Paris: Where To Eat

The first thing I do when I go to a new city is research where to eat. Since arriving in Paris, my go-to sources have been: David Lebovitz, Oh Happy Day, and this list from local friendsHere is a roundup of some of our favorite spots so far (apologies in advance for the selfies...we're kind of a one trick pony when it comes to iPhone photos):
1. Aux Tonneaux des Halles - This is a traditional French brasserie that is on the cute Rue Montorgueil. There are cute cafés and brasseries on every corner, but we quickly learned that many of them are owned by larger chains. It's tough to discern the okay ones from the great ones. Aux Tonneaux des Halles is independently owned and very good. We had Steak Frites and a bottle of the house red wine. We forgot to take a photo of the food here (fail!) but take my word for it that it's great! The fries are really crispy (they cook them twice as long here) and the desserts are also amazing.
2. West Country Girl - Delicious buckwheat crêpes and galettes that put the street vendor version to shame. The savory and sweet crêpes are thin and crispy and filled with delicious, fresh ingredients. I had the sausage, cheese, and leek savory crêpe (Lucas had the ham and cheese, of course) and we each had the salted butter caramel for dessert (Lucas opted for the apple and ice cream version). The crêpes pair well with sparkling cider. This place was cozy, delicious, and inexpensive. We'll definitely be back here!

3. Coutume Café - Really, really good coffee. We've tried cappuccinos, lattes, pour overs, and everything has been excellent. The coffee in Paris is very good in general, but this is by far the best we've had. We tried some of the breakfast/brunch food (granola/yogurt & banana bread) and it's just okay. I'd skip food and go just for coffee.
4. Le Pain Quotidien - A nice regional chain of cafés (think: similar to La Boulange in SF). It's a great place to grab coffee, fresh veggie juice, quiche, open faced sandwiches, and salads. It's good yet inexpensive by Parisian standards. I had the lentil soup du jour and the warm goat cheese salad.

5. Le Relais de l'Entrecôte - Warning: this place is touristy. We've tried to avoid these places in general, but Le Relais was recommended by David Lebovitz and it's really good. They only serve one thing: steak frites. Their fries are really crispy and their steak is served in a delicious herb sauce. We shared a half bottle of their house red, which was actually fantastic. Bonus: they come by and refill your plate with a second portion. This is why my plate looks so full yet messy. :) It was an all around great meal.

What am I missing? Any favorite spots in Paris?

My Travel Essentials

It was very tough for me to pack for 2 months -- I wanted to bring everything! I decided to scale back on clothes (because obviously shopping in Paris is at the top of my to-do list) and instead bring a few of my travel essentials. Here are some of my go-to items for traveling:

1. A fedora or hat to protect my sensitive (read: pale) skin. I have this one and wear it all the time. (Asos: $57)

2. A Turkish bath towel for spontaneous picnics. The bonus here is that they're light and easy to pack in your suitcase and purse. (Amazon: $25)

3. Sunglasses - my go-to pair are these classic Ray-Ban Aviators. They look good with both casual and dressy clothes. (Shopbop: $150)

4. A bag to carry all of your belongings. My Cambridge Satchel doubles as a work bag and day bag, which is perfect for this trip. The 15" version holds my huge Macbook and all other essentials. (Cambridge Satchel Company: $190)

5. A soy travel candle to make our corporate apartment feel cozy. In my opinion, there is nothing homier than fresh flowers and candles. (Amazon: $55 or this one: $30)

6. We've had sporadic rain showers every day since arriving, so I'm really happy I brought my umbrella. Mine is from J.Crew but I love this tiny version for traveling. (Orla Kiely: $50)

7. A scarf to feel very French and to double as a head scarf when it rains. (J.Crew: $30-125)

8. These Converses are hands down my favorite shoes for traveling. I've always loved the look of Converses, but the originals have thick soles, which feel clunky. These are a slimmed down version and they feel effortless and cool with no socks. As much as I'd love to walk around Paris in heels (how do they do it?), I need some support. :) (Zappos: $55).

9. Finally, a travel journal, so you never forget the name of the cute little brasserie that you went to! (Rifle Paper Co: $15).

What are your travel essentials? xoxo

Peony Season

I live for peony season every year. You know, the 3 weeks where you can buy peonies at Trader Joe's for $5 a bunch? Paris has done wonders for my obsession with flowers - the fleurs are so gorgeous here in the spring.
I resisted buying them for as long as possible, but then we stumbled across these gorgeous peonies in every shade of pink at a farmer's market in Marais on Saturday. I had to have some! 
I chose the deep magenta color, but they also had soft pink, white, and red versions. They were ~8 Euros for the bunch. Can't beat that, especially when they're normally ~$10 per stem!
We didn't have any vases around our apartment (I searched high and low) so I had to settle for this glass. It's working out okay although the blooms are rapidly opening and may outgrow the tiny glass soon. They're already making our little apartment feel more cozy. XOXO

Nail Salons in Paris

I feel like there is such a learning curve any time I travel to a foreign country. You have to learn the public transportation system, how to make reservations in restaurants, and of course, where to get your nails done.

There are nail salons on every block in San Francisco and New York, so I've become accustomed to getting a $10 manicure every week. I naively expected a similar (albeit more expensive) setup in France, but I was so wrong. I couldn't find a nail salon anywhere and was in desperate need of a manicure (the struggle is real, y'all).

What I found is that several beauty stores offer manicures (like Sephora), but you have to make an appointment days in advance and they're equally expensive to high-end salons. That didn't seem like the most relaxing option, so through Yelp (and it's European subsidiary Qype), I found a small salon in the 6th Arrondissement called Nail Bar/Beatué Dupin. I opted for a gel manicure (so I wouldn't have to re-do this every single week that I'm here) and a regular pedicure.

This was both the best nail salon experience I've ever had and the most expensive nail salon experience I've ever had (hey, you get what you pay for, right?). I made an appointment (which in and of itself was hard with the language barrier) and was the only customer the nail attendant saw during that block of time. She spent so much time and energy making my hands and feet soft and pretty. The manicure/pedicure combo took 2 hours (!!) and was extremely thorough - she took care of my cuticles like nobody's business. In speaking with my colleagues, I've learned that the experience here is really more about hygiene and cleaning up your hands/feet than the polish itself. In fact, you have to pay extra for polish in most salons. Many French women just opt for the buffing, cutting, filing bit with no color at all.

You live and you learn! I'll definitely keep getting manis/pedis throughout my 2 months here, because I'm a total sucker, but I promise to never take my cheap nail salons for granted ever again. :)

Roland Garros

Lucas grew up playing tennis, played on the club team in college, and is just an all-around huge fan of the sport. Over the years, we've been to too many local tennis tournaments to name. This weekend we're crossing something major off his bucket list and going to Roland Garros aka the French Open in Paris. He. is. stoked. He keeps talking about it, watching the qualifying rounds, looking up players on Twitter, etc. etc. Mostly I'm just excited for the food. ;) Have you been before? Any tips? xo

{Photo Source]

Best Parisian Movies

Over the last month or so, to get ourselves in the Paris spirit (it was really hard, y'all) we watched Parisian-themed movies. Here is a list of our favorites for the other Francophiles out there:
1. Before Sunset (2004) - This is part of the aforementioned series, where the two leading characters spend the film wandering the streets of Paris. It may be my favorite of the films!
2. Amelie (2001) - One of my all-time favorite movies. While in Montmarte, I had to visit the Café des Deux Moulins to see where the infamous bathroom scenes took place. :)
3. Funny Face (1957) - Who doesn't love this Audrey Hepburn + Fred Astaire musical? I love her classic style throughout the movie with a light khaki coat, moccasins, and black skinnies.
4. Julie & Julia - I'm such a sucker for  Nora Ephron anything, and this movie is no exception. I've been craving boeuf bourguignon and soup à l'oignon since landing.
5. Marie Antoinette (2006) - I admit that this movie drags on a bit, but the costumes and historical story in this Sofia Coppola movie are really lovely. A must see before a Versailles outing.
5. Midnight in Paris (2011) - In this charming Woody Allen movie, Owen Wilson is transported in time to 1920s Paris. PS - how lovely is Marion Cotillard?
6. Moulin Rouge (2001) - You can't help singing along to this movie and this movie definitely revives the imagination for Montmarte at the turn of the century. How is this movie almost 15 years old?
7. Paris je t'aime (2006) - I remember watching this movie in high school and dying to go to Paris. The movie features several different narratives all centered around the theme of Paris.

What am I missing? We don't understand enough French to appreciate French TV, so we watch NRJ non-stop. Would love to check out some other French themed movies while we're here. :)

Paris, je t'aime

Things have been a little crazy lately! For starters, I'm in Paris for a 7-week-long work project (why me?!). Things have finally calmed down and I'm excited to enjoy the summer here with Lucas. Expect a lot of Paris-focused posts coming up. First up, a quick little shot of our apartment for the next few months. Paris, we love you already!