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A Leap of Faith: Finding the Perfect Paris Apartment (Part Deux)

Lindsey Tramuta; Carams

After many horrendously unsuccessful attempts at trying to find my first pied-à-terre in Paris, I had one last shot before I would literally be living in the metro.  My lead was a long one — a friend of a very distant acquaintance who could show me her place on the very last day of my Paris apartment search trip.  On my way over, I practiced feigning excitement over the minimalistic lifestyle I seemed destined for, as moving back home couldn’t win out over my storybook fantasy of living in Paris, no matter how bleak my accommodations might be.

Dave Bloom

I walked into the courtyard and started the 50-stair climb to the apartment up a narrow, twisting wooden staircase that leaned to one side. I was sure that after drinking enough wine, I would hardly notice the sideways slant.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Homes, Parisian Living | 2 Comments »

Three Weeks in Paris: Maggie’s Top Food & Shopping Picks

Alecska

In a few days, I’ll be sipping wine at un petit café in the Marais, just in time, we all hope, for the weather to finally swing toward Spring. There’s too much to squeeze into this 3-week trip.

Besides visiting Verjus and Au Passage bien sur, I hope to dine at Septime and Bistro Volnay. Perhaps I’ll splurge on a meal at L’hôtel Thoumieux. Though, the best part of being in my own Paris pied-a-terre is stocking up at the Marche des Enfants Rouge for home-cooked dishes that always seem to taste better in Paris.

Merci concept store (Liquidx)

While I hope to buy something special at Merci (a girl can dream), I’ll definitely pop into Les Mauvaises Graines, an urban garden concept store in Montmartre, and will likely fall in love with a handcrafted souvenir at Le Petite Atelier de Paris.

On one of my weekends abroad, I’m jetting to Copenhagen. Being a New England girl, I suppose I’m a sucker for the cold weather. I’m also eager to visit what’s hailed as the best restaurant in the world and after several odd-hour phone calls to Denmark, lucked out with a reservation at Noma. We’ll see if Copenhagen food stacks up to Paris culinaria.

Septime (Lindsey Tramuta)

More than anything though, I simply want to find my favorite spots near my Marais flat. I hope to take my daily espresso at Merce and the Muse, lunch at Glou and unwind with an evening wine at La Perle. I promise to only visit Jacques Genin’s fabulous boutique once or twice if, and only if, I take a few strolls around the Square du Temple. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Shopping | 11 Comments »

Paris, My Sweet: Amy Thomas’s Drool-Inducing New Book On Paris and New York’s Best Desserts

Lindsey Tramuta

Here at HiP, we’re always up for a good expat adventure tale, particularly one in which desserts play a starring role. In her new book, Paris, My Sweet, food writer (and regular HiP Paris contributor!) Amy Thomas regales us with stories from her two-year stint in Paris, where she wrote advertising copy for Louis Vuitton by day and scoured the city for sweets in her spare time.

All in all, it sounds like a pretty ideal existence, but like all expats in Paris, Amy faced a typical series of ups and downs. It’s no surprise that she fell hard for the city upon arrival; and it’s also no surprise that, once the initial Parisian shine wore off, Amy ultimately came to see the city’s not-quite-so-sweet side. It’s at this point that the story really starts to ring true for those of us who have been expats in Paris: you’re simultaneously charmed and alienated, comforted and challenged, energized and exhausted.

Paris, My Sweet; Takashi

As Amy weathered the highs and lows of expat life, she also covered serious ground in the dessert department, hitting all of Paris’ confectionary hotspots and sampling the city’s most decadent delights. This book is not only an account of her time in Paris, but also a goldmine of bonnes addresses (in both Paris and New York) for dessert lovers. This woman knows her way around a pâtisserie, and serious sugar-high seekers would do well to heed Amy’s recommendations.

Paris, My Sweet is a guidebook of sorts, but it’s also just a fun and decadent read—I devoured it in less than 48 hours, pausing only to scrounge up some chocolate now and again. In addition to making me hungry, Amy’s writing transported me back to Paris, a trip I am ever-eager to make, if only vicariously.

Evocateur

Below, I caught up with the author to talk Paris, pastries, and ultimately picking her favorite city. Continue Reading »

Posted in Events, Food, Parisian Living, Travel | 14 Comments »

Kid-Friendly Travel: An American Family Visits the City of Lights

After half a day in the airport, a canceled flight and a sleepless passage over the ocean, I expected my children to nap away our first day in the City of Lights. But the magic of Paris revived us and it was 11 p.m., admiring the fire dancers at Le Sacre Coeur when my son said, “Mom, can I get an ‘I love Paris’ t-shirt? ‘Cause I really love Paris.”

A dream destination for every traveler, Paris is rarely considered a haven for families. I’d like to challenge that assumption. The first concern is usually cost. While not cheap, Parisian retreats are about the same price as a trip to Disney World. Most people think Disney World is a reasonable goal, but why visit Epcot when you can indulge in the real locale?

Deals on flights are everywhere; all museums in France are free for those 18 and under; public transportation is inexpensive and most importantly, an apartment rental saves a fortune over hotel accommodations.

Ahem, this is the moment I need to make a disclaimer that Haven in Paris isn’t compensating me in any way. I begged them to let me write about our incredible experience with HIP.

My family spent a marvelous week in HIP’s gorgeous Champs Elysées; everything from the darling girl who met us at the apartment to the plush bedding, was perfect. We gazed at the Arc de Triomphe from our window and the Metro stop was literally right outside the front door. The location made transportation easy and delightful. Adults might find subways tedious, but for kids riding the Metro is part of the adventure. My boys loved navigating the family throughout the city and the 5-day Visite pass is a steal. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 15 Comments »

Planning A Wedding in France: Saying “I Do” In A French Chateau

“I’ve just been offered a job in Paris,” my boyfriend of one year announced. “I won’t even consider it if you’re going to rule out coming with me…”

Huh? Definitely an invitation, not quite a proposal. So what’s a young, gainfully employed, woman-in-love to do?

Quit her job, pack her bags and move to Paris, of course!

Fast forward six months. Newly engaged and living in the Marais, we spend weekends scouring flea markets for second-hand furniture and sipping cheap red wine on our sixth-floor terrace. It’s great. But with Greg off at work and a scant hour of French per week on my calendar, it quickly becomes clear: I need a project.

I decide to get serious about planning our wedding.

Le chateau: I spot the photo in the back of a French bridal magazine; Chateau des Conde, in the village of Vallery about 90 minutes south of Paris. We call ahead and arrange to visit. The village is French country perfection: a sleepy town center with a church, boulangerie, one restaurant, a bar/tabac and a post office. Summer vines climb stone walls and window boxes spill with blooms. We haven’t even laid eyes on the chateau yet but I’m already falling hard.

Chateau owner, architect Patrice Vansteenberghe, welcomes us with champagne that we sip as we tour the grounds. The chateau dates back to the 12th century, boasts 22 rooms to host our future guests and a reception salon designed by the architect responsible for the Cour Carree at the Louvre. By the time we see the room where Lenny Kravitz and Vanessa Paradis holed up for a month scribbling lyrics, we’re more than ready to let love rule (and hand over the hefty deposit). After several more glasses of champagne, dinner with Patrice’s chic weekend guests, and an impromptu overnight in the Kravitz suite, visions of a wedding bash are dancing in my head. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 3 Comments »

February Events in Paris: Our Top Picks

For those of you lucky enough to be heading to Paris this month and looking for some interesting things to do, here is a roundup of great events and general goings on. Amusez-vous bien! – Erin Dahl

Carams

La musique

February 23: Brooklyn rockers Real Estate, whose albums are consistently rated Best New Music by Pitchfork and the like, will perform at Nouveau Casino.

February 24: Pop-dance producers Simian Mobile Disco,  a British duo that broke off from previous band Simian, will perform a DJ set at La Machine du Moulin Rouge.

Dave Bloom

Les arts

Through February 19: Les Femmes savantes, a favorite amongst Molière’s work and a satirical criticism of the ridiculous préciosité that penetrated 18th century French salons, is showing at the Théâtre de la Tempête.

Through February 19: Chic! Une grande maison at Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine – a look into the history of Paris architecture, specifically the lovely hôtels particuliers that dot the city. Child friendly.

Through March 15: You may know Maxim’s for its resto and boutique, but they also have an exhibition space and this month “Moi, Sarah Bernhardt” is on show. Bernhardt, often thought of as the world’s first and most famous actress, paved the way for female performers to come. Now you can take a peek into her life and passion.

Matt Mansfield

Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events | 4 Comments »

Le Clarisse: Sake Pairings Give Paris Dining A Fresh Twist

Paris is one of the best cities in the world for exceptional food and wine combinations. In a refreshing change of pace, restaurant le Clarisse offers their tasting menus paired with sake in addition to the standard wine route.  Although France’s gastronomic identity is undeniably tied to wine, who doesn’t like to opt for something original from time to time?

Tucked away in the 7th on a street busy with bar and restaurant options, le Clarisse is an elegant stop offering French-inspired fare prepared with precision and delicacy by a Japanese chef. While the restaurant itself isn’t new, the change in chefs a little over a year ago makes it well worth renewed consideration.  Recently I was invited to taste test the sake-pairing menu and see what kind of revamp resulted from their association with Chef Sadaki Kajiwara.

The regularly changing menu is just the right size for my taste: four starters and five mains to choose from, each of which comes with a recommended wine or sake pairing and can be ordered a la carte or as part of a prix fixe menu. Restaurant director, wine connoisseur and in house sake expert, Jean-Philippe Pluvinet, is on hand to personally walk guests through the beverage pairings. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 8 Comments »