February 1, 2017
It’s 3:00 p.m. on a bright, crisp Paris afternoon and I’m sitting in the recently restored dining room of the Hotel Pigalle in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, waiting to meet Laurence Guilloud and Fabrice Le Dantec, founders of the new magazine, L’Instant Parisien. I sip my café crème and try to look cool, but I’m secretly a little nervous at the prospect of interviewing two people who have built a career out of, well, interviewing people. (Will they be silently judging my technique? Will they find my prepared list of questions uninspired?) I’m also not entirely sure who I’m supposed to be looking for, as Laurence and Fabrice prefer to keep a low online profile, which means that my standard pre-interview Googling turned up very few photos of the journalist-photographer duo.
The door to the restaurant pushes inward and I spot them—he is sporting a jaunty fedora and a 1940s-style brown blazer that brings to mind images of newsroom reporters and detectives from the film noir era; she is in a striking vintage-inspired print blouse and a bold statement necklace that could be a fanciful showpiece from one of Paris’ petits créateurs, or a treasure unearthed from one of the city’s antique flea markets. Their quirky indie style instantly sets them apart from the cookie-cutter crowds dressed in the city’s “tasteful-yet-understated” dress code. The pair make their way over to my table, greeting me with big smiles and breezy kisses that quickly dispel any apprehensiveness on my part.
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November 29, 2010
When I leave Paris for extended periods of time, I’m sometimes overcome with a panicky feeling that I’m losing touch, losing ground, floating into a France-less obscurity, and that when I return, I won’t recognize the city anymore. Or worse, that it won’t recognize me.
But as soon as I come back—as I have now, for three weeks—I realize the futility of such thinking. If there is any city that is adamant about retaining its traditions, its quirks, its pace and its “sameness,” it is Paris. So I’m happy to report that the French are more or less wearing the same thing (black), eating the same things (steak frites, baguettes, macarons), waiting for the same thing (retirement) and complaining about the same things (everything).
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October 25, 2010
Merce and the Muse – coffee and cakes – Erica Berman
Those who have lived in Paris know: we are endowed with a magical power.
Once you’ve been a Parisian (or a faux Parisian), you automatically have the ability to cast a spell over any American you subsequently encounter, simply by sprinkling key phrases into conversation:
“Well, when I lived in Paris…”
“I used to live in Paris, so…”
“In Paris (I used to live there)…”
“…reminds me a little bit of Paris, but…”
Yes, you will sound slightly (or completely) pretentious. But more importantly, you will elicit a distinct blend of jealousy and awe from whomever you are addressing, because quite simply, you have lived their dream. In fact, you have lived many an American’s dream.
From this side of the Atlantic, the darker realities of Parisian living (endless strikes, French bureaucracy, the exchange rate, the French attitude) cease to exist. It’s all fresh-baked baguettes and macarons and aimless strolling and sunsets over the Seine and, of course, L-O-V-E. Continue Reading »
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February 14, 2010
After seven months away, I’m back in Paris for a while and am greedily soaking up every minute of it. After two weeks, I’ve slipped back into many of my happy habits, though I’ve come to realize that settling back into my Parisian life does require a few active adjustments. For instance:
1. Dietary shifts. You’d be surprised how fulfilling a diet composed solely of butter, cheese, Dijon, bread, chocolate and macarons can be. Although I must admit, a steady stream of coffee and wine leave me perpetually dehydrated. Note to self: water is the essence of life, even in Paris.
2. Embracing linguistic limbo. When I get back to France, I regularly find myself in situations where two, three, or four languages are being spoken simultaneously. While the linguistic mélange is always exciting, I find that my English often starts to slip before my French has time to pick up the slack, and I am therefore left in a strange language-less limbo. Continue Reading »
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