1. This combination of light and lattice that makes my heart go boom:
(That lens flare ain’t Photoshopped, either.)
2. I have this thing with doors:
That something as simple as a door could be so elegantly designed just because is just one of the many reasons I love this city.
3. Looking up from the gardens of the Musée Rodin, admiring the view:
As if there isn’t enough to marvel over in the actual museum gardens, the periphery has to be lined with classically lovely Parisian architecture, too.
4. This decadent dessert that was almost (almost!) too pretty to eat:
My mom and I splashed out one afternoon, and I treated us to tea and dessert at the Plaza Athénée. (You know, the hotel where Carrie stayed with The Russian.) And then because we hadn’t indulged enough, we went across the street to Louis Vuitton. As you do.
5. The best way to spend €7, as far as I’m concerned:
Why can’t there be more flower shops in Philadelphia? Rue Cler has about four in two blocks, and every bouquet is affordable, to boot.
Have a wonderful weekend, kiddos! For those of you sick of seeing Paris photos, I’m almost done, I promise!
It’s not that I don’t like Le Marais, but it isn’t a neighborhood I’ve spent a lot of time in, so I’m not overly familiar. I like that it feels different from the rest of the city; there are fewer grand Haussmann buildings here, and the streets feel older, more historic and medieval. But if I’m being honest, I never feel a pull towards the 3eme the way I do with other neighborhoods. Our macaron making class was held at La Cuisine Paris, right along the Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, so it made sense for us to spend the morning and early afternoon in the quartrier. My mom was disappointed that in the 16 years since her last visit, the last remaining vestiges of what was once the true “Jewish quarter” have all but disappeared, save for a few bakeries and falafel shops along Rue des Rosiers. Doors with ancient mezuzahs still affixed to the door frame, or stars of David carved over the entry had long ago been turned into clothing stores. We had falafel for lunch and strolled through the Place des Vosges, fighting off the bitter cold of this particular day.
The macaron class itself was the highlight of the day, though. All of the classes at La Cuisine Paris are taught in English, and ours was led by a French pastry chef (Romain, a total dreamboat) who had worked at both Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. There were only eight of us in the class, which made instructions easier to follow and everything more hands-on, and the two hours flew by in a whirlwind of boiling sugar, powdered food coloring, and my inability to remember directions clearly resulting in one giant macaron shell on my silpat (two inches apart, merde!). Having survived the course (with edible results!), I can safely say there is a reason macarons are so expensive; that is not an undertaking for the timid, unskilled, or impatient. Mon dieu. Don’t let me deter you, though! It was such a fun experience and I want to do it all over again with Jamal the next time we go, because I know he’ll excel at it. And ladies, if there is anything sexier than your man making macarons for you in Paris, I don’t know what it is.
Oh! Did you know the French created a verb specifically to describe the function of folding the meringue/boiling sugar/food coloring mixture into the almond flour? It’s macaronage, and it’s one more reason I love the French language, even if my own macaronage skills could use more work (my wrists get all floppy the moment I hold a spatula, likely from fear).
The light in this town is going to give me a heart attack one day. I’d round a corner, or come up from the metro, or it would be overcast all morning and then: LIGHT. Glorious, blanketing, hazy, early-Spring sunlight, so different from the light in June or December. I can’t help but gasp every time I see a sun-soaked street, or the light filtering through the Eiffel Tower. I’m worried one day it will all be too overwhelming, and I won’t be able to take it, and my heart is just going to burst. Death by Paris.
We went to four museums this trip: the l’Orangerie and the d’Orsay in the same evening (the latter is open until 10pm on Thursdays, and they are directly across the river from each other), the Rodin the next morning, and the Louvre later in the trip. We struggled with how much to do, because it was so tempting to just sit in the Tuileries all night and stare into space, or linger too long at a café. The Parisians are so good at balance; it’s one of their skills among many that I’d love to steal. Sure, you have places to go and things to see. But the light is so gorgeous right now, maybe you should stay to enjoy it just a while longer. Pourquoi pas?
The siren call of my old neighborhood became impossible to resist after only one day.
So I gave in, and we took the 80 bus from the 7eme to Place de Clichy. In terms of favorite bus routes, the 80 is my favorite. It snakes all the way up to Montmartre from the left bank, taking the swanky Avenue Montaigne, around the 8eme, past Saint-Lazare, and all the way up to my little village on the hill via Rue Caulaincourt. Between that route and the 95, which plops you more centrally in Saint-Germain, I could get anywhere I needed to go when I lived there. I like the buses more than the metro; the metro is generally more efficient, and, given Parisian traffic, undoubtedly faster, but you get to see the city from the bus. And there is nothing like taking the 80 south and crossing the Pont de l’Alma and seeing the Eiffel Tower from your seat. Like, pop! There she is!
So we went to Montmartre, and walked and walked and walked. Because that is what you do there. You climb the winding, steep streets, you make your way to the top of Sacré-Cœur to take in the view. We stopped in the church itself (something I admittedly hadn’t done in years) and got to hear mass in about six different languages (the priest switched from Spanish, to French, to Italian, to Hebrew, to Arabic while we made our way around the periphery of the monument). We rewarded ourselves with lunch at Le Nazir, my favorite salad with a poached egg and copious lardons and baked wheels of goat cheese thankfully unchanged. I showed my mom my old apartment, giving my sweet little balcony a wistful wave from the street.
On our way to Ladurée near Madeline (we took the metro) my mom said to me, “I can see why you love it. It’s a fabulous neighborhood.” And it so is. And not just because you get an impressive thigh workout just from exploring, either. That little pocket of the lower part of la butte was my home, and will be again one day, too.
Oh, this city. Every time I come I find new things to fall in love with, new angles to photograph, new perspectives and changes in light that thrill my heart to no end. There is something calming about returning, almost as if everything up to the moment just before the wheels of the plane touch down on French soil had been a little off balance, and with each trip back my equilibrium is restored. Walking the streets, getting acquainted with our new neighborhood (even as jetlagged as we were the first day) I felt a warming comfort, a homecoming as visceral as ever. The nervous, fluttering excitement that precedes a trip had been replaced long, long ago with a sense of rightness, of feeling whole again. My French came back to me fluidly, like riding a bike.
Three years ago, also in March, Jamal and I stumbled love-drunk into a restaurant on Avenue de la Motte-Picquet after just getting engaged minutes before, and ordered one of everything off the menu. A simple avocado, drenched in house-made vinaigrette, had stuck in our minds ever since, though we’ve never been able to replicate the exact tanginess of the dijon, or find avocados as creamy. I’m happy to report that, like everything else wonderful about Paris, that avocado is still has amazing as I remembered it. A dish so nice we ate it twice on this trip. (It helped that we stayed directly across the street.)
What else? I took significantly fewer photos this trip than I have previously, in an effort to be more present and soak it all in out from behind my viewfinder. I still took hundreds of photos, though, but this time I didn’t worry about making sure I got every single shot. I took a lot more photos of people, too! More to share this week.
I missed you guys! Tell me, what’s been going on?
I’m flying to Paris today! Just a few short months after my last trip, though it still feels long overdue. I’ll be back in a week with lots of photos and extra weight, both in my suitcase and around my middle (#croissantsplease). Have a great week! Bon voyage!
A few Christmases ago, Jamal bought me a bottle of Hermès Un Jardin Sur Le Toit perfume, which translates to “A Rooftop Garden.” It was a spicy, strong scent, with notes of apple, pear, and magnolia. The description from Hermès: “This perfume describes a secret garden, nestled in the heart of the city in Paris. A hanging garden, perched on the roof of the house of Hermès, at 24 faubourg Saint-Honoré.” I loved it. And I imagine this apartment smells exactly like it, despite the noticeable lack of greenery or plants, and the fact that it’s located on the Île Saint-Louis (I’ve recently become obsessed with the tiny island), and not along the famous shopping street in the 1er arrondissement.
The lofted bedroom upstairs may not be tall enough to stand up in, but would make a perfect writing nook. I love the casement windows into the bedroom off the living room, as well as how much gorgeous natural light this place gets. The light! That liiiight. A rooftop apartment usually implies a dingy studette with no private bathroom, and this apartment blows that expectation out of the water. It’s a sign of how desensitized I’ve become to Parisian real estate that I’m totally at ease with the fact that the living room is so small that you can’t walk around the sofa without turning sideways. Yours for just $700k/€635k!
When my book becomes a bestseller (obvs), this place is at the top of my wishlist. For reference, here’s all of the great apartments in Paris I’ve found so far.
March 11, 2016 /
Paris / travel
Three (three!) years ago today, something fantastic happened.
Jamal made an honest woman outta me three years ago in Paris, in the gardens of the Musée Rodin in a light, early March rain. And despite all of those perfect details, I still found a way to inject a little (unintentional) levity to the scene:
He got down on one knee and I totally lost my shit. I doubled over laughing, shocked and surprised, and afterwards said I had to sit down because I felt like I was going to throw up.
from this post
Romance! I am the queen of it!
It was a magical day that kicked off a magical trip to Paris, and perhaps even more magical was that our engagement spawned the creation of the moniker “Jamal.” You see, when I announced our engagement on the blog, I was très jetlagged and had reached a stage of sleepiness that made me deliriously giddy. I realized as I was writing that my new fiancé’s initials, JML, were just one vowel away from being JAMAL, and, well, I couldn’t not call him that after discovering such magnificence, right? Bien sûr.
So really, two fantastic things happened three years ago, and both have made me fantastically happy. Sorry to get all sappy on you, kiddos, but needs must. Happy engagement-aversary, Jamal! Je t’aime!
March 8, 2016 /
life / dog
Remember this post from last week? Here’s what I came up with, after a few iterations:
You can download a printable 8×10″ version of it here, in case you need a little encouragement.
Happy doing, kiddos.
Today marks a very special occasion: it’s my mom’s birthday today! Joyeux Anniversaire, maman! I can’t wait to celebrate you in Paris in just two short weeks! Macarons, and shopping, and museum-hopping, and ducking into charming cafés like this one.
A shameful admission: I’ve never actually been inside the Café Saint Régis before. Stalked it from the outside every visit for the past three years since I first stumbled upon this dark, vintage gem at the tip of the Île Saint-Louis? Oui, bien sûr. Crossed the threshold and asked for a table? Non. Not yet, anyway. I’m planning on rectifying this in just two weeks (two weeks!) when my feet hit Parisian soil. It seems cozy and inviting, and maybe just a little touristy, but I don’t care. The waiters with their starched white shirts and black ties, the subway tile and orange-y filament bulbs, be still my heart! And if the reviews online are to be believed, be still my stomach, too.