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The Traditional Honeymoon: Planning the European Adventure

7 Aug

Readers, it’s been a while…


But lately, I’ve been thinking about wedding traditions past and present. One that I would love to revisit is the concept of the honeymoon. Apparently, when the tradition began generations ago it was a way to visit all of the far-flung relatives of the bride and groom who couldn’t make it to the wedding.

It would be great to re-imagine this tradition for couples who’ve already gotten married and maybe have a child they would love to present to family. This kind of trip could be a great mix of staying with family and/or any combination of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and/or rental apartments.

My husband and I have been talking about this idea constantly and we’ve settled on a European tour- it could easily be an extremely expensive trip for us; however, having family in France, Belgium, and England along with some friends in Germany make this a perfect choice!

Even though it’s not the most romantic, secluded journey it would certainly be an interesting one- experiencing Europe from a decidedly Congolese and Francophone point of view and learning more about cousins, aunts, and uncles – some who I haven’t seen in over twenty years. It is also a time to reflect- on a hazy time I barely remember, when my mother packed up my sister and I, taking us first to the Congo where we spent lazy days going to market on my aunt’s back and watching the red disk of the sun dip into the horizon. Then our next destination was Belgium with its tiny compact streets and french fries that you dip in mayonnaise. Then to Paris, which we visited a few years ago but can’t get enough of with possible side trips to the Loire Valley, or Provence, or the quiet Germanic romance of Strasbourg where my father saw his first westerns and my aunts attended school. I imagine myself with a notebook in hand while my husband pushes the stroller, working on the novel based on my family’s history.

Destination: England, France, and possibly Germany or Switzerland


BBC Travel Slideshow: The Way of St. James

30 Sep

This is a really beautiful piece done over at BBC, one of my favorite websites for travel, chronicling the pilgrim’s journey of “The Way of St. James” in non-touristy northern Spain. The breathtaking photographs were taken by Matt Munro.

BBC Slideshow: The Way of St. James

Where I Want to Be Next: Aix-en-Provence

13 Apr
sunday market via

Some wonderful links:

36 Hours in Aix-en-Provence from the New York Times :

Aix-en-Provence Tourism Site:

from maison de carlotta @ the Aix en Province website

Where have all the foreign language bookstores gone??

10 Apr

Or did they never exist? In New York City, that is. It’s my new obsession to find a bookstore in the city that caters to francophiles and other lovers of languages, but my search this weekend left me coming up empty.

What motivated this quest? A very enterprising young 7th grader demanded that I start a French language club for middle schoolers, rather than the creative writing group I tried to foist upon them. (Enough writing for one day, thank you very much Ms. A !) She was outraged there was no foreign language study for interested students, and thought it would be a fun way to spend an afternoon with her friends. I agreed with her and promptly began to look for resources for beginner’s French study- nothing heavy, just fun songs and activities for teachers and parents that wanted to immerse kids.

I found little to nothing. Not at Court Street bookstore which serves many well-to-do Francophone folks in the neighborhood or Barnes and Noble further up the street (that actually wasn’t so surprising). So I started searching for books online- which doesn’t really help to bolster the local economy and just doesn’t have the same magic as wandering into a bookstore – one of those few businesses left that truly has the magic to transport.

So I’m left wondering where have all the foreign language bookstores gone?? There used to be a francophone bookstore that I loved in Rockefeller Center- La Librairie de France, but sadly that’s gone due to the high rent in that area. All that’s left now of French literature and language in NYC are the little nooks and crannies in bookstores here and there in the city.

Or am I mistaken??

This beautiful bookstore is gone- will anyone take their place??

Hotel des Deux Freres

27 Mar

I know I’ve been incognito lately. I just haven’t had the heart to celebrate the art of travel, what with the revolts in the MIddle East, the tragedy in Japan, and the attacks on public education (and really public anything) here in the U.S.

But I can still dream, right?

So without further ado, I bring you another French post (surprise, surprise). This time it’s a lovely small hotel called the Hotel des Deux Freres  from the south of France, practically on the border with Monaco. According to their website, the hotel, perched atop a cliff overlooking the gleaming Mediterranean, was once a school. It’s adorable and most rooms run for less than 110 euros.

The hotel also makes arrangements for weddings, although it is notoriously difficult for foreigners to wed in France. Looks like a beautiful, romantic trip!

honeymoon suite via hotel et restaurant les deux freres

Wedding Anniversary in Montmartre

12 Feb

{images from saipua,,}

Many people delay their honeymoons so they can take a big trip to Europe anywhere from a few months to a few years after their wedding. We haven’t been back to Paris in a while, so I’m playing with the idea of a wedding anniversary in Paris with a twist: staying at an apartment in Montmartre and really inhabiting its haunting, dream-like environs for a week or more. This kind of trip is perfect for those who long to re-visit a city or who are like me, both a voyajer and a homebody at heart, longing to capture just a small sliver of what it means to truly dwell in a foreign country.

The perfect romantic jaunt would begin with an exchange of handwritten love letters with directions to go to different places that signify romance for us. We could recover from the jet lag with dinner at Chamarre Montmartre for dinner.

We’d have plenty of time for the market the next day for most of our meals (a great way to save money period, or to leave room in the budget for splurges. Like, for example, an antique car rental to the countryside for a day trip or a weekend when the neighborhood begins to feel too small.

Other things to do: catch a movie at Studio 28 , catch some art at the halles de St. Pierre, an old iron market converted into a museum and performance space, or just walk around- especially on the world-famous steps…

{by toby vandenack}


Bon Voyaj,


Wish I was Here!

29 Jan


With all of the rain, snow, and sleet over this past week, I’ve been miserable. And imagining myself in cute gladiator sandals, a light sun-dress, and some ouzo on the island of Santorini. I could look at photos of this gorgeous island all day with the white-washed buildings, blue domed roofs, and the turquoise Mediterranean sea.