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Puerto Cacao: Socially Minded Chocolate in Paris

Julien Hausherr

Yes, more chocolate! Paris does not lack for it. But in a town that boasts everything from over-the-top delicacies to perfectly executed classics, we’re always impressed when a shop manages to distinguish itself from the cacao-hawking competition.

Puerto Cacao is not the most decadent, shocking or renowned chocolate shop in Paris, but it might just be the most conscientious. On a recent visit, we sat down with store manager José Evrard to learn more about owner Guillaume Hermitte’s vision for an équitable (fair-trade) chocolate shop that does as much to promote social good as it does to promote deliciousness.

Amazing hot chocolate! Tory Hoen

Hermitte’s team works directly with Venezuelan cacao producers, cutting out unnecessary middlemen who might drive up prices for consumers and deprive cacao producers of fair payment. In addition, they work with “entreprises d’insertion,” organizations that help people who have encountered various difficulties (poverty, imprisonment, etc.) re-enter the workforce and improve their lives. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 5 Comments »

The Beef Club: High-Brow Burgers and Clever Cocktails in Paris

Fresh off the heels of their successes in Paris, London and now New York, the Experimental Cocktail Crew makes its culinary debut in Paris (where else?) with the Beef Club. If you stop by, let us know what you think in the comments!  -Geneviève

Didier Gauducheau

Just a few steps from one of Paris’s least charming spots (Les Halles) has suddenly appeared one of its most charming. Le Ballroom du Beef Club, the month-old clandestine cocktail den from the team behind the popular hideaways Experimental Cocktail Club, Curio Parlor and Prescription Cocktail Club, leaves no doubt that Paris has arrived as a serious mixology destination. In the space of just a few years, the scene here has evolved from an experimental “cult” to a full-blown cocktail culture—largely thanks to Olivier Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros, and Romée de Goriainoff, the handsome young triumvirate behind the quickly expanding Experimental empire (they have a spot in London and will open their first New York outpost later this month).

Didier Gauducheau

This time around, the team has upped the ante. Upstairs, The Beef Club is a stylish steak house (we can’t wait to settle into one of those mid-century modern chairs for a night of carnivorous hedonism), and downstairs, the cavernous Ballroom du Beef Club offers a sensationally sexy setting where you can slip in for an after-work drink or linger into the wee hours of the night.

Didier Gauducheau

By 9pm on a Wednesday, multiple groups had already discreetly tucked themselves into the bar’s various dark nooks, and at around 10pm each night, the bar’s second lounge space opens to accommodate the larger late-night crowd. Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 6 Comments »

A Fairy Tale Wedding at a French Chateau

Is there anything more romantic than a wedding in a French chateau? For part 2 of her story, Paige Frost takes us through her last-minute preparations for the big day…- Geneviève

One and Only Paris Photography

Most brides obsess over something. Will the flowers look right? Will my dress fit after the alterations? Will the DJ play YMCA (even though I begged him not to)? Will Uncle Bill get smashed and ruin the reception?

And then there’s the mother of all bridal worries — the one none of us can control and yet endlessly fret over: the weather.

One and Only Paris Photography

We planned our wedding at a French chateau in May knowing full well that the weather could not be counted on – not in May or any other time of year. (This is France, after all). And so, with a million and one concerns filling my bride-addled brain, I focused on rain. Will it or won’t it? And what will we do if?

One and Only Paris Photography

Despite my obsession, there was no time to lose: A hundred plus guests were descending on Paris from locales as far flung as San Francisco and Sarajevo. Everything had to be perfect and I had to oversee it all. I’d spent my first year here planning every last detail. If I could just get everyone from Paris down to the chateau in Burgundy, surely the festivities would all come off without a hitch? Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 7 Comments »

Working in Paris: Strikes, 35-hour Weeks and Real Lunch Breaks

35 hour work week – time for gazing at the Seine - Christophe Hue

Many associate French working life with 35-hour weeks, strikes, long long lunch breaks and even longer holidays. This is certainly the image that I’d carefully conjured in my idealistic head before setting foot in France.

The big question: does reality live up to this delightful worker-friendly dream?

Well, I can confirm that the 35-hour week does exist (at least for a privileged minority), strikes do take place on a not-infrequent basis, lunch breaks remain sacred, and holidays are considered to be an untouchable national right (right up there alongside liberté, egalité, fraternité).

However, beneath the shiny and appealing veneer, day-to-day work has its fair share of up and downs.

Carin Olsson

Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 4 Comments »

French Lessons: An American Family Goes to School in Paris

Oz John Tekson

When we decided to move to France, one of the biggest decisions was where to send our kids to school. International bilingual? (Too expensive.) Private Catholic? (Too Catholic.) American Montessori? (Too American.) Public French school? (Perhaps too…French?)

We opted for total immersion in our neighborhood maternelle, the French equivalent of preschool + K. And so our adventure in French schools began. What we’ve found has been a cultural education in itself, surprising, occasionally maddening and enlightening all at once.

Boston Public Library; Eliza Dudnikova

School is free. For Americans and Brits accustomed to shelling out thousands for private education, this was a most welcome change. No more paying $800 per month for our three-year-old to attend morning preschool. No more monthly kindergarten fee (even at the local public school). School was free! It was hard to imagine.

The Napoleonic dream. The French system is indeed rigid, disciplinarian and devoted to the teaching method envisioned by Napoleon. Kids are not so much taught as trained – to absorb information by memorization and dictation with an eye toward shaping little French citizens. Where was the individuality? Creative problem solving? These were American constructs with no place in a system with only two answers: right or wrong. Hmm.

Karen Booth; Carams

Le Menu de la Semaine The state-sponsored lunch service (“la cantine“) surprised and delighted us with its weekly menus rivaling a Michelin-starred restaurant. A sample daily menu, including four courses, might include:

Salade de pomme de terre/tomates
Escalope de poulet à la crème
Duo carottes / salsifis
Yaourt aromatisé Poire
Pain / fromage
Jus de pomme

At least one day per week is strictly bio (organic). And no menu is complete without the daily “suggestion du soir,” the recommended dinner selection to prepare at home to complement that day’s dejeuner. The scene at the cantine is something to behold: Groups of preschoolers sit at small round tables, their place settings complete with porcelain plates, bowls and glasses. They spend no less than 45 minutes a day a table. Just like the States, non? Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 18 Comments »

Pretty Paris: Delighting in the Details

When people think of Paris, many think of a city that’s perhaps somewhat lacking in color… The city of light could, at first glimpse, come across as a city dominated by discreet and conservative neutrals. And how could it not? With beautiful, but often white or beige, buildings along every rue, avenue and boulevard in the city.

It can sometimes seem impossible to find any trace of color. But if you take your time and keep your eyes open (and away from the Champs-Élysées) you can find color everywhere in this amazing city. It seems like what the city is lacking in colored buildings and houses it makes up for with colorful details instead. One of the things I find to be the most interesting, when it comes to color here in Paris, are the amazing doors.

A detail that’s otherwise often overlooked. You see, Paris does color in its own way – discreet, chic, although bold and daring. Much like the city itself. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 8 Comments »

Vegetarian-friendly Paris: Successfully Navigating the Dining Scene

EverJean

Being vegetarian anywhere requires extra effort and planning when it comes to dining out. Being a vegetarian in a place that eats pigeon, adores offal, and extols a head to tail philosophy (that is, Paris) requires Napoleonic strategizing.

At least it used to. In recent years, the dining scene in the City of Light has been opening up to alternative styles and menus, making it easier than ever to go veg (although you can still expect the occasional eye-roll from a waiter who simply doesn’t understand les végétariens). But whether you chalk it up to Anglo and ethnic infiltration, acceptance of new ingredients and spices, or simple ennui with traditional French cooking, it’s a great time to embrace your inner green goddess and take this meat-eating city by storm. Here are four delicious strategies to help.

Merce and the Muse (Julien Hausherr)

Strategy 1: Eat a big lunch

When Rose Carrarini (who’s British) and her French husband Jean-Charles opened Rose Bakery in 2002, their focus on fresh market salads—think: grilled tofu and tomatoes, and artichokes mixed with millet and chickpeas—was shockingly different from the staple of steak frites that many Parisians ate for lunch. Ten years and two additional outposts later, it’s hard to imagine Paris without Rose’s organic market salads, fresh quiches and famous carrot and pound cakes.

Similarly, when Marc Grossman opened Bob’s Juice Bar in 2006, the smoothies and bagel sandwiches the native New Yorker served up were wildly novel. Since then Grossman has not only spawned another café, Bob’s Kitchen, which serves additional goodies like pancakes and muesli, but a whole wave of casual cantines have followed suit. Hypercool concept stores Merci and Colette both have veg-friendly subterranean eateries; take-out lunch spots like Lemoni and Cojean always offer beautiful soups, sandwiches and salads; and lovely little cafes and bakeries such as SuperNature, Merce and the Muse, Tartes Kluger and Bread and Roses all offer outstanding veg fare.

Chez Omar (Roboppy)

Strategy 2: Eat ethnic

Another way to sate yourself without a bite of bifteck is by taking advantage of Paris’ ethnic restaurants. In the first arrondissement, Rue Saint-Anne is an oasis of Japanese dining options including hearty udon soups (try Kunitoraya or Higuma) and “okonomiyaki,” Japanese pancakes made of flour, grated yam, water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage. Or you can get stuffed on Indian lentils and curries (Saravanna Bhavan, Krishna Bhavan) and Moroccan couscous and tagines (Chez Omar). Decent pizza (Pizza Chic, La Briciola), and Italian (Caffe dei Cioppi, Olio Pane Vino) abounds and, with last year’s arrival of Candelaria, Mexican is firmly on the ethnic eating map of Paris. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 11 Comments »

April in Paris: Tory’s 10 Spring Fashion Essentials

HiP Paris fave and globe-trotter extraordinaire Tory Hoen is finally back in Paris. In the next few weeks she’ll be doing the rounds of Paris’ latest hotspots, but first she shares her top Paris spring fashion picks with us here… Enjoy! -Geneviève

Carin Olsson

When I decided to spend this April in Paris, my euphoria was tainted by just one gnawing concern—what am I going to wear? We all know the Parisian spring is knock-your-socks off beautiful, but it’s a tricky season, sartorially-speaking. It can be cool and rainy one minute, balmy the next. It can feel like full-on summer on one side of the street, and winter once you cross into the shade. I’m constantly shedding and donning layers, and my normal fear of color is supplanted by an impulse to integrate bolder hues.

Although my highly unhelpful inner voice said, “Just pack everything!,” I’ve managed to narrow things down. Below is a list of 10 spring essentials that I know will serve me well this season.

1. When boots start to feel too clunky but it’s not yet sandal season, I live in my Repettos. They come in a variety of fun colors, but you can wear the classic black with just about anything.

2. While I’m not always the savviest of shoppers, I regularly high-five myself for having bought this beige trench from Comptoir des Cotonniers. I wear it constantly—open, closed, buttoned, belted—and always feel put-together, even when I’m wearing nothing underneath. Just kidding.

3. I am generally an extremist when it comes to lip color: either very sheer gloss or devil-may-care matte red. But for spring, a more carefree coral (like Nars satin lipstick in Niagara) feels like the way to go.

4. Made in their atelier in the Marais, Monsieur’s delicate gold and silver rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings add a perfectly simple accent to springtime garb. (53 Rue Charlot, 3ème arrondissement).

5. While my winter handbag is generally overflowing with unnecessary bulk—old receipts, dozens of pens, a single glove, matchbooks pilfered from various restaurants—I like to lighten up for spring. A saddle bag in a bright color, like this one from A.P.C., fits the bill perfectly. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 14 Comments »

April Events in Paris: Our Top Picks

La Tete dans les Olives

La Bouffe:

Ongoing: Cédric Casanova, the Italian genius behind ‘La Tete dans les Olives’ strikes again with his just-opened épicerie, Au Conservatoire. Book the shop’s only table for yourself and seven of your closest friends for Cédric’s “Pique-niques Gastronomiques”, a tasty selection of Sicilian small plates with a little specialty shopping on the side. Au Conservatoire, 14 rue Sainte Marthe, 75 010, Paris. To make reservations, email: picnic@latetedanslesolives.com

Ongoing: An elusive new stranger has appeared on the Paris bar scene: L’Inconnu. Hip coffee shop by day, cocktail bar by night, and for those in it for the long haul, a DJ dance party that goes until 2am. Pop in for afternoon coffee and you might just find yourself dancing the night away. 17-19 rue de Mazagran, 75010, Paris.

April 7: In case you need another excuse to drink delicious French wines, here you have it: Caves Augé, one of the oldest stores in Paris, is hosting a free tasting of wines from the Rhone Valley. À votre santé! Caves Augé, 116 Blvd Haussmann, 75008, Paris.

BBrown6

April 12: Relive George Lucas’ cult classic “American Graffiti” with burgers, hotdogs and more: Street Food Party’s first event of the season revisits classics with a fresh, French twist. Expect girls on roller-skates, live music and gastro-rock interpretations of classic American drive-in fare. At La Rotonde, 6-8 Pl. de la Bataille Stalingrad, 75019, Paris. Starts at 8pm.

April 7-8: You know all about this super-cool fun-for-all weekend of brunch and more, but it’s too good to not mention again. Brunch Bazar is back. 66 rue de Turenne, 75003, Paris. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Parisian Living | No Comments »

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