Archives for category: France

Since I talked about high art in one of the Paris posts, I thought I would share some of my snapshots of street art from our travels. This sparked a breakfast table conversation between Julia and I about what exactly should be considered street art. Is any doodle on the street a candidate for this label, or does it have to be an intricate graffiti mural? My pics are more of the former kind, so I use the term “street art” here loosely. What do you think constitutes street art?

Sprayed on a wall in Paris, near the Sacre Coeur

Literal street art in Vernon, France (near Giverny)

Hello Kitty (or should I say Hola Kitty?) in Lagos, Portugal

Whether street art or no, these scribbles made me smile:-)




Although the last post may be deceiving, Julia and I did do other things in Paris than just eat. We had both done the requisite touristy things like ride the Eiffel Tower and see the Louvre before, and we were both interested in new experiences. So, we cobbled together an itinerary that we nicknamed our “Grand Garden Tour” and visited Giverny and Versailles in back-to-back day trips. Besides being a recipe for exhaustion by the end of our 2nd day, it was a really interesting study in gardening and aesthetic contrasts. The pictures below explain this best…

Day 1, Giverny:

Day 2, Versailles:

One garden designed to look natural, and the other transparently hyper-designed. Both supremely beautiful. Which garden do you think you would prefer to have in your backyard, if you could be Monet or Louis XIV?

Versailles was holding a fascinating art exhibition when we visited. Since 2008, Versailles has been been hosting year-long, single artist exhibitions with the aim of “bringing the chateau to life,” according to their program.  Takashi Murakami is this year’s chosen artist. You might recognize his name from his recent collaboration with Louis Vuitton. His works are inspired by manga as well as meetings between modern and ancient Japan and eastern and western cultures. Critics compare him to Andy Warhol because he manufactures his art like commercial products. His sculptures and paintings were dispersed throughout the palace and gardens in a way that invited comparison and contrast with their surroundings.










Isn’t it interesting how this art contrasts to the works inspired by the gardens of Giverny, such as the familiar view below?

I think both artists could be called pioneers. Some people do not like the Murakami exhibition because they say visitors come to Versailles to see Versailles, not a modern art exhibit. What do you think?

Lots of food for thought!



Cut to 12pm the night before Julia and I have a 9am flight to Paris…frantic throwing of things into suitcases and cries of despair- “I have nothing to wear!!! Paris is too cool for any item in my closet to show its non-chic face. We will be laughed out of the city by all of the stylish Parisian girls!”

After our trip, I can say that packing for Paris should be very easy if you follow 2 rules: take every black article of clothing you own and, if you happen to be visiting in the fall, every warm article of clothing you own that fits rule number 1.

Fortunately, we weren’t laughed out of the city limits. However, we were faced with an equally challenging dilemma several times a day while we were there- what to eat?

Now, it would seem that in the land of pain au chocolats, baguettes, french onion soup, macaroons, and butter galore, finding something to eat should be easy, right? I would like to believe so too. However, the city is fraught with pale imitations of these dining gems, luring innocent little tourists like me right into their bland, unremarkable traps. Our quest was to not only eat French food, but amazing, soul-expanding, epiphany-causing French food. On a budget, of course!

Here is what we found…

1. Let’s start with breakfast…at the Jean Millet patisserie. Julia and I managed to try a good amount of pain au chocolats and other various pastries on our trip, and we chose to come back Jean Millet for our last breakfast in Paris. The outer shell shatters into a million little butter-infused pieces, and the ratio of chocolate to pastry is perfect. If you’re searching for classics done right, look no further. What a wonderful way to greet the day!

2. These are some Laudrée macaroons in the Versailles gardens. Laudrée macaroons are to pastries what Christian Laboutins are to the shoe world- a brand of pure luxury. Although I’m slightly breaking my “on a budget” rule here, one bite of their vanilla bean macaroon is practically worth a pair of those red-bottomed heels. Flecked with vanilla beans, the pastry cream is strongly reminiscent of creme brulée and encased in the most delicate macaroon shells. We also tried chocolate, coffee and rose petal, but the vanilla bean was the one I was dreaming of on our plane back to Sevilla. Getting into the spirit, we ate our little cookies with hearty cries of “Let them eat Laudrée macaroons!”

3. Ok, ok, so although we could have fueled ourselves entirely on a bevy of Parisian sweets, we took a break for sanity’s, and our health’s, sake, to have some other kinds of food. Like fondue! Joanna, in the picture with me above, took us to a place that she said was very touristy but which I completely enjoyed despite the usual negative connotations that adjective usually holds. Le Refuge des Fondues is close to the Sacré Coeur, and came up with the creative solution of getting around a tax on wine served in stemmed glasses by perversely putting it in a baby bottle instead! It felt a little Twilight-esque with our blood-red bottles. Although neither the fondue, or wine, is out-of-this-world amazing, the funky atmosphere and fun dining experience make this place worth a visit!

Out of the many, many dining out experiences we had in Paris, these are my taste bud highlights. I hope you had fun reading about them!



Yikes! It has been a busy week and a half! What have we been up to here in Sevilla?

1. We went to Paris! For 5 days, to visit our friend Joanna who has quite an interesting job with the American embassy. Although we meant it to be a 4 day stay, fate intervened (aka a national transportation strike in Spain) and we had to stay an extra day. What a pity!

2. We (finally!) started our jobs! After 3 weeks, it feels like a very delayed start on the whole reason why we’re here. The teachers love putting me in the hot seat, and leaving me to the mercy of 30 Spanish teenagers to ask me questions such as what is your favorite color? What is your opinion of the current economic crisis? Do you have any pets? And do you have a boyfriend? The 12 year olds are sooooo cute! The 16 year olds, well, I have to admit I’m still a bit scared of them. At least all of the teachers I have worked with so far are extremely friendly. And I only have to work 3 days a week!

3. And, very importantly, we got internet for our apartment! So now I have no excuse not to update the blog.

Voila! And there you have it! Our last week and a half. I’m thinking of publishing a couple of successive posts on our Paris trip, if you’d like to read about our culinary and visual discoveries!