Paris never gets old…

As old as it is, Paris is a place that never truly gets old. Walking down its historic streets, soaking in the sights, I can’t help but notice that its beauty never ceases to amaze me. The light changes with each day, casting new shadows and highlights.

Paris, France

Paris never gets old… nor does this view.    Photo credit: Bellanda

Yes, in the grit and grind of any passing day, it’s possible to focus on the negatives and on the imperfections that this and every other city hold… but for today, after the 2 year anniversary of November 13th, I choose to focus on the beauty of Paris, on the courage of its residents and on this city’s resilience. Paris, Je t’aime…

Paris se souvient... Nov 13th

Paris se souvient… Paris Remembers… November 13th   Photo credit: Bellanda

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Paris Sans Voitures… a true pleasure!

Paris Sans Voitures 2015

Paris Sans Voitures 2015

Ever experience crossing the busy Champs Elysées or La Place de la Concorde on foot? As with many big cities, it can be a bit of a challenge, even with the pedestrian lights. I’ve been caught numerous times on the middle platform clinging to my little ones until the light changed yet again, praying that they wouldn’t jet back into traffic as we waited.

This past weekend was different. We got the chance to walk in the streets of Paris… literally! What a pleasure and special opportunity. It was the first time that the city of Paris liberated its streets from cars, giving the opportunity for Parisians and tourists to enjoy the city without stress and added noise/pollution.

Paris Sans Voitures 2015

Paris Sans Voitures 2015

Although this was not the kind of day to leave your real camera at home, I decided to simply enjoy the walk with my loved ones. As many of you know, my energy levels can be inconsistent due to my illness. Unfortunately, this particular weekend, carrying my camera equipment was out to the question. That said, I couldn’t imagine not sharing this special event with all of you. Hope that you don’t mind the smartphone images… it’s the spirit of the event that counts, right? 😉

Are you this guy? Remember… life isn’t only about work. 

Remember:  take time to break away and have some fun!

We had a blast creating this video & finding the most amazing locations in Paris.

All rights reserved Bellanda ®

All rights reserved
Bellanda ®

 AGAIN AGAIN – Music performed by AFTERMOON

Video  –  A Story developed & created by Steve Guibert & Bellanda

Thank you to AFTERMOON for trusting us to create this clip for your music.

Recorded and mixed by Benjamin Le Jean @Gaijin Studio

Mastered by Chab

Video  –  A Story developed & created by Steve Guibert & Bellanda

Directed and Edited by Steve Guibert

Actor – Jean-Rodolphe Laclau

Film locations : Paris, France – CD&B offices and Caveau des oubliettes

Special thanks to CD&B, Ramcesprod, Crisprod, Caveau des oubliettes, Kasia Dietz, Fanny Mikol Frequelin, Zoé Mikol and to all of you in the bar scene who helped make this clip happen.

Aftermoon Official YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVxF

Aftermoon Official Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/aftermoon

Aftermoon Official Website : http://www.aftermoon-band.com

Aftermoon Official Twitter : https://twitter.com/Aftermoonband

Steve Guibert : steve.guibert@gmail.com

Steve Guibert LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/SteveGuibert

Bellanda LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/bellanda

Bellanda Twitter : https://twitter.com/BellandaInParis

Bellanda Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Bellanda

Paris Lights The Sky In Honor Of Nelson Mandela

While driving by the Eiffel Tower just before the Christmas holidays, we stopped the car to take in the view.

Paris lights the sky in honor of Nelson Mandela Bellanda ®

Paris lights the sky in honor of Nelson Mandela
Bellanda ®

A true definition of humanity, inner strength and courage… we were blessed by your passage here on earth.

The heavens now shine brighter with your presence. Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela.

Forever grateful,

Bellanda

I’m Not a French Chef, But Moving to France Has Changed This Expat’s Eating Habits!

This Expat Has Changed Her Eating Habits Since She Moved to France.

This Expat Has Changed Her Eating Habits Since She Moved to France.

As someone who has openly admitted to giving Americans a bad name when it comes to food and cooking, I have made huge changes since I moved to France. Although, we will still go to a fine restaurant from time to time to eat things we can’t possibly make ourselves, my New York lifestyle of going out to eat, grabbing or delivering something has become almost non-existent. Most importantly, my pasta no longer sticks to the wall like wallpaper paste, and you can actually cut and chew a piece of meat that I have cooked (much to the relief of my dear sweet man and children).

Although I know that I will never truly be French in my attitude and habits, food has become almost sacred for me. I’m not sure when it happened, but when I was recently asked if my eating habits have changed since I moved to France I was surprised by my answer. The change is in fact so dramatic that I’m not even sure if I should be proud or embarrassed.

As I write this blog post for you, I almost feel like a food snob. Okay, I think the word almost  is an understatement. I’m not proud, but I think that I have actually become one! We buy fresh foods found at the market. By fresh, I mean… literally. I cringe at the thought of buying or eating meat, fish or poultry that wasn’t cleaned/prepared for me in front of my very eyes. I don’t think I ever saw a fish head until I moved to France, and although I get laughed at by my French friends, I still don’t want to see it on my plate. Somehow, I don’t think I will ever evolve to that, nor do I want to. That said, fish and other meat products should be fresh. Who knew that fish doesn’t smell fishy if it is fresh? Okay, please don’t answer that. I’d like to continue thinking that I am not the only one who thought, all fish smells fishy.

Fresh Fish from Local Market

Fresh Fish from Local Market

As if the fresh meat and fish idea isn’t enough, I can’t help but gasp at vegetables or fruit in a can. If you just opened one up for dinner, please don’t hate me. The one thing I noticed here in France, is the ease with which one can find local markets that are open several times a week. Pretty much everything I buy come from the nearby fresh markets, leaving the supermarket for staple items like flour, sugar, etc. There is one hump I can’t get over… I buy mayonnaise and I will never put raw egg on my homemade Fettuccine Alfredo (Now, it is my Mother In Law who is gasping). The germ and virus fearing American in me just can’t get over that whole salmonella thing.

Although my Mom shakes her head and laughs about how crazy I have become about not buying something canned, I somehow feel better when she compliments my cooking and asks me to give her recipes.

Market Vegetables

Market Vegetables
Bellanda ®

Fresh Market Vegetables

Fresh Market Vegetables
Bellanda ®

You might be shaking your heads by now thinking, Who knew Bellanda was so crazy? She seems so normal in the Social Media Circle.  Hold that thought… Things are about to get worse or better depending on where you stand. When my children were little, one of them made a comment about carrots coming from the fresh market.  They were shocked to hear that they actually came from the ground before they made it to the market. Thus began a whole new way of thinking and buying food. We went online in search of a farm, and we not only found one not too far from Paris, we found one where you pick your own fruits and vegetables.

If you caught my Halloween Pumpkin Post, one of our little farms just happens to be the same place we buy our pumpkins at Halloween:  La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny.  http://www.cueilletteduplessis.com/index.php

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny D20 - Route de Lumigny 77540 Lumigny Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny
D20 – Route de Lumigny
77540 Lumigny
Photos: Bellanda ®

Put on your boots and grab one of the many wheelbarrows at your disposal to start loading it up with fresh delicious fruits and vegetables.  We do!

"Mommy, look what we pulled up from the ground!"

“Mommy, look what we pulled up from the ground!”
Bellanda ®

"Only take the red ones..."

“Only take the red ones…”
Bellanda ®

Oh, and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty... That is the fun part!

Oh, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty… That is the fun part!
You can wash them later when you rinse off your vegetable at the big outdoor sink.
Bellanda ®

Farm Fruits and Veggies Bellanda ®

Fall Season Farm Fruits and Vegetables.
Oops! It looks like we forgot to tell our little ones not to crush the freshly picked salad.
Bellanda ®

Although we don’t play farmer  as often as I would like to, it is a must for so many reasons: great produce, decent prices, and we get to teach our little ones about buying what is in season.  With the ability to buy any and all fruits and vegetables throughout the entire year, I didn’t even know what in season meant back home.

Much to the amazement of my Mom, we eat a real breakfast and cook two meals a day. I think the only reason she doesn’t call the men in white suites to bring me back home is because from time to time I will make a sandwich for lunch. My children adore them, so I try to ignore and put up with my Mother In Law saying in an almost shocked tone, “Oh, I see they’re eating American today? I guess they can eat French for dinner.” Even though I see sandwiches everywhere here in France, apparently I will never be truly French, no matter how much my eating habits have evolved… but hey, I’m totally okay with that.

Halloween and Jack-O’-Lanterns in Paris? This Expat Says, Yes!

Halloween and Jack-O'-Lanterns in Paris? Bellanda ®

Halloween and Jack-O’-Lanterns in Paris?
Bellanda ®

On a trip to the United States, my dear sweet French man was asked, “Do you have chicken in France?”  I nearly fell on the floor in shock that he was asked that, but a couple of years ago I suddenly felt like that person asking about chicken. Do they have Halloween carving pumpkins here in Paris, and if so where can I get my hands on one?

I have been a fan of Halloween ever since I was a little child. I never missed the chance to dress up for the occasion even as an adult… that is until I moved to France in 2001. “What? Dress up?” After seeing more shaking heads and laughter than I could handle coming from those around me, I began to imagine that they were thinking something to the effect of, silly American. Needless to say, I haven’t dressed up since.

That said, when my children were three and four years old I couldn’t help but think, I’ll be darned if I am going to let my half American children miss out on Halloween. My expat backbone stood up proudly. Who cares? Even if the people we knew didn’t celebrate Halloween, I was going to do so with my children.  I had no idea where to buy costumes and where to find pumpkins, so I did the only thing I knew how to do. I called my Mom and had her ship me over two costumes and abandoned real pumpkins for coloring pages of pumpkins. My kids were going to wear costumes even if they were the only ones doing so.

Although my dear man thought I was crazy, we took the children to the Paris zoo for the day, and yes they were the only ones wearing costumes. I looked at their smiles and the costumes they wore so proudly and thought, you show them! Yes, I know… my kids will probably sue me one day.

How did it turn out? Well, people looked, or should I say stared.  I was pleased that most looked on with smiles. There were a few sneering people, but I decided it best to actually look them in the eyes, give them a huge smile, and turn to laugh and play along with our little angels. Each year, Mom sent over costumes… and with each year, more and more of our children’s little French friends starting celebrating with us.

I discovered a few years after the zoo episode that I was just another clueless expat, fumbling my way around Halloween thinking no one really celebrated. I was so wrong! Some do celebrate… but they do so conservatively in comparison to the United States. There is also a controversy about Halloween being disrespectful to the dead that has even made some villages actually stop all Halloween activities in public places.

Over time, I’ve found costume stores all over Paris that sell and rent costumes and accessories, but only recently did I find the best  way to buy pumpkins!  I’ll save you the pain of searching by giving you one of the locations that has become our go to place for this, as well as for many other things. We found a farm about 40 minutes from Paris (depending on where you live within the city).  It has a pumpkin patch! http://www.cueilletteduplessis.com/index.php  I know, it is far for some, but as you will see… well worth the visit.

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny D20 - Route de Lumigny 77540 Lumigny Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny
D20 – Route de Lumigny
77540 Lumigny
Photos: Bellanda ®

Look at all of those Jack-O'-Lanterns! Photo: Bellanda ®

Look at all of those Jack-O’-Lanterns!
Photo: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny takes Halloween seriously! Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny takes Halloween seriously!
Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny even gives out Pumpkin Recipes! Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny even gives out Pumpkin Recipes!
Photos: Bellanda ®

Take your pick… or better yet, let your little ones run around screaming with delight as they pick out their own pumpkins! Maybe we’ve lived in Paris too long, but we were pleasantly surprised by the prices. Two or more pumpkins were priced at 2.65 euros each, less than two pumpkins were priced at 3.70 euros each. Although I haven’t included a photo, there were many pumpkins on the ground to make it easier for children to make their selection.

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny   Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny
Photos: Bellanda ®

Grab one of the many wheelbarrows at your disposal and start loading it up!

La Cueillette Plessis Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis
Photos: Bellanda ®

Meet our very own Jack… soon to be Jack-O’-Lantern! The children selected a model image given to them by the farm, and I got to work drawing.

Meet Jack... soon to be Jack-O'-Lantern! Photos: Bellanda ®

Meet Jack… soon to be Jack-O’-Lantern!
Photos: Bellanda ®

Let the little ones get their hands dirty with you… that is if they don’t go off screaming like our little princess.  😉 When all is said and done… this is our third Jack-O’-Lantern in the City of Light. We are thrilled to add the light of our Pumpkin’s candle to this beautiful city we call home.

Get your hands dirty. Bellanda ®

Get your hands dirty.
Bellanda ®

Our Jack-O'-Lantern's light now shines proudly in the city of light. Photo: Bellanda ®

Our Jack-O’-Lantern’s light now shines proudly in the city of light.
Photo: Bellanda ®

Update:

If you are in Paris and would like to celebrate, people don’t usually stock up on candy and many would probably look at you strangely if you rang their doorbell on a Trick-or-treating outing.  There are, however, a couple of interesting places that will be having Halloween Parties and Events this year:

Disneyland Paris

Park Asterix

Le Manoir de Paris

Stade de France

L’Hippodrome d’Auteuil

Hard Rock Café Paris

Monster High Halloween Party with Bateaux Parisiens

(For a French link of event details) http://www.sortiraparis.com/loisirs/guides/43816-halloween-a-paris-2013-pour-les-enfants-et-les-grands 

This year, I will actually be sporting a glitter covered cat mask.  A very happy Halloween to you all!