Wednesday, November 28, 2012

merci, vayable

"Mommy and Deanna are here!" I thought as I jumped out of bed on Friday morning... late. Oops. I showered, ate breakfast, and got ready as quickly as I could, and by 10:20am, I was out the door, running down 6 flights of stairs (carefully, kind of) to meet them at my metro station. 
They hadn't gotten all the way there on their own though. Anne, a designer, Vayable guide, and blogger at Prêt à Voyager had met them at their hotel. For the next three hours she introduced my mom and little sister to, in essence, what Paris really is. And to the concept that it is indeed "most beautiful in the rain."
We stumbled upon brocante in the Northermost Marais,
took a stroll through le Marché des Enfants Rouge,
came across a familiar face,
  and explored more of Galerie Perrotin,
being sure to amuse ourselves with quite a few photos.
 Then we ventured to merci for shopping and design inspiration...
I truly could've moved in.
But for the sake of my lovely guests, we continued on
first to BONTON for laughs in its photobooth, next to Chocolaterie Joséphine Vannier.
From there we headed to Place des Vosges and caught the bus to the Left Bank.
Anne pointed out more than a couple of sites along the way, of course.
But once we'd made it to the Latin Quarter, we wandered by foot once more,
past Shakespeare and Company and into Notre-Dame.
By the time the clock struck one, I was so beyond impressed with Anne and her "Navigate Paris" tour. And then she dropped us off at Crêperie des Pêcheurs to enjoy the ideal rainy day lunch I'd previously only had the chance to tell my mom and sister about. I don't believe any of us could've loved Paris more.
Thank you, Anne for helping me make it so sweetly so at the weekend's beginning... to be continued...

Monday, November 26, 2012

le jour de la dinde

Last Thursday wasn't the first Thanksgiving I didn't spend at home. Four years ago, while my darling family was enjoying turkey, sides, and most importantly, time together, I was feasting on the delights of southern Chile. Even so, that same professor who hosted the trip also hosted a traditional dinner. Her and her family had spent some time living in the United States and were aware of the best holiday we were missing :).
This past Thanksgiving, I woke up to just another fall day in Paris I happened to be especially grateful for. In just four hours I was at the Melia Alexander Boutique Hotel greeting my mom and little sister. 
After helping them bring their luggage to the hotel room, we took the metro to Invalides for a campus tour.
They were pretty hungry though. And so first, we stopped into Le Bar du Central .
I had to order for everyone since neither my mom nor my sister speak French. This, of course, continued throughout their visit, and yes, I did feel cool with my incredibly important role. I also adored my Norwegian-style eggs benedict at our first Parisian meal together. Following the meal, I introduced them to each AUP building before sending them up the Eiffel Tour. I promise I would've joined had I not had class.
Thankfully, the timing was perfect. By the time they saw the rooftops of Paris and came down again, I was out of class. We took the bus this time, from the 7th to the Arc de Triomphe to their hotel to freshen up a bit. 
Then we hopped on the metro towards Le Saint-Martin for Thanksgiving dinner at a French bistro. But not before a quick stop at "my park." I needed to borrow some wi-fi to double-check the address.
[Entrée: pumpkin soup]
 [Plat: turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce]
[Dessert: apple, pumpkin, or pecan pie]
It was no Thanksgiving at home but it was certainly tasty and beyond amazing to have my mom and sister by my side. I felt like the luckiest American in Paris. Afterwards, I brought them back to their hotel to sleep and ran to my apartment to finish up a paper. They needed the rest as much as I needed to not have assignments to worry about, especially because we had non-stop goodness from Friday on... to be continued...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

only gratitude

You might say I've been going through a tough time lately; graduate school is stressful, living in a foreign country is tough, and everything at home is hardly perfect... which makes being abroad even more challenging. At times, my otherwise optimistic self has been preoccupied with an overwhelming anxiety.
Yesterday though, after a particularly enlightening meeting with my advisor, I decided to walk home. I wanted to enjoy the unseasonably warm evening. And it was along that stroll, passing the holiday markets on the Champs-Élysées, that I was overcome with gratitude. How thankful I am to have legs to carry me through a city with as much ease as they lead me up a volcano. How thankful I am to have the privilege to study what I am passionate about, and to do so in a (more-often-than-not) enchanting place such as Paris. How thankful I am to be a part of a global community that never ceases to provide opportunities for human connection and, better yet, friendship. How thankful I am for the health that makes living this entire experience possible.
And in many ways, how thankful I am to be missing as many people as I do. What love that must mean I have in my life. I have a feeling this morning's arrival of my mom and sister into Paris confirms it. Hope your Thanksgiving--celebrated or not--is just as happy and gratifying. I'm off to have my best weekend yet :).

Monday, November 19, 2012

now that's what I call comfort

Autumn is my favorite season. For the longest time I thought it was spring, but then literally missed it while I was living in Chile and instead went from summer to winter to spring to winter to spring. By the time I was able to enjoy fall again in 2009, I reveled in it. And I've loved it ever since. It's such a special time in New York.
Unfortunately, it's somewhat less so in Paris: Only recently have the leaves changed color, and it's already pretty chilly. Apple-picking is hardly a pastime and pumpkin-flavored anything is harder to find. Blue skies are also a rarity. My favorite season here has been marked by rain, lots and lots of it.
It does make it easier to stay in and do schoolwork though! Or venture to a café (Australian-inspired) and discover that although it may not feel like fall to me, Paris appreciates seasonal menus as well.
[butternut squash & carrot soup]
[salad of fall greens, persimmon, and fingerling potatoes]
Not to mention that the walks to and from whichever café are always scenic, right?
And when it gets to me--the grey skies, the wet shoes, the cold winds, and above all else, the grad school stress--I can always meet a friend at a local brasserie for a glass of wine and the most comforting of simple French comfort food (in my opinion): the croque madame
Sometimes all it takes is a step back to find there's a particular beauty in Paris' autumn, too.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

how to like museums

Although my mom and dad were set to visit me in less than one week, circumstances appear as though my mom will be flying solo. It's fine. I'm still really excited. It's not even that I miss her so much (even though I do) but having the chance to show her my life in Paris, a city she's unfamiliar with, is just about the most exciting thing in the world. It's been nearly four years since she (and he) last traveled abroad for me.
As I've said before, I intend to provide any beloved visitors with the most authentic Parisian experience... which hopefully includes a museum visit or two. Paris is full of so many good ones! And yet neither of my parents are as enthusiastic about these cultural centers of display as I am so we're going to have to choose wisely. The trick, I believe, is going to space which contains objects that are appealing to you--whether it's modern art, religious artifacts, art nouveau design, historical textiles, ancient ruins, or scientific discoveries. Being knowledgeable about what your looking at isn't necessary as museum's are meant to be educational.
Little by little, I've been becoming "an expert" in the art of museum-visiting thanks to my Museum As Medium class. Being a critic doesn't necessarily make the experience any more enjoyable though. It's going to be so nice to just passively go with my mom.... and thus the list of reasons I'm excited for her to be here continues. Edited to add: she's bringing me my winter coat, yay! I'm really starting to need it :).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

grazie a la pizza

It's true, I loved nearly moment I spent in Brittany and was overjoyed "home" to Paris afterwards. I've still been missing New York though. Most notably (for the purposes of this blog post), I miss having my best friends a subway-ride away and good pizza 'round every corner. Besides that one solo lunch at the little Italian épicerie on campus, I haven't had a noteworthy pie since I've been here! Until last night, that is.
Grazie, a trendy pizzeria-cocktail bar hybrid that appears to belong in New York's LES, is actually situated in the Haut Marais.
Although the amazing cocktails ended up being a "hit or miss" (I was a lucky one--think tequila) the pizza was a smashing success in the eyes and mouths of each lovely lady at my table; myself especially included. The crust was thin and crispy; the sauce, flavorful; and the mozzarella and arugula, oh-so-fresh. Even satisfied completely we couldn't help but partager in their chocolate mousse. Merci beaucoup, Paris. You done good.