Paris Picks : Books

What better gift to give during the holidays (or any occasion for that matter), than a book. Especially one connected to Paris for the Francophile in your life, which you too will be certain to enjoy. To help you choose, I’m sharing my favorite recently published books written by authors I’m grateful to call friends. I promise you’ll love them all! Just click on the book to read more about it and purchase a copy, or two.
I met Lindsey Tramuta soon after moving to Paris and we’ve become fast friends ever since. Her book The New Paris casts a light the evolution of the city during this last decade, highlighting the movers and shakers behind the changing face of Paris. A perfect read for those interested in Parisian gastronomy, or anything food and drink related for that matter. With stellar photography by Charissa Fay, you’ll drool just reading it. Welcome to ‘The New Paris’!Laura Calder and I met years ago in Paris through a mutual friend and have been inspiring each other since that first encounter. She with her French recipes and dining advice and me with my love of design. We even collaborated on a project in which I helped her design signature linen napkins. In her latest book The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness, Laura shares her tips on how to transform the ordinary into something magical, both in and out of the kitchen. This includes décor, ambience, shopping, and planning dinner parties, of which she is a pro!

A soulful Australian woman with a deep love for Paris, Katrina Lawrence and I met during one of her visits, soon after she purchased a 75006 bag from my Paris Collection, representing her favorite neighborhood. Just days ago she released her first book Paris Dreaming, taking us on a journey around Paris, through all the stages of her life. Katrina muses on everything Parisian, from politics to perfume to stylish Parisiennes, and shares the life lessons Paris has taught her along the way. Prepare to become enchanted!

When Vanessa Grall moved from London to Paris, she began documenting her bohemian adventures in her blog, Messy Nessy Chic. We met during one of her discoveries and I remained a dedicated fan, along with thousands of others. Her new book Don’t be a Tourist in Paris: The Messy Nessy Chic Guide is a ‘chic cabinet of curiosities’, and will certainly reveal the true heart of Paris to you. What’s more, you can find my bag painting workshops on page 148. Thank you, Vanessa!

David Lebovitz is certainly a man about town. Especially in Paris’s right bank where we both live, and where I often run into him. In his latest book L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home, David shares perplexing and often humorous tales of updating his Parisian apartment, in a way that only he can tell. Enjoy his continued expat adventures, along with dozens of new recipes.

 

Thankful

It shouldn’t be just one day a year that we sit down with those dearest to us and express gratitude for that which is truly important in life. Having each other. Sharing this experience of life. Knowing what a true friend is, and being one. We should express kindness and gratitude daily, through the smallest gestures, even with people we don’t know. After all, kindness is contagious. And I for one am a believer in karma.

I used to write more personally on my blog and will take a moment to share what I am truly grateful for, given that it’s Thanksgiving. I hope you will do the same, today, or whenever you feel the need. Especially when life is dealing you a bad hand, take a look at what IS rather than what ISN’T. You’ll see how blessed you are.

1. My Italian. A man who I can truly rely on and who loves me through all the good moments and the bad.

2. My mom. A strong and loving woman who I admire and look up to and hope one day to have the same relationship with a child of my own.

3. My friends. I often joke that I collect people, but in a way it’s true. There are some of those people that shine more brightly and our bond becomes unbreakable. Whether we live in the same city, or half a world away. These friends are forever.

4. My life. The strength & resolve to create my own life and live it by my own rules, not those set by anyone else.

5. My work. The creative mind and courage to do what I truly love and follow my heart. Designing and writing fill me with SO MUCH, and to be able to share what I create and write, this means everything.

6. My homes. Everyday I wake up and feel blessed to live in Paris, well, almost every day. As tough as the life of an expat can be, I am so much richer for this experience. And calling the Italian Riviera home, my town in Poland, New York City and the Hamptons. I am truly blessed.

7. My travels. One of the best educations is travel. What we experience and learn is something that no one can take away from us and means so much more than any material possessions. At least for me.

I could go on, but it’s soon time to meet some of these friends I mentioned, and spend an evening of gratitude together. Wishing you too, a day filled with thanks.

Yves Saint Laurent in Paris

In early October, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris opened in the 19th century mansion  at 5 Avenue Marceau.  The company headquarters and location of Mr. Saint Laurent’s and his partner Mr. Bergé’s office since 1974, this was also where Yves Saint Laurent would meet his clients for fittings. In 2004, it was transformed into a foundation for public view, with three to four exhibitions annually. It was Pierre Bergé, once the chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent, who decided to dedicate this space to the late designer, and open a museum. Lucky for those of us who admire the work of this visionary man who changed women’s attitudes towards fashion. As Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Fashion fades, style is eternal.”

Not only do we get a glimpse into Yves Saint Laurent’s chic fashion creations, but his design process too.

From collections inspired by artists including Mondrian and Picasso; to faraway travels to Morocco, sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, Spain and Asia; to haute couture gowns, Yves Saint Lauren knew how to dress a woman.

The highlight of the museum is Yves Saint Laurent’s workspace set on the second floor. Here you find his many inspirations as revealed in his collections of books, fabrics and fashion trimmings. A designers paradise!


A dedicated fan of Yves Saint Laurent, my next stop will be the newly opened Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakesh, the location of his and Pierre Bergé’s second home and a place close to their hearts. Stay tuned…

Theatre in Paris

I love a good theatre performance and have had the pleasure of enjoying quite a few during my years in New York. But in Paris? Preferring the ease of my native tongue, I had only seen one show since moving to Paris. That is, until I discovered Theatre in Paris. What is it exactly? French plays with English subtitles. Brilliant!

Paris is famous for its theatre, and now fellow Anglophones can join in the local culture. Theatre in English seeks out the best performances in the city of lights, set within a number of theatres throughout Paris. “From the spectacular architecture of a listed historical monument commissioned by Queen Marie-Antoinette to the glamour of an old Parisian ‘café théâtre’, to the charm of a small oak-panelled neighborhood theatre.” What’s more, they offer over 100 performances to choose from every month. Without compromising the show, English subtitles are viewed on a screen only for those who need them. And seats will always offer a prime view.

One of France’s greatest stars is cabaret singer, songwriter and actress Édith Piaf, often referred to as “The Little Sparrow”. Being a fan of her music, when I discovered the performance “I Love Piaf”, I booked tickets for my Italian and I and we made a French night of it. The play took place in a late 19th century Théâtre Trévise in the 9th district, nearby to the famed Folies Bergère. The performers were impressive as they told the story of the singer’s life. Award-winning accordionist Aurélien Noël was once the best in the world, and singer Caroline Rose captivated us all with her voice. The screenwriter was both engaging and humorous. It was certainly an experience in living la vie en rose!

I’m already looking forward to the next performance and might soon become a regular Parisian theatre-goer.

 

 

Wine by the Glass

October is harvest time in France. In case you’re lucky enough to be in Paris for the annual Grape Harvest Festival in Montmartre, also known as the Fête des Vendanges, you’ll taste your share of wines from all over the country. If not, there are other ways to taste and learn about wine in Paris, and not by ordering copious glasses over dinner. Though you are in wine country after all, so why not. But if you’re curious to learn more about the various wine regions of France and discover your favorites, I suggest a tasting.

There’s no one better to advise you than wine connoisseur Thierry Givone, whose expertise in wine and champagne extends far beyond his home region of Bourgogne, or Burgundy. (Although Bourgogne wines are some of my favorites.) His passion for wine runs so deep that a few years ago he began holding tastings on a boat on the Seine. These days you can find Thierry at his atelier Wine Tasting in Paris in the charming 5th arrondissement of Paris. Whatever your preference, red, white or bubbly, prepare for a wine education, and comprehensive tasting. Recently, I held one of my bag workshops at Thierry’s atelier; bag painting and wine, a perfect pairing!

If you’re curious to learn the process of local wine production, head over to Les Vignerons Parisiens in the North Marais and take a tour of their cave and try a tasting. Maybe this will inspire you to make your own wine.

To mingle with the locals over a glass of good French wine, head to La Barav where there’s always a vast selection of reds and whites from their next door cave. Here’s a selection of top wine bars all over Paris. Santé!

Co-Working in Paris

What was missing in Paris (in my opinion) was a workspace dedicated to entrepreneurial women pursuing their creative endeavors.  There are many of us! Apparently the female team behind My Little Paris thought so too and opened Mona on October 13th. (Sign up for their newsletter in English for all Mona and Paris related news). Three floors dedicated to women, how fabulous! What’s more, Mona is located in my beloved North Marais neighborhood. Have a look inside…


What’s even more exciting is the menu, bringing a taste of New York to Paris with Maman NYC. The freshly baked chocolate chip cookies are heavenly and they even serve turmeric lattes, in addition to stellar coffee. Lunch options are plentiful too.

Stop by this inspiring workspace if you’re in Paris, open daily from 10-7, but keep in mind it’s only at 118 rue de Turenne 75003 until December 30th. Mona is a pop-up, and certain to appear elsewhere in the future.

If you can’t make it to Mona, here’s a list of my other favorite Paris co-working cafés, published in Bonjour Paris and on the blog.

Paris Picks : Spas

With the summer calm long gone, temperatures dropping and the bustle in Paris ever prevalent, it’s important to take time to relax your mind and indulge your body. Both as a visitor and a local, walking around the city all day will leave you inspired, albeit exhausted. I thought I’d share my favorite Parisian addresses (not connected to hotels) for relaxation from head to toe, foot massage included. Take note of these stellar Paris spas!

Free Persephone feels like stepping into Springtime, regardless of the season. This fragrance day spa features luxurious manicures and pedicures using all organic products, including Priti NYC polishes and all natural lavender scrubs. Scented with the owner’s own perfumes and a menu including tea and aromatherapy massages, you’ll leave beautified and relaxed, floating into the neighboring rive gauche.

Free Persephone // 66 boulevard Raspail 75006 // +33 (0)1 42 22 13 04 //

The first salon dedicated to the beauty of the face, body and hair, Carita was established over 50 years ago by two sisters. This ‘Maison de Beauté’ in the heart of Paris’s fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, is an address well respected by the beauty elite. Following a rehydrating and lifting facial treatment, your skin will feel recharged with vitality. Simply put, you’ll leave the spa glowing!

Carita // 11 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré 75001 // +33 (0)1 44 94 11 11

How better to spend an afternoon than in a steamy hammam followed by a body mask of volcanic clay and an organic argan oil massage? Step into this luxurious Moroccan setting in the rive droite, or their first location in Boulogne, and find your bliss. Les Cent Ciels will leave you counting the stars while nourishing your skin and soothing your mind.

Les Cent Ciels // 7 rue de Nemours 75011 // +33 (0)1 55 28 95 75

Your sense of touch will be heightened with a visit to Le Spa Dans le Noir, in the heart of Paris. What makes this sensory experience so special is the fact that you’re being treated in complete darkness (with an option for light), by a sight-impaired or blind massage therapist. Complete relaxation is the priority and the result, regardless of the massage you choose.

Le Spa Dans Le Noir // 65 rue Montmartre 75002 // +33 (0)1 83 95 46 77

Stepping through the portal of Ban Sabaï, you’re automatically transported to Thailand. Whether you choose a foot, hand, head or full body massage with all natural oils, your senses will accompany you on this journey to the Far East. This is the first Parisian address dedicated to traditional Thai massage, with several locations, some specializing in foot massage.

Ban Sabaï // 9 rue Saint Antoine 75004 // 46 rue de la Pompe 75016 // +33 (0)1 45 00 99 99

You can read more about these and other Paris spas in my latest feature in LUXOS Magazine (available in Paris) and find my top five hotel spas in Bonjour Paris. Happy pampering!

Perfume Inspired by Travel

I possess a strong sense of smell and simply adore perfume, but only very select scents. For the last few years I’ve been wearing Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel. I wasn’t planning on changing my fragrance until a trip to Courchevel last March. Testing a few samples of a perfume I hadn’t heard of or smelt before, I became completely smitten with the notes of a particular scent, which rarely happens. This is how I discovered Memo.

Little did I know, it was the perfect setting in which to become acquainted with a perfume company started by a couple that met on a ski lift. Clara and John Molloy are both avid travelers, he from Ireland and she from Andalucia, Spain. Together they set off on a journey to create Memo, a collection of scents inspired by their adventures around the world.

Why perfume? Fragrance has the same rite-of-passage dimension as travel, serving as a threshold between the known and the unknown. Smelling, breathing in a scent, is accepting to leave a safety zone in search of new sensations, and tying them to one’s personal experience. Fragrance kindles an excitement similar to that of a journey, a departure. It is about openness and abandonment. As a fellow traveler, I couldn’t agree more.

After writing a book on “noses” in 2006, Clara embarked on a voyage through the olfactory senses and Memo was born in 2007. For the last decade, Memo’s Les Echappées collection has been inspired by journeys from Asia to Africa including Manoa, Hawaii, Marfa, Texas and Granada, Spain. The scent that won me over was Lalibela, inspired by the mystical land of Ethiopia. This unique fragrance, with key notes of rose, patchouli and frankincence now joins me in Paris, Monterosso, The Hamptons, or wherever my adventures take me.

Visiting their flagship store off of rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, I discovered all eighteen luxurious scents, the most recent being Eau de Memo, a commemorative fragrance celebrating the 10th anniversary of Memo Paris. Just as their perfumes are inspired by travel, so too do they travel, now being available all over the world.

The expression that best captures the spirit of Memo is “The journey is the destination”. A perfume after my own heart.

At Home with Maison & Objet

To discover what’s new and in vogue in the home design world, there’s no better place than Maison&Objet, the annual trade fair that takes place in Paris every September. Select wares that pass through the doors of this massive exposition will be chosen by local boutiques and leading department stores, eventually making their way into Parisian homes.

As a designer with an affinity for home décor and all things food related, I thought I’d share my top artisanal picks from all over Europe. I have no doubt that these products and the artisans behind them are paving their way towards success in Paris and beyond.

A well-set table is of key importance in any home. Liisu Arro is a third generation artist from Estonia, who now calls Finland home. Her porcelain tableware series “Birds” is inspired by the long, dark Nordic winters. These plates, bowls and cups come to life in vivid turquoise, coral and yellow, emanating warmth as though born from a “Midwinter’s Dream”. A perfect modern compliment to these elegant ceramics is silverware by Dutch designer Heiko Balster. His minimalist stainless steel collection, available in either satin or gloss is impressive in both design and function. Each fork, knife and spoon is designed to rest on the edge of a plate, should that be your preference.

Let’s add linens and candles to our setting. Several year ago, two sisters from Sweden began designing a collection of home products including linen tea towels and aprons. Most recently, Terrible Twins launched their hand-crafted wellness collection including all natural soaps, salt scrubs, bath and body oils and scented candles. Each candle is poured by hand in reusable amber brown glass jars. Every product from the Spa Series is numbered from 1 to 10, referencing its ingredients.

As far as food preparation is concerned, a good cutting board is crucial. Russian brand FUGA creates handcrafted cutting and serving boards, as well as other items of home decoration. Using Northern crafting techniques and only natural materials, each piece is a unique work of art. Made of oak, often considered a symbol of power and strength, and with added healing powers in the tannins, the wood only becomes more beautiful with age.

To bring the outdoors in while adding to a home’s ambiance, plants are essential. Even more so when they become part of the decoration. The latest living green accessory comes from Italy. Inspired by their design of vertical green walls, Ortisgreen has created a smaller version called HOH! Hang.Oasi.Home. Nature can now become integrated in any home, regardless of the size or space.

Maison&Objet also exhibits innovative food and drink. Being a connoisseur of both sweets and wine, I was immediately drawn to The Real Wine Gum. A healthy adult treat containing no artificial colors or alcohol, you can taste your favorite wine on the go with no fear of over-indulging. Flavors include Rosé, Merlot, Chardonnay and the latest addition, Riesling. Also keep an eye out for their new Whiskey flavored gums.

Another sweet discovery comes from France and began in the form of apples. Started by two friends from Normandy, Sassy cider is a modern version of what every Normand grows up drinking. Named for the château where one of the partners was raised, this 100% natural beverage is made of pure fruit extraction with no concentrate. An ideal refreshing apéritif, with varieties include original, pear and rosé.

This article was originally published in Bonjour Paris where you can find other features I’ve written all about food, fashion, art, travel and lifestyle. Enjoy discovering Paris through my eyes!

Downtown Inspired

With fashion week taking over the streets of New York, London and soon Paris, I thought what better time to launch a new Kasia Dietz handbags collection. During a recent trip to New York City, I became inspired by the colors and energy of the city, namely downtown, my stomping ground. Thus, the Downtown Collection was born, representing the West Village, Soho and the East Village (also included in that is the Lower East Side, of course). As always, all Kasia Dietz handbags are limited edition and made in Paris. And perfect for travel!

The shoot took place on a late afternoon in the charming West Village. Clothes by designer and friend Yumi Kim.

By the end of the shoot I made an adorable and very fluffy friend. How well does he fit with the Soho bag?

I hope you enjoy the latest Downtown Collection! Stay tuned for more exciting design projects ahead…

PARIS PICKS : Sunday Brunch

With Sunday brunch slowly but surely becoming a weekend ritual in Paris, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite spots. Little makes me happier than brunching with friends, or a long leisurely brunch with my Italian and The New York Times. If only there could be a spot that serves brunch daily… Oh wait, there is!

Newly opened Holybelly 5, neighboring Holybelly 19 in the 10th, owned and run by a lovely expat couple, serves up a brunch menu every day from 9am to 5pm. My dish of choice is their Savoury Stack, pancakes with fried eggs, bacon, homemade bourbon butter and maple syrup. Sweet and savory perfection! Brunch on a Wednesday? Why not! Also to note, their coffee is some of the best in Paris, my Italian will agree.

Holybelly 5 // 5 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 // Daily 9-5 (last orders at 4) // No reservations

Another brand new eatery serving a daily brunch menu is Café Méricourt, sister to Café Oberkampf. Also owned by a charming expat couple. A breakfast roll and green eggs and feta are two breakfast (or lunch) options, as is the green bowl with quinoa, spinach and avocado, a fast favorite! The decor is bright and welcoming, and with its overnight success reservations are recommended. Here too you’ll enjoy a good cup of joe.

Café Méricourt // 22 rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 // Wednesday-Sunday 10-6

If you like eggs, then you love Eggs & Co located in the heart of Saint-Germain. Where better to try eggs benedict, for breakfast or lunch, 6 days a week. This charming refurbished barn house will make you feel like you’re dining in the countryside. A brunch menu is offered at 22.

Eggs & Co // 11 Rue Bernard Palissy, 75006 // +33 (0)1 45 44 02 52 // Tue-Mon 10-5, Sat-Sun 10-6

Admittedly, I haven’t yet eaten at Les Bonnes Sœurs, as the lines are usually too long, but I know it’s one of the best French brunch spots in town. Le brunch at 24€ or 28€ includes freshly squeezed juice, coffee, tea (or hot chocolate), an egg dish, dessert, and don’t forget that basket of bread and croissants. No need for dinner!

Les Bonnes Sœurs // 8 rue du pas de la Mule, 75003 // +33 (0)1 42 74 55 80 // Mon-Fri 12-3, 7-11, Sat 12-4:30, 7-11, Sun 11-4:30, 7-11

If you want to splurge on Sunday brunch and make a day of it, head to Le Chalet des Iles in Bois de Boulogne. Reachable only by boat in a bucolic setting, they offer an unlimited gourmet buffet brunch at 55€. You can read more about my unforgettable experience here. Reservations are recommended.

Le Chalet des Iles // 14 Chemin de Ceinture du Lac Inférieur, 75016 // +33 (0)1 42 88 04 69 // Daily 12-3, 7:30-10:30

 

Date with Dior

“I think of my work as ephemeral architecture, dedicated to the beauty of the female body.”  – Christian Dior

Did you know that prior to becoming a fashion designer Christian Dior was a gallerist with a deep love for fine art? This was only a fraction of what I learned at the most recent exhibition to open at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, honoring 70 years of the House of Dior. With a carefully curated selection of 300 haute couture dresses alongside artworks, this expo pays tribute to the master himself Christian Dior, and those who followed in his vision including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. This was without a doubt, one of the most impressive fashion experiences of my life.

Following are highlights from my recent ‘Date with Dior’, just in case you can’t make it to the show yourself.

Haute Couture / Fall/Winter 2012 / Embroidered organza evening gown / Raf Simons

Suzurka-San / Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2007 / Embroidered and painted linen coat / John Galliano

“After women, flowers are the most divine of creations.” – Christian Dior

Muguet / Haute Couture Spring-Summer 1957 / Organdy dress embroidered by Barbier

“True luxury needs good materials and good workmanship; it will never succeed unless its roots are profoundly embedded in sober influences and honest traditions.” – Christian Dior

Deep in every heart slumbers a dream and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess.” – Christian Dior

A must see when you’re next in Paris, this exhibition Christian Dior, couturier du rêve ends on January 7th, 2018.

VIP Shopping at Galeries Lafayette

Entering regal department store Galeries Lafayette at 40 Boulevard Haussmann feels much like entering a museum (more on its fascinating history, here). The difference being what’s on display are shoes, bags and a carefully curated selection of designer clothing. Much like a museum the experience can be intimidating. To avoid losing yourself in the racks of ready-to-wear, Galeries Lafayette now offers a VIP shopping experience. Curious to learn more, I decided to head over to my favorite store.

Walking through the majestic space, the first thing that caught my eye was the current art exhibition ‘Le Jour Qui Vient’. Various phrases in both English and French are strewn along the store, ready to catch consumers attention. What’s better than shopping in the midst of art? I also stopped by the Galerie des Galeries for a look at the ‘Africa Now’ expo, ending July 29th. But back to VIP shopping…

I took the escalator to the 5th floor concierge desk, presented my voucher and was led to a private lounge. Here began my VIP shopping experience. I settled in to enjoy the stellar treatment, champagne, and of course the shopping. I had a few key summer essentials in mind.

So what does recently launched Galeries Lafayette’s Parisian VIP shopping experience include exactly? Services that are perfect for a traveler or local with little time on their hands.

  • A dedicated concierge service
  • Fast-track payment and tax refund service
  • Delivery of your in-store purchases to your hotel or residence in Paris
  • Access to Personal Shopper service
  • Complimentary drinks and snacks (Champagne, anyone?)
  • International press
  • Private Wifi
  • Treats from one of their restaurants including Angelina and Vue sur Coupole
  • A Galeries Lafayette tote bag

If you’re still not sure about VIP shopping, I invite you to try it for yourself, and spend a day shopping like a vrai Parisian. You’ll be hooked! I’m offering two VIP passes (valued at 49€ each) for you and a friend. Just follow Galeries Lafayette on Instagram and leave a comment below. Winner announced June 23rd. Bonne chance!

Packing for Paris

Several years ago, I left behind my earthly possessions and traveled the world. One of the greatest challenges in this journey of 13 months and 5 continents (and a total of 32 countries) was what to pack? One backpack sized suitcase would carry my new nomadic life. While I prepared this bag with great care, a new freedom greeted me, as I no longer felt encumbered by my possessions. Along the way I discovered how little is actually necessary, be it a week, a month or a year.

In the years that followed, I became an expert at packing and have learned to live out of a carry-on during my frequent jaunts to Italy, Spain or the French countryside. When women ask me what to bring when traveling to my current home of Paris, I am well equipped with a response. Men need not worry too much as jeans and a fitted shirt will suffice in most settings.

Since the majority of travel to Paris takes place during the Spring, Summer and Fall months, less is more. Regardless of how long you’ll be spending in the City of Lights, you don’t need attire for more than a week. After that, unless your hotel has laundry service, it’s time to discover the laverie automatique, otherwise known as the laundromat. It might even be wise to under pack, as Paris’s department stores and limitless boutiques revealing an array of French brands, are worth exploring. Or join me on a fashion tour!

Paris is by all accounts the fashion capital, but unless you’re planning to dine in 5-star settings, you can leave your stilettos at home. Street style takes over the right and left banks, where latest trends mix with vintage classics. There’s an understated elegance pervasive in the Parisian woman’s uniform.

So, what exactly is needed for a week stay? A jacket or coat (depending on the season), a sweater, casual shirts both long and short sleeve and a simple white button-down will have your top half covered. For the bottom, a pair of comfortable jeans, elegant slacks or jeans, a skirt and a little black dress. If it’s summertime, make that two dresses and a pair of shorts. Yes, Parisians do wear shorts, but leave the sweatpants at home.

As for shoes, a pair of trendy sneakers, comfortable walking shoes or boots, and a pair of flats or low heels for the evening. Ballerinas are a favorite of La Parisienne. Bring a bag to carry your daily essentials, sunglasses for the Parisian sun, a clutch for dinners out, a scarf for chilly evenings and an umbrella for rainy days. Finally, a hint of jewelry for the finishing touch. Make sure your separates mix and match well, and pack only what you feel your best in. Confidence is the best accessory!

Now book that ticket, start packing, and head for the fashion show that is Paris. Once you arrive you can read more about Paris on Bonjour Paris, where this article first appeared. Or send me a note and I’ll share my tips!

Le Chalet des Îles

Little did I know it was possible to go island hopping on the outskirts of Paris. Today my Italian and I discovered two islands in the midst of Bois de Boulogne. It was Sunday brunch at Le Chalet des Îles that brought us there. This chalet dates back to La Belle Époque. What began as a literary café, frequented by the likes of Marcel Proust and Émile Zola, became a reputable restaurant in later years.

Le Chalet des Îles is only reachable by boat, making it even more charming and exclusive of a destination.

Once seated in the outdoor terrace, the ambiance was relaxed yet elegant. Eyeing the copious buffet, I could tell we were in for a treat. The waiter confirmed this as he came over with two glasses of champagne and motioned us towards the selection of seafood, meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, sweets… And so began our feast.

We ended with dessert which was a mouth-watering sight for a sweet tooth like myself. It was hard to choose!

After a final coffee and a little exploring of the chalet, we were ready for a walk around the islands.

What we discovered were secluded spots for picnicking; children playing in the grass; couples floating on the lake in rowboats. What a picturesque weekend paradise! Well worth the 30 minute bike ride from the Marais.

We could easily have spend the rest of the afternoon basking in the sun, book in hand. And this is certainly what we plan to do next time, after brunch of course.

Sicily in Paris

The last trip I took to Sicily was both magical and inspirational. After Christmas in Trapani, we headed east to Cefalù followed by Ragusa and Siracusa, the latter being one of our favorite Sicilian cities. The colors and light which are unique to this island led me to create a new bag collection, just in time for the spring and summer seasons. Where better to shoot it than on Paris’s Île Saint-Louis with photographer Catherine O’Hara, who always captures Kasia Dietz handbags so perfectly. Here are a few favorite shots of the new Sicily collection.

By sharing this journey with you in the form of my creations, I hope these bags will inspire you to travel, and maybe even join you. As a special gift, take 20% off all Kasia Dietz handbags using code Sicily. Bon voyage!

La vie en français

In my continuing quest to perfect my French (some days I feel complete control and mastery of the language and others, less so), I have discovered a new platform. By connecting you with a local in your select country and city, airXpat assists anyone who is new, in settling in. In addition to language courses, they even help you find an apartment and deal with legal aspects. I know many fellow expats who could profit from these services! Curious to learn more, I connected to the site and quickly found a French teacher. What interested me most is that the lessons would take place around the city, a sort of cultural immersion while conjugating verbs.

At the suggestion of the teacher with whom I’d already had an initial assessment, my first meeting took place at Le Café Marly, set within the Louvre. I don’t think the location can get much more chic or French than this! Before the lesson even began, I was feeling confident and eager to learn. Once we met, I felt very much at ease, sipping café crème and speaking about all my favorite topics of travel, food and culture, in French bien sûr. 

As the hour lesson ended, I was clear on what I needed to do to improve my conversation skills and what I loved most about this city I call home. How could we not speak about our shared experience of living in Paris? I’m already looking forward to our next meeting, a new destination to explore and new vocabulary to learn. On y va!

Paris in Bloom

Spring has made its way to Paris! And with it comes the charm of discovering cobbled paths that lead to secret gardens, where you can sit for hours and lose yourself with a good book, or better yet, a good friend.

A favorite of these spots can be found in the Marais, of course. Where exactly? 60 Rue des Francs Bourgeois.

The Archives Nationales is the heart of Parisian history since 1808. Within two regal buildings, Hôtel de Soubise and the Hôtel de Rohan, all the pre-French Revolution archives are stored. Upon entering, you discover an enchanting space hidden within a bustling city.

Pass through the small entrance on the north side of the courtyard, and the scenery quickly changes from architectural marvels to verdant landscapes. A maze-like path weaves through fountains and rock formations. The four gardens you encounter were designed by French landscape architect Louis Benech, also known for the Tuileries Gardens. Have a seat on one of the benches surrounded by the scent of roses, and enjoy this clandestine Parisian paradise.

If you’re looking for more ways to the spend the perfect afternoon in Paris, here are a few tips in my recent collaboration with Eurostar. Though I warn you, you may never want to leave!

Paris Picks: Coffee Shops

In the last few years, a new coffee culture has made its way to Paris. Once upon a time you could only order a mediocre café noisette (espresso with hot milk) at a bistro counter, or for a little extra, sit on a terrace nursing a scalding café crème (the French version of a latte). Thankfully for us coffee connoisseurs, things have changed and a good coffee is not so hard to find, due to expat baristas brewing top roasts. But you must know where to look. Here is a list of my favorite coffee shops all over Paris, some of which are conveniently located in my North Marais neighborhood. (Café date, anyone?) In addition to stellar coffee, most offer free WiFi.

Télescope: 5 Rue Villedo, 75001 / Monday-Friday 8:30-5 / Saturday 9:30-6:30 / Sunday Closed

Café Kitsuné:  51 Galerie Montpensier, 75001 / Monday-Friday 10-6 / Saturday-Sunday 10-6:30

Matamata: 58 Rue d’Argout, 75002 / Monday-Friday 8-5 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-5:30

Café Loustic: 40 Rue Chapon, 75003 / Monday-Friday 8:30-6 / Saturday-Sunday 10-6

Fragments: 76 Rue des Tournelles, 75003 / Monday-Friday 8-6 / Saturday-Sunday 10-6

The Broken Arm: 12 Rue Perrée, 75003 / Tuesday-Saturday 9-6 / Sunday-Monday Closed

Boot Café: 19 Rue du Pont aux Choux, 75003 / Monday-Sunday 10-6

La Caféothèque: 52 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 / Monday-Friday 8:30-7:30 / Saturday-Sunday 10-7:30

Le Peloton Café: 17 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004 / Monday-Friday 9:30-5:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-6:30 / Closed Wednesday

Coutume Café: 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007 / Monday-Friday 8:30-5:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9-6

Honor Cafe: 54 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 / Monday-Friday 9-6 / Saturday 10-6 / Sunday Closed

KB Café Shop: 53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009 / Monday-Friday 7:45-6:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9-6:30

Republique of Coffee: Boulevard Saint-Martin, 75010 / Monday-Friday 8-7:30 / Saturday 9-7:30 / Sunday 10-7

Blackburn Coffee: 52 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010 / Monday-Friday 9-6 / Saturday-Sunday 10-7

Peonies Café: 81 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 / Tuesday-Saturday 9-8 / Sunday 10-4 / Monday Closed

Ten Belles: 10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010 / Monday-Friday 8-5 / Saturday-Sunday 9-6

Folks and Sparrows: 14 Rue Saint-Sébastien, 75011 / Tuesday-Saturday 10-6 / Sunday-Monday Closed

Café Oberkampf: 3 Rue Neuve Popincourt, 75011 / Monday, Thursday-Friday 8:30-4:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-4:30 / Tuesday-Wednesday Closed

Passager: 107 Avenue Ledru-Rollin, 75011 / Tuesday-Saturday 8:30-6:30 / Sunday-Monday Closed

Hardware Société: 10 Rue Lamarck, 75018 / Monday, Wednesday-Friday 9-4 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-4:30 / Tuesday Closed

Lomi: 3 ter Rue Marcadet, 75018 / Monday-Sunday 10-7

CREAM: 50 Rue de Belleville, 75020 / Monday-Friday 8:30-5:30 / Saturday-Sunday 9:30-5:30

Gluten-Free Paris

In the last few years, Paris has gone on a health kick, adding dozens of natural grocery stores and bio cafes to its wellness roster. It’s easier than ever to find a freshly pressed juice or vegan burger. But what about those restricted to a gluten-free diet? This is where one of my friends & fellow expats comes in. I first met Chiara before moving to Paris, when we were both working in advertising. Last year our paths reconnected, and since then this soulful Italian has taught me much about the art of gluten-free eating. Chiara is the expert, after all.

To help others with similar dietary restrictions discover the ever expanding gluten-free side of Paris, Chiara started a blog, Baci di Dama Living Gluten Free. Here she writes about the best sans gluten restaurants, bakeries and cafes in the City of Lights, anything and everything gluten-free. Her photos alone will make you salivate. She even sells pasta and other gluten-free products on her site, and is perfecting her very own bread. (Italians do love their bread!) You can also find an array of recipes on her website, and prepare your own gluten-free feast. There’s no reason not to indulge in the French (or Italian) way of life! Chiara even shares the stories of those behind the gluten-free worlds of Paris, Rome, London, Berlin, Madrid, Brussels and beyond.

Did I mention that she offers custom Gluten-Free Tours? She also collaborates with Airbnb and has designed the above bag in one of my workshops. (Photos by Nicole Flack.) On a recent morning, I asked Chiara to take me along on her food tour, curious to know if these desserts she raves about really do compare with traditional gluten-filled patisseries.  We started the day at an eatery I didn’t know but quickly grew to love, Lula in the 10th. I’ve never tasted something as delicous (and healthy) as their acai bowl. (I’ve since been back several times for their fresh juices and salads.) From there we stopped by an Italian epicerie to look into their gluten-free selection, and then it was time for lunch. And dessert.

Chiara chose the newly opened Sitron in the fashionable 2nd. Not only is this a charming lunch spot where we feasted on delicious wraps, but the skilled pâtissier creates some of the most exquisite cakes I’ve ever seen, and tasted. I opted for the caramel concoction and loved every gluten-free bite! With or without gluten, life in Paris is certainly a sweet one. Where to next, Chiara? Follow her adventures via Instagram and Facebook.

Art + Fashion

What could be better than shopping in the midst of an art exhibition? Art and fashion, two of my favorites. Today I discovered both at Le Bon Marché, Paris’s first (and most exclusive) department store founded in 1838.

Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota‘s in-store exhibition titled “Where are we going?” begins on the ground floor where the artist has spun 300,000 yards of white thread throughout a designated space. It’s both calming and perplexing as you wander through this white abyss. I was so mesmerized, I almost forgot that I had come to shop. All 10 window displays too are filled with the artist’s web, some with ancient maps.

The celestial element of this exhibition by Chiharu Shiota is visually poetic. The symbolism stayed with me long after I had left the store. It comprises 150 white boats carried on a wave and invites us to be amazed but also to question. The artist establishes an analogy between human life and travel: people set off for an unknown destination, crossing an ocean of experiences, emotions, encounters and memories. Chiharu Shiota evokes a fresh start, while keeping the itineraries open: “Life is a voyage with no destination”.

For those in Paris, this exhibition that was meant to close on February 18th, will continue until April 2nd.

 

The Velvet Hours

During these seven years living my own love story in the City of Lights, I’ve read quite a few others. One of the most romantic tales to date is the latest novel by international bestselling author Alyson Richman.

The Velvet Hours takes you into the lives of two women in very different circumstances, connected by a common thread. Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Richman composes a glamorous love story set in the period of the Belle Epoque. In colorful accounts of her life, Marthe de Florian recounts this story to granddaughter Solange. Marthe describes herself as A  woman of the demi-monde, the half-world. Caught between beauty and darkness. In some ways trapped, but in other ways completely free.

As the mysterious life of this beautiful courtesan is revealed to her, Solange tries to make sense of her own. She finds refuge in the company and stories of her grandmother as Germany invades France and Europe prepares for war. In time, she learns the secrets of her family history, and discovers her own unique path.

In lieu of Valentine’s Day, I share this book with you, written in Richman’s characteristic poetic prose. You can easily imagine yourself walking the streets of Paris, intertwined between the lives of Marthe and Solange. The Velvet Hours is certain to become a favorite of any romantic Francophile.

Cook’n With Class

Often when I go out to eat and love a particular dish I wonder, “Could I make this at home?” I usually never end up trying, not knowing the chef’s tricks in the kitchen, afraid my attempts will fall short. I could certainly read my friends’ cookbooks and learn their unique recipes, but what about being taught by the chefs themselves? And what about wine pairings? I know which wines I like, but when to drink them, and with what dish? That’s when I discovered Montmartre based cooking school Cook’n With Class Paris. As well as many classes in cooking and baking, they offer a French Food and Wine Pairing, perfect! Let the food and wine education begin.

I sat at the table overlooking the kitchen with six dinner companions from around the world, many of whom were regulars. I quickly learned that the chef owned and ran a successful French restaurant for many years in the US, evident in his skillful movements. As he cooked the meal, he described the dishes and how to prepare them, answering any questions we had. And all we had to do was watch. Following an appetizer and champagne, the first course was split pea velouté and buttered croutons. While he served the dish, our expert sommelier came over to explain his choice of wine and the region from where it came.

While I savored every bite and learned about wines I knew little about, and how best to pair them, I was intrigued with the preparation. This master chef explained why plates are kept hot in the best restaurants, and took every care in the presentation of each dish.

The next dish of seared scallops with crunchy celery, rocquefort dressing and candied orange peels was my favorite, and I made sure to take notes on the preparation, asking the chef questions during the plating. How lucky I felt to have a seasoned French chef cooking right before my eyes!

The main dish of black legs chicken fricassée with creamy leek risotto was delicious, as was the wine it was paired with. In the French dining tradition, a cheese plate followed, along with a lesson on cheese. The meal ended with a heavenly tarte tatin paired with just the right sweet wine. Not only did I dine like a queen, I learned quite a bit about food and wine that would serve me in my own kitchen.

I’m already planning on heading south to visit their second school Cook’n With Class Uzes, and learn the tricks of the trade by chef Eric Fraudeau. Stay tuned!

Cooking with Friends

This year I vow to spend more time in the kitchen, enhancing my creativity not only in my designing but in my cooking. Lucky for me, I know quite a few culinary masters and food writers and have collected their Paris inspired cookbooks. Having them within close contact should I need any help gives me all the more reason to whip up their recipes. So who are these chefs I’m lucky enough to call friends? Allow me to introduce them.

David Lebovitz doesn’t need much of an introduction. Many already read his well-known food blog and follow him in his Parisian adventures of the last 10+ years. In addition to running into David at local flea markets, I more recently caught up with him at a brunch at Treize Bakery, where he signed copies of his new book My Paris Kitchen, of which I snagged a copy. In this, his latest cookbook, David remasters the French classics in 100 sweet and savory recipes. I think I’ll try my hand at Coq au vin…

One of my favorite cookbook authors is Toronto based Laura Calder, who’s quite the culinary star in her home country, having had her own cooking show.  We met at a girls’ lunch several years ago and have remained good friends ever since. I even helped Laura design the table setting for one of her many Parisian dinner parties. (She doesn’t believe in paper napkins.) The latest of her cookbooks that I’ve added to my collection is Paris Express. I’m sure I’ll be able to handle a few of these quick, modern recipes and make both Laura and myself proud.

I met California born Emily Dilling through the expat network. Her blog Paris Paysanne is dedicated to Paris produce markets and the people behind them. Her passion for artisanal and craft food grew into her book, My Paris Market Cookbook. Not only does she share her market recipes, but the book is filled with farm-to-table restaurants, natural wine bars, organic breweries and urban gardens. The perfect handbook for food lovers!

Yoga always seems to create positive connections in my life. One of them is Lora Krulak, a nutritionist, chef and fellow New Yorker. I was impressed by all her knowledge on health and wellness, and quickly she became my (and many others) nutritional muse. Her blog provides sage advice about eating and living well. In her book Veggies for Carnivores, Lora demonstrates how easy and exciting it is to cook with vegetables, while taking us on her around-the-world travels.

Rebecca Leffler and I met years ago at a Parisian soirée and became fast friends. In the last few years, this east coast expat has created quite a name for herself in what she calls the “Green & Glam” movement. Her blog La Fleur Paris NY shares her discoveries, recipes, events and food demos in both Paris and New York. Rebecca’s most recent contribution to green living is a collection of 150 recipes in her book Green, Glam & Gourmande (in French) and Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic, the English version. Warning: uncontrollable laughter may ensue.

I met Ann Mah at one of her book signings at the American Library in Paris after reading her first book, Kitchen Chinese. I was interested to learn more about this woman who writes so engagingly about food and travel. Her blog is a collection of tales from Paris and New York, as told by cooking. Her latest book Mastering the Art of French Eating, documents Ann’s journey around France while discovering the truth behind the country’s regional dishes, recipes included. Rumor has it she’s finishing her third book…

I could very well relate to Kristen Beddard when we first me. An ambitious New Yorker ready to plant seeds in Paris, but how? Over time she settled in to her new life, found her path, and planted her kale seeds. Through her blog The Kale Project, this “Kale Crusader” as The New York Times coined her, succeeded in bringing this forgotten superfood back to the French capital. In her memoir Bonjour Kale, she endearingly articulates her story of life and love in Paris, while sharing her fondness for kale through recipes collected since childhood.

Hope these inspiring friends will help you hone your skills in the kitchen, and keep you healthy and well fed. Follow along as I share my culinary adventures on Instagram.

 

Weekend in the 8th

I’m of the opinion that in order to truly appreciate where you live, and not take it for granted or let it wear you down (yes, even Paris) you must once in a while play tourist.  So every year I plan a local weekend escape for my Italian and I. This year it was across town to Hôtel Daniel in the 8th arrondissement. This Relais & Châteaux haven hidden just behind the Champs-Élysées and steps away from rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoréis a four-star gem. We were looking forward to moving in!

Upon entering I felt as though I had been invited to a private home. The vibrant living room was filled with travel artifacts collected by the hotel’s owners during their journeys around the world, which I would soon discover ornamented all 26 of the unique rooms and suites. The decor revealed a unique combination of Toile de Jouy materials with chinoiserie-style motifs. Even the basket for my tea kettle looked like an artifact from the Silk Road.

Once my handsome date arrived we settled into our room on the top floor, overlooking the Parisian rooftops. We both favored the cozy loveseat with a view and knew that would be where we’d sunbathe while reading the morning paper.

On Friday night we happily caroused the quartier, feeling like we were indeed visiting from faraway. At the hotel’s recommendation we dined at 110 de Taillevent, where 110 wines are available by the glass. Impressive! It was a perfect meal on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, a nice change from our usual right bank eateries. For breakfast we opted not to part with the views, ordered room service and dined with the sun.

That day we went window shopping on the Champs-Élysées and explored the annual Christmas Market, vin chaud in hand. My Italian went running in new territory and I stopped by neighboring Gagosian Gallery, one of my favorites for stellar art exhibits. After tea time at our new home, we headed out once more for dinner, with no clear plan in mind, only to get lost in our new neighborhood.

24 Hours in Paris

kasia-dietz-paris-5

My first encounter with Paris was as a student living in London. Having dreamt about the city of love since hearing my parents recount their romantic interludes, I eagerly boarded the Eurostar, having no idea what to expect, and with only 24 hours to spare. Years later, I don’t remember much of where I wandered or what I tasted, but what remained was the feeling. In that brief encounter I became completely smitten with the City of Lights and somehow knew this was my place on earth, or at least one of them. What I didn’t know is that fate would find me living my own love story many years later.

Now, calling Paris my home for the last seven years, I can well advise visitors on how to spend a day discovering much of what this city has to offer, namely food, fashion and culture. For anyone coming to Paris for a quick jaunt, either alone or with a friend, here is how to spend 24 hours in my favorite city, and feel much like a local. Keep in mind that spring and fall are the most enchanting seasons to discover and fall in love with Paris, though it’s shamelessly charming all year round.

kasia-dietz-paris-13

A real Parisian experience begins with breakfast at one of the best boulangeries in this food haven. A croissant is not simply a croissant until you’ve tasted Du Pain et des Idées. Make that a pain au chocolat. The most flakey and buttery you’ll ever taste. (Keep in mind they are only open on weekdays.) If you prefer a more hearty meal, nearby Holybelly is as good as it gets. From here you can stroll along canal Saint Martin and make your way into the trendy North Marais for a café crème at boutique cum coffee shop The Broken Arm, or the uber cozy Boot Café.

After a stop at Paris’s oldest covered market Marché des Enfants Rouges for a quick stroll or early lunch where you can feast on French, Lebanese, Japanese, African or Italian cuisine, continue along rue Vieille du Temple. You’ll discover all the latest trends while passing the French fashion boutiques lining the street. It is here too that the Hotel Salé sits, home to the Picasso Museum, exhibiting the life and work of this Spanish master with an affinity for France. Recently expanded and re-opened, it’s worth a visit.

If you’re in the mood for classic French fare, head south along the same street until you reach one of Paris’s most famous decades old dining haunts, Robert et Louise. In this charming bistro which maintains the tradition of grilling over an open fire, you can feast on escargots, côte de bœuf, and confit de canard among other dishes.

kasia-dietz-paris-16

Part of Paris’s charm is its tangle of narrow streets, my favorite being in the Marais. Once home to the French aristocracy, this is more recently where the Jewish community settled, making it a vibrant neighborhood even on a Sunday, while the rest of Paris sleeps. Stop by for a chocolate tasting at independent chocolatier Edwart or satisfy your sugar cravings with world famous Pierre Hermé macarons. Don’t forget to try my most recent favorite, the heavenly cakes from Aux Merveilleux de Fred. (Did I mention I have a sweet tooth?) If tea happens to be your beverage of choice, skip the desserts and stop by French tea emporium Marriage Frères for an exotic blend. Don’t leave without heading up the antique stairwell to their Tea Museum.

Next stop is a stroll through nearby Place des Vosges, an elegant historic square once called Place Royale. Writer Victor Hugo’s home, now a free museum, is hidden within the brick facade. You can also find one of Paris’s most elegant tea salons Carette, beneath the regal arches. (I won’t mention how decadent their desserts are.)

kasia-dietz-paris-9

Continue walking towards the river and you’ll discover one of the most picturesque spots in the city, and what causes me time and time again to fall in love with Paris, the island of Île Saint-Louis. This is the place to sit along the banks of the Seine and admire the pink and blue hues of an ever changing sky. Now back to sweets, it is here that the famous (and best) French ice-cream shop Berthillon can be found. Well worth the wait on line!

Crossing Pont Saint-Louis to the second of Paris’s islands, Île de la Cité, you’ll encounter 850+ year old medieval treasure Notre-Dame Cathedral. By courageously climbing 387 steps to the top of the South Tower, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city, as well as a few gargoyles.

 kasia-dietz-paris-20

You could definitely spend all day walking along Paris’s rues and boulevards, but a faster and equally scenic way to explore Paris is by Vélib’, Paris’s public biking system, or even better, by boat. Just in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral on the south side of the river, jump aboard the Batobus, what can accurately be described as a river shuttle service. With a one-day ticket you can hop on and off as many times as you like, at most of the major sights. Cruise from Hôtel de Ville, office of the mayor, to the world’s largest art collection housed in the Louvre Museum. A stop here will bring you to the well manicured Tuileries Garden where you’ll be in good company with Rodin and Giacometti, in sculpture form that is.

kasia-dietz-paris-11

Continuing along the Seine via Batobus, you’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower. Where better to savor a sunset than below (or atop) this cultural icon.

Another sight to behold along the Seine is the Musée d’Orsay. Formerly a train station constructed from 1898 to 1900, this left bank museum houses works from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau movements. Even the facade, one of my favorite Parisian structures, is a work of art.

You can’t visit Paris without getting lost in the rive gauche. Exiting the boat at Saint-Germain-des-Prés will find you in one of Paris’ most charming, albeit touristic neighborhoods. The streets are lined with cafes and restaurants, including two of Paris’s oldest and most well-known, Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots. Good stop for a glass of wine or chocolat chaud. It was at these cafes that the literary elite would often congregate, Hemingway included.

One of many French traditions is the evening apéro, shortened from l’apéritif, a before dinner drink. There are dozens of terraces in Saint-Germain in which to indulge in a glass of red, white or rosé. My terrace of choice for people watching (a favorite Parisian pastime) is Le Bar Du Marché. For dinner, head to neighboring French eateries Semilla and Fish La Boissonnerie, or latest hotspot Freddy’s for more casual dining.

kasia-dietz-paris-17

With an after dinner walk through the city by night, you’ll quickly understand why Paris is so often called the City of Lights, with the 37 bridges illuminated and antique streetlights at almost every corner.

From here you can head to the rooftop of department store Galeries Lafayette for a first class (and free) view of the city (open until 8:30pm). During the summer months the sun sets late into the night, providing the perfect opportunity to head up to the artists’ quarter, Montmartre. Take a metro or uber to Abbesses, walk up the hill (or take the funicular) to the steps of majestic Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and prepare to be dazzled by the twilight views.  Are you in love yet?

creatively minded

One of the best parts of living in Paris as an expat is meeting fellow expats, each of us on our own unique journey. For a moment, our paths cross and the world becomes a little smaller and more familiar. This is how I felt when I met photographer Elizabeth Young, as we shared tales of living and working in NYC, in the same Lower East Side neighborhood even. Given my love for photography, I immediately turned my attention to Elizabeth’s personal work and how she manages to balance her career between Paris and New York. As is often the case with creative minds, weeks later she was at my home office collaborating on a photography project.

kasia-dietz-bags-1

kasia-dietz-bags-3
kasia-dietz-bags-2

My office is where I spend many hours of the day, in between running to my manufacturer and client meetings. This is my haven, where I work on new designs, fill orders, write… Actually, my desk was the first purchase made for our new apartment. Love at first sight! It certainly serves its purpose.

kasia-dietz-bags-5

kasia-dietz-bags-7
kasia-dietz-bags-4

Both Elizabeth and I are doing what we love. She is continuing to find her inspiration behind the lens, and I am creating, both in the form of bags and with words. As the new year approaches, what is your dream? To live in Paris, Buenos Aires, Tokyo? To start a new career? To travel? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. You’ll also be entered to win a Kasia Dietz bag of your choice. As an additional bonus, take 30% off all my bag collections from now until December 15th with the code: HOLIDAYS.

Morocco in Paris

These days as Paris temperatures decrease and the sun sets early, I’ve taken to hiding out in hammams as often as possible. All in the name of research of course, as I seek to discover the best hammans in Paris for a feature in Bonjour Paris. What have I found thus far? A little taste of Morocco.

aux-bains-montorgueil-1

Hidden behind a door and down a courtyard on bustling rue Montorgueil in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement, sits a portal into Morocco. There is no outward sign of its presence, and rightly so. For decades, Aux Bains Montorgueil was a hammam designed exclusively for Moroccan royalty. It was not until 2004 that this clandestine hammam and spa opened to the public. It was discovered solely through word of mouth until their recent creation of a website.

aux-bains-montorgueil-2

Entering Aux Bains Montorgueil you have the sensation of arriving to a hammam in the heart of Marrakesh. Warmly welcomed by Moroccan women Souad and Wafa with traditional music playing in the background, I was led downstairs to begin this centuries old cleansing ritual. The actual hammam is filled with heavenly scents of eucalyptus and orange blossom. After detoxing in the luxurious heat, Souad lathered me with homemade green clay in preparation for the scrubbing, or gommage. Followed by a thorough cleansing and a return to the hammam, my facial began. My exfoliation was a concoction of cinnamon, honey and sugar, followed by a sesame and honey mask, both all natural and made by Souad and Wafa. Curious if these sweet mixtures were edible, I was told that often in Morocco only natural foods are used to cleanse the skin. (Admittedly, I did taste my mask and it was delicious!) Feeling completely relaxed, I was led upstairs to the massage room where fleur d’oranger, orange blossom, was gently rubbed into my rejuvenated skin. I ended my Moroccan experience in the relaxation room with a glass of mint tea. Now I understood why this was such a well kept secret for so long.

aux-bains-montorgueil-4

Discover Aux Bains Montorgeuil for yourself at 55 rue Montorgeuil from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 9pm.

experiences

kasia-dietz-airbnb

In 2008, living locally while traveling was made possible with the launch of Airbnb. Since then it’s grown to include cities around the world, from Mexico City to Melbourne, with Paris being its largest market. In recent years Airbnb has realized the value of local experiences in its top destinations, and today it launches Airbnb Experiences starting in 12 cities, of which I’m very excited to be a part of! What is this exactly? It’s a way for a traveler to meet locals and get to know their city on a more personal and ‘expert’ level over one or three days.

kasia-dietz-airbnb-shop-1kasia-dietz-airbnb-shop-2

In my case, I’m a handbag designer living in the North Marais with a vast knowledge of local fashion and fellow artisans, most of whom like myself, manufacture in Paris. On my fashion tour I will introduce visitors to these fashion, jewelry and shoe designers, and they will learn about local design and French style, while visiting Parisian ateliers. I’ll also be teaching these visitors how to design their own custom tote bag in my bag painting workshop. As a traveler myself, I’m looking forward to meeting others from around the world in the months ahead.

kasia-dietz-bag-painting-workshop-airbnb-1kasia-dietz-bag-painting-workshop-airbnb-2

These are the beautiful bags that were created during our video shoot. You can view the video and my profile online at Airbnb, here. Wishing you all many memorable experiences, in Paris and beyond!

Rome in Paris

Last December we spent a few days in Rome. The result? Long walks amidst ancient history… and a new Kasia Dietz handbag collection. As you know, my bags are often inspired by my travels. More reason to travel? And as always they are made in Paris, limited edition and reversible. Finally I’m sharing the Roma Collection with you, photographed by the talented Catherine O’Hara and named for some of Rome’s most famous streets. Beginning with the beautiful cobbled Via Giulia. Now you can take the streets of Rome with you wherever you go…

kasia-dietz-handbags-1
kasia-dietz-handbags-2

Onto the busy and fashionable Via Condotti…

kasia-dietz-handbags-3
kasia-dietz-handbags-4

I had to include the main street in Rome’s historical center, Via del Corso.

kasia-dietz-handbags-11kasia-dietz-handbags-7

Lastly, Via Margutta, home to art galleries and trendy restaurants.

kasia-dietz-handbags-8

kasia-dietz-handbags-9

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the new Roma Collection! For the love of Rome and Paris, take 20% off any bags online using code: ROMEINPARIS, until the end of September. And don’t forget to follow along on Instagram! More travels and bags coming up…

Paris by Thierry Marx

A morning discovering favorite local haunts of one of Paris’ star chefs and bakers? Mais oui! Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of doing exactly that, with two star Michelin chef Thierry Marx. Our day began at his new bakery and cafe in the 8th arrondissement, La Boulangerie. After tasting a few of Marx’ many sweet specialties, I had a tour of the kitchen where I met the crew and watched them at work, learning a few tricks along the way.

IMG_1011 (1)

IMG_7320 (1)

I then hopped into my vintage Citroën 2CV and my beret clad driver navigated his way to our next stop Cafés Verlet, where Marx often drinks (and buys) his coffee. It was there where I tasted various intoxicating brews, both hot and cold, and learned exactly how specialized this family business, originating in the 20th century, really is. It was in 1965 that grandson Pierre Verlet began roasting coffees from all over the world. I even caught a glimpse of his son’s roasting method in their nearby coffee mill.

La Maison Verlet 2 La Maison Verlet

The next stop was a hidden gallery in Saint-Germain, another of Marx’ favorite haunts. Pause for a little visual stimulation. The last discovery before lunch was gastronomic bouquiniste Alain Suchet, his bookstand on display along the banks of the Seine. It is here where Thierry Marx acquires vintage cookbooks to add to his collection. With so many to choose from, I could have spent all afternoon browsing!

IMG_1081

For lunch I dined haute couture style at the Mandarin Oriental’s Sur Measure. It is here at Thierry Marx’ two Michelin star restaurant, where he “blends the technical and emotional aspects of cooking with sight, sound and taste.” What an experience, from the amuse bouche to the dessert. Emotional to say the least!

Sur Mesure

To find out more about Thierry Marx’ favorite spots to shop, dine and explore in the French capital, pick up a copy of Paris Marx Saveurs Capitale (in French). If you’re planning a trip to Paris, you can experience ‘Paris by Marx’ with a stay at the Mandarin Oriental. Find out more in my feature in France Today.

PARIS PICKS : Italian eats part I

Massara

The French love pizza. All Italian food in fact. And you’ll easily find Italian restaurants and pizzerias all over the city. But how good is la pizza in Paris? Depends on if you’ve been to the BEST pizzeria in the city where pizza originated, Naples, Italy. (Luckily I have, twice even. Here’s my guide for those planning a trip.) L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele certainly takes the cake, or should I say pie, when it comes to simple and absolutely delicious pizza. Started in 1870 and passed on through five generations, their secret is “using natural ingredients and an old, traditional, time-tested method of leavening the pizza dough.” In case you can’t make it to Naples, there are a few places I’d recommend that almost make you feel like you’re in Italy. Keep in mind that I’m a tough critic, married to an Italian after all. And since I’m currently in Italy indulging in my share of pizza, where you can follow me on instagram, twitter and snapchat, I thought the timing was fitting. Here they are in no particular order, all scattered around the right bank. Reason enough to venture to my side of Paris.

Recommended by trusted Italians, we quickly grew to love Ciacco, located on a quiet street in the evolving 10th. With simple decor and staff who remember us upon entering, it almost feels like dining with family. Many great traditional pizza options and they also do take away.

Ciacco // 9 rue Rene Boulanger 75010 // Tues-Sat 12-2:30, 7:30-11 // 01 42 06 38 07

With a spacious outdoor terrace and two floors of seating, la Massara is at once inviting and intimate. Run by a friendly Italian staff, you have plenty of pizza options to choose from, some with buffalo mozzarella and an assortment of white pizzas. They also have another location in Nice.

la Massara // 70 rue de Turbigo 75003 // Daily 12-2:30, 7:15-11 // 01 42 74 13 94

For expertly mixed cocktails and hearty pizza in a variety of tastes (including one with lardo, read all about my discovery of this delicacy here) head to Grazie where you’ll be welcomed with a “buona serra.” This trendy spot near the Marais is perfect for a girls (or boys) night, just be sure to reserve and arrive early to claim the coveted window seats.

Grazie // 91 Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 // Mon-Fri 12:30–2:307:30–11, Sat/Sun 12:30-11:30 // 01 42 78 11 96

One of the latest Italian restaurants to open it’s doors is Ober Mamma. This trendy hotspot serves a traditional Milanese aperitivo with every cocktail order, perfect for the often lengthy wait. They don’t take reservations so be sure to arrive early and enjoy the convivial atmosphere. Rumor has it that one of the pizza makers comes from da Michele.

Ober Mamma // 107 boulevard Richard Lenoir 75011 // Daily 12:15-2:15/3:30, 6/7-1AM // 01 43 41 32 15

Ober Mamma

For pizza that doesn’t try to be Italian but is worthy in its own right, head to Pink Flamingo, now with four locations in Paris, in the 3rd, 10th, 12th and 18th. (Also with outposts in Valencia, Spain and Amsterdam.) You’ll find flavors including fig and chevre and a daily pizza du jour. They also do take away and delivery.

I’ll be sure to include any other worthy pizza that I discover during my eating adventures in Paris. And if you have any favorites, please let me know! Coming soon will be favorite Italian restaurants, we still have a few to try… until then buon appetito!

bon voyage

IMG_8475 (1)

Perhaps it’s because I grew up traveling that I don’t think much about getting on a plane and visiting another country. Actually, I thrive on it. There’s nothing like discovering a foreign land and getting to know its people, cuisine and customs. The ways in which travel can expand your mind are innumerous! Lately, with so much turmoil in the world, and heartache in my very own beloved countries of France and the United States, fewer people are crossing continents. I understand the uncertainty of being a “stranger in a strange land” and the potential threats we are faced with, but I choose not to live by this fear. Having experienced 9/11 in New York City and more recently the attacks in Paris, I realize how fragile life can be. I’ve also come to realize that it must be lived fully, with caution, but without fear. “Carpe Diem” as the saying goes. In the end, it’s a choice we make. I will continue walking these beautiful streets of Paris in peace, meeting friends for an evening apéro, shopping at our local markets, conducting my workshops and fashion tours… and getting on a train or plane as often as possible. And I hope you too will continue to travel and expand your horizons. If you have any doubts, I’m happy to convince you otherwise.

As you plan your next trip, here’s an informative article about safe travel from Bella Vita Travels. Bon voyage!

summer in the city

For those of us staying in Paris or visiting the City of Lights in August, the month when most Parisians leave town and head to their preferred holiday destinations, where to go to get away from the crowds and relax beneath the late summer sun? Thankfully, I’ve discovered a few favorite spots that I’m happy to share with you.

IMG_8643

The annual Paris Plages along the banks of the Seine is back for its 14th year, with plenty of spots in which to lounge, and with some of the most impressive views in all of Paris. Sand at your feet and rosé in hand, not a bad way to relax. You can also take a dance or tai-chi class or play pétanque. From the Louvre to Pont de Sully, this year it lasts even longer, ending September 4th. 

IMG_8626

One of my favorite discoveries has been the Jardin à l’heure d’été (summer garden) at the Swedish Institute in the Marais. By simply borrowing a book, you sit on the ample lawn all day, lounging in the sun. There’s a cafe for snacks and smoothies, Swedish of course. With activities for kids, there are plenty of toddlers running around. Entrance is at 10 rue Elzévir. Open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12:30 to 7:30 until August 25th.

perchoir3

If sipping cocktails on a rooftop is your idea of a night well spent, then I’ll meet you at Le Perchoir in the Marais. “Hidden” on the rooftop of department store BHV, this urban escape is the hotspot of the summer, if you don’t mind waiting on line to experience the sunset vista. There are a few locations including the new Le Perchoir de l’est, in the east of Paris. Entrance on 37 rue de la Verrerie. Open from Tuesday to Saturday 8.15pm to 2am, and Wednesdays 9.15pm to 2am well into September.

IMG_8727

A new addition to Paris’ rooftop scene is the recently installed terrace at Galeries Lafayette, where the Cube Bar greets you with a spacious lounge, down tempo tunes and breathtaking views. With an assortment of champagne cocktails and Mediterranean appetizers, it’s the perfect spot to take a shopping break and take in the city. Located on the 7th floor at 40 Boulevard Haussmann, from 10am to 8pm until August 20th.

IMG_8729

For those in Paris, enjoy your summer in the city!

The Dream Life of Michael Pereira

_DSC7528Last year, along the expat path in Paris, I met one of the most positive and inspiring people I’ve come to call my friend. Right away I was attracted to his unique, vibrant energy and was intrigued to hear his story. And could some of his positivity rub off on me, please? (Often it does.) His name is Michael Pereira, though I choose to call him ‘Miracle Michael’, for reasons you’ll soon understand. He is truly living his dream in Paris, dancing and singing his way to the top, having created his own stage on which to perform. What’s more, Michael has close ties to spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson who I’m a great fan of. (We both recently heard her speak in Paris.) But this tale is about Michael.

How did I come to live my dream in Paris?  It’s a long story….well, not really.   I was once a real New Yorker.  You know one of “those” New Yorkers.  I would even go a step further…I was a Manhattanite.  Yes, one of those snobs that thought living in Brooklyn was akin to living in Minnesota or if someone asked me to go see them in Queens I would say, “Do I need my passport?”  I was going to live in Manhattan forever.  However 8 Years ago I had the opportunity to visit Paris and the city enraptured me.  From that point on, I visited Paris every year at least once a year.  During one of these visits as I was packing to return to my beloved Manhattan and I heard this little whisper that said, “Don’t go.”  I was baffled by this voice.  I let it go and returned to the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.  Shortly after returning from that trip, I started becoming obsessed with Paris.  Searching the Internet everyday for what was going on there…apartments…festivals…new restaurants and so on.   I kept returning to Paris and every time I was there I would have this same feeling/voice saying “Stay, don’t go back to NYC.”

That whisper you keep hearing is the universe trying to get your attention. – Oprah Winfrey

I have a secret to tell, I am a meditator.  So one day in my meditation, I asked what does this thought mean “don’t go?”  What I received or heard or felt (however you want to say it) was this, “There in something in Paris that you must learn and you can only learn it there.”  Pardonez-moi?  I was puzzled but I didn’t question it.  After this, I became more obsessed with this city and was determined to live there for at least 6 months.  At that time, it was not a possibility however 2 years ago the world presented me the opportunity to live in Paris for 3 months.  I leap at the chance and was as happy as a pig in mud.  I arrived to Paris and I was living in a Chateauneuf-du-Pape dream filled with baguettes, croissants, and macaroons.  After being in Paris for as little less than a month, I made the crazy decision to stay.

_DSC3619

When you learn, teach.  When you get, give – Maya Angelou

My next thought was  “what will I do for work?”  I know! I would teach dance.  I was a Broadway dancer and had already taught all over the USA.  So I thought, this is a no-brainer.  I will start a class and it will be packed.  I was fortunate to already have set up some classes at 2 of Paris’ most famous dance studios.  I was sure that they would be sold-out.  Aaaah American arrogance.  On the day of my 1st class at the Centre de Danse du Marais I had the grand total of zero students.  LE OUCH!  I brushed it off and decided that it was a gift from the universe as it was my birthday and now I could go meet a new friend for a drink.  The next day came and I had 1 student, the next 0, the next 1, then 2, then for the rest of the month it would vary from 2 to 6 students.  I was disappointed but not discouraged.  I had met an American Expat and she said that she would recommend me as an English teacher at a high level school in Paris and that would help make money too.  Ok, so I thought, “”I will survive.”  I had been surviving in NYC, so now I will do the same in Paris.  No big deal.

But I did have my moments of fear.  “What happens if I fail?”  “What will happen if I can’t pay my rent?”  Oh la la!  I am lucky to have a strong support system lead by my Godmom.  She said, “If you are happy you will have no choice that to succeed.”  I trust her, so I decided “Ok Michael, onward.”  I started teaching English and I continued to teach dance where I could.  At first as a substitute when other teachers couldn’t teach and then Studio Harmonic would offer me a week here or there during vacation times.  Little by little, my classes started filling up.  10 people, 15 people.  WOW!  I was thrilled.   Then one day, I had this crazy idea that I should start a ½ day workshop on a Sunday.  I would offer a taste of American style musical theatre training.  The director of the studio wasn’t into it as they had never done anything like this but she said let’s try.  Well, it sold out in one week.  Et voila, that was the real start of Broadway In Paris.

_DSC7255

Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. – A Course in Miracles

You know, I never thought in a million years that I would be living a dream life but here I am.  I believe something powerful happens to a person when failure isn’t an option.  I had to succeed.  I had to pay my rent.   I never wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to be a star.  A big fat Broadway star with my name above the title.  Now, that never happened, I had some very rough times in NYC.  I had some really wonderful and glamorous times too but a lot of rough ones.  New York, I tell people, is like a wild animal.  You tame it and ride it or it will throw you off itself and eat you alive.  Weirdly enough, I was loosing strength and scared that NYC might bite me.  I digress; I started teaching in the States to help pay the bills when I wasn’t performing.  But little by little, I started loving it.  I loved sharing the knowledge that I acquired.  I was always a seeker of knowledge and still am.  In the performing arts I want to sing better, have deeper emotions, dance faster and bigger, etc.  So along the way, I learned from some of the best.  I also applied this desire for knowledge to life spiritually and emotionally.  I started combining these to things and saw that it was working.

If a train doesn’t stop at your station, then it’s not your train. – Marianne Williamson

When I started teaching in Paris, I just continued doing what I did in the states.  Being me.  Helping my students fulfill their potential.  Seeing them in their greatest light.  Infusing every situation with love.  Uplifting people.  Teaching them a different way of looking at things.  Creating a safe space.  I am a deeply spiritual guy and I firmly believe that miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.  So I try to fill everything I do with love.  It seems to be working miracles for me.  I am so grateful that this City of Light decided open it’s arms to me and shine its light on me.

Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others. – Marianne Williamson

At this time, I am really excited to start my expanding my teaching to more and different classes at Studio Harmonic, including Broadway Jazz, Tap and Ballet expanding my private voice studio and song interpretation workshops, continuing my teaching in the Studio International’s musical theatre program and my jazz concerts.  I have also been invited to teach workshops outside of Paris and I have a few other surprises up my sleeve.  Plus, coming my jazz concerts.  I really love doing those.  I take Broadway songs and do them in a jazz style.

I am ready for more miracles in the City of Light.

_DSC7545

Thank you for sharing your story, Michael. You can find his inspiring words on his blog, Michael’s Year of Miracles, and learn more about his dancing classes on his website Broadway In Paris. I’ll need to dust off my tap dancing shoes one day and join the fun… He also sings Broadway show tunes at local Paris venues including Club Rayé.

Be sure to follow Broadway in Paris on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and also follow the adventures of Michael himself on Twitter and Instagram. He’s certain to inspire a miracle or two in your own life.

 

PARIS PICKS : 4-star boutique hotels

One of the questions I’m most often asked is “Where to stay in the City of Lights?” My answer often includes a boutique hotel in the rive droite, my side of town. Even though I live in a charming Parisian apartment in the North Marais, I have an affinity for hotels designed for sophisticated travelers with style and comfort in mind. In the last few years I’ve experienced a few of these luxurious gems, first hand. Here are my top picks.

Hotel Bachaumont-©PAUL-BOWYER

Under the design direction of Dorothée Meilichzon, Hotel Bachaumont re-opened in September 2015. Steps away from the pedestrianized market street rue Montorgueil, this art-deco hotel composed of 49 rooms and complete with an uber trendy bar and restaurant, is one of Paris’ latest hotspots. Read all about my experience in Bonjour Paris. (Photo by Paul Bowyer)

Hotel Bachaumont // 18 rue Bachaumont 75002 // + 33 (0) 1 81 66 47 00

Hotel Fabric

A hotel set in a former textile factory? Welcome to Hôtel Fabric. This designers’ haven is located in the Oberkampf neighborhood, steps away from a slew of trendy eateries. Thirty-three rooms are equally stylish and spacious, featuring industrial decor combined with vivid prints by luxury design house Pierre Frey. Here’s my complete review in France Today.

Hôtel Fabric // 31 Rue de la Folie Méricourt 75011 // +33 (0)1 43 57 27 00

Terrass Hotel

Eiffel tower views, anyone? Head to the historic artists’ quartier of Montmartre for both comfort and a vista. From the 7th floor bar and restaurant of Terrass’’ Hotel, the panoramic views will take your breath away! Refurbished and re-opened in June 2015, find refuge in the hotels 85 contemporary rooms and 7 suites, some with private balconies. Read more in my feature in Bonjour Paris.

Terrass’’ Hotel // 12-14 rue Joseph de Maistre 75018 // +33 (0)1 46 06 72 85

Hotel Providence 4

Hotel Providence 3

In the trendy Strasbourg Saint-Denis neighborhood, Hôtel Providence takes center stage. This recently opened circa-1854 hotel contains 18 rooms and 3 suites, each exhibiting vintage furnishings, walls clad in velvet prints, and well stocked bars. While I haven’t yet stayed overnight in this chic setting which attracts quite an A-list crowd, I have admired the design of the rooms and the cozy bar and restaurant, perfect for a night cap.

Hôtel Providence // 90 rue René Boulanger 75010 // +33 (0)1 46 34 34 04

date with Paul Klee

Those who read my blog know that other than travel, art is my greatest inspiration in designing my bags, and simply, in living. Those who know me well, know that Paul Klee is one of my most revered artists. When I found out that he, I mean his work, was coming to the Pompidou for a retrospective, I was elated. I freed my calendar for an opening night date with the master. The last time we “met” was almost 6 years ago at his last exhibition. This time 230 of Klee’s pieces are on display, as his work is examined through the prism of irony. According to Klee’s son Felix, “He always had a great taste for satire, for irony, for everything that isn’t quite serious.”

IMG_4393

This show will be going on for quite some time, until August 1st to be exact. But for those unable to make it, here are a number of works that I carefully selected to share with you, many from his museum in Bern. Each one provoking unique thought, causing me to stop and stare. And often to smile. Enjoy the show!

IMG_4402

St. Germain near Tunis. 1914

IMG_4406

Green x Above Left. 1915

IMG_4413

Chosen Boy. 1918

IMG_4423

Adam and Little Eve. 1921

IMG_4438

Fire at Full Moon. 1933

IMG_4443

Snake Paths. 1934

IMG_7946

Intention. 1938

IMG_7951

High Spirits. 1939

IMG_7957

Following the exhibition I stood for a while and admired the view. Knowing Klee would have approved.

Paris staycation

Last weekend my Italian and I took a staycation in Paris, crossing the river from rive droite’s trendy 3rd to rive gauche’s chic 7th arrondissement. Why not vacation in your own city? My home was one of Paris Perfect‘s luxurious apartments, and my neighbor was none other than Madame Eiffel herself. Right away I felt welcomed.

IMG_0434IMG_1659

Needless to say, I couldn’t stop staring at the iron lady. Whether I sat on the balcony, lay in bed, or sank into a warm bath, there she was. I daresay the Chambertin apartment has quite the view, not to mention charm.

IMG_0474

What I quickly learned is that Paris Perfect excels in hospitality and services. A few other guests and I took a traditional French cooking class at the glamorous Margaux apartment, learning to make gougère among other specialties, our meal ending with saffron cream and a lesson in champagne and wine pairing. Parfait!

IMG_0490IMG_0505IMG_0547

I was sorry to leave this new home, but alas, every holiday has to come to an end, even one in your own city.

PARIS PICKS : North Marais Restos Part I

I’m often asked by friends, fans and clients what my favorite restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, etc are in the City of Lights. Thus I decided to begin a new series,  Paris Picks, where I’ll be highlighting my top five in food, fashion and beyond, beginning with restaurants in and around my North Marais neighborhood. Bon appétit!

Season

Season, one of my favorite new addresses in Paris comes from the team behind Cafe Crème and is located just across the street from this local haunt. With a daily 12 lunch special and an array of salads (including spinach & kale Ceasar), it’s the perfect place to stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They also serve fresh juices.

Season // 1 Rue Charles-François Dupuis 75003 // 01 42 71 52 97

For a night out at a beautiful venue featuring a small seasonal menu, there’s no place quite like Les Chouettes. Be sure to try one of their creative cocktails at their second floor bar. You can read more about it here.

Les Chouettes // 32 rue de Picardie 75003 // 01 44 61 73 21

Located directly across the street from the Picasso Museum, and with the loveliest dining view (ask for a second floor window seat), Glou is the perfect gourmet lunch or dinner stop while shopping in the neighborhood. I’m particularly a fan of their ever changing prix-fixe lunch menu at 17 or 21.

Glou // 101 Rue Vieille du Temple 75003 // 01 42 74 44 32

Modern French gastronomy can be savoured at Pramil, an intimate restaurant located in the ever expanding North Marais. Opened opened nine years ago by chef Alain Pramil (a charming man who makes sure your experience is a good one), he offers a prix-fixe dinner menu for 33€ and an extensive wine list.

Pramil // 9 rue Vertbois 75003 // 01 42 72 03 60

Just north of the Haut Marais sits Chameleon, a restaurant that my Italian and I discovered in its earliest days, which has quickly become a go-to spot. Its minimal decor a direct contrast to its complex taste combinations. I recommend the seasonal 35€ menu including entrée, plat & dessert.

Chameleon // 70 Rue René Boulanger 75010 // 01 42 08 99 41

living a language

Place des Vosges

I decided not to make resolutions this year but I did make intentions. You can’t break intentions, can you? One of them is to improve my French. I’ve been living in Paris for over 6 years, and of course I speak the language. On a daily basis I speak French with my manufacturer, fabric suppliers, yoga teachers, travel industry professionals, friends… and even my Italian on occasion. I get by perfectly well. But I want to improve. My goal is to speak French with the fluency with which I speak Polish, a language I learned as a child. (Thanks Mom!) After mastering French I plan to conquer Italian, which I’ve already started speaking, finding it much easier to understand and learn, already knowing French. In my efforts to speak like a Parisian, I’ve discovered an online course that has been helping me more than the many methods I’ve tried in the past. (And I’ve tried many!) Here’s a little taste…

 

Learning a language should be fun, which is why Frantastique proves to be so successful. Each lesson is short, humorous, and personalized to the student’s level. To share my love of the French language with you, and to better prepare for your next trip to Paris, here’s a month free with Frantastique. I’ll be learning along with you, so feel free to let me know how you’re doing. Enjoy living a language & good luck, or should I say bonne chance!

co-working cafés

I know many of my readers, like myself, are entrepreneurs, or perhaps dream to be. To assist you in your journey while in Paris, I share my favorite co-working cafés in the city of lights. You can find this article online at Bonjour Paris, and read other features that I wrote about Paris, here. See you at a co-working café…

Anticafé Beaubourg 1

With a growing number of Parisiens and expatriates leaning towards the entrepreneurial life, it’s no wonder co-working spaces are on the rise in Paris. The first opened its doors in the Sentier in 2008 and has evolved into what is now Numa, a start-up acceleration co-working space. Le Loft, a former rope factory boasting 620m² of space, is a co-working incubator also located in what was once called Silicon Sentier. In recent years, over a dozen have followed suit, catered to a community of business-minded creatives who seek a space to work other than their often cramped quarters. As one such entrepreneur, I well understand the importance of an environment where productivity trumps distraction. An alternative to corner cafés, in the past favored by greats like Hemingway, these relaxed professional spaces provide the ideal environment for solo work or a business meeting, some even offering private conference rooms. Where better to create your office and connect with like-minds, than in a comfortable café offering unlimited wifi and café crèmes?

Nuage Cafe 1 (Photo-Romain Reglade Design-Cardinale & Rogeon Architects)

Here are a few of my favorites, where you can often find me designing or writing, thriving in the energy of fellow creatives. Did I mention they all excel in coffee?

Nuage Café

The latest to open in the Latin Quarter is Nuage Café, in recent years a church and once the high school of Cyrano de Bergerac. You might even find his desk in the eclectic workspace. Nuage, meaning cloud, is true to its name, a tranquil lofty duplex featuring various shared and private work environments. Books are strewn throughout the space, hidden even in the stairwell. In-house services include ordering a coffee via your laptop. By registering your seat online, a professional network is created among those sharing the space. A discreet way of connecting. Soon lunch will be offered so you never need to leave your cloud.

Photos: Romain Reglade / Design: Cardinale Rogeon Architects

14, rue des Carmes 75005
Monday-Friday 9am – 9pm / Saturday-Sunday 12 – 8pm
4€/hour, 16€/day
coffee by Coutume


CraftCraft 1

Steps away from Canal Saint-Martin sits Craft, a minimally designed and highly efficient space that has welcomed international clientele for over three years. The unique concept behind this co-working café is the even exchange of food and drink for work time. The 3€ per hour fee can be used for an assortment of local tastes including pastries, sandwiches, coffee and fresh juices, providing the ideal spot for a working lunch. With soft music and the sounds and smells of coffee grinding in the background, it’s easy to feel at home in this intimate space.

24 rue des Vinaigriers 75010
Monday-Saturday 9am – 7pm / Sunday 10am – 7pm
3€/hour
coffee by Lomi


AnticaféAnticafé Beaubourg 2

The creative energy of Anticafé is immediately felt upon stepping into this animated space; upbeat music streams through the air, ever-changing artwork fills the walls, board games line the shelves. The lower level reveals a cozy cave in which to hide away or conduct a meeting. Lunch is not offered but there’s plenty in the way of snacks and beverages, including freshly squeezed juices. The first to open in 2013 sits in the shadows of Centre Pompidou, and already two more locations have opened in Paris and one in Rome. Where next?

79 rue Quincampoix 75003
10 rue Richelieu 75001
59 rue Nationale Paris 75013
Monday-Friday 9am – 10:30pm / Saturday-Sunday 10am – 9:30pm
4€/hour
coffee by Caron


HubsyHubsy 3

Five months ago Hubsy joined the café co-working culture. Located across the street from Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement, it’s the perfect spot to work solo while enjoying street scenes and museum views. The lower level provides a private meeting room which can be booked in advance, or you can opt to lounge more casually in the upstairs balcony. Snacks are plentiful and the owners take great pride in their coffee, Pfaff having been awarded best French coffee roaster in 2014 by the French Coffee Committee.

41 Rue Réaumur, 75003
Monday-Thursday 9am – 10pm / Friday 9am – 8pm / Saturday-Sunday 11am – 8pm
5€/first hour, 4€/each additional hour, 20€/day
coffee by Pfaff

merry everything

tree one

It’s that time of year to slow down and look up. To spend time with those most dear to us, reflect on the year coming to an end, and the one soon to start. The past year has been challenging both personally and globally, and I for one am looking forward to beginning a new one. But first, Christmas. My Italian and I are heading to Rome for a little pre-holiday celebration. I’m looking forward to rediscover this city that I haven’t visited in nearly 15 years. And who better to explore it with than my favorite travel companion! Join me on my adventures in Rome followed by the Italian Riviera, via Instagram and Facebook. Incidentally, I was recently named one of the 20 Paris Instagram Accounts to Follow by Bonjour Paris. I’m honored!

For a little year end news, here’s my holiday newsletter. I’ll be back in the new year sharing more of life and love in the City of Lights, and who knows where 2016 will find me. Thank you for joining me on this beautiful journey.

tree two

Wishing you and yours merry everything! Happy new year from the City of Lights!

gratitude giveaway

The holiday season is upon us, as the clock ticks down to the new year. To thank you all for following along on my adventures, (it’s been over six years of love in the city of lights!), and to wish you a very happy new year, I have a few goodies for you that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do. Certainly they will compliment any travels you take in the new year.  Which leads me to the giveaway… Firstly, you have your choice of Kasia Dietz handbags from my many collections. I’m always  happy to share my wearable art, inspired by my travels to Andalucia, Bali, Istanbul, Provence, Giverny… Secondly, to remain on time in whatever timezone you’re in, win $129 towards any hand-crafted Jord Wood Watch. Lastly, what better way to stay in top form in the new year than with mantras by Diana Antholis? Win her latest book Sanity is Sexy: Mantras to Inspire a Healthy Mindset.

giveaway

To enter, simply mention your favorite Kasia Dietz handbag or clutch and Jord Wood Watch in the comments below, and where you’d like to travel with them in 2016. Winners will be chosen randomly on December 20th. Good luck!

Yoga in Paris

International Yoga Day-no photo source

Those who read my blog know I met my Italian en route to yoga one evening in Soho, New York. A fortuitous meeting that changed the path of my life, and led me to Paris. For the last 10 years yoga has helped me to achieve inner balance and peace of mind, as well as strengthening and toning my core. I practiced yoga around the world during my travels, from Bali to Mexico, and as soon as I arrived to Paris I found a studio and my ohm-ing continued. In recent years, many more studios have opened in the city of lights, covering  all 20 arrondissements. Last year the world celebrated  the first International Yoga Day, with 1,500 yogis gathered beneath the Eiffel Tower.  As a firm believer in this centuries old practice, I wrote a comprehensive directory of yoga studios for Bonjour Paris, and am sharing with you the studios that offer classes in English, including those where I practice. Every Saturday morning the American Church in Paris hosts a Guerilla Yoga donation only community class, led my my friend and neighbor Anne who I know from the New York chapter. And should you need any fashionable and functional yoga gear, head over to Marais shop Yoga Concept where you can also find my custom yoga mat bags. Namaste!

Big Apple Yoga, 20 rue Dussoubs (2nd). www.bigappleyogafrance.com. +33 (0)1 42 36 76 11                                     They offer an unlimited class 10 day pass for 35€ and community classes at 10€

Centre de Yoga Du Marais, 72 rue du Vertbois (3rd). www.yogamarais.com. +33 (0)1 42 74 24 92                              They offer community classes at 10€

Omm Studio, 14 rue Saint-Gilles (3rd). www.ommstudio.fr. +33 (0)1 40 09 26 69

Rasa, 21 Rue Saint-Jacques (5th). www.rasa-yogarivegauche.com. +33 (0)1 43 54 14 59

YogaYoga Paris, 6 passage de la Vierge (7th). www.yogayogaparis.fr. +33 (0)1 47 20 71 56

Paris Yoga Shala, 9 rue Magellan (8th). www.parisyoga.com. +33 (0)1 40 70 14 44

Mysore Yoga Paris, 17 rue Eugène Varlin (10th). www.mysoreyogaparis.com

Beyoga, 17 rue Campagne Premiere (14th). www.beyoga.fr. +33 (0)9 65 31 60 11

Sahaja Yoga, Espace Fontanelle – 38, rue Fondary (15th). www.sahajayoga.fr. +33 (0)6 10 44 13 10

Yoga in Paris, 10 Rue Francoeur (18th). www.yogainparis.com. +33 (0)6 84 42 43 80

Fall for France

Sometimes life brings you full circle. Last spring I was invited along with Leah Walker, by the France Tourism Board Rendez-vous en France, to join their annual campaign in which they highlight and promote select cities in France. In my many years as a print producer in New York, (in which field I still work from time to time), I often traveled to foreign locales, managing campaigns for various advertising agencies. This time however, my role was as blogger and social media marketer. Wow, no production work! Though I was more than happy to assist whenever needed. The campaign, shot by talented photographer Braden Summers and assisted by a well curated crew stemming from all over the globe, began on the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Some of the best views of the City of Lights!

FallForFrance2015-Paris_Rooftop_V3_LowerRes-

Braden and crew continued from Paris to Poitiers, Nice and Marseille before I caught up with them in Dijon. What a magical city filled with history, wine and of course mustard. Read more about my Dijon adventures here.

Pâtisserie-Dijon

Our next and last stop on the France tour was Reims, the land of champagne. After a private tasting at the famous champagne house Taittinger, Leah and I joined the group for the final day of photography. Our last scene took place at a gorgeous private home with a grand picnic a la Française. You can even spot me running off in the distance with Sophie Holubinka, Project Manager of the Fall for France campaign from Atout France.

Pique-Nique-Reims

For those heading to Miami Art Basel next week, stop by the France Pavilion to discover this years stunning traveling photo exposé of “Top French Cities”. The campaign can also be viewed here. Or better yet, come to France!

giving thanks

Today is my favorite holiday, not because I’m terribly patriotic (though I do love my native country), or because of the copious amounts of decadent food and drink that will be ingested (that happens quite often in Paris),  but by how Thanksgiving unites us and makes us reflect on what we are grateful for in this life.

Here in Paris we celebrate with a yearly feast hosted by a friend from the New York chapter, where new faces mingle with those who have made this a tradition. There’s even one Native American in the expat mix! We share the table with French, Italian, Irish and Australian, all of us taking this occasion to count our blessings. Isn’t it so commonly said that expressing gratitude leads to happiness and well-being? After six years in Paris, I certainly have a lot to be grateful for. Though life never ceases to challenge us both personally and globally, as events of the past few weeks have proven, we must savour every day. As goes the saying, carpe diem!

I wish for you, dear readers, a feast filled with peace and love. May you carry gratitude in your hearts, always.

Chloe Lodge photographer-Kasia Dietz

resilience

Over a week has passed since the tragic events that shook Paris, and in turn the world. Life is slowly resuming while the mourning continues, as it shall for a long time to come. Winter has crept in and the city appears more quiet than normal, yet resilience and strength are felt in Parisians and expats alike. Life goes on, in strength.

Paris

Many are asking whether it’s safe to travel to this beautiful city, one of the most desirable destinations in the world. My answer is yes! We cannot let fear guide us. We must love Paris more than ever. Here are a few thoughts from fellow Americans, including myself, via Stylecaster.

Paris 5

I’ll be getting back to designing and writing this coming week, sharing what is uniquely beautiful about Paris, this city that so deeply inspires my senses. Thank you for following along on this journey, and for all your continued thoughts. Paris je t’aime.

Paris 1

Fluctuat nec mergitur. “Though beaten by the waves, she never sinks.”

J’aime Paris

I’m finding it difficult to articulate my thoughts of the past 48 hours. My beloved Paris, a city adored by all, attacked, so many innocent lives lost. And for what? For enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My Italian and I live in the North Marais, bordering the 10th and 11th arrondissements, steps away from Place de la Republique. On many evenings we are carousing these sames streets where the attacks occurred, where many were not as lucky as us. Glued to the news at home, we could barely believe the events as they unfolded all around us, sirens in the distance making it all the more real. My heart aches for the families and friends of the victims, for the lives so suddenly cut short. I was immediately reminded of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier in the year. Again? The shock and despair I feel, that many of us feel, is all too similar to 911 in New York, an attack not just on a city, but on the entire world.

Processed with VSCOcam with n1 preset
FullSizeRender copy 2

On Saturday, rather than stay home and allow the media to feed our fear, we walked to the sites of the attacks, in thought of the victims and in support of our adopted city. My eyes filled with tears as we passed the cafes with terraces once brimming with locals; now only bullet holes remained. The gate was down at Le Petit Cambodge. Flowers and candles lined the streets, people of all ages gathered around to pay homage. Suddenly it became all too devastatingly real. That evening we spent with friends from the neighborhood, all of us grateful not to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Chance.

IMG_4964

The sun shone brightly on Sunday and again we took to the streets. As we often do on mild fall weekends, we biked to the Seine and rode the length of the river past Hôtel de Ville and our favorite haunts in Ile Saint-Louis until we reached Musée d’Orsay. Museums and markets remained closed, but all around us life was being lived. Parisians mingled at neighborhood cafes, children ran around the riverbanks,  tourists queued to view Paris by boat, we even caught a glimpse of a token bride and groom. Love for the city was felt around every corner.

FullSizeRender

Since 911 my affection for New York grew deeper, it became a city that will forever remain in my heart. Now too, I feel more bonded to Paris, much the way I do to a loved one whose well-being is of paramount importance to me. This is perhaps the most sane way to survive such terror, by expressing profound love and cherishing the life we have been given. Every. Single. Day.

FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender_3

As the sun set and we made our way back home, I thought about the official Paris Motto since the Middle Ages, now again relevant, Fluctuat Nec Mergitur, Though beaten by the waves, she never sinks. Stay strong Paris!

high tea time

As the days turn shorter and winter begins to make its presence known, I turn towards the sweet side of life in Paris. Having sipped chai in nearly all of the five star tea salons, each one is an experience in itself. France does excel in its pastries after all, and having a sweet tooth, I’ll try any sugary concoction whipped up by a respected pâtissier. My most recent experience in l’heure du goûter, as the French call snack time, was by the skillful hand of Pastry Chef Cédric Grolet at Le Meurice, with world renowned Alain Ducasse at the helm.

FullSizeRender copy

Joined by two gourmand friends, we sat in the elegant restaurant Le Dalí, and started our high tea with a glass of bubbly, French style. What I immediately noticed were Christophe Robin’s Little Indulgences, warm finger sandwiches prepared to order. How divine! And I hadn’t even brought my attention to the sweet portion yet.

FullSizeRender_1 copy

The trays were stacked high with homemade sweets and scones with cream, each more delicious than the next.

sweets 2
sweets 1

As an unexpected bonus, the most delicious madeleines were served to us, fresh out of the oven. But what took the cake was the Hazelnut, a rich and chocolaty dessert that must be tasted to be truly understood.

FullSizeRender_1
FullSizeRender

The afternoon was long and luxurious! Leah Walker, fellow traveler, donned her new rive droite tote in high style. Along with writer Mary Winston Nicklin, we indulged in a tea time to remember. Until next time, ladies!

views from above

The last few weeks in Paris have been a feast for the eyes, and equally, for the soul. Is there a more spectacular season than autumn, when the leaves turn golden hues against elegant pale facades? Even on a gray day, the city comes to life, inviting you to admire it.

IMG_9968 I have taken many a stroll along its leafy streets, occasionally looking up to catch the light.

Read More

1 2 3 4