Quick Trip to the Opéra Garnier

One of the cool things about living in Paris (rather than visiting) is that you can take the time to explore hidden gems and smaller sites you wouldn’t otherwise have time for on a Greatest Hits tour in a week-long or weekend trip.

I’m lucky in that my office is centrally located in the heart of Paris, surrounded by some of the swankiest areas. I can see La Madeleine from our windows. Since we moved to this location back in October, our gregarious Office & Happiness Manager (official title, and it suits her!) has organized a couple of quick lunchtime trips to cool things to see nearby.

Unfortunately I missed out on the first one (to the Chapelle Expiatoire – where Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette were originally buried and now a museum about the darker sides of Paris’ history through the Revolution and the Reign of Terror. It’s now closed until May). I refused to miss out on another one, this time to the Opéra Garnier.

opera-palais-garnier-paris

The Palais Garnier

Just up the street is the magnificent Opéra Garnier. I’ve been wanting to get inside for ages, but had not yet found the time. Theaters are always spectacular anyway, but this one is high on my list for musical theater nerd reasons: Phantom of the Opera (dun dun dundundunnnnnnn)

It. is. breathtaking.

I am so glad I went. I uttered little “Wows” repeatedly as I turned corners and caught first glimpses of each part of this building. You enter through the back, and go through this big rotunda before you even enter the impressive part. Once you actually enter the ticketed area, you climb grand staircases loaded with marble and lined with gigantic mirrors up to the incredible painted ceiling. Everything is gilt. Everything shines.

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Second Thanksgiving in Paris

Last year, I got lucky. I had moved abroad, but I was still working for an American company. The result was that I had Thanksgiving day off as a holiday, just like always,  allowing me to focus my time on cooking way too many mashed potatoes, picking up our fresh-ordered pumpkin pie, and generally lazing around the house to the smell of a feast in progress.

This year, I officially work in France where they do not celebrate Thanksgiving. In theory I could have taken the day off and, honestly, I had fully planned on it. But between our recent long weekend in Barcelona (which I will tell you about soon), plus being in the middle of a HUGE project at work, plus needing to take scattered days off soon for signing on our apartment and moving and all that good stuff, well, it just wasn’t feasible to take my Thanksgiving day.

So here we are, working on my treasured American holiday.

Thanksgiving in France

I cannot count the number of times in the past week that I have had to explain any of the following:

  • When is Thanksgiving?
  • What is Thanksgiving?
  • What is that thing you’re drawing?
    • Answer: This
    •  thanksgiving-abroad-cornucopia
  • Where’s the turkey?
  • Are you going to eat macaroni and cheese?
  • … among other confused questions

The French, as it turns out, are very unaware of ‘Thanksgiving’ as a concept. When I was in Wales, I had found that most people were vaguely aware of the idea of the American holiday and that it was, in fact, an official holiday.

My French coworkers, on the other hand, have been saying things like “people are really into Thanksgiving!” with a bemused look of someone who doesn’t understand, but won’t question, a silly thing they see someone doing. I’ve found myself repeatedly explaining that Thanksgiving is, actually, a major national holiday and that it’s actually illegal(?) for offices to be open and that it is not, in fact, just a made-up occasion driven by marketing for Americans to stuff their faces.

They’ve all been pretty surprised.

Apparently, the French more or less think that it’s like Halloween, where it’s a made-up excuse to eat a lot and that, as adults, it’s silly and/or optional to participate. Cue sadness.

Thanksgiving is the best holiday, and it’s a real holiday and I take it very seriously. Ok, yes, it’s 90% about food but I love it.

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The Paris Catacombs (Happy Halloween!)

Did I tell you about the time I visited the Paris Catacombs?

We stood in line for hours. No, that is not an exaggeration for dramatic effect. Literal hours. We made a bad choice.

Poor, patient Frenchman stood along with me, our feet dying (ready to be put out of their misery and left with the rest of the skeletons down below), wondering why in the world this strange American wanted to do this so badly. If only he knew then what kinds of crazy antics he’d be roped into for all eternity when he decided to marry me. #SaintFrenchman.

It’s not always like this, apparently. We just got very, very unlucky

The Paris Catacombs

The concept of the Les Catacombes is pretty creepy, just at face value. A labyrinth of underground tunnels walled with the scattered bones of millions of people? Shudder. I HAD TO SEE IT.

In effect, what happened is that after centuries and centuries of Paris being a hugely populated metropolis, the city’s cemeteries were filled to the brim. Like, bodies were piled up so badly that they started to wash up in heavy rains, since they could no longer be buried deep enough to stay buried. Seriously: In 1780, a “prolonged period of spring rain caused a wall around Les Innocents to collapse, spilling rotting corpses into a neighboring property.” 😨 Even in the 1700s the smell was, apparently, unbearable. Plus, the city could use some extra land that was otherwise occupied by people who really didn’t seem to be needing such prime real estate.

It was decided: the dead would have to be moved. There was already a warren of tunnels under the city dating from the 13th century, a perfect storage space. Les Innocents cemetery was the first to be emptied, soon followed by all others in the city. An estimated 6 or 7 million skeletons were moved to the new Catacombs. It took 12 years.

The fun part? They didn’t just toss them all in piles. They decorated. A far more dignified way to have your bones dug up and relocated, I suppose. The catacombs have intricately stacked and designed walls, with zillions of femurs all laying one way, toothless skulls all facing front or organized into crosses and patterns. It’s super weird.

Additional fun fact: starting with the French revolution, the deceased were moved directly to the ossuaries, without making a pit stop in a traditional cemetery. They didn’t stop adding bones to the Catacombs until 1860.

Spooky Scary

We finally, finally got to the front of the line to go down into the mysterious catacombs. We slowwwwly snaked around this little garden and around to the main entrance, which looks like a tiny house, painted black. Inside, your ticket is scanned to count the number of people inside (presumably to limit how many enter, as well as to make sure the same number also exits) and down you go!

First, you come to a little exhibit room. I feebly looked at the signs and descriptions on the walls but, after hours of waiting I was here for the main event!

paris-catacombs-gate-to-hell“Arrête, c’est ici l’empire de la mort! / Stop! This is the empire of death! “

Really sets the mood! You enter through this doorway and immediately a weird sense of awe, fascination, and creepyness hits you. It’s chilly and damp. You are literally surrounded by skeletons. Underground.

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The Fête des Vendanges

Last year, I just missed the Fête des Vendanges. It ended the 9th of October. I arrived the 10th.

This year, there was no way I was going to miss this!

La Fête des Vendanges 2016

A “fête des vendanges” is a wine harvest festival. THE Fête des Vendanges is a wine harvest festival in Paris itself, in Montmartre. Because there’s a vineyard in Montmartre. Did you know that?

montmartre-vineyard-paris

So this particular Fête isn’t just any wine-soaked fête, it’s a wine-soaked fête perched atop the highest point in Paris, surrounding the iconic Sacre Cœur and overlooking the rest of the city. So you can see why I was determined to go to this year’s event.

Many towns and regions have their own Wine Festivals, as you can imagine, being in France, the Land of Wine. Small or large, they consist of booth after booth hawking various wines, red, white, varietal blends, local specialties, etc. Intermixed are, of course, plenty of booths also selling delicious foodstuffs to help support your wine tasting.

Unfortunately, this year’s Fête fell on a complicated weekend, and we were in Ven-Danger of missing it. Again.

We were both sick, and exhausted from just moving into a new (temporary, furnished) apartment with a small and uncomfortable bed, leaving us both cranky. But on top of that, this was also the very same weekend as Paris’ Oktoberfest, yet another event that has been on my list since last year. And on top of that, it all happened to fall on the same weekend as a family birthday, resulting in an obligatory family gathering. We were down to just one day we could use to attend one event. Obviously we chose wine. Frenchman doesn’t like beer (I know. I know) and we’re so close to Munich we can practically smell the real Oktoberfest, so it just made more sense to pick the event that France is sure to do well. I’d rather go to the real Oktoberfest anyway! (Germany, get ready – l’Américaine is coming for you next September!)

Sunday, the very last day of the event, we made it up to Montmartre.

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Fall in full swing

I’ve had so many things to say – and so little time to say them.

First and foremost… It’s my France-iversary!

Well, almost. Technically it was last week but I didn’t post about it here (just on Instagram). I’ve officially been living in France for a full year, minus those couple of months at the start of this year. But my stuff has been here for a full year and that’s what counts. Home is where the heart your stuff is.

It’s amazing to me that it has been a year already. This time last year, I was just moving into a freezing apartment with no heat, nervous to try the metro alone, and starting a long, strange few months working from home. I can’t believe how much has changed since then. Travel, engagement, married (twice), working, feeling settled… I couldn’t have asked for more.

As for recent events…

The last few months have been quite a blur. I know I managed to finally post something in early September after the summer, but I know I’ve been neglecting you all. It’s not like I haven’t been doing anything to write home about, I definitely have! But that’s exactly the problem.

Since the start of June I have:

  • Started a new job, that keeps me out of the house and busy from 9am-7pm at least
  • Flown to Boston and back for a dress fitting
  • Visited dozens of apartments to buy or rent
  • Got my Titre de Sejour! It only took 3 attempts to get into the Prefecture de Police to pick it up
  • Flown to Boston and back for our US wedding
  • Moved
  • Actually put pen to paper to buy an apartment
  • Spent half a day at the OFII (immigration office)
  • and tried to have some semblance of a life outside of paperwork and real estate

So you can see why it’s been tricky to squeeze in time to write about the various goings-on around Paris. I had hoped to write a post all about La Rentrée here in France, because it’s a really interesting phenomenon. After all the Parisians abandon the city in the month of August, everyone comes flooding back for September 1st in what has been aptly described as a sort of second New Year’s. Everything’s fresh, a new start after a healthy break from school, work, city life, and hustle and bustle. There’s just no equivalent in the US. We have “back to school” season, of course, but the world doesn’t stop turning during the summer quite the way it does here, so it’s not as much of a shock when it all starts up again.

But now, we’re officially into fall, and life and business is completely in full swing. I’ve even started seeing Christmas decorations in a few stores, but don’t get me started on that. We think it starts early in the US, but in my experience, countries that don’t really celebrate Halloween in the big way we do or have a fall holiday like Thanksgiving to take the edge off tend to dive head-first into Christmas wayyy too early. For us, we can look forward to Thanksgiving – the food, the fall colors and atmosphere – to dip our toes into the ‘holiday spirit’ before the full dive. Here, there’s no barrier. It’s holiday anarchy.

But, I digress.

The point is, I’ve neglected you all and had a lot of things going on and haven’t been sharing it all with you. Here’s my apology, in the form of a collage of delicious things:

If that doesn’t make up for it, here’s (as we say on the internet) a cat tax:

American in Paris Cat Tax.jpg

Next up: I’ll tell you all about my thrilling visits to the OFII – Office of Immigration and Integration – visits to the Prefecture de Police, and on a more exciting note, our upcoming trip to Barcelona! (Surprise, family! I don’t think I told you about this yet…)

Oh, hello. Remember me?

(For the record, this was written August 4th… true to topic, I forgot to post it)

I know, I know. It’s been forever.

And I’m sure you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat, near tears, just waiting for the next post from l’Américaine.

Well, here it is. So sit back, worry no more, your favorite expat has finally gotten her sh*t together enough to write you a story about what’s been happening… more or less.

But let me tell you, it’s been a busy few weeks (or months? I don’t know how long its been since I wrote anything). I started a job and got busy and got tired from all the French being spoken at and around me all day every day. I took a whirlwind trip home to Boston and back in the span of what felt like 2 days (it was 4). I did lots of wedding planning and preparation for September, and move/house planning. And then every day les français at work ask me when I’m going on vacation and I have to sadly say I’m not, really (as they leave for 2 week trips to Sri Lanka and Norway, lamenting how short it is).

Buckle up, this is gonna be a long one.

Euro 2016

IMG_20160619_112955

So the Euro Cup soccer/football tournament happened. 1 full month of noise, flags, traffic disruptions, and soccer talk. It was inescapable. And technically fun and interesting, except for the part where the Fan Zone was set up down the street from my apartment and it prevented me from walking by the Champs de Mars without going 20 minutes out of my way on a big loop. Sucks for any tourists who came through during those weeks, as the obstructed view of the Tour Eiffel from that street is normally beautiful and very very popular with tour busses. And for those who live right next to the Champ de Mars? Don’t ask how that went (right Jayne?). Just assume it was terrible, having to argue with security to be let through because you live there and no, you do not have to throw away the groceries you just bought.

euro-cup-2016-paris-final

Les Soldes

les-soldes-2016-paris-galeries

Ah yes, THE SALES! As an American who likes to shop, this was my Christmas in July. Les Soldes are highly anticipated every year, since big deals and deep discounts are rare in France. Essentially, each summer, all stores everywhere put their stuff on sale, in incremental reductions every 2 weeks or so. Windows are plastered with 2EME DEMARQUE (second reduction) signs and this many percent off, and GET ‘EM WHILE THEY’RE HOT-style advertising. Les français love it.

I, doing my expat duty, decided to join in the fun to see what all the fuss is about. Reporting live from Paris, I can tell you it’s mostly just fuss. But! I did learn some tricks to get the most out of it, depending on what you’re looking for:

  1. A Specific Item: If you have your eye on one thing in particular, go ASAP. Prices do decrease 1, 2, 3 or even 4 times over the course of the month+ that the Soldes runs, but stock runs out so sizes and colors become scarce. If you want something specific that you’ve had in mind, go early and take the first price. If you wait, it’ll likely be gone.
  2. Anything Else: If you’re just out to scout for deals on random things that are pretty, wait it out! The first round of discounts isn’t that impressive, so if you don’t need that one blouse you saw, you’re better off waiting until later reductions to peruse the racks and see what kinds of bargains you can find on all sorts of tops, dresses, pants, shoes, household items, etc. you see when you get there.

Summer Happened!

paris-summer-parc-andre-citroen

Finally. It took forever but it finally started to feel like summer here by mid-July (after the rainiest, worstest spring ever). I had to fly home to Boston on July 14th and the day I left it was 50-something degrees. 4 days later when I returned it was nearly 90. Color me confused.

But I won’t complain because summer is great and it meant lots of long, sunny walks around Paris to get back to what Frenchman and I love to do best, and couldn’t do much of when it was between drizzling and pouring for months on end. We even caught a bit of the Tour de France when it came through Paris, which was a neat surprise. We weren’t expecting to see it but happened to be walking by when the caravan came through by the Tuileries.

Apartment Hunting

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that Frenchman and I have been looking for an apartment to buy, as he greatly prefers to own than to rent (you know how accountants are with that “saving money” and “paying for an investment not throwing money away” stuff). I can’t say that I disagree. So we’ve been spending the summer trolling every apartment listing we can find and making our Wishlist for size, location, features and whatnot that we’re looking for.

The bad news is that we learned we have to be out of our current apartment at the end of September. Time, crunched. So suddenly we have far less time and flexibility than we thought to find our perfect apartment. Now instead of just looking for a place to buy when we find the right one, we’re doing that in hyperdrive plus hedging our bets by looking for a new place to rent come October 1st.

Busy busy busy.

Between doubling down on apartments, sneaking off at lunches to go all over creation to visit places we may or may not like, AND coming into the home stretch of planning a wedding on another continent, it’s been a busy summer.

Stay tuned for how it all turns out – where we’re living, how the wedding goes in September, whether I make it through it all or just fall asleep on the floor somewhere…

paris-tuileries-sunset

(Editor’s note: I have updates! Since I wrote this a full month ago I actually have new things to share. All my notes are safely stored for a next post, But you’ll have to wait 🙂 )

Thoughts from Paris, Spring 2016

A lot has happened in the last couple of months, and I haven’t written about any of it.

It’s not like I didn’t have the time. For almost all of April and May, I was home just about every day. With exceptions of course for that time I got married and the week I showed my parents around Paris, I’ve had a pretty wide-open schedule. I’ve filled my days with job-hunting for hours on end, cat-snuggling (a full time job on its own, really), and going for really long walks to get lost and find my way home again. And yet somehow, I never found time to tell you all about it. Or maybe I just wasn’t inspired after several days straight on the couch.

Human contact is a funny thing. Too much of it and you’re dying for some alone time in your jammies with a snack and your favorite shows. Not enough, and you start to become a bit too attached to your Netflix account, who is always there for you and would never do anything to hurt you.

Over the last couple of weeks though, things have been looking up! Good stuff has happened, the weather got better (briefly), and I started to spend more time with fun people other than my cat. Lunches here and there with friends, shopping trips, and – most important of all – I found my people in France for weekly Game of Thrones viewing. It does a person good to find their fellow nerds.

Anyway, I’m bouncing back with a few random thoughts from the last few weeks of “Spring” here in Paris:

  1. Happy birthday to me! I got to celebrate my birthday in France this year, which was neat. After a couple months of boring unemployment, realizing you don’t have to go to work on your birthday is a nice perk. I got to sleep in and hang out. I also got to go to the Prefecture de Police, in an odd twist of date fate. See #5 for more info on that – this one’s about me. After a nice dinner out with my Frenchman (and gifts that included both popcorn AND maple syrup! what a man) My fellow expat friend Jayne was nice enough to organize a fun dinner at Ober Mamma with a few great people.
  2. French banks are even worse than originally thought. You can set up a personal account and a joint account, but the joint account can only have one name on it and one card… Then, you can receive your cards for those two accounts on the exact same day, with no way of knowing which card goes to which account, and even when you activate them on an ATM, the view is identical so there’s still no hope. And then, just when you think you’ve hit the peak of French banques, you find out you are not allowed to change your randomly-generated pin. You just have to memorize this string of numbers, plus the random numbers for the other card, plus the 10-digit numbers-only password you had to create to access your online banking. Ugh.
  3. There is a speakeasy through the freezer at a pizza joint. No, really. No, this is not Brooklyn circa 2010. There’s a pizza place near Bastille that has a hidden bar in the back that you access via a giant freezer door, and it’s speakeasy themed with jazzy music, ceiling tiles, and awesome cocktails. I didn’t take pictures when I was there, so here are some I grabbed from the internet: dragonfly20131119-23145-1tqsv2qThe Beef Club Ballroom, Paris, France
  4. There is no summer in Paris. While everyone else at home was posting beach pics and talking about how hot it’s been, we were here in Paris wearing sweaters and coats and talking about how we got more than a month’s worth of rain in just a few days. There were floods and the Seine was overflowing and the Louvre had to move their precious art. It was all very exciting except for the fact that it’s not summer which is a real bummer, you guys. Paris floods SeineParis flood Seine EiffellParis flood Seine swan
  5. I got (and started) a job! As I mentioned in my last post, after what feels like a year of job hunting here in France, I finally landed an offer. I couldn’t be more excited, both for a reason to leave the house every day and to have income, but also for the job itself which seems like exactly what I was looking for, on either side of the Atlantic. The only hitch was that I still didn’t officially have the right to work in France despite being married to a Frenchman, as I was on a visitor visa. I had a date at the Prefecture of Police, scheduled coincidentally on my birthday. I gathered yet more paperwork, including as much government-approved proof as possible that I had lived together with Frenchman in France for a minimum of 6 months. Oy. But ultimately the appointment went fairly smoothly, and I was granted the right to work, effective immediately! As soon as I realized I could start ASAP, I panicked a bit. It all seemed too soon! But it was fantastic news, so I enjoyed last few days of funemployment and jumped in feet-first into all-French, all-day.

And that about catches us up to today! It has been a nice few months back in Paris, giving me the opportunity to relax, explore, and get more familiar with this city I now call home. I’m excited to see what the next few months bring as I transition from existing here in a semi-vacation state to really, truly living here and participating in the day-to-day. Stay tuned for a post all about commuting on the Metro, I can only assume I’ll have stories to tell.

Life as a bored* expat

I quit my job to live in France.

That sounds like an intriguing start to the next New York Times Best Selling novel, but the reality of it isn’t as fun as it sounds. I mean, I can’t say it’s all bad, not at all. I get to sleep late, go nowhere if I don’t want to, hang with the cat… It’s actually pretty great. For the first week or two.

After the rush of wrapping up my job at the company I was with for over 4 years (and saw grow from 10 people to nearly 200), rushing back to France and getting married, then showing my parents around Paris for a week, I was ready for a break. It was nice to relax a bit. But after the first couple of weeks, having nowhere to go gets old.

When you picture “I quit my job to move to France” you imagine leisurely strolls through ornate gardens with a croissant in hand, sipping espresso at cafés, and mid-week visits to world-famous museums. The problem is that while, yes, I do have all the time in the world to do those things, I don’t have the income to support it. You can’t make daily trips to the terrasse for a coffee on an indefinitely-unemployed budget. That’s the part they forget to mention in movies; the funds required for a life of leisure.

So what do I do with my time? Whatever’s free.

So here’s my Unofficial Guide to Being a Bored Expat

  • Sleep in
  • Play and/or snuggle with the cat
  • Clean the house
  • Catch up on Netflix
  • Find new shows on Netflix
  • Rewatch old favorites on Netflix…
  • Apply for jobs
  • Apply for more jobs
  • Go to immigration appointments
  • Check Facebook
  • Go for looooooooong walks

Like, really long walks. Why not when you have nowhere to be but wherever you are?

I’m lucky that this period of funemployment falls just when the weather is starting to get really nice. We’ve had rain off and on, but we’ve also had quite a few days of beautiful, sunny, warm and even hot weather. I take full advantage and have been going for long wanders through the city. I go for 1, 2, or even 3 hours just walking and looking around. I occasionally meet Frenchman for his lunch break and then just meander my way home through whatever streets look interesting. It’s a great way to pass the time, get some fresh air, and get some exercise rather than deepening my imprint in the couch.

Sights and scenes walking off the beaten path in Paris

Paris BasilicaJardin de Luxembourg fountainParis bakery boulangerieParis architectureWindmill garden ParisOpera Garnier ParisParis Reine Astrid statueParis Doorknocker BlueJardin de Luembourg boatParis fountain horse and turtleParis Cat in Plant

(Bonus: our Cat tree is coming in nicely…)

And now…. Big News!

What’s great is that I wrote this post and was planning to publish it on Friday, but didn’t get around to finalizing things. That little delay means I get to wrap it up by saying that I will be *BORED NO MORE – I got a job! I got the call late Friday afternoon, just in time to make some family phone calls and then celebrate all weekend with delicious crêpes (which I should tell you all about in detail at some point because they’re that good) and various other treats.

So what’s next? I have a bit more time before I start, since I am not yet officially able to work. I have an appointment at the Prefecture de Police for a “changement de statut” in order to receive the right to work in France, so I’ll be starting after that.

In the meantime… shopping! A new job is always an excellent excuse for a whole new (French) wardrobe, right?

Parents in Paris!

Remember that time I got my parents to fly all the way across the ocean to see me get married and visit Paris? I know that was 3 weeks ago and it seems like I forgot but I swear I didn’t.

It was a crazy, full, busy week but it was so much fun!

Let me set the scene: my mother, a big European traveler in her day and, honestly, the reason my brain has been full of travel dreams since I was about 10 years old, hadn’t been to France in over 40 years. My father, on the other hand, had a brand-spanking new passport in hand, having never flown so far before in his life. Things were about to get very exciting.

The day we arrived was, unfortunately, a miserable deluge of pouring rain, immediately squashing my plans of taking my parents on a quick “walk around the neighborhood” to surprise them with -SUDDENLY, EIFFEL TOWER- around the corner. The cherry on top was the fact that a complete transportation strike was planned for that very day, landing us with a slightly delayed flight and a miserable, extra-long and crowded ride on the Roissy Bus from the airport. It worked out fine, though, because that afternoon was the  worst we experienced all week and it was all up from there!

For their first full day in Paris, I decided to take my parents on a whistle-stop tour of the heart of the city. Starting from the Arc de Triomphe, we walked all the way down the Champs Elysées to Place de la Concorde, through the Tuileries gardens and to the Louvre. We even had time (and energy) to go a bit further, and made it to Palais Royal and les passages. It was a bit of a Greatest Hits Tour, and it was the perfect start to their week. For my Dad, who had never imagined he would go somewhere like Paris, it was so much fun to see him seeing these monuments that he had only seen in movies. And for my mom, it was a beautiful, emotional moment when we came up out of the metro and took our first look at the Arc de Triomphe, over 4 decades since the last time she saw it.

For the remainder of their week, we went all over Paris covering the city up, down, and sideways. I had a full itinerary planned with all the major sites, lots of sunny walks, and – of course – tons of good food. Over the next few days we covered:

  • Seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, lit up and sparkling
  • Going up the Tour Eiffel (even if just to the middle level)
  • Notre Dame
  • Sainte Chapelle
  • Steak frites (seriously, this was a planned event)
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Bateau Mouche
  • Sacre Cœur and Montmartre
  • Invalides (Napoleon’s Tomb)
  • the Marais and Place des Vosges
  • Crêpes, pastries, plenty of cafe-sitting, and wine

And of course, squeezed in between all of that was an incredible meal at Frenchparents’ house and…. my wedding!

ParentsParis_ArcdeTriompheParentsParis_Eiffel Tower seineJardin des Tuileries statuesParentsParis_Galerie VivienneParentsParis_Eiffel Tower lightsParis Choux CafeParentsParis_Bateau MoucheParentsParis_Sacre CoeurParentsParis_Invalides Napoleon

It was such a privilege to be there and help them have this amazing trip. I’m so proud that I was the reason they came to Paris to have this experience. I miss them already!

ParentsParis_Eiffel Tower c

The one you’ve all been waiting for

Or, maybe you haven’t. But I have, so let’s go with that.

I got married!

I’m still saying it because those words – just like “my husband” and “wife” – still has a funny feel in my mouth. I try rolling them around now and then just to see if it feels more normal yet. Status update: still feels funny.

On Monday, April 4th 2016, I married my Frenchman. Yes, I will continue to refer to him as “Frenchman.” Not everything has to change.

We got incredibly lucky with the weather and had a gorgeous, sunny, mild day. Leading up to it, the weather was all over the map vacillating between rainy and horrible and partly sunny and “okay”. I got ready at my parents’ Airbnb apartment around the corner and with the generous chauffeuring of his brother, we met Frenchman and his family in front of the Mairie in the 15eme.

Inside, we were escorted to the Salle des Mariages – the formal room dedicated to wedding ceremonies – and we were married by the Maire of the 15eme himself who, incidentally, happens to speak decent English and is intimately familiar with Boston as he happens to own the company that runs the MBTA these days. Small world? The French Civil Codes were read (English translations as well, thanks to my handy program!) and we each said “Oui!”

After the ceremony, we made our way across the street to a little park where I had dreamed we could take some photos. Stars aligned and it was sunny and warm, the fountain was bursting, and bright tulips were all in bloom. We also snuck in a quick trip to the Champ de Mars for some pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower because WHY NOT. When in Paris, eh? (Side note: we are definitely the highlight of some tourists’ vacation photos)

Finally we made it to a lovely restaurant, Chez les Anges, where a private room was all set for us and we had a delicious meal. Champagne was flowing, cat pictures were passed around, and an incredible cake arrived from the iconic Pierre Hermé patisserie to top it all off.

We ended the evening saying goodbye to Frenchman’s family who were kind enough to drive quite a long way to attend, and then the Americans (and new husband) took a stroll through the heart of Paris to the Louvre, a quick refreshment at Cafe Marly (one of my favorite spots, to be discussed another time), and watched the sunset over the Pyramides.

It took almost 2 weeks to get my hands on pictures of my own wedding. For those of you who kept asking, my apologies, but on the day of I was busy being in all the photos so I didn’t have any of my own, and then there was the business of my main photo-takers travelling internationally and across time zones (THANK YOU I LOVE YOU) so they get a bit of a break.

But now, I finally have access to a whole bunch of pictures and I get to share a handful of them with all of you. And that’s all this is going to be, so if you have questions or want to know more about the day please ask in comments!

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A personal favorite

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Sunset Paris Louvre