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Giverny is a magical place. I went for the first time with my mom in 2007, as she is a big fan of Monet’s work. Went and it was the opening day of the season I remember, we forgot to check when it opened and by chance it was that day. Anyways, I had been wanting to go for a stroll through the gardens since, and finally with some friends we made our way up towards Vernon.

We went by car – only a short ride from Paris – but there is also a train and a bus that can lead you to darling Claude’s beautiful green and pink home surrounded by floral inspiration. It can be a bit touristy, so to avoid a crowd I suggest to avoid a weekend, but nonetheless it’s just as beautiful. Pop by one of the local café afterwards for a bolée of cider, to make your trip to Normandy absolutely perfect.

There are so many treasures within a couple of hours of Paris. It’s certainly worth it to get away for an afternoon.

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I had known about Bob’s Juice Bar and Bob’s Kitchen from when I first arrived in Paris. It was sort of staple of something I knew was American. I will admit I never went often as whenever I randomly passed it or planned to go, it was always closed for some reason. Bref. When Bob’s Bake Shop opened, this was a whole new ball game in my book. Expats in Paris sure know how exciting it is when Thanksgiving rolls around because many shops sell their pies for Turkey Day celebrations. I for one was just excited to be able to get pie all the time.

Aside from the pie thing, I was also excited about it being somewhere NOT in the 11th. All of my favorite things I find group in one area. It’s not a BAD thing it’s just something I’ve noticed. I like when peeps get risky and open outside of the trendy spots of the time – cough – the Canal Saint Martin or Oberkampf area. Bob’s chose to open up north in one of my favorite places to stroll since my Lamarck Caulaincourt days, by the Marx Dormoy metro stop. North of my Indian cantine Chettinadu, the Esplanade Nathalie Sarraute is up against the tracks of Gare de l’Est, sandwiched between those also of Gare du Nord. It’s one of those randomly modern areas that is sort of becoming a new sort of trendy thanks to some snazzy restaurants and a youth hostel, but is definitely like a small pocket of trendy in a rather unique part of Paris that is the La Chapelle quartier. Bob’s Bake Shop graces us with its presence here.

A diner in the true sense of the term, Bob’s Bake Shop offers quality food without giving too much of a shit about the overdone awesomeness of the interior. So many places look the same these days. What I love about Bob’s is that it is what it is, and it is wonderful. No subway tiles and wood finishings and inconvenient table arrangements, like in so many other restaurant or cafés popping up around the city. It is spacious, comfy and feels just right – is that my inner American? Table booths line up the window, and the cafeteria-like set up displays everything they’ve got to offer: homemade bagels, cakes, pies, cookies, salads…. the works.

Stop in for a coffee or juice and a treat, or for a sane lunch with a delicious lemonade with a pal (like I did, with my homegirl Ylenia). We went with a open faced bagel sandwich with hummus and pickled veggies on top. Long story short: friendly staff and delicious food. An authentic American spot in the city. I will admit though, I am secretly awaiting some banana cream pie.

Bob’s Bake Shop
Halle Pajol – 12 esplanade Nathalie Sarraute, 75018
Métro: Marx Dormoy (12)
Tél: 09 84 46 25 26

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This year seems to be all about transitions. The biggest one coming up is leaving our nest of 3 years for a new one. A new opportunity to re arrange the bookshelf, an opportunity to put new holes in new walls (my favorite part) and for things like finding an excuse to buy wallpaper. Our little nest in southwest Paris has served us well, but as we grow and become big kids, a step up only seemed natural.

As a sidenote, can I just say that apartment hunting in Paris is FAR from easy… and it’s basically a full time job. Landlords look only at the paper – the salary – and not where you work, what you do or who you are as a person or if they just get a good feeling when they meet you (Ok, *ideals*, but it would be cool if they didn’t JUST look at the 7 digits in your contract, right?). Certain statuses in France are not favored, cough, like the one my boyfriend works under in the cinema industry, add being a foreigner into the mix and it makes for one complicated application in the eyes of the everyday real estate agent, and no matter what your situation they still want guarantors that live and work on French soil that are not retired and that are clearly prosperous bread winners that own property (which will forever blow my mind in a city so rich in culture and with quite a population of immigrants).

Bref, we now see the light at the end of the tunnel could not be more anxious to discover the larger Paris just beyond the 75’s limits and still so spoiled by public transport. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Paris has become seemingly smaller, while becoming literally bigger. The borders are stretching and people are venturing even farther out from Ile de la Cité for various reasons. To top it off, I feel like within the city limits is becoming more and more unbearable to live comfortably. Times have certainly changed, and even good jobs aren’t enough for my generation for the price of living in some cities, even à deux. But alas, I’m not complaining.

I often ask myself how people do it. Having a certain idea of what people earn in the industry that I work in, I am still trying to put the puzzle pieces together. Where do these people get the funding and guarantors needed to rent these humongous apartments in the city? I guess these people are winning at the big game of Monopoly.

To say the least, I’m just proud to be making ends meet on my very own in this big bad city that is my home.

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For my bestie’s last weekend in Paris before she moved to Munich for the next chapter in her professional life, we planned a little dinner date à deux at Soya, which I had been dying to try. I couldn’t think of anyone better to give this place a whirl with. This gal and I have made Paris our stomping ground, and have grown up so much since our arrival at the same Uni in 2008. It’s pretty crazy how time flies. I must say, the hard thing about expat life is that people leaving for new horizons becomes a common thing. I’ve been the one that’s left before – as I’m sure other expats totally get this feeling, too – so it’s a bittersweet goodbye, that is filled with so much excitement. Now I’ve gotta get my ass to Munich cos I miss her too much.

Soya is a magical vegetarian canteen that serves quality organic food (finding spots with a not as easy as you may think to come by in Paris). The deco has got that earthy yet industrial feel, big beautiful wooden doors, lit candles, some artwork, on the walls, wooden benches and a chalk board where they jot down what’s on the menu. It’s that “less is more” déco that is just perfect in my book. We kicked off the evening with Soya’s mezze plate which was yummy as. For the main dish I went with the lasagna, which I just loved every bite of. My date had the epic quinoa salad with falafel and a sort of veggie tajine with some hot sauce.

Ana Clara, the Brazilian bombshell photographed above, has always been someone I admire for many reasons. One of these one hundred reasons being that this girl truly cares about her body what she puts in it food-wise, which is actually pretty hard in this day and age (or at least I find). I’m not a vegetarian, but eating meals with no meat now and again comes more often than not in my house, and trying some colorfully crafted quality meals without meat is always fine by me.

Soya
20, rue de la Pierre-Levée, 75011
Tél: 01 48 06 33 02 (reservations recommended)
Métro: Goncourt (11), République (3, 5, 8, 9, 11)

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Summer is rolling out. I’m hoping this Indian summer will stick around just a few days more before the leaves fully turn and fall from their branches and the rain falls more often.

This summer Louis and I didn’t get vacation. I know, surprising being in France, the country with 5 weeks paid vacation which is often unheard of to most hardworking Americans. As I had just started my new permanent contract (paid vacation days have to be earned throughout the first year for the following year… vivement next year!) and Louis just started a new project, we had to swing through summer working full time on our mix and match schedules. We have nothing to complain about though; we are loving what we do, and this summer we took in slow, enjoyed Paris, but also hopped on the highway just a short ride to the countryside for a breath of fresh air with the in-laws whenever we could. An excuse to get out of Paris on the weekends certainly made summer feel more real.

A la campagne it feels like summer year round. Not because of the weather, but because it’s relaxing and just so beautiful. We dine even with the chills outside, with light gardlands lit and candles topping the table as soon as the sun goes down, it is as charming as ever. With the foggy mornings and flowers for every season in bloom throughout the year, it’s safe to say that the countryside is pure magic. My father-in-law’s garden was at its peak later than expected this year, so our fruit and veggie explorations were the cherry on top of a good weekend away during the Indian summer.

I suppose with age and wonderful experiences I’m realizing that summer doesn’t only consist in getting away for vacation to a beach somewhere. A weekend away in good company, delicious and quality grub in a beautifully cozy home can certainly suffice. What makes your summer feel like summer?