Get Over It

July 7th, 2015

paris bridges bookBridges of Paris arrived about a week ago and I was very impressed. Not only is it a comprehensive photo book with over 350 photos featuring 37 bridges, it is also a rich and fascinating history lesson. One interesting tidbit is the Passerelle Debilly bridge built in 1900 was the setting for real-life tale of espionage when a secret agent from East Germany was killed in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was discovered afterwards the bridge was a popular meeting spot for East German spies during the Cold War.

bridge and eiffel towerThe author and photographer of the Bridges of Paris, Michael Saint James, has traveled much of the world and in 2013 visited Paris. The bridges of Paris inspired him to live here for a year, recording as much as he could about them. This intense pursuit sprawls across the 275-page book.

The book is divided into four chapters: Island Bridges, Palace Bridges, Downstream Bridges, and Upstream Bridges. Each bridge includes the year it was built and the dimensions along with a one-page history.

Not only does Saint James capture the wonderful architectural details, he also makes the bridges come alive in a different way with his portraits of people doing various activities.

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Hipsters Take to Petanque

July 2nd, 2015

petanque_arena04Whether you call it pétanque or boules, the traditional French game with the shiny silvery balls has made a comeback. It used to be the only people you’d see playing in were old men in berets sipping pastis. Now everyone plays, particularly Parisian hipsters (les Bobos) who don’t have to worry about breaking a sweat.

In the mood to try your hand? You can learn the rules of pétanque here, and find a great list of places to play here, but what about les boules? You can either buy inexpensive sets of balls at sporting goods store like Decathlon or from pro shops like Obut. You’ll probably see another game with little wooden pins, almost like bowling. That Jeu de Quilles, a Finnish game that has become more popular around Paris, possibly because the equipment is lighter and less expensive, and little kids can play. Not sure where they rate on the cool-o-meter, though. Stick with boules unless you’re devoid of hipster aspirations or immune to subtle Parisian mocking. 

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Mot de Passe

June 23rd, 2015

a little humor for our French-speaking readers, with a hat tip to Charlie Sputnik

mot de passe

France on Pinterest

June 17th, 2015

vintnerFrench villages, antiques, interiors, architecture, bar ephemera, old travel posters, gardens and French florists…they all inspire me. citroenThere are more photos of French places you want to visit on Pinterest than anywhere else on the web I think.

After 25 or 30 years of gleaning inspiration from France and Paris in particular and being lucky enough to have three places there over the years, my interest and passion on the topic doesn’t ever seem to die down, it only increases. I want to see every inch of the country. So I’m hoping you’ll enjoy taking this virtual trip through France with me to the places I’ve yet to go and the things I’m still yearning to do.

 

boat

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The View from Here

June 7th, 2015

printemps rooftopIt’s an insider secret that the rooftop of Printemps has some of the best views of Paris. The access to the roof via the escalators going up to the ninth floor is free and attached to the cafeteria. printemps 2There are also benches to sit on to enjoy the view. I hadn’t been in years and last Saturday I decided to go back and take photos. It was a picture postcard day with small clouds dotting the blue spring sky. I was able to get shots of the gorgeous gilded gold towers.

Here are a few fun facts about Printemps I bet you didn’t know.
1. Printemps was the first store to have elevators, which were installed in 1874
2. Printemps was the first store to have electricity, introduced in 1888
3. Their pricing strategy of marking set prices on all the merchandise, eliminating haggling based on customer appearance, was revolutionary.
4. When the metro opened in 1904, Printemps was the first store to have a direct metro entrance.
5. Printemps used to hand out bouquets of violets to customers on the first day of spring.
6. The famous cupola above the main restaurant was dismantled in 1939 and hidden in Clichy for fear it would be bombed during WWII.

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Migrant Crisis in Paris

June 4th, 2015

slum under metro stationEurope’s migrant crisis isn’t only happening on its southern Mediterranean coasts. In Paris, migrants have formed a sort of slum in La Chappelle, and now they, too, are being forced out–this time by the Paris administration.

 

 

Find Your Own Paris Appartement, and Live Like a Local

June 2nd, 2015

Guest Post by Paris Attitude

09_dinIn recent years, travellers seem to have discovered that travelling doesn’t have to mean not feeling at home. Whether you’re visiting Paris for a romantic weekend or boarding a long-haul flight, it’s nice to know that when you arrive and put down your suitcases, you’ve become one of the locals.

Apartment living does that for you. Stepping through your “own” front door to find a cute kitchen, cosy sitting room or blissful bedroom is just the beginning. After that there’s the freedom to stock your own fridge with wine of your choosing, cook your own meals with fresh ingredients from the shutterstock_131558168local market (Paris has over a hundred!) or simply relax with friends. With a local base from which to explore the city, an apartment rental drops you into the heart of city life – you’ll discover your local boulangerie, find your favourite bar for the evening’s apéro, and soon be navigating your Metro line like a pro. This is how you really get to know a city – you live in it.

Of course, when it comes to apartments, no two are alike – which means there’ll always be a hideaway to suit your tastes.shutterstock_244928866 Paris Attitude, offers over 6000 apartments in Paris, from the slopes of Montmartre to the streets of Montparnasse, and everywhere in between. Are you looking for a classic open-plan design with parquet floors and balconies designed for sunny breakfasts? They’re here. A hidden gem in Montmartre with a Sacre Coeur view? It can be arranged. Or perhaps you’re looking for the grand Haussmanian elegance that Paris does so well. Whatever your style, and whichever Paris you’d like to discover, living like a local will immerse you in an authentic Parisian neighbourhood from the moment you arrive.

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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