Browsing Tag

europe

0 In beauty/ los angeles/ style

WiW: blush and black

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This blush and black ensemble has been one of my favorites lately. I’ve worn it to multiple birthday dinners, including my own, and to a handful of pageant events in different cities. When I like an outfit, I have no problem repeating and remixing for different audiences.

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One of those times, before our friend Mike’s birthday dinner,  I got to feel all fancy as Janah got my face all glowy and prettified.  It felt so luxurious to relax and laugh while someone else did the work, and she was so fun to hang with!

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We went for a dewy look, nothing too heavy, and I loved the way it all came out.  I’m wearing these three highlighters, this lipstick, and double-stacked lashes.

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I’d been lusting after this Givenchy cape when I found this cape blazer online, at Target of all places! It’s from the Who What Wear collection there. Once I spotted the blazer, I scoured the collection and grabbed the skirt (the blush is sold out!)  as well. Each was under $40, so pretty painless.

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Y’all know I’m all about the accessories. I’ve been obsessed with my north star earrings since I got them for my birthday, and I added a pearl ring as well. My heels are Betsey Johnson from several years ago, but the blush straps, black lace accent and classic style are totally still in my rotation.

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similar skirt, shiniermaxi version under $40 // top // similar cape blazer, another only $26! // ring // earrings // purse //

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loveRavayna 

0 In style/ travel

WiW: vacation capsule wardrobe

Choosing what to pack and wear in Paris and Barcelona was a daunting task. Visiting such epic style capitals, I wanted to look pulled together, but realistically needed a wardrobe that would be comfortable for long days, crazy amounts of walking, and temperatures ranging from 38-86′.  Though I checked a bag,  I kept it light/ left room for souvenirs. David almost always carries my bags when we travel together (especially up four flights of spiral stairs),  but on principle, I don’t travel with more than I can manage myself.

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I wanted to pack a capsule of clothes that intermixed well, layered effectively for warmth, was versatile to accommodate our unplanned time, and felt equally chic and comfortable. A reformed overpacker, I really tried to streamline for this trip- and I succeeded, because 6 pair of shoes for more than two weeks is a major accomplishment for Imelda right here.

 

Here’s what I packed:BPflatlays-sweaters

Gap sweater, Asos sweater (similar), Target cardigan (similar), H&M jeweled sweater (similar)

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Old Navy chambray, lipstick print blouse, SheIn buffalo plaid flannel [size up!], Topshop scalloped shell. Old Navy black and red-striped long-sleeved shirts, black and grey tees.  James Perse white, Petit Bateau striped, Zara yellow teeshirts

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Kenley Collins for Unique Vintage skirt , homemade tulle tutu skirt (similar), American Eagle floral skirt (similar). Hue leggings, Old Navy midrise Rockstars, JBrand coated skinnies

BPflatlays-dresses

Forever 21 maxi (similar), Asos silk dress (similar), Kate Spade Saturday striped (similar), H&M lace (similar) dresses

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Tulle coat via Hautelook (similar),  SheIn cape, sole society scarf, kate spade purses

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Converse, Victoria’s Secret heels (similar), grey and black booties, similar gold sandals, similar metallic tennies.

 

And here’s how I wore it…

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… for a chilly morning flea marketing in Vanves, soaking in the sunshine between museums,  accessorized with pearls and sheer glee at being in Paris.

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… topped with one of David’s shirts (capsule wardrobe freebie!) to shop, all fancified for date night at Tickets, graphic pops of red for exploring and simply layered for a morning of outdoor art.

 

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… with a little sparkle for dinner in Montmartre, windblown and undone by the water, hiding bike shorts underneath stripes {RIP Kate Spade Saturday}, and florals to flirt shamelessly with my sweet husband.

 

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bundled up in black but always with a bright lip, keeping it super-simple for supper, layering my favorite basics for a look that’s anything but, stacking texture and patterns in claret and cream.

…and mixed and remixed lots of other ways. You can use the sidebar tags [off to the right] for Paris and Barcelona to see what I wore where.  If you are packing for a long or varied trip, I hope this helpful. My best advice is to bring half of what you want, culling the duplicates. You’ll always have room in your bag for new purchases should you find the need to shop!

 

This was such an amazing trip, and reminiscing over it as I blogged has been so lovely. I’m dying to go back already, but we have lots of upcoming travel planned and a few weekend getaways to share….
loveRavayna

1 In travel

Eurocoes: loves, lists, and logistics

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Our Europe trip was my first experience with international train travel, and I loved it! Having preordered our TGV tickets, it was fabulous not to check in hours before departure, to pass through gorgeous countryside, and to arrive and depart in city centers rather than the outskirts of town.

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En route to Paris, we’d planned for train time happy hour, so we had cava and incredible Spanish snacks for our moving movie date. I cheesily insisted on Amèlie, but David drew the line at Moulin Rouge. On the return trip to Barcelona, we breakfasted on pastries and the best of our remaining French fridge contents – blood orange mimosas for the win! Our car was mostly empty, so we stretched out and slept, since we’d left the Marais for Gare de Lyon before sunrise, and had a bonus half-day in Barcelona ahead  before our latenight flight.

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We stashed our suitcases in lockers at Sants and then hopped straight onto the metro for a last lap of our Barcelona favorites. We hit a few shops before Can Paixano, and it was so jam-packed that we took our wine and meal to the Parc de la Ciutadella. It was lovely to have a leisurely lunch, to sit and soak in the Spanish sunshine on our last afternoon of vacation. We took a last long walk around the city, before returning to La Boqueria for one more fabulous dinner (and plane snacks, obvi). Bellies full, we fetched our bags at the train station and were bound for the airport.

You may recall that I found an incredible deal on plane tickets. Real talk- they were such a steal because the timing and flight patterns were far from fantastic, including a midnight BCN departure and connections through Moscow. For the geographically unfamiliar, Russia is well past mainland Europe and connecting there’s a total timewaster.  But half price was worth the few hours, so off to kill time in the rather underdeveloped Moscow airport we went. Side note: I actually wanted a much longer layover and to explore Moscow, but the single day visas for Americans were SO prohibitively expensive, we couldn’t justify many hundred dollars for the one day. 

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Vending machines of Putin teeshirts were just one of many amusing things we encountered during our airport explorations. People-watching and snack and souvenir shopping were both quality entertainment. The eateries were pretty spare, with some businesses closed and others renovating, so frozen yogurt and Burger King (for the first time in decades- it was freshly made and honestly better than we remembered) were our snack pack reinforcements.

On our return leg, we had a gorgeous sunrise landing into a 5 hour layover at SVO. We promptly checked into the V Express capsule hotel in Terminal E. There, the princely sum of about $50 afforded us a ‘business triple,’ a simple, super clean, cruiseship-reminiscent room and private bathroom. We put our feet up, snacked and stretched, then passed out for a good long nap. We woke to shower, then checked out and boarded our flight back to LA. It was a really convenient stopgap, even though I used up all the hot water on David… oopsie.

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Speaking of rest, it was nearly midnight by the time we had cleared customs upon arrival in Barcelona, so we spent just that first night at an Ibis hotel. We just wanted inexpensive, clean, comfy,and central, and it was nice to get a good sleep and shower before checking into our apartment and getting acquainted with the city. We rented both our apartments from Airbnb, as we tend to do. Our Barcelona flat was phenomenal: huge, beautifully kept and very professionally managed- a few blown lightbulbs were replaced within hours. Our Paris apartment, not so much. We expected it to be petite, with a fourth floor walk up, and a big window overlooking the lively street.  We didn’t expect it to be dim,  a bit grim, and filled to the brim with the owner’s belongings (David lived out of his open suitcase, I cleaned off a few bookshelves to unpack into), the shower drain to be clogged, or the owner to be generally unconcerned with responding to us or water damage in his bathroom.  But c’est la vie- it was rather inexpensive and we loved its location in the heart of the Marais.

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And, because I love some listmaking, a 5×4 on our time in Europe.

 

Memory Makers

  1. That first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. David was navigating as we walked around on our first night, and I spotted it as we rounded a corner. If it’s possible to both squeal and lose your breath at the same time, that’s what I did.
  2. The tasting menu at Tickets. Worth every Euro- David and I agree that it was one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten, with spectacular styling and service. And meeting Ferran Adria in the flesh was such an amazing coincidence- beyond my wildest imagination.
  3. Our morning with Lisa. Paris was incredibly romantic, and it shines through in those images.  Our vacation there was such a dream-come-true for me,  and it’s just so special to have it captured in a way that’s beautiful, but authentic.
  4. Admiring amazing artwork and architecture while hand-in-hand with my husband. He’s such a great partner in the craziness that is life, so it’s especially nice to take our time and just relax and enjoy, to let the experience wash over us.
  5. Embodying Madeline. I grew up devouring books about ‘twelve little girls in two straight lines,’ and my blue wool coat struck a familiar note. It’s more than a little dorky, but I loved dressing for breakfast one morning with the residents of a vine-covered Parisian boarding school as my inspiration. madeleine-2

 

 Merdé moments

  1. Dropping my iPhone and cracking the screen getting out of our Uber at LAX. Replacement screens were slow and spendy in both cities, according to our inquiries, so I just tolerated it, taped the spreading cracks along the trip, and got it fixed back in the States.
  2. Realizing upon our arrival in Barcelona that Googlemaps is not properly enabled in Spain, and that I wouldn’t be able to access the annotated, color-coordinated, fully mapped out trip agenda I’d worked so hard on. I melted down- it had been a very long travel day.
  3. Crossing the street one afternoon in les Halles, when I locked eyes with a homeless man.  Unfortunately,  it was as he was relieving  (and fully exposing) himself in the middle of the crosswalk! The policeman standing on on the corner was very unconcerned when I informed him, to David’s amusement- I was more than a little shocked and grossed out!
  4. We only took cabs to and from the airport, relying on metro and our legs the rest of the time. I used the Taxi G7 to reserve our cab to Gare de Lyon, but didn’t get a confirmation, so I refreshed it. David was greeted with quite the sight when he took our bags down that morning: two cabbies arguing loudly over who deserved our fare. We got dinged with a couple Euro fee- for technically canceling the second car, but it was quickly and easily resolved.
  5. Chatelet. The metro station was under construction, and it took forever and a day (at least 20 minutes) to navigate transfers through and was just a timesuck. I may have had a hangry tantrum there while David laughed in my face, and took mortifying pictures.paris-chatelet-metro-station

Regretfully missed- saved for our return to Europe

  1. Versailles. With so much to do in Paris, I couldn’t bear to allot the day to make the trip out. But I drool over ornate Baroque styling, and cannot wait to see all of that gorgeous gold-and-garden goodness with my own two eyes.
  2. Country time. On the whole, I would have loved a few more days for making day trips and visiting the countryside. I’d adore a day in Monet’s gardens at Giverny (the Orangerie was practically a religious experience) or tasting Champagne at the caves in Reims. We also talked about spending a night or two in the South of France or at the Spanish seaside, but couldn’t be away any longer.
  3. An immersive foodie experience. Ideally, it would be David Lebovitz’s gastronomy tour, but I’d be happy with an intensive pastry course, truffle-hunting in the hills, or another indulgent learning experience along those lines.
  4. Cooking, in general. The Boqueria is the most amazing market, and the marches in Paris weren’t shabby either, overflowing with scrumptious and well-priced raw materials. We had kitchen access, but had too many yummies on the list to eat out to do much cooking at home. I can’t wait to make my groceries there, and the delicious meals that will result!
  5. Sport. We made serious effort to attend a live sporting event while in Europe, but it just didn’t work out. We couldn’t find a pair of decently priced seats for the FC Barcelona home game. So we bought great seats to a Paris Saint-Germain home game. Shortly before our trip, they qualified for the European League championships and our game got postponed until after we returned to the States. It was so unlucky!

 

And once more, with feeling

  1. I’d get on a plane tommorow just for the repeat eats. My mouth waters thinking of mango-passionfruit caramels from Jacques Genin, flaky laminated pastries, fresh-caught uni, Cava Rosado, and authentic Jamon Iberico. Gimme.
  2. We’ll definitely invest in the Paris Museum Pass again. Cutting the lines was glorious, and it is such an good value if you are visiting several museums or monuments.  We especially loved the freedom to see as much or as little of as many places as we wished.
  3. I’m going to up my shopping game big time, and save my pennies in advance. Knowing all the goodies that exist, I’m reminiscing over antique linens and furniture and lusting after shoes handmade of Spanish leather, authentic vintage couture (maybe another Chanel purse?) and burnished copper cookware. And I’ll certainly have a long list of beauty products to buy and replenish.
  4. We’re going to keep star collecting. We love good food at all price points, but made a point of eating a Michelin-starred meal on this trip, and adored the experience.  I’d love to visit other restaurants of that caliber, and collect as many stars in Europe as budget allows.
  5. I’ve mentioned before that we don’t love most tourist attractions, and prefer to try and live like locals. But sometimes it’s the tourist traps that are fun. I love striking the balance between mainstream and offbeat, so we’ll always feel free to skip any attraction that doesn’t genuinely excite one of us,  and build in extra time to wander aimlessly and explore freely. And people watch. That’s a must.

 

 

loveRavayna

 

0 In travel

paris, by water

After our morning shoot, we headed back to the Marais, grabbing macarons on the way but intent on a good midday nap. When we woke, we grabbed some lunch (including the best couscous I’ve ever had) at the nearby Marche des Enfants Rouges. Fueled and fed, we had one afternoon left to enjoy Paris.

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We decided to spend it in true Parisian fashion, so we did a little walking and shopping, and then  headed into the 10th to explore along the canals, skip some pebbles Ameliè-style, and enjoy the beautiful day.

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Some of my favorite parts of any trip are the time we spend surrounded by locals rather than tourists. It was really lovely to just sit among them canalside, and drinking wine alfresco in the middle of the day always feels so very luxurious. I was a little sulky thinking about our impending departure, but after such a wonderful whirlwind, I just wanted to stay in Paris forever.

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Based on tripadvisor reviews, we had purchased tickets to cruise the Seine with Vedettes du Pont Neuf so we made our way to the dock, onto the boat, and were sailing merrily along in no time.

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The tour was perfectly fine- the boat was very well kept, and the guide was knowledgeable, but we’ll skip this the next time we visit Paris.  Perhaps it’s because we were already acquainted with most of the highlighted sights, or that we aren’t fond of the cattle-herd feel of group tours, but we pretty much just went in a little loop.  Other than taking a few pictures, which is way more David’s jam (obviously) than mine, it was a bit boring.  musee-d'orsay-from-seine paris-bridge-sculpture-seine

It was nice to see things from another perspective, though. And our feet certainly appreciated the respite- according to David’s Fitbit, we had walked just over a hundred miles across Barcelona and Paris in the preceding weeks.

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It was nearing dinnertime when we disembarked, so we walked through the Ile de la Cite towards the sidewalk bistro table that awaited us. For my final Parisian meal, I specifically wanted a platter of French cheeses. Astier was another stellar recommendation from David Leibovitz, and I charmed the darling maitre’d into bringing the cheese platter for my appetizer rather than dessert. It was a vision of epic beauty.

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So I promptly and gleefully demolished the vast majority of it. Seriously, I had room left for just a few bites of our flatiron steak and kidneys- I was fat and happy and full of cheese! We lingered past dusk, chatting with servers as they lit candles on our tabletop.

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We took dessert home to our little flat, where we drank wine, packed, and prepped for the early morning TGV back to Barcelona and our return to the States that night.

loveRavayna

 

3 In travel

in love in Paris

David indulged me with and on this entire trip, but especially our last full day in Paris.  Despite preferring his pillow to a photo shoot, he was obliging and even enthusiastic when we woke at sunrise to run around the heart of Paris with Lisa Bouanna in tow.

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Inspired by a sorority sister who hired a photographer while visiting Paris with her husband, I realized how special photos from this trip could be. I connected with Lisa via Instagram, and we exchanged a few emails before making arrangements to meet up.

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We met Lisa very early in the morning, planning to breakfast after. We made the prudent choice to stave off sleepy eyes and yawns by stopping for our daily café crème. #liveauthentic and all that jazz, sleepyheads needed coffee.

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A little caffeine perked us right up, it seems.

We paid the check and headed towards the Seine, meandering over when we approached one of the wide wooden bridge.

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We were a little giddy and were skipping (I can’t run, so I skip) and frolicking and being entirely silly. Acting a fool is one of our favorite pastimes, and we were laughing at ourselves so hard!

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The sun came out to play on our shoot day.  When we’d been packing and prepping at home more than two weeks prior, weather reports had predicted blustery winds and highs in the 50s, so I planned sweaters, scarves, and gloves. But the weather grew warmer and more beautiful each day of our trip, and I found myself eyeing our suitcase contents (more on those to come) to pull together a spontaneous look.

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But it really didn’t matter what we wore. Relaxed and romanced by gorgeous city of lights, we were shamelessly smitten, which is no big shock to anyone who knows us.

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I loved the ironwork and architecture of the Eiffel Tower long before I ever visited Paris or laid eyes on it. So majestic, more beautiful than I could have imagined, it gave me a little thrill every time I saw it. And these shots make me want to swoon.

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When I saw the trees beginning to bloom during our time exploring Paris, I’d hoped we would get a few pictures with them. The Trocadero Gardens were ever so obliging, with the cherry blossom trees all frosted with fluffy pink blossoms.

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I’m completely obsessed with the images from this shoot, not gonna lie. I could have shared hundreds. Since David’s perpetually the photographer, we have zillion shots of me but not so many of us together. Paris was such a dream realized for me, and Lisa captured us, in all our silliness and sweetness, so beautifully.

I couldn’t treasure them more.

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loveRavayna

0 In travel

amazing Paris eats

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If I’m being totally honest, and I sure try to be on my corner of the internet, I went to Europe with an insane ‘to eat’ list and map.  I built an agenda alternating activities and snacks, so our fat little fingers were thrilled, and keeping David well-fed encouraged his patience as I dragged him all over creation.

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We love falafel, like any good Jews, and were staying right near the Rue du Roisiers. We divided and ordered sandwiches from each Chez Marianne and L’As du Fallafel and had ourselves a head-to-head lunch battle.

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L’As du Fallafel was the winner for sure, and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say we waited in that fast-moving line several more times during our stay, and I’ve definately craved it since. Extra sauce piquante is the way to go, trust.

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Chronic sweet tooth that I have, I had to indulge in Angelina‘s lauded hot chocolate.  And this might be sacrilegious, but I thought it was just yummy, but not miraculous. I spoil us with rich homemade cocoa, and fresh whipped cream happens often, so my standards are crazy high. Delicious, but not life changing.

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But now,  Jacques Genin‘s caramels- magical. I had been skeptical of how good overpriced sweets could be…  I was wrong, they were better. The pepper and passion fruit-mango varieties were my favorite, but every single flavor (I bought them all) was incredible. The mademoiselle helping me thought it was the most precious thing that David was taking pictures through the window from where he was waiting with our bikes… she gave us some extra treats for our “lune de miel” with a wink, and I didn’t have the heart to correct her.

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When we went to Berthillon, David let me pick all the flavors- that’s true love.  We took our stacked cones down to the Seine and I devoured my mirabelle plum, passion fruit, and wild strawberry sorbets, as well as David’s pistachio, salted caramel, and pinenut praline ice cream. He thought I was joking when I stopped for a second cone when we passed the storefront again, but it was so creamy and delicious, and I still had more flavors to try!

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Pierre Herme ruined lesser macarons for me, forever.  Olive oil and mandarin, vanilla-violet-blackcurrant, passion fruit- strawberry rhubarb, yasamine (jasmine, mango, candied grapefruit) and more, I bought bagsful every time we passed a shop. I always intended to save some for later, but never managed to stop myself from nibbling away. Their pastries and pates de fruit were equally as incredible, and I dream of the caneles.

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I have a serious love for laminated dough of all kind, so I made a point of eating at least one croissant a day, usually two or three, from as many boulangeries as possible.  Pierre Herme’s signature ispahan (rose, raspberry, lychee) was the most fantastic stuffed croissant I encountered in all of Paris. It was even more delicious than it was beautiful, and it was practically a work of art.

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I’d have to say that the best classic croissant au beurre was at Gontran Cherrier, a recommendation from Clotilde.  Gloriously flaky and shatteringly crisp, I found my napkin sprinkled with pastry shards. The buns and curried bread were also incredible, and the kouign amann and madeleines we took to go all made scrumptious picnic snacks.

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I’ve mentioned our neighborhood boulangerie, Poilanebefore. Just across from our flat, their wood-fired breads are magnificent, their sourdough renowned, excellent croissants, and baguette to die for. But unsung heroes are their punitions- legendary shortbread cookies, generously dispensed. I’m attempting them at home, and will report back on that.

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Maison Kayser‘s pain au cereales was as incredible as rumored, but so was the pain au chocolat. The brioche (both au pralines roses and mousse line) were fantastic as well. I’m certain I ate more carbs in Paris than I had in months, and it was worth every delicious calorie.

I’ve mentioned some of our other meals in specific- fondue, steak, crepes but we really ate so much- everything we possibly could, and more than we photographed! There are so many places I need to return to Paris to try for the first time still, but when I do, I’ll be sure to revisit some of these highlights.

 

loveRavayna

0 In travel

crepes and champs 

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After such a full day, going back to the flat before supper was super refreshing. Though dinner was just up the street, we were continuing touring after, so I kept it super casual. I’m obsessed with these high-waisted J Brands (it’s hard to tell, but they are deep hunter green), and have these Old Navy metallic tennies in rose gold as well.

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Breizh Cafe was well-recommended by friends and strangers, and righteously so.  It put all the other crepes I’ve had (both on this trip to Paris and in my lifetime) to shame.  The aroma as you were seated was just tantalizing, and the line waiting outside grew and grew as we ate.

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We enjoyed such an incredible meal- two different savory crepes topped with runny eggs and an incredible bottle of natural cider. The buckwheat flour was nutty and delicious, especially when it came to dessert, as recommended by my friend David. That third crepe was topped with buckwheat ice cream and drizzled with buckwheat honey, and the coordinating layers of flavor were just perfect.

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After that scrumptious meal, I could have gone straight home to bed! But we headed to the Champs Elysee to give the Arc de Triomphe another go-round. It was dark by the time we emerged from the metro, and we headed up the spiral stairs to the top of the glowing Arc.

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The view from the top was worth the wait. It was breezy up high, and not too crowded.  I felt like I could see clear across glittering Paris. And when it turned the hour and the Eiffel Tower started to sparkle, I couldn’t help sighing at the beauty of it all.

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Times like this, I’m grateful for photos, but more so for having had these amazing experiences and treasured memories.

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loveRavayna

0 In travel

paris museum passing through

The second day of our Paris museum pass, we woke early, with plans to climb the towers at Notre Dame, but we were just too sleepy! So we decided to skip the up-close with Quasimodo in favor of snoozing, and that was definately the right decision.

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After a little more rest and breakfast, we arrived at the Louvre museum to begin exploring.  Though it was hardly even mid-morning, the museum courtyard was packed, and the line was serious. We were again grateful for line-bypass privileges with our museum passes.

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Both having visited the museum previously, David and I had planned and selected a few specific exhibits to concentrate our time on.  Otherwise, I could stay all day and he’d be intermittently bored to tears and bouncing off the walls.

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We began by exploring Napoleon’s glorious apartments. I was pleased to find them relatively empty, so I could take my time gawking and geeking.

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I was a starry-eyed magpie in that glowy wing. I’ve never been a royal, but I’m certain I’d be well-suited!

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The most incredible gilt work and cut crystal everywhere? I was obsessed. I was scolded at least three times for touching, but I truly couldn’t help it!

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Vintage china is one of my weaknesses, so I spent forever inspecting this installation. I swear, David was so patient with me.

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When we headed into the Galerie d’Apollon, after which the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles was modeled, it utterly took my breath away.

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And when I finally tore myself away from admiring the incredibly detailed artwork and architecture, the French crown jewels were even more stunning up close!

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I didn’t expect Winged Victory, to be petite or anything, but the sheer scale of it awed me in person.

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Nearing our fill of artwork (and pushy tourists, tbh), we took our leave, but not without a few more pictures… gotta capture the classics!

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Ready for a little sunshine and space, we walked into to the Tuileries Garden.

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The lawn was crowded with picnicking Parisians. I can’t imagine choosing to eat lunch at a desk when this is an option! We had a lovely meander through the grassy paths to the Orangerie Museum.

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Monet’s Waterlilies was the first art to really elicit a feeling in me, when I saw it on a field trip to the Met in the first grade, and I’ve had a special fondness for the series since. We couldn’t make a day trip to Giverny happen (next time!) but I sat there in that gorgeous space, perfectly designed by Monet to exhibit his masterpieces, and felt allll the feels.

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Since we’d skipped Notre Dame that morning, we made a point to pass by that afternoon. The courtyard was a bit of a zoo, and the line was ridiculous, but I wa glad for the short visit. Serendipitously, we were in the perfect location when the bells rang, and enjoying them was enough for me.

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We made another selfie stop as we walked through the Île de la Cité in the afternoon sunshine. I spent a long time seriously anti-selfie, but I just couldn’t help it- Paris brought out the shameless romantic in me. I blame that tower in the background!

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We came across a plain little bridge, and decided it would be the perfect place to leave our tiny lock. I’d been so conflicted about this tradition, but leaned in the direction of sentimentality for once… teenage dreams and all. My bucket list checked off, we walked back to the Marais hand-in-hand.

 

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0 In travel

dinner, drinks and the dead

Back on our bikes, we rode from the Marais towards Montparnasse. We’d planned to return our bikes then, but found the Velib stations all full. We checked several before deciding to just park and lock them so we could adventure on, joining a short line that would lead us into the Catacombs of Paris.

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We descended into the catacombs, and I was immediately glad we’d gone home to change. Despite the nearly 80′ day, it was damp and chilly deep underground Paris- the catacombs are consistently 57′ and wet, regardless of  weather.

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The sheer size of the catacombs was just astounding. It felt like we were walking around underneath Paris for hours,  party to an endless bone parade. I’m not easily spooked, and I didn’t find the catacombs all that creepy, but I was totally intrigued by the logistics of creation, and impressed by the design.

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After communing with the dead, we needed to get the graveyard off us before supper.  Riding towards home, we finally found openings to return our bikes, so we walked the last little bit back to our apartment. It was a quick turnaround, and before we knew it we were off to dinner at le Relais De l’Entrecôte, as recommended by my good friend Dana.

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They serve exactly one entrée, steak frites, and the line is always out the door (at several locations), because they do it incredibly.  The meal began with classic green salad with walnuts, and our dinner quickly followed.

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And just when we’d polished off a plate of perfectly cooked steak, crispy fries, and the most delectable savory sauce, the adorably uniformed waitress whisked it away to refill it. I hadn’t realized it was AYCE, but promptly adjusted my thinking and made room for two more servings.

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We were full and happy as we left dinner and headed to the Arc de Triomphe to gander at the city’s skyline. So it was a bit of a letdown when we found that they’d closed the ticket booths earlier than advertised, and we’d missed it by minutes.  As you can see, there was a good sized crowd of disappointed folks, but no drama materialized.

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We admired the Arc from underneath, and decided to find the silver lining. After such a long and busy day, a little low key time was welcome, so we snagged a bottle of wine and spot by the Seine to indulge in an after dinner drink.

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We sat and talked and laughed and smooched- I swear Paris brings out public displays of affection in people!  The romance is real, and I was seriously smitten with my sweet husband as we strolled along the banks of the Seine and headed home for the night.

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0 In travel

a Paris museum day, via Velib

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We couldn’t start our first full day of museums without securing our transportation, so once caffeinated we headed to pick up our wheels. I was super excited for us to get Velib day passes and bike around Paris!

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I pink puffy heart love museums, so I wanted to go go go to them all, but David not so much. So we compromised on a two day pass, with daily agendas of musts and maybes,  and intermittent snack and sightsee breaks.  It was a positively dreamy experience to ride down streets like these.

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We purchased our museum passes at the Rodin Museum, our first stop. The gardens were so stunning and sunshiny, with the statues gleaming and glinting in the sunlight, I couldn’t help but thank Mother Nature. I’ve seen Rodin’s sculpturework before, but the collection all together and the atmosphere were really beautiful.

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I cracked up when I saw this picture David snuck- totally unposed! Even though it’s a little blurry, it’s too funny not to share. #bootylicious

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Riding all through Paris was so exhilarating! I loved exploring the city in the sunshine, and my body appreciated moving differently from all the walking we had been doing. That said, I wear a helmet at home, so riding through traffic bareheaded was more than a little terrifying. We shared lanes with buses and taxis, so I was just super cautious as not to become Regina George 2.0. We rode to Pierre Herme for some snacks and sweets (more on that later), and then to the Musee d’Orsay.

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It was absolutely striking in there, from the arching glass ceilings to that glorious golden clock.  Strike me down and call me gaudy, but I love me some ornate antique gold. And the light streaming everywhere was just heavenly.

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I had researched exhibition lists while selecting museums to visit, and really did want to see it all- I love Impressionism. So I went from area to area, inspecting displays and reading every informational card- I’m nerdy like that, but I was loving it!

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Looking out through the giant clock gave us gorgeous views of Paris. I would have loved to enjoy it longer and see if I could pick out places,  while David snapped away. But the area was crowded with rude tourists and unattended children, and I couldn’t handle the fracas for very long. I sound like I’m turning into my granny, but it’s so true!

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We escaped to the relative quiet of the the rooftop for a little bit, and enjoyed the birds-eye view, before heading back down and wandering through the museum once more before heading out to our bikes and back into the boulevards of Paris.

paris-velib-seineselfie1 paris-velib-seineselfie2paris-velib-cityfromseinebridge paris-velib-seinetexting We rode across the Seine, just having the best time! We couldn’t help but pull over for a few minutes to admire the river, attempt our typically awful selfies, people watch, and assess the map and agenda. (For the record, this phone charger was clutch on days like this.)

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We arrived at this beautiful courthouse, where we parked our bikes and walked around to enter Sainte Chappelle. I was glad for the cut-the-line privileges of our museum passes, because the line was crazy long. Once we walked in, though, I totally understood why.

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Pictures really cannot capture the magical quality of Sainte Chappelle. The light through all that brightly colored glass was just incredible, and I nearly broke my neck admiring the gorgeous ceilings. I inched around the perimeter looking at the statues and admiring the gilt work, and marveling at the sheer volume- the architecture amplified the tourist hubbub.

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I knew our next activity would be chilly, and wanted to change into something warmer. So we rode our bikes back towards the Marais,  grabbing falafel (again) on Rue de Roisers before stopping at our apartment. It was nice to recharge and refresh briefly, but we had one more attraction to see that afternoon, so were on our way again soon…

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