Sunday, June 8, 2008

Au Revoir, Paris

My time in Paris has come to an end - I'm coming home today! I've decided that it's best for me to be in CA at this point in my life. I'm not saying that I wont be back to live in France at some point, but for now, it's not the place for me. In these last 5 months, I have learned a lot about myself and what I am seeking out in my life. I've spent a lot of time with my family and friends on this side of the Atlantic and it's meant a lot to me to be able to spend more quality time with them.

I hope that you all have enjoyed this glimpse of Paris (and beyond). I leave France with a heavy heart, but look forward to turning the page and starting a new chapter in my life.

Au revoir, ma "douce France, cher pays de mon enfance..." A bientôt!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Birthday Festivities in Condeau

What a 26th birthday! That is a magnum of champagne, my friends. It was a wonderful get-together with friends from Condeau and we laughed the night away.
Now, most of you know about my traditional birthday cake with the whipped cream and strawberries, but this one turned out a bit flat! It tasted fine, but cooking in a very unpredictable oven with no cream of tartar (can't find it here) makes for interesting baking. And whipping real cream from the farm next door is not the same as supermarket cream!

Thank you for all your birthday messages and warm thoughts. : )

Friday, June 6, 2008

12 Oysters a day, keeps the doctor away!

My mother and I went to Brittany for a few days and had a dozen or more oysters every day. The first night, we stayed in Pont-Aven, where Gaugin painted a whole heck of a lot. The next night we were in Pouldaniel at Anne's ex-husband's house. Him and his wife took us around the coast to tons of beautiful view points. We even went and bought oysters at the viverie (the place where they keep them alive - please see photo album) and they opened 4 dozen of them as well as some praires, at a picnic spot by the water. It was a bit chilly, but did not rain so we were thankful for that. These oysters really taste like the ocean and were super fresh.
Isn't this a lovely panoramic view point?? There's even the telescope to help you enjoy the view even more. But in this case, it would not have helped! We drove along what is known as the pink granite coast and saw nothing. We decided to just laugh at the irony. That's La Bretagne, for ya!
The sun! Yes, it finally came out on our last day. We went to Roscoff and stayed right on the water. Gorgeous. We also visited the Ile de Batz where we rode bikes around the tiny island that makes potatoes just for the organic food loving German. Yep - you can't even buy one on the island.
Please see my photo album by clicking HERE.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Veuve & Lacroix

Last night, my aunt invited me to join her (through her friends invitation as a patron) to an art showing at the Christian Lacroix store by St.Sulpice. The art was very unique and colorful, much like Lacroix's creations. I fell in love with a dress, but at 1800 euros I thought it best to resist the temptation (!). I also found a black purse, but found it quite special because it was square and had aquamarine colored lining inside it. At 590 euros, I resisted once again. They had a fantastic catering company that made wonderful little mouthfuls of flavors and with a little Veuve Clicquot, life felt quite grand! And to top it off, Christian Lacroix came in to his store to see the show! He breezed through, examining the art, and then disappeared. I stood within a meter of him! Crazy.
After a few coupes, we all went to the Deux Magots restaurant, located in front of Eglise St.Germain. There were all sorts of characters out and everyone you see at this place always appears to be quite an important person. Their demeanors and the way they speak to one another and the waiters is always fun to watch. Quite enjoyable indeed!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Brunch in Paris

Yes, you heard me - brunch in Paris! It exists here, as I discovered today. It's a Sunday and I decided to find a restaurant that's open. And I found one! La Toque Saint Germain, it is called. I sat down and they asked me if I would also like to see their brunch menu. Amazed, I said, "Yes!" Well, "oui!" Though other items on their menu were tempting I decided to have myself a Brunch menu, which I photographed for your enjoyment.
Now, this made me laugh, they give you the pancakes (with Canadien maple syrup) only after you've finished the "main course" since they look at it like a dessert, I suppose. They also offered coffee (filter coffee - American style) and tea with refills! And you could choose between sausages, bacon, or smoked salmon. Though they forgot my fresh fruit and the service was slow and disorderly, the atmosphere was quite pleasant and the food of good quality so I'd go back.
After brunch, I decided to take advantage of such a delightfully warm, gorgeous day in Paris and rented a Velib' (bikes you rent from stands all over Paris). I rode along the quais, which they close to car traffic to, to allow people to have their leisurely Sunday strolls in peace. I rode all the way from the Citroen gardens to the Pont Alexandre III by the water and then rode all the way back to the apartment.
See the Eiffel Tower in the distance?
One of my favorite view points of Paris on the Pont Alexandre III bridge with its unique lamp-posts and a view of the Eiffel Tower and the American Cathedral.
And a little Indiana Jones to polish off a very wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vines & Memories

Well Folks, I am back in Paris after a 10 day visit to the South of France. I went to the Universite du Vin, seen above - the Chateau La Suze - ( for a 4 day course on Wine Tasting (Degustation). I learned an incredible amount about the complexities in creating a wine to taste a specific way and whether to make a wine to keep or to drink young and then all those choices can be pointless because Nature is more powerful than all the rest! There is a whole world of aromas in wine, well not all wines, and we spent our time diving into that world with our noses and our mouths...and our eyes, since you must analyze the color and the density as well.
I drove along a windy road along the hillsides of vines during one of my only sunny moments there.
This is my work space. The first day we were in the chateau and the rest of the time we were in the Medici Laboratories part of the university.

After the wine education, I drove East to Forcalquier, the town I lived in from birth till 7 years old, and visited every year for many years after. It's in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and wow was it gorgeous. It had been years since I had been in that region in the Springtime. I am used to everything being all dried out and hot and there it was all verdant and the poppies were out in full bloom! Seen below are Les Mourres - funny, geological remains of rock composites. This used to be all underwater and you almost feel like a fish swimming between the rocks.

And here is Forcalquier, perched on a hill with its citadelle on top. Please visit my photo album to see all the photos of my trip and especially the poppies!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

En Provence

Just a quick post to say that I am in Forcalquier, the town I grew up in, right now. I just spent 5 days in the Drome Provencal region of France at the University of Wine where I took a course of wine tasting - a very intense, serious course full of proffesionals in the business and people who really love wine. I will post photos and stories when I return to Paris on Tuesday, as this computer is a bit slow for uploading photos! I had a glorious time and learned a whole heck of a lot. The weather is stormy and totally unusual for this time of year. But, it doesn't stop me from seeing my old haunts and visiting with old family friends. More on Tuesday!!

Friday, May 9, 2008


Absolutely gorgeous, hot weather. The garden is growing and is a delight to sit and read in. There is a constant chorus of birds chirping and always a little breeze. My mom and I got to eat lunch outside and totally enjoyed every second of it. She's created another wonderful little place in the world. Now, if I only could get her to paint more...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

C'est Beau La Vie

No photos this entry, just a few words.

Today was another extremely hot day, the sun blazing down on France. I ate lunch in the Tuileries gardens with my aunt and an American friend. In the shade, the temperature was perfect - even a cool breeze brushed over our bare arms. Later in the afternoon, I took the train to Condeau and walked from the train station to the house. Immediately upon arriving, sweaty and hot, I grabbed my book and headed for the lounge chair in the vibrant, green garden. I plopped myself down and paused - "I am so lucky."

I am lucky. You are lucky. We are all lucky. We have so much to be thankful for. And even if there are some or even many hard times in our lives or things we would want to be different, things really aren't so bad overall, really.

I send all of you much love, peace, and happiness....and a sprinkling of good cheese and champagne.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Where on earth am I?

Oh my... When I wake up in the morning now, I have a moment of, "where am I?" I have been in so many different places recently that I am confused each morning, till I'm out of my waking-up daze.

My mom and I just got back from a super quick, one night visit to Clermont-Ferrand (3 1/2 hour train ride) to see my Papa's other sister, Marinette. She's 85 years young and so much like her brother in many ways. I asked her to teach me how to knit and I've started a scarf. It's already got a few holes in it and the edges aren't even, but I am going to finish it and accept its imperfection.
My cousin served us a fabulous cheese platter of all the cheeses from the region: St.Nectaire, Cantal, Comte, Beaufort, et un Chevre. Let's just say my pants are now a bit more snug than when I left Santa Barbara 4 months ago...

Monday, April 28, 2008

9% Oxygen

This weekend I went to Geneva to visit with family friends and get near some snow!Yesterday, I took a day trip from Geneva to Chamonix. My snowboarding plans did not work out, but I did get to go up the Aiguille du Midi to 3,842 meters above sea level (more than 12,000 feet). If you look real closely at the photo, you see a needle like point on top of that mountain and that is where the gondola takes you. You have to take 2 to make it to the top. The oxygen level is 9% compared to 35% oxygen at sea level. It was amazing. I took a zillion photos which you can view by clicking HERE. It's worth a few minutes of viewing. I was above the clouds and you can't tell where the snow stops and the clouds begin. Truly several ways!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Steinway in Church

In one of the oldest churches in Paris, St.Julien-le-Pauvre, I attended a piano concert las night. A fantastic pianist played Chopin on a Steinway and it was an amazing experience. He had chosen which pieces to play so as to match the ambiance and actual space of the church - a very interesting combination. Only half the seats were filled and it felt as though you were getting to enjoy a private concert.

The weather is significantly warmer in Paris than in the countryside and it's vacation week for Parisians so the streets were filled with people strolling along and the terraces were packed.

Below is a view from one of the zillion little roads in the countryside of the l'Orne. The yellow rape-seed plants are out in full bloom and the fields are literally glowing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oh, Butter!

Check out this piece of butter from the farm up the road I had mentioned in a previous post. It is so yellow!! And, the flavor, oh goodness. I have never eaten so much butter in my life and my arteries and cholesterol levels are suffering, I am sure! But how can one resist? I put butter on my toast, on radishes, on potatoes, and the list goes on!

Yesterday, my mother and I went to an apple farm and got some delicious apples from here. Then we bought locally made and organic brown sugar and flour. And right before getting home, we bought the amazing butter and some fresh cream, all seen below. With all this, I made an apple crumble. Yum.
It has been raining and gray these past few days, but yesterday we got a ray of sunshine late in the day, providing us with giant skies and wonderful, vibrant Spring colors.
Today, in Condeau, is "empty your attic" day. There are people from the village and elsewhere selling their junk. I was tempted by a gold and leopard chair, but what really drew my eye was a used bidet. I joke, of course! And just for your general knowledge, the mullet is alive and well! ;)

So, as you can tell, the job thing has flown out the window. It's just too complicated here. I am therefore going to go enjoy being here and take some French writing classes (at last...they finally got back to me...) and travel a bit. Honestly, I have become quite restless and am looking forward to being back in Santa Barbara in June and getting a bloody job!!

I hope the sun is shining on you, wherever in the world you are!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Back in the City

Spring, spring, spring. I am going to say it: it is here. It may be cold and the rain comes many times a day, but the sun peeks out every once in a while. Today, I met up with family friends who are visiting France and we walked around the 4th admiring all the flowers in the gardens and the markets.

I felt as though all of Paris was out today. The streets were packed and you could barely walk! I can also see that there are way more tourists all of a sudden. Not many American's though, with the horrible exchange rate!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Spoke too soon

Nevermind about that whole Spring thing...the next day, my mom and I left for the country house and it snowed on the way down and has snowed everyday since! It's only a very small amount and, of course is not sticking, but it just shows you how cold it is!!

So I am finally here at my mom's country home in Condeau, in the Perche, and it is charming! I can't wait to spend more time here and bicycle around the countryside - if the weather ever warms up!

There is a farm right up the road where we went yesterday and bought some cheese that they make themselves. There was a real menagerie of animals as we drove in - everything from cocks to donkey's! I made friends with a Percheron horse named Nimou. The farm is within biking distance of the house, which will allow for a lot of yummy meals to come.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dare I say it?

...Spring is here! The terrasses are full and the people are out and about. Lots of trees are decked out with fresh, vibrant green leaves. The air is soft and the sun so warm on my now pale skin! My mom arrived on Wednesday and we've been eating delicious meals and enjoying being in Paris together. We had tea at Chez Francis out in the sunshine today, as seen below. I hope this weather holds. Things change real quickly around here...

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Little Things...

This is a photo by Britt that I find absolutely charming. Next time you find yourself in Paris, I highly recommend buying a plate of mini desserts.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Today, I visited the Musee Baccarat in the 16eme arrondissement. They had a special expo on the 1920's full of perfume bottles, glasses, and vases. The creator of this museum wanted it to make you feel as though you were Alice in Wonderland and I think he accomplished his goal. You are welcomed into the building by a red carpet lined with little lights that goes all the way up the staircase. There are extravagant chandeliers everywhere, glittering away. At the base of the center staircase, is a giant chair made with fabric and pieces of crystal. I had to resist jumping up on it and sitting. I am definitely going to have to go back to their restaurant, where everything sparkles!

Can you guess where in the museum this photo was taken??

This is the restroom. I don't even know what style to call it. The sinks are very modern. You have to press on a button with your toe and the water comes out of that very long spout into a silver tray. Crazy!

On another note, I finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo earlier this month - Absolutely fantastic. It was interesting to have been reading that book and seen the movie Sweeney Todd at the same time. Two very different takes on revenge. Now, I am turning my attention to Proust and his A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. Yes, I am taking on 2,000 plus pages again. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Read This

Accurate article about zee French life:

Journal Entry

Britt and Robert came for a visit the 20th to the 23rd. They had been in Ireland for a bit for Saint Patrick’s Day. They arrived in the afternoon of the 20th, totally exhausted from their St.Patty’s celebrations and dancing nights in Dublin . We went to the Crêperie de Josselin on rue du Montparnasse where we ate delicious crêpes and drank Cider, the classic accompaniment with crêpes. I recommend the flambéed Calavados crêpe with a side of whipped cream. Stuffed we went to an English pub near metro Maubert-Mutualité. We drank a few beers and played a bit of pool. Convinced that we were all miserable at pool, we ventured into the cold and went to an Irish pub on rue St. André des Arts. We sat in “bullshit corner” and talked and laughed the night away. Having missed the last metro, we decided to rent some Vélib’ and ride home even if it was drizzling and quite cold. We had a blast, riding along the empty streets of Paris in the middle of the night.

After having lunch at a little restaurant on the passage by Boulevard St. Germain, we walked across the Seine to the 72 bus that took us to Trocadero and the Tour Eiffel. A fierce, frigid wind blew at our backs as we stood under the tower waiting to climb its stairs. The sun was shining, but we were freezing! We still climbed all 668 steps to the second floor. Unfortunately, they weren’t allowing people to the top because of the high winds. Due to the high winds, though, the skies were beautiful and full of puffy white clouds. We walked back down the tower and went to a car rally that Robert spotted from the tower. There were all sorts of old cars, race cars, new cars - quite a sight to see underneath the tower. To warm up a bit, we returned to the apartment. Warmed up and rested we went to dinner at a pizza place on rue St.Honoré and then dessert at Café Ruc near the Palais Royal. Robert had a tiramisu, I had a chocolate cake, and Britt had a crème brulée. Café Ruc is a posh, young place on the big boulevard that leads to the Opéra Garnier – great people watching place. We sat outside and resisted the cold under the heat lamps. We then metro-ed over to St.Michel, got caught under the rain, and ran to Caveau des Oubliettes to listen to live music in a cave from 1421. Ears filled with music we left the club after a few hours and took a taxi home.

Once again a late start, we went to lunch at a Thai place called Les 3 Eléphants. It turned out to be quite a delicious restaurant. One tip though – ignore the elevator music. It’s dreadful. In the rain, we strolled along rue Montorgueil and stopped into the Stroher Patisserie where we met the head chef. He spoke English with a thick French accent and loved San Diego . We bought an incredible looking sampler of mini desserts and took tons of photos. The rain coming down strong and the freezing wind blowing we continued on our way, strolling through little side streets and passageways. We found ourselves a bench at the park near Les Halles and huddled together around our box of mini desserts. One by one we enjoyed each little sweet, sharing each piece and shivering with each gust. We all decided that it’s really the little things in life that make life so wonderful – and that includes mini chocolate éclairs! On our way to Notre Dame, we did a little window shopping. As we crossed the Seine , it started to rain and then the hail started. We only had one umbrella, so we 3 huddled under it against a wall till it passed. Frozen, we decided that we should have some tea. Mariages Fréres came to mind and everyone seemed delighted with the choice. We each studied the 600 teas, chose one, and some scones and proceeded to spend quite a long time enjoying our afternoon tea-time. After purchasing some tea for ourselves, we returned to the apartment to rest up. A few hours later, we were off again! We had a very late dinner around 10:30 at a restaurant near the Pantheon. Britt had a boeuf Bourgignon. Robert enjoyed a beautiful steak. I had duck. The night air was freezing cold and wet, but we still walked to the Violon Dingue, recommended by my niece. The Violon Dingue is a great pub, with a great atmosphere and a dance club underneath it! The club doesn’t even open till 1 a.m.. We danced our night away, till real early, and walked home. It’s a good 30 minute walk, but Paris is so wonderful in the night, all calm, that we didn’t seem to mind all that much.

On Easter Sunday, we took it real easy, and ate croissants and watched French tv shows instead of going to Notre Dame for Easter mass. Britt and Robert left in the afternoon, looking rested and cheery, but quite reluctant to return to real life.

I certainly enjoyed having them here and just wandering around Paris together, soaking it all in.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chocolate Galore!

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hail, Wind, & Cars

That is hail, my friends! It hailed and hailed! Needless to say, today was a very chilly day with a fierce cold wind.
My friends, Robert and Britt, are here visiting for a few days. We walked up the Eiffel Tower and there was so much wind that they wouldn't let people go to the top! Gorgeous views though (please see album...).
There was a car rally by the tower so we admired all these fantastic cars! What a sight!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Remembering Dinner...

Need I say anything?...except, perhaps, yum.
We had a grand old time, Emma! Merci!

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Wishing you -
Sunshine round your shoulders,
Shamrocks at your feet,
A rainbow in your pocket,
And friendship ever sweet.

Wishing you -
Angels to protect you,
Good luck to light your way,
And blessings to surround you
forever and a day."

Unfortunately, those are not my words, but a Hallmark card. Either way, these are the thoughts I send to you, my faithful readers.
Happy St.Patrick's Day and Cheers!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

Hello! Since I last wrote, I've been to London and back! Last Friday I woke up real early and took the Eurostar to London where I met up with my friend Emma who is visiting from Santa Barbara. We had a lovely time walking around the entire rain and shine. Every traditional English dish was tasted - pudding, pasty's, pie's, fish'n'chips, bangers and mash, etc. Luckily we did so much walking I think we worked off all those heavy meals! Please see photo link to see my London/Bath photos. On Sunday, we took a train to Bath where we stayed the night. I had been to Bath many years ago and thought how lovely it would be to return there and was delighted to hear that Emma wanted to go there. Though we were exhausted from our London night-on-the-town we wandered around the gorgeous little town and the next day, since it was pouring rain, we did all the tourist-y bus tours. We ate lunch at a fantastic local-organic restaurant where everything came from the area, including the fish and the beer. Absolutely fantastic. That same day we left bath, reached London, and took the Eurostar to Paris. Incredible how you can cover so much ground in Europe in very little time.

Two days in Paris and we've already done so much! We've had tea at La Duree and at Mariage Freres, eaten fantastic meals, had a dinner party, listened to jazz till late, and visited the Rodin Museum and the Musee d'Orsay.
The weather has been a little crazy with all these storms coming over Europe, but we've been pretty lucky and have avoided the downpours. It's really wonderful to be back in Paris and even more wonderful to share it with a friend!
Warm thoughts to you all!