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Paris Picnic Etiquette: the Dos and Don’ts of Dining Al Fresco

Parc des Buttes Chaumont (Celine NYC)

If you’re in Paris in summer, you’ll pretty quickly realize that as soon as the sun starts to glimmer, Parisians grind into picnic gear. However, despite informal appearances, there is a complex and unspoken code of conduct to be adhered to in order to avoid unforgivable picnic faux pas.

Do dress appropriately.

It is important to give the air of not trying very hard. For girls: a categorical ‘no’ to heels and look-at-me makeup.  For guys: forget smart suits or bling sportswear, it’s all about skinny jeans and scarves. Subtle colour and pattern coordination are à la mode. Hats highly recommended.

Gail Tang

Do arrive late.

It is useless to turn up anywhere near the appointed picnic hour. It is best to saunter up several hours in, give a slightly (don’t overdo it) apologetic smile, whilst simultaneously giving the impression that your diary is over-spilling with très fun engagements and that the organiser should therefore be delighted that you’ve managed to squeeze them in.


Do invite lots of friends.

The concept of ‘the more the merrier’ is de rigueur. Whereas the biting winter winds keep Parisians at home or drives them (penguin-style) into crowded, sweaty bars, the warm summer weather democratizes social gatherings, which are known to take on gigantesque proportions!

Do not buy ready-made sandwiches.

It is unacceptable to pop to the supermarket and pick up a long-life cellophane-encased creation that deigns to call itself a ‘sandwich’. A fresh baguette, some cheese and charcuterie are the bare minimum. Continue Reading »

Posted in Green, Parisian Living | 17 Comments »

Kid-Friendly Paris: Le Jardin du Luxembourg

Little Girl in Paris’ Luxembourg Gardens (Ktylerconk)

I’ve always thought of Paris as the ultimate adult playground. But Paris for the under-four-foot set? I wasn’t so sure.

That’s why discovering kid-friendly Paris (yes, it exists!) has been such a happy surprise. When the kids tire of museums and medieval churches (dubiously labeled “kid-friendly” by many a travel guide) put the Luxemburg Gardens on your family game plan. Even if much of the grass is interdit, there’s more than enough here to tire out your little travelers leaving papa et maman to enjoy an evening à deux.


Continue Reading »

Posted in Green, Parisian Living | 7 Comments »

My Green Getaway: Eco Friendly Vacation in Bio-Friendly Brittany

Eco House Tremeoc Brittany

Summer is here and the crowds are starting to flee Paris for the coast. As I tend to do things in reverse and will be staying in Paris this July to enjoy all of the amazing summer festivals and events, I hit Brittany for a two-week jaunt in May, just before the summer throngs descended upon its lovely shores.

Canal Nantes – Brest

After searching long and hard, mere days before our departure, for last minute lodging that would be not only earth-friendly and green, but appealing and available, I stumbled upon two different eco-homes in Brittany that were, amazingly, available for our dates. Note to self: Planning in advance can be helpful, but if you are willing to chance it, great places that are still available are often ready to discount in the spring. Plus the weather is fabulous and the beaches are empty!

Ground House – Mellionec, Brittany

Our first week was spent in the Ground House , located in the center of Brittany’s rolling green farmland in the town of Mellionnec, one hour from the ocean. This completely self-sustaining eco home, built into the earth on one side and full of huge windows overlooking the garden on the other, was just the thing we were looking for. Built by its English owners and featured on the famous UK show ‘Grand Designs, this passive solar house was built with salvaged materials and features an organic garden, a compost heap, dry/composting toilets, and solar heated rainwater for hot water.

Canal Nantes Brest / Farm Centre Bretagne

Not well known, the center of Brittany (Centre Bretagne) offers an abundance of hiking, walking and biking options. Additionally, we were pleased to discover that the area immediately surrounding the Ground House is a serious haven for bio (the French word for organic) fans, with an organic grocery store, a couple of organic restaurants, local artisans, organic shops, and markets where local farmers sell their produce, meat and dairy directly. Continue Reading »

Posted in Green, Homes, Travel | 7 Comments »

An Original Farm-to-Table Spot: Cooking Classes on a French Farm

France Culinary Retreat Camont CharcuterieKitchen at Camont – Tim Clinch

While I love the pace of a vibrant city like Paris, I’m a New England girl at heart. As such, there’s nothing like a big green vista or a vast ocean to make me feel at home.

On my latest trip abroad – which started off with a bang last week at the lovely Chateau de Raissac (more to come on that later) – I’m scheming up several more excursions beyond the fairest city to see the landscapes of Normandy and explore the farms and vineyards of Provence. While bopping across the country, I’m hoping to make a short jaunt to visit a new virtual friend, Kate. We met on Twitter, but I already feel like we’re best friends.

Culinary Retreat France Camont RadishesKitchen at Camont – Tim Clinch

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Green, Tours and Classes, Travel | 9 Comments »

Go Organic in Paris

Guest Blogger, Laura, from the super cool blog My Mélange has shared her favorite organic hotspots in the city of lights. With more and more need to pay attention to the environment, we thank My Mélange for sharing these wonderful organic markets, restaurants and shops for us to explore. Let us know your Paris organic favorites to add to the list. Thanks!

Erica salad in MontmartreErica Berman

These days it’s all about going green, natural, organic, or anything else that is friendly to the environment (and to our bodies).  When you’re home, it’s easy to support local farms through farmers’ markets or buy organic goods from the supermarket, but traveling internationally could pose a threat to your health-conscious lifestyle and eating habits…unless you know where to go to find organic products and eco-friendly services.

In 2009, with the help of President Nicholas Sarkozy, Paris became proactive in supporting organic agriculture.   The government cut subsidies given to large farms and redirected the financial aid to smaller organic and family owned farms.  Paris has been the center of these organic or biologique (or bio) changes and boasts a number of successful organic and natural supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants, wine shops, and even hotels.

Little Brown Pen  GreenLittle Brown Pen

For those of you lucky enough to rent an apartment and enjoy an extended stay in The City of Light, grocery shopping is a must. Biocoop and Naturalia are two organic supermarkets in the Paris region.  Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Green, Parisian Living | 8 Comments »

Lounge Here Now: Best Places to Loiter in Paris

from pont des artsView from Pont des Arts – Erica Berman

It seems somewhat unnecessary to write a post of this nature, given that any part of Paris could be considered an ideal place to loiter. A blind-folded novice could be dropped in any corner of this city and, after a few minutes of wandering, would have no trouble finding a scenic spot in which to spend a few hours. There are almost too many places to park oneself for a morning or afternoon (or, hey, a whole day), which is why I’ve come up with a list of a few standouts that I return to again and again.

Note: I’m assuming that the city’s big gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg, the Tuileries, Bois de Boulogne, and the Bois de Vincennes) are givens. You can’t go wrong at any of them, but as a semi-pro loiterer, I prefer to venture off the beaten path.

Chilled-out loiteringCanal St. Martin. Paris’ low-key canal stretches from Place de la République all the way towards the northern border of the city. People from all walks of life—hipsters, families, total weirdos—hang out along the Canal’s cobbled banks, picnicking and reveling until the wee hours of the night.

Canal St Martin EBBCanal St Martin – Erica Berman

Continue Reading »

Posted in Green, Parisian Living | 7 Comments »

Designer Milk & Foie Gras Sandwiches at Paris’ Agricultural Fair

BP-Salon-Agriculture-3-030310Erica Berman

Ah, life in Paris. One day, the city is invaded by the cat-walking, champagne-sipping Jet Set; and the next, it is overrun with guys dressed up as life-sized vegetables (literally). Yes, the Salon International de l’Agriculture is here, and eco-friendly agriculturists and the gourmands who love them are in town to partake in the year’s biggest agricultural extravaganza. In thinking about it, this week strikes quite a nice equilibrium for those of us who can appreciate both a killer stiletto and a tub of artisanal foie gras. After all, isn’t balance what life is all about? Continue Reading »

Posted in Events, Green | 1 Comment »

Ho Ho Ho! Organic Holiday Shopping in Paris, Dec. 11-13

Looking to “green” your holiday shopping list? Guest blogger Emma Haberman shares some insight about this weekend’s “Noel en Bio” holiday fair, December 11-13 in the Marais.

noel en bio

Text by Emma Haberman

Once upon a time, recycling presents meant re-gifting those unwanted tube socks that weren’t on your wish list. No longer! This year in Paris, Christmas will be greener than ever, thanks to the Noël en Bio holiday fair. The highly anticipated exposition will take place in the Marais this weekend, just in time for holiday shopping (and coinciding with the much-discussed Copenhagen Climate Conference). Continue Reading »

Posted in Green, Shopping | No Comments »

David Lebovitz on Community Supported Agriculture in Paris

David Lebovitz, one of our favorite food bloggers, has written a great account of the “Community Supported Agriculture” (CSA) scene in Paris…

tomato platePhoto: David Lebovitz

Text by David Lebovitz

About a year ago, I was having supper in a friend’s apartment and everything we ate was simple, and tasted really good. He’d lived on a farm near Toulouse for many years, where he worked for one of France’s agricultural organizations. Now he lives in Paris and I was surprised when he told me that the onions we were eating on the tart he’d made were from a panier, or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Green | No Comments »

Slow Food – Euro Gusto 09 in the Loire Valley, Nov 27-30


Despite its name, the Slow Food movement is gaining momentum, and the new Euro Gusto event is proof that the Slow philosophy—“good, clean and fair”—is here to stay. Euro Gusto, which will take place from November 27-30 in the Loire Valley in the city of Tours, France, will bring together hundreds of artisanal food producers, chefs, students, journalists, families and foodies from all over Europe to celebrate the continent’s culinary traditions and contemporary flavors. If all goes well, Euro Gusto will be repeated every two years to bring the community together, to explore traditions and trends in food, and to feed the Slow Food movement.

old guysOld school French guys. Photo: Getty Images

The event will include:

  • French and European food markets featuring artisanal products from hundreds of producers who abide by the basic Slow Food principles
  • The Slow Food Sentinels Market that features rare food products that are currently threatened by extinction (although not if the Slow Food community has anything to say about it)
  • Taste Education Workshops where visitors can sample products and learn about production methods
  • Oenothèque Wine Bar where visitors can taste hundreds of different European wines by the glass
  • Children’s Discovery Area that will host events for children to explore the fun of food and learn about the tenets of Slow Food

The event will take place in Tours’ Exposition Park from November 27-30, from 10am-10pm everyday (except November 30, when the event closes at 6pm). Entry into the event is 5€ (but free for those under 16, students, and members of Slow Food).

For more information or for details about attending the event, click here.

Tours is just a short day or weekend trip from Paris! For information on how to get there, click here.

Euro Gusto 2009. 153 avenue de Grammont, 37000, Tours, France. Tel. +33 (0)2 47 64 24 38. Contact: [email protected]

Slow Food Movement

slow food logoAll Photos courtesy of Slow Food

Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Posted in Events, Green | No Comments »