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As many of you know, I had the pleasure of spending a few months in Paris to continue my study of the French language and work with Afrique Avenir, an amazing HIV/AIDS service organization that targets individuals from Western Africa and the Caribbean who are now living in the Paris metropolitan area.  For any of you who may be planning to spend some time in Paris in the near future, I have put together my top picks for what to do, where to eat and how to truly see la Ville Lumière.  The City of Light, the City of Enlightenment…

Franglish

Franglish
No matter your current conversational level in French, I *highly* recommend attending at least one of these events!  They are held in unique bars in a variety of neighborhoods throughout Paris, and it is a wonderful opportunity to meet and practice speaking one-on-one with really interesting locals:  7 minutes in French, 7 minutes in English, then switch tables!  I am still very close friends with many of the people that I met there during my time in Paris.

Brulerie Saint Roch

Brulerie Saint Roch
53 Rue Saint-Roch
This place is way under the radar, and it is some of the best coffee and light breakfast fare that you will find in this neighborhood – and it is wildly inexpensive!  The owner and the woman who work there do not speak English, but their friendliness and hospitality easily transcend that.  The clientele is almost exclusively local and there is no seating; only standing at high bar tables.  Their selection of teas is also insanely aromatic and delicious… I lived around the corner from this place and was there nearly every morning.

Patisserie Stohrer

Patisserie Stohrer
51 Rue Montorgeuil
My dear friend Adèle CEO and Founder of Le Livre Art Publishing used to live on this street, and this little patisserie wins the award Best Eclair au Chocolate in France every year.  The brioche à la praline and the poire bourdaloue tarte are also wonderfully delicious…

La Perle

La Perle
78 Rue Vieille du Temple
Where Galliano lost everything!  Also frequented by hip and trendy locals.  It is a touch more expensive than your standard café, but the food is innovative and it is ideal for people watching over a cocktail…

Le Rubis

Le Rubis
10 Rue Marché Saint Honoré
This is one of my absolute favorite wine bars in Paris.  The clientele is almost exclusively local, and the owner always serves you himself.  If you stand at the tin counter, you can taste a variety of small and inexpensive glasses of beautiful wine that are not available to patrons who choose to sit at the tables.  I think that this is the best way to explore the wines offered here… The owner and his staff do not speak English, but they are very patient with friendly foreigners.

Le Progrès

Le Progrès
1 Rue de Bretagne
Also known as The Bohemian’s Canteen, this super hip cafe is in a neighborhood frequented primarily by trendy locals.  Sit outside!  Rain or shine, this is one of the best places for people watching.

Chacha Club

Chacha Club
47 Rue Berger
Another gem recommended to me by my good friend Adèle!  A great place to get dolled up and socialize with the Parisian glitterati 😉  The food and drinks are incredible, and there are all sorts of secret rooms and little hideaways only accessible to those with passwords…  Check out their website, and you’ll see what I mean!  I just looked at their menu and I don’t see my favorite item, which is foie gras rolled in the most incredibly tender chicken.  If you go, you can always ask if they are still serving it.  It is really incredible.

Discover Walks

Discover Walks
It is unusual that I recommend a tour, but this particular company is very special.  These are tip-based walking tours with guides who are all native Parisians; because they were all born and raised in Paris, they have incredible stories and insights to share and their love of the city is infectious.  I recommend starting with the Left Bank tour; and, as you still have plenty of time left in Paris, you may actually want to do all six.  By the time you depart, you will truly feel like you have explored every corner of the city!

Mirror selfie, à Paris

Mirror selfie, à Paris

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While in transit to Bali, I received an email from Lizzie Livingston saying that she and her family happened to be in Bali as well – their visit overlapped mine by 1 day and coincidentally, they were staying a few minutes walk from my hotel!  Lizzie’s 5-year-old son Noah is a very good friend of mine.  I have not seen him and his family since they moved from New York to Hong Kong last year, and it was such a happy reunion!

I met them at their hotel pool, where Noah and I spent the middle of the afternoon flopping belly-first down the big water slide.  We all ate Haagen Dazs ice cream bars, then took a siesta that was complete with apple juice, wine and Dora the Explorer on DVD.  Did you know that Dora has a little brother and sister, as well as a Jack-in-the-box who is riddled with performance anxiety?  I didn’t.

We had dinner and went to a Balinese performance afterward – apparently Noah is obsessed with shows like this.  It was wonderful to see them, and I had sooo much fun!

Marc and Lizzie, watching the Balinese show

Marc and Lizzie, watching the Balinese show

Noah on stage with the cast, after the show

Noah on stage with the cast for photo call

After a nightcap with Lizzie and Sean, I headed home and very contentedly into bed.  I could not imagine a nicer way to spend my first full day in Bali 🙂

I was woken up bright and early this morning because everyone in the apartment had made big plans to go see the sunrise.  We walked to the ocean and discovered that, every morning, the beaches are populated with hundreds of Balinese people who leave offerings to the Hindu gods and goddesses as the sun rises.  These offerings are swept away by the rising tide.

Sunrise on the Indian Ocean

Sunrise on the Indian Ocean

Balinese people on the beach

Balinese people on the beach

Offerings to the Hindu gods and goddesses

Offerings to the Hindu gods and goddesses

In the later morning, I rented a bicycle to ride around Nusa Dua and along the beach.  I almost got sucked into a water aerobics class (eeek!), but my work pulled me back into reality and we spent the afternoon running errands and gathering supplies for the ICAAP Condom Zone.  We had a gorgeous dinner on the beach, and now I am having a night cap of warm milk and sugar… wine is heavily taxed here, so it is nearly impossible to find a bottle (even a really bad one) for less than $50 US.  So, As Adrian would say, leche caliente it is.

Adrian on the beach at dinnertime

Adrian on the beach at dinnertime

Check in tomorrow for our first workshop at Yakeba with injecting drug users… Til then, xojl

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