Moulin, an Authentic Parisian Bistro in Orange County - French Californian

Moulin – Authentic Parisian Eatery in Orange County, California

When I left France, I was certainly happy to return home, but there are a number of things I lamented over: The loss of the best pastries and baked goods in the world, saying farewell to having the best farmer’s market right outside my door, and having to swap out that certain joie de vivre when it comes to dining out, and replace it with chain restaurants who try to turn over tables as quickly as possible. I didn’t think I’d be able to feel that certain French feeling in a café again – that is, until I came to Moulin.

As the owner Laurent Vrignaud says, they’re not doing anything new or revolutionary, they’re simply doing what France has done for 100 years – and doing it really well – in Orange County, California.

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Château de la Roche Courbon, France

Château de la Roche-Courbon

You wouldn’t believe how many fairly-tale castles there are in France. They’re almost as common as rest stops on an average US highway. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I’m fairly certain you could find at least one within 20 miles of wherever you happen to be in France.

I had the chance to explore the Château de la Roche-Courbon recently, and although it’s certainly not the most famous or well known château in France (those titles are reserved for the huge castles of the famous Loire valley), it was magical nonetheless, with a dry moat, sculpted gardens and rounded turrets.

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Monet’s House

If you’ve ever wondered what Impressionism looks like in the form of a house – a speculation that has probably never been a priority in your life – then you may have also wandered what Claude Monet’s house looks like. I mean, he’s practically the king of Impressionism as far as I’m concerned, and if his house doesn’t embody 19th century French painting, then I don’t know what does.

… these are the kinds of thoughts that go through my head on a regular basis…

I had been to Giverny twice, and on both occasions, photographs inside the house were strictly Forbidden, with a capital F. My friend Natalie and I would always try to be sneaky and take quick iPhone snaps, thinking we were so incognito; the photos pretty much always came out blurred and crappy. THANKFULLY – and this seriously made me so happy – they now allow you to take photos! Mais sans flash, bien sûr. I discovered this while my sister was visiting me last week, and we also discovered that the Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay allow photographs now too.  :O

So without further ado, take a peek inside Monet’s house:

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France Road Trip Cider Route

Road Trip Day 2 – Calvados & Bayeux

My best friend Natalie and I decided to take a quick 4-day road trip through France, more specifically, Normandy.  What follows is an account of the events, sights, and stories that took place.  This is just part 2 – you can see day 1 HERE and day 3 HERE.

We arose bright and early in Rouen that partly-cloudy September morning, had a breakfast of chocolate-covered madeleines, then jumped in our little European car.  After 25 minutes of driving in circles, a car ride that was interspersed with frequent shouts of panic and confusion, we finally found our way onto the correct motorway!  The roads in cities can be absolutely impossible with their roundabouts, one-way streets, and indecipherable road name signs. (Somebody please tell me why the road names are in size-2 font and buried on sides of cluttered buildings???) Almost as soon as we found the correct motorway, we were already exiting onto smaller roads that ran through rolling green hills, dotted with cream-colored cows.  Every so often we’d see lines of apple trees, evidence that we’d entered the region of cider production. Our first stop of the day was Cambremer, a central town on the Cider Route, which runs through an area known as the Pays d’Auge in the Region of Calvados.  We didn’t do the entire route, which consists of cider distilleries, gardens, farms, and gorgeous country roads, but the few stops we did make provided a nice overview of the entire area.

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Transitioning – Late Nights and Soirées

As I’m debating whether or not I want to spend 50 Euros on a one-day pass to Pitchfork music festival, I decided to compose a blog post on last weekend. It was a weekend full of much social-butterlying (I just made up that word), which is quite a refreshing change from all the sight-seeing I’ve been doing for the past month and a half. It’s like I’m actually living here now, not just visiting. About time! Since I am, in fact, living here.

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Gardens of Versailles

The day we visited Versailles, the gardens were absolutely beautiful. It was sunny, but the sky was covered in beautiful, full, textured clouds, and there was a fresh chill in the air. The gardens seem to extend out to infinity, and I loved imagining Marie Antoinette-type ladies wandering about in these gardens, or floating in a canoe on the canals.

I made the mistake of wearing uncomfortable shoes, yet again. I don’t know how many times I have to self-induce suffering upon myself before I actually take my own advice, and that advice is: WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES THAT FIT PROPERLY!! Evidently I never knew what walking really was in Long Beach, because I’ve never had so many shoe/foot-related problems in my life!

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