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.



Paris on a snowy day

vf disponible (et plus tôt drole) en bas de la page

M French was feeling rather romantic, this weekend, playing hookie from the Dali exhibition at the Centre Pompidou and inviting me on a long walk through a snowy Paris.

Obviously, I started at the Flore, where it was easy to get a prime seat, with every table left open for the brave, or the truly addicted (smokers), who all seemed to have stayed in bed. St Sulpice wasn’t far, the lions slumbering peacefully, not at all bothered by the cold.

Actually there seemed to be all kinds of wild beasts out enjoying a little frolick.

We ended our walk Chez Janou, a charming little provencale restaurant with a sunny cuisine that was perfect on a cold winter’s day.

M French m’a invité sur une petite balade romantique, et frigorifiée sous la neige à Paris. Bien évidement, j’ai commencé au Flore où les places étaient plus tôt faciles à trouver, sans trop de compétition pour une vue sur mer. Les fumeurs sont restés au lit. Pas loin, à St Sulpice les lions dormaient, aussi, mais pas les tourists, ni les cyclists!!!


En fait, il y avait pas mal de bêtes sauvages à Paris. 

On a terminé notre balade Chez Janou, un petit restaurant provençal avec un charme chalereux, parfait pour une journée hivernale.





Put a lid on it

Paris, the City of Love, the City of Lights, the City of Romance, the City of hot, passionate, spontaneous sex. There seems to be a lot of that going on in the city these days, and for the most part, that is a good thing. But with 7 000 new HIV infections in France each year and approximately 40-50,000 infected people who have never been tested, our socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoë thinks its time to do something to educate all those teens out there putting themselves at risk. Being a smart man, he is not trying to stop kids from having sex. Parisians have no problem with electing a gay mayor, but introducing the uniquely American concept of Promise Rings would signal an end to any Frenchman’s political career.

So the City of Paris has decided to protect the sexual active and is holding a condom design contest. At first I got all excited about the project, imagining clever designs that would rise to the occasion, but I got a bit a head of myself and they’re really only talking about the packages. 500,000 packages which will be distributed across the city throughout 2013. To participate, the designer must be a Paris resident and over 16 years old. Design concepts are uploaded on the dedicated Facebook page and the wo/man with the most votes wins the right to have their artwork be there for some very interesting moments (if only the wrapper could rap).

If you’re not an artist, you can still log on and vote for your favorite designs. The city is expecting a plethora of preservatif protected Eiffel Towers, capote coated July columns and poteca swathed obélisks. My personal favorite today is probably the Paris Ponts with an illustration of the love locks by Louise Kinet, but Justine Collette’s J’aime me proteger probably says it best in the heat of the moment.

The winner will receive a free iPad, but depending on the designer and her/his lifestyle second or third place may be more financially rewarding; 1 year’s supply of condoms. I just love sitting back and picturing how you claim that prize. Is it an avg. of the last three years activity? Do you call on demand?

Contest runs until Nov 3, click here to participate.

A Day Off

The kids were on school break last week and Mr French was away on business. With E preoccupied preparing for her Bac exams and The Bug visiting family in sunny California I had a rare bit of leisure time on my hands. The skies were a leaden grey, mingling with relentless rain and my Parisiennes were almost all away visiting far-flung family or on exotic vacations to wonderfully alluring places like Mauritius, so I was having an unhealthy dose of holiday envy. It was time for a break. But a working girl has got to work, so I took the morning off, picked up some out of town guests and headed to the rue Denoyez in the 20th arrondissement for a little cultural disorientation and a wild collection of street art.

We were really lucky to catch a tagger in the act just as we arrived. Unfortunately, he is from Barcelona and does not speak French. I do not speak Spanish. We tried a bit of English but the most I got out of him was that he has two names; a real name and his tag name, both of which I have forgotten.

We visited his gallery, Mind, where I snapped a few shots of the paint cans that reminded my of photos I had taken at my tailor’s. The canvases in the gallery were small, which must take a considerable amount of skill, but inside on the walls, I found them to be a bit sad and without any of the power of good graffiti. them continued up the street to admire the pique-assiette parking poles, pochoir street art and more graffiti. It was colorful and bright. The perfect ant-depressant to combat the dreary grey spring we’ve had this year. We had fun identifying Rimbaud, finding Batman and admiring a particularly twisted montage of decapitated Barbie dolls exposed to the elements in an emptied out hole of a tired old building.

The pièce de résistance came as we ended our walk and turned right on to the rue Ramponeau, heading towards the Belleville market. There was a truly impressive example of black and white graffiti art that we discovered just as a femme walked by in brightly clad African fashion. Confirming that you don’t need museums to enjoy great art. 


NON… arrête!

There is a new book out about parenting your child like a Parisienne. I have not read the book, but the reviews talk a lot about how parents here use a stern voice to get their message across and inspire obedience. This is only half true. That stern voice comes with the evil eye, and is backed by a swift smack upside the head. Which is something I’d like to do to a whole whack of people these days who are refusing to use their common sense or basic courtesy.

photo courtesy of Metromole

Recently, lovers have been inspired by somebody from somewhere who had this very romantic, incredibly unique idea of taking a padlock, decorating it with his and his lover’s names and then locking the symbol of their love to a fence, throwing away the key, to rust away for posterity at the bottom of a river bed.

10’s of 1000’s of visitors have caught on to the idea of fixing “love” locks on to the bridges and monuments of Paris. Which is cute. But not really. There is a big debate about the practice these days. For starters, the locals find it ugly and are particularly dismayed by those who tie bits of trash to their locks to make them stand out. A torn bit of garbage to highlight one’s symbol of love? It boggles the mind and the people who live here don’t particularly appreciate you leaving a permanent trace on their city. I’ve heard it being compared to acting like male dogs marking their territory. Romantic, n’est-ce pas?

But now the issue goes beyond what people like or do not like. The locks are destroying the bridges. Even worse, some egotistical jerks have decided their love should stand out and they are attaching the locks to antique, ornate fences and even signed works of art on the Pont Alexandre III. What ignorant, self-absorbed jerks think that it is ok to tag public property that is so beautiful, even taggers do not consider the site to be fair game? There is, today, a gorgeously crafted, bronze crab on that very bridge, with tacky, rusting locks attached to its leg. Non merci!

There are a lot of locks on several bridges now and I have even heard they adorn the Eiffel Tower. People are putting locks on top of locks. Locks, of course, are made of metal and metal is a becoming a valuable commodity these days, so now, some savvy metal collectors are coming along, cutting out entire chucks of the fences to collect the “love” locks and melt them down to be sold as scrap. Which is Paris poetry at its best, a symbol of love ending up in the junk yard. Almost as good as a slap up side the head…. BAFFfff

Everyone; STOP putting locks on the bridges of Paris. As an alternative, I propose a pair of handcuffs… seriously. Never mind locking a symbol of your love in some far off city. What could be sexier than chaining your special someone directly to you? The French jeweler Dinh Van has the perfect pair that can be worn all day, everyday, with a model for men and women so you can even have a matching pair. The perfect symbol of your love and a memory of Paris that is sure to melt hearts without destroying our bridges, or risking the ire of a French Mom.

Dinh Van

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