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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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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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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August Staycation

Bon lundi!

It's August, and Paris is in its typical summer mode. Bags have been packed, the Parisians have headed off to the beaches, and many establishments have posted signs on the door announcing closings for the month. The city has officially been handed over to the remaining tourists.

Even though it's a nuisance to keep up-to-date with which of my favorite spots are still open this month, I don't mind staying behind and finishing out summer in Paris. I want to savor the remaining sunshine, squeeze in another picnic or two, and still hope to catch a free movie outdoors.

Walking along the Port de l'Arsenal, just south of Place de la Bastille

Besides, I'm continuing to discover new spots throughout the city. It's hard to believe I have walked to Place de la Bastille so often (where the notable July column stands) and somehow have never wandered a little further south to walk along the last stretch of the Canal Saint-Martin to where it meets the Seine river. It's interesting how we tend to develop patterns in our everyday life without realizing it, like walking or driving the same route consistently. This month, I want to change that and embrace being a tourist in my own city. (And I've started with visits to Jardin des Plantes and the Pantheon.) Everyone else is a tourist here at the moment, so why not?

Wherever you are this August, here's to making an effort to break routines and explore new ground!

Park it in Paris: Jardin Tino-Rossi

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.

Sometimes it's those things that are right in front of you that are somehow not obvious at all. Like the pen I search for that's on the table in clear view, or worse, in my hand. Or a cool sculpture garden right along the Seine that I somehow don't quite notice until after two years of living in Paris.

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Fête de la Musique

June 21st is one of my favorite days in Paris. Not only is it the first day of summer and the longest day of the year, but it is celebrated well in Paris. That's because June 21st each year is the Fête de la Musique. This music festival is a national celebration in France (and has spread to numerous other countries) where all musicians, professionals and amateurs alike, are encouraged to perform.

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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!

In the Moment

Bon lundi!

Sometimes it's in the ordinary everyday moments that I fall even deeper in love with Paris. Sure, it's a beautiful city but sometimes I wonder if part of it is not the city but how I've changed. That I allow myself time to slow down and open my eyes to see the beauty around me. Like a picnic dinner along the Seine at one of my favorite spots (almost across the street from Hôtel de Ville). The short glimpse we got at the beginning of last week with its warm, beautiful weather makes me really look forward to those magical long Parisian summer days!  

Canvas-Worthy Paris

A classic chicken and egg quandary. What came first, the idea or the Canvas on Demand Groupon? Either way, the result is what matters. My husband had the idea a few years ago to select a picture from each destination we travel to and have it made into a canvas to hang in our home. We were still newlyweds, were starting to experience symptoms of being bitten by the European travel bug, and had lots of bare space on the walls of our apartment in New Jersey. 

We breathed life into our decorating project and a full guidelines emerged after some thought. The photos are taken by either of us, cannot have us in the picture, and traditionally have been all been scenic outdoor shots.

We both love to take pictures and snap lots of them each year. But we know that a stroke of exceptional inspiration has occurred when one of us exclaims, "This may be canvas-worthy!" when behind the lens. 

Paris is quite a photogenic model who is not camera-shy in the least. After going through countless pictures from this incredible year here, I have selected 10 pictures that I think have that "canvas-worthy" potential. So without further ado, I present to you the best of 2013:

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A Photo Finish

Bon lundi!

I love this photo. It was taken in June of this year, and even has a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and my favorite bridge in Paris, the Pont Alexandre III. As beautiful as it is though, it did not make the cut for my best-of Paris 2013 round-up. Come back on Friday to see the best photos of the year of Paris, next Wednesday of France, and the following Friday of our travels. 2013 has been quite a year!

In Her Natural Light

 Bon lundi!

Paris is widely known as the "City of Light," or La Ville-Lumière in French. During the Age of Enlightenment, Paris played a central position as an intellectual hub. Later in the 1800's Paris was one of the first cities to adopt street lighting.  

However this nickname came about, I am most inspired by the beauty of Paris in natural light. Like when I got to unexpectedly catch a sunset over Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris and the Seine river.