”

One person reported hearing someone complain about having to “hang up that stupid flag” in reference to flying a First Nations flag, while another heard someone say “the natives a restless” in response to drumming.

“I walk into a school and my chest tightens,” another said in the report.

The Education Ministry says in a statement that beginning immediately, former school district superintendent Rod Allen will join the special advisors and work with the board to draft a work plan for implementing their recommendations and improve everything from relationships with local First Nations to staffing and financial planning.

The special advisers will submit a final report to outline the progress made by the board in meeting government’s expectations in March 2022.

The minister, acting superintendent of the school district and school board chairman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Among the most concerning findings, the report authors say, was the failure for many Indigenous kids to be deemed eligible for kindergarten, even if they were in full day “pre-K.”

And while alternative programs may be seen as the best way to provide targeted support, they have in many cases evolved into “holding tanks” for Indigenous students. In some cases, the modified programs saw school attendance reduced to as little as an hour a day or one day a week, the report says.

The school bus schedules also prevent many Indigenous students from participating in after-school programs, French immersion schools or other choice schools, it says.

The racism identified in the report was not limited to the schools but also the broader community, including passionate pushback to a unanimous decision by school trustees to rename Kelly Road Secondary to Shas Ti Secondary, a Dakelh word for grizzly crossing.

People were up in arms, students walked out of the school with support from their parents, blockades went up, kids were involved in fights and it was traumatic for Indigenous people, the report says.

As a result, both names were installed on the front of the school above the entrance, however their location above two sets of doors made it appear as though there were segregated entrances.

The report also raised concerns about how federal COVID-19 funding was spent at the board.

The special advisors were only able to make one visit to Prince George due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and say they entered the investigation with open minds.

“What we found was much more complicated than we thought and so multi-layered that we do not feel we have gotten to the bottom of all the issues,” they write.

They recommend that the province commission a broader probe into B.C. schools similar to “In Plain Sight,” a report on anti-Indigenous racism in the health-care system by retired judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.

The school district has a particularly high number of Indigenous learners and the post-report response could be a model for other jurisdictions, it says.

They also recommend creating an ombudsperson position so that those fearful of retaliation can feel safer making reports.

“Due to the culture of fear, we think there may be more examples of individuals who feel they cannot identify their concerns for fear of retribution,” it says.

Turpel-Lafond, who is academic director of the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of B.C., supported calls for a deeper probe.

“This report was very helpful but it certainly struck me as a kind of tip-of-the-iceberg report,” she said.

She said she was alarmed by the report’s suggestion that many people feared retaliation if they spoke out. She heard similar fears when she was investigating health care, highlighting the important role an ombudsperson could play, she said.

It was difficult to read that students felt unsafe, Turpel-Lafond said, adding she hopes the school district and province respond decisively.

“I know how hard the Indigenous staff and leadership in the Prince George region have worked to change the dynamic inside the school district,” she said.

The Canadian Press

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What Darren Star Wants to Tell the World About “Ugly Americans”


Emily in Paris showrunner Darren Star is a master of creating television that provokes a reaction. The man behind Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, Sex and the City, and Younger knows how to reel in viewers with his patented mix of aspirational fantasy, romance, and edginess. (Remember the 90210 episode where Brandon takes the drug U4EA at a rave? Or the early Sex and the City episode that had the gang counseling Charlotte on the pros and cons of anal sex?)

In some ways, Emily in Paris is a bonbon perfectly suited to the pandemic moment. While many of us were in a lockdown malaise, Emily—a young marketing executive and social media whiz played by Lily Collins—romps through Paris’s cobblestoned streets wearing beautiful clothes and kissing beautiful Gallic men. She is also regularly schooled by her French colleagues. Although she knows little about French culture beyond the movies Moulin Rouge! and Ratatouille, Emily triumphs at her job, bringing an American influencer’s marketing savvy to French culture. Her grande victoire, inspired by her work on a vaginal-dryness product for menopausal women, is an Instagram post mocking the fact that the word vagina is gendered masculine in France.

After it premiered last October, Emily became Netflix’s top comedy, according to the streamer. It also pissed off French critics, irked social media experts, and sent some Americans into a hate-watching frenzy. The series’ surprise Golden Globe nominations triggered a backlash, especially after the L.A. Times alleged that members of the Hollywood Press Association had been flown to the Paris set and treated to a luxury hotel. Despite all that, Emmy voters bestowed on it a best-comedy nomination, Netflix ordered a second season—and viewers kept watching.

Star, who had just returned from shooting in Paris, talked to V.F. about the controversy swirling around Emily, plans for season two, and his feelings about the Sex and the City reboot.

Vanity Fair: Emily in Paris revels in the romance and glamour of France, but it must have been somewhat unglamorous shooting season two in the midst of Covid, with all the masks and lockdowns.

Darren Star: When we started filming at the end of April in the south of France, we took over what is probably one of the most glamorous places in the world, the Four Seasons’ Cap Ferrat hotel, where we were staying and filming. The hotel was essentially closed except for us. We had our writers room in a villa on the property, so it actually was surreal—everything in France was shut down at the time. If you throw writers together in a room with food and don’t let them leave, you get a lot of work done!

It sounds like the best TV writing job ever.  I assume the pandemic won’t be happening in Emily’s season two universe?

In the timeline of the show, it just hasn’t happened yet.

The show feeds on cultural differences between Emily and her French co-workers. Was that inspired by snobbery you experienced during your visits there over the years?

I’ve been to Paris many times and obviously I love it. That’s why I keep going back—I’m not a masochist! I do feel like the French are lovely people but I can see Americans and how they look from their point of view. There’s something to that cliche of the ugly American who comes to a foreign country, doesn’t learn the language or understand the customs and just basically wants everything to be as it is in America. In some ways, that’s Emily at the beginning of the show. Americans are told we can do anything, be anyone we want. French people [see] their culture as being the center of universe, as do we. That’s why there’s a culture clash. [laughs]

Some French critics were incensed by the show. Did you get angry responses from French viewers?

No, this show was bigger in France than anywhere in the world. If anything, it was maybe the first non-French series that really put the focus on French culture and French people. Maybe it got taken a little too seriously [by critics] but there was always a sense of humor behind the portrayals.

A few years before writing the pilot, I rented an apartment there and spent time in a French marketing firm. After a couple days there, I asked the woman who was the head of the firm, so what do French people think of Americans who work in Paris? She paused and said, “Actually, we don’t think of them at all.” That’s the attitude! I love that as much as Americans dream of living in Paris, the French, they’re really not giving us that much thought.

That’s a perfect French diss.

One thing that changes [next season] is we spend more time with a lot of the French characters. Because the show was done for an American network initially, I didn’t know how much French with subtitles an American audience was going to tolerate. Knowing that we’re reaching a global audience, there’s a lot more subtitled content.



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Anonymous Country Star Leaves $1,000 Tip for Waffle House Waitress




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