travel

Punta Cana

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        Every winter I say "next year, I go to a warm country and enjoy the beach when everyone else is freezing" lol. Yet last winter I spent a few days at a spa in France, which was nice but no dreamy beaches around, and the winter before I spent the New Year with friends in Amsterdam and again it was a lot of fun but I was freezing my ass! So this year was the year, I wanted to start 2018 in paradise.

I make a difference between "travel" and "vacation". I love traveling and discover cultures and places, but sometimes you need a vacation when you just enjoy and relax, so we decided on Punta Cana because it's a really short flight from NYC and the prices aren't as high as anywhere else. I have to admit that everything was great except the food that wasn't as fresh and good quality as we like... We've also had a cold that we brought from NYC, and we fed the cliché of those who only become sick during their holiday haha! But we came for the beautiful weather and the beach and that was enough to start the year in a positive way.

 

 
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        One of the greatest pleasures from spending some time in the Caribbeans was to wear my favorite bikini by Solid and Striped. I love all their shapes and colors but this pastel striped one is the cutest swimsuit I've had in a while! I love the pictures from the empty beach and how happy I look lol!

One of my favorite thing to do during the day was read 1Q84 by Murakami in the Bali beds while the sun was high, so I could feel the heat without burning, hearing the relaxing water noise from both the beach waves and the pool.

 

 
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        I also go to enjoy a few massages and treatments at the spa. I got a dead sea mud treatment before leaving to make my skin tone more even by nourishing it and exfoliating the dead cells. And look at the beauty of the facilities! I thing the pleasure of the eyes is important for relaxation, as well as the sounds surrounding you.

 

 
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        I brought many shorts, tops and dresses but I think I wore this green wrap dress from Urban Outfitters because it's so comfortable when it's hot and it's so convenient to wear over your bathing suit. It's quite open on the front though so I'm not sure I'd wear it without a cute bra/shirt underneath.

 

 
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        Everyone who knows me or just follows me on Instagram know I couldn't not own a red swimsuit! This one is from Fella Swim, I saw it on the gram and loved the shape of the top and couldn't resist buying it in one of my favorite colors. I also like to walk around with a sarong for when there's more wind and I feel colder or just when there more people and it makes me feel more comfortable. The beach bag is from Free People, one of my favorite brand! It's simple, just what you need for the beach.

 

 
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Shop the looks

The Gucci glasses, the Fella Swim bathing suit and the sarong aren't available anymore so I give you very close options :)

 
 
 
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4 plant-based places to eat in LA

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        I talked about Backyard Bowls in my last post because it was my go-to place while I was staying in Santa Monica, but I wanted to add additional places where I enjoyed the food in LA. As I've been pretty busy (that explains also the lack of activity here), there may be "best-vegan-restaurants-in-LA" missing because these are the ones I got a chance to go to in between photo shoots and castings and they were all located close to my neighborhood, so don't hesitate to give me other names for next time.

        Also please note that except the first and last ones, the pictures in this article aren't from me because I didn't always take some when I ate at these places (whether it was because I was too busy enjoying the food and my friends' company or because the light wasn't good enough).

 

  • Cafe Gratitude - Venice

        I discovered this place thanks to my amazing roommate Samantha as she was mentioning to me her favorite places to order food in the neighborhood.  She warned me "it's VERY healthy" haha, as we both know that sometimes the places we like are too healthy for our friends.

The particularity about this place is that the waiters are asking you the question of the day that is about your dreams/happiness/feelings... -you don't have to answer- and each item on the menu has a positive affirmation (example "you are whole", "you are humble"). Some find it positive and warm, some find it cheesy. In that case, you can always order delivery ;)!

If you like "VERY healthy" food and a "yogi" atmosphere, this place is for you. My favorites are the Macro Bowl and their Beer-Battered Young Coconut (tastes exactly like fried calamari, I was shocked). I also loved their November Pumpkin pie! And for their drinks, my favorite was the Grace smoothie (coconut based and verrrry creamy).

 

Cafe Gratitude website (they have many different locations in LA)

Pictures from their Instagram:

 

  • Veggie Grill - Santa Monica

        This one is for all those who think vegan eaters = healthy eaters! We actually eat junk food too, and it can be super tasty! Veggie Grill is the best vegan junk food place that I've tried yet and I'm torn between wanting them to open a restaurant in NYC because it would be great or wishing they never do because I would put on 10kg right away (nothing bad with gaining weight if you're happy guys ;), just that my personal goal is to stay fit)! I love that they use Beyond Burger from Beyond Meat for their hamburgers and that they aren't too expensive at all!

My fave: the classic VG Beyond Burger!

 

Veggie Grill website (they also have many locations in LA)

Pictures from their Instagram:

 

  • True Food Kitchen - Santa Monica

        This one isn't an entire vegan place but they had such great quality vegetables that I had to put it here. It's great to go with people who eat differently (healthy/less healthy, plant-based/not plant-based) because they have a great option for everything! I loved their Charred Cauliflower and their Ancient Grains Bowl! My friend who isn't vegan had one of their pizza and loved it! I would definitely go back often as you really feel the quality of the ingredients.

 

True Food Kitchen website

Pictures from their Instagram:

 

  • Sage Bistro - Culver City

        Different people had messaged me about this restaurant but I only had one occasion to go with my friend Brian and l had a great experience.

I ordered the Bollywood Bowl (have you noticed I love bowls?) and there were so many different flavors, the quantity was perfect (aka very filling haha, it was served with flatbread too). I also had one of their smoothies (don't remember which one, just that there were dates in it) and it was also so satisfying. I wish I could have been several times to test everything on their menu but I'll have to wait next time I come to LA :).

 

Sage Bistro website

Pictures from their Instagram:

 

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Healthy Fast food: Backyard Bowls

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       There is plenty of healthy plant based food in LA so I knew it would be a satisfying discovery for each meal coming here, but I was also sure that I'd go back to Backyard Bowls. I discovered it 2 years ago when I was staying for the first time in LA, and I would walk more than 1h back and forth just to go to their place in WeHo!! Haha, yes I like to walk, but I also love their food. Is it an extraordinary culinary experience? Probably not. But it is exactly the way I conceive food: healthy, abundant, plant based and simple but still with lots of flavors.

They have several locations and the pictures in this article are from their Santa Monica location which is the area I am staying.

 

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       The Menu

       Is simple: smoothie bowls (acai, pitaya, green bowls), smoothies, porridge bowls, toasts and grain bowls. That's it. The bases of a plant-based diet. I told you I like to eat a "high carb low fat" kinda diet and I feel like that's what I can easily get without thinking about it too much at Backyard Bowls because the carbs are in the center of everything (and carbs are definitely life). And you have quantity on your plate (actually in your bowl) which is also one of my criteria when I go to a restaurant: how much food will I have on my plate?

The other thing I like is that when you eat in, you get a proper bowl, a proper spoon: no plastic and no waste. It's something I was missing when I tried to have acai bowls in New York. Maybe the next improvement would be to also give a proper cup for the water fountain but I know it's not always easy to organize it.

Finally, it's fast food: you order at the counter and wait for your food that you can eat in or take away. It's really nice to know that you have healthy and yummy options when you are in a hurry.

 

       What Do I personally order?

       I generally go for a large (yes large, and the portion is huge! but we know as plant-based eaters that we tend to eat a lot more in quantities, especially on HCLF) Island bowl, which is my favorite of their smoothie bowls: there is mango in it, which is one of my favorite fruits, and coconut milk! It's a simple tropical bowl and I love how they aren't cheap on the granola compared to other places! It's very hot in LA so I love how a smoothie bowl cools me from the inside.

I was also very curious to test their grain bowls because macro bowls are really my favourite way to eat, and I am always more attracted to savory meals than sweets. So I built my own: green rice, hummus, hot sauce, cauliflower + chickpeas, sweet potato puree, shaved carrot, avocado, shallots and pickled beets, sprouts, micro greens and toasted almonds. And it was delicious! Like, really delicious! I really felt like I am going to make efforts to cook the same way at home because it is accessible and it is a way to eat that I would like to share.

 

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Santa Monica Neighborhood

Santa Monica Neighborhood

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Backyard Bowls

Website. They have many locations so check if there's one close to you!

 

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The Best Acai Bowl in Miami

 

One of my favorite food to have when it's hot is acaï bowl, but I sometimes get disappointed if it's not good enough compared to the few great ones I had traveling. So as I came to Miami for a few days, I wanted to check out the best Acai Bowl places in town and make my own review so I know where to come back next time. Overall I didn't have a bad experience in any of the places, but some were really standing out for my taste.

 

4. Lilikoi organic living

 

This place is a mix between modern and cute with loads of white and pop colors mixed with old-looking wood. They have a lot of indoor and outdoor seating which is nice when you want to eat there as in some places you can't find a seat once your food is ready. I love the fact that they choose local and organic ingredients for their menu and that they don't add unnecessary ingredients like sugar. The food isn't tasting extraordinary but it's nice, healthy and they have many choices and vegan and gluten free options. The downside is that it's a little pricey.

About the acai bowl: it was good, healthy and satisfying. All what you expect from an acai bowl, with refreshing fruits on top. I liked that the granola was homemade and had mainly toasted oats which makes it lighter on the stomach.

 

LILIKOI ORGANIC LIVING

500 South Pointe Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

3. DIRT

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Dirt has a very modern atmosphere, a bit like an LA juice bar. They have a nice breakfast and lunch menu and they focus on the quality of the ingredients, the farm-to-counter and "clean eating" so they have a lot of simple but tasty dishes, and they have plenty of vegan, paleo and also gluten free options depending what you eat like. Their bread is pretty good (and it's a french saying that!)

About the acai bowl: a bit sweeter than the other places as they mix it with mango and 1/2 a bulletproof ball, and they add less fresh fruits on top so it felt more like a yummy dessert than a breakfast. Their granola was the best because it had chunks of chocolate which added to the dessert-like side. if you have a sweet tooth but you want to make the healthy choice, this is your place!

 

DIRT

232 5th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

2. Pura Vida

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To be honest, when going to Pura Vida I was expecting something that would be good but not amazing, thinking it would be just "another juice bar" with a few simple OK meals. I was happily surprised by the quality of the food (I tested two other things on the menu with my acai bowl) as their hummus is homemade, the food is fresh and tasty, and I also liked their portion sizes that are big enough to satisfy you. Not everything is vegan in the menu, but there are plenty of options, such as salads, grain bowls and wraps.

About the acai bowl: I loved the taste that wasn't too sweet so it felt refreshing, especially good when the weather is hot. It has more fresh fruits on top than the other places and also mangoes instead of just strawberries and bananas, which I like for the same reason: I feel it more refreshing to have more fresh fruits than sugary granola (even if I LOVE granola!). The granola is simple and nice, and they also have nice coconut shaving. It was overall very very satisfying and refreshing.

 

PURA VIDA

110 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

1. Under The Mango tree

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This place is my favorite! It feels like a hidden gem as it's a very small shop, with a small sign and you don't expect to find what is behind the door: a very cute place, decorated more simply and less modern than all the other places. It feels more authentic. They are acai/smoothies/juices oriented but have a few other things on their menu. But I would come here only for the delicious juices (I had a mango juice that was so refreshing I though they mixed some melon in it, but nope) and the bowls, because sometimes it's all you need.

About the acai bowl: of course it's my favorite one out of the 4 places I tested. I went 2 times and tested the classic acai bowl and the superfood acai bowl. The acai tastes more like cold acai puree than "ice cream" and you feel that it was made with very riped bananas, which I found so comforting as I love this satisfying texture. It's the perfect guilt free treat to me, naturally sugary and comforting but healthy. The granola wasn't my favorite one but I liked it and the bananas are ripe like I like them! I loved the superfood one because the few goji berries felt sticky under the tooth, like a candy. It's not 100% plant based as there is honey but you can ask without it if you want.

 

UNDER THE MANGO TREE

714 6th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

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Food in Paris - Sol Semilla

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When it comes to testing new restaurants, it's always hard for me to just do a search and read the ratings on the internet, because often it doesn't correspond to what I will actually like. I prefer to have a friend's recommendation since they know my taste better and I know from their own taste if what they like will also please me. Thankfully I have a great roommate in Paris who shares my love for healthy food, and she is the one who told me about Sol Semilla. This restaurant is not only entirely vegan but also organic and focuses on superfood from Amazonia, where the chef is from. The concept is simple, there are a few choices on the menu; soups and raw plates, but the most popular and great to discover this cuisine is the daily plate, changed every day and cooked with local and in season ingredients.

The plate has everything you need to be healthy: raw vegetables, cooked vegetables, grains, and legumes. But the way it is cooked and the different textures are beyond satisfying! I was really amazed by how much flavor every bite had, very sophisticated and comforting at the same time. Eating at Sol Semilla made me want to learn how to cook better to be able to share these flavors. Their desserts are great if you don't like too sweet foods and are sensitive to subtle flavors. Some of them reminded me of baby food (in a good way!), but I didn't test the cakes yet. I also tried 2 of their drinks as I went there 2 times, a plant-based milk with herbs which was subtly sweet, and one with raw cacao and chili, which was both boosting and comforting.

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The restaurant becomes quickly very busy as it is pretty popular, but the staff is very friendly and the atmosphere of the place is really pleasant and cosy (there even is a cat !) so I didn't mind to wait a little more in between the main course and the dessert. To be honest, I don't think Sol Semilla is the best place to bring someone who isn't used to eat healthy and plant based as it really pushes down that way, but for all those who already walk this path it definitely is a place to go. I will go back for sure, glad to add it to my favorite restaurants list. The address is 23 rue des Vinaigriers in the 10th arrondissement, super close to the Canal St Martin.

Cleansing bars by Drunk Elephant

 

I was dying to try Drunk Elephant's products because I've read so many good reviews about them and I liked the concept of the brand which is more gentle and it contains simpler ingredients than many skincare brands. Their colorful, modern and fun packaging is also so appealing to me ! I started with the Juju and Pekee bars because I wanted to change my morning/evening routine and find something that's easy to bring with me when I travel. The cleansing bars are perfect for that since they're not liquids and you can take them in your carry-on.

 

 
 

 

The Juju Bar

This one is for morning use. It detoxifies and gently exfoliates the skin as it contains clay and bamboo powder, perfect to prepare it before your creams and make-up. You know I don't like to exfoliate my face every day, but the Juju bar is gentle and doesn't feel like a strong scrub : it doesn't make my skin break out even when it's sensitive. Of course, I don't use another face scrub during the weekend when using the Juju bar as it would be too harsh and not needed. Again, it's great when you want to travel light.

The Pekee Bar

It's important to remove dirt from pollution, excess oil and impurities at night, but sometimes you want to do too well and end up having a reactive skin because of removing its natural protective layer. You need a gentle way of removing the daily impurities, and that's what the Pekee bar does ; its role is to cleanse you skin while protecting and moisturizing it. My skin feels smooth and calm afterwards. Like the Juju bar and most Drunk Elephant's products, it contains marula oil, which is both protective and healing.

 

 
 
 

You can also buy the small travel duo for 18$

 

Both bars are fragrance and soap free which is great for sensitive skin. They're really simple to use : you lather it with warm water in your hands and then massage your face, without applying the bars directly to your face. As you can see, it can't be easier than that. They are perfect for the traveler but also if you are very busy or want a minimal skin care routine. You're going to read more about Drunk Elephant on The French Glow as I am dying to try the other products from their brand !

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Traveling beauty essentials

I am about to fly to London and I haven't stayed there for a while, how exciting is that ! As I am preparing for my flight, I realized it took my a little while to know exactly what to bring with me in the cabin to be able to feel comfy and take care of my health/beauty. In the past, I often landed sweaty with breaking-dry skin and feeling very uncomfortable. Planes will never be as welcoming as home of course, but I felt like writing about the little life changing tips.

Hydration

I think if you should focus on only one tip it's this part you should remember. Air conditioning in planes does not only dry your skin but also dehydrates your body, and hydration is so important for your health at any level, you don't want to feel sick when you arrive at your destination !

  • Drink water. It's a no brainer but you need to drink more than what the plane personnel offers you. You could carry an empty bottle with you at the airport that you can fill with water after security or buy one, and not hesitate to ask for more water during the flight. It's recommended to drink at least a glass (250mL) per hour of flight.
  • It can be useful to do a high hydrating face mask the night/day before your flight, so your skin will be prepared for hours of dry air.
  • Always carry lip balm with you ! You can also use it around the eyes (but be careful not to put it in the eyes though) if you don't want to bring too many products, as it will also protect this area.
  • Think about the hand cream ! I use to forget to pack this ultra necessary item, and after washing my hands many times, my skin literally started breaking. So HAND CREAM, always, but even more necessary during flights.
  • Eye drops. As I wear contact lenses, it really makes a difference for me. Maybe you won't feel like you need to use it, but you might want to consider it.

Comfort first

I don't understand people who want to look too fancy on a plane : if you're one of them, I don't judge you but seriously how do you do ?? I feel like if I can't be comfy enough to sleep and relax, I won't look good when the plane lands, and that's more important than being cute during the flight.

  • Compression tights. Okay, I use to think these were only for grandmas and I refused to be involved in such things. But when you have to fly more than 3-4 hours it's seriously the item you want. Swollen ankles and feet ? Painful legs ? Compression tights help you avoid it. Normally you should go to your pharmacy and ask them to take your measurements, because if it isn't the right size it can do more bad than good (like blocking the blood circulation) or/and be uncomfortable. If I have a short flight, I also sometimes use 2XU recovery compression tights. They are made for recovery after working out, enhancing the blood flow. As they don't cover the ankles and feet they are not perfect, but they are comfortable and they still help a lot the blood circulation. Also remember to put your legs up when ever you can after landing.
  • Eye mask. This isn't ugly neither annoying, so you got no excuse. Of course it helps when your neighbor wants to read its book, or when the cabin lights are on, but for me it's also a life savior to keep my eyes from drying.
  • Wipes. I usually don't like to use make up remover/cleaning wipes as it's a lot of waste and it's not the most gentle for the skin. But on planes it's great to have something to refresh yourself and wash off the sweat, wash your hands, clean any spilling...
 
 
 

Other tips

  • Think small. Because of security, but also for your own comfort as it can become pretty heavy to have too many products that you only need in tiny quantities, don't forget to use travel sizes or use small containers to put a little bit of your favorite products with you.
  • Stay organized. You don't want to have to take everything out of you bag to find you hand cream, and then having your eye drops rolling under your seat... Think travel cases or transparent bags to keep it easy.
  • Bring your own headphones. Even if you are not a music addict, having good quality headphones change everything when it comes to watch movies, or even just sleep without hearing babies crying (there's always a baby crying). Since I started using mine, I always feel bad for my neighbors who are sticking with little earbuds or airlines headphones since the constant noise irritates me. You might want to think about it.