Posts filed under paris

My Paris | A Private Tour of Versailles

 

You know that feeling you have when you're traveling and you stumble across some place new... there's a sense of excitement that pulses through you and, if you're like me, you feel like you need to start running, or finding the best restaurant or peeking into real estate offices to begin your new life here.

I love that feeling, and it wasn't until I found myself wandering through the city of Versailles last week that I felt it again for the first time in a long time. To my surprise, the feeling came back and I realised how long it had been since I felt this incredible feeling of the unknown. Most of the places we go to are familiar... like the feeling of seeing an old friend. It's a happy feeling, but a very comfortable feeling.

Anyway, I was in Versailles and we ended up walking 10 minutes past the Chateau and into the heart of town. There was a huge daily market and gorgeous cafes and streets. I couldn't believe I had been to this town so many times and, yet, actually had never seen the cute town here.

But I didn't realise the new view of Versailles had only just begun...

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VISITE PRESTIGE | VERSAILLE'S PRIVATE TOUR OF THE KING & QUEENS APARTMENTS

Okay, so there's a visit to Versailles and then there is THIS VISIT. I was traveling with a private group of clients and they jumped at the opportunity to splurge when I suggested this private tour of the king and queen's private apartments inside Versailles. I had never been on it before, but knew that a guided tour was a must- as the standard lines are just horrific; however, I had my socks officially knocked off by this incredible experience.

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The tour consisted of a private tour through the closed doors of Versailles. We had a docent walk through with us and a second person who carried the ancient keys to unlock the doors and open the shutters inside these dark, closed-off rooms.

You're walked into Marie Antoinette's bedroom where she would hang out with her friends during the day getting dressed and relaxing in between court appearances, you see the bathroom of Louis XIV and the spot where he took his baths and had his face shaved every morning. You see the fluffy bed inside Madame du Barry's apartments... whee the king would come down to visit his beloved mistress. 

You sit in the private opera house to discuss details with the guide, you wander around hidden stair cases and dawdle through empty corridors. 

You are lead and given access to places that you can only imagine. Away from the hustle and formality of the state rooms where events were held, you get to wander through the quiet spaces where they actually lived the meaningful moments of their lives.

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Meanwhile, we never saw another human during the entire two hour tour. We almost began to see the palace as our own... until it ended and found ourselves in the middle of the hoards of tourists. We quickly felt ruined by our incredibly posh beginning so rushed through to the gardens.

Oh man, what an experience. Definitely not the cheapest way to visit Versailles (the tour is €1000 and can include up to 20 guests); however, for a special occasion or a larger group it is an incredible opportunity to see Versailles in such a special way.

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And if you don't get that butterfly-travel-excitment from this day out in Versailles, well, I don't know what to tell you. 

 


Looking for help on a day-trip to Versailles from Paris? I've made it easy in my Daytrip to Versailles post here. Find more of my Paris favourites in my travel guide to Paris.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on August 1, 2018 and filed under day trips, france, my paris, paris, travel, work life, work.

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.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on November 14, 2016 and filed under france, paris, friends, get out of town.

Planes, Trains or Automobiles | Traveling Between Paris & London.

The need to travel to/from Paris from London has been brought up a slew of times over the past few weeks. I thought it might be easiest for everyone planning a trip if I did a quick post on what I think is the best way to get from London to Paris.... and back.

 

There are so many options to choose from. Before the tunnel was built, my family took a hovercraft across the channel in 1994 to get us to Paris. After that, I've mainly traveled by the Eurostar on the "chunnel." However, there are endless flights between the two cities operated each day and I have many friends with cars who will drive and take the tunnel over, too.

So which is best? Well, my opinion is definitely to take the Eurostar! This isn't sponsored or endorsed in any way, but just a dedicated post to saving you a lot of time and hassle. Here are some of the reasons why I think the Eurostar is the best option to get you between London & Paris:

1. It's really cheap if you book in advance. Prices start at £29.00 per person, each way. Plus, since you won't need to trek to airports- you can save the money on ubers or the airport trains. Also, no tickets needed for children under 4, which can save you some cash if you're fine with sharing a seat. (Eurostar actually made a cost comparison between flying/train here.)

2. It's really fast. You leave from Central London and arrive in Central Paris. While you need to be there 45 minutes early, the wait time also allows for getting customs done before you ever depart. So once you're train arrives after the 02:44h journey time, you're there!

3. It's really nice. The trains are all being upgraded and the new trains are really slick. We upgrade to standard premier for the same price of

4. It's easy to pack for since they don't fuss with the same airline packing standards. There are some official packing guidelines, but they aren't checking for weight or size. Bring three bags and they won't blink. Oh, and you don't have to take out your liquids. Hoorah!

5. It saves you so much time. While the journey time is a bit longer than a flight, you save so much time getting to and from airports, going through security, waiting on a gate and then going through customs upon arrival. When your train pulls into Gare du Nord, you can hop in a taxi and be to your hotel in 10 minutes. 


A FEW OTHER THOUGHTS.

1. If you're traveling with small kids, upgrade to Standard Premier (not first, but the class in between). Rather than buying three tickets (2 adults, 1 small child)- buy two in the class above for a bit more. There have always been empty seats and, on the day, the agents are happy to swap your tickets to a table to get everyone together with some extra room. And they feed you meals. So... bigger chairs, same price, meals and less people around to watch you juggle children. It's been a game changer for our Eurostar adventures.

2. Book a car for pickup upon arrival to Paris. The taxi queue at Gare du Nord can be horrendous and it can be complicated to liase with where to meet an uber driver around the station if you're not fluent in French. Standing in the taxi rank for an hour in cold weather or late at night could be considered a mild form of torture.

I have a great guy that I highly recommend that will meet you at the end of the platform and take you, if you email me. lauren@aspiringkennedy.com). You can take a standard cab/uber on other legs of the Eurostar journey- but arrival to Paris is the one I would recommend pre-booking. Just make sure you have got Euro from the ATM at the station to pay him before you leave!

3. Book early! The tickets are inventoried by the cheapest to the most expensive. When one ticket price sells out, it bumps to the next one up. There isn't a best time to buy and PLEASE DONT WAIT to buy them until you get here. It's a common mistake that really gets expensive. You'll save loads if you book in advance on the Eurostar website. (Think of them as airline tickets and not regional train tickets.)

Hopefully that helps you in your planning. Please drop in any memories or advice you have on the topic. This is a subject that I feel weirdly nostalgic about.

Find more of my travel advice here: 6 Easy Tips for Traveling Europe with Children or Heathrow Transport Options

Need a bit more help for your trip? Maybe a travel consult is right for you!

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on May 27, 2016 and filed under travel, paris, london, traveling with kids.

Allons-y | The Paris Commute

The past few weeks in Paris have been so busy, but so nice. I haven't been blogging a ton because I have lessons to plan, babies to love on and places to go. We've had some visitors, a trip to Normandy and so much fun in between.

Our family is thriving right now. One of the main reasons is our amazing au pair, Kristi. She's my former student and having her with us has been a total game changer. She's wonderful and we are going to miss her so much! Knowing that the kids are going to be having fun with her while we are teaching or taking the students out makes the day really enjoyable for us. 

Each morning, we head out and walk to teach together. (Tyler is a regular adjunct professor for our program, so he gets to go to classes with me each day.) Our walks each morning have been one of the things that we love the most about this semester. It feels like a little date... and while it may just be a 30 minute walk, it is some of the best quality time we've consistently had in a long time. 

And so, of course, I filmed it one day for posterity sake. So that, maybe somewhere down the line when the days are a bit more chaotic and the setting a bit less glorious, I'll be able to look at this and enjoy the memory.



 

*video original to Aspiring Kennedy, edited by K.Keese

 

Posted on April 4, 2016 and filed under paris, family, marriage, travel.

Paris | Week 2

Catching up a bit late here, but our second week in Paris included a lot of teaching, a lot of logistics fixing wifi, a lot of walking around trying to connect the dots on where we lived, and a lot of grocery shopping cooking trying to freshen up our standard dinner game. There's nothing like a foreign grocery store full of random meat cuts and void of all your comfort ingredients to push you to try new things. (I'm happy to report- no disasters yet!)

We went to the Loire Valley and got to visit the three most famous chateaux with my students last week- Chambord, Chenonceau and Amboise. (Find my favorites for the Loire here, if you're looking for any advice.) Our fingers were so cold they were near chipping off by the end of our day out, but spirits were high and the skies were clear.

The weather here is conflicted- it's hoping to be better than it is, but almost as if constant sunshine is too much to constantly sustain, the sky will randomly break with hail and rain. Soon after, we get sunshine again- but it has me hoping for those warm, sunny spring days to stay for good.

And beyond cooking, work and weather... well, life is good. My students are happy, my kids are doing great (despite finding that Harrison is getting 6 teeth at the same time yesterday) and Tyler and I have even had some time to get back in sync after a crazy few months.

Each day, we have a thirty minute walk to work together that gives us a chance to get coffee, talk and enjoy being alone for a bit. I think it feels like a romantic getaway for both us... though I always have to stop in the nearby boulangerie and, I have my suspicious that the site of me with croissant flakes all in my scarf and hair probably kills the mood. He never lets on, but one can only assume. 

La vie est belle here in Paris. Looking forward for the weeks to follow, too, as we will get to see some faces we love arrive to Paris in the weeks ahead.

A few great places that I'll be adding to my Paris travel guide from the week are...

AUX MERVEILLEUX DE FRED | While walking home one evening, I saw people flooding into a bakery. Now, I know a few things in life- and one of them is to get in line immediately in such a situation. This bakery- which has several locations around the city- makes perfect meringue creations filled with cream and coated with chocolate and nuts. I know it sounds underwhelming, but everyone that tried one looked around in amazement. Plus, they are one of the cheaper treats you can find in Paris. Also, their freshly baked brioche is SO good. We bring home two loaves several days a week: one to eat while it's still warm, and the second to keep for breakfast. I've told all my friends here about it and they all just nod in agreement that this place is "incroyable!"

 

CAFÉ LOUSTIC | This place is close enough to our apartment to create a really bad habit. Luckily, we already had the bad coffee habit (as anyone who knows me at all will agree), so the proximity is just a bonus. The tiny space is a quiet space to sit around for a day, and the owner, Channa, honestly makes the best café crème in Paris. Luckily, he moved from Britain 13 years ago- so even the least French speaking American/British tourist can feel at ease. They also have killer donuts brought in from a local baker that are amazing. Today, Tyler had the old-fashioned and I had the strawberry with black pepper (which was surprisingly addicting).

 

LA MAISON PLISSON | I stumbled upon the sleek exterior of Maison Plisson while walking home the other week from work. It looks very... Gwyneth, which I know is a ridiculous adjective, but I dare say that most females 18-45 years old will know what I mean with that adjective. With half of the premise as a gorgeous grocer and the other half a restaurant/cafe- there really is something for any mood you may be in. When I was, the mood was for coffee and lemon cake. 

 

BUBBLE TEA CUP | I first tried bubble tea 5 year ago, and was traumatized by the experience that I had written it off entirely. However, my students gave me the push to try it again and coached me through the ordering experience. One assam-tea-with-coconut-milk-and-passion-fruit-bursting-bubbles later, I'm a convert. In fact, they're so delicious, I'm going to have to get one immediately after writing this. 

 



*images original to aspiring kennedy

 

 

Posted on March 17, 2016 and filed under paris, travel.

Pack Your Bags | Popelini, Paris

 

Before we got to Paris, my friend Stacy & I made a standing date for Friday afternoons. Our goal: was to spend a couple hours at the end of every work week exploring some of the sweetest places Paris has to offer. There's only so much time I have here- I want to max out my time!

Our first week here, we checked out Popelini- a cute Parisian bakery that specializes in gorgeous choux pastry filled with a variety of amazing cream flavours. The tiny shop isn't a place you'll be able to sit and stay, as there are no seats- so we got our boxes, arranged like a brightly colored jewelry box, and headed to my place.

After dinner, we pulled out our lovely boxes for dessert and all enjoyed a tasting of their amazing assortment.

My favorite was definitely (and surprisingly to me) the passion fruit. Other crowd favorites were the banoffee, salted caramel, citron, dark chocolate and coffee. Basically, the odds are in your favor that you'll order one that you love.

I'd recommend a box of these for a pretty afternoon in with friends or sitting along the Seine for a picnic with a crowd. They're not too small... but not too big where you need to make a big production of serving them. Eat them off a plate or out of your hand!

Popelini has two locations and (I learned the hard way on my way home from work today) are closed on Mondays: 

29 rue Debelleyne, 75003

44 rue des Martyrs, 75009

 




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


Posted on March 14, 2016 and filed under eat, paris, pack your bags.

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, travel, work life.

Out and About (to Leave).

See those faces? Those are the faces of four people who have just handed in their keys and are no longer residents of Notting Hill. (Well, three people, I suppose. Harrison didn't get the family-selfie announcement.) So long, Carlyle Mansions. You brought us so many great memories, a new baby and a ton of crazy afternoons and sweet moments, but our days there are no more!

This week, we packed up our stuff, put everything in storage and moved out of our flat. The packing was more brutal than we thought- who knew so much stuff was possible in a house that small? Apparently, we are the world's biggest hoarders because we were up 5:00am packing on Thursday night (or should I say Friday morning?). 

Our victory shot, taken at 04:52am.

But by 9am Friday morning, the movers were there and it was all loaded up fairly quickly and taken away to a storage unit. (Okay, fine, two storage units. We had to get a second one after it was all said and done.) The flat was then empty and we headed to our favorite neighborhood pub, Windsor Castle, for lunch.

Now we're in a hotel overlooking St. Pancras (Pullman Hotel- highly recommend!). We're enjoying early bedtimes, late breakfasts at the Granger & Co. by Kings Cross and meeting up with friends before we hit the road. 

I even put on makeup today, too!

Tomorrow, we head out on another Paris adventure. A great escape from the regular routine of life- one that feels really familiar, but still gives me butterflies when I think about it. 

So here we go. Paris again. This time, we'll have another kid in the mix. I'm not sure we'll be able to make it look as effortless as we did last time... but hey, I promise we'll still have a ton of fun, eat really well and make some great memories. 

Join on the adventure on Instagram and Snapchat (It really is so fun, guys! Try it!). I'll be sharing frequent glimpses of our life in Paris, so check in there for more of the casual moments.

Find our previous springtimes in Paris here. Find my Paris Travel Guide here.

 




*images original to aspiring kennedy




Posted on February 21, 2016 and filed under london, paris, family, everyday living.

The Perfect Parisian Lunch | Cafe De La Paix

When Amber & I booked tickets for a day-trip to Paris, we knew that the day would be (or could be potentially) rushed. With a city as gorgeous and jam-packed with great sites, stores and neighborhoods- it was easy to try and cram the day full with amazing stops like Galleries Lafayette, brunch with local friends or stopping in a few museums.

But the good thing about traveling with someone you really like and know is that you can be honest with each other about how you want to spend your time. Luckily, we both had the same goals in mind: eat amazing food, take as long as we want since we wouldn't have babies with us and keep it simple.

So basically, eat great food and let the rest of the day fall as it would around that. We kept breakfast simple (yet amazing) with a stop at, in my opinion, Paris' best boulangerie (Du Pain et Des Idées) and a casual picnic from the market along the Seine for dinner... but lunch? Well, that we did in style.

For a long time, I've seen Cafe De La Paix sitting smugly next to the Palais Garnier, as part of the luxe Intercontinental Paris Le Grand HotelWith it's iconic green awnings, distinctive signs and posh clientele dotting the terrace- it's been on my "If I'm ever cool enough, I'll go there" list. Well, without a baby... we were both feeling cool enough. 

It would be fair to say that lunch here was the crown jewel in our girls' day to Paris. I wanted to give a full review of it, so that when you plan your next trip to Paris- you'll have all the details needed to decide if an afternoon here is how you, too, should spend your time. Pull up a chair and join us for our ladies lunch in Paris. 


FIRST IMPRESSIONS 

The prominent position just out of the Opera Metro station beside the Palais Garnier is a, undoubtedly, striking. The sunny terrace with posh waiters running around makes the scene even more... Parisian. You can eat on the Terrace for a bit more relaxed menu and service (though, it will be one of the fancier sidewalk cafes you can find in the city!), but we had reservations inside the main dining room.

The main dining room? Amazing. With painted ceilings, plush red velvet banquettes and fine china dressed on the table- it is a "pinch me" kind of place.

 

OKAy, IT SOUNDS PRETTY... BUT HOWS THE FOOD?

The food is amazing. Honestly, it ticks that "Fine French Cuisine" box in every perfect way. I'll give you a visual walk-through to prove it.

There is a seasonal set menu from the market that is available at lunch and pre-theatre which offers three courses for €53. While the regular menu was dotted with glorious options like oysters and grilled meats, I felt compelled to do some "travel research" and opt for the menu so that I could pass along the information to you here. We told our waiter that we wanted to try the menu, if there was anything we didn't particularly like and he said he would take care of us.*

(*I've never handed over my dining before- as I'm typically a bit of a control freak over my food. Think Sally in the diner from When Harry Met Sally. But hey, I was baby-free in Paris with my friend at a gorgeous restaurant. If there was ever a time to go with the moment, it was then.)

While we waited for our first course, a little amuse bouche arrived at our table. Gorgeous. Perfect. 

From there, the first course arrived: "le jardin du printemps"... which, naturally, means "Spring Garden." Now I've never eaten a spring garden before- but this gorgeous bowl of color seems to do a pretty amazing job of living up to the title. A light puree of greens crowned with bright vegetables and flowers that was so light and fresh.


Next came the main: turbot- because nothing says "ladies lunch" like simple white fish and beautiful veggies. Cooked simply in butter, the fish was perfectly cooked and the right choice for the meal.

And of course, after that dessert descended on our table like an angel from heaven. It was a creation that only the French can create that somehow combines art and flavor. Wild strawberries, cream, homemade salted shortbread... We were in pain trying to finish it after being so stuffed, but you'll be glad to know that we persevered and ate every bite. 

 

While we were moaning over how full we were, coffee arrived... alongside a plank of about a dozen gorgeous handmade sweets like macarons and tarts. Obviously, it was hard work to pay them all the respect they deserved and eating them all. But we aren't quitters, so we rallied. 

And it would be a pity to talk all about such beautiful food and fail to mention the exceptional service. It's not everyday that the chef comes out to personally say hello! The entire staff was so kind and helpful- it made the experience all the sweeter! (They didn't even seem to mind that we were the last people to leave the dining room after rest of the bustling lunch crowd had long left.)

 

WOULD YOU GO BACK? 

Yes. Definitely. It's a great spot to spend with someone that you'd love to enjoy a long meal with. It's not to be rushed, but if you're with someone that you want to spend some good time with in a perfect place, Cafe de la Paix is pretty hard to beat. I'd love to take Tyler back there for a romantic dinner out in Paris or waste the afternoon away with a girlfriend there again. 

Or, in a dream scenario, stay above at the Intercontinental's hotel in one of their balcony suites and meander downstairs to the Cafe de la Paix for brunch after a lazy morning in bed. (A girl can dream, right?)

 


 

Thank you, Cafe de la Paix for treating us to the *perfect* lunch for our trip. We left feeling significantly chubbier and blissfully spoiled.

 

Find more of my favorite places to eat here in my PARIS TRAVEL GUIDE.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

Posted on April 30, 2015 and filed under eat, paris, travel, france.

I'm Probably in Paris.

Here's something you may not have expected to see when you clicked through to read today: I'm in Paris! (Or maybe you did if you've been reading for a while and realize that random trips are right up my alley.)

In a move that I can only describe as "impulsive," "amazing," and/or "legendary," I bought tickets for a day trip to Paris with my friend, Amber. Eurostar was having a sale and we jumped at the chance to spend a day (kid-free!) in Paris for €70 round-trip tickets.  It's a little last hoorah before the baby arrives, and I can't wait to waddle all around the city with one of my favorite people!

 

 

Our main goal for the day? EAT. We are going to hit up as many eateries as we can. Why? Well, for starters- why not? What else does a pregnant woman want to do in Paris? But also, because we are both wanting to check out some places that we have heard are great... and if we love them, they'll make the cut for the PARIS TRAVEL GUIDE. So wish us luck that we find some great new spots... because it could be to your benefit!

We'll be back in time for bed, but in the meantime... follow along on our fun girls day on Instagram!


And speaking of French loveliness, the sweet Paris-based company, Émoi Émoi did an interview with me that just went live this week. I actually really liked what they asked me and I like how it summarized how I feel about being a mom. Read the interview here

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on April 22, 2015 and filed under paris, travel, france.

Souvenirs De France

When I'm with guests traveling from the US, a big question that I get asked is: "What are the best souvenirs to buy when you're here?" So I figured it would be fun to share a few of my favorite things to bring back with me when I travel from various places.

To be honest, some of these are obvious while others are hidden gems. And then the rest? Well, they're everyday items that we've somehow got hooked on when traveling that we love to enjoy in our everyday back home when we're lucky enough to have them.

First up... Souvenirs de France, complete with a pretty visual and a reason why each makes it to my suitcase, when possible.

 

1. MONOPRIX BABY CLOTHES | While it may be on par with Marks & Spencers or Target, Monoprix is probably my favorite stop in France. Their baby clothes are gorgeous, and if you're lucky enough to travel during the sale time? Jackpot. My French friend told me that a director from Bonpoint had taken over their children's line and that is why it is so gorgeous. Fact? Fiction? Either way, most of my favorite pieces in Viola's wardrobe are from their end of season sales.

2.  MACARONS | As cliche as it may be to put this on your list, we all know they're going to be purchased and brought back from someone. The two heavy hitters are Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Either way, you're in good hands.

3. GROCERIES | As silly as it may sound, we have a few items that we love to get in Paris- especially at Monoprix. Green curry paste, granola with dark chocolate, sirop de fraise to make sparkling water feel very fancy,  and of course chocolate-covered waffles.

4. FRAGONARD | This French perfumer has it's main studio in a charming hillside town of Eze in Provence. Luckily, you don't have to go to Southern France to get access to their goodies. (Just you know... across the ocean to various other parts of France.) I can never resist getting a souvenir from here- especially the candles. They have a Brioche candle that burns in our kitchen. It is one of my favorite gifts to give friends. They also have adorable items for sale like hand-embroidered pillows and shirts. 

5. TABLE LINENS | Is this one kind of random? Maybe, but whenever we are at a market, I find myself drawn to thumbing through the stacks of table clothes for sale. Maybe it's because they are classic and simple... maybe its because they are so cheap (typically around €7-10).... Either way, these are another great gift to bring back for yourself or someone else.

6. TEA | Tea? The girl from England is recommending you buy tea in France? Yes, but let me explain. France has great teas. I love Ladurée's almond tea, and pretty much any Kusmi Tea. (I like the Anastasia blend.) They're quite a bit more than you would pay in England, but they are crazy blends and a bit more of a specialty item.

7. BIODERMA | I use this everyday. It feels like water and it removes makeup like none other. Every French woman I know loves and uses it. Luckily, Amazon now makes it accessible to the US & UK... but you can get it for about half the price in a French pharmacy. Stock up... and send me some!

8. ANTIQUE BOOKS | The book stalls along the Seine have some of the prettiest treasures in them. They pack great, they are cheap (if you shop around) and, I think, they make for sweet gifts for friends.

9. MONOPRIX CLOTHES | Okay, okay... one more thing from Monoprix: clothes for us! I can't say that 100% of their store is a hit, but they do some great classic pieces at great prices. Anything chambray that I have is from here, as well as some of my favorite coats and skirts. The guys line is significantly smaller than the women's line, but Tyler has a few favorites from there, too.

10. APILCO | I registered for Apilco dishes from Williams-Sonoma when I was getting married. Thank goodness people gifted them to us, because there is NO WAY I would ever shell out the dough for them on my own. (So expensive!) I found a store in Paris though, La Vaissellerie- just off St. Paul metro in the Marais- that sells the entire line for a fraction of the price. We bought bowls and plates for €3-4 each. They have multiple locations around Paris.

11. MAILLE MUSTARD | Everything is better with this on it. I have a hard time thinking of a meal in France that I don't put this on. (Okay, fine, breakfast... but otherwise, it has to be on the table.) I can get it here, but not as cheap as there. You can get a huge jar of this heavenly concoction that makes your nose run in just the way for only €2.50. Yum.

 

 


 

What would you fill up your suitcase with? Anything I'm missing that I need to know about? Educate us!

 

*image original Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

Our Weekend in Paris | Top 8 Moments in Pictures.

 

Because a picture can say 1000 words...and because black & white pictures say it even better, here are the top eight moments from our weekend in Paris.

 

1. MINNIE MOUSE | Viola shocked us all when she stripped out of her normal shy exterior and bolted to Minnie. She hugged her, kissed her, and told her she was "TWO." I don't think Tyler & I have enjoyed watching anything more than that moment in a long time. It was so cute.



2. OUR FIRST DAY | We woke up at 4, took the train to Paris, dropped our bags at the flat... and went out to explore. We should have been exhausted and ruined from the drizzle, but we were too excited to care.

 


3. FAMILY PICTURES | To be honest, this wasn't actually that fun or easy. It was raining buckets all day, we had our big stroller to deal with and there were tourists everywhere. But we did get to hang out in Le Palais Garnier with Stacy Reeves (photographer extraordinaire and our good friend) and have lunch together afterwards. (This photo was taken by her. More to come!)

 


4. PARENTS DAY OUT | After brunch, we hit the park. The kids play together. The parents chat on the benches. Win-Win.

 


5.. HANGING OUT WITH TYLER | Fine, this isn't a particular moment, but getting to be less distracted by life for a few days and just hang out with him was nice. I really do like living life with him.

 


6. LE CAFE | We spent a lot of hours in cafes: sipping espresso and laughing hysterically when Viola would tell the waiters "Mershy."



7. THE MORNINGS | Because it is hard to beat pastries, La Fermiere Yogurt and fresh coffee with a view out your window of the Paris streets.... all topped with the absence of an alarm clock. 

 


8. FAIRE LE BRUNCH | Sunday morning, we had brunch at one of our favorite places, Cafe St. Regis. The casually cool atmosphere, custard-drenched french toast (le pain perdu) and view of Notre Dame make this place a "must" for us. Note: brunch is only on Sundays, after 10am.

 


 

I'd say I was missing Paris, but this gorgeous spring weather in London is suiting me just fine. I'm happy to stay here and enjoy the sweet memories we made.

 

FOLLOW ASPIRING KENNEDY ON BLOGLOVIN

 

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on March 9, 2015 and filed under france, travel, family, paris.

Parisian Mini-Break

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This weekend my students have a long weekend to travel. When we first started this study abroad gig, we always would travel when they did. The first year, we booked the cheapest flights we could find on RyanAir the night before and ended up in the Canary Islands. The next year, Tyler & I each planned surprise trips for each other (his surprise was a Bavarian trip through the Romantic Road and mine was a relaxing getaway to the Italian Lakes). 

And since then... we have used the time off during the semester to relax. 

But this year, I need to get to Paris to sort out housing for our spring semester there so I'm dragging them there with me for a couple of nights. 

Can you believe it, but I used to say I was "over Paris." When everyone else seemed to be obsessed with it, I scoffed and said it wasn't really for me. But with working there over the past few years, I've not only come to appreciate it... but I love it. 

Perhaps its not the most original things to say you love Paris- but I love it in the way that you do that girl you went to college with that you hated your freshman year. Everyone else raved about her and how great she was... but you couldn't see it. Then you get forced to work with her on project, and by the time its over- you've got a new best friend.

So that's me and Paris. We knew each other, but we weren't friends. Now days- we're in it for the long haul.

Also, while I'm thinking about it... I've been scouring AirBnB for apartments this week. There are so many good ones out there are great prices. Here are a few gorgeous ones that I'd recommend as great spots to stay in the City of Lights.

 


FOLLOW ASPIRING KENNEDY ON BLOGLOVIN


 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on January 20, 2015 and filed under paris, work life.

EURODISNEY | Worth the Trip?

 

When we were in Paris this spring, my sister & her husband came to visit. As it wasn't their first time to Paris, they were a bit more relaxed in what they wanted to see. In fact, the only place they really cared about getting to during their week in France was Disneyland Paris- or "Eurodisney" as it was once known.

I had been 10 years before while backpacking through Europe, and the golden memory I have of my unbathed nineteen year-old self stumbling into that slice of Americanized heaven was enough to charm me into the idea of going back. We used the excuse of going for the sake of our kid, and headed out to make the trek to Disneyland. And of course, once we got there we reused that same excuse when making the leap into season passes.

We went out to Disney three more times during our time there, which more than paid for our season passes. We tried the park out on a number of different days: midweek, rainy, sunny and on in the early days of peak season. As you can imagine, the lines are better earlier in the year and on the weekdays. However, you'll also miss out on many of the rides and restaurants being closed as the park operates on a slimmer staff. For us, that was a small price to pay as we were stroller-laden and visiting with a baby. We, literally, could stay on It's a Small World and loop it as much as we liked. 

Even though the park is smaller, it has many of the Disney essentials you'll hope to experience (Madhatter's Tea Cups, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pinocchio, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, Main Street, It's a Small World, Space Mountain, etc). You'll see all the characters and there are daily parades. 

Also, sitting next door to the Disneyland Paris is the Walt Disney Studios Park. You'll need a ticket that allows for both parks. These are about €10 more per day, but you can access a slew of more rides and attractions like The Tower of Terror and the newly opened Ratatouille ride.

 



Here are few tips & thoughts that can help your visiting Disneyland Paris be a bit easier:

GETTING THERE: Eurodisney is easily reached by the RER. Literally, you're dumped out by the gates of the park at the Marne-la-Vallee stop. Just take the RER Line A from Central Paris all the way there. It'll take you about 45 minutes. Read more on how to access the park here on the Disneyland Paris website. The round-trip RER ticket price to the park is roughly €15 per person. These are available for purchase at any metro or RER station.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST: The standard day passes can give you a bit of the sticker shock that you might expect. However, there are few ways to work around the normal pricing. First, check the offers page on the site. They are typically family passes or other seasonal promotions. With a valid student ID, you can get a daily ticket for €41 for both parks. Most of the must be purchased in advance, so do this before arriving at the park. The basic ticket for one park is around €79 per day.

The season pass start at around €120, but you can't use it for a second day until 5 days have passed from having your card issued. (It's a tricky system that makes it really hard to use unless you're living locally or in Paris for an extended time.) The general pricing page can be found here.

EATING AT THE PARK: The park has various restaurant options available. Some are hilariously overpriced in the seated options (around €75 per person!), but if you grab lunch or dinner you can typically get a LOT of food for around  €10 per person. At the various restaurants, they have a standard menu of items... but the value comes in the meal deals. You can get a main item, fries or salad, yogurt, dessert and a drink for a few euros more. With all the various sides, we easily shared a couple of meals between three people. You can find a full list of eateries on the property here.

We would pack snacks for the morning and the train ride back at the end of the day. It's fine to bring food into the park, if you'd like. Either way- I'd recommend bringing a bottled drink for your day at the park. You'll be glad you grabbed one at the grocery store when you see them for €4 at the park.

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So, overall, would I recommend going out to Disneyland Paris? Sure! Maybe not if it's your first time to Paris, or if you're time there is rushed, but if you're a repeat visitor to the City of Lights or you're traveling for a longer stretch of time? Why not?

 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under france, kids, travel, viola, traveling with kids, paris.

6 Things To Make Traveling Europe With a Baby Easier.

 

Is it possible to travel with a baby and not be completely out of your element? Is there any hope that you won't look like a flustered hot mess with stuff flying everywhere and baby gear strapped to every part of your body? Well, in the airport, no.  I haven't mastered that yet (so much stuff to carry!), but once you arrive to your destination? Yes, I daresay it is possible! Here are six things that help you travel with a baby and still keep some dignity in tow, too.

ONE  |  BYOHC

Bring your own... high chair? In England, a few places will have high chairs. In France, we probably encountered three. One being at the newly opened Chipotle. Holding a toddler during a meal can be described in many terms, but "relaxing" is not one of them. Plus, it makes eating nearly impossible.

We marched to Monoprix and bought a cloth one that slipped over the back of chairs and snapped Viola into an inescapable sitting position. It was amazing, and it folded up in my bag. We loved it, and I have a feeling it will travel many places with us over the years to come. 

Here's a similar one. If you use a high chair at home and are planning to travel: buy it! Trust me.

 

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TWO  |  WEAR A SCARF

 Wear a scarf? Yes. Stop hauling around your nursing cover and just get a large summer scarf. It's one less thing to schlep around, it is way more inconspicuous than a giant paisley shawl, and hey- it's Europe. You'll probably be wearing light layers and a scarf anyway. This is my #1 trick I like to share with people. All the modesty, way quicker than "cloaking up", and looks like the baby is just snoozing on you. And yes, that is why I wore a scarf for pretty much the entire year of 2013.

GAP has these ones on sale that should do the trick.

THREE  |  DOUBLE'S TROUBLE

If you have more than one child, a double stroller can be a great thing on a day with lots of walking. On behalf of all the citizens of a large city, can I ask you a favor? Don't get a double-wide! The side-by-side strollers are great for surburban walking trails and amusement parks, but in cities where massive amounts of people use sidewalks? It's one of the worst offenses possible. It bottlenecks the traffic and people have to dodge around you to get past. Just trust me, a stadium seating stroller will save you annoyed glances and mumbled comments. Plus, the side-by-sides don't fit on buses!

The Baby Jogger City Select is what we bought. We love it, and it collapses in half quickly when you're in a pinch. Just make sure you check it when you fly. Airlines have broken two of ours from handling it when checking it at the gate, and airlines take no responsibility for them.

 

FOUR  |  URBAN JUNGLE GYM

Give your little a break and take advantage of the playgrounds and parks around the city. Not only is a great time for them to get out some energy, but they are typically in amazing places. It's fun for adults, too. 

Some of our favorite places to let Viola play in Paris are the park alongside the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower, a tiny garden playground right next to the Pompidou, the playground at Place Des Vosges and a neighborhood park in the shadows of the Picasso Museum near our apartment.

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FIVE  |  LIVE LOCAL

Hotels have some great amenities, but when traveling with a kid- renting an apartment is so nice. You can get cozy, have access to a fridge and food, and extra space to stretch out with little. Plus, the lower prices make it way more affordable. Almost all of them can provide you with a pack & play, if you request it in advance. We typically book through AirBnb or One Fine Stay.

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SIX  |  PACK SOME SNACKS

Maybe this seems obvious, but I often forget. Meals are long and there is no "hold-over" food waiting for children once you're seated. No chips and salsa. No bread. No kids meal out early, It's a good habit to form, but it may save some sanity to have some small toys (we love finger puppets) and puffs or crackers to munch on while you wait.


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There you have it. Six easy things to make your trip overseas a bit more doable... and, hopefully, a bit less hectic!

 

FIND MY OTHER POST ON FLYING WITH BABIES HERE.

 

*all images via Aspiring Kennedy

Paris | Locks (and Locks!) of Love

 

You know those locks along the Pont Des Arts in Paris? The one where lovers go to lock up their love forever and toss the key in the Seine below? Well, over the past year that novel idea has seemingly made the must-do list of every tourist couple to touch down in France.When we were in Paris for the spring, the bridges were absolutely heaving with them.

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There were men dotted along every ten feet or so of the bridges with assorted locks and sharpies out for purchase.

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The once romantic gesture has transformed from something quite to something that... well, had gone too far.

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And this weekend, it really went too far. Like down-into-the-river-too-far.

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Apparently, the locks have gotten so out of control that they weighed down a portion of the railing and ripped it down into the Seine.That's pretty in-seine, isn't it?

Read more about it here.

After seeing how out of control they were, I'm kind of ready to see Paris stop the tradition like Florence did on the Ponte Vecchio in years past.

Then again, I was really sad when Venice outlawed selling birdseed and feeding pigeons in St. Marks Square. (Though selfishly, who really cares after snagging a photo like this?)

 



What do you think?

Should the tradition be locked into the culture of Paris

or should it be tossed to the bottom of the (key-ridden) Seine?




*images by Noah Darnell for Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on June 10, 2014 and filed under france, travel, viola, paris.

For the Love of Paris... and Babies.

 

Now then...you didn't think that I'd be satisfied simply with prancing around Paris in a giant black tulle skirt with the Eiffel Tower in the background, did you? Oh no...I had to take it up one more level. Stacy & I decided to make the second half of the day a bit more... kid friendly. Baby friendly, actually. For all of you that are wondering: How do you have TWO dresses this huge and fabulous? Well, the answer is: I don't! The black & pink tulle wonders were made by Stacy that she uses for photo shoot when clients request them. All I did was toss on an American Apparel bodysuit with the black one and a too-short dress that I had in my closet with the pink one. The result? Well, a look far more fabulous than it really was....but when it looks this cute- who cares? So, no more babbling from me, straight on to the pictures...for sure my favorite part from our day. Regardless of Viola wishing she could have been anywhere else rather than having her picture taken as made evident by the first half of the shoot. Oh well, c'est la vie avec le bebe.

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To see the first half of our shoot in Paris, click hereStacy Reeves is a talented photographer who shoots visitors in Paris every day. She's a Texan, like myself, who moved overseas to live out her dreams... and now spends her days helping other Americans enjoy their trips to Europe, too. Let her shoot your trip to Paris by booking a session and capturing your trip.

(And yes, you can even wear the skirts, too!)

 

*photos by Stacy Reeves & L'Amour de Paris for Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on May 19, 2014 and filed under fashion, beauty, paris, viola.

Paris | Family Friendly Hotels.

 

Paris is stuffed with cute hotels that overlook gorgeous sites and are the perfect romantic escape.But if you're looking to travel with your children, there's an immediate buzzkill when you can't find hotel rooms that don't have extra beds or adjoining rooms...and a baby suddenly ends up sleeping in your bed.We may have used a suitcase on various occasions for a impromptu baby bed though I can neither confirm or deny this.

I digress.

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Here's a quick list of hotels that offer family-friendly solutions! Some offer adjoining rooms while others offer quad or triple rooms.

HOTEL EMPEREUR | This boutique hotel sits right next to Les Invalides. With quad room options, you'll be able to keep your kids near without paying the extra cost of a room... or having them cram in with you.

VICTORIA PALACE HOTEL | With adjoining rooms available, this is a great option for families who are traveling with children that are slightly older.  This sits in walking distance from several of the Left Bank favorite attractions.

HOTEL DE FLEURIE | This hotel on St. Germain de Pres offers adjoining rooms perfect for four people. Plus, the pristine location is hard to beat. (Go eat steak-frites at Le Relais De L'Entrecote nearby for me.)

VILLA DAUBENTON |This is a great option for families of four or six people. Plus the option for having a kitchen a close access to the Latin Quarter makes it a perfect option.


I hope that helps give you a starting point for making your trip a bit more family-friendly! For more of my Paris hotel picks,

check out my guide here.

 

 

*photography by Noah Darnell

 

Posted on May 14, 2014 and filed under paris, traveling with kids.