Browsing Tag

paris sights

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.


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.



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.


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.


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.



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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0 In travel

crepes and champs 


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


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!


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.



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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


0 In travel

more than montmartre

We took no pictures at the Shoah Memorial. While it is elegantly designed, it was too heartwrenching of an experience to even think about photography. We were solemn from the start- the knowledge that the museum exists as a World War II reparation and that anti-semitism is still common enough in France to necessitate a fleet of armed guards and metal detectors set that tone.

Some portions of the memorial haunted me, then and now.  The way the bronze cylinder echoes the chimneys of the death camps,  how the room of “fichier juif” (the Vichy police files identifying Jews) had a special section for detained children, seeing the only photographs in existence of the crematoriums and graves, taken from the inside of the camps, and reading the stories of those few who survived- it all unsettled my soul.  I’ve never been a more reverent place than the crypt, where a black marble Star of David contains the ashes of unknown martyred jews from the death camps and the Warsaw ghetto. Ner tamid, an eternal light, burns in memoriam.

And then the Wall of Names in the courtyard undid me.  Being surrounded by the names of French citizens who perished at the hands of, or fighting against, intolerance was an overwhelming experience.  Our last name was once Cohen, changed when David’s ancestors emigrated.  Multiple sections of the wall memorialize those who shared our name.

I’ll be honest- the Shoah shattered me. My eyes were swollen shut from crying and I was just an emotional mess.  As we left the memorial,  we were relieved that the rest of the day’s agenda was happier. We were pretty quiet on the way to Montmartre, and decided to make a cafe our first stop.


After a few cocktails and some conversation across from the Moulin Rouge, I was feeling a little less like a basketcase. Never underestimate the power of a stiff drink to help you pull yourself together.  Eager to explore, we hit the cobblestone.


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I was excited to come across Cafe des Moulins, as Amelie was one of the movies we watched on the train from Barcelona to Paris.

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We wandered Montmartre aimlessly, planning only to end at le Refuge des Fondus for our dinner reservation. We arrived ready for bottomless baby bottles of wine and all the cheese we could eat.

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They served our glasses of dry rosè with a chunky sugar rim, which I love and now do all the time.  Our predinner snacks were generous, with quality charcuterie, and a scrumptious spicy potato salad I’m currently tweaking here at home.


And the baby bottles were hysterical. It felt odd for the first minute, but then seemed totally normal. They helpfully facilitated my drinking- they had cut the nipples to increase flow, and refills were frequent. As throughout our trip, we found the house wine to be rather good. L’chaim!

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I’m picky about my fondue, and this was seriously yummy liquid gold. Refuge is known to be more touristy than my typical foodie choices, so I was glad when the caliber of food was unaffected by the festivities. As the night progressed, my minimal photography skills further deteriorated… it all got a bit blurry.


We ate and drank unreasonable quantities, making friends and toasting with the other guests, since we were all together at the communal tables. The boisterousness was the perfect antidote to the earlier part of the day, and we really let it wash over us.

paris-mm-fondue-wallsigning paris-mm-fondue-wall I was a total tourist and insisted on autographing the wall before carefully climbing out of my seat. Did I mention that the path to seats near the wall is over the table, holding the hand of the waiter?  It was far wobblier on the way out than in- I was glad we were closing them down.

paris-mm-moulin-litupAs we walked along the boulevard and back through Montmartre  to take the metro home to the Marais, the Moulin Rouge (and every cheesy wannabe night or gentlemen’s club) were all aglow in a gloriously tacky neon spectacle. It felt almost like Parisian Vegas, and we found it all very amusing.


0 In travel

an Eiffel Tower afternoon

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After a healthy nap,  we felt refreshed enough to unpack and put up our bags in our tiny apartment. Once done, we headed out for a late afternoon stroll.  The Eiffel Tower was our destination, and I squealed like a five-year-old when I rounded a corner and spotted it for the first time, not gonna lie.

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Presale reservation tickets to climb to the top of the Eiffel had already sold out when we began planning our trip, but we’d both made the climb as teens so decided to take a pass this trip. As we basked in the shadow of the tower and eyed the waiting crowd,  our choice was reaffirmed. Relaxing on the lawn was the much better idea.

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So we claimed a patch of grass  for our own and soaked the atmosphere- watching the other tourists, declining to purchase trinkets, and just talking. We broke out the selfie stick, but weren’t concerned in the least about getting good pictures with the tower- we’d be taking care of that later in the week.

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Kids at heart, we contemplated the carousel, but again, line, and I’ll be honest that it was a bit in disrepair. We chose to walk near the Seine for a little while instead, before we headed underground to the metro.


We had a lovely walk upon emerging in Alesia,  headed to our new friend Jim’s house for dinner. We’d first heard of Jim Haynes and his Sunday suppers on NPR, and then my friend Julie, who visited on her honeymoon, recommended it as well. A bit of an unplugged situation, we put up the camera with our coats and enjoyed the conversation and company.

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The precious garden past the gate and the accompanying cottage soon filled with interesting new friends: a few locals interspersed with people from Berlin and Nigeria, Tokyo and Toronto, Austin and Amsterdam, San Francisco and St Tropez.  Can’t leave out charming Jim himself, a Louisiana boy who’s been living in Paris and hosting these salons for fifty to a hundred people weekly for thirty years. It was a lovely evening- very French, friendly and intimate.  We enjoyed a scrummy homecooked bœuf bourguignon and delicious apple galette, and drank wine and visited late into the night.

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