February 28, 2011
Chic and Elegant Paris fashion – Paris in Pink
What is it about Parisian women that always leaves me staring as they ever so briskly pass by, thinking, how do they always manage to look so (for lack of a better word), chic? They appear to be dressed with a casual confidence, never looking out of place and drawing just enough attention. Each detail and accessory is carefully chosen, creating a color palette of distinctive greys, blacks and neutrals, with just a touch of color. Timeless. Elegant. And always classy. This ‘dress-code’ is most creatively displayed in the ‘bobo’ parts of Paris where ‘bourgeois’ meets ‘boheme’. The result is a never-ending fashion show on the streets of the Marais, Saint Germain, and often in between.
Longing for Paris summer fashion – Paris in Pink
What’s their secret? I have a few theories.
Timeless. Parisians are avid shoppers but not necessarily considered consumers. They choose quality over quantity and when the Soldes hit Paris, they spend the time necessary to find that one signature piece to add to their collection, which will naturally work with all the other pieces. Shopping becomes a curatorial experience. Thus, there is no end to the possibilities and no need to follow the latest trends. Rather than mimic a mannequin, a Parisian woman will simply use this model for inspiration. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 20 Comments »
February 25, 2011
Entrance to Chateau Raissac, Beziers, France
It’s still cold in New England and we’ve managed to get another light coating of snow this week. When it’s this cold, there’s really nothing else to do but daydream of warmer times… in France. Remember when I did that last month? I shared my little trip to Mont Saint Michel, where I was amazed by the towering abbey on the ocean.
This time around, my thoughts are drifting further south, way south, down to a tiny town near the coastline. This time, I didn’t just SEE the towering almost-other-worldly structure in the distance. This time, I got to LIVE there. Erica, the founder of this very blog and my very favorite company (where I also work), whisked her team away to the Chateau de Raissac in the small city of Beziers, just a short drive to the Mediterranean, to unwind, do a bit of brainstorming and meet the fabulous couple who own the chateau and run a local vineyard of the same name.
What do I remember?
I remember getting to know the friendliest little dogs who stood watch over their enormous home. The structure was astounding and unlike anything I had ever seen. I’m typically not a chateau sort of lady, but as I kept whispering all week to my colleagues, “I could adjust to this.”
Entrance to Chateau Raissac
The tower that was home to my blue bedroom at Chateau Raissac
Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Homes, Travel | 15 Comments »
February 22, 2011
Hip Paris first wrote about underground dining back in March 2009, when we experienced Hidden Kitchen for the first time. Since then, we’ve gathered around private tables with the likes of David Lebovitz, interviewed chefs like Rachel Khoo, and searched high and low for these special, discreet, private experiences. Forest Collins has sorted through the (now abundant) options on the Paris scene to brings us today her top 3 Clandestine Paris dining experiences — Geneviève.
Groucho Marx said it best: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” Sometimes the harder something is to get, the more we want it. This seems to hold especially true with eating out in Paris as the capital catches up with the extensive network of already established ‘private dining clubs’ in other major cities.
Not your usual restaurant, private dining clubs are a different kind of eating experience where food-minded folks gather in under-the-radar locations to share a meal. They range from closely guarded secret rendezvous to more publicized, well-known gatherings. Because they exist outside of the usual commercial restaurant mold, they’re often hard to find and sometimes even harder to get into.
So are the added hindrances to underground dining worth it? Last week, I checked out three clandestine Paris Kitchens to find out.
Cookies and Tatie, the house dog at Hidden Kitchen
Hidden Kitchen: where sophisticated palates converge with the gastro-curious to indulge in Paris’ finest of clandestine cuisines
This was not my first visit to the brainchild of American ex-pats Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian. I first ate there when they opened with a near immediate fan base in 2007. Since then, they’ve accrued a substantial following and attracted enough media attention that they had to move to a larger location where they now serve a communal table of 16.
Elegant ten course dinners take place in their enviable Parisian apartment. Braden brings his special touch to fresh local ingredients, creating dishes that rival the best of restaurants for both flavor and presentation. He still finds time to step away from the stove to talk guests through each course while Laura selects and pours wine for the pairings and takes over in the kitchen when it’s time for the sweets.
Hidden Kitchen, which was originally intended as a yearlong project, is still in action after more than four years. Over this time, they have stayed consistently booked up while developing their culinary and wine expertise. They also keep things fresh by inviting occasional guest chefs – on my latest visit, Nicholas Calcott created an impressive 9 course Szechuan dinner.
If the topnotch food, service and setting aren’t enough for you, the communal table adds a convivial element not found in your run of the mill eateries that I was truly able to enjoy during my latest solo visit.
Suggested donation: 70 to 80 Euros
Soul Kitchen Supper Club: where the un-ironically hip rub elbows and bump knees over flavor-packed world dishes in art-infused surroundings
For a change of pace, American duo Christian Guerrero and Alexa Wisnoski casually cater to a global-minded eclectic community of wanderers, wonderers and food ponderers who appreciate a seriously good nosh. An evening at the relatively new Soul Kitchen Supper Club begins with a genial cocktail apéro in the couple’s cozy apartment with up to 32 guests.
After mingling, diners slide around the multiple low glass-top tables and await delights from the kitchen as pitchers of wine appear. Christian and Alexa create origina and well thought-out 4-5 course menus focusing on fusion flavors that are hard to find in Paris like Non-Tex Mexican and New Jersey Style Italian American Cuisine. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 12 Comments »
February 18, 2011
Fashionable shoes on rainy Paris streets (Christophe Hue)
I spent most of November in Paris, and while it was a delight, I think I can count the number of times I saw the sun on one hand. Soon after my arrival, an out-of-nowhere hail storm reminded me of how fickle Parisian weather can be. (It was kind of awesome, but my Repetto’s were not amused).
Nonetheless, Parisians don’t let a little precipitation put a damper on their preening. On the contrary, a little inclement weather affords them the opportunity to show off their slick rainy-day style. So while we may dream of owning various classic wardrobe staples, it makes sense to start with some good-looking rain gear. If you’re spending the winter in Paris, you’ll need it.
Ladies waiting in the rain, with red umbrellas (John Oxley)
The umbrella. Absolutely non-negotiable—do not leave home without it. Cheap models can be found at any Monoprix, and department stores like Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, BHV and Bon Marché offer a wide range. If you’re feeling super fancy, splurge on a gorgeous artisan umbrella from Michel Heurtault.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 14 Comments »
February 16, 2011
Zinc bar at Bistrot du Peintre (Julien Hausherr)
The trouble with dating someone who always thinks he’s right is that, sometimes, he actually is. On my most recent visit to Paris, my BF and I got into a lot of food-related debates, and I have to admit, he knows his stuff. While I tend to keep my ear to the ground for news about new restaurants, emerging chefs, and more concept-driven eateries, he has quietly and discerningly been working his way through old-school establishments that offer exquisite traditional cuisine in pretension-free (and mostly tourist-free) settings. He pays very little attention to reviews or buzz, so when he labels a place “legit,” I’ve learned to take note.
He recently introduced me to the Bistrot du Peintre, a two-story Art Nouveau eatery that’s been around since 1902. It’s located in the 11th, a short walk from the Bastille and the Marais, but slightly out of the fray. Upon entering, I noticed the place was busy but calm, the tables full of relaxed French people who work in the quartier or who have probably been coming here for years, because they know what we now know: this place is legit.
Bistrot du Peintre (Julien Hausherr)
We settled into a cozy banquette on the upper level and—like most of the other diners—ordered the day’s featured dishes: a silky mushroom soup with a secret ball of mozzarella at the bottom (sneaky! delicious!), braised pork on a mountain of velvety French lentils, and a not-too-creamy brandade de Cabillaud. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 17 Comments »
February 14, 2011
Kasia Dietz is an American dreamer who fell in love with her Italian prince and moved to the city of light to be with him. She writes all about her travels and Parisian adventures on her blog, and sweetly offered to share her personal fairytale with us for our Valentine’s Day post. On this February 14, a holiday that seems especially significant to Parisians, Francophiles and Americans alike, we celebrate her love, your love and wish each of you a very happy Valentine’s Day. xoxo, Maggie
The dream of every girl, particularly on Valentine’s Day, is to be swept away by a Prince Charming, into a setting of eternal sunsets and romantic interludes. Does such a fairytale really exist? Not exactly. But for everyone there does exist a unique love story. It’s simply a matter of time. And meeting the right Prince.
Needless to say, I never stopped believing in fairytales.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 11 Comments »
February 11, 2011
Charlie Almond met a French girl two years ago at his housewarming party back in the states. Now he’s living in Paris and trying to sort the rest out. Here he shares a couple tips to help the average Joe pull one on the Jean-Pierres…
Finding love with a French woman – make sure she’s smiling before you set off after her though (Dave Bloom)
I try to fight it, but I sometimes feel like having a Parisian girlfriend has turned me into a bit of a cliché. Really though, it’s not my fault. Parisian girls are cute. Something about the way the corners of their mouths curl up when they speak French drives me wild. It’s an inviting half-smile even if they’re talking about how much they hate Belgians. So when one fell into my lap, the chase was inevitable. Now that I’m here, what have I learned?
Parisian guys are the reason why I could get a Parisian girl. Sorry messieurs, but when you look like the pilot cast for a European Jersey Shore, you’re not going to bag a classy Parisian lady. Yes, your chest hair is nice and you can carry on a conversation about hair products, but that’s not enough. Parisiennes do not like competing with their men over who’s prettier, especially if that also means fighting for shelf space in the bathroom.
Romantic evenings in Paris often start with wine, end in a blur… (Dave Bloom)
What Americans bring to the table. Let’s face it: if you’re spending time abroad, you’re probably not too stereotypical. You’re adventurous, worldly, and probably just fashionable enough to please a discerning French eye (on your good days). To the benefit of our oft-stuffy counterparts and despite our prudish national reputation, Americans are also more open and jovial socially. What’s more? We’re funny, and we all know humor goes a long way in defeating the rich, successful, over-groomed square in hand-to-hand combat. Right? Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 19 Comments »
February 8, 2011
Michael Herrman, a successful American expat architect and veteran Parisian real estate savant, has helped more than one star-eyed owner convert their Paris pied-à-terre into a dream home. We’ve invited him to help educate us on the traps to sidestep on the way to purchasing your ideal Paris apartment, from the (apparently sometimes pajama-clad) hunt all the way through until you are “Home at Last”. In this installment: The Hunt.
Breakfast in a Saint Germain 2 bedroom apartment (St. Germain Luxe)
Buying a little piece of the City of Light is a rite of passage in and of itself. Before becoming the owner of a beautiful 19th century apartment in the heart of Paris with original oak floors and marble fireplaces, or converting a floor of maids’ rooms into a penthouse haven, you must first begin with an apartment hunt and all of its uniquely Parisian idiosyncrasies.
The first thing to understand is that like few other cities in the world, there is always intense competition to buy an apartment in Paris. At the worst of the recent financial crisis, Parisian real estate prices didn’t even make a small dip. The crisis actually increased the demand for apartments as people took their money out of bank accounts with nose-diving interest rates and invested in the ever-reliable Paris housing market. Another good thing to know is that the average cost of real estate in Paris is still below the average price in London, Rome and numerous other European cities, making Paris an even more attractive place to invest.
Saint Germain 2 bedroom apartment, with balcony and view of Notre Dame (Ecoles)
What this means for your apartment hunt is that good properties are sold within a few days and the best ones within just a few hours. Apartments advertised at 9:00am may have an offer accepted by lunchtime …
Once the hunt is on, the first obstacle is finding an honest, reliable real estate agent. Although this may hold true internationally, fanciful exaggerations are especially commonplace in Paris. After finding the perfect apartment, for example you might be worried about the fact that it is on the 7th floor with no elevator. Your agent may reassure you that an elevator is going to be installed next year, guaranteed. This, however, may have been in the works for over 10 years and it may be another 10 until it actually happens.
I once visited a former warehouse in the heart of the Marais being divided up and sold as enormous apartments. Continue Reading »
Posted in Homes, Parisian Living | 5 Comments »
February 3, 2011
With four feet of snow piling up around my New England home, it’s no wonder I’m dreaming of Paris. This happens a lot. New England snowstorms are perfect for daydreams about somewhere else. Anywhere else, really.
France just so happened to be my last trip, so I keep drifting back to a little rendezvous just two hours north of Paris. We were three ladies in a rental car, armed with iPod, rain boots and a destination: a little-known spot called Mont Saint Michel. I knew virtually nothing about the cultural significance of this big pile of granite on the ocean. I just wanted one night in the country, in the dark, away from the dazzling Paris lights. (Sometimes we need a break from all the dazzle; it makes us miss it and eventually appreciate it more upon our return.)
The view from the top of Mont Saint Michel (Maggie Battista)
Two hours later, glowing from a cidre and mille feuille tasting (though both didn’t occur in the same place because that would just be too dreamy), a chance encounter with the sweetest apple orchard puppy, and barrels of rain falling around us, we came upon this rock with its abbey and elegant spire in the far-off landscape. My mouth went permanently agape and I just snap, snap, snapped photos. Continue Reading »
Posted in Travel | 19 Comments »
February 1, 2011
Jenny and David enjoying l’heure bleue in An Education
Once you’re familiar with the sweet life in Paris, it’s no easy thing to leave. After all, when every day is filled with arresting beauty, when all five senses get worked over like nowhere else in the world, when you’ve mastered the art of lingering for hours at the dinner table, the lunch table, on the river bank, beside the canal… well, where do you go from here?
Lucky for me, the answer is New York. And as loath as I am to leave some things behind (I’m talking to you, pain au chocolat), I’m equally excited to get back to certain creature comforts.
A stroll along the Seine and a vintage Tabac sign (pkabz, slimjim)
What I’ll Miss
More specifically, the smell of boulangeries; of butter getting baked into millions of flaky croissant layers in the morning and of baguettes being pulled fresh from the oven each night. Getting smacked in the face with those delicious aromas is almost better than eating the warm, yeasty treats. Almost.
It’s like being part of a symphony, riding around Paris on a Velib. You weave around delivery trucks, buzz past monuments, zip across bridges, and coast beneath dancing trees; your heart and legs pumping, spirits soaring, and then, the finale: you park outside Ladurée on the Champs-Elysées and reward yourself with un petit gateau.
What is it about this “hour” in Paris? Walking in the quiet side streets or staring out the window in the evening is nothing short of magic. It just doesn’t exist as beautifully, or linger as teasingly, anywhere else in the world.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 15 Comments »