to travel / {trip report} july in france, part 1

Trip Report Overview

Part 1: Overview and Day 1 (La Vallée Village, Champagne region)
Part 2: Day 2, 3 (Reims, wedding, driving to Provence-Luberon)
Part 3: Day 4-6 (Provence region and Pont du Gard, Paris)
Part 4: Day 7-10 (Paris)

I typically wouldn’t choose to visit Europe in July (heat, peak season), but a good friend was getting married! So, we made a trip out of it. Based on airfare award availability, we flew in/out of Paris. The plan was to drive from CDG to Champagne (wedding), to Provence (lavender in season!), then train back to Paris for the last few days.
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to shop / ankle boots and vintage coach madison

My two favorite buys of the 2012-2013 winter season.

I can’t recall how I got through prior winters without ankle boots, but I knew I needed something to cover my ankles because it was cold and wet! Wearing knee high boots to work gets constricting. I got these Report Jude ankle boots after seeing Olivia Palermo in them in a blog. That’s all it took. It makes it slightly better that I only paid $30 for them because they were on sale at Nordstrom and I had reward certificates. They were a godsend because Paris ended up being wet and cold in December, India was just plain cold, and Amsterdam was wet and cold in January. They are super durable and I don’t care what happens to them, which is great for trips through muddy conditions. There is a small downside: I went with my true size and they stretched out a litte bit, which is fine, but then they also squeak sometimes. Not enough for me to troubleshoot a solution yet.

In the Rodin Gardens during a drizzle.

I “discovered” vintage Coach bags earlier this year. Specifically Coach bags made in the 90s in Italy. Prior to this, I never understood the allure of Coach and their monogrammed bags. My Kelly bag from the Gramercy collection was mentioned here. I got another bag from the Gramercy collection off eBay, which was pricey, as a birthday present to myself. When I got it, I hated the style. I’m of the belief that most purchases should be practical investments. It was impossible to open and close without two hands which is too high maintenance for me. I gleefully got rid of it on eBay recently, but in the mean time, I found this crossbody “Sutton” satchel from the Coach Madison collection in a taupe-ish brown (which reminds me of Hermes’ etoupe). While the Gramercy collection’s textured leather can be likened to Prada’s saffiano leather, the Madison collection’s leather is compared to Chanel’s caviar leather. With a limited budget, I’m not one to be crazy for labels – I prefer to find well made, durable, quality leather in classic shapes (like Clare Vivier). And of late, I’ve been into crossbody bags since they are so convenient when I’m out and about. The Sutton is durable enough to withstand light rain and withstand some weight – it fit my umbrella, Kindle, DSLR body and 1-2 lenses, wallet, phone, etc. And it has feet!

And since I like bags of bags, I carried the Clare Vivier simple tote in leather (which I believe is now discontinued) with me to house my Coach bag so it wouldn’t have to touch the bare plane floor while traveling. (Sidenote: I’m surprised my CV tote has lasted this long and think I understand why they discontinued it in plain leather! The original simple tote is pretty flimsy but I still like it. You can find it now in a thicker basketweave.)

En route to Doha.

to travel & eat / {november 2011} paris – misc & angelina

A few overall traveling observations before I get to Angelina.


  • Every time I return from a foreign trip, I place my leftover currency and sometimes business cards/notes/receipts in a Ziploc bag. You’d think I would consolidate all my bags of currency, especially when so many countries use the Euro, but no. On one trip to my parents’, I was looking for my stash of old J.Crew catalogs. I found 2006-2007 as well as a Ziploc bag from my first trip to the continent back in November 2005. There was over a hundred Euros! At least the currency rate is still in favor of the Euro. I ended up not having to go to an ATM at all during the trip. I still had a bit leftover too, which came in handy for the unexpected…
  • The traffic was horrid during my stay. It took me ages to get into the city. There were also major bus delays on the day I left so I ended up taking a cab. I’d asked the cabbie if he took credit card and he said yes. Well, his story changed when we arrived at the airport. Luckily, I had enough cash! It’s always good to have some local currency with you. After the fact, my friend said the traffic was caused by the local authorities finding an old German bomb from the WW days and having to deactivate it, or something.
  • There are a few credit cards that have no foreign transaction fee (which is usually 2-3%). They save you quite a bit! I tried to charge as much as I could while I was there, hence the leftover currency. I did not get any pushback when using the credit card. They even split our bill at a few places and there was no attitude.
  • When asked to charge in your home currency or local currency, always side with local or you’ll get hit with fees twice. Typically you’re asked this in hotels or Hermès.


  • The metro is somewhat convenient. It really depends on where you are staying and where you are going. I was a homebody for a few days and barely finished my pack of ten tickets. I think that’s the best deal unless you’re taking the metro many times, every day. I also wish there was more integration between the right and left banks.
  • I’m a bit slow at technology sometimes, but I just realized I hadn’t been logged into my Blackberry’s Google Maps for ages (I blame restarts). I made a Google Map of all the places I wanted to go and it was so convenient once I realized I could pull that map in as a layer. I have so many places left to go…
  • When traveling, connect your smartphone via Wifi only as much as possible.
  • Yelp is pretty active in Paris, although most reviews often come from tourists.

On to Angelina! Angelina is one of those rare Parisian tourist attractions that is also loved by the locals. There is a long queue to get in for table service and even though it was chilly, it was bearable. I met a friend of a friend here and we shared a pot of chocolate, a cappuccino, millefeuille, and Mont Blanc. I’m glad we shared the famous hot chocolate, although I could’ve easily downed it myself. (Nothing beats the Barcelona hot chocolate!) The Mont Blanc was really sweet. I’d never had an authentic Mont Blanc before. I liked the millefeuille. There is also a takeout area that you can access sans queue. I was slightly tempted to buy tubes of chestnut cream. See Angelina’s Yelp page here.

to travel / … with food

My mother’s side of the family is big on food, but I noticed at a young age that not every branch of the family is as serious as ours in that we also like to transport food around.

Some things I’ve traveled with include:

  • KFC gift boxes of egg tarts: I brought a few boxes back from me in Taiwan — they are perfect after a quick run in the toaster oven and also make great gifts for those who miss Taiwan.
  • Laduree macarons and luxemburgerli (that is one of my most visited posts): In addition to the luxemburgerli, I also brought back tons of chocolate from Zurich. Some were fresh truffles, i.e. must eat right away because there are no preservatives.
  • The original Sacher torte: During an 1+ week trip from Munich to Copenhagen, I lugged a Sacher torte around for my uncle. The sad part of the story is that he ended up going out of town before I got home… so we devoured it with some other family.

Most recently, I had a short trip to Portland, Oregon. I can gush a while about their food scene, coffee shops, and how I want to move there one day. For the sake of brevity and not digressing in this post, I’d like to share a picture of my carry-on on the way back from Portland. I purchased this red Longchamp le Pliage large tote (available here and here) on sale in Copenhagen a few years back and it’s been ever so useful for traveling.

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