A sunny Saturday in Paris!

 On Saturday, we met our college friend, Megan, and her family on Rue Cler after a lovely breakfast. Our walk across the Seine and past the Eiffel Tower was picture perfect.    The weather was sunny and the temperature was cool but the best for walking all over the city. Rue Clear was filled with flowers, fresh food, and so many sights!  Our first stop was the merry go round in the Champs de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.    Megan’s adorable little girl was enchanted and her joy was infectious!    We leisurely walked along the Seine to the Musee d’Orsay. Megan’s two girls fell asleep on the way there!   We loved the Musee d’Orsay and enjoyed this curation immensely, especially the Renoir and Degas.   The former train station turned Museum building was stunning and it was fun looking for the polar bear statue, Pompon.    Maeve was such a good sport and told us to leave her at the end. She wanted to stay there!  We also loved this book in the gift shop, which hides the polar bear statue in all the famous art throughout the Musee d’Orsay.  After an outdoor lunch in the jardin de Tuileries, we took the metro to Sacre Couer. Megan helped us with the tickets and directions since she’d been to Paris several times before, including in the last month.   The Sacre Couer was super crowded however, we appreciated the view from the hilltop overlooking Paris.   Mr F and I even walked by the Moulin Rouge on our walk to dinner!   For  dinner, we went to an oyster bar, a short walk from our hotel.   We had delicious escargot and French fries too. We were too intimidated by the French oysters because they were palm sized and we were used to the smaller Washington sized oysters! We were tired after walking 11 miles on Saturday so we were happy to go to bed by 10pm! I can’t wait to tell you about Sunday, my favorite day and experiences in Paris!

A Friday whirlwind in Paris

My conference ended at 2pm on Friday so we packed the afternoon with a walk to and through the Louvre and the Notre Dame before dinner. It was an 8 mile loop!   My favorite paintings were the Botticelli and the Mona Lisa!    Mr F liked the Egyptian art.  It was a lot to take in, but I’m glad we were able to go when the crowds weren’t too bad. We might have stayed a little longer but the weather was sunny and nicer than it had been all week!  Walking towards the Norte Dame, we saw a cute cat gallery!   We arrived at the Notre Dame in time for the 5:45pm Friday mass so we got to hear gorgeous organ music and the choir, as we walked around inside the chapel.  Sunset on the Seine was majestic.    We rested our feet for a few moments in the Palais Royal prior to our dinner reservation at Verjus. The daffodils are just opening in Paris! The restaurant was suggested by Eater and it was in a cute corner, perfect for people watching.  The prix fix menu was innovative and intriguing.   I really enjoyed the beet puff pastry with pork three ways. The sunchoke ice cream with stewed apples was fun and different too! Overall, we wanted more stereotypical French food, so we prioritized this for our weekend meals!

A Wednesday and Thursday in Paris

This week’s kaizen conference was filled with tons of information, dynamic discussion and great food. I love that kaizen is Japanese for change for the better. My Wednesday and Thursday work days were long but filled with amazing food at our five star hotel. The breakfast buffet is phenomenal. I love having crepes everyday.    Plus, the conference lunches were three course affairs with delicious desserts and amazing presentation! 

On Wednesday, Mr F made a fun dinner reservation in the Le Marais neighborhood, at Cafe Breizh. It was a 50 minute walk so we took a cab instead. We did not realize that 7pm was Paris rush hour but fortunately our reservation wasn’t given away, even though we arrived 30 minutes late!

This wonderful creperie was recommended by college friends. I really enjoyed the savory crepe with eggs, bacon and lovely gruyere cheese. Mr F got a sausage crepe (turns out it was tripe so it was super smokey tasting) with salad on top. We both loved the crepe Suzette and ginger sweet crepes.  Thurday’s meeting was again over 10 hours straight, so I was so happy that we were able to grab a cab and see another part of Paris for dinner. This time we went to Montparnasse for traditional French food, at Josephine, Cafe Dumont.  We had boeuf bourguignon and also pigeon! We really enjoyed the soufflé for dessert too!! It was one of our most favorite meals in Paris!

Our second and third day in Paris

We woke up leisurely to catch up on sleep and had a fabulous hotel breakfast on Monday. I only had one free hour before my conference started, so we went to the Arc du triomphe for more up close pictures and then my number one priority was to get macarons from the highly recommended Pierre Herme!

The conference was dynamic, small and fun. It was full of lively discussion. After 5:30, I met Mr F for a walk to the Eiffel Tower and we arrived in time to see the lights turn on! We then walked to meet my team at L’Atelier Renault. There were about 30 of us!

Tuesday was much more work oriented and jam packed with discussion and LEAN training. It was an intense day that started at 8am and went until 6pm! Fortunately, Mr F made reservations at a Michelin starred restaurant nearby based on a colleague’s suggestion and it was an amazing end to the day. We went to L’atelier de Joel Robuchon near on Champs-élysées which was a quick 15 minute walk. Mr F met me in lobby at 6:15 and we went straight to dinner. Since I was dragging due to jet lag, it was fantastic to walk outside and immediately eat dinner. We arrived before the typical Parisian dinner hour so we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. The amuse bouche before the 3 course prix fix menu was a foamy foie gras that was utterly delightful with fresh bread. We loved our appetizers of chicken tartine and sole carpaccio.  Our entrees were also fantastic of steak and grilled fish. The presentation was stunning and tasty!  Mr F and I both agreed to get the passion fruit soufflé  so we didn’t have to share and it was a stunning and lovely displayed dessert. The soufflé was light and fluffy and served with passion fruit sorbet! The best part was we were done eating by 8:30 and asleep by 10! It was so nice to go to bed to early after a long day. While I was in the conference, Mr F walked over 10 miles! We were exhausted!

My first day in Paris!

I arrived in Paris at 9:30am this Sunday morning. I tried sleeping the entire flight but didn’t get any deep sleep. Fortunately customs were a breeze and my conference had a driver waiting for me outside of baggage claim. It took me less than 20 minutes to get off the place and into the car!

My hotel was super busy when I arrived and of course, the room was not ready. Fortunately I heard Americans talking about site monitoring in the lobby and I knew I had found my people. I met several directors and we walked to the arc du triomphe near our hotel. It was windy and rainy today so we walked back to the hotel quickly to see if the rooms were ready. My room was still not at noon, so I walked to the Repetto shoe store while also in search of lunch.

The Repetto store was gorgeous with their shoe displays, tutus, stained glass and merchandise. I did not see any sale signs and their ballet flats were even more expensive than online, however I’m glad I went to their boutique. I walked by the Vendome column and Laduree, but I wasn’t hungry enough for 5-10 euro macarons yet. It started pouring as I walked towards Jardin des Tuileries plus I was starving so I got an Uber back to the hotel.

The room still wasn’t ready so I went to a nearby market and got muffins, cheese and pistachios. I guess most places are closed on Sunday and the Pariseans don’t wake up early. Fortunately, my room was finally ready at 3pm, so I took a nap before Mr. F flew in.

The concierge recommended a close by French bistro called Les Oreilles et la Queue. I’m so glad we asked for this recommendation. Dinner was très magnifique!  We loved the steak frites and the lemon tart dessert was even more phenomenal!  We walked down the Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt to get a better view of the Eiffel Tower lit up at night!  We’ll explore more tomorrow after a good night’s sleep before my conference starts at noon!

My Paris Prep and Packing List!

I’m so excited. My work is sending me to Paris for a week long conference, NEXT WEEK! I’ve never been to Paris, or France, and Mr. F gets to join me, thanks to all the frequent flyer miles I’ve accrued in the last few years!

We’re staying in a lovely Art Deco hotel within walking distance of the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe.   I’m also taking all restaurant and site-seeing suggestions, at this point! I’m really excited to check out all the restaurants that Eater suggestions too. (http://www.eater.com/2016/10/19/13311808/paris-eating-twenty-four-hours-septime-verjus)

This next week, I’m working on basic French phrases and my packing list. I’m hoping to learn phrases that help me order and get around easily. I generally travel pretty minimalist but I’m also going to pack a few more stylish things than normal.

So far I have the following things in mind,

*3 pairs of shoes, flipflops for the hotel, comfortable walking shoes,  or  and black ballet flats

*3-4 work dresses, like this one 

*1-2 dress for nights out

*dress pants

*2 work shirts/tunics

*black leggings

*swimsuit

*undergarments

*7 pairs of socks

I’m hoping during the evenings and the weekend after the conference that Mr. F and I can check out the Louvre (especially if it’s raining), Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the catacombs, and generally enjoy walking around town eating croissants and drinking cappuccinos.

Any other suggestions? Along with the photos on this post, I’m gathering ideas on my Pinterest Board, Paris Prep!

Two weeks ago, we left Lucca, Tuscany!

We got back from Italy two weeks ago and it’s hard to believe it! Our favorite meals and part of our trip was in Lucca.

On our last day of vacation, we explored more of Lucca. We had a wonderful breakfast buffet in our bed and breakfast, La Romea14463168_805680962212_8088265215643267060_n made by the host’s mother. Our host suggested another great restaurant for lunch too.

First, we went up the nearby Torre Guinigi (a tower with trees on top) to see Lucca from up above before 14479632_805681860412_1504338499767170563_n  touring the Cathedral of San Martino and walking the walls around the town.  14440935_805684574972_8415438116148072558_n Inside San Martino, there’s the “Sleeping Beauty” tomb that is so beautiful, there’s an urban legend that single ladies rub the nose for good luck, and in hopes of meeting their future husbands. 14462890_805684684752_7313612262319336910_n I liked the painted ceilings, especially over the altar. 14370101_805684704712_8797992724567790587_n 14390710_805684859402_3542697954917504580_n

For lunch, we had an amazing Tuscan feast at Trattoria da Ubaldo. In this goth, rock and roll styled restaurant, 14469682_805685792532_1404321614716240668_n we had delectable chick peas 14457289_805685897322_559927644705074898_n and peppers, as well as the traditional Lucchesi dish, tordelli, 14470436_805685852412_7526009934855775682_n which is similar to ravioli. The owner looked exactly as he does on the menu and 14484656_805685847422_6275614827224872831_n the wine bottle label! He totally looked like a gothic biker, pirate!

14469472_805837857792_6017284883593105659_n On our circuit around the town, we saw a beautiful botanical garden 14448882_805837897712_3162007815470796516_n and decided to walk in.  14462967_805838207092_4551838483463686280_n Inside, there were many local plants, greenhouses with succulents, and ponds with lily pads. 14440614_805685567982_4622342709753261333_n

In the late afternoon, we left Lucca, by bus back to Pisa, to fly home. It was a great way to see more of the countryside! 14470548_805838935632_2705827509478271328_n We arrived in London after 9pm so we decided to get a good night’s rest instead of going into the city, since we had been on our feet all day around Lucca.

14492353_805839150202_7879508549621896522_n Our flight from London to Seattle went smoothly, including having global entry and making customs a breeze. We bypassed nearly a thousand people in line, with our global entry pass and got in a super short three person line. The whole process from getting off the plane to getting my parent’s car, took only 10 minutes. Global entry was the best purchase we made on our vacation. I highly recommend it to everyone and it also includes TSA pre-check!

The most comical part on our return, is that we had to hike into our neighborhood, when my parents dropped us off! The city was resurfacing our street, so my parents had to drop us off two blocks from our house. It was a rather fun and ironic way to end our vacation!