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Les Parisiens: Rude? Sometimes. But Impolite? Never.

vince 42 & OZ Hohn Tekson

After several weeks in sunny California, Paris can feel like a bit of a shock. Everyone knows that Californians are preternaturally, well, sunny. Parisians? Not so much. But are Parisians as rude as their well-worn reputation? Although I hate to admit it, I’m tempted to say oui.

…Damien…Wasson…

But here’s what I’ve learned: rudeness is in the eye of the beholder. After all, one woman’s nasty remark is another’s conversational norm. And while many Parisians might be described as rude, they are also — and often maddeningly — scrupulously polite. So what gives?

To help decode yet another aspect of this French paradox, here’s a little cheat sheet to employ on your next visit. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 11 Comments »

Answering the Inevitable: “So, Are You Totally Fluent in French Now?”

Karigee

When I moved back to New York from Paris, I began to notice a trend. When people learned that I had lived in Paris, their first question (once they’d finished gasping with joy) was almost always: “So, are you totally fluent in French?”.

Annelie Willemijn

At first, I thought it was a test. People wanted to know if I had really lived in Paris. Because if I’d really done it right, then I would, of course, be totally fluent. But as time has passed and the question has continually been posed, I think it’s less of a test for me than it is some kind of self-assessment measure for the asker. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 13 Comments »

My Paris for Your…? Dos & Don’ts For a Successful Home Exchange

Paris (Haven in Paris)

The idea seemed too good to pass up. I’d exchange my Paris flat for a place in San Francisco for two weeks to visit family. Two whole weeks! Rent-and-hotel bill free! And we’d do it in August when no one really wants to be in Paris, anyway. I’d heard stories about fabulous swaps that didn’t end in identity or home accessories theft. With a little luck and a few well-lit interior pics, I was sure it could work for us, too. And so my search was on.

Paris (karigee)

After several near-commitments that folded at the eleventh hour (“I had no idea airfare would be that expensive…” and “Off to Rome instead. Sorry!”), we swapped for a sweet little house just over the Golden Gate Bridge. It sounded perfect: Three-bedrooms with a view of Mt. Tamalpais complete with a private dock on a small saltwater lagoon. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 7 Comments »

Paris in Love: A Q&A (and Giveaway!) with Author Eloisa James

Today we’re all about the Paris book love. Amy Thomas interviews bestselling author Eloisa James on her latest book, Paris in Love, a memoir of a year spent in Paris enjoying the good life. For a chance to win a copy of the book, leave us a note in the comments below! We’ll pick one lucky reader at random on May 31. ** Update: the contest is now closed. Thank you for commenting! **

Making Magique

’Tis the season for books about Paris. There are new non-fiction titles (Dreaming in French, French Kids Eat Everything), photography tomes (Paris in Color), cookbooks (La Petite Cuisine à Paris) and a slew of memoirs including Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, A Family in Paris and the one I just devoured on my recent trip to the City of Light: Paris in Love by Eloisa James.

Having lived in Paris for nearly two years and written my own memoir, I’ve been giddily burning through these titles, alternately living vicariously, laughing out loud in empathy, and tearing up at the memories. Eloisa’s memoir was no different. A mélange of personal thoughts, family anecdotes, historic and cultural references, practical facts and general observations, delivered in a fun, self-deprecating voice, in short spurts of prose lifted largely from her Facebook and Twitter accounts, it’s hard not to fall for the lovely writer, her Italian husband, her two moody teens or her chubby Chihuahua, Milo.

Olof Grind

Partly what makes Eloisa so irresistible is her lack of pretense. A writing professor and best-selling author of romance novels (don’t miss the giveaway below!) who underwent a mastectomy to treat breast cancer, she sold her home, took a sabbatical from work and moved her family to the ninth arrondissement. During her year devoted to enjoying life’s everyday pleasures, she becomes hyperaware of seductive details everywhere, from the “dreamy dark pink” of a tote bag to Sacré-Coeur’s basilica covered by rows of “creamy scallops” to Paris mornings that are “moody, cool and empty.” It’s a book that reminds you of the best things about Paris: the kindness of strangers, those poignant feelings of magic and melancholy, and that food can fix things. Now back in the States, Eloisa took the time to respond to some questions, just for HiP.

Carin Olsson

Of all the places in the world you could have taken a sabbatical, why did you choose Paris?
I have always loved Paris. Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, I had a black-and-white etching of the city on my wall, and I lived in Paris during my junior year abroad. After being treated for cancer, when I realized that I wanted to run away from my normal life, Paris was an easy choice: I love the chocolate, the light on the Seine, the time — or rather, the lovely way that Parisians savor their days rather than dashing through them. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 164 Comments »

Being A Tourist in Paris: It’s All About the Pleasure

We first met the lovely Kari Geltemeyer when she stayed in Haven in Paris’ Livingstone flat and have been hooked on her witty writing and great photography ever since. Here are some musings and images from her latest trip to Paris this May… -Geneviève

Hi. My name is Kari, and I am a tourist. A lot of people don’t like to admit this, or feel guilty about it, and those people refer to themselves as “travelers.” That’s fine; we become what we wish to be, etc. But I’ve decided to embrace the “tourist” label wholeheartedly, unabashedly, with gusto—mostly because it takes too much energy not to.

According to Merriam-Webster, a tourist is “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture” (no mention of fanny packs). I enjoy the culture, yes, but I go to Paris for the pleasure. I waited 40 years before I saw this city and now I love it the way I first loved New York, cinematically, as a hopelessly romantic construct no reality can touch.

Must be something in the air. I stumble around, staring up at the rooftops—those rooftops!—and the nonverbal part of my brain just takes over, the part that processes beauty and joy and awe, the part that wouldn’t be able to translate the emotion into language even if I spoke the language. (I do not. I flail and I fumble and I manage, but I deeply, fundamentally do not.) Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 14 Comments »