Franco File Friday: Anne of Prêt à Voyager

{Me and my gnome at Paris café. (Photo by the lovely Meg)}

If I could go back and specialize in another area of Communication it would be graphic design/visual communication. Of course, there is a distinct possibility my life would have unfurled differently, perhaps even without Paris (and its star Frenchman I snatched up). So I must live vicariously through the work of designers around me. One of the first people that spring to mind when I think of ultra-creative designers is Anne of the successful travel blog, Prêt à Voyager (which means, ready to travel).

I met Anne at the American University of Paris right as she was beginning the Master's program I had just completed and we've been friends ever since! I greatly admire Anne's unbridled creative spark, lust for travel and perseverance to make Paris her permanent home. While her next move might still be uncertain, she has no doubt it will involve travel, design  and communication. A few questions for this lifelong Francophile...

Describe what you love about France in three words. 
Gardens, markets and meals.

{Exploring Paris and getting lost in this city will never get old. I'm constantly discovering new things}

What is the most striking difference between Paris and your previous home, Baltimore? 
I'm probably the only person in the world who would say Paris and Baltimore are similar, but when living in Baltimore I worked to channel my inner-Parisian. I love that Baltimore, like Paris has many distinct neighborhoods, each with their own personality. Baltimore has the nickname, "Charm City, USA" and I loved the quirkiness of the city; Paris has a different kind of charm.  In Baltimore there are two main outdoor markets that I would frequent. While there are about a hundred in Paris, it is this idea of shopping fresh and doing small, regular food shops that stuck with me while living in the US. 

I also have a love of public transportation, and when my car died in Baltimore a few years ago, I decide to embrace the unlikely combination of an American without a car, and used it as an excuse to travel more. Overall, I much prefer the quality of life in Europe – it just feels more "équilibré" (balanced).

{Merci is another favorite shop. It's curated and changing all the time, and the red car out front changes with the installations}

Favorite design-focused shop in Paris and why?
Le Petit Atelier de Paris is by far my favorite. I love it because everything is made by hand and one-of-a-kind (beautiful porcelain vases, letters, bowls), and their shop is the only place in the world where you can find their work. I love the layout of the boutique with the exposed stone walls and wood tables which makes their work stand out. The couple behind the shop/work is lovely, as is their dog who has his own house in the corner of the store. It's all just really beautiful in its simplicity. I don't go there as much as I'd like, because every time I do go, I end up buying something for myself!

{I love when it's nice out and the city becomes Paris' most popular restaurant. I particularly love going along the Canal St. Martin (where Amélie skipped stones)}

Most spontaneous thing you've done while living/traveling in France?
I love the way you can just up and have a picnic with a bottle of wine or champagne anywhere in this city. It makes hanging out with friends so much easier, and just a really fun and festive occasion. It's the most mundane moments that I appreciate most about living in France. 

{The view from Catherine's balcony. Pas mal, as the French would say}

In what ways can people incorporate French design elements into their homes?

Less is more! I moved to France with a wardrobe that was black, brown, blue and grey, with the accent color of mustard yellow. When you live in France - and in tiny apartments - you learn you can simplify life and you don't need every gizmo and gadget. The one thing I couldn't live without is my hot water boiler - perhaps not the most stylish, but oh so practical. 

On a design level, I am a contributing editor for the "sneak peek" home tour column on Design*Sponge. My three favorite French homes we've run are Catherine Taret, Ombline de Kersabiec and Sandrine Place. I love looking to these spaces for inspiration.

Favorite French film and/or book?
Hands down Le Fableux Destin d'Amèlie Poulain. It came out in 2001, when I was first studying abroad in Paris. Many days I think I am her. I even have a few gnomes I travel with.
Thank you, Miss Anne! Catch her Boarding Pass series every Monday (read mine from Feb. 2010 HERE) and follow her travel-design-Paris-social media tweets on Twitter

{ Photos ©Anne Ditmeyer }

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