…always a good idea.

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Oh Paris. You’ve captured my heart one too many times but always at different capacities.

This time, activities included…Wandering the streets without a destination. Checking out some trending coffee shops* (courtesy of Ms. Lost in Cheeseland). Sitting at cafés for hours to people watch with an espresso and a rosé. Eating macaroons. Falling in love with Le Marais. Seeing old friends. Meeting new friends. Not going to any museums. Gazing at my favorite Sacre Coeur from the window of a friend’s apartment (evidence above). Capturing the many images of graffiti on my Instagram. Discovering Le Canal Saint-Martin.

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*Foundation Café and Telescope are two trendy, english-speaking coffee shops brewing up delicious jo.

Finding an apartment in Paris

If I ever was to “become French” and actually move back to the country I dream about, this little site would be my best friend.

Apartment searching in Paris is expensive, time-consuming and exhausting. Much like finding an apartment in a city like New York. So this site works like a dating site, in that you create a profile as a buyer or seller and explain what you are looking for. When you are matched with a seller (or prospective buyer), you are contacted and able to set up an appointment.

Less waiting in lines at open houses, less headache for everyone and hopefully more luck finding a new home.

Disclaimer: video is en Française. 

Nothing could stop me from going to France…not even stairs.

I left NYC and decided to take a new form of public transportation to Newark airport.  I always seem to do this: hurdle a task at the worst moment.  Taking the PATH to the NJ Transit train to the airport shuttle was the cheapest way but also the most exhausting.  Two words: stairs and suitcase.  I got to the subway with little to no issue.  When I got to the PATH stop things began getting complicated.  I walked in the wrong direction five times, each time included a batch of stairs and a new bruise on my leg.  Only once did someone ask me for help and I clearly needed it (The day I left was the day that began the heat wave…I was a sweaty mess.)  I couldn’t seem to find the PATH so I exited the station completely (again with the stairs) and found it across the street.  Once I made it to the train I realized that I could have skipped the last batch of stairs if I had walked under a passage in the metro area…Lesson learned.   So I rode the PATH train to the end of one line, got off and crossed the platform to board another PATH line which took me to Newark Penn Station.  Here the train took me to the airport where I got off, went up the stairs escalator and took the airport tram to my terminal.  The second part was all easy and clearly marked.  A long trip but if you have the time and money is a factor (total was around $9), I recommend it (maybe with less luggage).

When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle I felt like I was in a crazy dream (I had moments of déja vu for much of my visit).  As I walked to the baggage claim I could remember doing the same thing a year before.  I had been so nervous! This time, I was not nervous at all; I felt at home!  After a short appel to “my family” in Dijon telling them I had arrived, I took the RER into Paris’ city center.  After I found a bathroom (I had forgotten about paying for public toilets in France), I lugged my suitcase through Les Halles only to realize that I had arrived in France for Les Soldes!! To avoid buying anything I parked myself by the Seine and read my book until I heard from my friend Orsi who was getting off work early.  When she called, I left my little spot under the bridge and again lugged my bag around the cobblestone streets in sweltering heat.  We caught up quickly at a café and then headed back to her apartment in the 18th district of Paris.  On arrival at her beautiful apartment, I was greeted by a spiral staircase. (OH MON DIEU!)  Orsi lived on the last floor…eight or nine twisting flights up.  If you have ever been to France, you may realize the kind of stairs I’m talking about. (By the way this was not my only encounter with these stairs and my large suitcase on this trip)  Despite all of this, it felt great to be with Orsi, speak French and be back in such an amazing city.  Once Tibo (her husband) got off work, we took bikes down from the 18th to meet up with friends and watch the UEFA soccer games. (You all know how much I love those Vélibs and soccer).

The next morning I was supposed to take the train to Dijon, my real home away from home.  I decided to buy my ticket online so that I wouldn’t rush around in la gare.  Of course, my luck, as I typed in my credit card number into the system, the computer went bonkers and I was told the transaction hadn’t gone through.  So I grabbed my things and quickly left the apartment stumbled down the spiral staircase.  I got to the station, bought a ticket and got on my way.  Only later did I finally connect my phone to wifi and realized the mistake I had made.  There in my inbox was the confirmation e-mail for my SNCF ticket. MERDE!  The transaction did in fact go through back at the apartment, which meant that I had bought two tickets for no reason.  I tried pleading for a refund but was told that the only thing I was able to do was write a letter to SNCF.  So very French and so very ineffective!  I still haven’t heard from them…

Independence Day in another country…again

This past weekend was Bastille Day in France.  Otherwise known as Independence Day, the fête is similar to July 4th in the US.  When I was in Paris a few weeks back, I was able to see some of the preparations for the parade that went down the Champs-Elysees.  Coincidentally, last year I also found myself walking by the same large stadium seats because I had been visiting Paris with my friend after a vacation in Italy.  This brings me to my confession: I have spent my country’s Independence Day in a foreign country.  Last year, Italy; this year, France.  Since France’s colors are like ours, red, white and blue, I guess it’s not that big a deal…right?

I spent my Fourth of July this year walking through Paris’ tiny streets, visiting the Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibit and eating dinner with Parisian friends.  The Louis Vuitton exhibit was on my To Do/To See list during my petit séjour.  I suggest it to you too if Paris is in your plans this summer (it runs until September 16th).  It’s located at Musée des Arts Décoratifs and is spans two floors.  The first floor tells the history of LV and his luggage and the second floor is as out-of-the-box as Marc Jacobs himself.  Lights, bags, TV screens, music and voice-over…it’s really fun!

 

 

 

After my visit I took a nap on the chairs near the Tuileries Gardens.  This is one of my favorite places in Paris to do nothing!  I ended my July 4th with good friends for a final dinner in Paris.

America’s 4th in France and France’s 14th in America…this flip-flop is symbolic of my crazy life 🙂

Je veux boire un coup

My blog roll varies.  When I began blogging, I was living in France. I enjoyed following fashion, cooking and lifestyle blogs.  The genre of francophile/French blogs didn’t really interest me; after all, I was living there myself.  I wrote my own posts about being in France, but spent my time linking and reading blogs outside of my own genre.  It is fairly easy to find new and interesting (time-consuming) blogs to get lost in! 

When I came home to the States, all I wanted was FRENCH FRENCH FRENCH.  I decided to continue writing my blog with a quasi-French perspective and began frantically bookmarking all the francophile bloggers I could.  These sites allow me to escape back to the place I love!  After some time now I have chosen my favorite daily delves, but am amazed to still find so many French-inspired sites lurking in the blogosphere.  Unfortunately, these blogs tend to sing the same song, or at least hum a similar tune.  Most of the “french” blogs chronicle someone’s move to France;  an expat’s perspective if you will.  From these, a staggering amount are centered around food; a good majority about baking.  So when I came across Forest Collins’ French blog I knew it was something special.  Forest has decided to write a blog about drinking in the city of lights!

martini by meredith_nutting

Her plan: Try a martini at various night spots and compare.  Simple enough, and super fun!  Inviting her friends along, they indulge on martinis and house cocktails taking notes as they travel the menu.  This then becomes a tell-all post for you and me as Forest gives her opinion on each spot every Wednesday.

In a Francophile world where conversation centers around macaroons and fine wine, it’s nice to read an expat’s adventure in Paris’ cocktail bars.  I may have to take my own notes from 52 Martinis as I prepare for my return visit to France this summer!

Heels in the night by Deniooo

How many times can I go to the Louvre in one year?

It’s just become a second home to me now.  Each time I have a visitor, and I have been fortunate enough to have quite a few, I have to take them to Paris. I LOVE Paris, so it’s not a hassle at all but going to the same things over and over can get boring; especially le Louvre. This monstrous building is amazingly interesting but also overwhelming, tiring and honestly not my favorite place in the city.  All that being said, each person needs to say they saw the Mona Lisa and took a picture by the glass pyramid so I do it over and over again.  As I said, every time has been different so that’s good.  One thing that stays the same: the desire to pull the covers back on when I wake up at the crack of dawn to avoid lines.

This time around, with my PIC Amanda, we had a lot of fun.  Having already gotten our fix of Roman sculptures in ROME we cut out a large chunk of the “must-sees”.  As for the rest–being retired swimmers we got our butts up out of bed early and were one of the first 10 people to see Mona Lisa and her lovely smile.  From there we took a grand tour of everything Egyptian and got a little lost along the way (hard to avoid). Avoiding the afternoon mobs we were out of there and napping in the Tuileries Garden before noon.

Our weekend was again very much unplanned but we were able to accomplish A LOT!  Musée d’Orsay, le Louvre , Centre Pompidou (modern art museum), boat tour, Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur.  We even snuck in a night out on the town!  The Centre Pompidou was a highlight for me being that I had never visited before.  We made sure to take nothing seriously throughout the weekend…even in our most intellectual settings 🙂

Feathers in France

As I sit here on a train, Dijon bound after Easter weekend in Paris, I thought it would be a good time to fill you all in.  I know I have been such a slacker recently but after a week and a half with my family (reunited after 6 months of my being here) I have plenty to talk about.

They came in on a Friday afternoon, which now seems like ages ago.  Funny how that happens when you pack your days with sightseeing making each day seem like 35 hours long.  It was the first time my parents had been out of the country (they got passports just for this trip) so I felt like we needed to do it all and do it right.  This tends to be my attitude when I am a “host”:  I want people to have a great time and enjoy doing whatever I am planning.  But these good wishes tend to make me a bit anxious and stressed (especially when we are 5 people being tourists).   But even though the typical family feuding showed up here and there, looking back on this week I think we had a great time together exploring France.

We began in my neck of the woods: Burgundy.  We drove the Haut Côte, tasted a lot of wine, visited castles, went to markets, tried foods, which nobody recognized and just enjoyed the extraordinary weather we were blessed with.  Thanks to a rental car we even ventured to the Rhône Alps region for a day in Lyon.  Although we were busy it was nothing compared to the ground we ended up covering in Paris Easter weekend…

We stayed in the center of the city at Hôtel des Carmes (recommend it to anyone visiting Paris).  Our first day was a half-day since we arrived at Gare de Lyon in the afternoon.  After traversing the city charged with baggage in a freak rainstorm we hit the ground running.  We took a long walk seeing the Panthéon, Luxembourg Gardens, St Sulpice, Notre Dame, Centre Pompidou and ending with an ice cream on the walk back.

The next morning we woke up early and did the touristiest thing you can—stand in line for hours on end.  We went to Versailles and arrived at 9am (opening time).  Although the line was long we were lucky to arrive when we did because only 20 minutes after we staked our spot the endless “snakes” began to form creating over a 4 hour wait!  We got in there after a bit of bi-lingual crowd control on my part (nobody is butting in front of us thank you very much) and enjoyed the elaborate displays inside the palace.

Being a European Resident under the age of 26 I get free access to many museums including the Versailles palace.  What I didn’t realize was that didn’t include the Gardens.  So as my parents and sisters entered that area I got back in a line that was luckily only about 30 minutes of a wait.

By the end of our afternoon we were hot and tired so on arrival back in Paris we lounged on the Eiffel Tower lawn for a quick nap.  From someone who thinks this area of Paris is dirty and overrated it was one of my favorite moments.  I really felt Parisian.

Afterwards as the sun was setting we took our Bateaux Mouche tour on the Seine.  As if to tell us congrats on an exhausting day, the Eiffel tower lit up for our tour just as we passed under the last bridge putting us face to face with the monument. With sore feet and legs we metro-ed it back to the 5th arrondissement and hit the sac.

The next day I woke up exhausted and a little pissed to be heading to the Louvre for the third time in my life.  This museum is big, exhausting and not really filled with things I want to see multiple times.  But I wanted my parents and sisters to see it because everyone has to if they come to Paris.  I mean how can you leave Paris and say that you didn’t se the Mona Lisa? You cant.

Although I was a cranky bitch at the start, it ended up being great and unlike my past visits. My parents were totally taken back to the years of standing in lines super early at swim meets as we arrived an hour before the place opened.  What a great idea though because we got in by 9:10 (10 min after opening) and saw lots of the museum without the crowds!

After 2 short hours (it always passes quickly in that museum) we walked down the Champs Elyssees, took a photo with the Arc de triomphe.  Our last stop was Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur.  We ended up buying lunch and picnicking on the lawn at the Sacré Coeur.  We really had the best weather ever!

That night, our last together, was ended and topped off with a birthday dinner for my mom.  We drank good wine, laughed a lot and enjoyed being together as a family.

Now I am alone again and its weird.  I love being here in France but I’ve also found it true that it’s who you’re with that matters.  So alone in Paris after my family left I couldn’t help being a bit depressed.  On the positive side though, I have a wonderful family to go back to in Burgundy and only 6 more months until I am again reunited with my own 🙂