Ringing in 2018

Bonne Année! Happy New Year!

Believe it or not, Simply Sara is back from the long hiatus. To give a brief snapshot of what went down behind the scenes after moving back from Paris, it went something like this: bought a house within 4 months of returning to the US, embarked on a big home renovation project, and started (and ended) a full time job because of stage 2 of the house project - fill the rooms! Our family expanded to three with the addition of a sweet baby boy - and the past year has involved a lot of trying to keep up with a now-toddler! 

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Natural Beauty: Winter in Paris, Part Deux

If you want to see an intimate side of Paris, pay a visit during the winter.

This isn’t the first time I’ve shared this sentiment. Last year I shared this post full of my favorite photos from our last winter living in Paris. Every time I look at those pictures, they bring back a sense of calm and peacefulness. Paris felt like it was ours, devoid of tourists and full of true locals hunkering down for a season of chilly weather and overcast skies.

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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!

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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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

Sunrise at the Eiffel Tower

I love to make lists. I have one of all the healthy foods and habits I keep trying to adopt but just can’t push myself to enjoy willingly:

  1. Oatmeal

  2. Yogurt (and I’ve tried every kind, so don’t suggest that Greek yogurt could be a game-changer)

  3. Grapefruit

  4. Running

  5. Being a morning person

I've come to peace with most of these items, hoping other good habits will keep me healthy. But there’s something I just can’t let go about trying to be a morning person. I’m what my husband calls a bad roommate - a perpetual idealist setting my alarm far too early and hitting the snooze button far too many times. Somehow I always tell myself “this time will be different,” yet I know deep down that I’m a night owl at heart.

Yet despite my aversion to morning hours, I still put one early morning item on my Paris bucket list. I got it in my head that I needed to see the Eiffel Tower at sunrise, if only just once. To convince myself to make this wish become reality, I looked back at this absolutely stunning picture Edna took (see first photo) and was reminded that certainly this was worth crawling out of bed for in the dark hours of morning.

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Falling in love, or failing to love, Paris

Bon lundi!

I was going to write a typical, short Monday post with a picture to show you just how beautiful Paris is as autumn is settling in. But then a string of incidents hit, and I decided instead to get some things off my chest. If you don’t want to read my embarrassing tale, I included three photos, instead of the standard one, just for you. 

For those who want a laugh, or a Paris-reality check, let’s have a glass of wine and laugh this off together.

The trees of the  Jardin du Palais Royal hanging onto their leaves for just a little longer

I love Paris. But I don’t want to skew reality and portray only la vie en rose. Paris is sunsets at the Seine and picnics in the park, but it’s also crowded metro rides and dog droppings on the sidewalks. If you've been following me on Instagram, did you notice halfway through the summer that I stopped showing picnic pictures on the Île Saint-Louis and relocated to Canal St. Martin? Let’s just say Remy and friends moved in on my spot. But unlike the movie Ratatouille, he isn’t doing the cooking - these rats are waiting for me to bring an extra treat.

Anyway, onto this past week. You need to know the backstory of how I somehow broke a power converter and nearly electrocuted myself on a massive spark. I tripped the circuit breaker and Michael had to leave work early to fix the mess and replace the broken fuse.

Imagine what his coworkers thought the very next day when they heard Michael’s end of another phone conversation: “No, if the carbon monoxide alarm is going off, you MUST leave the apartment. Right now.”

Yup, the carbon monoxide alarm that we hooked up in our apartment went off. And it was loud. Extremely.

Now for a confession. I have a bad habit of drinking coffee and doing work on the couch until I fully wake up, afterwards showering and getting ready for the day. So although it was mid-morning, I was still in my pajamas and about to take a shower. And I certainly didn't have time to deal with a disruption due to the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I opened the windows, threw on clothes, and left. I then had to stumble my way through an apology to the artisan who has a work space in my building directly under my windows. (I’m telling you, this alarm was BLARING.) Once Michael came home, yet again, to deal with another mess, we determined we had to call the pompiers (firemen) because we had no way of knowing if there really was a problem or not. 

Luckily I support the firemen by buying champagne each year at their ball over Bastille Day weekend. But since this is the second time they've had to come chez moi, I think I owe them a drink next year.

I called, failed at communicating the problem in French, and then tried again in English. Then they showed up….to the wrong address….because apparently I did not make that clear enough. Try #2 they arrived to our house - and where most girls would be thrilled to have three pompiers in her bedroom, I was less enthralled in that moment. It probably had something to do with my bed-head and unbrushed teeth. 

Anyway, despite being a bit confused why we owned a carbon monoxide detector (especially when we only have electric) they gave us the clear. We were not in danger after all of poisoning. So I was good to proceed with getting dressed for the day.

If you ever need an occasion to check yourself and be humbled, just move to a country where you don’t speak the language.  It’s been a rough week (coupled with French bureaucratic paperwork we’ve had to deal with) and it’s been one of those low points of living abroad. But I can be grateful that Paris has been exceptionally beautiful this week (and that I was not harmed by carbon monoxide inhalation), reminding me of why I persevere to live here. And just like that, I’m under Paris’ spell again.

A September day in the Jardin des Tuileries

So...who’s laughing with me? At me? 

Paris Practicalities: 15 Ways to Maximize Your Budget in Paris

In the "Paris Practicalities" series, I lay out some basic advice for the foundation of a trip abroad for the well-informed and savvy traveler.

Paris has a reputation for being a notoriously expensive city to visit. While it is pricey - especially when compared to neighboring countries Spain, Italy, and Germany or even the rest of France - it doesn't have to be a ridiculously pricey destination. Here are 15 ways you can maximize your budget during your time in Paris:

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Bastille Day 2014 Fireworks Show

July 14th marks la fête nationale for France and as you might imagine, the celebrations in Paris are elaborate. And although I didn't make it out to a Firemen's ball (more on what that is in my previous post) and only saw the military parade via the TV, there is one event I wouldn't miss for anything. That, of course, would be the fireworks show.

The last two years have taught me that a spectacle of this nature isn't one to just show up to at the last minute, and certainly not an event to make haphazard plans to meet up with friends. No, this year we sent out a Google map to friends with a small shaded area indicating where one might find our picnic blanket, and arrived just before 6pm to stake out a spot. (Note: The fireworks don't start until 11pm, when it finally gets dark.)

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How to Celebrate Bastille Day 2014 in Paris

July 14th is La Fête Nationale for France, an important national holiday. In English we refer to it as Bastille Day because it commemorates the storming of the Bastille (and thus the beginning of the French Revolution). If you're lucky enough to be in Paris for this holiday, you have many great options to celebrate some liberté, égalité, and fraternité!

Here's how to join in the celebrations and make the most of being in Paris on Bastille Day:

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A Week Away from Bastille Day!

Bon lundi!

Paris is wonderful in the summer with its warm, (mostly) sunny weather and hours upon hours of sunlight. And while Parisians leave the city in a mass exodus for the summer vacances, there are two days that I look forward to spending particularly in Paris: Fête de la Musique and Bastille Day.

The magic of Bastille Day to me is watching a gorgeous fireworks show (set to music, no less) on the grass of the Champs de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower. This week I'll share how you can celebrate La Fête Nationale, or the commonly used name, Le quatorze juillet, if you are in Paris for it. Get ready to celebrate! 

View of the Bastille Day fireworks from the Champs de Mars, 2013

Vive la France! 

Not Just for Tourists...

Bon lundi!

Last Friday was as normal as any other day for me. Except as I walked to take a bus back towards the Marais, I had to pause at the Pont de l'Alma to admire the view of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. There's something about catching a glimpse of that Tour Eiffel that still makes me stop and admire it even after living in Paris for over two years. And a view that I wanted to share with you today to start off the week. Hope it's a great one! À la prochaine!