Beachy Waves

As an experiment this morning, I twirled my hair in my fingers as I blow-dried it and I have to admit, the waves turned out really natural and not frizzy (I used a teeny bit of gel) and there is a slight cute curl at the ends. FINALLY an excuse to twirl your hair ladies!


Paris, Je T'aime

I never took the time to sit back, relax, and reminisce on my venture to Paris in April of 2007. So, in the spirit of wanting to be more vivacious in 2009, I've decided to dig down deep into my plethora of memories and detail what I love most about Paris. It was my third time to "La Ville-Lumière" (translation, The City of Lights), however any time in Paris is your first. With so many streets, restaurants, museums and cul-de-sacs to explore, there is always something new and exciting to experience.

Derek and I stayed at Hôtel Montpensier, which is in the first arrondissement (district) and only a hop, skip and a jump away from Le Musée du Louvre and the beautiful La Rivière de Seine. The perfect location if you ask me. The hotel is on Rue de Richelieu, which is very quite. The staff is very kind and they speak English. Don't be afraid to test your French on them. They will smile and answer back in English. The rooms are small, no fuss, but very accommodating for your trip to this wonderful city. If you are in need of a power nap, there's CNN. Oh, did I mention that this hotel is extremely affordable? After the currency exchange rate it's about 134 dollars a night for a quaint room for two. You can pay 9 euro for the continental breakfast, which is coffee, yogurt, and a pastry. But you're better off venturing out into the city to find something a little more satisfying for your dollar. Most Parisians eat what is called a tartine, which is basically a baguette with butter and jam. The ever-popular croissant is actually a special occasion treat, but since you are their guest you should definitely get one…or five (just don’t eat all five in public please). The Metro is also right on the corner where you can go north/south OR east/west. The Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre is your stop.

Here was our Parisian view!
On your first day take a tour of the city via La Rivière de Seine. You'll familiarize yourself with your Paris surroundings, and on a hot day you'll get a great even tan.

Now, lets talk about Le Musée du Louvre. While we did not visit this monster of an art haven on this trip, I'll speak from my past experiences. You will have to fight your way through 1000 Nokia's to even see the Mona Lisa head on (it's also very small so don't be surprised). The best way to view the Mona Lisa is to walk from right to left and watch her eyes follow you! Here's a little tip if you have the option: Wednesday or Friday evenings, when the museum is open late until 9:45 pm is the BEST time to go. Fewer crowds to battle. Très fabuleux! Another tip, buy your tickets in advance. I did this in Italy and it made the trip so easy...

A few of my Louvre favorites:
Make sure you also take a walk through Palais de Tuileries and, for you hardcore Da Vinci Code fans, don't forget to look down into the I.M. Pei pyramid.

Another museum that is not to be forgotten is Le Musée d'Orsay. Located in the 7th arrondissement… take a nice long stroll along the Seine (towards the Eiffel Tower) and you'll find it. Here you will see some Monet, Van Gogh, and this incredibly BIG piece:

If you are a super art guru, le Musée National Picasso is a must. It's in the ever so spirited Le Marais, which spreads across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements…a lively time at night too.

Be sure to visit Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, in Montmartre. On your way up there, you can take a peek at the Moulin Rouge too.

Ladies, if you wish to go inside the below Roman Catholic basilica on a hot day, make sure you have a sweater to cover your shoulders, otherwise you will not be admitted.

After you take in the sites of this beautiful landmark, take a walk along the streets of Montmartre and observe the french artists and take a break with a glass a wine...or in our case a HUGE pint of Stella. (Stella Artois actually tastes wonderful in Europe. It's quite skunked here in the U.S.A.) I think this is the area I would live in if I could.

I'm not going to recommend any restaurants because honestly, they know what they are doing here (and this pretty much became a food blog after I vacationed here- go figure) so unless you stumble into a McDonald's, you are bound to be awed by their cuisine. Don’t be a sissy and not try the escargot (buttery goodness). Coq Au Vin (rooster to die for) is also my favorite French dish of all time. I will also recommend that you put your own culinary skills to work and put together a few picnics on your journey. Whether you pop into a local supermarché or fancy the local produce market (Rue de Buci food market in Saint-Germain is perfect!) put together the following foods and you will have a very satisfying lunch.

Bon Appétit!
-CHEESE (fromage) (get 3 kinds: Light, Medium and Strong).
I love Brie, Chèvre au Poivre-aux Herbes, Beaumont, and Roquefort.
-SAUSAGE (le saucisson) Anything with a little added herbage on there is best!
-BAGUETTE (bread- duh)
-GRAPES (raisins)
-PEARS (poires)
-Chilled salad is also a fantastic addition. Take a look at what fresh options they have and pick on the spot!
Water (de l'eau) and wine (vin)…don't forget the wine!
Remember to grab utensils, cups, etc... before you park it in a nice sunny spot. So many areas to choose from, so little time. But you won't be alone…anyone who is anyone will be doing the same thing you are.

The locals frequent the bridges to nosh...

Ok, I know I said I wouldn’t recommend a restaurant to you…however, there is the Latin Quarter (5th and parts of the 6th arrondissement) and everyone must go there for dinner. Doesn't matter where you go, it's simply divine! The smashing of plates in front of the Greek bistros got our attention. Ironically our favorite meal of the trip. Great food, and the staff and band were hilarious. I wish I remembered the name. Merde! Or should I say, skata!

On a morbid note there is actually a cemetery that you MUST visit. It is absolutely beautiful. Père Lachaise, located in the 20th arrondissement, not only will you see some famous burials, but you will also see beautiful stone carvings. I'm telling you, it's not scary or sad, it's breathtaking. Here are some of the famous burials:

Jean-Baptiste Clément - French painter and activist
Jim Morrison- The Doors frontman. This one will be CROWDED.
Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon)- a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist and balloonist.
Édith Piaf - famous French singer.
Oscar Wilde - Irish novelist, poet and playwright. By tradition, Wilde's admirers kiss the art-deco monument while wearing lipstick.

Another site that you could say follows suite with visiting Père Lachaise is the Catacombes de Paris. The pictures speak for themselves, you will not be disappointed with this tour. It's creepy and rad.

I'm sure you are all wondering about the French 'tude.' I have to admit I don't know what's worse: An American in Paris getting bitched out in French, or and American in New York getting bitched out in English... by me... because you are walking too slow and you keep looking up! The French take pride in their culture, as should anyone. Therefore, if you are loud, boisterous, and don't even take the initiative to learn a few phrases in French- then yes, they'll be "rude." However, if you approach them with kindness and a bit of the ol' intelligence they will gladly help you…and most of them speak English. Bear with it, just don't be an asshole. I think of how I act in situations here in Manhattan and the French look like saints compared to the nasty things I say and do.

I’m no travel book on Paris (make sure you buy Time Out or Fodor's to get the full laundry list of places to see before you leave), but these should also be definite stops on your trip:

Eiffel Tower Views
Notre Dome

Arc de Triomphe (from the top!)

Au revoir!