The Strasbourg Christmas Market (and why I won’t stop traveling)

  Three days after a truck barreled into a crowded Christmas Market in Berlin, Chris and I boarded a bus en route to Strasbourg, France – the self-proclaimed Capital of Christmas – to visit its own famous Marché de Noël. We weren’t seeking out trouble. Nor were we necessarily going out of our way to make a statement against the evils in this world. We simply had made plans to spend a few days before Christmas enjoying the old, Germanic, yuletide tradition – plans that we had no desire to cancel. The decision to go to Strasbourg as planned was not, of course, made without some deliberation. As we […]

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Autumn Snapshots: Day Trip to la Château de Rambouillet

Paris is currently under siege by the highest level of air pollution the poor city has seen in 10 years. Air pollution. No, not Paris! you say. Paris, with its romance and its mystery and its unparalleled perfection, cannot possibly have a problem with air pollution! Alas, even gay Paris must account for its industrial waste and its dependence on diesel fuels. The illusion was shattered for me and now I must share the stinky, smoggy truth with you. Sorry. This pollution problem, however crummy it may be, hasn’t come without its perks. In an effort to improve air quality by encouraging would-be drivers to stay off the road, public transportation […]

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An Open Letter to the Man Who Saw Me Cry

An Open Letter to the Man Who Saw Me Cry in the French Immigration Office |

To the man who saw me cry in the French immigration office: I think it goes without saying that I was having a really, really rough day. You could have watched the scene unfold from your seat across the room, quietly feeling sorry for me like the rest of the responsible expats who showed up at the correct time with the correct paperwork. (Kudos to you for effectively reading between the lines on the government website.) You could have even snickered to yourself and thanked your lucky stars that you weren’t the fool for whom, as the receptionist put it, “there was absolutely nothing she could […]

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Go and Sin No More: My Favorite Painting at the Louvre (so far)

My Favorite Painting at the Louvre (so far) |

The best part about getting a membership to the Musée du Louvre is that I can visit the famous museum as often as I please. I don’t have to feel rushed, like I need to ingest all of that culture in one, greedy bite. I can spend an afternoon browsing the Egyptian artifacts and another meandering through the Roman sculptures. I can revisit my favorite Greek pottery or Moroccan tiles. And, I don’t have to feel guilty for spending a half an hour admiring a single Italian painting either. It’s fate that I even found the painting at all, hidden as it is in a corner behind the […]

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The Essence of Thanksgiving

The Essence of Thanksgiving -- celebrating our first Thanksgiving abroad! |

Even before Chris and I moved to Paris, I knew that the hardest part about being abroad would be the holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas and the glorious season in between. I live for all of the traditions and nostalgia and family gatherings that define the season, and I knew that it would be difficult for me not to feel a part of it, to be so far from home. Sure enough, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, it took everything within me to resist dropping a couple hundred dollars on a plane ticket, to be honest, just so I didn’t miss out. […]

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Pucker Up: Navigating La Bise Française

La bise, or faire la bise, is what the French call the cheek kisses that accompany a friendly greeting or farewell. Where Americans would shake hands or hug, the French use la bise as a polite gesture, an acknowledgement of recognition, affection, and camaraderie. It is a vastly important component of French social etiquette, taught to children alongside “please” and “thank you” and “cover your mouth when you cough.” Different regions of France teach different iterations of la bise: most of the country, including Paris, uses 2 kisses (one on each cheek), while other regions use 3 and even 4! La bise is a fine art, to be sure. There’s […]

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Roundabout Horror at the Arc de Triomphe

Roundabout Horror at the Arc de Triomphe |

Every few weeks since we arrived in Paris, I make a point to visit the Arc de Triomphe. This might seem like a silly ritual because, you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. Maybe so. Maybe it’s touristy and over-crowded. Maybe they charge an arm and a leg to climb the 284 steps to the overlook at the top. Maybe. But, is it worth it to me? Absolutely. Now, I like a spectacular view just as much as the next person. I too get googly-eyed over the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré-Cœur basilica and the giant Ferris Wheel at the […]

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The World is Watching: French Opinions on the US Election

I have been asked by several friends and family members to shed some light on how the French are feeling about the results of our recent US election. Let me preface this by saying that I was wary of tackling a piece like this because, admittedly, I wasn’t sure how I could write about the outcome in an unemotional way. But, now that the dust has settled a little and I feel a bit more, shall we say, levelheaded about it all, I have decided to give it a go. I am in no way positioning myself as a political expert, […]

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Autumn Snapshots: The Paris Catacombs

This past weekend, in an attempt to celebrate Halloween in some capacity, Chris and I decided to pay a visit to the Catacombs of Paris. We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, except that we’d get to see a few bones, maybe learn some historical tidbits, and, above all, we’d get a healthy dose of some pre-Halloween spookiness. While all of these expectations were met during our tour, I never anticipated finding it as entertaining and informative as we did. There is a vast expanse of history (nearly 2000 years!) buried in the dark tunnels below The City of Light, and […]

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Autumn Snapshots: Seeking Quiet in la Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

This week, Chris and I were in need of some quiet. Don’t get me wrong: urban living is great. To be able to step through our door and immediately become part of the hustle and bustle is exhilarating, the fulfillment of a 15 year old dream from the heart of this urbanite wannabe. But, everyone needs a break from the noise every once in a while, a break from the car horns and sirens, the click-clack of shoes on concrete, the constant chatter from bars and cafés. Sometimes, you need to hear bird song or wind in the trees… or just hear yourself think. Chris […]

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