My Favorite French Films

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the “Netflix” side of this blog. It’s definitely been a withdrawal experience not being able to log on and watch a new film whenever I want. But it’s also made me more open to a different movie experience.

I’m taking two French Cinema classes here in Paris, introducing me to legends like Godard and Truffaut. I also tune in every once in a while to French cable (which, let me just tell you, is nothing like it is in America. Good luck finding anything to watch that doesn’t involve politics or old episodes of NCIS dubbed in French). In my time here, I’ve opened up to various genres of films and have found some all-time favorite movies.

Here are some of my favorite French films, from romantic comedies to a World War II Nazi story to a classic about a misunderstood French boy. I also threw in 2 movies that are mostly English but set in France. Listening to a language that’s not your first 24/7 is tiring; you have to have a little break every once in while!

My Favorite French Films

Phantom of the Opera

The musical theater geek inside of me died and went to heaven last Tuesday.

Opera Garnier

I have my favorite shows like Wicked, Jersey Boys, and Billy Elliot, just to name a few, but there will always be two shows that no other production can beat: Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.

My mom always tells the story of how, at 8-months pregnant with my oldest sister, she saw the original Broadway cast of Les Mis with my dad and her parents. Half way through, her pregnant feet were so swollen, she had to switch out her heels for my grandpa’s flat loafers, and he proceeded to walk home in socks. Today, that same sister is working on her Master’s thesis in comparative literature. One of the key stories? None other than Victor Hugo’s epic novel. Let’s just say, I couldn’t go see the movie with her for fear of hearing every correction, squeal, and sob that would inevitably leave her, Hugo’s #1 fan.

Les Mis will always be close to my heart because of my family. Phantom of the Opera, on the other hand, I have a love for all on my own. So when I was in Paris for a week of my spring break while my friends galavanted in Nice, I decided to go pay a visit to the masked musical genius.

Opera Garnier

I started doing musical theater in the 6th grade after my sister (an up-and-coming actress in NYC) started. Comedy came so naturally to her, but as she’ll be the first to admit it, putting a step to a tune wasn’t always her favorite nor did it come with as much ease.

Ceiling at Opera Garnier

I had taken piano for years. I asked for singing lessons, too, and made a deal with my mom that as long as I practiced piano, I could pick up the singing. That lasted a lot shorter than it should have- let’s just say I can barely remember Pachelbel’s Canon.

IMG_3358 IMG_3364








After weeks of learning various vocal exercises, I finally had the opportunity to learn a song. At that point, I didn’t care what it was- I was just ready for some real words as opposed to “may-me-mi-mo-mu.” My teacher chose “Think of Me,” a song for a soprano and though I’m more of an alto, I was very proud after taking on this challenge.


These photos aren’t the best quality because all I had was my smaller pocket-sized camera. But I hope they help you all transport yourselves to the Opera Garnier to take a visit to the Phantom of the Opera.

Liebster Nomination

The reason I started my blog was to scrapbook things I love and being able to share those things with my friends and family (whose newsfeeds I bombard with links to this site).

But what I love even more is hearing from followers I don’t know personally. It feels like getting a comment in your yearbook from someone you didn’t know as well- it has a whole different meaning.

I recently got a nomination from Preconcept (a blog with GREAT travel photos) for the Liebster Blog Award. Here are the rules taken from Preconcept’s post:

  • When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (make sure you tell them you nominated them!) and ask them 11 questions.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you!

Thanks again for the nom, Preconcept! Here we go!

11 Random Facts

  1. I’m 1/2 Sicilian, 1/4 German, 1/8 Irish and 1/8 Portuguese.
  2. I’m super afraid of anything really big/ really small (eg. heights; the whale at the Museum of Natural History in NYC; bugs)
  3. I have an unhealthy number of episode of Sex and the City on my computer.
  4. My biggest pet peeves are bad grammar, small noises (like people clicking their gum or flicking their fingernails), and rudeness.
  5. I’m a neat-freak.
  6. I am the youngest of 4 siblings, and we all are about 2 years apart. My whole family is extremely close.
  7. I spent the first grade in San Francisco and dream of moving back one day.
  8. I was Pippin in my all-girls school production of Pippin. The one time I had a lead in the play, I got sick for all of the performances.
  9. I got a 5 on my AP Photo exam. But I’m pretty convinced the Canon Rebel I used did most of the work for me.
  10. I hate everything about mayonnaise- the taste, the sound, everything.
  11. When I grow up, I want to be my mom (who’s even more fabulous than Jackie O).

Preconcept’s questions for me:

1. If you had to choose 3 countries where you see yourself living what would they be?
-US, France, Italy
2. Do you prefer coffee or tea?
-COFFEE! I’ve been drinking it every morning since I turned 16.
3. What’s your favourite song when you’re travelling?
-Depends on where I’m going! Volare/Vitamin C (I was obsessed with Lizzie McGuire); New York State of Mind/Billy Joel; Home/Michael Bublé
4. If you had to recommend one book, what would that be?
-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. What is your favourite cuisine around the world?
-I’m always in the mood for Italian, but Indian is definitely a favorite!
6. What are the five things you would never leave home, if you were going on a big trip?
-A good book; my camera; Burt’s Bees chapstick; umbrella; a journal
7. Do you prefer the countryside or a big city?
-I was born and raised in NYC so I feel at ease in big cities…though I need some peace and quiet on retreats to the countryside
8. Which city would you recommend me to visit and why?
-Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. I also loved Verona!
9. What is the best thing about the place you live in?
-Best thing about New York: the people- it really is a melting pot of cultures
-Best thing about Paris: the ability to wander and never need to take the same street twice
10. Why did you decide to write a blog?
-As a way to scrapbook my experiences
11. If could only eat one thing forever what would that be?
-Apples with peanut butter (my two favorite things in the whole world)

My 11 Nominations Go To…

1. Tomato Kumato
2. The Coyote Thistle
3. Pitches and Pros
4. Diva Eats Italia
5. The Daring Gourmet
6. A Caffeinated Brunette
7. Jade Laughs a Lot
8. My French Heaven
9. Cooking for Keeps
10. Garnish with Lemon
11. From A to Zoe

I’m going to do my questions for you 11 a bit differently…This or That!

1. Coffee or tea
2. Mac and cheese or Ramen
3. Mac or PC
4. Chocolate or vanilla
5. 1940s or 1960s
6. Pizza: thin crust or deep dish
7. Bunny-sized elephant or elephant-sized bunny
8. Movie or TV show
9. Newman or Redford
10. #1 food you’re picky about
11. #1 movie of all time

Same Love

I’ve been inspired by The Coyote Thistle this week. She’s a great blogger from L.A. who recently reorganized her blog and has added a series called Tunes Tuesdays. For today’s post, I’m going to expand my horizons.

I’m not much of a music buff; don’t get me wrong, I always have my iTunes shuffling. But when it comes to knowing about cool music, I’m usually a step behind. Some of my favorites are Billy Joel, John Mayer, Norah Jones, Billie Holiday, etc. But as a member of this millenium generation – or whatever we call it – I’m often going through the Top 10 on iTunes to know what’s up.

When I was in Bologna, one of my friends introduced me to “Same Love” by Macklemore. I was skeptical, because although I love ridiculously jamming out to “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore seemed to be kind of someone to overlook.

This song changed my mind, and I think you’ll understand why.

When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

Prague: A Little Bit of Heaven

I had to save the best for last! Here’s my thoughts on Prague!

If Paris and San Francisco had a baby, it would be Prague. My friend and I were in awe- especially after leaving a city like Berlin that didn’t really seem to cater much to wandering tourists. Prague was quite the opposite. Though it did sort of feel like some parts of the city were Disneyworld-esque with tourist traps and menus in 8 languages, it was well worth it. I can’t wait to go back, and I definitely didn’t want to leave.

Best Drinks: The Globe (hopping with expats and students); Souterrain (a cool underground local hangout); Meduza (great cappuccinos)

Best Food: Cafe Louvre (great for brunch; feels like a nice hotel with great prices); Mlejnice (good Czech food; may have to wait for a table); the constant fairs in Old Town have great classics like pretzels, sausages, etc.

Need to See: Prague Castle (buy a short visit ticket to get into the Old Royal Palace, Basilica San Giorgio, Golden Lane, and St. Vitus’s Cathedral); all of the synagogues; Charles Bridge; Astronomical Clock; Karlovy Lazne (biggest club in Central Europe); John Lennon Wall; Mucha Museum

From Paris to Berlin

Post 2 of the Spring Break recap. Here’s Berlin. Up next, Praha!

I was told before going to Berlin that it’s definitely a different city. It’s not quaint  in the way Paris or Rome are. It’s much more modern; the distances on the map seem close but 20 minutes of walking later, you realize how wrong you were. We were also there in the bitter cold which might have put a damper on my experience. What I did love though was all of the history associated with the city. I love learning about World War II, so this city was Mecca in that sense. It was definitely emotionally exhausting, but very interesting to see what steps Germany has taken to acknowledge its history.

Best Drink: Mein Haus am See for a really cool set-up- Stadium seating against the back wall and lots of couches throughout the place; Also, CCCP Bar– We went on a night with a great DJ spinning 50s-70s vinyls.

Best Food: You have to try Curry Wurst for an experience you’ll never forget. Also, Max & Moritz for really great German food. Wienerschnitzel there is the best. Also, sandwiches at Luigi Zuckermann Deli.

Need to See: Brandenburg Tower; Holocaust Memorial; German Historical Museum; Berlin Cathedral; Reichstag; vintage shops

Bologna: A Food Tour

For the past 10 days, I traveled a bit around Europe for my Spring Break. I’m splitting the posts up into different days so that I can ramble on about each place without completely boring everyone to death. Let’s start with Bologna!

I had the best tour guide for my stay in Bologna. It was the same friend who I ventured to Europe with almost 2 summers ago (I can’t believe that!) and has since perfected her Italian by studying there this semester. It was so great to tour the city with someone who knew all of the great gelato places and could guide us around without a map. Here are some of the best parts of my trip, though there was an endless number gems.

Best Drink: Italy has this great tradition of aperitivo, when restaurants offer a full buffet of hors d’oeuvres for free after buying one drink. Not a bad deal for college students, or anyone for that matter! Bologna is covered in bars and restaurants that offer aperitivo, and we definitely took advantage of it there.

Best Food: Biagi for the homemade spinach and ricotta tortellini and ragu sauce (had to have pasta bolognese in Bologna!) Also, La Sorbetteria Castiglione for the best gelato in the city! I had chocolate and stracciatella and it was perfection; piadina, a sandwich, similar to panini but on great thin bread (like pita)

Need to SeeMercato di Bologna on Saturdays; climb the Two Towers; Santo Stefano; Archiginnasio of Bologna; wander around the markets; “Little Venice”

Chez moi

As my friend and I made our way through Charles de Gaulle last night, we had a crazy realization: coming to Paris felt like coming home.

Paris sunset

Paris sunset

After an amazing 10 days traveling, it felt amazing to come home to a full wardrobe instead of living out of a backpack, all of my face washes and beauty supplies I left behind, and of course, a big sister.

Today has been simple, catching up with emails (how could I have over 400 unread emails? Thanks LivingSocial), watching Pretty Little Liars (no shame), and detoxing from St. Patty’s Day.

Thanks for sticking around, there will be more up about my trip later this week!

PS. The following song has been stuck in my head ALL day, but I’m proud to be a Galway girl!

A Dieu

After 2.5 months of school work, it’s finally Spring Break. I have 2 weeks, the first will be devoted to travelling and the second to checking off items on my Things To Do In Paris list.

For the next 10 days, I’ll be in Bologna, Berlin, and Prague. I’ll miss Paris, but I’m so excited for the week ahead! Be back in a bit! -M

P.S. Enjoy the new blog layout! I updated my design in a phase of procrastination/ spring cleaning. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Tour Eiffel