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Coffee Culture Revolution in Paris: The Black Market

On a recent Culturefish “Must Do” walking tour around the center of Paris, our guide Pierre enthusiastically described a major turning point of Parisian culture. During the Age of Enlightenment, the city was a hotbed of thinkers and politicians who were getting hyped up on a new drug being served around town: coffee!

The famous Café Procope, Paris’ first café, was serving this new, caffeinated beverage to the likes of Voltaire – rumored to have consumed 40 cups of coffee a day – among a star-studded cast of other enlightened historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, Rousseau, Diderot, and Robespierre. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 9 Comments »

Melissa Unger of Seymour Finds Inspiration in Paris’ Creative Soul

Melissa Unger, the fabulous American expat behind Seymour, the thought-provoking creative initiative, is one of our very favorite Parisians. Amy Thomas sat down with Melissa to chat about Paris, creativity, and why so many artists gravitate to the city of light. If you’re in Paris this week, be sure to stop by her Mindsurf event at the Galerie Christian Berst on Wednesday. More info here. -Genevieve

littlek_stopbythecorner

There’s the love for words and ideas. The unapologetic devotion to sensuality. And, of course, the majestic architecture and light. But still, the question remains: what is it about Paris that beckons creative types? Melissa Unger, attuned to the city’s soul, enmeshed with its artists, and driving more and more of its creative energy through her initiative, Seymour, shares her thoughts.

Melissa Unger

Why is Paris a beacon for so many artists, writers, musicians and other creative types?
There are so many possible answers to this question but I’d say it’s largely because Paris is one of the few major metropolitan centers that provides a much needed respite from the “race.” It’s a place to catch one’s breath long enough to properly look outward (and inward), interpret and express. In a world where doing and achieving seem to have overtaken all else, Paris remains a city devoted to ideas, discussion and the pleasures linked to the senses, rather than to material things. “Philosopher” is still a recognized and accepted job description here. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 2 Comments »

Delicate Asian Flavors Delight Diners at Yam’Tcha Restaurant in Paris

This was my second visit to Yam’Tcha, my follow-up reservation having been made on the spot after my first dinner. So my expectations were high for my return. Happily, it did not disappoint.

Yam’Tcha occupies a spot on a sweet little street in the 1st arrondissement – a street you might amble down if you like getting lost in Paris’ picturesque older streets, but one that most locals and tourists strolling down the busier Rue Faubourg St Honore would probably pass without seeing. Continue Reading »

Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 5 Comments »

Do or Dinde: A Very French Thanksgiving in Paris

Sofie Dittmann & Back to the Cutting Board

This summer, I was rudely awakened by a girl on the Paris Metro wearing American flag knee-highs and a stars & stripes bandana. My stomach turned; I knew something was terribly wrong. I had completely forgotten it was the 4th of July.

ccholordog

When the leaves start to fall in Paris, my heart turns to the U.S.. Although Pere Noel is already camping out on the shelves of the supermarche, this time of year always makes me miss the States a little bit more. After completely forgetting our most patriotic of American holidays, I promised myself to make a concerted effort to maintain my own personal traditions despite the preoccupations of my new life in France. Thanksgiving appeared as the perfect cultural bridge between my two homes.

Jessie Kanelos

I have been itching to push all of our tables together and host a Thanksgiving dinner of my own. Although a party of two is just fine for Christmas, Thanksgiving requires a big bird and a full house. Rattling off my guest list to my French husband, I realized that after several years of long-distance dating, we have never spent a real Thanksgiving together. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 6 Comments »

Becoming French 101: How to Live and Work in France

Making Magique & Janellie

During my recent visit to the U.S., my sister told everyone that I live in Paris just to marvel at their reactions.

“Just stick a dagger in my heart, why don’t you,” came the response from a cosmetics salesman. “I’d give anything to live in Paris…” It garnered me bonus points in San Francisco’s chic boutiques and even scored us a table at an impossible-to-book restaurant. “My sister’s just in from Paris… hoping you might have something for us at eight?” Pas de problème.

bestarns

Every expat who lives here knows the feeling. Why? Because Paris is the culmination of our romantic dreams, the city upon which we project our fantasies of a life well lived. We’re the lucky ones who’ve somehow pulled it off. But how?

Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 29 Comments »

A French Country Home Dream: Buying near Bordeaux, France

The Dordogne river (Doni Belau)

I’m often asked why we bought the house (in France) that we did, in this tiny town whose name we can barely pronounce and that’s even harder to find on a map. What about your first love, Paris? People ask.

Mordac

Well, I was fortunate enough to have a deliciously beautiful apartment in Paris for six years from which one could hear the bells of St. Sulpice. We eventually had to sell it because the value had gone up considerably and we used what we made to help pay for our children’s college educations.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Homes, Travel | 7 Comments »

Popelini Challenges Macarons As Paris’ Favorite Bite-Size Treat

Carin Olsson

Popelini is a little slice of heaven that specializes in something oh so precious…. choux à la crème. I had passed their adorably lit storefronts many a time, thinking to myself, gosh, I’ve got to check this place out… I finally popped in to give their cream puffs a taste recently, and I was not disappointed.

Meg Gagnard

Popelini is the name of the chef who invented choux à la crème in 1540. Surprisingly enough, he was Italian. Who would have known that this delightful French specialty was conceived in Italy? This cream puff shop, now in two locations in Paris, offers a new spin on the classic pâtisserie, with a variety of flavors made to satisfy all taste buds: from rose & raspberry to lemon, chocolate, and the divine caramel salted butter. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food | 16 Comments »

Favorite Paris Spots: The Magic of Deyrolle’s Parisian Taxidermy

In the town where I grew up, there was a small, mostly underwhelming children’s science museum. The best part of it by far was its taxidermy Bengal tiger, which was positioned—perhaps strategically—just around a sharp turn in a hallway.

If you turned the corner unaware, it would inevitably scare the bejeezus out of you. And even if you knew it was there (as I did), rounding that corner was still a heart-pounding, adrenal experience. What if the tiger is alive this time? Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 9 Comments »

Tifamade’s Secrets: Homemade Sandwiches, Bike-Delivered in Paris

As an aspiring food writer and someone who puts peanut butter on everything, I often question my relevance in a country of haute gastronomie. But much like Tiffany Iung, I eventually found my niche, retelling traditional culinary tales as an outsider looking in.

Tiffany, the brains and bicycle behind Tifamade, Paris’ best sandwich vendor on two wheels, has been sharing her inspired sandwiches with Parisians since 2010. She can be spotted catering events throughout the city and peddling her handmade sandwiches from a vintage suitcase strapped to the back of Pink Lady, her pink bicycle. Using seasonal ingredients sourced from farmers markets and eco packaging, Tiffany has given the ubiquitous jambon beurre some fierce competition. But what is it about the humble sandwich that has Tiffany so impassioned? “A sandwich is not fussy. You hold it with your hands, and all of the flavors are experienced at once, so there isn’t too much thought about it. It’s just meant to taste good, and I think it gets the job done.” That’s good enough for us!

Not only do Tiffany’s 2-wheeled adventures inspire her sandwich creations, they led to the initial business idea too. “I was living in the banlieue, the Parisian suburbs, at the time and was riding my bike along the canal everyday into the city center. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food | 1 Comment »

French Beauty Tips: 12 French Pharmacy Items We Can’t Do Without

Making Magique

Having grown up on CVS and Walgreens, the French pharmacy was a revelation to me. Anyone who has ever been lured by the glowing green cross knows that pharmacies in France shill more than medicine and bath staples. They’re cosmetic wonderlands that offer some of the most ingenious—not to mention luxurious—products around.

Making Magique

For a long time, a trip to France meant loading up on these goods and then painstakingly rationing them in between visits, but of late, they’ve begun to invade new markets. In New York, at least, you can now find brands like La Roche-Posay, Vichy, Klorane and Avène right in Duane Reade. Duane Reade! Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 12 Comments »