Dîner en Blanc: A Secret Dinner Soirée in Paris

Diner en Blanc 3
Last Thursday, Rio and I got to experience one of the most interesting nights we’ve had in Paris: Dîner en Blanc.

Thanks to our friend Stacy of L’Amour de Paris, we joined approximately 13,000 other guests for this pop-up, invitation-only dinner on Pont Alexandre III. For the past 26 years, thousands of people who are dressed exclusively in white meet up at a secret location and set up rows upon rows of tables complete with flowers, candles, and even candelabras for a chic soirée.

Diner en Blanc

Diner en Blanc
Here are some must-knows about Dîner en Blanc:

  • Want an invite? You have to be invited by a friend who attended the previous year. Those friends must have been invited by a friend (or a friend of a friend) of one of the original organizers. There are actual designated rows that are accounted for the number of people, so there is no crashing this pseudo-flash mob.
  • Around 8pm, your group converges on a designated location that’s around where the dinner will take place. We didn’t find out what our designated location was going to be until around 4:30pm. And then at approximately 8:45pm when we were all together and ready to go, we received a final text letting us know where the actual dinner was going to be.
  • Dîner en Blanc takes place from approximately 9pm to midnight, complete with DJ post-dinner and sparklers at 11pm.
  • Everything must be white! I’m not just talking about your outfit, but your table, chairs, table linen, plates, etc. must all be white. There are a few exceptions (i.e. shoes), but for the most part, this is a sea of white.
  • Not all 13,000 of us dined and partied on Pont Alexandre III…because well, we wouldn’t all fit. So the event took place across six bridges (I think we got the best one) and the grassy area by les Invalides.
  • Technically, Dîner en Blanc is illegal. If you have a group of more than 30 getting together in a public space, you’re supposed to have a permit. Luckily, the Parisian police turn an eye on this since no one gets too rowdy, we all clean up after ourselves, and it just adds to the beauty of Paris, non? (Can you imagine the police force in NYC letting us get away with this?! Ha – je crois que non.)
  • Speaking of cleanup, oui, once the clock strikes midnight, you are all expected to quickly pack up, throw away your garbage, and get the heck on out of there.

Want to know more about Dîner en Blanc? Here’s the official Facebook pagemore information with photos from one of our fellow table attendees, and more pics (spot us in the last pic), and more pics (again in one of the photos!), and more pics.

Diner en Blanc 2
Chef Justin came with a propane tank to sear chicken he sous-vided the day before, Jason entertains us with his ukelele (or is it a banjo?) and the night begins!

Diner en Blanc

Diner en Blanc

Photo Courtesy of Pictours Paris

Photo Courtesy of Pictours Paris

Photo Courtesy of Pictours Paris

Photo Courtesy of Pictours Paris

Diner en Blanc

Photos Courtesy of Pictours Paris

Diner en Blanc

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One More Month in Paris

Paris
July 16. That’s the date we move back to New York, which happens to be exactly one month from today. I can’t believe my two-plus years have flown by so quickly…and that I have a mere month left. I don’t even want to think about what moving back to NYC is going to be like. From fellow friends who have loved Paris as much as I do and have been forced had to repatriate, it is going to blow big time. Always the planner though, I’ve decided to combat the inevitable repatriation woes with the following action plan:

  1. Experience NY as an expat! When you’ve grown up in a certain city, you always take it for granted. Not this time around! I’m going to take on NY as if I never lived there. Museums, tourist sights, local events – sign me up tout de suite!
  2. Catch up with old friends, and especially, new friends. We’ve been lucky enough to make friends in Paris who have now returned to NYC. There’s an undeniable bond for those of us who have lived abroad together. Only they can truly understand the ups and downs of your time overseas, resulting in a friendship that will last a lifetime. I’m thankful that if we have to leave our friends here, we at least have many old and new friends to return to.
  3. Travel, travel, travel! Although it won’t be as easy to hop to a new country for a weekend getaway, and I’ll only have a mere three weeks of vacation, it’s time to start exploring Les États-Unis more, and the Americas side of the world.

As for now, many people ask what’s remaining on my bucket list in Paris. So here’s what we’ll be up to with our time left here:

  1. Go to a Crazy Horse cabaret show, which is a raunchier version of Moulin Rouge…I think.
  2. Capture a piece of our Parisian life. Instead of being photographed in front of a slew of tourist sites, I’m hiring our friend Lindsey of Pictours Paris for a family shoot in our apartment, neighborhood, and one or two touristy spots.
  3. Discover a new view of Paris courtesy of Messy Nessy Chic.
  4. Ride bus 69. No, I’m not being a pervert. Paris’s public bus #69 happens to have a très scenic route that includes the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.
  5. Shop! Luckily, les soldes begin June 25 so I can stock up on a much-needed new wardrobe for my new job and return home! I have to attempt to look Parisian chic, after all!
  6. Consume as much cheese, baguette, and wine as possible.
  7. Finally take advantage of the free English guided tours at Notre-Dame de Paris.
  8. Je voudrais faire une réservation, svp! As you can see in my Google map, I’ve eaten at a lot of bars/restaurants in Paris…but there are so many more I still need to try!
  9. Spend quality time with my beloved friends here. Oh, how I’m going to miss them! I love you!
  10. Enjoy Paris!
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How to Wear a Scarf Like a Frenchie


It’s rare that I’m not wearing a pashmina or scarf of some sort. On the off-chance I forget to wear mine, I feel naked, exposed and more susceptible to catching a cold. That’s also probably the reason why my face is a different, darker shade than my neck.

Despite how frequently I wear a scarf, I often catch myself staring at Parisian women (and men!) wondering how they managed to tie their scarf so it looks so chic. Just this past weekend at a Frenchie bachelorette party, I stared in awe at one of the girls tying a little scarf around her neck and thought, “well, if I did that, it wouldn’t come out that way”.

So when I came across this video that was included in a one-month Paris series New York magazine is doing, I had to share it. My favorite new looks to try are the celebrity and the waterfall. I’m hoping to master some of these scarf-tying tricks before Rio pries my cold, wine-stained fingers from the Paris streets back to NYC.

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Après Paris?

Paris
After nearly two and a half years of newfound friendships, unforgettable travel experiences, and maddening #gotfrenched situations, la vie parisienne is sadly coming to an abrupt end. Oui, it’s true.

Just as we moved to Paris for an amazing career opportunity, we are doing the same for our repatriation to NYC. And so au revoir to our plans of living in Paris until 2015 and then moving to London. Ugh, putain.

Up until today, I had started telling my friends in Paris and a few close friends and work colleagues in NYC, with many of them immediately asking me the same question: “Are you excited??” Well, the answer is no, I’m too worried to be excited right now, and I have a feeling I’ll embark on a grieving stage once mobility actually starts. Although I’m happy to be reunited with my friends and family and intrigued about where this next chapter will lead me, I’m anxious about finding an apartment that’s not ridiculously expensive, incredibly worried about finding a full-time job that I’ll love (or finding a job at all!), devastated to be leaving my friends who have become my quasi-adopted family here, and equally devastated about moving from this stunning City of Lights. I love it here.

I love it here even though Frenchies drive me to drink sometimes.

I love it here despite the fact that the concept of efficiency is non-existent.

I love it here even though you have to sign multiple copies of the same document because the government knows Frenchies are too lazy to just make a copy of the one original.

I love it here even though it rains a whole lot more than I remembered (en fait, more rainy days than London!).

I love it here even though stores close for three-hour lunch breaks and it’s nearly impossible trying to remember that la pressing is closed from 1:30pm to 2:30pm, the boucherie from 1pm to 4:15pm (yes, 3 hour and 15 minute lunch break), that one boulangerie is closed on Mondays, while the one next door is closed on Tuesdays, and that la poissonnerie is closed from …wait, I still haven’t figured out when they’re closed in the afternoon.

I love it here even though a lease agreement, French ID card, bank statement, and a cell phone bill still aren’t enough proof of where you live.

I love it here even though painters poop in your toilet and steal your candy. Yeah, actually, no, I take that one back.

I love it here.

But c’est la vie…and my new life will be back in the City That Never Sleeps. What I have to try to remember is that I felt a lot of the same things when I left NYC for Paris. As many of my best friends know, there were many sleepless nights ruminating about the challenges that laid before me: would I be able to make new friends? was I ruining my career? would Tyler survive the flight overseas? would I be lonely? Yes, no, yes, and no. It all worked out, and I’m cautiously optimistic it will when I return.

I really do love you, NYC, even though this blog post probably doesn’t sound like it. I just might love Paris even more.

So, à bientôt, NYC; our repatriation begins this July!

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young (wo)man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Earnest Hemingway

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TripAdvisor’s Top 2 Percent?

TripAdvisor Top 2%
So I received the email above yesterday. Apparently, I’m one of TripAdvisor’s top 2% of reviewers in Paris? Hmm, I have a feeling that’s because they’re analyzing data of Paris-based reviewers for TripAdvisor.com and not TripAdvisor.fr. Especially considering I’ve only posted less than 30 reviews, I find that surprising…but hey, I’ll take it!

I still remember using TripAdvisor 10 years ago when Rio and I went to Spain for our first time. It definitely wasn’t widely used at the time, and now, I see restaurants and hotels touting “TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence” stickers on their windows and websites, and owners constantly asking people to write reviews for them after using their services. What a difference 10 years can make!

Yours in Travel,

The Top 2% (ha!)

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Morocco in Details

Donkey in Fez
While I don’t have my act together to post my Morocco vacation itinerary quite yet, here are some totally random photos until then!
Soup with Berber Spoon

Morning Glory at Volubilis

Volubilis

Morocco

Camel in Sahara

Morocco

Morocco

Essaouira

Morocco

Essaouira

Morocco

Morocco

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Reunited!

Tyler Napping - 4.29.14
The best part about returning from a vacation is getting to snuggle up with this love bug. I even turned down a free night with the dogwalker so Tyler could return home to his own bed and his maman et papa.

Stay tuned for pics and itinerary details of my recent Morocco trip! In the meantime, you can always find me on Instagram too.

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Today…

the French are sucking the lifeblood out of me yet again. For some reason, they are simply incapable of the concept of customer service.

Today…when pointing out a minute error that I would like easily corrected, the girl simply said “désolée”. I wanted to say “Merci, but I don’t need a ‘désolée’, I would just love it if you could correct this, and that would be perfect.” Unfortunately, I’m not oftentimes very good at coming up with this on the fly in French.

Today…when trying to go to the bank the teller actually had me answer a slew of questions and show my bank card through a video monitor as proof that this was my bank before letting me in through the second set of security doors. Today…apparently, I look like a criminal. Once through, she informed me that since this wasn’t my main bank branch, she didn’t recognize me and that’s why she treated me like a second-class citizen. I wanted to reply, “Oh, but I remember you, as this actually isn’t my first time at this branch. You weren’t very nice to me last time when I wanted to do a bank withdrawal and told me my French ID, my NYC ID and my bank card weren’t enough proof that it was actually me taking money out of my own bank account.” Again, I’m not good with quick comebacks in French.

Oh, but I can’t forget about yesterday…when I went to the RSI office to tell them I don’t need a carte vitale/French social security as I already have international health insurance. Well, “c’est obligatoire,” they responded. But I don’t need two health insurances. “Mais, vous l’avez.” (“But, you have it.”). My comeback in French, “umm, merci?”.

To sum up these past two days, I’m going to use a phrase my friend Whitney coined…”I got Frenched”.

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Provence, Pyrenees & Pays Basque Road Trip

Last August, Rio and I embarked on a road trip to explore the South of France. While we’re here, we want to see as much of France as we can and decided that a road trip commencing from Avignon to Saint-Jean-de-Luz via the Pyrenees mountains sounded like just the way to do it. What we didn’t anticipate is that we would have to do this in a Smart car. Our favorite memories of the trip include experiencing a jai alai match, hiking, visiting our friend Steeve and his family in his hometown, walking through the red ochre town of Roussillon, driving through the hills of Luberon, and, of course, wine tasting!

So despite driving through some death-defying cols, we wouldn’t change a thing about this two-week adventure…actually, we really would have liked having a normal-sized car.

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Climbing Up Notre Dame Tower

Notre Dame
This weekend, I crossed one off my Paris bucket list – climbing up the Towers of Notre Dame. Since we’ve lived here, we’ve only gone up the Arc de Triomphe and the rooftop of department store Printemps for views of Paris below, so it was nice to experience a different vantage point. Here are some pictures of the commanding views from the top of this Parisian landmark.
Notre Dame

Notre Dame

DSC_0081

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame
Visting Notre Dame Tower
Queue up on the left side of the building, and expect to wait about an hour. For more information, here’s the link to the official visitor page.

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