Tag Archives: Paris

Moving Day

If you missed the denouement of our Paris story, be sure to read the previous post.

Bonjour from balmy Houston! We have been back for almost two weeks, so I am feeling like it’s time to breathe some life into this poor blog, which has been languishing for a while now.

A fabulous crew of four or five men arrived at the apartment bright and early on a Thursday morning. They were so friendly and so professional that I really couldn’t resent them too much for turning my dream Paris apartment into a maze of boxes and packing paper. It took them a day and a  half to box everything up (including the furniture) and a half day to get it all into the shipping container. Oh yeah- and over an hour to get the enormous truck onto our street and parked in front of our building.

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After everything was boxed up the guys went down to the street to wait for the truck. They waited and waited- and put boxes out to save a parking space the length of the city block. The first time the truck tried to turn on to the street it couldn’t make it because the turn was too sharp, so he somehow backed out and went around the block to enter from the other end. It was quite the spectacle. My palms got sweaty just watching it all unfold from above.

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this small truck blocked the traffic from that direction until the truck could get all the way over to the curb

this small truck blocked the traffic from that direction until the truck could get all the way over to the curb

a crane was unloaded and set up behind the truck and under one of our windows

a crane was unloaded and set up behind the truck and under one of our windows

all the boxes were moved into the front room where the crane was

all the boxes were moved into the front room where the crane was

boxes were loaded one at a time out the window and onto the crane, which could move six or so medium cartons at a time

boxes were loaded one at a time out the window and onto the crane, which could move six or so medium cartons at a time

down the crane track

down the crane track

and into this behemoth container

and into this behemoth container

I spent most of the time tucked away in this bedroom, where a twin bed that was staying behind offered me a quiet place to hide out from the madness. I listened to podcasts, read, and even took a little nap- anything to avoid feeling sorry for myself. And I looked out this window a lot.

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I had forgotten what my kitchen looked like when it was this tidy.

that would be because it was never this tidy

that would be because it was never this tidy

Yep- it was a bittersweet couple of days.  At the end of the first packing day I stood at the window and watched the planes fly over in formation, practicing for the Bastille Day celebration that would be happening the day after we left. It felt like a little “au revoir” present from France.

So now the container is on the Atlantic. I picture it floating gently on calm seas, bringing my favorite earthly belongings back home to Texas. After watching those guys pack it all up, I am confident that all will arrive in good shape. The Paris dust will eventually be wiped off of all the furniture, although some of the fabrics will no doubt retain some remnants of the dirt that blew in our open windows. That seems fitting, as Paris will linger in our hearts and memories forever.

We made the most of our final weeks in and around Paris, and I will be sharing that with you soon. But probably not too soon, as we leave Tuesday for Vancouver and a cruise to Anchorage, with a few days in Seattle at the back end. I won’t be taking my computer, but I will be posting photos on Facebook and Instagram, so don’t be a stranger!

Stay cool out there.

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Weekend In Dubrovnik

On a recent Thursday afternoon Mark and I took a short, direct flight from Paris to Dubrovnik, Croatia. We had heard such great things about this beach town and were happy to find a summer weekend to go see what all the fuss was about. Turns out it was about incredible views, a beautiful coastline, and a palpable sense of history.

Dubrovnik does not offer an array of hotel choices. Many people stay in rooms rented out by apartment owners. Because we booked this trip at the last minute, our choices of accommodation were limited. We were very pleased with the Dubrovnik Palace, which is located in Lapad, about a ten minute bus ride from the Dubrovnik Old Town, where most of the sights are located. We never had to wait for the bus, which stopped right in front of the hotel, and we enjoyed being away from the crowds. Also, they gave us a handsome upgrade, which was a nice surprise.

view straight out our balcony

view straight out our balcony

view off other end of our balcony

view off other end of our balcony

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One day we enjoyed the lounge chairs on the rocks by the water. Mark went for a dip, but I watched from shore because I could tell there wasn’t  a swim-up bar out there.

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The Old Town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, and was definitely one of the prettiest I have ever visited. I loved how the streets were polished by thousands of years of feet.

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The most popular attraction in Dubrovnik is the walk around the city walls, which span a mile and a quarter. The views of the sea and the red roofs of the town were incredible. However, I would not recommend walking the walls if it is raining, or even if it not raining but might rain while you are up there (like us). The stone quickly became very slippery, making the final quarter-mile or so a bit nerve-wracking. Also, don’t be one of those people who wore flip-flops or platform shoes, adding another three degrees of difficulty to an already challenging activity.

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Notice the hot water tanks on the roof!

Notice the hot water tanks on the roof!

Unfortunately, the cruise ships have discovered Dubrovnik, and the narrow streets of the Old Town are flooded with cruisers until late afternoon. We followed the advice of our concierge (and Rick Steves) and tried to avoid going there until after the ships had left. Without the crowds, we loved walking the streets of Dubrovnik and Lapad.

We were hoping to be invited in to this very nice house, but the gates remained closed.

We were hoping to be invited in to this very nice house, but the gates remained closed.

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mail slot

mail slot

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On our last morning we rode the cable car to the top of Mount Srd, just behind the Old Town,  where Napoleon built a fortress to keep a watchful eye on his new subjects. The view was staggering.

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We were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit such an interesting and beautiful city.

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We were hoping to add Scandinavia to our trove of memories, but our trip to Stockholm and Copenhagen is looking like it won’t happen tomorrow. Thanks a lot, striking French air traffic controllers. We are just a few of the many travelers who will be frustrated in the next few days as this,  not coincidentally, is the weekend many French people go on holiday. We are frantically looking for a train destination within France, but of course it’s difficult to find available accommodations at this late time. To make us even more grumpy about staying home, the heat wave continues in Paris, with the high forecasted to be 100 degrees two days this week.

C’est la vie in France, mes amis.

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We’re In The Monet

Oh what a day we had in Giverny! Our Fat Tire Bike Tour met on platform 22 of Gare Saint Lazare, and we boarded the train for a forty minute ride to the village of Vernon. We picked up our red bikes there and visited the market, where we gathered provisions for a picnic before riding the bike trail to Giverny. This is the second time I have taken this bike tour and I think it’s wonderful for people of all ages. The only kicker is that you have to hope for a pretty day, because the tour will go rain or shine. Thankfully, we had lots of shine!

our chariots for the day

our chariots for the day

Verney

Vernon

hollyhocks at the bike garage

hollyhocks at the bike garage

cabbage and rosemary with a side of shallots

cabbage and rosemary with a side of shallots

picture perfect picnic spot

picture perfect picnic spot

I always look for these old signs in France.

I always look for these old signs in France.

driveway in Giverny

driveway in Giverny

The small rooms and passageways of Monet’s lovely house were packed with tourists. Fortunately my friend and I had both been there before, so we hurried through the house, taking only a few pictures, and then lingered in the fabulous gardens.

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Everyone loves the kitchen! I couldn’t stop myself from taking a few pictures, even though I no doubt have the very same photos in my photo stream from five years ago.

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The gardens were in full bloom and were staggeringly beautiful.

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We arrived back in Paris just in time for a glass of rosé before our 7:30 dinner reservation. It was definitely a day to be toasted.

Cheers!

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Filed under Fat Tire Bike Tours, flowers, France, gardens, Giverny

Father’s Day Gift Guide From Paris

Although Mother’s Day is not the same day in France as it is in the U.S., we do share the same Father’s Day. I don’t know how that came to happen, nor do I care, so I am not going to spend any time researching that. I thought some of you might have procrastinated on finding the perfect gift for the fathers in your life, so I have come up with a few ideas for you. You might have to come to Paris to get them, but those guys are worth it, right?

1) Wouldn’t your guy look hot riding around town on this sporty number? And wouldn’t he look even hotter with you on the back?

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OK, now that I examine it more closely I’m no longer sure that you could ride on the back. However, you know what could ride in that handy little compartment on the back? Several bottles of wine, or even dinner to go. I bet he would be begging to go run errands on this baby. Vroom Vroom- Go Dad Go!

2) Now this might be too matchy-matchy to wear on the Vespa, but I think any dad would look super sexy in this orange suede jacket (scarf optional). My notes indicate that this jacket can be had for 9900 euros, which at today’s exchange rate is less than it would have been a year or two ago.IMG_2460

3) How about some styling kicks for that fashion god of yours? These patterned Tod’s loafers are pretty awesome, right? And if your man’s feet are the same size as yours, it’s a win/win!

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4) This French company, Vilebrequin, makes the most fabulous swim wear for men and boys. Wouldn’t your man and your little man love to wear these matching sea-horse trunks to the beach?

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5) And speaking of the beach, what dad doesn’t need an Hermes lantern for those nocturnal crab catching hunting outings? Sure, he could use a plastic flashlight from Target, but this leather lantern would really tell the world that he is the light of your life. And that you have more money than sense. This baby clocks in at 12,500 euro (because it’s water-resistant).

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6) This one might be more appropriate for a big birthday, but all dads would love to drive carpool in a car like this. As long as there are only one or two kids in the carpool, of course.

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7) And last but not least, we all know that nothing makes men happier than making their woman happy with a gorgeous designer hand bag. So give your guy the gift of your happiness. Something like this would make your man very, very happy indeed. And isn’t he worth it?

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Whatever you decide to get your favorite dad, I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

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Window Peeping

Tis yet another bright and warm day in Paris, while Texas is getting more rain. We could use some here, actually. The city is looking a bit dry and dusty. Sprinklers are on in the parks. I cannot keep the layer of dust off of my furniture because the windows are open day and night,which makes me very happy in every other respect. Dust mites are a small price to pay for the heavenly breeze that has been keeping our apartment nice and cool.

I have been admiring lots of store windows on my walks. I cannot ever capture them without glare, though, as the sun has been shining 14 hours a day for weeks. So just ignore the reflection, s’il vous plait.

This store, Brunelli Cucinelli, always captures my eye with its creative windows. The theme this month appears to be summer gardens.

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lettuce love!

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Like at home, white is making a big summer splash here.

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I have never been inside this church, Madeleine, so I don’t know about its windows. But right now it has a glorious floral display across its front steps.

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This was a nice window in the Henckels kitchen store.

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I peeped in a closed up place the other evening and admired this bicycle, propped and waiting for the new day.

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Finally, Printemps has some lovely mechanized windows right now- and it’s not even Christmas!

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Walking Around Belleville

I spent a lovely day last week wandering around the Belleville neighborhood, which felt like a world away from the eighth. Back in the mid-19th century, Baron Haussmann’s makeover of Paris left many slum residents homeless. Throngs of these displaced people fled to Belleville, and today the area is home to many working-class people of all ethnic backgrounds. This is the place to look for those exotic ingredients or spicy peppers, or for authentic ethnic restaurants. Belleville also offers beautiful vistas of Paris without the crowds and tacky souvenir shops surrounding Sacre Coeur.

My first stop was Parc de Belleville. This relatively new park (I think it was opened in 1988) is built into a hillside and is a series of shady paths traversing the hill and stairs going up and down. It was serene on that late morning, with only a few people occupying shady benches and a small group of sun-worshippers having lunch in an open yard. IMG_2397 IMG_2395 IMG_2399 The park was nestled right up against apartment buildings, whose residents no doubt enjoy the view as well as the prime picnic opportunities. IMG_2398 IMG_2400 IMG_2401 And the view!! IMG_2402 Just outside a park exit was this inviting little cafe with a shady terrace. IMG_2407 I took a seat at one of the colorful tables and ordered the cheese and tomato tart. IMG_2403 IMG_2404 And then this happened. Don’t judge. I was climbing hills. I needed my strength. IMG_2405 Just across the street was this adorable building anchored by a boulangerie. I fantasized about living on the top floor. Yes, I would have been able to touch both sides of the apartment at the same time, and my bed would have to be placed diagonally. But I could rig a basket onto a rope pulley and send my money down and then pull a warm baguette or croissant back up through my window! And then I could eat them while admiring my view of the Eiffel Tower. How sweet would that be? IMG_2406 After that lunch, I had some walking to do. IMG_2409 IMG_2410 IMG_2413 I walked a long way up Rue Gambetta, which begins with this gorgeous Art Deco metro station. IMG_2414 IMG_2415 This street borders one side of the Pere Lachaise cemetery and offers a beautiful shady walk. IMG_2416 IMG_2396 IMG_2417 IMG_2419 IMG_2420 The street is also home to many elementary schools like this one. Each has a marble plaque commemorating the Jewish children who were removed from the schools and taken to camps with the cooperation of the Vichy government. It is difficult to visualize those scenes, how terrified and confused those poor children had to have been. IMG_2418 IMG_2424 IMG_2425 IMG_2427 I did not go to Place Sainte-Marthe on this trip to Belleville, but one of our very favorite restaurants is found there, Le Galopin. It’s well worth a trip off the beaten path the next time you are in Paris.

Thanks for visiting!

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First Day Back

I have been back in Paris for just over 24 hours and am still feeling a tad fuzzy-brained. I spent some time with my old friend Jet Lag in the middle of the night, and am not yet completely in this time zone. So please forgive incoherence or typos or weirdness of any kind.

Yesterday I managed a quick trip to my neighborhood Franprix for a few essentials. Guess what? It’s no longer the “stinky Franprix”! She has had a complete makeover and looks and smells infinitely better. Hooray for enclosed refrigeration of the cheese!  If I could just figure out where they moved the hummus I would be completely satisfied.

I picked up some gorgeous strawberries and this morning I mixed them with some frozen mango, plain yogurt, and a touch of honey to make a decadent smoothie for breakfast. Twas very delicious.

Hello, lovely.

Hello, lovely.

Feeling fortified, I grabbed my little red shopping cart and walked to the Wilson Market to see what new produce was in season. I found abundant strawberries, happy cherries, tiny bunches of wild asparagus (so cute but not sure what to do with them), rhubarb, artichokes, and eggplant. Here is what i bought:

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I don’t know why I never buy prepared food at the market, as it always looks and smells delicious. The huge saucer of paella reminded me of the amazing paella we ate in Madrid, so I bought some. Dinner: check.

Are you as intimidated by artichokes as I am? I love to eat them, but they are thorny and fuzzy and I never know how long to cook them. The market was full of these baby artichokes and I had just read a Smitten Kitchen post on Crispy Frizzled Artichokes, so I decided to give it a try. As you can see, I only bought five, just in case I don’t get it right.

Paris is cool and overcast this morning but the sun promises to peek out this afternoon. I think I will take a nap and hope for a sunny walk when I wake up.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

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