Posts filed under paris

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.

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.

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, 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.

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.