One Week in Paris ::: (Ooh La La)

::: view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower at night :::

One week in Paris was just enough time to decide that I could live there. I’ve already mentioned a few of my favorite things from the trip here, but there really wasn’t much that I didn’t absolutely love. I even purchased my own perfect shade of YSL red while walking around Champs-Élysées. What’s Paris without perfect red lips?

::: side street in the Latin Quarter :::

Below are my “Must Sees” while in Paris. Enjoy!

Eiffel Tower: Of course. We viewed it first from the Batobus (water taxi) and then went up one evening. Long lines in the summer months, but you can book an appointment on the Eiffel Tower website ahead of time.

::: at the Eiffel Tower :::

::: Eiffel Tower :::

Palace du Luxembourg: We planned to walk around Saint Germain des Pres because some friends said it was their favorite area. This was a “must see” there. The gardens are sprawling and magnificent. Take a picnic and lounge for the day if you have time. There’s a cute little pond where kids can rent sailboats to watch float around.

::: Palace du Luxembourg :::

::: small sailboats at Jardin du Luxembourg :::

::: afternoon stroll through Jardin du Luxembourg :::

Moulin Rouge: We didn’t plan to go to Moulin Rouge so we didn’t book ahead (which is necessary it was 100% booked when we got to Paris). I did want to see the Montmartre area of Paris though, so when the hotel found a spot for us due to a cancellation we went for it. The side shows are better than the cabaret (I’m comparing it to Crazy Horse Paris in Vegas), but it was worth it seeing a Paris staple. After we stumbled upon a humble bar two doors down with a live band playing American music that kept us dancing until close.

::: Moulin Rouge :::

Arc du Triomphe / Champs-Élysées: From where we were staying it was a quick walk to the Place de la Concorde end of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. I enjoyed walking and shopping up one side of the Avenue, touring the Arc du Triomphe (and walking up all 284 stairs), and back via the other side. The top of the Arc has a great view of the city.

::: Arc du Triomphe :::

Les Catacombes: This was the best surprise of our trip. I read about Les Catacombes, but no description or picture can do it justice. In the touristy months be prepared to wait more than an hour and a half, but it will be worth it. Descend a spiral staircase 80 steps into the ground to find the bones and skulls of 6 million Parisians, placed there circa 1786.

::: Les Catacombes :::

::: 6 million Parisians :::

::: Underground in Les Catacombes…Scary! :::

Food: Croissants, croissants, more croissants, french onion soup, escargot, cappuccinos, and crepes. I’ve never had so much cheese in my life! Nabuchodonosor is perfect for authentic French and the servers speak just enough English. As an escape from all the bread and cheese, we ate at Buddha Bar which I recommend for a fun ambience and great Asian food.  The rest of the week we sat at random cafes along the way while meandering each day, most were very good.

::: Escargot, French Onion, and of course a Cappuccino :::

Drinks: Our first night we made a beginner’s mistake, too much drinking day 1 of vacation. We met some friends who recommended the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz and four shots (30 Euros! a piece) later we decided it was novel seeing the place, but not really worth the price… or the hangover! On a tamer night we visited Harry’s New York Bar where we enjoyed unique aperitifs, mine with champagne (surprise?) and absinthe. Come with convo ammo as there’s no music.

::: Mixologists at Harry’s New York Bar :::

Paris from the Seine: Whether you take a champagne cruise, dinner cruise, or just take the Batobus you should absolutely see Paris from the Seine. You’ll see many of the major sights from the water and after a long day of walking around it’s nice to relax and take in the romance of Paris. We opted for the champagne cruise (surprise again?).

::: Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris :::

::: TIPS :::

  • For the Louvre, buy your tickets at the Tourism office on Rue des Pyramids then walk over and use a special entrance  for no line
  • In summer months it stays light until around 10:30 pm (which made for some really long and incredible days!). Plan to get to the Eiffel Tower in time to see it in the daylight and sparkling at night-time.
  • Great shopping on Rue St. Honore (splurge: Goyard scarf)
  • Just get lost, but have a map. I  brought the Lonely Planet Paris Encounter book and it offered up great suggestions
::: keelymarie :::

J’aime Paris ::: A few of my favorite things (so far)

Paris has been absolutely wonderful so far. I have so rarely traveled in Europe for anything other than work, so being able to wander and get lost among les Parisiens has been a dream.

I plan to blog some specific stand-outs from our Europe trip, but here’s an amuse bouche from Paris until then.

A few of my favorites things about Paris (so far)….

::: the macarons :::

They are everywhere in Paris! No really they are everywhere – they even have them at the McDonald’s (so I read while googling them today). In Paris macarons seem like the current cupcake fetish of the US, but to me these are so much better. Near where we are staying, a few blocks from The Louvre, there are tons of chocolate and macaron stores (Michel Cluizel, Ladurée , Pierre Hermé) that are very boutique and designer-esque. Ohhhhhh the colors (of the rainbow), the sizes (mostly bite size but some larger size), the flavors (unlimited), the textures (outside: light & airy, then crumbly/ inside: custard, fruit gel, or ganache)…I’m in love.

We’ve had a large-sized chocolate macaron (to die for, you can see it above), a box of many from Michel Cluizel (seen above: interesting flavors like rose (!), pistachio, strawberry, almond milk), and the hotel we are at brings up an afternoon snack everyday that’s typically some type of macaron. Hoping the stairs at the Arc de Triomphe yesterday helped burn some of them off…

::: the gardens and parks :::

Paris teems with beautiful areas to sit and contemplate life, relax, or read a book. I love turning a corner and running into a park full of people lounging, dancing, sunning, reading, making-out… you name it. Above is the Jardin des Tuileries next to the Louvre. I could live here on a sunny day.

Below is Place de Vosges, the oldest square in Paris (built by Henri IV in 1612), which I stumbled upon while roaming around Le Marais. Sorry Miami, Bayfront Park just doesn’t cut it in comparison.

::: the shopping :::

Maybe it’s just me and I have a terrible terrible problem, but I can’t seem to find a way not to end up shopping here. Damn you Peter for having to work this week! {he wouldn’t entertain it often} Fun fact: This week is Haute Couture week  in Paris so I’ve seen some women walking around looking straight off the runway.

Shopping in Paris is definitely too expensive and yes my money gets me almost nothing, but it is still incredible. There’s Goyard on Rue Saint Honore for those who are tired of Louis Vuitton, at least 2 Chanel stores in walking distance from my hotel (maybe 3, I’ve gotten lost a few times), and Colette is probably the coolest place I’ve ever been shopping.

I wasn’t as impressed with the stores on Champs Elysses as I thought I would be, but it was still a fun walk as it’s the “grandest” shopping street I have ever seen. To be honest I have been pretty good, but probably only because we are going to Italy next!

::: the history all over the city:::

This week I keep saying “I think I could live here,” one of the reasons being that Paris is so wildly rich in history in comparison to anywhere I have ever lived. You can feel it all around you and every corner you turn is a monument, an important building, or piece of history. I am sure it gets old as a Parisian, but to me it makes things feel more alive.

The city has been kept so clean and “new looking” that I don’t miss the modern looks that I typically love. It does remind be a bit of Montreal, as I thought it would, but it of course takes it to a whole different level. I was very touristy and bought the Lonely Planet Paris Walking Tour App for my iphone and have taken time each day to tour the different arrondissements. Here are some of my favorite shots so far.

Arc de Triomphe
Place Vendôme
Statue of King Louis XIII at Place des Vosges
Hôtel de Sens
The opulently architected Paris Opera building
Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis (1641)
inside Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis

Au revoir for now! Attempting to stay away from my computer until this vacay is over on the 18th.

::: keelymarie :::

Living on The Strand, Manhattan Beach

Imagine a town where you can walk the streets at any time of day and feel safe, where real life (not movie) surfers hike barefoot up and down steep California hills during sunrise and sunset,  where incredible chefs come to hide out from “LA,”  where boutiques have one-of-a-kinds, where you can bike along the Pacific Ocean (for exercise or bar hopping or both), and….

…where life just feels good.

This is my ode to Manhattan Beach.

4 years ago the most I had really heard or seen of this town was the beach scene with George Jung in the movie Blow. Not the best advertisement for the city, but that was the late 60’s.

In October 2007, I had the opportunity with my company to open an office in Los Angeles. Upon arriving in LA I drove straight towards the water and  two miles later stumbled upon the most charming town. If you happen to end up in Manhattan Beach around sunset, drive West on Rosecrans straight towards the Pacific Ocean. First you will see gorgeous landscaping, well-kept houses, a mexican joint, 2 yoga studios, and a few bars. Once you top the hill you will then see steep sloping hills with stacked “Full House/San Francisco” type houses crunched together, every one of them trying desperately for the view of the last second of today’s sun.

The closer you get to the water along the famous Strand the houses are upwards of 10 million dollars and many look more like 5 or 6 houses together, not single family homes. If you are in the market for one I say go for it.

In 3 years living in Manhattan Beach Peter and I conquered “it’s like riding a bike again” with our beach cruisers, savored restaurants that I will forever crave,  and we got our “California Fix.”

Most people who live in Los Angeles feel that the South Bay isn’t really LA. I just loved being outside the mix of the craziness that is LA, 1 block from having my feet in the ocean, and yet still able to head out to a bar in Santa Monica when we’d like.

Here are a few of my suggestions if you end up in Manhattan Beach:

Sashi: This sushi restaurant was our go-to every Sunday for Sunday Funday and really any other time we ate out. The Crispy Rice Spicy Tuna is insane, I haven’t been able to live with the Taiwan Ramen Noodle Soup (I even tried to make the recipe at home!), and I always had a hard time deciding on the Lychee Martini or the Strawberry Mojito. (Update: Sashi is now closed! Chef Makoto has a restaurant in Miami now called Makoto in Bal Harbour. He is following me of course!)

Simmzy’s: One of the only bars with an outdoor area in Manhattan Beach (unbelievable I know). They have an ever-changing chalkboard of beers and on weekends they have a flavorful peachy White Sangria. We usually stopped here on our weekend bar crawl bike rides. The pulled pork sandwich is well worth the stomach ache.

Side Door: Ivy covered hole-in-the wall gem that I stumbled upon one of our first nights out in MB. It is a super tiny lounge with live music many Friday nights house music others. It is here I found a love for Grey Goose Orange served ice cold with a sugared orange wedge. The food is even good, though I didn’t realize they had any the first few years. They have a members only club upstairs which just leaves you wondering…

Local Yolk: The best lazy weekend breakfast. They do have a small area of outdoor seating. Large portions, family feel, only open for breakfast and lunch. Everything tastes great, especially the corn beef hash.

Shellback’s: I think my MB friends will be surprised I am putting this on “the list,” but I had to. We ended up here every time we went out at the very end of the night. Rico and Joe the bartenders became our friends that I looked forward to seeing. This is a “small plastic cup” type of bar that gets wild at night. It has one of the only panoramic views of the Manhattan Beach Pier out of restaurants or bars on Manhattan Beach Blvd. The chicken tenders for lunch are beer battered and so good.

Spa Elegance: Small garden spa with a beautiful storefront. Rarely have I found an esthetician I could not replace, but I did here. Emily is incredible and she does the best brows in the world. I’m really picky too because wax usually irritates my face. The massages are wonderful, the facials use incredible smell good/feel good  products, and everyone is very nice and helpful. Book a massage in the garden with your honey.

:::Manhattan Beach Sunset:::

:::don’t come without your board:::

:::The Strand:::

:::The Manhattan Beach 6 Man:::

We hosted barbecues almost every weekend, looked forward to fireworks before Christmas rather than the 4th, and we grew to love (ok maybe not) being able to overhear our neighbor’s conversations since the houses were so so close.

I can’t say I was ever ready to leave Manhattan Beach, but I was ready to be near home (friends and family in Florida). We left knowing we’d miss it and never being able to forget it.





Montreal ::: some Frenchy love to prepare for Paris

In May my boyfriend Peter and I took a trip to Montreal for the weekend. I am in Canada all the time for work, but have rarely taken the time to stop and actually see the cities I am working in so I  loved the chance to do this in Montreal.

Writing this post is my little way of prepping for our upcoming vacation to Paris! We are staying at the Mandarin Oriental Paris right around its grand opening as they are one of Peter’s clients. I really cannot wait….the spa is supposedly to die for, Thierry Marx is the culinary director (French/Asian infusion maybe?), and it is smack dab in the center of Paris on rue Saint-Honoré. Ok clearly I am excited…back to Montreal.

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