A smattering of photos of Paris (one more month left until I leave!)

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Mimes roller blading on the Quai of the Seine

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Statue of Liberty

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Jardin des Plantes

 

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Canal St Martin

 

 

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When clothing stores start taking over boulangeries.

 

 

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Le Jardin du Luxembourg

 

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Food to taste and other things to buy in Paris

This past week my sister was in Paris to visit and explore the city. It was the first time she was in Europe, let alone Paris, and so it was an exciting time showing her all the food I have come to know and love during my stay here. So here is a basic list of things I think are must-buys if you find yourself in Paris at some point in the near future:

1. A delicious croissant

You’re in Paris and you’re surrounded by viennoiseries and patisseries, so getting a taste of the flaky goodness that is synonymous with Paris is a must. Keep in mind though that all croissants are not made equal. While even the worst croissant is better than an average croissant back home, you don’t want to waste a single calorie or euro on a subpar croissant while in Paris. There’s no need. Just do a little research- every arrondissement bosats at least one or two viennoiseries serving croissants au beurre that probably have won some prize.

 

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2. Hot chocolate or coffee

There’s one name that comes to mind when you think of hot chocolate in Pairs, and while I don’t particularly advocate going there for the [overpriced] hot chocolate, I think a visit to Paris merits a cup of chocolatey goodness. I would avoid getting hot chocolate in touristy cafés as they tend to be overly sugary. But a quick google search can lead you to a good, small café serving hot chocolate for less than 4 euros. For coffee, check out the new “hipster” cafés in Paris normally run by expats from Australia, Brazil, Italy, ..well anywhere but France.

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3. Gelato / ice cream /sorbet. There’s the classic, Berthillon founded in 1954, as well as plenty of other newer spots. Check out Grom or Pozzetto.

caramel and pistacchio ice cream from Berthillon

caramel and pistacchio ice cream from Berthillon

4. Buy a book at Shakespeare & Co. and get it stamped at the register. I haven’t done it yet, but I plan on it!

5. Tea from Mariage Frères. Honey or confiture. A jar of caramel beurre salé to  recreate the crepe experience back home.

6. Be adventures: Try some escargot, foie gras, oysters or lamb!

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7. Explore the yogurt aisle at any supermarket (especially the one at Le Grand Epicerie). The name ‘Yogurt’ doesn’t give it justice. The French have transformed this once plain and boring breakfast sub-category into a food that could easily become a substitue for a guilt-free dessert.

8. Eat real dessert and try macarons from Pierre Hermé, a chausson aux cassis et violet or aux pommes (sort of a knish-shaped pastry filled with a fruit flavoring), or Opera cake for example.

creme brûlée made with maple syrup

creme brûlée made with maple syrup

9. Sandwiches are a great option to sample some of the best French products: bread, cheese, meat, spreads, butter, pickles…. all for under 5 euros. If you love cheese, make it your mission to try as many different varieties as you can every time you order a salad, sandwich, crepe or quiche.

10. Buy some Roger & Gallet products for yourself or as gifts. My favorites are the rose and the green tea scented lotions.

11. Buy a Nespresso machine. Because all the French people have them. Throw in some Repetto ballet flats and some fur for the full effect.

It’s Nearly Springtime in Paris

The weather in Paris for the past week has been cold but full of sunshine and has given me false hope that warmer spring weather is just around the corner.(EDIT: As I post this, we just got over a few days of snowy, freezing weather and are now experiencing yet another rise in temperature.. 61 and sunny this Tuesday! ) It will probably be some time before I can leave the house wearing a single or even double layer of clothing but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to profit from the absence of gray skies that has plagued Paris everyday since the beginning of winter. I am almost positive I’ve developed some sort of allergy to my wool scarf.

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The seasons have always had a rather measurable affect on my mood. And it’s sad to admit that living in Paris has done little to free me from this  this tendency. I can’t even remember a time before this week when I didn’t wake up and bury myself deeper into the covers at the thought of leaving my apartment. I would of course to go to class and go to lunch, but the fact that I’ve watched five seasons of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, 3 seasons of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and 4 seasons of the Real Housewives of New York City since I’ve been back from Christmas vacation speaks for itself.

 

I definitely felt and still do feel guilty thinking of all those hours I could have been out and exploring but all I can promise myself now is that I spend every agreeable weathered day from now until the end of May walking aimlessly, walking to explore walking to take photos and walking to lunch spots.

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My newly discovered favorite is a cafe on Ile St. Louis. It faces the Notre Dame, close enough to the Pont(bridge) St. Louis to enjoy the music of what is the Parisian version of troubadours as they play their accordions or celli, busy with tourists and natives walking about but it still maintains a certain calmness that you can’t find sitting at the terrasse of one of the famous cafes on st Germain.

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You’re welcome to stay as long as you want and if you orderes one of the overpriced veverages (a cappuccino will run you 5€70 or $7.40!!) you really should stay there for an hour or two. Before the sunlight reached our tables and tanned our faces we were kept warm by the overhead heaters- a staple of almost all parisian cafes. And if that’s not enough you could always grab one if the fleece blankets offered by the cafe, which is cute concept but just about as  appealing as wearing a sweater that 100 strangers have worn before you and has never been washed.

Parisian Fashion: Not Exactly My Cup of Thé

After spending two and a half weeks in NYC for Christmas vacation and another 2 weeks in Paris pre-Spring semester, this Monday marked la rentrée: the commencement of school in France.

View of NY/NJ.

View of NY/NJ.

Flying back into Paris in 2013 and settling in again in my room and old routines reminded me of how different this period will be compared to Fall Semester. Being in New York reenergized me and made me approach my experience in Paris differently. I’m not in need of an adjustment period, other than the first few days spent to get over le décalage horaire. And instead of conforming to every social expectation and custom that is typified as the French way to do things, I will be less apologetic about doing the things that I enjoy though not considered ‘normale’.

 

View down a street in Paris.

View down a street in Paris.

I’ve been somewhat disappointed with the way Parisiennes dress. I appreciate that the Parisian uniform dictates a clean, well-fitted style and that, contrary to the overwhelming abundance of borough folk I saw in NYC, no one is wearing pajama pants, sportswear, or carpenter jeans. I’m conscious of respecting people’s style even if I don’t agree with it or find it boring (the more I disagree with your outfit, the more diversity there is!) but the fact that there is such a limited variety in what Parisiennes wear is a bit frustrating knowing that this city is supposed to be one of the fashion capitals. There’s little room for daily creativity or innovation when you’re in a society, especially as a foreigner, where people generally feel it’s their duty to correct you if your appearance or behavior is ‘abnormal’.

The main categories of style as worn by women in Paris seem to be of three camps:

A: The young Parisienne rebels with blank, unsmiling faces

B: The young to middle aged ‘professional’ women usually toting a novel, a shopping bag from Le Bon Marché or a child while coming home on the metro.

and the most daring of them all!

C: The 60+ ladies who will not be slaves to your fashion humdrum! 

Camp A: They shop at Zadig et Voltaire, Sandro, H&M and Zara. They wear the same exact styles, in approved colors (black, brown, gray, olive or eggplant), and can’t say no to apparel that is studded. They own a pair of black motorcycle boots with studs, sneaker wedges, skinny jeans and cotton fingerless gloves so their hands are always free to text or light up a cigarette. Leather jackets or large fur coats are what she prefers to complement her chunky infinity scarf. And she usually sports long, wavy hair and black eyeliner. She loves a good leather bag with some studs or zippers or the infamous Vanessa Bruno bag with all those sparkles. She broke curfew once two years ago and since that night she has been using fashion as her way to rebel.

Camp B: She’s a newly graduated woman searching for work or a middle aged professional who keeps Americans begging the question ‘How can I attain that classic, Parisian je ne sais quoi?’ The answer does not lie within Chanel number five or grandmother’s Hermes vintage scarf (although it could), but Repetto ballet flats or heels no taller than 2 inches (I can attest that footwear higher than 2 inches will cause too much of a rio), opaque tights paired with a pencil skirt, and poncho-styled wool coat. She generally abides to the neutral-colors-and-black-only rule but may surprise you with a flash of blue, red or pink with her cashmere scarf. Her bag of choice comes from Tod’s, Lancel, Hexagona, Longchamp or Chanel. Makeup is minimal and confidence is foremost; never look up from your phone or book while on the metro unless you want to surrender your expression of indifference.

Camp C: My favorite group of Parisian woman who inspire me and make me feel like maybe it’s okay to stand out. While not all older woman dress super stylishly, most of the time the most daring outfit and the boldest of colors are worn by a woman above the age of sixty. While modest in her choice of skirt lengths and necklines, she is the true rebel when it comes form deviating from fashion norms by wearing prints, colors and flashy accessories. She has the advantage of a stockpile of clothing from different eras including at least 3 different designer bags from each decade and no one can critique her look. She’s got moxie and she doesn’t think twice about smiling in public. She prefers her hair in a bun and who knows she may even be in your ballet class. (Yes, really!)

This was all in good fun and I hope this doesn’t come off as offensive to anyone! I don’t think that I dress so incredibly different from the rest of the crowd, but I was definitely more concerned about fitting in with the Parisiennes during the fall than I am now. I have always been one to take some risks even if they were huge mistakes and I am here in Paris to continue said lifestyle.

Maybe I am not really going to be Stacey: La Parisienne and more like Stacey: Hey, I once lived in Paris, can you tell?

xx

My One-Hundredth Day In Paris

Tonight marks my 100th day (or 2,400th hour) in Paris. I feel obligated to consider how I have changed and how my view of Paris has changed since those first few weeks of settling in, adjusting to host-family life, growing familiar with the metro  and exploring the different arrondissements to create my personalized, mental map of the city.

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The “Amelie” cafe (Photo taken by staceylaparisienne)

Before coming to Paris I had studied hard to come up with a list of restaurants, cafes and patisseries that fell into some blogger’s “Best Of Paris” list. My notebook with bonnes adresses continues to expand and diversify, so while i know that I will never make it to every single one of these places, I think I have put quite a dent in the list. Pursuing this list has led me to eat some of the best croissants, authentic Indian food, buttery escargot, falafel, sandwiches, hot chocolate, macarons, and crepes that Paris has to offer.

Sometimes I worry that I’m not spontaneous enough but I would rather plan every single one of my meals than settle on just any restaurant and waste 9 euros on an over-salted, badly spiced dish (more than once.) And, personally, renouncing my pescetarianism for Paris turned out to be a good thing (although the night I broke my meat-free diet was a complete accident.) I might have eaten some dishes that aren’t my favorite (lamb or veal for example) but I am also able to fully participate in the experience of French cuisine. And sometimes by trying something new I found some things that I really enjoy (like ham in crepes or in a sanwich.)

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Photo taken by staceylaparisienne

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Chicken curry and kimchi. Looks scary but it was tasty (Photo taken by staceylaparisienne)

Enough about food..

I also got back into dancing ballet again. Sometime in October I was beginning to go stir crazy. Everyday was a new adventure to do whatever I wanted, but eventually all that free time started to take a toll and I began to feel guilty and lazy for not using up every second of my free time to do something meaningful or educational. (Classes just don’t seem to take up as much time as they normally have back in the U.S.) I needed some real responsibilities or something to focus on. And although ballet isn’t exactly a responsibility or a selfless activity, it’s something that I do once or twice a week that I enjoy, can help me make friends and takes up enough time during a day that I then feel like I have deadlines to finish my school work.

My language skills have definitely improved. I still wouldn’t call myself fluent but I am now confident enough to carry on a conversation in French and understand nearly everything that a French speaker says to me. I’ve gotten to the point where I can isolate the one word I don’t know in a spoken phrase and then ask the speaker for a clarification. And while I’m sure it will take years (or maybe just the end of this school year) to reach a level of pronunciation that is nearly perfect, I now know what I need to work on exactly and how I can go about fixing my “trouble areas”. I’ve also learned a lot of interesting tips about pronouncing vowels and consonants in the French language. (Example: French and English d’s and t’s are different. In English we hold the tip of the tongue to the roof of our mouths, while in French the tongue needs to be positioned at the back of one’s front teeth). I also arrived at the point where my spoken French is good enough that I can focus on picking up new vocabulary words.

xx

S.

There was a woman who I saw…

1) Il y avait une femme que j’ai vue tuer.

2) Il y avait une femme que j’ai vu tuer.

Both of these sentences are very similar but have completely different meanings. The verb voir  means to see and is is conjugated in the pass tense above and is written both as vu and vue, which translates as “saw”.  The verb voir is also considered a verb of perception, meaning that it is a verb that refers to one of the five senses (touch, taste, sight, sound and smell).

The rule is that a verb of perception (voir, or in this case vu) can be altered by the gender of the object ( in this case it’s “une femme” [a lady] which is a feminine noun) if the object (une femme) is both the one being perceived and also the actor (the doer, if you please) of the infinitive verb. The infinitive verb (a verb that has not been conjugated) is represented by tuer, which is the verb “to kill”.

Case 1: If la femme is both perceived, here meaning that she was seen, and she is also the actor of the infinitive verb tuer (to kill), the verb of perception is altered to show gender agreement. The result is vu becomes vue.

Case 2: If she is only perceived by one of the five senses but is not the actor of the infinitive verb tuer, the verb of perception, vu, is unaffected and remains written as vu.

Conclusion: 

Sentence #1 can be translated as “There was a woman who I saw kill.” (As in, the woman is the killer)

Sentence #2 however translates to mean “There was a woman who I saw killed.” (As in, the woman is the victim.)

Now those are two sentences with opposing meanings with significant difference in meaning. And all of that is due to that seemingly minor addition of the letter e !

 

One month Anniversary

My camera took its final breath last Saturday, so I won’t be posting any more photos until I get a replacement.

So, to post a quick update without the aid of photos, I will write about my week briefly. This last week of September included:

-Getting use to the routine of my classes and doing homework (oh, that’s right, the reason I’m in Paris is to study)

-Visiting the exposition “Paris: Vue par Hollywood” for the second time. The exposition, although poorly executed with missing “fiches” (I have no idea how to say this in English.. it’s the card under/near the display that describes what you’re looking at ?)  and a floor plan that makes you feel like a mouse trapped in poorly designed maze, it was actually pretty enjoyable. And the exposition did inspire me to watch a bunch of Audrey Hepburn movies including Funny Face.

-Eating sanduiches chez Eric Kayser

-Drinking a lot of hot tea in order to warm up in this apartment where it’s 10-15 degrees colder than the temperature outside

-Reading A Moveable Feast and having the privilege to visit or know the addresses that Hemingway describes/ visited/ lived at.

-It’s getting more and more easy to speak French but I don’t know if that’s really an improvement; just because I can speak a little more quickly doesn’t mean I’m speaking coherently and without grammatical mistakes. And I know there’s no way to improve my French but to practice and communicate often but I have a feeling I’ve fallen into a dangerous zone of perpetuating my own errors of grammar and conjugation.

-Exploring new streets and neighborhoods. This is the one thing that has contributed to my continually and slowly growing affection for Paris. I have to admit that as much as Paris has been refreshing, intriguing and lovely to look at, I have not really been in love with the city or felt too attached to it (and I still don’t. New York still reigns supreme). However, I just recently started to genuinely warm up to it when that internal map and sense of direction, all inside my head, began to get more detailed. It’s a process of becoming familiar with boundaries and neighborhoods that eventually leads to my being able to orientate myself in a large city.

The concept is personal and difficult to explain, so I might try to write a post on it but for now all I can  say is that it’s the feeling of comfort and familiarity that goes with knowing that the shop that sells hot chocolate to die for is near my school, which is on the way to the vintage shop where I love to window shop, which is not too far from the quality sandwich shop, which is only 2 blocks away from one of the best spots for gelato.

-I realized that I am really irked by something things commonly found in Paris[ian culture]. Or maybe it’s because they are so common that they irk me. This list will continue to grow but so far it includes:

a) Les Sacs cabas by Vanessa Bruno. If I  walk 2 blocks I can be sure to pass at least 5 girls with this bag. I just don’t understand how it’s come to be so popular that women, from 7-70 years old, carry this ugly sequined bag that’s just, in my opinion, an overpriced version of something I’m sure the Children’s Place once sold for $20. Since it’s not practical, sophisticated, nor well-designed, why are Parisians so taken with it?

b) The phrase “c’est pas pareil” (It’s not the same/ it can’t be compared). This phrase irritates me because it’s often uttered when I’m trying to make an argument or a comparison to explain my point of view. Once it is uttered the debate is over, my point has become invalid and my opponent somehow won the debate all because “it’s not the same!”.

c) … I don’t want to be too hard on Paris so I will end this list with: Pigeons.

until next time,

S.