Category Archives: Friends & Family

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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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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Tyler’s Pic of the…Past Two Months?

I’ve been a total delinquent about posting lately. So here’s a totally gratuitous, random photo of Tyler in his wedding tuxedo (ours, not his) from New Year’s Eve so I don’t feel guilty about not having posted in the past two weeks.
Tuxedo Tyler
And here’s a pic of mon coeur in the same tux from our wedding day. It still fits!
Tuxedo Tyler
And here’s a family wedding pic because…well, pourquoi pas?
Family Wedding Photo

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Happy Holidays From Paris

Tyler
We celebrated our second Christmas in Paris this year. Although it’s nice to get to spend the holidays in this gorgeous city, I wish we could’ve been surrounded by family back home. You never appreciate how lucky you are to have holiday obligations until there aren’t any obligations to attend! Unfortunately, Rio’s busy period falls around Christmas, so the chances of us spending Christmas back home in 2014 will be slim too. Oh well – maybe we can convince family to visit us for Christmas next year! Hint hint…

Nevertheless, we made the most of the holiday. Although we were supposed to spend Christmas Eve in Chantilly with a French friend, a family emergency resulted in us putting together a last-minute, quiet meal chez nous. This year, we incorporated some traditional French Christmas elements into the meal – smoked salmon, oysters and gougères for apéros, seared scallops, a bûche de Noël, and, of course, a couple bottles of Champagne. For Christmas Day, we were lucky enough to be invited to our friend Stacy and Jason’s apartment for a cozy, casual lunch that included some height-defying rounds of Jenga, mulled orange juice, the most thick and delicious potato soup you’ve ever had, mac & cheese, bacon-covered turkey for the meat-eaters, mashed potatoes & gravy,  freshly-baked bread, and a chocolate and raspberry cake! Even though I had my stretchy pants on, I was so stuffed by the end of the night, I wish I had brought sweatpants to change into! I’m so thankful we got to spend the holiday with some friends, as Christmas is definitely a holiday that’s made even more meaningful when you get to be surrounded by special people in your lives.

So no matter where you live and who you’re with, I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season! From the streets of Paris to our home, here are some festive photos from the past few weeks. Joyeuses fêtes et une bonne année à tous!
Holidays 2013
Holidays via Instagram.
Lights

Montmartre

Lights

Grands Boulevards
Paris Ornament

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Recently on Instagram

I know I don’t post nearly enough about Paris. The simple fact is I don’t visit any tourist sights unless guests are in town, and I don’t necessarily feel comfortable looking like a tourist or snap-happy blogger by whipping out a huge DSLR camera (or even a regular point-and-shoot camera for that matter) when I’m out trying a new bar or restaurant. I’ll occasionally sneak in an iPhone photo, but even then, those aren’t the best quality since I’m trying to be pseudo-discreet. I’m also just not the kind of person that simply wanders around the city for hours with a camera taking photos of beautiful everyday activities and sights. I really wish I was, but I’m not. In fact, I’m afraid that if I ever leave this beloved city of mine, that I’ll regret I didn’t do that. All this is to say that this is the reason most of my photos tend to be of my recent travels (apparently, I don’t have any qualms about looking like a tourist then), with an occasional Paris shot in between. Oh, and a shot of Tyler too, of course.

However, since I did have guests in town recently and even got to visit Barcelona and Madrid again after nearly 10 years, here are a few things I managed to capture on Instagram, Paris sights included.
Après New York on Instagram
Clockwise from Top Left:

  • This is actually an Instagram video. I know it’s cheesy to say this, but there’s something about a French flag waving in the wind that really resonates with me. Yes, I know I’m American, but I can’t help but feel some sort of heavy connection when I see a French flag. Rio thinks I’m nuts. My friend Alan says I’m a romantic.
  • We’ve been lucky with the weather in Paris lately (I know I just jinxed this now), so for the second night of my friends’ visit, I took them to En Attendant Rosa on Les Berges by the Seine for evening al fresco drinks and apéros. This is the view we took in – my favorite bridge Pont Alexandre III. If you’re ever visiting Paris and the weather is nice, then I recommend settling in at one of the few riverside bars or restaurants on Les Berges and doing the same.
  • On the last day of my friends’ visit, I took them to one of my favorite sights: Sacré-Coeur. Did you know the reason Sacré-Coeur always stays so white is because it’s made of a type of limestone called travertine that constantly self-cleans because it exudes calcite when it rains – kind of giving it a fresh coat of white paint? I always love sharing this fun fact with guests when playing a “Paris Fact: True or False” game with them. And oui, I actually do this because I am a nerd.
  • My parents also visited this past week. Before arriving, my dad said to me, “I’ve already been to Paris, I want to see another city and country”. Um, ok. What am I, chopped liver? So with that in mind, I took them to Spain for the week. For our last day in Madrid, we visited El Retiro Park, which is where this pond is located.
  • We also managed to take a day trip from Madrid to Segovia. This is a shot of the impressive Cathedral of Segovia, located right by the main square Plaza Mayor.
  • After literally two weeks straight of traveling and entertaining guests, I was one exhausted lady. Coupled with the fact that I ended up catching the cold my visiting friend Brian had, I decided to stay in and rest all weekend. Tyler did the same.
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A Tuscan Holiday: Days 4 & 5

For our last full day in Tuscany, we decided to take it easy. Instead of rushing to a winery first thing in the morning, as we did the previous two days, we finally explored the agriturismo we were staying at – Casa Rondini. It really amazes me how much work is put into this working farm – not only does the owner Franco cook dinner three times a week for his guests, but he also tends a garden that’s brimming with everything from peppers to basil to eggplant, takes care of his farm animals, and even makes his own wine. Unbelievable.
Perugia
So after a tranquil morning consisting of feeding Gilda the Donkey and the chickens on the farm, and tasting some of Franco’s wine grapes, it was time to head to Perugia for a little sightseeing, lunch and views over the city (seen above). As the capital of the Umbrian region, what will stay with me the most about Perugia is the underground portion of the city. After taking a funicular into town (about 2 euros, roundtrip), you embark on a series of escalators within the lower town that leads you through the remains of the 16th century fortress Rocco Paolina. Approximately three long escalator rides later, you finally see sunlight again in the living city that lies above these medieval ruins. While making our slow ascent, I couldn’t help but wonder why so many cities are built upon old cities (i.e. Rome). After all, why didn’t people just clear the rubbish (although, large) and build from there instead of on top of it? If someone has an answer to this, as well as insight into other buried cities with functioning cities above it, please let me know! I really am curious about it.
Lake Trasimeno
After lunch in Perugia, we drove to the Italian peninsula’s largest lake – Lake Trasimeno. Once called the Lake of Perugia, Lake Trasimeno is not a manmade lake (ahem, Kristen). It’s actually an endorheic body of water, which means it’s a confined lake that receives water, but doesn’t have an outlet. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at Lake Trasimeno, we had just missed the ferry that would take us to Isola Maggiore, the second largest island on the lake, and had to wait over an hour for the next one. Considering we didn’t have much to do anyway, we decided it was time for some Italian gelato while we watched the local boys fish. Well, I hate to say this, but it was not worth the wait. Although the 30-minute boat ride was pleasant enough, we only had either 15 minutes or nearly 2 hours on the island before the next scheduled return boat ride, and trust me, there is not much to see on this island. Really, nothing. Rien de tout. Luckily, there was a little café open so after hiking around this ghost island that probably has more rabbit inhabitants than humans, we nursed our boredom with a bottle of vino while watching the sunset, lakeside, and then had dinner on mainland. For future Lake Trasimeno visitors, be sure to consult the ferry schedule next time so you don’t make the same mistake. Here’s a link I found to the latest timetable (valid from September 23 to October 26, 2013).
Lake Trasimeno Ferry

Lake Trasimeno Sunset

Steve, Kristen & Me at Lake Trasimeno
We started our last day with a quick visit to Orvieto, as it was on our way to Rome. Located just north of Italy’s capital, this hillside town is known as the “CIty of the Cliff” because it sits on a big chunk of volcanic rock called tuff. Most famous for its cathedral’s ornate façade and a blood-stained cloth relic, the Orvieto Duomo was built over several centuries (13th to 17th) and is the centerpiece of the town. Honestly, after having seen a number of old, impressive churches in my 32 years, what stood out to me was the interesting black-and-white geometric side.
Orvieto Duomo
Post-Orvieto, we continued our drive to Rome where Kristen, Steve and I would part ways as I headed back to Paris and they continued their Italian adventure. Before saying ciao, we had our final meal together where I was able to indulge in one of my favorite Italian dishes (cacio e pepe – delicious!). Then I was off to kill a few hours in Rome tout seul since Kristen and Steve had reservations to visit the Vatican and there was no way i was going to torture myself with the mass of tourists being herded through the museum. I was honestly so hot and perhaps in a bit of a food coma at this point though, that I didn’t really feel like doing much and decided to stay fairly close to Termini Train Station so I could easily grab the train to the airport. So I decided to take a leisure 30-minute walk to San Pietro in Vincoli (AKA the church of Saint Peter in Chains) to see Michaelangelo’s famous Moses statue and the chains that bound Saint Peter. After taking the requisite photos, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I might’ve taken a nap there. Oui, c’est vrai. Like I said, it was hot and I was recovering from a food coma. So after my little power nap, I took one final stroll by the Colosseum before cooling off with one last gelato (food coma was gone by then) and began my journey home to Paris.
San Pietro in Vintroli
Colosseum Gelato
If you missed my other posts about Tuscany, here’s a post about days 1 through 3, and some additional Instagram photos. Overall, it was a wonderful way to catch up with friends and see a new part of Italy I hadn’t ever experienced. There aren’t many friends you can easily travel with and enjoy, but I’m glad to say that Kristen and Steve are definitely two of them.Tuscany Collage - 3

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Recently on Instagram

Wow – it’s been more than two weeks since I’ve last posted! With work, vacation, planning vacations, socializing and overall laziness resulting from the heat in Paris without any a/c (but I’m not complaining!), I’ve been so bad about posting. So here’s a little Instagram post to catch you up a bit. Because you’re all so interested, right?! Riigghhhhtt.

I do oftentimes think about all the topics I’d post about if I made the had time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. But I do hope to write some posts soon about my recent Amsterdam trip, a visit to the “I love you” wall in Paris, a delicious financier from Normandy and more.
On Instagram
Clockwise from top left:

  • I can’t escape photo booths post-The Knot, and that’s just A-ok with me! Here are some of the boys at Lindsey’s (of Pictours Paris) birthday party posing. This photo helped me realize what the duct tape prop was for as I wasn’t sure at first…
  • I got to see the Tour de France at the Champs-Élysées for my first time! We were supposed to go to a pop-up rooftop bar to watch the race, but alas, RIo was wearing flip-flops, so we were denied entry and ended up on the ground with the rest of the minions. Here’s a link to an Instagram video I took too. Those bikers sure are speedy.
  • The long queue at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. We ended up waiting on line for an hour and a half. Tip – if you want to go, make sure you book your tickets online at least two weeks in advance. I tried to do this the week before and it was already sold out – thus, the waiting on line. For your reference, this line is shorter than the one at the Vatican Museum in Italy.
  • Rio’s office recently moved from La Défense (the horrid soulless Financial District area, which even got some NYT attention recently) to the Trocadéro neighborhood! This means I’m actually willing to have lunch with him during the week now – and why not when you get to pass by this gorgeous lady right around the corner.
  • Last Tuesday was my first expat lunch date anniversary with one of my besties here Robin. We naturally celebrated with nine hours of drinking and about four bottles (maybe more??) of rosé.
  • August = vacation time in France. If you thought Mondays were dead in Paris, well, just experience Mondays in August. The city is desolate, sauf for the tourists, and many of your local shops and restaurants are closed for the month. All this makes me wish I was away as well. Thank goodness I have a vacation to the South of France coming up. It’ll be our first big road trip and we’ll be hitting up Provence, the Pyrenees and the Basque country. The phrase you’ll hear often now is “à la rentrée”, which essentially means “see you in September” because that’s pretty much when the city is returned to Parisians. So if you ever visit Paris, don’t come during August – you won’t truly experience la vie Parisienne during this month.

Bon lundi, mes amis!

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Une Bonne Bastille Day

Bastille Day 2013
Just as we did last year, we capped the weekend with a Bastille Day celebration underneath the fireworks last night and it was magical as always. Is there anything better than celebrating with good friends, old and new, while you take in the fireworks, music and the Eiffel Tower that surrounds you? Je crois que non, mes amis, je crois que non.Bastille Day 2013

Bastille Day 2013
Bastille Day 2013
Bastille Day 2013 - 2
There was a lot of blue, white and red going on. Vive la France!
Bastille Day 2013 - 3
Eiffel Tower
Bastille Day 2013

Bastille Day 2013

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A 4th of July Picnic in Paris

4th of July
Fourth of July fell on a Thursday and since Parisians don’t exactly celebrate our Independence Day, I organized a celebratory picnic on Saturday at Jardin des Tuileries so we could enjoy views of the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Although our group of 20+ didn’t celebrate with traditional fireworks, burgers and hot dogs (the parks in Paris don’t allow grills), we did end up having a très American time with a game of American football and even got to drunkenly proudly wave our flag to cap the night after our nine-hour long celebration.

Next up – celebrating the blue, white and red at a Bastille Day picnic with fireworks!

4th of July
4th of July 2013 Picnic - 2
4th of July
4th of July 2013 Picnic - 3 4th of July
4th of July 2013 Picnic4th of July

4th of July

4th of July

4th of July

4th of July

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Dîner Sur le Balcon

Balcony Dinner
Dear Balcony,

You’re so amazing when Paris is warm and sunny! I know enjoying a coffee & croissant, une verre de vin or just reading my iPhone book on you will always be one of my favorite memories from my time in Paris. But oh, when Rio is actually home before midnight and there is still daylight outside – there’s nothing I love more than dining alfresco on you. Even though Rio thought it was cheesy and “très américain” of me to turn on the twinkle lights, je m’en fiche! It added to the atmosphere and when Frenchies walking along the street called up to us saying “vous avez de la chance”, I thought, “oui, I do”.

So, un grand merci for a wonderful night last night and here’s to many more.

Bisous,

Jacalyn

PS – It’s clear Tyler loves you too as I oftentimes find him with you sprawled out and tanning his blonde-furred skin (as he is doing right now).
Balcony Dinner

Dinner Balcony

Dinner on Balcony

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