My grand mother’s name is Mireille.
Many people will describe her as the crazy lady of the family! And ... yes she is a little crazy but she is also much more.
She’s passionate, quite artistic, very generous, fun and funny, she loves dancing, she likes traveling and playing card games, she has more energy than anybody I know and she will always find a way to tease you.
She also gets in fights with animals, once she got her butt kicked by a swan!! Another time, her finger almost got cut off by a giant crab and she was bitten by a monkey right in front of my face. She lies very easily, she believes her own lies actually so she is able to tell you with that very candid look “I don’t understand why anybody would lie!” that sentence coming from her always has me burst in laughter!! She’s known to fall... yes fall!! She fell in a cave, in the water, off her bike... when you think about it, the simple fact that she is 86 years old today is quite miraculous considering the adventurous life she’s had.
The fights that she had with my grandpa are memorable, plates flying, threats to jump off the car... she was and still is Intense! She speaks her mind, she cries a lot and she laughs even more.
Now that you know Mireille a little, let me tell you what happened to her these last 8 years.
My grandpa passed away from cancer.
I absolutely loved my grandpa, he was a wonderful man but if you ask me and the rest of my family to be honest, we'd tell you that the two of them had a horrible marriage. They cheated on each other and fought all the time. That being said, my grandma was devastated after his passing.
About two years after his death, I was in France visiting her and she turned to me with that grin on her face: “I have a boyyyyfriend” she said to me.
She had met this man who was her age and happened to be the father of my mom’s highschool friend.
Rémy had lost his spouse too and next thing you know he moved into her house and they started their new relationship... They were 80 years old!!! My grandma sometimes complained he was taking too much of her personal space and that she wished he would give her some time to herself once in a while.
Rémy was smitten, he admired her energy and she made him laugh. My grandma was astonished by his kindness and loving behavior. They were happy, until last year when Mireille got diagnosed with dementia. We had seen it coming but suddenly it had become worse and the person suffering the most from it was Rémy. He had become her brain, he was turning off the stove, the iron, the lights, the water that she was leaving on very often. He was helping her getting dressed and he was putting up with her anger crisis.
By April 2018 he couldn’t take it anymore and he left her, just like that!
The day I was landing in France he called my mom and said, “I’m leaving, I didn’t tell her, you need to come get her. I’m leaving.”
Rémy left... and my grandma cried for weeks.. and remember I told you she was passionate/crazy, at night she took a knife and scratched his car that he had left there!... she still denies it!
She was extremely sad, I remember her comparing Rémy to my grandpa:“your papi was a good man, despite all the fights we had some good times but Rémy wakes up every morning asking me if I slept well, he is so kind... What a different life I would have had if he had been the man of my life”.
Her dementia got worse in a few months. She was not able to live alone anymore and didn’t want to live with any of her children. In May she accepted to move into an old people’s home. She was crying so much. Knowing your mind is leaving you is tragic, the loneliness was hard and I know she missed Rémy very much. She sometimes told us he had come see her riding his bike, Rémy was a postman when he was younger, hence the bike story. He’s now an old man with a heart condition he hadn’t come visit her on his bike.
July 2018 my mom calls me, she says she has some news...
"what happened?" I asked
“You will not believe it... Rémy has rented a room in the same old people’s home as your grandma, he says he missed her so much.
He apologized for leaving. Looking after her at home had become too much on his shoulders but now that there’s a whole crew helping he says that he wants to spend his days by her side there.”
I was laughing but my eyes were filling up with tears, not only because I was so happy for my grandma but also because by doing so Rémy had given me so much hope.
As corny as it is, to me the moral of this story is: LOVE, is all we need. It doesn’t matter our age or the situation we’re in. We all seek and need Love. To love and being loved for who we truly are is precious... and nobody should take this for granted, as it is rare to find someone who will see the best in you even when you’re at your worse.
Note from my grandma: Find someone who admires your qualities, laughs when he witnesses your flaws, shares your interests and treats you with great kindness.💕
PS: Today is my grandma's birthday. Joyeux anniversaire ma mamie d'amour.
Weinstein has the guts to talk about second chances, he says he is sick and wants to go (escape?) to rehab!!! Doesn't all this sounds "too little, too late" to you?
It does to me.
Decades of sexually assaulting women... in Hollywood they say a lot of people knew!!
Why would you let a person damage another human being’s life this way?
Why waiting so long to speak up? Is it the fear? The shame? Or is it the habit?
This feels like going after the Catholic Church! Remember when some brave journalists finally shun a light on all these priests who abused kids. (Don’t get me wrong, I do know there are wonderful people in the Catholic Church just as there are great men in Hollywood).
It’s the same pattern, you take a very influencable man, a young impressionable girl and you make her believe that her only option to do well is to “be nice to him”.
Weinstein is no better than those pedophile priests.
One thing that is different are the victims, yes they were young and impressionable, scared and probably advised to stay silent by many but they were not innocent and defenseless children. They knew his behavior was wrong and yet they kept silent for many years, some confronted him but most of them did not have the reaction adult women should have had, which I believe to be: denouncing him to the police and the press.
So why didn’t these actresses go public earlier? As I said above, fear might have been a big factor, he’s a big name in the movie industry and they were maybe scared he would destroy their career. Rightfully so, as this type of man doesn’t like being told ‘no’. Also, they probably feared what people around them were going to say about their situation. Unfortunately people are not always kind to victims.
Another thing might have been the shame. Victims of sexual harassment are often shameful and try to just go on with their life as they feel the exposure of the matter might just bring more shame. It is very sad. To all of you victims of Weinstein, even if I wish some of you broke that horrific silence earlier, I have to say I admire your courage and your will to bring change to a system that should never had existed.
One more thing that might have kept these victims away from going public is the habit!
It is saddening and revolting but let’s say it: in the show business world women have grown accustomed to men being unprofessional with them, to men sending them inappropriate messages, to men making sexist comments, to men touching them and worse. Sadly most of these women choose to turn a blind eye on the sexual harassement/assault they are victims of and just count it as ‘one more on the list’.
A few days ago I read an interview in the Guardian that lead me to write this post. Lea Seydoux is a french actress who had to defend herself against Weinstein when he jumped on her and tried to kiss her in his hotel room, she escaped. She then saw him again many times at events around the world and noticed his behavior with other girls. What I found absolutely disturbing was that she said many people knew about him sexually assaulting women but never said a thing.
Lea Seydoux speaks about how Weinstein harassed her and I thank her for it as I believe the more voices the public and the movie industry hear the better... BUT... She goes on in the interview saying that when she was in her mid twenties a director told her he’d love to F... her! From what she reports he had slept with all the actresses he worked with but STILL she isn’t giving his name!! Lea Seydoux also talks about this one director who shot the same sex scene days after days after days, ‘he kept watching us, replaying the scene over and over in a kind of stupor’ but again she doesn’t give his name although this was a golden opportunity to do so. WHY? Fear? Shame? Habit?
If the Catholic Church had more than one priest, the movie industry has more than one Weinstein!
Denounce these men! Do not work with them! Stand strong together and these predators will soon have to change their behavior if they don’t want to loose their job.
Raise your standards.
This system needs to change!
To you, actors, artists, men and women, take a stand!
Do not work with men or women who you know harassed your co workers, do not work with men accused of child rape (Allen and Polanski to name a few).
Raise your standards!
Men and women, please, rise to a place where you are getting a job Only because of your talent.
Rise to a place where you will work with people who have the same moral as you.
Rise to a place where the status of the director/producer will matter less than the story you want to act for.
Rise to a world where sexual abusers will feel fear, shame and understand that their habit of using their power to commit crime is now condemned by everyone.
Denounce, Change and Rise...... Together.
My dear infertility warriors
Infertility sucks, I know it sucks so bad that it makes you doubt yourself and your relationship. It makes you upset at your body and unfortunately it is one of these things that your friends and family have trouble understand unless they have been through it themselves.
Only a few people understand the pain that you feel after taking your 10th pregnancy test and finding out that it is negative.... once again!! People might think you are obsessive and some people say you are doing this to yourself by being so stressed out.. YOU even say that to yourself, you blame yourself for not getting pregnant.
Sentences like these ones kill you:-"it will happen when you stop thinking about it" -"It's okay, just enjoy not having kids for now"
-"maybe you should just go on a holiday". You nod and just feel completely misunderstood. It feels like people are denying your suffering and sometimes you definitely feel like you are complaining too much, after all "be grateful you're healthy and you have a roof over your head"... this sentence is very irritating!!
Infertility sucks!! the pills, the hormones, the needles in your tummy. At the end of my first ivf treatment my belly was all bruised from the daily shots. The hormones make you cry, you are more sensitive than you ever was...I got into arguments with family members on every single IVF treatment i had. On top of that you might even feel sleepy, thank you progesterone!
Oh and did i mention you go and show your private parts every 3 days to nurses and doctors?? yeah... that is NOT the best feeling ever!! Your doctors might be the nicest one on earth, those ultrasounds and exams always feel very awkward.
And should we talk about the cost of IVF, it is quite pricey and what happens if it doesn't work? yes all this money for nothing?!! For some the money doesn't matter but for others it does.
All those contradictory thoughts that are so hard to deal with. They tell you not to stress but when you add up the money + the hormones+ the fear it might not work I can tell you that you end up with a pretty stressed outlook on everything.
Infertility sucks, it might even make you jealous of your own friends. I hated this one! I'm the type of person who truly wants the best for everyone but one time I got that little pinch in my heart when a friend of mine told us she was pregnant and I remember that they were laughing because it was an accident! Only women battling infertility will understand the feeling I had that day. Jealousy is never pretty and I am not proud of this one.
Miscarriages unfortunately go hand in hand with infertility, some women will suffer more than one in a life time and I believe miscarriages to be strongly underestimated.
To loose the baby you have been waiting for is devastating even if you were only 4 weeks pregnant. Of course, you pick up yourself and keep on going, telling yourself that a miscarriage is better than a very unhealthy baby or a still birth or loosing a child later on in life. But the problem is exactly here, because you hear and tell yourself that it could have been worse, you are denying yourself the right to grieve.
8th of February is the approximative due date the doctors had given me for my really first baby to be born. Unfortunately we never got to meet him or her, I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks of pregnancy.
"Between 10 to 25% of pregnancies end up in a miscarriage", "it's okay, you will be pregnant again honey" they tell you. Trust me, it doesn't help to know this. I was loosing so much blood and I just knew that this little being I already loved was leaving my body. A week before I was thinking of names! It is not okay! I was not okay!
If you are recovering well I'm happy for you, you will be able to bounce back much faster and that's great. If you're not doing so well, be gentle to yourself and take the time you need to grieve.
Infertility sucks! BUT
Maybe two or three years from now or maybe sooner you will be holding your little baby in your arms and your fight against infertility will finally appear completely worth it.
Contrary to what they tell you, you will never forget how hard you fought for this beautiful little child but at last you will feel at peace with your body and your mind. You'll be able to smell your baby's hair and feel complete and if i were to ask you: 'would you go through all these struggles over again?" in a heart beat you would tell me 'yes, absolutely'.
Once, a woman who had her baby through iVF told me: "Believe it will happen, because it will!!"
If you desire to become a mother and your husband a father then it will happen. It might not be the way you wanted it to be, you might wait for a long time, you might try different treatments or you might just go ahead and adopt but you will become parents.
Start visualising yourself as a parent, I remember myself already buying clothes for my babies even though they were not even conceived. I just wanted to stay positive and wanted to believe that it was going to happen!
Be kind to yourself, remember what you are going through is hard and even if it is not well understood by your loved ones, know deep inside that you are being strong.
Eat healthy, drink healthy, stay active.
Find the right doctor for you, the one that makes you feel at ease, trust your team and trust science.
Be grateful, a little anecdote: For my first son we got very lucky and i got pregnant with our first IVF cycle.
For the twins, it took 3 cycles, the hormones were messing my mind up and I just could not stay positive. I was kind of depressed and angry all the time (the pills were doing that to me). I always wanted a big family but I was in such a state of mind that at that point I wasn't sure I wanted to try IVF again. I wasn't well, therefor I took my son and went to my happy place, Los Angeles.
I stayed there 10 days, I went to all the places I wanted to see. My son and I were our feet in the sand almost every day and on Santa Monica pier, as I was crying behind my sunglasses, listening to a man singing the most beautiful songs, I told myself: "one more try" but this time I was determined to make it a positive experience.
It was mid April, I just had returned from LA, I had celebrated my birthday up in the air. The weather was nice and I was going on walks as often as I could. I kept busy so the treatment felt faster and easier. I was a lot happier and relax.
Every night I was thanking the universe for my babies to be and I had a calendar for my pills and shots where I drew colourful figures of a little boy and a little girl. On that calendar, I had written in colours, thank you for my baby boy and my baby girl.
9 months later I gave birth to a baby boy and a baby girl.
Infertility sucks but you will become a parent... Brace yourself, be positive and fight hard.
It is all worth it.
Life is short, time flies.
We hear it all the time, and yet it doesn't seem to sink in.
So many of us still stay stuck in careers we don't like, in relationships that hurt us, in a routine we find boring.
Why? Why do we all convince ourselves it's ok to live a life that doesn't excite us??
Life is exciting, it should be!!
It is without pretentiousness that I write all this. I do know I still have so much to learn about life and I might be too young to be giving lessons to you. Trust me, I write this for myself, I post it on my website because I hope that it can help or guide a bit one of you out there.. but this blog is, in fact, for me! For me not to forget what my standards are. For me to have a little reminder of who I am and who I want to be, which is a free and fearless woman.
This morning my 3 and a half years old son insisted on going to school dressed as a T-Rex. He's been wanting to do this for a while and each time I found an excuse "it won't be comfortable", "it's too hot", "it's not Halloween", "we don't go to school in costumes".
Today as he was trying to get dressed by himself, he said "my friend was a princess yesterday and I asked my teacher and she said it's okay". I gave him a couple of my usual excuses not to wear his dino costume but he insisted: "the teacher said it's okay!". For some reason these few words made me stop for a minute, I looked at this cute cheeky boy and thought "of course it's okay" and I helped him wear his T-Rex outfit.
He doesn't care if that's odd, he doesn't care if other people have different clothes, he doesn't care that he looks different... He thinks he's cool and he's happy.
Kids, they have these two thing us adults lost : Freedom and Fearlessness.
What if we all decided to focus on our lives only, on our happiness only? I'm not talking about being selfish or egocentric I'm talking about letting go of the fear.
What if we all stopped worrying about what others might or might not think of us? What if all that mattered was to be a good hearted person and to live our lives to the fullest?
Just imagine for a second, tomorrow the world tells you that you can do anything you want. Your family won't judge, your friends will be encouraging and strangers won't comment. What would you do then? Would you make certain changes?
My point is, the only thing that often stops us to start something new is ourselves and the power we give to people around us.
Let's not care anymore about what our surrounding is going to say or think, why should we? Life is too short to worry about being the subject of people's gossips.
Set yourself free:
Dress the way you want
Do the things you find fun
Go to the places that bring you joy
Be with people that make you feel safe and good.
Don't stop dreaming, behind every big or small accomplishments there is a dream.
Act, take actions, make that change that you've been wanting to make.
Take that risk.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Unfortunately, not everybody is at the same point in life. Some people are judgmental and will never find anything wrong with that behaviour. They will talk and comment but what they say about you is none of your business. Stay focused on you and your life because as you become more free and more fearless the people you care for, the ones that matter to you, will follow.
Two of the rules that I try to live by:
-Don't gossip (I'm writing a whole blog about this, it will be up soon). At times it is hard not to get caught in gossips and let's be honest, all of us do gossip at some point in our lives, but really, try not to do it. Be disciplined about it. If you want others to be less judgmental you have to start with yourself.
-Compete with yourself.
You are the only person you should want to compete with. Don't try to beat your neighbor or your classmate, your friend or your instagram buddy. The only person you really need to compete with is yourself. Remember that your aim is to become a better and freer version of yourself.
On this women's day I want to talk to you about Feminism.
I feel like the word 'Feminism' creates some sort of tensions right away, so before I start I want to say something to you, the men who might read this post till the end: "I do appreciate all the work men do, I do not want all the power to be handed to women and I am not against the male kind."
"Feminism" is not a bad word.
"I am a feminist" is not a sentence that should shock, offend or scare anybody.
All of us here should understand that Feminism is another word for equality. In the past, (and still in some countries today) women had very little rights and therefor the women and men who wanted to create more balance and equal rights between men and women called this movement 'Feminism'. This word got associated with negative images, letting people think that women wanted to dethrone men and take their spot. It is not the case, Feminism is wanting pure equality, and I believe that if you're a feminist you also have men's rights at heart.
Plus, let's stop the stereotypes, you don't have to have short hair, be gay or trans, you don't have to show your breast in public places, you don't have to be aggressive or angry, you don't have to be a tom boy or extra sexy, you don't even have to like Beyonce (although who doesn't? ). There are many different type of feminists.
Myself for example, I'm a stay at home mom who does put her dreams on the side for a while so I can be with my kids. I'm married to a man who doesn't cook and has no interest learning how to, he even thinks all bad drivers are female!!! I'm a pro-life or a pro choice according to the circumstances. I love dressing up to go out and I use make up at times. I like sports but I also like arts. I am a very independent woman but I also love feeling the attention and care of my loved ones. I'm usually kind and diplomatic.... see? not that scary and yes I am a feminist.
Friends have asked me on different occasions why I was a feminist and what it meant to me. Here is a little list.. well it actually is a pretty long list on why I am a feminist and I am proud to shout it loud and clear.
(I know it is long but especially if you don't call yourself a feminist I would love for you to read it until the end and tell me why you choose not to be part of this movement, not to start a fight, just simply because I am curious to know and understand why in the 21st century, some women and men would still insist on saying they are not feminists)
Here it is, the reason why I call myself a feminist:
- I want equal rights for men and women worldwide.
-I expect equal pay for equal work.
-I am against forced marriage. This is still going on in many countries. A woman should have the right to choose the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with and most of all, she should be a woman NOT a girl!!
-I believe a woman should also be allowed to keep her surname. In some part of the world the name change is still something automatic after marriage which shouldn't be. A woman is not a property, she should decide if she wants to take her husband's surname or not.
-I am strongly against female genital mutilation. This practice kills little girls every year and hurt for life millions of women.
I don't want to hear the cultural argument, this is a barbarian practice that needs to stop!
-I believe sex trafficking is inhumane. Young girls (and young boys), that could have been our children, are taken away from their family or being sold by their loved ones to sex traffickers. I hear sometimes absurdity like "it's normal in their culture" "girls there don't mind this as much as girls here"...This type of remarks makes me want to scream. A kid is a kid, it doesn't matter where they are from. People who are sold for sex will be damaged forever. If you still have some answers to this, then imagine it happen to your daughter or your sister and maybe these words will finally make sense. This is not just women's rights it is human rights, your body belongs to you and you only. You are the only person who can decide what you want to do with your body.
-I am proud to call myself a feminist because I have great respect towards the women and men who fought so hard to get us the right to vote and so much more. Some of these ladies lost their lives working on getting us where we are now! Thanks to them in many countries we can go to the same schools as men, we can wear the clothes we want, we can become president, we can run marathons (before 1972 women were not allowed to run the famous Boston marathon, that was only 45 years ago). We can work in the same places as men, we can fly a plane, we can go to the olympics, we can be part of the army (not everywhere though),we have access to contraceptives, we can paint, we can play music and sing, we can swim (don't take this one for granted, in some countries women are forbidden to swim). Thanks to all these strong and beautiful feminists women, your mother, your sisters and your daughters have rights they didn't have just a century ago. We all should be grateful to these women who had the world progress. We all should be so proud to be part of one of the bravest movement there ever was: Feminism.
-I am a feminist because I believe I should be free to wear whatever I want...without fear!
I'll give you a personal example: Once I was in a market in France, buying fruits and veggies, I was an 18 or 19years old tom boy. A woman wearing a skirt, nothing too offensive, just a pretty girl wearing heels and a nice flowing skirt passed right next to me, this is what I heard right behind me :" then, they're surprised they get raped". Till today I wish I just gave this dumb guy the speech of his life but I was young and I lacked self confidence so I just smiled to his 'joke' and walked away. I smiled because that's what society teaches us, you smile to guys that seem problematic so that they don't yell at you or hurt you... it's survival instinct! I wish I was fearless back then.
Women should be able to wear mini skirts without being judged by other women or harassed by men. They should be able to wear masculine clothes, have short hair and no make up on without being categorized as the women who are not feminine enough. A woman should wear the clothes she likes without asking the permission of her husband or boyfriend.
And even if, as a feminist, I struggle to understand the veil, if it is what you want to do, if it is not pushed on you by your parents, husband or culture, if the veil doesn't prohibit some of your movements and choices then yes, women should be able to wear the veil without facing judgement.
-I want Violence towards women to not exist anymore.
In France 1 woman dies every 3days because of domestic violence.
In Turkey 160 women were murder victims of domestic violence in 2015 and 286 women died for the same reason in 2014.
In the USA 3 women every day loose their lives due to domestic violence.
When is this going to stop? Women should have the right to disagree with their husbands without fearing to get killed. Women should have the right to divorce without being hunted down by their spouse. Nobody should make excuses for a man who is violent toward his wife, sentences like 'she deserved it' should be strongly reprimanded.
Women suffering from domestic violence often loose their self confidence and at times even believe they deserve such treatments. It is such a vicious circle that getting out of it is difficult. If you know anybody in an abusive relationship, please empower them, give them the strength to leave. Feminist non profit organisation work everyday to help these women who could be members of your family or your best friend. If you know anybody in this situation, direct her to one of these non profit so they can learn about their rights and hopefully get out of this abusive and damaging relationship.
Women deserve to be loved and respected as much as men. Say no to domestic violence
-I believe that the home you share with your partner should be taken care of by the two people living in it. Most times house chores are done by women. In some homes every single house chores is done by the women which leaves them no time to focus on their own career, on their dreams, on themselves and on their couple relationships.
Men, it is not about helping your wife, it is about you understanding that the home you live in is hers and yours too, you are not a guest! You are your wife's partner, your wife's team mate, your children's example and you need to act like it. I know it might be challenging for some of you but it is a very important change to make and only you can decide to make that feminist choice. If you do decide to go that route and be more of a team mate when it comes to house chores, I promise you, your wife and your children will remember this and mention it with pride each time this subject comes up.
-I want to raise my boys as feminists. I want them to have great respect for women and a good sense of equality. I will make sure my boys and my girl get the same chances and the same opportunities, regardless of their gender.
I believe we all need to explain to our little boys that they can choose to take dance lessons if they want to and their sister can go for football practice. I believe in teaching your teen to be a gentleman and to be proud of it. I believe in teaching your children how to express their emotions without fearing the judgement of others.
I believe in banning sentences like 'boys don't cry' 'he's so gay!' 'Women don't know how to drive' 'are you gonna be a man or what?' 'Don't run like a girl'... These sentences that I think are more of a language habit than anything else are damaging to our daughters and our sons! Stop saying them.
We need to teach our boys that a girl has the right to dress sexy and she should never be considered as an object because of it. We need to teach them that a girl might have been flirty but when she says no to a kiss or more, it means NO!
Boys and girls should learn from a young age that being kind to each others, being respectful and good are things to be proud of and if they see someone being unfair or hurting a girl or a boy they should take a stand.
I could go on and on and on but I am going to stop here.
Tell me, I have the feeling that you all agree with pretty much everything I said above, right??
If so, congratulations you just discovered that you too are a feminist. 😉
When I was younger I used to see these moms in airports carrying their babies 👶🏻👶🏼 their bags and their kids pulling some cute suitcases behind them. I remember thinking: "how great!! me too one day I'll take my kids all around the world and it will be so fantastic to share these adventures with them".
When you become a mother the way you used to think changes, it's pretty much inevitable but guess what? That's one thought of mine that did NOT change.
Each time I'm able to travel with my kids I feel so privileged to see new places with my little explorers.
I'm not gonna lie, I do miss eating my food in peace while watching a movie on the plane but apart from that I still feel pretty lucky to be one of these moms carrying my babies, my bags and having my toddler pull his Mickey Mouse suitcase. 😃
I had the chance to fly in economy class, comfort class and business class.
I have done train trips 🚂 , boat trips 🛥 long long long car trips 🚙 (we crossed the USA from West to East with our first son when he was 16months old) and plane trips✈️, many many plane trips.
I have gone on long and short distance flight with one kid.I have done stopovers and direct flights.
So far with my 3 kids, the longest flight was 3hours (we are planning a 14hours flight to LA soon.. wish us luck!!). Often I found the shortest flights harder for some reason, maybe because the kids don't have the time to settle and often the planes are smaller and less comfortable.
All this to say, over these past 3 and a half years travelling with young children I have come up with my own little tips and I wanted to share them with you. 😉
Tips to travel with your little ones. (By plane but could also apply to train travel)
My dear Istanbul
You're bleeding and I'm screaming
You're suffering and I'm powerless
You're hurting and I'm crying
You are beauty and authenticity, you are messy and kind, you are loud and fun.
You are so disorganized and yet so charming, you are as frustrating as you are enchanting.
You are the city between two continents, you are the Bosphorus and its fishermen, the dolphins and the ships, the simits and the baklava, the sound of ezan and house music.
You are constant contrast.
The place where the East and the West meet, argue, love and kiss.
You wear the veil and sexy high heels.
I hear you can be violent and dangerous but I've only seen you helpful and big hearted.
I met my husband in your suburb, I danced in your streets, I kissed on your funky sidewalks, I laid down on your beaches, I gave birth to my children in your center, I hugged in your airport...
You're my home.
And seeing you suffer makes my heart cry.
Deep deep inside of me, a little voice, I think her name is Hope, she's whispering: "don't be afraid".
With all my love
I've been living in Istanbul for 8years and a half now. Even though I would love to move just because life is short and I'm ready to experience a new life style somewhere else, Istanbul is the city where I became an adult, where I met the most amazing people, the city that offered me so much, and it will always have a special place in my heart.
I cherish Istanbul so much that I wanted my first post to be about this gorgeous place.
I know that the news make Istanbul look as dangerous as can be. I know that all those attacks keep tourists away.. and that's exactly what they want. They want to damage the economy of this amazing country, they want to scare us.
Let's not give in! Let's be strong together and show the world how life goes on and how Istanbul keeps on being beautiful and fascinating.
Come visit. There are many many extraordinary things to see in this city but I made a little selection of what I think is a 'must do' while you're here. I hope you will enjoy this mini guide, which is designed so you hit the touristy spots but also the fun local places where you'll experience the true Istanbul.
Where to stay: SULTANAHMET
Why: Because it is the historical center and from there you will be able to go around the old city and take the tram 🚋 to kabatas along the bosphorus (Kabatas is close to other great things to see in the city and is also the place where you could take a ferry ⛴ to go to the islands)
What to see:
-The blue mosque (short visit, be careful not to go during the prayer, it is closed to tourists then)
-St Sophia/ Hagia Sophia (plan about an hour and a half visit or more for those of you who like to take their time)
-Yerebatan cistern (short visit, beautiful and very mystical)
-Topkapi palace (very big place, about 3hours needed...at least! Gorgeous palace, beautiful view and it will give you all sort of infos about the Ottoman Empire)
-Istanbul archaeological museums (plan at least 3 hours)
The application GetGo Audio Tours by Tuba Guvelioglu will tell you all about the history behind the places you'll visit in Sultanahmet. It's informative, fun, the music is great and it's on your phone (plus, you'll get the audio guide tour of Hagia sofia for free).
Download it, you'll thank me later 😉
What to do:
-Shop in the grand bazaar. The Turkish name is Kapali Carsi, plan 2 to 3hours and eat there at havuzlu restaurant.
It is one of the most amazing place to shop, jewelry, leather, lamps, scarfs, spices, lokums, carpets, all these are fantastic quality and even the locals go there to do their shopping.
Don't forget to bargain, bargain a lot, if they get mad that means you went too far 😄.
If you're looking for a beautiful carpet, the best place to look for one is Hakan Evin's shop (just tell his name to anybody and they will show you the way, they all know each other in there!! )
If it's jewellery you want there are plenty of places, I like Sim design, in kalpakcilar street, it's affordable and you'll find very beautiful pieces.
-Go to the hamam. There's nothing better to relax and it is quite an experience, a must do if you ask me. You can get the scrubbing/massage and your skin will be like new... be ready though,it is not the soft massage you may be used to.
You can get to Taksim by taking the tram from Sultanahmet to Kabatas and then what we call the 'funikuler' (it is an underground tram) up to Taksim square, from there you will go down the street called Istiklal caddesi. Or if you feel like doing a little sport, get off the tram in Karakoy and go up the really steep hill all the way to Galata and then Istiklal caddesi.
What to see:
-Galata tower. Gorgeous view and nice neighbourhood
-St Antoine church. The biggest Roman Catholic church in Istanbul
What to do:
-Galata bridge and the neighbourhood of Karakoy. Lots of fishermen and a fun atmosphere where you can find new restaurants in old buildings.
-Beyoglu is a great place to have something to eat or drink, it's a very young, animated and full of nice cafes, restaurants and bars.
-Walk on istiklal caddesi. As you walk down or up the street keep in mind to look up so you don't miss the beautiful architecture of some of the buildings. Also look left and right, there are little passages, go check them out. They are super cute and you'll find gift shops (Atlas pasaji, Avrupa pasaji, Aznavur pasaji), fish restaurants (Cicek pasaji) and second hands books (Aslihan pasaji). Basically keep your eyes wide open while you walk on this street 'cause there are surprises everywhere.
-Cezayir sokak (also called the French street), it's a cute, colourful and steep street, perfect to have a little romantic coffee/dinner. They also have fun bars where you can listen to live music. It's 5 /10minutes walk from the main paved street called Istiklal caddesi, very close to the high school called Galatasaray (Galatasaray lisesi).
-Go to a beautiful restaurant with a spectacular view, to name a few: 360 Istanbul, Mikla, Le fumoir.
Note: During the day and in the evening it's a fantastic neighborhood, after midnight be more careful, and New Year eve in Taksim is a big no no!!
If you have the money and enjoy luxurious hotels (who doesn't??) you could plan to stay at Ciragan palace Kempinski in Besiktas, it is absolutely gorgeous.
What to see:
-Dolmabahce palace, (only if you have time) plan on visiting it in the morning and eat by the Bosphorus at their little cafe.
-Bosphorus tour, they have tours departing from Ortakoy, it lasts an hour and it's always nice to be on the Bosphorus.
What to do:
-Ortakoy, MUST DO! My personal favorite. (Take the tram to kabatas, arrived there take a cab, very short drive, you could even walk if you felt like it, about 30minutes walk.) It is right under the first bridge. Apart from the mosque that is small but beautiful there isn't much to visit but the whole neighborhood is cute and quite an experience.
Go there hungry please, this is part of the fun, you should try all their delicious food
Street food: -Kumpir (potato filled with whatever you want)
-Gozleme (sort of crepe filled with what you'd like, cheese, meat or spinach), very tasty.
-Waffles, you cannot leave Ortakoy without eating a waffle, they are just the best!! (you choose the filling and can put in banana, kiwi, strawberries and all the chocolates, almonds and other delicious stuff you can think of)
Restaurants: -Manti Evi, if you want to seat in a small traditional Turkish restaurant 'Manti evi ' is your place. I would advise you to order everything to share, try the manti (sort of ravioli), cig borek, etli dolma, the eggplant salad and a lentil soup, it's all homemade and delicious 😋. (don't over eat, you still need to eat a waffle outside ;) )
-House cafe if you like stylish and classy places. It is more expensive but they do have great food, a beautiful view and a bigger and more international menu.
If you have more time (if you stay more than 4 full days)
BEBEK. Walk around the neighbourhood, it is by the Bosphorus and there are many different restaurants. It is quite a fun place at night where you can have a romantic dinner or a drink in one of the bars you'll find there. Many people speak english there and if you want to spot some turkish celebrities Bebek would be your best bet 😎
RUMELI FORTRESS I think going there in the morning and have breakfast in one of the restaurants by the fortress is a great idea.
You'll be seating across the Bosphorus and can enjoy your delicious breakfast before you go visit the fortress ( great view ). Later on take a walk along the sea.
Here are my breakfast suggestions: -menemen ( tomatoes, green pepper and scrambled kind of eggs)
-sucuklu eggs (kind of a spicy sausage with eggs)
- olives, cucumbers and tomatoes on the side are a must.
-cheese and simit along with a spinach or cheese borek ( pastry).
Yes that's a lot of food!! that's why you're going to walk after your breakfast 😉
PIERRE LOTI. It's a neighbourhood situated towards the end of the golden horn. There's a teleferique that will take you to the view point and the cafes. (very good food: gozleme and manti, nice fruit juices and traditional turkish tea and coffee ).
You should go back down walking through the cemetery and visit the mosque.
I really like this part of the city as I find it very different, more traditional and exotic in some ways.
If you have kids,👫👭👬 not far from Pierre Loti is Miniaturk, Koc museum and Vialand, hop on a taxi and go check them out.
THE ISLANDS. My favorite is Burgaz ada. Take the ferry or the fast boat from Kabatas.
No cars are allowed on the islands so jump on a horse carriage and go discover one of these relaxing and charming islands. Enjoy the day far from the city center, have some fish and homemade ice cream, get tanned and breath the fresh air.
Food tips 😋
I'm not the best cook but I'm a fantastic eater!! I looove food and I truly think it's a way to travel and experience the country you're in. Turkish food offers such variety you just need to try as many dishes as you can.
If you're a little scared to try new things, here are the safe choices:
-Instead of a pizza, have a pide or a lamahcun,
-Switch the burger to some good kofte
-Get a kebab durum
-Have a balik ekmek (literarily fish in a bread)
-Try the sticky ice cream and mozaik cake for dessert
If you feel a little more adventurous go for:
-Iskender kebab (lamb meat on bread with yogurt and tomatoes sauce)
-Imam bayildi (eggplant stuffed with veggies)
-Dolma (bell pepper or zucchini stuffed with rice and meat sometimes)
-Meze (all sort of cold appetisers, great for vegetarians) try baklali enginar (the best way to eat an artichoke)
-Sis kebab (grilled meat on a stick)
-Mercimek kofte (lentil based)
-If you have a sweet tooth, baklava is a must, lokum, sutlac (milk based sort of pudding) and pumpkin dessert (called kabak tatlisi)
-Profiteroles, I know it is French! I should know, I'm French, but even if it's not typically Turkish I like the way they make them here. It is quite different than the french style so I think you should try and tell me what you think 😉
I hope you'll love this city and its people as much as I do.
Hi there, I'm Pascaline, a french expat in Istanbul. I'm a traveler, an artist at heart and I have a 5 years old and twins running around my house. When I have a little bit of time I day dream, try to explore foreign places and most of all I try to better myself everyday and grow into the person I would like to be.