Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a Francophile. I grew up dreaming of going to Paris, decided to study French in college, and I currently call this beautiful country my home.

But if you’re planning on taking a trip here, there are some things you should know.

1. France isn’t Paris.

This seems simple, but the amount of times I’ve had someone ask me “How’s Paris?” when I live nowhere near the city is… astounding? Sad?

For anyone still confused, here’s a map of France.

Map courtesy of Mapswire.

See that little star? That’s Paris.

Mainland France has 96 departments, so there’s definitely a lot more to see than Paris. The French often consider the countryside more “French” than the city anyway. So there’s that.

2. The French are very kind.

Contrary to popular belief, the French are not rude. They just don’t like tourists. It’s nothing personal, really.

If you are planning to take a trip to France, simply avoid looking like a tourist. This means no super bright colors, no crossbody Kavu bags, and yes…no Chacos.

Oh, and maybe learn a couple French words to at least prove you’re trying. Knowing simple words like bonjour/s’il vous plaît/merci can go a long way.

3. When it comes to restaurants/touristy stuff, you pay for the environment.

Unlike the Americans chugging their Venti Starbucks as they rush out the door, the French prefer to take things slow.

But it comes at a cost.

Getting a meal à emporter (to-go) is cheaper than staying sur place. For example, a coffee could be 1 euro, but it will be 2.50 if you stay to drink it.

I’d recommend indulging the extra euro and just staying to enjoy the atmosphere. There’s truly nothing better than people watching outside of a café as you sip your tiny expresso.

4. Public transportation is your best friend.

Typically when I envision public transportation, I think of Elaine Benes stuck on the disgusting NYC subway and having a mild panic attack.

But in France, the majority of people use public transportation. It’s actually clean (yes, even in Paris). It’s also pretty affordable if you’re a young adult. Anyone under 26 is considered a youth in France and receives discounts on pretty much any public service (museums and movies included).

So don’t be afraid to hop on the bus, metro or train!

5. Prepare for late nights.

The French love their soirées. They typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 p.m. and meals last two (or more) hours. They eat and talk and eat more and talk and eat and are still somehow super skinny…

In short, don’t plan on the next day’s itinerary being jammed pack if you’re eating dinner with a bunch of French people the night before. After dinner and drinks are all said and done, you’ll probably be getting home around 1 a.m.


French culture is fun and wildly rich, so try to enjoy it in as many nonconventional ways while you’re here! Bonne chance!

Got more travel questions? Leave a comment below. I’d love to start doing some travel blog posts, so tell me what you want to know!

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Ras de Terre.

Ras de Terre.

My leftover soup was cold (and in a paper bowl nonetheless). I was sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, flipping through January’s issue of Vogue. As I gazed out at the cold winter sky, my heart longed to be in Paris.

All it took was one giant sneeze to plunge me back into reality. Until I remembered the postcard Pascal sent me. I picked it up.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I smirked. He wrote of the rainy Parisian skyline. My smile dissolved as I recalled how much I missed the dreariness of the city in winter. My mind began to wander, and when I looked back at my own bleak horizon, it was as though a piece of Paris was peeking through.


The gentle breeze blew through my hair as I walked through the park. My eyes were fixed on the desert sand beneath my feet. It was nearly sunset, and I was astounded that it could get so cold so quickly. So much was on my mind. So much could be said. So little was.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I knew it would all be okay. I knew that the inexplicable, inexpressible array of emotions I felt in that moment would disappear just like the dust that covered the ground.


I stood on the shore, letting the water barely touch my toes. I desperately stared at where the ocean meets the horizon, searching for something, anything. I thought of my new life. I was happy and sad and scared and content. The phrase shot into my mind again.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre. Ça veut dire qu’on n’est pas très loin, l’un à l’autre.

After all that time, I remembered the postcard. “We aren’t so far away from each other after all.”

Watching the same sky. Feeling the same emotions. Thinking many of the same questions. Living and breathing and loving and hoping. The sky begins at ground level, and we aren’t so far away from each other after all.

“You can be young and bitter. Just maybe not as bitter as I’m gonna be ten years from now, but I’m bitter. Anyway, don’t tell anyone.”

“You can be young and bitter. Just maybe not as bitter as I’m gonna be ten years from now, but I’m bitter. Anyway, don’t tell anyone.”

One year ago today I said goodbye to the best year of my life. I cried while boarding a plane because I knew I was leaving a piece of my heart in the French Alps. To reveal a bit of my perspective, here are some excerpts from my final days in France.

June 3, 2017.

It’s my second to last day in France and my heart shatters with every beat… As I packed, I couldn’t help but think about how funny it is to fit one’s entire life in a suitcase. (Talk about compartmentalizing.)

June 4, 2017.

I never thought this day would come. I can’t believe we’re already here… We all caught a glimpse of the sunset and ran outside to see the most beautiful view I’ve ever laid eyes on. Genève looked stunning and the whole valley reflected orangey pink hues. An extremely prolonged admiration of the sunset made us realize it was time to begin parting ways… We looked at the glittering lights of the city as I held my breath… I felt the desire to cry choking me. I was happy and sad at the same time and didn’t even know how that was possible… I am perfectly at peace.

 

I look back on those journal entries as though I’m reading someone else’s diary. The girl writing this post does not feel like the girl who spent an entire year traveling France, indulging in the beauty of their language and culture.

Bitterness has been one of the few words to describe how I’ve felt since being home. Even thought I joke about it now, I spent the entire summer (and most of this past school year) in a gloomy headspace which seemed to provide no way out.

I just recently came to a realization that much of my sorrow is self-inflicted. I can’t stop living in the past, and that’s what’s torturing me. So no, I will probably never stop talking about France. It was the most influential year of my life thus far. But I will also no longer live in the past, reveling in the romanticized reality of my mind.

KV

(P.S. Title is from Season 3 Episode 17 of Seinfeld.)

Reflections of a Coffee Addict

Reflections of a Coffee Addict

It’s 8:46 a.m. as I sit down for breakfast and take a sip of my coffee. I cringe. It’s my first day back home, and I already feel like a snob. American coffee is terrible.

When I moved to France for a year, I expected culture shock and other unusual societal norms. What I didn’t expect was to be shaped by something as small– literally and figuratively– as their coffee. I’ve been a coffee enthusiast for quite some time now, and I thought going to Europe would simply help me appreciate the art of coffee even more. Little did I know, it would reveal much to me about society as a whole.

The culture surrounding coffee in France is much different from here in the United States. Much of American coffee culture consists of waiting in line for 20 minutes only to run out the door with our venti mocha frappuccino or vanilla non-fat soy latte or whatever other various sugary concoction it may be. When we do have time to sit down for coffee, it’s usually only for a 30 minute job interview or an easy first date with a potential partner. Unless, of course, you are invested in the hipster side of coffee. That subculture, if you will, contains multiple forms of coffee-making that often seem a bit redundant (I mean… do we really need a drip coffee, pour-over, and cold brew of the day?).

France is a completely different scene. You are strolling dans la rue when you stumble upon a tiny corner café. Little striped chairs and small circle tables are staggered along the awning, piquing your curiosity. A waiter comes outside to offer you a menu. You sit down. Upon ordering un café, a tiny espresso with an equally tiny spoon appears in front of you. You proceed to sip it for the next hour or two while divulging into political or philosophical conversation–and maybe snacking on a croissant– with your fellow French citizens.

Though this may be a bit exaggerated, the point remains. For the French, it’s extremely important to set aside this time. Coffee isn’t just a drink to keep you awake throughout the monotony of your day. It’s a form of true connection; it allows you to have time for the important people in your life. The practice of afternoon coffee is essential for maintaining the sanity one has in the midst of a busy schedule. Unlike the American guzzling their 32 oz. coffee while running late to work, the small and bitter espressos of the French clean the palate and energize the person for the remainder of the day.

Now that I’m back home, I realize that American coffee culture is definitely improving. (But we could definitely still learn a thing or two from the French.)

P.S. For your entertainment here are some photos of me consuming way too many espressos in France.

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USA brand brings European style to the West Coast

USA brand brings European style to the West Coast

If you look at her Instagram, you might think she’s a travel blogger. But she’s actually at every fashion week to get inspiration for her newest collections. From Portugal to Paris, fashion designer Brittany Correy is always on-the-go.

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Correy is the name and face behind the lady & the sailor, a simple clothing collection based on a solid fashion philosophy. “Good basics are the foundation to creating beautifully uncomplicated style.” With three boutiques in L.A., her brand is bringing European fashion to the U.S. one classic piece at a time. 

How did you become interested in fashion?

“I wouldn’t say there was one pivotal moment. I come from creative roots; that was my upbringing, art. It was just the natural progression. Fashion is just a daily form of art to me. It’s unique to the person. Each day you choose colors and textures. It’s like everyday you wake up and say, “Who am I today?” Such a fun form of expression.”

How did you start the lady & the sailor?

“With a set of ideas and long hours! I built the idea for the collection initially on my need for certain things. I would get dressed and feel like I was missing certain “building pieces.” For example, a tee refined enough to wear to a nice dinner. Or a tank long enough to layer under a specific sweater. The brand was built on the five pieces I always thought I was missing to complete an outfit.”

How would you describe your brand?

“Feminine with a nod to boy.”

What’s your favorite accessory?

“Hands down my favorite vintage Levis! I wear them endlessly, and they seem to fit the bill for almost any occasion in LA. Daytime with a sweatshirt or striped tee. Nighttime with a perfect leather jacket, black tee and heels.”

What’s a typical day like for you?

“I usually start my day at the office and check in with the 3 boutiques. Once they are all situated, I move on to design and production. There’s daily design, playing with color palettes and fabrics. And then fittings several times a week. Fashion moves fast; there’s never down time.”

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

“All my favorite hobbies are not fashion related. This business is so consuming for me, when I get free time, truly the last thing I want to do is fashion related. Sometimes I need to rest my mind so I can be inspired when it counts. I love travel, yoga and it sounds crazy, but organizing! There’s nothing more enjoyable for me than a quiet evening at home organizing my closet or bathroom drawers.”

What inspires you?

“Travel, always. I can’t get enough. I love to see what people are wearing, men and women both. There’s also so much inspiration found in cityscapes, food, everything. I was in St. Tropez this summer and came across this incredible street of pink buildings: each had a different color trim. I wrote down every color combo there was!”

What’s it like constantly traveling? Are there things from home you miss while you are gone?

“First and foremost, my French bulldog, Clyde. After a day, I miss him so much it hurts! Then, of course, my husband and my family. Then it’s the little things, like my favorite coffee and my bed. Also just the luxury of having down time between travels. There’s nothing better than being home on a Saturday afternoon with literally nothing to do. No deadlines, no pressure. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

What tops your bucket list?

“I wouldn’t say it’s a single destination or experience. Rather, I would love to get to a place in the future where I could spend a full summer abroad. Relocate for May or June until August. I’d pick a place that I find the most inspiring at the time. I’d spend the summer absorbing the culture and then of course designing and sourcing. The summer would culminate with shooting our spring campaign, which we shoot every August. It’s our biggest and most important lookbook of the year. The campaign would likely be inspired by my summer.”

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

“I’ve always envisioned the lady & the sailor as a lifestyle brand, comprised of more than just clothing. We’re currently working on branching into accessories, bags, shoes and things of that nature. During my travels, I’ve seen so many beautiful things made by international artisans! There’s so many of these things I’d like to infuse into this realm of the brand.”

 

To shop, visit the website.

Photos courtesy of Brittany.

 

Words I Need to Hear.

Words I Need to Hear.

I feel rather uninspired. And as a writer, it’s easy for me to get in these ruts. However, when I do I often just stop everything creative. I completely shut down. So here’s a little note to myself.

Don’t do that. It’s not healthy. Write even when you don’t feel like writing.

Write when you’re sad. Write when you’re happy. Write when you’re upset and stressed and lazy and every emotion in between.

Don’t let your emotions control you. Writing when you don’t feel like it is what makes you great (I’ve received this advice time and time again from great writers I know and admire).

Oh! And before I forget…

I also have one quick question: what would you be interested in reading? If you were absolutely stuck reading my blog for a solid hour, what are three subjects/articles/thoughts you would want to read about?

Leave your answers in the comments below! I can’t wait to hear from you.

 

KV

(Featured Image taken by me in Bayeux, France)

Playlist du Jour.

Playlist du Jour.

So, as we are all aware, today is August 21. The day of the solar eclipse.

Predicted to be the busiest travel day in the history of the US, it is kind of a big deal. And of course, social media has blown up the event x1000. However, it should be celebrated! It is quite the exciting thing to see (but don’t look directly at it please).

For most of us, this is a one time event. And so, being the music fanatic that I am, I thought to myself, why not make a playlist? We have Halloween playlists, Christmas playlists, etc. Why not an eclipse playlist?

 

So, here is my fabulous Eclipse 2017 playlist. Enjoy. And be safe.

 

 

KV