Six France-Inspired Reads for Summer

25 June 2013

From indulgent treats to sultry love affairs, these six France-inspired stories will put some extra spice in your summer reading.  Paris, My Sweet: AYear in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate), Amy Thomas’s memoir released last year, takes us on her emotional journey from New York to Paris. Woven through each chapter of deeply personal tales – of making friends, navigating the grim dating scene, surviving bouts of self-doubt and defining happiness (both in and outside of the bakery) – are rapturous tasting excursions on both sides of the Atlantic. Not one to discriminate, Amy relishes the treats each city has to offer and provides a little black book of all her most cherished shops and bakeries so you can experience her edible adventures firsthand.  Self-discovery, questions of identity and the search for meaningful life experiences in Paris after college: the joys and hardships of Hilary Reyl’s heroine Katherine in her first novel Lessons in French remind me a great deal of myself when I first came to the city (sans the intellectual jousting at dinner with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Umberto Eco, of course). Paris in the late 1980’s may be the backdrop but this is a character-driven coming of age story […]…

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Kinfolk Picnic in Paris

3 October 2012

As chilling temperatures loom ahead, my thoughts are staunchly stuck on summer’s many sun-drenched, inspiring moments. California’s low-key cool and Paris’s annual silence feel like weeks, not months, behind us and the Kinfolk Magazine picnic I attended at the tail end of August seems more like fairy tale reverie than reality. A group of twenty creatives, from photographers and writers to graphic designers and bloggers, convened along the cobblestone docks of the Seine, lit entirely by passing boats and Paris’s glowing, wrought iron beacon, unobstructed from view. Candles in bell jars were strung from vintage bicycles and old photographs served as name cards for all guests – a wonderful keepsake. For an urban picnic, the atmosphere was distinctly pastoral and perfectly embodied the Kinfolk manifesto, right down to the simplicity of the aesthetic – paper plates, wooden utensils, wicker baskets, and the obligatory old blanket. Celebrating summer’s bounty with such an inspiring group was an experience I’m not soon to forget. And the backdrop? Not bad either. Hats off to Rubi Jones and Tiffany/Tifamade for hosting the quintessential Paris picnic! What Paris picnic spots have been the most memorable for you? For a look at the picnic menu, click here.Location: […]…

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Playing Tourist in Paris (Part II)

22 August 2012

Perhaps I dramatized things a bit when I said recently that the emptiness in Paris during the month of August was distressing. You see, I expressed this sentiment at a particularly fragile moment just before someone very important to me arrived in town. Winston’s return to Paris ushered in renewed resolve to spend more time outside and relish the fleeting urban calm. The canicule (heat wave) that blanketed the city over the weekend was further impetus to flee my apartment (which had turned into a furnace) in search of a refreshing salve. I have my preferred haunts but last weekend I wanted to do something different. My tactic for always having something new to explore is to reserve a handful of museums, cultural activities and even restaurants for the rare moments I find myself playing tour guide to guests (and the more frequent fallow periods of inspiration). And so Winston and I had lunch at the Le Saut du Loup, the comically overpriced restaurant in the Jardin du Carrousel, where the service is uneven but the views of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower were unobstructed. We paid a premium for the terrace and the sensation of being on vacation. […]…

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Summer Silence in Paris

8 August 2012

Summer in Paris? I tricked you, I’m sorry. Paris only sports those palm trees in August when over 6,000 tons of sand is hauled in for Paris Plage, the capital’s makeshift tropical getaway along the Seine.  In case those majestic palm trees didn’t give it away, this photo was taken in Santa Monica though it could have easily have been Palm Springs, Santa Barbara or even San Francisco – places I’m still thinking of two months after our trip. I might also add that the title of this post is a bit misleading. Paris is indeed sleepy in August but that’s not entirely what this is about. What I’d really like to be doing this month – availing myself of the lighter crowds to test some of the city’s storied sweets (so many left to try) and new tables – is at odds with what is actually possible. I couldn’t fight off my disappointment when the first “en congés” (on holiday) signs were haphazardly fastened to shops fronts and bakery doors nor could I stave off the pit in my stomach at the thought of how meager my meals would be for the rest of the summer. My trusty bakery, most of […]…

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La rentrée, end of summer in Paris

6 September 2011

That’s it. Summer’s over. The scarves have been pulled from hibernation to combat September’s first gusts of autumn wind, backpacks are packed full of notebooks, pencils and other accessories for proper trouble-making, the rhythmic clickety-clack of women’s high heels has returned to the streets, and questionable body odors have seeped back into packed metro cars for enjoyable morning commutes. Despite sporadic heat waves that have let the taste of summer linger, Fall air in Paris was palpable the minute we entered September. As much as I have fond memories of autumn in the States, even with back-to-school nerves, it depresses me a bit here. The city foliage lacks the vibrant display of reds, oranges and yellows I loved so much on the East Coast – highly anticipated seasonal beacons. Here, I count the days until my heavy jacket makes its unwanted but necessary return and the semi-sunny skies are replaced by a 6-month haze. There’s no good way to prepare for this inevitability other than by taking advantage of every sun-soaked second with friends and family in champagne-imbued festivity. I rounded off the summer by celebrating my father-in-law’s 70th birthday. My niece was revved for la rentrée (back to school/back to work/back to […]…

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