June 11, 2013
When we decided to move to Paris, I knew parenting here would be different. Not only would the moms (and les petits enfants) be better dressed, they’d enjoy luxuries not known to their American counterparts like guaranteed, paid maternity leave and high quality, state-subsidized childcare.
The impact of these family benefits cannot be overstated. And yet, I was still surprised to discover just how different parenting is here on issues big and small.
Some of the differences shocked me (and not in a good way). There’s an iron-fist disciplinary style that makes little ones quake in their parents’ presence and a culture of yelling that left me drop-jawed. The word “non” (shunned, albeit somewhat absurdly, by some American friends) is central to French parenting. Many smoke openly in front of kids and don’t shy away from spanking to discourage unwanted behavior. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 13 Comments »
May 14, 2013
If you’ve ever dreamed of living in Paris, chances are you’ve thought about where. A funky Montmartre studio with a view? Perhaps a swank one-bedroom in the 6ème with herringbone floors and marble mantles sends your heart racing? Whether you’re more Marais hideaway or St Germain Haussmannian, it turns out that where you live in Paris says quite a lot about you.
Most Parisians are deeply devoted to their neighborhoods and can wax poetic on their unique charms. As to whether they prefer the Rive Gauche or Rive Droite, ask any Parisian and you’re sure to get an opinion. Having now lived on both sides of the Seine, I’ve got a few of my own. Here’s how to decode the meaning behind the coveted Parisian address.
Left Bank Lovely. Feel like donning an Hermes carré and enjoying a taste of old school Paris? The grand cafés of St Germain des Pres await. Alas, de Beauvoir and Sartre have long since fled but the swooping waiters and retro vibe are still reminiscent of the Left Bank’s intellectual heyday. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 18 Comments »
April 4, 2013
As my husband and I prepared to leave Paris a decade ago, we thought long and hard about where to go for our “au revoir” meal. After three years of steady devotion to classic French food, we decided instead on Hiramatsu, then located on the Ile St-Louis and newly anointed with a Michelin star. Our two-hour lunch included course after aromatic course of Hiramatsu’s inventive and refined Franco-Japanese creations. It was a meal neither of us will ever forget.
I was reminded of that lunch recently at Le Concert de Cuisine, chef Naoto Masumoto’s sleek, bento box of a restaurant tucked away in the 15ème. Unlike Hiroyuki Hiramatsu — whose lofty sights were clearly set on les etoiles — Masumoto seems to have achieved his highest aspirations simply in the studious and precise preparation of his dishes.
Acclaim seems almost beside the point for the chef who cut his teeth at (the much much pricier) Benkay. A steady and devout clientele (composed largely of Japanese business men and suit-clad ministry types) fills the restaurant daily in an unfussy space that says eating here is serious business. Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 5 Comments »
March 27, 2013
When friends come to visit in Paris, I always get a little nervous. It’s Paris after all, the most-visited and eulogized city in the world. They’re expecting a lot. And I live here.
That means I’ve got the place wired, right? No exhibition ticket should be too hard to acquire, no chic table impossible to book. Such were my anxieties as I prepared for a recent visit from my sister and brother-in-law. We’d have ten days together but only a couple of kid-free evenings. Those dinners had to be perfect.
And so I searched. I scoured reviews, made calls and asked friends for recommendations. Of course I know plenty of great restaurants. I have dozens of favorites and an ever-growing list of places to try. But could I select the perfect place to eat? The one that says “this is the best of Paris” – that elusive combination of great food, distinctive atmosphere and, most importantly, a place where I could actually score a table on the night we had free?
Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 7 Comments »
February 28, 2013
Leisure is one of the most sacred components of a well-lived Parisian life, which is why we thought it absolutely necessary to revisit the best ways to spend a Sunday in Paris. You can find part I, Tory’s list of favorite Sunday pastimes, here. -Geneviève
One of the many great things about living in Paris is the French approach to relaxation. Around here, it’s serious business. Everyday events that would strike most of us as de rigeur — traffic jams, inhospitable weather, waiting one’s turn in line — can cause mini-attacks of le stress for Parisians, thereby necessitating extended periods of repose. And when the traditional, lengthy French vacation isn’t close at hand, a Sunday in the city can be the next best thing.
Since many shops and restaurants are closed (although this is changing), Sundays offer a great excuse to slow down and just relax. But if you’re feeling energetic, there are still many great ways to fill your day. Here are some of our Sunday favorites.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 8 Comments »
December 4, 2012
Oh, Paris, you fooled me again. When I’m away – whether in Boston, L.A. or San Francisco – la vie en rose beckons, making other cities look shabby by comparison. So much so that I forget real life here: the constant manifestations that block your streets, the crottes de chien that decorate your sidewalks, the surly fonctionnaires that populate your public services.
Montmartre after the rain - Magnus D
And most of all, I forget about your weather.
I’m not alone. Movies, songs and countless works of art have celebrated the romance of Parisian weather. In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the signature appeal of the protagonist’s dream girl seemed to be her love of getting soaked by la pluie. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 13 Comments »
October 12, 2012
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.
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 »
September 24, 2012
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.
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 | 6 Comments »
July 10, 2012
First, the good news. Bathrooms in Paris are much better than they used to be. While it’s still possible to encounter the occasional Turkish toilet (essentially a flushable hole in a floor), they’re not the ubiquitous hazards they once were. A loo that sports a turque screams outdated (not to mention perilous, especially for us girls) and most respectable establishments have graciously updated their facilities. Merci.
That said, French potty perils abound. So, we’ve put together this simple guide to help you navigate the waters of les toilettes Parisiennes. As they say, courage. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 12 Comments »
June 22, 2012
With our kids in their PJs and the babysitter on her way, everything was set for a perfect date night in Paris. Except for one thing. We had no plans. A busy week meant neither Greg nor I had made reservations, bought tickets or planned with friends.
So he grabbed the bistro guide and started dialing. The first five calls were met with terse “On est complet, monsieur,” until we scored with a last minute reservation at Claude Colliot in the Marais. Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 4 Comments »