The Simply Luxurious Life®: July 2013  

July 31, 2013

Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 18

Stripes certainly fit the definition of classical casual attire, but what if stripes appear on a pencil skirt? Today I’ve created two looks – one for work and one for summer play. As you can see, while a heel should always be worn to continue to elongate the leg (which is the gift of the pencil skirt), a casual or a more formal look is possible.


~DKNY color block stretch cotton pencil skirt~

~Miu Miu cashmere silk blend sweater (more colors available)~

~Cole Haan Chelsea pump~

~J.Crew collection icon trench~


~Target Mossimo ponte stripe pencil skirt (black or navy)~

~Club Monaco Marion sleeveless sweater~

~J.Crew Collection cashmere getaway hoodie~

~UGG Lucianna espadrilles~



Why Not . . . Practice Courteous Cell Phone Etiquette?

According to a recent U.N. report, six of the seven billion people around the world have a cell phone. The statistic is astonishing especially since mobile phones have be around for less than 30 years.

The staggering number also indicates that since we all have them, we should all be empathetic about how to use them in a polite manner while surrounded or engaged with other people. However, every so often I will encounter people who are oblivious to their environment and be completely consumed by their phone – speaking loudly, speaking in an inappropriate location for all to hear how so-and-so’s will was coming along (not kidding, such a discussion occurred in the waiting room for all to hear), putting someone on speaker who doesn’t realize they are speaking intimately to a room full of strangers, etc.

I will be the first to admit, my smart phone is always with me, I do check it often, and I’m sure I’ve committed my own faux pas from time to time, but as with most situations in life when working with people, common sense very rarely leads you astray. If we would put ourselves in another person’s shoes who has to listen to our conversation or be heard by strangers when we think we are only speaking to our love, what would be the best response to help everyone feel most at ease? More often than not, I think the below tips for practicing courteous cell phone etiquette would be on everyone’s list.

1. Become the Master

Unlike Pavlov’s dog responding every time he hears a bell, we can choose to exercise more self-control. Just because the phone rings, a tweet chirps or a text message swooshing into our inbox doesn’t mean we have to reflexively respond immediately.

In fact, studies have shown that responding to each alert that our social media brings our attention to can actually increase stress (source). On the flipside, studies have also shown that living in the moment increases happiness and thus reduces stress. So when we the “beep” occurs and we respond, we are taken out of the present and thus let go more control of how to create a state of contentment.

Becoming the master of one’s cell phone is to choose designated times throughout your day in which your phone will have to wait – dinner, sleep, dates, time with your children, driving, etc. And in doing so, we create a life of balance, mastering our cell phone rather than letting it master us.

2. Not at the Table

Since we are now the master of our cell phones and not the other way around, carving out time to spend with those we love and be present to enjoy the food we are eating is a way of setting healthy priorities.

While dining alone for lunch in Paris earlier this month, I immediately sat down and placed my phone on the table out of habit. The waiter promptly, yet politely, asked me to put it away as that is not what their restaurant wanted to advertise, but rather an environment of conversation, food appreciation and pleasure. What a novel concept! A waiter in the United States wouldn’t dare ask this of their patrons, and quite honestly, I wish they would. A cell phone free zone goes a long way in creating an environment of being present consequently creating conversation and appreciation.

3. Thoughtful Use of Speaker Phone

This particular piece of etiquette is a tremendous pet peeve of mine. Always ask someone if you can put them on speaker phone and let them know who is in the room with you so that they can edit what they say or choose to say no to the request. Never assume what they have to share is something they want everyone to know about.

If you have to use speaker phone to hear and others are in the room, don’t take the call.

4. Excuse Yourself

As we all know, our phones will ring when we are in the middle of a variety of engagements. Some we can excuse ourselves from to take the call and some we cannot (that’s what voicemail is for). But if we are in a situation where we aren’t conversing with others, but still surrounded by people, why not excuse ourselves to some place where it is more private so that we aren’t disturbing those around us.

5. Speak Quietly in Public

If for some reason we can’t excuse ourselves – on public transportation, waiting in line, etc – speak quietly. And if doing so will make it impossible  to have a conversation, don’t answer the phone. Send a quick text, letting the caller know you will call them back when you able.

6. Avoid Personal Topics while in Public

As I mentioned in the introduction, the assumption that personal issues are perfectly fine to share with strangers while on a phone call is baffling to me. Whether we know the people in the room or not, exercising decorum in what is revealed shows respect for those around you, respect for the person on the phone (after all, they don’t know who’s listening to their personal conversation) and respect for your own privacy.

7. Silence

When attending the movies, the theater or any other event in which prior to the performance it is politely asked of the audience to turn their phones off – do so. If you have issues with authority, that’s your issue, but choosing to turn off your ringer so that everyone can enjoy the performance they’ve paid to see is being respectful to the situation that you yourself wanted to attend as well. If you prefer to talk/text/tweet while watching, rent it when it comes out on DVD.

8. Choose a Tactful Ringtone

Similar to having a private conversation in public with a room full of strangers, the ringtone you choose reveals immediately to those around you a glimpse into your life (or at least an idea of who you are). Perhaps you want to make a statement, but choose to do it by writing a letter to the editor or via your actions, not with the ring of your phone.

9. Don’t Text or Talk While Driving

All but nine states in America ban texting while driving and nine states ban hand-held cell phone use while driving. However, even if your state or country does allow one or both of these activities, live by a higher standard for the safety of yourself and others. And while using hands-free and Bluetooth are perfectly legal and much safer as there will be times when you need to make or take a call while traveling, studies have proven that even these can lessen a driver’s reaction time. Ask yourself before taking a look at that text or answering that call, is worth it or can it wait?  Again, choose to be the master.

10. Give Face to Face Conversations Priority

“When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

While technology has certainly allow for us to communicate more readily and with people located around the world, it has not decreased the value of face-to-face communication. And when we choose to make the time to spend time with those people – whether in our personal or professional lives – making that time a priority and letting calls, texts and tweets go unanswered immediately conveys to the person we are with that our time with them tops our list, consequently strengthening that relationship.

11. Please & Thank You even when Texting

“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.”
- Dale Carnegie

No matter which mode of communication we are using, common courtesies should still be included. Beginning a text with a demand without offering a “Good morning"!” or “Please” or “Would it be possible?” sets a tone of disrespect and disregard for the person on the receiving end.

The same should be said for ending the back and forth conversation. Even if you simply send a “Thank you” or “Thanks for thinking of me” after someone messages you a “Good luck!”, make it habit of being respectful with your texts as much as you would with a face-to-face conversation.

12. Facebook Tagging

While I don’t have a personal Facebook account, I have had the instance of being tagged or included in a photo onto someone’s wall when I wasn’t aware of it. And I must say, in some instances, even if the photo was perfectly benign, it was an image from my personal life that I would have preferred to have kept private.

So whenever you are posting images with other people or tagging them, make sure you are certain that they wouldn’t mind, and when in doubt, don’t (or at least ask to find out one way or the other).


The purpose of owning and using a cell phone is to simplify and provide more freedom, but if we allow it to do the opposite – complicate our lives and tether us, it isn’t serving its intended purpose. I by no means am the model user of a smart phone, but I am always striving to use it in such a way that is helpful to creating a more productive business, stronger relationships and a more conscientious and respectful way of living.

I would love to hear how you have become the master of your cell phone. Please share in the comments below or on Facebook how you use your cell phone in a courteous manner that continues to enhance the quality of your life.

Images:  (2) source (3) source (4) source (5) source

July 30, 2013

New on the Blog – French Inspired Living

With many of TSLL readers having a predilection for all things French (similar to myself), and while the Archives page has organized all French-themed posts in one category, I wanted to create one place on the blog where readers could locate all pertinent information about France – style, food, travel, books, locales, etc as a way to continue to bring the aspects of French living they most appreciate into their everyday lives with one easy click.

So with the help of Inslee Haynes, the talented illustrator behind all of the illustrations you see on The Simply Luxurious Life, an exclusive illustration was created for the new page on the blog titled “French-Inspired Living”.

Francophiles will find not only French themed posts that have previously appeared on the blog, but also a library’s list of books focused on French-inspired living, style, cooking, as well as my list of recommendations for places to visit in France, vacation rentals, blogs/websites, travel tips and recipes shown on the blog inspired by French chefs.

The page will continually be updated to include the latest and best information I have found and wish to share with my readers.

I do hope you enjoy and continue to feed your love for all things French.

Image: Commissioned exclusively for TSLL from Inslee by Design, please do not use without express written permission from TSLL

Why Not . . . Rent the Runway?

Every season when the new styles from top designers make their way down the runway, I often dream of having the opportunity to wear a Vera Wang original, Calvin Klein or Carolina Herrera for a special occasion. Knowing that I will never have the budget to keep one in my closet, Rent the Runwayoffers the opportunity for everyone to look their best without paying the full price tag.

Founded in 2009 by two Harvard business graduates, Rent the Runway  continues to offer top designer labels at a fraction of the price for 4 or 8 day rentals.

With the opportunity to try their business model out myself and share with my readers my experience, I was impressed with the prompt delivery of the dresses I chose (2 day delivery – even on Saturday via UPS) and ease of return (pre-paid UPS label and bag – all you have to do is schedule a pick up or drop it off at your local UPS dropoff/location).

What I also was thankful for was the ability to order two sizes. While the sizing guides included with each garment were very accurate, knowing you have two to try on brought with a peace of mind. And as an extra luxury, if you need undergarments (Spanx, etc) or want to pair the accessories they suggest – earrings, clutches - you can rent them right along with your dress rental.

With two dresses to style, I chose a day dress by Black Halo - their Black Jackie O Dress . . . that could easily transition into evening.

And for a more formal choice, Prabal Gurung’s Purple Psychedelic Floral Sheath . . . very little accessorizing is needed as the dress speaks for itself.

~SHOP THE DETAILS: black pump – Enzo Angiolini, leopard cashmere scarf/stole – Eric Bompard; gold cuff – flea market find (similar - Gold Cuff Bracelet), black belt – similar; Black Halo Jackie O dress (multiple colors)

LAST NOTE: Not only can you rent designer dresses on Rent the Runway,  but currently through the end of August, you can buy many of the dresses on the website at consignment prices – click here.

This & That: No. 69

Simplistic, elegant food, simple, classic style, a book I can’t wait to read, a film worth watching and more . . .


1. Glamour in the Country

As someone who fell in love with the UK last year, I was delighted to discover Lisa aka as Lula Belle’s blog Glamour in the Country. As she explores the UK and shares with her readers the glamorous discoveries – English afternoon teas, museums, events and travels – I look forward to following her on her upcoming inaugural trip to Paris, and I think you might enjoy perusing her blog as well.

~Blog Post to Read

2. 10 Common Characteristics of Average People by LifeHack

Sometimes all it takes is a reminder of what not to do to keep us motivated on a path toward our goals. Some may wonder why we don’t slow down and relax more often or why we are so driven – those of us who always choose to chase down a goal, and so when I read Life Hack’s post “10 Common Characteristics of Average People” I was reassured that indeed it will take hard work and creative thinking, but the effort is worth it.


3. French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude by Mireille Guiliano

While the film based on Mireille Guiliano’s 2004 New York Times Best Seller French Women Don’t Get Fat is nearly complete, Guiliano is about to release yet another book as part of her successful French Women series – French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style and Attitude. Set to be released December 24th, you can pre-order your copy here.

Mireille offers tips via her gifted knack for story-telling about how to continue to look beautiful and feel fabulous without going under the knife. I for one cannot wait to get my hands on it.


4. Bouchon by Thomas Keller

Over the weekend, I was busy in the kitchen making my way through a few of Thomas Keller’s French bistro inspired recipes offered in his successful cookbook Bouchon which focus on utilizing quality ingredients, simple, yet proven techniques resulting in exquisite food. Trying the Cauliflower Gratin and the Chocolate Mousse (shared yesterday on the blog), I came away a convert to his way of thinking about food and cooking. (Next on my list, the roasted chicken.)


5. Blue Jasmine

Written and directed by Woody Allen, Cate Blanchett stars as a New York socialite who has lost it all due to her husband (played by Alec Baldwin’s) shady financial dealings (a younger version of Bernie Madoff) and has flown to San Francisco to live with her sister (played by Sally Hawkins). Critics across the board are raving about Blanchett’s performance and already calling for the Oscar nomination and even the trophy to be placed in her hands.

While it was released in New York and Los Angeles just last weekend, look for it to be available soon across the country. An interesting insight into the haves, the have nots and the used to haves and how everyone handles their seemingly singular situation. Here are a few reviews to read – New Yorker, LA Times, New York Times.


~Petit Bateau (sale) Sailor-Striped sweatshirt in heavy jersey

A few weeks ago, while still in Paris, I stepped into Petit Bateau and enjoyed some of the great sale prices on classic nautical tops, similar to the sailor-striped short-sleeve sweatshirt in heavy jersey. One of the items that was not for sale, but certainly caught my attention was their sailor-stripe hooded sweater shirt. Oversized if purchasing the large, it would be the ideal lounge jacket for walking along the beach, sitting outside in the evenings or in the fall, strolling through the fallen leaves. Needless to say, it’s on my wishlist. And if you haven’t subscribed already, be sure to sign up for their newsletter and receive a promo code for 25% off your first purchase.

July 29, 2013

Simple & a Dream – Dark Chocolate Mousse

The beauty of French recipes, and also the barrier at times, is the technique that ensures a quality meal so long as the ingredients are top quality as well. The surprise in making a handful of recipes so far out of Thomas Keller’s successful cookbook Bouchon, inspired by his restaurant Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, Napa Valley, is that you aren’t using a long list of ingredients or rare oddities, rather quality ingredients that are combined and molded in such a way that create a treat for the senses.

Sure to impress your guests or family, Keller’s Dark Chocolate Mousse is light and airy, but sweet and rich at the same time. It will certainly satiate your sweet tooth at the end of a meal. Just be sure to make it the morning before the dinner or the day before so it has time to set.

Dark Chocolate Mousse (Mousse au Chocolat Noir)
from Thomas Keller’s cookbook Bouchon
*makes 8 small servings or 4 ramekins (as seen above)


  • 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Manjari (64%) or Ghiradelli’s, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons espresso or hot water
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


  1. Combine the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature. To test, dab some chocolate on your bottom lip. It should feel warm. If it is too cool, the mixture will seize when the other ingredients are added.
  3. Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate. You can do with this by hand and it takes maybe 2-3 minutes.
  4. Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape (by hand, this will take about 5-7 minutes). Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until soft peaks form (expect another 5-10 minutes). Be patient; the soft peaks will appear.
  5. When the chocolate has reached the proper temperature, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream. (Do this all by hand to keep the mixture as light, fluffy and full of air as possible.)
  6. Spoon or pipe the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes (I used small ramekins). Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. The mousse can be refrigerated for up to a day.
  7. Serve the mousse with cookies or enjoy alone.

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4 Ways to Be Happy Now

“Unhappiness lies in that gap between what we have now and what we think we need.  But the truth is, we don’t need to acquire anything more to be content with what we already have.  We don’t need anyone else’s permission to be happy.  Your life is magnificent not because someone says it is, or because you have acquired something new, but because you choose to see it as such . . . Simply choose to appreciate the greatness that is yours in this moment, and the right conditions will start to line up around the contentment you seek. The greater part of your happiness or unhappiness depends upon your outlook, and not upon our situation.” Marc and Angel Hack Life 

Finding that special someone, attaining the dream job, living in the perfect neighborhood, being married, having the perfect pair of children, owning the proper wardrobe, renting your first apartment or purchasing your ideal home.

As a feature of this blog, Ask Shannon, I have received many emails about love and life situations in which people find themselves and their quandary about how they wish to change the situation to one of the above scenarios as they are certain that would immediately make them happy. I must also admit, that in the past, I too have uttered a few of these statements above thinking as so many people do that if only my life would change in a certain way, I would find that elusive happiness that I didn’t feel at the time.

But guess what? If I can’t find happiness in the moment I am currently in, happiness will always be the carrot on the end of the stick precariously just out of my reach no matter how much my life changes.

Why is that?

I have spent time with people who by society’s definition should not be happy, but to the world’s shock actually are blissfully content and consequently, very enjoyable to be around as they are content with the life they are living and have made the life that genuinely makes them happy dismissing society’s mythical definition.

For example, three of the most stable, loving and loyal couples I have known are childless, while on the flipside, I have met couples who have children who know they are loved, but a marriage that is teetering. Ironic, since society says the opposite should be true when it comes to what makes people happy.  Yet another example, I have worked with people who are the highest income earners in my profession, yet seem so stressed and unsettled that happiness is not in sight only the next bill they have to pay. On the other hand, a co-worker who makes an average living is genuinely fulfilled with the profession they have chosen and lives modestly, but wisely creating a life of contentment.

Now both examples I’ve shared are the extremes on both sides. I could also show you the reverse – a person who earns six figures who is very content and an average hourly wage earner who is miserable, or a family that at its foundation has a loving and adoring couple and a childless couple who feels incomplete or inferior, but the point is to remove the veil of assumption as to what constitutes a happy life. A large portion of what effects one level of happiness is their mindset to be happy in which ever situation they find themselves.

So that begs the question, how can one instantaneously become happy?

1. Appreciate all that is going well.

“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.
Oprah Winfrey

Can you get out of bed? Do you have the ability to choose what you wish to eat and enjoy it? Do you live in a country that protects your freedoms? Do you have a job? Is the water safe to drink? Do you have access to a mode of transportation? Do you have access to the internet? Do you have someone in your life who loves you for who you are?

Focus on all that is going well, tend to the matters that need your attention, but don’t exacerbate them by whining about them or making them worse. Fix and move forward. Appreciate and be thankful. Happiness for one person can be very different from the next, but the similarity for happiness in all people is that they choose to see what is going well, rather than the opposite. Simply by choosing an optimistic attitude you draw more amazing people, ideas, and opportunities to yourself. And that is when the amazing life you dream of can bloom.

2. Work with what you have.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

You may not have access to killer wardrobe to knock the socks off of your future boss in the upcoming interview, you may not live in a one bedroom yet, you may not have access to gourmet grocery stores to create the recipe you saw on Food Network last weekend, but you do have a mind. So get creative.

Some of the most amazing creations came out of the demand for something without the basic necessities. It will reveal how badly you want something and how uniquely talented you are. The only box that exists is the one you choose to remain inside.

3. Always do your best

“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.” –Earl Nightingale

All you can do is the best you are capable at the present moment, and the only way to improve is to push your limits which at times will leave you flat on your face. But notice, that you are falling forward. Those faceplants are the hidden diamonds that you need to pick up and turn into a priceless lesson that will allow you to do even better the next time.

When you choose to always do your best, you live with no regrets, you learn valuable lessons and you draw to yourself individuals with similar passions, talents and abilities. Who knows where the next opportunity could come that could chance the course of your life. (Read The Four Agreements for more information on this point.)

4. Let go of the happiness monsters

“Research shows convincingly that married people are no happier than single ones, and that singles have been found to enjoy great happiness and meaning in other relationships and pursuits.  If you don’t like your single life, change it. If you can’t or won’t change your life, change the way you think about it.  If truth be told, the happiness myth that you can only be happy with a partner is as powerful as it is wrong.” – Sonja Lyubomirsky author of The Myths of Happiness

There is a long list of happiness myths that pervade our culture and are repeated so often that they are accepted as truth. As I remind my students in class, go to the source. Where is this information coming from? Who did the study? What was omitted from the study? Ask questions and don’t take everything at face value simply because it’s was shared on the evening news and requires less work.

The myth that is continually repeated about those who marry are happier is based on a study that surveyed those who were currently married, not those whose marriages had ended in divorce. Including those who divorced who have “skewed” the study because clearly they were not happy in their marriage (source Singled Out by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D).

However, the good news that such a study does reveal is that choosing to live a happy life is a choice. It is a choice to work on creating a happy and healthy marriage. It is a choice to live a fulfilling and happy life without a partner. Ultimately, our level of happiness is more in our hands than we realize, and for those who haven’t realized this, who are begging for the answer – when will my happiness arrive? Guess what? It already has. It’s within you.

Stop looking outward for a gift to magically appear that will illuminate your life with ecstasy. The Happiness Fairy is as real as the Tooth Fairy. And that is actually very good news.

With so many things in the world we can’t control – world peace, jury verdicts, the weather, someone’s feelings about us – isn’t it empowering to know we choose to make our days happier or more miserable based on how we think, the decisions we make and how we go about our everyday lives? For me, such a realization was a tremendous aha moment and quite liberating.

You are the Happiness Fairy of your own life. Now choose wisely. Have a beautiful start to the week.

And feel free to join the discussion. What things do you focus on or revel in increase your feelings of happiness during an ordinary day? Share in the comments below or on Facebook.


~9 Ways Money Can Buy Happiness

~The Key to Happiness

~Five Things to Stop Romanticizing


Image: (1) source (2) source (3) source

July 26, 2013

The Weekend & My Favorite Place in Paris . . .

~I couldn’t find the recipe for this image, but here is my recipe for a scrumptious blueberry tart from chef Laura Calder~

Having settled in at home, the memories of the recent trip to Paris are lovely nostalgic doses that appear randomly in my thoughts, making me smile and reflect fondly on a lovely experience. This past week’s posts wrapped up the final posts from Paris (as they are organized below). If you too are eager to visit the City of Light, I have a few posts to answer your questions about renting an apartment in the city as well as traveling on the Metro. I do hope you find them helpful.

Also, in this past week’s posts are ideas for a summer dinner party, fabulous shopping finds and deals to be gathered up as well as life and style inspiration. Enjoy perusing . . .

~A Small Summer Dinner Party Menu . . . let me do the planning for you, all you have to do it get in the kitchen and enjoy!

 ~This & That: No. 68 . . . the ballet flats I live in have become available again

~Style Inspiration: Fun, Summer Ideas

~Splurge & Save Outfit: No. 17 . . . Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale is on now and I’ve found some must-have wardrobe essentials

~How to Master the Métro . . . six simple steps that will have you traveling safely and swiftly to the many destinations on your list

~A Luxurious Travel Sanctuary – Haven in Paris . . . and an exclusive offer for TSLL readers! Be sure to have a look.

~Paris by Mouth – A Food Tour to Devour

~CobbleStay – Frugal, Luxurious Parisian Rentals

~33 Lessons Learned in Paris . . . readers’ top post of the week

~And finally, the weekly newsletter has returned from its two week annual vacation hiatus and is full of all the Paris posts and more . . . issue #157 – click here to read.

And while I just couldn’t help myself, I thought I’d show a few last photos from the trip. The Palais-Royal has become my current favorite place to visit in Paris as it comes with this beautiful tucked away park, surrounded by top of the line boutiques (some of the shops were featured in this post last week), restaurants and is quiet, cool and quite tranquil. Have a look.

Oh, and a few more doors I found along my journey throughout the Marais.

Have a lovely weekend, and until Monday, bonjour.

Images: (1) source (2) source, the rest taken by TSLL

July 25, 2013

CobbleStay – Frugal, Luxurious Parisian Rentals


Many of you have asked where I stayed in Paris, and I am happy to share. And while I toured Haven in Paris while on my trip, I wasn’t ready to spend the money up front that they required until I was sure about the quality of their residences (trust me, they lived up and surpassed my expectations – view my review here).

With that said, not everyone can pay the full price up front six months in advance to ensure they get the place they want, so when I happened upon CobbleStay which requires you to pay half up front and the remainder 45 days prior to arrival, I took a closer look.

The staff was a pleasure to work with as they communicate with you via phone making sure all your questions are answered. I was even given recommendations of books and films to prep me for my arrival in the Marais.

A few weeks prior to your arrival, they ensure you have all your necessary directions, entrance codes, contact person, etc.

And once I arrived, I was communicating directly with the owner of the residence who knew all the ins and outs of the apartment. She was fluent in English and was very helpful, assisting me even when I had flight changes and differing arrival times than we had previously discussed.

The quiet 1st floor (2nd floor in the states) studio located in the Marais is situated with a small number of apartments congregating around a flourishing courtyard with personal terraces. On the morning of Bastille Day, I returned from Poilane to enjoy a pain aux chocolat with the Sunday Le Monde journal and sat outside on the ground floor terrace losing all track of time. It was intimate, private and quite lovely. Click here to see the entire rental.

Everyone who travels has a different budget in mind, and while CobbleStay offers very luxurious apartments as well, they also offer studios and one bedrooms that are more reasonable in price if you’d prefer to spend your money out and about.

Paris by Mouth – A Food Tour to Devour

As someone who loves her food and wine, I searched for a way to become better acquainted with the food of Paris specifically in the arrondisements near where I was staying on the right bank. So when I discovered Paris by Mouth and their list of food and wine tours, I had an inkling I had just found exactly what I was looking for.

A few months prior to embarking on my trip, I reserved a spot in the Taste of Marais food tour (something I would highly suggest as the groups are small and the spots go quickly). However, there are tours for a variety of different locations throughout the city as well as tours focusing specifically on chocolate, cheese, pastries and wine. So pick your pleasure and locale.

First, a bit about the founder Meg Zimbeck. Having contributed to “Food & Wine, SAVEUR, the Wall Street Journal, AFAR, Gridskipper, the BBC’s Olive magazine, and the seat-pocket magazines of United, Virgin Trains, and Gulf Air. She also hosted a program on Paris Street Eats for the Travel Channel (USA). Also, Meg’s food photography has been featured in T Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine,and Libération.” Needless to say, she knows her way around food and Paris, and has created a tour guide business that is a gem for foreigners and foodies who want to explore the culinary pleasures of Paris.

Now, let me show you where the Taste of Marais tour took me. If only I could share the food along with the images. Wouldn’t that be parfait?

Our small group consisted of three couples from Australia and New Zealand along with myself, and the tour guide was a recent graduate from Le Cordon Bleu’s wine program, named Stephanie. Knowledgeable and approachable, she was at complete ease leading us around the Marais talking about food and the history of the city which contributed to the group being able to relax and simply enjoy the scrumptious food in a beautiful Marais.

The tour met and began at Poilâne bakery (38 rue Debelleyme, 75003) where we not only tasted the famed sourdough rounds (learn more about the bakery here), but also were treated to a pastry of our choice (the pain aux chocolat was intoxicatingly delicious – a must try) and a “punishment cookie” to top off the commencement of the tour.

With our palettes whetted and knowing we were just getting started, we stopped by a non-descript patisserie in the 3rd arrondisement to taste a top quality baguette. Earning top baguette of Paris in 2008, the 59 RdS bakery (named after its street address, 59 rue de Saintonge), the baker also has another patisserie nearby 134 RdT located at 134 rue de Turenne.

Next, it was off to a charcuterie - Ramella Charcuterie at 38 rue de Bretagne which is located on one of the lovely bustling streets in the Marais across the street from Marché des Enfants Rouges where Stephanie selected a few meats for us to try.

And then to one of my favorite destinations in Paris – a fromagerie. The Jouannault cheese shop located at 39 rue de Bretagne directly across the street from the above charcuterie served up some in-house cheeses that intensified my appreciation for French cheese. Specifically, the 30 month aged Comte (the focus of the 3rd image below) that Stephanie invited us to try was exquisite with a variety of textures and subtle, yet full flavor.


Then we stepped inside the Marché des Enfants Rouges which was full of food vendors, freshly cut flowers, as well as brick and mortar shops such as the Premiere Pression Provence (located at 35 rue Charlot) which sells endless options of olive oils. Selling only products from Provence, the charming shop owner allowed us to taste many of the oils and taught us a bit about which oils to use for particular purposes. I couldn’t help picking up olive oil infused with basil as well as olive oil infused with black truffle.

Tucked away in a small public garden under a fig tree, we took a brief respite for a lunchtime snack as we dined on the bread, meats and cheese we had gathered so far along our journey.

With lunch behind us, it was now time for dessert. And the expertise and artistry of Jacques Genin at his chocolate shop located at 133 rue de Turenne was a haven for chocolate lovers.

Last but not least, Pain de Sucre pastry shop at 14 rue Rambuteau was a superb last taste of the Marais as we were offered a macaron of our choice.

For three hours, to tour a small, intimate part of Paris with an expert of the food and the area was a wonderful way to get a feel of my temporary home away from home. Upon paying for your spot in the tour, all the food you enjoy is free (oh, the tour guide speaks English) and the experience is priceless.

I highly recommend taking a few hours out of your trip to Paris to dive a little deeper into the food and wine that is hard to find anywhere else.

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