Women We Love - Audrey Ruhland

August 18, 2017

NAME: Audrey Alice Ruhland

HOMETOWN: Farmington, Connecticut CURRENTLY LIVING: San Francisco, California

OCCUPATION: Marketer by week, traveler and extremely novice sailor by weekend

FAVORITE TRIP: The one I just got home from! I spent three weeks traveling around London, Ireland, Scotland and France. My sister Lizzie and I took on London and Ireland together, and my husband Garrett and I continued on to Islay, Edinburgh, Nice, and Paris. I was so grateful for the chance to travel separately with my sister and my husband throughout so many different places—getting good quality time in seems to get harder and harder in our everyday lives at home.

BUCKET LIST: I’d love to fly into London, spend some time there, and then rent a car and explore the rest of the U.K. I’m a country girl at heart and have been obsessed with British film and television for years. Nothing sounds more appealing to me than hopping in a Land Rover, zipping on my Barbour jacket, and just...going. Rye, Bath, Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, the Highlands...the list goes on and on.

FAVE AUGUST BAG: My Marais tote! I have the black snakeskin embossed suede tote, and it’s been my go-to bag for years—I love how lightweight and durable it is. For the three-week trip, I decided to bring it with me last-minute; I only brought carry-on luggage and thought it wouldn’t fit. But it packed in easily, and I’m so glad I ended up bringing it with me—I used it every day. I hate carrying things in my hands, so it was nice to be able to carry my camera, Rose Splatter Maiori wallet, and any market finds all in one shoulder bag.

How to travel & pack for three weeks and multiple climates:

Only bring carry-on luggage - skip waiting at baggage claim and reduce the risk of lost baggage. Use packing cubes - they help you organize, compartmentalize, and save space.

Pack staples - things that can be reworn, restyled, and layered. A pair of dark Levi’s skinny jeans paired with a simple top and sweater got me through multiple days in different places. Have comfortable shoes - I know, how boring. But most of Europe is paved in cobblestones, making it hard to get around in heels. Alternate between a cute pair of flat sandals and something more supportive for longer walks (my Allbirds runners were perfect).

Store a Marais tote in your luggage - This lightweight bag folds and packs really nicely, and will be your go-to everyday bag once you land.

About the trip - There is so much to tell! For now, I’ll focus on

Paris - we were only there for a short time and it was our last stop before heading back to the U.S. Both Garrett and I wished we had more time there. We barely scratched the surface of all that Paris has to offer. We stayed at Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais in the historical Marais district, or the 4th arrondissement. Our room had a tiny balcony that overlooked the rooftops of Paris—such a dream view!

On our first day, Garrett and I dropped our bags and walked around the pretty streets of the Marais. We got déjeuner à emporter (lunch to go) at L’As du Fallafel and walked with it along the Seine toward the Louvre. From there we walked to Saint-Germain-des-Prés and headed straight to Café de Flore, one of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris that was once a favorite for literary geniuses of decades past. We slipped into tiny outward-facing chairs behind a small outdoor table and sipped from champagne cocktails as people walked by, umbrellas in tow, going about their days. I popped over to L’Ecume des Pages and grabbed a notebook to recount our day on paper while we relaxed at our little sidewalk table. One thing I noticed about Parisians—and most of the French, really—is that they are all present. Nobody is hiding behind their iPhones. They’re either engaging in conversation or sitting in silence and observing the world around them. Being in Paris gave us a welcome break from the technology that so constantly consumes our lives in San Francisco. And I’m so glad that we spent that afternoon at Café de Flore soaking in our surroundings instead of staring at screens.

Later that day, we had dinner at Le Temps des Cerises, a small French restaurant in the Marais that’s a little off the beaten path. We tucked into a window table and split a bottle of red wine over a meal of escargot, local cheese, and lamb. While strolling around the neighborhood after dinner, Garrett spotted La Belle Hortense from across the street. It ended up being a great place to grab a drink—it’s a bookshop and a bar. For me, that is perfection. We spent the rest of the night and the early hours of the morning there, drinking wine and whiskey while chatting with locals and the ever so charming barman Emmanuel. We got a little later of a start the next morning than I would have liked, but the night before was worth it.

To kick off the day right, we ordered a decadent breakfast of croissants, baguettes, pain au chocolate (yes, you read that right; three different types of bread), coffee, boiled eggs, foie gras, yogurt, jam, and honey to our room. We dined on the balcony, slowly waking up among the rooftops as the city bustled below us. When in Paris, you just have to go to a museum, even if you don’t like art. You’ll find something to like, whether it’s the architecture of the museum itself, the paintings inside, or the surrounding neighborhood. I think it’d be a sin to visit Paris and not spend time inside of a museum, but perhaps an even bigger sin wasting hours standing in line. Most allow you to buy tickets online in advance, which for us was a no-brainer. Garrett had never been to the Louvre so we booked a 12:30 entrance time, finished our breakfast, and headed back out into the city for the day. We meandered through the Louvre for two hours until hunger and aching feet got the better of us.

From there, we hopped in a cab (see: aching feet) to the Eiffel Tower. I was hoping to have a picnic meal on the lawn, but the hanger set in fast so we settled for a touristy little cafe lunch instead. We retired to our hotel to freshen up, and Garrett took a short nap while I walked around to take pictures. Satisfied with our afternoon break, we walked over to Pont Neuf to take an hour-long river cruise. The weather was perfect—sunny and clear but not hot—and we appreciated learning about the history of the city while looking at it from the water. We enjoyed the cruise so much that we considered going back for another one later that night. After our cruise we went back to the Marais (we obviously loved our little neighborhood a lot) and ate dinner at Robert et Louise, a rustic steakhouse where everything is cooked on a cast iron slab over an open fire. To walk off dinner we strolled along the Seine to Pont des Arts and catched the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower. The lights go off for the first five minutes of every hour after dark, and it really is a spectacular sight—I was really, really happy that we caught the show. When the lights dimmed we turned and walked into town. Garrett followed his intuition again, and this time we landed at Chez La Vielle, a delightful and quietly famous restaurant and bar. I drank champagne, he tried Belgian digestifs. We struck up conversation with an expat who recommended we check out La Belle Hortense, our favorite bar from the night before. The three of us ended walking there together, weaving in and out of the lively Paris streets, and closed our second and final night in Paris by having drinks among the books with Emmanuel. It’s been about fifteen years since I was in Paris last, and I forgot how big it is! We weren’t able to cover nearly as much ground as I’d hoped to. I would have loved to go to Musée d'Orsay and Montmartre, among many other places. But our short time in Paris was perfect, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m so happy that both Garrett and I enjoyed it so much, because that means one thing: we’ll go back soon!

PS—You can catch more recaps of our trip by destination on www.thisldu.com or @thisldu_ on Instagram.

Thanks for reading!