Looking for suggestions…

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 11.49.02 AMMr French is turning xx!!! I know, a big deal, right? And I really should plan something special to celebrate, which is much easier said than done when considering a man who seems to have experienced just about everything. His birthday is in August, so the clock is ticking… the pressure is on… and I am very bust these days trying to come up with a couple of wonderful ideas. A romantic evening for the two of us, as well as a day trip, or over-nighter with our kids in tow.

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 11.57.55 AMDo you have any ideas?? I considered a suite at the Shangri-Là, with an outdoor terasse over looking the Eiffel Tower, but the budget for just one night, well, I simply can’t. Then I planned to get a few taggers to come graffiti on the interior (not visible to neighbors) part of our balcony but they don’t want artistic direction and I don’t think Mr French would want n’importe quoi out his window each day! Au secours! I need ideas, readers!

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 11.57.36 AM

The current front runner would be a totally unique cruise with Bateau Mon Paris. They manage one of only 2 Venetian Water taxis that run along the Seine and this week I contacted them for a test run, and brought E along for the ride. We were transported by the adventure; an undeniably Venetian frame encompassing the Parisian cityscape. Which lead to an existential culinary debate; champagne or prosecco?

It was an incredible sensation, being down so close to the water line, surfing the waves of the imposing Bateaux Mouches, and feeling so very, very tiny compared to the grandeur all around. We spied private moments, caught lovers in the act, watched cargo being loaded and savoured a fleeting moment of river life. The sunlight cast a golden glow in the comforting evening air, the colors of Monet’s palette alive on the waves of the Seine.

So I have a part of the puzzle, 1.5 hours on the Seine. They have other boats, party-like pontoons that I could choose instead, something to share with our kids, which gives me options to work it all in with your ideas. Party planners! Celebrants! Let me know what you think would be the ideal xx birthday celebration in or around Paris!!!


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photos by Evan Grace

Going to the fair

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 5.41.09 PMEvery year the Mairie of the 6th arrondissement throws a fair in front of the St Sulpice Church. And because French can be confusing like that, it is not at all a fair with merry-go-rounds and ferris wheels. It is a actually a series of Marchés, and because the French are consistent in their confusion, the markets at all what anyone would think of when hearing the word “market”. They are more like conventions, but instead of being held inside windowless centers that suck the very soul out of even the most devout Trekies, they are held under the sun, a fountain sparkling in the midst of it all.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 5.40.47 PMScreen shot 2014-06-26 at 5.41.21 PM And the fair features unlikely subjects, like the Maths Market, the Pottery Market, the Poetry Market and the wildly popular Antiques Market. The markets follow one another from week to week, arriving on Monday and moving out on Sunday, their replacement ready to move in to the white canvas stands that cover the square.

For math, experts from across the country come together to play chess, sell their geometric games, build mathematical structures and tricking young children into loving math, through play. At the poetry market their are small publishers selling intricately bound editions of a single poem, poets sharing their art, and again, more temptation for the young and young at heart to play, only this time with words.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 5.41.51 PMAnd then comes la brocante… the Antiques Market. The prices at the market match the real estate, with very few bargains to be had, but it is still fun to look, and get inspiration.  The brocante sponsors a mini-theater troupe (not at all related to the Guignols pictured above) with a tiny stage, because the common thread to all these markets is having something for the children. There is a decent pop-up restaurant and it wouldn’t be France if there wasn’t wine.

The Antiques Market continues until Sunday. If you’re sorry to have missed save the date for the neighborhood garage the Mairie is sponsoring at the Place St Sulpice next September. Since not many of us have garages in Paris, the sales are called Vide Greniers… Attic Emptiers!

What is art?

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 6.10.06 PMIt is one of those BIG life questions, that no one has really answered. Mr French and I spend so much time exploring art that the question comes up often, especially as our tastes tend to be wildly different. Is it art? design? or just a really bad joke? Sometimes it can be hard to tell and my mind races to the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 6.11.59 PMThe question has been surfing the airwaves lately, questioning the legitimacy of street artist JR. The artist’s work is currently decorating the top of the Pantheon, while it under goes renovation with a monumental  installation inside the memorium, until Oct 5. This isn’t the first time JR has graced the city with his astonishing photographic work.

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 6.11.29 PMSeveral years ago he covered the quais and bridges on the Ile de la Cité with 10 metre long images of women’s eyes. The effect was moving, even before learning that they were the eyes of women who had witnessed great  tragedy; war, famine, assassination.

Last year he photographed anonymous Parisians for large banners that were unfurled the façades of the Bibliothèque National, covering more than 10 stories of the monstrous, soviet inspired buildings.

For the Pantheon, JR again features anonymous Parisians who waited in line for several hours to have their photos taken, knowing they may be selected for a Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 6.10.27 PMtremendous project. They are of every race, religion, color, and style with a fashion sense that runs from the prosaic to the goofy. JR has lined them up and laid them out, like a human tower of babel. They are tiered in size, starting out larger than life and rising to the size of a miniature poodle. Working in black and white has given the work an aesthetic harmony. The images are printed out on large plastic tiles, then laid out like an oriental carpet, covering the cross-shaped floor, where visitors are invited to walk. The effect is astonishing. You are walking on art. You are walking on people. And the people are gorgeous, in a wonderful, very real way.

I won’t claim to have defined art for the world, but as I walked through the show I decided that for me, art is something that moves people. I may like it, I may hate it, or I may be anywhere in between, but it evokes a sensation somewhere inside and for me, JR’s installation at the Pantheon is a tremendous work of art.

All photos by Karen Samimi




Fête de la musique

Screen shot 2014-06-23 at 6.44.14 PMSaturday was the longest day of the year, the first day of summer and the Fête de la Musique, one of the best days in Paris. We took our morning showers to the best of U2 and the like being performed by a group of local 40 somethings who had set up at the hole-in-the-wall Italian dive downstairs. After our boxing class on the Berges de la Seine, we sat back and enjoyed a bit of modern flamenco dancing, the Seine, framed bScreen shot 2014-06-23 at 6.35.20 PMy the leafy trees of the Tuileries acting as a stage set. In the afternoon we enjoyed Monacos (beer with gernadine syrup) for sun bathed apèro at a neighborhood café, listening to jazz interpretations of Beatles music. A bit later on, the Prime Minister hosted a concert at Matignon with music ranged from Hip Hop to gypsy jazz and as night fell the streets around Odeon were dotted with local amateur bands. Every genre filled the air waves creating a curious blend and not at all the cacophony one would expect. Screen shot 2014-06-23 at 6.35.38 PMMy Fête de la Musique favorites are a gentleman who stands on the rue de Seine, near the rue des Beaux Arts leading the crowd in sing-alongs of old French songs, and the Five Frogs that play French and American classic pop hits on the rue Soufflot. They are so great with a crowd that they had some rather uptight Parisiennes dancing on the tables. It was such an amazing evening that this aging Cinderella was happy to stay out well past her fairy godmother’s curfew and didn’t start heading home until sometime after 1am…

Music was in the air, hanging slightly above the stratosphere and brightening Sunday morning for a relaxed, happy Paris. At the Luxembourg Gardens, we were delighted to find that the Polish Cultural Institute is hosting free Chopin piano concerts every Sunday in June at 17h, guaranteeing a delightful hour spent under the chestnut trees. At least for some. The hour was a lot less delightful for the staff at the café that is behind the gazebo, as they were forced to confront audacious Parisiennes who thought nothing of stealing the cafés chairs to enjoy the show.

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you have to look very closely

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to see the difference…

The chairs look identical to all the other chairs in the gardens, and in some cases, it may have been an honest mistake. In either case, incompetent thieves and honest squatters alike, were oblivious to the fact that the chairs are clearly marked with logos on the back, indicating that they either belong to the café, or the French Senat. When approached by the servers, everyone’s first response was that of surprised outrage. Once they were shown the logo, a few relinquished their chairs and went on to find other solutions. But the die hard Parisiennes would have none of it. One started screaming at the server, her voice drowning out the sounds of the Polish virtuoso thousands of were there to hear. Another simply ignored the server until he would no longer be ignored. Tired of dealing with people exhibiting an over blown sense of entitlement, he simply tilted the chair forward, sliding her right out and on to her own feet. Madame grabbed her friend and they both stormed off in an outrage.

Having a coveted seat, made it into a game for those who were finally ready to leave their seats. An American gentleman took his lounge chair and carried half way across the space, offering it to much older lady. Mr French and I debated whether to hand ours off to the young mother who was sitting in the Luxembourg dirt, nursing a small child, or the much older lady who was standing a meter to our right. Age won over beauty and we strolled back through the park, the sounds waves cushioning our steps as we headed home to face the week ahead.

The BAC is back!

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 2.39.10 PMI briefly explained the French Bac a few years ago (yikes! I’ve been doing this blog for more than a year?), and it is that time again. A professor in Em’s school asked the class how baccalaureat was spelled, and none of the kids were 100% sure!  Em’s first exam was this week. A four hour written French Lit exam. She is terrified that she has done what they call an hors sujet, the fairly common mistake of misinterpreting the question. In which case, the student gets zero points.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 10.54.21 AMAnd while that is every French kid’s nightmare, students living in rural France had an even bigger nightmare this year; getting to the exam on time. In cities, there are enough bac candidates, that kids generally take the exam at their own school. In rural areas, several villages may be grouped together, with kids having to travel an hour or more, relying on trains, to get to their exams on time. The bac officially began this Monday at 8h30 with the 4 hour Philosophy exam, arguably the most important exam in the bunch. And this Monday, the SNCF decided to “respect” their on-going strike, keeping rail service at a minimum and disrespecting students in need, giving rather stressed out teens something more to worry about. Of course, the more affluent families could afford to put their kids in a hotel near the testing center the night before the exam, or a parent could take the morning off work to drive the student. The ones that were really hurt were the poorest students. Which means, the union leaders of France knowingly sacrificed the future of all the hardship students in an entire class. These are presumably the very people the unions were created by and for. It is infuriating!

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 10.31.36 AMPerhaps as a reaction to the stress, the students have created a bit of humour for the nation, with their reaction to the Literature exam, that featured Victor Hugo’s poem, Crépuscule. “Victor Hugo, if I see you on the street, you’re a dead man.” one of them tweeted, and another put out a reminder that Hugo was under the influence of a particularly illegal substance when writing the poem, leaving the tweeter mdr (mort de rire, aka dying of laughter). Hugo himself would have loved the controversy, since he referred to the bac as “stupide” in “Les Misérables” and thought the authors that students were forced to study were all old and irrelevant. Not sure if he’d enjoy knowing that he is now a social media superstar, trending on Twitter.

In case you’re interested, here is the poem, about a blade of grass. My apoligies. I couldn’t find it in English…


L’étang mystérieux, suaire aux blanches moires,
Frisonne; au fond du bois la clairière apparaît ;
Les arbres sont profonds et les branches sont noires ;
Avez-vous vu Vénus à travers la forêt ?

Avez-vous vu Vénus au sommet des collines ?
Vous qui passez dans l’ombre, êtes-vous des amants ?
Les sentiers bruns sont pleins de blanches mousselines;
L’herbe s’éveille et parle aux sépulcres dormants.

Que dit-il, le brin d’herbe ? et que répond la tombe ?
Aimez, vous qui vivez ! on a froid sous les ifs.
Lèvre, cherche la bouche ! aimez-vous ! la nuit tombe;
Soyez heureux pendant que nous sommes pensifs.

Dieu veut qu’on ait aimé. Vivez ! faites envie,
O couples qui passez sous le vert coudrier.
Tout ce que dans la tombe, en sortant de la vie,
On emporta d’amour, on l’emploie à prier.

Les mortes d’aujourd’hui furent jadis les belles.
Le ver luisant dans l’ombre erre avec son flambeau.
Le vent fait tressaillir, au milieu des javelles,
Le brin d’herbe, et Dieu fait tressaillir le tombeau.

La forme d’un toit noir dessine une chaumière;
On entend dans les prés le pas lourd du faucheur;
L’étoile aux cieux, ainsi qu’une fleur de lumière,
Ouvre et fait rayonner sa splendide fraîcheur.

Aimez-vous ! c’est le mois où les fraises sont mûres.
L’ange du soir rêveur, qui flotte dans les vents,
Mêle, en les emportant sur ses ailes obscures,
Les prières des morts aux baisers des vivants.

Inspiration Thursday

Screen shot 2014-06-19 at 11.29.35 AMIts that time again… our weekly adventure with Karen Samimi. Today we’ll be going to a place almost as exotic as yesterday’s gardens.

Screen shot 2014-06-19 at 11.30.01 AM Screen shot 2014-06-19 at 11.29.46 AM Screen shot 2014-06-19 at 11.30.12 AM The Cité de la Céramique (City of Ceramics) – Sèvres & Limoges honors France’s role in the history of fine porcelain and was created in 2010 with the merger of the National Ceramic Museum in Sèvres and the Adrien Dubouché National Museum of Limoges. The Sèvres site, located right on the Seine, consists of 25 historic buildings, with 2 dedicated museums: one, the National Porcelain Manufacture (Factory), created originally in Vincennes in 1740 and moved to Sèvres in 1756, and the other, the National Ceramic Museum, inaugurated in 1824. Even today the Manufacture produces works of art in porcelain using techniques that have been handed down for generations. The Museum holds a world-famous collection : 50,000 ceramic objects from across the globe. The Limoges location houses the finest collection of Limoges porcelain. The City as a whole is an international center for ceramic and enamel applications in art & design, creates, produces and repairs porcelain, and promotes cultural activities for all ages. Romane Sarfati was named the first female director of the City in May, 2014 by the French Minister of Culture and Communication.

To enter the museum, walk up the central outdoor staircase to the reception area on the first floor. To the right is a wing devoted to the history of ceramics through the ages and has multimedia equipment for learning about producing porcelain, with masterpieces from Antiquity, Middle Ages, Asia, Islam, the European Renaissance, and the Americas. In the wing to the left is a contemporary exhibition gallery and the Sales Gallery, where exquisite porcelain manufactured in Sèvres may be purchased. The second floor houses a collection of 17th to 20th century European porcelain, and the 3rd floor is used for temporary exhibitions. The Manufacture building is not regularly open to the public. and can be visited by groups with advance reservations, by individuals on specific tour days, or on the annual National Patrimony Day in September.

I enjoyed visiting the Large Vase Room located on the second floor and it was interesting to learn the definitions and see examples of the different types of ceramics: pottery, earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, biscuit, and glass. I also enjoyed trying out the interactive exhibit to create my own personalized plate using motifs specific to the Sèvres collections. Be sure to notice the display of decorative porcelain toilet chairs used by royalty.

Screen shot 2014-06-19 at 11.30.24 AMPractical information:
Sèvres – Cité de la céramique
2 Place de la Manufacture
92310 Sèvres (France)
Tél. : +33(0)1 46 29 22 00

Open every day from 10 am to 5 pm except Tuesdays, January 1, May 1, and December 25.
Guided tours for groups and individuals available.
Theme tours available one Monday a month.
Free for visitors under age 18, ages 18-25 with European nationality, job seekers, handicapped, and on the first Sunday of every month.
Individual prices between 4.50 and 8 euros

How to get there:

Metro line 9 : « Pont de Sèvres » stop (exit in front of the train, exit n°2), then walk over the bridge to the museum

Tramway T2 Val de Seine : « Musée de Sèvres » stop

Bus at Pont de Sèvres : 169, 179, 279, 171, 26 ( first stop after the bridge : « Musée de Sèvres »)

Paid parking available in front of the City, at the Tramway station and at the entrance to Parc de Saint-Cloud.

A (very) quick get away

Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 6.57.31 PMAfter two decades of being the chief travel agent for my family, it was a bit odd moving in with Mr French and having someone actually question my plans. Odd, and entirely wonderful not to always be the only one in charge; depending on someone else has become as lovely as a plush cashmere sweater. Sunday I was savouring that rich, cosy feeling as Mr French escorted me to the car, not a word about our destination.

Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 6.57.50 PM Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 6.58.06 PM Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 6.58.20 PM Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 6.59.17 PMScreen shot 2014-06-16 at 6.58.41 PM It wasn’t long before the gps told me we were going to the Parc de Vincennes. I suspected we were off to check out the new zoo, or perhaps take a row in the little lake. Instead, we drove to the very far end of the park to the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale, roughly translated as the Tropical Agriculture Gardens, that I hadn’t even known existed.

The gardens were built in the 19th century as a place for botanists to cultivate vanilla orchids, cocoa plants, tea bushes and other tropical crops to develop the maximum of profits from the French colonies, seedlings and saplings were shipped to far off lands with romantic names; Indochina, Mauritius. Today there are historic photos of the innovative transportable green houses they invented to ensure the plants thrived during their voyage at sea, and the crumbling remains of the local green houses where teams of scientists once swarmed, busy as bees.

Paris’ 1907 Colonial Fair featured the countries that where the garden’s crops were grown, and after the fair, it seemed as natural as the non-gmo crops they were cultivating, to co-opt the exotic pavilions of these countries. The ornate structures were brought to the grounds and turned into housing,  workshops or labs, while others were simply left as monuments to the work at hand.

And then The Great War erupted. The grounds keepers realized they had a precious resources and offered the pavilions, surrounded by their restorative gardens, to be used as a hospital for wounded soldiers. But not just any soldiers, this became a healing space reserved for soldiers who had come to Europe from across the seas to fight alongside their French colonial masters.

Today, the grounds are dotted with powerful monuments to these men, with interpretive signs that bear photos of soldiers wearing fez, billowing white robes, wide, straw hats. The exotic pavilions have been left to weather away or burnt to the ground by negligent squatters. There is now an active organic garden where city gardeners sell the produce and offer classes on organic farming and composting. A refurbished green house serves as a conference center, hosting events like the one we accidentally stumbled upon, “Autour d’une rizière” (around the rice patty) which featured tropical fruit, chocolate and coffee tastings. And because you’re never very far from astounding art in Paris, the circus artist Johann Le Guillerm has created a poetic environmental piece of wood planks nested into one of the pavilions.

A handful of Parisians have discovered this nearly secret garden, strolling in for restorative picnics surrounded by impressive trees and colorful wild flowers. As we strolled through this delicious little day dream, I grabbed Mr French’s hand and thanked him for the unique moment in Paris,1000s of miles away from our world.

Happening now at the Grand Palais

Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 10.33.15 AMLe Grand Palais is all dressed up and ready to party for the summer, with three shows running right now.

By far, the most popular is the show dedicated to the famous video artist, Bill Viola. As someone who has never seen an exhibition dedicated entirely to a video artist, I found it interesting to wander from room to room, usually arriving in middle of a piece. The challenge then becomes trying to figure out what is going on on screen, reading how long it lasts and then deciding if you want to stay around long enough to see it all. Some pieces involve multiple screens, some rooms featured several pieces in one space.

Bill Viola definitely has a gift with light. One piece looked like the stage could have been set by Vermeer and sparkling crystals of light are held by water in all its forms. Two themes run throughout the show; fire and water. There is not a lot of subtly on display and frankly, I had “gotten” it half way through the show. But I stayed: mesmerized by the experience. Reading his biography, I read that like Hitchcock, the artist works in close partnership with his wife, without giving her much credit. Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 11.16.10 AMUnlike Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, a couple that shares double billing and the artists behind Monumenta, an annual show in which one artist (or a small team) is invited to create one piece to fill the immense Grand Nef. It is a difficult challenge, that stumped monumental artist par excellence Richard Serra. But when its done right, like it was by Daniel Buren and Anish Kapoor, it can take your breath away.
Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 10.57.53 AMThe problem with Monumenta is that it is very expensive, and it was lost to budget cuts. A very affluent Russian stepped in, offering to foot the bill for the entire show, if the state agreed to offer the prestigious role to the relatively unknown Kabakov’s. Walking in, there is a stupendous amplifier, with a design that evokes the Eiffel Tower as it projects mystical sounds. It moves those who walk past, quite literally with the vibrations of sound waves rolling through the space. The rest of the show was a complete let down, exploring themes of angels and cosmic energy, like a stroll through Haight-Ashbury without any of the charm and absolutely no respect for the monumental space.

We’ve avoided Mapplethorpe show, not because you have to be 18+ to enter, but because there is never a line. A very bad sign for any exhibition in Paris, and one that has scared us off, given the very few hours we have to wander each week. I hear from La Fashionista that it’s just a lot of penises.

Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 10.55.57 AMThere were a lot less penises exposed on the traditional Roman sculptures at Moi, August, a surprisingly phenomenal show, following the history of the Roman Emperor that gave us the city’s favorite month.  It took me a while to translate the French names for familiar Latin titles, back into something my brain could recognize, but once that was assimilated, the enthralling history, art and objects transported us to another place and time.



Ilya et Emilia Kabakov
Ilya et Emilia Kabakov

Ladies with an attitude


Screen shot 2014-06-13 at 3.30.40 PMThere is often a bevy of handsome young men standing outside the building next door. Occasionally, I will find myself alone in the evening, dressed up after a dinner out and winding my way along the narrow, romantic street I call home. As I pass, the neighboring door, the picturesque little clique stands up taller, straightening their ties, brushing back their carefully gelled hair, preening like peacocks.

Screen shot 2014-06-13 at 3.14.32 PMIt would be flattering to think such good looking men were truly interested in me, but I suspect that they are much more interested in gaining access to the libertine club (high-end swingers club) that is just 10 meters away from the entrance they block. The kind of place where single men are not welcome and a last minute date most welcome, good chemistry not required. I have never been a customer and the only kind of swinging that tempts me is from jungle vines in African forests, but it does make me incredibly curious, wishing I could be the proverbial fly on the wall, safely out of range of any S&M whips that may swash through the air.

Which is why I was thrilled when I met Heather Stimmler-Hall the author of Naughty Paris, a ladies guide to the sexy city. Heather has just come out with the second edition of her book, updating addresses and adding internet solutions, so it will stay pertinent. What I loved about meeting Heather was seeing that an eloquent, elegant lady has her wild side and isn’t afraid to share it, giving confidence to more timid creatures. And while I’ll probably never sprout the wings required to fly into one of those clubs, I heartily approve of her choice of hotels, restaurants and shopping, while savouring a voyeuristic satisfaction of seeing a discrete insider photo, or two, of the clubs to feed my imagination.

The guide is not just for wild romantics, it is written for solo women looking for love (she mentions Screen shot 2014-06-13 at 3.30.58 PMmeetic.com, the site where I found Mr French!) and gaggles of girls who just wanna have fun! Pole dancing classes, make-up tips, CFM shoes, NP steals a glimpse of it all.

As a loyalty card carrying member of a local “sexy costume” boutique where I shop for our weekend get aways, and a die hard fan of French stockings (modern silicon keeps them up at the thighs, no more slipping down, and they are SO sexy!), I can’t wait to visit one of the corset makers Heather recommends. I was thinking midnight blue silk with rolled satin trim, no lace. And her pages pushed me to finally reserve a romantic dinner at 1728.

Heather’s 2nd edition will only be available in the US in December, but you can get your own, personal sneak preview by contributing to the Kickstarter Campaign Heather is running so she can do an environmentally friendly print run of the books. Keep in mind, this is not a donation, you are getting what you would be buying normally, only a few months before anyone else AND her campaign has a bunch of special offers for some incredibly romantic moment in the sexy city. Keep in mind, Kickstarter campaigns only run 30 days, so its now, or never. And if NaughytParis doesn’t raise the entire 20,000 CDN dollars they are looking for, then you are not charged a cent, but you don’t get the book, either. Its daddy takes all folks, so step into the club for a fun, flirty visit to Paris. THE GOOD STUFF IS HERE

ps – all images stolen directly from Naught Paris. I figure they won’t mind a threesome for the cause!!!

Tip toe-ing through…

Feeling like a Parisienne in the Tuileries...

Feeling gorgeous in the Tuileries…

When I heard we were (finally!) immigrating to France, a daydream rolled through my mind like a Hollywood film; cycling through the streets of Paris, the pedals wedged under the incredibly sexy heels I did not yet own, a Burberry trench, also absent from my wardrobe, catching the breeze behind me. The sun always shone and the streets were cobble stoned in this fantasy. The sidewalks were lined with men who would stop and stare with Parisien connaisseur-ship.

a traditional Dutch lock

a traditional Dutch lock

Within months after our arrival I had the shoes, the trench and the bike. Not just any bike, either. Like the rest of the dream, my vision had been very precise. I had dreamed of a vintage black Dutch bike with a swans’ neck, large wheels and a willow basket. It was a great bike, but somewhat clunky on those cobble stones and so rusty, it didn’t survive many seasons. But I loved it, and it served me well, as I would pedal to the girl’s school every afternoon, passing the dozens of Gendarmes who guarded the Prime Minister’s residence next door. These handsome, uniformed Frenchmen would stop and admire, just as I had imagined.

IScreen shot 2014-06-06 at 1.47.58 PM have decided that it is time to return to that dream and now that the weather is cooperating, I’ve been shopping for a bike. Which is a very convenient coincidence, since this morning I was invited to discover TulipBikes. Which is how I found myself pedaling through the Tuileries on a gorgeous, Parisian morning. On Dutch bikes, the cyclist sits up straight, and the large wheels make for delightfully efficient pedaling. I was living the dream, and this time it was more stylish than I had ever fantasized.

Even cooler, your Tulip Bike is designed by you, each custom two wheeler put together in Maastricht, Holland by the handicapped and traditionally un-employable. What is that? Doing good for the environment, while helping others? Yes! And even better, the prices are surprisingly reasonable, which has made me a fan!

Screen shot 2014-06-06 at 1.48.27 PMAs you design your bike, keep in mind that Dutch men opt for a black frame, while Dutch women prefer the white. French men choose the white and French women the red or green. As for me, they are so gorgeous that I am having a hard time deciding and would like your help. Green with a wooden basket, or red with a willow basket? Or is there something better? Even if you’re not in the market, it’s fun to dream with all the options on their site.



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