Discover Walks: Marais Walking Tour and Picasso Museum

One thing I love about Paris is that for as much time you can spend exploring and learning about the city, there is always more. There is so much history, so many details, and centuries worth of characters who have colored this city into the beauty it is today. That’s why even though I had lived in the Marais for almost three years, when Discover Walks offered me a tour of my neighborhood, I jumped. Certainly there had to be more to learn about that a guide could give a new perspective on.

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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?!

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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Coming This Weekend to Paris: Nuit Blanche 2014

One thing that has always impressed me about Paris is the focus on cultural events. It seems that everyone is well-versed on the latest expositions going on in the city’s museums and other cultural events. People love to talk about what’s on, what they went to, and what’s on the list to visit. I got some insight in how this interest in the arts becomes ingrained when I started tutoring English. I took my elementary-aged student to Centre Pompidou and she started telling me about one of her favorite artists, Robert Delaunay. I was blown away by how she could remember his name and give some reasons why she liked his paintings. Part of the school curriculum incorporates the arts, and the appreciation for people who create and bring beauty into the world is certainly celebrated here.

Given this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the events Paris puts on during the year is one to celebrate the arts...all night long. Nuit Blanche takes place the first Saturday in October. The 13th annual Nuit Blanche is set for October 4, 2014 so get ready for a night of art, dance, music, theater, and more!

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Park it in Paris: Place des Vosges

In the "Park it in Paris" series, I write about the city's parks - some of the best spots to relax, people-watch, and mingle with the locals.

It wouldn't be right to continue the Park it in Paris series without stopping to acknowledge one of Paris' most beautiful squares. Sure, Place des Vosges may not be a secret, but it is well known and loved with good reason.

Place des Vosges is in the Marais and has the distinction of being the oldest planned square in the city. Its example was followed throughout Europe. It was commissioned by King Henry IV and inaugurated in 1612 for the wedding of his son, Louis XIII (whose statue can be seen in the middle of the square, mounted on horseback). The square was unique at the time because the style of the building facades were designed to be uniform and harmonious, featuring all that gorgeous red brick.

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Paris in Bloom

Bon lundi!

Paris wasn't like this last spring, right? Whether it's a case of selective memory, aging, or it simply didn't happen, I recall a chilly, rainy spring that finally gave way to summer. So this spring I'm joyfully soaking up every beam of sunlight and am captivated by every pink flower I see.

Today I'll try to get it out of my system - here's not one but three pictures to start off the week. Hope it's a great week and you enjoy the beauty around you, wherever you are!

The back of Notre Dame (and the picture below as well)

The beautiful trees in bloom at Metro stop St. Paul

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

Some people don't think they are "museum people." For some, that means they just haven't found the right museum yet. The thing is, the museum scene in Paris doesn't stop at the Mona Lisa and Monet. The existence of the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature proves this.

Granted, it has taken me over a year to make it to this museum despite the fact that it is at most a ten minute walk from my apartment. What finally did it was that I woke up and realized that it was the first Sunday of the month, meaning free admission to many museums throughout the city. (Take a look here at Parisinfo.com for a complete list of free admission to museums.) With no cost involved besides my time at stake, I surprised my husband and told him I really wanted to pay this attraction a visit.

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