January 28, 2014
When we decided to move to Paris, one of the things I was most excited about was decorating my own Parisian apartment. It would be classic Haussmannian with herringbone floors, marble mantels, high ceilings and moldings – the works.
Scrolled iron balconies and a rooftop view were also on the wanted list. After a few weeks of scouring (and drooling over) listings from afar, I fell hard for an appartement familial in the 7ème. We negotiated with the rental agent and sealed the deal even before laying eyes on our future home.
It was better than I’d imagined: a light-filled double salon and a killer view of the Dome des Invalides, even a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in all its iconic beauty. But the fun was just beginning. It was now time to decorate. Continue Reading »
Posted in Homes, Parisian Living | 7 Comments »
December 30, 2013
“I don’t cook for everyone; I cook for those I love.” So says Mariko, the Osaka-born owner/chef/gallerist who helms La Maison des Frigos, the tiny café on the ground floor of the artist squat, Les Frigos, in a rejuvenated section of Paris’s 13ème. Indeed, to eat in her dining room is to be invited into her world and – word to the wise – to follow her rules.
(No chatting on your cell, no photos, no credit cards, and – in an overheard admonishment to some fellow diners: Chez moi, we eat our main course before the melon…).
But for Mariko, a former painter and longtime Paris transplant, cooking is a labor love, inspired by the riot of color and creative chaos that defines the building she inhabits. It’s a unique place. Continue Reading »
Posted in Restaurant Reviews | 6 Comments »
December 19, 2013
Senteurs de Fée
It’s no secret that French girls love their products. Here in Paris, you can find a cream, serum or supplement for just about anything that ails – from cellulite to les cernes to an old fashioned case of the blues.
Traditionally, most of these (often fabulous) remedies have been found at the parfumerie or pharmacie. (Remember Tory’s post on French pharmacy favorites?) But a fresh breed of organic, natural and holistic goodies is making its mark on the Parisian beauty scene and finding a niche at the intersection of bio and la beauté.
Senteurs de Fée
As for me, I’ve long been a skeptic when it comes to natural beauty goods, wary of pasty products and cardboard packaging filled with good intentions but questionable effectiveness. But the more I read about carcinogenic cosmetics bearing unpronounceable ingredients, I’ve started to wonder: Could these Parisian bio boutiques change the mind (and even the skin) of a conventional beauty brand devotee? I decided to investigate. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 4 Comments »
October 31, 2013
No matter what brings you to Paris, chances are you plan to do some shopping while you’re here. But what if your budget was eaten up by airfare and accommodations? Pas de problème.
There are plenty of ways to score fashionable finds in Paris without breaking that stretched bank account. Just shop like a local. Here’s our cheat sheet for chic (and wearable) souvenirs on a shoestring.
Consign here, please
If the thought of trolling the racks at Goodwill or picking through piles of malodorous cast-offs makes you break out in hives, have no fear. Paris has taken resale to a whole new level. In virtually every quartier, you’ll find several consignments shops (dépôt-vente). Continue Reading »
Posted in Fashion, Parisian Living, Shopping | 21 Comments »
October 24, 2013
When we first arrived in Paris, I couldn’t wait to enroll my kids in French public school. They were still very young — just three and five — so starting them in our local maternelle seemed like a no brainer.
Language immersion was guaranteed, the school was just a stone’s throw from our apartment and, best of all, it was free! Plus, who knew what kind of students they would prove to be? Only time would tell. Within a week of our arrival, my two little Americans began their French education.
Turns out, it was an education for me, too. One that led us to make some very different choices and enroll our petits Parisiens in private schools this Fall. Here are a few lessons from my family’s journey in French schooling. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 3 Comments »
October 3, 2013
Early fall has always been my favorite season in Paris. Residents return for “La Rentrée,” tanned and smiling (at least for now) after les grandes vacances and itching for some quality terrace time in their still seasonal summer looks.
Kids go back to school (hence the smiling parents), the weather is often lovely and the energy in the air is palpable. There’s always a lot happening – from restaurant openings to new exhibitions and film releases.
One of my favorite discoveries this rentrée is “Les Berges,” the newly pedestrianized waterfront that spans the Left Bank from the Pont de l’Alma to the Musee d’Orsay. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living | 3 Comments »
September 12, 2013
It’s no secret that some of the most interesting things in a city happen off the tourist grid. New restaurants, music and, of course, lots of art gets made in places where the rents are cheaper, the residents funkier and the tourists far fewer. Paris is no exception. Such is true of the area in north eastern Paris in and around the 19eme. Thanks to some major cultural attractions and a smattering of fun eateries, it just may be on the brink of its moment.
Setting off from Metro Stalingrad one recent afternoon, I discovered a quartier in exciting transition. Where its once dilapidated streets were lined with international call centers and cut rate shops, a new energy is palpable in a smattering of neighborhood boutiques, vegetarian eateries and performing arts centers.
Here are the highlights.
Le Centquatre. In 2008 the Marie de Paris unveiled Le104 (Le Centquatre), a performing and visual arts center that serves as the creative hub of the area. It’s a vast and luminous space that features rotating exhibitions and installations from this summer’s epic Keith Haring retrospective to “interactive” work that quite literally invites audiences to experience art first-hand. Continue Reading »
Posted in Arts, Food, Restaurant Reviews | 4 Comments »
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 | 22 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 »