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It’s been a busy time these past weeks, which seems to always be the case when the holiday season rolls in. My days are better when they start with a coffee. The weeks that fly by with celebrations and seeing friends, which is infinately nice. At the office I’ve been playing my Christmas playlist over and over which makes me even more excited about the holiday festivities next week, even though my French boyfriend always asks why we have to watch The Family Stone or the Grinch every Christmas. It just is a must…

Unrelated, but I was feeling a bit nostalgic last week and thinking about memories of my elementary and middle school self: band practice, my brother picking me up in his navy blue pick-up truck after jazz bang let out, adventures at the local country club where we’d order candy and curly fries on our parents’ tabs with the other kids in the neighborhood, endless nights of running through the local golf course sprinklers and jumping on the trampoline texting boys. I have vivid memories of long summers staying up “late” with friends watching music videos on MTV. That is, before YouTube and direct access to everything and beyond. We had to watch what felt like hundreds of them before one that we actually liked came on. You know, some Britney, Blink 182, No Doubt… the memories! I got to thinking the other day, there are few things more moving than a great music video. You know, a good song and beautiful movements and visual storytelling to make a good song even more intense. I’m a sucker for that. Sometimes I even get goosebumps or teary-eyed, not even kidding…

A couple of music videos that I find to be quite rad:
The Love Within // Bloc Party
Flesh Without Blood // Grimes
Wildest Dreams // Taylor Swift
Magic // Coldplay
I Really Like You // Carly Rae Jepsen
Hopeless Wanderer // Mumford & Songs
Countdown // Beyoncé
In A World Like This // Backstreet Boys

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It’s been a tough few days here in Paris, but I wanted to squeeze out this little post that has been ready for quite some time, documenting a weekend away to visit dear friends.

I made it to London weekend before last to visit a close friend for a very special crafty couple of days. She is an avid sewer and is getting married next summer in her homeland of Sweden, and one of the cutest details to date is that she’s having all of us bridesmaids sew our own dresses! Basically she chose the fabric of her dreams and we all chose a pattern to whip up when in Londontown.

Obviously, being the beer obsessed lady that I am, the weekend started out with dinner at a newish brew pub called The Temple Brew House, where I indulged in a big fried fish with heaps of chips (you know, fries, ehhem) and of course… BRITISH CRAFT BEER. The trip was short really only having Friday night to Monday afternoon, but since I don’t really know London at all – aside from the touristy stuff I did when I was a preteen – I was happy as a clam with some strolling.

We attempted the super popular Breakfast Club restaurant and failed (the line was twice as long as the meal would have lasted), so we continued on to have eggs elsewhere at one of London’s infinite trendy-open-all-the-time-with-gluten-free-options-and-fresh-juice places. When you’ve got good company, any spot will do. Brick Lane was packed with both the young and the old, punks and preps, feasting on grub at what used to be the Truman Brewery, now turned street food Oz. The vintage shops were underground and vinyls were everywhere. I could definitely get used to this type of daily life, on the condition that the currency I earned was pounds (fudge, so expensive…). Before heading back on Sunday evening for a dinner in, we popped by BrewDog, where I basically consumed a full meal in beer: Pumpkin King followed by Siren’s Caribbean Chocolate Cake. Pure magic.

Something about London made me very happy. A certain je ne sais quoi. I’m not quite sure if it was the savory breakfast everywhere, the unpretentious pub culture or the brick buildings and markets… I guess I’ll have to go back, hehe.

LONDON PLACES:
Brewdog // Tap room
Brick Lane // Vintage clothing & vinyls hotspot
Canteen // Grub spot
Kew Royal Botanical Gardens // Big lovely park
The Temple Brew House // Microbrewery, pub & restaurant

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3 and a half hours from Paris’s Gare de Lyon. I had seen so many pictures of Provence on fellow expat’s Instagram’s accounts, visits to see the lavender fields. It seemed like the “to do” thing this spring and summer. We didn’t make it to the Provence lavender fields given the autumnal season that had arrived every so justly, BUT we did get to discover Aix-en-Provence for a weekend away with my lovely aunt who was in town. The tones of the city are different from Paris, a different kind of magic. I could literally feel how much more relaxing the lifestyle there must be as soon as I took in a breath of the mediterranean air.

Provence is known globally also for their food. I remember even the French restaurant I worked at in Denver when I was 16, the sadly no longer Le Central, it was a “Provencal French Restaurant”. Even then I didn’t really realize where Provence was, or what its specialities was, anything French seemed exotic for a Denverite! Ratatouille, stuffed vegetables, aioli, pesto soup, fig tarts, calissons… it’s all just so good an world renowned.

The city itself deserves a good old fashion stroll, mainly because it is just so adorable: pastel colors, little balconies, tiny pedestrian streets and warn down old advertisements on the sides of buildings…

If you’re in Aix for a quick trip like we were, I suggest giving lunch a try up at the Place des Cardeurs, then stroll down through the adorably tiny and pastel streets to pop in for a caffeine recharge at Mana Espresso (ex-baristas from Paris’s Loustic!). After more wandering and buying things like herbs and soap, sit on a terrace and try a glass of Pastis, the local apéritif, paired with some people watching. I obviously wanted to make the mini detour to see that big Petit Prince book statue that has been all over social media, and I found out it’s actually the entrance to a library called La Cité du Livre, how cute is that? You’ll have to try to local sweet confection, le calisson (pssst Pâtisserie Béchard makes a darn good one!) Dinner is a must at Les Deux Garçons, the staple brasserie du coin that sits on the main drag, if the weather permits, reserve a table on the terrace. Paradise.

Quick side note—- if you take the TGV you’ll arrive at a train station about 20 minutes from the center of Aix. We didn’t know that until AFTERWARDS. There are busses that go to the city center, and also taxis which run for about 20-30 euros. Bref, to keep in mind more precisely for your departure!

AIX EN PROVENCE PLACES:
Cité du Livre // Library, Oversized Book Statues
Chez Féraud // French Restaurant
La Compagnie des Savons // Soap Shop
La Route des Bières // Beer Shop
Les Deux Garçons // French Restaurant
Mana Espresso // Coffee Shop
Pâtisserie Béchard // Candy Shop, Calisson masterminds
Place des Cardeurs // Place with heaps of restaurants
Santons Girault // Santons Boutique

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To wrap up the summer season, Louis and I were so excited to bring some friends to the house in the countryside. It’s the kind of place that is certainly worth sharing- and besides, who doesn’t want a weekend getaway outside of the stress of the week and Paris? (I mean, we all adore Paris, but let’s be honest, getting to somewhere calmer for the weekend is fabulous and anyone who tells you differently is lying).

So, Haleigh, Marissa, Ylenia and their beaus came down for a weekend amongst the flowers. It was a weekend to enjoy some nature, and to make some time to cook delicious things with garden finds, to pair with our perfect BBQ goodies.

Sharing such a beautiful place and a place we love so much with friends really made my heart all fuzzy. It’s kind of like sharing a little part of yourself in many ways, a place where so many memories are made and where more will continue to be made with dear friends.

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I’m not yet at the age where heaps of my friends are getting married. It’s starting. For example, this is only the second wedding I’ve ever been to! (The first one was also documented on here). That said, I’m eternally bummed about missing two dear friend’s wedding last summer due to distance and a new job, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to be a part of more celebrations for dear ones in the future. Because quite simply, seeing people so so happy and being a part of such a celebration is one of the most magical things.

This September someone I really care about got hitched, my fromager friend Romain. We met in our Master’s program here in Paris, and he’s probably one of the sweetest humans I’ve ever met, so to head down to the Aquitaine with the other two members of our quartet, Coline and Mohamed, was just the best way to finish off the summer season. The simplicity and beauty of their wedding was beyond rad, full of brocante-themed details, bubbly and dancing. The adorable little Mairie was in a small town north of Bordeaux, near the newlywed’s new home, and the reception was in a beautifully modest local castle (to which I unfortunately did not bring my camera, cos boy was it beautifully decorated a rustic-vintage charm, streamers and table decor galore!).

Last but not least, a little side note on how epic French celebration meals are— they start so late after already stuffing one’s face in amuse-bouche and hors-d’oeuvres, and so they finish so late but it’s all just so wonderful and because of all the happiness in celebration of love, no one even realizes they’re tired! Leaving the dinner table at 3am isn’t always a bad thing, especially if it’s to get up and boogie to Claude-François and Jean-Jacques Goldman (Google both of these people now if you haven’t heard of them, and yes, you will probably hear their songs at any type of huge French gathering, notably weddings).

It was a very happy weekend, so much love to the newlyweds. And total props to Romain on the cheese course, he knows his stuff.