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.
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.)
When people come visit from out of town (to either San Francisco or Paris) besides the list of things I suggest to do I always include happy little experiences. So I thought it would be nice to document all the “happy” things we like to do in Paris. I’m starting with the Champ de Mars. (Not all of them will be kid friendly but this one is.) In front of the Eiffel Tower there is a giant park called the Champ de Mars. Besides being a nice place to picnic the park has hidden gems all over it. Some of the things we like to do there:
See the Marionette Show. There is an very old Marionette House where they put on live shows. It is so adorable you’ll want to die. It’s usually open on the weekends and once during the week. Our kids love this and beg to go every time we walk by.
Ride on the Carousel. There are carousels all over Paris but this one is particularly charming because it is cranked by hand by a sweet old French man. There is a game where all the kids hold sticks and try to “catch” the metal rings as they go by on their horses.
Ride the Go Carts. On the weekends there is a little track with go karts set up for kids to race. I didn’t take pictures of this but its just as cute as you might imagine.
Lay on the Grass. Grab a crepe or a cotton candy and hang out in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and watch people taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Just a tip: I usually avoid going under the tower itself. It’s really crowded and will kill the vibe of your pretty day at the park.
ps: A sad little thing happened this morning. Moses fell off a stool and broke his clavicle. He is doing ok now but it was a little scary going to the emergency room at 7am. So far strong pain meds and newly downloaded videos have been the best cure.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I’ve become a “picnic expert” since we have them almost everyday. If you are visiting Paris here are the ingredients for a picture perfect Paris picnic. (Say that three times fast.)
1. Pick Your Poison. Perrier is my personal favorite but you can hit one of the many Nicholas stores to pick up something with a little more punch.
2. | 3. Supplies. My friend Rubi showed up to a picnic a few weeks ago with the best picnic gear. She got it all from Merci. Stop by Merci on your first day in Paris for bamboo plates, utensils, and these awesome reusable napkins that come on a roll.
4. Produce. Try to avoid the supermarket, instead go to the specialty stores. It’s like going to McDonalds when you have the option of an amazing homecooked meal. Find a produce stand and stock up on fruit and veggies (I love radishes and butter on a picnic.)
5. Baguette. Buy this right before you are going to eat it (not two hours before.) Ask for “Baguette Traditional” they are my favorite. Only buy this from a Boulanger. If you are buying it from a supermarket you get a big Paris fail.
6. Cheese! Ah the thrill of walking into a good Fromagerie. They can be intimidating and a little scary (is that mold?) I prefer mild cheeses with interesting flavors. Here are a two of my favorites to start with: Morbier and Comte. Do some research if you are braver and like stinky cheeses so you can ask to try specific kinds. (Little Brown Pen has a nice column on cheeses.)
7. Saucisson sec. Buy this from a deli or a Butcher, If you aren’t familiar with this stuff it is cured meat. They are usually hanging up above the counter and they are SO delicious. I don’t eat a lot of meat but I love me some saucisse.
Other things I like to eat at a picnic: Beignets, coquettes, chocolate eclairs, and ham and butter sandwiches. All of these can be bought from a boulanger. (Even if you don’t see sandwiches displayed most bakeries will make you one on the spot if asked.) What am I missing?
All of Paris is covered with fantastic picnic locations but my favorite locations for picnics are:
The Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower, the right bank of Ile St. Louis, and the point of Ile de la Cite. Do you know of any especially great picnic spots in Paris?
Happy Bastille Day! We celebrated this morning by meeting some friends up at Versailles for a giant picnic where everyone wore white! It was so fun.We were laughing that the French were so elegant in their patriotism wearing all white with a discreet little red, white , and blue ribbon pinned on their shirt. A big contrast to what everyone in the US wears on the Fourth! Ha! Next we’re off to watch the fireworks in front of the Eiffel Tower.
I get a lot of emails on how to dress in Paris. After five month of studying the much talked about “French Woman” I have some observations on what to wear to blend in when visiting Paris.
A. Dress up! The French are a little more formal than Americans. If you are going to a museum think about what you would wear to a museum in the US and then dress up that outfit a notch. This dress is from the French Store NafNaf. I don’t love most of their clothes but they really nail it on about 10% of their inventory and they are reasonably priced. Polka Dot Dress | 48 Euros
B. Hemingway’s Writing. Nothing makes you feel more “American in Paris” than reading Hemingway at a cafe. Try Cafe de Flore and be patient and wait for a table on the street. This is one of Hemingway’s old haunts. It is one of those Paris institutions. A Moveable Feast | $16
C. Accessorize! French women wear sunglasses and scarves. These are the details that really make someone look “put together.” Vintage Round Sunnies | $139
D. Travel in Style! I’ve been obsessing over this gorgeous suitcase from Urban Outfitters. Its worth looking stylish as you lug all your belongings through the cobblestone streets. Suitcase from Urban Outfitters | $149.
E. Ballet Flats! Everyone has them. Everyone. You need comfy shoes for all that walking you will do along the Seine at night, plus these fir in the “dressy” category. I love this affordable pair from Marais USA | $60
F. Iphone. Get one of these loaded with neighborhood walking tours, Museum Tours, and Custom Google Maps marked with your itinerary. Don’t forget the This American Life episodes for the plane. Iphone case | $35
G. Headband! One of the biggest differences in Americans and French Women is their “natural hair.” Americans tend to straighten, curl, spray and brush their hair into submission. The French Woman probably spends time on her hair but she is going for subtle waves, beautiful buns, and those adorable hairs that naturally frame your face when you put your hair back. This is my beautiful headband I picked up in Londan last month from Toast. It’s on sale now! Stripey Headband | 34 Pounds
H. A Sweater. The French don’t wear bright colors. I’ve honestly never seen more people wear navy blue in my life. They also love a monochromatic outfit which is why I threw in this boring errr “classic” sweater. You’ll need this for chilly evenings. Cardigan | $49