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French Kiss your Life… in Paris

October 26, 2012

French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Travel, Love

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, Paris, France, Travel, Love, Women

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’ 

French Kiss Life, France, Paris, Travel, Love, Women

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;

Jovoy Paris

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

Jovoy Paris, Perfumes, Paris, France, French Kiss Life, Travel, Love

Jovoy Paris, Perfumes, Paris, France, French Kiss Life, Travel, Love

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 explainedAfterwards, 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.

Cécile Hasroyan, Personal Stylist, Image consultant, Paris, France, Travel, Love

Cécile Hasroyan, Personal Stylist, Image consultant, Paris, France, Travel, Love

La Cuisine Paris 

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

La Cuisine Paris, Food, paris, France, Travel, Cooking Class

La Cuisine Paris, Food, paris, France, Travel, Cooking Class

La Maison Angelina

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

La Maison Angelina, French Kiss Life, Paris, Travel, France

La Maison Angelina, French Kiss Life, Paris, Travel, France

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.

Dinner Party, French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Love, Food

Dinner Party, French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Love, Food

Kong Restaurant 

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

Kong, Paris, France, French Kiss Life, Travel, Women, Love

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.

French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Love, Women

French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Travel, Love, Women

‘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

French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Love, Women, Travel

French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Love, Women, Travel

French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Love, Women, Travel

French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Love, Women, Travel

French Kiss Life, Paris, France, Love, Women, Travel

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.


Picture is worth a 1000 Words

A picture is worth a 1000 words

June 15, 2012

paris, france, travel, a picture is worth a thousand words, montmartre

“If you fail the first time, consider yourself normal. if you fail a second time, consider yourself special for you have what it takes to succeed. If you fail a third time, consider yourself extraordinary, for many people would have already given up”

Montmartre, Paris April 2011

I couldn’t think of a better timing to post these words, as I am currently spending my last few days in the Montmartre in Paris. This picture was taken over a year ago on a weekend afternoon when the area was packed with people, mostly tourists and yet, the images and the words are still so relevant.

I was visiting Paris for few days last April and my friend took me to this area as he knew I would love the view. But not only did I LOVED the view, but also this amazing Street performer, Iya Traore, who is known as the soccer player of the Montmartre and is doing these courageous acrobatic moves while standing on a ledge, overlooking Paris. His performance was quite extreme and I was amazed by his energy and fearlessness. And yesterday, while I was running my morning run all the way to the Sacre -Coeur just to overlook the city and do my stretches, this guy’s presence was missing. And all I could think of was how far can someone go and how extraordinary he could be if he follows his courage.


Few thoughts before my birthday

June 5, 2012

Birthday, Travel, Venice, Italy, Photography

One of my closest friends tends to measure her Birthday and the year that passed by the number of places she has visited and the number of people she fell in love with. In other words, a good year for her will be a year well travelled (to some new destinations) and a year she has experienced love or fell in love at least once. When she shared with me this information, I smiled and paused for a second but just because I had to think about her great idea and evaluate my past year according to her standards; Love and new destinations.

Looking back at where I was and what I did and how I celebrated my previous Birthday and having a check point to where I am at now (few days before my birthday) I must admit I have covered quite much of the plan. Yes, I’ve been traveling quite a lot for work or to catch up with family and friends and I met some interesting people.

Last year on my Birthday I packed my camera bag and another Gemini friend (Sharyn) and we went to Nassau, the Bahamas. We both wanted to escape New York for a while. We didn’t want to deal with velvet ropes or high priced drinks as we did in previous years on our Birthdays. Obviously the Bahamas was a great escape, even though I experienced a semi-Tornado storm on the day of my Birthday for the first time in my life.

On the day of our Birthdays we both wrote our goals for the next coming year (sort of a habit we keep). I think Sharyn wrote hers on a piece of paper and shoved it in a beer bottle and then she threw it to the water. I wrote mine on the back of a Murakami’s book I was reading back then. Whereas I am not sure how much did Sharyn complete her list, I think I covered almost 60% of mine.


It has been an exciting year for sure, and even though 60% of my goals were covered, I’ve managed to achieve some extra new ones I didn’t plan before;

I have traveled to some new destinations and came across different and various cultures. I made some new friends. I might even lost some. I tasted new kinds of food I would never imagine I try, not to mention where I found it. I learned how to translate my thoughts and ideas into pictures and words. I struggled with lighting equipment. I started to like negative space. I met and photographed famous people. I got nervous before doing that. I tried to decide what should be in focus. I took blurry pictures. I probably bad worded something up. I got confused more than once because of a guy. I considered getting off facebook few times. I finally gave in to Twitter. I found my name printed in some global websites and magazines. That was exciting! I got impatient so many times. I fell few times while running. I tried to be courageous. I talked to myself while taking the Subway. I took a 24 hour flight (almost non stop). I took a night train all the way from Hanoi to Sapa just to realize there was too much fog for a shoot. I took the midnight train back at the same day. I left my camera bag in the middle of a Starbucks in Tokyo. I watched a lot of French movies. I searched mostly for natural light. I took pictures of the interiors of other peoples homes and actually kind of liked it. I had some second thoughts regarding my unconventional life. I tried to forgive and forget. I had days based on coffee and dark chocolate. I tend to say YES to opportunities that came across and I freaked out when time was moving too fast.

And even though I feel I was quite slow paced the last couple of months, I can’t wait for the new ones to come.

Travel, Birthday, Vietnam, Hanoi

Travel, Photography, Birthday, The Bahamas

Travel, Bahamas, Birthday

Travel, Vietnam, Hanoi, Birthday

Travel, Japan, Tokyo, Birthday, Photography

Travel, Birthday, Photography, Paris, France



Picture is worth a 1000 Words

A picture is worth a 1000 words

September 25, 2011

Florence, Italy, Travel, a Picture is worth a 1000 words, Love,

“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end” 

Giardini di Boboli, Florence, September 2011

One of my weekend morning in Florence was spent by walking in Giardini di Boboli, a breathtaking garden located just a block away from the place I was staying in. This beautiful oasis labyrinth is one of many treasures Florence has to offer to its visitors and residents. There are so many hidden gems and hidden locations in the gardens that one morning or one stroll were definitely not enough.

If Love heightens our state of awareness, then the same goes for Photography. Same goes for Travel.

As a photographer I must keep ‘practicing’ awareness to what is around me, so I can keep capturing eye-opener shots. Same with Love and Travel…I must keep ‘practicing’ awareness to keep capturing eye-opener experiences.



Picture is worth a 1000 Words

A picture is worth a 1000 words

June 16, 2011

Nassua, Bahamas, Travel, Love

“As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn’t supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart-broken probably more than once and it’s harder every time. You’ll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You’ll fight with your best friend. You’ll blame a new love for things an old one did. You’ll cry because time is passing too fast, and you’ll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back”

Nassau, the Bahamas, June 2011

I was in the Bahamas for my birthday with one of my Gemini friends, who celebrates her birthday three days before me. Whereas her birthday was quite sunny and warm, the day of mine, was with some showers and thunderstorms. This image was taken a day or two before my birthday, I think. I was walking on the beach, debating what to shoot, what to drink or whether to have a swim or not. And then I saw these teenager-kids goofing around. Throwing each other to the water, swimming back to shore, stepping back to the pier and doing it again. I decided to follow them with my camera and catch their great-young and restlessness energy. I couldn’t ignore the happy expression on this kid’s face and his inviting gesture. Do you think I jumped too?

Window or Aisle?

Six Days in Paris

May 20, 2011

Visiting Serge Gainsbourg at Montparnasse old cemetery, eating baguette and French cheese on a bench in Jardin du Luxembourg, the Pantheon, Odeon, The Sorbonne. Chocolate Nutella, Picard frozen food, Diptyque perfume at 34 Bulevard Saint Germain. Running along the seine river, waking up to the sound of bells of the Notre Dame, standing in a long line to get into the Notre Dame. White blue stripped shirt, Taking the Metro instead of the Subway, Climbing to the Montmartre in a late afternoon and watching the sun goes down. Chocolate bliss at Un Dimanche a Paris, Chocolats rive gauche and at Maison Larnicol. Manet exhibit at Musees d’Orsay, Claude Monet village at Giverny, cafe de Flore at St Germain des Pres, getting lost in the little streets of St. Germain des Pres. Eiffel Tower after midnight. Patisserie, Brasserie, standing in line on a Sunday morning outside the local Boulangerie. The mythological store Laduree. Rue de Rivoli, Jardin des Tuileries, designing stores such as Colette and Merci. La Defense. Beautiful boutiques at Rue St. Honore, Lunch at Printemps rooftop, Macarons at Hugo and Victor, Maison de Victor Hugo, Gallery Lafayette shoe searching. Walking around Musee de Louvre, Jewish restaurant at Le Marais. Pink doors at Fauchon, Butter cake in Poilane bakery. Getting the last pair of Pretty Ballerina shoes, getting chocolate ice cream at Ile de la Cite, buying so many soaps of Le Petit Marseillais, Watching the new Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris” while being in Paris and doing all the above with a charming French Photographer….Priceless!

Window or Aisle?

A picture is worth a 1000 words

May 15, 2011

Travel, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tango, Love

“…Every time we meet it’s like time never changed at all…”

San Telmo, Buenos Aires, February 2011

San Telmo on a Sunday is completely something different than San Telmo on a regular day. The bohemian neighborhood is getting packed with Arts, Antiques, Tango dancers, street performers and timelessness characters. After a while, when it got too crowded, I stepped into a courtyard in one of the alleys. I climbed to one of the building’s rooftops to get a better view of San Telmo when I saw these two people. I liked how they both wore the some colors of clothes, the same gesture with their hands and up till now, I don’t know what the woman was looking for in her bag and wether the man was waiting for her.