Paris Vacation – part 5

If you have ever watched the BBC show Merlin, then you will be familiar with this place:

The Chateau de Pierrefonds

My husband, Steve, had been here about fifteen years ago, when he was in France for work. The chateau is located north of Paris — we rented a car and made the drive over. The day cleared up as we reached the commune of Pierrefonds and it being a Tuesday, the chateau was nearly empty.

View of the Commune de Pierrefonds from the castle

We explored the chateau at our leisure



Our drive back to Paris took us through some gorgeous, picturesque villages. France is really such a beautiful country and we definitely look forward to taking the boys there someday.

Our next landmark visit was due to a request from our oldest, who wanted us to go to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and take a picture of Paris below.

However, when we finally made it up to the top, after a 45-minute delay when the cars stopped working, it was so foggy that we could not see a thing out of the top floor – oops! So down we went to the second level and snapped pictures for our boy.

We spoke to him later that night (afternoon in the US) and explained what happened. He was a little bummed but he thanked us for trying.

Next post, I will take you twenty years back in time, to my first visit to Paris.

Rachel Khoo times two

My latest girl crush and cooking inspiration is Rachel Khoo, star of The Little Paris Kitchen, a show documenting her cooking adventures in a tiny kitchen in the Belleville district of the French capital. The Little Paris Kitchen was also the name of the smallest restaurant in Paris, a table in Rachel’s apartment where she delighted many guests with laid-back food, as she says, “as Parisians cook and eat.”

I recently got her book and have been drooling over the delicious recipes included. and was planning on attempting one when suddenly, our stove died. The oven, to be more precise. We had had problems with the microwave before and since it was all one unit, once the oven died, we decided to replace it.

Here is our old range, a.k.a. Carol Brady:

Two levels, just like Carol’s haircut ๐Ÿ˜€ dependable, but showing its age. Also, not having to do with Carol Brady at all, but apparently ti was also illegal, since the microwave and stove were too close together, which meant we could never stir a pot of pasta in the back, and there was a gap between the top of the microwave and the bottom of the cabinet, which was built for a modern-sized range and microwave.

Once we took out the range and microwave and slid in the new stove, a.k.a. Rachel Khoo II ๐Ÿ˜€ a little detail became clear:

When we re-painted the kitchen last year, we decided not to paint behind the range unit because “it’s not like we’re ever going to move it”. Mm-hmm.

Instead of painting, though, we decided on a decorative touch, using something I had seen at Lowe’s and had been wanting to try:

We did not want to cover the entire perimeter of the kitchen with these tiles, but instead, just add a little pop of sparkly goodness (and cover up all that red!). My awesome husband did all the installing, although we will be having an electrician run a new line for the microwave since it uses more wattage than the old one.

I am so looking forward to making recipes from Ms. Khoo’s cookbook on our new range. Easy, affordable, laid-back, no-pressure French cooking? Count me in! And let’s just hope the refrigerator doesn’t decide to kick the bucket any time soon!

Le breakfast

Tomorrow is Bastille Day, a.k.a. France’s National Day — celebrating the storming of the Bastille, one of the major events of the French Revolution. There will be parades and celebrations, not only in France but in many countries, and various cities in the United States.

I will be enjoying one of these – a lovely, delicate macaron au chocolat, not made by moi, as my baking skills are rudimentary at best, but from good old Trader Joe’s. I saw a box of six the other day and decided I would try it.

It is quite the indulgence — lovely chocolate ganache sandwiched between two shiny, smooth meringue cookies. Along with a cafe au lait, it will make for a perfectly appropriate breakfast.

Laduree, the famous French pastry shop, makes a mouth-watering assortment of Macarons, and I promise to try every flavor every time I am in Paris. Well, maybe not the licorice.


The little Eiffel Tower on the left is a door stop from World Market. Anyone else still call it Cost Plus?

The gorgeous prints in the background are by the talented Georgianna Lane.

July starts and ends with national celebrations I observe, with Bastille Day in the middle – Vive La France!

Paris, of course!

Whenever someone asks what my favorite city in the world is, my answer is always, Paris. Of course, I love the city I live in because it’s where my family is, and I love the city where I was born and miss it a lot, but I must admit to a decades-long attachment to Paris.

My first Parisian experience was in the Marais district, fresh out of university, I decided to park my bags at a youth hostel on a sweet little cobblestone street.

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I loved this quiet little street, the gorgeous church, and the doggie that hung out at the restaurant on the corner.

I soon discovered that Paris was everything I had expected, and more.

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My closest Metro stop was Pont Marie, the name of which became part of my first ever email address.

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I loved how the simplest buildings could be so gorgeous, the beautiful architectural details not reserved for museums or city halls, but instead part and parcel of the style of the city.

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In Paris, you can start your day – every day! – with a pastry, you know why? Because then you walk everywhere for the rest of the day!

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And how adorable are those window boxes above?

You can indulge your addiction to freshly baked bread, too!

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And enjoy a bit of wine with dinner every evening:

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A Highlander: The Series fan, I ran to the spot where Duncan’s barge was usually parked,

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only to discover that they were filming in Canada at the time. After I returned to the States, they moved back to film in Paris again – MERDE!!!

I walked down the famous Champs Elysees

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there were posters for Four Weddings and a Funeral, or rather, Quatre mariages et un enterrement, which was the hit movie of that year.
The Eiffel Tower also beckoned

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but I have to say that it was not the tourist sites that made me love this city.
It wasn’t the expensive boutiques or the fancy couture I saw.
It was the history, written on every street, every window and door that have witnessed so much

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It was the food, made to be truly enjoyed and not agonized over

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It was the women, ever so chic and confident, buying clothes that will last instead of clothes to fit this season’s trends

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It was the beauty, everywhere, to be enjoyed even during lunch hour

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because seriously, if you could go to a place like that to eat your PB&J, wouldn’t you?

And that is why I love Paris. Because of what it is, and because of what it is not. But you know, I decided a few years ago to bring that feeling to my home. I try to cook as much as I can so that I know I am giving my family healthy, nourishing food they can enjoy. I grow my own veggies so that we can eat corn that spent the morning still attached to its stalk. I try to buy things that will last – obviously that doesn’t work for my boys, because they outgrow everything within 3 months – but it means enjoying what we have, instead of always looking around to see what else we can get. It means enjoying life.

Happy Bastille Day!

As a devoted Francophile I am celebrating Bastille day today, remembering the wonderful times I have had in my favorite city in the world, Paris! Here are some pics I found on Pinterest that remind me of the loveliness of the city of lights:

Source: None via Dardinelle on Pinterest

Hope you have enjoyed a few moments in Paris with me – I am off in search of some pastries to celebrate Bastille Day – vive la France!!!

Carine Roitfeld: "Quite Classic with an Edge"

I’m not even going to pretend I am some sort of fashionista or anything, but I do know who Carine Roitfeld is – the fabulous and fierce former editor of French Vogue – and I have been reading that she may have her own clothing line soon! If you saw The Devil Wears Prada, the character of Jacqueline Follet, the French Runway editor who almost replaces Miranda Priestly, is supposed to be based on Carine.

Here are Miranda and Jacqueline, I mean, Anna Wintour and Carine Roitfeld:
Aren’t those nice smiles? ;D

Again, not that a CR clothing line would mean much to me because I seriously doubt that I could afford anything she puts out there, but still, I like most of what she did at French Vogue and would love to see what her line looks like.

She also has a soft spot for Mario Testino, the famous – and Peruvian! – photographer who has captured so many iconic images, including some of a pair that’s getting married this Friday. I forget their names.

Anyway, if she does a clothing line, maybe she can do a collaboration with Target – THAT would be awesome. A girl can dream.

The title of my post is from a quote by Carine describing her own style.