The Moment Has Passed

August 20th, 2017

Three years ago I wrote this post about a shop for dowdy women’s clothing.

The inevitable has recently happened: the shop closed, and something else has appeared in its place: a Franprix Nano (a mini grocery store).

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Instead of being sad, however, I find myself relieved that the replacement isn’t something ridiculously trendy, like a cold-pressed juice place (even though I love cold-pressed juice; I just want those places to be in the Marais or St. Germain. Not in my back yard!).

I shopped for the first time in the Franprix today. It carries soy sauce–both the salty kind and the sweet kind, which I never see in the US–and the clerk was a chic and friendly young woman.

Sure, Paris is changing and Paris is gentrifying. But it is doing so at its own Gallic pace. Adieu, Rozaria

Navigo vs. Decouverte

August 18th, 2017


I was recharging my Navigo pass (formerly known as the Carte Orange) and was told the Navigo pass is being retired in exchange for the Decouverte card. (I am not seeing anything to this effect on the official SNCF sites, but France is still behind the times when it comes to that kind of thing). I forked over the 5 euro fee to have her make me a Decouverte card. With this card you are obligated to pay for all 5 zones of Paris transport–you cannot simply buy for Zone 1. The price is 22.50 euros–ultimately, not a bad price for all-you-can-ride travel in the city.

philippaThough it costs more than the old, single-zone Navigo card, this new one is a bargain is when it come to travel to and from Charles de Gaulle airport. No more paying 10-euros (plus) each time I go to the airport via RER (or meet a friend, which is such a civilized thing to do).

(And while the new cards fit easily into a wallet, like the Navigo pass, I still miss the larger and more exotic-looking analog Carte Orange metro passes, with a slot for a re-usable metro ticket–I cannot seem to find my own, but here’s one from Philippa Campsie, one of The Paris Blog’s contributors.)

Top 7 Tips for Traveling to Paris with Kids

August 18th, 2017

kids in parisWe all know Paris for its magical atmosphere and the fact that it, more than any other city in the world, embodies in the collective imagination the stereotype of romantic destiny par excellence. Yet Paris is not just this. It is also a city that is surprisingly suitable for children. If you’re travelling to Paris with kids these are the best things you should know for an amazing and successful trip for everyone!

paris with kidsCreate a kid-friendly itinerary Good organization is everything when you travel with kids. Check out some of the best attractions for them in advance; the best museums and experiences, to make the most of it.

Rent a car in Paris A car rental in Paris to explore the city and all its amazing neighborhood areas may be the best choice if you travel with kids! Find a car to rent with and you will have the best deal for your vacation and you will be able to see so much in a little amount of time in order to keep children happy and motivated to explore!

Keep them entertained If you are traveling a lot during your stay in Paris, be sure to keep your kids entertained bringing some toys and snack with you!

Mix it up Don’t ruin things by stressing your kids! Our little ones are sensitive to long stretches of one activity, so plan activities so that they do not spend hours and hours doing one thing.

Don’t limit yourself to museums more suites to adult interests Instead, alternate activities in your travel plans. One day you may visit the colorful dynamic Centre Pompidou, but be sure, the next day, to bring your kids to Disneyland! This will give them a taste of Paris that will make them want to come back again and again.

zooChoose the right places for everyone Not all attractions are age-specific. Create a travel plan that includes versatile attractions suitable for all the family members! A castle tour will make your kids feel like they’re living in a fairytale, and the zoo or botanical garden is a hit for all ages!

Get them excited Prepare your kids for your next visit by telling them in advance about Parisian attractions. Recount your own past adventures, or ask them what they think they might enjoy when they are in Paris. This will keep their adventurous spirit at the highest level! These top tips should create a perfectly balanced and successful trip for all the family!

The Snail!

August 2nd, 2017

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The current shape and configuration of Paris dates from 1860, when the City annexed a series of surrounding villages and established 20 arrondissements. The numbering started in the center and spiralled out from there. Previously, the city had been smaller and had had only 12 arrondissements.

Why the spiral arrangement? The story goes that the well-to-do inhabitants of the villages to the west, Passy and Auteuil, which were to be incorporated into the new city, found out the plan for numbering would put them in a new 13th arrondissement. This was simply not acceptable. Not for reasons associated with “unlucky 13,” but because of a common expression: “se marier à la mairie du 13e” (getting married in the 13th). When there were only 12 arrondissements, this reference to a non-existent arrondissement meant living together without marriage. Horreur! The mayor of Passy suggested the spiral (escargot) arrangement, and the idea prevailed. The number 13 was safely transferred to the less-well-off southeast sector.


A Comparison Between Netflix US and Netflix UK

August 2nd, 2017

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There is no denying the fact that the amount of movies and TV shows you get on Netflix these days, they’re good enough to keep anyone amused and entertained for a long time! Whether your purpose of subscribing to the service is to enjoy some blockbuster films, or documentary movies or simply to keep the kids occupied, there’s ample content to not just meet, but exceed your expectations. Whether you are French film fan, or a follower of Korean cinema, you will find just what you are after. However, not many people know that there’s immense difference in the quantity and quality of Netflix service from country to country, which brings to mind the question – Are UK Netflix users getting a raw deal; especially compared to their US counterparts? Who gets better movies? A study was carried out on the 30 best rated movies on the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) to find out how many of them were available in the United Kingdom vs the United States. It was shocking to find out that the UK subscribers had access to no more than one-third of themovies that were available to the US subscribers. But there’s a workaround! You can get American Netflix sitting in UK too! We’ll soon tell you how. It should be noted that it’s not Netflix that should be entirely blamed for this – it’s more to do with the movie studios that set a certain price for their productions, wanting Netflix to match them; in order to let those titles be offered to the Netflix’s subscribers. Studios such as Paramount and Universal are well aware that if a film has a huge audience in the United Kingdom, compared to let’s say Sweden, they can price it differently in the UK market.

Competition also has a role to play as other providers like Now TV and Amazon also bid for the same movies and can be awarded exclusive streaming rights to them. Hence, you may need to pay a certain subscription fee to all the different streaming services to be able to watch all the content.On the whole, US and UK subscribers pay almost the same (perhaps a few pennies extra charged in UK), yet there’s a big difference in terms of the quality and quantity of Netflix content in the two countries. How to access the movies and shows unavailable in UK? The choice difference never used to be much of a problem as long as people could trick Netflix into thinking that they were sitting in the United States, with the help of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). However, Netflix has been coming down hard on the VPN users as itis being pressured by the movie studios to do so. Regardless, many people still use some smart VPN services and continue to enjoy access tothe vast array of movies and TV shows available in the United States.

Although there’s a lot of difference in the Netflix’s US and UK content libraries, the company is hoping that there could soon be an end to the licensing agreements that restrict the films’ screenings in different parts of the world. A change is inevitable with the rapidly rising popularity of video streaming over the Internet.

A Free Cruise!

July 19th, 2017

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Just thought I would pass along this bon plan for anyone who will be in Paris on their birthday:

Vedettes de Paris, one of the sight-seeing boat companies for cruises up and down the Seine river, will give a free 1-hour cruise ticket plus a glass of champagne (or a muffin and a soft drink) to anyone on their birthday. You just need to show up and provide proof that it actually is your birthday.

This offer is valid on all one-hour non-theme cruise all year long. How cool is that?


Police Bust Russian Prostitute Ring

July 6th, 2017

be de b 2The law on prostitution is ambiguous here in France. A woman can take payment for sex, but no other person is to benefit from it. In other words, pimping is illegal. So is a brothel. So, too, is paying a woman for sex. In other words, a man caught paying a woman for sex is breaking French law. If caught red-handed, he maybe arrested and fined, and should it not be the first time he has been apprehended, he may go to jail.

Just last week when I went to a museum in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne, I saw several prostitutes standing alongside the road that runs through the wood and nearby, behind a tree, was parked a car, a man sitting behind the wheel. When after my visit to the museum I passed the spot again, the car was still there and the man was still sitting behind the wheel. The first time I had passed him, I thought he was a pimp or a potential customer working up the courage to approach one of the prostitutes, but that second time I passed him, was about two hours later, I realised it was a policeman, waiting to swoop should a car drive up.

b de bRecently, the police did swoop. Officers from the section of the vice squad arrested 8 people of both genders, and aged between 23 and 35. They will now be appear at a special court, the JIRS of Paris – Jurisdiction interregionale specialise – which specialises in major organised crime. At the head of this prostitution ring was a 31-year-old.

Here’s how the ring operated: Potential clients booked a prostitute on one of two websites, Amour russe and Charme russe (since shut down, of course). The two sites were based in Israel and on the island of Cyprus. According to the police, daily these two sites had thousands of hits. The ring brought women from Russia and the Ukraine to Paris. They had genuine visas. They stayed in Paris for two months when they flew back to where they had come from. Collected at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport they were taken to one of the ring’s apartments. There were twenty such apartments, all in the capital’s very chic and expensive 7th and 16th arrondissements (districts).


365-Degree Paris

June 21st, 2017

a paris yearJanice MacLeod, who rocketed up the New York Times Bestseller list with Paris Letters, has a new book out. A part deux, if you will. “If Paris Letters is about BECOMING an artist in Paris,” she writes on her website, “A Paris Year is about BEING an artist in Paris.”

It’s an unusual book, layed out to look like a scrapbooked personal diary. MacLeod’s watercolors are luscious and precise, and add a more personal touch than her photographs, which perhaps would look less average if this weren’t the age of Instagram. I couldn’t help but wish I could see MacLeod’s real journal instead of pages that were computer-designed with ersatz moisture rings from beverages and “tape” holding down snapshots. But if you can get past the odd mix of the quaint and the commercial, you will feel like you’re enjoying a leisurely dinner with an expat friend. Paris Year 3The joys of Paris are highlighted here—farmers markets, long walks, museums and cafes. It’s short of depth but strong on color and beauty. (MacLeod’s entries rarely stray from the first 8 arrondissements, but she’s got a great eye.)

Paris Year 1The occasional batch of color swatches, illustrating a palette or particular light of the city, feel unique and insightful. “Is is the creamy neutral palette of the buildings and gray skies that make red pop?” she asks. It is those details that remind you that artists, and aesthetes, experience Paris differently, and it is a delight to hear them describe it.

Paris Year 2

More Mexican Welcome in Paris!

June 19th, 2017

bocamexaIn 2006, Julien Zattara, a Frenchman, met Alejandra, a Mexican, while they were both studying cooking in Lyon at Paul Bocuse Institute. Julien and Alejandro became fast friends, sharing sharing tequila shots and traveling together to attend a wedding in Mexico.

They decided to open a Mexican restaurant in 2006 on rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter, serving cuisine inspired by recipes from Alejandro’s grandfather. Expanding their brand and business, they started a food truck in 2013; followed by harvesting their own peppers in 2014 to make their own special salsa Gallo; creating their own beer in 2015; and opening a new restaurant on Faubourg Saint Denis in 2016.

My friend and I went for lunch on Saturday at 12:30. The interior–wicker lamp shades, light wood picnic benches and tables, midnight blue-tiled walls and vintage black and white photos–made me feel as though I was at Mexican café on the beach in Tulum, Mexico rather than on the gritty Faubourg Saint Denis.

boca 2My first barometer for authenticity when it comes to Mexican food is the guacamole; if the guacamole passes the test, then it’s usually smooth sailing for the other dishes to come. Chunky and not super spicy, the guacamole at Bocamexa passed the test well, but the quality of corn chips could have been elevated a notch or two.

Next up was the most popular dish at Bocamexa, Tacos a Pastor. Pastor is a particular preparation of spit roast and marinated pig served with fresh pineapple, and brought to the streets of Mexico in the early 1960s by Lebanese immigrants. The flavor of the little bits of pork were piquant and sweet at the same time, and the pineapple was the correct complement to the pork.

We shared a well-stuffed burrito with marinated chicken, chorizo sausage and grilled peppers and onions. Again the taste and freshness was authentic, so Bocamexa passed my rigorous tests for Mexican food and came out a winner. On top of that, Bocamexa offers gluten free dishes and vegetarian selections.


Are You an “Interstitial Tourist”?

May 24th, 2017

curiosities of paris coverCuriosities of Paris is not for the casual tourist. Refreshingly, its cover features neither an Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, nor Sacre Coeur. No, this is for the hardcore Paris aficionado, or the “interstitial tourist,” who the book defines as someone who prefers to “explore the nooks and crannies of the urban landscape rather than its more aristocratic facets.”

This book, by Dominique Lesbros, burrows into the obscure, or, when tackling something a little less recherché, dives deeper than you’d expect. Take, for instance, the chapter on horses. We all recognize the oversized arches that once allowed horse-drawn carriages to pass through. But did you know that what look like decorative metals bars on the lower half of doorways often were utilitarian, holding a serving of hay so horses could snack on the go? Or that conical stone cornerguards, which flank the bottom corners of street-facing doorways, served as protection from the axles of carriages? curiosities layout 2Such details not only provide fresh entertainment for any stroll through any arrondissement, but also stimulate your everyday awareness of the history harbored in previously overlooked visual vestiges.

Titillating factoids about the lurid side of the city paint a fleshy portrait of yesteryear’s cheeky residents. There’s a street called “Great Scam” (rue de la Grand Truanderie) whose residents miraculously recovered from debilitating handicaps upon return home each evening from a day of begging. And did you know rue du Pélican was not inspired by the bird but is a less blush-inducing adaptation of the original rue du Poil-au-Con (which I’m going to decline to translate).

curiosities layout 1The solid writing avoids the “Aren’t-they-wacky?” tone that too often mars a compendium of oddities; it’s a fun read even if you never meander in to its many aforementioned nooks and crannies.

Smaller than a coffeetable tome but more robust than a pocket guide, Curiosities of Paris offers up more than 800 photos accompanied by captions that, while brief, pack a punch. It even manages to squeeze in new (to me) info on those old favorites, such as this: Sacre-Coeur is the only church in Paris that practices uninterrupted 24-hour prayer before the holy sacrament–and anyone is allowed to register to participate.