USA à Paris

In mid 2013, I met a French journalist who had in 2011 spent 6 months living in New York City. This experience changed her life. Upon returning to Paris she was filled with new ideas and dreams, having gained the “we can do it” attitude from life in the big apple. In September 2011, Noélie Viallet joined forces with Kamal Ben Saïd and together they launched  www.paris-newyork.tv, for their shared love of New York and America. Following the success of that project, Noélie spent the next few years working on a book, expressing her affections for all things American, in Paris.

Kasia Dietz-USA in Paris photo

We met to speak about my handbags, as a New York designer now living in Paris, and our conversations quickly led to life between here and there. I enjoyed speaking with Noélie and was impressed with her ambitious projects! Needless to say, I’m honored to be included in Le Guide des USA à Paris, which was recently published and can now be found in bookstores all over Paris and on Amazon.com. All photos by photographer Pierre Olivier Signe.

USA a Paris cover

Included within the pages are many fabulous addresses for all things USA, including food, fashion, culture… Among them fellow New Yorkers and friends Suzanne Flenard of Square Modern, Daisy de Plume of THATLou (and now THATRue) and Kristen Beddard Heimann of The Kale Project.USA a Paris-Kasia DietzThank you Noélie, for the courage to experience my country & culture and to share it with yours!

come to the edge

Some of the most interesting and inspiring people, I’ve met along the path of travel. Through our shared affinity for culture and adventure, our lives converge, in a place often unexpected. This was the case with Christina Haag during our recent journey to Serifos, Greece. Via my latest fascination with instagram (obsession is a strong word) I discovered another New Yorker on the island and we met for a local rakomelo. I immediately took a liking to this warm and engaging woman who had in the weeks preceding our visit, made this island her temporary home. Most of the tourists had left for Athens or their respective cities, leaving us time to enjoy what often felt like a private island.

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One of the most memorable days in Serifos was spent with Christina and my Italian, light and happy, dining in a taverna overlooking a serene beach. It was there, along the banks of Platys Gialos that Christina shared her stories with me, and I with her. We spoke freely about life and love, our shared passion for Greece, New York, the Hamptons, travel. We spent the early evening driving along the scenic roads, often stopping to admire a view, with Christina as our guide. A few dinners and many conversations followed, we even joined her for a Panagyria festival with the locals.

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Christina’s life read much like a book, and I was pleased to learn that she had recently written a memoir. Come to the Edge reminisces on a life of privilege in old New York City, her successes and trials as an actress, and a five year long love affair with John F. Kennedy Jr. A life lived with passion.

Christina's book

From Serifos to Paris, Christina’s stories continued as I lost myself in the soulful words of her memoir. I felt as though I were living these experiences myself, and could not stop reading. I was reminded of our conversations, of how she felt compelled to tell her story, rightfully so, spending months writing in the Hamptons, long after her dear friend and great love’s life had tragically ended.

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Christina lives by her heart. For this, I admire her, and feel grateful to have shared our own chapter.

Christina Haag-profileChristina is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader. To enter, follow Christina Haag on Facebook and tell us your favorite quote on love or life, below. (Random winner will be announced on November 15th, good luck!) You can also follow Christina on Twitter and Instagram. Incidentally, for those in Paris, there’s an exhibition about the Kennedy family going on until November 30th.

Within you, your years are growing. – Pablo Neruda

 

art in the park

Traveling from Paris to London via Eurostar takes just as much time as traveling from New York City to my home in Westhampton Beach via LIRR. With a commute of just over 2 hours, whenever London calls, I answer. My latest chunnel journey was in search of fabrics. While in Londontown there was much going on in the art world (good timing!). In addition to a Paul Klee exhibition at the Tate Modern, followed by a chance Paul McCartney concert in Covent Garden (have I mentioned that timing is everything?), one of my highlights was an afternoon spent at the Frieze Masters.

IMG_2509Many great works to be found within the tents of Regent’s Park.

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Some of the most interesting artworks I discovered in the park itself. Looks like fabric!

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This piece reminded me of Richard Serra, whom I adore.

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Was most impressed by this larger than life face, changing as you moved around it.

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Reflecting on the artful day.

IMG_2559To accompany the art tour, the sun shone brightly. A perfect day in the park.

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fit for a king

A few weeks ago a dear family friend was in town. Since she’s already seen much of Paris, I planned a day of historic elegance in a landscape not too far away. We boarded a bus on an overcast morning, and soon arrived to the legendary, and now private estate, Château de Vaux le Vicomte.

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Here began our adventure into the life of Nicolas Fouquet, who created this 17th century castle.

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This majestic masterpiece was a collaboration between architect Louis Le Vau, the painter Charles Le Brun and the landscape gardener André Le Nôtre. A ‘home and garden’ to be admired by all.

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Yet the story behind Monsieur Fouquet and his château is a unique and tragic one.

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In brief, after throwing a lavish party in his new home, Fouquet was arrested by Louis XIV (who had plotted against him out of jealousy), and spent his remaining days behind bars, unlawfully so.

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In the famous words of Voltaire, “On 17 August at 6 in the evening, Fouquet was King of France; at 2 in the morning, he was nobody”.

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As we wandered the château and landscape, the gray sky set a sobering mood. At once in awe and aghast at the history lesson upon us. Certainly a castle fit for a king, perhaps even too much so.

for the ladies

What makes a perfect ladies night? How about champagne, macarons, nude men and good friends? That’s exactly the ladies night I just had the pleasure of indulging in. Following a Girls Guide to Paris soirée to launch their new magazine, I met girlfriends at the Musee d’Orsay. That’s where we found the nude men. Did I neglect to mention they were sculpted?

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Rarely in history has the male nude, the basis of Academic art training, been displayed the way the beauty of the nude woman has, and still is. The Musee d’Orsay decided to change this by curating the exhibition, Masculine / Masculine. Their aim is to take an “interpretive, playful, sociological and philosophical approach to exploring all aspects and meanings of the male nude in art.”

IMG_1981And how pleased are we women? And quite a fair share of men too.

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What most impressed me was the variety of artworks in view.

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From Rodin to Bacon, Warhol, Pierre et Gilles, Cocteau, Flandrin and many more masters.

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There was certainly a fair share of ogling by eager onlookers, but well worth braving the crowds.

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And worth snapping a few photos, even though it was forbidden. Shhhh!

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If you are in Paris, grab your girlfriends (or go solo) and head to the Orsay!

Exhibition ends January 2nd.

love in the city of spices

If I moved to Istanbul, this is what I would call my blog, love in the city of spices. Or perhaps love of the city of spices, as this is a city that I have a great fondness for,  and cannot even begin to describe exactly why. Istanbul is a place that must be experienced from the inside, with it’s rich history and rapid modernization. Certainly a cultural mecca. But alas, my story is being written in Paris, and it is my dear friend Karen (with whom I have shared many an adventure in our 20 years of friendship) that is living beneath the minarets.

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My first visit to Istanbul had been during my year of travel, I ran around the city in a daze, completely taken with the sights, sounds and tastes. On that trip I woke up in Asia and spent my days in Europe. This transcontinental life can only be possible in Istanbul.

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On this trip, my Italian’s first to Istanbul, we were lucky to be in the company of Karen and her husband (and two darling Turkish-American daughters). Emre, being a part-time professional tour guide, gave us a tour to remember. From the Blue Mosque to the Hagia Sophia, to the Grand Bazaar to the Spice Market, with many secret stops along the way.  What better introduction?

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The interior of the Hagia Sophia is a sight to behold, with a ceiling of gold.

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On my last visit, I barely stepped foot in the Topkapi Palace. On this trip we spent hours exploring this, the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for around 400 years. Enchanting!

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But it was the time with friends that provided the most memories. Many a night was spent over dinner with a view, catching up on our lives in two very unique and contrasting cities.

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And it was with Karen and Emre that we traveled from Europe to Asia.

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Dinner with a view.

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So much more to see, feel and taste! Already we are looking forward to the next visit…

people and places

Over three years ago I moved to Paris, knowing only one person, my Italian. Him being the reason for my move. I tried not to focus too much on the active social life I left behind in NYC, or even whether I would find another one. I felt confident in my path and though I dearly missed my friends those first years (and still do), I enjoyed the time we shared with Paris as our sole companion.

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Last week, in planning a surprise birthday party for my Italian, I realized how full our lives have become. Not simply with frivolous goings on in the form of gallery openings and happy hours (though we enjoy our share of those too), but with quality time spent with people we admire and appreciate, our friends. I consider myself lucky in this regard, building friendships that last through time and travels. After all, is not the place where we live (though Paris is indeed one of the most beautiful), but it is the people with whom we share this life. That is where true happiness lies.

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Thank you dear friends (and readers) for being part of this journey!

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.

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!

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!