Thursday, July 31, 2014

So How About Paris in August?


This post is part of the Paris in July blogging event. I’m delighted to be co-hosting this year! Please check out the blogs of Karen at “A Wondering Life” and Tamara at “Thyme for Tea,” creators of the event, for links to all participating posts.

The last day of July and the scent of vacation is in the air for many Parisians. With a minimum of 25 vacation days a year, Parisians traditionally take at least two weeks off in the summer – and the most popular time is August.

The shops and restaurants surrounding tourist attractions are usually open in August but if you go into a neighborhood just off the tourism route, you will get a feel for the real Paris in August: quiet, calm, sleepy.

In our neighborhood, our usual bakeries, cheese shops, and other artisans close during the same period, leaving us with the grocery store and one bakery. There is always one baker among the five or six in each neighborhood who will remain open so we don’t have to resort to industrial bread. (Whew!)

If I want to have lunch or dinner at a small café or restaurant, I think to myself: “It’s that time of year… I’d better call to make sure it’s open.” And it usually isn’t.

All of this until the August 15 Assumption holiday. Then, slowly but surely, shutters lift, hurried footsteps echo in the streets, the sounds of laughter and the scent of cigarettes permeate the air. And Paris awakens.


I hope you have enjoyed this year’s Paris in July. I certainly have! A big “merci!” to Tamara and Karen for asking me to co-host this year.

July is one of my favorite months in Paris, but if you love Paris as much as I do, don’t hesitate to visit during any month. Paris is a place for all seasons.

A bientot…


Another View:



Fellow Paris-based author Vicki Lesage is teaming up with me on a few “Paris in July” posts. We each will be writing our own take on a particular Paris-related theme. Here is Vicki’s wrap-up post for the last day in July…

 Paris in August is a unique phenomenon. It's both empty and crowded. Loud and quiet. Parisian and not Parisian. It passes slowly but is over with before you know it, and then it's back to the hustle and bustle of work. You have to enjoy it while it lasts... Click here to read more…



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why Writers and Artists Still Meet at the Cafe...


This post is part of the Paris in July blogging event. I’m delighted to be co-hosting this year! Please check out the blogs of Karen at “A Wondering Life” and Tamara at “Thyme for Tea,” creators of the event, for links to all participating posts.

OK, so it might not be as obvious today as it was in the day of Hemingway. I know, I know: When you walk by such historical places as Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots you’re more likely to see a tourist or tired shopper than a writer. You won’t see many solitary individuals scribbling in notebooks for hours or writers regularly running into each other and having drinks.


To my great dismay, you won’t see the literary figures of the moment meeting daily in a café and discussing the writing life or gathering at the home of a mentor like Gertrude Stein for writing advice.


Gertrude Stein's former abode 


But… this doesn’t mean that the Parisian café has lost its artistic element. A recent trip to Flore – not the bustling terrace, but the tranquil upstairs dining area -- proves my point. That day, the upstairs room was the site of a photo shoot for an album cover: photographers snapping away as an elegant woman in an evening gown posed. The audience? Only me, waiting for my meeting with a literary contact. A couple of the camera crew members chatted with me, the woman changed in the bathroom: a very low-key, artistic atmosphere.

A few weeks later, a meeting with another publishing contact brought me to a café. In the cases of my meetings, they could have been done in offices.

But there is something about the café that makes it an integral part of the writer’s life, the obvious place for anything from the actual writing to a professional rendez-vous. Why? There is the idea of inspiration… a café is a great place to watch the world go by. That certainly helped me when I was developing the characters in my first novel “Paris, Rue des Martyrs.” Each moment at a café is a story in and of itself.

There is also the idea of tranquility without isolation. You know that when you are in a café, you can sit in a quiet corner for as long as you would like and think and write. Yet you aren’t alone. There is a quiet activity, a pulse that imparts energy.

As for a meeting, it makes the encounter warmer and more amiable than one held in a cold office. Talking is much easier over a really good café au lait.

So, the next time you happen to be in a Parisian café, keep your eyes and ears open. If you sit around long enough, you just might get a glimpse of a discreet writer at work. And you might end up a character in the writer’s next novel!

Another View:  


Fellow Paris-based author Vicki Lesage is teaming up with me on a few “Paris in July” posts. We each will be writing our own take on a particular Paris-related theme. Here are Vicki’s thoughts on the writing life:

As a new author, with my first two books published in January and May of this year, I'm still getting used to the label "American writer in Paris." That's partly due to the fact that I still have a day job. Click here to read more…






Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Love Paris? Unlock it!


 This post is part of the Paris in July blogging event. I’m delighted to be co-hosting this year! Please check out the blogs of Karen at “A Wondering Life” and Tamara at “Thyme for Tea,” creators of the event, for links to all participating posts.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you will probably remember that I’ve written about this subject before. But after a recent walk over the Pont des Arts, one of the once beautiful bridges spanning the Seine, I realize that the issue is worth more than one simple post.
My gripe: The “love locks” that are unlovingly hurting our city’s bridges. Here’s a look at the Pont des Arts. I wonder if many people would see beauty in this? (The trash can almost looks better than the bridge.)


The “No Love Locks” organization/campaign has been fighting for a ban on the locks and even presented a plan of action to city hall recently. But so far, no dice.
I ask myself why city hall doesn’t crack down on the sellers of the padlocks. As you can see in the photo below, they stand right on the bridges selling locks to eager tourists. I can’t imagine tourists refusing to visit Paris if the city banned love locks.

When the trend started a few years ago, there were only a few locks on the bridges and it wasn’t unsightly – so I can understand how some people might have gotten caught up in the excitement. Today, I ask myself why tourists seem so thrilled about putting a lock on the bridge when they clearly see how grotesque it’s become.
I’ve signed the petition against this travesty that has harmed and disfigured our bridges and I know that many of you have as well. For those of you who would like to sign, please click here.
And for more information about the fight to ban love locks, visit the No Love Locks page. 


Friday, July 18, 2014

As If I Don't Talk Enough About Myself...



If you want to hear more about my novel "Paris, Rue des Martyrs" and my life as a writer in Paris, please check out this interview at A Wondering Life. It is part of this month's Paris in July blogging event! Thanks for your interest and support...


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When in Paris, Where Does the Queen Go?


This post is part of the Paris in July blogging event. I’m delighted to be co-hosting this year! Please check out the blogs of Karen at “A Wondering Life” and Tamara at “Thyme for Tea,” creators of the event, for links to all participating posts.

On a trip to France for the D-Day commemoration last month, Queen Elizabeth II had only a few hours in Paris. What did she choose to see? The Paris Flower Market! (Ahem… I should say “The Queen Elizabeth II Flower Market,” as it was renamed upon the queen’s visit).

Yes, the place where I go to buy plants to replace the ones that I’ve managed to kill, or ask for advice on keeping orchids alive. The place where I bought my daughter her little pink watering can. For me, it is a prettier version of the neighborhood nursery -- because it is under pavilions dating back to 1900 and it is in Paris of course!




But it still was kind of funny that the queen chose to visit this beautiful, yet unassuming, flower market rather than one of the show-stopper sorts of attractions like the Eiffel Tower or Notre-Dame Cathedral. The queen (then a princess) had visited the market on a trip to Paris in 1948 and obviously it met with royal approval!

So is the flower market deserving of such attention? Absolutely. Plants, flowers and decorative items blending to create walkways of bright colors. A trip there is like a step into the countryside, right on the banks of the Seine. I’ve never seen it overly crowded either, making a stroll through a fun and relaxing experience.




What makes me smile is that Queen Elizabeth II, who certainly could have had the Eiffel Tower or Versailles closed for her own personal visit, actually chose a simple, lovely destination: a touch of the real Paris. Like a true Parisian, the queen carried her own umbrella that day… while the Paris mayor had an assistant carry hers!

When it comes to visiting Paris, Queen Elizabeth II has got the right plan: Veer a little bit off the beaten path and enjoy the natural beauty.








Monday, July 14, 2014

Bastille Day Means… Party at the Firehouse!


This post is part of the Paris in July blogging event. I’m delighted to be co-hosting this year! Please check out the blogs of Karen at “A Wondering Life” and Tamara at “Thyme for Tea,” creators of the event, for links to all participating posts.

So how do Parisians spend Bastille Day? Festivities begin with BBQs and the annual “Firefighters’ Ball” on July 13 and celebrations culminate with the Paris fireworks display over the Eiffel Tower on the night of the 14th.

“What’s this about the firefighters hosting a party?” you might ask.

Well, it dates back to July 14, 1937. A group of firefighters in Montmartre were marching back to the station after Bastille Day celebrations and a few area residents followed. It was then that Sergent Cournet decided it would be a good opportunity to open the firehouse up to the locals and give them a glimpse into the world of the Parisian firefighter. Add music, drinks and a tradition was born!

With the exceptions of 1939-1945 (wartime), the balls at various firehouses have been an integral part of Bastille Day tradition.

For me, Bastille Day reminds me of July 4th back in the U.S. and my celebrations usually have been similar: BBQs, fireworks, walks through parks and gardens.



Of my favorite Bastille Days, are the ones perched on a terrace of our friends’ apartment with a view of fireworks displays surrounding the city. Colors popping to life, illuminating the sky… and the Eiffel Tower reigning as a small jewel amidst it all.




Another View:



Fellow Paris-based author Vicki Lesage is teaming up with me on a few “Paris in July” posts. We each will be writing our own take on a particular Paris-related theme. Vicki’s thoughts on Bastille Day:

Allons enfants de la patrie! It's the 14th of July, also known as Bastille Day, the day France celebrates the revolution and becoming a republic. Citizens celebrate across the nation, in a rare moment of flag-waving national pride. Click here to read more...







Friday, July 11, 2014

Ice Cream or Fruit? Berthillon Has the Answer…



This post is part of the Paris in July blogging event. I’m delighted to be co-hosting this year! Please check out the blogs of Karen at “A Wondering Life” and Tamara at “Thyme for Tea," creators of the event, for links to all participating posts.

We all know that Paris is the place for pastry… but on hot summer days, we’re feeling more like something cold, light and refreshing. That means ice cream. But not ordinary ice cream. I’m talking “Berthillon,” the ice cream shop that is celebrating its 6oth anniversary this year. (With a new flavor called the “60” – vanilla and passion fruit with poivre de Timut.)






What? You’re not an ice cream fan? It doesn’t matter. Even people who usually don’t like ice cream LOVE Berthillon. The “tea salon” is located on the Ile Saint-Louis, but the ice cream and sorbets are sold at the windows of various establishments around the island. 

There is only one problem with going to the tea salon: Everyone else wants to do the same and at the very same hour! So fellow author and blogger Vicki Lesage and I were strategic, going at an off hour during the week…

“What’s so great about Berthillon?” one might ask.

My answer is this: Pure, intense flavor, just the right dose of sweetness, smooth texture (no ice crystals).

This time around, I decided to go for a sorbet. Usually, I’m not a big fan of sorbets. If I’m going to eat fruit, I would rather have it fresh instead of packaged as a diluted version full of artificial flavors. But I know that with a Berthillon sorbet, you feel as if you are actually eating a piece of very cold fruit – because, basically, you are!

So peach and cherry it was. Two of my summer favorite. And in the sorbet, I found all of the softness of a fresh peach and the tartness of this season’s cherries. Oh, and that’s one other thing: Berthillon uses seasonal fruit for its sorbets, so this year’s cherry won’t taste exactly like the one served last year. And you can expect summer fruit sorbets in summer and winter fruit sorbets in the winter!



The "before" and "after" shots!



Beyond the Berthillon experience, if you are looking for great ice cream elsewhere in Paris or in France, there are two key words to remember: artisan glacier. This means that the ice cream is “homemade” according to French tradition (use of all fresh ingredients, for example) and the pastry chef oversees the entire process. You will often find artisanal ice cream in bakeries… just look for that sign!

Bon appetit!

Another View:  



Fellow Paris-based author Vicki Lesage is teaming up with me on a few “Paris in July” posts. We each will be writing our own take on a particular Paris-related theme. Here is what Vicki has to say about ice cream in Paris:
I've been craving good ice cream for a long time. In my neighborhood, the 12th arrondissement, decent frozen treats are hard to come by. Which is weird, since the French do ice cream so well. But there are very few places you can just walk up to and pick up a cone or cup of the frozen goodness. Click here to read more…




(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-46732756-1', 'adriainparis.blogspot.com'); ga('send', 'pageview');