Category Archives: Paris

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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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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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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Eating & Drinking My Way Through Paris in Two Years


Two years ago on March 15, I moved to Paris. In that span of time, I have eaten at so many bars and restaurants (apparently, more than 120!) that I thought I would share with you all where I’ve been and what I’ve liked and didn’t like. I’m no foodie reviewer so many of my comments are succinct and definitely not editorial material, but I hope it helps you discover a new favorite spot…and perhaps steers you away from overhyped locales.

Bon app!

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Paris Pollution Alert

When I woke up this morning with a sore throat, I thought perhaps I was coming down with a cold. Turns out, it’s probably because of the high level of pollution in the air in Paris. Yes, although the early spring weather in Paris has been amazing and allowed us to start drinking rosé en terrasse already, all the sunshine-filled days, cold nights and lack of wind have culminated in a dangerous dose of too many polluted particles. In hindsight, as I was running at Parc Monceau this morning, I now realize that what I thought was a hazy, cloudy sky was all the smog trapped in the air. It’s probably also the reason why there weren’t that many people working out in the park today…because they were (smartly) trying to avoid lung cancer while I was breathing it all in. Ugh, mes poumons pauvres.

So how have Paris officials responded to this? Free public transportation! Oui, beginning today through Sunday evening, the métro is free, as well as the shared car (Autolib) and bike (Vélib) systems. The speed limit’s also been lowered and residential car parking is free. I think this is a pretty cool way of dealing with the situation and can’t see NYC taking the same measure of providing free public transportation. NYC would probably temporarily increase the bridge and tunnel fees or something, but I digress.

Now it’s time for me to wrap a pashmina around my face in hopes I’ll keep out those teeny dirty toxic particles.

PS – All this pollution talk did get me thinking about what the world’s most polluted city was, and in case you’re wondering, it’s New Delhi.

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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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A Weekend in Paris

Here are a few snapshots taken while sightseeing with my latest set of guests at Chez Jacqueline this weekend. Besides getting to catch up with an old college friend, one of the highlights was finally going up the Arc de Triomphe for my first time. It was incredible to watch the sun set over Paris and the Eiffel Tower begin to glow a warm gold with the moon shining just above it.  I love this city!
Moulin Rouge

Champs-Elysees
Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Pont Alexandre III

Eiffel Tower

Notre-Dame

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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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