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10 Reasons to Love August in Paris

HiP Paris Blog, August in Paris, Isabel Miller-Bottome plages, pause

Paris Plages/Pause Cafe, Isabel Miller-Bottome

For those who cherish the peaceful atmosphere resulting from the mass exodus of holiday-goers, August is Paris’ most prized month. In the past, I haven’t always embraced this sentiment, mainly because I love the charge of the city. I adore the hustle and bustle of the busy streets; the fashionable Parisians strutting down the sidewalk, chatting over a glass of wine or coffee on café terrasses, and shopping in the stylish boutiques. However, perhaps these August-lovers have it right? Here are 10 reasons to convince any reluctant critics (myself once included) why August is the best month to be in Paris:

HiP Paris Blog, August in Paris, Isabel Miller-Bottome, reuilly, vosges

Jardin de Reuilly/Place des Vosges, Isabel Miller-Bottome

1. There’s so much going on for free

Free movies, free concerts, free exercise lessons, free…! Your social calendar will be packed with the outdoor cinema screenings at la Villette or the Clair de Lune festival, pétanque or dancing at the Canal de l’Ourcq, running on Les Berges, and more. It might just be the best month to be in Paris on a budget, and since the weather tends to be nice you can save on dining costs by picnicking.

HiP Paris Blog, August in Paris, Palmyre, Lucernaire 5,4

Le Lucernaire, Briag Courteaux

2. You can actually get a table en terrasse

I noticed the other day when scoping out the cafés on rue Montorgueil at the peak of lunch hour that there were a surprisingly large number of tables available. And same luck at apéro; we had our pick of the usually highly coveted tables. Next I plan to try some of the notoriously tough-to-get-into venues like le Perchoir; perhaps we’ll have repeat good fortune.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 1 Comment »

On Becoming Parisian: 10 Signs I Belong in the City of Light

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, meg hourihanLa Seine, meg hourihan

Falling in love with romance-infused Paris – the grandiose Haussmannian architecture, the Marais’ winding streets, and the city’s bistro scene – is easy. But if you’re not born here, living in Paris is another story. It’s a whole other lifestyle, a mentality. And although it is hard not to love Paris for its compelling beauty alone, not everyone takes to Parisian life like a duck to water. While most will relish in its temptations, others will see its grayer side. The very visible problem of homelessness, the significantly different humor, the mentality…even the party chitchat is different. The grimy metro, overflowing museums, and the onslaught of hipsters all take some getting used to as well. Paris may not be very far away from London, my hometown, but when I moved here, everything seemed far removed from what I knew. The unashamed indulgence in pleasure, the variety and standard of the food, the slower pace of life, the abundance of cultural activities, and the city’s manageable size are features I had a hard time finding elsewhere.

HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, drburtoni
HiP Paris Blog, Becoming Parisian, Roseval, Didier Gauducheau PL9A3093Drburtoni/ Roseval, Didier Gauchucheau

And then one day, I woke up Parisian. In other words, living a dichotomy of loving and hating the city, yelling at people for inconsiderate behavior on public transport, eating out most days, and when the sun shines, running to the nearest grassy spot no matter how crowded are now commonplace. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 8 Comments »

Parisian Beauty: Where To Find Iconic French Skincare Products Online

 Parisian Beauty, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Making Magique

Making Magique

It has long been a generally accepted fact that French women don’t get fat. It is now also increasingly accepted that they don’t succumb to spots and wrinkles either.

Parisian Beauty, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Matt Trostl

Matt Trostl

A glance at the beauty pages of my favourite glossy magazines reveals a veritable fascination with the rules of French skincare. The consensus on what those rules are however is far from clear. There is the minimalist, soap-and-water camp embodied by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who swears by Embryolisse, a simple, French pharmacy classic.

Parisian Beauty, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Oh My Cream

Juliette Lévy (The founder of Oh My Cream !)

That icon of Parisian chic, Ines de la Fressange, espouses an even more minimalistic approach: to eradicate wrinkles, a smile will suffice! On the other side of the fence, we have the French facialist camp. They book their appointments with Parisian skincare gurus months in advance and apply complex sounding creams with scientific precision. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 2 Comments »

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 »

Friend or Foe? How to Cope When the French Get Feisty

Paris Cafe Waiter B&WFrench café and waiter … unfortunately not always famous for their friendliness. Dolarz

We’ve all heard something to the effect of, “Paris would be perfect, if it weren’t for the French.” I usually laugh these comments off as clichés that hark back to an earlier age, when France was more culturally closed than it is now. We all know that today’s French are as affable as kittens… or are they?

During my days in Paris, my opinion of Parisians vacillated constantly. One moment, I was pleasantly surprised by the (maybe too) friendly feedback I would get from taxi drivers, “Your accent is so charming, you should stay in France forever”; and the next, I was smarting from the evil looks cast by super-stylish French salesgirls, whose foreigner radar always seemed to seek me out.

Man Beret Bar Cafe ParisFrench waiter, smiling and ready for your order! Flequi

There’s really no point in generalizing about whether the French are “nice” or “mean.” It’s like asking whether clowns are funny or terrifying. The answer? Both. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 15 Comments »

Life in Italy vs. Life in France: part 1.

Cappuccino ItalyPhotos Erica Berman – cappuccino Genova

I’m back in Paris after 2 months of learning Italian in Genoa, Italy. The cool Paris weather is a shock after the heat of Italy, but I’m excited to be home.

Naturally, I can’t help comparing the (Genovese) Italians to the (Parisian) French with whom I have cohabited for almost 18 years. Little differences and similarities between the daily life in both countries are entertaining, endearing and often surprising.

Italians and dogsDoggy love Italian style

Things I have noticed: Life in Italy vs France

  • You will be scoffed at in both countries for ordering a cappuccino in the afternoon. Mind you, I do it anyway. How gauche is that?
  • Both Italians and French cut lines with zeal. Little old Italian ladies are surprisingly cunning. Be alert!
  • Taxis in both cities can, and will, try to rip you, the foreigner, off even if you speak the language. Be aware.
  • Both Italians and French love their doggies and bring them in trains, restaurants and just about everywhere they can physically go. In both countries you will see many a person out and about deep in conversation with Fido. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Parisian Living | 34 Comments »

Smoking in France: Watch Me As I Fauxke This Cigarette

While I can go weeks without encountering a cigarette in the U.S., smoking is still a prevalent part of Parisian life. Though a recent smoking ban has cleared the air in restaurants and cafes, the French still manage to get their daily nicotine fix. How else are they going to stay so thin? Soon after moving to France, I wrote this post about how to be a non-smoker among smokers. Enjoy!

Flickr Candida.PerformaCandida.Performa

Let’s chat about smoking for a minute. Despite a recently passed no-smoking-in-bars law, tobacco continues to reign supreme in Paris. And while I’ve never really had any interest in being a smoker, it has become exceedingly clear that you won’t get far very in this town unless your lungs are lined with filth.

Listen up, Americans. Despite what your 3rd grade D.A.R.E. counselor may have told you, smoking is cool and, yes, it kind of makes you look like a movie star. I wish I could pull it off, but there’s a problem: smoking literally makes me feel like I’m going to die. Not so much in the moment, but more so the day after when I wake up wondering if I’ve swallowed a cauldron full of battery acid.

And now, while I would like to get really self-righteous about the importance of not smoking, my non-smoker status is less a responsible choice than it is a biological necessity. So my conundrum: what to do during the numerous cigarette breaks that inevitably occur over the course of a bar-hopping evening?

Flickr trix0rTrixOr

Option 1: I can stay inside the bar and hang out with the loser non-smokers.

Option 2: I can concoct a strategy that will afford me access to international smoking circles without sacrificing the sanctity of my lungs.

Option 2 it is. I’ve come up with a clever little trick: faux smoking… “fauxking” if you will (pronounced foh-king). I know it sounds sexual, but don’t get excited—it’s not. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 6 Comments »

Rumor Has It

web-1

By Linda Donahue, ParisienSalon.com & photos by Virginia Jones
Who started this rumor that Parisians are unfriendly?  Even my father, who hasn’t met a single Parisian, let alone been to Paris, believes this to be true.I’ve always found the people of Paris to be genuine and hospitable. But yesterday, travel authority Christopher Elliott wrote in a travel article posted on CNN.com, “And in a move that can only be described as utter desperation, the notoriously unfriendly Parisians, in an effort to ’show that Paris loves its tourists and knows how to welcome them,’ strapped on rollerblades and formed an enormous human smile at Place Vendome.” Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 6 Comments »