Posts filed under "France"

PARIS | Family Style

I can't believe our time in Paris is going by so quickly. We only have about a month left. I'd like to say it's flown by, because it feels like just yesterday we were in Hawaii...but the truth is, we have done so much! We've loved getting to know our little neighborhood here in the Marais...We've had such a great time exploring the city with my students...and finding our own special spots when it's just us out running errands alone. We've had friends come and go to make the weekends a bit sweeter...It's been so wonderful! We aren't finished yet...but it's weird when you realize you are over the halfway point of something. But that's where we are at now...and so it's time to savour every thing bit longer and be a bit more intentional with how we spend our days...I'm so glad to take these sweet photos back with us to help us remember this fun time of life. Thanks, Noah, for capturing our springtime in Paris. It's so us. Not perfectly groomed or dressed, but just here...wandering around a city that we love and enjoying the day for what it is. Anyway, here are a few of them to show you a quick glimpse of our little "la vie quotidienne."

*photography by Noah Darnell

Posted on March 28, 2014 and filed under "France", "Paris", "TK", "babies", "noah darnell", "photography", paris.

Is This Thing On?

No blog posts in a week? Ah, yes... I've slipped into the black hole of the chaos of my semester. Forgive me. I'm here. I'm just busy! (Who isn't?) So in the void of thought-provoking blogging, here are just some awesome things that I have seen, discovered or eaten since we touched down in France.

CHATEAUX | We had such a great day in the Loire Valley last week. It's such a quick trip from Paris, I think you should definitely make a day of it when you plan your trip to Paris. Hop a TGV from Gare Montparnasse and head to Tours. In about an hour and some change, you'll be there.

Plan to rent a car and hit the open road. Chambord, Ambroise & Chenonceau are the destinations awaiting you. You definitely won't regret this decision. (It'll be an all day event, if you plan to do it right.)

SANDRO OUTLET | If you come to Paris and you're in the Marais, take a quick jump up from the St. Paul metro stop to the Sandro outlet on Rue de Sevigne. I bought some awesome silk pants there (€20) and an amazing white cocktail drew (€40) there today. The sweet girls working there said they get new stock in about ever other day. (I have a feeling I'm about to become so much poorer.)

NOT-TOO-SWEET TREATS | I'm all about pastries, but for some reason I've been drawn to the simpler choices when wandering into the boulangerie lately. Spongey madelines, almond-tinged financiers... these are a few of my favorite things.

BOOT CAFE | While Paris is known for many lovely isn't know for great coffee. Unless you're wanting a tiny espresso in a pretty cafe, "real" coffee is hard to come by. Lucky me for stumbling on a new shop, Boot Cafe, right next to my metro stop, San Sebastien Froissart. The new coffee shop sits where a cobbler used to be (hence the name)....Grab a cafe creme and a piece of the blood orange + pistachio cake to start off your morning in the Marais.

ON THE MARKET | I love Marche Aux Puces as much as the next American, but the trek out to Pore de Clignacourt is a bit of a haul and the prices can be a bit steep. (I can't get stay away from it though.) I was so excited to see the more-local market pop up on Boulevard Beaumarchais over the weekend. I'm hoping it's a weekly thing. (Any locals able to weigh in on this?) So many great "Paris" things...from old street signs to discarded china. I got two really cool books for 0.50 each.

GIVING ME THE LOOK | First, Viola has mastered "the look." She gives it on command and we think it's so funny. We are sadly having to reign it in now because she's taking it a little too far and using her new super power for evil.... But honestly... it makes me laugh.

Also, I'm getting the look. The Paris look. With being pregnant (and huge!) and then post-baby messiness and then nursing chubbiness (am I the only person who gained weight while nursing?) and then 2 year old wardrobe apathy, I had basically given up and given into a wardrobe cycle of about 4 items + 3 scarves. See below for documentation of said repeated items.

Being back here is awakening my old self and I'm actually freshening up my closet a bit. I'm working on the extra pudge I've slapped on, but no place like Paris to make you want to lose weight and wear some great new clothes.

* * *

That's all I've got for now. Keep following the fun on Instagram. Things are getting exciting. If you're looking to spruce up your closet, too, here are some pieces that make me say, "Oh la la!"

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on March 12, 2014 and filed under "France", "Paris", "shopping", "style watch", "viola", paris, travel.

Now You Know: Champagne?

If there's one thing I've learned

while living in France,

is that people are particular 

about their sparkling wine....

Excusez-moi, "champagne."

Because, in France, mon ami,

you can find Champagne

most every where you go...

since it's made there.

If you go to a cafe in London,

you may find other bubbles on the menu

but just because it's pretty and sparkling,

doesn't mean it's "Champagne."

It could sparkling wine from Italy, Spain or Napa.

(Though, you won't see American wine on a European menu too often.)

Champagne is the name that is given ONLY

to sparkling wine grown in the Champagne region in France.


And they get really fussy if you give it's name 

to anything that isn't from that area.

So here's a quick tutorial for you 

so that you can speak of the sparkling

and babble of bubbles 

correctly where ever it is

you find yourself.

Are there bubbles in your glass?

It's sparkling!

Is it from France?

Then it's probably Champagne...

but check that the bottle says so.

Is it from Italy?

Then it's not Champagne- it's prosecco.

Is it from Spain?

Then it's not Champagne- it's cava.

* * * 

Look at that.

We've all got a bit smarter 

and more refined.

Cheers to that.

*image via

Posted on March 4, 2014 and filed under "France", "bubbly".

Paris | Le Premier Jour

Well, we're here. In Paris, and it's so nice to be back. We've been running errands to get the semester started (tomorrow!) and getting to see a few bits of the city in the process. No Eiffel Tower or Louvre have been seen yet, but that doesn't mean we've missed the essence of Paris. It's oozing out of the cafes...

 and the buildings.

It's good to be back.

We splurged and bought a beater stroller today at Monoprix that is about 5673 times smaller than our normal one. Apparently, it doubles as a baby whisperer. Viola can't stay awake in it...and it is awesome. We're referring to it as "the au pair."

We'll be staying in the Marais and working near Le Bastille. Any favorite spots that I need to try out while I'm here? Your wish is my command. (Crepe stands & ice cream especially welcome.)


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 18, 2014 and filed under "France", "Paris", paris.

French Women Don't Get Facelifts.

Just last week,

Tyler & I were talking about

the wrinkles we've acquired

over the past year.

Whether it's getting older

(hello, 30, I see you, too!),

having a baby,

loosing a baby,

or a combination of them all-

for the first time,

I look in the mirror

and see someone noticeable older

looking back at me.

Tyler & I both poke at

our random grey hairs

and eye wrinkles

with fascination and shock.

But we don't really mind.

In fact, we both wear them proudly...

Somehow it would feel cheap

to have gone through life

without them...

So, here we sit,

at 31 (him) and nearly 30 (moi).

I've splurged on some fancy skin cream

to slow down the process, 

but at the same time-

it's made me start to think

about what it means to age

and how I feel about it.

And guess what?

I feel good about it.


I like the idea of being 40... 50... 60-

and not just that,

I like the idea of looking like that, too.

I don't want to always pretend like I'm 21...

or dress like that.

(Somehow I should toss in a not-Forever-21-line,

but I'm lazy and... well, you get the jist anyway.)

As we discussed what it meant

to own our ages,

I told Tyler I'll be happy to be 40...

"but a French forty."

Because somehow French women act their age

while also looking completely relevant & attractive.

So with this topic on my mind,

I was really excited to see

that this book is out.

This is the sequel to the famous

"Why French Women Don't Get Fat,"

Mireille Guiliano wrote a new book


how women in France

balance ageing and beauty.

While I'm not committing

to 100% of everything Giuliano says,

I think there is something really beautiful

(and normal!)

about owning your age.

(Book available here.)

*  *  *

Here are some highlights from the book

(via InStyle's clever review)

to give you a taste:


See the “you” now.

In order to “manage your aging,” Guiliano says it’s important to see yourself as you truly are now – on the inside and outside. Instead of living in the past and seeing the younger (and probably slimmer) you, Guiliano advises women to “stop kidding themselves” and starting seeing the you now.

.In her signature tell-it-like-it-is tone, Guiliano writes: “Realistically projecting, assessing the options, then shaping what we can and should be doing during the various later stages of life’s road is the powerful mental medicine that can cure some of our ills and enhance our pleasures through life.”

“Certainly in France, a woman in her forties and fifties is still alluring and seen as an object of desire and acts the part. She feels it and acts it, but doesn’t pretend she is ageless.”


Think like a French woman.

What we really love about 

French Women Don’t Get Facelifts

is Guiliano’s ability to make aging gracefully seem fun and easy. It’s clear that Guiliano enjoys life and living it to the fullest. In her book, she encourages women to do the same by adopting a French woman’s attitude. She writes: “And French women, if they are anything, are individualistic in how they present themselves. Their outer package is infused with inner style and beauty and an ‘I don’t give a damn posture (which half the time they don’t, but they still dress to buy the morning’s baguette).’”


A little goes a long way. 

Throughout Guiliano’s book, she reminds us of the ineffectiveness of crash-dieting and extreme cosmetic procedures, such as facelifts. In a why-torture-yourself tone, Guiliano talks about the importance of daily activity that’s not necessarily strenuous, the power of a great haircut, dressing your age, having the right shoes, and other lifestyle adjustments to make as you grow older.

“Through your decades you can evolve with the times without losing your established identity,” she writes. “You can refresh your brand without going for a complete makeover and attempting to become some new person. That’s a bit like a crash diet, and such diets don’t work.”


Listen to your body. 

Guiliano also stresses the importance of recognizing the “five-pound alert.” She says that if you don’t take action after gaining five pounds, then you will just keep gaining and it will become harder to lose the weight. Guiliano’s secret to maintaining consistent numbers on the scale lies in her dietary choices. In one chapter called, “An Anti-Aging Food Prescription,” Guiliano includes 15 recipes that she says have been part of her nutritional plan since her fifties, and some recipes since much earlier.


Attitude is key.

At the end of the day, Guiliano believes attitude is most effective in appearing and feeling younger. Referring to attitude as a “magic pill” to looking younger, Guiliano says French women approach aging with a different mindset than women from most cultures, and that is what makes the difference – not grooming, clothing, nutrition or face and skin care. It is attitude, she says.

And along with this anti-aging attitude come two elements that save us in life. Guiliano writes: “…according to Indian journalist and novelist Tarun J. Tejpal, [they are] love and laughter. If you have one of the two, all is well. If you have both, you are invincible. Now there’s an attitude.”

Posted on January 20, 2014 and filed under "France", "beauty", "books".

The French Camel

There are tons of reason

I'm excited to get back to France,

but I can't deny that

the refresh to my style

won't be a big one.

I've been wearing the same clothes

for a realllly long time...

pretty much since we last were in Paris.

Not that I'm waiting to

dump beaucoups of cash

in the haute couturiers of France...

But simply because I'm so inspired

by the effortless chic style

of the women in Paris.

I need to absorb some of that...

because the look I have is

miles away from chic.

It's more.... 

wrinkled and snagged.

One item I do have ready

from our last life in Paris

is my camel coat.

photo by

noah darnell

This piece is perfect for Paris

in so many ways.

It's dressy, but quiet.

It's warm, but allows layers.

It's casual, but cleaned-up.

It's one of my favorite souvenirs I've ever bought.

It makes me feel 40% less of an impostor

and almost like a local

wandering through places like the

Luxembourg Gardens.


In the post-Christmas sales,

there are some more great tan coats

currently up for grabs.

Check my picks below

to update your look

with items that are tres cheap.

(Well, at least, at great sale prices.)

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on January 3, 2014 and filed under "France", "shopping", "wear", france, shopping.

Paris? Mais, Oui!

With the craziness of holidays, baby, work combined with me being an air-head, I almost forgot to say it here: We are headed (back) to Paris for the spring! This February, we are headed back to the City of Lights for another springtime of  crepes, chambray, picnics along the river, Degas, pastries, Monoprix sales, steak-frites, freezing in the Paris weather, and making memories that will stay with us forever. It's not exactly uprooting your life to go somewhere else for 3 months, but what great things in life come without a bit of hard work & trade-off?

Instead of feeling interrupted or burdened I feel thankful for my boss + job and grateful for a husband  who is supportive and who can, for the most part, work anywhere... and, I'm excited to dress Viola in French baby clothes.

*    *   *

To take a peek at our previous life in Paris, take a wander through here.




Posted on January 2, 2014 and filed under "France", "Paris", paris.

Pack Your Bags | Carcassonne, France

We were eating dinner tonight and in the middle of my (second) bowl of soup, a thought appeared in my brain out of nowhere: I never blogged about Carcassonne! I'd been so excited to share  this hidden gem tucked in the Southwest of France with you & the rest of the blogging world... I edited the pictures, I put them in a folder on my desktop, and then... well, honestly, who knows. But here it is today! Better late than never, right? With a place this special, the answer is: absolutely.

*      *     * 

It was about 1.5 hours drive from where we were staying (remember the crazy-gorgeous-yet-affordable Chateau Les Carrasses?) to Carcassonne....On our way towards the Spanish border, I grew increasingly allured to drive to Barcelona for dinner. {Tyler did not, however, or this Carcassonne adventure would have ended here.}

All I knew about Carcassonne before arriving was that it was a medieval city... which, to me, meant it was a city during the medieval times and not today. So imagine my surprise when we walked through the city gates and then realized: it's still an active/real place!

The flavor of the city (and yes, I believe that cities have distinct flavors) was undoubtedly French...with strong Spanish notes. A crepe stand would sit next to a store selling handmade espadrilles...A cafe sign would have the price for une biere & una cerveza.

It was one of those days in traveling when you are left totally refreshed even after a long day out.

The four of us (Tyler, Lauren, Viola & our dear friend, Kyla) wandered through the cobblestone streets, explored the gorgeously preserved castle overlooking the valley, and, obviously, ate enormous crepes stuffed with nutella, coconut & almonds.

I've tried to say it in previous posts, but I'll say it again: the southwest of France is one of the best-kept secrets there is. Affordable, stunning, rich with history & gorgeous. It's waiting for you.

More Southwest France posts here for your drooling pleasure!


Chateau Les Carrasses | Baby's First Swim

A Random Afternoon in Paris?

Here's a question for you: What would you do with a random afternoon in Paris? Because that, my friends, is the question I need answered today...or tomorrow (depending on your timezone) Early Wednesday morning, I'm hopping on the Eurostar and heading to Paris for some work meetings...but Ive got the afternoon & early evening free. I'll get to spend some time with a super cool and amazing friend...I'm hoping that the combination of her amazing faith & foxy style sat amongst the gorgeous autumn weather and the charming Parisian streets will be a good pick-me-up. {Ye olde Aspiring Kennedy has had better years!} But forget about the years...let's just take one day at a time. And the particular day we need to focus on right now is in Paris, France! I've got a rough draft in my mind of how to fill the time, but I'm curious to hear  what you would do if you could spend an afternoon in the lovely city of Paris. And yes, of course, I'll be happy to eat a pastry for you. And a Croque Madame. And a crepe.Because I'm just a nice person like that. 

{PS. I think I'm going to have to make a pharmacy run for some Bioderm. Who wants a bottle?}

Posted on October 8, 2013 and filed under "France", "Paris", paris.

Baby's First Swim... a la mode.

Did you know "a la mode" means "in the current style or fashion?" While I may actually prefer the Americanized version that involves a mound of ice cream being sat alongside- or on top- of something. I mean, how did that become the term for  adding ice cream to a hot dessert? In the current fashion of... childhood obesity? Not sure... but I'm thankful someone made it happen. I'm also thankful that my dear friend, Kyla, snapped these pictures of Viola having her first swim...

in an infiniti pool....

.... at a gorgeous chateau sat amongst a vineyard in Southern France.

That, my friend, is swimming in style. If we keep up these kind of moves, this baby's first words are going to be "Treat Yo'self."

Moving beyond the ridiculousness of this girl's short life, can I once again sing the praises of this gorgeous chateau? If you missed it, my full review is here. You can go check it out while I stare out the window at the grey skies of London bemoaning the pseudo-summer. {Yes, the fairy tale is over and we are back to living in reality!}


*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy.

Pack Your Bags | Staying at Le Chateau Les Carrasses



I stumbled across this gorgeous chateau while researching a place for a work project. {Yes, I know- best job.... but it is a lot of work!} Like most places online, it looked too good to be true.

Which, as a traveler, can be a common disappointment after arriving to find the location of your vacation less than it looked in the photoshopped pictures online. So while these photos are, indeed, photoshopped- don't worry, I've taken the risk and checked it out myself: Le Chateau Les Carrasses. It's not only as amazing as it is in pictures... but it's better.


Here's what I loved about it:

1. First things first, it's affordable for people like me.... which makes me think that you can afford it, too. For a two bedroom apartment in high season, we paid 280euro a night. Split up between friends staying with us, this wasn't bad pricing... especially when you consider how luxe the property is!


2. You have your own kitchen so you can keep food costs down. Not only does each place within the property have a full kitchen, but they also have a terrace or garden with outdoor dining & a barbecue. 

You can shop at the market in town and make your own outdoor dinner party...or head to the chateau's terrace restaurant  for a gorgeous night of being pampered.

3. The staff is wonderful. A common complaint from American travelers is that while the destination is gorgeous, the service is lousy....but guess what, not here. I was blown away by the kindness and attentiveness of the staff. From the initial inquiry I made online that gave me an immediate email & call back to the sweet waiter who laughed off the pool of baby poop our daughter left on a chair cushion. Viola didn't seem to mind, but Tyler & I were horrified. Nothing says "classy" like pooping on a chair. {Plus, they offer good free wifi... major plus in rural France.}

4. It's so easy to get there. To reach the Chateau, you fly into Beziers...a little under 2 hours from London Luton if you're flying RyanAir or Flybe. From there, you hop in a rent car from one of the companies sitting in the small airport and drive 43 minutes- according to our Garmin route- to the Chateau.

5. The pool. This pool will receive it's own post later this week... but let's just say, I was in heaven....

And I wasn't the only one with such affinity for the infinity. :)

6. The possibilities it offers for day trips. The Chateau sits in a great point to explore the region. If it's vineyards, castles, churches, rivers, beaches, hillside towns...whatever, it's not too far away.

The medieval city of Carcassonne is about 1.5 hours away. The gorgeous hillside city of Roquebrun is 40 minutes away. Montpellier is an hour away...and the smallest city in the world to be the home to a cathedral sits at the footsteps of the chateau's vineyard...And for everything else, the chateau leaves extensive/honest book of options in your apartment to let you choose your fun.


So if you're looking to stay somewhere amazing, affordable & accessible in France-this is your place. Made up of private apartments and "maisons" that you can rent, I have no doubt that you'll be as smitten with your stay in the Southwest of France as we were.


*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Bonjour, Y'all.

Where have you guys been lately?

I mean, day after day, 

I've been checking in to the blog

and nothing is here.

Oh wait,

I guess that might be my fault.

But I have a good excuse...

and it's that

I've been in France.

{Southwest France, specifically.}

 I discovered a whole new area

that I'm ridiculously excited to share with you.

It was a game changer for us

for future travels to France.

Just a couple of days there,

 opened up a whole new travel destination for me,

and I'm pretty confident that it will do the same for many of you

who are looking to get an amazing European vacation

in a spot that is untouched by the chaos of so many popular places,

is easy to get to...

and, oh yeah, is actually pretty affordable.

{Which, let's be honest, is the most important factor when we typically travel.}

But I can't do that quite yet.

I've got my best friend in from college

who is lifting my spirits in a way that only she can do,

I've got Regent Tweet happening this weekend

and get to see Megan & Stephen because of it,

and I've got a group of students that are touring London this week

that will land me in the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch in about 35 minutes.

So, do you know what all that means?

That it's time to get out of my pajamas,

brush my teeth,

and get the heck out of here.

Au Revoir for now!

PS. It is widely accepted that the pistachio macaron is supreme flavor, right?

I thought so, too.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Pack Your Bags | Parisian Day Trip

A couple of weeks ago, Tyler & I had to run to Paris for a quick day trip for work. {Yes, I agree. My boss should be sainted for giving me tasks like this.} As glorious as Paris is in the summer & spring, I really like it in the cold, too. It reminds me of living there last spring. The cold and loneliness of the city during these frigid winter months  offers an appealing charm to me. Plus, the sales are amazing at this time of year. The Babies Kennedy made out like bandits at Monoprix. {I also scored the coat in my maternity pictures for €30 then, too.}

It was a quick trip,

and was the perfect little day trip

for these parents-to-be relishing their last few days of "freedom." We had a long lunch  over hot onion soup & quiche at a cute place about 15 minutes walk away from the Louvre just on the Left Bank. {In case you're interested: Comptoir Des Saints-Peres, 29 Rue Des Saint-Peres, 75006}

We savoured things that we knew would be luxuries in the weeks/months/years ahead. We shopped a little... we took our time wandering around in the cold...we walked up and down metro station stairs with ease... and then we had our favorite steak-frites before hopping the Eurostar back to London.

The next time we arrive in the city of lights, it will be as a foursome.

Which may mean it will be a scenario as chaotic as the metro at 1am on a Saturday night, but it also sounds... well, pretty fantastic.

32W6D- Parisian Style

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Traveling to Paris?

Check out my guide to the city


Posted on February 21, 2013 and filed under "France", "Paris", "TK", "babies", "life", paris.

Le Flashback

I keep thinking back to Paris today...

what a crazy and beautiful place.

From almost every angle, 

this place looks good.

Obviously, it looks good from the rooftops...

Prettiness pours down the walls...

And no simple apartment looks as chic as a Parisian one...

What other place in the world has coffee ever been so photogenic?

Heck, even their grocery stores

have a little bit of that "je ne sais quoi..."

Anyone else have pretty Parisian memories

floating through their head today?

Posted on June 14, 2012 and filed under "France", "Paris", france, paris, travel.

4 Day Weekend

I know, I know...

it is awful to be back in the office

after having a three-day weekend.

It's super depressing to go immediately from a weekend of celebrating summer

to an office where you are reminded:

actually, summer doesn't really exist count for people with 9-5 jobs.

In light of the harsh downshift

you are

most definitely

probably experiencing today

as you sort through emails & sit in staff meetings,

I'm taking you on a quick trip to the French countryside.

Let's draw out this return to reality for as long as possible, shall we?

I leave you with an awkward series of Tyler being ridiculous. Look at that grab in the second picture. 

Though there is one really good aspect

 to coming back to work after a long weekend....

Friday is just four days away!

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on May 29, 2012 and filed under "France", france, marriage, travel.

Beginner's Manual For Staying In A {French Manoir}

When our friends, Anthony & Kellee, planned a trip over here,

we wanted to do something that would get us out of the city...

so I started combing through the interwebs for private home rentals in France.

There were some amazingly gorgeous places out there- for about €12,500 a week.

They looked like the place where Eva Longoria + Tony Parker got married,

 making them completely amazing... and totally unaffordable.

Somehow I hopped around the internet and found this place:

Le Manoir Champfreau.

It was €200 a night for the entire, three bedroom home.

We emailed the link back & forth wondering if it was too good to be true.

Well, thankfully we went for it.

And when we rolled through the main gate together,

we realized we had, indeed, hit the jack pot.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I present to you

Le Manoir Champfreau.

{Commonly confused with "the best place on earth.}

I can't recommend it more.

There are three residences within the property...

we stayed in the larger of the three.

Next time we'll be back to enjoy the pool!

Beyond the gorgeous setting in Saumur

and the amazing home you'll enjoy,

you'll also get the privilege of meeting Stephen & Bruce,

the proud owners of this glorious manoir.

Between their pasts as a private chef (Bruce) & butler (Steven) for a high-profile household,

you are pretty much guaranteed an amazing stay.

Bruce Riedner, Chef Extraodinaire. Bruce's spice rack (shown below).

But while you are in the midst of being pampered by these two dear American ex-pats,

 you'll also feel like you've become a part of their family.

Between Stephen sharing his knowledge of the best area croissants,

Bruce pointing you in the direction of burgers topped with foie gras,

and being invited into their own home to see recent renovations,

you are going to hate leaving these two as much as le Manoir.

If you are planning to visit France,

I hope you'll consider the quick trip out of Paris

into the gorgeous countryside of the Loire...

Forget needing to see the famous Chateaux & Wineries,

you need to go just for the experience of staying here!

I'd love to introduce you to our new friends at the Manoir...

or if you contact them, tell them you came via Aspiring Kennedy.

They'll take good care of you. :)

*If you'd like to see pictures of the kitchen, read my post here.

*All images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Scenes from a French Country Kitchen

I haven't had time to tell you much (or anything) 

about our time in the Loire Valley

but while we were there,

we had the

absolute luck

to find ourselves

in one of the most charming manoirs, Le Manoir Champfreau


We felt like royalty of our own special land

getting to have this 800 year old home all to ourselves...

Come on, admit it- you would, too, right?

After a day of castle-hunting & market browsing,

we decided to forgo a heavy, multi-course meal

and eat simple with the treasures we had found at the market.

As it often goes with understated moments,

this night ended up being one of our favorites of the trip.

Uncovering the quirks of a new kitchen together,

having good music cheering us on as we cooked,

laughing through disastrous attempts to caramelize sugar...

sending the boys out to pick herbs for us in the garden...

well, the whole night was just perfect.

And actually eating the food was nice, too. :)

My friend, Kellee, found a recipe in one of the cookbooks

that the owners of the Manoir left for the guests.

It was a risky choice, but we figured it just might be the combination

 of two things that should had been keep away from each other for long enough...

French mustard + Italian pasta.

Could the marriage of these two beloved foods be a disaster?

Or could it be the joining of two houses once divided?

We decided there was only one way to know for sure.

Our instincts served us correctly...

it was delicious!

The recipe perfectly blends the tanginess of dijon mustard with cream...

and the addition of the fresh herbs brings in a fresh finish.

It would be amazing with roasted chicken.

This recipe is the best souvenir I took home from our trip to the Loire Valley...

From my (temporary) kitchen to yours,

Dijon Penne With Fresh Herbs


3 tablespoons of course sea salt

8 ounces penne pasta

1 cup heavy cream

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons French Dijon mustard

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground white pepper (or black, if you don't have white)

3 tablespoons of finely minced chives, for garnish

Freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese, for garnish.


Cook the pasta in a large pot. Add a bit of salt to the water to add flavor, and a drop of olive to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook until it reaches al dente- soft, but with a bit of firmness. 

Set aside for a few minutes until sauce is done

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan large enough to hold the pasta, combine the cream, egg yolk, and mustard.

Whisk to blend. Season to taste with sea salt & white pepper. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat & keep warm.

Remove the colander and drain the pasta. Shaking to remove excess water. Immediately transfer the drained pasta to the saucepan. Toss to evenly coat the pasta. 

Cover, and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with minced chives and freshly grated cheese. Serve immediately.

*Images original to Aspiring Kennedy


Le Manoir Champfreau is amazing. If you are looking for a private home rental in the Loire Valley,  I can't recommend a better place to stay in the Loire. You feel like royalty- but you'll only have to pay like a normal person! :) 

Posted on May 3, 2012 and filed under "France", "Loire Valley", "delicious dish", france, travel.

Normandy D-Day Beaches

Our last day in Normandy

was spent hauling buns around the coast

trying to take in all of the WWII history.

Obviously, this is impossible to do in one day.

We had watched Saving Private Ryan ahead of time,

which turned out to be a good move.

Walking out to those beaches and having fresh visuals

of what happened on the ground below us

is a heavy feeling that is hard to explain.

You'll have to go someday and it experience it for yourself...

but it's an odd cocktail of pride & sadness that can only be drank slowly.

Regardless of being in the middle of the French countryside

I was left feeling as patriotic as if I was atop float in a Fourth of July Parade.

Our D-Day Itinerary through Normandy started with a visit to Utah Beach.

Walking out to Utah Beach,

it looked exactly like I had always pictured it.

From Utah Beach, we headed to the Paratroopers Museum in town

and had a quick break to have, in my opinion the best tailgate ever.

No, I don't really enjoying eating out of the trunk of a car before football games,

but somehow when it is out of a Peugeot in a small French village it seems much... classier :)

We cruised on up the road another hour or so till we arrived at Omaha Beach.

Then we found ourselves up the hill at the American Cemetery...

which is both hauntingly beautiful.

All those crosses representing people who had their lives cut short

so that others enjoy the promise of a full, free life.

It's humbling, no?

In retrospect, we could have skipped driving to Omaha Beach,

and just 

headed to the American Cemetery 

where there is a path to the beach from there. 

It overlooks the beach as you can see in the picture below. 

Oh well.

Normandy is an amazing trip. 

Honestly, one I hope to do over several times,

as I can tell this is a special place that only gets better as you uncover it.

{But I will probably always return to this private home rental

near Mont St Michel where we stayed.

It was completely perfect- location, cute owners, fabulous four course meal for dinner!}

Have you visited Normandy?

Do you know someone who fought there?

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy. 

Posted on April 13, 2012 and filed under "France", "French Day Trips", "Normandy", "travel", normandy.