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France through the Lens

I spent the afternoon going through photography from my adventures in France this year since I am preparing for a few different presentations right now (information about those events below!). I love reliving moments through photography.

When I look through my photography, I can feel everything about the scene I was photographing: the scents in the air, the way the light fell just so, the anticipation of the moment, and every emotion that was welling up inside.

I have seen and read a lot of articles denouncing the ubiquitousness of cameras in all of today’s moments as if cameras are over-peppering a perfectly balanced and flavorful landscape.

But, I have always felt that the camera has allowed me to live in the moment more. And I relive the moments I capture after the fact, relishing everything I felt in that split second of time.

Travel is all about these moments.

Like how the light bathed the history-worn walls in Aix-en-Provence.

Or how the shadows fell on the stairs in Marseille.

The way Carcassonne sleepily overlooked the countryside.

While cats nuzzled each other next to croissants at Café les Chats, Paris.

Hotel Negresco’s Dali-esque interiors spun me round and round.

And the light in the south of France sprinkled itself over Marseille like fairy dust.

It was during that one dusk in Montpellier I felt my heart swoon.

And it filled with magic at midnight in Marseille during Fete de la Musique,

As I explored every alley I could the next day.

As storm clouds gathered above Paris,

Gustave Moreau’s house whisked me into the past,

while Montpellier’s rich golden walls held my heart in its hands.

And when this scene stopped me in my tracks,

I knew my heart would never beat the same way again.

Upcoming events and appearances:

1. I will be speaking on a panel at this coming weekend. French Affairs Las Vegas is an annual travel B2B conference hosted by France’s official tourism agency Atout France and focused on travel topics with a focus on France and Paris.

My panel topic is: Social Media and Millennials in the Travel Industry. This is topic near and dear to my heart so I am looking forward to the panel discussion.

2. I will also be presenting all three days of in New York City on the Sony stage about travel photography. My presentation topic is: Traveling with Sony Mirrorless Cameras.

I will discuss the social aspects of sharing with Sony’s mirrorless cameras as well as the reasons why travel photography has gotten a whole lot more delightful for me. PhotoPlus Expo is the largest photography and imaging event in North America.

If you will be at PhotoPlus Expo, please come and say hello and if you have time and feel like gazing at my travel photography while I talk about my experiences photographing France come have a listen to my presentation. I will try my best to be entertaining. Promise. :)

3. I also have news to announce about my like info about signed copies as well as potential book-related events and appearances. I will do an update about all of this soon.

Looking for these (and more) France photos to view larger? Here you go (click or tap on each photo to view larger):

Interested in viewing all of my France posts so far? Here they are:

France Through the Lens

Incredible amounts of gratitude to:

France’s official tourism agency who you can find here on Facebook . They made my entire France photography adventure possible and went above and beyond in making sure I was well taken care of everywhere I went (truly).

*All photos taken with my Sony A7R and Sony A6000.


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Shangri-La Hotel Paris - A Photo-Tour

There are places that are talked about on late nights with friends. They are the places where you would stay if you were lucky enough; the type of place that you describe which causes everyone to wistfully nod their heads in dreamy agreement. When you come across such a place and find out that it exists in reality, it’s a beautiful moment. I feel fortunate to share my experience at such a place.

I knew I was about to embark on an epic experience when I was offered the opportunity to stay at Shangri-La Hotel Paris during my stay in Paris a few months back. But I don’t think I fully grasped the enormity of the experience until I walked up to its exterior, set my bags down, and laid my eyes on its grand entrance.

The is a 5 star hotel that was just recently awarded Palace status which puts it in an elite group of hotels in Paris that uphold extraordinarily high standards of excellence and luxury.

Built in the late 1800s as a residence for Napolean Bonaparte’s nephew Prince Roland Bonaparte, the residence was restored to its former glory from 2006 to 2010 when it opened as the Shangri-La Paris Hotel. It is also a historic monument.

Richard Martinet directed the architectural renovations of the hotel and Pierre-Yves Rochon directed the interior refurbishments and renovations.

This is the grand entrance of the hotel located at 10 avenue d'Iéna.

As you walk inside, it’s hard not to get caught up in the romance…

All 101 rooms and 36 suites are decorated in shades of blue, white and ecru, in keeping with both European Empire and Asian aesthetics. Textures and colours are harmonious, from silk-threaded wallpaper, textured wall panels and refined crystal hardware on custom-made furnishings.

The majority of rooms feature windows with views of the Eiffel Tower.

And these aren’t run-of-the-mill views of the Eiffel Tower either. The views are some of the best, unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

I read a while back that Prince Roland Bonaparte didn’t enjoy the Eiffel Tower and so his own private residence in the palace faced the street rather than the Seine.

I am not sure how true that anecdote is but I can definitely say that I love the Eiffel Tower. And so, I couldn’t contain a huge grin when I walked towards the window by my bed and opened the doors to the balcony which featured this view:

If you follow my Twitter, you may recall a now infamous photo that I posted within the first few hours of entering my hotel room at Shangri-La Hotel Paris. For reference, here is .

I can now elaborate on the story behind it. My publisher had just informed me a week earlier while I was in France that my was being finalized for printing.

I told someone on the phone about that emotional moment and they told me to savor every moment and to make sure I jump on every bed that is worthy of jumping on.

As soon as I saw the view from my room and then looked at the bed, I knew what I needed to do :):

But seriously, the view from my room’s balcony was so ridiculously incredible that I had a hard time pulling myself away from it. This was a view of the Eiffel Tower from my balcony at dusk:

And I was so enamored with the view, that I took a video of the Eiffel Tower’s light show with my phone (not zoomed in at all! so close!):

Every room and suite has a marble bathroom with heated floors, a separate bathtub and rainfall shower, and double sinks above which a flat-screen television is integrated into a large mirror:


If you look closely at the photo above, you will notice a little something in the mirror.

That’s right, even the bathtub features a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower:

Something that really stood out to me while I explored the hotel is the incredible attention and devotion to the history of the palace. The hotel has quite a few event spaces that are used for various events like weddings. This is a ceiling in one of the event spaces:

A walkway between rooms reveals elegant ornamentation:

As you walk from room to room on the main floor, it’s hard not to fall in love with the enormous stained glass touches on the windows and the generous amount of natural light that flows into the space:

Through an archway, an exquisite scene unfolds…:

…revealing a grand staircase fit for royalty:

As you ascend the stairs, light pours through the large windows ornamented with stained glass:

Descending the stairs, another entrance comes into the view. It’s the entrance to the heart of the hotel, one of its restaurants called :

La Bauhinia features a charming dining area that is flooded with natural light making it a comfortable and comforting place to enjoy a meal or snack:

Looking out over La Bauhinia’s main level and grand piano:

Le Bar is the hotel’s bar and features an Empire period equestrian theme:

I was fortunate enough to get a peek at the view from the hotel’s most prized suite, . It’s one of the best and most expensive rooms in the hotel. The views of the city from the balcony of the room are spectacular.

Here is the Eiffel Tower view:

And a sweeping view of the city:

The night I stayed at the hotel was one of the most magical and unforgettable nights of my stay in France.

As I stood on my own balcony watching the night sky fall over Paris, I took a deep breath and inhaled the essence of a perfect night into my lungs as I watched the gleaming lights dance along the Eiffel Tower.

I hope you enjoyed a journey through the Shangri-La Hotel Paris.

Looking for these (and more) Shangri-La Hotel Paris photos to view larger? Here you go (click or tap on each photo to view larger):

Interested in viewing all of my France posts so far? Here they are:

France Through the Lens

Incredible amounts of gratitude to:

Shangri-La Hotel Paris who let me stay as a guest of theirs in exchange for photography and took amazing care of me during my stay.

And, the official French tourism agency, who you can find here on Facebook . They made my entire France photography adventure possible and went above and beyond in making sure I was well taken care of everywhere I went (truly).

*All photos taken with my Sony A7R.


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Paris - Summer in the City of Love

Paris blossoms

in the summer.


heavy with leaves,

shimmer in rare bouts

of sunlight

that pours

over the city streets

like white gold.

And even

the rain

shimmers against

history-bleached architecture,

as the days linger long,

like trailing words spilling slowly

off the phrases of lovers.

A motorbike drives down a street in Montmartre.

Sacré-Cœur Basilica and Montmartre street.

Paris rooftops as seen from the top of Montmartre through a TimHotel window

Frame within frame.
Rain-soaked street on a rainy Paris afternoon.

Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre Metro Station

Sacré-Cœur Basilica as seen from the top of Montmartre through a TimHotel window.

Sunlight pours over a street in Montmartre.

A shared umbrella in a Paris rainstorm.

Sunlight and shadows along the curved streets of Montmartre.

Flower boxes and quiet streets on a Sunday.

Along the Seine.

Walking in the rain.

Rooftops and a distant Eiffel Tower from high above in Montmartre.

Where hearts dream.

Looking for these (and more) Paris photos to view larger? Here you go (click or tap on each photo to view larger):

Interested in viewing all of my Paris travel posts so far? Here they are:

Paris Through the Lens

Interested in viewing all of my France posts so far? Here they are:

France Through the Lens

*All photos taken with these cameras: Sony A7R, Sony A7, Sony A6000


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Royal Monceau Raffles Paris - A Photo-Tour

A couple of months ago, I stayed in Paris for a few weeks and had the pleasure of being a guest of the during my stay.

The Royal Monceau Raffles Paris Hotel is a 5 Star Palace hotel located in the heart of Paris within walking distance to the Park Monceau and the Arc de Triomphe. It opened in the late 1920s and has hosted a wide array of people including Josephine Baker, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, and Michael Jackson.

It was recently refurbished by the iconic French designer . And indeed, staying in the hotel and exploring it fully takes you on a whimsical journey into the imagination of Starck.

By the time I stayed at the Royal Monceau, I had been traveling in France for nearly three weeks at the tail-end of an adventure that took me through the south of France and up to Paris. I was a bit saucer-eyed and woozy from travel and travel photography. However, Royal Monceau made it impossible for me not to completely unwind and have my own smile-worthy adventure within its walls as I discovered the genius of Starck and grew to appreciate the Royal Monceau’s high standards of excellence.

Let’s explore!…

I stayed in one of the non-suite rooms during my stay. A view of the room looking towards the window:

Here is the view in my room looking towards the door. You will notice the large work of art carefully sitting against the wall. The hotel is devoted to art, and even has its own , Julie Eugène.

The works of art in the rooms belong to the hotel’s extensive . The work of art in my room was by artist Koichiro Doi (Explosion: Pink).

As for the guitar, it’s there to enjoy and make visitors feel at home. Indeed, seeing the art sitting against the wall along with a guitar made me feel like I was in an alternate luxurious version of my own apartment :

If the sleeping area feels like a re-imagined, sophisticated version of home, the mirrored bathroom feels like another dimension entirely with a wall of mirrors and all elements designed by Starck:

Closing the doors to the bathroom revealed more mirrors:

There are little details everywhere painstakingly chosen by Starck that make you stop and take pause like this handwritten letter hanging next to my bed from Jean Cocteau, a famous French poet, filmmaker, and artist :

When it comes to macarons, I am firmly a fan girl thanks to a sweet introduction to his macarons shortly after I arrived in Paris by my friend Beth.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that Hermé is the official pastry chef of the Royal Monceau Hotel.

So, you can imagine the sheer joy I felt when I saw a Hermé spread of macarons laid out in my room.


Sitting on the bed looking into the mirror which doubles as a television:

Beautiful Paris rooftops seen from the window of my room:

As soon as I saw the hallways in the hotel, I felt like Alice in Wonderland and I knew that I wanted to take this photo:

Indeed, the hotel’s design has a whimsical quality to it. The elevators are all different colors and fully mirrored. Here is the red one:

As I exited the elevator and looked out onto this scene looking out towards mirrors with artwork by , I distinctly heard a song from Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti play softly on the hotel’s speakers:

I was so amused by the fact that Badalamenti was playing since I had been feeling a very distinct Lynch vibe while exploring the hotel. Some context: I am a huge David Lynch fan and Angelo Badalamenti is the composer that Lynch uses for many of his films as well as one of my favorite soundtrack composers (this video when fully watched illustrates his brilliance perfectly: ) and who I listen to quite a bit when I edit my photos.

In the moment, I : “As I walked off the elevator earlier, a track by Angelo Badalamenti (from Twin Peaks) was playing and I smiled wide :)”.

And the lovely social media person for Royal Monceau to me: “Thank you Vivienne, we’re glad you’re enjoying our David-Lynch-meets-Alice atmosphere :)”.

One of the most striking works of art in the hotel is by Russian artist called Salle des Trophées which consists of 15 life-size wooden elk :

Gorgeous chandeliers above the grand staircase:

Detail of hanging art in the hotel’s lobby area :

In addition to the beautiful hotel interiors, Starck is also responsible for the design of the hotel’s 1 Michelin Star restaurant, . Here is a view of the restaurant :

Plates designed by Starck:

Even the coffee cups are intricately designed by Starck. The paintings on the saucer are reflected perfectly in the cups. Here is a goldfish reflection:

And, an eye (my favorite):

Walking outside leads to the , a relaxing and charming place to enjoy a meal or snack:

One of my favorite parts of the garden area is this great art installation by of a giant ironwork tea-pot that guests can sit in. Magical!:

The hotel is full of surprises like the , a 99 seat theater designed by Starck with state of the art cinema equipment like 3D:

And the award-winning spa which features a 23 meter infinity pool, one of the largest to exist in a Paris luxury hotel:

During my stay, I was fortunate enough to get a quick tour of one of the . These are suites that start at 25,000 Euros a night. You will notice that the design by Philippe Starck is consistent with the room I stayed in which was one of the studios:

The Presidential Suite’s living area:

….dining area:

….bedroom (one of them):

And detail from one of the living room areas featuring a gorgeous photo by photographer :

I hope you enjoyed the photo-tour!

I feel so fortunate to have had the experience I did at the Royal Monceau Raffles Paris. Everything from the food, to my time in the spa, and my adventures exploring the brilliance of Starck’s design felt like a dream.

Looking for these (and more) Royal Monceau Raffles Paris Hotel photos to view larger? Here you go (click or tap on each photo to view larger):

Interested in viewing all of my France posts so far? Here they are:

France Through the Lens

Incredible amounts of gratitude to:

The Royal Monceau Raffles Paris Hotel who let me stay as a guest of theirs in exchange for photography and took amazing care of me during my stay.

And, the official French tourism agency, who you can find here on Facebook . They made my entire France photography adventure possible and went above and beyond in making sure I was well taken care of everywhere I went (truly).


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Paris: Royal Monceau Hotel - Hallway


Here is a little teaser from where I had the pleasure of staying as a guest of the hotel itself when I was in Paris recently. The interiors are intricately and whimsically designed by Philippe Starck and I fell in love with them during my stay.

Here I am running down one of the hallways feeling like Alice in Wonderland.

I will be posting a huge photo-set from my time spent there later this week. But, I couldn’t resist posting this timed action self-portrait that I took with my Sony A7R. I set up my tripod in the hallway and used my phone to trigger the timer countdown on my camera. And then I ran and hoped for the best much to the amusement of some of the staff :).


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