July 12, 2012
Returning home to New York hit me with the biggest culture shock I’ve ever felt. Now, I’m no stranger to culture shock. My first notable quake occurred when I moved to Paris at the age of 18 with just a handful of French words at my disposal (croissant, café, cigarette…).
The move hit pretty high on the Richter scale, but eventually I assimilated as best I could, and my American friends who came to visit told me I seemed “French.” (For the record, the French always said I seemed “Swedish.”) Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 19 Comments »
June 29, 2012
I’m so confused. When I first saw French designer Isabel Marant’s “sneakers”—which have a concealed 3-inch wedge heel built into them—I was mystified. It seemed like the worst of both worlds: you get the sloppy look of a sneaker and the discomfort of a high heel. Sweet combo!
Don’t get me wrong—I’m a fan of both sneakers and dangerously high heels, but doesn’t combining them cancel out the inherent value of each? It seems to me that there’s a distinct time for sneakers and for heels, but under what circumstances do you say, “Oh, my secret-heel sneakers will be just the thing!”? Continue Reading »
Posted in Fashion | 21 Comments »
February 16, 2012
Here at HiP, we’re always up for a good expat adventure tale, particularly one in which desserts play a starring role. In her new book, Paris, My Sweet, food writer (and regular HiP Paris contributor!) Amy Thomas regales us with stories from her two-year stint in Paris, where she wrote advertising copy for Louis Vuitton by day and scoured the city for sweets in her spare time.
All in all, it sounds like a pretty ideal existence, but like all expats in Paris, Amy faced a typical series of ups and downs. It’s no surprise that she fell hard for the city upon arrival; and it’s also no surprise that, once the initial Parisian shine wore off, Amy ultimately came to see the city’s not-quite-so-sweet side. It’s at this point that the story really starts to ring true for those of us who have been expats in Paris: you’re simultaneously charmed and alienated, comforted and challenged, energized and exhausted.
As Amy weathered the highs and lows of expat life, she also covered serious ground in the dessert department, hitting all of Paris’ confectionary hotspots and sampling the city’s most decadent delights. This book is not only an account of her time in Paris, but also a goldmine of bonnes addresses (in both Paris and New York) for dessert lovers. This woman knows her way around a pâtisserie, and serious sugar-high seekers would do well to heed Amy’s recommendations.
Paris, My Sweet is a guidebook of sorts, but it’s also just a fun and decadent read—I devoured it in less than 48 hours, pausing only to scrounge up some chocolate now and again. In addition to making me hungry, Amy’s writing transported me back to Paris, a trip I am ever-eager to make, if only vicariously.
Below, I caught up with the author to talk Paris, pastries, and ultimately picking her favorite city. Continue Reading »
Posted in Events, Food, Parisian Living, Travel | 13 Comments »
February 1, 2011
Jenny and David enjoying l’heure bleue in An Education
Once you’re familiar with the sweet life in Paris, it’s no easy thing to leave. After all, when every day is filled with arresting beauty, when all five senses get worked over like nowhere else in the world, when you’ve mastered the art of lingering for hours at the dinner table, the lunch table, on the river bank, beside the canal… well, where do you go from here?
Lucky for me, the answer is New York. And as loath as I am to leave some things behind (I’m talking to you, pain au chocolat), I’m equally excited to get back to certain creature comforts.
A stroll along the Seine and a vintage Tabac sign (pkabz, slimjim)
What I’ll Miss
More specifically, the smell of boulangeries; of butter getting baked into millions of flaky croissant layers in the morning and of baguettes being pulled fresh from the oven each night. Getting smacked in the face with those delicious aromas is almost better than eating the warm, yeasty treats. Almost.
It’s like being part of a symphony, riding around Paris on a Velib. You weave around delivery trucks, buzz past monuments, zip across bridges, and coast beneath dancing trees; your heart and legs pumping, spirits soaring, and then, the finale: you park outside Ladurée on the Champs-Elysées and reward yourself with un petit gateau.
What is it about this “hour” in Paris? Walking in the quiet side streets or staring out the window in the evening is nothing short of magic. It just doesn’t exist as beautifully, or linger as teasingly, anywhere else in the world.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 15 Comments »
December 8, 2010
Amy Thomas, the sweets queen behind the God I Love Paris blog and one of our very favorite contributors, can’t seem to decide whether she prefers Paris or New York. Hard life? But really, we can’t blame her… because we can’t choose either. What do you think? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Quick: do you prefer hopping in a taxi or on a Velib? Would you rather wear Manolos or Repettos? Oversized sunglasses, or an oversized scarf?
These are difficult questions. Ones that I’ve personally been trying to answer for a year and a half as I’ve also tried cracking the bigger dilemma: Which is the better city in which to live? I know, cue the teeny-tiny pity violins. Whenever I lament feeling torn between New York and Paris, I get the “poor you” rolling of the eyes. But truly, it’s not easy choosing between the two best cities in the world. Let’s see you do it.
Beauty or Energy?
Notre Dame in Paris or Snow in Manhattan? (Karigee)
Paris is dazzling. All you need to do is watch a Godard film or see a Doisneau poster to know that. But to actually walk the streets—with the Plane trees and cobblestones; the rose-tinted street lamps, green bookstalls and golden limestone facades—well, the French know a little something about seduction, don’t they.
But in New York, you’re swept away by everything and everyone around you: pedestrians, taxis, buses, street vendors, blinking neon signs, little dogs, big dogs, and, oh the freaks everywhere! To walk the streets of New York is to know what it means to feel alive. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 33 Comments »
June 18, 2010
I’m recently back in New York from Paris and am suffering a particularly acute bout of withdrawal. I think part of the problem is that the structure of my days changes completely when I cross the ocean. On the European side, time expands and flows and I rarely even know (or care) what day it is. Here, on the rational side of the Atlantic, I’m over-scheduled from morning until night. It goes something like this.
New York Day
• Wake up when my alarm goes off (or when my upstairs neighbor’s alarm goes off—the perils of living in a poorly insulated industrial loft).
• Go running, as need to expend all energy for the day before settling into a chair for the next ten hours.
• Eat cereal. Healthy, practical cereal.
• If have time, stop for an espresso at Euro-favorite Cafe Gitane. Pretend to be Parisian. It’s not the same.
• Brave the Canal Street crush, which involves dodging aggressive pashmina vendors and dozens of dawdling tourists.
• During overcrowded subway ride, contemplate moving back to Paris for the thousandth time. Listen to Serge Gainsbourg to twist the knife in my heart even more.
• Get to work. In essence, I like my job, but I have such restlessness and A.D.D. that it kills me to think I have to spend a day in a chair, when I could otherwise be spending it roaming quiet Parisian streets.
• Post-work, sprint to event / drinks / dinner. Inevitably show up late. Friends annoyed, because they won’t give you a table in New York until all party members arrive. Friends even more annoyed when I accidentally double air kiss them.
• Then stay out too late.
• Then go to bed, way too late.
• Go wandering. On my last trip, I loved heading south from Belleville, crossing the Canal St. Martin, and conveniently finding myself at Du Pain et Des Idées, one of Paris’ best rustic boulangeries.
• Decadent pain au chocolat in hand, I begin my loitering for the day by lounging on the edge of the canal.
• Get restless, so wander through the Marais, stopping at Cafeotheque for a café du jour, before strolling across the Pont Louis-Philippe to the Ile St. Louis, where I install myself at the western tip of the island and gaze off into space for a while.
• When restless again, meander to the Left Bank, stopping to take in the Institut du Monde Arabe, and then strolling over to my old neighborhood, where I stop in at the market at Place Monge and the traiteurs along rue Mouffetard. One shop owner still refers to me as “la plus belle” whenever I see him (I’m always up for some good French-style ego-stroking).
• Inevitably end up lounging by the Fontaine des Médicis, stopping in for macarons at Pierre Hermé, poking around Repetto, and making a pit-stop at Deyrolle (to fuel my inexplicable taxidermy obsession).
• Before you know it, it’s time for an apéro. Convene with friends at Le Baron Rouge for wine. Everyone will be late; no one will care.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 15 Comments »