Thursday, May 31, 2012


All my clothes might still be black, but at least I've branched out to bold patterns...

Paris in springtime

Its 10:01pm and this is how light it is outside.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

more yumminess

The Fraisier: a delicious little treat with layers of light cake, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries - just perfect for the summer weather!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Outlet Shopping near Paris

Nothing is open on Sundays in Paris, except for the Chinese restaurants and the outlet mall.  Today I went to La VallĂ©e Village, an upscale outlet mall to the east of Paris on the RER-A train.

It looks just like the outlet mall near Boston.  They even have Starbucks!  They had some stores that are very common in the States (like Puma, Nike, Coach, and Ralph Lauren), so I didn't bother with them.  Instead I hit up many of the European labels and other places that I like: Burberry, Longchamp, Missoni, Armani, Chantelle, Dolce&Gabbana, Givenchy, Jimmy Choo, Versace, and Valentino.  I found the PERFECT graduation dress, but I accidentally picked it up from the Valentino Label side of the store instead of the RED Valentino side and had to put it back because it cost 1500 Euros.  But it was very cute!  (And on sale! But still not a good deal.)  

Overall, the deals were decent.  Things were off-season or last-season, but still mostly top-quality things that I recognized from the regular stores.  Usually the markdown was about 30%.  Things don't really go on sale much in France, so 30% off is really good, plus some clearance stuff was down to 50% off.

I picked up a few things: a graduation dress, a cute scarf, and a present.  Can you guess which is which??

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Carte Vitale!

At LAST!!!!!  It has arrived!  My key into the (less) paperwork portal of the French Healthcare System!!!!

Excuse the ghostly picture of myself on the upper right corner.  All official French paperwork requires passport-style photographs, and it is interdit (forbidden) to smile in them.  My lab mate always teases me that I look like a zombie, or dead, or something else terrible in my photographs.  I think that's because in real life I'm always making funny faces at him because he's making terrible jokes.  :-)

Culture Club: MONUMENTA 2012

After our picnic, the Culture Club went to see Daniel Buren's installation "MONUMENTA 2012" at the Grand Palais.  

We entered into a sea of brightly-colored plastic disks suspended above us.

In the middle of the hall were huge round mirrors on the floor, so we could see reflections of the ceilings and the disks (and ourselves!)

The views from above were great too.

We stayed through sunset and into the night so we could see the exhibit in the dark.  I actually preferred it at night!  The colors were more intense and the reflections were really amazing.

J'aime ma ville!  (I love my city!)


Yay, Fridays!  The Culture Club picnicked in the Tuileries Garden in the warm spring sun with traditional french provisions (pate, cheese, bread, snacks).

The perfect way to start the evening!


gardens (so french!)


sunset behind the Concorde

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

OMG, I'm old!

My youngest cousin posted on Facebook that she was going a concert, and I wasn't sure that I recognized the band (give me a break, I live abroad!) so I looked up their most popular song on YouTube.

Thought 1: Oh, yea, I have heard this song!  Cool!

Thought 2: OMG, is that kid even old enough to be driving that van???

Its official.  I'm old.

Self-Sufficient in Paris (almost)

Last weekend was a long weekend, four days of glorious vacation.  And I ended up with a crazy awful flu for all of them.  Its now been almost a week and I'm barely starting to feel like myself.  But in all of the agony yesterday, my friend in lab took pity on me and offered to call and make me a doctor's appointment.  And while he was at it, I had him make me a dentist appointment too.

So other than not making the actual appointments myself, I managed to locate doctors, navigate the healthcare system (I'm STILL waiting for my Carte Vitale!), and today I went to get my teeth cleaned for the first time in... well... ages. (Sorry, Mom!)

First of all, I am using a dentist in the 8th.  That's the swankiest district.  Its where the president's house is. Its like going to the dentist next to the White House.  Also, I made sure to get an English-speaking dentist (licensed by the American Dental Association, too).  I don't really want to have to try to explain my sensitive gag reflex in a foreign language. He cleaned my teeth with the best and nicest new equipment (ultrasonic water cleaning and all! no little metal picks in this country!).  I got a clean bill of health!  No cavities, no pain, my teeth look better than ever, and it all cost 14 Euros!  I'm so going back there in 6 months!!!  :-D

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

French class

today I tried to practice French with my lab mate...

me: [[my French sentence]]
him: wha wha what???
me: that wasn't clear?
him: wtf? you just said "Look ! An order in shape-you"

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cinderella Story

This morning, I woke up EARLY.  Even earlier than I do on weekdays.  But I was on a mission.  A Sample Sale mission.  As a slightly obsessed shoe lover, there was one brand that I have always been dying to try.  They are designed in Paris (but made in Italy)...

They have a distinctive sole...

And they are designed by one of the most eclectic and fabulous shoe designers in the world...


Even though I arrived more than an hour early, there were at least 50 people in line before me.  As the clock approached 9am, security began to check IDs and lists before letting people in the door.

The shoes were arranged by size.  I ran immediately to the 42 rack.  Five lonely pairs on the shelf.  I tried to shove my toes into dozens of 41s (while fighting off two Queens who were also 41s) but I am definitely a 42 in Louboutin.  So I bought 40% of the shoes in my size.  May I present to you my new lovelies:

Normally I wouldn't buy such trendy color shoes, but let's just say that the deals were FANTASTIC and even if I only get one or two seasons out of these, it will be totally worth it.  Also, these are both more than 5" heels, but look amazingly proportionate on my massive feet.  The purple suede ones are insanely comfortable and the neon yellow ones are the most stable high heels I've ever walked in.  (I almost said stood in, but I guess I am supposed to actually walk in these).

In addition to deals on shoes, they had some handbags too.  I've been looking for a new clutch for going out, and this purple metallic one was calling my name.  (Also cheaper than the one I was going to buy at Nordy, score!)

And check out the adorable clasp detail!  The tiny shoes even have red enamel soles!

And just for good measure, I picked up this fabulous golden purse.  So chic!

The sale limited each customer to five items, so I even could have bought something else.  But I definitely got the cutest and best stuff.

An awesome awesome day, and its not even noon yet!  :-D

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sample sale

The young, fashionable, hopeful Parisians are out early this morning. The smell of coffee and cigarettes is floating above the line of people, waiting, until the doors open at 9 am. Its already an invite-only event, you have to have your name on a list and they check id at the door, but clearly the people first in line get the best selection. Some things are worth waking up early on a Saturday for...

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Pompidou for the exhibit of Matisse...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Religion in a Religion-Free Land

Today, the news about North Carolina banning same-sex marriages, partnerships, and civil unions made it over to France.  I got to spend the day trying to explain to French people why a country that claims to have separation of church and state could use religious arguments to back such a law.  Of course, I also had to try to explain why Americans care that presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and why they cared that former-VP-candidate Joe Lieberman is Jewish.

Of course, this is coming from a country that doesn't even care that their soon-to-be-First Lady isn't even married to the President-elect.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

French Presidential Election update

Now I officially live in a country run by Socialists...

News Story


enjoying the gardens behind Notre Dame...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Labor Day

Here's what I'm working on this Labor Day:

Happy May 1st!

May 1st is Labor Day in Europe, so I don't have work.  Everything is closed though, so I'm spending the day catching up on cooking and cleaning at my apartment.

The flower of Labor Day is the Lily of the Valley.  Apparently the custom started as "good luck" in the 1500s and then in more recent centuries the flowers were given to workers protesting around May 1st as good luck by the townspeople.

Lily of the Valley = Muguet (pronounced MOO-GAY)

This is a beautiful (and huge!) display of flowers in the window of a flower shop in the 8th district.  Lily of the Valley remind me of my Grandparents, who had the flowers in their yard and we used to pick them when we visited.  My parents still have some divisions of their plants.