La Belle Vie

The one thing that I never expected from Paris is the chance of meeting so many amazing souls who have flown in from all ends of the world, each with their inspiring stories, dreams and endeavours. As much as I love having my time alone strolling through the streets of this beautiful city, I also get thrills from being around the happy vibes brought by the people I meet. 

I'd like to apologize again for the umpteenth time for being slack with posting in this space but for the past two weeks, I have been meeting up with different people every day comprising of friends I need to catch up with and new friends whom I found through the blogging network. It helped that the weather in Paris had been ridiculously fantastic for the most part of the past weeks. It makes "socialising" that much more fun and enjoyable even for an introvert that is me.

Taking strolls in Paris also got better as you could wear less layers and everything feels lighter.

On a really sunny day, I caught up with M from 33 Avenue who was in town for the weekend. As always we had a lovely time catching up and as usual, she'd find me lusting over her beautiful accessories.

It's been a while since I caught up with Faye from Farfelue who I just discovered to be a health junkie. I was induced by the thought of another pastry date but alas, she dragged me to a juice bar. To be fair, the detox juice I had tasted not so great but it placed me in a good mood because I thought one tiny cup of detox juice would do magic for me. Ha!

Birthday picnic by the Seine

When there's a birthday and Paris is acting like it's a summer girl, one must celebrate accordingly. The 'gang' aka Milsters, Carin, EdnaDiane and I, had the loveliest picnic along the Seine to mark C of Sugared n Spice special day. Aside from delighting ourselves with delicious home-baked goodies (courtesy of Diane and C), the evening was laced with the glorious sunset and girl talk on dreams and endeavours. It was one of those fantastic delightful nights that I just wished would never end.

Exploring Pigalle and Montmartre

I've also recently explored more of this part of town on different occasions starting with Kooka Boora Café where I had the pleasure of meeting Jacalyn of Après New York for the first time. Both of us had been talking back and forth over travel tips from Rome to Iceland and I figured it was about time we meet. Jacalyn is such a fabulous woman who exudes fun and vibrant energy. I had such a lovely time with her and we spent a good two hours chatting over everything.

Just for your information, the coffee here is awesome!

Sugar Daze Cupcakes

Having heard sooo much good things about the cupcakes at Sugar Daze, I was so glad to have finally tasted this raspberry number with some super fun company that are Lauren of Folies du Bonheur, Meg of De Quelle Planète Es-Tu? and Olivia of Oh La La Livia. The fabulous trio lead fantastic lives in Paris which are reflected in their blogs in which Sugar Daze is regularly featured as their hang out place. I'm looking forward to spend more time with this trio and get to know more about them!

Passage Verdeau

And whilst exploring bits of Montmartre, I discovered another pretty indoor passage and this particular one is called Passage Verdeau. 

An evening in the Marais

So the reason I was venturing in Montmartre for the third time this week was caused by this fantastic house-warming party thrown by Milsters. The theme was Quentin Tarantino and I chose to dress up as Gogo Yubari, the schoolgirl assassin from the movie Kill Bill. Apparently my red bow tie and ballchain (courtesy of the costume shops in Montmartre) plus a pair of white canvas shoes made do.

Above is collage I took from Diane's post of the party and here is a link to see the rest of the fantastic photographs.

Lemon meringue tart from Eric Kayser

A good guest must bring edible gifts and this one got demolished within minutes smiley so I was really happy that everyone loved it. Speaking of, I'm a huge lemon meringue tart lover. My two best choices of Paris' lemon meringue tart would be from Eric Kayser and Un Dimanche à Paris. 

Dinner des 3 Découvertes at Atelier Vivanda

I took part in Dinner des 3 Découvertes hosted by Milsters which is essentially an event which allows the participants to meet new people. Click here for a more thorough description of the event which I highly encourage you to take part should you be in Paris. They say the company made for wonderful nights and so I must thank Milsters, Shauravi, Amel and Melanie from Feed Your Awesome Machine for the lovely evening. I also wanted to note that the restaurant itself served great food but service could be better. I know dining experience in Paris is rumoured to be infamously bad which is not always true but in this restaurant, it's spot on. No one in France should be denied the right to a second glass of wine. No one.

Place des Vosges

Brunch at Les Bonnes Soeurs

I have been wanting to meet up with Christine from 8 Rue Caffarelli for the longest time but both our schedules have been so messed up and was really glad we finally found a date that worked. I follow Christine's blog because I love her photographs and travel recounts and of course, the way she writes. I adore the fact that she is even more lovelier in real life. Some people just gives off amazing positive vibe and I can't help but say that for the rest of the day after meeting her, I feel really happy. It must've been her infectious laugh :)

Foie Gras at Fontaine de Mars

Special cause for a celebration for Jackie from RBJello who will soon embark on a fabulous project. We went for dinner at Fontaine de Mars and ordered her top two favourite dishes including the seared foiegras above and finished the evening off with a trip to Martine Lambert for the ice cream macarons.

Martine Lambert

I'm sure you get by now that I LOVE icecream so it shouldn't be too suprising if I said to you that I got one of each flavour of these ice cream macarons. If you ever go, my favourites are passionfruit, chocolate, vanilla and coffee. One of these days I might also give the icecream cake (pictured above right), it looks way too pretty to be left untried.

Rue Cler

Of course we had a little stroll along Rue Cler in vain hope to walk off that sinful dinner.

And enjoyed the macarons from Jackie's apartment's balcony overlooking Les Invalides. Sigh..

Spring beauty

After so much indulgence, it's so obvious that I needed to take super long walks and seeing the greeneries and the flower blooms just make the walks so much easier.

Children playing in the sand box underneath the cherry blossoms tree beside Notre Dame Cathedral.

Just too pretty for words.

Instagram collage for the last few days

You know I will always try my best to post here but during those times when it takes me longer to whip something up, you are most welcome to have a peek of my daily doings through my Facebook or Instagram feed.

Le Mur des "Je t'aime"

Let me finish this "la belle vie" post with my favourite photograph of April. Whilst at Montmartre walking my cupcakes off, I searched for Le Mur des "Je t'aime" which translates to wall of "I Love You". It just so happened that this sweet couple was sitting right by the wall and they make the most romantic sight. Love makes the world so beautiful when you share it all around. I'm always all too happy to share this life that I have with you so thank you for reading and making it this far. See you soon xxx

Paris, At The End of The Tunnel

You know by now how much I love my strolls in Paris right? This particular pastime always lets me to get inside my head and reflect on just about everything. Well it’s time to take you back to my past, before I knew a word of French, before the idea of living in Paris even appeared, before life started to shake from the ground up.

Years ago in Sydney, I used to work as an event planner specialising in weddings. During those times a bridezilla would pop up every now and then. There was this particular one who, during a meeting to decide her menu and beverage options, pointed to an item written on a menu card: “Sauvignon Blanc”. I proceeded to pronounce it, “sawvinyawn-blank”.  The bride snapped and rolled her eyes then hissed, “it’s sovinõ blã".

A week from that moment, I was enrolled in my first French class at Alliance Française. I learnt the alphabets and phonetiques sounding of the language. When I got the basic idea on how to pronounce things and could easily quit, it was then that I became really intrigued to learn more.

Today I recalled this story whilst taking my much-loved habitual stroll and so I said a little “merci” to that woman as it was her hiss that started my journey to Paris.

Criticism and disapproval will always hurl your way. Deal with it and keep striving towards making things better for yourself. Your dream lies somewhere along this path, waiting like the light at the end of a tunnel.

Love yourself more

I saw this beautiful commercial that I’d like to share with you. Their shower foam may be a staple in my bathroom but this is not in any way a means to promote anything aside from extracting the message. The fact is more often than not we are our own harshest critics and need those around us to see how we are from their eyes. Love yourself more and give yourself credits for being who you are. Hope it will cheer your day as it did mine smiley

Paris in Transition

After what seemed like the longest winter ever, I am finally convinced that spring is here. Okay admittedly I still say this with a little uncertainty. But when there are more great sunny days with temperature rising well-above ten degrees Celcius than the grey, we can be sure to put all our coats away.

Picnic at Jardin du Luxembourg

Last Sunday, it felt like Paris skipped spring altogether and went straight for summer. Not that anyone's complaining since it was a really beautiful day. I wore a dress and couldn't believe it because just days before I was still wearing my winter coat.

Of course the garden was really packed because everybody in Paris had the same idea of a day in the park but nevertheless it was just as amazing to sit on the grass for hours with great people.

The lovely afternoon stretched into pre-dinner drinks then to dinner at my favourite restaurant, Café Constant. 

These profiteroles which are just to die for, polished the evening off. So much sun and content, I slept like a very settled baby that night.

And then of course the day after, things went grey again but you get the hang of it by now.. and you make the best of everything.

and so I treated myself with bright flowers

Fresh from the market

and of course, a coffee break at Télescope Café always does the trick too

Best cheesecake of my life

I kid you not, cheesecake at Télescope Café is the best I've tasted and I cannot recommend it enough. Go for their amazing coffees but I would also go for the cheesecake. 

Éclairs Smackdown

Speaking of sweet stuff, few weeks ago Carin had been assigned by HiP Paris to host an "Éclairs Smackdown" to judge who makes the best éclairs. Guess who was lucky enough to be one of the guests she invited? Me me me! The red ruby number (above left) is my favourite raspberry éclair which I deemed to be the best of all, but you may beg to differ and here is the full descriptive post written by the host herself. 

Lemon meringue tart at Le Loir dans la Théière

Of course on top of the éclairs, Carin was also assigned to visit this cosy café in the name of another "research project" and do a taste test on the lemon meringue tartIf you ask me, "Grace, how do you manage to keep your figure having participated in all these "research projects"? The answer is: I don't. I've lost my waistline officially but I'm so thankful for it. 

Afternoon strolls

Place des Vosges

Even though spring is (sort of) here, Paris will always be Paris. That means, you never really know if it's going to be sunny or grey.

Passage des Panoramas

But that's the beauty about Paris. When it's grey outside, there is always another indoor passage to be explored. 

and places to lunch at – Verjus Wine Bar

The first time I went to Verjus Wine Bar, I wasn't that happy with my dinner choices but I've since returned twice more thanks to Diane. She introduced me to the lunch-time sandwiches here and I can only sing praises about it. 

Cuban sandwich at Verjus Wine Bar

First sighting of "Rollerblading Sundays" on Boulevard Saint-Germain

I love strolling along Boulevard Saint-Germain which usually is a very quiet street on Sundays so imagine my surprise when within minutes came hoarders of rollerbladers..

Turns out Paris organise events like "Rollerblading Sundays" on Sunday afternoons.

Jardin des Tuileries

Last Wednesday had been forecasted to be the best day of the week and it definitely was. I spent a very lazy day sitting on the grass just letting time pass.

Picnic by the Seine

Since sometime ago, I had dinner plans with Carin and Milsters that evening but the weather was just too fantastic so we decided to forgo proper sit-down dinner and went for a picnic by the Seine instead. The very talented Carin prepared the best grilled chicken pasta salad in cute little boxes, Milsters brought the wine and desserts and lucky me only had the task to bring in old towels for us to sit on, a baguette and cutleries. 

We sat by the Seine on my old towels, ate, drank and watched the sun set at 9pm. Milsters wrote a really beautiful post describing the picnic. As for me, it was such a simple and low-key evening yet it was also definitely one of the best evenings I have so far and not just in Paris, but in life.

And what do you know.. today was just as beautiful though slightly colder. Fluffy pink and white cherry blossoms are popping up everywhere like popcorns, this city is definitely transitioning into warmer seasons.

Paris, you are so amusing and I am overjoyed because you have spoiled me. Merci xxx

Never settle for anything less than your dreams

Two nights ago, I asked myself plenty of what-ifs questions, one being: “What if I never came to Paris?”

The answer placed me in immediate despair and brought me to a 7am trip to Trocadero, where I saw the Eiffel Tower in all its glory but with no tourists bombarding the square like usual.

Even though it had been a rainy and grey week, I decided then that it was going to be a fabulous day and it turned to be exactly that.

It’s almost scary to think of what would happen if I didn’t end up pursuing the Paris dream. It would have been so easy to stay where I was because things were so comfortable already and I was scared of shaking the ground to make a new start. Just looking at the difficult process could quickly turned me off. We all know Paris is never going to be just about croissants and pastries. I also couldn't help focusing on everything that could go wrong instead of all the possible goodness that might come my way.

But just like my decision to have a fabulous day, I made the decision to pursue Paris and left Sydney. At this moment in time, I could tell you with confidence that I don’t regret making this decision at all.

I’m not saying that going to Paris should be your dream too. What I’m trying to tell you is that you must do everything in your power to follow your dreams. Don’t lose sight of it, no matter how rough or tough the journey might be because you’ll never know if you don’t try. If things don’t work out, pack your bags and go home. It’s as simple as that. I know theory is usually easier said than done, but I’m writing as someone who’s just done that and wants to encourage you to do the same.

Every decision you make is in your hands, this means only you have the power to make it happen. Start by telling yourself “I won’t settle for anything else other than my dreams and today is going to be a wonderful day”.