Category Archives: Around Paris

Trending in Paris: French Girl in Seattle reports

Trending in Paris: French Girl in Seattle reports

I am back, after twelve fast-paced, fun-filled, memorable days in Paris. A few nights ago, I lay wide awake in my own bed, five hours before I had to return to the office. I decided to fight jet lag like a champ, by browsing through several hundred photos from the trip saved on my laptop. This nocturnal Paris trip inspired this story, and the realization that when Paris is concerned, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.) What’s trending in Paris in April 2018? Overall, what was trending in Paris in April 2017, and more than likely , what was trending earlier too. Illustration.

(Still) trending in Paris: les terrasses de café (café terraces)

Like Parisians, they come in all shapes and sizes. Even if they are empty early in the morning, they fill in quickly, especially on sunny days. It does not matter if it is cold or raining outside. Many are covered or equipped with gas heaters, and comfortable year round. trending in Paris trending in Paris

trending in Paris

Why are they so popular, when sitting there often means inhaling second-hand smoke from the table next door, and paying more for drinks? Les cafés are the best place to socialize, to people-watch, and a natural extension to Parisians’ diminutive living quarters. It does not not matter that coffee quality is hit and miss, or that soda does not come with free refills and could bankrupt you. In Paris (and other parts of France,) it is a well-known fact life is best lived en terrasse.

(Still) trending in Paris: Les bords de Seine (the Seine riverbanks)

Ah, la Seine! The French capital’s lifeline remains one of her most iconic landmarks. She continues to inspire, and most Parisian strolls lead back to her.

trending in Paris

trending in Paris

(Still) trending in Paris: l’apéro (apéritif)

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” they say in other parts of the world. Parisians reply: “On prend l’apéro?L’apéritif remains a beloved ritual. It can be simple, your beverage of choice accompanied by a few slices of saucisson or cheese, a handful of peanuts or small crackers. It can be more elaborate. Lately, cafés have been offering dishes “a la plancha,” tapas-style, just like in Spain or the Mediterranean region. Charcuterie and cheese remain popular options.

trending in Paris
Happy Hours (les Heures Heureuses)

trending in Paris

(Still) trending in Paris: the Coffee Revolution

Forget old-fashioned cafés where le petit noir (a cup of bitter espresso) is best enjoyed au zinc (at the counter) with other regulars.

trending in Paris

In the much-touted “New Paris,” small, specialty coffee-shops, mostly run by Americans or Australians (or former French expats) have popped up all over the city, especially in the trendy parts of the Right Bank (10th and 11th arrondissements.) They pride themselves on serving top-quality, fair-trade, freshly-roasted coffee and talk about their selection du jour like a vigneron bordelais discusses his favorite wine vintage. One visits for the coffee experience, the Wifi, but not for the size of the room or the {non-existent} terrace. Tip for foreign visitors: These are the coffee shops you should visit if you are homesick and want to meet other English speakers.

trending in Paris
Café Oberkampf

trending in Paris

{Still} trending in Paris: the Americanization of France

Franglais (French: [fʁɑ̃ɡlɛ]; also Frenglish /ˈfrɛŋɡlɪʃ/) is a French portmanteau word referring initially to the pretentious overuse of English words by Francophones, and subsequently to the macaronic mixture of the French (français) and English (anglais) languages. (Wikipedia.)

Franglais has been an integral part of French life for many years, in ads, in magazines, and in the street. Le Fooding (paper or online version,) is one of the most trusted restaurant guides in France. It has become so big the famed Michelin guide has recently acquired shares in the company! Many French entrepreneurs meet daily in co-working spaces found in major French cities, to create and collaborate with like-minded people. In French restaurants, especially in Paris, the rumor has it le hamburger has been such un best-seller it has now replaced the traditional jambon-beurre sandwich in French hearts. One thing is true at least: Le am-ba-ga can be spotted on most menus, from gastronomic restaurants to more humble eateries.

trending in paris
Spotted in le Métro: an ad for lafourchette.com, the online restaurant reservation system

Let’s not forget France’s fascination with MacDo! Don’t les Français realize MacDo is singlehandedly responsible for Manny the woolly mammoth’s extinction? I was able to catch a very rare sighting of an exhausted Manny seeking refuge at le Jardin des Plantes, only to spot MacDo over his right shoulder, seductively calling his name! Run, Manny, run!

Trending in Paris

In recent years, a former French expat has come home to introduce Parisians to texas-style barbecue. As long as diners are allowed to use forks and knives, he should do just fine.

Are bagels going to replace the traditional baguette? Has le hamburger dethroned French fast food? Not so fast, Ronald McDonald: On a recent stroll at la place des Vosges on a glorious spring afternoon, among the many picnic afficionados sprawled out on welcoming grassy areas, I spotted a majority of jambon-beurre sandwiches and its famous cousin, le poulet-crudités, There were a few galettes complètes (savory crepes) too. Yet, not a hamburger in sight.

trending in Paris

 

{still} trending in Paris: walking

Parisians walk everywhere. Many foreign visitors are shocked to see they lose weight while vacationing in the French capital even if they enjoy generous meals, plentiful wine, and their daily guilty pleasure: une pâtisserie. In recent years, much ado has been made about the art of la flânerie, an alleged Parisian specialty many people (who can’t survive without their car at home and will go out of their way to park right outside the buildings they are visiting) are happy to adopt as soon as they arrive in the French capital. It is Paris’s blessing and curse: The most mundane event happening in her streets is instantly embellished by the enduring “Paris mystique.” Meanwhile, Parisians seem oblivious to visitors’ and photographers’ fascinated stares. They are in a hurry and walk fast, to work, or to an appointment they are late for; later in the day, or during the weekend, they slow down and stroll, taking in the scenery.

{Still} trending in Paris: le trench, le parapluie, les tennis

In order to brave Paris’s fickle weather, especially in April, modern-day Parisians stick to what they know and trust: a good trench coat, an umbrella, and comfortable shoes made for walking.

trending in Paris
Les basiques (basics) are still in

When you walk as much as Parisians do, you need the right footwear. Don’t trust everything lifestyle bloggers tell you: Not all Parisian women spend their days on stiletto heels or ballet flats. Christian Louboutin shoes look best in a window display… or on a pretty woman sitting at a café terrace. They prove disappointing performers on the French capital’s iconic pavés (cobblestones.) For many years now, both men and women in Paris have adopted les tennis, or les baskets. American sneaker brands score big, especially among the younger crowd. More mature customers (including seniors) will stick to basic colors (black, navy, beige.) When they indulge in a whimsical pair (a light pink, silver, or sparkles,) sneakers must match the rest of the outfit, or at the very least the coat or jacket. We are in Paris, after all, not at the local gym! You will find French-style sneakers everywhere. Elegant brands like Inès de la Fressange or JB Martin Paris feature at least a few pairs in each of their seasonal collections.

trending in Paris
La Parisienne’s essentials

There is another reason les Parisiennes choose comfort over high heels: Like many women around the world, they walk the streets while staring at their smart phone screens and can’t take the risk of spraining an ankle. This continues when they ride the Metro. Fewer and fewer Parisians read books (or work) there. Everyone is too busy texting and reading French Girl in Seattle‘s latest blogpost on their telephone screen. Et oui, hélas, smart phones, too, are still trending in Paris…

A bientôt. 

trending in Paris
A French Girl, her umbrella, her trenchcoat, and her “tennis.” (Photo C. Redor)

Text and photos by French Girl in Seattle. Please do not use without permission.

18 Responses to Trending in Paris: French Girl in Seattle reports

  1. Loved the blog! I am so glad, despite some changes, that Paris remains much the same. When I get to travel there, I want to see all the things I have read and about. Great photos! Thank for sharing.🗼

  2. Eh oui, tout est correct. Absolument! Spot on!
    I listened to your interview on the Earful Tower the other week. Loved it!
    …..and in reference to this show,
    bises from one Brigitte to one Véronique 😉

    • Bises back at you, ma chère Brigitte. Glad you enjoyed the Earful Tower podcast and agreed with my comments. As I mentioned that day, compliments coming from fellow French natives are particularly sweet to my ears. A bientôt.

  3. Great report, Veronique! It was lovely to see your chat with French Frye in Paris and to hear your discussion with Earful Tower. You are as charming to see and listen to as your posts are to read.

    Thank you!!!

  4. Very nice post, really gives you a taste of what feels like to stroll about Paris.

    I’m ambivalent about the franglais… makes me sad to hear so much English in France, and makes it hard for anglophones to learn the language if francophones are too quick to use English with them. That said, I have si peu d’occasions de parler français aux États-Unis and feel it comes across as snobbish when I try… whereas I feel mournful that my country is so monolingual and ethnocentric, it’s dangerous and sadly limiting….

    • Thank you for sharing your photos of Paris. Enjoyed reading about their lifestyle. Hopefully someday in the future, want to fly out to Paris and sit at more than one of those beautiful cafes!!

    • Merci Susan. This is a complicated issue indeed. The French go a bit overboard with le franglais in my humble opinion. I recently read an issue of the French Elle magazine that had me in stitches because the editor obviously went out of her way to use franglais to sound “cool.” Never a perfect world, n’est-ce-pas?

  5. Merci. Je ne suis pas allée à Paris l’année dernière et l’année d’avant je suis juste passée en coup de vent. Je vois que je n’ai pas vu venir la tendance “hamburger”.

    Cette année j’ai prévu de passer une dizaine de jours à Paris.
    Je vais essayer de ne pas être trop timide et de faire des “live” pour partager un peu Paris avec mes étudiants (je suis un French tutor/coach).

    Je ne maîtrise pas assez l’anglais pour écrire de bons blogs comme les vôtres alors je m’abstiendrai.
    Et je continuerai à lire les vôtres.

    Merci beaucoup pour vos blogs et votre page FB.

    • Merci beaucoup de votre visite et de vos commentaires Catherine. Je n’ai pas été assez courageuse (et ai manqué de temps) pour me lancer dans les “Live Videos” pendant cette visite. Je vous admire de l’envisager! Si vous voulez voir un maitre en la matière, je vous conseille les visites guidées informelles organisées tous les samedis matin sur Facebook par mon ami Corey Frye, sur A French Frye in Paris. Si vous n’avez pas encore regardé le “café chat” pendant lequel Corey et moi avons répondu en direct à des questions sur Paris, je vous le recommande. Vous trouverez le lien Youtube sur la page FB de French Girl in Seattle. A bientôt.

  6. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même choses.
    It is good that some things in Paris are immutable. It’s also good that other things evolve, that the place isn’t some kind of giant museum. The balance of ancient and cutting-edge, of tradition and trendiness, are what make Paris so tantalizing.

  7. Bravo 👏 I absolutely loved reading this blog! One of my favorites!! It was an update to Paris for me. You have it down pat on what’s trending in Paris for sure. I was there with you…such a fun and enlightening blog. I’m a vegetarian but when I did eat meat..the jambon beure was much better than hamburger. It’s all about the bread 🥖 for me. Peace french girl. xo

    • Sorry, I’m so franglais. I have nobody to practice french with. My mom goes right to English because we don’t have time to blab long on FaceTime. C’est dommage pour moi. Ciao!

      • Merci Sandy. You need to return to Paris yourself and see if you can uncover trends I may have missed there! I know you are more familiar with southern France, and “la province” often rolls differently from the French capital (but not always!)

        As for the use of franglais, that’s ok with moi. “When in Paris, do as Parisians do…” and all that… A bientôt!

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Le Canal Saint Martin and beyond

Le Canal Saint Martin and beyond

In the heart of Paris’s trendy 10th arrondissement lies the peaceful and atmospheric Canal Saint Martin. Unlike some of the eateries, cafés and boutiques in the neighborhood, the canal has been there for a very long time. In the early 19th century, Napoleon I, who was as much a skilled administrator as he was a military…

27 Responses to Le Canal Saint Martin and beyond

  1. Once again an excellent stroll thru a less-visited part of Paris. In fact it was my second home, after I reluctantly moved from Ile St Louis. You say:
    “Over the next 20 years, the neighborhood would morph into one of the trendiest, most popular strolling grounds in Paris, favored by locals and out-of-town visitors alike.”

    It became trendy for exactly the same reason I moved there: it was the cheapest property in Paris and as a poor scientist it was where I could afford to buy something with proper rooms, ie. other than a very small studio (though it was also right next to my place of work at Hopital St Louis). For the same reasons young people could more easily buy or rent there. Not BoBo territory (though it may be morphing into that today?) but more youthful and studenty and ethnic.

    I suppose it was less desirable because the 10th contains Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est plus, like you say, was historically filled with light industry around the canal and train lines. Though most had gone by the early 90s when I moved there and most of the ZACs (rehabilitation zones) had been completed in the 70s and 80s. Almost all of Quai de Jemmapes, from Republique to Stalingrad, consists of modern apartment blocks, except for those patches of ancient ones such as Hotel du Nord (which in reality is pretty decrepit–probably its filmic heritage saved it from demolition). The transformation of the Place de la Republique from a car-infested traffic island into a pedestrian-friendly plaza has helped.

    • Merci de votre visite. I imagine a former resident must be even more interested in the many transformations this neighborhood has gone through over the last few decades. You are correct about l’Hôtel du Nord. It was run down, set to get torn down (and likely replaced by a new building like the modern apartment block you mentioned,) when Parisians (many cinephiles,) decided to organize and fight to save the old hotel in the 1980s. From street demonstrations, (in typical French fashion,) to fund raising efforts, to media campaigns, they were active and eventually won: Even after the hotel had been renovated and turned into a restaurant, the iconic façade was preserved and became a “Historic Monument of France.” It has been protected since. Here is an interesting article I meant to share but did not include at the end of the story. http://www.hoteldunord.org/fr/historique/hist-canal

  2. That scene of Amelie on one of the iconic green passerelles over the canal (and close by to Hotel du Nord) is perhaps the best known today, but I believe it may have been Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s partial homage to another famous film scene, from the Marcel Carné epic movie Les enfants du paradis (1945); if I remember correctly the scene is night time (or dusk, same as in Amelie) with Arletty and Jean-Louis Barrault on the bridge. Of course Marcel Carné also made Hotel du Nord which also starred Arletty.

    A more recent movie that features extensively features the canal is One Day (2011) starring Anne Hathaway & Jim Sturgess; they cross over the canal on one of the passerelles too but a bit further downstream, in fact at Avenue Richerand (my street). Much of the Paris segment of the movie is set around here (where the Hathaway character lives) and there is also a brief glimpse of one of the cafes involved in the 2015 terrorist shooting–at rue Alibert.

    But continuing the filmic links I want to mention something I discovered just last week. If you follow the canal right to the edge of Paris, ie. take the left (NW) turn into Canal St Denis, just beyond where it passes under the trains tracks from Gare de l’Est at the limit of the 19th arrondissement, there are three newish Metro stations. They serve the Tram 3b extension (and one also serves RER-E). Apparently their names were conferred, and insisted upon, by then-mayor socialist Bertrand Delanöe, even though they broke the rule about using geographic names (he perhaps got around this by also renaming streets around them). Anyway they are female icons: Rosa Parks, Ella Fitzgerald and Delphine Seyrig. I notice that opposite Rosa Parks there is a Passage Susan Sontag!

    When I went to Wiki to refresh my memory of Seyrig, I found this:
    “Seyrig was a major feminist figure in France. Throughout her career, she used her celebrity status to promote women’s rights. The most important of the three films she directed was the 1977 Sois belle et tais-toi (Be Pretty and Shut Up), which included actresses Shirley MacLaine, Maria Schneider, and Jane Fonda, speaking frankly about the level of sexism they had to deal with in the film industry.”

    Exactly 40 years before #MeToo!

    • Thank you for another informative comment. If you and I ever met for a drink by le Canal St Martin, we would discuss movies and popular French culture, I imagine… I will make sure to check out the area you mention, and already traveled via the new Rosa Parks station on my way to my parents’ place in the suburbs, another illustration Paris keeps changing and reinventing herself a lot more than many give her credit for. I can’t resist sharing the most iconic movie scene ever filmed by le Canal St Martin (at least for French cinephiles,) a long time before Mademoiselle Amélie stopped by to practice her “ricochets” in the canal: The “Atmosphère, atmosphère… Est-ce que j’ai une gueule d’atmosphère?” line, delivered by actress Arletty in the iconic “Hôtel du Nord” movie. The scene provides a unique peek into what the old Canal St Martin neighborhood used to look like in its working class days. It’s also a great illustration, via Arletty’s unique voice and delivery, of the famous “Parisian gouaille.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DKI0EP-RMA

  3. Wow, the canal has changed so much in the last 10 years since I have been there! I loved it then and am looking forward to exploring it when I go back. Thanks for a great post!

    • Merci beaucoup. I am glad you enjoyed your stroll with me today. I live for the details and am much more comfortable spotting (and capturing) them than I am with landscape photography. I leave that part to professional photographers!

  4. Love it!
    I used to live in Paris (for 20 years!) but I don’t know it very well.
    Now next time I am in the city I’ll go there for sure!
    You made me want to.
    What is the orange wall pic just before the Hôtel du Nord?

    • Bonjour Catherine. The orange wall has changed over time. It is located by le Canal St Martin, on quai de Valmy. The wall is popular with street artists who regularly paint different scenes and messages on it. It made the news after the 2015 terror attacks when a giant “Fluctuat Nec Mergitur” fresco was painted there as a tribute to Paris’s resilience (“Tossed by the Waves but Never Sunk.) It is the city’s official motto. You can look it up on Google. I have a few photos of it, but chose to share this version, captured last June, instead. Life goes on…

  5. Excellent reportage sur ce magnifique coin de Paris que je connais et adore. Merci Véronique. Les photos sont très belles.

  6. You’ve got me feeling nostalgique. I lived in the 11th and until 2012 my office was in the 10th near the canal. Your photos captured much of what I saw walking to and from work. We would eat lunch by the canal in the summer and play boules after work nearby. And Antoine et Lili got plenty of my euros. Thank you for highlighting this lovely corner of Paris!

  7. Thanks for this great article on the Canal St Martin area. This is my neighbourhood where I own a small flat 20 steps from the Canal. All my visitors love staying here as it gives a different look to Paris. A more relaxed, local feel. The number of great restaurants has increased in the last few years as well as a younger local crowd.

    Trish
    rentaparisflat.com

  8. Another great post! Thank you for sharing your way around Paris. I have noted the places in this post so to be sure to visit them when there in May. We will have a month to visit Paris (May 9th – June 9th), 2 weeks in Nice (April 5-20th), Bordeaux (5/1-5/4 & 2 weeks in Caen (late June) area. Almost forgot the Toulouse area (5/4-9th). I will scour your past blogs for more interesting places to see. I much prefer ‘off the beaten path’ type places.
    If you are at all planning on being in France somewhere during that time would love to meet up & share stories.
    Cheers!
    DiAnn

  9. What would be the easiest way to get there? It is on my list when I make my first trek to Paris in September. We are staying in the 5th. The friend I am travelling with has been to Paris once in 2012 but she did not visit that area. We want to keep 2 days for just exploring and this is an area I would like to see.

    Thanks much for any advice

    p.s. loved watching your Cafe chat with Corey!

    • Bonjour Tami. If you are staying on the Left Bank, you will have to cross over to the Right Bank. An easy way to visit le Canal St Martin is to pick “Republique” as your Metro stop. The Canal neighborhood is within walking distance of la Place de la République. Hope you enjoy it! If you are looking for a lunch place when you get there, I reviewed a new Italian restaurant by the Canal on the FGIS Facebook page this week. Bonne visite.

    • FGIS is correct. However it is one of the great walks of Paris and absolutely that is what you should do. Beginning in the Leftbank go to Notre Dame and walk across the (pedestrian) Pont St Louis at the rear of the cathedral, onto Ile St Louis. Walk the length of the island on its central (almost its only) street, rue St Louis-en-Ile, right to its end at Pont Sully.

      Walk north on Pont Sully across to the Rightbank and take the riverside walk here, heading upstream about 500m until you come to the Bassin de l’Arsenal. This is the pleasure port with a few hundred peniches (barges) and assorted river boats are moored. Go up the westside (Bvd Bourdon) of the port about halfway then cross high over the water on the passerelle (ped bridge, continuation of rue Mornay) to the eastside where you can descend to Jardin de l’Arsenal (with its ornamental gardens; note this area is locked early evening).

      Walk northwards in the gardens until you exit back to the street level almost at Place de la Bastille. Navigate anti-clockwise across the Bastille–passing in front of the Opera Bastille–and turn into the Boulevard Richard Lenoir. It is a long linear park that on weekends (maybe only Sundays?) hosts the now very popular Marché Biologique (ie. organic farmers market). You are now walking on top of the Canal St Martin which was buried in the 19th century under the road (and Bastille)–you can see the air & light “chimneys” along the park.

      So you just follow the park all the way until it finishes at Place de la Republique (well, 2 blocks east at rue du Faubourg du Temple; if you have time you could deviate to the Place which is the historic and modern centre of popular protest with its statue of Marianne). Cross over the F. du Temple and voila, Canal St Martin emerges from its subterranean passage courtesy of a few locks (visible at Sqe F. Lemaitre). Wait here long enough and you’ll see the Bateaux Mouche (tour boats) use the locks to go under and all the way to Bastille and the Seine.

      Now you can walk along the paths on either side of the canal. This is now the 10th arrondissement and will take you all the way to the Bassin de la Villette which is a good place for a canal-side lunch or dinner. This is the 19th arrondissement. Depending on how much energy you have you can continue waterside along the Canal de l’Ourq. In fact it is only about another one km to the edge of Paris. At this end (ie. junction Bassin Villette/Ourq) is the famous original elevating Pont Crimée (there is a passerelle next to it that is good for photos; these days I suppose a selfie with Pont Crimée in background; this bridge will elevate for the Bateaux Mouche).

      About 500m takes you to the junction of the two canals, l’Ourq and St Denis and on the other side you will now be in the Parc de la Villette with its Science & Industrie museum (you’ll see the Geode). Right at the far end just before the canal passes under the peripherique motorway, is the famous Zenith concert hall; about 200m south in the same parkland is the new (2014) Philharmonie de Paris concert hall. At this end you can catch Metro 5 at station Porte de Pantin (next to Cité de la Musique which is directly south of the Philharmonie).

      You will have done 100% of the canal route (well excepting St Denis which heads north-west and is less interesting). I’d bet you would have bragging rights over any of your friends who claim to have “done Canal St Martin”. It’s a longish walk but easily done in a day and of course no end of places to stop for lunch, a coffee or dinner etc. Incidentally plenty take the Bateau Mouche tour–and that is the only way to see the subterranean sections–but that’s the lazy way. Walking is far superior.

      But a warning: your biggest risk will be getting diverted! I mean you could easily get stuck on Ile St Louis for the rest of the day. You must discipline yourself to keep pushing onward 🙂

      • Of course it being Paris there are no end of side excursions you could do, though be wary of losing too much of the day.

        This route up Bvd Richard Lenoir will cross Boulevard Voltaire (cutting at an angle SE/NW) and you’ll see the Bataclan music venue (on the west side) where the terrible terrorist event happened in 2015. They have installed a memorial to the 90+ victims. In fact you could divert up Bvd Voltaire to Place de la Republique, then rejoin the canal at rue du Faubourg du Temple as per above.

        There aren’t so many of the hyper-famous monuments on this route (which doesn’t diminish it at all) except perhaps those you will pass anyway: Bastille & its opera; Republique and Marianne. Another very old bit of little seen Paris is just off Canal St Martin: walk about 120m up Avenue Richerand and at its end is an entrance to the oldest part of Hopital St Louis. It is this junction that is featured in the movie One Day (see my earlier post) and there is a photo of it in the Wiki entry. In fact I just learned that

        “The south-west entrance to the hospital, located at the intersection of rue Bichat and avenue Richerand, is popularly known as the entrance to the police station in the hit French detective television series, Navarro.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%B4pital_Saint-Louis#/media/File:P1040720_Paris_X_h%C3%B4pital_Saint-Louis_rwk.jpg

        Anyway make sure to walk further into the hospital (open to public during daytime) another 25m or so until you pass into the oldest part, the cloisters surrounding the beautiful and calm garden courtyard, built 1611. This was my daily walk to work (within the northern side of the hospital).

        If you do take this diversion be sure to retrace your route (ie. av Richerand) back to the canal, ie. don’t be tempted by any north-western shortcut, because this (Richerand to Recolletes) is perhaps the most famous part of the canal, much featured in movies (including Amelie, Infants des Paradis, Hotel du Nord, more recently One Day) and of course has the actual (heritage-protected facade anyway) Hotel du Nord (east bank). Note that there are five of the green passerelles (ped. bridges) here and the two road bridges are “pont tournant”, ie. they swivel on carousels to allow passage of boats.

        Note at the junction of Canal St Martin and the Bassin de la Villette is the elaborate Rotonde de la Villette, which hides the original waterworks to supply water to Paris from the canals (the reason Napoleon commissioned these canals though, like so much he ordered, he didn’t live to see it completed). I believe today it still serves as the supply point for all that water you see washing the gutters of Paris (and watering the parks & gardens), an eminently sensible arrangement rather than use precious potable water.

  10. Well, my dear “Aussie-on-Ile-St-Louis,” I guess you are the next best thing to my trusted “Plan de Paris par arrondissement.” These are very handy (and detailed) directions you provided. Any person able to take a good, long, urban walk should definitely follow them. Maybe you should be a travel writer? (I am somehow expecting you to reply: “Well, as a matter of fact, I have already published a book about the best Paris walks…”) – Merci beaucoup, as always, for enriching one of my blogposts with your comments. Bien à vous, FGIS.

  11. Excuse me. I can’t help myself. I did go OTT this time. You can tell I am OCD about two things (at least!), 1. Paris and 2. Walking in Paris. It is without doubt the best walking city in the world and I don’t believe anyone can really appreciate the city without hours and hours traipsing around it. No accident that it gave the world both the activity and the word that describes it: flanerie & flaneur.

    It’s why your blog is so good (yes, your are encouraging my OCD:-). Who needs to read about another view of the Eiffel Tower or the other Top Ten (or top 100) in the Paris everyone already knows about?

    As it happens Canal St Martin is my old “home” area, and in this case I was able to begin the flanerie/tour on my other home zone, Ile St Louis. Double heaven. As it happens I have also just finished reading David Jefferson’s “Paris by Boat. A Boatowners’ Guide to the Seine and Paris Canals”. (It is long out of print but I bought a secondhand copy via your current hometown’s little company, you know the one that has a z in its name …). It has been overfeeding my OCD and generating wild ideas of how to afford living in Paris again …

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8 Responses to 20th arrondissement: Where Paris keeps it real

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Winter stroll in Passy, western Paris

Winter stroll in Passy, western Paris

Two Parisians are making weekend plans: Lui (Him:) “Qu’est-ce-qui te tente? Une balade dans le Marais, ou à St Germain des Près peut-être?” (What are you in the mood for? A stroll in le Marais or in Saint Germain des Près maybe?) Elle (Her:) “Bof. On connait par coeur. Il y aura plein de touristes en plus.…

25 Responses to Winter stroll in Passy, western Paris

  1. “Passy, c’est vivant”

    Hah, funny because the main thing that comes to mind when I hear Passy is the cimetiére. High above the Place de Trocadero–it is directly above that wall with the Monument aux Morts I believe. It is most notable (from memory) for huge family tombs; ie. grandiose necropolises (or necropoli?) that house generations of the same family. As one would expect of the “old money” families that favour the 16th.
    I suppose Manet and Debussy are two celebrity graves with most others being industrialists like Dassault and Renault etc. Oh, not to forget, presumably your fave, Jacques Guerlain 🙂

    Although dominated by old money and thus its reputation for calme and quietude (as lui says) don’t forget its recent addition to pop culture. Normally it is the south/rive-gauche side of Pont de Bir-Hakeim that is featured in movies (due to its proximity to the Tour Eiffel of course) but the north/Passy side has two considerable moments in modern movie classics. The “old” one is that those steps that lead down to the central pedestrian way across the bridge (and under the Metro deck) was used by the character played by Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris, en route to that empty apartment where all the action happened. The more recent (2009) one involves the very doorway (to Metro workshops) you show in your pic, that in the DiCaprio/Christopher Nolan Inception housed the “dream training facility” and those same steps were used by DiCaprio and Adriane (Ellen Page) several times, and the door by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character. They were also at the “nearby” fictional Cafe Debussy (possibly an acknowledgment of his nearby grave? though confusingly the filming site was in the 15th). That first dream sequence of Adriane’s terminates here in the giant mirror sequence on the pedestrian central walkway under that end of the bridge (when it is rudely interrupted by Cobb’s (DiCaprio) “dead” wife played by Marion Cotillard).

    Oh, also worth a mention for we urbanists, is the apartment building at 25a Rue Franklin (off r. de Passy) designed by August Perret. Built in 1903 it was a seminal construction using modern methods (reinforced concrete and finished with a tiled facade). The style was ahead of the International Style. I assume it is a national monument? The extended Perret family lived here and it also housed the Perret family architecture firm. The building is very recognisable even by those without any particular interest in architectural history:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paris_16_(25437741212).jpg

    Nice piece, yet again, on a less-travelled part of Paris.

    • Merci for this long, informative comment, as always. Most people don’t bother leaving comments on blogs anymore, and visitors’ messages are always such a treat for bloggers. I enjoyed your description of famous guests at the Cimetière de Passy. I mentioned it only in passing at the beginning of the story, because I am planning to write another article about it later. I did visit it that morning – and almost froze to death in the chilly winter wind! The cinephile in me particularly loved your comments about movies, of course. Great additions to my story, merci! Finally, I did not see the apartment you mentioned, at 25 rue Franklin. So many interesting buildings, so little time. I guess this means I will have to return to Passy soon! A bientôt.

  2. Since I can no longer travel to Pais like I once did, I look forward to reading your blog and seeing pictures of so many areas of the city that I never got to visit. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

  3. A great travelogue through a quartier where I lived for seven years in the 1960-70s. But you missed one of the jewels of Passy —Musee Marmottan (facing Jardins du Ranelagh, not too far from Metro La Muette) featuring impressionists paintings by Monet (and many others by his contemporaries). But I don’t blame you for heading home after this long wintry stroll!

    • Bonjour Ken et bienvenue! I am guessing le quartier de Passy must look a bit different now from the 1960s and 1970s. Have you returned recently? I did not miss le Musée Marmottan. It is mentioned in the conversation featured at the beginning of the story. I was there last February, in fact, on another cold, yet sunny day, and enjoyed it. But there’s only so much ground one can cover on “a Paris stroll,” and when time is of the essence, I tend to favor walking the streets over visiting a museum (even if this means turning into a popsicle by the end of the day.) A bientôt Ken!

      • I totally agree with your comment of preferring to stroll the streets over visiting a museum. I adore the museums, but I’d much prefer my lengthy walks that take me to the most fascinating places. And yes, I also know that popsicle experience all too well. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

        • Merci Suzanne. Museums are wonderful too, don’t get me wrong, and Paris has fantastic ones, of course, including the Marmottan Monet. In fact, come to think of it, the 16th arrondissement probably offers some of the least crowded museums in Paris, and that makes the area very attractive of course (le Musée de la Marine at the Trocadero, was always a family favorite when my son was younger.) But, when it is all said and done, exploring great neighborhoods in cities, large and small, and people watching, will always be my favorite thing to do when I travel; and in Paris, one can do just that… endlessly, rain, or shine. A bientôt.

      • Like you, Veronique, I return to Paris frequently and do revisit the old familiar haunts like Passy and Auteuil

        • And I am certain you enjoy each of these visits, as I do. Since you mentioned the Marmottan-Monet in a previous comment, did you have a chance to see the current Pissarro exhibit there? Interestingly, two Parisian museums are highlighting his work at the same time: le Marmottan-Monet and le Musée du Luxembourg. An American friend of mine is in Paris this week with her family to attend the grand opening of the Luxembourg exhibit. Her family is lucky enough to own one of the Pissarro paintings featured in Paris! I would have loved being there with her.

  4. This area seems quite nice. A walk with exploring the buildings, architecture, the shops, and the food, without the droves of people. I have put this on my list of to sees. Thank you for an insightful post.

  5. Hello there! I am an arm-chair traveler and have been reading your blog for a little over a year now. I haven’t been to France since my college days over 2 decades ago because of… other priorities. I greatly enjoy reading about your adventures and I am inspired by them. I am particular drawn to the lack of pretention in your writing! This is one of my favorite post. My absolute favorite was the recent one “les Batignolles, part I” as it reminds me of my own little village Coconut Grove, Florida where I live. It’s a quaint little village nicknamed Little Paris and it has always been attracting a great number of French expats. I plan on creating a lifestyle blog on “village life” to share my life experiences in the Grove and hope to inspire and entertain my readers. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us arm-chair travelers!

    • Enchantée, Fabie. What a wonderful message! I visited Coconut Grove, years and years ago. Wish I had known then there was a “Little Paris” there. Will make sure to check it out if I am ever in the neighborhood. Do let me know when you launch your blog. I will be happy to come and visit to see what is happening in your neck of the woods.

  6. I am taking notes, from your posts, for my visit to France in 2018. I have never been, have always wanted to go & want to take the roads less traveled while explore.

    Thank you for sharing your stories & insights & I look forward to many more.

    DiAnn

  7. Delighted a friend recommended your blog to me. I’m planning a trip to France scheduled later this year and love the perspective that travel blogs provide (and allow for continued visits vicariously). Great post!

  8. Très jolie promenade dans un Passy de luxe et de charme. Merci Véro pour la maison de Balzac, mon auteur préféré. Je l’ai visitée plusieurs fois et encore l’été dernier. A bientôt pour d’autres aventures.

  9. Quel délice d’être tombée sur votre blog….. je serai à Paris bientôt et adore le quartier de La Muette et le parc du Ranelagh mais n’ai jamais visité Passy….. sur la liste de cette French Girl in Puyallup:) Merci!

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Paris for the people: Belleville and Menilmontant

Paris for the people: Belleville and Menilmontant

Bienvenue à Belleville and Menilmontant. Once located outside the Paris city limits, these neighborhoods, like la Butte aux Cailles, les Batignolles, or Montmartre, were annexed after 1860 when Napoleon III and his wingman, Baron Haussmann, undertook the 20-year “remodel” that would give birth to the modern city we all know and love today. Of all…

21 Responses to Paris for the people: Belleville and Menilmontant

  1. TYPO ALERT:

    (during the violent Commune uprising in the 1970s, residents fought long and hard against the Versailles army, and their barricades were the last ones to fall,)

    Mai ’68 was wild and ructions continued into the 70s but I guess you meant “1870s”.

    (you can delete this comment if you want).

    • Ha! Yes, I did mean 1870s. Thank you for catching that just a few minutes after I posted the article. I guess I should be careful when I write while enjoying my favorite dinner: cheese assortment and red wine 😉 Thank you for your visit.

  2. Merci for telling us about other Parisian neighborhoods. They all have their unique charms. Looks like you had wonderful weather during you last trip. You make it all look so easy and delightful visiting these neighborhoods but you are French, afterall, smile.

    • Merci Cherie! The weather was amicable most days but very cold. I was wearing my favorite wool peacoat and a thin puffer coat underneath, not to mention a wool scarf, as you can tell in the photo! I do not mind cold weather when the sun shines. I get enough rain in Seattle and don’t care for it while exploring other cities 😉 As for making it easy, well… It is not that hard, really. You just go with a good map (mine is the trusted pocket-size “Plan de Paris par Arrondissement,”) and you walk… left… right… sometimes, it’s best not to plan too much. This is still Paris and most neighborhoods are safe, if you use common sense. 🙂

  3. Madame Veronique,

    I’ve always loved the name Menilmontant. My father had an old book, with photos of this place.
    Thank you so much for this tour, for your photos and your superb narrative. I find this quartier a magical place!

    Apparently, it has everything, including some nice hotels. Is the US Master Card no longer honored in France?
    When I return to Paris, I would love to stay in this neighborhood.

    Your photo with that kitty is precious. You look beautiful, as usual.
    Maria

    • Bonjour Maria. Thank you for your visit, as always. Glad you enjoyed your visit. I am not certain there are that many hotels in Belleville and Menilmontant, even if I am convinced one can find rental apartments easily there. Did you look them up? I am not sure I understand your comment about the Mastercard. The only card that occasionally gets turned down in France is Amex. Visa and Mastercard are accepted without any problem. A bientôt, Maria.

  4. Thank you for this post. I follow you religiously on Facebook and find your information so helpful and interesting. Your posts keep me company on my train ride to and from work. I am headed back to France in September and plan to visit these areas. They weren’t on my radar on my last visit. One of my favorite things to do is just wander around the city and try to mix it up, seeing some of the famous landmarks, while at the same time not concentrating on just those. I find France to be quite a wonderful country and can’t wait to return.

  5. I have read contradicting reviews about Belleville regarding safety. Is safety an issue? The area looks like a gem for fotos, but not sure if I want to be in the area with an expensive camera which screams “rob me!” I usually travel off the tourist path but also want to be smart, particularly when I travel with my 10 year old. Any feedback would be great.

    • Belleville is a lively area, and it is fine if you are aware of your surroundings like in any other urban environments. Follow la rue de Belleville uphill, go to the Parc de Belleville, and you will keep your 10-year old interested. A lot of street art to look at, even more in Menilmontant, nearby. I would stay away from some side streets and the park at night. Other than that, get out there and enjoy!

  6. I laughed when I saw the cat. I feel betrayed I thought she/he only adored me. https://vgy.me/wBQHv6
    also, sadly, Cream coffee has closed its doors (surprised as I thought it was doing quite well) The owner moved over to Canal Saint-Martin.

    • Bonjour Rob. I apologize for the late reply. I just spent a few days in Paris and things got busy. I did not know Cream had closed, and realized you were right when I walked past its old location during my traditional Belleville walk. Dommage. So many new-style coffee shops in Paris right now, however. As for the cat, she is very sorry you are feeling betrayed, but she claims she is a friendly cat and has to greet all visitors in her neighborhood! A bientôt.

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Chez Gaston (Batignolles, Part 2)

Chez Gaston (Batignolles, Part 2)

A few days ago, I took you along as I explored one of Paris’ most charming neighborhoods, les Batignolles. The area offers an eclectic mix of eateries from traditional bistros and cafés, to hip restaurants and bars popular with the younger crowd, including Bobos (bourgeois bohemians) who have discovered the neighborhood in recent years. There are established businesses and newer, trendier places.…

11 Responses to Chez Gaston (Batignolles, Part 2)

  1. Hoping to visit your suggestion when visiting France in 2018. Thank you for sharing & yes, I hope it doesnʻt change before I go there.

  2. What a pleasure to admire those delicious photos!
    Especially that first one: you look “divina” as we say in my country and…having dinner with the proverbial Mr. Darcy, no less! 🙂

    As for the food I see, it looks delicious of course, but…very familiar…They are part of the French-British heritage in the culture of the countries that belong to the Rio de la Plata basin.

    Your narrative is impeccable, as usual. Thank you so much, Madame Veronique.
    Maria

    P.S.
    I’d like to share with you this little piece of music called “Le Cygne”, written by a compatriot of yours, the revered Romantic era composer, Camille Saint-Saëns.
    Monsieur Camille wrote the melody especifically for violoncello, with accompaniment for one or two pianos.

    Many musicians have produced arrangements for the keyboard of this sublime piece: Lucien Garban, Leopold Godowsky and Alexander Siloti among others.
    I chose Godowsky’s version because Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff liked it best.

    Camille Saint-Saëns-Le Cygne

    http://youtu.be/Cw_yDcwzuHo

    played by Wibi Soerjadi, born March 2, 1970 in Leiden, Netherlands.

    Last but not least, what an adorable couple make your “mamita” and your “papito”.

    • Dear Maria. Merci de votre visite. I have been blogging now, on and off, for over 6 years. I know my blogger friends would agree readers like you are a rare breed online today. They take the time to visit; read and appreciate the narrative; and leave thoughtful and informative comments. I am listening to le Cygne as I type this. I was not familiar with Godowsky’s version. Thank you for sharing it. What a beautiful piece! You are correct, my “mamita” and “papito” are, indeed, adorable. I treasure the time spent with them during my too short visits. You are incorrect, however, about the gentleman pictured at the beginning of the story. He is, of course, the famous Peter Olson, and like everyone who has been lucky enough to explore Paris with him, knows, the most gracious guide (and dinner companion.) Peter is not, however, Mr Darcy. Mr Darcy, you see, remains the Holy Grail, the shining and unattainable light many women – including this French Girl – can only dream about. It is my hope that Elizabeth Bennett will get distracted and look away for a few minutes one day, just long enough for me to finally approach Mr Darcy and make him my own. L’espoir fait vivre, n’est-ce-pas? Bonne année, Maria. I hope you return soon.

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Batignolles, Paris without the crowds (Part 1)

Batignolles, Paris without the crowds (Part 1)

Dedicated to Peter O. The place is relaxed, peaceful, with a real neighborhood life and feel: Bienvenue aux Batignolles. This was my home for a few days during a recent visit when I rented an apartment rue Truffaut. We are in the northeastern section of the 17th arrondissement in Paris, just west of Montmartre. Once a humble village, the…

32 Responses to Batignolles, Paris without the crowds (Part 1)

  1. Hello or Bonjour,
    I love your blog! It has been my dream to visit Europe, with France being my first choice of countries to see.

    My husband & I are planning a 3 month trip to Europe in 2018 & I would love to have your ideaʻs of where, how we should go about seeing France. Not as a tourist so much, but more like a local/tourist.

    I love history & feel like somewhere in time I was living in France.

    I would love to invite you to visit us in Arizona sometime in the next year, where we could spend time relaxing & discussing your love of travel to France.

    We rent our home on Airbnb so it is set up for guests & it would be the guest room that you would stay in. You would be welcome to bring a friend. Of course, there would be no charge to you for the stay. I may even be able to provide airfare (for 1). We are book solid through the end of March but there are some days in April open. Another idea would be to meet me in Wenatchee, WA where I will be house sitting in May. You would be welcome to stay a few days there in the guest room.

    Feel free to contact me through my email. Even if it is something you arenʻt interested in, I want to tell you how much I appreciate all your hard work keeping your blog current & fun to read.

    Cheers to you in 2017

    DiAnn

  2. I love the video of Ducks crossing. Just so cute.
    The area you reviewed seem quite nice. The photos were wonderful with such preey areas to enjoy. The quiet tranquility would be welcome. I can only imagine the crowds seeing all that the grand Paris has to offer. This would be a welcome retreat. I shall keep that in mind. Keep writing. I learn new things each time and I love it. Merci beaucoup.

    • Thank you for your visit, and for your support, as always, Debra. My only new-year resolution is 2017 is precisely to “keep writing,” in particular on the blog, in spite of a demanding work life. It means a lot that people like you follow French Girl in Seattle and appreciate the time, effort and passion I put into it. Merci.

  3. The secret is out: Les Batignolles is a cool place to be!

    Sssshh! We’ve really got to keep some (nice) parts of Paris free of tourist hordes (as a former decade-long resident, I consider myself a Parisian). The Parisian Bobos are bad enough!
    One has to hope that the lack of major “attractions” listed in Guides etc will prevent the hordes descending. Though let me immediately correct myself and this cliche (for your first two posters): though Paris gets more visitors (about 45m each year!) than any other city in the world, and certainly some areas get crowded, in fact I reckon it handles such crowds much better than similar cities–eg. London and Rome (not to mention Florence & Venice which are unbearable in peak summer) are awful from this point of view. Perhaps because the city is so walkable, the Metro is so terrific (highest density of lines and stations than any other) and in reality there are always calm or calmer refuges close by no matter where you are. The compactness of the city helps hugely; for example (dare I reveal) Sq des Batignolles is approx. a mere 1.5km walk from the Arc de Triumph (only ≈600m from Parc Monceau en route). And you must never be afraid to walk in Paris.

    I see that you were right in the centre of the Batignolles old/new artist district that has undergone a recent regeneration. It might be worth mentioning the huge zone that begins literally on the other side of the street to Square des Batignolles: ie. the western side of rue Cardinet. I’ve not seen this since the works began (and am not sure of its current status) but it is very interesting from an urbanist’s point of view, and on how to create more and affordable housing in an already built-up city area, without going hi-rise. Here is an extract from Wiki:

    Batignolles was supposed to be the Olympic village for the Paris Olympic Games in 2012, but Paris lost its bid to London. In its place, ancient SNCF rail fallows are redeveloped into a new 4.3-hectare district centered around new Martin Luther King garden. By 2015, it is foreseen that 3,400 apartments, 30,000 square meters of shops, 140,000 square meters of office buildings and many public facilities (school, nursery…). will be completed. Moreover the Palais de Justice court, along with the Police judiciaire (Quai des Orfèvres), currently located in the Île de la Cité in central Paris, will move to the new Cité judiciaire de Paris in a new building north of the garden.

    For map see:
    http://www.clichy-batignolles.fr/carte-interactive

    • Dear {former?} Aussie-on-Ile-St-Louis. Thank you for your visit, and the thoughtful comment. You make a few good points. After spending a few days in les Batignolles last month, I would surmise the neighborhood has less to fear from “hordes of tourists” (many tourists are creatures of habit, and are too lazy, or too fearful, to venture out to the perceived “outskirts” of the city,) than from the hordes of Parisians about to descend upon the area once the construction you mention has been completed. A friend took me to the newer sections. I saw the giant cranes, the Martin Luther King park and some of the new buildings. I was not impressed. I chose not to discuss les Batignolles’ future here other than with the statement “It is a delightful neighborhood with a mixed personality, where past, present and future live side by side, fairly harmoniously, but for how long?” I also chose to ignore that change is, indeed, coming to this lovely neighborhood of Paris. It is a fact Inspector Clouseau and his friends from le Quai des Orfèvres, (not to mention their colleagues from the Paris courthouse,) are about to leave their current offices on Ile de la Cité to move to their new, modern digs outside le square des Batignolles. It is a fact public transportation to the area is about to get ramped up, making les Batignolles much more accessible. I feel for longtime residents (like the lady pictured outside the boulangerie.) Soon, I fear, they will start feeling like the heroes of Asterix and Obelix, their small village “surrounded,” with the world madly speeding up around them. This article documents life in le Village des Batignolles as it is today, evolving, certainly, (old streets and beautiful buildings lined with a few trendy boutiques and restaurants, and a popular “bio” outdoor market,) but still peaceful, still lovely, and easy on the eye. La vie est belle, aux Batignolles, and I hope it remains that way for a long time. I did add an article about the “future of the Batignolles/Clichy neighborhood” at the end of the story following your remarks. Merci, et à bientôt.

      • Thanks for the NYT article which I had not seen. The things I had read previously about the new developments did not mention that they are allowing buildings of 50m height, which is approximately twice the Haussmannian height. The thing is that they’ve tried this before in the 13th (eastern half) and the Front-de-Seine/ BeauxGrenelles, and it was not exactly a success. I lived briefly in one of those hi-rises next to Place d’Italie in the 13th and even the buildings don’t work so well; they haven’t aged well. But then that stuff was built in the 60s and 70s which is almost the nadir of building (worldwide), both in style and quality.

        The thing is that it doesn’t even achieve higher housing density because, as the pics/drawings show, they have spaced those taller buildings. So, not at all Parisian. Of course there has been pressure from modern planners and some (deluded) urbanists for a long time to do this kind of thing. They want to turn Paris into some identikit of every other city in the world!
        I should reserve judgement until I see it in the flesh but not impressed …

  4. A wonderful look at a charming neighborhood. Les Batignolles is really more representative of what people idealize in their minds about Paris, vs. the more typically touristy center.
    Great photos!

    • Thank you for stopping by. Actually, if people think of Paris in terms of impressive architecture and landmarks, les Batignolles may surprise them. This is still (at least in sections,) the Paris of the past, in the pre-Haussmann/2nd Empire days. Things are changing fast, however. See the article quoted at the end of my story, above the video.

  5. I enjoyed this especially the ducks! I have always…as many others only stayed in the city center of Paris. You have given me food for thought. Maybe staying on the outskirts would be much more peaceful, and a new place to investigate.

    As for DiAnn who wants to go and feel like a local. Do what you are doing in Arizona…lease a place, use public transportation when you can, shop the little local food markets and try and blend in with the locals. We have done that several times in France and they have been my favorite trips.

    • Merci de votre visite Janey. It pays off sometimes to stay in a quieter place, away from the crowds. I walked all day (hardly used the Metro, in fact,) as les Batignolles get you to Montmartre and other areas very quickly. It was lovely to return to my peaceful studio at night. Good tips for DiAnn as well. Thank you.

  6. This was a wonderful read. I enjoyed living with my French family in les Batignolles on rue Truffaut. My suite in a penthouse apartment was great but not over the top. The term ‘Bohemian-bobo’ is fun. Never knew this. I used to take a trolley at Cardinet to Etoile, then walk or take RER C to classes. It does not exist anymore. But I believe the tracks are still there below ground. Yes, it was a very quiet neighborhood with easy access to Montmartre, Pigalle, Clichy, Parc Monceau and over to aveue Champs Elysees and Trenes were so Paris imaginable. I adored the park in Square Batignolles and strolls through narrow streets. My host was a faithful member at St Mary’s and her grandson also attend every weekend on his returns home from boarding school in north of Paris. I was always treated like a part of the community. An unforgettable experience coming out of Harlem and Virginia. Thanks.

    • Thank you for your visit, Marvin. I *lived* on rue Truffaut too! Thank you so much for sharing your memories of your time in Paris. It sounds as if you had a very special stay in les Batignolles. It reminded me of the “best year in my life,” the year I spent in Atlanta, GA as a foreign exchange student. I, too, was treated like a part of the community. One never forgets such special experiences and the international friendships forged along the way. A bientôt.

  7. Perfect timing! I’m heading to Paris for a few days next week and Batignolles looks like fun. I’m going there! Thanks.

  8. As American Expats in Paris in our 30’s with no kids, we first landed in Le Marais (the 3rd) just below Place de la République based on suggestions of locals who expected we would want “un quartier très vivant!”. After 9 months of feeling like the neighborhood was sucking the life out of me (no offense to Le Marais-lovers, it just wasn’t my thing), I was so fortunate to find a place in Batignolles! We LOVE it here and frankly, nothing beats having Sacre Cœur as the landmark you use to guide you home. Even with the cranes in the distance, I still feel very much nestled into the heart of the neighborhood, surrounded by great restaurants, certainly Parc Monceau and Square des Batignolles and that neighborhood feel in an area that is still very much adequately “vivant!”. Glad you found your way here and enjoyed it so much!

    • Bonjour Jessica. Merci de votre visite. Great to hear some feedback from “locals” as well. You do not need to say more. I can totally see why two 30-year olds with no kids would enjoy les Batignolles. The restaurants alone – and the civilized, but active nightlife – would be a big draw for me. Continue enjoying this special place, you lucky lady! I will be reviewing a great little restaurant I visited several times in les Batignolles in a few days. Would love to hear your take on it! A bientôt!

  9. I am retired and have been dreaming of renting a studio in Paris for the summer. Now that Ive read this delughtful article about Batignolles, my interest has peaked and I cant wait to start planning! What a joy to experience Parisian life in such a charming area! Would you be kind enough to let me know who I should contact about renting a studio for 3/4 mmonths in Batignolles?

    Love reading your blog!

    • I will be happy to share the information with you as soon as I have reached out to Catherine, the owner. It seems the reference number I had for the studio on the vrbo.com site does not work anymore and I need to look into it. Thank you for your patience, Pamela.

  10. I’ve subscribed to your blog for a long time, and it’s so lovely! I’m researching Manet for a novel, so les Batignolles would be perfect. I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and pick your brain if you’re in Seattle and have a free hour. I’m in Everett and teach in Seattle on Tuesdays, but could get down there on another day as well. (Or at the French bakery in Mill Creek with the great macarons.) I’m hoping to get to Paris in March/April and really haven’t the faintest idea where to start, as it’s been over 30 years since I’ve been there.

  11. Magnifique “reportage” sur le village des batignolles.. Les canards, très typés sont charmants.. Vifs encouragements pour continuer cet excellent passe temps!!

  12. Cite des Fleurs is my favorite “street” in Paris. I go there every time to look the homes, flowers and residents both two and four footed. Also the statue in the Park with vultures always makes me laugh.

  13. What a lovely post! My husband and I spent 9 days in Paris last year and we rented an apt in this area. Je suis tombée amoureuse de ce quartier ! If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would move there the day after! You’re right it just feels like a town within the city. If I were une Parisienne, I would want to be the sort who would call this area home. I have managed to set foot (just a tiny bit!) in each arrondissement de Paris and so far it is my favorite.

    • Les Batignolles are a special place indeed. In my older days, I find myself drawn more and more to these neighborhoods in the heart of great urban areas that feel more like villages. I find that to be true around the world for me, not just in Paris. Merci de votre visite.

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Family stroll in Paris

Family stroll in Paris

When this former Parisian, now a tourist, visits the French capital, there is little pressure to hit landmarks, museums, or famous parks. It is all about taking a family stroll downtown, and getting reacquainted with my parents and my brother’s family while savoring favorite locations. Paris, always a willing partner and a generous host, provides the…

11 Responses to Family stroll in Paris

  1. Loved this article and I, too, love the 14th. And I loved Philippe Noiret. One of his last roles was performing “Love Letters” in Paris with Anouk Aimee. I was so lucky to have seen them there.

  2. I love experiencing areas of Paris which are fairly new to me through your pictures and comments. Thank you so much for your wonderful posts! I hope I can go back to Paris soon. I will never tire of going there!

  3. I love this post so much! I lived in the 13th arrondisement, and I used to stroll through the 14th all the time. This brought back so many wonderful memories and feelings. While I definitely ventured to the touristy areas, my friends and I always ate and socialized in the 13th and 14th. It really IS the truest flavor of Paris! 🙂

    • The 14th is a treat! There’s musée Bourdelle also and a great oyster cabane right near Tour Montparnasse. Which isn’t so bad when you’re too close to really see it…
      Thanks for a lovely blog!

  4. Merci…I see the Frenchman’s love for Gainsbourg and Birkin…and your son junior has grown into a handsome young man…You intrigue with tales of the 14th…sounds like exactly what I am looking for on my trip…

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Montmartre pour toujours. Montmartre forever

Montmartre pour toujours. Montmartre forever

Montmartre. La Butte, the highest point in Paris. Une commune, a former village, once in the suburbs, later incorporated into Paris. The place where budding artists and intellectuals went to slum it in local bars and cabarets. The neighborhood where hordes of tourists flock in an attempt to recapture la vie de bohême, the bohemian lifestyle once favored by a long…

12 Responses to Montmartre pour toujours. Montmartre forever

  1. I really enjoyed seeing your picture of Marcel Aymé’s le Passe-Muraille (the Passer-Through-Walls). I had seen that years ago wandering around without a camera. Nice to know it has a name.

  2. Ahhh, I love this so much Veronique! Montmartre is my favorite spot in Paris. I love wandering the streets there. I so often read popular travel websites/blogs tell people to stay away because it’s so touristy, but I couldn’t disagree more. It’s quintessential Paris, in my opinion.

    As always, wonderful post!! 🙂

  3. Ah,I’ll be staying in a lovely little apartment just a block from the Pigalle Metro station again in about a month. I love that area!

    • Excellent. You may want to read the article I wrote about “SoPi” (South Pigalle,) if you have not already. 🙂 Thank you for the message you sent this weekend. Busy times, but I will get back to you, I promise! A bientôt, Jennifer.

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62 Responses to Monoprix: The Parisians’ favorite store

  1. Monop is always my first destination in France! I head straight for the skincare aisle and stock up. Love just browsing in there…

    I’ve bookmarked this to make a point to visit le stylo d’or when we’re in Paris this summer. (We’ll be there for les soldes, which should be interesting.

    Thanks for sharing these.

    • You’re welcome, Susan. Life would be drab, indeed, without Monoprix! 🙂 One thing I have always loved getting there is “l’eau micellaire” my favorite make-up remover. They have several brands, including Barbara Gould. They make very affordable alternatives to my favorite brand, Caudalie, which is a lot pricier. I can’t understand, for the life of me, why “l’eau micellaire” has only just popped up on the shelves at my local Target over the last few months, after all these years. Now I see it everywhere. Ah, marketing…

    • I just returned from Paris on Labor Day and I miss the Monoprix!! Wow, definitely my favorite store! I was visiting with my son & daughter in law who are living in Paris and my first day the took me to Monoprix and I was hooked! To say they carry clothing along with food does not give enough credit to the high quality of all items found there! Give me a Monoprix!

      • This is my main method of traveling! I windup buying a few really cool and inexpensive pieces of luggage there, and then I give them away when I get home. All my nieces have cool, trendy luggage from Paris and London. At the very least, it makes one leg of the journey super easy.

  2. We were very lucky to discover the Monoprix 2 blocks from our apartment in the Le Marais. I loved all the new things to try there and while I was trying to speak French, the checker was delighted to try to speak English! We shopped there several times during our stay. We love to explore grocery stores when we travel to new places!

    • I am like you Stephany. I have always enjoyed visiting grocery stores when I travel. I remember my first visit to an American-size supermarket, Kroger’s I believe, over thirty years ago. I could not believe the size of the cereal aisle. This was before cereal became popular for breakfast in France as well. 😉 Are you referring to le Monoprix located on la rue de Rivoli, near St Paul? If that’s the one, I used to go several times a week as a grad school student. My university was right around the corner. Memories…

  3. LOVE the Monoprix in Chartres, where I’ve gone a number of times. I helped facilitate pilgrimage groups. We used to have receptions catered at a high end hotel until we realized that what was in Monoprix was better, and far less expensive. I bought a pair of socks there and I wish I had bought more than several. They were all time favorites and I never found anything even close. I love the clear photigraphs of the dairy shelves… All those yaourts… (Is this a word where the circonflexe would be removed? I always forget, so just as well we don’t need to remember any more).

  4. I love your blogs–always wonderful memories of France. I invite you to check out my website, pronouncingfrench.com; my love for France shows up as helping English speakers overcome their difficulties in sounding French. I would love to have your feedback. Merci

  5. For some reason, I just saw this post. I love it. Monoprix was one of my husband’s favorite stores in France (well, mine also). We would walk there every evening for a bottle of wine. I wanted to buy everything. I also loved the Buci News. They were so kind there. I saw something in the window I wanted to buy for a friend, and the clerk couldn’t find it in the store, so he climbed into the window to get it for me. I love the postcards from Paris. Oh my, I could go on and on. I always love your posts and your facebook posts! Thank you! Jane

  6. Bonjour,
    Felicitations pour votre blog qui fait honneur à la “french way of life”.
    Le concept Monoprix est à mon avis, un des meilleurs endroits pour trouver des produits divers, de qualité et à prix corrects. Tout specialement les produits alimentaires sous label “Monoprix Gourmet”.
    Une valeur sûre.
    Bonne journée !

  7. I have just discovered our local Monoprix, despite having lived in France for years! I have parked outside it many times and always walked straight past, that was until our 15 year old daughter told me I must go in, she had been introduced to the store by a friend. I loved it! What a find, the last time I remember going in a Monoprix was in Paris some 20 years ago!

    • Bonjour Susan. I bet the Monoprix you visited is very different from the one you saw in Paris 20 years ago. This was just about the time the chain changed their image and started becoming “trendy.” Glad you have one nearby. Their stores are not the cheapest, but they are so convenient; and so fun, n’est-ce-pas?

  8. I enjoyed your post on Monoprix. I also used to like the Prisunic (owned by Le Printemps stores,) which were a lot like the Monoprix, then Monoprix bought them out. I have been in so many Monoprix in Paris – I like the one on the Champs-Elysees, and the one near Ternes, about the one near le Square du Temple or Republique? And the one near St Paul when we rented a studio there. I will also go often to the one in the street between Les Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps – they have a good selection. I like to buy “gants de toilette” which I call “mains.” I have never gotten used to American wash cloths and can’t use them to wash – I always carry my gants de toilette.

  9. Oh Man! I can taste the yogurts! I was in a Monoprix 2 years ago. Nice pictures. It’s time for me to go back to S. France. I’m so over do!! I have (kind of) a French post up. You should check it out V. =)

  10. You know, this wonderful article begs the question, how do I get big stuff home, to the U.S. ?
    I’ve done research, asked French friends, read online and looked at the FedEx website, but no real answer.
    La Poste used to have a fixed price box to pack and mail home, but no longer I think.
    What about the rug, the beautiful piece of furniture, and so forth, I can’t live without, but will not go on the plane ? Help please…..do I just need to find a Fed Ex in France ? Most of my “finds” are in rural France anyway, and the seller doesn’t ship.

    • I feel your pain, Gary. The good news: La Poste still sells the fixed priced box to pack and mail home. My family uses this to send me care packages on a regular basis. The bad news: Only small items fit inside it. I have no idea how to ship rugs and bigger things to France. I am guessing antique sellers do, however, since most of their clients ship back to the US. I would approach an antique seller specializing in French items here in the US and ask them how they bring the goodies over here. Sorry, not much help, but I have learned to live without “big” French items because of shipping costs over the last 20 years. Merci de votre visite !

  11. Ah oui! Monoprix is always the first outing when arriving in France. A great selection of cheeses, wines and familiar delicacies to get us through the first two days of jet-lag. Ne pas oublier La Carte!

  12. When I was going to school in Paris, many years ago, I became homesick as Thanksgiving approached. I was determined to find all the items I needed to make an authentic T-day meal. In my local Monoprix (which featured a loudspeaker with the sound of car brakes squealing and an excited voice saying, “Freins–sur les prix!!!”) I found cranberries which, wonder of wonders, had been imported from the USA. Not only that, they were from my hometown–Wilmington, MA. I was in heaven and have shopped at Monoprix during every subsequent visit to Paris. I make a pilgrimage to the one in St. Germain des Prés. Two days ago I wore a lovely shirt I bought there during my last visit. You can only imagine how delighted I am to have read your article. In your honor, tomorrow I am going to wear a pair of sox I also bought there, so I can walk around all day feeling very Parisian. Mille fois merci!

    • Bienvenue Michaël. What a wonderful message! So glad you once found a small piece of “home” at Monoprix. It truly is a special place. Thank you for wearing your French socks in my honor. I am flattered 🙂 Bon weekend!

  13. I leave for Paris, again, in the next couple of weeks and cannot wait to go to Monoprix again. Thank you for the wonderful reminder. By chance do you remember where you took the picture with the mason jar and Eiffel tower? My niece is obsessed with Paris and I would love to find that to bring back for her.

    • Bonjour Rachel. The photo was taken in a side street near la Place des Ternes, in the 17th arrondissement. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the street. I am certain you can find similar items all over Paris, especially as we get closer to the Holiday season. Bon voyage!

  14. I will be going to Paris in 2 weeks and I will be sure to drop in and take a look around. Sounds like my kind of store.

  15. Which is the best/biggest Monoprix to visit in Paris that has clothing and homewares? All the Monoprix we have been to have only had food.

    • Thank you for your visit Rachel. If the Monoprix you visited only had food, they must have been “Monop” stores (There are more of them, and they are typically smaller, catering to the needs of travelers in train stations for example, or working professionals.) There is a large Monoprix store on the Champs-Elysées you can visit, and most neighborhoods have similar versions, even if not all are created equal. Rue St Antoine near le Marais is also a good one. Bonne chance!

      • We went to a Monoprix today about 600m from Muse D’Orsay that was beautiful, two stories, and had only food and toiletries. We were disappointed. We will try the one on the Champs-Elysee tomorrow, but will it be more expensive there? When I lived here as a missionary in 2000, Monoprix was not like this at all.

        • Bonjour Elsa. Monoprix stores in Paris (and in the rest of France) come in all shapes and sizes. After a while, you recognize the best ones. Prices should not be vastly different from one store to the next since they advertise through the same channels. Like its old competitor Prisunic, Monoprix has been around since the 1930s and has evolved over time. It is now owned by the Casino group. Ever since the years 2000+, the positioning has been more high-end, with the addition of organic food products, and items appealing to a more Bobo (Bourgeois-Bohème) – or touristy – clientèle. You are correct in pointing out prices used to be lower. Things were different in the 1980s when I lived in Paris.

  16. Is it possible to ship things from Paris home if I want to buy souvenirs but don’t have the luggage space? Any advice helps!

    Also, on another topic, if my hotel in Paris offers laundry services, is this a good way to save on packing space? (Wear the outfits twice on a two week trip?)

    • Hello Melanie. You can purchase a pre-paid Colissimo box from the French post office. The largest size can fit up to 7kg and will cost under $50. As for doing laundry in a hotel, sure, why not? It’s expensive, but so is flying to Europe, right? 😉

  17. Bonjour,

    I just found your site because I googled Monoprix, looking for those wonderful Knorr and Maggi dry soup mixes they sell. I always buy a bunch to bring home with me but have just had the last one tonight. Do you know how I might order them online?

    All I have found so far are those companies’ German soups–not the same as the French ones. Monoprix carries about 13-14 different veggie, mushroom, and Asian ones that are inexpensive (less than 3 Euros each) and taste wonderful and are simple to prepare (just add water).

    By the way, I too love Monoprix. I have gone to the one near the Mitterand national library, and the one on Etienne Marcel near the Rue Montorgueil. Both were larger two-story stores, where I have bought a couple of cashmere sweaters on sale, cotton scarf, nightie, socks, and cloth placemats, in addition to food.

  18. Thanks for good info. We basically have a 2 day layover in Paris with 2 teen girls and one whats to shop for clothes and accessories. I plan to let her shop and eat crepes to compensate for jet lag in exchange for going to musee d’ orsay and walking the city!

  19. Bonjour, I stayed in the 15th and there is a wonderful Monoprix when you get off metro at La Motte-Picquet – Grenelle. Love that store. Will be in Paris June, July and August. Just checked and there is one near the apartment. Love your site and videos. Makes me feel I’m in Paris when I’m in Florida.

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