sandcastle in the sky

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These pictures really speak for themselves, so I’ll keep this brief.  Our visit to Mont St. Michel can be summarized as follows:

A glorious walk approaching the castle-like mammoth.

A sunny trek through Duloc to the top.

An oooh, ahhh at the ant people and oil-painting-esque views below.

The desperate scarfing down of a completely subpar (re: microwaved) crêpe.

Lesson learned: no wheel, no deal.

bienvenue à la beauverie

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I must begin by saying- if you feel like you might hate me a little after seeing this collection of photos, that’s fair.  Our stay at La Beauverie (the elegant farm estate we visited in Normandy) was charmed, to say the least.  Mornings were a collection of soft light and gentle caffeination, as the sun made its lazy crawl over the mountain from the East.  Days were peppered with road trips, archeological digs in the ruined cider press just down the hill, and conversations with cows.  Our nights became a welcomed routine of cheese board crafting, vegetable grilling, and apétitif sipping on the patio.  We would eat late, just in time to watch the sun tuck in across the valley and give way to a clear starry blanket overhead, perfect for gazing and gushing.  Pure bliss, if ever I’ve known it.

The route to La Beauverie was, however, a bit less magical.  It was 95 degrees (fahrenheit) the day we travelled from Paris to Normandy, and M and I were both looking forward to swapping the city heat for a bit of countryside breeze.  Of course the air conditioning on the train was broken and no one could seem to get the windows open.  Knee-to-knee enclosed in a small car with four fellow travelers, we worked up a good 2-hour sitting sweat.

Upon arriving in Caen, the car rental process proved far less intimidating than expected.  Phew.  Oh, it’s a Volkswagon.  I have one of those.  We can do this…

No more than five minutes of smooth sailing in, our sporty little Polo was pulled over.  Six officers circled the car, posturing with strong-looking shoulders and shiny badges.  They were writing things down in notepads and speaking in muffled tones.  The largest of the group leaned down towards M and demanded his license.

“Désolé, désolé,” our flustered American accents gave us away immediately.

“Touristes?  Les Etats-Unis?”

“Oui!  Désolé…”

“What do you s’ink of Donald Trump?”

Apparently we’d driven down a bus lane.  Luckily for us, the messy political situation back home seemed to be punishment enough, and we were released with a warning.

Mindful of lanes not meant for us and round-abouts-a-plenty, we followed our digital directions to Mesnil-sur-Blangy, all the way to La Beauverie.  We turned down the dirt road for the farm, our minds a mixture of exhaustion and excitement.  Confusion was soon added to the mix, morphing into skepticism as the dirt path became grittier and clogged with thick mud.  We straddled huge tractor tire tracks and felt the dull ache of draining bank accounts as our rental went over one bump, then another.  Thorns crept out into the path, digging their claws into our precious Polo as we passed slowly by.  Eventually, caution beat pride and we quieted the engine.  On foot we ducked through brush and padded over mud into the clearing.  Shining in the hot Normandy sun before us was, well, nothing.

The seemingly abandoned space of mostly meadow boasted two structures; one small shack almost entirely consumed by hungry weeds, and another so far gone it was impossible to tell where all four walls once stood.  This could not be La Beauverie.  It just couldn’t.  And it wasn’t.  A quick Google search, a change in zip code, and a fifteen minute ride later, we were entering our Norman paradise, greeting the spotted cows as we came.  Our senses quickly growing drunk with the sights and sounds of sweet seclusion, all trials of the day faded as we climbed the cobbled steps.

bananas on the wall

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M and I fancy ourselves hip to the coffee scene.  Side note: I don’t drink coffee.  I’ve never been able to palete the stuff, all inky and bitter.  It’s peculiar then, that I average 5 cups of strong black tea a day, hold the sugar and milk, s’il vous plait.  C’est un mystère.

Long story short, M’s love – actually let’s call it a passion- for coffee has lead us on a year long tour of the best coffee shops New England has to offer.  Naturally, we made a priority of hunting down the first few establishments to make it to Paris in its “coffee revolution”, as M refers to it.  We were searching for the cool and the crafty.  Those with artisan beans, resplendent glass coffee maker thingies (which M knows all the names of, that fancy guy) and a well-tiled floor.

Well, ask Paris and you shall receive.  We listened to the summer of love next to hanging bananas at coolest, teeniest Boot Café.  We sipped beet juice and discovered the world’s best iced tea (thé vert with ginger, lime, and mint) at Blackburn.  We read the world news with Bruce Lee, over crunchy avocado toast (with more ginger, chives, poached egg and paprika) and smooth yogurt (topped liberally with housemade granola, diced pears, and apricot compote) at Fragments, blues rock record spinning.  There was a refreshing and beautiful bowl of greek yogurt, cold brew and beakers of cold water alongside some friendly fellow tourists, honeymooning across Europe at Cotume Café.  An early morning at Strada gifted us with quiet, excellent caffeination.

The best thing about Parisian coffee shops?  Your cup is your rent check, and as long as you’ve got something to sip, you’re welcome to stay.  Relax, recharge, enjoy.  C’est la vie Parisienne…

parisian secrets

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On our very first night in Paris- not the one that followed our first full day of walking, but the one that happened right after we deplaned- we made friends.

After a visit to my old stomping grounds, we took our fresh fruit finds to the Canal St. Martin to fulfill a nutella-flavored dream I’d been having since my last visit to Paris.  We gathered up some good goods (camembert, baguette, wine) and found a spot along the canal.  After settling in, all ready to get our picnic on, we were halted by the sad, sad, realization that…we had forgotten our wine opener.

In a sudden burst of energy that must’ve been a combination of resourcefulness, jetlag, and wine desperation, I decided to as the bobo-looking Parisians next to us if we could make use of their corkscrew, s’il vous plaît.  They were gracious toward my broken Frenglish, and even helped me pop the top.

A while later, full of cheese and ready to tuck ourselves in for the night, we stood to leave the canal, turning to give a wave and a nod to our wine heroes.  Instead of the half-smile one might’ve expected (if you’ve spent your life in America, perhaps), the strangers called out to us.

“Where do you come from?”  They wafted the air in front of them, pulling us in.

“Les Etats-Unis!  Boston.”  We were met with hugs.

The friendly pair asked us about everything.  What were our travel plans?  Were we married?  In love?  You look very much in love.  How could you not love this guy though?  He is looking into my eyes right now I think I feel myself, comment dit…melting!  They hugged us a few more times (actually, M got a few double cheek kisses from the man who was surely falling for him), and sent us off with a list of insider recommendations jotted on the backside of my boarding pass.

“You must know what you’re doing already, though,” the woman winked at me. “Parisians  try to keep this place a secret.”

the time we walked across paris in a day

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On our first day in Paris, we walked.  And walked, and walked and walked…

Starting from our artsy flat near Canal St. Martin (with its fantastic, minimalistic, desert-ish decor), M and I hoofed it across the 11ème in search of a morning baguette.  A few “je voudrais” and 1 euro later, we walked bread in hand to Oberkampf.  Stopping in at L’Oiseaux I spotted an old ostrich friend and knew we were close my Voltaire.  As we made our way over to my old stomping grounds, a wave of nostalgia walloped me in the form of familiar scents.  A greeting from the poissonnarie’s metallic catch du jour, a nose kiss from the corner boulangerie.  A sweet, alluring exhale from the strawberries at my favorite fruit stand, and an oily embrace from outside the fromagère.  We crept up on Cité Industrielle through the brown-bagging pseudo park.  The rainbow of street art just outside our apartment had since been painted over, but the welcome of its shady trees shone just as vibrant as ever.

M and I continued down towards the Seine until we reached the Louvre.  We peeked into glass pyramids and strolled through Les Tuileries, stopping to recline in coated green chairs.  We considered a ride on the famous ferris wheel, and filled our lungs with warm, lavender-scented breeze.  Crossing the river, we pressed on by Mussée d’Orsay and sifted through dusty books and old maps.  We hiked our tired bones up le Champs Élysées, noshing a shared nutella banana crêpe until we reached l’Arc de Triomphe.  We marveled at the speed and disorder of traffic circling the ancient monument, and boarded the metro back to our side of the city to ready ourselves for le Palais Garnier.  Oh, what a way to spend the first day.

le matin parisien

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I can hardly believe I’m off to France Thursday night.(!!!)  Inspired by creative goddess Erin and her recent vacation à Parii, I’ve decided to create my very own make-believe Paris morning.  The details, if you’d like…

Wake up in the softest chemise to the sound of Edith Piaf and the smell of buttery croissants.

Sip black tea from a big mug and pour over the intimate journal of George Sand.

Light some baies and plan the day with doodles and more croissants.

Explore, sleep, repeat.

 

 

caged

Infamous street artist, JR (you know, the one responsible for the NYCB installations at the Koch Theater), is at it again.  This time, the French artist known for his large-scale black and white images flyposted around the streets of Paris, brings us Bird Ballerina.  In this wheatpaper piece, a ballerina sits behind the “bars” of nine shipping containers in the Port Le Havre in France.  The resulting image is hauntingly beautiful, an unmistakable sadness exuding from the caged ballerina who patiently awaits her release.BirdBallerina_01 BirdBallerina_02 BirdBallerina_03 BirdBallerina_04

via Honestly WTF

farewell, 2013

2013 was truly one for the books.  Travels, trials, treats, and tears, this year has bestowed them all.  From adventures in France to promotions in Providence, the memories made in 2013 will be cherished for a lifetime.

Now, dear readers, I leave you with an extremely thorough photo diary from this past year.  I tried to edit out just my few most favorite memories, but like I said, 2013 was one for the books.

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heaven is a place on earth with you

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Today is the day I see my boyfriend for the first time since our weekend in Nice, France about a month and a half ago.  He’s been studying design in Berlin for 3 long months and I am psyched to finally have him back in the states!  I have all kinds of fun things planned for the final month of summer together, including bike rides, drive-in movies, picnics, home-cooked dinners, and even a possible camping trip in Maine (eep!).  Stay tuned for more…