Tag Archives: Paris in July

Paris in July 2016 – Reading Adventures

If there is anything that would bring me out of my blogging hibernation, its probably my favorite yearly event. Paris in July hosted by the wonderful Tamara at Thyme for Tea.

Paris in July 2016


Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City
I don’t have much on my plate this summer. I’m currently reading this book:

Its a view of the political world and dealings of the Paris restructuring of the 1860’s under Napoleon III’s empire with Baron Haussmann at the helm. Its an interesting read, although I wish it included more maps, better pictures and more talk about the effects of the renovation and demolitions on the inhabitants of Paris, rather than the political dealings of government trying to get this grand project underway.


I recently stumbled on this amazing walking tour of Paris via my library’s Hoopla account:

Its an hour-long walking tour of the some of the most scenic and idyllic views of the city of light. Its technically meant for those passing their productive time away on treadmills and elliptical machines, but I prefer to watch the views pass by from the comfort of my computer chair.


I don’t have any other grand projects in mind beyond the usual. Watching some French movies, listening to French music and bringing home some picture books set in France for my preschooler. He’s already well-acquainted with the Eiffel Tower. In fact, almost everything he builds with blocks he calls “The Eiffel Tire.” We’ll see where the rest of the month takes me.


The French Beauty Solution

The French Beauty Solution: Time-Tested…The French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas
Source: Publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Publisher: Gotham Books
Publication Date: July 14th, 2015

Owner of Claudalie beauty products and spas, author Mathilde Thomas reveals the secret and not-so-secret beauty habits of French women. I found much of her information to be useful, although almost all of it has been revealed in not one, not two, but all three of the Mireille Guiliano French Women Don’t Get Fat/Facelifts books. What I like about the French Beauty Solution is that Thomas neatly and concisely sums everything up without being pretentious or acting like the methods practiced in the US are abhorrent. She really cares about her industry and the quality of the products that she produces. The tone is very friendly and encouraging. She goes out of her way to highlight the various aspects of American life that Frenchwomen are actually jealous of. I’m not quite sure how sincere these sentiments are, but after reading so many America-bashing books, it was a nice change to pace to read something complimentary about us. At some points, the book felt like a commercial for Thomas’ company Claudalie, but it didn’t take away from the message of the book. And really, how could she discuss beauty and beauty products without discussing her company?

The French beauty solution is broken down into 5 parts:

  • Part One: Beauty the French way (what to eat, French make-up traditions)
  • Parts 2 & 3 Skincare (sunblock and water)
  • Part 4: Hair & Makeup (conditioner over shampoo, don’t wash hair daily to keep the natural oils from drying out, use hardly any makeup)
  •  Grape Cleanse (cleanses aren’t my thing, so I skipped this chapter).

As an owner of the Claudalie beauty products and day spas, Thomas is well versed in the science behind beauty products and does a good job of listing the must-have and don’t-need beauty products. She also includes a LOT of DIY beauty creams, masks, etc that have very simple ingredients found in the pantry. I’m eager to try a few of those once I find the free time. I found this book to be a really great resource for someone who is as cosmetically-lazy as me. I guess I already practice the French way regarding make-up since I usually don’t wear anything other than sunblock and some blush. I also like red wine. Wine is another element that she absolutely insists must be in one’s daily routine. I can’t argue there. I just wish I had a better nose for distinguishing mediocre wines from stellar wines. She also highly encourages purchasing quality products, like organic food for the DIY skincare products. It may be more expensive, but she does bring up the good point of not putting something full of pesticides directly onto your skin. She actively encourages making your own products and buying what makes you happy. I read this book in one go, but I think its really meant to be a book to be referred back to for information as the need arises.

© 2015 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld This was originally posted on The Novel World on 7/6/2015

Paris A to Z: I is for…

I is for Île de la Cité

Located on the Seine and one of Rick Steve’s Historic Walks, the Île de la Cité is one of two little islands located within the city of Paris.

Set up around the 3rd century B.C. In 52 A.D., after being plundered by the Romans, the settlement was rebuilt as the Roman city of Lutetia…Later, from the 6th through the 14th centuries, the kings of France lived on the Île de la Cité. A palace, constructed during Merovingian times (5th to 8th century A.D.), was built at the western end of the island, allowing the island to remain an important political center through the Middle Ages. In the 10th century, a cathedral – one that would be the predecessor to the famous Notre Dame – was erected on the island. (A View on Paris)

At one point, all of Paris resided on this one little island. That is why it  remains the heart of Paris. All road distances in France are calculated from the 0 km point located in the square facing Notre-Dame’s pair of western towers. On the Île de la Cité, you will find:

  • Notre Dame Cathedral – built from 1163
  • Pont Neuf – inaugurated it in 1607
  • Ancien Cloître- The oldest remaining residential quarter, that evaded Baron Haussmann’s gentrification mission
  • Palais de Justice – Modern day Supreme Court built in the 18th Century. The remains are found in the St. Chappelle Church which is where Marie Antoinette was held prior to her execution by guillotine.
  • Place de Dauphine – A cute little residential park
  • (http://www.aparisguide.com/ile-de-la-cite/)


Paris A To Z: F is for…

F is for Fromage!

But of course! With a wonderfully well selected glass of wines, goes a hunk of stinking cheese, right?

Speaking from experience, the smellier the cheese, the more delicious the taste and more tactile the textures in taste and the more delicious it tasted when paired with the appropriate glass of wine. For me, I will be eating some fromage de chevre sur un baguette aujourdhui avec un cafe creme.

Oh, to talk about cheese in France…I am woefully unqualified, so here is a list resources to help you get better acquainted with a food so essentially French.

Kitchen Art via Etsy – GeraldineAdams

Kitchen Art French Cheeses home decor - Art Print 8x10 Typographic print Gourmet cheese lover food illustration

Fromage Fort recipe from the Smitten Kitchen

fromage fort

What cheese will you be eating today?


Paris A to Z: E is for…

E is for the Eiffel Tower!

Could E really stand for anything else? Look at the beauty of this piece of architecture that was at one time reviled by all the artists in Paris. A committee of 300 (one member for each step) formed and sent a scathing letter of protest to the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, and was published by the newspaper Le Temps. 

“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years…we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal” 


Quick Facts

Location: Champs de Mars

Named After: Gustave Eiffel

Opened in 1889 at the entrance arc for the 1889 World’s Fair. It is now one of the world’s most recognizable icons, along with the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben and many others.

This is one of my favorite postcards of the Eiffel Tower. Can you imagine what life must have been like watching this tower being built over the course of 2 years? Its like seeing only the feet of the Statue of Liberty, or just her torso. Incomplete, amazing, and mystifying.

File:Construction of the Eiffel Tower.JPG

The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by staircase or by elevator, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by lift—stairs do exist but are usually closed to the public. The views from the second level are wonderful, albeit, the city looks ridiculously tiny. The view from the Arc de Triomphe gives a much more intimate view of the city, especially of the grand boulevards designed by Baron Haussmann. But there is something amazing about the Eiffel Tower. Our hotel was walking distance from the tower. Just walking around the city, you see glimpses of it poking above, beside or around different buildings. Its presence is so…serene and reliable. You may get lost in Paris, but wherever you are, the Eiffel Tower is right there watching over you.

Paris A to Z: D is for…

D is for Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas self portrait 1855.jpeg

One of the leading artistes of the Impressionist movement that started in France, Edgar Degas is best known for his artwork of the ballerinas.

The Impressionist movement is probably my favorite in art history.  Although I am particularly partial to Renoir, Degas is definitely in the running with his depictions of both the public and private lives of Parisians. I was lucky enough to see some of his originals at the Musee d’Orsay a few years ago. Impressionist art is really the only movement where you have to see the brush strokes in person to fully appreciate the work, the effort and the inspiration and vision that goes into creating these masterpieces.

Brief Bio:

Edgar Degas was born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar de Gas on July 19, 1834, in Paris, France.  He died Sept. 27, 1917 in Paris, France.

His work ranges from ballerinas on stage, to nudes bathing, to bronze statues. In the 1850’s, he took a break from his studies at the Ecole Des Beaux-Art in Paris to travel around Italy; painting, traveling and studying. In 1859 he returned to Paris, determined to make a name for himself. In 1862, he met fellow artist Edouard Manet at the Louvre, and the two who quickly hit it off were members of an avant-garde group of artistes. They met regularly the Café Guerbois along with: Renoir, Monet and Sisley to discuss the progression of art in the modern world and thus the beginning of the Impressionist movement began to take shape.

Source: Biography.com

In a Cafe (The Absinthe Drinker) 1875-1876 / Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France

Who is your favorite French artiste? What is your favorite French art movement?

Paris A to Z. B is for

B is for Bastille

I could have saved this for Bastille Day on July 14th, but then the alphabet would be out of order.

Le Bastille, is better known as the famous prison where in 1789 an angry mob stormed in to free the prisoners, discovering only seven people inside. Thus, Bastille Day is commemorated as part of Le Revolution Francaise during the reign of Louis and Marie Antoinette. It was later demolished and replaced with the Place de la Bastille in Paris today.

The Bastille was built as a stronghold in the 14th century as a response to a threat during the 100-year-war. It was later converted into a prison before being stormed and demolished. The Place de la Bastille (Bastille Square) was created in 1803, including a fountain in the shape of an elephant. Sadly, that was gone in 1847. The only monument that marks the place of the prison is the Colonne de Julliet, commemorating another revolution in 1830.

Colonne de Juillet (A View on Paris)

Where is it? Bordering the 4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements

Metro Lines: Bastille (M 1,5,8)


Paris A to Z: A is for

A is for les arrondissements.

Paris, has 20 neighborhoods, or districts known as Les arrondissements. When I went to Paris 2 years ago (feels like 2 decades ago), I stayed in the 6th arrondissement, on the Rue Cler. That is also where Julia Child spent many of her days in Paris, walking the same streets, shopping the same shops.

This mini guide can introduce you to each of the arrondissements unique personalities.

This mini guide provides more fun details of what you can find in each arrondissement.

This is my favorite shot of the Rue Cler, with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower in the distant. We were right on the border of the 6th and 7th arrondissement, so it was a pleasant walking distance from our hotel.


Le Divorce – Diane Johnson (review)

Le divorceLe Divorce by Diane Johnson
Age: Adult
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher Dutton, 1997
ISBN – 0525942386, 309 pages
Source: My Copy
Find this book at your local library


Location – Paris. Cast of characters – 2 sisters & their assorted family and friends. Roxy is newly pregnant and was just left by her husband for another woman. Isabel, the younger stepsister, goes to stay in Paris to help her sister and rediscover herself along the way.

Contrary to what’s been posted on the blog, I have been reading. Albeit very slowly and without much interest in the books I’ve selected. This book in particular is very “Meh.” It was engrossing at the time, but I felt it dragged on, the plot rambled and the final resolution was haphazardly thrown together. Throughout the process of the divorce, a valuable painting came into custodial question. I found the storyline about this piece or art, who it belonged to and whether or not it would be snuck out of France back into the US more interesting than the entire rest of the novel. It has been in Isabel & Roxy’s family for generations, but is a French piece so therefore it belongs to France as a national treasure. I think the only reason I kept reading was to see how that was resolve itself.

Although Johnson has a way with words, her characters were stale and predictable. I saw the movie a few years ago, and it was a very well done production with Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson as the two sisters. Some of the supporting cast were meant to add color and humor to the novel, but I felt there were pretentious and was glad to see their sections end.

Of the two, I recommend the movie. You get to see some amazing visual shots of Paris without all the fluff that comes with the book.

Bastille Day – Cette fin de semaine

Bastille Day is this weekend, July 14th. How will you be celebrating? I, most likely, will not be. =(

Every year (except last year) Santa Barbara holds a ginormous French Festival on Bastille Day weekend. If you live in the area, make sure to go!

Last year, I had booked the hotel, gotten my mom and parents-in-law to meet me and my husband there, only to find out a week before that it was canceled “indefinitely.” Je suis tres triste.

Although I am incredibly bummed I can’t go this year, I’m glad its back, and I plan on instituting some type of annual visit to Santa Barbara on Bastille Day weekend regardless of what events are going on, just to make sure I don’t miss it. =p

 < — You could be here!

Sob story aside, the festival includes music and entertainment on 3 stages, a mini Eiffel Tower, a poodle parade (did you know poodles are actually German dogs?), all the food, arts & crafts you could ever want to browse through. Admission is FREE, and its all day affair. There will be one stage playing nothing but accordion music.