Every time I go to Paris I fall in love with the city all over again. My most recent trip was no exception. It was so lovely that I came back missing it more than ever.
So upon returning from my trip, I’m doing everything I can to bring Paris to moi! Restarting my French lessons, spritzing my new favorite French scent, reading a Parisian themed book and creating a new French playlist on Spotify are just some ways I keep those French feels alive and well.
Here are some of my favorite French finds to help you bring a little bit of Paris to you too!
While staying in Le Marais during this past trip, I discovered some great new brands that I am sure to covet for years to come. As I walked down the Rue de Sévigné heading to Easter brunch, I smelled the most beautiful scent of Lilac that I couldn’t get out of my mind for days. I made it a point to stop back at Parle Moi de Parfum before leaving Paris and pick up the scent Totally White. It’s the perfect scent for spring- light and flowery. I feel so uplifted the moment I put it on.
The creator’s son (and a very handsome Parisian!) was heading the store that day and let us sample every single scent they had in their lab. He was so passionate about his perfume. Go give him a visit at their shop in Le Marais!
My recent obsession is Rebecca Plotnick of Everyday Parisian. Her love of all things French is a match for my own! As an aspiring travel photographer, she picked up her life in Chicago and moved to Paris to follow her dreams. Since then she has been making the most beautiful prints and writes a great blog that constantly quenches my thirst for Paris. One of her recent blog posts was so relatable for me. You can read it here.
Paris is Stride is a beautifully illustrated walking guide that highlights the well known as well as some lesser known cafes and neighborhoods in Paris. It really came in handy on my trip.
I think this is a great guide if you’re a first-time visitor to Paris. So if you’re planning a trip anytime in the future, I highly recommend it! If you’ve been to Paris before, this guide will highlight some old favorites and add some cool new spots to your list. Discover a new neighborhood without worrying about getting lost!
Don’t forget to check out the Broken Arm. Such a cool store!
Fluent in French
Jen is a French expat living in NYC. She teaches French language classes virtually or in person to students of all ages. I discovered her on instagram over a year ago and I recently won a free one hour French lesson and book from a giveaway she had. I was so excited to have my first lesson with her this past Sunday and it was fantastic! Check out her French word of the day here.
She also has a crêpe catering business on the side and I can’t wait to host a party catered by her very soon!
View this post on Instagram
CRÊPE PARTY and today, I’m the chef 👩🏻🍳! The best bosses are the ones who can take on any situation!!!!! @crepesalamaison #newyorkeatscrepes 💕💕💕 #foodporn #food #foodie #crepes #crepe #yum #sweet #cater #catering #instagood #womenempowerment #womeninbusiness #toklas #eat
A post shared by Jen (@crepesalamaison) on
My French Inspired Playlist
Whenever I’m working, relaxing or just putting on my own little fashion show at home, I love to listen to my Paris is Calling playlist that I created on spotify.
Check it out here
I hope my French favorites can become some of your favorites too! Questions? Visiting Paris soon? Leave me a comment below!
Food is such a big part of why I love Paris and definitely something I look forward to when planning a getaway to the city of light. On my first visit to Paris 6 years ago, the only place I wanted to eat was Ladurée. (They have the most divine french toast on the whole planet.) Other than that, I just stumbled on places to eat and every meal was the best ever. On my second trip, I planned nothing and had the most delicious croissant ever. This time, I planned my whole trip around food!! Between the croissant, the cheese, and the array of fresh ingredients, there isn’t much I don’t like about the food in France.
A food tour, a five course tasting menu, street falafel, and a pop-up pastry shop that’s worth waiting in line for, I’d have to name this one of my favorite foodie trips to date. I’ll give you a taste of all of my favorite places to eat in Paris and why you should go there. Warning: don’t read while hungry!!
Good for: Lunch or Dinner
Carbón Paris. Since this was the first Easter I would be spending away from my family, I wanted to make sure it was still a special day with an extra special meal. Carbon did not disappoint. Upon arriving a few minutes early for our reservation (You must reserve a table here, you won’t be seated otherwise, even if you see tables that are free) the waitress told us that the kitchen would be open soon, but would we like a drink first? Mais, bien sur!
We went with the 2017 Judith Beck Koreaa, a great white to pair with the scallop and cauliflower appetizer. It was easy to drink with light fruit notes. A perfect Easter wine from Austria. All of the wines they serve are organic and they only have about 7 bottles to choose from. They only advertise by the bottle, but you can get certain wines by the glass. Just ask!
We had the greatest server, who was very accommodating and helpful with choosing our wine and food. I’d go back here just for the great service. The ambience is très bien aussi. It’s cozy, not pretentious (as some may think restaurants in France to be) and just beautiful to look at. And is located right in the heart of Le Marais.
The food is super fresh made with seasonal and mostly local ingredients. All of their dishes are cooked over fire, no gas or electric is used. Just like Francis Mallman’s Los Fuegos in Miami. The menu offers about 6 different appetizers, 5 mains, and 2 desserts with specials du jour.
What to order
For a party of 2, I’d recommend you share two starters. We ordered the scallops. They were perfect texture and served with a cauliflower puree which was one of my favorite tastes of the meal. Then, we shared two mains which were the halibut and the lamb. Both delicious and perfectly cooked. The menu is constantly changing based on what’s in season, so don’t go looking for these dishes. Just know that no matter what you order, Carbón will do it right.
Good for: Dinner
My top pick for a full gastronomical experience in Paris that won’t break the bank is Verjus. After reading several reviews and recommendations for this restaurant, I was convinced I had to try it!
Verjus serves a tasting menu so each item is selected for you. Ingredients are sourced locally and seasonally. The restaurant is small and reservations book up quickly so I recommend booking a few weeks before your visit. Plan to stay for a few hours as you will be savoring every bite and enjoying the experience. This isn’t a quick dinner.
If it’s a special occasion (when is Paris not a special occasion?!) do the wine pairing. It’s worth it to discover some new wines and have a fresh glass with every course.
You’ll start with a few finger foods that are sure to satiate your sophisticated palette. So simple, yet so delicious. This is followed by 2 veggie courses- ours were asparagus and morels (mushrooms). The main course was a lamb tartare. You’ll end with 2 separate dessert courses. Save room because you won’t want to pass this up!
Paris by Mouth Food Tour
Good for: Tasting/ Cheese &Wine/ Desserts
After stumbling upon the Paris by mouth blog I was convinced that I had to hop on one of their food tours during my trip. This was such a special treat. Being guided to the best croissants, baguettes, cheeses, wines and chocolates by an insider and French food expert was a priceless experience. Not only will you get the best of the best when it comes to food, but you’ll get a history of the neighborhood where you choose to take your tour and a lot of the food history as well.
I won’t give away all of Paris by Mouth’s secrets, but I encourage you to take one of these tours. If you really want to know some of these spots, and can’t get on a tour, just email me! Tours last about 3 hours, all tastings are included, and you will have a chance to sit and enjoy a wine tasting with your food.
Here are some highlights from the tour…
We kicked off the tour with bread, baguette de tradition to be exact! Shouldn’t every day start that way?! I learned so much about the history of baguettes and how you can tell the good from the bad! If you want more info on how to find a great baguette in Paris check out this article.
We went to a local fromagerie and a charcutier traiteur (Butcher) to grab some meat and cheese to pair with our wine from La Cave de Turenne. Here we enjoyed six cheeses, a variety of meats, and three wines. We learned about where and how our wine and cheese was made- a delicious education!
The grand finale was only the best chocolate! Don’t leave without trying the mint ganache in dark chocolate. It’s tastes like a mojito!!!
Great for: Lunch/ A shopping snack break/Views of the city/Cheese/Artisanal French products
I highly recommend you check out Printemps du gout- located on the 8th floor of the Printemps Haussmann- Homme. If for nothing else, go here for a great view of the city!
Enjoy a perfect french onion soup and croque monsieur du jour with la tour eiffel.
Cedric Grolet’s pop-up shop at Le Meurice
Good for: Pastries
This pop-up pastry shop located at 6 Rue Castiglione is brought to you by Cédric Grolet, Chef Pâtissier at the restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse. He was elected World’s Best Restaurant Pastry Chef 2017 by the Association Les Grandes tables du Monde. Don’t miss this, because it won’t be here for long. Otherwise you’ll have to spend a pretty penny to taste his creations at Restaurant Le Meurice.
Mi Va Mi
Good for: Falafel/late night snack
After a long day this just hit the spot in every way. Located in the Jewish Quarter in Le Marais, this authentic and fresh made falafel was totally worth waiting in line for!
Although there are many more to mention, these were my top picks and what I thought worth sharing! Have you tried any of these? Chime in in the comments below.
Contrary to popular belief, Miami is not just South Beach and it’s so much more than a party city. Don’t get me wrong, you can party plenty, but there is so much more to appreciate here such as the art, culture, shopping and cuisine.
I put together a guide for you to eat well, enjoy the beach, see some beautiful art and experience a little bit of culture too, all while avoiding South Beach!
The Fontainebleau Hotel is a beautiful resort located in Miami Beach. If you have no interest in leaving the resort and want to just chill out for the weekend, then this is the place for you! Boasting 3+ restaurants, 5+ pools, easy beach access, a club and boutiques on the premises you seriously never have to leave this resort. The rooms offer 2 balconies and beautiful amenities like a full kitchen and 2 bathrooms! We had a little party in our room before hitting the town with a gorgeous view of the ocean and pool.
The pool is where you’ll want to soak up some sun, have a few cocktails, and even grab a delicious al fresco lunch at La Côte. You’ll want to head to the pool by 10 a.m to get a chair because it fills up quickly. Once you’ve claimed your spot, order a mojito (savor it because they go for $20 a pop, but you don’t need many to get a buzz!), and head straight to one of the 5 pools.
La Côte, a french mediterranean bistro serving appetizers, sandwiches, and fresh ceviches. I had the seared ahi tuna sandwich and it was perfection.
Check out Hakkasan for a fantastic cocktail menu and dim sum brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Also if you just want a snack, stop by chez bon bon for amazing gelato and pastries. Warning: everything looks amazingly decadent and you won’t be able to choose!
A Gastronomical Experience
Don’t miss out on Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann in the Faena hotel. Ever since Phillip and I started watchingChef’s table on Netflixwe’ve been addicted and made a goal to hit up the restaurants we see on the show! Mallmann is special in that he only uses open fire to cook. No gas or electric, just fire!
A quote from the menu: “You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: How could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?”~ Friedrich Nietzsche
As you walk into the Faena hotel you are greeted by gorgeous art deco paintings. What a welcome!
As for the restaurant, they have indoor seating or an outdoor deck. The bar is set high with the bread basket- authentic Argentine rolls (you can’t just eat one!) and the creamiest butter you’ve ever tasted. Appetizers not to be missed include the octopus and filet mignon empanadas. For wine, order the Malbec- smooth and medium bodied, the perfect complement to the appetizer course. I had the Mediterranean Branzino served with charred brussel sprouts, quinoa salad, and a charred eggplant yogurt for the main course. My mouth is watering thinking about it. Perfectly cooked. I cleaned my plate!
After dinner hop over to the bar for live music. You can hang at the bar or reserve a table. I’d suggest reserving a table so you can sit down and enjoy the music.
The Epic- A Kimpton Hotel- is in a great central location with beautiful views of the Biscayne Bay. The hotel has two pools,an Exhale spa and yoga studio, and two restaurants on site. The room is stocked with exhale spa products and a jacuzzi bath perfect for relaxing before or after a night out on the town.
This neighborhood has a completely different vibe than Miami Beach. Visit for great street art and a fun foodie scene.
Check out the Wynwood Walls for instagram worthy graffiti and street art. It’s like a small outdoor gallery similar to the walls I wrote about inConey Island last summer. Jeffrey Deitch calls it “a museum of the streets”. It will only take a few minutes to walk through the exhibition and snap a few photos, but there are some little boutiques and art stores around the area you can peruse afterwards. Doors open at 11 a.m so if you get to the area early, grab brunch first.
Brunch atMorgan’s restaurant. The chicken and waffles and maple bacon are 100. The fresh squeezed juices are on point too. Sit outside on their nautical themed porch to enjoy the beautiful breeze Florida offers this time of year.
Just a 5 minute drive from ourhotel in Downtown Miami, our uber driver, a Miami native, gave us some tips on where to go in the heart of little Havana. With a few hours to spare before heading to the airport, we spent our afternoon hanging in Havana oh na na…
Check out Domino Park where all the Cuban men play dominos as they drink their shots of espresso. There are a bunch of cigar bars where you can roll your own cigars (if you’re into that). I love the smell, but can’t smoke them! Stroll around and snap some cool photos.
Stop at La Isla, a local shop that sells art, accessories, and other goods made by local artisans in Miami. I purchased a handmade necklace and earrings made out of orange peels. The store is so bright and fun, you’ll surely find something you love!
Eat and Drink
Ball and Chain offers a great cocktail menu with live music. The cuban sandwich was arguably the best cuban sandwich I’ve ever had. A perfect balance of cheese, meat, pickles and sauce on perfectly toasted cuban bread. Enjoy drinks on their back patio where there’s a big pineapple stage for live entertainment.
North Miami Beach/Bal Harbour
At the northernmost tip of Miami beach, you’ll find an upscale neighborhood and shops in Bal Harbour. Surrounded by colorful flowers, palm trees, and a live koi pond, you will feel luxurious just strolling around the vicinity of the shops.
Enjoy an amazing Italian lunch at Carpaccio. Many of their ingredients are shipped in daily from Italy and their fish is caught in the Mediterranean a few days before it is served to you. Sip a Bellini on their patio while you people watch and admire all the fancy cars. Order the special Burrata and prosciutto plate. You’ll thank me later.
Grab a coffee at Santa Fe News and Espresso on the second floor and take away a few macarons from the Ladurée Bal Harbour Carriage. Eat under the palm trees as you admire the beauty around you.
Treat yourself to something extra special from one of the many high-end shops. A watch from Audemars Piguet for a mere 65K. Who says money can’t buy happiness? Perhaps a classic investment piece from Goyard or a spring splurge with this amazing box bag! Seriously, come prepared to drool over some of these windows and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere.
Well, there you have it. Turns out you can still enjoy Miami without ever stepping foot in South Beach. Explore off the beaten path and discover something new.
Did I leave anything out? Do you have any insider tips on Miami? Let me know by leaving a comment below or on the instagram page.Thanks for stopping by the blog!
Saturday night at my computer…
Writing this post tonight so that I can get it up on Monday… I had planned to work on it on Wednesday and set aside two hours to get it started. But suffice it to say, I’m just getting around to it now. The truth is I’m writing these motivating posts to get back on track and make time for the things that I love. But as the saying goes “the best-laid plans often go awry”.
How can I share “motivation” with my readers when I haven’t even stuck with my own plan?
Cue the negative self talk:
Five of the ten things on my calendar didn’t get done this week.
I wrote things down, I assigned a time to them, and I didn’t follow through.
I’m a failure. I’m a faker.
What am I going to write about to motivate my readers this week?
I’ll just forget it. I won’t post anything.
Wait, hold up. STOP! You went to the gym today, you planned for your upcoming trip, you spent time with friends, and you taught a kick-ass yoga class this week. What is wrong with you?
Okay, yea. It was a pretty motivated and successful week. But why is it never enough? Why do we (I) continually beat ourselves up for not having an A+ in productivity? Why do we equate productivity with success?
Truth is, it’s been harder than I thought it would be to adjust to a leisurely lifestyle, where I’m not constantly on my grind. I created this life. I wanted a slower-paced lifestyle where I could enjoy every moment without rushing to the next thing on the calendar. That was my lifestyle for way too long and I guess it just became part of my nature. But now whenever I have some downtime I feel lazy or I spend it in ways that I later deem a waste of time and proceed to punish myself for it in a myriad of ways.
I think I need to redefine my definition of productivity. Sometimes rest is productive. Not sticking to a rigid schedule can be productive.
Where am I going with this? Motivation Monday is intended to start your week off on the right foot and set the tone for the rest of the week. It’s not another day to be negative with yourself or others. Despite how tired you may be to get up and face Monday head on, here are a few tips to help you start your week off right:
- Sunday night: Take the time to acknowledge the highs and lows of the prior week. Reflect on what worked. Take note of that. Check things off on your calendar, write it down in a journal and maybe even reward yourself for it! Plan the week ahead by scheduling a few priorities. Note: Don’t overschedule. This will just set you up for failure. You can always add things as the week progresses depending on how you feel. Other responsibilities are bound to pop up.
- Monday morning: Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than usual. This will give you the extra time to get your butt in gear so you’re not rushing.
- Use a morning mantra: This is going to be the best day ever. This is a powerful way to start the day. At least it was for me. I had one of the most positive and productive Monday’s of the year yet because I woke up with a positive mantra and I believed it was going to be a great day. The more you say it the more you’ll believe it. Try it!
- Don’t check social media until the afternoon. This may be a hard habit to crack, but sometimes starting the day with instagram can do more harm than good.
So how do you start your Monday motivated to take on the week? Take this fresh start to manifest your dreams one day at a time!
I was at the gym today for the first time in a long while. To tell the truth I haven’t been motivated to do much of anything lately. It seems like the winter slump (did I make that up?) got the best of me. As someone recovering from being perpetually over scheduled, I’ve invited some much needed rest into my life over the past year. But there are some days where I feel downright lazy. That was never a word I would use to describe myself and frankly I’m not okay with it!
As I got a few minutes into my workout and the endorphins started kicking in, I realized that it only takes a little activity to get me going, but staying committed is quite harder. I would need something to keep me accountable and something to kickstart my motivation to get moving again! Spoiler: this is not a post about working out. It’s about pulling myself out of the hole, feeling good, and sticking to something. So with that I decided to bring back Motivational Monday to the blog!
I’m going to spend some time each weekend to plan the week ahead and reflect on the previous week. Here are three ways I plan to get motivated this week.
1) Commit to something
Join a group, volunteer, or sign up for a class. Don’t do it for the sake of doing it, but make sure it’s something you actually care about! Setting some time aside each week to give back or be part of something will help you to be more outwardly focused and give you more purpose. If we get too caught up in ourselves and our day to day monotony, eventually we become a little too comfortable. This can lead to boredom or even worse, depression.
Being part of something gives you accountability. I’m not the best with commitments, but one thing I’ve committed to over the past 2 years is being part of my Saturday morning running group. This group has kept me accountable to both my fitness and my spiritual life. We get together for a 30 minute run and then talk about some of life’s deeper questions over coffee and croissants. It was in this group where I met the other half of this blog and now dear friend, Mario. Some of those Saturday morning conversations we had are what sparked the idea to start The Daily Croissant! Creating a blog was something I always wanted to do, but being part of a supportive and caring group of people is what gave me the push to put my dreams into action!
Committing to bring you motivational Monday blog posts is keeping me accountable to send you all something that I also want to do for myself. The goal is to get involved with something that brings you joy or motivates you to get up and do something! This could be a running group, a series of fitness classes, a 30-day challenge of some sort or maybe even learning a new language. Don’t put it off any longer. What moves you? Go out and get involved in something that excites you!
2) Set a goal for the week
What is a small scale goal that you have? Choose one thing you want to accomplish this week and write it down. This could even be connected to the first tip I gave: write down the thing you want to commit to. Start small. I’m sure you’ve heard about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). This framework will help you to narrow down your focus so that you can actually achieve what you set out to do.
My goal for the week is to schedule time for the things that really matter (this is not a SMART goal). Here is a revision of it and the breakdown: Schedule and dedicate three hours each week to writing a new motivational Monday blog post. This is more specific and measurable in that I give myself a timeframe for what I want to accomplish, I write it down, and set the time aside that I’ll need to do it. It’s attainable and realistic because 3 hours is a reasonable amount of time outside of my work day to dedicate to this task. Finally, it’s timely because I know it has to be ready for Monday each week.
3) Get active
Rounding out this list is the very thing that got me motivated to write it. After a week or so of not working out, I was feeling sluggish. I had had enough of that and knew I needed to get moving. Less than five minutes into my workout I already started feeling a surge of energy that got me inspired to get sh*t done. It may very well be that you have to binge on Netflix for 5 hours before you can peel yourself out of bed and actually make it to the gym, but having an active lifestyle will motivate you in more ways than one.
Getting active will increase your endorphins and start to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings of laziness. In fact, activity breeds more activity. Having an active lifestyle starts to become a routine once you’ve given it a few days of your week. Commit to doing something active for a certain number of days each week. Then do it again the following week. By the third week tack on an additional day and before you know it you’ll have a month’s worth of activity!
Getting over the hump is the hardest part, meaning some days you will literally have to drag yourself to the gym. See tip #2: Set a goal for the week. Plan out the days you will be active and reward yourself at the end of the week by checking off the days you went and celebrating the hard work you put in!
What motivates you? Please share some inspiration or tips in the comments below so we can help to keep each other motivated.
Have a great week!
If I can’t be in France until another month or so, I might as well pretend to be. I spent the first day of my midwinter recess frolicking around lower Manhattan for a French facial at Caudalie (review of that coming soon) followed by tea and croissants with my dear friend and fellow travelista, Debbie. It’s always so lovely to spend time with friends with no agenda, but endless options to choose from. That is one of the very reasons I love living in New York. You never know what amazing places you may stumble upon. La Mercerie in the Guild is one of these great finds.
Art with your afternoon tea
Roman and Williams Guild is one of the most gorgeous spaces I’ve ever stepped foot in. I could picture every piece from this unique design concept store in my dream house someday. Upon entry to the space at 53 Howard street, you’re greeted by a flower shop and a chic tea room. Serving pastries, teas, coffee and fresh squeezed juices from 10-4 and cocktails from 3-7, La Mercerie is the perfect place to grab a coffee with a friend in a laid back, yet beautiful setting. Stroll through the design studio after enjoying some of the yummiest Brioche and Croissant. Pastries range from $5- $7 and tea and coffee from $3-$6. As a nice bonus, you can actually purchase the glassware you use at the café.
The studio is like a page out of Architectural Digest. Furniture with a modern edge and many one-of-a kind pieces curated by the couple who imagined and created the place. Some of my favorite pieces were this pink couch and an exquisite gold mirror for a mere $12K. The designers and owners of the space have designed many others including Le Coucou right down the block from this location.
If you’re ever on strolling through SoHo, pop into La Mercerie for an afternoon pick me up or some serious design inspiration. Soon they’ll be operating a full kitchen, so get in while you still can!
Questions? Leave a comment below or visit our instagram page.
It’s that time again… National Croissant Day. What a perfect bookend to the first month of the new year! #Treatyoself
My dear friend Linda, a Scarsdale resident, told me that this is the place to go for croissants, and boy was she right. To think I’ve lived in this county for 15 years and this weekend was the first time I’ve been to La Renaissance. I’ve been missing out this whole time, but better late than never I guess! One bite of this light and fluffy croissant and I was transported to Paris.
The regular croissant is soft and smooth, unlike the well done and flaky variety that I’ve had. The pain au chocolat is just as soft with just the right amount of chocolate.
Get here early for hot croissants fresh out of the oven . They’re open from 8-6 Monday- Saturday and 8-1 on Sundays. Sign up for their email list and receive $5 off your first purchase! De rien. Stroll around the historic Scarsdale village to enjoy the best croissant the county has to offer.
This charming Patisserie in the heart of Bronxville village does croissants very well. They offer a Dulce de leche croissant as well as a delicious almond croissant. Flaky, buttery, and not an overwhelming almond flavor. They feature a different croissant flavor every few weeks so you’ll always have something new to try!
They’re open Tuesday-Friday 7 – 4:30, Saturday 8:30 – 4, and Sunday 9 – 1.
I’ve yet to try this one, but it’s next on my list. It looks irresistible.
View this post on Instagram
Welcome to the weekend! And welcome to our first Twice Baked Croissant of 2018!🎉 Pecan and Chocolate lovers this one is for YOU! 🎉😍 . . . . . #chantillybronxville #bakery #patisserie #huffposttaste #eeeeeats #yummy #food #foodie #foodblogger #buzzfeedfood #eatfamous #foodgawker #foodgasm #foodblogger #truecooks #foodforthought #women #womeninbusiness #followforfollow #follow4follow #instagood #instagram
A post shared by ChantillyPatisserie (@chantillypatisserie_) on
I saved the best for last here. If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ll know that this has become my go-to café to get some writing done. Here you’ll find the best coffee in the county and the perfect playlist to go with it. What’s special about the croissants at Café E 4:2 is that they’re delivered fresh daily from Bread Alone, a family-owned, values-driven bakery in Rhinebeck, New York. This bakery boasts having the one and only French pastry oven in the state of New York.
The croissants are made with all organic ingredients and you can’t go wrong with an almond, regular, or pain au chocolat. Be sure to grab these early because as a small business in a small town, they only order a dozen a day. The best Barista and my friend, Cristhian, will toast the croissants for you too!
Check them out M-F : 6am – 7pm, Saturday – 8am – 4pm, and Sunday – 8am – 4pm.
If you’re ever in the area, tell them The Daily Croissant sent you! Wherever the day leads you, may you find some time to enjoy a decadent croissant.
Ever thought about learning a new language? Parlez vous Francais? Perhaps you’re planning a trip to the city of light in 2018 or at some point in the future. I know I’m always thinking about my next trip to France! There’s no better time to learn French than maintenant.
Back in the summer, Coucou, one of the two French-only language schools in New York City, invited TDC to check out their school and take a free trial class. Of course, I couldn’t turn down another opportunity to study and practice my French!
It was time I put on my beret and head out to see what Coucou was all about. Upon arriving to their SoHo location at Fueled, Manhattan, I was greeted by the lovely Marianne, a Parisian native and one of the co-founders of Coucou. She greeted me with the sweetest Bonjour I’ve ever heard and I instantly knew I was going to enjoy Marianne’s company.
Make yourself at home
We took the elevator up to the 4th floor where she brought me to the 18,000 square foot co-working office space. “Can I get you a coffee or tea?” she asked. Coucou students get to enjoy all the amenities at Fueled, including a snack bar, a community kitchen with free tea and coffee, fresh popcorn, an ice cream truck, a ping pong table and more. But the biggest perk of all might be the beautiful views over the New York City skyline!
Before my lesson, I took some time to sit with Marianne on one of the many comfy couches to enjoy a cup of tea together and learn more about how the school started, what they have to offer, and where to go for some of the best cheese in NYC. Make sure to read the interview below to find out where she sent me!
Learning a language is not for everybody, but if you’re up for the challenge and want to have some fun while doing it, then Coucou is the French language school for you!
Paris meets New York
Ashley: What brought you to New York?
Marianne: I was traveling in the US 4 ½ years ago when my cousin Lea asked me to help her to open Coucou. I was living in Berlin and working in the music industry at that time, but I’ve always been interested in literature and languages so it was not a stretch to move on to teaching languages.
A: Why do you think New York is an ideal place to start a business, specifically a French culture/language school?
M: New York is so big; no matter how niche your business is, you’ll find an audience for it. There’s a long standing relationship between NY and Paris and we love each other and the exchange between the two.
A family affair
A: What made you want to jump on board with your cousin to create Coucou?
M: Learning a language is both an intellectual and a social activity. It’s fun to teach and interact with my students while promoting French language and culture in the US. This was a goal for me.
A: What makes Coucou different than other language schools?
M: Besides the French Institute Alliance Francaise, we are the only language school in NYC that offers French exclusively and all of our teachers are native speakers. We focus heavily on French culture in teaching the language. This helps the students to appreciate the culture too.
We cap our group classes to 9 people. It’s super important for us to keep our groups small so it allows the teachers to give more attention to each individual student and the opportunity to develop personal relationships with them.
A: As a teacher of English myself, I know the value in that. How did you create the curriculum you have now?
M: We wrote our own curriculum guides for every level that are fun and easy to follow. Each week’s lesson and homework is scheduled so if a student misses a class, they can catch up easily and make sure they don’t miss anything. The activities are playful and engaging, but the main focus of our classes is on conversation. In class, we don’t want students looking at a booklet. Students can go over everything at their own time. All of our teachers are trained using this method.
A: What do you offer in the way of French cultural events outside of the classroom?
M: One of our teachers, Pia, organizes immersive french outings such as trips to a French opera, play or film premiere or dinner at an Algerian/Moroccan restaurant in Williamsburg to discuss the legacy of North Africa and French culture. We’ve celebrated Mardi Gras and Bastille Day with our students at our headquarters in Brooklyn.
A: How can people who are interested in your classes know if it’s the right fit for them?
M: Prospective students can come in for a trial class to see how they like it and which level is right for them. We have a lot of students who sign up after their free trial.
A: I’ve tried learning French a few times. What makes the Coucou method stick?
M: We make our classes fun and if the students are enjoying themselves and associate language learning with something positive, they are more likely to retain the information. After a long day of work, students are tired and not necessarily motivated, so we make sure the class is energetic, otherwise we’re just going to lose them.
We also focus on spoken French over formal written French. We teach grammar in a thorough way, there’s no bypassing that, but it can be done in a fun way.
Students can enjoy a little bit of wine in class and that boosts students’ confidence. If I’m being honest that’s how I learned to be confident speaking English when I was studying in London for University. Moderation is key, but a glass of wine definitely helps!
A: Where can I sign up?
A: What advice would you give to a beginner learning French?
M: Check your expectations. You can’t expect to magically know French in 2 weeks. It all depends on what you’re willing to put into it. Learning a language is a lifelong venture and if you make it part of your daily life by seeking out additional learning materials, then it will be better for you. We’re happy to recommend podcasts you can listen to or tv shows you can watch.
It’s kind of like going to the gym. If it becomes a chore, you’re just going to stop going. But if it’s something you want to do then you’ll be in good shape.
Also, don’t compare yourself to other students. For example, if you have a background in music you may be really good with pronunciation. Whereas, another student may not be as good at pronunciation, but has a better understanding of grammar.
Focus on your own progress and don’t compare yourself to others.
Go to Paris!
A: How confident can someone who completes your course feel about their ability to get around in Paris?
M: What we do in a weekly class is give you tools to feel more confident speaking French, but ultimately you’ll need to spend some time in a French speaking country if you want to practice more and that’s when its all going to make sense.
Some students get frustrated when they go to Paris and people speak to them in English, but when they manage to have a conversation or if they successfully manage to order in a restaurant, that’s when they’re satisfied and excited to keep going.
But if you really want to get good, you should have an immersive experience in a French speaking country.
A: What kind of community have you built at Coucou?
M: My wish has already been fulfilled. We have the most amazing, talented, and creative people who are cultured and curious about the world. My job is amazing in that I get to speak to so many interesting people. How lucky are we?
A: Do students get together outside of class?
M: We may get a drink after class or get together outside of class for a study group. The social aspect cannot be understated and this was the biggest surprise for us running the business. Students realize how important it is to get together and speak French with people outside of their circle. Talking in another language makes them more open. It gets personal and the conversations are very interesting. So many people have told us how they are grateful they are, how they look forward to it, and have met great friends through it.
What else should I know?
A: What course levels are offered and how long does a course last?
M: We have levels 1-7, from beginner all the way to conversational. We’ve had motivated and dedicated students who started in level 1 and are now in a conversational group.
Classes are 8 weeks long. After one level is complete, the next level starts after one or two more weeks. We encourage people in the lower levels to keep going. We don’t want students to risk losing momentum once they’re on a roll with the language.
A: What is the future of Cou Cou?
M: We just launched in Coucou in LA. One of our first teachers in NY, Margo, just moved there a year ago and is starting the program there as well as giving lessons at the Netflix office there.
A: I can’t leave without asking you one more thing. In your Parisian opinion, where can a girl get the best French delights here in New York?
M: Well that’s hard to say and I get asked that a lot, but whenever I have a craving for good French cheese I go to Murray’s. They have a great selection. And Bien Cuit in Cobble Hill has very nice pain au chocolat and croissants.
A: I will definitely be making a stop there on my next visit. (Review to come on le blog!)
I want to thank Coucou for inviting me in to check out their classes. The warm welcome I felt from Marianne and Pia excited me to continue learning French with them. If you’re looking to challenge yourself and have some fun while doing it, start to learn French with Coucou; you won’t be disappointed.
Check out their locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Los Angeles.
I’m typically not a cold weather destination traveler, but after being convinced by my other half to take a fun road trip adventure to Mont Tremblant, Quebec, I conceded. I’m happy to report that this snow covered winter village exceeded my expectations in every way! Not only is the landscape absolutely stunning to look at, but I experienced the true beauty of winter in all its glory. Between dog sledding, an outdoor scandinavian spa in subzero temperatures, and some of the most delicious food, this was a trip that will be in my memory forever.
Check out this video for a few Mont-Tremblant highlights. Keep scrolling below for the full guide on where to stay, what to do, and what to eat in Tremblant!
Mont Tremblant is just over a 7 hour drive from New York City. If you get tired by hour 5 or 6, make an overnight stop in Montreal, Quebec. With a great selection of lodging options, you’re sure to find something right downtown with plenty of great restaurants within walking distance. I had taken over driving during the last leg of the trip and to my surprise, Phillip booked us a night at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth (I think our recent binging of The Crown influenced that!) I was so excited to be back at one of my favorite hotel chains with my favorite le labo products! We stayed at the Fairmont, Sonoma on one of our first trips together and it was love at first night. Spoil yourself a bit and stay for the night!
Arriving just past 9 p.m. with hungry bellies and in need of a cocktail, the concierge recommended we try The Dominion Square Tavern. The jazz age ambience and food at this hotel bar was the perfect Canadian greeting. A wonderful wine list, goat cheese stuffed cornish hen served with fresh roasted vegetables, and a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream was the warm comfort food we needed after a 6 hour drive. Don’t miss this place if you ever find yourself in downtown Montreal.
Grab something for the road
Before checking out of the Fairmont, check out Marché Artisans for a variety of delectable cheeses, a bakery, and a wide selection of French and Canadian delicacies. Their chocolate and maple syrup game is on point. I found myself admiring all the nooks and crannies of the market. There’s another corner of the hotel lobby to check out if you just want to chill and get some work done.
There are a few different areas within Tremblant, but the Tremblant Pedestrian Village is your best bet. It’s within walking distance to the all the restaurants, shops, and slopes. So when you’re enjoying an après ski vin chaud, you don’t have to worry about driving even just a little bit!
Tremblant isn’t just a ski destination. There is so much more to do! One of the highlights from the trip was dogsledding The Tremblant Activity Center set us up with the dogsledding.
Scandinave is the place to go if you’re looking for total relaxation. Massage, scandinavian baths, a relaxation room and even a cafe will transport you to complete bliss. Truth be told, this is what convinced me to go to Canada over the Caribbean!
Dogsledding was a super special experience. Despite it being the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced (it was -17 fahrenheit that day), I would do it again in a heartbeat. As you arrive to El Diable golf course which turns into a dogsledding destination in the winter, you are greeted by 60 beautiful huskies. They are so excited to see you and extremely friendly. You get a quick, but helpful lesson on how to ride the sled. If you’re in a double, one person drives while the other one sits back and enjoys the ride. You’ll be guided by a pack of 5 dogs.
The course is mostly flat with some small hills that are easier to navigate than you think. Once you reach the midway point in the woods, there’s a cute little tent set up where you can enjoy the warmth of a space heater and some hot chocolate. This was a much needed break to warm up before turning around to finish our tour. The guides are friendly and kind. Ours was so quirky and fun. She loved practicing her English with us and I was proud of myself for speaking a little bit of French with her.
One of the guides will take some professional photos along your dogsledding adventure. They charge $10 for 3 printed photos or you can buy a CD with all of the photos from the trip for $25. Only problem is, who uses disks anymore?!
Make sure you get the right gear as well as hand and foot warmers. We wore 3-4 layers. Get a base layer pant with heat tech such as Columbia midweight stretch baselayer tight. Check them out here and here. The second layer can be another pair of leggings or fleece pants, and the third layer is snowpants. Get the right socks such as Kodiak Heat Plus. I found these to be extra thick and warm. You need a diesel pair of gloves and goggles too. Don’t mess around. Check these out. Make sure the label says they are good for VERY COLD temps.
This is not sponsored by Columbia, btw. It just happened to be what I got because I’m not serious about cold weather sports and it was an affordable option for what I planned to do on this trip. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the cold, you may want to invest in a different brand, but I found these to be sufficient.
Scandinave is a unique spa experience. The spa is equipped with outdoor hot tubs of all different temperatures. It sounded like a really cool thing to do, but I was also pretty intimidated to be in the subzero temps in only a bathing suit. Verdict: totally worth every moment!
Book a a 50 minute massage in the morning when they first open, 9 a.m. Bring your own robes or they will charge you an extra $10 fee to rent one of theirs. After a super relaxing massage, you get access to all the baths on the premises, including the lake (if you’re crazy enough to jump in).
Picture it, you’re in a hot tub with a snow-covered hat and the steam coming off of the water into the cold air is blinding you. You can choose to go in the cold baths too, but, really? Some people did it. After all your muscles are relaxed, grab your robe and head into the steam room and sauna, followed by a cold water bucket. Ahhhhhhh.
There’s a relaxation room with magazines, couches, and lounge chairs. Grab a hot beverage, soup, or a cheese plate in the lobby cafe. I really have to make this trip a tradition. I’m already thinking about how I can squeeze another Scandinave spa day into this winter!
Eat and Drink
After being out in the cold,warm up at La Forge with a hot cocktail, such as a vin chaud (red wine with rum and spices, served with a cinnamon stick and orange slice) or hot shots! Grab a seat at the bar for spectacular views of the slopes. They have great poutine, French onion soup, and duck wings. Get the soup served in a bread bowl because, why not?
If you’re looking for something other than bar food, check out Le Q.G. Resto-Pub. For a mix of new American with a French twist, this small restaurant serves dishes such as carpaccio and tartares as well as a delicious catch of the day and of course, steak frites. The most inventive and aesthetically pleasing appetizer was the escargots served on a thin, crispy, croissant-like wafer.
Pizzateria had delicious personal pies good for two people to share. Get there early or wait until after the dinner rush because this place fills up quickly and I can understand why. I recommend the meat lovers pie.
Do not miss the AXE lounge bar at the Fairmont Tremblant. Bar bites can be enjoyed at their posh, yet relaxing bar. I’m not big on whiskey, but this drink garnished with espresso beans was fantastic.
MicroBrasserie la diable is a cool little stop off for craft beers and more bar food.
Café D’époque is the late night spot for dancing. The DJ plays great music and it’s a great way to work off all of that poutine and pizza!
Before you leave…
If you’re on your way out and just need that last fix of Poutine, definitely try Smoke’s poutinerie. They have many different varieties made to order. This was the winner of all the poutines we tried (and more than we care to admit!)
I hope this travel guide helps you curate your next winter escape. I would love to hear about all of your winter travels, cold or warm! Also, send me any questions you have as you plan your getaway. I love talking everything travel and would love to be of assistance in any way that I can. Looking for more travels guides? Check them out here and here.
Thanks for stopping by the blog. Like this post below or leave a comment!
Trust yourself and follow your heart
It’s hard to take a leap of faith and put yourself out there sometimes. But if that’s what it takes to manifest your dreams, then that’s what you have to do! Exactly one year ago I decided to launch this blog after a few years of toying with the idea. It was only when I surrounded myself with like minded and creative people that I made the decision that this is something I can and want to do.
Trusting the voice inside of me to take a chance regardless of the outcome is something I’ve struggled with. I tend to go with the “safe” choices in life. But I realized there isn’t any growth in the comfort zone. Try to listen to that little voice that speaks to you. What have you always wanted to do? What has held you back from taking the plunge? When the time is right, will you push the “what if’s” aside and take a chance on a dream?
Writing my intentions and aspirations down is one of the habits that has kept me accountable. Whether it’s embarking on a new adventure, taking a trip, starting a new routine, or planning my week out so that it includes a balance of self-care and work, I find that I’m more likely to stick to it if I write it down.
Don’t compare yourself to others; Instead be clear about your purpose
We live in a society that can sometimes set us up for disappointment. We see people who make “success” and “the good life” seem so easy. I’ve learned that everyone’s story is quite different. We can’t try to be like what we see in the movies or on social media. Most of it just isn’t real life. The way we choose to live has to be in line with who we are and what we really seek. Is it financial security, fame, influence, or is it more authentic? Make your purpose clear. It’s going to look very different than the next person’s version of that.
What really excites you? How do you want to live your life? Make sure that it’s fueled by love and right intention. If it comes from a place of authenticity and truth rather than envy or competition, then the end result won’t be as important or exciting as the journey is.
Create the life you love
Everyday is a new opportunity to recreate yourself and curate the life you want to live.
Letting go of the things that weren’t aligned with my purpose in order to give the energy to what made me feel alive as well as giving up the need to do it all has been so liberating. My time became more precious than ever. As much as my social life dictated my calendar in the past, I made the conscious decision to be more selective about what I committed to this year. This was the game changer.
Starting this blog came with its lessons too, but it has brought me so much joy to know that I’ve inspired others (even just a little) and I hope to continue to do so in this coming year.
Committing to a more consistent yoga practice and completing my 200 YTT was one of the most gratifying experiences to date. Embarking on my yoga journey was just the tip of the iceberg. I look forward to sharing more of the wellness side of my life and offering you many ways to create a life you love every day.
These are just a few things I’m hoping to continue in the new year. Stay tuned for a month filled of wellness and habits of self-care and self-love you can create in the new year.
What were your highlights of 2017 and what are your intentions for the new year? Share them in the comments below or as always on the instagram page.