at the top

Today marks 6 years since I moved to Paris. How time flies while living la vie Parisienne! It’s not all croissants and strolls on the Seine as one might believe, life in the city of lights does have it’s challenging moments, but I’ll save that for another post. Really, I can’t complain. I am surrounded by love in the form of an Italian and dear friends, and each day holds with it limitless inspiration, it’s just a matter of finding it. This time I found it at the top.

IMG_8666I’ve wanted to ride La Grande Roue, Paris’ Ferris Wheel, for years. Imagine the views!

IMG_8710Recently, while a friend was visiting and I was playing tour guide, I grabbed the chance.

IMG_8688Up, up, up we climbed… from four floor buildings to vistas overlooking Paris.

IMG_8686IMG_8697I felt like a child, my eyes wide with amazement as I took in the sights from both sides.

IMG_8690IMG_8703I could have spent all afternoon at the top, with a perfect view of Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

IMG_8708IMG_8713  But alas, our time was up and we returned to views from below. Not so bad either.

bridge of love

I’m certainly an advocate of expressing love in it’s many forms, both privately and publicly, but when it starts to weigh heavily (in this case literally) even I, a diehard romantic become disenchanted. This is the case with Paris’ much loved bridge, also a symbol of love.

IMG_9632In 2008, tourists from around the world began attaching ‘love locks’ to the Pont de Arts. By engraving their initials & throwing the key into the Seine, their love was forever locked.

IMG_9635In February 2014, well over 700,000 locks were estimated to be attached to the bridge.

IMG_9646There was much concern about the possible damage caused by the weight of the locks. In June of 2014, that fear was justified when part of the parapet on the bridge collapsed.

IMG_9647In August 2014, the Paris Mayor’s Office began to encourage “selfiies” in place of love locks, with their campaign “Love Without Locks”. “Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love. Set them free by declaring your love with #lovewithoutlocks.” Even a No Love Locks campaign was started by two concerned women who call Paris home.

IMG_9674Over 50% of the panels on the Pont des Arts had to be boarded over with plywood.

IMG_9677On September 18, 2014, much to tourists dismay, the City Hall of Paris replaced three panels with glass as they searched for a suitable replacement which could hold no locks.

IMG_9661Starting on June 2015, the locks were removed, with Health and Safety officials stating “the romantic gestures cause long term Heritage degradation and danger to visitors”.

IMG_9689As of 2015, over a million locks weighing around 45 tons were attached to the bridge.

IMG_9699These days, Pont des Arts has become less about locks and more about art. Artists Jace, El Seed, Brusk & Pantonio have been commission to decorate the bridge with their work.

IMG_9713As I walked the length of the bridge and around it, I admired the graffiti artwork and the stories being told, knowing that this will in time be replaced by padlock-proof glass panels.

IMG_9702 Love continues to reign in padlock form as tourists attach their locks to the sturdier sides.

IMG_9716 I couldn’t help but think that true love should be set free, rather than locked. Yes, I know it’s only symbolic. But there are many less damaging ways to express our sentiments.

IMG_9726What are your thoughts about love and locks and this new look of Pont des Arts?

adventures in Essaouira

On July 29th I celebrated my birthday. In true leo fashion, I toasted grandly with friends in Paris. Meanwhile, my Italian, forever the romantic, planned another surprise getaway. The last three were in Italy, but this one, he hinted, was to foreign landscapes I had often dreamt of. I arrived to the airport unaware of where I would be spending the next four days. Tears of joy collected in my eyes as I saw the boarding sign: Essaouira, Morocco! In just over three hours we landed and soon after arrived to gorgeous views from our riad.

IMG_7474That evening I experienced my first Moroccan sunset. I was already enamored.

IMG_7587The following day we explored the Medina of this mid-eighteenth century fortified city.

IMG_8147I learned that the prominent blue covering many of the doors and windows were remnants from a Jewish past, and also the symbolic color of a port city.

IMG_7478 IMG_7484IMG_8004I was interested in learning about the local products of the artisans, and even met a few.

IMG_8012The port of Essaouira, known for it’s myriad of blue boats and hundreds of local fisherman, was the most important trading port between Europe, Africa and the Americas from it’s foundation in 1770 until the first half of the nineteenth century.

IMG_7739 IMG_7772 Having first ridden a camel in the desserts of Rajasthan during my travels in India, I thought what better way to discover the Moroccan landscape, with it’s miles of sandy beaches.

IMG_7940With the winds in full force, we boarded these gentle dromedary and began our tour.

IMG_8414Our guide stopped to show us the ruins of an ancient Sultan palace from the 18th century.

IMG_7954We continued until we reached the town of Diabat, where Jimi Hendrix’ legacy lives on.

IMG_7957The last day I experienced a local hammam, and we spent the afternoon in the Medina, a place I had grown to love for it’s vibrancy. Many tagines later, it was time to return to Paris.

IMG_8158But not before one last sunset, ending a magical adventure in Morocco.

Portovenere and the poets

In my dozens of trips to Cinque Terre, I had never visited the town of Portovenere, until now. We boarded the tourist boat, filled with anticipatory visitors from around the world. For that afternoon, I became one of them. In just under an hour we arrived to a breathtaking sight. The Church of St Peter originates from the 5th century, both Gothic and Christian, with most recent additions in the 13th century, marked by black & white stripes.IMG_5677 IMG_5679 IMG_5682As our boat turned into the port of this tiny peninsula, a row of vibrant colors greeted us.

IMG_5687These houses were built by the Genovese Republic as a fortress to protect from invaders.

IMG_5810Portovenere, part of the Gulf of the Poets, is where the likes of Lord Byron (whose name was given to a now collapsed sea cave Grotta dell’Arpaia), George Sand and Alfred de Musset spent lengthy periods of time, writing, dreaming, swimming…

IMG_5778 IMG_5795  It was here too, where Percy B. Shelley drowned in a storm and his memory lives on.

IMG_5830It was a summer afternoon steeped in history, and eagerly we returned to life on the sea.

life on the sea

Ever since my first visit to what I then called ‘paradise found’ during my year of travels, I fell in love with Monterosso al Mare. Little did I know that I would meet a man from this very land and come to call it my home. Recently we spent nearly two weeks living on the sea. Blissfully. Days began with yoga beneath a kiwi canopy and visits to the bakery for cappuccino and a fresh cannoli, followed by picking capers in the garden, or lemons in the grove (that task was left to my Italian). A family lunch followed a siesta beneath the shade of a beach umbrella. Evenings spent with friends. Every night I fell asleep to the lullaby of the sea, some nights it bellowed to us, other nights it whispered. I rose to the church bells.

IMG_5638IMG_5932IMG_5374IMG_5277 As I wrote five years ago during my third visit, I have come more deeply to cherish this land where nature reigns and life is valued in the most basic and beautiful of ways.

IMG_5377IMG_6308 IMG_6315 IMG_6318How important it is to slow down and appreciate the art of living.

IMG_5867

Until we meet again… and life on the sea continues.

discovering Dijon

Not long ago I was invited to join Rendez-vous en France, the official site for France Tourism, as a select few traveled the country to create their new campaign Fall For France. Considering there were several regions of France I hadn’t yet explored, I eagerly accepted the adventure and boarded the train with Rail Europe. In under two hours I arrived to Dijon.

IMG_9241Dijon being the capital of the Burgundy region, naturally day one was spent wine tasting.

IMG_9093Bourgogne being my top choice in wine, I discovered new reds and even a few whites.

IMG_9375Being in the expert hands of the Dijon Tourism Office, our next stop was a special one.

IMG_9361The Clos de Vougeot vineyard was created by Cistercian monks of Cîteaux Abbey in 1336. This medieval wine farm was highly recognized for centuries. The Château de Clos de Vougeot, sitting regally within the stone wall, was added in 1551.

IMG_9353Since 1945, it is the seat of the Order for the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.

IMG_9325Wine is no longer produced, but this historic Château holds many stories within it’s walls.

IMG_9330It was now time to enjoy the city, and why not from the 46m high La Tour Philippe de Bon?

IMG_9339The sunlit views were stunning, and I was eager to explore by foot down below.

IMG_9404I spent countless hours walking, looking up, admiring the architecture, the historic details.

IMG_9441I discovered a new love for a city and it’s neighboring landscapes. With local products in hand, including a few bottles of Bourgogne, Dijon mustard (I couldn’t leave without a tasting), and gingerbread (another specialty), I vowed to return when the vines are filled with leaves. Maybe even with a certain someone. There is much more to see… and taste.

IMG_9467My next adventure is taking me to Italy…feel free to follow along on Instagram + Facebook!

 

through the looking glass

As I return to the art world of Paris, with so many must-see exhibitions going on, I reflect on an expo my mom and I recently saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. China : Through the Looking Glass was the most impressive show I had seen in a while.

IMG_3315What is it exactly? As stated by the MET, This exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery. Perhaps better if I explain visually what I saw through the looking glass…

IMG_3292Following are a few favorites, both the traditional costumes and their modern counterparts.

IMG_3281Semiformal Robe for Qianlong Emperor, 1736-95 + Yves Saint Laurent / Tom Ford 2004-5

IMG_3282Yves Saint Laurent / Tom Ford 2004-5 + Woman’s Semiformal Robe, 19th Century

IMG_3286Formal Robe for Guangxu Emperor 1875-1908

IMG_3289The three floors of the exhibition, including artifacts & films, transported us to another era.

IMG_3293Portobello Wallpaper / Alexander McQueen 2006-7

IMG_3299With more than 140 pieces of haute couture, including this gown by Guo Pei (2010) and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art, there was much to be inspired by. We left with eyes filled with visions hard to recount. Best to experience the richness of Chinese history for yourself, before it ends on August 16th.

celebrating four years

Today marks four years since that magical day in Monterosso, our wedding on the sea. To mark the occasion, I thought who better to capture my Italian and I than Chloe Lodge, a friend and photographer whose work I have admired since she lived in Paris. During her recent trip to the City of Lights we met her at our favorite apéro spot Café SaintRégis.

CLP_04From there we walked through Île de la Cité enjoying the sunshine on a perfect spring day.

CLP_13CLP_14As natural as it felt, I knew Chloe and her camera were watching us. My Italian lightened the mood with his humor. I could not help but to smile as we danced along the Seine…

CLP_34CLP_36CLP_37This time was precious. There was nowhere to be but in the moment. In love.

CLP_18 CLP_28Time passes so quickly. Thank you Chloe, for helping to savour it, one moment at a time.

night at the library

Once upon a time, in what now feels like another lifetime, I worked on Madison Avenue. Just down the street from my office sat the Library Hotel, and I would often pass it during my lunch break, wondering what lay beyond it’s scholarly doors, was there really a library? On this trip to New York, being an avid reader, I booked a room and planned to find out.

IMG_2479Stepping into the hotel feels like entering a library, books and card catalogs lining the walls.

IMG_2435_2What I soon discovered was that the concept of the Library Hotel is inspired by the Dewey Decimal system. As per this famous method of classification (developed by Melvil Dewey in the US in 1876) each of the 10 guestroom floors is dedicated to one of the 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System. In turn, each of the 60 rooms are filled with books and art concerning their unique topic. With over 6,000 books, there is plenty to read!

IMG_2481 3The theme of our room was mysteries, how fitting for a mysterious night in Manhattan!

IMG_2488_2With an impressive view of the New York Public Library, I truly felt surrounded by literature.

IMG_2425Venturing outside, the city lights shone brightly, with regal Grand Central in the distance.

IMG_2476_2During the complimentary buffet breakfast we met fellow travelers from around the world.

IMG_2430_2Most enchanting of all are the views from the Writer’s Den and Poetry Garden on the 14th floor rooftop. By night it becomes Bookmarks Lounge, serving literary inspired cocktails.

IMG_2549Where better to read the New York Times or a good book, over a cup of coffee and a view.

IMG_2500_2I can’t wait to return to the Library Hotel, a literary haven in the heart of New York City. Next time the romance room?

from south to north fork

Growing up on the South Fork, I rarely left the Hamptons. Possessing some of the most beautiful beaches in the US, it provides the ideal respite from life in chaotic New York City, and with family and friends all around, what more does one need? On this trip home however, we decided to venture north to Long Island’s wine country. With over 35 wineries, we decided to stop for tastings at the second oldest Lenz Winery, and Pindar.

IMG_2127The North Fork is a 30-mile-long peninsula, the easternmost part of the North Shore. Orient Point sits on the tip. Between the two forks are two large islands, Shelter Island and Gardiners Island. Much more rural feeling and not as chic as it’s southern counterpart, the North Fork is filled with vineyards, apple orchards and farms. An ideal weekend or day trip.

IMG_2070Enjoying the views along the way, we drove to Greenport where we stopped for lunch.

IMG_2079IMG_2120Many of the eateries were closed following the long Memorial Day weekend, including Claudio’s, the oldest same family owned restaurant in the United States, opened in 1870.

IMG_2123IMG_2051We took a walk in the village and the charm of Greenport was felt around every corner.

IMG_2102IMG_2093 IMG_2108   On the road home, the fruit and vegetable stands were enticing.

IMG_2160We enjoyed our time and tastings in the north, but were happy to call the south home.