Living La Belle Vie (Or, What I’ve Learned Living in Paris and Traveling Around the World)

Note: This is a special post for me and it’s wordier than usual.
I hope you’ll have time to read it all the way through.

La belle vie. The good life. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. What does it mean? I think luxury is one of the first things that comes to mind for most people and I’m certainly not one to argue! But beyond that, I think the truly good life happens when we appreciate the everyday, when we celebrate the ordinary and when we put care and thought into our daily routine. I’ve been conscious of this concept for some time. (Long before this blog, I kept a daily photoblog with the purpose of documenting the beauty in everyday life. These days I share daily snapshots on Twitter, Instagram (@FromTheRightBank) and Flickr. You’ll also note that my Flickr name is “ode to everyday.”)

Anyway, while this notion wasn’t new, it really crystallized for me while living in Paris and witnessing how the French live. What I saw was that it all comes down to the little things: lingering over and savoring even a very simple meal, one perfect accessory, soaking up the arts in all its forms….. While the French have definitely perfected the art of living, the good life is not limited to France. Whenever I travel nowadays, I take note of how other cultures elevate everyday rituals into something special and in turn, how they live the good life.

I’d now like to start sharing what I’ve learned from my time in France as well as my travels around the world because I’m really passionate about living la belle vie and would love to help you do the same. Naturally I’ll be bringing you a lot of ideas for your home but because the good life encompasses so much more, I’ll cover other aspects of life such as how and what we eat, how we nourish our minds, how we present ourselves and more. So FTRB will be stretching into some new territory but it’ll all be in this context. I’ll also share with you how I try to incorporate these ideas in my own life.

I’m so, so excited about this new series and hope you’ll get a lot out of it. I’m thinking it’ll be on Fridays – something to leave you with on weekends – but don’t hold me to it just yet. In the meantime, tell me, what does the good life mean to you? I’d love to know!



  1. First and foremost, good health, without it, nothing else matters. Ditto family and friends..might sound like a cliche but truly a rich and full life is not rich and full without the company of those I love and need to have in my life. Onto the fun things….. I do like little luxuries, a beautiful cashmere sweater, the best linens for my bed that I can afford, really soft towels, things along that line. And good food and good wine…can’t live without it!
    This series sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. Emily says:

    I think this is a wonderful idea for a new series! Good for you! It got me thinking about how people in Ireland enjoy life and I think it boils down to tea – and lots of it!

  3. Holly says:

    This is a fantastic idea and I am looking forward to future posts already. When I think about the good life, I think of the word indulgence. But not in a gluttonous, greedy, of exaggerated sense. I am thinking more about a calculated indulgence. When you know yourself and you have a sense of direction to attain the things you want (or at least when you are consciously working on that), then you can indulge in what life has to offer along the way (from the tiniest details to the bigger picture) and you can indulge in your accomplishments (from the smallest to the biggest) – relish them, love them, be proud of them. Add that to being surrounded by mutual love, respect and support, and there you have it. My definition of the good life 😉

    Best Wishes!

  4. This post touches a special cord in me. I try to live my life day by day, as we say smelling the roses. Coming home late at night after a grueling day, I just look up at the cold starry sky and just feel the beauty of the moment. I am looking forward to reading your series, as I am a “people lover” and spend endless hours watching people in all parts of the world, interacting, going about their daily rituals.

  5. Cara says:

    This is such a great post! I think everyone wants to live a simlier “good” life, but we are constantly bombarded by brands, and ads to buy more “things” {us bloggers being contributors} that we feel the need to work more and more and $$ starts ruling…Looking forward to this series!

  6. CT says:

    I love this idea — there is a new(ish) online magazine called Kinfolk that I have been enjoying because it calls attention to and lets us savor small, simple gatherings (usually around food) with those we love and hold dear. That sounds like la belle vie to me. It’s on of my New Year’s resolutions as well — to get out of my usual routine/rut and make time for friends and family via brunches and dinners at our house. Thanks for bringing la belle vie to your readers. A la prochaine – CT

    • Ally says:

      I enjoy Kinfolk too and it’s exactly in line with what I’m talking about. I think that’s a great resolution and we should all do more of the same.

  7. Great idea!
    I try to look for beauty in all the surrounds me, and daily remind myself of my blessings and am grateful for them. It’s not always easy, but I think that focusing on the positive – and beauty is definitely positive! – is the first step towards happiness and a better life.
    Find beauty in the moment – that’s it.

  8. Two peas in a pod, we are. I think that you know that I am fairly obsessed by this and so you might not be surprised that our definitions of “la belle vie” are basically the same. The main word that comes to me is “mindfulness”. To be mindful enough to find the joy in the big and the small and smart enough to cherish it.

    I will really, really be looking forward to this series. And please can we have more of your photography?!? It is so extremely beautiful Ally and not all of us are on Twitter, etc to see it otherwise. Chalk it up to yet another of your many talents…

  9. Jessie says:

    Sounds like some great posts that I will enjoy reading. We all sit and talk about decorating and post pretty pictures on our blog, but there is so much more to talk about! I hope that I will get to travel to some of the places you have been someday. Traveling to me is one of the most important things a person can do in their life. You see so much beauty in the world and it really is an eye opening experience. You have to get out there and EXPLORE! (and take lots of pictures!!!)

  10. Karena says:

    Ally I am so looking forward to this series! I have not traveled as much recently and love to see the world through the eyes of my friends!

    All the Best!

    Art by Karena

  11. mlleparadis says:

    I couldn’t agree more! When I went to France as a very young person I noticed the same things and said: “This is for me!” If anyone ever asks me anymore why I do some thing or other I just have to say….”France made me do it!”

    and p.s. Thx for your nice Xmas greetings! Milles bisous!

  12. sohappyhome says:

    Laughter. Without laughter, even good health is wasted; and poor health can definitely be improved by laughter. But I agree with the other commenters – family, friends, good food. These are at the heart of any so-called good life. And these little things should be celebrated. I’ll be interested to see where this series takes you. (oh, and p.s., the wordier the better!)

  13. I absolutely love your idea of incorporating what you’ve learned in your travels and using that knowledge to expand the content of FTRB. Travel truly does broaden the mind! My hubby is working as a medical traveler, so we are living in a new place every 13 weeks. It is a joy to discover all the nuances, quirks and beauties in each new location. While living such a vagabond lifestyle, we’ve learned how comforting it is to savor our every day rituals and to find new ones every 3 months. 😉

    Looking forward to your new series!

  14. Ashley says:

    Such a meaningful approach to life, Ally, and I think we can all benefit from slowing down and appreciative the everyday luxuries that we are afforded. I look forward to being very inspired by this new series!

  15. Shelley says:

    I love this idea for a series. I, too, lived in Paris and learned there how to better appreciate the little things in life. The memories of shopping at the neighborhood shops, strolling through the beautifully tended gardens, and lingering (for hours) at the local cafe stay with me. Quelle bonne vie.

  16. Megan says:

    Great idea for a series of posts! In fact its a theme that’s been on my mind for the past few weeks. It will be interesting to read your posts and compare notes in my head!


    • Heidi says:

      What a lovely idea. I can’t wait for this series. To me, the good life means savoring things in their simple, pure form. Laughing with friends, building block towers with my children, seeing birds on a little walk in the woods. I lived on France for a whole and fell in love with French cuisine and its way of bringing out the best flavors of fresh food through simple preparation–fresh peas and a bit of butter, bread, cheese and wine… And, of course, the good life also means knowing that you are making a contribution, making the world more beautiful, more peaceful, more just.
      (long time reader, first time commenter).

  17. Jamie says:

    I felt the same way when I lived in Paris! It was truly enlightening to learn savor the moment. I’m looking forward to reading/hearing what you have to say!

  18. Jennifer says:

    I really look forward to this new series. Paris does have that je ne sais quoi. I do love it. However, there are aspects to living in Paris, and abroad in general, that aren’t better or beautiful. I think these aspects can help us appreciate where we come from and who we are. I learn something about myself each time I travel. To me that’s key to living la belle vie. Happy reflecting!

    • Ally says:

      I completely agree that no place is perfect and I’d say this is true for anywhere in the world, including the U.S. But there is so much good to be taken from everywhere too and that’ll be the focus of my series. Thanks for weighing in. :)

  19. I couldn’t agree more with you on this matter… taking time out of our busy schedules to enjoy and appreciate everyday things is really a challenge, but necessary; otherwise our lives would be so mundane and routine. I am looking forward to your insights on how to go about doing this…

    Happy belated New Year!

    Linda, xo

  20. Liv says:

    totally agree with you on this one – that’s what my blog A Beautiful Life is all about. The good life, the small pleasures – sure it’s great having luxurious things like a beautiful home, traveling and eating good foods but when it comes down to it, la belle vie is about taking the time to SLOW DOWN, enjoy your every moment and about the little things in life. That’s the whole philosophy behind my blog!

    I’m really looking forward to seeing your posts around this topic.

  21. Harriet says:

    “La belle vie” is something i’ve been thinking about for a while. I have been through a lot the last few years with my son and my parents, but through it all, and because of it all, its made me more and more appreciative of the beauty in this life, the interconnectedness of everyone and everything. I am in the travel business and have been wanting to start putting together special trips for people, especially women, that help them experience this beauty and expand their minds and hearts. I had decided to call my new tour company “La Belle Vie” and I want to start with tours to Paris. So, I googled La Belle Vie, to see what was out there – and found you. My daughter and I, and a friend, are going April 5 to Paris to explore, and for me to get more ideas on this. So, this has been helpful reading your posts – Paris sort of does personify the idea of the “good life” in many ways.

    • Ally says:

      Wow! What a coincidence! I’m very happy to hear my posts are helpful. I wish you the best of luck with your new business. Have a wonderful time in Paris. April in Paris – what a perfect time to go!

Thanks so much for taking time to comment! I read every one and reply through my own comments.