March in Paris, pt. 2: Montmartre

Morning

Rue des Abbesses

Breakfast, Rue des Abbesses

Blue Door, Rue la Vieuville

Fountain

L'Amour est Mort

Sacré-Cœur

Bread run, Rue Caulaincourt

Gate, Rue Caulaincourt

Long Lunch, Le Nazir

Salade du Berger, Le Nazir

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.

March 30, 2016 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 2

March in Paris, pt. 1

Rue des Sèvres

Avocado Vinaigrette, La Terrasse

Tuilps, Rue Cler

Rue Cler

Fleuriste

Rue Edmond Valentin

Blue Door, Avenue Bosquet

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?

March 28, 2016 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 4

Bon Voyage!

La Tour Eiffel

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!

March 15, 2016 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 5

A Rooftop Apartment in Paris

A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris A Rooftop Apartment in Paris

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 / LEAVE A COMMENT / 3

A Very Special Anniversary

Three (three!) years ago today, something fantastic happened.

Engaged!

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 / wedding / LEAVE A COMMENT / 8

Downloadable Inspiration Poster

Remember this post from last week? Here’s what I came up with, after a few iterations:

Do the Work

You can download a printable 8×10″ version of it here, in case you need a little encouragement.

Happy doing, kiddos.

March 3, 2016 / random / LEAVE A COMMENT / 1

Le Saint Régis

Le Saint Regis

Le Saint Regis

Le Saint Regis

Le Saint Regis

Le Saint Regis

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.

March 1, 2016 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 6

Le WiFi

In French, the letter ‘i’ is pronounced like an English ‘e’ which has the consequence of making a whole bunch of words sounds really adorable. My name becomes “Ereen,” but even more charmingly, “wifi” is pronounced “weefee.” Le weefee to be exact. I get such a thrill asking waiters at restaurants, “Avez-vous le WiFi?” though I’m sure they think I’m ridiculous.

My Webspot

My Webspot

My Webspot

One of my favorite things about the time I spent in Paris those few months, working on my novel, was that I didn’t have mobile service on my phone beyond being able to make emergency calls. Verizon charges some heinous amount for international data, so I made my peace with only being able to have the internet available at my fingertips in certain cafés or in my apartment. Frankly, after those weeks were up, I had shed the impulse to check my phone every four seconds; you don’t realize how attached you are to the constant updates until you can’t get them, whether it’s waiting at a red light to cross the street, killing time on the bus, or sitting at a restaurant alone and needing some social armor. Growing up an only child in a world mostly without internet (we wouldn’t get a home computer until 6th grade), I’d always been pretty good at entertaining myself, but, like everyone else, I’ve become really reliant on my cell phone to keep me occupied. Going abroad and not having it was a refreshing change.

And Jamal and I have managed on every vacation we’ve taken together, too. Belgium, Italy, Greece, Paris in 2012, 2013, and 2015. But last December, when I went to Paris (if this were a drinking game, and you had to do a shot every time I said, “Paris,” we’d all be dead by now) I tried something new: I rented a pocket wifi hotspot. My WebSpot offers unlimited 4G internet for a (extremely reasonable) daily fee of €7,90, and offers delivery at an address of your choice in Paris, or an option to pick it up at their offices in the 8eme, just behind Madeleine. I went with the latter, because renting an apartment I wasn’t sure if I’d have access to the mailbox. The process could not have been easier. I made a reservation online, and picked it up my second day in Paris (my first day was a Sunday, and in classically French style, nothing is open on Sundays). I was pleasantly surprised at how lightweight the little device was; certainly no heavier than an iPod nano, and the battery lasted for almost two days without needing to be charged. I kept it in my coat pocket and mostly forgot it was even there. My Webspot provides you with charger, really helpful and responsive customer service (which I never ended up needing because everything was so easy) and the comfort of knowing that your phone has wifi everywhere you go. Each pocket hotspot can connect up to 10 devices, and the password is completely private, so unlike networks at most cafés, you aren’t sharing it with a bunch of other people.

I still managed to ride the bus and stare out the window rather than at my phone, and the urge to check my phone constantly really did subside despite being able to, which I’m grateful for. I mostly used it to Instagram more frequently; it’s a sign of our times that being able to post three times a day to Instagram was a priority for me, but there you go.

It was an added level of comfort, even though I know the city like the back of my hand, not having to download Google Maps before I left my apartment in case I wanted to explore somewhere new without having to feel nervous about getting lost. I’ll be renting another My Webspot for my upcoming trip with my mom in just a few weeks, but they offer more countries across Europe than just France. Maybe I’ll even rent one for Spain in April!


I was given a discounted price on a future My Webspot rental in exchange for this post, but all opinions expressed are my own. In fact, I reached out to them and offered after having such a great experience in December. Thank you for your continued support!

February 26, 2016 / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 3

Morning in Montmartre

Morning, Montmartre

Morning, Montmartre

Morning, Montmartre

February 24, 2016 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 1

Boom

Last year, the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater put on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s comedies, and arguably one of his best. Also, and I suppose this is a rather shallow thing to care about, but the posters were gorgeous, and they were everywhere. Really, every shop and cafe had one hanging in the window, and for good reason. I mean, look:

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Perfect, right? The floating woman, the curl of colored smokey dust around her, the pastel-colored gradient, all worked to reinforce the dreamy, suspended reality of the play itself. I found myself stopping almost once a day to stare at it on my way to work, the bus, Trader Joe’s, enthralled.

And then the play’s run ended, and the posters came down, and I more or less forgot about it. Until yesterday, when, for some reason, I had the urge to whip up a small inspirational quote poster in Photoshop for my desk (“Nothing will make you feel better except doing the work,” which would hopefully inspire me to FINISH THIS NOVEL JFC), and started searching for textures and brushes that would accomplish essentially the exact same look and feel as the Philly Shakespeare posters. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, etc. etc.

In my searching, I came across these stunning, captivating images of exploding dust by photographer Marcel Christ. And suddenly the play posters made so much sense:

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Marcel Christ

Aren’t these just insane? They remind me of micro-versions of the annual Holi festival in India, but also somehow seem infinite and disarming in their scale. They could be as vast as a universe, or tiny handfuls. Needless to say I struck gold, and have been happily editing away, trying to find the right combination of spacing and font weight for the ultimate inspirational print. I’ll keep you posted!

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February 22, 2016 / art / photo / LEAVE A COMMENT / 4