Posts filed under france

One Day + One Knight in Paris

This is a post about a trip to Paris... but don't be expecting a ton of tips and tricks. This one was quick and dirty with only time for the essentials- pastries, driving by the Eiffel Tower and going to a rock concert. But that's enough for now, just keep reading for all the random fun.


On Saturday, I woke up to the smell of hot croissants baking in the oven and the sound of Viola dragging her baby doll up the stairs to wake me up. The rain was totally dumping on the roof above our room and it felt so nice to have no huge rush to hop out of bed.

We got dressed and headed to a birthday party for one of our family's favourite little girls. To say it was gorgeous was an understatement. You've probably heard me say it before after my baby showers (first & second) she hosted or her wedding in Hawaii- but my friend, Amber, can host a party like nobody's business.

Every gorgeous detail was thought of, in true Amber style.

I guzzled down a huge mug of coffee, one of her homemade cinnamon rolls, a fruit kebab...ok, fine and part of a bagel, kissed my crew goodbye and headed to St Pancras for the Eurostar.

2.5 hours later, I rolled into Paris, slapped on my favourite red lipstick and headed straight for the Champs-Élysées. 

I, fortunately, was dropped off on the corner by Monoprix who was, fortunately, having a sale. I ran in, surveyed the scene and ran out with a few pieces that are going to get worn really hard this winter.

Then I ran across the street to Laduree where I met a group of my students who had arrived in Paris earlier that morning. We got a table and I ordered us a bunch of desserts and drinks. When a giant silver tray arrived with plates of miniature art pieces arrived, we all felt so excited.... We were in Paris! On the Champs-Élysées! Eating the prettiest food!

When we finished, we walked up to Salle Pleyel where the Panic at the Disco concert was opening its doors. One of my best childhood friends happens to be married to the band's guitarist, Kenny, and they graciously got my students great tickets to the show... AND sweet Kenny chatted with them, was hilarious with them and... even made an amazing boomerang with us. Ha!

With everyone happy and in their seats, I said goodbye and rushed to find a cab. I asked the driver to pass the Eiffel Tower on the way to the station. Well, it wasn't exactly on the way, but I was fine with that. And it was totally worth the detour.

Then, we stopped in front of Gare du Nord with enough time for me to run into McDonalds (no regrets), buy my obligatory box of Fauchon biscuits from duty free and get on the train back to London.

It's one of those days that seems a bit crazy and at the risk of falling apart when one thing goes awry.... but in those glorious moments when everything goes smooth, man.... you're so glad you did it.

Looking for more Paris posts? Find my Paris posts here, as well as my comprehensive guide to Paris here.


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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on November 14, 2016 and filed under france, paris, europe, day trips, friends.

Pack Your Bags: La Rotonde at Le Negresco, Nice

I wrote this post on May 6, but hadn't had the chance to edit the photos for it until this week. When the Bastille Day attack happend in Nice, I was sick to my stomach. The attacks were in front of the Negresco Hotel, and the rooms we were in and took hilarious pictures of Harrison were now triage areas for the wounded victims of this senseless event.

While I don't speak about these kind of events online, please don't mistake that for a lack of recognition of what is happening in the world around us. I endlessly read and observe what is taking place. When I wake up to these horrific headlines, I feel them deeply.

And while I do feel fearful at times and unsure of being in certain places, I realize that fear is a bigger enemy than any terrorist group. So I keep going. And I want to encourage you to keep going, too. Keep living lives that are full and joyful and rich. Keep exploring God's gorgeous world without the fear of "Yeah, but what if?" And, please, go to France. Enjoy la vie en rose at a cafe in Paris, the coastlines of Normandy and the light-heartedness of the Riviera. Don't let dark times snuff out the brightness of great cultures and places. And if and when you find yourself enjoying the sunshine of Nice, I hope you'll find joy in this place like we so recently did, too.


 

Our semester in France ended in Nice, on the dazzling coastline of the French Riviera. Nice definitely lives up to its name. From the sunny climate, the lush gardens and easy-going culture which feels, unsuprisingly due to its location on the border of Italy, somewhat of the love child of France + Italy- Nice lends itself to a rather pleasant place to find oneself.

After the last official day of the semester, we found ourselves with one last day in town. With nothing other than unwinding on the agenda, we decided it was time to treat our kids to something special. (After a few months of having them submit to our crazy schedule, it was the least we could do.)

If you followed our France time on Instagram, you'll probably have noticed my kids have a thing for carousels. Like a really big thing. At almost every town square of France, you'll find DNA from one or all of our family who have touched the carousel there.

 

So when we heard that the Negresco Hotel had a restaurant decorated as a carousel, "La Rotonde", and we also heard that they had a great lunch offer... and, thus, we deemed it serendipitous for how to spend our last day in Nice.

 

 

We went at the end of the lunch rush, which was good because it was nearly empty and our kids were a bit strung out. None the less, it was sooooooo lovely. (Does it make me sound less professional if I add endless "oooo"s to my adjectives? I'll deal with it. It fits the mood of this dreamy spot.)

 

 

The set menu was a great value- 2 courses for €25, but you are limited to only one option for your main course. The setting and food live up the famed Michelin star of the hotel chef, Jean-Denis Rieubland. Definitely a stop not to miss after a sunny day wandering along the Promenade or lounging at the beach.

 

 

Find more of my favorite places in Nice here, as well as in my France travel guide.

 

LA ROTONDE BRASSERIE, NEGRESCO HOTEL | 37 Promenade Des Anglais. Nice, France. 06000.  +33 4 93 16 64 00


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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on July 27, 2016 and filed under france, kids, eat.

Pack Your Bags: Domaine de Fontenille, Provence

Wow. It has been a while since my last post. Whenever I say that, I always feel like I have some pretty good reasons to back up my absence... you know, like traveling Southern France to wrap up our semester in France, packing up our place in Paris, moving into our new place in London, visiting friends in Germany on their way back from deployment in Afghanistan, grading endless stacks of papers and finals, living without wifi. You know how it goes. Life is busy!

But before the London summertime absorbs all my brain space, I wanted to share a few special places that we stumbled upon towards over the past few weeks. They're really too good not to share, and I hope that, someday, you can find yourself there, too!


When I was looking to book a spot for us to stay in Southern France, everyone seemed a bit overwhelmed at the idea of switching to a new hotel every night during our Provence trip. In search of a place that could be more central and a home base for our time there, I scoured Tablet Hotels. (One of my favorite places to find hotels!)

Domaine de Fontenille showed up in the search and the prices were really reasonable- €160 per room. Compared to staying in the city centers of the major Provençal towns, this seemed like an easy swap... and the upgrade on the quality of the hotel was a no-brainer.

Once we arrived, we all dropped bags (and jaws) and wandered around this gorgeous retreat tucked in the hills of Provence. I could go on and on, but I'll try to just hit you with the highlights and some photos to do it justice.

WHAT YOU'LL WANT TO KNOW:

-The hotel is situated in the countryside and will require renting a car. This will allow you to explore the surrounding towns easily and give you freedom to get out during the day, even if just into the tiny nearyby town of Lauris.

- The hotel has a Michelin-starred chef overseeing the food at the hotel and it is amazing.

- The hotel staff is very friendly and exceptionally accommodating. The hotel manager came and personally made the bed in the baby cot in our room.

- You can book a massage with the front desk, as well as request use of the hamman area for complimentary use of the sauna.

- Breakfast is worth waking up for, make sure you try the homemade croissants with a big smear of butter and the apricot & lavender jam. A bite of that lovely concoction may be my lasting memory of our stay there.

Also after breafkast morning, some photographers shot Viola playing out in the garden. I figured it was for the hotel website or a travel blogger at work. LIttle did I know when I asked if they could take some photos of her that it was for ELLE Magazine. Who knows if they will use the photos, but man- if they end up running the pictures of her, it will be a really neat keepsake!

We had such an amazing stay at Domaine de Fontenille, and I really do dream of getting back there sometime soon. I have no doubt that if you find yourself there, you'll not only find it to be a great hotel for exploring Provence, but feel that hits that tricky target being of approachable yet luxurious.

 

Find more of my travel favorites for France in my France Travel Guide.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kenendy

 

Posted on May 6, 2016 and filed under france, travel.

Pack Your Bags: The Perfect Normandy Itinerary

Over the weekend, we went with my students to Normandy. What started as a regular group trip evolved into an epic getaway when my friend, Stacy, hooked us up with a stay in the Chateau de Servigny. As you may have imagined, my students heads nearly fell off when we rolled up and they saw our accommodations for the weekend. 

Luckily, the fun didn't stop there. We had a day in Bayeaux- eating at our favorite spot and seeing the famous tapestry, touring the D-Day beaches, visiting Mont St. Michel in all of it's Easter Sunday madness, frolicking through the port side town of Honfleur and wandering through Monet's garden in Giverny.

Normandy isn't the easiest place to get to from Paris, but I'm going to make it a little easierby doing a suggested itinerary for a few days there. In exchange, you have to indulge me and see a slew of pictures from our weekend away. If it's any consolation, most were taken by Stacy (who just happens to be an amazing photographer) and they are really pretty.

 

THE PERFECT NORMANDY ITINERARY

 

DAY ONE | DEPART FOR NORMANDY

You have a few options to get to Normandy- either rent a car at Hertz in Gare du Nord or train from Paris to Caen. From there, rent a car and drive from there.

Head to Bayeux (approximately 20 minutes from Caen).

Lunch at La Moulin de Galette (get the Galette l'Aure - but sub out the chicken for ham. It's incredible.)

Spend the rest of the day enjoying the tiny town of Bayeux: visit the Bayeux Tapestry, explore the town, or wandering through the town's stunning cathedral.

Stay at the Hotel Churchill, Reine Mathilde or the pricier (but equally central), Villa Lara Hotel.

 

DAY TWO | D-DAY BEACHES

Wake up. Have breakfast in Bayeux.

Explore Utah Beach. 

Drive to St-Mere-Eglise. Explore the Paratroopers Museum there. See the "paratrooper" hanging in memory of the US soldier who survived German fire by playing dead as he hung, stuck on the village's church steeple, during the chaos of D-Day. Eat lunch. Visit the tasty bakery in town.

Drive to La Pointe du Hoc. Visit the stunning place dotted with craters from explosions and explore German armories. 

Visit Omaha Beach & The American Cemetery above the beach.

Return to Bayeux. Relax for the evening in town.

 

DAY THREE | MONT ST MICHEL & VILLEDIEU-LES-POÊLES

Breakfast in Bayeux- at the hotel or from one of the nearby local cafes.

Depart for Mont St. Michel. (If you're not up for driving. Hotel Churchill offers a daily shuttle from their hotel to Mont St. Michel at an affordable rate!) The drive is two hours from Bayeux, and you'll have to either take the shuttle bus from the parking lot or walk 30 minutes to the famous rocky village.

Explore Mont St. Michel. Eat in town, do some souvenir shopping, explore the Abbey on top of the town, and enjoy the views offered from the top. You'll want about 2.5 hours to explore the town after you reach the base of it.

Depart Mont St. Michel. If you leave early enough, you can stop for lunch in Villedieu Les Poeêles. This tiny town is not only really cute with lots of cafes, shops and bakeries, but it also is the home to Mauviel copper cookware- the fancy kind that you can buy for 3x the cost in Williams-Sonoma.

Drive on to Honfleur, spend the evening eating in one of the endless restaurants dotted around the tiny seaside town.

 

DAY FOUR | HONFLEUR, GIVERNY & RETURN TO PARIS

Wake up in Honfleur. Shop around the town. Eat lunch in a cafe around the main port in the sunshine. Wander through the little streets. Visit Saint Catherine's Cathedral to see the naval-esque architecture of the fishing town.

Depart Honfleur for Giverny. Wander through Monet's family home, manicured gardens and legendary water garden. 

Drive back to Paris in time for dinner and an evening settling back into the City of Lights.

 

 

So there you have it- your Normandy getaway all planned out. Check out more travel advice in my France Travel Guide or contact me for a personalized consult for your vacation.



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy by L'Amour de Paris

 

 

Posted on April 2, 2016 and filed under france, viola.

Paris | Week 1

Our first week in Paris is in the books. Our students are here, we are settled in our new/temporary apartment, and life is rolling on. In the midst of work and family life, we are dutifully shoveling brioche down our throats as much as possible. 

And Tyler and I have even been able to spend some nice time together in the midst of it all. Wandering along the Seine in the middle of day together, we'll find ourselves hugging the other and savoring the sweet moments alone in a city we love. What adventures the two of us have had!

Yesterday, we had a choux pastry cooking class at La Cuisine Paris. In the midst of an amazing time making eclairs, we looked out and sad the biggest, chunkiest snow falling out the window over the Seine and Ile St. Louis. Considering I nearly left the house in a JCrew t-shirt two hours before, I can only explain the change in weather as: "bizarre."


One of my former students that we love has come to stay with us this spring. She's helping with the kids during the day, and it's been so nice. Plus, it has been so fun to have another girl around the house to watch Fuller House with each night and laugh at hilarious SNL skits. (How had I never seen this Kristin Wig one? I live under a rock, I tell you.)

Plus, she lets me force her into taking pictures pretending to be a Joni Mitchell album cover. Complete with a napkin cigarette. I'm never letting her leave us. 

Last night after the kids went bed, Tyler & I snuck out for a little dinner out at our favorite place. Sadly, the place has become so... not charming. It was sad to come back to "our" place to see it was so full of tourists. The food was really blah and the service was terrible. All night, we sat there hoping to get a glimpse of the place we once loved with the arrival of a perfect dish to our table or a conversation with a charming waiter that would rekindle the flame... but it never happened. It was like waiting for an old friend to show up in a crowd, but you never recognize the familiar face you are hoping to see. We walked out of there and walked home a bit sad at the reality that our history of dates there was at an end... but with the determination to find a new place that would be our "new" spot. 

It reminded me how fast these cities can change... recommendations and advice for travel has such a short shelf life. With that in mind, I'm working hard to update and add some really good new places for the Paris travel guide, so that the places I recommend can lead you to places that will help you make great memories. Rather than just "meh" ones like we experienced last night.

So... we are officially back on the market. We are looking for our Parisian soulmate- in the form of a cozy restaurant- that we can have a serious fling with over the months come. Anyone want to play matchmaker for us? What's a great date spot we should try in Paris!




*images original to aspiring kennedy


Posted on March 3, 2016 and filed under paris, france.