Friday, July 31, 2009

French phrase of the day: Ca roule

Def: That works

Lionel taught me this one. It’s a more familiar/slangy way of saying “ca marche.” One of those expressions I know I’ll now hear over and over again.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More restaurant explorations

Frenchie: 5 rue du Nil, 2eme
Went with: Michael on a Tuesday night
Had: A beautiful chilled beet, raspberry and creme fraîche soup (wow!); salmon, served on pureed root veg, with buttery carrots, topped with shaved fennel and dill.
Impressions: Super fresh and inventive. The menu changes daily and offers just two appetizers, two entrées and three desserts. Another are-we-in-New-York? dining experience. Cozy and clean, tucked down a side street in my very own neighborhood. This place is still new and soon to be on everyone’s radar.

L’Avenue: 41 avenue Montaigne, 8eme

Went with: Ogilvy folks for lunch
Had: The largest, most succulent piece of cod I’ve ever eaten in my life with a tasty side of haricots verts. The meal started with une coupe de champagne, progressed with lovely white wine and ended with an espresso to go with the macarons.
Impressions: Avenue Montaigne location ensures a crowd of beautiful people. A Costes establishment, it’s a see-and-be-seen place, for sure. Loved the house dog. Purple and gold interior feels dated but is still cozy. And all I’m saying is it’s a good thing I wasn’t paying.

Hotel du Nord: 102 quai de Jemmapes, 10eme

Went with: Melissa on a Saturday night
Had: Chinese chicken salad and chevre ravioli.
Impressions: I was so happy to have a different kind of menu and the salad in particular hit the spot. The bartender was high on either crack or life, literally bouncing off the walls. Normally cool crowd was tainted by B&T element. The cozy, candlelit atmosphere is going to be calling my name when it gets cold out.

Spring: 28 rue de la Tour d’Auvergne, 9eme

Went with: Alex on the special all-day-lobster-rolls Saturday
Had: A meaty, delicious lobster roll and goose fat French fries dusted with orange and lime zest. Sigh.
Impressions: Teeny-tiny, clean, contemporary spot. Bright, airy and friendly. Just like New York, the price of a lobster roll here is steep (23 or 24 euros?), but the portion was generous and, bottom line, it was delicious. Seated right by the open kitchen, we got to chat with Daniel—who’s a great guy—as he made the sandwiches.

Bistro Paul Bert: 18 rue Paul Bert, 11eme
Went with: Michael on a Tuesday night
Had: Warm, grilled squid salad—exquisite—and gosh, this is bad, fish for an entrée but I can’t remember what kind?! Finished off with baba rhum for two.
Impressions: This is one I’d been wanting to try for ages. One of the “new Left Bank” bistros. Great, great stuff: classic ambiance, good crowd, typical menu, but delicious food. My squid salad was superb. And we got to dress the baba rhum ourselves with a bottle from the bar.

French word of the day: un arc-en-ciel

Def: rainbow

Sometimes if you look, they are there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not the best weekend

It wasn’t my brightest weekend in the City of Light.

• Friday night, I fell on a staircase in a store and a) embarrassed myself (it was a not-so-graceful fall) b) *killed* my knee along with my ankle and butt (I was limping all day Saturday), but worst of all c) I ruined the fabulous new pair of Robert Clergerie platform heels that I was wearing for the first time. So sad.

• I had to work both days.

• I didn’t get enough sleep.

• And I was practically assaulted by a taxi driver. I was biking into work on Sunday and tapped this cab on the window as he kept drifting toward the curb. It was my friendly way of letting him know I was there as he wasn’t responding to my bike bell. As soon as I touched his precious taxi van, however, he pulled over, stopped me in the middle of the street and grabbed me by the arm. The bike fell in the middle of the road and I start freaking out, yelling at him to take his f’ing hands off me. Then he grabbed my bag out of the bike basket and wouldn't give it back to me. It was all so infuriating. I finally got my bag back, when he took the overpriced salad I was bringing for lunch instead. As soon as I had my bag and arm back, I took off, blood boiling, onlookers scratching their heads and telling this man he was “malade” and cooled off/hid on a side street for a few minutes. Then I got to go to work. I mean, wtf??

• The weekend’s final insult was getting home at 8 o’clock on Sunday night, after a weekend mostly spent at the office, and stopping by the Italian sandwich shop I like for my beautiful pressed mozzarella and tomato sandwich. By the time I get these home to eat, the cheese and olive oil and basil has melded to the sweet tomatoes and crunchy bread in this perfect dinner of deliciousness. But when I got home and sat down to eat last night, I saw they had given me the wrong sandwich: it was ham. I couldn’t eat it.

It wasn’t all disastrous, however. On a positive note…

• I had the most delicious lobster roll and goose fat French fries at Daniel Rose’s Spring restaurant. The lobster roll was a beautiful summer feast—which made me very happy and a little nostalgic for Connecticut—but the fries were otherworldly. And not because of the goose fat, though that indeed made a delicious difference. But he grated orange and lime zest over them, giving them a light, slightly tart accent—sublime, I tell you. Give it a try (Meghan).

• I had another fun night with Mel: good food and conversation at Hotel du Nord followed by a Parisian house party. Crazy cats in this city.

• I got to see the finish of the Tour de France: an epic experience here in Paris.

Tour de France

One nice thing about having to work this weekend is that I had the perfect perch from which to see the end of the Tour de France.

Before the cyclists show up, there is a long, loud parade of sponsors. A really long, loud parade.

It was a lot of waiting and anticipation, but pretty remarkable when the cyclists showed up.

Seeing them all pedaling together in a pack was like watching some strange, beautiful Mad Max-esque creature.

It gave me a lump in my throat, the same way watching the New York City Marathon does.

They did eight laps, up and down the Champs-Elysée, followed by a boatload of cars, toting the teams' bikes and equipment.

Yay, biking.

Friday, July 24, 2009

French phrase of the day: tu me manques

Def: I miss you

Today is Adorable Isa's last day. She's moving back to Quebec, et je suis triste.

I thought I was being all French when I signed her farewell card with a heartfelt "Je te manques déjà." But I really just wrote gibberish—the French reverse it, so you're basically saying "You miss me." Does it make sense? No. Which is why it's so French.

Unscientific research

Sometimes I really sit here and wonder: what am I doing here? Really, why did this happen to me? What am I getting out of it? What am I supposed to be getting out of it? Is it something great and profound like meeting the love of my life? Or is it something more subtle and quotidian, like appreciating the beauty in everything and nothing at the same time?

Can my blog entries be any indication? Here are the five things I most often write about:

Eating (63)
Language (57)
Just Because (48)
Working (41)
Wandering (38)

I thought pastries (25) and Velibs (20) would figure more prominently. But in any case, I think the numbers are somewhat telling.

Eating. Well, that one’s pretty obvious. I love eating. I love talking about it, writing about it and dreaming about it. I love the food here. Eating, now more than ever, is a daily joy.

Becoming proficient in French was a main goal in coming to Paris. In March, I was hoping I might be pretty fluent by the end of the year. Now I think that’s a stretch, but I’m sort of happy with where I am. I keep waiting for that floodgate to open that everyone talks about—allegedly, I’m going to have this wave of comprehension and capability when suddenly everything clicks and I realize how far I’ve come. In the meantime, I’m happy learning the occasional word and turn of phrase.

Just because. Yeah, just because! Why does there have to be an answer to everything??

Working. Sort of ironic that I work so much in France, a country with a reputation for fucking off all the time. Not only do I work a lot, but I’m enjoying my work for the first time in a long time. I’m proud of what I’m doing. This is a really good professional opportunity. And, after all, I can’t forget that it’s what brought me here.

Wandering. I guess this just goes with my love of the city. I love wandering. And then eating something.

I’m curious what the outsider’s perspective is, too. Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Just a thought

Wouldn’t it be awesome if I came to Paris to fall in love with a bilingual pastry chef??

The little things I love

• Chalkboard menus.
• That there’s a decent number of women taxi drivers. At least more than in New York and San Francisco.
• Signs that say “Institut de Beauté”—it’s just so French and funny.
• All the clearly marked and generally respected bike lanes.
• The butter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

French women: ridiculous

Dang. I need to step it up. I sat outside at a café for une coupe de champagne last night, and my admiration for the fashionable French women skyrocketed to awe and then tipped to envy.

The (Anne Hathaway-looking) waitress had her hair up in a perfectly disheveled knot that would have taken me 90 minutes and an extra pair of hands to accomplish. Another woman sat, looking stunning in a backless top. Another looked like a YSL model circa ’79 with her belled jeans and fabulous belt. Everyone had something going on. So much style. The sweet and sexy dresses and skirts. The perfectly fitted jeans. The swishy shirts. The perfect hair. The bags, the shoes… I really need to step it up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

None for me, thanks

Le Tour de France

If you have the chance to catch some of the Tour de France between now and Sunday, I highly recommend it. The countryside is spectacular and the racing is intense. I can only imagine the thrill they must feel.

Weather check: holy hot cakes

I had dinner with Melissa, Richard and Vincent last night—four New Yorkers cavorting on the canal—and we found ourselves in the middle of an urban wind tunnel. Out of nowhere, the air was chilly and the breeze invited jackets.

But today is a whole other story. Hot, humid… hello, summer. It’s one of the few days where you actually need air conditioning.

Everyone keeps saying this is the first summer Paris has had in years. I love it. Such a lucky, lucky girl.

Monday, July 20, 2009

500 days of summer

A lot of people have asked what I miss about the states or New York. It’s hard to say. I get the occasional wave of sadness, but it’s most often when I think about family and friends. It’s not that I don’t miss New York and my life there. Because I do. But I’m surrounded by so much that is new here—so much that I want to see and do—that I don’t have the space in my head to pine for all the little things that made me happy back home.

But then, something will smack me in the face and the desire for home is inescapable. It may seem silly, but seeing the trailer for this new summer romance did just that.

Maybe it’s because I miss having movie dates (Alex, Cheryl, Mr. B) that include hashing out the movie’s strengths and weaknesses over something delicious (cupcake, cocktail, french toast). Maybe it just reminds me of all the different movie theaters in New York and what the weather was like outside and what was going on in my head when I saw certain movies. Maybe it reminds me of that anticipation at the very beginning of a movie, when you really, really (really!)hope it’s going to be a good one. This trailer even gives me fond memories of schlepping to Ikea. But I think maybe the pang is mostly that my desire to fall H over H with un homme is as strong as my deep and undying love for New York. Being starry-eyed about a city is wonderful. But a city can’t hug you back.

Please weigh in...

I had a wonderful dinner with Bruce and Meghan the other night and the phrase “an American dork in Paris” came up. Should I make this the title of my blog? Take the poll, to the right!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vitrines with messages

A little pride...


French fashion mentality...

...and vacation philosophy.

What more could you ask for?

A few more restaurants

Have I mentioned lately how much I love eating here?

Mon Vieil Ami: 69 rue St Louis en l’Ile, 4eme
Went with: Bruce and Meghan on a Saturday night
Had: Beautiful homemade pasta, topped with a few pieces of squid and a filet of sea bream; country bread with the creamiest, saltiest butter; apricot clafoutis with apricot-thyme ice cream. Bon-jour, del-icious!
Impressions: Nice space on the Ile Saint-Louis; they could dim the lights a little, but otherwise I liked the cramped, cavernous room; servers were super friendly; nice mix of tourists and locals; an overall satisfying meal—a close-to-New York dining experience (which I, of course, love).

Le Marché: 2 Place du Marché Ste-Catherine, 4eme

Went with: Josephine on a Friday night
Had: Chicken Caesar salad, and we split the tarte tatin for dessert. A Caesar salad, I know, sounds like a total bore, but it was so simple and satisfying: instead of romaine lettuce drenched in Caesar dressing, they were fresh greens tossed lightly in dressing and the four small slices of chicken were so flavorful. The tarte tatin was underwhelming, but it’s always worth a try.
Impressions: Super cute, classic French bistro with nice prices, located on a darling square in the Marais. The food was basic, the kitchen, tiny, and the waitstaff, really friendly. No need to rush back, but nice to know a cute, affordable spot that’s reliable.

Au Vieux Molière: Passage Molière, 157 rue Saint-Martin, 3eme

Went with: Kyoko on a Sunday night
Had: Chicken with sweet potato mash and sweet plantains.
Impressions: We sat outside in the quiet passage, and it felt like a hidden gem. The food was solid, not outstanding, but it hit the spot for me: I was craving something different and the sweet potatoes and plantains sated me. The waitress was super sweet—as I write this, I have to say, more often than not, the servers here are wonderful.

Bread and Roses: 7 rue de Fleurus, 6eme
Went with: just me, for lunch on a Saturday
Had: A giant square slice of Provencal puff pastry tart—artichokes, tomatoes, zucchini and chevre—with a small side salad of mixed greens tossed with fresh herbs. Fresh, fresh, fresh.
Impressions: A true Anglophones’ place. It’s that clean food bakery/lunch spot that does salads and baked goods really well, but you pay for them. My tart was 16 euros. Isa swears it’s the best brioche in the city, so I will go back.

French word of the day: actuellement

Def: nowadays

I just found out I’ve been using this word incorrectly since my arrival. I always say “actuellement” as if it means “actually” when in fact “actually” is “en fait”. Zut.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The little things I love

It doesn’t take much to put a smile on my face here. It could be the wild garden of flowers someone is growing in their window boxes, the way a side street curves and makes you feel like you’ve gone back 200 years in time, or just the irresistible smell drifting out of a boulangerie’s door. But there are three moments every day that I can count on to make me happy;

• In the morning, when I leave the apartment building and have to push the “Porte” button to unlock the main door. It’s just so Parisian and reminds me of when I was a student here.

• When I bike to work and turn into the Place Vendome. The magnificence of the landmark and the opulence of the entire square, from Boucheron on the left to The Rtiz on my right.

• At night, when I turn out my bedside lamp and look out the window over the rooftops and see all the Parisian chimneys.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weather check: lightening over Pompidou

I skipped the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower (and Johnny Hallyday concert—tant pis) on Bastille Day, but just watched a great lightening storm out my window.

It was like that crazy scene in Ghostbusters when the sky is purple and grey and swirling with strobing lights and lightening bolts. Mesmerizing.

And there are blue skies over Sacre Coeur.

But now it rains, cooling the city after two toasty days.

I often want to scream

I love my colleagues. I really do.


The French just love talking in circles. Around and around and around. And they’re so passionate and cerebral, they just keep going—around and around and around.

When I’m in a meeting, either one-on-one or with a group, and people start acting French, I have to try really hard to zen out. To not let it bother me. To relax my shoulders and not count all of the minutes of my day that I am losing because everyone has to take a turn at saying pretty much the same thing—unless there is a debate, in which case, everyone needs a turn at expressing his or her own opinion and we can count on sitting around that table for a good hour.

It drives me bonkers not only because I am impatient (this is a fatal flaw, but at least I am aware of it), but because I don’t even understand the insanity. Everyone is gesticulating and discoursing, going around and around and around, and I can only catch every sixth word or so. In other words, what’s the point of my even being there? Except to try to understand, if not the conversation, then the French ways.

Velib, good and evil

The good thing about the Velibs is you can ride them up on the sidewalk (given there aren't many pedestrians) to navigate around pesky traffic jams ("bouchons").

The bad thing is, your arm and belly skat wiggles when you ride them down cobblestone streets.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bals de Pompier

I’m not really sure what to say about this French custom except it’s fascinating.

Every year the nights before and of Bastille Day, about 40 firehouses in the city open their doors to anyone and everyone and throw the craziest parties.

Melissa and I braved the crowds, and it was a scene, to be sure. Gay and straight (firemen, don’t you know), hipsters and dorks, kids and gramps, the fabulous people and the B&T crowd (I even saw France’s version of the Jersey Boy—trust me, he exists). We were mostly slack jawed all night. Melissa because she couldn't imagine what would happen if there were actually a fire in the city. Me, because the crazy Swede was there.

The bands are Vegas-like cover bands and, man, do the French like their disco and kitsch. The crowds were going wild.

This one pompier, in particular, was too.

(Pardon the crummy photos - my camera is acting up again.)

As Melissa said, the French really do have a certain joie de vivre. It was fun to see everyone cutting loose—no shame, no judgments, no concerns for tomorrow. Though I do wonder how many of these people are still in bed right now.

Une bonne idée

Ever since I moved to Paris, I’ve been wanting to try Du Pain et des Idées, one of the best boulangeries in the city.

The problem is, it’s only open Monday to Friday. So it took me awhile to get there.

But, wouldn’t you know, Adorable Isa’s sweet and talented copain, Alexi, is working there. So in addition to sampling bread, a croissant, a chausson aux pommes and an escargot amandes—puff pastry rolled with delicious almond paste and cream—lucky me, I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen.

Look at Alexi go!

It was a small thrill to see an authentic French boulangerie’s kitchen. The entire staff was so warm and welcoming—something that is truly extraordinary about the French. They are proud of what they do and happy to share it with you.

After Isa and I split a croissant, I took my chausson and escargot home, where it was all I could do not to demolish everything at once. This place is the real deal.

As are Isa and Alexi.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In my working hours

It was cool to see some of the work I've done in the windows at the Louis Vuitton flagship.

I also did this Red Punch animation that I rather like. And I love the collection.

How did this happen?

When my brother was 14, I used to sneak his preppy sweaters out of his dresser so I could wear them to school and look cool. When he was 18, I pilfered his friends—again, the coolest to be found—a little more overtly. When he was 21, I would invite myself to his college parties, where I would once again bask in his coolness.

Now he is 40. Our lives have changed so much, but he’s still pretty damn cool.

To celebrate the big 4-0, he, Dana, Annika and Aidan took the Eurostar over from London for a long weekend in Paris. (See? Cool!) I’ve come to look at my visits from friends as excuses to eat pastries, visit the sights, and make my feet ache from walking. This visit was no exception.

After crossing over the Seine, past Notre Dame, and through Saint-Germaine on Saturday, we spent the day at the Luxembourg Gardens. The kids were even cuter (if that’s possible) when riding atop French ponies and swinging across the giant playground.

Then we went home for a divine birthday dinner (thank god Dana could lead in the kitchen), plus cake and champagne.

On Sunday, we braved the muggy weather to climb Montmartre, visiting the carousel and Sacre Couer along the way. Gelato at the top cooled us down for the long walk home.

But then cold weather arrived with a rainstorm Monday morning. We went to the museum of natural history, which could be one of the coolest museums in the city.

And lunch at La Mosquée was an eating highlight. Moroccan pastilla and sweet mint tea are musts.

We also walked down the Champs-Elysée (where I saw some of my colleagues—smoking outside, bien sur), rue Saint-Honoré (where we dreamed about the gowns, handbags, suits and ties that would look so perfect on us) and through the Palais Royal (where Aidan made like a Frenchie and joined a pick-up game of soccer).

The kids gave both me and Milo lots of love.

Happy 40th, Goob!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A lotta love

Oh boy, I just had one of those amazing e-mail moments. Lots of wonderful messages. So much love. I miss you all so, so much.

The quiet American

I can’t put myself out there every day. I can only push myself so much. This week, I embraced by quiet American side.

It started Sunday night with the fourth movie I’ve seen in as many months. Kyoko and I went to see Whatever Works, and it was a reminder of how much I miss going to the movies and laughing. I love Woody Allen’s absurdity and neuroses. I can even overlook his stereotypes and predictable plots. He just cracks me up.

Hooked, I decided to go back to the movies on Monday night. I found another cute little theater (they’re all over the place), bought some gummies (they’re sold like penny candy at all the bodegas) and settled in for Sunshine Cleaning, a sweet little movie about some big feelings and themes.

Two mornings this week, I got up early to go jogging. I still haven’t found a yoga studio or gym here (okay, I haven’t really looked that hard). But the easy way to feel strong and in shape again, I figure, is to just do some basic exercising. Back to the 80s-in-America-style.

I met and had lunch with another American girl, who struggles with the occasional bout of homesickness and the consistent challenge of speaking French, but who’s ultimately smitten with Paris and the city’s lifestyle, food, characters and charm (Merci, Opal).

For the past three months, I’ve had French lessons with Josephine every Monday and Wednesday morning. But right now, I’m waiting for Ogilvy to approve more hours. I tried reading and doing French exercises on my own, but I have to admit, my French studies slid this week.

I didn’t drink (save for one glass of wine with Kyoko after Sunday night’s movie), I didn’t go out, I just read and wrote after work. And work I did—between the American work ethic and my French office hours, about 9-10 hours a day were eaten up by Louis Vuitton.

In spite of or because of, I’m not sure which, but by the end of the week, I was exhausted. Last night, I finished The Age of Innocence (what an ending!), went to bed at 11, and slept until 8:30 (not exactly fitfully thanks in part to the unfortunately-consistent rebel rousers who cruise my street between 3 and 5 a.m. and my insatiable cat who wants to be fed and/or pet 23 hours a day).

This morning, I was going to go jogging again before the big day of shopping I have planned for myself. But I got sucked into my American magazines. I polished off the March issue of Elle that I carried over with me, the May issue of Vogue that Alison brought me, and the June issue of O that Mel gave me.

Very quiet and sleepy, straddling two countries and cultures. This is who I am.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The little things I love

Do you ever just stop and look at your things? Really stop, and look at them?

I couldn’t help but admire my bedroom mantel/nightstand the other day, and I realized that what I was looking at was a collection of fun memories and sweet gifts.

• The candle was a birthday gift from Greg and Tanya that they gave me when I was visiting San Francisco last fall.
• The bag behind it is from a collection I fell in love with down in Biarritz.
• Next to that, a Beatriz Milhazes post card from the Fondation Cartier, blocked by a few flowers I picked up from the local florist.
• I’m reading The Age of Innocence, which was a Christmas/farewell gift from Mr. B.
• The pretty illustration was a Christmas gift from Alison.
• The stripey bracelets in front of it, I bought with Mel down in Nice.
• The John Derian dish, holding my jewelry, was a birthday gift—one of my favorites—from Cheryl.
• The lamp came with the apartment.
• And the clock I bought for five euros after my beloved Moonbeam clock didn’t fare well with the French electricity conversion; its internal clock got so hot, it melted the clock. But even that sad event reminds of something happy: moving into this apartment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Am I dating?

I’ve been here four months and everyone always asks. I like this question for two reasons.

For one, it’s a conversation stopper. In a word, no, I’m not.

But on the other hand, it’s a conversation starter: well, why not?? I’m single. It’s the city of loooove. I came in the spring, and now it’s summer. All of these factors should be aligning to create a sizzling dating season with infinite opportunities.

So I have to examine why I’m still single. It’s certainly not by choice. God, I would love to meet someone. But so far, I’ve only met three twenty-somethings, none of whom seems to be an appropriate match.

There was the infamous 28-year-old Swede.

Then, on holiday with Mel, I met a 26-year-old Brit. He’s a doll. But he’s 10 years younger than me. And he lives in another country.

And then there’s the young one at work. Adorable. Sweet. But adorable, sweet, young, and a colleague.

So I keep trying. There was the guy at the Pretenders concert, who was older than me. I thought that could have been something. But now he’s on a month-long vacation with his 11-year-old daughter so I’m pretty sure that’s going nowhere.

I also met an intriguing guy—my age—at an art gallery party over the weekend. But I suspect he is more fascinated with himself than by me. Another dead end.

So, no, I’m not dating. Which I find both funny and pathetic. But c’est la vie.

French phrase of the day: Je blag

Def: I’m kidding

Sometimes it’s not the best idea for me to use my sarcasm here. People don’t know me or my sense of humor and I just feel like it can be touchy, poking fun at somebody in a foreign country.

I made a dumb joke at work today and had to follow it up with a quick “Just kidding. Um, comment dit-on ‘just kidding’ en francais?” Don’t want my colleagues thinking I’m an American ass hole! (Je blag.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

French phrase of the day: Fermez les yeux et tendez la main

Def: Close your eyes and hold out your hand.

Chris and Dana got me the cutest little book of utterly random French phrases. It's hours of entertainment.

Super shades

I would be quite alright if I didn't have to see another cool kid wearing Wayfarers for the rest of my life.

No kidding

That Velib worker who told me that the kiosks didn't run out of paper? That you just had to blow up the sleeve when your subscription card didn't come out, and it would, indeed, come out? He wasn't kidding. I did just that, and out came eight subscription cards. These seven chumps must have been fuming just like me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gimme more

Is this the sign of an addict, then? I have been marking the days without a ride on the Velibs, eagerly awaiting when I could get back to it. Nine days, I abstained. Last week, my knee hurt so badly I could barely walk up my stairs. I knew I couldn’t mess around. So I’ve been staying off my feet, and the Velibs, as much as possible. But this girl has pastries to eat! A sedentary life is not for me.

This morning it was time. I was jonesing for a ride, my knee felt good, and so I hopped on and took off for the 7th arrondisement. I knew I wanted to coast around the quiet streets, and it was the perfect fix for my cravings.

It’s so fun when the Eiffel Tower just pops up in front of you.

Or an impromptu marching band, its brassy sounds bouncing around the street.

I cruised the big boulevards and the side streets, and then ditched the bike in the 6th to go to Pierre Hermé.

I took my treasure to a park, enjoying the stillness and memories of doing the very same thing when I was here last summer.

When I was done, I walked home instead of biking. I didn’t want to push my knee, and I was having fun window shopping and walking down the abandoned streets.

It made me so excited for next weekend, a four-day weekend, and the rest of the summer. The Parisians flee the city in August. I might, too, for a weekend. But right now, every day here is like being on vacation. I love it.

This is how we (rock and) roll

4th of July. In Paris. Two independent girls trawl the town to see what they can find.

The first stop was Les Frigos, the once totally underground, now relatively on the radar, art camp in the 13th arrondisement.

Artists used to squat in this abandoned building. Now it’s city owned, well organized and, at least to me, still tres cool. Mel knew of a little soirée there so we popped by, had a cup of champagne outside the vaults where a band was playing, and then made our way back to the 11th arrondisement.

There, we went to the Jon One vernissage. If The Frigos was bringing in the hippies, this party was packed with posers. It was a scene: Twelve-deep at the bar, hordes milling in the street, lots of kiss-kissing. But still, I liked it. The French really are fabulous.

The next stop was Michael’s, as he was having a patriotic party. I got to put some faces to the friends he always talks about, which was nice. It was an international crowd—Greek, Japanese, Austrian, Australian, French, British—but we all toasted our independence with rosé and margaritas and had a moment listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner.

But it was Michael Jackson who lit our American spirits during the last stop of the night. Not knowing when to say when, Mel and I went down the street to Andy Wahloo, where we attempted to get our groove on.

(What's up with Mr. Suspenders, by the way??)

We are well matched in our dorkiness.

Ah, how good it is to have a girlfriend in the City of Light.