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My Parisian Style Apartment in Manhattan Decor Guide

As many of you know, I’ve been based in NYC for about 4 years now, with a short stint in Paris. I’ve always had love for both cities for different reasons and in my imagination, I feel like there has always been a love affair between Paris and New York City with Paris being the feminine and New York City, the masculine. I’m very grateful to have called both cities  my home. For the past 5 years, I was traveling for work about 80% of the time and though I moved to NYC in 2016, I never felt like a true New Yorker because I was never here. That is, until the pandemic hit and the city went into complete shutdown on March 14, 2020. I locked the door and didn’t come out for awhile. This experience completely flipped my world upside down and I was forced to adapt. But I’m no stranger to tough times and every time I’ve experience tough times, a creative project was always the cure so I decided to become my own interior designer and create a space that was not only cozy and truly felt like home, but also made me feel like I was in Europe, which is my happy place.

I moved into this apartment exactly one month before the pandemic with nothing but my clothes and the old furniture the previous owners had left for me so I was completely starting from scratch. I consider myself an old, romantic soul who should have been born in Europe during a different era so that’s what I wanted my home to reflect. And so, I’m excited to share all of these pieces that came together to make my house a home!

Gallery Wall by Printique

I’ve always wanted to create a gallery wall in my home but I never got around to it in my previous apartments until I discovered Printique, an Adorama company. Based out of Brooklyn, the photo lab prints the highest of quality products like the canvases I opted for my gallery wall.  Printique not only produces the highest of quality products, their website is super user friendly and their shipping is fast (especially during a time when shipping has been so slow!) They offer books, albums. wall decor and more. Use promo code DAME20 for 20% off!

Mid-Century Modern Velvet Sofa

I opted for the Sven Pacific Blue 72″ Velvet Sofa by Article which I absolutely love. It’s deep and almost feels like a sofa bed without the pull-out feature. This color is gorgeous too and went well with the brushed gold accents in my apartment.

Red Persian Rug

I opted for a red Persian rug to add a little bit of Middle Eastern flair that reminded me of my upbringing (I’m Iraqi!) and the faded red color was a great contrast to the Pacific Blue sofa. I also love the vintage look adding to the European look I was going for. The price point is really great for this rug too.

Gold Coffee Table

I opted for a glass and gold trimming coffee table which I love. the size is perfect and the details are feminine.

Paris to New York Hooks

I obviously fell head over heels in love when I saw these Paris to New York hooks! They’re perfectly placed right by my door and I use them to hang my keys, mask and hat but you can also use them in your bathroom as a towel hook.

La Toilette Bath Mat

It doesn’t get more Parisian than this bath mat for the bathroom! I had to immediately get it!

Chic and comfortable Desk and Chair

With most of us working from home these days, it’s now more important than ever to have a really great at home office. I searched high and low to find a desk and chair that were chic, comfortable and most of all, not bulky. I finally found this Mid-Century Art Display Mini Desk and this Blush Pink and Brass Office Chair that is so gorgeous.

Smeg Vintage Fridge

This Smeg fridge has been on my wish list forever so I finally pulled the trigger and went for it and I do not regret it one but. It’s a bit of a splurge but it’s a staple that you will have for a long time and it really added so much character to my space! I chose the neutral Cream color in case I want to change up my color palette design in the future but there are so many fun colors such as pink, cream etc!

Gold Antique Chandelier

This antique and elegant gold 6-Light Candle Style Chandelier truly added the Parisian touch I was looking for. I love that the gold isn’t shiny (more matted and antique looking) and the crystals are subtle and not tacky.

Parisian Style Mirror

We’ve all seen the popular gold Anthropologie mirror a thousand and one times and I too wanted to get it until I discovered the Josephine Mirror and fell in love. It’s still a Parisian style mirror but it’s not as overdone as the Gleaming Primrose mirror that you see every blogger post!

Hand-Embossed Lotus Six-Drawer Dresser

Storage is key in my tiny NYC apartment but I did not want to spend a ton of money on just a basic boring dresser and was surprised to discover how few dressers with character are out there! I eventually found this Hand-Embossed Lotus Six-Drawer Dresser which had a bit of Asian and European antique flair which I LOVED. It’s super gorgeous and the drawers are deep allowing for lots of storage space!

Wine Rack

I don’t like to have too many bottle of wine at a one time and since I don’t have much space, this Moroccan themed gold wine rack is perfect.

Retro Fan

The cutest retro fan to keep you cool during those hot summer days!

 

Europe

Where To Stay In Paris – A Guide To The Best Neighborhoods

Paris is perhaps one of the most iconic, well-recognized cities in the world. This capital has long been renowned for being the city of love, with a side of haute couture. 

A lot of travelers end up disappointed when they venture to Paris, namely because they’ve failed to prepare. The city doesn’t revolve around the Eiffel Tower. Choosing the right neighborhood to explore will make your trip joyous and unforgettable. 

Here are the best neighborhoods to call home while visiting Paris.

Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin is in the 10th Division (arrondissement) in Paris. Historically, this area has been viewed as unfavorable and best avoided by travelers. In recent years, however, the city has put a lot of focus on regentrification, especially in the southern region of the district near Canal Saint-Martin.

This area is the ideal place for a vacation rental in Paris, as you get a taste of the old world balanced with new, trendy restaurants and shops. The canal itself is a scenic tribute to old Paris. Stroll along the shops and rest at one of the waterfront bistros for multicultural food fusions that will have your tastebuds crying for more.

Haut Marais

Marais is a large district in Paris and a favorite among both travelers and locals. This lively hotspot is home to beautiful museums, a vivid nightlife, and food galore. With high-end boutique shops and incredible ancient architecture, it’s a great destination for a group with diverse interests. 

Within Marais is a smaller sub-district known as Haut Marais. This region is a little more relaxed and laid back than the usual fast-paced vibe in overall Marais. Haut Marais is one of the oldest regions in Paris. Roam along the cobblestone streets, peruse original Picassos, and recover from the party lifestyle that makes Marais famous.

Montorgueil

What makes Montorgueil such a great place to stay in Paris is that it’s not an overly touristy area. Even so, it’s conveniently located for exploring the city. It’s a beautiful part of the city, and largely residential, making it a lovely retreat after a day of exploration.

Walk along the white cobblestones of rue Montorgueil, and pick up some traditional French food from the market. Artisan bread, an array of cheeses, fine wines, and fish make this area perfect for those in an Airbnb or villa. When you’re done at the market, The Lourve is only a ten-minute drive away. 

Bastille

Bastille is another neighborhood that is less touristy and more residential. Like Montorgueil, Bastille is still conveniently located for navigating to some of the popular tourist attractions. As it is removed from the main thoroughfare, accommodations and restaurants tend to be more affordable. 

That being said, there’s plenty to keep you busy in Bastille. This neighborhood is home to the Bastille Market, which is the largest outdoor market in the city. As it’s home to a lot of young Parisians, Bastille has a spirited nightlife with lots of trendy bars and clubs.

Ile Saint-Louis

Ile Saint-Louis is a small island in the middle of Paris. It was originally the retreat of King Louis XIII and his closest friends. This beautiful area still conveys the luxury and architecture of the 17th century, boasting incredible mansions.

Ile Saint-Louis is an artistic hotspot. There are often impromptu performances in the street, as well as a quaint theater that always has something to offer. Ile Saint-Louis is conveniently located near other hot Paris neighborhoods, including Marais, as listed above, and the Latin Quarter. This quiet retreat has no night clubs but boasts the best ice crea and coffee in the city.

Paris has so much more to offer than the Eiffel Tower. Stay in one of its lovely neighborhoods away from the iconic structure and experience the best of this incredible city. Bon voyage!

Montmartre

Once home to Paris’s major artists of the past, Montmartre has a hillside village vibe unlike many other arrondissement’s within the city. Art lovers and appreciators will love this northern neighborhood of Paris! Just imagine walking the same cobblestoned paths like Picasso, Manet, Renoir and Van Gogh did, meeting up for coffee in the busy cafes and delving into the art world of the past in its many small galleries, museums and boutiques.

Montmartre is home to many romantic terraces and cafes, so be sure to pause from your explorations through the Butte to savor some delicious treats, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.

Besides being full of charm, Montmartre is home to the wonderful Sacré-Cœur perched atop its steepest hill. This entirely white, Byzantine style basilica is gorgeous both inside and out… and actually houses one of the largest mosaic in the country! Be sure to spend a few minutes enjoying the view of the city below, people watching and soaking in the magic that this romantic little neighborhood of Paris has to offer.


P.S. Be sure to check out our other insider guides to Paris here! (Can you tell we just love The City Of Light?)

Europe

A Seasonal Guide To Paris In The Fall

I have visited Paris countless times. Each season has its charm, but in my opinion, you can’t beat visiting the City of Light in the fall. The Parisians, who deserted the city during the summer months, are back in town full of energy just in time for la rentrée. No need to wait in line for hours among the crowds – summer tourists have gone home, and the holiday travelers have yet to make their appearance. And if you needed another reason to pack your suitcase, fall is the least expensive time of the year to visit Paris. Not only are the flights cheaper, but so are the hotel rates!

But most important of all, fall in Paris is drop-dead gorgeous. You may have missed the bright flowers and green grass in the Parisian parks, but the autumn colors are breathtaking.  The allées in the Palais Royal and Tuileries Garden are spectacular. Place des Vosges is a dream. With the Indian summer that takes over the city, you still have time to pack a bottle of red wine and a cozy blanket for a picnic under the golden canopy.

Drink & Be Merry!

Speaking of wine, there is no better time to appreciate it and the culture surrounding it than in the fall, a.k.a. Harvest season. You don’t need to head to Bordeaux or Bourgogne to experience the excitement of the vendanges. Montmartre, once a country village outside of Paris, has its own vineyard with a dreamy view over the Parisian roofs. Every year, the Fête des Vendanges celebrates the harvest, and you can enjoy a full (and mostly free) program mixing good food, drinks, dancing and art installations. Just outside of Paris, the Festival des Vendanges de Suresnes also celebrates the harvest with a large performing arts festival in the largest European garden-city. If you want to get out of the beaten tracks, this is the one for you.

Fall is also the season of the Beaujolais Nouveau! On the third Thursday in November, the famous “vin primeur” takes over the country. It may not be the best wine you will ever try in your life, but its arrival is celebrated in all the bars and restaurants. You must try it at least once if you are in France around that time!

If the Parisian rain and grey skies are getting to you, stop for a glass of vin chaud. This French take on mulled wine is only available during the colder months leading to the holidays. It is one of my favorite treats after a refreshing walk through the city. Sit down at a terrasse – lots of them are heated or offer blankets for extra warmth– and watch the world go by.

Delicious Seasonal Treats

As a foodie, I love that the French still eat very seasonally. Whether you eat at a restaurant or head to one of the many farmers’ market, you will see the offerings change month after month. In the fall, there is still plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but the seasonal dishes are all about comfort food and treating yourself.

First, it’s wild mushroom season. The French are obsessed with them, and you will see countless cars parked on the side of the road near the woods while the drivers go mushroom picking – don’t try to follow them, they all have their secret spot that they guard jealously! Try truffles for a special treat. Then, there are chestnuts: they are delicious in a soup or side dish, or simply roasted on the street corner. With hunting season, game is widely available. Fall is the perfect time to drown in melted cheese with fondue or raclette – but stay clear of the debate on whether it originally hails from France or Switzerland! Finally, finish your meal with a crisp apple or a pear straight from one of Normandy’s orchards.

And what about a rich chocolat chaud? I can’t stomach it in the heat and humidity of the summer, but it is divine once the temperatures drop.

Since we are on the subject of chocolate, I must mention the Salon du Chocolat. If you time your trip just right, you can visit this chocolate lover’s paradise and one of the largest events featuring chocolate in the world. It’s the perfect occasion to see, smell, and taste every variation of this delicacy!

How To See Paris In The Fall

In the fall, the days get cooler and shorter, but it has its advantages. As a wife of a photographer, I appreciate that you can actually see a sunrise without having to get up at the crack of dawn. When I get up for sunrise shoots most of the year, I usually have to wait for hours for my first espresso and croissant as the shops don’t open until mid-morning. But in the fall, I can have my gateau and eat it too!

It might not be prime sightseeing weather every day, but it is the perfect occasion to dive into one of Paris countless museums. You might feel guilty spending your time indoors in the spring or summer, but there is no such predicament on a rainy day. Take your time to explore classic must-sees like the Louvre and Orsay, or discover new favorites depending on your interests. And why not do something entirely different, like trying a cooking class?

Fall is also the time when Paris puts on the red carpet for all kinds of festivals, from the Fashion Week in late September to contemporary art at the world-renowned FIAC or the home design paradise of the Foire d’Automne. Art lovers shouldn’t miss the Nuit Blanche, an all-night festival when artists take over the city from dusk until dawn. Stroll among the huge artworks and light installations spread throughout the city and discover Paris through new eyes.

A Word On What To Pack For The Fall

To stay cozy in Paris in the fall, it is all about layering! Fall mornings are cold, but by the early afternoon, the sun comes out and warms up the temperatures, only to cool down again in the evening. Don’t forget comfortable, waterproof shoes and coat (a classic trench will serve you well), well-cut jeans for day-to-night city exploration, and a scarf to stay warm in the early morning and the evening!

For all the reasons for this season, I simply j’adore Paris in the fall and you will too!

Advice Solo Travel Stories

Overcoming Getting Robbed in Paris

On December 1st, 2018, I woke up to a robbed hotel room. My camera, lenses, laptop… everything I require for my livelihood.. gone.

A normal seeming day turned into a whirlwind disaster that felt like the ultimate cherry on top of a very challenging year for me. After dinner I came back to my hotel room, I awoke, glanced around and noticed something I had overlooked before resting. Over $8,000 worth of my gear was missing. As the blood rushed to my head, my blood turned cold. How had this happened? My heart shattered as tears began to fall.

Today, I wanted to share my experience of getting robbed abroad with the hopes to share the lessons I’ve learned from this horrific event.

Needless to say, I’m still so thankful that I was not hurt or violated physically. So many things could have gone even worse than losing material objects… but, it goes without saying that this type of incident was an ultimate violation of security and safety. The courage I once felt from being able to explore Paris on my own was replaced by anxiety and fear. I found myself feeling so afraid walking the streets of Paris when I once was empowered by living in Paris alone. I began to question everything. As an advocate for solo female traveler’s safety, I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I was devastated. The overwhelming sense of sadness and loss was so hard to deal with.

Even worse, I received absolutely zero help from the hotel (La Pigalle Paris) or the French police. No cameras in the hallway to view, no remorse or apologies. Nothing. I felt completely isolated, violated and betrayed. How could any place not show any concern for their patrons? “Here’s your police report, there’s nothing else we can do at this point, it’s just for insurance purposes”.

The one take away from this lesson that I want to really push for is this – never skimp on travel insurance. It may seem like a frivolous expense to add when planning your adventures… but it can be a literal life-saver when you’re traveling in a foreign country.

A $50 policy can include $500,000 of Medical Evacuation coverage! But it’s important to read the fine print (or talk to someone in the industry) to really understand what you’re purchasing. For example, most comprehensive policies include thousands of dollars for Baggage Loss coverage but it’s important to note there’s almost always a special limitation on cameras and electronics (usually around $500). Do your research. Trust me when I say, it’s worth it.

The wonderful folks at Yonder Insurance were a guiding light throughout this whole horror. And I’m so thankful for the time and effort they put into assisting me through this. Their kindness and attention they gave to my case restored so much of my hope. I couldn’t love or recommend a travel insurance company more! Do yourself a favor and book a plan with them next time you’re traveling.

The businesses I respect the most are the ones with heart and soul and Yonder is defintely one of those businesses. Founders Terry and Ryan returned from a trip to Myanmar where they witnessed the struggle of the refugees, with a commitment to provide a week’s worth of food to a child refugee for every policy sold. So you can travel well, and do well when you go Yonder.

In addition to giving Yonder a HUGE thank you, I’d also like to give a big shoutout to Adorama, who kindly helped me with replacing some of my equipment. It’s the companies like this that helped me change my perspective and feel more grateful than ever for the good people in this world.

I hope if you’re reading this that you can see just how important your safety is while traveling. There certainly are beautiful moments and life changing experiences to be had while abroad, but its so, so crucial to be prepared and informed on safety and never overlook your well being when exploring. Now that some time has passed, I can look back at this experience and acknowledge how much personal growth has occurred for me. I’m still so empowered by traveling solo around the globe, and I have a keener sense of personal and material security. My anxiety and fear has slowly adapted into deeper awareness and less nervousness. As days and months pass, I’m reminded what joy and beauty comes from travel… and that although this experience was painful and sad, I am capable of moving past it with grace and courageousness to learn more from this world.

Thank you so much for reading my story. I hope from the bottom of my heart that none of you ever have to experience getting robbed while abroad (or any other type of safety issue).


Have you ever had to overcome getting robbed while abroad? How did you deal with the repercussions?

P.S. more safety tips for female travelers can be found right here!

Europe Hotels

Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon

Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon

Paris’s infatuation with artists and craftsman has long drawn travelers from around the world to its city center. Watercolor scenes being painted by the Seine, writers drafting poetry in cafes… it’s a dream many romantics long to experience themselves. That being said, I’ve never seen in a hotel with such kinship to its artistic history until my stay at Courtyard Paris Marriott Gare De Lyon.

The Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon just opened in October and has truly made a mark in the Paris hotel scene! I loved how its fresh, modern, minimal style stands out amongst the traditionally Parisian-styled lodgings of the city. Like a breath of fresh air, the hotel hopes to inspire the future of Paris’s lodgings with its intentional details – like USB ports perfect for international travelers and an incredible foodie culture happening within its kitchen (more on this later in the post)!

Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon

Inspired by the surrounding area’s craftsmanship-focused neighborhood, you’ll find the hotel flanked by local handmade shops and lots of lovely little details inside that nod to the passion of makers and dreamers of Paris. Additionally, you’ll find nearby sights Rue Crémieux, the cutest rue of pastel colored homes, and Coulée verte René-Dumont. But if you’re hoping to really see all of the city of light, the hotel is just walking distance from the Gare De Lyon station… making it a convenient resting place for travelers really hitting the town.

Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De LyonHotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De LyonHotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De LyonHotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon

The Courtyard Paris Gare De Lyon also boasts 360 degree views of the city, showcasing the iconic buildings of Paris. From the Eiffel Tower, to the Notre Dame, Sacré-Coeur and la Defense, you can see it all from many of the guest rooms! Not many hotels can claim this to their name. It was magical to see the city sparkle late at night from my home away from home.

Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De LyonHotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De LyonHotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De LyonHotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon

But truly what I believe sets The Courtyard Gare De Lyon apart is its commitment to its culinary art. Mélissa Ravel, the chef to the hotel, cooks with local, seasonal ingredients and is truly a genius! Her dishes were packed with delicate flavors and authentic nods to tradition with a twist. It was so inspiring to see how Mélissa combines textures, spices and classically French dishes with such care.  Do not miss a meal here! Mélissa truly is an artist in the kitchen.

Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon Hotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De LyonHotels We Love: Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon

When in Paris, The Courtyard Marriott Gare De Lyon is the perfect home for travelers who admire the detailed and industrious charm of the Gare De Lyon neighborhood.


Stay sponsored by Courtyard Marriott.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.
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