18 hours in paris

Yesterday, Seb and I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment trip into Paris for dinner and to stay the night. We got a last-minute hotel deal with Hotel Tonight, a handy app that offers discounted hotel rooms available that day. It’s about a one-hour drive from Fontainebleau to Paris, where we went straight to Hotel Bailli du Suffren to check in, and then headed out for a twilight stroll.

Our hotel, in the 15th arrondissement, was only about a 15-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower, so we made a beeline there before it got too dark to snap a photo, and then continued along Les Invalides toward the Seine.

We crossed the Pont Alexandre III and continued straight on Avenue Winston Churchill, between the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, to the Champs-Élysées. It was getting darker and broodier by the minute, which only made the winter atmosphere better, in my opinion. We turned right toward the Place de la Concorde, crossed back over the Seine on the Pont de la Concorde, and found a tiny bar in the 7th called Tabac L'Assemblée to quench our thirst.

Next up was dinner, so following the recommendation of a local friend, we went back through Les Invalides to
Le Tourville, a crowded café with a heated sidewalk patio. After a bottle of Burgundy, some roast chicken and a croque monsieur, we were feeling more and more Parisian.

This morning, we had time for a quick breakfast before heading back to Fontainebleau for Seb’s class. Armed with another recommendation from a Parisian friend, we drove a few minutes to Dupont Café on the Rue de la Convention, a street lined with boulangeries, bouchers, cafés and fruit markets. After a petit déjeuner of café au lait and a sliced baguette smeared with Nutella, we set off back to Fontainebleau.

We saw just a tiny portion of the city in less than one day, but it was the perfect snack. We’ll be back!

Top left: the view from our tiny hotel window; top right and above left: views of the Eiffel Tower from the Champs de Mars; above right: Les Invalides; below: a shot looking west from the Pont Alexandre III, one of Paris’ most ornate bridges, built around 1896IMG_1477IMG_1478IMG_1479
Above left: another shot from the Pont Alexandre III, looking north toward the Grand Palais; above right: the Petit Palais; below: looking west again, this time from the Pont de la Concorde, with the Eiffel Tower now lit up; bottom: Dupont Café on Rue de la Convention (this photo’s not mine – I snatched it from Google)
IMG_1480Dupont cafe, Paris


french lesson #1: driving a manual car

Before mastering how to speak in this country, I must master driving in it. Growing up in the US, I have never driven a manual car in my life. Move to Europe, and I apparently don’t have a choice. Seb’s car is a stick, therefore I shall learn! I’ve had one try, on the fairly deserted road that runs along the Seine, next to our house. I didn’t drive into the river or hit the two old French madames out for a stroll, so I guess that was a success.

Next up: driving in town.


au revoir, san francisco. bonjour, fontainebleau.

After several months of consideration and two months of official planning, I am finally in Fontainebleau, France, a small town about an hour south of Paris. Currently jetlagged and already full of French bread, all I’ve got right now are a couple of highlights of my last two months in California and a few snapshots of my new maison. More to come soon, I promise!

Photo Jan 13, 11 18 13 AMPhoto Jan 12, 5 06 09 PMPhoto Jan 13, 11 17 26 AMPhoto Jan 13, 11 20 06 AMPhoto Jan 13, 11 18 59 AM
All above: Another day at Lake Tahoe, this time with Mom. We caught a gorgeous sunset over Kirkwood as soon as we arrived, and then in South Lake Tahoe, we ran into some hearty ducks who forgot to fly south for the winter.

Photo Feb 23, 9 02 38 PM
Above: Last hike in San Francisco: Land’s End Trail on a gorgeous February morning.

Photo Feb 25, 2 51 02 AM
Above: Packing nightmare in SF.

Below: My new digs… Front view of Chateau de Montmelian and two wintertime countryside views from my new bedroom windows. 
773693_10151457785990348_1304399419_oPhoto Mar 05, 4 23 28 PMPhoto Mar 05, 4 25 23 PM


back to the farm

Once again, Christmas Eve eve was spent on the farm, working on our clay pigeon shooting (even Mom joined in this year), and then toasting the evening with wine and cheese on the levee. This year, we upgraded our trip from the house to the water with a tractor-pulled hayride, and Mother Nature gave us (and the ducks) one spectacular sunset.

Photo Dec 23, 12 56 38 PMIMG_1360IMG_1362IMG_1364IMG_1371

oh-twelve wrap-up: fleet week, wine, music, florida and more

October and November are some of the best months in the Bay Area, with warm, sunny weather and lots of outdoor events (turns out it’s a great time to be in Florida, too). Even though it’s now a few months later (I got a little sidetracked), allow me to show off some highlights.

Photo Oct 06, 2 34 55 PMPhoto Sep 08, 9 57 31 AM
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park; yoga for a cause in Union Square

Photo Oct 05, 2 23 20 PMPhoto Oct 05, 2 24 33 PMPhoto Oct 05, 3 30 42 PMPhoto Oct 05, 2 33 35 PMPhoto Oct 05, 3 35 34 PM
The Fleet Week air show (with blue angels, a stealth bomber and more) in the bay

Photo Nov 03, 2 22 13 PMPhoto Nov 09, 2 17 46 PM
A visit to Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma with my aunt, in town from Missouri!

Photo Nov 19, 4 56 16 PMPhoto Nov 19, 5 39 57 PMPhoto Nov 18, 2 25 32 PMPhoto Nov 21, 12 40 34 PMPhoto Nov 21, 12 43 56 PMPhoto Nov 23, 11 39 21 AM
Thanksgiving week in Sarasota, Florida: Watching kitesurfers in St. Petersburg; waiting for the sunset at the Hurricane in St. Petersburg; sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico and creating a gorgeous sky; Siesta Key; Longboat Key; buddies at the Mote Aquarium; a manatee kiss on the aquarium window; a rather random group of animals at the Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota

happy new year

The last few months of 2012 were a bit of a whirlwind, with celebrations in various locations from Florida to Singapore. The most recent – New Year’s Eve – took place for us in Breckenridge, and I was so happy to be there, even though it meant skiing with a broken toe (not fun, but I pushed through the pain).

We stayed at the family home of a good friend with a beautiful setting in a valley across from the ski resort. When the lift lines were too long to deal with, we avoided the crowds with sledding and snowshoeing. Winter fun all around.



sonoma (a.k.a. heaven)

Sonoma County is just an hour and a half away from me, and I go there fairly often, but I never get sick of it… or sick of taking photos of it. It’s like I think the next photo will be the best or most representative, which it never is but I can’t stop. On that note, here are several photos from several day and weekend trips to Sonoma over the past four months.

Photo Jun 09, 1 49 56 PMPhoto Jun 09, 1 50 47 PMPhoto Jun 09, 3 51 14 PMPhoto Jun 09, 4 24 17 PMPhoto Jun 09, 4 15 52 PMPhoto Jun 09, 3 40 06 PMPhoto Jun 09, 4 20 41 PMPhoto Jun 09, 7 40 56 PMPhoto Jun 09, 7 48 53 PMPhoto Jun 10, 2 07 08 PMPhoto Jun 10, 2 08 51 PMPhoto Jun 10, 2 27 31 PMPhoto Jun 10, 3 15 59 PMPhoto Jun 10, 3 41 32 PMPhoto Jun 10, 3 50 30 PMPhoto May 26, 11 41 21 AMPhoto Sep 29, 12 13 41 PMPhoto Sep 29, 12 28 12 PMPhoto Sep 29, 3 13 29 PM
From top left: Medlock Ames winery; vineyards at Medlock Ames; Dry Creek General Store (a fave place to grab a beer and have lunch); the laid-back Preston Winery and all its cute touches (four photos); alfresco dining; homemade bruschetta with some local produce; Alpine Lake, which we stumbled upon while taking a windy non-shortcut from Highway 101 to the coast; the dam at Alpine Lake; overlooking the Pacific; Bolinas Beach (ok, this is actually in Marin County, not Sonoma, but it was part of a Sonoma trip); Bolinas; Bolinas main street; Saturday morning entertainment at the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market; great perch for wine tasting at Iron Horse Vineyards; views from Iron Horse; Red Car tasting room in Graton.