It is no secret how much I love Paris.
For the last couple of months, I have visited the French capital five times(!). Each time, I discovered another part and aspect of the city, I got to know more new people and I experienced Paris in a different way, depends on the season, the weather, the locations I was staying in and things I got to discover.
It seems that every visit surpassed its previous one and exposed me to more exciting things.
Like as in my recent visit to Paris.
In the beginning of October, I flew to Paris for eight days to photograph a group of ten amazing women who took part in a life transforming seminar French Kiss Life, led by an inspirational woman, Tonya Leigh. Tonya, who came up with the idea, rejoined forces with Kayce Neill, an event planner from New York, who can plan events in any location on the planet.
French Kiss Life.
I instantly loved the name. Where else if not in Paris can someone learn how to fall in love with oneself?
As a Master Life Coach, an admitted hedonist and internationally trained sommelier, Tonya Leigh has a simple credo: French Kiss Life. Cherish Yourself. And The Rest Will Follow.
She is the founder and CEO of French Kiss Life, Inc., a company that teaches the art of living to the modern-day woman. With chic travel retreats, solo and group coaching, and her infectious blend of joie de vivre and practical mind-play techniques, Tonya inspires dynamic and driven women to live each day as an elegant and beautiful adventure.
The Inspiration Behind Le Voyage Paris
It’s one thing to read about the French way of life; it’s another to actually experience it. As much as Tonya had studied the French Lifestyle, the concept of joie de vivre and the elements of personal style, it was only when she stepped off the plane in Paris a decade ago that she really got it. ‘Since that day, I have visited France a dozen times, and each time my life shifts more to what’s really important, living each day with passion, love and style‘. She admits.
Tonya wanted to share the Paris that changed her with a group of women who desire to learn how to French Kiss Life. Their Lives.
And why Paris? Because it is the place that has inspired artists for hundreds of years, it is the mecca of style and fashion, the city of love, food and wine. ‘In 20 arrondissements, you have the chance to see life as a grand fairytale, full of history, art and charm. It also inspires a woman to live with passion, style and romance’
The Intentions of Le Voyage Paris
Le Voyage Paris is not only about spending an amazing time in the City of Love, same as it is not just another visit to Paris. Tonya was planning it very carefully to make sure the following intentions will be accomplished; To expose women to a culture that savors life – the food, conversation, style, art and culture, to give women permission to indulge in life – fine perfumes, designer lingerie, fine food and wine, to show a direct correlation between how you feel about yourself and how you treat yourself, to offer women a chance to connect, share and support each other as they create lives they love and to see and enjoy Paris with other women, while also giving them an opportunity to ‘get lost’ on their own
Kayce made sure to craft the seminar in style and beauty and chose the best of the best of the Parisian vendors to serve well the seminar’s intentions;
One of the most prestigious stores in Paris with a wide collection of rare and limited edition perfumes. We were all smitten by the charm of François Henin (I wish all men were like him) who explained us about the different kinds of perfumes, told some stories and shared some secrets of what kind of perfume a woman should use if she wants to seduce a man. We enjoyed great champagne and some French deserts along sniffing the best perfumes. All of this wouldn’t have happened without Viviane, the PR person of Jovoy, who managed all the details.
This was actually my third time I visited Jovoy and its amazing crew. It is always nice to make friends when you least expect it. You can read more about my visit to Jovoy here.
Jovoy Paris 4, Rue de Castiglione, 75001 Paris
Cécile Hasroyan, a Personal Image Consultant
What can be better than shopping in Paris?
Shopping in Paris with a chic Parisian image consultant. This is why Tonya and Kayce contacted Cécile Hasroyan who joined the women for a busy afternoon at Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche and explained the importance of choosing the perfect lingerie. ‘Lingerie is important because it’s the first thing you put on in the morning; it sets the tone for your day’ she explained. Afterwards, Cécile joined the women to a salon talk followed by champagne and chocolate and shared the top ten items every French woman should have in her closet, and the ultimate ways to wear chic Parisian scarves. After spending an afternoon with beautiful Cécile, I give more thought to what I wear. These insider’s tips are priceless.
On the day devoted to food and wine, the women spent an antire day with the talented chef of La Cuisine Paris, a cooking school located across Hotel de Ville, that offers various cooking and baking classes in English. A morning start in an outdoor French Market in Saint-Germain-des-Prés to buy the perfect ingredients, followed by a few hours cooking class, ended in a delicious three course meal and great wine. Even I, lacking any sense of cooking, sinned in making the finger licking chocolate mouse. The staff includes skilled international professional chefs (French and non-French). Highly recommended: Come hungry!
La Cuisine Paris, 80 Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004, Paris
Lunch in La Maison Angelina seems for some as a dream, as waiting in line for a table might be long. Once you get in, consider yourself lucky, as this is one of the best places to dine. It is known for its ridiculously rich chocolate milk and the best Mont Blanc cake. If you are a chocolate lover (like me) don’t skip the chocolate milk and the delicious choux pastry headed by a golden layer of chocolate delicately combines with the strength of dark chocolate crémeux and sweetness of milk and white chocolate.
Its perfect location just across Jardin de Tuileries allows you to wonder these beautiful gardens once you have a sugar rush. If you are interested in dining at the restaurant, you must make a reservation, but the line to buy a delicious pastry is open to all.
La Maison Angelina, 226 Rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris
Private Dinner Party in a Parisian Apartment
A private chef cooking a five course dinner, while sipping great wine in a nice Parisian Apartment, is always a great idea. On the 6th day Tonya invited the women over for a dinner and to raise a toast for the future and for the women they have become or want to become. As a photographer and an observer, it was great to see how some of the women changed their outward appearance and they way they were carrying themselves.
The last night in Paris was all about celebration. Therefore Kayce made sure to book in advance a long table at Kong restaurant, one of the stylish and trendies places in Paris. Some of you might recognize the place from one of ‘Sex and the City’ final episodes. Its glass rooftop on the second floor allow the diners to overlook Paris’ lights at night. Very hip and trendy location, which made the last night in Paris very magical.
Kong, 1 rue du Pont Neuf, 75001 Paris
The women who join Le Voyage Paris are also carefully chosen; Through an application process Tonya is looking for women who have a love to France (even though they may not have ever visited), successful women who haven’t given themselves the opportunity to enjoy what they have created, women who want to explore their own personal style and femininity and those who want to be a part of a brilliant group of women.
If you consider yourself one of those, don’t hesitate and join Le Voyage Paris for 2013.
The Beauty of Inner Life, Le Voyage Paris Schedule
As a Master Life Coach and an admitted hedonist, Tonya tailored the schedule of Le Voyage Paris in a luxury way that touches all senses and thoughts.
‘I believe that our inner world (thoughts and beliefs) create our outer world (style, how we nourish ourselves, how we communicate, how we carry ourselves, who we hang out with, etc.), so the schedule was created around both our inner and outer worlds’
The schedule was quite busy and dotted with great assignments in amazing locations. I was running around with my camera every morning from Avenue Victor Hugo (I stayed in a beautiful apartment in the 16th arrondissement) said Bonjour to Arc de Triumph and continued to the day’s activity and assignments, somewhere in Paris.
But beside the beautiful locations, insightful assignments and the elegant vendors, the women had the chance to meet some inspiring women who moved to Paris and started their lives there. One of them is Lindsey, a writer and the author of Lost in Cheeseland, one of my favorite blogs, as Lindsey is one of my favorite bloggers.
‘During Day One, I asked the women to go within and explore their desires (what they want to experience, feel and enjoy in their lives). Day Two looked at our outer world, particularly tending to the details of our lives, specifically our lingerie and perfume, discovering our own unique scents and the underthings that made us feel tres sexy and confident. One day was dedicated to food and wine, exposing women to beautiful and thoughtful food preparation, the joy of wine and why food is important to the human experience. The day of joie de vivre started with an assignment, where the women were each given a word and had to go out and fetch a food that symbolized the word for our picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens. This day was about getting lost in Paris and finding the joy in each moment. Our final day was all about celebration – celebrating the women we are and the women we hope to become, celebrating our time together and celebrating Paris as the backdrop to beautiful self cultivation‘
La Voyage Paris was definitely a different way of travel and visit for me. I can’t wait for the next one and for my next visit to Paris.
Till then… au revoir Paris
To find more about Tonya and Le Voyage Paris, visit her website, facebook page or follow her on Twitter.