Paris

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These are some highlights of our Paris trip. The food was excellent, the city beautiful, but the best part was hanging out with some of our best friends in the whole wide world!

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Chez Pralus, on rue Rambuteau, is the new Paris location of this famous Roannais pâtisserie. Known for their delicious praluline, but their chocolate is to die for.

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Place des Vosges

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We’re going to have to import one of these if they don’t get here soon enough.

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Picnic on the Seine, best Paris activity in the summer.

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Hanging with Leslie…

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…and Knox.

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Dinner with Julie and grass place mats.

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Meeting Cécilia and Hippolyte for the first time!

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Coolest high-chair in the world.

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Playing with Corry, Mahmoud, and light.

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Waiting in the lounge for the Eurostar to go back to London and catch our plane back home.

Happy Birthday, Cécilia!

This past Tuesday was Cécilia’s birthday, which brought back memories of last year’s celebrations {which I never really blogged about!} For her 30th birthday her chéri Séb organized a surprise birthday party in the countryside for the weekend of May 3rd. Since it was also the year of my 30th {May 13} and Julie’s {July 19} the two of us were also honored at the dinner and served the most beautiful desserts. I got in on the dancing, enjoyed a sip of champagne, and have such wonderful memories of that weekend with friends old and new.

I was 4 months pregnant at the time, and this year it’s Cécilia & Séb’s turn to be awaiting a baby boy ?? and in just a couple months! Today I’ll share 31 photos for 31 years. Joyeux anniversaire!

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Cécilia’s parents have a pond in their backyard. How awesome is that?

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New Yorkers in the French countryside

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Waiting…

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Surprise!

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This photo is the reënactment of another moment, from the summer of 2002:

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Everything was pink, Cécilia’s favorite color.

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Paëlla!

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These sugar sculptures were made by the most talented {17-year-old!!} pastry chef:

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There’s a poney, too. A child’s dream backyard!

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…and the party continued into lunch the next day…

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Saying Goodbye


In the window of our first Paris apartment. Taken by Lily on our last day in Paris, June 14, 2008.

We left Paris in mid-June and I haven’t had the chance to update my blog until now. My apologies! Despite the heat, New York has been treating us well. The internet is hooked up, we have a bed as of this morning, and the a/c is installed and working. Whew! What more does one need?

Saying goodbye to Paris was bittersweet. We are excited about starting a new chapter in New York and with a baby, but it was hard to leave our old life ?? and especially our dear friends ?? behind. Getting a sofa bed is a top priority so that we can have plenty of visitors in the coming months!

The following is my farewell ode to Paris, in pictures.


Eiffel Tower, View from Montmartre


Typical Candy Stand


Art Deco Fountain in the Latin Quarter


Our Apartment (the windows facing the viewer)


Successful Flowerbox Geranium Revival


The Ile de la Cité, view from the Right Bank


Luxembourg Gardens


The Métro


Flower Shop on Rue Monge, just around the corner from our apartment


Place de la Contrescarpe


Luxembourg Gardens Statue


Honorary French Supporter duirng the Rugby World Cup

Paris Graffiti Art

My good friend Corry likes to photograph and keep track of various kinds of graffiti throughout the city. She’s drawn my attention to certain artists, like the Invader (check out this photo set on flickr for more) and other trends, such as paper graffiti. Over these many months of living in Paris, I’ve captured a few examples of graffiti in various forms.


This is a stenciled image – a common technique for creating repeated images throughout the city (or the world).


This paper découpage-style graffiti seems to be gaining popularity in Paris.


Another example of découpage. Note also the Invader mosaic to the left.


I saw this marker drawing on a post near my bus stop at the Bibliothèque Nationale.


My favorite: knit graffiti. The appearance of this example was part of an exhibition in Paris by Knitta Please, and was on rue Vieille du Temple – a street we frequent several times a week, since it’s between our apartment and Corry’s.


Another mosaic, with one of our favorite video game characters.


And just in case you thought graffiti was a recent phenomenon, here’s an example from 1879, in no other place than the Pantheon!

Paris Blogger Party

Richard Nahem of the excellent Eye Prefer Paris blog hosted the second annual Paris Blogger Party on Saturday night. Richard has an amazing apartment with 2-story windows and design elements resembling things I’d only seen in Soho window displays. We had a wonderful time, but forgot a camera, so check out his post about it and the roll call of the fun Paris bloggers that attended.

Kings’ Cake

Galette des Rois

The holidays last and last when you’re living in France: here, they celebrate Epiphany with a kings’ cake, usually a layered cake flavored with almonds. Inside is a hidden bean (or now, usually a porcelain figurine). If you find it in your slice, you’re the king. The glory of wearing a metallic cardboard crown is surely worth a chipped tooth, n’est-ce-pas?

With Epiphany already almost a week over, we were happy to still find these galettes des rois sold in pastry shops and grocery stores. But if you’re not living in a place that sells galettes, or if you’d simply like to try to make one yourself, check out Richard Nahem’s recipe over at Eye Prefer Paris. By the way, if you’re looking for an entertaining, knowledgeable custom tour of Paris, Richard’s talents as a guide are as awesome as his cooking ability.

Festival of Lights

Concorde Ferris WheelI know I promised mouth-watering latke photos today, but I have something perhaps even more exciting to share: a Parisian festival of lights! Seth still has the latke pics on his computer, so we’ll get to those, but we had so much fun during our impromptu tour of Paris lights I just had to post this first…

Yesterday at dusk I met Seth in front of his office (which is conveniently located on Place de la Concorde) and walked over to the huge Ferris wheel (grande roue, or “big wheel” in French). For the low price of just 8? a person (sarcasm), you can ride the Ferris wheel around about four times (that’s 2? per rotation…hmmm…).

But it is worth it! The 360-degree views were spectacular. I couldn’t look down, but looking out was wonderful. I highly recommend going once the sun is down. Had we been there just a little before 5pm instead of after, we would have caught the Eiffel Tower glittering (which happens every hour on the hour). We weren’t disappointed, though.

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The Ferris Wheel from Below

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The View from the Ferris Wheel: Eiffel Tower, Concorde Obelisk, and the Avenue des Champs-Elysées

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Note the Eiffel Tower in the background with its strange search light.

You’d think it’d be fun to operate a giant Ferris wheel, but apparently not:

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We decided to walk all the way back home to the Latin Quarter, enjoying many lights on the way:

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A festive street near the Madeleine church

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Street decorations and the Place Vendôme

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Chandeliers lined the street leading from the Place Vendôme

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Watching the Ice Skaters in front of Hôtel de Ville

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The Christmas Tree in front of Notre Dame

Once we got home, we lit the menorah (a gift from Seth’s parents), which I think looks very pretty:

Menorah Night 1

Protesting in Paris: Much Ado…?

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Do not pass go: the blocked Boulevard St. Michel

The rail workers’ strike seems to be dying down, but yesterday was a big day for the student protest of President Sarkozy’s proposed university reforms. Between stuffing- and pumpkin soup-related errands, I managed to catch some pictures of the preparations.

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These riot police are ready on rue Monge, just around the corner from our apartment.

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Police vehicles as far as the eye can see on the Quai St. Michel.

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Cable Station Canal Plus Reported from our local pub, the Bombardier, which hasn’t seen this much action since the Rugby World Cup. Notice the entire rue Mt. Sainte-Geneviève is filled with police vans.

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The blockade continues behind the church of St. Etienne du Mont. That fence is attached to the front of the van. For what?

The big protest finally happened, and….

Protesters with Drums

I heard a couple drums, and a couple students randomly shouted things like “pouvoir d’achat!” (buying power!) and sort of harassed the policemen. But nothing too huge.

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Gendarmes on guard on rue du Cardinal Lemoine.

Hamburger Night à la Française

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So when you have hamburger night in France….

The cheese is Swiss, from Gruyère.
The mustard is French, Maille brand.
The beef comes from Charolais cows.
The avocados are Spanish.
The bacon is not bacon at all but strips of pork breast (“poitrine”).
The “bun” is cut from a loaf of whole grain bread.
The beer is Belgian (or Dutch).

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But is a break from tradition such a bad thing?

Still on Strike…

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Chaos! Image from a BBC slideshow

As you may have heard, the nation-wide transportation strike continues. I haven’t been affected since I am writing from our apartment in the Latin Quarter, but Seth has had a 20-minute walk to the 1 line, which is the only one running at a semi-normal rate (1 train every 5 minutes). That is, apart from the 14 line, which is automatic and is running normally.

What creative solutions have people found to get to work? I have seen the following on my own little block:

~ a grown man about 50 years old on a kid’s scooter
~ twice the bikes I normally see
~ a rollerblader using a traffic lane, barreling downhill at about 25mph
~ cars lined up as far as the eye can see, blocking our intersection and causing more traffic (it took my neighbor 2.5 hours to get home from work last night)

Even the neighborhood grocery store was affected: because of road conditions, they stopped grocery delivery service.

Labor issues aside, I suppose this is excellent proof that public transportation systems make life easier, less crowded, and less polluted. Hope everything is back to normal by Monday, because the weather is now below freezing and it’s getting too cold to walk very far!

Check out RATP’s website for hourly updates on metro traffic. As of 9:15 this morning:

RATP traffic 9:15 Nov 16

The university students are on strike, too, and not to think we were anything special here in France, there is also a rail strike in Germany. The civil servants go on strike next Tuesday. ‘Tis the season!