Miami Beach

Palm trees beach

Art Basel taking place earlier this month reminded me of my trip to Miami last summer. It was probably the first vacation where all I did was relax instead of running around to catch as many notable sights as I could. Most of my time was dedicated to lounging on the beach, driving around with beautiful landscapes in view and gorging on local food in excellent company.

Miami Art Deco Ocean Drive

The first thing I saw of Miami from the plane was palm trees. I remember being so excited as they’re the sign that you’re about to land in a warm exotic place.

Miami South Beach cabin

I’m usually not a big beach person despite growing up on the seaside, but give me warm clear water with sun and I’ll spend my days there.

Miami Art Deco Carlyle

We did however take in the Art Deco architecture on Ocean Drive with its many hotels.

Miami Art Deco 3 hotels

Miami Art Deco Avalon

Miami Art Deco Breakwater

Miami Art Deco Colony

Miami Art Deco Crescent

Along the way we came across Gianni Versace’s former mansion in front of which the designer tragically died.

Versace Mansion Miami

If you feel like shopping, The Webster is the place to go. Run by a French woman, The Webster is Miami’s version of Colette or Liberty.

The Webster

The Webster inside 1

The Webster inside 2

Another French-run place my friends and I were fonder of was La Sandwicherie. It’s the perfect spot to indulge in big sandwiches and delicious natural smoothies before hitting the beach.

La Sandwicherie

Other restaurants we enjoyed include Loews Hotel for their amazing breakfast buffet, the Italians Quattro and Bianca (at the Delano Hotel) and Icebox Café for its desserts. (Nobu was a bit of a disappointment.)

Speaking of the Delano Hotel, we loved the outdoor bar where you can lounge on giant pillows or in your own little tent around the shallow pool. And the cocktails are great too, which doesn’t hurt.

Delano Hotel

If you fly to Miami, do spend an extra 2 or 3 days in the Keys. The drive itself is a pleasure with beautiful landscapes and excellent restaurants along the way, like the Butterfly Café in the gorgeous Tranquility Bay Resort where we stayed. Breakfasting on sweet crêpes at the French-run Banana Café in Key West and dining at Marker 88 with the sun setting on the ocean were quite an experience too.

Sunset on the Keys

Snorkeling in Bahia Honda State Park was probably the highlight of my trip. It was exhilarating to observe the coral and tropical fish so up close.

Bahia Honda State Park Bridge

Anne's Beach

For shorter day trips, head to Key Biscayne. Once there, you can climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse and take in the beautiful view before hitting the beach.

Key Biscayne beach

Key Biscayne Water

Are there any similar trips you would recommend me for next summer?

A Brooklyn afternoon: cherry blossoms and Keith Haring graffitis

Last week I took the train to Prospect Park in Brooklyn to view the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, hoping to recapture a hint of my life experience in Japan. Sure enough, the Cherry Esplanade delivered its promise: bunches of pink cherry blossoms on the myriad of branches forming arches over the garden alleys; a rain of pastel petals whirling in the wind, dotting the field of grass.

Coincidentally I met my friend Carolyn from Ma Vie en Franglais there. We continued our tour of the garden together, wondering at the bright colors along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I hate gardening with a passion (I couldn’t even name the flowers pictured below) but if I need to relax, nothing’s better than a walk in a park.

Carolyn and I then made our way to the Brooklyn Museum to view the Keith Haring exhibition. One of the best-known American artists of the 20th century, Keith Haring was deeply inspired by graffiti. The exhibition focuses on the beginning of his career from 1978 to 1982, when his energetic street-art was ubiquitous throughout New York City.

A fixture of New York’s downtown culture, Haring befriended artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat. New York was quite a different city at the time: gritty, with a somewhat dangerous and creatively bustling energy. The amazing soundtrack of the exhibition stays true to the period with bands like The B-52’s, Blondie, Talking Heads and The Clash; you can listen to the iTunes list on the exhibition’s page.

The highlight of the exhibition was this impressively long mural. Carolyn wondered if Haring had painted it according to a plan or if he had improvised little by little given how detailed it is.

Apart from the background music, I really loved Haring’s sense of humor and his way of mocking the consumer society. I was also impressed to see how detailed his work could be. Finally, this quote from Keith Haring struck me as wonderfully true on art: “I am interested in making art to be experienced and explored by as many individuals as possible with as many different individual ideas about the given piece with no final meaning attached. The viewer creates the reality, the meaning, the conception of the piece. I am merely a middleman trying to bring together ideas.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour in Brooklyn! Now tell me, how did you spend your own weekend?

You can read Carolyn’s great post about our afternoon right here on her blog Ma Vie en Franglais.