August 20, 2014
In France, cinema is the 7th art, as important as painting or literature, and like museums or libraries, movie houses play a key role in local culture. Netflix has not yet come up the Seine, and according to the Office de Tourisme there are 84 theaters in Paris with well over 350 screens. Going to the movies is an important activity for Parisians who often spend their Monday mornings discussing the films they took in over the weekend. There are remarkable theaters across the city, but the movie houses below offer audiences more than just a film.
Le Louxor is an opulent 1920s architectural gem studded with Neo-Egyptian motifs and gilded mosaics. Recently renovated, the cinema screens modern blockbusters, but also houses an art gallery space and a stylish Art Deco bar with a view of Sacre Coeur. Once a month they feature the Université Populaire, a screening of a movie that has been chosen by a local celebrity who leads a discussion following the screening.
August 18, 2014
Craft beer is slowly but surely making its way into the Parisian palate. This May, Paris Beer Week inundated the city’s craft beer bars with brews familiar and unknown, leading local beer geeks to rejoice and even converting a few skeptics.
You can take the party home now, thanks to a growing number of craft beer stores popping up across the city. Check in with them regularly; they all host regular tastings and brewer nights.
August 13, 2014
The good King Dagobert would hunt bear and wild boar through the forest that is now the 2000-acre Bois de Boulogne on the western edge of Paris. That was over 1000 years ago. Today the air is filled with laughter instead of hunting arrows, but the woods are still alive with adventure and excitement, thanks to Napoleon III who returned from exile in London full of ideas for English gardens in Paris. He commissioned his city planner, the Baron Haussmann, to create more green space near Paris’ rapidly expanding west end, insisting on a stream with lakes like his cherished Hyde Park.
He insisted on the water elements to provide a bit of fresh air. Today they serve as an idyllic spot for a peaceful afternoon watching swans glide by, rowing boats, or dining at the remote, romantic Chalet des Iles, an island accessible only by boat.
The Bois offers a range of dining options, from fast food at one of the numerous snack stands, to the two palaces of haute cuisine: the Michelin-starred La Grande Cascade and the Relais & Chateau Le Pré-Catelan. For people with more moderate tastes but also an appreciation for good food, there are additional options available at many of the attractions, as well as the quaintly rustic l’Auberge du Bonheur.
August 11, 2014
Parisians who can’t flock to the seaside during the summer months are still drawn to their closest water sources, as evidenced by the ever-growing popularity of Les Berges on the Seine. However, this craving to enjoy the hotter months waterside goes back much further than Les Berges, or even the 12-year old Paris Plages. These initiatives are, in essence, revivals of the great era of Les Guinguettes, and once again Parisians can’t seem to get enough.
In its purest form, a guinguette is an establishment located by the water that serves up simple food and ample drinks (traditionally white “guinguet” wine, which led to the name guinguette), accompanied by lively music, and thus dancing. What’s not to love?
August 8, 2014
Paris Plages/Pause Cafe, Isabel Miller-Bottome
For those who cherish the peaceful atmosphere resulting from the mass exodus of holiday-goers, August is Paris’ most prized month. In the past, I haven’t always embraced this sentiment, mainly because I love the charge of the city. I adore the hustle and bustle of the busy streets; the fashionable Parisians strutting down the sidewalk, chatting over a glass of wine or coffee on café terrasses, and shopping in the stylish boutiques. However, perhaps these August-lovers have it right? Here are 10 reasons to convince any reluctant critics (myself once included) why August is the best month to be in Paris:
Jardin de Reuilly/Place des Vosges, Isabel Miller-Bottome
1. There’s so much going on for free
Free movies, free concerts, free exercise lessons, free…! Your social calendar will be packed with the outdoor cinema screenings at la Villette or the Clair de Lune festival, pétanque or dancing at the Canal de l’Ourcq, running on Les Berges, and more. It might just be the best month to be in Paris on a budget, and since the weather tends to be nice you can save on dining costs by picnicking.
Le Lucernaire, Briag Courteaux
2. You can actually get a table en terrasse
I noticed the other day when scoping out the cafés on rue Montorgueil at the peak of lunch hour that there were a surprisingly large number of tables available. And same luck at apéro; we had our pick of the usually highly coveted tables. Next I plan to try some of the notoriously tough-to-get-into venues like le Perchoir; perhaps we’ll have repeat good fortune.
August 1, 2014
The most famous tower in Paris is certainly the Eiffel Tower. Beautiful as it may be, the masses of visitors in the summer are overwhelming. Luckily, the city is dotted with an array of intriguing towers, showcased in this little stroll traversing the historic core of Paris.
Start with the Tour Jean-sans-Peur. Finished in 1411, it’s the last remaining structure of the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, which extended over the neighboring streets. At 21 meters (69 ft) high, it’s also the tallest medieval civic structure in Paris. You can gaze up at any time of day or climb to the top during the summer, Wed-Sun from 1:30pm - 6pm.
Leaving the tower, make your way to lively rue Montorgueil, lined with excellent food shops and cafes. If the weather is nice, opt for some frozen yogurt at the new branch of Chacun Ses Gouts. Here you can make your own frozen yogurt “sundaes,” composed of weekly changing flavors and toppings of fresh fruit, nuts, candy, and more. Devour yours around the corner, lounging in the newly revamped Les Halles Gardens. Here you can also take in the unfinished towers of the Saint Eustache, one of the largest churches in the city.
July 30, 2014
When Benjamin Franklin came to Paris as US ambassador, he moved into the charming village of Passy, where genteel manor homes filled the bucolic countryside in what is now the 16th arrondissement. The Passy neighborhood still has that easy village feel, shady streets leading the way for relaxed, affluent Parisians out running their daily errands. It is far from the tourist crowds, yet very much in the heart of the city, the Eiffel Tower never far from sight.
The 16th is known for its wide tree lined boulevards with bourgeois apartment buildings, the epitome of Baron Haussmann’s 19th century urban planning. This is an arrondissement made for leisurely strolls and easy access, full of excellent museums, remarkable food, and stupendous views with the extraordinary 2000-acre Bois de Boulogne park just steps away.
July 28, 2014
La Seine, meg hourihan
Falling in love with romance-infused Paris – the grandiose Haussmannian architecture, the Marais’ winding streets, and the city’s bistro scene – is easy. But if you’re not born here, living in Paris is another story. It’s a whole other lifestyle, a mentality. And although it is hard not to love Paris for its compelling beauty alone, not everyone takes to Parisian life like a duck to water. While most will relish in its temptations, others will see its grayer side. The very visible problem of homelessness, the significantly different humor, the mentality…even the party chitchat is different. The grimy metro, overflowing museums, and the onslaught of hipsters all take some getting used to as well. Paris may not be very far away from London, my hometown, but when I moved here, everything seemed far removed from what I knew. The unashamed indulgence in pleasure, the variety and standard of the food, the slower pace of life, the abundance of cultural activities, and the city’s manageable size are features I had a hard time finding elsewhere.
Drburtoni/ Roseval, Didier Gauchucheau
And then one day, I woke up Parisian. In other words, living a dichotomy of loving and hating the city, yelling at people for inconsiderate behavior on public transport, eating out most days, and when the sun shines, running to the nearest grassy spot no matter how crowded are now commonplace.
July 25, 2014
The summer is one of the best times to go out and explore the city in all its splendor. Unfortunately, some of the city’s best places for strolling often happen to be packed with Parisians and tourists alike. Here is a specific stroll to enjoy les beaux jours d’été without the crowds… And with some delicious delicacies to keep you fueled along the way!
There are lots of excellent food shops and markets in Paris, in addition to gorgeous parks. This stroll is perfect for the warmer months because it bypasses the summer closure of many of those great gastronomic shops, while evading the larger crowds camped out in the famous green spaces around the city. You’ll also work off any of the surplus calories along the way, or at least some of them. This walk through the 12th arrondissement is ideal for a picnic lunch or, if done in reverse, finishing the day with a glass of wine around the market.
July 21, 2014
You’re in Paris. The sun is out, a cool breeze is blowing, café terraces and park lawns are full of sunbathing Parisians. The city is waiting to be explored, and you got up early enough that the day seems endless. Today is the perfect day to ride a bicycle.
Riding a bike in Paris can in fact be glorious, but if you want to cycle in this city, get ready to do some work.
Despite all the romantic pictures you’ve seen of ladies in flowing skirts with flowers and baguettes in their quaint bike baskets, cycling in Paris isn’t always beautiful. It’s often fast, dirty and sometimes a bit harrowing. But it’s also rewarding. Because when the sunlight hits the buildings just right and you get into the flow of navigating a tight Parisian street on two wheels, life feels really good.