Sneak Peek of The Peninsula Paris

An artisan working on restoration of The Peninsula Paris (photo courtesy of the Peninsula Paris)

An artisan working on restoration of The Peninsula Hotel (photo courtesy of The Peninsula Paris)

For the curious, Paris proves an unending playground. Hidden courtyards, secret gardens, covered passageways.

Even structures in plain sight hold countless stories. I’m not exactly dispensing an amazing revelation to say the City of Light is architecturally stunning. Simply walking through certain parts of town I think that each building might be famous.

One of my favorite pastimes is dipping into experiences that are normally far from my daily life.

And so it was that I stumbled out onto Avenue Kleber a few weeks ago and stood before a soon-to-open luxury hotel.

Staff lined up to greet invited guests at The Peninsula Hotel.

Staff lined up to greet invited guests at The Peninsula Hotel.

Why I’d received an invitation to a pre-launch press conference, I hadn’t a clue. But did I want to see the fancy hotel? Indeed.

I felt like something of an imposter as my name was checked off the list. I was sought out immediately by the director of communications and handed a glass of champagne and a selection of sweets to enjoy on the outdoor terrace.

Peninsula Outdoor terrace

I soon settled in and pretended I belonged. After some mingling we were ushered into the Grand Lobby for a presentation, then given a private tour of the hotel.

It’s gorgeous.

Continue reading ‘Sneak Peek of The Peninsula Paris’

Carnaval Tropical in Paris

Carnaval Close-up
Last time I wrote to you, I was still in Guadeloupe. I’ve been back in Paris for awhile now, but as busy as a bee.

Today I could easily have forgotten just where I was as the Carnaval Tropical paraded literally outside my front door.

Carnaval

The event could be likened to the West Indian Day parade, though along with many island contenders (such as said Guadeloupe and Martinique), there were also a lot of other groups representing places as diverse as Bolivia, Vietnam and…Saint Malo?

Brittany's great but I don't usually think of it as tropical.

Brittany’s great but I don’t usually think of it as tropical.

I was delighted by whoever danced by. Fill the streets with music! Fill the rues with drums! I loved the colorful spectacle, especially against the overcast day (thank you, Paris sky for *mostly* keeping the rain away).

Guadeloupe blue, Carnaval

Bolivia, Carnaval Tropical 2014

Shiny white, Carnaval Tropical 2014

People-watching is probably one of my all-time favorite activities. Give me an event like this and I don’t know where to look. I’m as interested in the reactions of the crowd as the costumed participants.

Continue reading ‘Carnaval Tropical in Paris’

International Pillow Fight Day + Literary Flash Mob

Looking for something original to do this weekend?

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 5 is International Pillow Fight Day. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a whole bunch of people get together in one place and battle with pillows. From Seattle to Seoul, cities across the globe organize this quirky event.

The Paris version ups the ante by asking participants to also come in costume. I’m not sure how I feel about that part (a pillow fight seems enough – and isn’t the horse head prop in the video from last year a little creepy?)

In any case, you know I love random events. I participated in a flash mob pillow fight years ago in New York and had a ton of fun. Check out the website to see if there’s one happening near you.

Meeting point in Paris is Place de la République at 3 PM.

ALP Paris Book Mob

If you’re looking for something more civilized, the American Library of Paris is organizing a literary flash mob next Saturday, April 12 at 5:30 PM.

Participants are asked to bring a book to the Eiffel Tower, spread out on the Champs de Mars, and at the appointed time strike a reading pose and freeze for 3 minutes. They’ll be filming, so get ready to look the part of literary star.

For more details, check out the Paris Book Mob page on the ALP’s website.

(The freeze flash mob in Grand Central station that inspired ALP is pretty cool, too).

Have a great weekend! And let me know if you get up to any hijinks!

Create What You Seek + The Kale Project

Eiffel Tower in the mistBetween my writing residency and road trip, I’ve been away from Paris for some time. I’ve gotten caught up in other worlds, but the city’s on my mind.

“April in Paris” is one of those phrases that instantly evokes a certain nostalgia. A mood set in three simple words. (Listen to Ella & Louis do their rendition of the song).

I’ll be interested to return to Paris this month (though I’m not rushing my sojourn in Guadeloupe. Bravo to those who figured out my current location from the last post’s clues!). Distance is always great for allowing us to see places we know with fresh eyes. I wonder, too, if Paris – and France – have some new changes in store.

After two rounds of voting, Paris elected its first-ever female mayor, Anne Hidalgo. (Most of France moved to the right politically in the recent municipal elections, but as Paris is so often an exception, the Socialist candidate prevailed there).

Hidalgo was born in Spain, but grew up in Lyon, becoming a French national at the age of 14. She quoted the writer Sacha Guitry in saying: “Being a Parisian is not about being born in Paris, it is about being reborn there.”

Continue reading ‘Create What You Seek + The Kale Project’

Refilling the Well + Return to France*

Any guesses where I am? It *is* a return to French territory.

Any guesses where I am? It *is* a return to French territory.

Right after my writing residency at the Kerouac House I went on a road trip. It only seemed fitting after spending a full season in Jack’s house.

From New Orleans to Baton Rouge, NYC to San Juan, I’ve had a lot of fun before finally returning to French territory…though it’s probably not where you think.

400 palm trees line L'Allée du Manoir

(Literally) on the road: 400 palm trees line L’Allée du Manoir

I bounce between periods of recording life in my notebook and of living it. Rather than worry as I used to when not putting pen to paper consistently (maybe I’ll never write again!) I instead embrace these periods as an important part of the process.

I just enjoyed 3 months of uninterrupted solo time to focus on my creative work. What I’ve done since is travel, experiencing new places, meeting old friends and making new ones. Planting the seeds for new stories. Refilling the well.

It’s a lot to encapsulate, but here are a few snapshots:

Continue reading ‘Refilling the Well + Return to France*’

Luck and Expectations: Some Thoughts on Moving Abroad

Thinking of moving to Paris? Carpe Diem.

Thinking of moving to Paris? Carpe Diem.

Recently I was tapped as an “expat expert” and asked to contribute a tip about living abroad for an HiFx campaign. At first I balked at being considered an “expert.” But then I reasoned: if experience is what makes someone knowledgeable, then I must know something after 7 years in Paris.

Still, I had trouble coming up with concrete advice. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that everyone’s experience is different. Part of the adventure (and frustration) of life in France is that it’s difficult to pin down the precise rules. Documents asked of one person for a dossier, for example, may not be requested of another.

Art along the Seine

Art along the Seine

In the end, perseverance counts more than anything. My tip, therefore, emphasized attitude, summed up in a few short lines. (You can see the full list of tips here; mine will be added soon).

The topic got me to wondering, though. How could I expand on the lessons I learned moving to the City of Light? I realized expectations and the perception of luck play a major role when I talk to people about moving abroad. Here are some broad thoughts on the subject:

Continue reading ‘Luck and Expectations: Some Thoughts on Moving Abroad’

Love Beams and a Reading

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” -Guillaume Apollinaire

Stop! Small miracle alert. Love beam over the Seine.

Stop! Small miracle alert. Love beam over the Seine.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

I hope your life is full of love, on this and every day. I’ve spent the majority of V-days single rather than in a pair so I truly mean love in its widest sense, not simply the part about romance. Family, friends, the nice neighbor who baked you a pie, the stranger who gave you a smile – love is all around us!

I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to a special kind of happiness this time round, though. My beau has just arrived from Paris.

Continue reading ‘Love Beams and a Reading’


paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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