Post-Work Partying

June 2nd, 2015

TLMPLiving for the weekend? Not so for Paris professionals, when from Monday to Thursday the most popular establishments host miniature clubnights which have taken the city by storm! The “Afterworks” concept is simple: leave the office (with fun colleagues in tow) and head straight over to the club. No need to stop for dinner because food will be waiting to tide you over when you arrive. An evening of mingling, drinking and dancing will ensue until Cinderella hour, which means you get your party fix and can still make that 9am meeting the next day.

Tout le Monde en Parle: French for Everybody’s Talking About It, this twinkling resto-bar boasts an Afterworks party in primary colors every Thursday night. With its giant terrace overlooking Montparnasse and its outdoor salsa dance floor, this is the perfect choice of venue in the spring and summer months. Upon entry you are granted a plate of BBQ delights (first 100 people) and a drink of your choice. The music is a lively mix of pop genres, both old and new school, so be prepared to kick your shoes off because this fun-loving crowd is anything but coy.

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No Escaping the Taxman!

May 27th, 2015

tonton samThis is my third year working with Taxes for Expats, a service that specializes in preparing tax returns for U.S. expats. I’ve been happy with their services and accepted their offer again to process my taxes. Every U. S. expat living abroad must file a U.S. income tax form annually even if they have made no income in the U. S.

The process is fairly straightforward. I went to their website and filled out an initial form. I received an email from one of their tax consultants who would be handling my return with a brief outline on how the process worked. Once I filled in all the paper work, the turnaround time was fifteen days. Although it was a little complicated, the forms were very thorough. There were a few things I didn’t understand and asked the consultant to explain. She was prompt with her responses and explained things clearly. There were also a few things I learned that I didn’t know before, like the IRS requires that you (or your tax preparer) prepare your return according to the U.S. tax year, which means taking your tax statements from your host country for two years and extracting the appropriate information to then plugging it into your U.S. tax return and I have to keep up with all the tax legislation changes happening from one tax year to the next. I also learned there is a special form you have to fill out and send with your foreign bank account info.

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Pariscope Presses On

May 19th, 2015

pariscopePariscope is a weekly print magazine, about half the size of a regular magazine, which has come out every Wednesday since 1965 to coincide with the film schedule (cinemas change the films every Wednesday, when premiers are shown; that’s why sometimes you get big American blockbusters showing in France two days before the more typical Friday premiers in America).

Aside from a detailed schedule of every single movie showing in every single cinema in Paris (and until you see them all in one spot like this, it’s hard to appreciate the variety, depth and diversity of the film offerings in Paris), it also has restaurant reviews, the latest festivals, theatre, conferences and trade shows, museum and gallery shows, children’s activities, and music concerts and festivals of all genres. It’s thorough yet succinct. Read through the black-and-white newsprint pages and you feel like you know exactly what’s going on and where.

pariscope crazy horseUnlike the internet, you don’t have endless clicking through mazes of information, some out of date, cluttered with ads, blinking images and videos, and only partial listings. There is even, quaintly, a page of “Numéros Utiles” with emergency services, weather, traffic, airports, taxis, and pharmacies open 24/7.

For some reason, it just seems more simple than Googling for this info and getting 7 billion results to sift through. In 1996 it was just 3 francs (about €0.45), and although the price has gone up and the little English section written by the TimeOut staff is gone, it hasn’t visibly changed at all since 1996. There is no website, but in one nod to modernity there is a free smartphone application if you’re averse to shelling out €0.70 for the print version.

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Art Made and Broken

May 11th, 2015

art 1Olivier Renaud Clement has organized a new group exhibition Construction/Destruction at Almine Rech Gallery in the Marais. Olivier lives in New York and is an international art dealer, also organizing art exhibitions. I have always liked Olivier’s taste and eye for minimalist art and design and it reflects strongly in this new show. He has put together a mix of international artists and sculptors including Joel Shapiro and Adam Marnie from the U.S., Fernanda Gomes from Rio de Janeiro, Arturo Herrera from Venezuela, Jannis Kounellis from Greece and based in Rome, and Kishio Suga from Japan to form a study of the notion of deconstruction and construction.

Shapiro’s miniature house sculptures first constructed in wood and later cast in bronze are laid out on a white floor and complementing them are the three dimensional wood columns by Adam Marnie with colored Plexiglas inserts. Arturo Herrera brings the wonder of color to the olivierrenaudclementexhibit with what appears to be shopping bags used as canvas to create brilliant collages with shopping bag handles hanging from them. The works of Jannis Kounellis and Kishio Suga use materials and Suga’s two groups of small sculptures use simple materials to convey a sense intimacy in color and form. Fernanda Gomes creates the ultimate minimalist installation with a room with wire and ping-pong balls on a concrete floor.

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Loco for Loca!

May 2nd, 2015

cocktailMaria Loca has been open for a few years and is located close enough to Bastille to be convenient, but far enough to take it out of the regular tourist fray. It’s small, quirky and casual with a laid-back vibe and friendly staff. The first time I stopped in just after opening, the place was packed with a lively sex-toy party. My latest visit was just a few weeks ago for a checkup and chat with co-founder, Mika (Michael Landart).

Here, the focus is on rum and cachaça, which serve as the base for most of their cocktail creations. back of barMika is well travelled and up on cocktail trends, so he has created a menu that incorporates fresh and house made ingredients and some interesting spirits. Just under 20 cocktail options include long, short and specialties at 11 to 13 euros. Of note, there is also a small section for his Old Fashioned creations.

locaRather than make a martini (you know I raised an eye brow over this…) the staff steered me back to the regular menu. I went for the Sherry Crusta. Sherry is a lighter option for a Crusta than the typical Brandy, so this version would not only be inline with the trend towards lower-octane cocktails but also be a lot more accessible to the more casual crowd that might roll in from this neighborhood. I finished up with the exceptional Woody Wood. This is definitely my kind of drink: a cachaça based cocktail that’s barrel aged for 6 months. This rich but mellow house creation is served in an individual bottle – serve yourself and sip it slowly.

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Have a Seat

April 28th, 2015

fernmobPark chairs, known as Luxembourg chairs, come in upright and relaxed models in a restful shade of green. Today, these are manufactured by a company called Fermob. According to the Fermob website, “the legendary chairs and armchairs of the Jardin du Luxembourg [were] created in 1923 in the Paris parks department workshops, and…Fermob still manufactures [them] today for the city’s public gardens.” Fermob is based in Thoissey, about 50 kilometres north of Lyon.

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The Picasso Museum Reopens

April 23rd, 2015

picasso2After almost an endless string of delays lasting over five years, The Picasso Museum finally reopened last October. It came with much controversy and drama as the head of the museum was fired over the delays in a bitter battle between the Picasso family and the museum. Sorely missed as a top attraction in the Marais, it’s in full swing again with long waits to enter. I purposely waited till the New Year and went in March when all the hubbub died down and there weren’t hoards of people hogging the viewing space.

The museum, a former hotel de particulier built in 1659, was one of the grandest palaces in the Marais and called the Hotel de Salé, as the owner Pierre Aubert was a salt tax farmer. The building was sold many times over but the longest reign was from 1792 to 1962, privately owned by the same family and housed various institutions including the Ganser-Beuzelin boarding school, where Balzac studied; the municipal École centrale des arts et manufactures (prestigious engineering school) and in 1944, it was occupied by the City of Paris École des Métiers d’Art. It was sold to the city in 1964 and restored from 1974-1979. After Picasso’s death in 1973, the family quickly decided in 1974 to donate his work in lieu of paying the exorbitant estate taxes. Working in tandem with the family, Michel Guy, French Secretary of State for Culture, they chose the Hotel Salé as the space for the museum.

picasso 1One of the most important changes to the museum was the gallery space was almost doubled, as the offices were moved to a newly constructed building next door. Obviously the expansion allowed for many more works from the collection to be shown than before which is a welcome plus. Organized in an almost chronological order, it traces Picasso’s process. I started in the basement, which was a mix of early paintings and sculptures and one room was devoted to photos of the many studios and homes in Paris and France where Picasso lived and painted. The main floor had some of Picasso’s most iconic paintings including a single room with Demoiselles d’Avignon and I especially loved seeing The Guitars series and the cubist paper sculptures.

>more photos

How to Hail a Taxi in Paris

April 20th, 2015

Guest Post by Vincenzo Castrogiovanni

Small TL 1Paris is one of the most popular and highly visited tourist destinations in the world due to its various tourist attractions like Disneyland, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and numerous others.

There are many different transportation options while you are visiting Paris. One of the most suitable way, if you are new to Paris, is to hail a taxi for visiting different places. It is easier to get a taxi cab then to wait for the metro bus or local transportation and map out your route.
Hailing a taxi cab in Paris is similar to getting a Taxi in any other part of the world. But it will be much more frustrating because either each taxi that passes by will be already taken or it will not stop for you even if it’s not taken. Why is this so? There can be different reasons for that.

Firstly, throughout Paris official taxi stands are located which are at times called ‘taxi ranks’. If the nearest taxi stand is located within the 50 meters of radius where you are standing, then the taxi driver will not be allowed legally to stop for you. Secondly, the driver might not stop by himself as a matter of inconvenience because you might be with a large group with lots of luggage. On weekends, it is often quite hard to find a taxi due to a crowd of visitors moving from one place to another.

Taxi Leader TPBSince it is quite a headache and time wasting to practice to find a cab in the streets or at taxi stands, the best option is to call a taxi company to get around the city. By booking a taxi with TaxiLeader.net, you can get an instant access to the licensed taxi from the time you arrive at the Paris airport.

TaxiLeader.net provides you with a wide range of taxi options for booking. You can book a choice of your car such as sedan car, limousine or minibus according to your tour requirements. You can tell your route to the company and they will arrange it accordingly.
You can book a Paris Airport Taxi which will welcome you at the airport upon your arrival with a licensed and English-speaking driver displaying your name on a card. You will also be provided with the phone number of the driver in case you are unable to locate him at the airport.

Compared to other means of transportation, it is cheaper and more convenient way to do a complete tour of Paris. If you arrive at Charles de Gaulle, the company provides you with the exclusive taxi at that specific airport. You will know the cost of the journey in advance so you do not need to get into the frustrating hassle of negotiating on the cost of your trip.
You do not need to make an advance payment for the taxi hail. After you complete your trip, you can conveniently make the payment to the driver on the spot. With all these advantages, it is best to book your taxi prior your visit and have a worry free and enjoyable trip to Paris!

Mixology 101

April 19th, 2015

mixology1Last weekend I stopped into Bar le Coq to give their Saturday afternoon cocktail class a test run. The team behind le Coq – Thierry Daniel and Eric Frossard – also run the Cocktail Spirits salon and pulled off the first annual Paris Cocktail Week this year.   So, clearly, there is some cocktail expertise at play here.

At 4pm, eight of us lined the bar in front of our own ‘stations’ for a bit of liquid learning from bar manager, Jeremy. We were served a welcome punch which we sipped while learning about equipment: shakers, spoons, strainers and jiggers with enough background to give guests a good concept of what they need and how to use it at home. We talked ingredients with a quick lesson in benefits of fresh juices, realistic recommendations on spirits to mix and a look at the important role of ice. The pace works well with plenty of opportunity to ask questions along the way.

mixology 2We then moved on to the holy trinity of cocktail making: strong, sweet & sour. When professionals talk about balance in cocktails, they generally mean finding equilibrium between these three elements. And learning that concept is much more useful than learning to make just one particular drink. It’s the kind of knowledge that can be applied to a multitude of mixed drinks once you understand it. When it’s time to put your own skills to the test, each student chooses their own cocktail to make under the guidance of the barman.

Although it’s not always easy to find a good, basic bar course that understands cocktails, it is possible. But, le Coq offers up one other thing that you won’t find in any other class in town. We took our freshly made cocktails and headed to their backroom lab. Le Coq is the only Paris bar with a Rotovap (rotary evaporator) machine. They use this very high-tech piece of scientific equipment to manipulate and create cocktail ingredients. While you can’t learn everything there is to know about molecular mixology in a short visit to their lab, it’s definitely an opportunity to see a different side of drink-making.

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Renewal Blues

April 13th, 2015

passportEvery ten years I have to renew my US passport. When you live in Paris, you do it through the US Embassy by mailing in your old one with the fee and photo and special forms you need to fill out and print. There are very specific directions on how to do this, so it’s not a mystery, but it is time consuming and requires a bit of running around and QUITE a bit of cash.

Passport Photo (only a few places in Paris will do the “approved” format) €9.95 + 60 minutes to get there, get photo and return home.
Mandat Cash (money order) €105 + fee €7 + 20 minutes at the Post Office banking counter getting the Mandat (you can’t do it at the mailing counter).
2 Chronopost envelopes (one to mail my passport to the Embassy, one self addressed for them to send my new one) €50 + 20 minutes to get the envelopes and pay at the Post Office (including arguing with the clerk who wouldn’t let me tear off and keep the top copy, as directed by the embassy).
Plus 20 minutes to find, read, fill out the online forms and print them at home.

Total cost: €171.95

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