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.)
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.
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