Archive for the 'Out and About' Category

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!

Culture Shock, Early Paris Days, and Crepes for Chandeleur

The day I arrived in Orlando to start my stint as the writer-in-residence at the Kerouac House, the project’s director drove me to the supermarket as soon as I dropped off my bags. Even if Central Florida felt a world away from France, I was glad one thing remained the same: food is a top priority! (That, and t.p. – not one roll left in the house!)

Pulling into the Publix parking lot, however, I realized, Toto, we’re not in Paris anymore.

Continue reading ‘Culture Shock, Early Paris Days, and Crepes for Chandeleur’

Prête-Moi Paris’ Blogiversary Bash

Having a ball (Can you name all the Paris superstars in this shot?)

Having a ball (can you name all the Paris superstars in this shot?)

As a writer, I know the importance of detail. The same must hold true for events.

Last night, Melissa Ladd of Prête-Moi Paris celebrated her four-year blogiversary at her gorgeous home in the seventeenth arrondissement (seriously! apartment envy!).

Prete Moi Paris mantle
Fitted with streaming pink pendants and rose-colored poofs, the festive rooms set the stage for a super fun soiree. 

Prete Moi Paris Party spreadMelissa Ladd opening champagne
Continue reading ‘Prête-Moi Paris’ Blogiversary Bash’

Giverny: A Gorgeous Getaway (and one dream down)

Yesterday I did something I’ve been wanting to do for as long as I can remember.

I went to visit the house and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny. It’s not so much the iconic impressionist painter’s works that have had me dreaming of Giverny – though they are of course quite impressive.

No, it’s that images of the actual place that inspired him grafted themselves onto my mind at a young age; I mean, how flippin’ beautiful can you get?

Lily pond - wow!

Why then has it taken me so many years to go? It’s under an hour’s journey from Paris, a simple train (then short bus) ride to arrive.

Isn’t this often the case with dreams, though, even (especially?) those that we can readily achieve? What do you think holds us back?

I’ve been battling a bit of the blues lately, but I also know how to kick myself in the butt, too. Just do it, Sion. See the gorgeous world and its gifts.

Some dreams are huge; they seem like mountains must be moved. But some…oh some have a clear shape, a concrete form, and are quite easy to make happen. The smallest joys can bring the biggest rewards.

This is what it looks like when one of those dreams comes true.

Lost in the gardens of GIverny

Me in glasses, Giverny

Continue reading ‘Giverny: A Gorgeous Getaway (and one dream down)’

Open House ‘Heritage Days’

Hôtel de Beauvais - Cour Administrative d'appel de Paris

Hôtel de Beauvais – Cour administrative d’appel de Paris

This past weekend was the thirtieth edition of Journées européennes du patrimoine – or “European Heritage Days.” This annual event has become an important date on September’s already busy rentree schedule.

Historic monuments, buildings, private residences, art museums, parks and gardens – all of these open to the public in an impressive show of the country’s rich cultural heritage. 12 million people visit the thousands of sites spread all across France.

A free tour of the towers of Notre Dame were offered for Heritage Days. We took the less crowded option and went around back.

A free tour of the towers of Notre Dame were offered for Heritage Days. We took the less crowded option and went around back.

We had planned to go out exploring on Saturday, but it was raining cats and dogs (or “raining ropes” – il pleut des cordes - as they say in French). Still, I heard on the news that people were waiting up to 3 hours in the rain to get into the Elysee, home of the French president.

(Here’s a video of the Elysee, in case you didn’t make it in, either):

While I love getting a glimpse of normally closed off places – and this weekend offered access to many of them! – I’m also kind of a wimp when it comes to both floods of people and waterworks from the sky.

Luckily our strategy worked – waiting until Sunday gave us a day free of rain (even some sun!) and manageable lines because we picked smaller sites. I didn’t know anything about the administrative court, but hey, why not? They’re letting us in!

Continue reading ‘Open House ‘Heritage Days’’


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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