Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Paris Firsts and Favorites

This Paris trip was bittersweet for me, because I know I won't be back for a while! Moving to the U.S. soon means that Paris will be across an ocean instead of a one hour flight away. I thought about making David film me walking away sadly from the Eiffel Tower while "I will remember you" played. I refrained.

David's mornings were busy with immigration medical appointments and his interview, so I was free to wander and see whatever my heart desired. I decided to make an effort to visit and experience both new things (yes, I still haven't done everything in Paris) and old favorites.

Paris First: Tour Montparnasse
This tower is the only skyscraper in central Paris. After it was built in the 1970s and stuck out like a sore thumb, the city forbade building anything else taller than 7 stories. People joke that it has best view in Paris because it's the only place where you can't see the tower itself.

That might be true, but the view was great for other reasons too.




Les Invalides- Napoleon is buried under the dome.
The Panthéon- lots of other famous dead French people are buried here.
Notre Dame

Here's the tower from a distance... it really does stand out from the rest of Paris!


Paris Favorite: Notre Dame
If I only had time to see one thing in Paris, I would probably come here. The Christmas decorations were the cherry on top. We stumbled on a mass for the first Sunday of Advent, which added to the ambience.






Part of the Provence-style nativity scene.



Paris First: Staying in Saint Germain des Prés
I was in love right away after stepping out of the metro! I've never stayed in this neighborhood before because it's not cheap. I was lucky to find a tiny Airbnb studio here that was in our budget. 



That's pretty much it! The couch was a pull-out and there was a tiny kitchenette and bathroom. It's crazy to think that we probably would have lived in a little studio like this if we'd ended up in Paris. Our small apartment in Cannes seems huge in comparison.

This church and a little Christmas market were close-by. Two of Paris' oldest and most famous cafés were right across the street. Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots were both hangouts of famous intellectuals and artists like Sartre, Picasso, and Hemingway.





My favorite part about the neighborhood was being walking distance from so many main sites. I enjoyed scenic walks instead of hopping on the metro every time I needed to go somewhere.






Paris Favorite: Falafel on the Rue des Rosiers
In the heart of the Marais and Jewish Quarter, the Rue des Rosiers is lined with authentic Middle Eastern falafel shops. The menu was in French and Hebrew, so I felt pretty at home. I don't have pictures of the food because it was consumed immediately.



Paris First: Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore with a long history. Like the cafés above, it has been the hangout of famous expat authors living in Paris. 

English bookstores and libraries are some of the things I miss the most while living in France, so I couldn't pass this up! It was a cozy bookstore with lots of interesting things to read in stuffed in various nooks and crannies. I spent a while browsing and wrote down a long list of books to look up in the future. I did come away with one as a souvenir. :)



I knew Shakespeare and Company was close to Ile de la Cité, but seeing this beautiful view of Notre Dame basically right across the street took me by surprise.




Paris Favorite: Champs-Elysées
This famous shopping avenue is sparkly and beautiful if you go during the Christmas season. It's so hard to take pretty pictures because of the crowds and traffic- it looks better in person!





I was able to entice David to go with me because they recently opened the restaurant Five Guys here. A lot more American places (besides McDonald's) have made it over to France recently. I'm going to be so mad if they get Culver's someday and I'm not here to enjoy it.

As we were leaving, we got caught in the middle of some kind of parade marching to the Arc de Triomphe. We have no idea what it was for, but whatever it was probably explains the huge flag.






All of this probably only covers less than half of what I got up up in Paris... more to come!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Riviera Addict

I'm currently sitting at the Warsaw airport and on my way home for Thanksgiving! While I'm waiting, I wanted to recap the rest of what we've been up to in November.

Last weekend, we drove an hour west to St. Tropez. 



Pain au chocolat is my bae

St. Tropez is a typically glamorous, colorful Riviera town. It's claim to fame was a Brigitte Bardot movie from the 1950s. I haven't been there for over 10 years!

Even though it had been a while, I still remembered my French hosts (the Porchers) pointing out this restaurant where (then) president Jacques Chirac liked to eat.



Visiting St. Tropez in November was a big change from my previous visit in August. Most of the streets were deserted. I love visiting places in the off-season!




We walked towards this bright bell tower and eventually found ourselves in a pretty little square.






After continuing up the hill to the citadel that overlooks the city, we were treated to these views.







Since it was Veteran's Day, we also stopped by the Rhone American Military Cemetery on the way home. About 800 American soldiers who died liberating the south of France are buried here. 





A lovely French town for me and a dose of America for David... perfect day! 

The previous weekend, we drove an hour east to Beaulieu-sur-Mer to visit the neighbor of VIlla Ephrussi.

I've decided that Beaulieu is my favorite part of the Riviera. I mean, this was the view from the parking lot. It's a ridiculously beautiful place.



Villa Kérylos is a mansion built in the early 1900s in ancient Greek style. It was fun to be transported to Greece for the afternoon. 



Besides the running water and electricity, every detail and piece of art was 2nd-century B.C.-inspired.





Ceilings
Floors
 The views from the terrace weren't bad either.



We haven't been able to plan trips away from home lately since we've been waiting to hear from immigration, but I've loved exploring more of the Riviera. 

Speaking of immigration... David's visa appointment in Paris has been scheduled!

We'll be heading to Paris less than a week after I get back from the U.S. He will have his visa soon after the appointment, by mid-December. 

Unfortunately, he won't be able to get out of his work contract right away. The whole 2-weeks' notice concept is not a thing in France. Per his contract, he's supposed to work for 2 more months. That means we'll come to America at the end of January. It's later than we wanted, but it feels great to have a timeline.