stylish eats

One of the reasons I love living in the North Marais, what I call NoMa, is that it’s constantly evolving. Reminiscent of my life in NY’s Lower East Side, new cafes and bars are appearing almost overnight, mixed in with the various ethnic eats. One such neighborhood locale, discreetly hidden in the 3eme, which has quickly become my favorite, is Loustic, “smart ass” as the Breton’s would say.

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What first caught my eye is the decor, given my affinity towards geometric prints and color. With walls covered in Hermès wallpaper, custom tables and cushioned seating, a stylish addition to the neighborhood. Another of the creative endeavors of interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon.

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It is not simply the interior decor that keeps me returning to this local haven. Nor is it the humour and wit of owner Channa Galhenage, though certainly that helps. The food offerings are both sweet and savory, selectively catered by Emperor Norton, and almost daily Kristen of The Kale Project is in house preparing her kale delicacies. And the coffee, without question one of the best in Paris.

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Stop in and have a bite to eat. But do tell them you are from the neighborhood.

40, rue Chapon 75003

pique-niqueing & pétanque

IMG_2670 2When the sun comes out, so do the Parisians. On a recent spring-like day, moods were high and there was a lightness evident in the air. Now this is what spring is meant to feel like! My Italian and I joined a group of friends at the gardens of the Palais Royal for my favorite summer pastime, le pique-nique. It was here too that I played my first game of pétanque, the famous French sport so often played in and around Paris. Immediately I took a liking to this game of ball throwing, even winning a few times. Perhaps the champagne helped!

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It was beneath these blue skies that once again, I felt lucky to live within such immense beauty.

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On the way home, a little surprise in the form of fashion to end a well-spent day, la vie parisienne.

last bistro standing

It seems that every day another hotspot is opening up in the Marais. New bars and restaurants around every corner. What about those that remain? Does anyone frequent the old haunts?

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Le Bougnat is a restaurant I walked by almost every day, and often I wondered what when on in there (and who ate there), discreetly positioned on rue de Saintonge just steps away from trendy rue de Bretagne. One night my Italian and I decided to find out.

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Much to our surprise the place was bustling, it was Friday night after all. There were young and old, mingling at the bar, filling up both small dining rooms… In their jovial manner, I could tell many of them were regulars.

IMG_1362IMG_1357Seated next to an elderly French couple, we quickly found out they were regulars. They advised us on what to order, all of the dishes being traditionally French. Somehow through the dinner our tables were pushed together and the next 3 hours were spent in conversation. If felt much like being in a small village far away from Paris. How friendly and hospitable everyone was!

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After dinner we had a digestif with our new friends. Learning that this brasserie had been in Paris for many decades and was quite a hotspot (and still is) to those who knew the Marais before the term bobo was even invented. May it remain there for decades to come!

Le Bougnat is located at 28 rue de Saintonge and is open only on Friday and Saturday.

Murder Below Montparnasse

Live what feels like a real life investigation involving stolen art in Paris? Don’t mind if I do.

Cara Black

On one of her many visits to Paris I met gifted author with an appetite for suspense, Cara Black. Today her new book Murder Below Montparnasse is revealed to the world, starring her French private investigator and heroine, Aimée Leduc, well known to those who have read other of Cara’s books. This time Aimée is on the hunt for a missing Modigliani, at the cost of many a life, cautious to protect her own. The rest I will not reveal, as this is a mystery after all, and should be delved into without too many a clue.

To indulge the reader further, Cara has offered a free trip to Paris in October, where you can carouse the same cobbled streets that so many artists, writers and private investigators have walked upon, with Cara as your tour guide no less. Perhaps she will reveal a few clues along the way?

Find out more about how to “Win A Killer Trip to Paris“…  suspenseful reading and bonne chance!

L’Amour (or less)

One of the great joys of living as an expat in Paris is that it has exposed me to other like-minded Americans, who equally find their creative voice and pursue their dreams, on French soil. Whether it be in the form of American-style cupcakes, sweet stories, designer pillows, or even treasure hunts in the Louvre, each of these women is following her passion. I am proud to be among them.

Most recently another friend and fellow expat has spoken, this time through film. An actress and film-maker from NYC, Jennifer Geraghty arrived to Paris no more than 2 year ago, and now, she has a few stories to tell. Namely, all about the romantic tales between expats and the French. All true stories, not all her own. Certainly enough to entice any  mademoiselle or monsieur out there who wonders about dating in the French capital! Have a look, listen, and share the love! Jennifer and her collaborator Alexis are in the midst of raising funds via kickstarter to turn these tales into a series of short stories, 12 of which are already written. To learn more, here’s their website.

To add a little incentive in the form of Kasia Dietz handbags, I’ve designed a custom hand-painted tote for those able to donate a generous sum. More info on their kickstarter page

L'Amour (or less) tote by Kasia Dietz

May these tales of LAmour (or less) come to life!

from Paris with love

It feels like a cliché writing about love on Valentine’s Day, in Paris, the city of romance. But in my opinion it’s a subject worth indulging, regardless of the day. And regardless of your status. Several months ago I wrote an article for HiP Paris, all about falling in love with Paris in a day, and with no one other than yourself. And in so doing, I often explore Paris, and fall in love with the city which I call home. Either alone or in good company (otherwise known as my Italian).

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Photos taken with Instagram, for more images of Paris you can join me here.

Wishing you all a day, and a life, filled with LOVE!

 

mid-century maison

The last few weeks have been dedicated to decorating our new home, “Project Nest” as I call it. Growing up with an interior designer mother has certainly influenced this passion, which I consider one of the most fulfilling forms of self-expression. My journey in creating our new living space, which my Italian is leaving mostly up to me, began on France’s renowned site for virtually anything, leboncoin.fr. (Incidentally, also where I found our apartment.)

As someone with an affinity for Mid-Century Modern design, that is where my search commenced. Et voilà! It began with finding my perfect desk and ended with the discovery of my now favorite Scandinavian design shop, Maison Nordik, a new addition to the ever-evolving 18ème.

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As soon as the doors opened, I arrived to admire, and quickly purchase my desk. It was love at first sight, with the desk, as with the store. I met the owners Gregory (French), and Louise (Danish), and quickly discovered their passion for design and their love for beautiful objects, each hand selected.

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There is a new supply of 50’s and 60’s furniture, designer lamps and beautiful ceramics arriving to the store every few weeks, mostly from Denmark. They also now sell Square Modern pillows, an ideal showcase for these minimalist chic coussins. Soon after my desk acquisition (and the rosewood chair to accompany it) Gregory and Louise found us a gorgeous teak dining table, perfect for our soon to be planned dinner parties! Now they are on the hunt for a TV console as I struggle from creating our apartment into a Mid-Century Modern showroom. Would that really be so bad?

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For the fellow Mid-Century Modern aficionados, Maison Nordik is located at 159 rue Marcadet and open from Thursday – Sunday 12:30-7:30 (Monday – Wednesday by appointment). They share a space with a made-to-measure industrial design company and next door lies one of the best laboratory cafés in Paris, Café Lomi. Reasons enough to venture to upper Montmartre!

Marais à la mode

On my many past visits to Paris, it wasn’t the scholarly air of the Latin Quarter or the history of Montparnasse that captured my heart, or even the chic appeal of Saint-Germain, though I appreciated and admired these districts to no end. It was undoubtedly the cobbled streets and charm of the Marais, untouched by Baron Haussmann, that always felt like home. And so it became.

Kasia Dietz-Lonely PlanetNow, over three years since I call the Marais my home, or NoMa (North Marais) as I refer to it, I have officially become a local. How do I know this? It’s as clear as the words on a page. I’m honored to be featured in the latest Lonely Planet Paris, my most revered and respected of guide books. Traveling all over the world with these books tucked safely in my bag, little did I ever think I’d be included within their pages. As a local handbag designer no doubt. (Also mentioned on pg 315) This is so terribly exciting!

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In more good news, the Marais will continue to be called home for much time to come. My Italian and I have recently embarked on a new project, (also called searching for real estate in Paris), and after viewing over 50 apartments within 6 months and beginning to lose faith, we finally found our nest! And in NoMa of all places, exactly where we wanted to remain. More news on project nest in the weeks ahead… These days there is much to celebrate!

winter white

I’ve never been a great fan of winter, finding short days with a lack of sunlight hard to bear for so many long months. Not to mention the bitter cold. But when it snows in Paris, the landscape is nothing but magical. This is the winter that I love. Time seems to stand still as a blanket of calm covers the city. This past week Paris turned from gray to white, and at it’s onset I convinced my Italian to venture into the snowy stillness of our neighborhood, le Marais. 

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The following morning I awoke to find a brighter shade of white.

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All the way to Place des Victoires, Henry XIV braved the snow, appearing even more regal.

Paris by night

Once in a while, even those who call Paris home must play the role of a tourist. What better way to fall in love all over again? And so, recently, to celebrate nothing in particular, my Italian and I spent a night on the Seine amidst the lights of Paris. We boarded the boat just beneath the glow of Madame Eiffel, and with champagne in hand, began our dinner tour. This is certainly a city to behold, even in it’s darkest hour. In order to share this experience, I braved the cold and currents on the return, and with iPhone in hand (forgive the poor photo quality) I captured Paris by night.

Enjoy the ride!

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For those visiting the city of lights or locals in need of dinner with a view, jump aboard! Take note, I recommend only going on a Sunday night for the Michelin chef’s dinner. Romantic and gourmet. We will be playing tourist again come Spring, as the sun is setting, a whole other Paris to savour…

happy holidays!

Wishing all my dear readers, fellow romantics and francophiles around the world the happiest of holidays! From the City of Lights (with a glorious display on the Champs-Élysées) to sunny Florida where my Italian and I are spending Christmas with family and the New Year with friends. Time to reflect on the year that is behind us, and think of all that is yet to find us in the days ahead.

Looking forward to sharing many more adventures, travels and musings in 2013!

Warmest regards,
Kasia

afternoon with Rodin

Every first Sunday of the month, Paris art aficionados receive a gift from the city. Many museums and cultural institutions in and around Paris are open, free of charge. Though I believe art should be free and museums should admit their patrons by donation only. On such a recent Sunday, the sun was shining over bright blue skies, and there was no way not to enjoy it, in the company of art. We chose one of my favorites, the ‘progenitor of modern sculpture’, Auguste Rodin.

Musée Rodin reveals one of the most spectacular gardens in Paris, home of The Thinker.

Sculptures amidst trees, strewn in the late afternoon sunshine.

The Gates of Hell, one of Rodin’s most notable sculptures.

I sat by the lake and thought of the life Rodin must have led, and what inspired him to create.

Perhaps withing this regal structure I will find the answers.

urban escape

I am a great fan of weekend escapes, a tranquil setting in which to unwind and simply lose track of time. Though not always possible or so easy to get away. Luckily, I discovered such a place in the heart of Paris, what I can accurately describe as an urban escape, L’échappée.

Behind this door exists a hidden universe of wellness, for mind, body and soul.

First stop, the spa. Upon entering the hammam, the cold, wintry world outside ceased to exist. The dipping pool invited me in to it’s tepid waters and there I remained for countless time, the Paris sky high above, my thoughts floating far beyond it. Experiencing the full spa treatment, I was next summoned to an adjoining room for le gommage, the ritual of cleansing and exfoliating the skin. I was left feeling lighter and rehydrated. Perfect time to escape into the steam room. The next step is my favorite of all, le massage. I chose the Californian technique for utmost relaxation. In a word, bliss. Where am I again? I left this urban paradise hours later in a state of zen and floated home.

Above the spa sits the restaurant. Both industrial chic and intimate, feeling very much comme à la maison. I’ve had the occasion of lunching here several times but it is the weekend brunch that most satisfies my palate. A decadent and plentiful spread of sweet and savory. The best Paris brunch I have discovered to date, and as a New York brunch aficionado that says a lot!

I am already looking forward to my next visit to the spa, the restaurant, or perhaps both, should I need a proper escape. Anyone care to join me?

giving thanks

No better day than today, Thanksgiving to those of us from America, to give thanks. What exactly am I grateful for? Where to begin… When I think back to my first year in Paris, feasting at a faux American restaurant in the rive gauche with people I barely knew, feeling lost and less than grateful to be dining on what tasted like a microwave turkey meal. Three years later I am dining in style with close friends, as I do many nights. Thus begins my list of gratitude. Something we should all be mindful of, all year long.

1. good friends (I’ve even made a few French girlfriends, not an easy feat!)

2. a doting and darling Italian (even with my moods… perhaps this should be #1)

3. my ever supportive and loving mom (what would I do without her!)

4. the ability to communicate in foreign tongues (particularly the French one!)

5. a creative mind (which has allowed me to create my life, via blogging, designing, doing)

6. limitless supplies of culture in many forms (THIS is what makes me thrive in Paris)

7. travel (forever grateful to see the world!)

8. the ability (and courage) to follow my dreams

9. good health (the older I get the more I value well-being)

10. optimism (something I brought with me from the USA)

And so much more. I will remind myself of this list and continue to add to it, in moments of doubt or difficulty. Now time to celebrate life and friendship with a grand feast, American style!

Happy Thanksgiving tout le monde!

surprise dining

A surprise dinner? Yes, please! I’ll try almost anything once. (Pigs ears in Spain, bone marrow sucked through a straw in China, Yak in Tibet, lardo in Italy…) Obviously I’m a great fan of adventurous eating. When my equally adventurous Italian recently planned a surprise dinner, telling me it was more of a concept, I was intrigued. Would we be dining in the dark, eating with our hands… I could not make sense of it considering we were in Paris, a culinary capital.

My curiosity grew while we wandered Place de la Madeleine. Until we reached the passage.

Le Passage to be exact. Through the door and up the stairs…

Here we discovered a restaurant with a menu unlike any other. Hidden above the famous gastronomic Senderens restaurant is this experience and experiment in taste. There is no menu, thus no decisions to be made. Here is where the culinary adventure begins. Your dinner is based upon the whim of the chef, whatever he decides to test for the main restaurant, with each table trying different dishes, some of which may end up on the menu. Four courses of unique gastro-dining for less than 40€ (add a good bottle of wine bien sûr) et voilà, surprise dinner is served!

street poetry

As much as I enjoy frequent visits to local galleries and museums, some of the most unique and interesting art can be found walking along the city’s streets. Even the street art in Paris appears to be inspired by the romanticism of the city, at least in my eyes. There’s one artist in particular who I admire and have been following, whose work appears on numerous facades all around the city. Illustrations that come to life, and always make me stop to look. His name is Fred le Chevalier.

“Doing street art is a way to talk with everybody, not just with a specific audience.”

“They come from my feelings. I identify myself with most of the characters.”

“I try to do things that are optimistic.”

“What I like about my work is that people can create their own meaning.”

“I like mixing poetry with street art.”

“My characters never are adult or child, man or woman, it’s always a mix.”

Fred le Chevalier began posting his work in the Marais, where he is most familiar, and has since reached walls all around the city, numbering two to three thousand posted pieces in the last 3 years. He is gaining fame internationally and has begun exhibiting in galleries. I’m certain this is just the beginning. I for one, will continue to follow his poetic imaginings all around the gallery called Paris.

To learn more about Fred le Chevalier here is an interview, his blog and facebook page.

year three

Today marks three years since I arrived to Paris. Filled with lightness and love. Ready to begin a new chapter. Unaware of the challenges ahead as the hopeful optimist won over the practical realist. How am I feeling as I reflect on the last three years of my life as an expat in Paris? Finally, at home.

Year one was the hardest of all. Refining myself and discovering my place within a new context.

Year two was all about establishing myself and building a new life. A year of growth.

Year three, at least to me, is much about letting go and accepting the idea of ‘home’. I still struggle with calling Paris my home. Wasn’t it after all, New York where I became who I am, and where so much of me still resides? Or so I thought. Until the realization struck that home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. When I am in NYC, with it’s energy and motion I feel at home, and perhaps always will. But what I have now come to accept is that my home too, is Paris with it’s cobbled streets and history, Monterosso with it’s coastal charm, and Sanok which holds the key to my ancestry.

Most of all, this last year in Paris has taught me that we learn to define ourselves, not simply by the places in which we live, but also by the people we surround ourselves with, our interests and hobbies, our travels and experiences. And equally, the celebrations and hardships that accompany this journey. Paris is now as much a home to me as New York, and I am even more richly defined.

grand art

Every year the space within the Grand Palais becomes transformed by a select artist. To date, Anselm Kiefer (2007), Richard Serra (2008), Christian Boltanski (2010), Anish Kapoor (2011) and this year Daniel Buren. Considering that I’m a big fan of his columns at the Palais Royale, I wasn’t going to miss this! At first glance, the colorful circles impress by their sheer number… and colors.

It’s not until you look up, catching the light and mix of colors, that you really become mesmerized.

The view from above presents a completely varied and reflective experience.

Whether chasing light from below or admiring the view from above, I was impressed. As were the many wide-eyed children and enthusiastic adults surrounding me. A perfect refuge from gray skies.

Grand expo ending June 21st. Whose playground will it become next year?

time away

Sometimes it’s important to disconnect and to live in the actual world. Versus the virtual. Those who are social media savvy know exactly what I mean! Feeling the need to connect myself with the living, in the form of my friends and family, I took off a few weeks and flew to New York.

First stop, my favorite place of carousing and chaos… Soho! Freedom tower in the distance.

Many of our days in New York City, with my Italian in tow, were spent in central park, beneath the sun, picnicing with friends or lost within a heavenly gray mist.

I could not wait to explore my old neighborhood, the Lower East Side, bustling with creative energy on every corner. Once a downtown girl… always.

These last few weeks were filled with memories. Precious time spent with my mom, both in the countryside where I was raised and in the city. Copious amounts of culture in the form of ballet, theatre, art, food… THIS is the New York I miss. But in the end, when I ran from one rendezvous to the next, catching up on lives from across the sea, wondering how I had managed to live for so long is this frenetic city, it dawned on me. A city is indeed a composition of it’s offerings but, most importantly, it’s people. And many of these people remain very dear to me.

Already, I look forward to the next visit. While happy to call Paris home.

wearable art

Art and travel. My two great inspirations. And one reason I design, combining these passions into something fashionable and functional. My latest Pop Art collection addresses the more playful side of art and fashion while the Riviera collection transports you to the French and Italian coasts.

The riviera bags speak for themselves, and were shot exactly there, on the Italian Riviera.

To help capture the essence of the pop art bags, I asked none other than art aficionado (and fabulous photographer) Stephanie of La Belle in France. First stop, Palais-Royal! Here are a few favorites from our shoot…

 Untitled. Simply because there are many interpretations.

 City. In the park.

Blue Coils. Very Richard Serra!

Spotlight. Simply because.

To feature these new collections, just in time for spring and summer, I redesigned my website! (Feeling very proud!) This is no easy task, and I would not have been able to do it without the help of my dear designer friend Suzanne, who created her own site, and helped me every step of the way.

To celebrate my relaunch, and to thank you all for your support of my growing business, I’m offering a promotion to my lovely readers and fans. With each purchase of a new Pop Art or Riviera bag receive a complimentary matching purse! (Offer ends June 1st) www.kasiadietz.com

Don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter!

The Dream Life of Nichole Robertson

Nichole Robertson is one of those women I look at and wonder, how does she do it all? (And so well!) Excel at a career in New York’s high-paced advertising world, manage a continual state of wedded bliss, raise two young sons… all the while living the dream of Paris, photographing this city by capturing it’s essence unlike anyone else. Recently she was featured on Martha Stewart, but there was more I wanted to know. And so I asked her how Paris became a reality.

My husband and I decided to move to Paris on a whim one night after a few glasses of wine. By all measures it seemed crazy – we had two toddler boys, wonderful friends, a network of business contacts – but something nagged us. Was this the life we were supposed to be living?

We hadn’t yet bought a house (we were living in the NYC suburbs) and we both were self-employed with flexible work arrangements. Nothing was holding us down, and our desire to shake up our lives outweighed any practical considerations.

So we stored or sold most of our things, and did it. I didn’t really overthink it, and looking back, I’m humored by the cavalier manner in which we did it. It was exhilarating and scary and wonderful.

As we adjusted to our new neighborhood, everything was a challenge in the best possible way. While I could sleepwalk my way through a workday with a client in NYC or at Whole Foods or Target, simply buying milk or navigating the post office presented challenges. I had about as much French as an 18 month old and the same wide eyes.

Being out of my comfort zone was good for me. It allowed me to slow down and notice things I may have otherwise overlooked. Even though I’m a writer, I had little interest in writing about my experiences in Paris, it was all visual. I carried my camera with me everywhere. I snapped photos of everything that caught my eye (I even have photos of trash cans!), simply because it was new. New to me, and that’s all that mattered.

That was three years ago, and what started out as simple snapshots of my life in Paris turned into a three-year project, a side business and a book. I’m still floored by that, and wonder why my life took this turn. I guess good things happen when you follow your bliss.

To experience more of Nichole’s bliss, step into the world of Little Brown Pen where she often captures Paris in Color, her book releasing on April 18th! My favorites being red and gray, or perhaps the elegance of white… You can also follow her visions of Paris via Facebook and Twitter.

indie elegance

When it comes to French fashion, Paris tends to overwhelm with endless designer boutiques lining the streets, particularly in the Marais. The question is, how NOT to look like all the mannequins peering out the windows, enticing you to fall in love with the latest trend. Not to mention the women parading around the city, an ever changing fashion show. Thus, when I discover an independent designer that suits my (classic with a twist) fashion sensibility, I become a loyal follower.

One such designer I met by chance, as she happens to be my manufacturer’s wife. On first glance of her ‘elegant yet casually chic with just a touch of masculine’ ready-to-wear collections, I was smitten.

Suppan is unique not only in it’s Indo-Austrian roots but in it’s philosophy.

Our approach is to reconsider production standards. We build our collections through a humanistic point of view, starting from the conception up to the manufacturing process and propose a selection of timeless and handmade items in a limited edition, entirely crafted in Paris. We try to distance ourselves and our creative process from cultural and social conditioning and conformity and propose a bare aesthetic, contrasting with fine materials, refined treatments and handcrafted finishing details.

Yes, it’s all about quality and details.

This weekend join us in Paris for a VENTE PRIVÉE, as we showcase our limited edition pieces, womenswear by Suppan and handbags by Kasia Dietz. Many of my new handbags will be featured!

VENDREDI 30 + SAMEDI 31 MARS : 11 H À 20 H

DIMANCHE 1 AVRIL : 10 H À 17 H

9, RUE TAYLOR 10ÈME

{not just} another day

Little did I know that March 20th would forever remain a day to remember. Not merely because it’s Macaron Day, though this would certainly be reason enough to celebrate. Today marks 3 years since the dinner that started it all, after the meeting just days prior. To celebrate, I spent a memorable Paris weekend with dear friends of almost 20 years, each living their own unique love story, one in Istanbul and one in London. (Last year’s girls’ weekend was in London… next year Istanbul?) As we dined our way through Paris, we reminisced about the journeys that created our multi-cultural lives, and how much of these lives we have experienced with one another. For all of this, as our chapters continue to be written and shared, and winter turns to spring… I am grateful.

Now time to indulge in a few free macarons… I am in Paris after all!

 

The Dream Life of Suzanne Flenard

Moving to a foreign country, as challenging as it is, can afford us the privilege of redefining ourselves by asking the question ‘Who am I and what do I really want to do?’, versus following a path that might not lead to fulfillment, which to us New Yorkers, often means climbing the corporate ladder.

Suzanne Flenard is one such savvy ex-New York gal I met along the expat way. She and her partner Jeremy decided to take a ‘break’ from the grind of life in NYC, having both lived there for over 15 years. Six months of a break has now turned into 3 years and they have never looked back. Paris very quickly became home. Might I add that home to them looks much like a boutique hotel in the Marais, très chic!

As a seasoned professional in the world of interiors, working with furniture companies such as Design Within Reach (one of my personal favorites), Suzanne always had the desire to create something of her own. It was over lunch one day with a mutual friend that we brainstormed ideas for her vision. Over the course of several months, Suzanne set her designing mind into motion. While her foodie partner was busy exploring the gourmet markets of Paris, Suzanne spent many an afternoon carousing Montmartre and the Sentier in search of just the right fabrics (an exercise I know well), not to mention the virtual world… I introduced her to my trusted manufacturer… she impressively designed her own website… et voilà! Square Modern came to life.

What exactly is Square Modern and why is it so unique and eco-friendly? In the words of Suzanne…

Square modern is a limited edition collection of pillows/cushions using reclaimed designer fabric remnants. The idea came about as an interest to introduce the European Community to “Mid-Century Modern” textile designs, in addition to other beautiful modern classics, popular in the United States. These designer fabrics are selected from some of the most exclusive textile manufacturers that exist today: Maharam, Kvadrat, Knoll and Kravet. Square Modern uses primarily reclaimed fabric remnants, often found in limited supply. Therefore, the collection is produced in limited quantity and will continuously change as interesting textiles become available. All cushions are produced in Paris.

I am very proud and excited for Suzanne, living her dream in Paris, a life she could not have foreseen in New York. I for one, possessing a passion for interior design, particularly mid-century modern, already have my eye on a few coussins…

Square Modern is based in Paris and available internationally. Join on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with the latest limited edition pillows!

date with Jacques

Never trust anyone who doesn’t like chocolate. That’s my theory anyway, and so far some of my closest friends have proven to be fellow chocoholics. Dark, milk, white, now that is a question of personality. And yes, taste. I am very lucky to be living in the land of chocolate. What started in the liquid variety in the form of thick, indulgent chocolat chaud in the 17th century (often used medicinally which makes perfect sense to me) has since been refined into tasty bite-sized morsels made of praliné (my favorite) and almost any flavor imaginable. All of this I learned on last years tour du chocolat.

I am also lucky to be living within minutes of one of Paris’ most revered chocolatiers, Jacques Genin. Sweet expert David Lebovitz is a fan and friend, as is Sweet Freak Amy Thomas who describes her love affair with Jacques and his chocolate in her new book Paris, my Sweet. So I have chosen this luxurious space, filled with scents and visions to arouse the senses, as my ‘happy place’.

Hazelnut millefeuille… melts in your mouth.

Layer upon layer of light and dark chocolate… divine!

And the chocolates… Euphoria on a plate, whichever one you choose to indulge in.

Photos by my accomplice La Belle in France, and yes, we did taste all of the above. Guiltlessly.

Jacques Genin: 133 Rue de Turenne 75003 (exclusively available in Paris)

romance defined

Valentine’s Day spent in the most romantic city in the world, or anywhere for that matter, can indeed be an experience in romance. I happen to be living what is classically considered a love affair, in Paris no less, but there is so much more to the term romance.

1. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; A love affair.

2. A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful.

3. A long fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary or mysterious events, usually set in a distant time or place.

4. An artistic work, such as a novel, story, or film, that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form.

5. Music. A lyrical, tender, usually sentimental song or short instrumental piece.

6. The Romance languages. (French bien sûr!)

7. Whatever you choose it to be.

photo by Malias

On this day, really no different than any other yet historically designated for the romantic souls, I will stop and taste, look and see, appreciate and feel. Within the enchanting setting of Paris.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you experience romance, in any definition you choose.

Paris, My Sweet

“Fantasies do come true. Despite my moments of uncertainty and pangs of loneliness, I was loving life in Paris. I was so smitten with the Gallic city’s grand, plane-tree-lined boulevards and ever-so-slightly crooked side streets, its countless café terraces and the ritual of lingering on them with a single café crème or coupe de champagne.” – Amy Thomas in Paris, My Sweet

photo by Lindsey Tramuta

Amy Thomas. A writer, ad girl and francophile from New York City with a highly refined palate (and appetite) for sweets. A woman after my own heart! As fate would have it, our paths were meant to cross in Paris, where she auspiciously found herself writing ad copy for prestigious client Louis Vuitton. Pas mal! Upon meeting Amy, I immediately sensed an authenticity in her character, natural warmth, and a passion for life. Yes, we would have been friends in New York. Getting to know Amy through our shared experience of Paris, only proved that my instincts were correct. On one of these occasions, during her Croissant Smackdown (a tasting of Paris’ best buttery delicacies), Amy mentioned that she was just awarded a book deal on a project she had been working on. Sweet! I couldn’t wait to read her memoir, as only a true New Yorker in Paris could tell it.

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) is here! In bookstores, on amazon.com and in my personal prized book collection. February 1st Amy Thomas became a published author, not only in the New York Times, but in the world. How proud I am of mon amie!

Needless to say, I inhaled the book, much like I would a box of macarons. Pierre Hermé or Laduree. It felt as though Amy were telling me her story in person, over a chocolat chaud. From nesting in her ‘tree house’ near rue Montorgueil to her many adventures sampling the best of Paris’ pâtisseries, via vélib’ bien sûr, to her endless attempts at finding her way into the core of a fascinating (and often challenging) city and the mind of its people. The tales are both sweet and savory, and worthy of being told, in a language and manner uniquely Amy. A lot of English, a bit of French, and all heart.

Though her experiences of Paris and New York, and often finding herself torn between the two (something I well understand) Amy has proven that you need not choose pleasure or success, beauty or energy, the macaron or the cupcake. You can indeed have it all, or at least taste it all, on either side of the Atlantic. Now then, where to find the best cupcake in Paris and macaron in New York? I believe the answer lies somewhere between chapters two and five…

If you are a fellow sweet freak, or simply adore Paris (who doesn’t?), you too will savor the pages of Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate).

You can also follow Amy via facebook, twitter and on her blogs God, I Love Paris and Sweet Freak.

 

New York in Paris

As I’m getting to know Paris more intimately and discovering it’s characteristic neighborhoods, each a small village in its own right, I think of how we come to identify with our hood (as the New Yorker would say it) or arrondissement to the Parisiens. The city is made up of 20 arrondissements, as decided by Napoleon III in 1860. Where you are on the map is evident when you glance up at the street signs and find a number ranging from 1 to 20. (Still easy to get lost, trust me!)

Much like in New York where one of the first questions asked ‘Where do you live?’ can create an instant bond, Paris too forms identities via neighborhoods. When I came across this map created by artist Vahran Muratyan of Paris versus New York, I couldn’t help but to think of how well these two cities compliment one another. From someone who shares my sentiments, “When I’m in Paris, I miss New York, and when I’m in New York, I miss Paris. It’s really impossible to choose.”

Even though I lived in the Lower East Side, via Paris I managed to find my way to the West Village bordering SOHO, my two favorite neighborhoods. Yes, I can attest to the accuracy of this map!

Fellow New Yorkers in Paris (and those still to arrive) where do you call home? In NYC and in Paris.

art of the macaron

As the debate continues between which side of Paris reigns supreme, rive droite or rive gauche, so too does the question of ‘who makes the best macaron?’. The Paris pâtissier preference most often between the two macaron greats: Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Who do I prefer? That is a matter of macaron, as each chef certainly does excel in particular flavors. I had quickly become a macaron fanatic upon moving to Paris and upon several dozen tastings, had accepted to adore (and indulge) in both. What I was really after was how exactly do you make these tiny tastes of heaven?

And so last Saturday my curiosity in the art of the macaron was satisfied. I signed up for a class at the reputable cooking school La Cuisine Pariset voilà! There I was ready to take on the challenge, filled with eager bakers (including my sweet confidant Delphine) and our pastry chef, trained with none other than Pierre Hermé himself.

With nary a moment to admire the glorious view of the Seine, we split into teams and got right to work. Sifting, measuring, mixing, boiling… Once in a while I did peek outside reminded that I was indeed in the heart of Paris learning to make the city’s most prized delicacy.

Our next step, and perhaps my favorite of all once I learned the technique, was actually making the perfectly round, just the right size, macaron shells. Not as easy as it looks!

Once the shells were formed and baked to perfection, each one was paired with it’s matching half.

From that point on it was all about filling our candy colored shells. The filling which I could have easily inhaled by the spoonful. We had made two very distinct and rich flavors, white chocolate mixed with a touch of espelette, a type of French chili pepper, and a classic praline. Délicieux!

And there they were. Our macaron masterpieces! Ready to be cooled and savoured, ideally the following day. I felt accomplished and though no easy task, I was even eager to try this at home. But until then, I will never again question the price of pleasure when it comes to the macaron.

La Cuisine Paris offers year-round macaron classes in both English and French as well as many other sweet and savory culinary adventures. I’m already looking forward to the next one…

If you live in Paris (or will be in town on February 10th) enter to win a free macaron class! Winners selected on January 31st. Bonne chance!

soul of New York

Anyone who knows me, is well aware that New York City resides deeply within my heart. Much like a first love that will forever be revered. Several months ago, via my blogging journey, I met a fellow New Yorker with a similar sentiment towards the city that doesn’t sleep. Phil Vasquez is a writer and filmmaker from Canada, inspired by classic and foreign films and American and French popular music songbooks, everything from Cole Porter to Charles Aznavour. He has resided for many years in NYC and soon… Paris. I quickly discovered that Phil possesses a unique sensitivity and depth that was revealed in his short film, Song of Relations, a beautiful tribute to the soul of old New York City.

Nested in nests of water bays. Superb, rich.
Hemm’d thick all round with sail ships and steam ships.
An island, 16 miles long, solid founded.
Numberless crowded streets. High growths of iron. Slender, strong, light.
Splendidly uprising toward clear skies.
The countless masts. The white shore steamers. The lighters. The ferry-boats.
The downtown streets. The houses of business of the ship merchants and money brokers.
The river streets.
City of hurried and sparkling waters, city of spires and masts.
City nested in bays. My city.
– Walt Whitman

I look forward to following Phil’s journey from New York to Paris, a city he and his wife plan to call home, where he will absorb the culture and no doubt make authentic French films with an American independent production style. And where his unique vision will continue.

To view his film and learn more about this writer & filmmaker in the making: www.tpapictures.com

Also be sure to join Phil Vasquez on facebook and connect on twitter.

 

Marches de Noël

Every Christmas season I vow to find my way to the holiday markets all over the city and indulge in the mulled wines and assorted delicacies. Somehow, I get side-tracked and never make it, having thus far only found my way to the grand Christmas marche at La Défense. (Well worth the trip!) To prevent this from happening again, the well informed travel site AnyTrip.com has provided a list of the Marches de Noël in Paris. For those lucky enough to be living in the city of lights, take your pick!

Christmas Market at Champs-Elysées: November 19 – January 2
The Christmas Market on the most famous street in the city of Paris draws millions of visitors during the holiday season. This market stretches over a length of approximately 2 miles from the Arc of Triumph to the Place de la Concorde. On either side of the famed boulevard, you will find numerous chalet styled cottages that house many Christmas themed items such as hats, scarves, purses, jewelry, chocolates, arts and crafts and many others. This market is particularly popular for children as the popular La Grande Roue (Ferris Wheel) and other amusements rides are open at the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden), not far from the Place de la Concorde. The Paris Metro serves various portions of the Champs-Elysées so if you can’t walk the entire length, you can use the public transportation system.

Christmas Market at La Défense: November 23 – December 27 (Closed on Christmas Day)
The Christmas Market at the La Défense section of Paris, is the largest in the city, in terms of the number chalets. This Christmas Market offers live music, beautiful holiday themed artwork, plenty of good food and more arts and crafts. La Défense comprises a number of business and features the impressive Grande Arche, which is square shaped arch that is over 360 feet high. La Défense is easily visible from several miles away, due to its large collection of high-rise buildings.

Christmas Market at Trocadero December 8 to January 2
With the striking view of the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop, the Christmas Market at Trocadero is among the best choices in Paris. The Palais du Trocadéro is the most prominent structure at Trocadero, which was completed for the 1878 World’s Fair. The palace now houses a number of museums, including the Museum of Monuments and the Maritime Museum. Along with the many chalet styled shops, which features arts and crafts, food and other Christmas related items, there is a very popular ice skating rink. At night, the rink offers an amazing view of the grandly illuminated Eiffel Tower.

Christmas Market at Saint-Sulpice December 11 to December 24
Saint-Sulpice, 
Paris’ 2nd largest church is the site of yet another popular Christmas market. Situated not far from the 2nd largest park in the city, the Jardin du Luxembourg, this smaller yet lively Christmas market offers all of the arts and crafts and the tasty foods you might find at the larger sites. There is also a Santa’s Village, which obviously is a top draw for the children. Saint-Sulpice houses one of the finest church organs in the city is aptly known as The Great Organ.

Christmas Market at Montparnasse Tower December 5 to December 30
Located at the front of the Gare Montparnasse (Montparnasse Train Station), this mid-sized Christmas market is known of its broad collection of French foods with Christmas flair. Because of its easy access from the train station, this market is one of most visited in the city. As with all of the other Christmas markets in the city, you’ll discover a number of interesting arts and crafts.

Thank you for the Christmas market inspiration AnyTrip!

As an additional bonus, cross the channel and win a winter trip to London! To enter, go to AnyTrip’s Facebook page and tell them what you and a friend would do on your perfect day in London. Winner chosen on Friday Dec 16th.

learning to fly

A good friend once told me that running a business is much like raising a child. Among other things, a lot of patience and resilience is necessary. Given that she has a child and a successful business, I took these words to heart. Exactly one year later, my child has managed not only to walk but to fly! Certainly the most challenging and rewarding work I have done in my life, and only the beginning.

a girl and her bags by Prête Moi Paris

I have so much gratitude of the past 12 months to express… where to begin? Most noteworthy…

1. My assistant (aka my Italian) has been supportive since day one, always offering solid advice, and even criticism whenever necessary, constructive of course.

2. My network of friends and growing fans keeps me eternally grateful and inspired. Merci à tous!

3. I cannot even list the incredible press I have already received, including Marie Claire, Huffington Post Style, Do it in Paris, Luxsure Magazine… not to mention all the fabulous blog features.

4. Much like I love to travel, so do my bags. They are gaining an international presence, as far away as Malaysia and the Greek Isles. Be sure to enter my travel bag giveaway if you haven’t yet!

5. The French have taken a liking to my aesthetic and I am selling at Le Bon Marché. A great honor!

a little New York in Paris

What’s ahead in 2012 for kasia dietz handbags? Aside from designing new collections and continuing to work on many custom projects, I am always looking for ways to give back, as I did with my Japan fundraiser. In the upcoming months I’m collaborating with a UK company and British filmmaker Fiona Lloyd-Davies to raise awareness and aid abused women in the Congo. Here is a preview of the film and more about the project. A worth cause I am proud to be a part of.

I’m also planning many more handbag painting workshops since the first was a great success!

Lastly and very importantly, friend and bag fan Andi of Misadventures with Andi, is giving away a bag in support of small business owners. (There’s also an interview!) Thank you Andi!

 

foreign treasures

This weekend I went hunting. This time not for treasures at the Louvre but for antiques. Specifically a danish modern shelf unit to fit a television. (Yes, after over 2 years television-less we are ready. Mostly as a tool to aid in French of course, and the occasional Anglo film.) The marché aux Puces had made it’s biannual appearance on Rue de Bretagne and I gave in to temptation. How could I not, as it was just a few blocks away. So the adventures in the history of ‘other people’s treasures’ began.

In the end, did I find what I was looking for? No. But I did find what I wasn’t looking for. Hard to resist, especially when it’s a foreign treasure. I did return home content, but will be sure to peruse the next antiques market when it returns in May. Or perhaps find another before then…

If you are on your own French treasure hunt, here’s a list of antique markets in and around Paris.

table for ten

A dinner organized by a host you don’t know, accompanied by guests who have never met, held at a mystery location somewhere in Paris. This sounds like my kind of dinner party.

An old friend recently mentioned the New Friends Table, a secret eating and meeting club new on the Paris scene. I had also read about it on the reputable HiP Paris blog. When two seats became available, I didn’t think twice. Somehow I knew I was in for a treat, without knowing much at all. The dining adventure began. My unassuming Italian and I were warmly welcomed by our gracious English hostess, the scene decoratively set. We immediately felt at home. The mingling began and toasts were made, as the guests continued to arrive. Each one of us a pawn in this mystery dinner game, creating a uniquely diverse yet equally open-minded dynamic. A table set by destiny.

The curious cast of characters spanned the globe including London, New York, Los Angeles and of course Paris. The hostess seated us according to her intuitive whim and the dinner began. The four hours to follow included divine compositions of the freshest cheeses, meats and seafood… each plate complimented not only by a glass of wine, but with a story from the engaging (and very witty) hostess and cuisinier. With each course we became better acquainted and shared stories of our own. And in this way, over a perfectly set table for ten, new friends were made. I’ve had many a mystery dinner thus far in my Paris life, this one by far being the most memorable.

For a seat at the table contact: newfriendstable@gmail.com and make sure to book well in advance… the secret is out!

travel meets fashion

I love to travel as much as I love designing. Thus, I decided to design a custom travel bag, revealing the three cities closest to my heart. A seemingly easy task, at least for the first two. Paris, since this is now my home and ever since that first visit so many years ago, love at first encounter. New York since it’s where I spent some of the most memorable (and formative) years of my life.

As for the third, that was a challenge. There are many cities I became enamored with, mostly during my journey around the world. Buenos Aires, Hanoi, Ubud (more a town than a city), Sydney, Mumbai, Kyoto, Luang Prabang, Krakow, London, Mexico City… the list goes on. But where was it that stood out in my mind unlike any other? Tokyo. Perhaps because I was there with dear friends on both my first visit and my second. Or perhaps it was due to the freshest sushi I’ve even eaten at 7am after a night of darts and karaoke… or simply, the unique energy and electricity in the air.

Whatever it was, Tokyo won a place on my bag. Along with Paris and New York.

What are your top three?

To make this equally exciting for all fashion savvy travelers out there, I’m giving away one custom hand-painted reversible travel bag to a lucky traveler and fan. With your initials printed on the inside pocket. To enter, leave a comment stating your three favorite cities and join my facebook fan page where I will announce the winner on December 15th. Bonne chance and many a bon voyage!

To order a custom bag or join a bag painting workshop and create your own: info@kasiadietz.com

next stop: Impressionism

My most venerated Paris museum was once a railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. Since then it was abandoned and later brought back to life 25 years ago, housing the largest Impressionist collection in the world. Not to mention my favorites, the Post-Impressionists.

I have wandered the halls of the Musée d’Orsay many a time, lost amidst it’s history both structural and that which decorates it’s walls. Though in the last year and a half, due to major renovations, much of this grand edifice was closed to the public, it’s space and artwork hidden from view.

To celebrate it’s recent unveiling, I decided to take a proper tour not only of the Orsay’s new galleries but also of it’s masterpieces. It was a Context Paris docent that enlightened me over an almost four hour long tour beginning in 1848 with Corot and the Barbizon School and ending in 1914 with Degas, Van Gogh, Cézanne and Monet, among others. I had briefly studied art history in the past, and tried to enlighten myself whenever possible, but an intimate tour with many of my most admired artists, where each of my questions was answered in depth and at length, THIS is art history heaven! Following the tour, I sat for some time in the sunlit space, thoughtful of all many stories I had been told, while gazing into the distance, grateful that this day at the Orsay was one of my own.

treasure hunting

The Louvre. The grandest museum in the world, and certainly the most intimidating. I tend to enter it’s glass pyramid on rare occasion only with a visitor in town. (Mona Lisa, Venus and I have shared more than enough moments through the years.) This all changed however, when my friend Daisy, an ex-New Yorker with a background in art history, invited me on a Treasure Hunt at the Louvre.

An activity she cleverly invented as a sort of art game, where people team up and set off to run wild amidst this grand corridors in search of hidden treasures. Where better (and more challenging) than the Louvre!

My Italian and I took part in these artful antics many months ago, with a dozen or so other teams. I found myself relying on mere luck to find our select masterpieces, most of which where not found. My strategic Italian had devised a plan but by the time we wrapped out heads around the museum’s floorplan, sands of the hourglass were spent. Thankfully I’m not too sore of a loser, as we all met to tally up the points an a neighborhood cafe. The evening resulted in both a lesson in art history and teamwork, and we all left in good spirits.

I have been waiting for the next THATLou event, and alas, it has arrived! Daisy is planning a treasure hunt for Friday November 18th. Sign up by the 11th, bring your competitive side and a partner, and prepare for a night of hunting for some of the grandest treasures to behold. If you can find them.

For details and to sign up contact Daisy: daisydeplume@gmail.com. Many more events in 2012…

outside {art}

During the recent days of FIAC, my Italian and I spent a glorious Sunday in the Tuileries Garden beneath the early Autumn sun, surrounded on all sides by art. This the outside feature of the contemporary art show. Was it the bright light or the unique sculptures that captured our eye? Perhaps a mix of the two. Enjoy the tour amidst a setting worthy itself of admiring.

Beginning with the carved wing of a plane.

A floating silver sculpture by Antoine Dorotte, glowing in it’s pond.

A Richard Serra-esque composition by artist Danh Vo.

Art competing in scale with the Louvre itself.

A wooden shining star.

Last, but certainly not least, an inflatable monkey hanging out of the Louvre. Pourquoi Pas?

 

{inside} art

Art has always provided a source of inspiration, particularly modern and contemporary. Where better to lose yourself but in the mind of an eccentric artist? Lucky for me, I have several friends who moonlight as art connoisseurs, not to mention the artists I have also come to know and collect. One such friend from the early days of New York’s GenArt, invited me to the preview of FIAC, Paris’s grand international contemporary art fair. A reunion at the Grand Palais, parfait!

What contemporary masterpieces did we find within this historic setting? Many.

Beginning with Anish Kapoor.

A literary donkey by Pilar Albarracin.

The humorous and thought provoking Richard Prince.

Even a little ‘walking art’?

My retro tote felt right at home with this Julio Le Parc painting.

This Geneviève Claisse was another favorite.

I was also impressed by these six works by Charline Von Heyl. (Yes, I’m in a black and white phase.)

To end the art tour, a little color infusion with these acrylic on silk paintings by Matti Braun.

writerly love

Paris, historically considered a city for writers. Where Hemingway, Henry Miller, and so many others found their inspiration and nourished their literary appetites. In modern day too, writers flock to the stillness and serenity of Paris, strolling the same streets and frequenting the same cafes as their much revered predecessors, pen and paper often being replaced by laptop or ipad. One of the many reasons I feel so lucky to live in Paris is not only for it’s writerly setting, but for it’s intimacy. I am fortunate enough to have met and even befriended several of Paris’ 21st century writers. Expats much like myself, living their dreams, and sharing them in written form.

While I have always collected books, (and struggled to read them all), now I too collect authors, becoming intertwined in their lives via their blogs and published work. My latest addition is Ann Mah’s Kitchen Chinese, a book I could not put down, now finding it’s place alongside David LebovitzThe Sweet Life in Paris, Alexander Lobrano’s Hungry for Paris, and Heather Stimmler-Hall’s Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City. All of these not merely authors I admire, but people I have gotten to know during our shared adventures of Paris. David Sedaris I had to include, though I cannot really consider him a friend, we did have a lengthy chat at one of his book signings. Considering he lives in Paris, maybe our paths shall cross again.

I am also fortunate to have friends whose books I shall one day add to my shelves, grateful to have known them before, during and after. Namely, Amy Thomas whose sweet tales of Paris and New York I can’t wait to savour, and Sion Dayson, who too has a riveting book in the works. There are others who for the moment shall remain nameless, added to my collection when they are ready to reveal their stories to the world. Perhaps I too shall be one of them.

fashion forward

Every Paris Fashion Week I have the glamorous good fortune of going to at least one of the fashion shows, défilés de mode as they are called in this part of the world. Always an interesting and often inspiring experience, both for the fashion as well as for the setting. Last year found me at the Galerie de Minéralogie for Amaya Arzuaga with Melissa of Prête Moi Paris. This year the lovely Melissa invited me on another fashion adventure, this one taking place in a boat on the Seine. And for none other than one of my favorite French fashion designers agnès b. The setting alone was magical!

What fashion trends were revealed upon this grand bateau? That the little black dress I often associated with agnès b. is no longer a dress, nor is it black. 

This was only the beginning of what turned out to be a show of colors… and fairytale peasantry?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After what felt like a theatrical performance, the elegance of agnès b. resumed. With a modern twist.

Following one more surprise… Who says the fashion world has no sense of humour?

Agnès herself took a humble strut to a cacophony of applause from a well entertained crowd.

Black is still black.

For more on Paris Fashion Week Spring 2012, take a look at Moon Young Hee and Agonovich!

nuit blanche 2011

A white night following a bright blue Indian summer day. The ideal mood and climate for Paris’ annual Nuit Blanche, the one night of the year that the city ceases to sleep. One of my favorites, allowing those brave enough, to explore museums and churches in the early morning hours. Our adventures took place in the Marais, beginnning with a video installation of The Leopard at the magestic Hotel de Ville. Incidentally, the first book my Italian ever gave me.

From there we sought the shortest lines with the most engaging exhibitions. Not an easy task. We found Moby Dick at the Museum of Hunting & Nature, complete with a backdrop of whale sounds.

Seeking a moment of respite from the growing crowds, we entered the Église Notre-Dame des Blancs-Manteaux, only to be enchanted by an array of musicians in “Des voix dans la Nuit!” From pianists performing Chopin to a chorus singing Ave Maria, to a dramatic organist... certainly the longest (and the latest) I have ever sat in a church!

By now it was nearly 1am and we made our way to the grand exhibition Purple Rain. The line was wrapped well around the block, and so we passed by, trying to catch a glimpse of this incredible purple rain… Would it have been worth the wait? Perhaps.

Not yet ready to return home, we caroused the early morning streets in search of a last hurrah. What we found was an impressive structure at the Bibliothèque.

Composed solely of cement blocks held up by their arrangement.

Finally, time to end this white night and before it bacame another bright blue day.

With a last stop in Heaven at the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme.

postcards from Paris

Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, knows that my mom means the world to me. A world she now shares with my Italian. My well-traveled maman has been to Paris many a time, beginning when my Dad swooped her away to the city of lights on their honeymoon. Little did my mom know she would return many years later to walk the same streets with her daughter. Like father like…

And so in the space of ten days (with a quick trip to London inbetween) my mom became a local and I became a tourist. Happily so! And in so doing we created our own Paris postcards.

La Maman's adventure begins at Place de la République!

With a quick stop at Opera Garnier.

Up the many steps to Sacré-Cœur...

From one museum...

...to another.

A trip along the Seine led by a certain Italian gentleman...

A magestic view of Notre Dame!

With many a stop to smell the roses.

 

And what is a trip to Paris without a macaron tasting?

Even a quick tribute to musical greats Edith Piaf and Chopin.

Not to mention the gastronomic indulgences...

The last being a bistro where my parents dined so many years ago.

Certainly in these Indian summer days my mom’s love for Paris has grown. How could it not? London will always be her city, like NY will be mine. But she too now has a home in the city of lights.

New York, New York

New York City. My first love. The one who taught me most about myself. And the one who I will always hold dear. These Paris days, as months turn into years, I look back on my New York chapter with great nostalgia. As a designer and forever a New Yorker, following the success of my Paris Collection, it feels only natural to create a New York Collection to express my affinity. As Paris is becoming a part of me, so too will New York remain. And now (drumroll)… the grand unveiling!

Upside down or rightside up, it’s NY NY!

Forever a downtown girl.

With a high regard for Brooklyn.

Home in the Lower East Side. Available with UES, UWS, Soho…

On the inside a NYC girl. The bag reversed.

All New York bags hand-painted {with love} in Paris. Available soon on my website. If you MUST have one now, contact me at kasia@kasiadietz.com! And let me know your favorite below…

a star is (re)born

With the Fall in Paris come the gallery openings. Many a Thursday night is spent rive droite or rive gauche, carousing the galleries in search of artists that inspire. Having worked in the art realm for over a decade, visual self-expression will forever remain on my radar. One artist I have kept a watchful eye on and was eager to attend his recent opening, featuring none other than his grandmother. This is the story of Sacha Goldberger, art director turned photographer. Five years ago, during his evolution from directing photos to taking them, he began to spend more and more time with his 87 year old grandma, noticing she was becoming less and less spirited. Sacha quickly found a role for her, casting her as his muse, and soon after, Mamika was born! Not surprisingly, this 92 year old superstar-grand-mère is more amused and vital than prior to her hollywood days. Doesn’t everyone deserve their 15 minutes?

Here are a few of my favorites from the recent exhibit at Galerie Bailly in Saint Germain.

Mamika will be there until Oct 29th, don’t miss her!

Follow Sacha, his work and continued adventures of Mamika via his personal site and facebook.

Paris vs New York

Paris and New York. Two cities that could not be more diverse yet equally loved by many. Each a contrast as well as a compliment to the other. Having to choose one that reigns supreme would be impossible. A life between the two, at least to me, is ideal.

I am certainly not alone in this love for both cities. Friend and fellow New Yorker with one foot in Paris Amy Thomas (aka Sweet Freak), recently wrote about an expo of rising star Vahram Muratyan who illustrates with playful sophistication the contrasts between Paris and New York at an exhibition at the trendy Colette. (exhibition ends September 24th)

As a fan of Vahram’s work, seeing it displayed throughout the boutique was a visual treat.

These two are my favorites from the series. Jean-Luc Godard vs Woody Allen, how clever!

Or perhaps these… How about a macaron with an americano?

This was exactly the inspiration I needed as I’m in the midst of designing a hand-printed New York handbag collection to complement my recent Paris collection. Once a New Yorker in Paris, always.

The Dream Life of Anne Ditmeyer

Very often expats living in Paris ask ‘how can I live here legally?’. Not always an easy answer. I am lucky to hold an EU passport, but those who aren’t as fortunate need to obtain a study or work visa, marry a Frenchman, or avoid the system and keep a very low profile. I don’t recommend the latter. There’s one such girl I have come to know who has been tested to the limit. And won. I praise Anne’s ability to live her dream life in Paris, pursue her passion for graphic design and communications and rise far above the slew of French bureaucracy attempting to block her path.

I’m not sure that living in 12m2 (that’s 129 sf) and on an extreme budget – at the age of 30 – are what one would typically consider the dream life, but I really can’t complain. My love affair with Paris has gone on for 10 years now. Although an on-and-off relationship, it has involved a semester as a study abroad student (arriving 2 days before 9/11), an academic year working as an English teaching assistant in a French high school, and most recently a Masters in Global Communications from the American University of Paris.

Another thing most people would not consider part of the “dream life” is paperwork. I’ve been lucky enough to have a flexible schedule here, because quite frankly I don’t know how I’d do it otherwise, as more often than not paperwork feels like a full-time job. It’s all part of the love-hate dynamic present in any relationship, I suppose. I go into every transaction with very low expectations – and a sense of humor – and this tactic has worked wonders for me. In fact, it is the most mundane moments of living in Paris that I love most.

During the month of August, while nearly all of France is on holiday, I found my limits for France being tested. After 2 years of being a student, my time was coming to get real. I was hoping trip home to the US earlier in the summer would give me answers, and it did – that I wasn’t ready to give up France just yet. Had I know what lied ahead of me, I probably would have had a different answer.

It took three trips to the Préfecture de Police for me to figure out even how to go about getting a visa to stay in France. This is a country that likes to categorize people, and unfortunately, I – by the nature of my work and being a foreigner – don’t fit into any of their boxes. At one location alone the woman had to ask three different people where to send me for my visa, as I kept perplexing them. Finally I found the place, was given the proper forms and an appointment to return 4 weeks later.

What lay ahead is something I’ve now tried to erase from my memory. Basically, it involved writing a 20-50 page busines plan in French (mine was 50) and collecting a boatload of rather obscure documents (many of which did not yet exist for me as I’m so new in their “auto-entrepreneur” system). To put this in perspective, as new to my freelance business I was working nearly full-time and picked up new clients during the month. So doing this paperwork was like a full-time job on top of an already full load. I had finished my Master’s thesis in March and this experience was far more painful than that. And believe it or not, writing a business plan from scratch, in French, was easier than collecting all the documents. (The documents involved such fun things as finding and paying 50 Euros to have my birth certificate translated into French, and spending 2 hours at the Tax Center – no, there was no line in August – as two women racked their brains as to how to give me a document that would work).

On the fateful morning of August 23rd, I went to the Préfecture. I recognized the woman helping me from a previous visit, and figured I was screwed and hopeless as I recalled our prior interaction. But there was a guardian angel sitting on my shoulder that day, as I was able to submit my complete dossier and successfully left with a temporary extension and the official visa in the works. After the stress of the month, I don’t think even now I have fully realized what I have accomplished. It really felt like “mission impossible” but I did it, I survived, and I didn’t even have to marry a Frenchman to live the dream life…

Congratulations Anne! You have certainly earned your key to the city. As for a Frenchman, who knows what the city of love has in store for you.

After successfully receiving her visa to stay in France, Anne spends her days working as a freelance graphic designer and communications consultant. Check out her impressive site! Anne is also a contributing editor for the popular blog, Design*Sponge, and Anne’s former 10m2 apartment is inside the pages of Grace Bonney’s new book “Design*Sponge at Home.” Anne’s blog, Prêt à Voyager, looks at the intersection of travel and design. Her “Unglamorous Paris” series explores the less than perfect sides of living in Paris. Keep an eye out for this design aficionado!

year two

Today marks two years of life in Paris. A place I now call home. Much in the way I called NYC home for almost 12 years. It feels like just yesterday I was the ‘new expat in town‘ and now I’m offering advice to fellow newcomers adjusting to the cultural nuances of life in the city of lights. (Not to mention those who dream to live here.) Not an easy adjustment might I add, but certainly one that leaves you feeling accomplished when you finally change your status from visitor to local.

Year one left me with with many lessons learned. Humility among them. All in preparation perhaps.

Year two has been a momentous one, proving just how much can happen in the space of 12 months. Most notable is the change in my status from mademoiselle to madame. Beginning and ending with Greece. Italy being the setting for the fairytale. In professional matters, I set my creative mind to work and launched my handbag business. Perhaps anything is possible in Paris. Socially I am grateful. Surrounded by like-minded expats and even a few French friends.

Most of all, year two has proven how privileged I am to live what often feels like an adventure. For better or for worse. To have the possibility to follow my dreams. And to be given the gift of love.

I look forward to year three. I hear that’s how long it takes to really master the city. I’m on my way.

gratitude

I am a Francophile. An expat. A dreamer. A traveler. A seeker of that and those which inspire me. Above all else, I am grateful. In just under two years I have not simply found, but created a life in Paris. Not a city that easily embraces outsiders. And so us outsiders found a way in. By sharing our stories and thoughts via the world of blogging. A passion for some, therapeutic for others. I am equally excited to share stories that inspire me via my own blog, as in The Dream Life series, as well as to share my life via others.

Today I am honored to be featured on fellow Francophile and friend Lindsey’s fabulous Paris blog, Lost in Cheeseland. A series very aptly titled Franco File Friday. This gal never ceases to amaze. (Fellow Frenchies, have you tried her cookies yet?)

Other recent and honorary features include design savvy Anne from Prêt à Voyager. She shared my travels on her ingenius Boarding Pass series and my neighborhood of the Marais in her Tour de France. Doubly honored! I’ve also appeared on the lovely (and romantic might I add) Susan’s blog Fleurishing, in her Proust Q&A series.

I cannot neglect to mention my HiP Paris dining adventures as of late, with fellow Paris bloggers at the haute Petrelle. Many more foodie explorations to come!

As I have done in the past and will continue to do, I share the love as year two approaches, life in Paris evolves, I feel even more gratitude, and the language of blogging continues to unite.

for the love of August

August in Paris. It’s the time of year that those who live in this vibrant city come to love, or more commonly, leave. If you are one of the lucky few to experience this annual (and literal) ‘closing shop’ of Paris, give in to the stillness and enjoy. How exactly? Here are a few ideas.

1. Travel by bike. Velibing is one of my favorite modes of transport along Paris’ winding paths. With fewer cars on the roads, have no fear!

2. Now is the perfect time to indulge in a fine dining experience. (Given that your restaurant of choice is open). Here’s a reputable list to try.

3. The famous Paris Plage. (Who needs St Tropez?) Worth at least a stop for a game of Pétanque.

4. If you crave some quality alone time, visit the hidden gardens scattered all around Paris. An ideal place to escape with a good book.

5. August is a perfect time to play the role of tourist, regardless if you live in Paris or not. Hop on the batobus and let the fun begin! You can almost see Paris in a day.

6. Fancy an art fix? You’re in the right city, with over 140 museums. Here’s a list by arrondissement. To avoid long lines, the museum pass is not a bad idea.

7. Have you been craving to explore another neighborhood? Now is the time. (I recommend ‘Little Africa‘ in the 18eme.)

8. For those faced with the challenge of learning French, the city is your school. Particularly in August. Find an open cafe, sit at the bar and the lessons begin!

9. To escape those seldom hot but often overcast nights, the cinema, particularly in mid-August is filled with many a ‘must-see’. If weather permits, the Open Air Cinema at Parc de la Villette is even better. (I plan to be there on the 18th for Woody Allen’s Manhattan.)

10. If you have done all of the above and still crave a little adventure, the TGV trains will not disappoint. For a scenic getaway, take a trip to Honfleur or even closer, the gardens of Giverny. Let’s not forget wine tasting in the Loire Valley (my upcoming August adventure).

Am I missing anything?