Love at the Musée Rodin

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

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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.

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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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Romance in Paris

It’s February! My how time flies when you’re having fun up to your neck in cardboard boxes.

The Monsieur and I are officially moved into our new place and things are looking good (we finally have a couch!). It got a little hairy in there when some door handles got broken and a dryer was delivered without the washer it’s supposed to go on top of (even though we had already paid for it…?) but the course of a move never did run smooth. All things considered, it went well. The trick now is furnishing the place so we have places to put our stuff away and more than 1 pot to cook in. Baby steps.

Anyway, we’re here now and I thought what better time to think about romance in Paris than now, after moving into our very own place just before Valentine’s Day?

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Romantic Things to Do in Paris for Valentine’s Day

In the lead-up to V-Day, here’s my list of romantic things to do in and around Paris, prefect for Valentine’s Day (or any day!)

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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

Vienna (Part 1): I’m ENGAGED!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

This is not what I expected to be posting about after my weekend in Vienna. I figured I would be posting photos of imperial palaces, quaint Christmas markets, and gorgeous festive scenes.

And, we did all that. I have those pictures (and they’re beautiful!) and we had a fantastic weekend that I can’t wait to tell you all about. But instead, this is Part 1. Because I can’t do that AND talk about the fact that my Frenchman and I are engaged!!!

I’m going to keep this short, and I promise I’ll talk about Vienna for real (that’s Part 2) but first I needed to get this out of the way.

While I can’t say it was entirely unexpected, somehow that doesn’t make it any less surprising. Certainly no less exciting!

We were in Vienna for a getaway / birthday weekend for Frenchman, so we had booked a fancy dinner at Das Loft for Saturday night. This restaurant is on a bunch of lists of amazing places, primarily for its view. It’s a swanky place at the top of a tower overlooking all of historic Vienna.

Vienna Das Loft Restaurant

This is not where he proposed.

If I expected it at all, I expected it there. If not at the restaurant, then on a romantic stroll back through the city center after dinner. This is also not where he proposed. We went for our romantic stroll, twinkling Christmas lights and all, and… went back to our hotel.

Sunday, I decided to put it out of my head and we had a lovely day full of fun and interesting things (that I will tell you about next time), and we capped it off with dinner at an authentic, tiny Austrian restaurant we found while wandering by the day before. It was very delicious and just what we were looking for.

We again walked through the beautiful old streets of Vienna, admiring the incredible lights and decorations. We came upon this lovely fountain that was completely surrounded by Christmas trees, and I decided to take a picture.

He decided to ask me to marry him.

Engagement in Vienna

It was simple, it was beautiful. It was perfect. I said yes. Obviously.

Engagement Ring Antique

After standing there for long enough for the surprise to wear off and the cold to seep in, we set off to celebrate with a glass of something sparkling (like my ring!!!) But! Not before I finally took a picture of the fountain… (it took a few tries, since I was shaking and not just from the cold)

Neuer Markt Fountain ViennaPark Hyatt Vienna Engaged

So now we’re engaged! Get your passports ready, kids. I’m going to be Mrs. Frenchman!

We remember the naysayers

I’ve been googling again.

A dangerous pastime, I know. Googling your problems more often leads down the path of despair than to rosy outlooks. Or maybe that’s just me and the tendency to look for the worst accounts. See how bad the answer can really be.

It’s like straining your neck out the car window on the highway as you pass a wreck. Knowing that you’d hate to see a person there, but unable to look away without trying.

Or maybe it’s just steeling yourself against the worse possibilities. Protecting yourself from the shock of what could happen. Is that self-sabotage or self-defense?

In googling, I’ve read countless tales of moving abroad for a lover. Married, not-yet-married, moving together to a new country, moving to his/her homeland – you name it. And let me tell you – the accounts were not moving. Or they were, but they moved me to have the same, continued concerns as I did before I read them. Only now more verified. Or different. Oddly though, not more.

I’m not more worried now than I was 5 minutes ago, or 5 days ago. This just occurs to me now. It’s comforting, in some strange way.

And I think there will always be concerns. Moving overseas is big and scary and complicated. There are a lot of moving parts and changing tongues and a lot can go wrong. But a lot could go so, so right.

Imagine the life experiences to be had!

So many resources say – forget the relationship. Whether it succeeds or fails, image the incredible experience you will have had along the way. You’ve LIVED! You’ve done something amazing. Provided that you did it well – i.e. actually explored and experienced the culture outside of your partnership – the move is rife with opportunity to do something incredible that you might not otherwise do. Or that you would otherwise do, and now you’ve got a fantastic excuse to finally go for it.

One particular post I read, it wasn’t particularly profound in and of itself, but a comment stood out to me. They had things to say on the subject of the poster, sure, but this one line struck a chord with me.

We tend to remember the naysayers… the ‘you shouldn’t because…’

My god. That speaks to me in volumes about myself, my thoughts, my tendencies… my fears. There are so many why nots and they always seem so much louder. So much bigger than the shoulds.

I should move to France. I should live in the place I have loved and dreamed of for longer than I could find it on a map. I should learn even more of the language I’ve come to take as music to my ears. I should take a risk.

A leap.