Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Nanny Brigade

The Nanny Brigade. Everyday like clockwork, they start popping up from all directions. Kids of all ages come together to play, but that's not what it's all about. This is Nanny Gossip Hour. Even with my limited French language skills I can hear them talking about the moms, kids, and gossip. I just wish they'd stop chatting and start paying better attention to the kids.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Scenes from St. Germain

One rainy Sunday afternoon I strolled the streets of St. Germain, snapping a few photos. Enjoy.







Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Picnic in Père-Lachaise

Set high up on a hill in the 20th Arrondissment of Paris is the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. This cemetery is one of the most visited in the world, and is the largest one in Paris. What makes this the most visited in the world? Because it has some famous residents. These residents include:



Oscar Wilde
The Irish novelist and playwright, whose famous works include "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "The Importance of Being Earnest" lies in an Art Deco tomb. It's tradition to kiss the statue with lipstick, although I find it awful and disrespectful.



Edith Piaf
France's own songbird "Sparrow" lies here. Her famous tunes include "La Vie En Rose", "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" (that song they use as the kick in Inception), and "Hymne a L'Amour". Her life is chronicled in the movie "La Vie En Rose" and is a great movie if you get a chance to check it out.



Jim Morrison
Lead singer of The Doors, he was almost not allowed to be buried here. His people plead and said that he was a poet and writer as well as a singer, so he was given the okay. His grave has been vandalized in many ways throughout the years, by people stealing parts of the grave marker, the statue that once topped the headstone, etc.

Other famous residents include:
  • Gertrude Stein, American author
  • Balzac, French novelist
  • Frédéric Chopin, Polish composer
  • Sarah Bernhardt, French actress

I took a tip out of my guidebook, saying that it was also a very nice place to enjoy a picnic lunch. So I went to the nearby market and grabbed a fresh baguette, some parma ham, cherry tomatoes, a plum, and mozzarella. So here's a snap of my wonderful lunch.


If you're in Paris and ever want to visit Père-Lachaise, you have 3 options for a Metro stop.
Line 2 : Phillipe Auguste
Line 3: Pere Lachaise
(best option) Line 3 : Gambetta

If you take the Gambetta station, it allows you to enter near Oscar Wilde's grave and walk downhill to visit the remainder of the graves.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Le Marché aux Puces... St. Ouen Flea Market in Paris

I decided to continuing exploring in my second weekend in Paris, I wanted to visit a place I had never been on my 3 previous trips to Paris... the St. Ouen Flea Market. Covering 7 hectacres, it's often regarded as one of the places you can get high quality antiques and furniture from well qualified professionals.

Getting there was an adventure. It's on the outskirts of Paris, and you can reach it by taking the number 4 line to the last stop, the Porte-de-Clignancourt, which happens to be where Amy and I stayed at in 2006. You have to navigate through a semi-scary crowd of scammers trying to sell you fake purses and watches, they can get aggressive at times. I had to put on my best "touch me and I'll break your fingers" look. Also, make sure you protect your wallets and personal items. There are many pickpockets in the area, don't flash your wads of cash for everyone to see. You'll want to head there early in the morning, it's estimated that over 120,000 people visit the market every weekend, and the afternoons tend to get busy.

Once I made it through the shady areas, I was finally inside the market area. The market is organized by grouping different specialties in alleys..... furniture, art, comic books, cooking supplies, dolls and children's toys. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, so I just wandered around and looked at everything.


These beautiful copper cooking pots caught my eye. I immediately thought of Julia Child's collection of copper pots that I saw on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. I like to imagine what kind of dishes that someone previously prepared in them. Did someone make Coq au Vin in the big pot? Did they make a cassoulet in the medium one? What kind of sauces did they make in the sauce pans? After checking the prices on each pot, I quickly realized that they're not for someone living on an Au Pair budget! A girl can dream, right? Maybe one day when I'm rich and famous I can go back to Paris and buy my own set of vintage copper pots for my kitchen.

One of the other things I spotted that caught my eye were all the pieces of vintage luggage I saw. One booth specialized in nothing but vintage luggage from airlines... lots of Air France, Pan Am, TWA. It set my heart a flutter. Again, it gets you thinking... where have those bags traveled with people? What kind of stories could they tell? But sadly, they were also out of my price range. 90 Euros for a small carry on? Even with haggling (which is encouraged!) I don't think I could've gotten it.

I spent a few hours just wandering around, taking it all in. I kept my eye open for some trinkets by request from my friend Ashley (who is a fantastically creative lady, her blog can be found here). Alas, I left the market empty handed. If you're in the Paris area, and looking for an activity that isn't a monument or museum, you should check out the St. Ouen flea market. It's open Saturday thru Monday, and if you go on a Sunday or Monday you may be able to score a better price, many sellers are willing to haggle for a lower price. Not many sellers are open on Mondays, or by appointment only. Note that many booths will shut down for an hour to an hour and a half at lunchtime so they can enjoy their lunch.

Saturday - 9:0o-18:00
Sunday - 10:00- 18:00
Monday- 11:00- 15:00
Metro Stop: Line 4, Porte de Clignancourt


Friday, September 16, 2011

One for the Memory Books

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

After the afternoon rainstorm, the skies opened up with fluffy white clouds and blue skies. I sit back in my reclining chair. The air is perfumed with the scent of the nearby lavender gardens in the Jardin des
Tuileries. I look to my right and I see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

It's a moment like this I wish I could push a pause button in my life. It's perfection.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tea at Ladurée Harrods


One of the most renowned French patisseries in Paris is Ladurée. Their name is always associated with luxury goods and detectible treats. They have a few locations in other countries, I was lucky enough to have been able to visit the one inside Harrod's when I was in London.

Sitting down, I almost felt like Eloise at the Plaza Hotel. I felt like a little girl playing dress up, with fancy goods surrounding me. The folks with me were all hungry, so we wanted to sit down and have a proper breakfast.


Each of my party ordered a pot of tea, I went for a pot of fragrant vanilla tea. I love that they set out any color cup with plates, they're all pastels. The tea came served in an individual silver pot that was just beautiful.


Our breakfasts started arriving, in this order :

Le Ispahan


Le Saint-Honoré de Ladurée, Rosé Framboise flavoured


Assortment of mini pastries including croissant, pain chocolat, and brioche


For a little over $10 I got to feel like a princess for a morning, I think that's a fair price!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Swedish Summer Homes

One thing I've noticed that a lot of Swedish people have is a summer home. You can't really blame them, they go from an endless darkness winter 8 months of the year to a beautiful, perfect 70 degree summer with endless sunshine. They want to have a place to escape to!

When it's sunny and warm, you can find Swedes outside, doing all kinds of activities. They love to bike, swim, exercise, go boating.... you name it, they're doing it.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit two lovely Summer homes, both perfectly enchanting and set into the wilderness of the South of Sweden. You can find these summer homes dotted all across the landscape. Many families or close friends buy them together so that they're still connected and have a built in social network for dinner parties, beach outings, etc.








Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lund, Sweden


Less than 24 hours after arriving in Sweden, I hopped on a train for a 5 hour journey to the southern region of Sweden, known as Skåne (pronounced Sko-nah). I was headed there with Swede so he could go run in a family race as well as attend the crayfish party planned for Saturday.

Train travel is actually quite pleasant over here, the train had free wi-fi, nice cabins that seat 6, and a cafe car that you could have a sit down meal at. As long as I'm facing the direction the train is headed, there's no issues of motion sickness for me. We arrived into the city of Lund and immediately set off to see the famous Lund Cathedral they are so well known for.

Inside the beautiful cathedral, I was taken back by the astounding astronomical clock they have, it was unlike any I've ever seen, so beautifully detailed and intricate. The church itself has been there since construction began in 1202... can you believe that? It's a big part of Danish history since the the region used to belong to Denmark up until 1676.







Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've Arrived!

Sorry for the extreme lack of posts... I'm here in Europe... actually I've been here 12 days and have been around Sweden and even off to London and back. Lucky for me, I'm staying here in Stockholm for the next two weeks.

It feels incredible to finally be here after months of planning. It just feels strange knowing that after a few weeks, I won't be going home. At this point, I can't wait until I arrive in France so I have a room, and I won't be living out of my suitcase! Not too much longer now, it looks like I'm arriving on August 31st, two weeks from today!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


JAX -> ATL -> AMS -> ARN
August 3rd, 2011
Departs: 2:00pm
Arrives: 12:15pm

First stop on my European Adventure.... Sweden!

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's Here!


It's here!! My French Visa actually beat me home from vacation this weekend! This means I get to actually purchase my airfare, and that my departure date is aiming to be August 4th.

10 days.

10 days to pack for 4 months, clean my room, do laundry, figure out my August travels. I'd better get to work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Step Closer...

An excerpt from an e-mail I received last week:

"Bonjour Mademoiselle R. ,
I am very pleased to inform you that I have just received the approval to issue you a long stay visa in order establish yourself in France."

*insert loud squeal here*

Also in the e-mail were instructions on setting up an appointment at the French Consulate in Miami, along with the forms I'll need to fill out and bring with me.

At 10:30am on Thursday morning, I'll be in Miami, sitting at the French Consulate, one step closer to my move. From what I hear, the wait time is 2-3 weeks from when you apply for your long stay visa to when it's approved.

Projected Date of Departure (Europe): August 12th or 13th.

Days left until 1st day in France : 42

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I figure I'd list out some movies that I love that feature Paris or France. And yes, they're making the trip with me!

1. Amelie (2002) - Hands down, one of my favorite movies ever. Starring one of the most popular French actresses around, Audrey Tautou, it's such a charming movie. Set in the Monmartre area of Paris, this whirlwind adventure takes you into the lives of Amelie and her friends and family. She plays tricks, does good deeds, and plays Nancy Drew.

2. French Kiss (1995) - A really cute romantic comedy featuring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. She overcomes her fear of flying to go to Paris to find her fiancee cheating and with someone else. Kevin Kline is a Frenchman who stumbles upon her and helps her go from a meager weak person to a strong woman. Starts out in Paris, travels to the wine country, and then ends up in the Cote d'Azure.

3. Le Divorce (2003) - Starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts as two sisters. Naomi is married to a Frenchman that leaves her, while pregnant with their second child. Kate flies over to help her sister, and manages to have an affair with the uncle of her sister's husband at a series of fabulous French eateries.

4. Funny Face (1957)- A musical with Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, and Paris. I adore those old feel-good musicals with loads of happy songs and wonderful dancing.

5. Midnight in Paris (2011) - I just saw this twice in theaters and I'm completely smitten with it. Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams (and a whole huge cast of big name stars) are visiting Paris with her family, and he goes on midnight walks to find something enchanting happens in Paris after Midnight. I won't spoil the surprise, you'll have to see it for yourself!

6. Ratatouille (2007) - I know this is an animated movie, but I can't help but include it. Remy is a rat that loves to cook, Linguini is his own personal human puppet, cooking for Remy. This movie will make you want to hop right in the kitchen.

7. Marie Antoinette (2006) - A movie that was filmed at the beautiful palace of Versailles. Chronicling Marie Antoinette's life from marriage to the end, this movie has a fabulous 80's soundtrack and is such eye candy. The costumes and sets are fantastic.

A few other movies are : Moulin Rouge, A Good Year, and Phantom of the Opera.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting Game...

I got my approval from the French Department of Labor that says I'm able to go over as a wage worker! My host mom had to put up a fight with them, but after almost 7 weeks of waiting, it was finally given the positive rating. The best part about it is that there is no time limit, unlike the regular au pair visa which only lets you stay for a year. This also allows me to have a part time job if I choose!

I'm now anxiously awaiting paperwork from the French Consulate in Miami. What I'm hoping is that since I already have approval from France, that I don't have to go apply for a visa. But I'm a little excited to go to Miami, since I've never been.... I'm dying to take pictures of South Beach's Art Deco buildings and sample some delicious food!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Goal in addition to the ones I already have.

Next year, when the Olympics are in London, my goal is that I want to go to at least ONE of the events and be a super awesome American and represent my country. I will go hunt out the cast of the Today show and maybe you'll see me on the TV.

Or you know... maybe Michael Phelps needs a personal towel girl or something....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Fave!

While I was trying to find a good fig preserves recipe for my friend Melanie, I stumbled upon this wonderful food blogger called "Kiss My Spatula". Not only does she make great food, but the photography is stunning!

She posted this piece about "10 Reasons to Visit Paris in the Winter". Swoon-worthy photographs accompanied by excellent reasons why you should visit!

Click here to check it out!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Start Date!


That is the date I will arrive in France and begin my new duties! I was able to have a nice hour and a half long conversation with my host mom today. Things we discussed today:

  • My social network when I'm there. She was looking up different things for me to do and be involved in, she wants to make sure I'm not bored or lonely. I told her not to worry... I'm already researching up a storm, I have plenty of things to keep me busy!
  • The French Government and how they are such backwards thinkers. She doesn't care for them.
  • Flying while in Europe, The airports around Paris. She was so proud that I knew the airports in the area... Charles De Gaulle, Roissy, Orly, and Beauvais. She laughed when I told her what I thought of Beauvais last time I was there, a barn that happened to have airplanes. We swapped horror stories about Ryan Air.
  • Gardens, she said that the kids had planted some radishes, pumpkins, and other veggies and they should be ready by the time I'm there! I told her I'll send her pictures of my backyard garden with herbs and veggies.
  • She's worried that I'm going to miss the beach. I insisted to her that I've lived here for 25 years and I can trade the beach for castles, chateaus, and monuments for a year, a small sacrifice!
  • I even got to speak with both of the kids today, they're just so sweet! I asked O (in French!) if he had recieved my little present I sent him. He squealed with delight and said he LOVED IT! THANK YOU THANK YOU!
All in all, a great conversation, I really like the fact that conversation flows easy with the both of us, there's no awkward pauses. I know we'll get all get along just fine!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Calm Before The Storm


I enjoyed a weekend out in the sun, catching up on some light reading. My current read is a book my co-worker Dianne gave me for my birthday... which I had actually been eyeing for almost a year!

This book, written by Elizabeth Band, is a story of how she met her husband and moved to Paris. She struggles with learning a new language, visits the lovely markets, and it follows her through dating, marriage, buying an apartment and all it entails. Tucked in the chapters are recipes that she connects with different moments in her life. Some of the ones I'm plotting to make are:
  • Fresh Mint Tea
  • Oven Roasted Pork Ribs with Honey
  • Poached Cod with Roasted Leeks and Homemade Mayonaise
  • Chocolate Creme with Creme Anglaise
  • Pasta with Fresh Peas, Arugula, and Goat Cheese
Now I'd better head off to slather another layer of aloe on.... the burn... it hurts!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What am I excited for?

Why am I so excited to move to France?

The Eiffel Tower? Gorgeous markets? The fashion? The language? No, I'm excited to be back to a place where there's fabulous pastries like these. I snapped these at a pâtisserie the last time I was in Paris, back in May of '08.

Buttery, flaky, glossy pastries. Unlike any I've ever had here in the States. Just walking into one of these shops, you inhale the most glorious scent, a combination of vanilla, bread, chocolate, it's completely intoxicating. And the best part of eating these is that you don't have to worry about your waistline, because you do so much walking, it's all compensated for ;)