March 20, 2015
Spring is blossoming in Paris as sprigs of green sneak into our grey city, bringing us back to life after months spent under winter skies. As an opening act to the Lily of the Valley vendors in May, bunches of daffodils are now being hawked on street corners, in front of cafés and bistros, and in flower shops across the city. The cheerful flowers are the first sign of the transition towards spring for Parisians, who can’t help but bring a bunch home to brighten up their cozy apartments.
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Posted in Food, Markets, Parisian Living | 3 Comments »
December 22, 2014
Rife with hip cafés, the web of streets surrounding the Canal St. Martin are a hipster haven, boasting savvy coffee and lunch options to locals and visitors alike. Café Le Poutch may be new to the scene, but it’s already made 13, rue Lucien Sampaix its own.
Butternut squash quiche, savory muffins, or riz au lait with orange zest are just a glimpse of the culinary fare. Offering a rotating, seasonal menu and a commitment to serving up innovative recipes and vegetarian options, Le Poutch is sure to surprise you with something new.
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Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 1 Comment »
November 14, 2014
Opened in June of 2012, Inaro, a cosy restaurant specializing in apéro dinatoire style dining, has recently made itself more available to neighbors and lovers of all things local. Starting this month, the space is open in the afternoon, providing French-origin lunch options with a menu that is entirely locally sourced. Organic bread and artisanal ingredients are available for take away or to enjoy sur place in the comfortable dining space, which is lined with wood brought from Brittany and constructed by owner Johan Bonnet’s carpenter uncle.
At Inaro, the constantly changing seasonal menu is accompanied by a wine list that favors organic and sustainably produced wines. Working with small, independent producers is at the heart of the restaurant’s philosophy (despite the fact that Nespresso managed to secure a place at the espresso machine, a familiar elephant in the room for dining establishments in Paris) and the perfect-for-sharing menu makes this a great spot for a quick drink or a laid-back dinner.
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Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments »
September 3, 2014
When I spent a semester abroad in London in college, I desperately missed Mexican food. I remember asking a local if you could get it anywhere in the city. He replied “You mean like Doritos?” Obviously Mexican food was a long ways from catching on. Even though that was over 10 years ago, when I moved to Paris this year I came fully prepared to pine away for chunky guacamole flavored with lime and cilantro, tender pulled pork tacos and mouth-prickling margaritas. To my delight, and surprise, I’ve been able to find all this and more.
There is a delicious and thriving Mexican food scene currently in Paris. While Parisians have been aware of so-called Tex-Mex for a while, the current crop of restaurants are serving more authentic Mexican-style street food and many are owned by people from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Mil Amores Tortilleria, owned by a woman from Cancun and two partners, makes fresh corn tortillas daily and supplies many of the city’s best Mexican restaurants. You can even buy black beans at Bio c’bon. So the next time you get a hankering for carne asada or citrusy ceviche, don’t despair; try one of these restaurants.
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Posted in Food | 4 Comments »
July 28, 2014
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.
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. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 8 Comments »
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.
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Posted in Parisian Living | 3 Comments »
December 13, 2012
Gluten Free French Eclairs – Helmut Newcake
Sans-gluten or gluten-free has not always been the easiest menu requirement to accommodate in Paris. As gluten intolerance gains visibility in everyday culture, it’s no surprise that gluten-free options are popping up all over, even here in Paris, the land of pastries.
The first of the two spots I’d like to share with you is Helmut Newcake. Helmut Newcake is Paris’s first 100% gluten-free pastry shop, located on the, ever so lovely, Rue Bichat right by the hip Canal Saint Martin. This cozy and relaxed tea parlor has more than just pastries; you can go for lunch, brunch, afternoon tea, or just to grab some food to go. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 11 Comments »
October 4, 2011
Parisian shops devoted entirely to a single specialty (like olive oil, honey, or communist literature) are considered obvious fixtures in an urban landscape where commercial efficiency is, if anything, an afterthought. So, when my roommate Winnie showed me a place on our street specializing in piñatas, of all things, my only thought was, “Of course. Naturally.” It was, incidentally, just across the street from our radical left-wing bookstore.
Winnie, a journalist, was covering the shop in a story with an unusual social twist. The piñatas, it turns out, are made by prisoners.
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Posted in Arts, Design, Events, Shopping | 10 Comments »
July 23, 2010
Picnic season is in full swing in Paris, and because nearly everything (eating included) is better when done outdoors, now is the time to take advantage of the city’s myriad picnic spots. While lunch in Paris is often a serious sit-down affair, summer loosens people up, and you’ll notice everyone from schoolchildren to businessmen grabbing a sandwich and a spot on the nearest bench to mellow out for a bit.
And while benches and sandwiches are great, pro picnickers prefer to take it to the next level. We want real grass to sit on (I’ll make exceptions for the right cobblestones), hours to waste, an assortment of delicious things to sample, and lots of friends to come and go as they please. Oh, and lots of wine.
Many of my more memorable afternoons and evenings in Paris seem to have involved those elements. They often began somewhat spontaneously, and then suddenly, five hours had passed and we’d discussed everything from the latest exhibit at the Pompidou to the rise of bionic cats (my friends are a little weird). But this is what picnics are for—musing, lounging, making sense, not making sense, and practicing the ever-important art of doing nothing.
Here are a few spots where picnickers of all kinds can find their bliss. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 5 Comments »
June 11, 2010
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!
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!
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 »