4.20.2015

IN PARIS . . .


Some thoughts, some photos, from my time in Paris . . .



There is just something about the pace of life out there across the Atlantic that gets me. I don't know what it is. I also think the fact that the more I go on about it the more pathetic it starts to become has got to be part of the fun for me. :) When I was asked to give a conference keynote at The Hive in Berlin, I knew that part of my trip was going to have to include a little walkabout in Paris. Just me, my thoughts, and my feet on those cobblestone streets. It's been a big couple of years for me, big and odd. Brandon and I agreed that a little me-time was in order, some time to sit with myself for a few days and think some things through. Once I had Paris figured out, a few other cities sort of fell into place--a signing in Amsterdam, a meet up in London--so it went from a speaking engagement plus mini-vacation to this monster of a trip that I just really loved the hell out of and feel so lucky to have gotten. 

I'm planning a few posts in the coming days on where to stay, where to shop, how to pack, etc etc, and I'll get to those soon. But first, a few-odd photos and thoughts from my time in Paris. It's going to be all over the place. But then you expect that from here by now. :)


I stayed in the 3rd, in the heart of the Marais, on Rue Charlot. This was my view every morning when I woke up in the loft.


It was pretty gosh darn romantic.

And just around corner from the Le Marché des Enfants Rouges. A lot of produce and cheese shops and delis and a cous cous place with spicy meats that was always packed with locals for lunch. Out front you could find leather bags, scarves, books, more books, flowers . . . and of course the cheese guy was always closed during the hours in which I really wanted some cheese, but I did manage to snag me a wedge of comté eventually. :)


Locals actually do buy a baguette first thing in the morning and then wander around with it, snacking here and there as they go. Fun fact: Morning doesn't really start until around 11AM. How fantastic is that. And hey, funner fact: You don't refrigerate your eggs in France. They're stacked out on the shelves in the markets with the bread and jams and cereals, and once you bring them home you just keep them on your counter. They're good to be left out for a few weeks, according to a woman I met who I then grilled with all sorts of stupid grocery shopping questions, so long as you haven't washed the "scuzz" off the eggs first. 


I started each morning with a stop in at the corner cafe to do some people-watching for as long as I could bear to sit still. And then I walked my little toesies off. But I loved The Marais. The Marais was amazing, I could have spent all my days there and been happy as a clam. I'd love to stay in the neighborhood again the next time I visit. Cute shop chats next to bottles of wine, really good food, bookshops filled with the most beautiful books I've ever seen (the same books we have here, just prettier), a few banks and pharmacies and tons of really great shopping. In fact, The Marais sort of reminded me a bit of Columbus Avenue between 66th and 72nd here in New York City, or any part of the West Village really, only with even better architecture. Swoon-y architecture. F-bomb architecture.

And also everybody here is impossibly pretty.


Paris and New York seem similar . . . ish. It's a lot like New York there, except way more civilized. The bathrooms! Even the toilets are more civilized in Paris! I'm sure they're covered in just as many germs, but you can't see them the way you can see them in New York. They stare back at you in New York. It's also somehow cheaper in Paris. Muuuch cheaper. (I'm sure the taxes make up for it.) A 50-cent bottle of water in Paris costs $2 here. I stopped at a real estate listing posted to the side of a building to play pretend, and I couldn't believe how affordable the apartments there are compared to here in the city. I'm like, come on now Brandon, why don't either of us speak French. And all the history in the buildings! I'm sure there are a few dives here and there, but every window I peeked in after dusk had these exposed beam ceilings, beautiful moulding details . . . geez.  


I had four days in Paris and really only a very rough idea of how I wanted to spend them. I wanted to see the monuments, I wanted to buy a crepe off the street, but mainly I just wanted to wander. Dip a toe in each Arrondissement. Since I was traveling alone (such a luxury!) I had all the time in the world to just putter about and duck into shops and sit on the steps of the monuments and appreciate the tiniest details. I let myself stop on a corner to breathe in the smell of a coming rain shower once for a solid ten minutes. 

I had planned to do zero work while I was off on this little work trip, aside from the few meet and greets and my presentation at The Hive, so I left my busted laptop at home and answered approximately zero emails while I was away. It was so nice, but about a day and a half into the deal something funny happened, and I realized I was going crazy without something to write in. I haven't felt that urge to write in a long long time, it completely took me by surprise. So I bought a notebook and pen the first chance I got and then kept it in my tote along with my beat up copy of A Moveable Feast (extra dork points), and that's all I did: make good use of the cobblestone streets of Paris and walk and think and walk and eat and scribble things down and walk and think. And shop. Okay. I shopped quite a bit. :)


It was nice to remember that I do love writing. For a while there I'd forgotten. 


I worked with Homeaway to find places to stay in each of the cities I visited. The team there was so kind and so helpful, I could not get over the customer service I had and amount of assistance I'd get whenever I needed it. I have a few tips for home-sharing abroad to come in a post very soon, but until then needless to say, it was an amazing way to experience the culture of each city and I don't think I'll ever go back to hotel rooms again. You can see the listing where I stayed HERE. It was THE perfect spot. 

via the homeaway listing
Just the right size for little old me. 


There was also this little courtyard. Amiright?


Please visit Popelini for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the next time you are in Paris. Every day. HOLY HELL, POPELINI. 


Every evening at about 6pm the streets would become absolutely flooded with rather handsome men walking their very distinguished dogs. A lot of dogs. Mainly Labs and Retrievers. And French Bulldogs. You know, I never once saw a dog in the company of a woman. Weird, right? Even the men begging on the streets all had puppies, small breeds mostly. They were also remarkably well-dressed and ruggedly handsome considering. The men. Not the dogs.

I suppose that is my takeaway from France. That the men there are all devilishly handsome and very well-dressed. All of them. 


Paris is also a mecca for Resting Bitch Face. I suppose this is why I felt so at home there! ;) You hear so many stories about how rude the French are, but I experienced the exact opposite. So polite, so considerate, and so very respectful. Manners seem to be hugely important over there. You say "bonjour" to everyone you meet and "merci" to anyone who's helped you, and "au revoir" to every single waiter you pass on your way out the door after dinner.

On my last day in Paris I went to the post office to mail myself some things. (I totally raided the Monoprix near Rue Montorgueil and--Paris locals! Help!! I'm regretting not stocking up on a few more things, if anyone over there wants to help me?? Email me!) So there I was this very sweaty American tourist in this terribly clean post office in the 3rd Arrondissement, surrounded by very beautiful people all wearing their sneakers (sooo many sneakers), and I'm speaking only enough French to maybe find me a bathroom in a pinch, and, like, customs forms and all that? So I asked the woman standing next to me who was surveying the packing tape whether she spoke any English and could help a sister out. You know, "Je ne pas parle français, parle vous anglaise?" Impressive right? ;) All this in my spanish accent because, thank you nine years of spanish, that is now the only foreign language that appears capable of escaping my mouth, but anyway, this beautiful woman, maybe in her 50s or so, responded by staring. me. down. Like, eyes boring holes into the front of my head staring. You'd think I had just told her she looked old and ugly gauging by her reaction, but then her face relaxed into a sort of smile and she was the most helpful woman on the face of the earth. She even helped me lift a few of my heavier things onto the weight thinger, and I sort of fell in love with her right on the spot. She completely made my trip. It's sort of satisfying to know that you have your own private space bubble in Paris and you can expect to be left alone--you don't have to smile at anybody if you don't want to smile at anybody (ugh the number of times I'm told by randos on the street here that I should smile..)--but that the moment you need it, you can get help past the rude parts and find nothing but kindness underneath. Maybe that's it? Maybe I like French culture so much because I am all at once very, very ornery, but I cannot stand meanness or cruelty. Orrrr maybe I've just been brainwashed by beauty magazines ;).


This little spot was completely amazing. I stumbled into it by accident when I was trying to find a boulangerie (Easter weekend, not a good time to find open places in Paris!) and I think it's the Picasso Museum. Isn't it sad that I'm not totally sure? 


Anyway it was pretty. 


As was this accidental photo that came out rather nicely I think. :)


The kids in Paris! At 3pm the schools let out it and it was just this mess of beautifully-dressed, well-behaved children, wearing nothing but neutrals. Gray, navy, gray, navy, brown, beige, black. I'm in. Lots of toddlers on scooters. None of them wearing helmets, many of them sporting pacifiers well past the age where it would be appropriate in the U.S. No big strollers. A lot of babies worn in front carriers. Lots of involved dads. I'm not kidding with the kinds of notes I took. :)


Behind the Georges Pompidou there is this neat little set up and probably the cutest - slash- worst bistro in all of Paris. Watery crème brûlée! Travesty! The Pompidou was cool and I wanted to spend more time in there, but it was kind of smelly. (One funny thing I noticed--Parisians seem to call everything "cool.")


Old man on a bike! 


The Hôtel de Ville. (I'm getting a kick out of using all these accents on my keyboard. Whee!)


And, ahh yes, and the Seine. 


Dang it!

At night all the bars play the football games, and whenever a team scores a goal you can hear the cheering from all directions around you. There was a music shop on the corner of the street where I stayed, and one night very late a man was in there playing a flute and I stopped for a minute to listen to him play and my shoes were really cute and I mean, it was a moment.


The trees were just beginning to bud on Rue d'Arcole. One evening as the sun started to set over the Cathédral Notre Dame I decided to walk in the direction of the Eiffel Tower. I passed two children and their mother leaning out the window of their Left Bank apartment to wave goodbye to their friends. "Au revoir mes amis!" The mother wore a beige linen dress, a completely bare face, her dark hair long and messy; her two kids had curly mop-toppy hair and wore nubbly knit sweaters buttoned just at the top, and I thought, Well isn't this just about it.

When I first arrived in Paris it was cold and drizzly. Winter was definitely hanging on and I was wearing all of the coats I packed at once to try and keep warm, but over the four days I was there I got to watch the city bloom in a kind of slow-motion super speed. It was such a gift. By the time I left every tree had blown a bit of green and all the tulips were up and smiling. 


Okay, Angelina's. And Karlie Kloss! I passed Karlie Kloss on the line, that was wild. (A party of one gets seated supes quickly. Eat it, famous model! ;). I met a few readers there, too! That was even more fun. 


Covert Angelina selfie. 


My friend Rubi lived in Paris for a few years, and she told me I had to start the day with breakfast at Angelina's, so I set off one morning for some chocolat chaud but made my way there so slowly through the Louvre and Tuileries that by the time I got there I was starving. Which was perfect. No tiny pain au raisins has ever been so satisfying and that. hot. chocolate. Sugar blast in all the right spots. Do it stupidly hungry. Thumbs up.

Raisins and I experienced a total renaissance while I was in Europe.

The Left Bank . . .


The Left Bank is beautiful. A friend told me it was kind of like the Upper East Side of Paris, whatever that means. :) Tracing Hemingway's footsteps along the Left Bank was really wonderful. At one point I happened across a music video in-the-making starring a very bouncy pop star, and later on I passed Picasso's old apartment and got to listen in as a local woman translated the French placard by the door for her out-of-towner friend. Thank you kindly, French woman! I can't remember at all what the placard said!


Courtyards! Heaven is a courtyard!



And this big lady!


Hiiiiiiiii therrrrrreeee.


Before coming to Paris I reread all of Jordan's posts, so I knew to be sure to check out Rue Cler in the 7th near where she used to live. I loved this area. I spent most of my time on the other side of the Seine since that's where my apartment was, but next time I want to really explore the 7th. It's adorrrrrable over there. Also I ate the best croissant of all the times over there.

Another great market street is Rue Montorgueil, where I ate my second amazing cheeseburger of the trip. What was it with those cheeseburgers but they were all outrageously good.


Cafe culture makes a lot of sense to me. You know, being outside makes me feel really productive, even if I'm being basically lazy and accomplishing absolutely nothing.  


Such a nerd move, bringing Hemingway with me to Paris. My sister told me her husband made her put a cover over her copy of A Moveable Feast when they visited Paris because he was too embarrassed to be seen with it. Hah! I get that. I totally get that. :)


So one afternoon I thought i'd be fun to rent a Vélib' and bike over to Sacre Couer . . . 


. . . which was THE DUMBEST because that whole area is one giant hill. But it was a really fun afternoon anyway, even if my thighs are still cursing me for it. Renting a Velib was simple and super fun. Paris is so easy by bike. You should try it! 


Luxembourg in the sunshine! Those reclining park chairs were a hoot. All these people lounging about with their faces to the sun, that's good park planning right there.

All these thoughts are SO FASCINATING you guys. You're all, WHY AM I STILL READING THIS.


Just outside le Chambre aux Oiseaux where we had our meet up. Oh man the women I got to meet were the best part of my trip. So many feelings. Still processing all of them.


Oh good this is what I really wanted to talk about. The dads playing football with their kids. I mean, clearly I was missing my own husband and kid because this little scene behind Rue Montorgueil (look, he's holding a balloon!) made my whooooole life. This was going on everywhere in Paris.


As were little parties in the street. Gross, I know, I'm grossing myself out over here with all the gushing, I know. Hang in there.


While waiting on the Metro I did take a tiny bit of an Amelie moment, obviously.


Plus one to Paris on their train situation. The one I rode in smelled like french fries.


Inside the Notre Dame where I sang only very, very softly, a little "God Help The Outcasts" under my breath for my sisters. One of these days we'll all be in the Notre Dame together at the same time and get to all of us sing it together under our breaths at once, but until then this has become our funky little tradition. All three of us Lovin girls and our mom have visited Notre Dame on our own and each one of us reports pulling this one. Weirdos.


This was neat. 


As was THIS. Shoppinggggggg.


Okay so in closing . . . 


BLAMMO.


Au revoir, Paris! I miss you! 

41 comments :

  1. I loved this post, it made my day! Can't wait to embark on such a journey myself. xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Geeeez, Natalie! Such a fantastic post... I am totally swooning over here. xo, Steve

    ReplyDelete
  3. Really beautiful photos :-) but I have to take issue...Hemingway dorky/nerdy??! What tripe!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ahhh, I've been waiting for your posts about your trip! So fun!

    Paris seems like an absolute dream! (I've still never made the trip myself yet.) Post a million more please haha

    ReplyDelete
  5. Paris is magical, right? I remember a lot of these places from our trip last summer...especially the Velib bikes (once I got my debit card to work in the machine)....really is the best way to ride through the city. We rode and picked up baguettes and cheese along the way, put them in our front baskets and had a picnic at the Effiel Tower. Lovely photos, glad you enjoyed your time there.

    Cheers,
    Nicole
    www.wildlandia.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post, and beautiful photos! I will be visiting in May and you have just made me a zilllionnn times more excited now!!

    madeline
    http://madelinemariehall.com/

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was so fun to scroll through, Natalie! I studied abroad in Paris a few years ago, and I decided to read A Moveable Feast while on Spring Break in Greece, to avoid the funny looks from Parisians ;) Lovely photos, I'll come back to these when I'm missing Paris. You captured it just as I remember it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Soooo jealous! Perfect description, though. and i love 'heaven is a courtyard'. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amen to people always telling me to smile... http://stoptellingwomentosmile.com/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow your photos of the Eiffel Tower are stunning!!! I can't wait to visit Europe one day. Everything looks so magical and romantic... ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow your photos of the Eiffel Tower are stunning!!! I can't wait to visit Europe one day. Everything looks so magical and romantic... ;)

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is a dream boat of a post! WAH! Take me there.
    Luckily the boy speaks fluent French.
    So fun. Thanks for sharing Natalie!

    ReplyDelete
  13. loved this post! such beautiful photos. your sneakers?! may i ask where they are from?

    ReplyDelete
  14. This was wonderful! As I read it I thought of the scene in Amelie where she leads a blind man down the street and describes all that she sees- your words embellished the pictures with so much life! It felt as though I experienced parts of it with you!

    Thank you for sharing a bit of Paris with the rest of us :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is absolutely wonderful Natalie!! Great post and beautiful photos!
    The Pepper Express

    ReplyDelete
  16. there is no other way i would want to enjoy my virtual Paris trip than through pictures of food, street style, and architecture/apartments inside and out. you nailed it! major share talent! thanks, Nat :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's close to the Picasso Museum, but (I am pretty sure) it's actually the Musee de l'Histoire de France, or the Musee des Archives, which may or may not be the same thing. I was there a few weeks ago. Gorgeous photos.

    ReplyDelete
  18. So glad you're doing this because we're going over in June and I'm soaking up all the tips I can get. Tell me more about this sneakers in Paris thing...what kinds of sneakers and how are they wearing them?!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Beautiful post. And if it wasn't fate itself, I am sitting here eating a croissant while reading. :)!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am so inspired by you and this post! Makes me miss Paris! <3 I was also a little surprised about the egg situation when I visited as well. ;) Love your blog! Can't wait to see more from your time in Europe!

    ReplyDelete
  21. We stayed in the Marais too and LOVED it. Right down the street from synogogues and Jewish deli's. And we also found Parisians to be polite.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Loved this post! Made me feel like I was in Paris for a few moments. :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. What amazing pictures! Can I ask what camera you're using?

    ReplyDelete
  24. I do love the way you write! And what beautiful photos. I loved seeing what caught your eye.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Where are the leather oxfords from? I love them.

    ReplyDelete
  26. You know why I have always loved this blog? Because there are many moments where you make it so easy for me to live vicariously through you. New York, Paris! Even Oregon and Moscow! Thank you for some lovely pictures and the cutest captions.

    ReplyDelete
  27. So much fun to see Paris through your eyes Natalie (though it makes me feel even sadder than I couldn't make it to your meet-up). I am so glad you enjoyed the city! Also, that comment about the pacifiers made me laugh (totally true though) !!!
    Cheers from Paris :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. I didn't get to Paris before I ran out of money, which I'm so sad about. Posts like this make me excited and motivated to go! Right after I get over my fear of flying (it's a looooong way from New Zealand).
    The loft looks absolutely amazing. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to lofts.
    Also, we don't refrigerate eggs here either!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Lovely photos but I have to say that you are the only person who I have EVER heard say that Paris is cheaper than the city they live in....Paris is super super expensive, one of the most pricey cities in the world for just about everything (and I live in London which is also v expensive!)....are you sure you aren't muddling up your exchange rates?!

    No eggs in British refrigerators either :)

    Interesting that you thought NYC was anything like Paris....I love both cities but find them completely different in every way!

    Can't wait to hear your thoughts on London :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. You are too funny! I love to have your take on my city because living in Paris all year long, i have a much less glamourous experience - that i won't share here, i don't want to spoil the magic ;) But i guarantee that for most people with a job, mornings do start before 11am... And i think you were there during carnaval week, hence the 'little parties in the streets': schools organised some little parades with the kids, it's super nice. :) And can i just say how glad i am that you found Parisians to be polite ? YES. I mean, there are a lot of rude people but i guess it's much like any big cities, as long as you walk fast enough in the metro you should be fine :)

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love Paris! It is my absolute favorite and you've captured it in a beautiful yet melancholic way. A lot of soul in those photos and feelings : ) It's so nice to soak in those infrequent moments of isolation sometimes. Wishing you even more wonderful travels!

    ReplyDelete
  32. ' heaven is a courtyard' - amen, sister. Amen! Love this post and so very happy for you! Seems like you had a grand time!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Oh my goodness, I want to go! When can I go? Haha. Your photos are gorgeous! I was in awe the whole time!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh my gosh, thank you for this! I am drooling over all these pictures. So glad you had such a great time. And "heaven is a courtyard"??? Couldn't agree more!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Oh my gosh, thank you for this! I am drooling over all these pictures. So glad you had such a great time. And "heaven is a courtyard"??? Couldn't agree more!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks for the update! loved every word, especially when you wrote, "why am I still reading this?" haha! I never grow weary of your musings! Sounds like you had a great tour!

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  37. Perfection. All of this is simply perfection. Makes me feel like I am back there now...walking its cobbled streets, breathing in its everything...sigh. Paris is the best ever.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Probably your best post ever. I'm going to read it a second time later today.

    ReplyDelete
  39. How can I be so in-love with a place I've never been..beautiful

    ReplyDelete
  40. Prenez-moi revenir! Loved this, Natalie!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated because mama ain't no fool.