Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday May 24th: Walk a mile or two in my French shoes

We had decided we would take the subway to the Champs Elysees on Monday to check out an artistic demonstration and cultural fair staged by young farmers to bring awareness to local and regional farms.  But, when our card wouldn't allow us to purchase tickets, we decided to walk.

From my journal: On our way, we discovered the most amazing street corners.  On one was a set of bistros surrounded by gardens.  On the other was a mix of Mexican, Greek, Mediterranean, and Indian restaurants.  The countries's flags flew in bright colored introduction to what we would see inside the windows of each restaurant and shop.  I thank my lucky starts that silly metro station forced into walking the streets of Paris.
Here I am on a busy street corner

Mark grabbed a cafe and fried pastry of some kind from a Lebonese market.  It was delish!

There are some things more beautiful than you imagine them to be.  That is how I felt about Notre Dame.  To see it in person - it was breathtaking.  

The flying buttresses and the detail of the steeple were just amazing.

We had crossed the Seine on our way to the Champs Elysees and you can see Notre Dame in the background.  As we crossed, a band was perched on the bridge and they began playing "You Send Me" in French.  So romantic! 

From my journal:  Just across the bridge and out of earshot from the band, I heard the very anticipated first notes of an accordian playing.  There on the street corner sat a man who was playing the most beautiful music I've ever heard.  This is why I wanted to come to Paris.  I wanted to walk hand in hand through the streets of this beautiful city with the sounds of an accordian floating through the air.  Magical!  In that moment, the world stopped and it was just Mark and me and the man with the accordian.

We walked from the Lourve to the Champs.  It was incredible to see how the city had been laid out so that you could see the Arc de Triomphe from the Lourve.  In one straight line you could see some of the most historic momuments in the world.  

After walking for about two hours, we were hungry and very hot.  We had planned to stop in Laduree for some macarons...

 but instead, we decided to do the only thing better than that, have lunch at the Laduree Bar.

I had the Ladurée Salade: Riquette salad, small artichokes, green beans, green asparagus, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, squash seeds, basil, grapefruit and lemon olive oil.  I also had the most refreshing framboise mojito!

For dessert I had the Coupe Malesherbes: chocolate sorbet, caramel ice cream, caramelized hazelnuts, and Chantilly cream.  This is where I discovered that my favorite thing in the world is salted caramel!

A picture of Mark and me enjoying our delicious lunch

After lunch, we had to make a pit stop at the Nike store to buy me a pair of flip flops since it was so hot my feet had swollen right out of my brand new flats.  After several more hours of wandering through Paris, Mark and I decided to hop on the Bateaux Mouches.

Seeing the city from the water was amazing.  I love this picture of Mark and me!

A beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower from the boat

After a cat nap, some showers, and a change of wardrobe, Mark and I headed to a sweet little French brasserie I had read about called Brasserie Balzar.  It was everything I had imagined a French brasserie would be.  It was bustling, and crowded, and smelled of warm bread and sizzling steaks.

Mark enjoying tartines (bread and butter) and a glass of wine

Me about to taste my first real French Onion Soup.  It was yummy!  

We loved our dining experience here.  It felt so authentic!  Our waiter was hysterical and very patient with our terrible French.  He even offered to let me live with him for six months to improve my French.  

After dinner, we took the subway to the the Eiffel Tower.  It was almost ten, and the sun was still in the sky.  Our day had been a long one, but there were two more things we had been waiting for - macarons from Carette and the Eiffel Tower light show.

Here I am with my bag of macarons.  We had chocolate hazelnut, rose, citron, salted caramel, cafe, rasberry, and vanilla.  The area around the Trocadero (the perfect spot to see the light show for the first time) was filled with people and excitement!

Here she is just before the twinkling lights started!!!  Mark didn't know what was about to happen, and I loved hearing him gasp when the lights twinkled as the clock struck 11:00 pm. 

We were too excited after the light show to go home, so we had one final drink outside at the Cafe du Trocadero.  What a wonderful night!

For more on our trip, click here...

Sunday May 23rd - Our first day in Paris

We arrived in Paris on Sunday at about 11:30 a.m.  With adrenaline serving as our only means of energy, we hopped on the RER headed to our Luxembourg stop ready to see Paris.  The hotel was ready for us when we arrived and even had a little box of cookies waiting for us.  It is a very charming hotel and our room had the cutest little balcony!  

And excerpt from my journal: "Walking to lunch Mark, was the first one to spot the Eiffel Tour.  What a sight!!  We're really here!!!  I can't wait to see the Iron Lady light up at night."

 Just two blocks from our hotel, we stumbled upon so many cute cafes it was hard to choose one, but went with Creperie Cafe where I had this amazing salad filled with apples and walnuts and accompanied by two slices of toasty bread and warm goat cheese with honey.  Mmmm!!  And of course all paired with a glass of wine.  

I had read all about how the Parisiens' favorite pasttime is enjoying a cup of cafe (coffee) and people watching.  They take this hobby so seriously that all of the chairs outside of the cafes face the street!  I loved it!

After lunch, we walked a few more blocks to the Jardin du Luxembourg.  It was beautiful!  It was a hot sunny day, so there were families and tourists and students soaking in the sunshine.

In the pond at the center of the gardens, you could rent little motorized boats.  Both little kids and kids at heart were enjoying sailing their boats through the water!

After walking through the park, our exhaustion caught up with us, so we took a long nap.  And we were ready to head out again.  We decided to walk to our dinner at Hidden Kitchen, and I was so glad that we did.  This was the first time we saw the Seine.  It was as beautiful as I imagined!

It felt surreal to be standing here in front of the Lourve.  We had been planning this trip for so long, and here we were!

We arrived at Hidden Kitchen full of excitement about what this meal would be like.  At the door to the home of the chef and his wife, we met two other couples - one from Atlanta and one from Tennessee.  Soon the other five couples had arrived and our feast began!  We sat across from the sweetest couple from Atlanta who had gotten engaged that morning!  How sweet!!  Meredith, we came to find out, writes a food blog called An Atlantan Eats.  Check it out!

Here was the Amuse - Watercress soup with cream and white pepper and a green apple and watercress slaw on a pepper cracker.  Delish!

The rest of the menu was as follows:
Spring vegetables, poached quail egg, and green goddess dressing
House made linguini with radish leaf pesto, asparagus, and ricotta salata
Salmon with hibiscus bay leaf sauce and fingerling potatoes
Palate cleanser - bourbon gelee, lime and mint sorbet (a great take on a Mint Julep)
Braised artichokes with chicken liver ravioli, fennel, and preserved lemon
Cumin encrusted flank steak with skillet polenta and smoked eggplant
White bean, dill, and beet salad
Strawberry shiso sorbet with puff pastry and rhubarb
Coffee and Donuts

Each dish was paired with wine, but our favorite drink was the appertif we started the night with - vodka, champagne, and lychee: it was the best drink I've ever had!

This was truly the best dining experience I have ever had.  It felt like an intimate dinner party among friends.  I loved meeting people from all over and hearing how they were spending their time in Paris.    

What a wonderful first night in Paris!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fridays Five Favorites: Paris Edition

Happy Friday! I'm Lisa of Lisa's Yarns. While Nola Girl is off exploring the fantastic sights of Paris, I have the honor of filling in for her! Today I am sharing my Five Favorites of Paris. I must say - it was really difficult to pick just 5 things to gush about! I spent a little over a week in Paris during the summer of 2008 and fell head-over-heels in love with the city. Paris has such a, well, to borrow from the French: je ne sais quoi! Looking back, though, there are 5 things that stand out in my mind as favorites!

Here are my Vendredi Cinq Préférés!

1. The Eiffel Tower

I did not expect to love the Eiffel Tower as much as I did. I mean, it just seemed so cliche. Seeing it for the first time was amazing - and I never got sick of seeing it! Whether in day light or lit up in all her glory, it was truly a sight to be seen!

2. Place des Vosges

Hands down, the Place des Vosges was my favorite area of Paris. You are actually not allowed to walk on the grass of most of the parks in Paris; Place des Vosges was an exception. There were lots of Parisians sitting on blankets, drinking wine and eating fabulous fromage. I felt so Parisian when I spent an afternoon there! Plus it was just blocks from multiple boulangeries & patisseries!

3. Musee d'Orsay

When I was in Paris, I opted not to go to The Louvre. It was just too overwhelming for me. Instead, I spent a morning checking out the Musee d'Orsay. It's actually an old train station that has been renovated. It housed the art work of the greats, such as Van Gogh, but wasn't as intimidating as the Louvre!

4. Crepes with Nutella & banana

Is there anything more glorious than the combination of chocolate and bananas? I really don't think so - especially when it is wrapped up in a delicious crepe. I ate more than my share of these when I was in Paris. I was walking so many miles each day, though, I earned a chocolate + banana slice of heaven. I practically dream about these crepes.

5. Saint Chappelle

I had the pleasure of seeing St. Chappelle by day...

and by night...

My pictures don't do it justice, but the stained glass windows were just amazing!! The left me speechless!

Have you ever been to Paris? If so, what were your favorite sites/experiences? If you haven't been, what would you most look forward to seeing in Paris?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Get Inspired!

While Jen is blissful in Paris, I am so glad to be a guest blogger. My name is Gina Dunn and Jen and I were sorority sisters back in the day at Loyola New Orleans. I am an artist and you can visit my blog for my studio, Utopia Pkwy Art Studio,

There's more to see there about my artwork, artists who inspire me, and it's generally just a diary of a crazy painter. :) I hope to open people's eyes to the beauty of the world, engage in an artistic talk and hopefully inspire some of you! Become a follower.  

Being an artist, people often ask me where I find ideas for my paintings. Inspiration is everywhere, and I wanted to share with NOLA Girl's readers how you can discover inspiration in your own lives. Whatever creative thing you wish to find inspiration for it can be quite simple, if you open your eyes to the wonderful world around you.  I am also sprinkling a few of my paintings in for good measure. 

You can also view my website with a more complete body of work here.

Step 1: THINK
Open your mind. Be open to any suggestions from a friend, relative even a stranger or someone you just met, the minds of others is one of your best resources so be sure to use it often. Also, most of the time people can give you the best ideas for something because they are not trying to, so pay attention to what others say or do, you might just be touched creatively because a conversation you over heard or a moment where you saw the world through someone else eyes.

Step 2: LOOK

Look around you. What is the one thing that is always happening around you and never stops? Life. Life is all around, and if you pay more attention to the world around you, inspiration is at every corner. So maybe try sitting somewhere (like a park or coffee shop) with a sheet of paper and a pen and write down (or maybe sketch out) the things you notice around you, if you clear you mind and release it from our tiny little mental boxes we put ourselves in, you can feel the world around you, and inspiration is everywhere you look.

Step 3: DO

Do something you've never done before. join a dance class, maybe even a pottery class or photography class, something creative that stimulates your brain. Dance, pottery and photography are all forms of art, and joining a group like that will be surrounding yourself with creative opportunities and resources. There are millions of things you could do that will be creatively stimulating to get rid of writer's block or just to find inspiration because you feel like it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trendy Wednesday: La Belle Parisienne

Happy Trendy Wednesday All!

I'm Trish, from Pink Preppy Lilly Lover! As a fellow Louisiana baby, and Cajun Belle myself, when our sweetheart Jen asked me to guest post for her, I immediately accepted!

While Jen and Mark are off hand-in-hand, strolling the streets of glorious Paris, I am happy to be stepping in to bring you Trendy Wednesday this week. So many things that Jen and I love about New Orleans are present in Paris as well, on an even larger scale:  the Grand architecture, Rich culture, Historic landmarks, Dining that is second to none, and Entertainment in more places than you could imagine. I know they are having a blast, making memories they will cherish for a lifetime, and hopefully taking hundreds of pictures to share with us when they get home!

Those of you who know me, know I have a passion for pink and beautiful things.  What you might not know is that my degree in college was in Fashion Merchandising.  I was very fortunate to live abroad for approximately eight months as a student at the London College of Fashion. When I was accepted into the program, I discovered part of the curriculum included a four week stay in Paris.  I had studied French since I was a young girl, and was even President of Le Cercle Français in high school!  The opportunity to study Fashion in Paris was going to be a dream come true...and it truly was. I fell head over heels in love with everything about Paris, and look forward with great anticipation to the day I can return with my own darling husband.

When Jen started planning her trip to Paris, she asked us readers for our suggestions on must-visit places. I knew being a foodie she would seek out the finest in gastronomical delights, and would no doubt visit all of the fabulous historical monuments and museums, so where could I possibly help?  Of course, SHOPPING! There are a plethora of haute couture boutiques, delightful department stores and quirky contemporary is truly a shopaholic's paradise!

My very favorite store in Paris, and most appropriate for Trendy Wednesday, is the designer concept shop Colette. Opened in March 1997, Colette has been the quintessential stop for fashion and design enthusiasts visiting Paris. The ingredients that make this store so widely acclaimed: one part high-end fashion, one part cutting edge technology design, a splash of the most luxurious beauty products, and a pinch of the latest media.  Mix together on Paris' ever so posh Rue Saint-Honoré, and you have one of the world's most celebrated boutiques.

For Trendy Wednesday, here are my favorites from Colette, styled as I would wear them on the gorgeous streets of La Ville-lumière:

Lanvin dress, Tabitha Simmons shoes, Balmain clutch

Erdem dress, Sergio Rossi shoes, Roger Vivier clutch

Viktor & Rolf dress, Valentino shoes, Valentino clutch

Lanvin dress, Gaultier shoes, Roger Vivier clutch

Viktor & Rolf dress, Brian Atwood shoes, Valentino bag


What do you think?  Do you have a favorite?  Please share!


Those of you who follow me, know my Wordless Wednesday posts. (Remember this one from Paris?)

It just wouldn't be Wednesday without one of these posts for me, so without further ado, inspired by La Belle Parisienne, please enjoy:

Is it obvious how in love with Paris I am too?  If you like what you've seen, please come follow along, we have a lot of fun over in my little pink corner of the world!

Thank you for letting me make myself at home with your loyal readers, Jen!  Enjoy every fabulously French moment, drink it all in, as I told you, I can't wait to see Paris through your eyes. 

We miss you bunches!


 (Fashion images via Colette; All others via)


Related Posts with Thumbnails