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PS Privé: Your Ticket to Paris’ Hidden Secrets

Hip Paris friend Linda Donahue, behind the wonderful site Parisien Salon, just launched PS Privé – a collection of boutique tours and workshops  intended to “give you a glimpse behind the closed doors of Parisian restaurants, fashion houses, artists and entertainers.” Since Linda’s talent for discovering and keeping abreast of the latest Parisian happenings is impressive even to the most jaded Parisians, we trust her new project will soon be just as successful as her wonderful website. Here she gives us a first-hand account of how the inspiration came about.

Paris Market Tours

When we launched back in May 2009, we were hoping for a positive response. We got that and more. In fact, the feedback we received went well beyond anything we expected. One response we didn’t expect was, “When are you going to start doing tours in Paris?” So many of our wonderful readers asked this question, and we just didn’t know what to say. After all, there are so many great people already doing tours in Paris, and we  didn’t know what else we could possibly offer.

But one day, over a few glasses of wine in a Paris café, we realized that what we had been doing since our launch – offering insider access to the French capital – was also something we could easily build upon. We knew people, after all.

Macarons Tours Paris PS Prive

So, after months of head-scratching, brainstorming and strategising, we’re pleased to announce the birth of P.S. Privé. This “Paris experience company” will offer classes, workshops, excursions and special events in the City of Light. Continue Reading »

Posted in Tours and Classes | 2 Comments »

Le Temps au Temps: Worth Taking the Time

Le Temps au Temps French Bistrot Paris
Julien Hausherr

I’ve been in Paris for over a year, and I’ve wanted to dine at Le Temps au Temps almost the whole time. I’m not even exactly sure where I first heard about it. But little details stuck out in my mind: that it’s pocket-sized, that the food is playful… I think the descriptor “new wave bistro” made it in there somewhere. When an intimate dinner with two good friends—one local, one from New York—came up, I knew I had my opportunity to go.

We walked into to the (indeed, pocket-sized) restaurant and our table was a bare beacon in a crowded room. With only 24 seats, reservations are a must and I was happy to have secured our 9 o’clock spot on a Saturday night. After settling in, but before the gabfest began, I took a minute to absorb the decor. Though the space is clean and modern, Le Temps au Temps keeps some of the best Parisian bistro traditions: a couple of giant chalkboard menus featuring the prix-fixe options (€26-€29) hang on the walls along with a smattering of brocante charms, like an oversized clock. (Get it? “Time to time”!)

The environment noted and a bottle of Chinon ordered, it was time to turn our attention to the menu. The restaurant features a small selection that changes every few days, with dishesas we would soon confirm–that are expertly executed.

There were four entrée options, five plats, and three of us at the table, so we had nearly the whole menu covered. To begin, I opted forsliced volaille in a savory,spicy sauce that reminded me of a childhood comfort dish, yet was plated more artfully than my mom ever could have managed. I tasted my friend’scream of carrot soup that had tender shrimp tails hiding withindeceivingly light and fresh-tasting, givenhow much <dairy must have been in there. But the winner between the three entrées was the salmon tartare. Though this dish is offered ad nauseam throughout Paris, at Le Temps au Temps, the fish is sliced thickly into chunks, topped with greens, and accentuated with a horseradish sauce that hit all the right notes.

Le temps au temps restaurant ParisJulien Hausherr

Although I secretly coveted the salmon starter, when it came to the plats, I felt like I chose the winner (I silently cheered). I’m not a veal eater, but my friend confirmed his langue de veau was divine, as were the mashed potatoes it covered. My other friend’s swordfish, which I did sample, was a thicker cut than I think I’ve ever seen anywhere, and the firm meat was deliciousatop quinoa and cauliflower. And then there was my dish. A celery mousseline, the creamiest, fluffiest bed of savoriness you could ever imagine, cradled a generous filet of cabillaud and perfectly-cooked spinach. It was heaven. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 4 Comments »

Smile: You’re in Paris

Paris Smiling Girl CrepesCnphch

It’s time to address a theme that has become a highly controversial component of my Parisian life: the smile. When I first moved to Paris, I couldn’t figure out why people seemed to pick up on my non-French status before I had uttered a word. Finally, a friend informed me: “You smile too much.”

Apparently, I was blowing my own cover. And it’s true: just as Parisians have a reputation for being particularly scowl-y, the French think Americans are too quick to put on a happy face. From the French perspective, the law of diminishing returns applies to smiling—the more often you do it, the less potency it has.

But despite having spent a considerable amount of time in Paris, I can’t seem to train my facial muscles into submission. It doesn’t help that I have a LOT of inside jokes (with myself), so it’s not uncommon to see me cracking myself up on the Metro or as I walk down the street. I understand this makes me look like a crazy person and might be confusing to outside observers, who often stare at me as if to say: “What’s so funny, American interloper?”

montage1Dave Bloom, Ko An

The answer: pretty much everything. (Except French advertisements, which try to be funny but are actually just weird and / or creepy).

Last time I was in Paris, I stopped at a tabac for an espresso. This was a legit tabac—the kind where grizzled old French guys convene to drink beer at 10am. I could tell the men at the bar didn’t really know what to make of me. It was definitely a “one of these things does not belong” situation. And while I’ve thought a lot about what it means to assimilate in Paris, I also get a kick out of subtly taunting the French and making them feel confused on their own turf. So I am pretty much in my element when surrounded by perplexed, drunk, old French guys. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 25 Comments »

Cappuccino In Italy = Morning Bliss

Cappuccino Genova Castelletto

Life here in Italy comes with simple pleasures. Each morning I start my day with an eagerly awaited Cappuccino. I have found my favorite little hole-in-the-wall right around the corner from my apartment in the Castelletto neighborhood of Genoa.  Here, I enjoy my morning ritual of cappuccino, a glass of water, the newspaper in Italian, and a chat with the barista. Simple, cheap (only 1€10 for this delicacy), and fulfilling! What is your morning bliss, and where do you go to find it?

You might also like:

Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence or Tuscany? Check out our website: Haven in Paris

Posted in Food, Italy tips & suggestions | 3 Comments »

Homes: Spotlight on Elzevir, Fabulous Marais Flat

When I first considered living in the Marais, I was drawn, like most, to its centrality, its tiny cobble stone streets and its fabulous shopping (on Sundays, when the rest of Paris is as good as dead). I was tempted by its offers of falafel and its proximity to Berthillon on the Ile St. Louis. I loved that it was quiet and lively, sophisticated and fun all at the same time.

Paris Elzevir Apartment Vacation Rental

I have now been lucky enough to live in a couple different parts of this wonderful area, and I have to say, it remains one of my very favorite places to both live and spend my time while in Paris.

Elzevir Appartment Marais Paris

Although the streets can fill with tourists (both from other countries and other areas of Paris — jealous of the scene-y café terraces, bars and Sunday shopping), on a rainy afternoon or evening you’ll still find neighborhood cafés spotted with low-key, well-heeled locals reading the paper, sipping a glass of wine, or tapping away at their laptops.

Elzevir Marais Apartment Paris

Haven in Paris’ Elzevir apartment, a gem of a one-bedroom that I just know is dying to be graced by my shopping bags and worn out shoes, is located on a quiet street in between the more residential northern Marais and the livelier south Marais. Right smack half-way between the famous Place des Vosges and the rue des Archives’ great terraces, it truly is a haven of designer furniture, open spaces and sophisticated touches. Continue Reading »

Posted in Design, Homes, Parisian Living | 3 Comments »

Eight Paris Essentials and Why You Need Them

Girls’ Guide to Paris, a fantastic online resource for fabulous things to do in Paris, helps to answer here every antsy traveler’s questions about packing for Paris. This article was also written by HiP Paris blogger friend Robin Locker, of My Mélange

Paris Rain Cafe Book UmbrellaMilena Mihaylova

Packing for any trip can be frustrating and daunting. But when you’re heading to the fashion capital of the world, the task can seem even more arduous. You know that Parisians are stylish and chic, so you want to do your best to fit in. But you also want to be comfortable, without toting around unnecessary stuff.

Most women I know spend hours mixing and matching outfits, piling every available piece of clothing on the bed until it disappears under a mound of fabric. And though there will always be two types of packers—those who believe in taking only a carry-on, and those who just can’t fathom the thought—there are some essentials any girl headed to Paris should bring along.

trench_umbrell dave bloomDave Bloom

Black. Lots of black. Black is classic and always in season, and it matches easily with almost every other color, which makes it perfect for layering. Dark clothes are flattering on all figures and hide wear and tear better than their counterparts, so they will be more forgiving if you splash some espresso on yourself. And every girl needs a little black dress for a nice evening out in the City of Light. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 20 Comments »

Recipe Tip: A Decadently French Moelleux au Chocolat

This delicious recipe comes courtesy of new Hip Paris friend Cristina – cook, writer, photographer and blogger extraordinaire. Her mouth-watering blog, From Buenos Aires to Paris, grew from her desire to learn to cook like the French – which is something we can all relate to! For scrumptious recipes and inviting images all year long be sure to check out Christina’s delicious blog. Be sure to let all of us at HiP Paris know what you think of the moelleux once you have baked one!

Moelleux au Chocolat Paris Recipe

One of the things that first catches our foreign eye when we come to France, apart from the Eiffel Tower, is the moelleux au chocolat — that typical French cake, so simple, yet so decadent, moist, scrumptious …And, immediately, we come to the conclusion that such a treat must be archi-compliqué to make… It ‘s French after all !

Today, I am going to show you not only how to make a moelleux but to take it to haute-pâtisserie levels, by coating it with the most luscious mirror glaze, and to top it off, a wonderfully fresh array of berries…

What ? You believe you can’t make it ? Well, unlike most foodbloggers who admit having felt a passion for cooking since an early age, I spent all my life away from the kitchens, teaching at schools and university, until one day, destiny took me to France (Yes, we are puppets in the hands of God), and there, a new passion was born ! but since learning on my own was hard, I decided to train professionally both in Buenos Aires and in Paris : Ecole Alain Ducasse, Ecole Lenôtre, in Plaisir…internship with the famous Parisian pâtissier Gérard Mulot…

This cake is not hard to make, but the first secret to incredible taste and texture begins with top quality chocolate … here I used Vahrona  61% cacao (you can buy the 1kilo package at G. Detou – 58 rue Tiquetonne).  I would advise you chocolate no less than 55% cacao, but not too high either, since the cake might turn too bitter. Same holds good for the cocoa powder…this incredibly brilliant mirror glaze is impossible to achieve without good cocoa powder

Ok, let’s get working…here is the recipe…

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, HiP Recipes | 5 Comments »

A Day in the Life: Paris vs. New York

I’m recently back in New York from Paris and am suffering a particularly acute bout of withdrawal. I think part of the problem is that the structure of my days changes completely when I cross the ocean. On the European side, time expands and flows and I rarely even know (or care) what day it is. Here, on the rational side of the Atlantic, I’m over-scheduled from morning until night. It goes something like this.

Janelle Mentesana - Paris streetJanelle Mentesana

New York Day
• Wake up when my alarm goes off (or when my upstairs neighbor’s alarm goes off—the perils of living in a poorly insulated industrial loft).
• Go running, as need to expend all energy for the day before settling into a chair for the next ten hours.
• Eat cereal. Healthy, practical cereal.
• If have time, stop for an espresso at Euro-favorite Cafe Gitane. Pretend to be Parisian. It’s not the same.
• Brave the Canal Street crush, which involves dodging aggressive pashmina vendors and dozens of dawdling tourists.
• During overcrowded subway ride, contemplate moving back to Paris for the thousandth time. Listen to Serge Gainsbourg to twist the knife in my heart even more.
• Get to work. In essence, I like my job, but I have such restlessness and A.D.D. that it kills me to think I have to spend a day in a chair, when I could otherwise be spending it roaming quiet Parisian streets.
• Post-work, sprint to event / drinks / dinner. Inevitably show up late. Friends annoyed, because they won’t give you a table in New York until all party members arrive. Friends even more annoyed when I accidentally double air kiss them.
• Then stay out too late.
• Then go to bed, way too late.

Dave Bloom New YorkDave Bloom

Paris Day

• Go wandering. On my last trip, I loved heading south from Belleville, crossing the Canal St. Martin, and conveniently finding myself at Du Pain et Des Idées, one of Paris’ best rustic boulangeries.
• Decadent pain au chocolat in hand, I begin my loitering for the day by lounging on the edge of the canal.
• Get restless, so wander through the Marais, stopping at Cafeotheque for a café du jour, before strolling across the Pont Louis-Philippe to the Ile St. Louis, where I install myself at the western tip of the island and gaze off into space for a while.
• When restless again, meander to the Left Bank, stopping to take in the Institut du Monde Arabe, and then strolling over to my old neighborhood, where I stop in at the market at Place Monge and the traiteurs along rue Mouffetard. One shop owner still refers to me as “la plus belle” whenever I see him (I’m always up for some good French-style ego-stroking).
• Inevitably end up lounging by the Fontaine des Médicis, stopping in for macarons at Pierre Hermé, poking around Repetto, and making a pit-stop at Deyrolle (to fuel my inexplicable taxidermy obsession).
• Before you know it, it’s time for an apéro. Convene with friends at Le Baron Rouge for wine. Everyone will be late; no one will care.
Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 15 Comments »

Shakespeare & Co Literary Festival: June 18-20 in Paris

This weekend, don’t miss the Shakespeare & Co literary festival, sponsored by one of Paris’ best English-language bookstores. The theme this year is Storytelling and Politics — with a fantastic roster of English-language writers, it’s the perfect occasion to brush up on a little left-bank expat intellectualizing… And here is the poster, created by Hip Paris blogger friend Badaude.

Shakespeare & Co Paris Literary Festival Badaude

Related links:

  • Shakespeare & Co Festival Website
  • Badaude’s blog
  • Vingt Paris has the low-down on the festival as well

Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Posted in Arts, Events | 2 Comments »

Rosa Jackson stays in Erica’s Haven in Paris Montmartre Flat

Rosa Jackson, the fabulous food writer and chef, is based in Nice where she conducts market tours and succulent Provençal cooking classes. She travels to Paris frequently (as one must) in order to keep up with the restaurant scene. Last year, she stayed at Haven in Paris’ very own Houdon flat. This lovely write-up ensued on her blog

Vacation Rental Paris Montmartre Houdon

I have a vision of my perfect Paris apartment. It would be high up – stairs don’t scare me – with a small balcony and a sweeping view over the zinc rooftops, punctuated here and there with church spires and glimmering domes. There would be parquet floors, big windows on both sides (east and west, ideally) and a sunny kitchen that opens onto the living space. Oh, and it would have central heating.

When I first laid eyes on Erica Berman’s apartment just south of Abbesses Métro station, I felt slightly breathless. That might have had something to do with the five flights of stairs required to reach it, but it also came from the certainty that this was my dream apartment. I loved the antique table and mismatched chairs, I loved the contemporary paintings and well-tended plants, and I especially loved the vintage wooden pâtisserie sign above the kitchen, which Erica found at a market in Provence.

Vacation Rental Paris Apartment Montmartre Houdon

It’s no surprise that Erica’s flat should seem so effortlessly tasteful, given that she is the owner of the hippest apartment rental agency around: Haven in Paris. I first met Erica when she came to do one of my food tours in Nice, and I immediately realized that we had many things in common: our love of Paris, Provence and Italy (especially Liguria), our fondness for off-the-beaten track bed-and-breakfasts, and our insatiable curiosity about new Paris restaurants.

When I dropped by her Paris apartment before a meal at the nearby bistro Le Cul de Poule (here is a report on the Haven in Paris blog), she beckoned me onto the balcony for a glass of Italian wine. Erica has lived in Paris for 17 years and there is almost nothing she doesn’t know about the city, as proved by her frequently updated blog. We chatted about good and not-so-good meals she has had in the Pigalle and Montmartre area: her current favorites are Le Miroir (94 rue des Martyrs, 18th) and Guilo Guilo (8 rue Garreau, 18th), the second run by a renowned chef from Kyoto.

Vacation Rentals Paris Apartment Montmartre Houdon Continue Reading »

Posted in Homes, Parisian Living, Travel | 8 Comments »