On my first solo trip to Paris back in 2010, I stayed at a tiny hotel just down the street from Rue de Varenne. I was jobless and I decided to chase my dream of becoming a travel photographer. I didn't have a business plan, I didn't have a plan at all. I walked the streets from Paris from morning until night photographing, the city and discovering everything for the first time. I am more of a Right Bank girl than a Left Bank girl, but I always love walking this area when I am back in Paris. The walk down Rue de Varenne reminds me just how far I have come since that very first solo trip to Paris.
I have arrived in Paris after a little flight delay. I pushed through yesterday and even met Corey Frye for a Facebook Live session at a café. Did you see it? I will share a replay of it soon.
The cherry blossoms are out and it is officially Spring in Paris. I am taking a little time to myself today to walk around on the Left Bank of Paris. I will share photos with you soon. The above shot is from St Paul Metro yesterday afternoon.
Below is a little Sunday reading for you. xo
Expat Returns to Paris I love this story! I felt the same way when I returned to Italy and I know one day when I take time away from Paris, I will be in a similar position.
My friend Megann who I met through the blog told me about these surprise vacations, I would be up for it! Would you?
This post does include affiliate links which helps contribute to my coffee and croissant money. Merci!
This post is long overdue as it is probably my most asked question through email and direct messages on Instagram. I typically write a few places down for each person but this will be much easier as you will have a destination page to reference. This post is in collaboration with Eurostar who asked me to share some of my favorite places to eat in Paris.
The typical Parisian breakfast isn't much more than a pastry and a coffee. You can find a decent set menu at a lot of the Parisian cafés. The breakfasts will include a pastry, juice and coffee. If you want a bigger breakfast they will usually offer the same breakfast with the addition of eggs or yogurt.
Claus - This is the Hot spot during Fashion Week so plan accordingly. There is a newly opened location on the Left Bank in St Germain.
Holy Belly - Order the Bourbon pancakes. I promise you will thank me. The line on the weekends can be long. Try to visit when they first open or try during the week.
Café St Regis This is a great place to grab breakfast when you just arrive in Paris if you are staying on île st louis or on the weekend.
Big Love Café - The pancakes are out of this world good along with the French toast. There are no reservations. Arrive early or you might be out of luck. I lived upstairs so it was easy to put my name in. There are tons of places to explore in the neighborhood on a Sunday if there is a wait they will take your number.
Dersou - There are no reservations for Brunch so expect a wait. The food is Asian inspired and not your typical brunch food. Still highly recommended.
Fragments - Everyone raves about the avocado toast and I wasn't disappointed. The space is small
Holy Belly - Get the Bourbon pancakes. They are worth it!
Breizh for sweet and savory crêpes. There is a new larger location in Odeon with outdoor seating or you can go to the original location in The Marais. Expect a wait on a Sunday for brunch.
Carette - You can dine on the terrace or get sandwiches for takeaway and picnic in The Tuileries or nearby Place des Vosges.
Claus - There is a takeaway restaurant across the way or dine in. This is a hot spot for Fashion week so plan accordingly with reservations.
Duroco - the pasta is handmade and SO good. I had food envy when I saw the pizzas so you can't go wrong either way.
Hardware Societé A great option in Montmartre which can always be a challenge for good food. They don't take reservations so try to plan an off time to visit for breakfast or lunch.
Le Lulli - tucked away behind The Louvre, I love this spot for lunch. Their prefix meal is a great value and the food is fantastic.
Marcel - I love this spot in Montmartre. I have only sat outside on the terrace but I love the ambience and I keep dreaming about the Caesar salad.
Pizza Chic - arrive right when it opens to secure a spot. Don't miss the tiramisu!
Bisto Paul Bert - Classic French and so good. A must visit if you have the chance. Order off of the chalkboard menu and don't miss out on the cheese plate at the end of the meal.
Café Constant - A great spot for lunch or dinner. Don't miss the roast chicken. It is a quick walk to the Eiffel Tower. After dinner you can watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle.
Chez André This is my go to spot close to the Champs-Élysée. I love the ambiance inside, it is romantic and old Paris. I could easily escape a cold Winter day or a rainy afternoon here. In the warmer months you can sit outside with a glass of rosé and people watch.
Ellsworth - Don't miss the fried chicken. They have great small plates to share. This is from the same owners as Verjus.
L'Avant Comptoir - Standing room only but it is worth it. The menu hangs from the ceiling, be adventurous and try something new! I always have a great time here.
Le Comptoir - The original restaurant that L'avant Comptoir was based off of. The menu can be similar I have had the same dish both places. This one you will sit and eat. No reservations are taken so arrive right when the restaurant will open.
Le Relais de l'Entrecote - They only serve Steak Frîtes and they do it so well. You will just have to order your steak how you like it and they take care of the rest. I have never had a bad meal here. There are no reservations so expect to wait in line outside.
Semilla - I have eaten here twice and loved it. The fish dishes were better than the meat in my opinion. A great meal and highly recommended.
I would love to know your favorite spots in Paris. Comment below and share!
They say timing is everything. This will be my sixth Spring in Paris and the weather looks just about perfect. I have missed the cherry blossoms by a few days/weeks over the years and I have never had decent weather. Maybe this is my Birthday gift? If so, I will gladly take it! The weather looks like it will be in the low 70's for most of the trip which means I can pack dresses!
For the Plane:
I always wear a clean face (no makeup) with a moisturizing face mask and eye mask from Sisley. ( a little goes a long way, I have had the same tube for a year) I dress comfortably but still no athletic leisure clothes. I always bring a blanket for the plane, my Aunt sent me a black cashmere one a few years back and it goes everywhere with me. I bring a sleep mask but I rarely get sleep on the plane ride over.
I am a dress girl and this will be one of the first times for me in Paris, it is warm enough to wear them with bare legs. I will be bringing a few dresses and skirts with me. I love the denim skirt I got from JCrew last Summer and I have been wearing it on repeat. I will make sure to leave some room in my suitcase for a little shopping.
I can't wait to be back in Paris with a croissant in my belly, a café crème and sit under the cherry blossoms with the sun on my face.
I love ballet flats for Spring/Autumn for walking in Paris. They provide an extra bit of comfort than just plain sandals. I walk a ton in Paris around 10 miles a day so having extra support is essential. I will be wearing these wedges for a few nights out but not for long walks. I just picked up these Blondo slides and I LOVE them!! They are waterproof and so comfortable. Plus they are only $80!
I will be packing my leather jacket that goes everywhere with me. This is perfect for early morning and evening when the sun goes down. I just picked up this suede jacket in black and navy that I will be bringing too. A trench coat is always a good idea for the rain, which is always in the forecast in the Spring.
I hope you will join me in Paris through the Paris Diaries. Stay tuned for some adventures!
This post does include affiliate links which helps contribute to my coffee and croissant research. Merci!
If you are headed to Paris in any Season, expect to find rain in the forecast. I learned the hard way that May is the rainiest month of the year. I was caught in downpours more than once and was soaked down to my shoes. It is important to always carry an umbrella even when there is no rain in the forecast. A trench coat is versatile in the Parisian weather and highly recommended for your Paris packing list.
Walk the Paris Passages
This is one of my favorite memories from living in Montmartre. You can easily walk from the 9th at the end of Rue des Martrys through Galerie Vivienne with only taking a few steps outside. This is a perfect rainy day activity. Last Spring, I found myself at a café for a glass of wine and it suddenly started to rain. I was just at the beginning of the passages in the 9th so it was great to walk through them again. You can dine inside or grab a drink and some of them have great shops.
See A Movie
Try one of the historical theaters in Paris such as Cinema de Pantheon or explore the basement of Sèzane which has a film screening room.
Wait out the Rain on a Covered Terrace
The good thing about the rain in Paris is that it eventually passes. Grab a glass of wine or tea/coffee and wait out the rain. You will still be able to people watch for a bit while the storm clears.
Visit a Museum
I say skip the classic Louvre and visit one that is a little less known. One of my favorites is Musée Nissim de Camondo
Shop for Souvenirs
I always love stopping in Galleries Lafayette for gifts. You can spend an entire afternoon here between the restaurants and shopping. If you find yourself with a rainy day in the forecast while you are in Paris, take a little time to visit Les Grands Magasins (The famous departments stores). Printempts and Galleries Lafayette are right next to each other. If the rain clears, head to the roof for the beautiful view of the city.
Do you have a favorite rainy day activity? Comment below and share!
This post does include affiliate links which helps contribute to my coffee and croissant research. Merci!
How Many Roses does it take to Make one Bottle of Chanel No 5? via The New Yorker. The images alone are enough to make you want to read this.
How to Properly Cut French Cheese via Eating.Be
I saw this Magic Show this week in Chicago and loved it. I didn't know what to expect but it was highly entertaining. I was part of one of the tricks and I have no idea how he did it right in front of my eyes. The show ends May 5th in Chicago.
Bloomingdales is Running Friends and Family for 25% off. Don't miss your chance to save on new Spring items for your closet.
A Few Things I Bought This Week
This sweater from JCrew in both grey and black. I will be packing these for Paris.
A Pink Raincoat. I expect rain in Paris and this makes things a little brighter.
A new pair of walking flats for Paris. They only had red, instead of my normal black. But I am going to give them a try.
Pajama shorts for the Summer. I love these! Why haven't I owned them sooner.
I bought this suede moto jacket in two colors (black and navy) for $50 it was a steal I just decided to get both colors and will choose one when they arrive. It was selling out quickly. For other options there is this jacket for $100 in blush. It would be my second choice and it is 25% off.
This post does include affiliate links which help contribute to my coffee and croissant research. Merci!
As soon as the weather warms up in Paris, picnic season has begun. It is easy to do and there are many places all over the city to picnic. Grab takeaway food from a nearby restaurant, a sandwich from a boulangerie or create your own picnic spread from the market.
This is a little out of the way from the center of Paris located in the 8th arrondissement. Don't worry of breaking out of postcard Paris. This is worth the trip! Surround yourself with locals and people watch. You can get food to picnic with on Rue de Levi or Eric Kayser down the street before heading into the park.
This hidden spot is located behind Notre Dame on île de la cité. You can find the chestnut blossoms in bloom here in late April. Enjoy a picnic and play a game of bocce ball.
Champs de Mars
This is a great place to enjoy a view of the Eiffel Tower. You can watch the sunset here or just enjoy an afternoon in the sun. The Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour on the hour after sunset so it is the perfect place to picnic towards the end of the day. Don't forget a blanket.
This has become a favorite spot of mine after living just around the corner. I walked through here every chance I had. There is something so peaceful about Palais Royal. There isn't much grass but pack a picnic for the benches or chairs that surround the fountain.
This is pretty classic Paris. You can sit on the grass in front of the Louvre and watch the sunset behind the Eiffel Tower. Other options include inside the gardens at a bench or one of the many green chairs. I can easily fall asleep in the reclined ones next to the water.
Parc de Sceaux
You will have to make a day trip out of this and head on the RER B just outside the city lines. If you make it for cherry blossom season you will be rewarded with an area covered in cherry blossom trees. You can picnic under the pink blossoms. It is rare (unless it is raining like my visit) to find this place empty. This is a destination but an experience to picnic under the cherry blossoms.
Place des Vosges
This is one of my favorites because this is where I decided to move to Paris. I love this square in Paris and it is always a great place to picnic. Carette is located in the square so you can easily pick up sandwiches here.
Jardin des Plantes
One of the things I love about Jardin des Plantes is the blooming trees in the Spring. There are a few large trees that blossom. If you have kids this is a great option because you will be right by the Zoo and The Natural History Museum.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Another classic Paris spot in my opinion. If you are a fan of the Left Bank of Paris this is a great option. The park is pretty large so there are plenty of places to play and picnic for kids and adults. For kids, you can push the boats around on the water in the gardens. Bring a book and enjoy reading in one of the green chairs. Arrive early, as they fill up quickly on a warm day.
Seine between Notre Dame and île st Louis
You can grab a bottle of wine from the wine shop on the island or at the grocery store. They will give you plastic cups and open your bottle for you so you don't need a wine opener. Grab cheese, baguette, and charcuterie all on the main street of île st louis. Set up a picnic on the seine and you are good to go to watch the sunset behind Notre Dame. The best seat in the house on a warm day in Paris. Don't forget the rosé.
Do you have a favorite place to picnic in Paris? Comment below and share!
It feels like I haven't seen the sun since 2017 with all the cold and rainy weather I have experienced in Paris, NYC, and Chicago. This weekend, I am in Florida visiting family and I finally got some sunshine in. We have started a family tradition of strawberry picking this time for the last three years. It was really fun to see my nephew walk the strawberry patch ( age 1 1/2 ) and taste the strawberries. The sun was so hot and we were ready to go after only 45 minutes. We were back in the car and ready for naps by 11 am. We came back with a few pounds of strawberries which we will have fun eating and cooking with over the next week. My sister already put some of the strawberries to good use making strawberry jam.
In my hunt for a better nights sleep, I have decided it is time to shop for a new bed and mattress. Any suggestions where I start?
For those of you in Austin, Texas or close by, I just discovered this adorable French restaurant that makes me want to jump on a plane!
Amazon and Monoprix Team Up. I LOVE Monoprix (If you haven't been it is like a French version of Target)
I bought these Blondo sneakers from Nordstorm last week. They were sold out of my size 8 so I went up size to 8.5. They are so comfortable and perfect for travel or lots of walking. I will be wearing these in Paris in a few weeks.
The Art of The Parisian Apéro, La Cuisine Paris just added a new class all about Entertaining. Who wants to join me for a class in April?
Don't miss the big PRINT SALE in the Paris Print Shop! I only discount my work twice a year and right now it is 40% off for the NO JOKE SALE for April 1. Use SPRINGSALE at checkout.
This post does include affiliate links which helps contribute to my coffee and croissant research. Merci!
J Crew started National Stripes Day last year and while I don't participate in many of the unofficial holidays this is one I can get behind since most of my clothes are stripes anyways. I took this photograph with Jennifer in Chicago last week in the freezing cold. Can you tell? Thank goodness for hot coffee to keep me warm. Any guesses what I keep in my bag?
As you read this, I am officially in Florida enjoying warmer weather. It has been a while since I have seen the sun! We started a family tradition of strawberry picking a few years back so I will be easy to spot in the strawberry patches. Has anyone been before? We always come back with way too many berries and end up making everything we can think of with strawberries. Last year we made jam, sorbet, and a strawberry bunt cake.
I have been having a lot of fun with wearing a red lip these days. This is number 22 Burgundy by Sisley Paris.
This post includes affiliate links which helps contribute to my coffee and croissant research. Merci!
What are your plans for the Holiday weekend?
Jessie Kanelos Weiner shares her top 5 Parisian addresses. She will making a tour between NYC, DC, and Chicago for her new book, Paris in Stride. You will find me at the Chicago stop on April 7th, at 57th St. Books moderating a discussion with Jessie. I would LOVE to see you all there!
You will find me at the Chicago stop on April 7th, at 57th St. Books moderating a discussion with Jessie. I would LOVE to see you all there!
Favorite Park. Jardin de Palais Royal
There are a few places in Paris that are equally local and super touristy, but Palais Royal hits the sweet spot. Most of the tourists are impersonating flamingos up front on the black and white Colonnes de Buren. While the gardens and arcades behind still have a timeless Parisian calm.
Favorite Picnic Spot
This is my favorite destination in the warmer Parisian months, perfect for people watching and competitive picnicking.
Favorite Cheap Eat
Favorite Cheap eat: Miznon. This Israeli outpost is impossibly noisy, vegetable strewn and overpacked. But it's all worth it for the ratatouille served on a generous bed of tahini. And everything is finger-licking good.
Marché President Wilson Paris: Nestled between three of my favorite museums (Palais Tokyo, Musée d'art Moderne, Palais Galleria) with a a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower, this market will make anyone channel Julia Child with its drop-dead gorgeous selection of French ingredients.
Favorite Restaurant : Café de la Nouvelle Mairie
I love this excellent neo-bistro with classic French faire, natural wine and a friendly neighborhood feel not far from the pantheon.
Who will be catching Jessie on her book tour this Spring? Is anyone planning to join in Chicago? Comment below!
This weekend, I booked a little staycation in the city of Chicago. This is my first solo staycation and I have to say, "Why didn't I do this sooner?" I cashed in on a hotel stay that was owed to me for over a year but I never found the right time to take it. In fear that it might expire, I decided to take it this weekend. I added on a photoshoot in the afternoon and then the rest of the evening was mine. It is beyond cold in Chicago, by that I mean it feels like 28 degrees. Staying in a warm comfortable bed with a book and a cup of tea is the perfect fix. I just got this one in the mail and I am loving it. If all goes well, I will still be sleeping when you read this in the morning. Comment below and tell me which article you loved or what you want to see more in the future.
Thank you for reading!
My favorite waterproof boot now comes in a slip on sneaker. These are so comfortable and perfect for walking in the rain in Paris. I can't tell you how many shoes I have ruined by being caught in unexpected downpours. Plus they are under $100. I might need them in both black and grey.
If you are headed to Paris this year, you won't want to miss this one. Cédric Grolet Pastry at Le Meurice. You can now try his pastry without dining inside Le Meurice. He has a takeaway location from now until December 2018.
Have you checked out my Paris Print Shop yet? There is a once a year sale happening the weekend of April 1, if you want to get on the list you can sign up here. I only put my work on Sale twice a year so you don't want to miss this one ;)
What to Do with All Those Pick Your Brain Requests (I Love this one!)
Cheap Wine in Paris. This may help convince you to book a trip.
My Birthday countdown is on, how cute is this card from Paperless Post? You can send this to me and I will have a guaranteed smile.
The new Spring Collection from Sézane is out and I am loving it. Now all we need is warmer weather.
If you told me 10 years ago that I would be a morning person, I would laugh. I had a job with a salary, boss, and normal (somewhat) hours. Being self-employed requires so much discipline. It wasn't ever my intention to start a business, but after 10 years of being unemployed it seems to be a good fit for me.
I am a morning person. Before I go to bed, I set my alarm for 7 am. Almost every day of the week including Saturday and Sunday, I wake up about an hour before my alarm. Sometimes I can fall back asleep but most of the time I am awake. I will stay in bed until 7 and go through my day, what needs to be tackled. I typically will turn off my alarm around 6:30 once I am wide awake.
1. I say what I am grateful for out loud. I cover just about everything in this moment friends, business, family. I love taking the time to appreciate everything I have, even the small things.
2. I am very dehydrated when I wake up, I keep water next to my bed and drink up right away. I am trying to get better at this before bed too. Even if it means getting up in the middle of the night.
3. I head straight to my Nespresso and turn it on. (I make sure the water container is filled the night before) I also pour 16 oz of water with a fresh lemon wedge.
4. Breakfast. It is pretty much guaranteed I will be hungry when I wake up. This varies a bit but normally it is my homemade yogurt (I make a weeks worth on Sundays) and fresh fruit. Breakfast always has fresh fruit, whatever is in Season. I do eat a small square of chocolate each morning with my coffee. I am addicted to the matcha one from Vosges right now.
Get to Work
6. The timing of this is always different. Some days, I get dressed right away and other days I get right to work and forget I am still in my pajamas. I brush and floss every morning. I am addicted to my water flosser from Sonicare. I work out every morning at 9:15 so I throw on workout gear.
7. I have a whole beauty/skincare routine that is a little lengthy so I will save it for another post. But I hydrate through cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. I throw on sunscreen and mascara for class and that is just about it! I am pretty minimalist when it comes to makeup and I don't want to clog my pores when I work out.
8. I am in class from 9 - 10 every morning just about every day of the week. This gets my blood flowing and I get the best ideas for work during this time. It is so important to my creativity. I call it my "morning meeting" and schedule the rest of the day around this time. It is totally worth getting up early for and sometimes working late for.
Do you have a morning routine? What is one thing you have to do each morning?
This month's book club book "Tasting Paris" is a little different than the usual selection. It's a cookbook by author Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini. I really wanted to do a cookbook of the month on top of the normal book club, but I knew I was stretching myself a little thin. In last years survey, there were so many of you who requested more recipes. When I saw Clotilde was doing a new book, I knew it would be a book club book, but I had to read through it before making the final decision. (I do this with all the books) The minute it arrived, I dug in reading the stories and ear marking new recipes to try.
"Tasting Paris" is a collection of 100 Recipes to Eat Like A Local. Each recipe comes with a little history lesson or significance behind the recipe and is accompanied by the most beautiful photographs taken by Nicole Franzen.
The book is divided into Chapters to take you from the Morning, Afternoon, and Evening with recipes for each. When I asked Clotilde which her favorite recipes from the book were, "Let’s see -- favorites from the book… It’s like choosing a favorite among one’s babies, but I really like the potato chip omelet (!), the fish beurre blanc, the devilled avocados, and the Nantais cake."
I was intrigued by the Radish Leaf Pesto recipe. I don't eat very many vegetables, but I do love radishes. They are a weekly staple for me from the grocery or market. Until a friend pointed out, I had no idea you could eat the radish leaves. I always felt guilty throwing them away. This recipe is a perfect way to use the leaves. I use radishes in my salad or on avocado toast with lemon and olive oil.
I kept some in the fridge and dug into the leftovers cold, it was SO good. I have a thing for cold pasta or any kind of pasta really.
For the recipe, I used comté and almonds. You have the option to use pine nuts/pistachios and parmesan cheese instead. This is just what I had at home and I wanted it to be simple. You can spread this on toast or I tossed it with some fusilli for dinner last night. It was SO good. I know I will be making this again soon. For the full recipe you can find it in her book "Tasting Paris"
I have a been a big fan of madeleines every since I dined at a restaurant in Paris that brought them out warm from the oven and directly from the tray. I love making these at home and I have tried a few different recipes over the years. In "Tasting Paris" there was a recipe that used Earl Grey tea. You can substitute the tea type as a variation. I used Palais des Thès Rooibos. I always pick this one up when I am in Paris. You can purchase it online if you live in the States. They sell a big variety at Nordstrom now and it made me so happy to see this as an option.
I promised myself I would only eat one of these before shooting them, but it quickly turned to two. Fresh out of the oven and a warm cup of tea on a cold day is the perfect fix. Try it for yourself!
As you read through the book, "Tasting Paris" I can't wait to see what recipes catch your eye and which ones you decide to try in your own home. This is a perfect way to bring Paris into your every day life. Comment below and share your favorite recipes! If you post on social media, please tag #tastingparis so we can see the recipes.
I still have a good amount of recipes I want to try from this book including the potato chip omelette and the profiteroles.
This post does include affiliate links which helps contribute to my coffee and croissant research in Paris. Merci!
On March 21, over 3,000 restaurants in 150 countries will participate in the Goût de France/The Good France. Chefs from around the world will craft special menus to celebrate the Gastronomy of France. You can search on the website to find which restaurants in your city will be participating in the event. There are 4 restaurants in Chicago participating in Goût de France. I chose Café des Architects at Sofitel Chicago to experience their special menu.
I was welcomed by Chef Greg Biggers when I entered Café des Architects and he kindly went through the tasting menu with me. I was one of the first to try the menu before it's debut on March 21, I was honored.
I started with foie gras and pear which was absolutely delicious. I savored each bite while sipping a glass of champagne. An assortment of fresh bread was brought to the table with salted butter.
I was completely honest with Chef Briggers when we spoke that I wasn't a big vegetable fan but he was able to slide a new one in that I actually enjoyed. My first time eating leeks and I liked them. Shh! If you only come for one dish out of the four, this one was my standout favorite. The Truffle Poached Alaskan Halibut with mustard cream, mussels and leek fondue. I am still dreaming about it a few days later.
The Cheese course was complete with Cypress Grove Chèvre, mustard seed, gooseberry, and a rye cracker.
My grandma taught me to always save room for dessert and especially when it involves chocolate. The Chocolate Twist with passion fruit crémeaux, chocolate ganache, and cocoa nibs reminded me of my favorite Pierre Hermè macaron. I enjoyed a cup of French Press coffee and I sat in the restaurant people watching for a little while after the meal. I loved the ambience of the restaurant and I can't wait to check out the newly designed bar on my next visit.
This post was a partnership with Sofitel Chicago. All opinions are my own.
This weekend while most people celebrated St Patrick's Day, I tried to avoid the craziness as much as possible. Navigating the city of Chicago on one of the busiest drinking days of the year was not so easy. I got my hair colored from the fabulous Demi at Spoke and Weal (it is now the perfect shade of chocolate) and I got my bangs trimmed by Amanda. If any of you have had bangs or have them now, getting your bangs trimmed is the best thing ever. I can officially see again! I have been using the new Sisley Hair Rituel Oil since the party last month and Demi noticed an immediate difference. It smells so good too. I actually get to skip a haircut because my hair is healthy!
I also booked at trip to Paris for next month for my Birthday. I have no idea where I am staying yet which has me a little nervous but I am sure it will all work out in the end. I would love to explore France a little more. I would love your thoughts on both!
There is more than just French food in Paris. My friend Preeti is doing an amazing job with her new Youtube Channel. In this video She takes you to an Indian Grocery and one of her favorite spots for lunch.
I am a huge Jazz fan, when I am not in Paris I stream TSF Jazz which I have gotten my whole family hooked on. This week, I tried The Green Mill in Chicago and it did not disappoint. Has anyone been?
5 Tips for Improving your French via The Earful Tower
The Brand-Influencer Power Struggle. If you are interested what it is like on the other side as an influencer. This is a great read.
I LOVE these Bioderma Makeup Wipes. I came home a little too late earlier in the week and these made it so much easier to clean my face from makeup before bed. I typically carry these in my travel bag too to refresh after a flight.
I recently discovered Oat Milk from Oatly when I picked up my coffee from La Columbe. I was skeptical but I am a big oatmeal fan so I tried it. I immediately picked some up at my local grocery store and I have been using it in my coffee. The great part is it still froths in my Nespresso. I compared the nutrients to regular milk and Oatly and the main difference was the sugar content in milk. That is what sold me! Have you tried it?
I have a Birthday coming up in a few weeks and the only thing besides a trip to Paris on my wishlist is this camera. I need to invest. Does anyone else have this one?
Two things I am loving and wearing right now. The Sisley Twist in Ballet, I actually wear it to dance class but also on dates. I love the color! I don't normally wear eyeliner because I am terrible at putting it on but these new eye pencils from Sisley make it pretty oops proof. For my brown eyes, I have been wearing the mystic green.
J.Crew Has National Stripe Day on March 31st. I will be in Florida with my family which means I will be dressing the kids in stripes. Stripes are a part of my wardrobe. Are you a fan?
Growing up, I was the tall skinny kid. I was picky, but I could eat whatever I wanted (pizza, doughnuts, you name it). My Mom always told me it would catch up to me eventually and she was right. After college came stress with jobs and then getting laid off. I worked out here and there but I didn't have a routine.
In my mid to late 20's someone in my family started calling me fat... I was self employed, trying to start a business and it wasn't what I wanted to hear. I was encouraged to hire a trainer. He was the Uncle of one of the kids I used to nanny and I made a three month commitment. He gave me a strict diet and we worked out with weights twice a week. The diet was mostly lean proteins, and low carbs. I was miserable and so hungry all the time. I told him I had a goal of fitting into a pair of pants that was size X. He kindly told me I would never be a size X. I slimmed down and stuck to the diet and finally squeezed into size X. But then I left for Paris...
I was surrounded by cheese, bread, and pastries on a daily basis. I spent a lot of time in the grocery store looking for foods that still fit my "diet" I didn't want to loose what I worked so hard for. At this time in 2013, it was hard to find skim or low fat milk and greek yogurt wasn't in my grocery stores. So I started eating full fat yogurt (best thing ever), bordier butter and the French drink whole milk in their cafè crémes so I thought, why not? All in moderation of course.
I observed so much during my time in Paris and I wanted to learn the ways of the French. I did my best to fit in as much as possible and that meant adapting to the culture. I tried aligot, magret de canard, and even rabbit. Smoking was not an option ;)
I spent most of my days exploring and learning the city of Paris by foot. I had morning walks for my baguette and evening walks to watch the sunset. These were my favorite times of the day. I still say my favorite time in Paris was when I didn't know anyone. I lived on the top floor of my apartment building which meant 5 flights of stairs. There was an elevator but I chose not to use it unless absolutely necessary. I walked an average of 10 miles a day without really even trying.
One of my favorite things to in Paris is visit the markets. There was one by my house where I would go to get my fruits. I became friends with the vendor and he would then fill my bag extras and I would give him a few euros. I would make the walk from Montmartre down to the Bastille market at least once a week. I had my regular vendors there and I still do today, 5 years later.
At the end of three months, I was SO happy. Taking the leap to move to Paris was one of the scariest things I have ever done but also one of the best decisions. The weather finally started to turn at the end of April and I had a ticket home. I had no idea how hard leaving Paris was going to be but I knew early on in my three months that I had to find a way to come back.
Once I got home, there were so many things I missed about Paris. I wanted to find as much of Paris in Chicago. I had changed so much as a person more than I thought I would and adjusting wasn't so easy. I made regular trips to the market in my neighborhood and continued to eat seasonally. I buy whole milk for my coffee now and I learned to make my own yogurt because I never found the same French yogurt I loved back in the States. Have you ever looked at the amount of sugar in one container of yogurt? I have my favorite spots for baguettes and croissants where they greet me with a friendly "bonjour".
Over the last 5 years, it has been a lifestyle change. The only thing I still keep from my trainer is always having a protein at each meal chicken, fish, meat, or eggs. I have slowly been inviting a few vegetables into my diet and dark chocolate is eaten daily. My trainer always told me I would never be a size X and I actually believed him. Now I am Size X minus 2!! I don't weigh myself. If I fit into my clothes than we are good. If things start to become tight than I know I need to cut back on something. It is as simple as that. (croissant research comes at a price!)
I do stay pretty active even in the Winter. I attend a dance/yoga class daily. In the Summer, I will walk a few miles a day but rarely 10 miles like in Paris.
5 Things that I Changed in the last 5 Years:
1. Full Fat Milk instead of Skim. I only use a little in my coffee in the morning. The health benefits are better and I buy Organic or straight from the Farmer at Green City Market in The Summer.
2. I make my own yogurt. I typically do this on a Sunday and I have an entire weeks worth. You can do this with skim or full fat milk. There is a lot less sugar content and it tastes so much better than the ones in the store. I will add a little seasonal fresh fruit to the bowl for flavor.
3. I buy Seasonally. During the Summer, I am a regular at the market picking up my fruits, kale, eggs, and milk. During the Winter months, I will buy at my local grocery store. I stick to what is in season and I am getting better at buying the organic option for fruits even if it is more expensive.
4. I shop often and only for what I need that night/next day. I am a frequent shopper at the grocery and they know me by name. I prefer to buy fresh fish, meats, and produce. My fridge isn't too full and I try to waste less. My schedule can change from day to day so I can't plan too much in advance. For those of you with families, this is much harder. My sister does a few big shops because it works better with her schedule.
5. I don't eat cakes/cookies often. I do enjoy a small square of dark chocolate on a daily basis. (my favorite is Vosges) I am not tempted by the pastry cases in Paris. I can easily walk in and out of a Patisserie or Boulangerie with nothing. I actually feel guilty I don't want to take anything home.
What are your thoughts on The French approach to food?
As the blog grows, I find myself working from home in front of the computer more often than ever before. There are days I feel I am just being "busy" and not so productive. I think we have all been there. I put together a list of 5 tips that help me when it comes to being productive. You can use these to apply to your work/life balance. If you have any tips that help you that aren't on the list, please comment below and share.
1. Work during Peak Times
My most productive time is between 7 am - 9 am. This is not for everyone, I totally get it. I am more productive with less distractions. I do get the occasional phone call from my sister heading into work but that is pretty much it. I get more done during this time than any other time in the day. I schedule a workout at 9 am and I don't feel guilty because I have already gotten so much done.
2. Put the Phone Away
When I am doing my two hours of writing in the morning, I leave my phone on the charger. Less distractions leads to higher productivity. No checking instagram, facebook, or texting with friends.
3. Check Emails at Certain Times
If I am constantly checking emails when they pop up, I would never be productive. Some things require immediate attention but not all things. Pick a few times of the day when you can devote to your inbox and then go back to work after 15-30 minutes later after you have tackled what is most important.
4. Set a Timer
This has been the most helpful to me. I am not sure where I first read it so if you know who came up with this first please let me know so I can credit them. Set a timer. I typically choose 30 minutes. I turn off my phone and put my head down to get work done without distractions. It is usually a task I don't want to do but need to get done. This also helps when cleaning the house. I put on music and set the timer. The house is clean(er) and I feel so much better. This is called the Pomodoro Technique.
5. Write a To Do List with Time Increments
I still use an old school journal more than my phone for notes. If I have a busy day ahead, I will make a to do list for the next day. My Business Coach recommended that after each task, I write how much time it should take me. 10 minutes, 15, 30. When I have 10 minutes in the day if my meeting is running late, I can refer back to the list and squeeze in a quick task. This saves me from jumping on pinterest of Instagram to pass the 10 minutes and I am way more productive!
Do you want to see more of these or should I just stick to Paris?
Paris in the Spring can be warm and beautiful but also cold and rainy. I have spent the last 5 Springs in Paris and I always forget how cold April and May can be. It is best to pack for all types of weather. I always end up buying an additional scarf of sweater while I am in Paris because I have never packed enough. Note, if you are going to Paris in May it is the rainiest month of the year.
Jackets and Coats
Dress in layers. You are going to be chilly in the morning and the sun might show up towards the middle of the day. Be prepared with a scarf. I pretty much wore a leather jacket the entire month of April and May. You can pick one up in Paris or bring your own. For the rainy days, pack a trench coat.
Comfortable shoes are essential! I walk a ton, and I think it is the best way to see the city. It all depends what works best for you. If you take the metro, still be prepared to walk as you transfer stations. You might be surprised how many steps you still get in this way. I love walking in these ballet flats. I can easily walk 10 miles in them. If you feel more comfortable in sneakers, go the stylish route vs the American tourist look. I love these from Sèzane and Madewell has a few great options as well. I spent half of April and half of May in Paris last year and I was mostly in my Blondo boots until up until the last days in May.
Jeans are completely acceptable as long as you style them well. Dress them up not down with accessories, a trench coat or leather jacket and a pair of flats or heels if you are adventurous.
Don't forget the stripes. I pack at least two striped shirts, they are addicting. Classic denim and white shirts are versatile and can be mixed and matched with different accessories.
I always recommend traveling with a small wallet for euro coins. I prefer to leave my big wallet and valuables back at the apartment or in the hotel safe and travel with a few euros, my ID, and a credit card just in case I find something I can't live without. I prefer to pay with euros vs a bank card so I take out money at my affiliate bank or bring euros along with me from the US. I love the wallets from Cuyana but any small wallet will do the trick. Keep this in your zipped bag for safe keeping. Don't miss my 10 Safety Tips for Traveling Paris
For travel accessories, I love my Cuyana bags that just make life easier when it comes to packing. I also love the ease of my Raden bag that has a built in charger. Chances are my battery is running low by the time I land. I love to pack an extra longchamp bag just in case I need to use it as a carryon if I buy something I can't live without.
While it might be sunny in Paris, it still might be cold. A scarf or two is essential.
This week was an interesting one. I had my head down focusing on organizing my taxes for my accountant and felt a little drained from creativity. I think it is easy to say taxes will do that to you. My desk is filled with post it notes as ideas came up on future post ideas. I have a few upcoming Spring posts for Paris including what to pack for all of those who are headed there for Cherry Blossom Season. I also had a few first dates this week, which one took place at a Vegetarian Restaurant. If you didn't know, cooked veggies aren't my favorite thing ( I prefer chocolate) I came home craving a burger, but at least I tried ;)
This week's links are so full of good reads. My favorite out of the whole list is the Goop Interview with Oprah. I highly recommend a cup of coffee and listening to this one this Sunday morning.
Thank you so much for being here and reading! xo
The goût de France starts March 21-28. There are 3000 participants from around the world. There are 4 in Chicago. I will be tasting the menu from the Sofitel next week. To see what restaurants are participating in your city you can click here.
The next Book Club Book is a little something different. Stay tuned to find out why I chose this one and I will be digging in to try some of these this weekend.
I am headed to Florida to see my family in a few weeks so I just purchased this suit from JCrew. I haven't worn a cutout bathing suit since I was 6 but I am happy they are back!
Chicago is still SO cold and I am officially sick of my sweater rotation. I need a new one in the mix to get me through the next few weeks.
Gweneth has a new podcast out and Oprah is the first guest. This is the best thing I have listened to ALL week. I highly recommend it. It is an hour, so turn off your phones and listen with no distractions. I think you will thank me!
Sézane introduced Spring Jewelry and I am in love. I just wish I could wear the earrings. I am allergic to most. I will take one of each of these for my Birthday ;)
I am grateful to know and work with the amazing Katrina Markoff of Vosges. "If you aren't evolving you are dying" You can see her on MSNBC here.
This post does include affiliate links which helps contribute to my coffee and croissant research. merci!
What I am Loving Now
I have been lucky enough to have some amazing stays in Paris over the years. I prefer Boutique Hotels over larger hotels for the personalized service and attention to detail. I have stayed at Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal twice now and visited a few times for meals and cocktails and the front desk remembers my face every time. This is my list of 10 which I hope will continue to grow. If you have a favorite hotel or place to stay in Paris please comment below and share with all of us.
Le Narcisse Blanc on the Left Bank is a gem on the left bank. I loved my stay here and can't wait to visit again soon. The whole hotel is in the palate of cream, gold, and pink which is my favorite color scheme. I felt right at home. I stayed in the lobby while my room was being prepared and I felt so relaxed in the center of Paris.
Hotel Monge Located on the Left Bank of Paris not far from Jardin des Plantes you will find the Hotel Monge. I stayed here when they first opened two years ago and the staff was so sweet and I loved the attention to detail in every room. I was welcomed as I was staying in someone's home instead of being another number at a large hotel. The juliette balcony was a nice touch and I had a great view outside my window.
Located in the heart of The Marais in the center of Place des Vosges is Pavillon de la Reine. I found this hotel on my walk back in 2013 and had the pleasure of staying here a few years ago. It is the perfect location in Paris. The breakfast is out of this world good and you can enjoy the patio for a cup of afternoon tea. Stop by 28 Beaumarchais for a baguette and make a picnic in Place des Vosges.
Hôtel Thèrése is by the same owners as Adèle and Jules. I stayed here a few years ago. The service was personal and they were more than happy to give recommendations. You can't beat the location near Palais Royal. If you are visiting the city for the first time, this is a great location.
I did my research on Maison Athénée and found they had some of the best reviews in Paris for a Boutique Hotel. They also did a little research on me before I arrived and knew some of my favorite things. This hotel went above and beyond to make my stay a memorable one. I loved the note they included with my breakfast and I still kept it to this day. I arrived back at the hotel late night and they made sure to find something that I could eat for dinner so I didn't go to bed hungry. There was a great view outside my room located in the 9th arrondissement.
Hotel Castille Paris I stayed here with my Dad in 2011, part of the draw was the fact that it is right next door to The first Chanel on Rue Cambon. I wanted to stay in the 1st arrondissement and the hotel was recently renovated at the time. The staff was excellent to help us book tours to Versailles and Giverny. This was my Dad's first trip to Paris and we couldn't have asked for a better location. We were very close to a metro, The Tuileries, and The Louvre. For a first time in Paris this is a great hotel.
Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais is located on one of my favorite streets in Paris and is in the heart of The Marais. I highly recommend getting a balcony facing the street for a great view. You can take breakfast in your room and for 12 euros it is the biggest and best breakfast I have enjoyed. The hotel is a little less modern than some of the others but has lots of charm.
I have been lucky enough to stay here twice and it is one of my favorite hotels in Paris. The location is just outside Palais Royal. You can see it from some of the rooms. You are within walking distance of The Louvre, The Seine, and The Tuileries. Don't miss lunch or dinner at Le Lulli inside the hotel. They have their own tea with Palais des Thés which you can enjoy in their lobby. This is always the first place I recommend to friends.
There are a lot of hotels in Paris and this is just a small handful. I only included ones that I have personally stayed at. I hope to add to the list this year. This post does include affiliate links which helps with my coffee and croissant research.