Monthly Archives

September 2013

Little Pleasures in Paris [#6]: Cycling with Vélib

24 September 2013

Taxi drivers may bemoan the changes and urban development projects the city has rolled out in the last several years both to reduce the number of cars and make room for new cultural hubs but for locals, it means that city living continues to improve. Thanks to Vélib, the city’s 6 year old, groundbreaking bike-sharing program, getting around has also become a lot more enjoyable. So much so that other cities around the world were inspired to launch their own, with only a few subtle differences (and since nothing confers legitimacy like imitation, the program’s popularity abroad speaks volumes of its design, execution and success). Now that visitors can pre-pay for a pass online to use during their stay, Vélib has even wider reach. You could easily see the appeal this summer when Parisians had decamped to their vacation destinations, leaving the city an open playground and the bikes in plentiful supply. I was eager to get back on a bike after our holiday so for the last several weekends, Cédric and I whipped across town by bike, taking care to closely follow the itineraries laid out in “Paris by Bike with Vélib”, a new guide (and 1st Vélib book) […]…

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That Time I Was a Model in Paris

19 September 2013

I don’t think there will ever come a point in my life where I’m wholly comfortable in front of the camera but I came quite close during a special photo shoot back in August. Fresh-faced from the glow of the Basque sun, I returned to Paris with a very unique request from my pals at Sister Mag – the digital lifestyle magazine produced entirely by German sisters Thea and Toni Neubauer. They were knee-deep in preparations for Issue #9 and were looking for a ‘model’ for their Paris story. Would I be willing to do it? I hesitated, instantly imagining the worst – the most unflattering angles, the wonkiest smile, the glaring imperfections, suddenly visible to thousands of readers. Like many women, I’ve struggled with body image issues and frequently shied from photographs for fear I would be perceived by others in the unfavorable light in which I perceived myself. But I was comforted by the knowledge that the Sister Mag girls never feature professional models. Then I learned that hairstylist Rubi Jones would be crafting each hair look and professional makeup artist Charles Gillman would be responsible for enhancing my features (and let’s be honest, brightening the under-eye zone), and […]…

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Breakfast and Lunch at Frenchie-To-Go

9 September 2013

It’s nearly inconceivable to talk about the Paris dining scene without mentioning Gregory Marchand and his ascent to stardom on the rue du Nil in the 2nd arrondissement. That and the herculean effort required to score a reservation at Frenchie, Marchand’s contemporary bistro and claim to fame. Fortunately, his two other outposts provide a taste of his talent and ingenuity without the attendant stress of having to book: Frenchie wine bar and Frenchie-To-Go, his latest venture. I’ve been reluctant to join on the Frenchie bandwagon for several reasons but mostly because of the outsize hype and the arcane booking system – there is by no means a dearth of supremely good restaurants in this city so why jump through hoops for this one in particular? I was also turned off by this sort of groupie-fanaticism around the chef himself. But when I learned that his coffee shop-cum-deli counter (Frenchie-To-Go) would offer Ruebens, lobster rolls, fish n’ chips (with line-caught merlu from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, my favorite fishing town in Basque country) and a bevy of breakfast options served all day, my tune started to change. It didn’t hurt that Marchand’s upmarket diner had secured the imprimatur of some of the food writers […]…

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Franco File Friday: Karen Wheeler (+ Book Giveaway!)

6 September 2013

After a brief, summer hiatus, Franco File Friday is back and I can think of no better feature to reignite the series than a writer with an interesting love affair with France. Karen Wheeler, a former Fashion editor and beauty writer, left behind her fast-paced London life in 2005 to pursue a more humble and relaxed adventure in a small French village in rural Poitou-Charentes. What was meant to be home for a year turned into a permanent residence, laying the groundwork for a multitude of new stories and ideas that she would mold into three memoirs, including “Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My Heels for a New Life in France” and most recently, “The Marie Antoinette Diet: Eat Cake and Still Lose Weight”, equal parts personal anecdotes and diet book hinged on the eating habits of the 18th century queen. (Available now on the Kindle or in print in early 2014). Here she shares snippets from her French life. Describe what you love about France in three words. Countryside, history, sunsets. Advice for anyone dreaming of picking up their lives and settling in France? Learn the language, make sure that you will be able to earn a living before you […]…

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A Bastille Day Birthday Bash

4 September 2013

When’s the next trip to France? That’s the abiding question for Francophiles.  Plan a visit, map out every last detail, take it all in, grudgingly depart, begin saving (funds and/or vacation days) and organizing the next trip – give or take a few elements, that’s the usual cycle. For Susan Hutchinson, dear friend and inspiration for my Franco File Friday series, the answer is decidedly unclear. With two young twins, travel has become inherently more complicated. Until an epic holiday with the entire family is feasible, she takes care to infuse her quotidien and celebrate milestones with French flair and spirit.  After all, this is the woman who was campaigning for a Bastille Day delivery date (they were born the 13th in America, middle of the night in France). For her twins’ first birthday, she arranged a Bastille Day bash in Philadelphia with heaps of charming French touches, do-it-yourself decor and delicious bites. The only way to top a party like this is to host one in France! The final result was absolutely beautiful – see for yourself in the full feature on 100 Layer Cakelet. Have you ever organized a French-themed party? …

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