13 Novembre 2015 – When Words Fail

Friday night’s attacks in Paris hit home. Very close to home. It’s hard to process my own feelings right now, let alone find the words to express them. My aunt and cousins used to live across the street from the Bataclan. One of those cousins was at the Stade de France for the France-Germany match. I have two sets of friends, both with young children, who live rue de la Fontaine-au-roi. The images I watched on newscasts that evening and throughout the weekend were not the Paris of tourists that’s typically shown in the United States, with the obligatory accordion background music. This was my Paris. These were my streets. This was my home.  

I wish I could be home in times like these. But I am not. So like in January, following the shooting at Charlie Hebdo, I gathered with friends, this time in front of the statue of Lafayette near the White House. There’s so much to process and think about already, just being able to speak French and hear French being spoken all around made me feel better already. I know that things are going to be ok. We’ve been through worse. But right now, I don’t really want to think or speak about it, so I will just leave you with pictures of two moments that warmed my heart over the weekend.

French embassy in Washington DC after the Paris attacks

Well wishers left heartfelt message, flowers and even bottle of wine – a very sweet thought – outside of the French Embassy here in Washington, DC

Vigil in front of the White House following the attacks of November 13 in Paris

A few hundred people, including many French expats, gathered for a vigil at the statue of France’s General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette near the White House. Ambassador Gerard Araud and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough led a minute of silence for the victims.

Travel Highlights from 2014

2014 was a great year for me travel-wise. I made it home to France not once, but twice. I made the most out of a few work trips in New York, Chicago, Raleigh, Boca Raton and Austin, Texas. I even tested out Icelandair’s “the best part of a trip to Paris is Iceland” advertisement by doing a stop-over in Reyjkavik on my way back from Paris. The highlight of last year, though, was traveling to Brazil to cheer on my beloved Bleus during the World Cup, a trip I had been planning for and looking forward to for the past 3 years.

MAKING THE MOST OUT OF WORK TRIPS 

Chicago (and New York before that) happened in the dead of winter. For Chicago, I think I got to go because none of my colleagues were crazy enough to go there for a frozen 36-hour trip. But I really like Chicago and I can’t wait to go back. In the summer.

Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t justify renting a car in Austin since the event I was there for was at the hotel where I was staying, and unfortunately that hotel was not in the center of the city. As a result I didn’t get to see much of Austin as I would have to, but I did get to have some great BBQ and some fun food like Texas shaped waffles and Texas wine, at the Vino Volo at the airport of course.

Texas shape waffle

Texas wine flight

For Raleigh, it was really a combination fun and work since we have quite a few DC friends that somehow ended up there and we actually ended up going on 2 separate occasions. Since I’ve never owned a car (and didn’t have a car growing up in Paris either) I’m absolutely OBSESSED with road trips. It’s weird, I know. But my favourite part of the trips to Raleigh was driving down, through Richmond, VA, with my husband. I really would like to do more road trips in 2015. You know, with my imaginary car 😉

Welcome to North Carolina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had been to Charlotte, of course, in 2014 for the Democratic National Convention, but Raleigh is quite different. I loved touring Duke University, especially the Sarah P. Duke gardens and fell in love with the North Carolina Art Museum. Also with LaFarm’s white chocolate chip baguette. SO good!

Rodin Gardens

Duke University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t love Boca Raton as much, but it was still nice to spend a whole week in Florida. Even if I spent most of it indoor for our annual conference (helped that it was at the gorgeous Boca Raton Resort), I did spend a few hours on a beach before my flight, and checked out Whale’s Ribs of Drives-and-Dives-In fame. The oysters were cheap… but also tasteless. The bloody marys on the other end…

BRAZIL 2014 

Raleigh, Austin, Boca… those were nice trips. But of course, the one trip I was really (really really really) looking forward to was heading to Brazil for the World Cup. That trip was expensive, it required a lot of advance planning, entering of lotteries etc. Was it worth it? YES! Absolutely. For me. My husband probably thinks differently (maybe I should have tried to squeeze in one US game in there…) It certainly wasn’t an easy trip for us as a couple and we learned a lot about traveling together. We both disliked our stay in Belo Horizonte, though we adored the smaller town of Ouro Preto. We loved Rio, though I wish we’d stayed closer to Ipanema or Copacabana, instead of downtown.

IMG_3956 IMG_2869 Lapa

IMG_3352

One of the highlights of the trip, for me, (I mean, not that watching France NOT score a single goal for 180 minutes wasn’t thrilling) was Iguazu Falls and crossing the border into Argentina for a quick day trip to see the falls on the other side. There’s a triple-border spot formed naturally by the convergence of the Parana River and the Iguazu River. Right there, you can literally stand between Brazil and Argentina, with Paraguay in the backdrop. I absolutely loved that spot!

IMG_4014IMG_4016IMG_4017

And while the whole idea behind going to Brazil was that we wouldn’t be making it to Russia or Qatar, I learned so much in my first World Cup experience that I think the next one can only be better. Privyet Russia 2018?

HOME SWEET HOME 

IMG_9442

PAR_8924

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel very lucky that I got to go to Paris not once but twice last year. I caught up with family, and my ever changing hometown. I went to the ballet at the stunning Opera Garnier with my dad and showed my husband some of my old haunts. I fell in love with Paris’ newest monument, la Fondation Louis Vuitton, and discovered the new offspring of its most famous museum (that would be the Louvre Lens, you can read more about it here). I had some great coffee at adorable new spots in the Marais and the Canal Saint Martin area and ate WAY too many pastries 😉

IMG_1018IMG_1002IMG_1021

IMG_1371

I even got to show my husband a little bit of the country outside of France when we traveled to the South of France to spend Christmas at my uncle’s house in Goult and visited many cute small villages along the way (as well as the not-so-small “villages” of Avignon, Marseille and Nice.)

IMG_2014 IMG_2492 IMG_2071IMG_2066

THE BEST PART OF A TRIP TO PARIS IS ICELAND?

Finally, I took my husband on a bit of his dream trip, which meant meeting up in Reyjkavik for Thanksgiving. I have a feeling we’ll be back and explore more of Iceland in the future (I mean, I’m going to keep visiting Paris… so as long as Icelandair keeps offering that awesome stop-over deal… Iceland trips are going to be in our future.).

IMG_9555

IMG_9852IMG_9805

IMG_0117

Unlike Brazil, that trip was just easy. We booked some guided excursions, which I never do and despite some of my friends advising me to just rent a car and do it ourself. If there’s anything I learned in Brazil, it’s that it’s ok, occasionally, and it did prove to be the right travel choice for us at that particular time. I’m not saying we’ll always go with organized tours, but that it can be worth it to save yourself the hassle of doing it all yourself sometimes…

When I first started writing this post, I didn’t have a lot to look forward to travel-wise for 2015. I had such an amazing travel year in 2014 that it seems greedy to expect even half of that for 2015. And yet, I want more! So far, outside of a quick work trip to New York in early February (I already have reservations for Meow Parlor!) and another to Vegas for our national conference, I don’t really have anything concrete.  But here are some of my travel thoughts. I used to live in Montreal and I haven’t been back in ages. And Canada happens to be hosting the Women Football World Cup next summer so I’d love to make that happen (bonus: NO lottery to get tickets to games!!) I also have friends getting married in France and Finland in August and September, and while the 2 weddings are too close together to make both happen, I’d like to make at least one happen (if it’s Finland, I’m making it to Saint Petersburg this time!) Also, last week I won a 4 nights stay at a brand new hotel in Cancun through Expedia’s #TravelChat, so it looks like as soon as we can figure out flights, we’ll be headed to the dream relaxing beach vacation my husband has always wanted… and maybe we’ll rent a car and take a road trip to a new US destination as well…

What were your 2014 travel highlights? Any exciting plans already for 2015?

10 Paris Instagrammers You Should Follow

I follow all sorts of people on instagrams. My friends, of course. Foodies. Travelers. Cat owners. Even a few politicians (bonus when they post #FridayKitty pics every week!) But I have a soft spot for people instagramming from my hometown. Here are some of my favourite Paris-based snappers right now:

INSTA_Goutdfood
In addition to having a pretty dreamy job in PR for Ladurée, Delphine also runs Goût’d Food, a lovely French food blog with an accompanying instagram feed GOUTDFOOD that’s as sweet as you’d expect. 

INSTA_Desserted in Paris
DESSERTED IN PARIS is the instagram account of Taj Spiegel, a graphic designer and pâtissier with a passion for shoes and pastries. Follow him for snapshots of gorgeous-looking desserts juxtaposed against his extensive collection of colourful shoes.  

INSTA_Parisian Floors
PARISIAN FLOORS also looks down, this time to the ornate mosaics and colourful tiles of the city. Unlike I have this thing with floors (also one of my fave!), photographer Sebastian Erras doesn’t regram anyone else’s content… the repetitive floor shots are all his. And while his shoe collection could use a few pointers from Taj Spiegel, his elegant but plain black footwear lets the focus shine on the brightly patterned tiles underneath. 

INSTA_NAT PARIS
Nathalie Geffroy’s NATH PARIS captures daily slices of life in Paris, many taken in the rain or close to the ground. Nathalie is an artistic director at an ad agency and her creativity definitely comes through in her beautiful instagram pictures.

INSTA_Vuthrea
VTHEARA KHAM is a UI/UX Designer and one of the most followed French instagrammer in the world. In addition to instagram, his work has also appeared in little known travel books…you know, like, the official city of Paris tourism guide 😉

INSTA _ Paris je t'aime
Speaking of official tourism guide, Paris does have an official Instagram channel, PARIS JE T’AIME. It regrams a ton of people so it’s a great spot to discover new fun Paris-based account. Use the hashtag #parisjetaime in your photos if you want to be figured. Also official but a little more fun is the account of VELIB, Paris’ bike share network. You’ve guessed it, that one will be pretty bicycle heavy 😉 

INSA_Julien French words
Following the attacks of November 13, Julien created the instagram account French Words where he introduces his followers to a new French word everyday. FRENCH WORDS JOURNAL is his personal account where he shares beautiful pics from his daily life in Paris and from his travels.

INSTA_lost in cheeseland
Lindsey Tramuta is a writer and photographer behind LOST IN CHEESELAND, a blog that documents her life as an American expat married to a Frenchman in Paris. Recently, she started traveling the globe on writing assignments so her instagram pic extends beyond Paris. But don’t worry… Paris is still the main star of her instagram feed.

INSTA je ne sais quoiAt one point, I realized I was basically only following “expats” living in Paris and made a conscious effort to seek out more Frenchies on both twitter and instagram. That’s when I came across Juliette’s account JULIETTE_JNSPC and blog Je Ne Sais Pas Choisir and I love it. Her comments are in French but her pictures don’t need any translations. Bonus: unlike my furrbaby Chloe, her cat Sherlock is super photogenic…

INSTA _ Jean LucJEAN-LUC RAYMOND‘s feed combines two things I absolutely adore: cats and street art! Well, make that three if you include Paris 😉 

Last but not least, some bonus instragram accounts: HUGO KATSUMI‘s sky-heavy feed (cloud-haters abstain), MARTA LISBOA for some unexpected angles and bright colours, MECS METRO PARIS just for fun (and for some French dudes… in the Paris metro) as well as I_AM_UN_CHAT, the feed of Jean-Baptiste Delame, an advertising executive who owns the cutest tuxedo cat and takes some great snapshots documenting his daily life in Paris.

Did I miss one of your fave Paris-based grameur? Who are some of your go-to instragram peeps (Paris based or not)?

{this post was update February 4, 2016}

Benetton Loves Paris

benetton new collection, benetton, benetton georgetown, fashion event

 

Not invited to the State Dinner but still want to a little something French to do on February 11? Head to Benetton in Georgetown. The Italian apparel maker will toast the arrival of its new Spring 2014 collection with a sparkling glass of (Italian) Prosecco. What’s the tie in to France you ask? Well, Benetton went to Paris to shoot its new collection, filled with chic basics, cool separates and effortless style.

The Spring 2014 Benetton Catalog was shot in Paris

S’il Vous Plait… Dessine Moi Un Ispahan

There are many reasons you should visit the Galeries Lafayette on boulevard Haussmann during your visit in the city of light. First, of course, there’s the shopping. You can find anything you want at the Galeries, from a bedskirt to books, cartier watches, chanel bag or kookai skirts, gourmet food, books and Paris souvenirs. You can even buy macarons from Pierre Hermé’s not so secret boutique:

Pierre Herme has a store inside the Galeries Lafayette in l’espace createurs

Then of course, there’s the building itself. You’ll never look at your local mall the same way after seeing the Galeries’ stunning ceiling:

The current store opened in 1912 and is an elegant setting for your luxury shopping
And then there’s the view from the rooftop of the store:
The view from the rooftop of the Galeries Lafayettes at 40 Blvd Hausmann
Not too shabby right? Though the food they serve at the rooftop restaurant is not that great so I wouldn’t recommend getting much more than a salad and a coffee… On top of all this, if you still need a reason to visit, star pâtissier Pierre Hermé is currently exposing a series of his personal drawings. Known for being a pastry artist, his sketches show that he is as can paint as well as he can pipe and that he is equally talented with pencils or a whisk 😉
Just like a designer, Pierre Herme sketches his pastries during the creative process
Pierre’s sketches are part of a larger exhibit called “Made in Mode” that offers  an insider’s view of fashion. Throughout the month of April, shoppers will get a sneak peek into the kind of work that goes on behind the scene at the Galeries Lafayette, through workshops, pop-up boutiques and exhibitions. The 6th floor for example (the one that leads to that gorgeous rooftop), will give designers, jewelers, leatherworkers and others a platform to display the techniques they use in their crafts. Dior will share its beauty secrets with a pop-up nail salon and workshops on creating your own fragrance. Princesse Tam Tam and Fendi will reveal what it takes to create a new lingerie line or a new bag, respectively. In short, if you’re in Paris this April, you really have no excuse to skip the Galeries Lafayette!

Magasinage – Paris Shower Curtain

Merci to Joanna Goddard for posting these awesome city shower curtains on her blog today! Obviously, I’m a big fan of the vinyl Paris rideau de douche 😉 and best of all, it’s only $29.39 at Target and $24.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond!

Here are some other cool Paris-themed shower curtains you can find out there:
Paris shower curtain, trump collection shower curtains, shower curtains, black and white shower curtains

paris shower curtain, shower curtain, And then, of course, there’s this cute little Bonjour Hello Kitty one (complete with the most adorable shower curtain hooks) for the girlie little Parisienne in your life (or for the young at heart).

hello kitty paris, paris shower curtains, hello kitty paris shower curtains,