Brooklyn Half Marathon: I Missed the Royal Wedding for This

You guys! I ran a race in New York City! Nope, I didn’t run the New York Marathon. (I weirdly have no desire to!). I didn’t run the New York Half Marathon. Though I did want to run that one, I just didn’t get in through the lottery. I did get into the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon so that’s what I ran and , well, it was a tough one!

The New York Road Runners‘ Brooklyn half owes it names to the title sponsor of the race, Popular Bank, but it bears it well! Indeed, it’s is one of the most popular half marathon in the United States, attracting some 27,000+ runners this year. I was looking forwards to running it as my first New York City race, especially since I had never been to Coney Island where the race ends. Also, I was going to run it with my friend Caitlin and that’s always fun. We’ve now ran 5 races “together”: the 2010, 2011 and 2018 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, the 2017 Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and now the¬† 2018 Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon. I put together in quotation marks because she’s a lot faster than me and we don’t actually “run” together ūüėČ Still, it’s a shared experience. Kind of.

Since the race is on a Saturday, I bused up to Manhattan Friday afternoon, which meant I missed the expo. I snagged a $5 Megabus ticket that was too good to pass. My friends Calla and Nicole traveled in a little more style than me (ie. they took the train) earlier in the day and we met up for some carbs at Basta Pasta, a casual Japanese restaurant in Chelsea that serves classic Italian dishes, with a twist.¬† I love seafood pasta (spaghetti with clams are my go-to pre-race) so I had been lusting over the Linguine Al Ricci Di Mare (uni pasta!) for weeks! It doesn’t photograph well, but it didn’t disappoint.¬†

Uni Pasta at Basta Pasta

Caitlin scooped me up after dinner and we headed to bed early-ish since we had to get up at the crack of dawn and, you know, run 13 miles the next day.

If you live in the East Coast, you know the weather has been simply atrocious and unfortunately, it looked like conditions would be less than ideal on race day. Oh well, you run the race you’re given not the race you want and ours was going to be wet and cold. We got up at 5AM and ubered to the Brooklyn Museum. Because the race is so big, runners are divided in 30+ corrals split between two waves. Since she’s a faster runner, Caitlin was in Wave 1 and I, of course, was in Wave 2. That meant her expected start time was after 7AM and mine after 7:45AM. We got there a little after 6AM and since you have to go through metal detectors to get to the corrals we quickly said goodbyes as Caitlin headed to her earlier start. Meanwhile, I had quite a while to wait so I found myself underneath a scaffolding for protection from the rain, in a garbage bag questioning some of my life choices. I mean, I could have been warm at home, in my pjs, sipping hot tea and watching the Royal Wedding ūüėČ

If you’ve read some of my previous race reports, you know that I have been extremely frustrated by my inability to improve my race time. I had ran the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon in early March in 2:41 and the National Women’s Half Marathon in late April (recap here) in the exact same time. Worse, I had ran my very first half, the 2013 Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon in DC, very under-trained, and had finished that in 2:43. At least, at the 2018 Rock’n’Roll half, I had fun and enjoyed the race so my initial plan for Brooklyn was to just try and have a fun race without worrying too much about my time, hoping I could still shave off a few minutes. Of course, mother nature had other plans for me and it was obvious given the weather that “having fun” wasn’t really going to be an option. So I decided I would try and run a good race instead. I wore the pace bracelet for 2:35 and thought I’d follow the 2:30 pace leader for as long as I could (that strategy had worked well for me at the 2018 Cherry Blossom 10 miler — recap here) hoping to finish somewhere between 2:30 and 2:35, which would be a solid PR for me and a result I could finally be proud of. Turns out, as a French citizen, that I couldn’t possibly run 21 kilometers behind this lady…¬†¬†

So I was on my own in the rain with my Garmin to help me make sure I stayed at as close to 11:30 minutes per miles as I could. I didn’t cross the start line until a few minutes after 8AM. That meant Caitlin was probably halfway done by the time I started, which sucked. The rain was pouring pretty hard in the beginning but I still ditched my garbage bag right away and started running with everyone else.¬†The first half of the race has you running around Prospect Park and¬† then through it. Given the early hour and the weather, it was not surprising that there weren’t a lot of people cheering along the way, mostly just people walking their dogs, but I appreciated every single person that was there in the rain. The park has a few inclines and declines but nothing too bad and there were ample water stations right from the beginning, which I really appreciated.¬† Prospect park was pretty boring though the rain did kinda stop for a little bit, which I appreciated very much. I was glad to be out of the park though, and into the second part of the run: racing down¬†Ocean Parkway. It’s basically straight course down a 6-lane avenue. There’s a ton of space to run, but not a ton to look at for distraction. Again, there weren’t a ton of people cheering or spectating which meant I really only had the race to focus on.¬†The rain started coming down strong again at that point, but despite being drenched I was actually¬†trudging along as a decent pace between the 10-11 minute per mile range. My fastest mile was miles 3 at 10:05/mi, my slowest ones, miles 5 and 6 were 11:11/mi and 13.16/mi. Mile nine was also a bit of a struggle at 11:09/mi. Otherwise I ran in the 10s and I all I could think about while running down Ocean Drive was that I could realistically finish the race with a 20 minute PR.¬† That was a huge motivation to just keep going and not slow down!¬†

I missed the royal wedding to run in the rain… and PRed so it was all worth it!

In the end, I finished in 2:24. I missed the Royal Wedding for a 17-minute PR. Most importantly, I finally had a race result I could be proud of, especially given the less than ideal conditions. I had something to show for all the training and running I have been doing since the beginning of the year and that made it all worth it. 

Calla and Nicole were supposed to meet us at the Boardwalk with dry clothes and umbrellas (and my phone charger) but given the weather they stayed in bed to watch the royal wedding. And I can’t blame them.¬† While I had to wait at the start, Caitlin had to wait at the end and she was frozen by the time I got there (a solid hour and half after her!) so once we found each other we didn’t stick around too long. It was a bummer because the party at the finish line looked like it would have been a ton of fun… had we not been tired, wet and cold. I guess I’ll have to go back to Coney Island under better circumstances.¬†

As much of Coney Island as I got to see… from the metro back to Manhattan

The next day, the sun finally came out. Hurrah! I had almost forgotten what it looked like ūüėČ We went back to Brooklyn for brunch at Chez Ma Tante, a French-Canadian neighbourhood bistro in Greenpoint. The pancakes were worth all the accolades they’ve been getting!¬†Calla and Nicole brought the sign they had planned to use at the finish line along for brunch! How cute is the sign? Though I don’t think it would have survived in the rain ūüėȬ†

And of course, we took our medals on a little photo shoot to make up for the pictures we didn’t get to take the day before and I *finally* got to have my Coney Island beer at The Brooklyn Barge! No Nathan’s hot dog though…¬†

Coney Island Beer

Would I run this race again? I dunno…. there are SO many races. If it were a local race, I definitely would and I would make sure I can attend the expo as well since the New York Road Runners does a great job making sure it’s a special event, almost a pre-race party. And I’d love to see what kind of party at Coney Island we all missed out on because the weather was so awful. I guess I have a whole year to figure that out.¬†

Next up for me is the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon on June 2nd. It’s likely to be very hot and humid by then in Purcellville so it will be a very different race but I hope to prove to myself that my 2:24 finish at the Brooklyn half wasn’t just a fluke and finish in under 2:25.¬†

 

Ariel & the Sweeper Girls: A Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Race Recap

Two weeks ago, I ran my longest race of 2017: the Disneyland Paris-Val d‚ÄôEurope half marathon, part of Run Disney France’s Magic Run Weekend. My previous races this year were the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and the Capitol Hill Classic 10K. I‚Äôll cap off my running season with the Marine Corp Marathon‚Äôs 10K. I‚Äôm not quite ready to commit to training for a full marathon yet though it‚Äôs definitely a distance I‚Äôm looking to doing next year ūüėČ

If you read my goals for the Disneyland Paris half, you saw that they didn’t include a specific time. I just wanted to complete the course, make some new memories with my bestie Caitlin and snap some fun pics with Disney characters as I ran through my old workplace. I spent six months after college working in the communication department at Disneyland Paris, right after the Studios had opened, so the parks have a special place in my heart. 

Technically, I achieved all of my goals yet it was hard for me to feel entirely satisfied with myself at the end of the 21 kilometers. Here is a quick race recap. Ok, not so quick…

First let‚Äôs talk about the race itself. The half marathon is fairly small in comparison to some of the other races I’ve done … 7,000 runners altogether (compared with 17,000 + at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler!) and is part of a full weekend of running with a 5K¬†on Friday¬†night, a 10K¬†Saturday¬†morning, a kid’s run¬†Saturday¬†afternoon and the 21K¬†Sunday¬†morning. Some runners actually do all three and get a special Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo challenge medal, in addition to medals for each of the races. I must say I was a little envious of all their bling! But Caitlin and I flew into Charles de Gaulle Saturday¬†morning so those extra races weren’t an option for us. We went straight to our hotel, the Kyriad, via the Magical Shuttle — actual name! — do drop our bags and from there to the Expo in the Disney Village to get our bibs. There wasn’t much happening at the expo so that didn’t take too long. We killed some time at the shops (I behaved!) and grabbed lunch — food options are not great at Disney! — before checking into our room and taking a much needed 3 hours nap. Diner was the all-you-can-eat buffet at the hotel next door, the Vienna House Magic Circus Hotel. For those of you who know a little bit of fromage geography, you may know that Disney Paris is basically in Brie-land so my carb loading involved a lot of delicious runny Brie (and a glass of red wine of course, can’t have one without the other !) We managed to stay up until¬†9:30¬†then got some much needed zzzs!¬†

Ariel and Sebastien ready to run!

Ariel and Sebastian (not so) patiently waiting to start running

We didn’t have to wake up too early on race day since this particular Disney race wasn’t set to start until a luxurious¬†7AM. I say luxurious because apparently other Disney races kick off at an ungodly¬†5AM. Yikes! The start line was split into 3 waves (we were in wave C) and each subsequently divided into smaller groups so that only 250 runners would head inside the Studios at once. It was very exciting at first cheering for all the previous groups as they headed off. However it got a lot less fun an hour later when we still hadn’t left and realized would be in group 25 of 25 to cross that starting line. Womp womp. At this point both me and Caitlin started to worry about this for different reasons. Her because she’s a fast runner, currently training for the New York marathon, and knew she’d had to weave through a bunch of slow runners to catch up with those more at her pace. And me because I knew I had to complete the race before¬†11:30AM¬†(the official cut-off for the race) and starting at¬†8AM¬†meant I didn’t have much of a buffer anymore … but there was nothing we could do so off we went, Ariel and Sebastian, running through Disney in Paris!¬†

The Staff at Eureka Mining Supplis Cheering us on

As a former Cast Member, I know Disneyland Paris employees are the best! Here are a few cheering us on in Adventureland.

The first 5 kms of the race are THE BEST!! Right away, you’re in the Studios with cast members from various hotels, restaurants or attractions cheering you on. That was awesome. But I got super nostalgic as we passed Chez R√©my… that wasn’t there in my days! How the Studios had grown in the last 10 years! I stopped to snap a photo of the staff in their uniforms outside the restaurant … and lost Caitlin. So much for fun memories of the race together — I had at least thought I’d stick close to her through the parks. Oh well. I was on my own at the back of the pack. Where I pretty much stayed … see what happened is once we got into Disneyland there is a station set up for a photo opp with Mickey and Minnie, with the castle in the backdrop. I wanted. I wanted bad. But the line was soooooo long and I knew I was already one of the last runners since I left in the last group. Oh well, this was the one picture I wanted so I nervously joined the line.

Waiting in line for my picture with Mickey and Minnie

The line to get your picture taken with Minnie and Mickey — ps: Maleficient snapping a pic in front of me became my back-of-the-pack buddy! Her outfit was awesome!

After 15 minutes I saw them: the sweeper girls with their Minnie ears and Mickey balloons. Yikes! I was officially at the back of the back of the pack (though not alone … the line for pictures was still long.) I waited a little longer until a race volunteer basically told me that I would be out of the race if I stayed in the line any longer. I was nowhere near Mickey so I had no choice. I started running again. I basically wasted 25 minutes and didn’t get my picture with Mickey and Minnie. And now I had to catch up to the sweeper girls, which sorta became my obsession for the rest of the race.¬†

Running through an empty Main Street towards Cinderella’s Castle was a dream. And running through the empty park — there weren’t many runners left at this point — was a memory I’ll cherish forever. So was running through the castle!¬† I did stop for all the picture opportunities I could … I mean, if I didn’t get my pic with Mickey I was going to get all the other pictures I could ! So altogether, it must have taken me over an hour just to complete the first 5 kilometers. Definitely a reverse PR ūüėČ And of course, i still technically at this point was behind the sweeper girls meaning I really had to speed up.¬†

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The next 15 kilometers weave through the lovely roads and villages around Disney. There wasn’t really anyone cheering along the course though organizers had set up some distraction points like a group of local pint-sized cheerleaders, bands or a DJ. At this point I was so focused on catching up with the sweeper girls that I didn’t notice when I actually passed them. Instead, I was freaking out, going as fast as my lack of proper training would allow me and hoping Moana’s How Far I’ll Go would keep me going a while longer! I was feeling pretty down — where were those sweeper girls!? Would I seriously not complete this course !? And then at kilometer 15 i saw them. Going in the opposite direction from me meaning they were probably just at the halfway point of the race. Way behind me.

Disneyland paris Half Marathon Sweeper Girls

The Disneyland Paris Val d’Europe Half Marathon Sweeper Girls

I started breathing again and allowed a break. Which turned into a longer break than I meant for it. I had a hard time motivating myself to run again until we basically got to the hotels. Running through the official Disney Hotels, especially the Santa Fe — which is huge — and the Cheyenne with its Wild West theme, was super fun because after a cheering desert there were people again! Kids! Parents! Runners who had already finished their half marathon and were sporting their medal(s)! I got the second wind I needed to start really going again. Running through the Disney Village was a bit tricky though since by that point the parks were open and the area was full of people trying to get into Disneyland or the Studios, as well as runners who had already finished the course and were eager to get back to their hotels. The path carved out for the runners was pretty narrow and you had to navigate multiple crossing points too… but I spotted my dad, Caitlin and my friend Calla right before going back inside the Studios for that final kilometer. And then I got all nostalgic again. We ran through the set of Moteurs … Action! an attraction I had seen hundreds of time while I worked at Disney since one of my biggest project then was a live taping of the German TV show Wetten, dass…? which took place in that theater. (You can check out a recording of the show on YouTube!)

Actions... moteurs!

Awww, Disney. I miss you!! (And my twenties too lol). Finally, I crossed the finish line (which is actually inside the Studios!! How cool is that!?) a little teary eyed and very exhausted. I got my medal and managed to find Caitlin for our finisher photo. We didn’t get a single picture together with Disney characters so this one will have to do!¬†

Finisher photo at Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

Completed the course? Check. Made memories with my bestie? Check. Fun pics with Disney characters? Check, even if they weren’t Mickey. So my first international race was a success by the goals I had set but my lack of training really showed. I hadn’t done enough long runs leading up to the half, so by the time I realized I had passed the sweeper girls at kilometer 15 I was wiped and all but too happy to walk for a few kms. Does anyone else really struggle with longer runs too? My final time was 2h57 which isn’t great by any means though if you subtract the half hour give or take I spent in line for pictures with Mickey or other characters after that it’s slightly better, probably closer to 2h30… not great, but not that bad for me either). As always, I only have myself to blame. In running you get back what you put in and I didn’t put in enough ahead of time. I have 2 weeks now until the Marine Corp Marathon’s 10K and I’m determined to have a better race this time ! Anyone else running it or the full marathon?¬†

ps: can’t we talk recovery meals for a minute? As you might expect, the French know how to do it well! My mom made her signature couscous…

Couscous.jpg…. and my dad picked up some amazing eclairs at Fauchon (it was eclairs week afterall!).Eclairs from Fauchon

Since the weather was SO beautiful, we walked along the Canal St. Martin and had a few glasses of rosé on the rooftop terrace of Point Ephémère

Rose at Le Bar Ephemere in Paris

…before wrapping up a long day with some natural wine at Clown Bar.

Post half marathon dranks at Clown Bar.jpg

Sunday Funday with a bunch of Ks! I’d run a half marathon every weekend if they could always be like this one ūüėČ

My Trip To Paris By RaShonda’s Explore Savvy

RaShonda of Explore Savvy is one of my favourite local travel blogger. Between her recent trips to Cuba or Milan and her scooping of fabulous cheap or error fare her facebook and twitter feeds give me major wanderlust Рand make me want to buy all the airline tickets! Earlier in the year, she posted about an error fare on TAP Portugal, which I quickly snagged for a cheap Thanksgiving get-away. I mean, $280 round trip to Lisbon? How could I not jump on that? She also took advantage of the mistake, but rather than just stay in Portugal, opted to hop along to Paris. Here are some highlights from her trip to Paris earlier this year.

WHAT BROUGHT ME TO PARIS
As Laetitia mentioned, I came across a TAP Portugal deal for $285 round trip tickets from New York to many popular destinations in Europe. It was too good to pass up. My husband and I like to celebrate our anniversary in a different place each year so I figured we would take advantage of the deal to spend it in the City of Love this time around!

Explore Savvy's Anniversary trip to Paris

 

HOW I GOT THERE
We flew TAP Portugal. It was okay but nothing to write home about. If you ever fly this airline, my advice is to bring your own food and snacks. For what they lacked in food, they had plenty of red, white, and sparkling wine which made the food slightly more palatable. All of their flights from the US transit through Lisbon. If you have the time, they offer free tours during the stop-over, which is always a plus.

WHERE I STAYED
I’m a member of Starwood Preferred Guest¬†(SPG) which means I earn points when staying at Starwood properties like Westins, W Hotels, Meridiens or Sheratons. They have properties around the world and I always try to capitalize on the use of points when I can.¬†I wanted to stay some place that had its original Parisian charm and not your typical American hotel chain. Fortunately SPG had a few options that fit that requirement in Paris. We booked a room at Le Dokhan’s, a boutique hotel in a 19th century Haussmanian building in the 16eme arrondissement. It was recently acquired by SPG and was definitely the best of both worlds. From receiving a complimentary anniversary toast in Paris’ first champagne bar (located in the lobby level) to taking photos in its Louis Vuitton elevator, this place was oozing with charm.

Louis Vuitton elevator at Le Dokhan's in Paris

Also, it‚Äôs a short stroll to the Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower! And while we didn’t¬†use our points this go around, we earned enough for a free night or two in a less expensive city.

BEST THING I ATE
Paris is known for having tons of Michelin-rated restaurants and I figured I’d book one for our anniversary. I’d gone through the listing and narrowed down our selection to a few choices and ended up picking Kei, a one-star French restaurant which a slight Japanese influence. Each dish was so unique and the best part was all of them were very tasty. The service was absolutely amazing and I’d definitely recommend it to someone who’s celebrating a special occasion.

Kei

Kei

BEST FREE ACTIVITY
I’d definitely recommend spending the afternoon strolling down the Champs-√Člys√©es. There are so many cute caf√©s and restaurants where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat and just sit there and people watch. There’s also a ton of shopping. While many of the places can be found in the States too, they do offer different options in the European stores.

TOTALLY WORTH THE SPLURGE
I know they‚Äôre opening in Washington, D.C. soon, but I finally had a chance to a go to Ladur√©e. We went to the one located on the Champs-√Člys√©es. The line was out of the door but fortunately it moved quickly. As we made it halfway through, we noticed people walking right past us and into the small caf√© area. We followed suit and learned we could order our macarons from there with no wait. Who knew?

Explore Savvy at Laduree

We ordered 8 macarons to go but still ended up sitting down and ordering a tea, a cappuccino, and a fancy ice cream dish. While, this was not our most expensive eating experience, we spent nearly $60 on an afternoon snack with a few macarons to go. But hey, you only live once ūüėČ

MY TIPS IF YOU’RE HEADED TO PARIS
I always hear people talking about how French people are so rude. Honestly, my husband and I had a totally different experience. As long as you realize that the culture in Paris is not the same as in the United States, you will see things differently and enjoy your experience. One major difference: service at restaurants! Waiters are usually not ignoring you, they‚Äôre just giving you your space. If you need something just make eye contact or wave to them and they’ll be right over. Also, if you’re not fluent in French, learn a few basic greetings. Trust me, when you simply try it goes a long way‚Ķ

Have you been to Paris recently and would like your trip featured on French Twist DC? Drop me a line at FrenchTwistDC@gmail.com

Explore Savvy trip to Paris

 About the author: RaShonda Riddle is a nonprofit marketing director by day and travel enthusiast by night. She loves food, art, architecture, and learning about other cultures. Her passion is exploring the world one country at a time. You can read more about her travels on her blog Explore Savvy and on her social media channels (facebook & twitter.)

Week-End Highlights: GLT Get-Together and All the Pumpkins!

This week-end was all about two things: girlfriends and pumpkins! We had planned a fun day-trip to the Middletown/Frederick area to visit a pumpkin patch and the weather¬†could not have been more¬†perfect. If anything, it was too warm to wear the typical¬†instagrammable fall outfit ūüėČ

We headed to Jumbo’s pumpkin patch¬†because I had seen it listed in a couple of articles as one of the best in the United States (like in this post on Travel + Leisure). This seven-generation family farm offers lots of family friendly activities like face painting, pony rides, hayrides etc. but also has a legit patch where you can pick-your-own gourd. There were A LOT of kids, but once you got out to the patch it felt a bit calmer. ¬†And it’s just an hour from D.C. so it’s a perfect day trip!¬†

Jumbo's Pumpkin Patch

Jumbo's Pumpkin Patch

We had planned on visiting nearby South Mountain Creamery and¬†Distillery Lane Ciderworks¬†but unfortunately ran out of time after a particularly long lunch at The Main Cup. We did squeeze in a quick visit to Olde Mother Brewing, just outside of Frederick, on the way back. It’s a pretty new spot, and I wouldn’t have thought to visit it if one of my friends and former colleagues hadn’t messaged me that she worked there when she saw that I was in the neighbourhood. I must say I actually really liked their pumpkin beer (which is rare!!)¬†

Tasting flight at Olde Mother Brewing

In the evening, I met up for dinner and drinks with a couple of awesome local ladies from the Girls Love Travel group. I’ve recently joined this group to interact with like-minded travel chicks and get some travel inspiration and it was super fun to get together for the first time. Some of the girls are actually pretty new to the DC areas and up for doing some slightly touristy stuff, which is always fun!¬†

Girls love travel get together in DC

Sunday, I went back to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a third time. I had wanted to go back to the history galleries since I skipped those altogether on my second visit but there was a pretty ridiculous hour wait just to get into that part of the museum. So instead, I focused on the “Making a Way Out of No Way” section, which details how¬†African Americans acted to change and build their lives despite tremendous obstacles. This is probably the last time I’ll go to the new Smithsonian this year, though I feel like I still have SO much to see. Have you been yet?¬†

2015 Notre Dame de Cousignac Rosé Luberon

I spent the rest of the day writing. The weather was beautiful so I opened up a bottle of 2015 Notre Dame De Cousignac Ros√© Luberon just in time for sunset! ¬†I love¬†trying wines from regions I have been to, like the¬†Luberon where we spent Christmas with my uncle’s family a few years ago. I found the bottle in the 2 for $20 bins at Batch 13 so it was quite a steal too! ps: that pic is from snap chat. Do you follow each other on the social platform yet? We should ūüėČ Click here to find me!

Hope you had a great week-end too! 

My Trip To Paris (And Champagne) By Alison

There’s no conversation I love more than when one of friends tells me that they’re off¬†to Paris. OK, there is: the conversation we have when they get back full of stories from my hometown and appreciation for it. So I was thrilled when my friend Alison of Bon Vivant DC¬†told me she was stopping in Paris in between visits to Portugal and Champagne. OK, I was jealous too… but thrilled mostly. Alison runs a wine consulting business so I knew she’d have a fabulous trip. Here’s an overview of how it went, in Alison’s own words.

Alison Marriott in Champagne

WHAT BROUGHT ME TO PARIS

Paris has always been my favorite city, so when I found myself with five days between a vacation in Portugal and a weeklong industry event in Champagne, my choice of where to go in between these two stops was an easy one.¬† Besides its proximity to Champagne, Paris was an obvious choice for my extended ‘layover’ as I have several friends and acquaintances there. Oh, and the food. ¬†(Doesn’t everyone travel for food?!)

HOW I GOT THERE

I was already in Portugal and flew¬†I from Madeira into Paris’ Orly airport. On the way back, I took a direct flight from Charles de Gaulle to Dulles.¬†

WHERE I STAYED

I made a return visit to the¬†Relais St. Sulpice, a small luxury boutique hotel ideally situated in the heart of Saint Germain. It’s on a quiet street that’s¬†easily accessed by metro and walkable to many of my favorite sites in Paris including the Latin Quarter, l’Ile de la Cit√©, the Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s¬†reasonably priced, with infinitely comfortable beds, and the lobby has a charming self serve bar and small library where you can read or relax.

BEST THING I ATE

One of my favorite things about Paris truly is the food- p√Ęt√©, cheese, the bread, croissants… you name it, I love it!¬†Although I had several fancier meals, caf√© culture is one of my favorite things about Paris, and where I had one of my most memorable meals on this trip.¬† Caf√© Bonaparte is in quite a touristy stretch of rue St. Germain, within a stone’s throw of the more famous¬†Les Deux Magots and¬†Caf√© de¬†Flore. While no means a bargain, it beats the prices of its more famous brethren with the same amazing people-watching this neighborhood is perfectly suited for.¬†The atmosphere is as quintessentially Parisian as it gets! It was one of the only dinners that I ate alone, and so its convenience to my hotel was paramount. Big thanks to C√©cile of The Worldly Bite¬†for this great suggestion!

Champagne at Cafe Bonaparte

I also adored having cr√™pes and Britany cider out of traditional ceramic bowls with Laetitia’s mom at Breizh Caf√©, right behind the Picasso Museum in the Marais! It’s a place I can imagine returning again and again to try different combinations.

Lastly, I had a lovely time picnicking along the Seine with my¬†dear friend Tanisha of Girl Meets Glass. We¬†picked up everything we needed at the local Monoprix¬†and¬†were loaded down with¬†an astounding array of cheeses, tapenade, fruit, bread, charcuterie and a few bottles of wine for less than 30‚ā¨! As we¬†made our way over to a quai on the Seine, the fading sun cast beautiful light and shadows over the city.¬† After pulling the cork on a bottle of Proven√ßal ros√© we watched the lights illuminate Notre Dame across the river – which is perhaps most impressive seen at night.

BEST FREE ACTIVITY 

Though pretty touristy, taking in the Eiffel Tower at night tops this list. Feel free to take a bottle of wine and settle in for the light show, which takes place at the top of every hour.

La Tour Eiffel

I also adore wandering around the jardin du Luxembourg.¬† It’s one of the loveliest spots in Paris, particularly in the spring, when thousands of tulips are in bloom.¬†

The Luxembourg Garden in the spring

Finally not technically free but at 3.30‚ā¨, practically: the gardens at the Rodin Museum. Skip the pricier interior to take in the sculptor’s most famous works set amidst a beautiful park devoid of the crowds and tour groups that throng most large museums. This has to be one of the most under-rated sites in Paris!¬†

WORTH THE SPLURGE 

I was in France to attend the industry only Printemps des Champagnes series of tastings as I prepare to host DC’s first Champagne Week,¬†which will take place in early November. What most people don’t realize is how very easy it is to visit Champagne as a¬†day trip from Paris. The TGV train will get you¬†from Gare du Nord to the center of Reims in a mere 40 minutes.¬† From there, it’s easy to visit the stunning Cathedral of Reims and pop into a few of the notable champagne houses.¬† Taittinger has spectacular tours and beautiful cellars. Travelers who venture a bit further into the countryside (which does require a car) are rewarded with beautiful scenery and small, grower champagne houses. Just be sure to make an appointment!¬†

Caves in Reims

MY TIPS IF YOU’RE HEADED TO PARIS¬†

1) Don’t over schedule!¬† Remember to schedule time to relax, peruse the charming shops, explore hidden courtyards, and lounge in any number of the lovely parks. Take time to soak in the city while relaxing at a picturesque cafe over a mid afternoon pastry.¬†

2) If it’s your first trip to Paris, pick a few sites that are most important to see and really spend some time enjoying them. My own “Top 5 Must Sees” are the Sainte Chapelle, hidden inside France’s Palais de Justice, ¬†the light show at the Eiffel Tower, the Rodin Sculpture Gardens, the Mus√©e D’Orsay, and the Jardin du Luxembourg.¬†

La Sainte Chapelle

3) Dress up and learn a few French words.¬†There are a few things that can help you blend in a bit and not stand out as an American (or as a tourist) really.¬†¬†We¬†typically dress more casually than our Parisian counterparts so like to trade tennis shoes for driving loafers and throw on a blazer over jeans. Though you may not be mistaken for a local, dressing up just a bit commands respect and you won’t look the part of the dreaded “Ugly American.”¬†Also, even though my French is abysmal, I’ve mastered a¬†few key phrases like “thank you” (merci), “excuse me” (pardon), “please” (s’il vous pla√ģt), “hello” (bonjour.) Parisians really appreciate the effort and you’ll find that many are actually eager to practice their english with you too!

Though I’ve been to Paris many times, there are still sites that I’ve never made it to- and that’s OK!¬† Part of the charm of this beautiful city is embracing the Parisian joie de vivre, luxuriating in the experiences you DO choose to enjoy. I can’t wait to visit the flea markets, more museums, and perhaps the Catacombes or nearby Giverny on my next visit, but you can bet I’ll still find plenty of time to enjoy a glass of champagne, p√Ęt√©, and people watching – which will always top my list of favorite things to do in Paris!

Have you been to Paris recently and would like your trip featured on French Twist DC? Drop me a line at FrenchTwistDC@gmail.com

Alison Marriott of Bon Vivant DCAbout the author:¬†Alison and I met through mutual friends and a common love of of all things vino. She runs her own wine consultancy Bon Vivant DC and is currently hard at work planning the city‚Äôs first Champagne Week, with a Grand Tasting planned on November 9th. There will also be a champagne pairing dinner held at Ripple, and custom flights of champagne around town. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.dcchampagneweek.com. Yep, that‚Äôs the week of the election and the perfect opportunity to celebrate your candidate‚Äôs victory ‚ÄĒ or plot your theoretical move to Paris over the world‚Äôs finest bubbles.

Postcard from Paris: 5 Spots Where I Love to Grab a Cup of Coffee

When I left Paris to move to Washington, DC thirteen years ago (**le gasp**) the city didn’t even have a single Starbucks¬†yet. Now they’re everywhere, and I’m not saying that’s a good thing but I do want to point out that the coffee scene has changed in a few years. Of course, Paris has always been known for its street-side caf√©s, where you can grab a quick noisette at the counter or linger for hours at the terrace people watching and sipping a¬†caf√©¬†cr√®me. Those were never really about the coffee and new¬†caf√©s, inspired by the artisanal coffee culture in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. have popped up all over town. In many of those, it’s not unusual to hear English spoken fluently behind the counter as well as¬†drip or filtered coffee (not¬†espresso) in the cups. I’m not complaining about this change, I actually love discovering new coffee shops when I’m in Paris, though here are the five I always go back to:¬†

CAF√Ȭ†KITSUN√Č FILLES DU CALVAIRE

Kitsun√©¬†means fox in Japanese¬†and in France, it’s synonymous with cool tunes and trendy clothes. The record and fashion label owns a couple of shops in Tokyo and Paris (as well as¬†two¬†in New York too!) including one rue Amelot/boulevard des filles du calvaires, blocks from where I grew up. Tucked beneath the boutique, you’ll find a bright and playful space, with custom speckled faux marble walls and floors, that makes some of the best matcha lattes in the city, as well as adorable little fox shaped cookies. There’s another Caf√© Kitsun√© in the gardens of the Palais Royal that¬†I enjoy in the summer as well.

Cafe Kitsune palais royal

Cafe Kitsune in ParisCafe Kitsune in Paris

Café Kitsuné is located at 51 galerie de Montpensier, 1er (Palais Royal) & 109 rue Amelot, 11eme (Filles du Calvaire)

CAF√Č OBERKAMPF

I don’t why you would be looking for vegemite in Paris, but if you are, you will find some at Caf√© Oberkampf ūüėČ You’ll also find a minimalist space, brunch all day, “avo toasts” and a grilled cheese sandwich named after a famous American expat blog. Doesn’t hurt that Caf√© Oberkampf runs an awesome instagram account either (with English captions… bien sur!)

Cafe Oberkampf

Cafe Oberkampf Instagram

 

 Café Oberkampf is located at 3 rue Neuve Popincourt, 11eme 

CAF√Č SU√ČDOIS

My mom is quite the regular there when the weather is nice… it’s a short stroll from her place and just a lovely spot in the Marais. ¬†Located in l’H√ītel de Marle, a magnificent 18th century mansion that now houses the¬†Swedish Cultural Institute, its main draw is the peaceful paved courtyard. It’s the perfect spot for¬†fika, or to read a book while seating¬†on Ikea furniture and nibbling on¬†kanelbullar.¬†Try it in the winter too, they have¬†gl√∂gg¬†around Christmas time!! On occasion, like last summer, they’ll also open up the grassy garden on the other side of the building and host activities for children too.
L'Institut suédois in the Marais - Picture courtesy of l'Institut suédois.

L’Institut su√©dois in the Marais – Picture courtesy of l’Institut su√©dois.

L’Institut Tessin/Centre Culturel Su√©dois is tucked away in a quiet spot of the 3eme, at 11 rue Payenne.

BOOT CAF√Č

The outside still reads “Cordonnerie” in faded paint because the shoebox sized coffee shop is (appropriately) located in a former shoe repair shop. It’s cute as a button, though seats are scarce so you should plan on taking you¬†Belleville Br√Ľlerie¬†coffee to go (and perhaps walk to the Picasso Museum a few blocks away….)¬†

Boot Cafe in the Marais

Boot Cafe in the Marais

Boot Café is in a former cordonnerie at 19 Rue du Pont aux Choux, 3eme

LA CAF√ČOTH√ąQUE¬†

I just discovered this spot recently when I got together with Pola of Jetting Around for a quick cup of coffee. I’m so glad she suggested it. I went to middle school at Francois Couperin literally one street away and had NO idea this caf√© existed. Unlike the other spots on the list that have a more anglo angle, La Caf√©oth√®que is owned by¬†Gloria Montenegro, a former¬†Ambassador for Guatemala in France, who views coffee like we view wine, with an emphasis on¬†terroir. It’s actually where the coffee revolution in Paris first kicked off (it’s been open for over ten years). There’s a very artsy and cozy feel to the space, and it’s actually VERY roomy compared to most of the other spots on my list ūüėȬ†

La Caféothèque

La Caféothèque РPhoto courtesy of La Caféothèque

La Caf√©oth√®que is located at 52 Rue de l‚ÄôH√ītel de Ville, 4eme¬†

   *        *      *       *      *

Do you have a favourite coffee shop in Paris? While these are my personal faves right now, and yes, they’re concentrated in the 3 arrondissements that I frequent the most. I’ll say though, sometimes, I still just pop up at an old school caf√© for my noisette though. You?¬†

Bonus coffee shop: I cannot not mention Le Caf√© des Chats. There’s a location rue Sedaine, by my parents’ as well as one closer to Beaubourg. You can read more about it in one of my previous blog post here.

Le Cafe des chats in Paris

Premi√®res Visites du Nouveau Mus√©e d’Histoire & Culture Afro-Am√©ricaine

√áa y est! Le tout nouveau Mus√©e National de l‚ÄôHistoire et de la Culture Afro-Am√©ricaine (l’acronyme c’est NMAAHC en anglais) a ouvert ses portes au public samedi dernier¬†√† Washington. Et il les a ouvertes en grande pompe et circonstance, ¬†avec l’ancien pr√©sident George W. Bush, Barack et Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey et plein d’autres c√©l√©brit√©s ainsi que deux jours de f√™te et de concerts sur le National Mall.
National Museum of African American History and Culture L’inauguration du NMAAHC c’est l’√©v√©nement culturel de l’ann√©e ici… les billets d’entr√©e (qui sont¬†gratuits d’ailleurs, comme ceux pour¬†tous les mus√©es nationaux g√©r√©s par l’Institution Smithsonian) se sont arrach√©s comme des petits pains en ligne. Il faut maintenant quasiment attendre jusqu’√† janvier pour avoir des places. Heureusement, je m’y suis prise¬†√† l’avance et du coup j’en suis d√©j√† √† ma deuxi√®me visite ūüėČ J’ai eu la chance de pouvoir le visiter juste¬†avant son ouverture officielle, trois jours apr√®s l’inauguration et j’y retourne mi-octobre…. Un peu beaucoup? Non. Il y a plus 33¬†000 objets a d√©couvrir sur presque¬†40¬†000 m√®tres carr√©s, donc je pense que j’aurais m√™me besoin d’y retourner l’ann√©e prochaine, surtout que je n’ai pas¬†du tout¬†√©tudi√©¬†l’histoire am√©ricaine ¬†√† l’√©cole, donc j’apprends plein de chose √† chaque fois!

En gros, le¬†Mus√©e National de l‚ÄôHistoire et de la Culture Afro-Am√©ricaine¬†propose un veritable voyage dans l’histoire des Etats Unis comme l’ont v√©cus les afro-am√©ricains. La visite s’organise chronologiquement au d√©but et commence tout en bas, au troisi√®me sous-sol du mus√©e. C’est symbolique, bien s√Ľr. Dans ces premi√®res salles on revoit les √©pisodes les plus sombres de l’histoire Am√©ricaine: l’esclavage et la s√©gr√©gation… Cette partie m’a rappel√© le Mus√©e de l’Holocauste, qui est tout pr√®s d’ailleurs. On y voit des cartes retra√ßant le commerce des esclaves, des cha√ģnes (dont des toutes petites pour enfants), des notes de vente et une cabane d’esclaves provenant¬†d’une ancienne plantation de Caroline du Sud.
unnamed-27National Museum African American History and Culture

Un grand mur m’a fait particuli√®rement r√©fl√©chir: celui du paradoxe de la libert√©. Derri√®re une statue de Thomas Jefferson on peut lire les noms de tous les esclaves dont il √©tait “propri√©taire…” lui, l’auteur principal de la D√©claration d’Independence qui¬†d√©crit que tous les hommes sont n√©s √©gaux et sont dou√©s par le Cr√©ateur de certains droits inali√©nables; parmi ces droits se trouvent la vie, la libert√© et la recherche du bonheur.¬†Progressivement, on arrive √† l’√©poque de la s√©gr√©gation et √† la lutte pour les droits civiques. L√†, il n’est pas rare d’entendre quelques personnes un peu plus √Ęg√©s raconter leur propre experience¬†pendant cette p√©riode et c’est extr√™mement¬†√©mouvant quand ils sont l√† en famille, avec leur enfants et leurs petits enfants, de les voir partager ces souvenirs difficiles qu’ils ont v√©cus personnellement. Cette sc√®ne de parents qui expliquent ce lourd contexte¬†√† leurs¬†enfant¬†se r√©p√®te √† travers le mus√©e. Certains sont si jeunes qu’ils n’ont jamais connu d’autre pr√©sident que Barack Obama, dont l’√©lection conclue d’ailleurs cette partie du mus√©e. On sort enfin des √©pisodes les plus sombres de l’histoire am√©ricaine pour arriver aux plus glorieux.

Tuskegee Airmen Trainer Plane at the NMAAHC

Les √©tages sup√©rieurs redonnent leur place aux contributions des Afro-Am√©ricains dans l’histoire militaire, le sport, les arts et la culture. Les th√®mes pr√©c√©dents ne sont pas oubli√©s… la¬†s√©gr√©gation et la lutte pour les droits civiques y sont encore mais on y c√©l√®bre surtout la¬†r√©ussite, les victoires, les premi√®res historiques que ce soit celle de Josephine Baker, Alvin Alley, Spike Lee, Mohamed Ali ou des soeurs Williams. Et oui, d’Oprah Winfrey aussi… elle a donn√© plus de 20 millions au mus√©e donc elle est un peu partout ūüėČ

Oprah Winfrey's studio at NMAAHC A statue of the 1968 Olympics black power salute at NMAAHC

En dehors des expositions, il y a trois endroits que j’ai beaucoup aim√© dans le mus√©e. Le premier c’est une petite fen√™tre cach√©e dans la section histoire militaire au troisi√®me √©tage. Quelle vue! Attention, pour prendre la photo comme moi, il faut s’allonger par terre, sinon on coupe le haut du Washington Monument…¬†

The view from the 3rd floor of NMAAHC

Ensuite, c’est la caf√©t√©ria au premier sous sol, qui¬†est en elle¬†m√™me un exposition √† part enti√®re puisque le menu retrace les contributions culinaires afro-am√©ricaine √† la cuisine du pays. Enfin, un bon resto sur le mall ūüėČ

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich from sweet Home Cafe at NMAAHC

Le dernier endroit est un pi√®ce d√©di√©e √† la contemplation, un endroit calme (assez dur √†¬†trouver d’ailleurs!) o√Ļ on peut s’assoir et, berc√© par le murmure d’une fontaine qui tombe du plafond, r√©fl√©chir un peu √† tout ce que l’on vient de voir, au poids de l’histoire, √† la situation actuelle qui est loin d’√™tre id√©ale en ce moment. Bonus:¬†√ßa fait une belle photo instagram aussi!¬†

Contemplation room at NMAAHC

Le mus√©e est d√©j√† un √©norme succ√®s avec plus de 28,000 visiteurs en quelques jours… Si vous ne vous √™tes pas pris comme moi au mois d’ao√Ľt pour r√©server vos places gratuites, il faudra vous armer d’un peu de patience… et d’un bon r√©veil.¬†Tous les matins, des¬†places seront mises √† la disposition du public √† 9:15. Une fois toutes distribu√©es, il vous faudra revenir le lendemain. Donc surtout l√† au d√©but je conseillerai d’y aller assez t√īt! Sinon, les¬†reservations pour janvier-fevrier s’ouvriront le lundi 3 octobre √† 9 heures du matin. Apr√®s vous pouvez aussi juste appr√©cier l’architecture ext√©rieur du mus√©e, il est superbe aussi… mais bon, si vous pouvez visiter, c’est mieux tout de m√™me!¬†

Highlights From My Trip to Anaheim, California

Me and MickeyWhen you think Anaheim, your first thought is probably Disney and that‚Äôs sorta what brought me there. A work conference. At the most magical place on earth ūüėČ The last time I was in Disneyland, I was still a teenager and Disney had taken a more important role in my life since. I worked at the store on Champs Elysees during summer offs from college and I worked in the offices at Disneyland Paris right after graduation. So I was pretty stoked to be reunited with my old boss Mickey even if I didn‚Äôt have a ton of time for non work-related activities.

WHAT BROUGHT ME TO ANAHEIM?

To this tune… work work work work work work! The trade association I worked for was hosting its annual conference at the¬†Disneyland Hotel so I got to spend a few days there, mostly locked up in the hotel hosting luncheons, workshops and meetings.¬†

HOW I GOT THERE

I could have flown to SNA, closer to Anaheim, but opted for a direct flight to Los Angeles International instead. My friend Lindsay picked me up and I spent one night with her in Santa Monica. She dropped me back off at LAX the next morning, and I caught the magical Disneyland Resort Express bus from there to the parks. The shuttle departs every hour from LAX and only sets you back $48 round trip, which is nothing compared to what a taxi would cost for the 35+ miles trip. 

Taking the bus to Disneyland

 

WHERE I STAYED

Since I spent a LOT of time inside the hotel, it’s a good thing we stayed in¬†a really nice one, the Disneyland Hotel. ¬†If you’re looking to do Disney on the cheap, this isn’t going to be the place. The rooms are pricey, buy hey, I wasn’t picking up the tab ūüėČ

disneyland-hotel

Here’s a¬†couple of things I loved about the hotel: it’s within a quick walk to Downtown Disney District¬†(perfect spot to grab a bite, a drink or do a little Disney shopping after work-hours!) and both the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks. The hotel is also considered the original Disneyland Hotel (not the flagship one, that would be Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa next door) and is full of Disney-history. There’s a strong Mickey Mouse motif throughout the rooms, with Mickey accents and details here and there, though my favourite “disney” touch was the ‚Äúgoodnight kiss,‚ÄĚ where “when you wish upon a star” star playing along with fireworks in your headboard when you turn off a switch.

Disneyland headboard

The hotel also has a really nice pool (not that I ever went) and¬†boasts one of the only decent bars in all of Disney, the legendary Trader Sam’s Enchanted¬†Tiki Bar. I would have spent a lot more time there, except after a long day of work everyone had the same idea and the last thing I wanted was to hang out with colleagues and other conference attendees ūüėȬ†

Tiki Drinks at Trader Sams

 

BEST THING I ATE

So, let‚Äôs be honest, people don‚Äôt come to Disney for the food. To be fair, there are a few decent meals to be had around the resort. As I mentioned earlier,¬†Trader Sam’s Enchanted¬†Tiki Bar makes a mean cocktail. There‚Äôs also Napa Rose, Disneyland Resort‚Äôs flagship restaurant, located at the Grand Californian. Sadly, I didn‚Äôt have enough time to squeeze in a meal there…. I did have an unexpectedly decent¬†meal at the UVA bar, right in the middle of Downtown Disney District. I had gotten up super early that morning and I‚Äôd been indoors in the air conditioning all day. I had an hour window to relax before a¬†diner organized by one of my colleagues. I knew the food would be bland at best (hello conference chicken my old friend!) if I even got to sit down long enough to eat any of it so I took a chance on UVA’s¬†chorizo burger with UVA fries and a glass of ros√©¬†that surprisingly was one of my better meals at Disney.

UVA Burger

I also loved the beignets at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. But when I got a little bit of free time, I hopped in a Lyft (I was able to activate a $50 Promo Code at LAX since I was a new user) and explored Anaheim beyond Disney a little bit. I had a lovely breakfast one morning (when work started a bit later) at Ink & Bean’s Coffee Saloon and Wordshop and an equally lovely lunch at the Anaheim Packing District, a food hall a bit like our Union Market, with an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants inside a two-story renovated Sunkist packing house from 1919.

Anaheim Packing district

I had a great meal there, a lemongrass beef bun at Sawleaf Vietnamese caf√©, though I¬†was really tempted to get the poutine at Kroft¬†too! I also would have loved to check out the¬†Anaheim Brewery right around the corner, but¬†somehow it wasn’t open at 11AM on a weekday‚Ķ¬†

Fireworks at disneyland

BEST FREE ACTIVITY

Hum‚Ķ Disney and free don‚Äôt really go hand in hand ūüėČ However, if you’re staying at one of the hotels near the parks like I was, you can experience the fireworks from the Esplanade between the¬†Disney California Adventure¬†and the Disneyland¬†parks.¬†You don’t get to hear the music or have the stunning cinderella castle as a backdrop, but it won’t cost you the $97 admission to the park. ¬†

 

BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY

My best splurge was definitely going into the California Adventure park for an evening and seeing the World of Color nighttime show (you can see it here on YouTube too). Having been in Las Vegas the summer before (also for work) it made the Bellagio’s fountains look like amateur hour… The park opened in 2001 so I had never been, though I had done some of its ride like the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (which is closing soon at Disneyland!!) at Disneyworld in Florida.

Me at Disney's California Adventure

A smaller splurge was this $25.99¬†Disneyland 60th Diamond Anniversary Minnie Mouse Headband with Ears that allowed me to fit right in and pretend I was on vacation too! I mean,¬†EVERYONE is wearing some kind of Mickey or Minnie ear accessory on their head, it‚Äôs not something I had ever seen at Disneyland Paris when I worked then (doesn’t strike me as something the French would be into, even today!) Also, using Lyft to get outside of the resort on occasions was also totally worth the (small) splurge.

 

MY TIPS IF YOU’RE HEADED TO ANAHEIM

Well, obviously that all depends if you‚Äôre there with kids or grown ups, for work or for fun. If you can, definitely stay at one of the two hotels on the Disneyland Resort. Not only are they beautifully designed, but you‚Äôll save a lot of time on transportation if you’re headed to the parks. Also, they offer a special extra hour to patrons¬†where you get to go to the park a whole hour before everyone else. The parks get so crowded, it‚Äôs totally worth it! Buy some Mickey and Minnie ears and embrace the whole Disney thing, they have some for everyone, including some really cool star wars stuff now that Disney owns the franchise. And if you‚Äôre not going to the parks, or want a break from them, there are lots of other things to do in Anaheim. If you‚Äôre into sports, Anaheim is home to two teams: the Mighty Ducks hockey team and the Angels baseball team. See a game if you can! There‚Äôs also the Anaheim Packing District for food, a couple of breweries, a museum (the Muzeo) . And if you didn’t rent a car, don’t let that deter you from getting around with¬†Lyft or Uber!¬†

Have you been to Anaheim for work and/or fun? What was that like for you?

Los Angeles en 10 Photos

J’ai rarement l’occasion de visiter la c√īte ouest. La Californie, mine de rien, c’est quand m√™me √† six heures d’avion de Washington (DC! mais c’est quand m√™me quatre heure de vol de l’√©tat de Washington aussi) donc c’est pas comme si on peut y aller juste pour un petit weekend… ¬†Mais comme j’√©tais √† Anaheim pas loin pour une conference au travail, j’en ai profit√© pour rentabiliser le billet (surtout qu’il √©tait pay√© par ma boite!) et je suis rest√©e quelques jours de plus sur Los Angeles, histoire de red√©couvrir un peu la deuxi√®me plus grande ville des Etats Unis.¬†

Voici un petit aper√ßu de mon s√©jour¬†√† Los Angeles en 10 photos. Pas mal on √©t√© prises √† Venice Beach comme c’est l√† que j’avais lou√© un AirBnB (que je recommande fort d’ailleurs pour ceux qui passeraient √† Los Angeles!) Sinon, comme ce n’√©tait quand¬†m√™me pas mon premier voyage l√† bas, j’ai √©vit√© les gros lieux touristiques et j’ai pr√©f√©r√© explorer¬†un peu des nouveaux quartiers comme Echo Park et Silver Lake ainsi que revoir le Hollywood sign, mais d’un angle un peu different cette fois ūüėČ Je vous laisse voir:

Palm Trees in Los Angeles

Le gros clich√© de Los Angeles: les palmiers partout, √† perte de vue, sur la plage, dans la ville. Ils font r√™ver et on ne s’en lasse pas!

 

Les surfeurs adorent et moi aussi! Un bol de sashimi hawa√Įen de Poke-Poke, d√©gust√© sur la plage de Venice Beach pour un diner healthy et l√©ger, et pas cher en plus.

Toujours à Venice, la célèbre Muscle beach, la plage du bodybuilding avec ses salles de musculations en plein air.

Toujours à Venice, la célèbre Muscle beach, la plage du bodybuilding avec ses salles de musculations en plein air.

Il n'y a pas que la plage à Venice Beach, y'a aussi le quartier historique des Canaux de Venice qui était tout près de mon AirBnB.

Il n’y a pas que la plage √† Venice Beach, y’a aussi le quartier historique des Canaux de Venice qui √©tait tout pr√®s de mon AirBnB.

Hiking to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles

C’est LE symbole de Los Angeles et la meilleure fa√ßon de le voir de pr√®s, c’est a la fin d’une¬†randonn√©e dans les collines d’Hollywood.

Trouvaille colorée au détour des rues du quartier branché de Silver Lake, à l’Est de Downtown

On reste dans le sport avec cet escalier, une trouvaille colorée au détour des rues du quartier branché de Silver Lake, à l’Est de Downtown. 

 

Decouverte pour moi lors de ce voyage: la quartier de Echo Park avec ces collines couvertes de petites maisons colorées et son superbe park, avec une vue imprenable sur downtown.

Découverte pour moi lors de ce voyage: la quartier de Echo Park avec ces collines remplies de petites maisons colorées et son superbe park, avec une vue imprenable sur downtown.

Autre d√©couverte, celle du nouveau mus√©e d'art contemporain du Broad. Il a ouvert ces portes fin 2015 et rengorge d'Ňďuvres de Koons, Hirst, Basquiat, Mapplethorpe et Braque. Bonus: il est gratuit!

Autre d√©couverte, celle du nouveau mus√©e d’art contemporain du Broad. Il a ouvert ces portes fin 2015 et rengorge d’Ňďuvres de Koons, Hirst, Basquiat, Mapplethorpe et Braque. Bonus: il est gratuit!

Un de mes buts pendant mon sejour a Los Angeles: ne jamais depenser plus de $20 par repas. Mission accomplie avec ces ramens a Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle.

Un de mes buts pendant mon séjour à Los Angeles: ne jamais dépenser plus de $20 par repas. Mission accomplie avec ces ramens à Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle.

Postcard from Montr√©al ~ BYOB Restaurants

I spent a lot of time during my last visit in Montr√©al reminiscing about the past. I guess that‚Äôs what happens when you‚Äôre back in a city you called home for four years. Suddenly, the d√©panneurs¬†(deps!) and S.A.Q.s (saqs!) bring back memories of carefree evenings with friends. That coffee you‚Äôre drinking at this trendy new spot tastes better with a side of nostalgia for the memories of that pretty green dress you had bought there back in the days when it used to be a chic boutique. Some of it is bitter sweet of course, like seeing that a place you loved went out of business and was replaced by something new or realizing that you used to live in a WAY nicer house (and for much cheaper) when you were a junior than now that you are a professional. Gosh, I miss Montreal and its cheap real estate!! I don‚Äôt miss the heating bill though ūüėČ

That nice house I used to live in when I was a junior was on Rue Sainte Famille, right in the heart of the McGill Ghetto (<– not an actual ghetto, just how the neighbourhood is called). We had a¬†d√©panneur¬†right around the corner, where we could get our milk in plastic bags, as is done in Quebec,¬†or a bottle of “Ch√Ęteau D√©panneur,” aka cheap 2-buck chuck. On the other end of the street, there was Place Milton where we would go for cheap breakfasts on Saturdays and Amelio‚Äôs where we would treat ourselves to dinner once in a while, and sometimes go on dates too. We loved Amilio‚Äôs: the¬†food was good AND it was cheap AND it was convenient AND we¬†could bring your own wine to diner. When you‚Äôre a college student, that‚Äôs a magic formula!

The facade of Amelio's now Amelia's... my fave BYOW when I was in college

The facade of Amelio’s now Amelia’s… I’d love this spot even more now with this mural!

Being able to bring your own wine (Apportez Votre Vin as it is know in Quebec) with no corkage fee is a thing in Montr√©al. I‚Äôm almost ashamed of some of the wines I brought to very decent restaurant like Au 917. Yes, I‚Äôm French. But I was also 20 years old, wasn‚Äôt earning any money and was just beginning to appreciate wine for more than just my preferred method of getting a buzz. Well, wine and Molson, of course. It all started like a lot of things start‚Ķ with a legal loophole. A couple of restaurateurs in the Plateau began allowing patrons to bring their own wine back in the 80s. The government corrected the situation a bit, requiring establishments to at least have a liquor license but the practice caught on and is still around today, and you will not be charged a corkage fee for bringing in your own vino to the table.¬†The plateau is still where you’ll find most of the city’s BYOB resto, but new ones have started popping up all over¬†Montr√©al too.¬†

Apportez votre vin

I know a 200%-400% mark-up is the norm in most restaurants, and that it is how dining establishments make money. But sometimes it just breaks my heart to spend THAT much on a bottle I know I could get for less than $20 at my favourite wine shop. In France, meals seem a lot more affordable, even with gratuities included, because the wine is so much more reasonably priced than it is in the United States. So if you’re visiting¬†Montr√©al, definitely have diner at a BYOW one night! It’s a pretty unique only-in-Montr√©al kinda thing.¬†Since my Montr√©al references are a bit dated ‚Äď I mean, I‚Äôm not sure how much I‚Äôd actually enjoy Amelio‚Äôs or Place Milton these days, other than for the nostalgia factor ‚Äď I asked a couple of my friends who still live in the city what their favourite BYOW are and here are some that stood out:

  • Au 917 ‚Äď Now this is a place I used to go to because its reasonably priced table d‚Äôhote menu AND BYOW option was basically a French-expat-on-a-college-student-budget‚Äôs dream! Try the veal tongue! Seriously, try it‚Ķ¬†

Restaurant au 917

  • Les Heritiers ‚Äď pretty much all of them mentioned this upscale Plateau establishment from the restaurateurs duo Pierre Roy and Marc-Andre Paradis who own a mini-empire of amazing BYOWs including O‚ÄôThym‚Ķ read below.
  • O‚ÄôThym ‚Äď What pairs with foie gras tarte tartin‚Ķ because that‚Äôs one of the items on the menu. OMD! This one is in the Village, which makes me sad that I didn‚Äôt go because I was staying right there during my last trip…
  • Le Quartier General ‚Äď everyone also brought up this restaurant as not just one of the best BYOW restaurant, but also just one of the best Montr√©al restaurant. Noted for my next trip!!
  • Wellington ‚Äď I never went to the Verdun neighbourhood when I lived in Montr√©al, but it sounds like Wellington would have been a good reason for me to head there! It offers a $45CAN table d’hote on Sundays, which coupled with BYOW makes it a pretty good deal. Despite the name, the food it pretty French.¬†

Do you have a fave restaurant Apportez Votre Vin in Montréal? Do you wish that concept could come to where you live? I know I do!!