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 | 3 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.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | No 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.
Continue Reading »
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 »
April 23, 2010
View 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 loitering—Canal 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 – Erica Berman
Continue Reading »
Posted in Green, Parisian Living | 7 Comments »
January 29, 2010
Gerard Laurent, Pariscool.com
I have that electric feeling that can only mean one of two things: either I’ve put my finger in a socket, or I am headed back to Paris. Luckily for me, it’s the latter. After seven months in North America, I am returning to my other home—a painfully beautiful, limestone-y, cigarette-loving, scarf-wearing, butter-flavored home. Needless to say, I’m giddy with anticipation.
For me (and I don’t think I’m the only one), Paris is a city where my imagination takes flight and I can spend entire days simply wandering, observing, tasting, inhaling, perusing, writing and dreaming. To those who see me as I go about my activities, I probably look like some kind of blissed-out idiot… but so be it. Paris is my happy place, and no matter how many times my shoe falls onto the metro tracks or I am surrounded by a pack of traveling minstrels, nothing can taint my love affair with this city. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 9 Comments »
November 10, 2009
What is it about France that makes me feel like it’s OK to drink an entire bottle of wine at midday? I guess it’s the fact that there are so many places that make it easy—almost impossible not—to do just that.
My hands-down favorite spot in Paris for a boozy Sunday lunch is Le Verre Volé, the quintessential Parisian wine bar and living proof that simplicity is the secret to happiness—and deliciousness. There’s nothing better than a leisurely lunch of shared small plates and an interesting bottle of wine, followed by a drunken amble along the Canal St. Martin (I have yet to fall in!), most likely followed by a nap. Afternoons like this make me wonder, “Does life get any better than this?” and I always come to the same conclusion: nope. Continue Reading »
Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 18 Comments »
August 25, 2009
Did I mention I love August in Paris? I do! It’s the best. Everything winds down and the city breathes. Here are a few images of the city of lights relaxing and enjoying. I’m taking it while it lasts; the rentrée is right around the corner and I will soon be off to enjoy fall in New England!
Sunday on the Canal St.Martin – pedestrian and so pretty
Posted in Green, Parisian Living | No Comments »