Paris

Ah! The City of Light. In 2011 we put all of our things in a storage unit and flew to Paris France. It was one of the scariest decisions we've ever made but has proven to also be one of the most rewarding! Here is a Paris Guide a friend wrote for us when we came to Paris on our Honeymoon. I'm putting together my own recommendations as I get to know the city better. In the meantime you can read about Things to Do in Paris and Things to Eat in Paris. Thinking about making the move abroad yourself? Read about my experience moving and living in France right here.

Rue Montorgueil

I can barely pronounce the name of this street (Mon-tor-guy) but it is one of my favorite places in Paris. Rue Montorgueil is a pedestrian street that has bakeries, cheese shops, and delis a plenty. It’s a bit like Rue Cler but is somehow way more adorable. Besides the fun energy of this market street there is some really great shopping on the surrounding streets towards Les Halles, a lot of boutiques and even some good chain stores. When people ask me where to stay I usually recommend they stay in this area. The location is perfect, it is centrally located with short walks to both the Marais and the Louvre. My friends recently moved to Rue Montorgueil so we find ourselves visiting it a lot more. If you are planning a visit David Leibowitz has a fantastic guide with lots of recommendations right here.

all photos by Oh Happy Day

Happy Things in Paris: Vélib’

I am a huge fan of Vélib’, Paris’ public bicycle system. I think its one of Paris’ best kept secrets. If you are going to be in Paris more than a few days I highly recommend getting yourself a pass. If I could choose anyway to get around Paris I would almost always choose by bike. There is nothing like feeling the wind through your hair riding along the Seine, it automatically puts me in a good mood. It is especially easy to bike with the Vélib’ system. There are stations every few blocks through out the entire city so you can pick up the bike and drop it off wherever you go. If you are planning on biking a lot I would recommend getting a Navigo pass. This allows you to just swipe your card at a station and in about ten seconds you’re off (versus having to type in a million numbers at the Vélib’ station.) To get a Navigo you first have to buy a pass from a Metro station (just ask for the pass itself, without buying the Metro pass.) It costs about 5 Euros. Then buy a Vélib’ pass off the internet (8 Euros for the week) and then go to a Vélib’ bike station to activate your card and your membership.

Here are some tips for using the Vélib’.

-Buy the Vélib’ pass on the internet. American credit cards only work on the consoles about half the time.
-Have a good idea where you are going, and be aware of one way roads. There are great bike lanes all over the city but carry a map handy in case you need to change your route.
-Look at the tires and gears to make sure you are picking one that works.
-Bikes should stop at traffic lights and obey traffic laws.
-Buy a Navigo Pass at a Metro station for 5 Euros so checking a bike out is easy.
-I’ve only seen one Vélib’ user ever use a bike helmet. I’m not saying you shouldn’t I’m just telling you how it is.
-It can sometimes be tricky getting rid of all your bikes at one station if you are with a big group. Biking isn’t ideal if you are with a huge group.
-There are no child seats that work on the Vélib’. (I wish!)
-If you get to a station and it is full, you just swipe your card and it will give you 15 more minutes to get to the next station.

I realized this summer when I was taking friends around Paris that when my blood sugar got low and I wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere, that as soon as we got on a bike I would get all this energy. It is a great way to get around. It is a bit of a pain to get set up but once . It is one of my favorite things to do in Paris.

I was riding home with these giant dinner plate dahlias and they were so ridiculously giant and awesome so I called Paul outside to come take a few photos.

An American in Paris

The lovely New York stationery company Paper + Cup has expanded here to France. Modern stationery companies are very difficult to find here in France so this is such wonderful news. Sarah (an adorable French girl and designer) met with me a few weeks ago and I was really impressed with all their beautiful designs. They asked me to take some snapshots of my day for their blog. It’s right here if you want to take a peek.

Brocantes + Vide Greniers

Besides the glorious Paris flea “Les Puces” the last few months I’ve been following the little Brocantes that set themselves up around the city. It is like a traveling flea market and the prices are much cheaper than at Les Puces. There was one in my neighborhood this weekend where I scored lots of new goodies. (Including a super cheap Cameroon Juju Hat!)  If you are visiting Paris and want to get some deals visiting a Brocante will be your best bet. This site and this site tell you the little sales that will be going on the next few months. Come with cash and ready to bargain.

ps: I’m obsessed with these high waisted jeans from the Gap. An interesting cultural difference here in France is French men tell you when you are looking good, not in a construction-worker-holler-way, but in a flattering way. It’s actually really great to get feedback when you’ve put an effort in to look nice. They seem to be a big fan of these jeans. (And I’ll just say it since someone always asks, this is not an ad! I will always clearly mark when something is a sponsored post.)

6 Months in Paris

I was in disbelief when I looked at the calendar yesterday and saw it was August 1st. That marks 6 months since we moved to Paris. I cannot believe its half over! We originally planned to be here a year but are trying to extend six months (if we can) because a year doesn’t feel like enough time.  Moving here has been so inspiring and life changing. I think that I’ll always look back on this as one of the happiest times in our lives. It makes me a little emotional to think where we were a year ago. We were deep in the middle of medical bills and surgeries and trying to work 60-70 hour weeks in order to pay for them. It was a really difficult time. One year later we are living in Paris. I’m so grateful for the lessons we learned, mostly that if you are going through a hard time in your life, just put your head down and work. Really good things are just around the corner.