January 27, 2012

Day 24 : Part Deux - Le Chateaubriand + Snails = Yummy!

After running around all day at The Happiest Place in Europe, I found myself so hungry when I got back to Paris earlier this evening that I'm certain I could have eaten a whole cow! Thankfully, Edouard, our new, très gentil Parisian friend/local tour guide had booked a table at Le Chateaubriand (11, rue de Washington, 8e arrondissement), so that he, Yasuyo, Kurt and I could all catch up and start planning our big road trip to the French countryside/South of France next month! Let me say, like last time, he once again did not let us down!!  Merci beaucoup, Edouard!

To be honest, after three bottles of wine at dinner, my memory is a little blurry from tonight... Thank goodness for the pictures below to remind us of what fun we had! Besides the entertaining charades we had at the dinner table, gastronomic highlights from tonight's feast include: 1) l'escargots (translation: snails!!); 2) cheesecake for dessert (so yummy we had to order a second one!); and 3) amazing, warm hospitality from the Le Chateaubriand staff (especially our serveuse for the evening who even gave a certain gentleman at our table a little kiss on the cheek as a thank you for his nice compliment :-p)!

Old frenchman with awesome shades? Haven't tried the food yet, but I already know I'm going to love this place... | Le Chateaubriand

 A short history lesson before dinner :-) | Le Chateaubriand 

Edouard et Kurt | Le Chateaubriand 

To be honest, can't remember exactly what this is... Edouard had ordered it for us, but it was super delicious!! | Le Chateaubriand 

L'escargots. | Le Chateaubriand 

Day 24 : Part One - The Happiest Place in... Europe---Disneyland Paris!

I'd have to say today was, by far, the most fun I've ever had since I arrived here in France!! Why you ask? Well, that's because I got to spend the entire day being a kid again at Disneyland Paris!! 

Haha! Yes, we all know I've been a Disney fanatic since I was little. Truth be told, though, it was only after I found out I'd be studying abroad in France that I really started to have my eyes set on checking this theme park out. Disneyland Paris was the second Disney resort launched outside the US, but the first to be opened and operated by Disney--which unfortunately meant a lot of hard lessons learnt by Disney during its early days... While interning with Disney last summer, I actually got the chance to hear many of these stories from other cast members, as well as the various things Disney did to improve the Park since. Living in Paris now and embracing my inner Disney nerd :-p, I knew I could not possibly leave France without seeing it all for myself. Even more so, a number of my friends in Imagineering had mentioned a lot of good things about Disneyland Paris, with some even going as far to say that it was their favorite! So again, I needed to see why...

Admittedly, at first, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find someone to make the Disney voyage with me... I had mentioned the idea to couple of my fellow Boothies, who thought it was nice but then quickly brushed the idea off. I don't blame them. At our age, I know, there's probably more exciting things to see and do in Paris... 

Thankfully, though, my french teacher asked our class last week what places we wanted to visit while we were here in Europe. Half-jokingly I mentioned Disneyland Paris, of course. Expecting the usual "Oh, how nice..." response, I was amazed when my classmate Lisa jumped on the idea! Looking back, I'm really glad she came along today! It turns out Lisa is just as big a Disney fan as me, so she didn't mind at all that I wanted to stop and take a million pictures :-) I guess, you can thank her for my extensive picture album below!

Being a kid again for a day! | Disneyland Paris   

"Parc Disneyland" - couldn't believe how many other people came out early for the opening of the park! | Disneyland Paris   

Wow! So pretty! | Disneyland Paris   

Umm yes, this entrance beats the one in California... | Disneyland Paris   

Disneyland Hotel | Disneyland Paris   

"Bienvenue." | Main Street USA, Disneyland Paris   

Wow, we're finally here! Yay! | Main Street USA, Disneyland Paris   

First Impressions: Hands down, I would have to agree with whichever Imagineer said that Disneyland Paris is the prettiest Disney park of all! I should probably mention that I haven't been to Disney World (yet), so I could be mistaken... But for now, yes, this park gets my vote for the top prize!

Rather than bore you with all the little details of my Disney day-long adventure, though, I thought I'd just quickly share with you my three favorite highlights from today:

January 26, 2012

Day 23 : Rewind --> Art Day... in Le Marais!

Unfortunately, it's another gray and rainy day here in Paris. After yesterday's action-packed adventure, I've decided to be a hermit today and stay inside to catch up on emails and homework. While combing through my files in my computer, though, I realized that I somehow forgot to share with you my little Parisan expedition to Le Marais over the weekend! (Yeah, despite my horrible cold, I had to flee the nest on Sunday for some fresh air. Otherwise, I always end up going stir crazy...). 

I first heard about Le Marais from my sister when were planning our last visit to Paris back in September. I remembered she had put it on our list of places to see, but sadly we were in town for only a weekend and could only see so much :-/  Anyway, home to the Centre Pompidou, a building complex which houses the largest museum of modern art in Europe, Le Marais has often been described as one of the liveliest, loveliest and most beautiful quartier of Paris. It's also one of the few places in Paris where most of the shops are open on Sunday! Rain or shine, the old narrow streets filled with trendy fashion boutiques, restaurants and antique shops are perfect for wandering about and just getting lost for a day...

Centre Pompidou | 3e arrondissement 

High-tech architecture | Centre Pompidou

When I first read about this building, I was such a big fan... | Centre Pompidou 

...but in person, it's so much more interesting and fun. | Centre Pompidou  

Giant air ducts. | Centre Pompidou  

Interesting juxtaposition with the historic buildings in the back.| Centre Pompidou  

I must say I love the charm of the old historic buildings in this neighborhood... It almost feels like you're walking back in time! Below are a few fun discoveries I made while out and about in Le Marais :-)

January 25, 2012

Day 22 : Part Trois - The pâtisserie tour continues... Angelina!

Finally, after a day out at the museums, Miss Y and I decided to talk a stroll across the Seine and check out another pâtisserie near the Louvre... Angelina! Voted as one of the best pastry shops in Paris, we knew we had to make a stop here, and I must say we had a delicious time indeed :-)

In terms of the desserts, while they may not have been as orgasmic as the ones we tasted at our visit to La Pâtisserie des Rêves, the treats were still very yummy and definitely worth the trip! Also, unlike the modern flair of the tea room at La Pâtisserie des RêvesAngelina's parlor room offers a little more touch of traditional French elegance and sophistication that invites you to stay and chat with your girlfriends for hours... Yasuyo and I sure know--we ended up closing the place down and left just before they shut the doors at 7:00pm! Definitely a great way to end a perfect day in Paris :-)

Angelina | 3e arrondissement 

 Lovely mosaic. | Angelina

Dessert time!! | Angelina 

"Ooooo! Now how do I decide...?!" | Angelina  

"May one of these?" | Angelina 

Day 22 : Part Deux - Musée d'Orsay (plus, surprise parade!)

I must say that my 8:00am start earlier this morning was a bit too early for my usual schedule here in Paris. Study abroad as an exchange student at ESSEC this quarter means that I normally sleep in til 9:00am or 10:00am... I know, tough life :-) In all seriousness, I blame a combination of jet lag (which takes me forever to adjust to on this side of the Atlantic) and the fact that the sun doesn't rise until 8:30am everyday!

Anyway, after a well-deserved siesta during lunchtime, I decided to meet up with Yasuyo this afternoon to check out the Monet paintings at my favorite museum in Paris--the Musée d'Orsay! I've been here before, though my last visit was all the way back in 2005. It's clearly been awhile, but I do remember it being my favorite... Today's visit reminded why--Monet paintings + beautiful architecture!

Musée d'Orsay | 7e arrondissement
J'aime l'impressionnisme. | Musée d'Orsay 

Sadly, we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside of the collections (or even the beautiful architecture!), but I did manage to sneak in a few shots of this gorgeous view through a window clock overlooking the Louvre across the river and Sacré Coeur in the distant...

Why is it I'm always more in awe of the views than the paintings in every museum I go? | Musée d'Orsay 

 J'adore. Forget the paintings. My favorite thing in the museum! | Musée d'Orsay 

Louvre across the river and Sacré Coeur in the distant | Musée d'Orsay 

Love the building's architecture.| Musée d'Orsay 

Did I mention that I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid... | Musée d'Orsay  

  View of the clock from the outside... reminds of The Invention of Hugo Cabret | Musée d'Orsay 

As we were leaving the Musée d'Orsay, we noticed a huge crowd had gather outside along the streets. Spotting me for a tourist, a lovely little french lady told me to hurry and make sure to get a picture, saying "Go ahead, it's for you! It's for you! Enjoy!" How cute and sweet of her to say that! As it turned out, we just made it out in time to catch a parade of the French Republican Guard Calvary!

I also love men in uniform ;-) | French Republican Guard Calvary

I'm not exactly sure what the occasion was--it must have been some national celebration in France or something, because we noticed that there were a lot of security everywhere today, plus we spotted the French flag hanging below the Arc de Triomphe later in the evening. Whatever the reason, it sure feels good to be Paris today, even despite the rain :-)

Day 22 : Part One - Prada's 24H Museum!

Ah, it's finally here--Paris Fashion Week that is! To be honest, after such a hectic first few weeks in France, I almost forgot about PFW--though, thankfully I was reminded of it yesterday while catching up on my WWD news! In fact, I came across this cool article of things to see and do as part of the "Paris Couture" scene. 

Being a huge fan of contemporary art, Prada's "24 h Museum" instantly caught my eye. As luck would have it, Muccia Prada and her husband debuted the Pop-up Museum last night at the Palais d'Iéna--right down the street from my apartment! Clearly there was no excuse for me not to go! Given that the museum would only be open for literally 24 hours(!), however, I knew it was best if I tried to beat the crowds by waking up bright and early today so I could check it out when it opened at 7:00am (sounds hardcore, I know :-p).

The interesting concept of the exhibition was dreamt up by artist Francesco Vezzoli and was launched to mark the opening of Prada's expanded and renovated store on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris!

Entrance sign of the 24 h Museum | Sponsored by Prada

Press taking photos. Love the neon pink lights (despite not being a fan of pink!) | Sponsored by Prada

According the the little pamphlet I received, the 24 h Museum is divided into three sections, each inspired by a particular type of museum space: historic, contemporary, and forgotten. For info on the "icons" and sculptures featured in the different rooms, make sure to check out the event website!

Meantime, get ready to feast your eyes on the visual treats below... :-)

January 24, 2012

Day 17 - 21 : "Je suis malade." Sick in Paris. It could be worse.

Sorry I've been MIA the last couple of days, but unfortunately caught a cold over the weekend and have been trying to fight it off ever since. I must say it's not fun at all getting sick abroad, especially in a country where you can't speak the language well... Learned that lesson the hard way unfortunately while searching for cough medicine à la pharmacie this weekend.  Despite bringing my Visual French Dictionary with me to the store, I still had a tough time trying to read all the labels and figure out which medicine to get (...it turns out my Dictionary wasn't comprehensive enough). Admittedly, after awhile I got lazy--ended up just settling for Vicks cough drops, which surprisingly was all that I needed (along with fluids and sleep). Not exactly sure what kind of cough drops I got, but let's just say it definitely tasted a lot stronger than the usual ones I buy at home. Now, if only I could fix all of my illnesses with it, I'd be sorted here in France!

Anyway, after being cooped up in my apartment all weekend nursing my cold, I finally started feeling better this morning, enough to drag myself out of bed and get some good ol' comfort food to help cheer me up (well, at least my stomach!). While browsing the junk food aisle at the supermarché, I came across this insanely amazing bag of awesomeness... Lay's Cheeseburger-flavored chips

Amazing bag of awesomeness | Lay's Max Craquant Saveur Cheeseburger Chips

Yes, you read that right--CHEESEBURGER! Anyone who knows me well knows that I love, loveLOVE cheeseburgers!

Of course, I had to buy the chips the moment I saw it--though, mostly because I was skeptical as to whether Lay's could really make a chip that tastes like a real cheeseburger. Well, amazingly, the answer is YES!! When I first opened the bag, I was pleasantly surprised when I got a whiff of what really smelled like a proper cheeseburger. A bite later, I was shocked by how well Lay's had managed to emulate the burger taste--from the yumminess of a grilled meat patty down to the ketchup, mustard and hint of pickle! Thank goodness the bag was small, because I pretty much devoured it this evening... Luckily, realizing I was still a bit tired to run to the store to get another bag, I stop myself from finishing the whole thing in one sitting--saved a couple chips for tomorrow :-)

Though, as I sit here staring and drooling at the almost empty bag, I can't help wonder, "Why don't they sell these in the States?!?"