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The Perfect French Playlist for Springtime in Paris

Learning French with a Parisienne's favorite French music

Lisa Czarina Michaud

When I’m asked how I learned French quickly as an adult, I tend to slide the credit over to my move to Paris. However, the truth is, my first year in Paris was spent primarily speaking English with other expatriates I crossed paths with, or conversing with newly acquired French friends whose English majorly trumped my fledgling French.

While living in the city certainly expanded my vocabulary, truly improving my French took effort beyond embarrassing myself at parties and studying text books; I immersed myself into French pop culture by way of music.

I’ve compiled an edit of my favorite French songs that helped me make sense of this gorgeous language, and had me tapping my feet at the same time. I invite you to bop along with the selection, which I assure you will be a fabulous accoutrement to the burgeoning spring season.

Learning French with a Parisienne's favorite French music

Rebecca Plotnick

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Posted in Parisian Living | 4 Comments »

May Events in Paris: Villette Street Festival, Fairpride, Paris Beer Week & More

May Events, Montage La Nuit Europeene Web, Grand Palais, Mathieu Thouvenin

Nuit des Musées; Grand Palais, Mathieu Thouvenin

The second edition of the Villette Street Festival kicked off yesterday and runs until the 17th. Focusing on a variety of expressions of street culture, the two-week event features performances in music, dance, sports, and more… and don’t miss the block parties and food trucks too. To get in the mood, check out the event’s website for a festival playlist – rocking the likes of Ghostface Killah and Rejjie Snow – and their hashtag, #VSF15.

Beer, Quinn Dombrowski

Quinn Dombrowski

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Posted in Events | 2 Comments »

Édith Piaf Centennial: Tracing the Roots of La Môme in Paris

Edith Piaf Centenniel: Tracing the Roots of La Môme in Paris

PhilippeFabry

No soundtrack to Paris would be complete without at least one song by Édith Piaf, one of France’s greatest songstresses. From “Sous le ciel de Paris” to “La Vie en Rose,” her powerful voice penetrates hearts and souls. This year celebrates the centennial of the birth of “La Môme,” the ideal time to take a journey back to the roots of this immensely talented artist.

Before hitting the streets, a great place to gain insight into the life of the ubiquitous chanteuse is at the special temporary exhibition dedicated to her at the Bibliothèque nationale de France – Francois-Mitterrand. This vast retrospective, on view through August 23, includes hundreds of archival photos, letters, film clips, and music that tell the story of her life and career, shedding light onto her personality, trials, triumphs, and heartbreaks… which was not always la vie en rose.

Edith Piaf Centenniel: Tracing the Roots of La Môme in Paris

Oliver Degabriele

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Posted in Events, Parisian Living | 4 Comments »

Paris’ 20ème: The Restaurants and Bars of Belleville and Ménilmontant

A few months back, we covered the top historical, cultural, and shopping addresses dotting Paris’ unique 20ème arrondissement. Today we’re back with favorite restaurant and nightlife names, because what is a day of exploring without a delicious meal and drink to top it off? -ErinParis 20th Arrondissement: Best bars, restaurants, and cafés around Belleville and Menilmontant

rue Sorbier

The 20ème isn’t best known for its culinary scene, but in recent years gourmet restaurants like Chatomat and Roseval have moved into the neighborhood. Last May, the hip bar and bistro Triplettes opened on Boulevard de Belleville and has since established a popular nightlife and brunch scene as well. Thanks to the newly opened CREAM (run by two former Ten Belles baristas), Belleville now has its own artisan coffee shop. As its restaurant and bar scene continues to evolve, there are more and more reasons to visit the 20ème.

Paris 20th Arrondissement: Best bars, restaurants, and cafés around Belleville and Menilmontant

Paris 20th Arrondissement: Best bars, restaurants, and cafés around Belleville and Menilmontant

Boulevard de Ménilmontant

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Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 1 Comment »

CREAM Café: Craft Roasted Coffee in Paris’ Belleville Neighborhood

CREAM Café: Stop in for a craft-roasted espresso or a light lunch at Paris' own authentic coffee shop in Belleville

Climb the ascending rue de Belleville in the 20th arrondissement of Paris and you’ll find CREAM, the city’s newest address for craft roasted coffee.

CREAM Café: Stop in for a craft-roasted espresso or a light lunch at Paris' own authentic coffee shop in Belleville

On a chilly winter afternoon, the foggy windows of the shopfront hide a warm, hole-in-the-wall haven. CREAM’s simple interior- white walls, natural wood surfaces, scattered green plants – make for an uncluttered yet welcoming space.

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Posted in Coffee, Food, Restaurant Reviews | 7 Comments »

Paris’ 20ème: History, Culture, and Shopping in Belleville and Ménilmontant

20eme, Rue Denoyez Street Art

Rue Denoyez

The 20ème is one of the largest neighborhoods in Paris, covering the areas of Nation, Gambetta, Ménilmontant, and Belleville. Largely overlooked by tourists, this unique quartier is full of locals-only bars and restaurants, art galleries, theaters, charming backstreets, hidden pockets of nature, and a diverse population. As much as I love the familiar streets of the Marais and the Latin Quarter, after spending three months living here this summer, a part of me will always be called back to the 20ème. Here are a few of my favorite historic and cultural spots worth discovering.

20eme, La Bellevilloise

View from La Bellevilloise

A historically working class neighborhood, the 20ème was the center of opposition to Emperor Napoleon III during the eve of the First World War, and the very last neighborhood to surrender during the Paris Commune of 1871. Predominantly an immigrant community for the last century, nowadays young entrepreneurs, artists, and bobos flock to the area for its affordable rents, active nightlife, and thriving arts scene.

20eme, Rue Denoyez

Rue Denoyez

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Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping, Tours and Classes | 1 Comment »

La Bellevilloise: Music, Art, Food and a Huge Terrace in Paris’ Trendy Menilmontant

La Bellevilloise – Terrace (Jerome Seillier)

A typical Parisian night out can mean any number of things. Some people like the club scene, while others prefer a quiet drink along the Seine. Some can knock back shots at the bar, and others look for a cultural infusions via acoustic guitar sets or art gallery openings. To accomplish all of these things in one night would, at the very least, tax your Navigo pass as you zig zag across town. Most likely, it would drive you crazy.

However, Hip Paris readers, I recently visited a place that is so all-encompassing, so varied in its vibe, décor and mission, that you and any number of your difficult-to-please friends can enjoy yourself, no matter what you’re looking for that night — or even that moment.

Entrance to La Halle Aux Oliviers (Kygp)

La Bellevilloise is an expansive, multi-tiered space in the hills of Belleville that, with seeming ease, incorporates every type of good time to be had under one roof. It is a jack-of-all-trades, where bar meets restaurant meets dance floor meets performance space meets brunch spot. Walking into each different area of the space brings a new experience, and I was drawn from doorway to doorway in a pleasant yet mildly schizophrenic frenzy of entertainment.

Kygp

Le Forum

Entering from the street into the Forum drops you into a cavern-like club, dark and inviting. It’s like an Art Deco museum with a pulse. It’s a casual setting, and the various, mostly acoustic sets trade places up on the center stage for a packed room. Multiple floors of seating on both sides of the room allow patrons to watch the staff move with symphonic rhythm through the space, delivering tapas (the salmon wraps caught my eye more than once) and strong mojitos out from behind the imposing bar. The mood, despite the low lighting, is vibrant, cheery and unpretentious. On my last visit, I saw trenchcoats mixing with Nikes and flannels and fitted caps bumping hips with mom jeans…

 

La Terrasse (Jason Whittaker)

La Terrassee

After the cavernous Forum, emerging onto the Terrace, with its relaxed atmosphere among the Belleville rooftops, is a breath of fresh air. Gorgeous evening light is the setting for another bar, a partially covered deck, abundant greenery and wheelbarrow tables. Reminiscent of a Brooklyn beer garden, this space offers a reprieve from the energy and intensity of the other rooms. The rumblings of upright bass from the Forum are just a whisper out here. Everything about this cozy balcony says: take your time, have a drink. So I did. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Food, Restaurant Reviews | 3 Comments »

24 Hours Paris: Marsha Moore’s Alternative New Guide Book

Little Brown Pen Montorgueil Paris CobblestonesLittle Brown Pen – Rue Montorgueil

When Marsha Moore contacted me in April about her upcoming Paris guide book 24 Hours Paris, (note: To order 24 Hours Paris, click here), I was interested, but too busy to delve into it at the time. Little did I know, the timing could not have been more propitious. Not easily impressed by most travel guides, I had low expectations for 24 hours London, which I had on hand (thanks to Marsha’s generosity) for my first trip there in 8 years. Nevertheless I was rapidly wooed as Marsha successfully and succinctly helped me explore London’s cool, hip, lesser known areas and sites.

Paris, mind you, is another cup of tea (or should I say café au lait). My 17+ years here have me well acquainted with what the city has to offer, but I am always on the lookout for new things to do. Marsha’s 24 hours Paris truly digs into the depths of the city and unearths things that many a long term resident have yet to discover. Marsha even managed, along with mentioning many of my favorite Paris restaurants, shops, spots and events, to provide me with some new ideas and inspirations!

Encouraged and intrigued, I decided to interview Marsha to find out more about the woman behind the guides, the origins of her innovative concept and where she is planning on taking it all next!

Paris Guide 24hrs Marsha Moore View SunsetMarsha Moore

Q: Why did you decide you wanted to write guide books?

When I first moved to London from Canada six years ago, there was so much to do here that it was a bit overwhelming. I’d read all the guide books and think: where should I start? So, along with Prospera Publishing, we started to think about a new kind of guide, a guide that would provide a kind of ready-made itinerary for activities around the clock – where you would only need to turn to the hour you were free, and just take your pick! That’s how the concept for the 24 Hours series began. We decided to start off with London since it’s where we were based, then move on to Paris since it’s such a popular tourist destination. We’ve had a great response so far!

Q: How would you say your guide sets itself apart from other more conventional city guides?

Traditional travel guides group their content by activity – shopping, drinking, etc. The 24 Hours series groups its content by time. It’s particularly useful during the nighttime hours, if you’re looking for something to do at 4 a.m., for example. Instead of flipping through a whole book to find a restaurant that’s open all night, you can quickly scan the 4 a.m. chapter. Also, we include lots of off-the-beaten-track activities for both locals and tourists – like anti-drawing classes or midnight movies – to help explorers take advantage of everything a city has to offer!

Promenade planteeLisa Weatherbee – Promenade Plantée

Q: What are your favorite things to do and see in Paris ?

I love the Promenade Plantée. It’s such a unique feeling – walking through trees and plants, even though you’re surrounded by buildings in the heart of the metropolis. The Bastille Artists’ Market is also one of my favorites, because I really like that you can talk to the artists directly and get some insight into their creative process. And as a writer, the Georges Brassens Market, where over 60 booksellers gather on the weekend, is paradise! If I can sneak one more in, the cruise on Canal St-Martin is also a great way to explore some of the more hidden parts of Paris. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 5 Comments »

Marcus McAllister – Sunday Tea and Hip Artwork in Belleville

Marcus-Mon-2All photos Erica Berman  (Marcus’s flat, his courtyard and his stairwell)

On a recent Paris Sunday, Heather Stimmler Hall of Secrets in Paris invited me to meet her for an afternoon tea at artist Marcus McAllister’s painting studio, in the semi-underground and very interesting neighborhood of Goncourt. Meeting new people is always cool — but if artwork is involved, it’s even cooler. Goncourt is a hip, little, off-the-beaten-track quartier of the 10th, not far from the trendy Canal St martin, the up-and-coming St Marthe area and the Asian restaurants, outdoor markets and exotic supermarkets of Belleville.

MarcusMcAllisterEBB2

I was met at the door by a smiling, American Marcus covered in paint with his cute doggy Grover at his heels. Marcus, an American from Arkansas, has been in Paris for 14 years and living in this sunny 1st floor studio for 11 of those. Marcus has been hosting Sunday afternoon tea and talks for 8 years now. Having crowds of strangers chez lui has become second nature and a tradition he enjoys immensely. Continue Reading »

Posted in Arts, Events, Parisian Living | 8 Comments »

Top Six Non-French Food Obsessions in Paris

MB-falafelMaggie Battista – Falafel

France is the land where food dreams come true—all HiP readers know that by now. But for those of us lucky enough to spend extended periods in Paris, there comes a moment (astonishing as it may sound) when both the body and the palette reach butter overload, and the arteries cry out to be spared the cheese course… please, just this once.

On these occasions, Paris provides a wealth of non-French food options that—if you’re not careful—can easily become addictions in and of themselves. Last time I left New York for Paris, a friend sent me off with explicit instructions to eat a fallafel for him. And when I got sick during the same trip, I secretly loved turning my attention to spicy Asian soups for the better part of a week.

So next time your taste buds start craving variety (or your children balk at the sight of escargots), consider venturing into new culinary territory. Don’t worry; it’s not gastronomic sacrilege—unless you go to McDonald’s.

Here are our top six non-French food obsessions in Paris:

1. Falafel. The Marais’ Rue des Rosiers is famous for its warring falafel purveyors. L’As du Falafel (34, rue des Rosiers, 3eme. Métro: St. Paul) has long reigned supreme, perhaps due to the attention it has gotten from the New York Times, but the place directly across from it is not too shabby, and there a number of nearby spots worth sampling as well. The jury’s still out on this one.

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Posted in Food | 8 Comments »