9.4.14

Springtime in Paris (VIDEO)


Who hasn't entertained fantasies of frolicking through Paris as flowers appear to bloom before our eyes? In recent years, spring has largely been a wash out but we've been blessed so far with astoundingly (perhaps, unfairly?) gentle temperatures and pastel pops of color. 

Travelers have certainly taken notice. Among them is 28-year old Belgian Jeroen de Wilde who came to Paris for a weekend to celebrate his birthday with friends. Thankfully for us, he kept his video camera handy and documented his trip with moments that are both quotidien and singularly Parisian.

Can't get to Paris anytime soon? The video below might alleviate some of that wanderlust.



For those unable to view from your inbox, click HERE to view on the web. 

What spots would you hit up if you only had a weekend to explore? 

5.4.14

Eating, Drinking & Seeing: 5 Paris Favorites in March

Boot Café, Paris

I more than made up for an emotionally supercharged yet underwhelming February with an action-packed month of March. Here are some of the highlights: 

1// Dinner at Blue Valentine 
The ongoing expansion of accessible neo-bistro dining has left its marks on nearly every arrondissement in Paris but I find myself fortunate to live in the neighborhood that boasts the greatest concentration of them. 5 minutes in one direction takes me to Le Chateaubriand, 10 in another to Roseval and now in a stone's throw, I can be seated at Blue Valentine, the latest opening on what is arguably one of the sleepiest streets in the 11th. With young, Japanese chef Terumitsu Saïto formerly of the Mandarin Oriental at the helm of the kitchen, otherwise recognizable bistro favorites - roasted pigeon, gigot d'agneau, etc. - are elevated to a more inventive register. The chef plays up pedigreed market-fresh ingredients from top purveyors like Terroirs d'Avenir and Coq St. Honoré for a meal of both unassuming elegance and refreshing originality. The 1950's-inspired dining room features a selection of vibrant rock art by Chuck Sperry, a longtime friend of the owner, which beautifully complements the colors on the plate. I didn't love the wine list here but the cocktails were solid.  //reservations highly recommended//

2// Playing tourist with Susan Hutchinson (Fleurishing
Galerie Vero-Dodat

It had been several years since we first met in Paris so I was eagerly anticipating Susan's arrival. Her itinerary was chock-full of shop visits, bakery hops, neighborhood strolls and a slew of restaurants that opened since her last trip. We made ample use of our time together, from having dinner with friends at Semilla, breakfast at Claus, coffee at Télescope, brunch in her lovely Haven in Paris apartment rental and drinks at Verjus. Check out Susan's ongoing highlights from her trip HERE.


3// Photo shoot with Jean-Laurent Gaudy

One of the most memorable moments of the month as much for the feelings it stirred as the lasting mementoes it produced. See more about this HERE

4// Brunch chez Poulette
Friends and acquaintances regularly text me for restaurant recommendations and while I'm flattered they consider my opinions and tastes so highly, there are times when I too want to be guided. In a welcome change, a couple of friends booked our double date at seven-month old Poulette last weekend, a spot they knew well. The head chef, who is American, cooks up brunch stalwarts like eggs (every which way), breakfast sandwiches and French toast and offers a short menu of seasonal dishes for dinner with dessert cocktails that shouldn't be missed. The food was solid but I was especially charmed by the preserved turn-of-the-century porcelain tiling that gave the space instant character.

5// Coffee at Boot Café 
Boot Café, Paris Boot Café, Paris

This pint-size espresso bar in a former shoemaker shop, just around the corner from the much-loved concept store Merci, has become another regular stop on my coffee route each week. The crew brews Belleville beans and thoughtfully stocks Emperor Norton cakes and confections under glass cloches on the counter. Repeat: pint-size; space is rather limited for lingering (a few stools and small marble tables) but do swing by for a to-go cup and snack.

//Recommended Reading 
The Rise of Egotarian Cuisine (GQ) -- anyone who follows or knows the Paris food scene will nod in resounding agreement as they read this!

How was your month? 

Lost In Cheeseland Food and Restaurant posts

28.3.14

Love Session Part II: Our Life in Paris


Among the many purposes this blog has served, it has most recently acted as a telling reminder of decisions made and time past. That and how drastically our needs, feelings and ambitions can evolve in a relatively short amount of time.  

Just over a year ago, I shared photos from a special photo shoot we did, mostly in our apartment, with photographer Jean-Laurent Gaudy as a way to celebrate the first real home in Paris we shared and nurtured as a married duo but that we assumed we were outgrowing.

Our mission shortly after was to look for a bigger space that would help reset the clock and play host to new memories. After visiting a slew of apartments and meeting with the bank about financing, we quickly realized that upsizing would mean a sizable new loan, incurring steeper monthly fees and, as a result, modifying our lifestyle significantly; a millstone we weren't prepared to bear.


In a way, turning our backs on the apartment would have meant thoughtlessly discarding a space that has, much like the city overall, been instrumental in our journey to becoming the people we are today both individually and as a couple. So instead of hemorrhaging money for a slightly larger space in a new neighborhood, we chose to assess both our current apartment and our lives with a more speculative eye. We're staying put but overhauling the space with new storage, new paint, some new furnishings and a variety of other decorative touches that should make our home feel fresh.

But what does all that have to do with the new photos from JL, then? Inclement weather cut our session short last year and in many ways, I'm grateful it has taken time to pick up where we left off. So much has changed for us in that year. This latest shoot came at a time when we're both plumbing the depths of our connection and asking ourselves serious, heavy questions about what's next and where we're going as a couple. Our home is in that awkward stage of disarray as we purge what no longer matches our tastes and bring in new things that don't yet have a proper place. But that paints a clear picture of the transitional state we're in personally, too.


The amorous glances and tender embraces we traded belie a struggle. I'm sure the married couples reading this can attest to the perpetual effort and work that staying together requires but I've come to understand that this is what sustainable love is about; it's the hard bit,  the sentiment that demands patience, care and forgiveness. Once the butterflies have moved onto other couples ('easy' love) and the implacable realities of daily life settle in, it's love in an altered, more sophisticated form. 


So we're working on it, just like we're focusing our efforts on appreciating our space and all the things it offers us rather than what it's lacking. Lesson of the day: love, like feeling at home, is a work in progress. 

Thanks to Jean-Laurent for the spectacular photos. For more of his work, click HERE.

24.3.14

Paris vs. Marseille


You don't need to know much about France's second largest city to appreciate these satirical prints by Topito, inspired by the staggering success of Vahram Muratyan's collection Paris vs. New York.  I'd love to see the stark dichotomy between Marseille and Paris, legendary archrivals, played out more broadly in a book. Until then, I'll keep smiling at the prints below.


Which is your favorite diptych? For more photos, click over to the TOPITO website. 

21.3.14

On Friendship in Paris

Macarons and roses in Paris

'Do you think you'll move back home at some point?' is one of the most commonly fielded questions among expats and one that is fraught with complications. The answer is tightly wound by its own questions and scenarios.

What if Paris has become a legitimate home and going back would actually mean starting over in a place no longer familiar? Am I tied to a work visa? Do I have the legal right to stay indefinitely? Is there an explicit expiration date to this experience? Have I become too European to consider any other lifestyle? Both the ability and desire to stay in Paris depends largely on these questions, among countless others.

One of my best friends in Paris is American and moved abroad five years ago with her husband for his job. While they've fully integrated, speak the language and have constructed an impressive network of friends of various nationalities, they accept (albeit grudgingly) that their Paris chapter might come to a close in several years for a myriad of reasons. I'm confident that she's a pal for life but since my flag is firmly planted in France, it's hard to fathom that our regular coffee dates could one day become a tender memory of 'what used to be'.

Some of my longtime friends are considering their options outside of Paris- for different jobs, more space, less stress - while others have already moved on. 
Amy Feezor Photographing Macarons

And, since it's no longer untoward to make friends on the internet, I must also consider the online connections I've made that have blossomed into viable friendships à distance. In fact, I began communicating with four of the five other women in the photo above on Twitter and on blogs long before I ever shared a meal with them. 

Sitting next to designer Anne Ditmeyer (far left), who I met five (!!) years ago at the American University of Paris, is Amy Feezor - the former Copy Director of Real Simple Magazine, a killer design/lifestyle writer and new Paris resident. Our mutual friend Nichole Robertson connected us in person several weeks ago but we've actually been exchanging messages for years, anticipating an opportunity to take our interests offline. The city's singular appeal is a magnet for travelers and dreamers the world over (hence the unabated interest in Paris blogs) so I was confident Amy would find her way over here someday. As I expected, the spark was immediate, and now I'm trying to fashion a plan to keep her here permanently. 

The same is true for Susan Hutchinson of Fleurishing (right of Amy), the inspiration behind my Franco File Friday series, a staunch Francophile and a truly caring friend. We bonded on Twitter over Philadelphia, design and, of course, all things related to France and solidified our friendship when she and her husband vacationed in Paris in 2010. Since then, we've mailed letters, enjoyed meals in her neck of the woods when I've visited and reunited in Paris again just last weekend.

As opinionated expats struggling to belong, Kasia Dietz (to my left) and I found ourselves with instant new-friend fodder when we started to get to know one another on Twitter five years ago. Our meeting was timely; in what felt like one sudden and violent wave, some of my close friends had decamped to other parts of the world, effectively unraveling our ties. Having lived in New York, a city brimming with transients, Kasia had firsthand experience with this feeling of loss and offered tremendous support. Though our paths to Paris were different, we shared many of the same fears, passions and ambitions and for that I'm grateful.

And to the far right, Ashley Ludaescher, an ultra talented photographer and fellow blogger based in Berlin who I had the pleasure of getting close to offline during The Hive conference two years ago. We've since collaborated on several projects (like this and this) and get together in our respective cities whenever possible.

For all the ills engendered by technology and social media, we can’t ignore the potent power they bestow in bringing us together.  Do I wish I could see Amy, Susan, Ashley and a handful of other friends from other countries more than once a year or once in a blue moon? Of course. But we're global citizens now and our notions of friendship and what it means to be involved actors in the lives of others have rightfully been challenged. The only barriers are those we self-impose. We're mobile, we're connected and wholly responsible for nurturing our relationships with others, regardless of distance. 

As an expat, you learn to accept that some friendships will be transient. Either you invest time and energy into forging those ties anyway or you keep one foot in a former life and miss the opportunity to let each connection enrich your life. I choose the former. 

Thank you to Susan for hosting the brunch that brought all of us together. 

// Group photo courtesy of Ashley Ludaescher //

14.3.14

Little Pleasures in Paris [#7]: An Early Spring

Spring at Palais Royal
Spring at Palais Royal Spring at Palais Royal

This weather cycle has played out a few times since I've lived in Paris. Winter arrives abruptly then proves abnormally gentle and mild, spring surfaces unexpectedly in March and then thoughtlessly abandons us in April and May until summer swaggers in after much anticipation toward the end of June. Like much of Western Europe right now, we've entered the sphere of spring while our friends on the east coast are still trying to unravel themselves from what seems like a permanent blanket of white. It's euphoric, it's premature-allergy-inducing and it's a sign that we're one step closer to sundress season.

Of course if I'm true to my slightly cynical Parisian sensibilities, I know this bout of beau temps will be evanescent - the mantle of pollution that has everyone on high-alert in the city right now has certainly tainted our joy a bit - but I'm shedding layers and embracing it while it lasts.

See more of this early spring in Paris on my Instagram feed!
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