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Brocante Shopping in Normandy with My French Country Home

Brocante finds in action (Laurence Amélie)

At My French Country Home in Normandy, we love to go antiquing. We welcome guests from all over the world, from private shoppers looking to experience real French brocantes (flea markets) and hopefully bring back a special souvenir of their holiday in France, to professionals looking for hidden gems to add a little French je-ne-sais-quoi to their boutiques.

Bedrooms decorated with brocante finds

Here is how it went for a recent client, Jeni, who came to shop for her vintage rental company in California. She was only here for 24 hours, but thanks to careful planning and her ability to make quick decisions, she managed to purchase all kinds of amazing loot! Continue Reading »

Posted in Shopping, Tours and Classes, Travel | 13 Comments »

Paris in Love: A Q&A (and Giveaway!) with Author Eloisa James

Today we’re all about the Paris book love. Amy Thomas interviews bestselling author Eloisa James on her latest book, Paris in Love, a memoir of a year spent in Paris enjoying the good life. For a chance to win a copy of the book, leave us a note in the comments below! We’ll pick one lucky reader at random on May 31. ** Update: the contest is now closed. Thank you for commenting! **

Making Magique

’Tis the season for books about Paris. There are new non-fiction titles (Dreaming in French, French Kids Eat Everything), photography tomes (Paris in Color), cookbooks (La Petite Cuisine à Paris) and a slew of memoirs including Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, A Family in Paris and the one I just devoured on my recent trip to the City of Light: Paris in Love by Eloisa James.

Having lived in Paris for nearly two years and written my own memoir, I’ve been giddily burning through these titles, alternately living vicariously, laughing out loud in empathy, and tearing up at the memories. Eloisa’s memoir was no different. A mélange of personal thoughts, family anecdotes, historic and cultural references, practical facts and general observations, delivered in a fun, self-deprecating voice, in short spurts of prose lifted largely from her Facebook and Twitter accounts, it’s hard not to fall for the lovely writer, her Italian husband, her two moody teens or her chubby Chihuahua, Milo.

Olof Grind

Partly what makes Eloisa so irresistible is her lack of pretense. A writing professor and best-selling author of romance novels (don’t miss the giveaway below!) who underwent a mastectomy to treat breast cancer, she sold her home, took a sabbatical from work and moved her family to the ninth arrondissement. During her year devoted to enjoying life’s everyday pleasures, she becomes hyperaware of seductive details everywhere, from the “dreamy dark pink” of a tote bag to Sacre Coeur’s basilica covered by rows of “creamy scallops” to Paris mornings that are “moody, cool and empty.” It’s a book that reminds you of the best things about Paris: the kindness of strangers, those poignant feelings of magic and melancholy, and that food can fix things. Now back in the States, Eloisa took the time to respond to some questions, just for HiP.

Carin Olsson

Of all the places in the world you could have taken a sabbatical, why did you choose Paris?
I have always loved Paris. Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, I had a black-and-white etching of the city on my wall, and I lived in Paris during my junior year abroad. After being treated for cancer, when I realized that I wanted to run away from my normal life, Paris was an easy choice: I love the chocolate, the light on the Seine, the time — or rather, the lovely way that Parisians savor their days rather than dashing through them. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 164 Comments »

Channeling Monet: An Afternoon at Giverny

Billbooz & Thezartorialist

I’ve never been a particularly big fan of Monet’s paintings. Yes, they’re pretty—that much is undeniable. He certainly cornered the market on water lilies and haystacks. But I suppose I’ve developed a sense of indifference toward his work because it’s so ubiquitous. He’s one of the first artists I learned about (in a cursory 5th grade unit on art history) and whose work I learned to recognize with ease. But then suddenly it was everywhere: mouse pads, t-shirts, calendars, and the walls of countless dorm rooms I would encounter during my high school and college years. Before I knew it, I was Monet-ed out.

Pierre J

But once I moved to Paris, I kept hearing about Giverny, the quaint village where Monet famously made his home from 1883 until his death in 1926. It’s here that he cultivated the celebrated garden that many of his most famous works depict. Suddenly, unexpectedly, my long dormant interest in Monet was revitalized. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Travel | 5 Comments »

Top 5 Freaky French Foods We’re Still Scared To Eat

Bone marrow, not on Tory’s list but, maybe it should be? (Roboppy)

I consider myself an adventurous eater, and from an early age, I had a French-leaning palate. As soon as I learned to chew solid foods, I began inhaling Roquefort, paté, and on occasion, entire sticks of butter. But despite my penchant for richness, there are certain French foods that still scare the living daylights out of me. In some cases, it’s the result of a past trauma, and in others, it’s just an instinct that whispers in my ear, “Run far and fast away from this food.” These are the items on my Do-Not-Eat list:

Boudin noir and mashed potatoes (Roboppy)

1. Boudin noir (a.k.a. blood sausage) is just that: a disturbingly purple sausage full of pork and pig’s blood. The name alone is enough to make any rational person run for the hills, but then of course, there’s the taste. Have you ever been on a car trip and passed through rural territory, only to have your air supply adulterated by the putrid smell of cow and pig manure? That’s pretty much what blood sausage tastes like, only more potent, because this time you’re not just smelling it, you’re eating it. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food | 42 Comments »

Day-Tripping Through Liguria: From Genoa to Cinqueterre and Beyond

Our very own Erica Berman has just landed in Genoa for her yearly stint in Liguria, her favorite region of Italy. This still relatively untouched corner of Italy is one of our favorite spots for experiencing authentic Italian living in a gorgeous, seaside setting. Until the rest of us are able to make it there ourselves, we can live vicariously through Marisa’s gorgeous photography… -Geneviève

Sarzana details

I’ll just put it right out there: I love Liguria, and centrally situated Genoa is the perfect home base from which to delve into and savor Liguria’s many enchanting qualities and seaside cities. A maritime marvel, La Superba (the proud or the haughty, as it was once known) rivaled Venice as a powerful city-state for over 500 years. And while the splendor of its storied past as a seafaring legend is evident in the magnificent UNESCO-protected Strade Nuove and Palazzi dei Rolli, Genoa’s real charm is its present-day incarnation as a working port city.

Cinqueterre

This is a city that doesn’t bend over backwards to market itself to tourists. The result is an authentic Italian metropolis, more accustomed to the visiting Milanese than Manhattanite. As a traveler who thrives on finding and experiencing those places that aren’t (yet) teeming with fellow Americans, Genoa is a joy for me. Plus, I’m a sucker for labyrinthine medieval lanes, which Genoa has in spades. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 15 Comments »

Finding A Hairdresser in Paris: Le Living Room Nails the Bobo Look

 

I woke up early with a nervous curiosity. I was about to have my hair colored by someone new for the first time in more than five years. After living in Paris for close to a year now, I have been extremely lucky that this moment did not happen months ago. My longtime hair colorist, Aura Friedman, travels to Paris for Fashion Week with Serge Normant and had been wonderful enough to color my hair in her downtime in her hotel bathroom between shows. This season, however, she was needed in Los Angeles, so I was forced to put my hair in the hands of someone new.

There are not many people I trust more than my hair colorist. My Norwegian roots make it impossible for me to dye my hair completely black, something I have desired since I was a teenager listening to heavy metal music in my bedroom. After several years of tinkering, Aura and I found the perfect mix of dark brown and red, or what my boyfriend so lovingly calls purple, to give my hair the edgy dark appeal that I desired without making me look like I just walked off of the Twilight set. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 12 Comments »

Le Parfum: Decoding the Allure of French Scent

Blentley

I’ll never forget the first time I was “perfumed” in Paris. After spritzing and sniffing numerous scents at a parfumerie in the Marais, I settled on L’Eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake, a citrusy floral just right for warmer weather. The chic saleswoman held the tester aloft angled in my direction. “Je vous parfume, mademoiselle?” she asked, dousing me head to toe in a scented shower of Issey.

Snailsareslimy

Not since have I worn quite so much scent but will admit to feeling quite glam that afternoon as I trailed its sweet essence through the streets of Paris. It was an early lesson in the seductive power of fragrance.

That was more than ten years ago and I’ve tried many perfumes since. While I love the idea of a signature scent, I can’t seem to commit to just one. With so much wonderful choice and temptation, why settle? But whether true to one fragrance or scent schizophrenics like me, French women are united in a deep devotion to perfume.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 8 Comments »

Rino Restaurant: High-Impact Cuisine in Paris’ 11eme

Last spring, every food-following Parisian had their sights set on one restaurant: Rino. After it opened in February 2010, chef Giovanni Passerini’s cozy, modern bistro quickly became the place for innovative, market-driven fare at reasonable prices. At the time, nearly every review was favorable (if not positively glowing); a year later, we stopped in again, for lunch this time, to see whether Rino has lived up to the hype.

The restaurant is tucked away on a fairly unsexy street in the 11th, and offers clean and unfussy décor, suggesting that here, the focus has always been on the food. As soon as we entered, we noticed a team of busy line chefs, chopping and arranging dishes in a small open kitchen.


In the tradition of Le Chateaubriand, Le Chapeau Melon, and Les Papilles, Rino offers a set menu (with little-to-no choice) that changes daily based on available ingredients and the whims of the chef. Luckily, Passerini’s impressive training (he previously worked at Arpège, Le Chateaubriand, and La Gazzetta)and innovative instincts mean that culinary missteps are rare—he has an innate sense for how to make seasonal produce shine in dishes that draw on tradition but play up surprises.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 6 Comments »

May Events in Paris: Our Top Picks

May is the month to be in Paris, it seems, with events like the Saint Germain des Prés Jazz festival, Le Fooding’s Veillées Foodstock, Artist studios in Belleville and the highly anticipated Puces du Design vintage antique fair….enjoy! -Geneviève

Street art Paris – Annewil Stroo

La Bouffe

May 4 & 12: Veillées Foodstock 2012 includes two nights of all things we love: art, poetry, music, whiskey and ice cream. It may be a bit of a trip (held at the Contemporary Art Museum in Vitry-sur-Seine) but with those offerings plus the backing of Le Fooding, how could you say no? 

Now Open: Yannick Alleno of Le Meurice has opened Terroir Parisien, which boasts dishes made from ingredients from Ile de France.  An additional perk? It’s open every day, so feel free to pop in for Sunday dinner. Terroir Parisien, 24, rue rue St-Victor, 5e, 01.44.31.54.54

Now Open: Restaurateurs Juan Sanchez and Drew Harré continue to expand with their new resto Semilla, offering fresh and contemporary French dishes from an open kitchen. Note: these are the guys behind Cosi, Fish and La Dernière Goutte. Semilla, 54 rue de Seine, 6e, 01.43.54.34.50

© Antanas Sutkus

L’Art

May 19: The 8th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées – or European Museums Night – boasts more than 160 events in museums big and small, and many have free entry. You can view a list of all participating museums and their offerings here.

Through May 19: The current exhibition at the Russian Tea Room Gallery is Amours Libres, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier/Antanas Sutkus. Sutkus is a Lithuanian photographer who shot moving black and white images of the impoverished people of his country, while Charbonnier focused on everyday moments of Parisian life. 

Through June 15: On view at Fondation Dina-Vierny – Musée Maillol: Artemisia – Pouvoir, Gloire et Passions d’une femme peintre. A feminist rule-breaker in 17th century Italy, this daughter of famed painter Orazio Gentileschi harnessed her creative drive and has since been considered one of the best painters of her time.

Robert Crumb

Through August: If you’ll be in Paris with your little ones, be sure to see the Babar exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs. The show details the multiple creators of the world’s favorite pachyderm and includes games, drawings and a series of 3D animations sure to entertain.

Through June 23: The Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris celebrates its 15th anniversary with the exhibition Humour, parodie et vidéos: Créations vidéo du Japon contemporain. Images and video all centered around the theme of “laughter,” this show can’t help but put you in a good mood. 

Through August 19: The Musée d’Art Moderne is currently showing Crumb: De l’Underground à la Genèse. This show is the first French retrospective of famed American cartoonist Robert Crumb.  R. Crumb is known for his satirical portrayal of American life, but this exhibition spans his work from early underground drawings to the publication of his graphic novel The Book of Genesis. Continue Reading »

Posted in Events, Parisian Living | 4 Comments »