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10 top tips for visiting Cassis

Hello, Emily here, sharing my top tips for a visit to the Provençal village of Cassis, whose motto is “Qu a vist Paris, se noun a vist Cassis, n’a rèn vist” (“Who has seen Paris and not Cassis, has not seen anything”). I definitely recommend adding it to your list of places to visit in France. It’s hard to overstate how seriously the French take…

Hello, Emily here, sharing my top tips for a visit to the Provençal village of Cassis, whose motto is “Qu a vist Paris, se noun a vist Cassis, n’a rèn vist” (“Who has seen Paris and not Cassis, has not seen anything”).

I definitely recommend adding it to your list of places to visit in France.

It’s hard to overstate how seriously the French take their holidays. Parents stay up until midnight to book ski-train tickets the moment they go on sale, summer houses are booked a year in advance and competition for days off in August, peak summer season, is fierce. There’s even a specific French expression faire le pont which means “to make the bridge”, and refers to booking a day or two off when a public holiday falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, to take advantage of an extra long weekend. 

Being a last-minute person myself I struggled to picture what I would be doing in a few weeks, let alone a few months, until someone explained the secret to me: they book ahead not only to beat everyone else to the best deal, but to have something to look forward to. Planning a summer holiday provides a glimpse of what lies ahead, to help get through the gray repetition of winter, and planning to relax takes the edge off the inevitable stress of everyday life. 

And they were right. Last year, for the first time, I booked our summer break months in advance and I relished the fact that as 2021 began to strongly resemble 2020, and work stress built up (but not with you David!), I had my own little daydream, ready to lift my spirits whenever I needed. As I dashed to pick up the kids, and the perpetual feeling of always rushing and still being late seeped into every day, I knew that at some point in the future we would have time together with nothing to do and nowhere to be, free to count endless pebbles on a quiet beach.

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12 useful tips for your next visit to a French food market

Hello, Emily here – sharing my top tips for your next visit to a French food market. Hope they come in helpful! – Emily Whenever I’m in a new city, there’s nothing I enjoy more than eating; trying out restaurant recommendations, people watching in a cafe, savoring a refreshing afternoon ice cream or a trip to the local supermarket all bring me great joy. But most…

Hello, Emily here – sharing my top tips for your next visit to a French food market. Hope they come in helpful!

Emily

Whenever I’m in a new city, there’s nothing I enjoy more than eating; trying out restaurant recommendations, people watching in a cafe, savoring a refreshing afternoon ice cream or a trip to the local supermarket all bring me great joy. But most of all I love visiting the local markets to experience new flavors, and daydream about what my life would be like if I lived in that part of the world. Ironically, when I moved to Paris it took me at least six months before I even set foot in a market. I was so wrapped up in finding a job, learning French, and going from zero responsibilities to becoming part of a family (my husband was widowed and I moved in with him and his daughter) that I was too busy for anything except a weekly dash around our local supermarket for the basics. 

As things eventually calmed down, I found my rhythm and I became a regular at our local outdoor market (Marche Maubert – about a 10 minute walk from our apartment, with a great selection of vendors and a really nice atmosphere), where seeing the same familiar faces each visit is a happy way to start the weekend, reminding me that every day in Paris lays another brick in the foundation of my life here. Now (almost 6 years later) I leave the house most Saturday mornings with my little chariot de marché (market trolley) to do our weekly shop. It’s not really the local custom but I pick up a takeaway coffee on-route and arrive with a vague idea of what I feel like cooking that week, which quickly becomes a solid plan as I see what’s on offer.

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How my family is celebrating Christmas in Paris this year

Hello, Emily here. When David asked me to share how my family will celebrate during the festive season this year I was impressed he was so organized in advance… before realizing that there’s less than 5 weeks until Christmas Day! So without further ado here are all the fun things we’ll be enjoying over the next few weeks (you can find my 2019 and 2020…

Hello, Emily here. When David asked me to share how my family will celebrate during the festive season this year I was impressed he was so organized in advance… before realizing that there’s less than 5 weeks until Christmas Day! So without further ado here are all the fun things we’ll be enjoying over the next few weeks (you can find my 2019 and 2020 versions here).

Wherever you are in the world, I wish you a happy holiday season and hope that you have the chance to connect with family and friends, whether in person or from afar.

Emily

How my family is celebrating Christmas in Paris this year

As Christmas decorations appear all over town, and I take the last of the pumpkins off our mantlepiece, I’m finally making a start on holiday preparations. I’d put off planning this year as we strongly considered spending Christmas in Australia (where I’m from) but as travel is still restricted in my home state we’ll have to wait a little longer to see Santa in shorts again. So we’re getting cozy, hoping for snow and I’ve decided this is the year I’ll finally learn some French Christmas carols. Joyeux Noël!

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Anzac Biscuits

Hello, welcome to my guest post, where I share one of my favourite childhood recipes…and a taste of Australia. If you make these biscuits, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! –Emily When I lived in London, I once had an argument over holiday planning with a boss who didn’t want to let me have time off to go home to Australia…

Hello, welcome to my guest post, where I share one of my favourite childhood recipes…and a taste of Australia. If you make these biscuits, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Emily

When I lived in London, I once had an argument over holiday planning with a boss who didn’t want to let me have time off to go home to Australia for Christmas. “England is your home now,” she said. I immediately burst into tears and booked the flight online as she watched on in bemusement. In 3 years I will have been living outside Australia for longer than I lived there growing up but it is still where I mean when I say “home.”

With 12 years in London and 5 years in France under my belt (I’ll save you the math; I’m 37 and I moved overseas at 20) and with travel off the cards for the foreseeable future, it feels further away than ever. But there are some foods that transport me back home immediately, to dusty hot days in the playground (Vegemite sandwiches), salty air at the beach (shaved ice), or pre-exam jitters in the beautiful sandstone courtyard of my university (Allen’s pineapples).

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Romance in Paris

Hello – Emily here!  Whether single or in a relationship, I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. My favorite color is pink, it reminds me my birthday is around the corner and if nothing else, chocolates and champagne will soon be on sale.  I was single on Valentine’s Day every year until I turned 29, however I never felt alone and I never failed to celebrate in my…

Hello – Emily here! 

Whether single or in a relationship, I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. My favorite color is pink, it reminds me my birthday is around the corner and if nothing else, chocolates and champagne will soon be on sale.  I was single on Valentine’s Day every year until I turned 29, however I never felt alone and I never failed to celebrate in my own small way, usually with pink champagne and heart-shaped Neufchatel cheese

The first year I was in a relationship on February 14th, instead of a romantic dinner-a-deux I decided to spread the love and organized (and cooked) a pop-up dinner for 47 guests. It was a huge success, measured by the flurry of new relationships which started that night, in a utilitarian warehouse in East London. My boyfriend on the other hand was no help, though; he got drunk and threw little potatoes at the guests as they left. 

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A socially distanced Christmas in France

Hello, Emily here – ready to celebrate the holidays! We were supposed to be spending this Christmas on the beach in Australia (where I am originally from) but with travel not possible, we’ll be spending it at home in Paris. Holiday traditions in France are so different from Australia (the weather for a start – it was 39ºC/102ºF in Brisbane the last time we spent the holidays…

Hello, Emily here – ready to celebrate the holidays! We were supposed to be spending this Christmas on the beach in Australia (where I am originally from) but with travel not possible, we’ll be spending it at home in Paris. Holiday traditions in France are so different from Australia (the weather for a start – it was 39ºC/102ºF in Brisbane the last time we spent the holidays there) and I’ve had a wonderful time discovering French holiday customs over the past few years. The food, the wine, the decorations, the language. Oh, and did I mention the food?!

This year we’re in semi-lockdown and with most of the activities on my Things to do in Paris at Christmas list off-limits it’s the perfect time to finally try all those creative projects that I never get around to. The Christmas carols are on repeat, we are staying home en famille (with our family), counting our blessings, and beginning to get festive.

Last weekend I simmered some spiced vin-chaud (mulled wine) while we decorated our Sapin de Noël (Christmas tree). The smell of cardamom, cloves and oranges wafted through the apartment as we unpacked our decorations, each one holding sentimental memories. I added some new ones to represent our 2020; a paintbrush and wrench, to remind us that we did a full renovation, during a pandemic, while I was heavily pregnant, and a personalized ornament for our baby girl who we welcomed in July (mid-renovation – it was a lot!). My daughter and I picked the biggest tree we could find and now it sits, quietly dropping its needles on the floor, by our window so the neighbors can enjoy it as well. We are taking bets on who will attack it first – the toddler or Noisette, our dog.

We’ve cracked open the chocolate advent calendars and light an advent candle in the evenings. Each year I also print out a selection of photos of especially funny and memorable moments from the year, my daughter decorates some envelopes they go into and at breakfast my husband opens them day-by-day. They hang along a strand of tinsel until at least the end of January and then we bundle them all up and they go into a memory box, along with the ones from previous years. 

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Holiday Gift Guide: Bringing France to You and Others

Hello, Emily here, from day 29 of the 2nd confinement (lockdown) in France. I never thought you could miss the city you live in, but I miss Paris. Physically she remains present and although stores are allowed to reopen tomorrow, restaurants will remain closed, the streets are quiet and the soul of the city is sleeping. The old Latin motto of Paris is ‘Fluctuat nec mergitur’…

Hello, Emily here, from day 29 of the 2nd confinement (lockdown) in France.

I never thought you could miss the city you live in, but I miss Paris. Physically she remains present and although stores are allowed to reopen tomorrow, restaurants will remain closed, the streets are quiet and the soul of the city is sleeping. The old Latin motto of Paris is ‘Fluctuat nec mergitur’ which roughly translates to ‘tossed by the waves but never sunk’ and wow, has 2020 done some tossing. 

During the second lockdown we have been restricted to a 1km (about half a mile) radius from our homes with a permission slip needed (that you fill out yourself) to go out for essentials (food, medical appointments, etc.) or to exercise. While my little radius included some of my favorite places, most of the city has been decidedly off-limits. 

Over the past 4 weeks we made the most of our allocated hour of ‘exercise’ each day in the nearby Jardin Du Luxembourg, letting the dog do her daily investigating, and letting our kids play in the fresh air. When possible, I also enjoyed a solo walk along the banks of the Seine, whose calm current reminded me that the history of France is filled with challenges that have been overcome. 

I never realized how much of the city I took for granted – perhaps a fitting metaphor for 2020? A quick stop at my local terrace for a coffee or chilled glass of wine, and a quiet exchange with the impeccably dressed waiter. The cultural institutions, who remain shuttered, their beauty and history waiting patiently to be frequented once again (although you can visit many online like the Louvre, Versailles, Centre Pompidou or the Musée d’Orsay). And the small boutiques and independent bookstores that I visit as much for the conversation with the owners as the books. But most of all, I am excited to return to the specialty food shops spread all over town, which were beyond my 1km ‘border.’  Continue Reading Holiday Gift Guide: Bringing France to You and Others...

Lockdown in Paris – plus some easy recipes for kids

Hello, Emily here. We are now on day 27 of official lock-down in Paris and day 32 since we decided to stay home with the kids. With other cities and countries also implementing stricter social distancing measures, I thought I would share our routine, favorite recipes and ways to pass the time, and hopefully pick up some ideas from you in the comments below! –Emily…

Hello, Emily here. We are now on day 27 of official lock-down in Paris and day 32 since we decided to stay home with the kids. With other cities and countries also implementing stricter social distancing measures, I thought I would share our routine, favorite recipes and ways to pass the time, and hopefully pick up some ideas from you in the comments below!

Emily

Lockdown in Paris – plus some easy recipes for kids

With a one-year-old, an eleven-year-old and a dog (not to mention I am also 6-months pregnant, which is wonderful, but can be overwhelming even during the very best of times!) in a Parisian-sized apartment, we had to quickly adapt to keep things manageable. I am self-employed so am working hard to keep my clients for as long as possible while supervising cyber-school and an Evel Knievel-like mini daredevil, who has just learned to walk. My husband Jérémy is also working from home but at a much more structured 9am-7pm job that is continuing as “normally” as possible. Renovations were scheduled to start on an extension to our apartment next week, to accommodate our rapidly growing family, but they are now on hold indefinitely as we try to figure out how best to welcome our upcoming baby with our current living situation. 

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10 tips for a tasty weekend in Biarritz 

Biarritz had been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember. In my 20s, working the office grind in London and going for days without seeing any discernible sunshine in winter, I dreamt of buying a van and moving there to surf the endless waves and drink Ricard (pastis) around a beach bonfire. Instead I stayed in my safe job and…

Biarritz had been on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember. In my 20s, working the office grind in London and going for days without seeing any discernible sunshine in winter, I dreamt of buying a van and moving there to surf the endless waves and drink Ricard (pastis) around a beach bonfire. Instead I stayed in my safe job and displayed the surfboard my friend left behind our sofa in the living room (being Australian by birth, it is a shame that I cannot actually surf).

When I finally got around to visiting the ship had well and truly sailed on the camper-van fantasy, however it was still very easy to embrace the surf town vibe that Biarritz offers. Built on the Atlantic coast with a view to the Pyrénées, in the French Basque countryside, it is around 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the border with Spain. There’s a vibrant food scene and the town is a mix of high-low with luxurious boutiques (there is a Hermès boutique just behind the seafront) and chic homeware stores next to surf rental outlets and oyster shacks.

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Behind the Scenes in Paris – Journees du Patrimoine

Hello – it’s Emily. For those of you that haven’t heard of me, I normally help David behind the scenes with some things on the blog. As a Paris local, I wanted to share with you a very special weekend that my family and I look forward to each year. I hope that you will get the chance to experience it too! -Emily Journees du…

Hello – it’s Emily. For those of you that haven’t heard of me, I normally help David behind the scenes with some things on the blog. As a Paris local, I wanted to share with you a very special weekend that my family and I look forward to each year. I hope that you will get the chance to experience it too!

-Emily


Journees du Patrimoine 21-22nd September 2019

As a city that welcomes nearly 18 million visitors every year, Paris clearly has a lot to offer. With over 2000 monuments and more than 200 museums, there is always something to explore. But Paris also has many places where history is made and art and culture are celebrated, that simply cannot accommodate visitors.

Behind the beautiful doors across the city there are many secrets, gardens, passageways, and places of great interest are normally inaccessible to visitors. However, as the French take their heritage very seriously and in the spirit of liberté, égalite, fraternité (liberty, equality, brotherhood), once a year, doors across Paris swing open to let you in, behind the scenes, for a closer view of the beauty and history inside some of the most famous buildings in the world. 

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