Paris' Newest Must-See Museum: Fondation Louis Vuitton

Famous architect Frank Gehry has created funky, imaginative buildings all over the world, like the playful Dancing House in Prague and the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. But did you know you can now see one of his newest works in Paris?

It’s the second mark he’s left on Paris, the first being the Cinémathèque Française at the edge of Parc de Bercy. And it’s quite an impressionable mark at that. If you thought that Paris was just about cream-colored Haussmannian buildings, you’re missing some of the city’s surprises.

This past winter Michael and I ventured out to the western reaches of Paris to check out the Fondation Louis Vuitton that had recently opened its doors in October 2014. It’s located in the Bois de Boulogne, just next to the Jardin d'Acclimatation.

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Keep it Classy - Your 5-step Guide to a Wonderfully Romantic Parisian Picnic

When you visit Paris, you want the whole package: delicious French food, complex French wine, and delicate French pastries, all to be enjoyed with in a perfectly romantic setting...at a price that inflicts minimal pain to the wallet. Unfortunately, dinner out (especially with the above elements) in Paris often comes at an inflated price tag. But now that summer has come, I’ll let you in on my warm-weather secret for inexpensive romantic dining with the best seat in the house - a jazzed-up picnic along the water.

The plan is pretty genius. It involves a self-service picnic with very little effort involved, while including a few key items that add class to the simplest of spreads.  Think of it as the little black dress of picnics if you will.

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Summer in Paris, 2015

Bon lundi!

Yesterday, June 21st, marked the official first day of summer! Paris always celebrates big with its Fête de la Musique celebration that fills the streets and parks with music all day and night (I'm still thinking back fondly on our epic festivities last year alongside the Seine). It's an impressive opening to the summer session full of free concerts, fireworks, long picnics, open-air cinema, and more! I've been working on the What's on in Paris page, so pop over to see my summer picks for Paris with more activities to be added soon! 

The space in front of Paris' Hôtel de Ville always has something going on during the summer - check it out to see what's going on, like volleyball courts or free concerts! 

Do you have any plans this summer?

Posing with Pictours Paris

Moving is hard work. There is the physical aspect of sorting, sifting, donating, and packing stuff. There are the administrative tasks of booking plane tickets, canceling services, and coordinating the check-out with the landlord. And then there’s the work that most of the time, we don’t even acknowledge much: the emotional process of mental preparation.

When I moved to Paris, I never would have imagined the real estate this place would one day take up in my heart. We moved initially with the intention of using Paris as a European home base to travel the continent. We would be residents, but the extent to which we would “live” there and be present remained to be seen.

As you probably could see, if you’ve spent any amount of time following our story, is that we grew to LOVE Paris. We would travel around and cherish the ability to explore Europe, but we would become homesick - not for New Jersey, but for Paris. We would eagerly anticipate the end of a trip because it meant we were returning home, to our city.

As our departure date loomed ahead of us, the inevitability and finality of the move to the US slowly felt more concrete. And while I couldn’t pack up my favorite places and take them with me like I wished I could, I decided to do the next best thing - to coordinate a photo shoot with a photographer to capture us in some of our special corners of the city. The fact is that photo sessions aren't just for wedding-related festivities. It could be for mother-daughter trips, family vacations, or a solo traveler looking to document an adventure. Or for two people who love Paris who wanted to bring home a little piece of the city.

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My Corner of the Marais

Bon lundi!

I’ve decided that Michael and I have a shopping problem. It’s not with online shopping, and if you are familiar with our fashion sense, you know it’s not related to clothes or shoes. It’s French wine.

Somehow, on that last night in Paris, we had quite a challenge in front of us. 20 bottles of wine, a bottle of champagne, and a magnum were lined up before us, waiting to be distributed between four checked suitcases. The result of the remains of our wine cellar, compounded with visits to 6 different vineyards during our Tour de France, left us in a bit of a pickle. And if you want to know how it ended, the laws of physics won. (Thank you to our friends who are safe-guarding our stash until our next visit!!)

Thankfully, not all of our souvenirs from our time in France took up such space and weight. One of our most precious tributes to our time living abroad didn’t have to be lugged back in our baggage. That’s because it is a digital souvenir -  the images from a photo shoot we went on that included some of our favorite spots in Paris.

Introducing this week some of our favorite spots in Paris! Starting with this special street, of course...

I’ve shared a few peeks from our photo session on Facebook and Instagram, but I’ve tried my hardest not to saturate the feeds with our faces. This week though, I’ll open up the floodgates and share all of my favorites from our morning stroll with Pictours Paris. If you want to see more, come back later this week for the reveal! 

Our photo session was a perfect way to channel my little corner of the Marais to my new home, wherever that ends of being ...

Do you have any souvenirs you like to bring home with you from your travels? Or do you have more self-control than us?!

In Those Last Days

[If you're new here, I just moved from Paris to New York City just over a week ago. There will be many more posts about Paris in the weeks to come, but for today, this is a quick peek at our final days living abroad.]

When Michael and I moved to Paris, the plan was initially to stay until the end of 2013. As we set out on this adventure, two years of life abroad loomed ahead of me. It felt like it was going to be a ton of time away from home. But as you might gather, being that it’s mid-2015 and solid year and a half past that date, that time flew by. And for as quickly as that time passed, the “extension” period came and went in a blink of an eye.

Paris is an amazing place. I never knew I would fall so in love with this city (or any city for that matter), or that leaving it would hurt so much. But even in those last few days. after three years of living here, I still learned new things about Paris and re-learned some truths I had been taught along the way. 

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Back to Paris

Bon lundi!

As much as I still have more I can write about my trip through Poland, it is time to say that my Poland series has come to a close - at least for now! This week I'm looking forward to bring the blog back into "real time." Or at least almost into real time, as spring just officially began I'm here I am, talking about this winter. We spent most of our time in Paris this winter, save for weekend trips to Lyon, Bologna, Venice, and Antwerp. I'll be sharing this week about what we've been up to lately!

2014 Recap: The Gift Year

I know that by this time, we've all stopped rehashing 2014 and have started looking ahead to 2015. But I can't just summarize last year with pretty photos of Paris and Europe - I need to pause and share my reflections of a special year.

21 Trains
19 Flights
5 Buses
5 Rental cars
14 Countries
21 houseguests
131 blog posts
2 camels 
And countless sheep

2014. I think of this year as my “gift year.” That’s not to say that every day we get on this earth isn't a gift, because it is. I mean it in the sense that when I think about 2014, I think “we shouldn't still be here.” Michael had a contract to work on an assignment in Paris for almost two years, ending in December 2013. Except by the end of that year, we had realized that Paris wasn't merely the home base for our travels throughout Europe. We had somehow built a life here, entered into community, and fell in love with life in the city. Things were looking bleak for a while and it seemed that we did in fact have to move back to the US as planned. Until things turned around and we were able to stay. We weren't supposed to still be hanging around the City of Light this year, but somehow in the end we were gifted with more time.

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Canvas-Worthy Paris, 2014 edition

{Canvas-worthy} A characteristic bestowed to a photograph of exceptional quality to indicate it might be pleasing enough to consider making into a canvas and hanging on the wall. See additional notes in the Canvas-Worthy Paris post of 2013.

Example: Michael: Look at the photo I just took of the Eiffel Tower!
                   Sara: Wow, that one might be canvas-worthy!

This year I was much less discriminate when it came to narrowing down my favorite photos Michael and I have taken in Paris (18 instead of last year’s 10!). Thankfully, I am only committing to sharing them with you and not actually purchasing canvases for my home yet. So take a look and help weigh in on which were the best of 2014! (Or else I’m going to need to save up a lot more for a larger house with more wall space!)

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Simply Sara's Ultimate European Christmas Market Round-Up

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice...and am ready to reveal which European Christmas markets made the naughty or nice list. This by no means is a conclusive list of markets throughout Europe, but it’s my thoughts on 20 markets spanning 8 European countries. So without further ado, here’s the breakdown by country:

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Something's Amiss in Galeries Lafayette!

Bon lundi!

Are you getting into the holiday spirit? I sure am! Christmas music is on chez moi at almost all waking hours. I've been known to listen to songs from a wide array of artists - everything from Straight No Chaser to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra over to Destiny’s Child (bet you didn't know they had a Christmas album!), with a splash of the Beach Boys when Michael takes control of the selection. Heck, I’ll even admit that I own an album entitled “Ska-la-la-la-la-la” which hasn't made an appearance on the Christmas playlist in a while, but it’s at the ready if needed...  

Anyway, if you don’t have your own Christmas music playing, turn on Rockapella’s You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch to accompany this post. It’s the most relevant song I could think of that was monster-related...because look at what those monsters did in Galeries Lafayette!

As I mentioned in my previous post, Galeries Lafayette does a really good job at tying in its Christmas theme throughout the store. This year’s Le Noël Monstre (The Christmas Monster) theme meant that those monsters featured in the display windows got their hands on the Christmas tree, and turned it upside-down!

So what do you think? Too weird or fun and festive? 
And second question: What’s on your playlist these days? Give me some new ideas, I need hours worth of Christmas music to listen to continuously! Just another reason I don’t start listening to it until after Thanksgiving - I don’t think I could go more than a month straight :-)

The Arc de Triomphe at Night

Bon lundi!

I've lived in Paris for over 2 ½ years now, and I still love to be a tourist from time to time. Those inclinations certainly increase when the prospect of “free’ is involved.

If you’re ever in Paris on the first Sunday of the month, be sure to look into free openings (pop over to Parisinfo.com for a complete listing). That’s just what I did last month on the first Sunday of November - and realized that additional sites participate during the low-season of November-March. It allowed me a free climb up the Arc de Triomphe to see the view at night.

Take advantage of free admission if you are in town this Sunday! 

An evening view of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe