France: Paris (vol 2)

After lunch at a small café, we set out for Le Fouchon to find my aunt’s favorite tea. Holy moly, that place is amazing! Tons of beautiful macaroons and ornately decorated eclairs. Flavors and variations of all kinds. I bought three different kinds of tea, sausages to smuggle back for my uncle, and B bought meat and a delightful Beaufort cheese. It was very pungent, but creamy and flavorful. The little Frenchman, Olivier, explained to us that it is made at a special time of year when the cows eat flowers and herbs in the mountains. One of my favorite aspects of this particularly cheese is that there are these sort of crystalized spots so that the cheese has just the slightest bit of a crunch. So tasty!


We met B’s crew at Le Baron Rouge. It was a very small wine bar with several large wine barrels against one of the walls. You can choose your wine and they’ll fill up a glass, a bottle, or a jug for you. Outside the bar there was a girl selling fresh oysters and crevettes.


We took a 40 minute stroll to the Latin Quarter for dinner at Grains Nobles et Plus. Our group was seated in a private room beneath the restaurant which we called “the cave.” It was stone and brick, circular like a tunnel. Most of us opted for the “surprise” menu with a wine pairing. Such an excellent option! I had a prawn ceviche with Champagne, ahi tuna with a red, mango panna cotta with a sparkling rosé. So much wine. So much laughter.

Sunday was beautiful and sunny. We walked along the Seîne river, past the Louvre, through a park (or two), saw a bird man, gypsies getting roughed up by some police, the bridge where people place a lock on the fence and throw the key into the river to symbolize their eternal love. I feel like we pretty much saw it all.

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We ended up at a café called Ma Salle à Manger. The waiter and waitress were cute and fun – like the might be pantomime performers and this was their side job. We split ad lovely white wine, so dry that it seemed to bubble. Pâte Basque with a small side salad and yummy cornichons. Duck tartin (pie) with leeks and a confit sauce poured over. Wowza.

After lunch, we took the metro (it was free my entire stay as there was a pollution warning) to meet Mik and Sydney by the canal before they returned to Lyon. We took a stroll along the canal before stopping at a cute bar with an enormous black and white mural of an octopus. After we bid them goodbye, thanking them a thousand times for their hospitality in Lyon and Le Grand-Bornand, we roamed on to a bar in the 11th called Ketch which boasted a top notch Gin Fizz. It has a great, hip atmosphere. Tons of tiny disco balls hanging from the red ceiling. From there we moved on to Chez Paul for our last meal of the trip. Escargot in a garlic butter sauce. Risotto with foie gras. We fell into bed at midnight (at the very latest).

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The alarm went off at 5am, giving us 30 minutes to pack and get to the train station. We locked up the apartment, dropped the key in the mailbox, and walked through the dark courtyard. Goodbye, Paris.



France: Paris (vol 1)

We arrived in Paris by train at noon and took a taxi to Hôtel de Ville. We stayed at Hotel Duo, a contemporary boutique hotel located off of one of the main streets and a short walk to Île de la Cité where Notre Dame, La Saint-Chappelle can be found. Sydney had a meeting shortly after our arrival, so I took that time to roam around and familiarize myself with the neighborhood. The square held a gorgeous carousel which was bright enough to light up the surrounding buildings, a man blowing giant bubbles, puppies, people, and just Paris itself. So magical! We had dinner in the Latin Quarter. We started with a cheese-filled pastery, kiwi, and side salad followed by one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever put in my mouth. It was cooked perfectly, sliced and drizzled with a honey soy sauce and served with a beautifully stacked potato au grain. Dinner was followed by a glass of Champagne. 





The next day was filled with shopping, exploring, and a whole lot of nothing. I find that sometimes, this is the best way to spend a vacation. No agenda. Walking down a street because it looks interesting. Stopping for lunch because you’re famished and fear you will not make it another block without restoring your blood sugar. After almost a full day of this, I checked into the apartment B found on Airbnb, rehydrated, loaded a map and set out to meet some of B’s American pals who also live in Germany.


Apple Maps is the worst.

After following the map about 3 blocks past the actual location, asking a local vendor for directions in my broken French (he was as baffled as myself by the map), I stopped into a pub to use their internet and email for help. While waiting on B’s friends I learned the bartender was from London, had lived in Paris for two years, and his girlfriend is from Dallas (Denton, but close enough). We had a beer and a great chat about all things Texas since he’d gone for his first visit over the holidays. As we said our goodbyes, I couldn’t help but think how small the world is. That we’re all connected.


France: Grand-Bornand & Lyon

As I sat down to write this, I became acutely aware of how very charmed my life is.

13354387023_6e2cbd217e_bWe were met at the Lyon airport early Saturday morning by my dear friend, Sydney, and her French husband Mikael. From there we headed straight to Le Grand-Bornand for the holiday weekend. I’m still not entirely sure why it was a holiday weekend in this particular region of France, but that morning everyone was headed to the mountains. Mik’s family has a charming little flat complete with amazing view of the village. We had lunch on top of the mountain under clear, sunny skies in 50 degree weather. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect day! We were surrounded by adorably baby skiers giggling and shrieking in tiny French voices as they sailed by as rainbow-colored hang gliders floated above. There are charming local farms you can walk to with fresh cow and goat’s milk, cheese to much on, and baby animals to pet. Alas, we only had 24 hours on our side and were forced to make our way back to Lyon on Sunday afternoon.

13355183904_0125cd5d03_bLyon is an elegant city with beautifully detailed old buildings. The Rhône runs through the center of town, and on nice afternoons people have cocktails or coffee at the cafes which are generally boats that have been docked. Our second night there, we were fortunate enough to arrive as the sun was setting and the water reflected the yellows and oranges of the evening sky. We spent the rest of the evening wandering the streets frequently stopping to photograph alleyways, ornate buildings, and beautifully flowered trees. They just don’t build’em this way in the States!

My third night in Lyon, I met up with three young Frenchmen that I’d been introduced to via Facebook through a friend. They decided it was imperative that I try traditional Lyonnais food. Thus, we made reservations at Abel which has been around for almost 100 years! We began the meal with a traditional wine that was very dark purple in color, very sweet, and served in a glass shaped very much like a Champagne flute. For starters there was a delectable salade de boef, a recommendation from the waiter, which was thinly shaved beef (similar to gyros) in a tangy vinaigrette served with sliced white onions, parsley, and green peas. The boys ordered sausage with lentils which was also quite tasty. For dinner there was quenelle, which is a sort of savory soufflé made from fish. It was served in the shape of a loaf and the when they brought it to the table, the waiter spooned a light cream sauce with mushrooms. We had an excellent burgundy to wash it all down, and finished the meal with espressos and chocolate cakes. There was a grappa-like after dinner drink that smelled of rubbing alcohol and burned the entire way down. After dinner we walked along the river in a part of Lyon I hadn’t yet explored. There was a quick drink before parting ways. The French restaurants and bars don’t stay open particularly late (especially on weeknights) so we were forced to say our goodbyes far too early. I get the feeling they may turn up in Dallas at some point.

My last afternoon was spent with Sydney, who I grew up dancing with. She had been dancing in the Cabaret in Lyon when she met her husband and is now working on her MBA. We strolled around the neighborhood before stopping to have a beer on one of the boats that doubles as a cafe. The day was absolutely perfect as we sat on the deck of the boat sans coats soaking up the vitamin D. After catching up, we went to a posh indoor market housing tons of different vendors where we bought bread, veggies, small steaks and wine for dinner. She makes this lovely dressing that consists of balsamic vinegar, mustard a splash of olive oil and yogurt. It’s so simple, but divine. I want to put it on everything! The salad was perfect, the steaks were perfect, everything was perfect! Once we finished our wine we headed to Blogg for salsa dancing. After an hour in the sweaty, smelly, steamy salsa club we headed home to pack. There was an early train to Paris for us to catch.

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England | Germany | France

Welcome 2014! Thus far it’s been a whirlwind of travel, food, family, fun, and dance!

This year began in London where we saw “Les sunsetMiserables” at the Queen’s Theater, “Book of Mormon,” some of my favorite artists’ works at the Tate Modern, went to afternoon tea, and ate some insanely tasty curry. We flew back to Heidelberg, Germany for a lazy weekend filled with long walks, day trips to France, and more yummy food.

The second weekend of January, my baby brother and cousin hopped on a plane and headed to Bogotá where they will spend the next 10 months teaching English. I’m sad that they will no longer be a short road trip away, but look forward to hearing about his adventures…. and making a trip to Colombia to visit!

Now it’s time to curl up with a cup of Egyptian Chamomile from Zhi Tea (their Masala Chai is to die for!) and practice my French. I’m leaving you with some favorite photos from my latest European adventures…

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