Monday, September 30, 2013

TRAVEL | paris photo diary

My neighborhood: Montmartre


The steps seen in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. Woody had them scrubbed clean for the shoot.

Shooting outside the Palace of Versailles. I didn't go in that afternoon because I figured I could spend 15 Euros on something else. I'm saving this trip for another time--and perhaps next time I'll be here with a friend or two and we'll make a day trip out of it.

Flashy cards at Colette. I wanted to buy them all.


It's true what they say about Paris. It is the most beautiful city in the world--she's the most photogenic at least. But like most ladies, she can be temperamental at times. There were some days during my trip when it was rainy, overcast, and cold, and those in those moments I just felt downright depressed. But then there are those other moments when the sun decides to shine after a gloomy morning and the light just hits the buildings just right, the sad grays and moody blues melt away and the city is just bathed in gold. If that isn't the definition of beauty, I don't know what is.

Like most people who visit France, the first thing on my mind each morning is 1) good food and 2) where can I find it? Deciding what to eat quickly became the most difficult task of the day. Which is ironic since there are over 7000 cafes and brasseries in this city. This is why the only way to weed out the great joints from the mediocre ones is through yelp, tripadvisor, or my favorite, friend recommendations. In hindsight, I think I ate rather well in Paris (to stick to my budget I allowed myself two meals per day: breakfast--gotta have those croissants--and either lunch or dinner). My personal recommendation: L'as du Falafel in the Latin quarter makes the most bomb diggity Shawarma pita you'll ever have the pleasure of eating. Grab it to go and walk about the neighborhood--it makes for a good afternoon.

And speaking of walking, I cannot stress what a walkable city Paris is. So far it has been my absolute favorite city to wander in (I'm still madly in love with London but it can't beat Paris for walkability). There is literally something interesting to see on every single street. Some of my favorite moments were a result of me just stumbling upon it. For example, I spent my last night in the city partying it up along the Seine at some mini techno concert with some new Parisian friends I had only met at the event. I can definitely say it was one o the highlights of my trip and I didn't even know about it until I passed it during the day as the stage was being built.  Best part was watching those crazy party-hardy Parisians cut loose on the dance floor--they really do enjoy their techno! It was like a whole other side to Paris I didn't get to experience on my first trip. It sounds a little self-important to say, but it almost felt like the city was giving me my personal little sendoff--except I didn't know it yet--but that's a story for another time.

Friday, September 27, 2013

SHOPS | mmm paris

Ahhhhh! Such a cool store! I managed to get a couple shots before I put my camera away to look at the collections. I spent a little time upstairs reading a little about previous Margiela collections (conception, process, etc) and it really opened my eyes to how amazing this brand is. The sales clerks in the store were incredibly kind too--they answered all my questions very kindly even though there was a language barrier. I also didn't feel the need to rush through my browsing like I often have to in a lot of high fashion brand stores back at home. You know, like those times when you feel the silent judging eyes of the sales clerks boring into the back of your head because they can smell the poor on you? But it's decided, once I get a steady job I'll be saving up for this { baby }, but until then all I can do is drool admire at it from afar. I also got a look at their new converse x mmm collaboration. Very cool concept. I'm thinking a new DIY is in order.

Monday, September 23, 2013

PLACES | musée du louvre

The Louvre is best seen in the morning when the courtyard is deserted and the pyramids are bathed in the soft glow of the morning light. I woke up groggy and grumpy at 6am Saturday morning to make my big trip to the Louvre. I arrived by 7 and basically had the whole space to myself save a few early risers who, like myself, had planned to take photos while the crowd is still low. While on the metro I couldn't stop asking myself "Why am I doing this again?", but in the end it was all worth it--nothing really beats watching a city wake up and catching the first ray of lights before anyone else does. I also included a few snaps* from last year's trip to the city of lights since I didn't get a chance to share them before.

*photo 5 + 6 + 7

Sunday, September 22, 2013

SHOPS | merci

"Not only is Merci ("thank you") one of the most fabulous stores in Paris, it's a store with a heart... all profits from their 16,000-square-feet of designer products go to charity.

Bernand and Marie-France Cohen, having had great success with their luxury children's clothing brand, Bonpoint, decided to develop a way to "pay it forward."
And so they asked themselves these questions: Give, but how? How is it possible to generate funds in a sustainable manner without calling for donations or charity? Could a store combine luxury consumerism with philanthropy?
In March of 2009, with the opening of the Parisian concept store, Merci, the answers were found. All profits of the store (beyond operating costs) go to a foundation that will help underprivileged women and children by providing them with learn skills they can use to improve their quality of life.
In an 18th-century building on Boulevard Beaumarchais, in the hip Marais neighborhood of Paris, the store is a masterful contemporary space that holds several levels of décor, furniture and fashion, in addition to a bookstore, a florist, several cafés and a garden. The setting for the stylish enterprise is a stunning environment of concrete, wood and steel, furnished with a combination of antique and handcrafted furnishings, and lit with tall windows and skylights.
Merci is a mecca of cutting-edge design, so it's pretty effortless to find something to help the cause. Fashion designers including Isabel Marant, YSL, Chloé, Stella McCartney, Marni and Paul Smith have pitched in by offering unique pieces at a 30 to 40 forty percent below their usual prices, and by foregoing their share of profits. High-end brands are balanced with basics, as well as unusual artisan-crafted merchandise.
Let's hope that others will be inspired by the Cohens' noble and generous contribution to the world. They have given us the opportunity to provide happiness for others, simply by shopping for ourselves. Magnifique." via { Huffington Post }

Merci, in my opinion, is one of the most lovely places to stop and shop for gifts. It's great fun to walk around and look at all their products--my favorite is their Aesop and clothing section. And if you get tired from all the walking around, the Used Book Cafe connected right to the store is a nice spot to kick back with a cup of café crème, read some books, and pore over your shopping haul. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

PLACES | père lachaise cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest and most famous cemetary in the city of Paris. It was a an interesting experience to visit Père Lachaise. In fact, I think this I think I can count this graveyard as one of the most beautiful spots in Paris.  

"The gravesites at Père Lachaise range from a simple, unadorned headstone to towering monuments and even elaborate mini chapels dedicated to the memory of a well-known person or family. Many of the tombs are about the size and shape of a telephone booth, with just enough space for a mourner to step inside, kneel to say a prayer, and leave some flowers.

The cemetery manages to squeeze an increasing number of bodies into a finite and already crowded space. One way it does this is by combining the remains of multiple family members in the same grave. At Père Lachaise, it is not uncommon to reopen a grave after a body has decomposed and inter another coffin. Some family mausoleums or multi-family tombs contain dozens of bodies, often in several separate but contiguous graves. Shelves are usually fitted out to accommodate them" (via wikipedia)

Père Lachaise Cemetery is also the gravesite of many famous men and women. Here you’ll see the graves of celebrities like Antonio de La Gandara, Honoré de Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Frédéric Chopin, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Camille Pissarro, Gertrude Stein, and Oscar Wilde.

Monday, September 16, 2013

TRAVEL | bristol photo diary

First look at Bristol. 

The infamous Skins Bench on top of Brandon Hill. It's a small hike up and very much worth the effort. Anyone who watches the show understands the significance of this space. It was really an amazing experience.

Climbed up the small spiral staircase for a view of Brandon Hill from Cabot Tower.  It offered a great 360 degree view of the city center.

Clifton Suspension Bridge.  Pack a lunch, grab a seat, and enjoy a spectacular view of Bristol. The bridge itself is already a sight to behold. My jaw just dropped to the ground when I first saw it in all it's glory. 

There isn't much to say about Bristol other than the fact I absolutely loved my stay there. I originally decided to visit Bristol on a whim, figuring it isn't too far from London and that it was possible to squeeze in a day or two of exploring before heading to Paris. All I knew of that city was that it was a University town (lots of students), and it was also the home of Skins, a show that has become very near and dear to my heart. Not quite knowing what I was going to do in Bristol for two days, I figured the best way to explore Bristol was to visit all the filming locations. I was pleasantly surprised at how compact Bristol was--everywhere I turned was another spot I recognized from the show. There was a lot of sappy fan-girl moments--but I couldn't help it! Seeing the bench on top of Brandon Hill really did it for me--it was really just too beautiful up there. I miss it already.