Monthly Archives

August 2012

Franco File Friday: Stephanie of Artfully Adored

31 August 2012

When I began this site three years ago, I hadn’t established an identifiable voice nor did I have a clear idea where writing it would lead me. I began by venting my frustrations as an expat then moved onto dispensing tips for adapting to life here and surmounting the inevitable maze of red tape, sharing restaurant reviews, documenting my travel and revealing some of the incongruous emotions tied to living abroad (particularly in a city that is at once forward thinking and yet perpetually anchored in the past). My site has evolved tremendously as have the topics I’ve chosen to cover. I think some of the best sites reflect precise stages of an author’s life and moods, naturally changing form as they themselves grow. But if the process stops being fun or no longer represents the author’s true interests, then it’s time to switch gears. That’s precisely what Stephanie Elle dealt with recently as she made the decision to retire her two year old blog La Belle in France, which she began in 2010 in anticipation to her move to Provence. Though still representative of a period in her life, she preferred to devote her energy to a much broader […]…

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Capture the Colour: Travel Photos

29 August 2012

Another photo competition has been circling the interwebs and this edition is entirely linked to color. Hosted by, the Capture the Colour contest asks bloggers to highlight some of their best travel memories through photography with a particular focus on red, green, blue, yellow and white. Andi of Misadventures with Andi passed the torch to me so I trolled through my recent albums to find photos that not only met the color requirements but left a lasting imprint.  {RED}  (Top photo). Say what you will about the Charles de Gaulle Airport – its heinous exterior, gruff personnel, interminable lines, paltry food choices and manhandling at security – but there’s something about the waiting area in Terminal 2, suffused with radiant light and splashes of vibrant reds, that makes me feel like I’m readying myself for a memorable adventure.  {WHITE}   Shanghai and Beijing in the midst of winter chill don’t lend themselves to comfortable exploring but they did provide some stunning backdrops. The French concession is likely one of the most verdant neighborhoods in Shanghai, lined with plane trees that seem to form a covered passageway. In the colder months, the trees lose their leafy greens and adopt a look that might be […]…

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Playing Tourist in Paris (Part II)

22 August 2012

Perhaps I dramatized things a bit when I said recently that the emptiness in Paris during the month of August was distressing. You see, I expressed this sentiment at a particularly fragile moment just before someone very important to me arrived in town. Winston’s return to Paris ushered in renewed resolve to spend more time outside and relish the fleeting urban calm. The canicule (heat wave) that blanketed the city over the weekend was further impetus to flee my apartment (which had turned into a furnace) in search of a refreshing salve. I have my preferred haunts but last weekend I wanted to do something different. My tactic for always having something new to explore is to reserve a handful of museums, cultural activities and even restaurants for the rare moments I find myself playing tour guide to guests (and the more frequent fallow periods of inspiration). And so Winston and I had lunch at the Le Saut du Loup, the comically overpriced restaurant in the Jardin du Carrousel, where the service is uneven but the views of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower were unobstructed. We paid a premium for the terrace and the sensation of being on vacation. […]…

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Franco File Friday: Sarah Gardan

17 August 2012

It is little surprise that one of the most lamented drawbacks to living abroad is the distance from loved ones. While Skype and Facebook have revolutionized the way we stay connected from afar, nothing trumps a heartfelt chat from the same time zone and, for the luckiest, a quick bite on a Sunday afternoon. There are moments, like recently, where I ache for Philadelphia and a food-filled afternoon with friends in the city. Then I remember how fortunate I have been to be able to return home (usually) two times each year, three with clever planning. My family and hometown are, in fact, relatively close and the reality is that a six hour time difference isn’t an insurmountable setback; I never feel too far. But when I do occasionally bewail the hardships of this distance, I’m reminded of those who come from much further afield. Australian photographer Sarah Gardan came to Paris with her husband with a plan to experience their shared French heritage and travel throughout Europe for one year. Six months into their adventure, Sarah learned she was expecting her first child which kept them grounded in France. Fast forward three children and their one year dream evolved into […]…

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Paris Rules for the Rails

14 August 2012

“Get lazy during rush hour and you risk a few complaints” What is it about public transportation that makes otherwise civilized individuals behave badly? Few would consider commuting a pleasant experience but faulting the offensive stench in the metro or cramped, stroller-packed buses as cause for complete disregard for others is only acceptable to a point. All passengers are in the same, stinky boat yet not all of them break rules or ignore widely accepted social norms. For the last year, The RATP, Paris’s transport authority, has been running an advertising campaign to call offenders out on their unseemly behavior by portraying them as animals (let’s be honest, even papi needs to be reminded he can’t kick back like he’s at home). The campaign is an outgrowth of a study conducted by the RATP to understand why Parisians look and act so disgruntled on public transportation. Again, cue the smells and cramped quarters. While we could argue that boorish conduct is endemic to public transportation systems in most large cities around the world,  few transit authorities devote the energy to raising awareness and curbing infractions through civic education. Bravo, RATP! Your ads have proven both entertaining and affirming. So what […]…

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