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?

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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Bring out the Bucket List

Bon lundi!

Paris is a very transient city when you live here as an expat.  People constantly come and go, and while it's a joy to live here and constantly welcome new friends, I've also had to become accustomed to saying goodbye.

A close friend of mine just left Paris, and while I could write a month's worth of posts on how much I will miss her, let's focus on the positive: The bucket list. While "bucket list" means to most people "a list of things to do before you die," for any American expat in Paris it has a less tragic meaning: "The list of sights to see, food to eat, and cities to visit before returning to the United States."

That's right, I love the bucket list. It's a way to reflect on what places I love in Paris, discover new things or restaurants that have made it onto other's lists, and if I'm lucky, I get the opportunity to join a friend in checking off items on their own list before they leave.

And now that I've been left behind, the quest of completing a bucket list inspires me to focus on my own. As I mentioned, I'm staying in Paris for the month of August which gives me plenty of time to get out there and cover new ground. While I feel like I've done a decent job making the most of my time here, there is more to discover. Like this square I saw for the first time over the weekend, on my way to Bois de Vincennes. Did you know there are palm trees in Paris?!

Le square des Anciens-Combattants-d’Indochine

This week I'm going to share two activities I've been wanting to do in Paris for over a year, and now checked them off the list! 

Do you have a bucket list for things to do in/near where you live? What's on the list?

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!

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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Ten Free Activities in Paris: Summer 2014 Edition

Paris can be a notoriously pricey city to visit, but a visit doesn't have to break the bank. Here are some ideas of completely gratuit (free) events and activities available to enjoy this summer. Profitez! 

1. Enjoy a view from the terrace of the Institut du Monde Arabe. 

I asked on Monday for guesses on where a free terrace in Paris could be that offers a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and a view of Notre Dame. The answer? At the Institut du Monde Arabe in the 5th. 

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Endless Summer Days Ahead...

Bon lundi! 

-On the Banks of the Seine-

Endless summer days
Sipping a glass of rosé 
Sky becomes orange

There you have it - I don't think I've written a Haiku poem since long ago in school, but I thought to celebrate the (almost) arrival of summer I would give it a whirl. This weekend has been full of brilliant sunshine and very warm weather, leading me to believe summer is just around the corner for certain.

And with summer will come many fireworks, plenty of music, outdoor film screenings, and more! Take a look at the What's on in Paris page to see events in Paris this summer, which will continue to be updated! 

Notre Dame, as seen from the Square René Viviani (across the river on the Left Bank)