Out with the old, in with 2019!

Before I say anything, let me start by saying bonne année, bonne santé, et plein de bonnes choses….

There. Now that the annual Happy New Year-wishing obligation is taken care of, we can start the year. 4 New Year’s Eves in Paris and I’m still not totally used to how seriously they take their bonne années here, but I’m getting the hang of it.

A look back on 2018

2018 was a busy year! Work, travel, family, friends… it was a year chock-full of bonnes choses. Before moving on to what’s to come in the next year, I always enjoy looking back on the past 12 months to recap and remember all the things that happened. Time passes so insanely quickly, it’s easy to forget how much you can do in a year.

In 2018 I….

  • Started a new job
  • Had a massive leak in our (newly finished) ceiling  [still not repaired]
  • Visited Beirut
  • Was visited by my parents, and went to Provins then Marseille, Cassis, the Luberon
  • Turned 30… and celebrated it at Disneyland Paris
  • Went to London for work
  • Went to London for fun – to see Hamilton!
  • Fell in love with Cabourg
  • Watched an open-air opera of Carmen in front of a chateau
  • Saw my friends get married in front of zebras at the San Francisco Zoo
  • Went to New Orleans for work
  • Visited Copenhagen


  • Ate, drank, and saw more wonderful things than I can count

Happy New Year 2019

What’s to come in 2019? That’s a very good question. I suspect that this year will bring a lot of unexpected things. Unlike past years, I don’t have a checklist of significant events that I know will come to pass; there’s no apartment to buy, I’m not moving to a new country (that I know of…), and my job is good and stable. There are no milestones or major life events anticipated for this year so I can’t wait to see what happens.

The only thing I know for sure is planned for 2019? Travel. Like any good française, I’m already deep in the planning for where we’ll travel this year. We’re way behind the competition who have certainly already booked their August vacations and bought train tickets for their endless weekends away. Short weekends, long escapes, we’ll see where we find ourselves in the months to come.


Parc de Sceaux

As you know, France practically shuts down in August. All the Parisians are gone, all off on 2, 3, or 4-week vacations. Even Berthillon, the ice cream shop on Ile St. Louis – i.e. the tourist center of the city – closes in August. The only people left in Paris in August are tourists… and me, getting pitying stares from those dashing to and from exotic locations.

September, however, is essentially a second New Year’s. La rentrée, or the return, marks the restart of school, work, and life as we know it. It also marks the start of “autumn” whether it feels like it outside or not. I’ve been giggling for a week watching people dressed in dark colors, fall boots, and actual coats while it’s still hitting 75* out. Parisians don’t dress for weather, they dress for ideas. La rentrée means fall, so we dress for fall.

It may be September and la rentrée may be in full swing, but I like to hold onto summer as long as I can.

Parc de Sceaux

All that to say, as part of our Do More Stuff mission, Frenchman and I recently have been making a point to find places in and around Paris to explore on the weekends. While we used to pick new parks and places to visit pretty regularly, we had gotten a bit lazy since moving to Saint Germain en Laye and hadn’t gone on many adventures in a while.

This summer, we decided to get back to it. One of our earliest Fun Things was, of course, Disneyland Paris for my 30th birthday. Next we wanted to go to Fontainebleau, the magnificent castle and massive forest, but we needed to take the time to prepare and plan our day, so as not to get lost in the woods and miss limited train service, etc.

So instead, Frenchman had the lovely idea to go to the Parc de Sceaux. Conveniently on the RER B, one sunny Sunday we took a ride through Paris and out to the town of Sceaux to visit the gorgeous chateau gardens.


A Walk in the Park (de Sceaux)

Just south of Paris, the Parc de Sceaux features a beautiful chateau and (the real destination) gorgeous gardens that are essentially like Versailles in miniature. In fact, the gardens were designed by the same landscape architect, André Le Nôtre.

We got off the RER in Sceaux and wandered through the town, making a stop at a boulangerie for sandwiches to carry to the park. We wandered through the side gardens surrounding the small chateau, because there are two, apparently, purchased for castle guests to stay in, until we found a nice bench with an excellent view for our lunch:


Once finished, we made our way through the grounds to explore as much of it as possible. We strolled up around the (main) chateau, down the center alley to the edge overlooking the full length of the grand canal. Then we adventured through the woods and down along the canal, following it as it takes a left turn and around to a big fountain overlooked by massive hunting statues. There is, apparently, also a massive waterfall, but it was not running when we visited.

We decided to look for a place to sit a while, but we were definitely not the only ones with this idea. The park was absolutely chock full of families and couples, having picnics or birthday parties or just lounging in the grass. It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed a little break half-dozing in the summer heat. We eventually moved on, and finished our tour around the rest of the grounds, taking a detour through the woods, before making our way back through Sceaux to the train station.

It was a simple, peaceful day, and I loved it. We visited a lot of parks when I first moved to Paris, waking up on a Saturday and deciding to pick a garden or park in the city to check out and the wander home. This little lazy summer excursion was a nice reminder of exactly that type of activity. Parc de Sceaux: highly recommended.

Disneyland Paris

I had long joked that for my impending 30th birthday, I wanted to gather a bunch of my friends and go to Disneyland. I thought, what’s more ridiculous and silly than for a bunch of adults to go to Disney? And while it did start as a joke, over time, I really came to love the idea 1) because it is silly to celebrate your 30th birthday in a children’s theme park, and 2) because I love Disney and why the hell not.

So when my 30th actually rolled around, Frenchman and I thought… let’s do it!

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Having visited nearly all of the major sites that Paris has to offer on their first and second trips to France, when my parents came to visit this spring, we were looking for something to do outside of the city. We had visited Versailles last year, so that was out. We discussed Fontainebleau or Chantilly or Vaux le Vicomte but my dad just wasn’t interested in more chateaux, no matter how impressive.

What he wanted was something not too museum-y. Something old. Something village-y.

The village of Provins

We settled on Provins, a medieval walled city located just an hour from Paris. Not to be confused with Provence, this village is a World Heritage Site known for the 13th century walls surrounding it and its 12th century tower. It’s also a very easy train ride from Gare de l’Est for a few euro (or included in your Navigo!)

We arrived at the station in Provins, which is located down in the modern part of town, and hopped on the little shuttle bus that takes you up to the old city. In theory, this bus makes several stops, and we had planned to get off in the lower city for lunch, but the bus never stopped and never gave any indication that getting off was an option. SO directly to the old city we went.

The shuttle drops you off at the tourist center, where you can buy tickets to the various activities, including falconry shows and jousts. We skipped that and walked up to the gates of the walled city.

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Getting a haircut in Paris

I did it. I finally got my hair cut in France.

To explain how serious this situation was, let me explain. It had been a full 2 years since I’d had a real haircut (before I moved to France).

Now, I’m already pretty bad at scheduling haircuts at home, in English. I wait ages until we’re way past acceptable length to actually make the call because it can just be such a hassle. It took me years to find a salon in Boston that I liked and would regularly schedule appointments with because my requirements are, apparently, complex. They are as follows: 1) good with curly hair, 2) open late enough on weekdays to go after work, 3) online appointment booking.

Online appointment scheduling should be standard for every salon. There. I said it.

It just makes sense! Who has the time to call, and then when they inevitably offer you a day or time that fits none of the original availability you’ve given them, you have to go back and forth wasting everyone’s time. Why not just provide a calendar that we can all check at our leisure and click on the timeslot that matches up with our own schedules? But I digress…

Since this is Paris, I knew there was no way I would find online booking in a salon here. The bigger hurdle was getting up the courage to actually go for the cut with a language barrier of unknown proportions. (What’s the lingo for layers and low-maintenance, no I don’t own a blow dryer that works here, and no I don’t style it, well, ever, in French?) It’s hard enough to explain to a stylist exactly what you want in your own language. Doing it in French is a real risk. Continue reading

Catching up: A year in bullets

It was about this time last year that I unceremoniously and without warning just…. stopped posting. I got a little burned out and was feeling generally uncreative, so the blog took a backseat to enjoying my summer and digging into job hunting.

Now that I’ve resurrected the blog, I thought I’d give you a quick recap of what’s been going on in the last 12 months (backdating slightly to include July): Continue reading

Visiting Sainte-Chapelle

I’ll start by saying yes, I admit it. I kind of abandoned you. You the reader, you the anthropomorphized blog. I was going strong for a month or so there at the start of the year, feeling enthusiastic and creative. Then I got distracted by work and felt like I didn’t have anything new to say.

So, sorry about that. But here’s a new tale about an old place, the church of Sainte-Chapelle.

Paris’ Sainte-Chapelle

This place, you guys.

I’ve been twice, the first time more than 10 years ago on my high school “exchange” trip. And honestly, after two weeks in France and countless awe-inspiring sights seen, Sainte Chapelle was the one that really stuck in my mind years later. It truly is breathtaking.

I was excited to visit it again last year, when my parents came to town. As one of my favorite sites in all of Paris, I made sure that it was a priority on the to-do list of their trip. Continue reading

Salon de l’Agriculture

Every spring, Paris plays host to a massive agricultural expo, called the Salon de l’Agriculture. Held in the exact same location as my beloved Salon du Chocolat (but about 18 times larger), this event is something I’ve been curious about since seeing it featured briefly on TV once, and since wondering whether there was a Salon du Fromage or something of equally delicious interest.

With a mind to see some cows and taste some cheese, Frenchman and I decided to pay a visit to this festival of French agriculture.

We did not know what we were getting into. Continue reading

Love at the Musée Rodin

What’s more romantic than an evening spent in the company of the most iconic kiss in the world?


Forget your impossible-to-get reservations for overpriced 18-course meals you’ll only partly like. For Valentine’s Day, Frenchman and I took romance to the next level. We went to the Musée Rodin.


I was lucky enough to get my name on a list for the exclusive #SoiréeLove event at the Rodin Museum, so we gratefully gave up trying to find affordable romantic plans (we did just buy a home, after all) and took the even better idea that fell in our laps.

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Lunch at l’Église de la Madeleine

Here’s the thing about living in Paris. There are hundreds of “major” sites to visit, all of them surely spectacular, but unlike when visiting on vacation you’ve got work and real life to attend to so you never even get to half of them.

Literally so much to see, so little time to see it. How many things in your own hometown have you not visited except maybe when friends are in from out of town?

Fortunately for me, I work with a fun office manager who has a penchant for planning visits to nearby things to see. Our office is right in the heart of the city, so we’re perfectly placed to zip out and back during a lunch break. We’ve got a couple other expats, but quite a few French like to come as well because, like I said, it’s hard to find time to see everything in your own city when you’ve got everyday life to do.

So where did we visit this time?

La Madeleine


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