Tag Archives: France


Kay moved to Bois-le-Roi, a small town close to INSEAD’s Fontainebleau, in mid December. Already in that first week during the pre-course, he realized he didn’t like being so far away from the school and having to drive everywhere… something I told him would not be fun for partying and socializing, but I left it up for him to find out on his own.

Before our trip to Brazil to spend Christmas with family, I left Zurich for a weekend in “Paris” aka this podunk town to check out Kay’s digs. This studio was only €600 a month with parking and house insurance included, so compared to a lot of student housing for INSEAD, it was pretty cheap! His little studio did have everything he needed. Furnished flat with bed, dressers, desk, kitchen area, and a decent sized bathroom.I was impressed that there was a bathtub, even though I knew Kay would never use it.The flat came with pots and pans and towels and linens, and it had enough storage for everything he needed. It was missing an oven and a freezer though. How do the French make caipirinhas without ice? And frozen pizza for the student life??It even had a balcony to store his mountain bike.The grounds of the property were quite “cute” and French too. I mean, below is where he took his trash out. Only in Europe, right?Just across the street from the property, the Seine runs along the road.How quaint is that? Where do you go running in the morning? Oh, along the Seine, of course. After school officially started in January though, Kay quickly became jealous of those living in town in Fontainebleau who could walk to school or parties. My cute, very Swiss husband, realized that driving a car every morning to school and having to be a designated driver at every chateau party is NOT fun. Haha.

Any American could tell you this, but he wanted the commuting experience, and for about a month, he got it. 🙂 By mid January, he gave notice on his place and moved to a fancy French house in town with 13 rooms at the end of the month, paying then €950 a month for a single room, but gaining roommates and the ability to enjoy drinking at parties again!


Life is pretty weird and wild since Kay started INSEAD. I have spent 12 weekends this year traveling, usually only staying home once a month. On Thursday and Friday nights, I head to a small town in France for the weekend and witness parties like this:Work hard, play hard. The INSEAD motto. And as a weekend partner, I am here to witness it.France is very different from Switzerland and I have to admit, I don’t really care for it. It’s just so not Switzerland. Maybe I am too Swiss at this point, but I miss order and function, something often lacking almost everywhere outside of my little country.

Sometimes it’s also just weird, the way elderly paw at every.single.vegetable in the produce section, for example. Whatever it is, I’m kind of happy I am only visiting. I am so Swiss in fact, that every weekend I bring prepared homemade frozen gluten free meals with me and let them thaw on the drive over, so that Kay doesn’t have to cook for us or worry about finding me gluten free meals.Back at home, my house looks like a mess as I use this opportunity to sort and change furniture around.I am using Kay’s absence to purge lots of unneeded items from our life, but in the meantime, it looks like I am moving and that has been driving me nuts, so for most of March and April, I’ve been trying to work hard during the week to clean up more. This year isn’t quite like I imagined. Being a partner to an INSEADer is not easy, especially when you only visit on the weekend, but I am trying my best.

Five Years Together

With our five year “kiss-iversary” coming up on June 23rd, I booked train tickets to Paris so that we could go back to our roots and relive our magical first kiss at the top of the Eiffel Tower last weekend.

We met at the train station on Friday evening and to my great amazement, Kay took the opportunity to surprise me by shaving his beard off for the FIRST time in five years! As soon as I saw him, I burst out smiling and couldn’t keep the grin off my face for the rest of the weekend.

It was like traveling back in time to 2008, seeing a 24 year old Kay walk into the train station. To say I was ecstatic was putting it lightly. I couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear!

The entire 4 hour train ride over, I kept looking at Kay and feeling very fuzzy inside, like we were really doing it all over again. My sister saw a picture on Facebook and said he looks ten years younger!

But poor Kay isn’t ready to give up the beard. He had trouble identifying with himself in the mirror and planned on starting to grow his beard back immediately. I had to enjoy that smooth face all I could!

We stayed in the 9th arrondissement in a studio rental I found and had dinner the first night at 1000 & 1 Signes, a mega cool Lebanese restaurant run completely by deaf staff. The entire staff were so, so sweet and caring and it was so interesting seeing into the open kitchen where the chef and waiters were signing orders. They had to be the most polite French wait staff I have ever encountered!

Around the restaurant hung artsy photos showing how to sign for things and after we ordered we were given a brochure about even more signs. Our waiter was so thoughtful at the end he signed to me to keep the brochure with a wink in his eye.

It was all in French of course, but in general I enjoyed the signing because all I do in Paris is point at the menu anyway. And the Lebanese food was great. I only wish I took more pictures so you could have seen our main courses!

After visiting the catacombs of Paris all Saturday, we started Sunday out with some crepe and coffee and then it was off to the Eiffel Tower. It was the 23rd afterall!

Unfortunately, the weather all over Europe was kind of crap. It was apparently sunnier in Switzerland, although they had called for rain, but in Paris it was overcast, windy and COLD. But I was on such a high, I wasn’t going to let the weather ruin the weekend for me.

We had waited already 2 hours in line to see the catacombs and we weren’t much luckier with the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t know about reserving tickets, so we also waited around 2 hours to get to the top, but it’s always worth it for this view!

When we got to the top… the blue sky even started poking out a bit.

But in typical fashion, the blue sky wasn’t really out until we got down from the tower. We had to get ready for our semi fancy dinner though!

Because the weather wasn’t the greatest, we couldn’t really have our wine, cheese and bread picnic at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, so we did the next best thing and did it back at home!

Kay was temporarily disappointed that all the groceries were closed on Sunday, but I spotted a little old lady with some grocery bags, so we asked her where the grocery was and bought all our goodies right as it started to pour outside.

One bottle of wine and one rough downpour later, we were both in a good mood!

For dinner we went out to Mama Shelter which was a pretty trendy, cool restaurant.

It had couches and funky seating everywhere with chalkboard ceilings and texture overload. I loved it!

After dinner the weather was playing nice, so we went back to the Eiffel Tower at night to really soak up the last romantic moments.

But sadly, those shitty street vendors from Rome with all their lasers and crap have made their way to Paris. It kind of ruins the atmosphere when they are throwing glow in the dark toys up in the air and pointing lasers at you. I only like the vendors from last time who sell wine and champagne at night.

The next day we checked out and went to the Louvre before heading home. I was completely exhausted from standing in lines and walking around, but I’m so happy we made it to Paris for our five years. Hopefully in another five years we’ll be back again!

Where do you celebrate your anniversary with your significant other?

2013 Travel Destinations

I feel like a really lazy expat in Europe.

When I first came to Switzerland for a study abroad experience, all my other friends were traveling all over Europe for around one month before their terms started in Germany. I was the only one in my class heading to Switzerland so I chose not to join my friends traveling.

I had a paid internship in Ohio and while my parents were generously paying my school tuition, I had to foot the study abroad bill myself. I refused to go into credit card debt or take out a loan for study abroad, so I limited my travel to what I could afford and headed to Switzerland after a long summer working.

For three months on my visitors visa, I spent almost every weekend within Switzerland traveling to different towns, large and small, so I could feel like I really got to know Switzerland itself. After my stay was up and I needed to exit the country, I planned a train trip through Germany to visit all of my friends in their respective German locations. During my entire stay, I never needed to pay for a hostel or hotel!

It worked out well. My budget was happy and I felt like I got to see a fair amount of Switzerland and Germany during my stay, but I missed out on a lot of European biggies. France, Italy, England… I didn’t see any of them and when I returned to the States I really felt like I would have to come do a big European backpacking trip to make up for it.

Now I’ve been living here for four years and shamefully, I haven’t gotten around to doing a lot. In fact, it took me FOUR years to take a 4 hour train ride down to Italy. Blasphemy.

It seems that “There’s always next month…” has derailed my travel excitement. Between Kay’s flighty schedule and my laziness, I just haven’t gotten around to traveling around Europe that much. Since those university days I’ve been to Paris, Stockholm, Dublin, Madrid, Vienna (thanks to Kay this summer!), a few more German cities and finally Milan after I told Kay that I refused to travel to Germany again before we went to Italy.

Here are the top European cities I would really like to visit on a long weekend in 2013:

1. London

(Image Source)

Oh my God… I haven’t been to England yet. This is also blasphemous. I cured my Italy-visit status, but if I am to be a real member of European society, I must, must visit London this year and soak up all the English breakfast and tea I can get.

2. Venice

(Image Source)

Although I’ve been to Italy once now, it wasn’t nearly enough and I know there is still much more to explore. I’m really meaning to visit Venice before it sinks so that I can enjoy a coffee on the waterside.

3. Rome

(Image Source)

Yes, another biggie. I’ve been planning to go to Rome for a few years now, but it’s always a question of when and how as it can be very hot in the summer and uncomfortably cold in the winter. Autumn seems to fly by with Kay’s military time and spring is expensive with Easter. There’s never a good time!

I have a bunch of other cities and countries around Europe that I would like to visit, but I’m keeping this list short so that it remains somewhat realistic. We haven’t started planning our 2013 holidays yet, so there’s no telling where we’ll wind up.

Where would you travel in Europe?