5 Things I Learned in Paris

14 April 2017
Paris Montmartre

It was a pure delight to get work with the photographer Charissa Fay on this book and most importantly, she confirmed who my target audience would be — people like her! I thought it would be fun to get her thoughts on the experience on the shoot and what she learned about Paris through “The New Paris” lens.  

Before Lindsey reached out to me with this exciting project, I had been to Paris five or six times, beginning with a French language exchange when I was fifteen.  There’s something heady about the overall atmosphere and the alluring, chic style of the city that always draws me back, so I was thrilled to spend two and a half weeks shooting the book in Fall 2015 and Summer 2016.  For a few wonderful weeks, I lived like a local in Paris!  And so what did I learn about this favorite city of mine?

1// As Lindsey writes, the 9th, 10th, and 11th arrondissements are the heart of the “new”, contemporary Paris.  In my previous visits, I had started naturally gravitating to younger, more local places in these neighborhoods, but I had no idea of the depth and true nature of the burgeoning, creative movement there that was redefining the city.  Like most tourists, I still believed Paris was represented by more formal dining and established places, but “The New Paris” identified exactly the types of multi-cultural, creative and local spots I’d much rather explore. Which leads me to my next point…

2// I was not aware of the heavily international, entrepreneurial influence driving Paris’s creative trends. During the shoot, so many of the inspiring individuals I met were either expats from around the world living in Paris or French people who had traveled extensively.  Many had quit their corporate jobs and started their small business to pursue their passions.  As someone who left a corporate job to start a new career as a freelance photographer, I could really relate to that. So I was always very interested to hear the stories of these driven entrepreneurs living life on their own terms.

3// I had never had really good coffee before!  Lindsey opened my eyes to how a great cup should taste.  What I had been drinking at Starbucks and at cafés around the world was a mediocre product that had been served as an afterthought.  In Paris, I met professional roasters, baristas and cafe owners who take coffee as seriously as sommeliers take wine – producing good coffee is a science and an art, from the time the beans are selected and roasted to the moment it is brewed in a top-of-the-line machine.  I also learned that many of the coffee trends in Paris were influenced by the coffee movement in Australia.

4// I discovered new places to go out at night! My favorite nighttime spots in Paris now are at boutique hotels.  In particular, I absolutely loved the vibe at Le Grand Pigalle, designed by Dorothée Meilichzon who is profiled in the book, and Hotel Providence.  The two richly decorated, intimate bar-cafe spaces at these hotels are extremely stylish, but low-key, hangout spots for any day of the week.  They also happen to be some of the most photogenic interiors I’ve ever had the privilege to shoot.

5// As an American, I found it quite amusing that a few very popular bakeries and restaurants are closed on the weekends, which I would have assumed to be extremely popular (profitable) days for business.  After a walking detour to Du Pain et Des Ideés because I had a huge craving for my favorite pastry (their Sacristan), only to find out that the bakery was closed on a SATURDAY, I was very confused!
(Editor’s note: in some cases, weekend closures are due to building contracts and in others, it’s to save the costs of having extra staff. Many times, these spots do brisk business during the week and end up being able to succeed without having weekend hours). But little details like that were small differences that make Paris, well….Paris!

Overall, my time spent shooting Lindsey’s book was a thrill and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to live like a local for a short while and to learn in depth about the fascinating, creative and dynamic side to this beautiful city.  I now have so many new favorite places to visit that my biggest challenge will be having enough time.  Thank you, Paris!  I love you even more….

Order your copy of “The New Paris” today and don’t forget to enter your information HERE to receive a special pre-order gift if filled out before April 18. 
  • Courtney

    This is an important testimonial to what Paris is becoming, especially from the point of view of an American (or two!). New, international, great coffee, boutique hotels, and all rooted in French tradition. A twist on the traditional. A revival of sorts. It makes me proud to be an American in Paris. Thank you Lindsey and Charissa!

  • lostinkarachi

    Wow! I would love to visit Paris some day!