WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Tag: Paris

Honeymoon 003 \ Paris

When I left you we were heading back to our little apartment in the third after our first full day in the beautiful city of Paris. We had plans to go for dinner & we desperately needed to freshen up (we also had some macarons to eat & half a bottle of wine to work on, so maybe it was more about that!). Normally, I don’t travel with many nice clothes when I’m in Europe, but this was our honeymoon & we decided to step things up a little for our first real date as husband & wife. (Thank you, Rennes, for teaching me how to wear heels on cobblestones. Valuable life lessons, guys.)

There are so many incredible restaurants in Paris so it was hard to choose just one. After many hours of research, we finally settled on Le Mary Celeste for that evening. The fact that we’d accidentally stumbled upon it the previous night & it was only a 15 minute walk were contributing factors in the decision. But, I’d also read about it online & their constantly changing sharing menu sounded right up our alley. It turns out the vast majority of my favourite restaurants have sharing menus, tapas, or small plates. (Are those just three ways of saying essentially the same thing?)

In front of our apartment before dinner

We arrived to a bit of a line outside. Since we’d anticipated this (it is Paris, after all & we had no reservations anywhere), we weren’t put off. We sought out one of the servers to put our name on the waiting list, but they had space for two right away though so we didn’t have to wait at all. Perfect!

Le Mary Celeste is known for fun cocktails so we figured we should start the night out there & ordered a couple that sounded fun. Mine was girly & sweet, without being overbearing. I couldn’t tell you the exact components of it now, but there was some cucumber & raspberry. N’s turned out a little bit more on the bitter side (can you tell we don’t frequently order cocktails?), but he enjoyed it as he muddled the mint & it released its flavour.

We ordered an assortment of things from the day’s menu. I’d read about the smoked The devilled eggs so I knew I had to try them – they had an asian twist to them with fried rice, green onion, & fresh ginger. Honestly, they were amazing & I’d highly recommend you try them if they’re on the menu. We also tried the foie gras tostada & the grilled aubergines at the recommendation of the couple beside us. Both were great. My favourite dish, though, was the braised pork tacos. Although they didn’t really look like typical tacos, they delivered in the flavour department. I almost asked N if he wanted to order a second plate – I was that happy with them.

Instead, we finished off the wine & beer we’d ordered with dinner, enjoying the lively atmosphere in the restaurant. We watched diners wrapping up their meals so the next wave could snag a table. It’s a really cool (see: Hipster) spot & I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. Everything we saw come out of the kitchen looked delicious, the cocktails were creative, & they had a concise beer & wine list. Nailed it. (I’m confident that the dessert would have been great if we’d had room.)

iPhone Photos don’t do these deviled eggs justice.
Foie Gras Tostada
Best Tacos
Friday Night Menu

Our waitress had been great all night, speaking perfect English for N while letting me speak French. At the end of the night, she noticed our RBC credit card & told us she was Canadian as well. She had moved to Paris four years ago. I always love hearing about Canadians living abroad since I’ve done the same. Although mine was a much shorter timeframe, I have such fond memories.

Great little restaurant

Anyway, we thanked her for her contribution to our wonderful evening & headed out in search of a pub for a drink – we weren’t quite ready to pack it in.

It was beautiful evening so we grabbed a demi on a terrace so we could enjoy the perfect late summer weather. There’s something great about a bustling night in Paris. I love the cobblestones & the hustle & the people enjoying a drink. In summer, the bars spread out into the streets to accommodate a little extra carousing. I love this about France (& Montreal). It just goes to show that our lack of patios has more to do with regulations than lack of space.

After our drinks we headed back to our lovely little apartment to enjoy the bottle of Champagne from our host with the last of the macarons. Not a bad nightcap.

As I was planning our trip, I’d been anxious to try some of the new coffee shops & breakfast places that have recently popped up in Paris. Unfortunately, August isn’t the best time for testing out restaurants as most of Paris takes the month for vacation. A little bit of Twitter research revealed that Fondation Café was open so we headed there for some great coffee & carrot cake (I can’t vouch for this as I don’t truly like carrot cake, but N enjoyed it).

Afterwards, we jumped back on the métro & headed to the train station. It took us less than 15 minutes to get to the Gare where grabbed some lunch for the ride & boarded our train. Train travel in France so simple; You really can’t go wrong. I know it’s not like this everywhere, but France has it figured out. I can’t recommend it enough. Most stations are significantly more convenient to access than the airport too. You’ll likely leave from the city center & arrive in the city center – a big selling feature for me, personally.

Off to Lyon

Thanks for the wonderful couple days, Paris! Next stop: Lyon.

Honeymoon 002 \ Paris

On our second day in Paris we had planned to do a free walking tour. I’ve previously talked about the New Europe Free Walking tours as I’ve now done them in numerous cities & think they are great. At the end of the day it doesn’t actually wind up being free since they ask for tips if you think it was worth it, but it let’s you decide how much you want to pay. If you didn’t like the tour – leave nothing. If you thought it was great – leave what you think is reasonable. I’ve always found the tours are great since they won’t be getting paid if they aren’t.

Unfortunately, we got a little turned around in the morning & missed the first tour, so we decided to try our luck at touring the catacombs. This was my first trip to Europe during anything close to peak time, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of lines. That’s one of the nice things about travelling outside of busy season – you rarely wait long in a line. We arrived at the entrance to the catacombs & the queue snacked all the way around the square. I think we laughed out loud – we certainly didn’t have time to waste hours in a line up, so instead we walked back towards Place St Michel & the Jardin du Luxembourg.

This is one of my favourite things to do in a city like Paris. Just wander. Take in the neighbourhoods & the buildings & enjoy a walk. You miss so much taking the metro from sight to sight. The Jardin du Luxembourg is one of my favourite parks in Paris. It’s huge, for one. It’s also got some great people watching & a pond in the centre where kids run around pushing these little rented boats. It’s a cool spot.

Always a sucker for these kinds of buildings
Gas Station, Central Paris

We hung out there for a bit before continuing on back to Place St Michel for the tour. We arrived just in time to start the tour with a British girl named Harriet (or Harry as she preferred to be called). That day there were actually two English-speaking tours running, another reminder of what season we were travelling in. Both tours took off at the same time but we almost never crossed paths with one another. (Another perk of these free walking tours – they’re always different.) So although I’d done this Paris tour before, it wouldn’t be the same as last time. It wasn’t exactly a recent experience either (as I’d already proven by getting lost earlier).

From Place St Michel we headed over the Notre-Dame de Paris. This church is such an iconic sight for many when they visit Paris that it’s shocking to think it was almost demolished. Luckily for us, Victor Hugo was interested in saving much of Paris’ gothic architecture & began writing a book to raise awareness of its importance. In 1831, he penned Notre-Dame de Paris (or as you probably know it better – The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).

Next, we walked along the banks of the Seine to Pont Neuf – the oldest bridge in Paris. The many amusing faces mounted on this bridge are said to be King Henry’s friends at the end of a particularly unruly night of partying. I’m not sure if this story is actually true, but it certainly makes these faces even more entertaining. Up the stairs & around the corner stands a statue of Henri-Quatre (Good King Henry), who was murdered. Apparently, you can tell because one of his horse’s front legs & one of his hind legs are raised.

We wandered further along the banks of the Seine towards Pont des Arts (another bridge filled with lover’s padlocks) for an incredible view of Île de la Cité. Pont des Arts also joins the Institut de France (home of the Académie Française) to the Louvre, which was our next stop. We stopped in the Cour Carré, one third of the whole Louvre Museum & originally the King’s Palace, before crossing over into the iconic square with the glass pyramid.

Institut de France
Île de la Cité & Pont Neuf

We took a quick bathroom & snack break just off Rue du Rivoli (where you’ll find great shopping if you’re ever in Paris) before continuing on to the Jardin des Tuileries. This was originally the Queen’s garden as their Palace once stood there. Our final stop was one of the largest square’s in Europe – Place de la Concorde. From here you can see the Eiffel Tower & the start of the Champs-Elysées.

We decided to walk the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, with a little stop in at Ladurée for some macarons. I know Ladurée is one of the more touristy spots for macarons, but they are still truly delicious. We picked up a little box of six & continued on to the Arc.

In 2005, I had met my parents in Paris for a weekend & we had stayed at the beautiful Hôtel Prince de Galles on Avenue George V. The afternoon they arrived, we ventured out for a glass of wine at a little bar around the corner. Before moving to France, I strictly drank cocktails & coolers. I quickly found out that’s a very expensive way to drink in France & within my first month in Rennes, learned how great wine could be.

We all cherish the memory of that afternoon in Paris very much so I convinced N to see if we could find the little bar again. We did (it’s called Rival) & proceeded to enjoy a glass of wine, & nibble our macarons as I told him about that very first trip to Paris, nine years prior.

Pretty little box of colourful macarons

It had been a long day of walking so we jumped on the metro back to our apartment to change for dinner. I’ll talk about that next time though. This post is starting to remind me of my long winded emails home while I was living in France,so it’s time for a break (& some wine & dinner).

Bon appétit!

Honeymoon 001 \ Paris

The de Boers are off to Europe!
When we first started talking about our honeymoon, I knew I wanted to show N the city I lived in for seven months (& the reason this blog exists): Lyon. Lucky for us, that would mean flying in to Paris first, giving us the opportunity to spend a few days in the city of lights.

Not everyone loves Paris. I’m not one of those people. I find Paris beautiful & exciting & I can’t visit enough. This trip would be my fourth trip to the French capital (Paris is always a good idea, non?), & I can still see myself going back in the future.

Planning started early. We booked our accommodations with AirBnB. After this trip, I can’t recommend enough this site enough as we had nothing but great experiences. You have to do your research, but that’s always something I’ve enjoyed. Looking at photos of apartments & reading reviews never really feels like work to me. Making a decision though – that’s another story.

I picked a great apartment in Paris’ fourth arrondissement – one of my favourites! Notre Dame, City Hall, Ile de la Cite, & the Marais district are all within walking distance. I was quite excited to have scored such a great location after having stayed much further out on my last two visits. (My first time I was spoiled & stayed with my parents, right off the Champs Elysees. Tough luck, eh?)

The living room & kitchen of our apartment

Our flight arrived early &, after a delay in the sweaty baggage claim room due to an unattended bag at the McCafe, we made our way into the city on the RER. Our host, Paco, told us we could drop our bags at the apartment while they finished cleaning up. We grabbed lunch near the Centre Pompidou (typical brasserie fare with a couple beers) while we waited.

The crowd waiting to exit baggage claim
Affligem on a terrace

By 1:00 pm, the apartment was ready for us. Paco welcomed us to Paris, gave us a few instructions, & left us to freshen up. We hadn’t slept much on the plane, but had decided to make the most the day anyway.

Our first stop was Pont de l’Archevêché, or Lovelock Bridge. It’s said to be the first of this kind in Paris. Who knows if that’s really true, but we added our lock to the bridge & kissed the key goodbye (literally) before throwing it into La Seine. If you find yourself in Paris, look for our lock. Hopefully they won’t have cut it off – I hear that’s bad luck.

Les Bouquinistes along the Seine


Notre Dame de Paris
Lovelock Bridge
Goodbye Key!

Personally, I see travelling as an opportunity to experience different cultures through food, so our next stop was a wine bar in the sixth. I’d heard about it while watching one of the many shows featuring Anthony Bourdain in Paris. (He’s not for everyone, but that man knows food & gives good advice. Check his stuff out. I like No Reservations.)

L’Avant Comptoir is a standing-room-only tapas & wine bar near the Odeon metro. It serves up an assortment of small plates alongside a beautiful selection of wines (for those who can’t afford Le Comptoir du Relais next door or can’t get a reservation). The space is narrow. You walk through a plastic curtain to find people standing around a zinc bar, ordering from a friendly barman. The open kitchen allows you to watch staff scurry back & forth with different orders.

We started with the ham croquettes filled with iberico ham – not to be missed if you pay a visit – & a glass of red wine. I can’t tell you which as I just asked him to surprise us. I’m assuming this was Eric, who I read knows exactly what you need. We were not disappointed.

Sleepy N

The menu hangs from the ceiling on cards. After much back & forth about what we should order next (everything sounded delicious), we settled on a charcuterie board. We enjoyed the added bonus of watching them prepare it, using a beautiful, red meat slicer. They were more than generous with the assortment of meat they provided & it was likely more than we needed, but we thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

a slicer made in heaven
The most incredible Charcuterie

A selection of cornichons, mustards, hand-churned butter, & fresh bread sit out on the bar, to be shared with other patrons. As we enjoyed our wine & charcuterie, the barman would come by to suggest combinations of cornichons & charcuterie or mustard & bread – it was my favourite part of the whole experience. All of his suggestions were enthusiastically devoured by us both.

We visited at an off-peak hour, but by the time we left people were starting to filter in. I’ve heard it gets packed later on, but that could make for a fun experience. If you’re in Paris, I can’t recommend it enough. Eric took a picture for us before we left & I made sure to sign the wall.

incredibly happy

Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower. N hadn’t been up last time he was in Paris so we thought it was worth going. As we arrived, it looked like it might rain, so we ducked into a little brasserie to wait it out & have a drink.

Hello, Jet Lag! Our lack of sleep on the plane had caught up with us & we took turns accidentally nodding off at the table. We must have looked ridiculous to passersby. Fortunately, the rain seemed to hold off so we decided it was best if we got moving & made our climb to the top. I’ve been up a few times now & it really is a spectacular view. Paris appears neverending.

Post Nap. Ready to Climb

Weary & hungry, we made our way back to the Marais for dinner. We attempted to go to Breizh Cafe for an authentic Breton dinner (crepes & fresh seafood were a staple when I lived in Rennes!), but it’s not the type of place you can just walk into without a reservation (before 10 pm at least).

I had my heart set on crepes (or galettes, if we’re talking the savoury Breton variety) though. Wandering around the Marais, we found La Droguerie du Marais on Rue des Rosiers. The crepe-man makes your crepes right in front of you, taking orders & making jokes from a window that opens onto the street. I was sold. I ordered a jambon-oeuf-fromage, a staple in Brittany, while N went for a slight variation on that combination. (I don’t remember exactly what his was because I was too distracted by my own.)

We’d planned to enjoy our crepes with a glass of wine, but they were pretty much finished before we got back so it wasn’t long before we called it a night. We had a lot more exploring ahead still, so it was time for some much needed sleep. I’ll leave day two for my next post.

Living Abroad \ Travel Young, Travel Old, Travel Often

Raleigh Beach, Thailand

“We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle once said. While I don’t want to sound all gloom-and-doom, and I believe your life can turn around at any moment, there is an important lesson here: life is a result of intentional habits. So I decided to do the things that were most important to me first, not last. – Jeff Goins

This article was circulating around a while back and it really hit home for me. You hear comments about it so often and the hardest part of travelling or living abroad is letting go of all the reasons not to. The older I get, the harder it is to take that leap: quit my job, leave my friends, spend my savings globetrotting. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard to do when I was younger though either. It’s not easy to pick up your whole life and move to another country, especially one where you don’t know anyone. Hell, it’s not even easy to move across your own country. It is worth it though.

Fete de Lumieres, Lyon

Traveling will change you like little else can. (JG)

I wholeheartedly believe this. I’ve seen it in myself and I’ve seen it in others. Travel most definitely changes you. I believe it changes you in the best way possible. If you’re struggling to take the plunge, stop. Travel will never be the wrong answer, especially if you’re young.

There has never been an instance where I truly regretted having travelled. Sure, there have been times when I’ve thought, “It’d sure be nice to have a downpayment for a house” or “It’d sure be nice to be further along in my career”. Yes, those things would be nice at this point in my life, but would I even want them if I hadn’t had the experiences I did? I don’t think I would. I think I’d still be yearning to live abroad.


Go now. That’s the best advice I can give you. Go before you’re too entrenched in whatever life you’re comfortably creating for yourself at home. Go before you decide you’re too old. Go before you regret not having gone.

It’s never too late to go travelling, but it will eventually feel that way. & you will eventually put other priorities first too many times. I firmly believe that it will only get harder the more you establish yourself. Maybe not financially, but in every other way. The longer you stay in one place the harder it is to leave.

So get out of here already. The only thing standing in your way are your excuses.

You can thank me later.

a moveable feast

I follow a lot of blogs – fashion blogs, lifestyle blogs, design blogs, cooking blogs… I love them all for different reasons. I’ve been following Megan Gilger of The Frensh Exchange for a while now  and her post today got me thinking about a lot of things. One of those things is Paris.

It’s funny because Paris is both the reason I first found Megan’s blog and part of the reason I’m blogging today. Her post struck a chord with me for a few reasons. I love her and her husbands work and the way she talks about creating always inspires me to be better creatively. Following through on that is a work in progress, but it’s the kind of work in progress I’m happy to be doing. I’m learning it’s important to me to create things as well as tell my story and I think she hit the nail on the head today. It isn’t all business and we are definitely more than just our work. That’s what I want this blog to be about. My story. And my story should definitely include Paris.

So back to that. As Megan said in her post,

The biggest thing, if anything you should take from this whole chat, is that you never should say no to Paris….ever. Paris is always a yes no matter what. Never say no. (Megan Gilger)

I couldn’t agree more. We’re in the process of planning our wedding and, as a result, our honeymoon next year. While Paris was never my home, I adore it. J’adore Paris! I know there are many people who would disagree that this city is great, but I am not one of them. I don’t know what it is about Paris and I’m not sure I can properly put it into words. It’s just a feeling. And maybe you just have to feel it. Maybe you just have to find your Paris, your France, your place that will always feel special to you.

France in general makes me feel so many things. It’s such an inspriring place for me. I can wander around Paris or Lyon for hours, people watching and taking in every detail. I can’t imagine ever feeling differently about either one. Even after living in Lyon for 7 months, walking down the same streets everyday, catching a glimpse of the Basilica on Fourviere at the end of my street every night, I was still taken away by the humble beauty daily in that country.

I want to share this with N. I want to show him my Lyon, show him all of the amazing things I love about Paris, Lyon, France. Share this feeling I get while I’m there.

I hope he’s as excited as I am.

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. (Ernest Hemingway)

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