home sweet Paris

It’s true that to be truly happy we must appreciate not only who we are and what we have but also where we are. This means to make the most of wherever we call home. There are several places close to my heart, but these last 5 years, it’s Paris that I am lucky to call my home. With all it’s flaws and imperfections (those who have lived here know what I’m talking about), but much like a person, no place is perfect. There are certainly days in which I miss the chaos of New York City, or the calm of Westhampton Beach, but there is certainly no place as beautiful as Paris. And I have seen a lot.

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A few days ago, I took a walk along the Seine.

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It is here that I often find myself on early evenings.

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I had a rendezvous with my Italian, but kept walking and walking…

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Captivated by the light on this late summer evening.

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And this is when it occurred to me exactly how lucky I am.

Discover another Paris

Little did I know how much I would grow to love my neighborhood of the North Marais. I’ve witnessed it’s evolution over the last four years, from low-key neighborhood bordering the historic Marais, to trendy hotspot frequented by Parisians and expats alike. When KLM and iFly Magazine approached me to host their segment on Paris, naturally I was honored, and it was the Haute Marais that I was eager to share with their millions of viewers. After all, they were looking for little secrets of Paris, as can only be shared by a local, and the North Marais holds many!

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The crew and I spent two days shooting beneath a mix of clouds and sunshine, and what fun it was!

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By the end of the filming, I felt even more like a Paris local, and proudly so. I introduced viewers to some of my favorite spots in the North Marais, we explored the largest antique market in the world, Marché aux Puces St-Ouen, stopped to admire the photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson at his Fondation… and of course enjoyed a rendezvous with my Italian. It wouldn’t be Paris without a little romance, would it?

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I’m very excited to share this video with you, dear readers. Et voilà, Discover another Paris! You may also find my Paris tour on your next cross-continental flight with KLM… Or perhaps a travel show?

 

la république

One reason I love living in the North Marais is the proximity to Place de la République, bordering the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements. At it’s center proudly stands Marianne, 10 meters high, a monument to the history of the formation of the Republic. Recently the ‘Place’ has been renovated, creating a vast area in which to sit and read, have coffee, play with kids, watch a concert… I attended the opening on a gorgeous sunny day, along with Daisy de Plume and her darling son, and we even made it onto a French website, now I’m truly a local! Here is a look at the new pedestrian space.

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Recently in the new ‘Place’, my Italian and I attended a concert to honor Nelson Mandela on his 95th birthday, how memorable! Looking forward to many more neighborhood memories still to come.

tastings with a view

Every Fall I look forward to the wine harvest in Montmartre, the Fête des Vendanges. An annual event during which I don’t mind braving the crowds surrounding the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, eager to sample the various regional wines, paired with plentiful samples of cheese and fois gras, bien sûr!

This year my friend Sarah was in town from Rome, a wine aficionado as luck would have it, and she too was eager to indulge her palate in the tastes of France.

Amidst all the tastings there was entertainment and we even ran into Lily of Context Travel, toting her custom Kasia Dietz bag, designed exclusively for Context Travel.

 Our last tasting was vin chaud, a perfect grand finale. Now it was time to enjoy the view.

year three

Today marks three years since I arrived to Paris. Filled with lightness and love. Ready to begin a new chapter. Unaware of the challenges ahead as the hopeful optimist won over the practical realist. How am I feeling as I reflect on the last three years of my life as an expat in Paris? Finally, at home.

Year one was the hardest of all. Refining myself and discovering my place within a new context.

Year two was all about establishing myself and building a new life. A year of growth.

Year three, at least to me, is much about letting go and accepting the idea of ‘home’. I still struggle with calling Paris my home. Wasn’t it after all, New York where I became who I am, and where so much of me still resides? Or so I thought. Until the realization struck that home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. When I am in NYC, with it’s energy and motion I feel at home, and perhaps always will. But what I have now come to accept is that my home too, is Paris with it’s cobbled streets and history, Monterosso with it’s coastal charm, and Sanok which holds the key to my ancestry.

Most of all, this last year in Paris has taught me that we learn to define ourselves, not simply by the places in which we live, but also by the people we surround ourselves with, our interests and hobbies, our travels and experiences. And equally, the celebrations and hardships that accompany this journey. Paris is now as much a home to me as New York, and I am even more richly defined.

Paris, My Sweet

“Fantasies do come true. Despite my moments of uncertainty and pangs of loneliness, I was loving life in Paris. I was so smitten with the Gallic city’s grand, plane-tree-lined boulevards and ever-so-slightly crooked side streets, its countless café terraces and the ritual of lingering on them with a single café crème or coupe de champagne.” – Amy Thomas in Paris, My Sweet

photo by Lindsey Tramuta

Amy Thomas. A writer, ad girl and francophile from New York City with a highly refined palate (and appetite) for sweets. A woman after my own heart! As fate would have it, our paths were meant to cross in Paris, where she auspiciously found herself writing ad copy for prestigious client Louis Vuitton. Pas mal! Upon meeting Amy, I immediately sensed an authenticity in her character, natural warmth, and a passion for life. Yes, we would have been friends in New York. Getting to know Amy through our shared experience of Paris, only proved that my instincts were correct. On one of these occasions, during her Croissant Smackdown (a tasting of Paris’ best buttery delicacies), Amy mentioned that she was just awarded a book deal on a project she had been working on. Sweet! I couldn’t wait to read her memoir, as only a true New Yorker in Paris could tell it.

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) is here! In bookstores, on amazon.com and in my personal prized book collection. February 1st Amy Thomas became a published author, not only in the New York Times, but in the world. How proud I am of mon amie!

Needless to say, I inhaled the book, much like I would a box of macarons. Pierre Hermé or Laduree. It felt as though Amy were telling me her story in person, over a chocolat chaud. From nesting in her ‘tree house’ near rue Montorgueil to her many adventures sampling the best of Paris’ pâtisseries, via vélib’ bien sûr, to her endless attempts at finding her way into the core of a fascinating (and often challenging) city and the mind of its people. The tales are both sweet and savory, and worthy of being told, in a language and manner uniquely Amy. A lot of English, a bit of French, and all heart.

Though her experiences of Paris and New York, and often finding herself torn between the two (something I well understand) Amy has proven that you need not choose pleasure or success, beauty or energy, the macaron or the cupcake. You can indeed have it all, or at least taste it all, on either side of the Atlantic. Now then, where to find the best cupcake in Paris and macaron in New York? I believe the answer lies somewhere between chapters two and five…

If you are a fellow sweet freak, or simply adore Paris (who doesn’t?), you too will savor the pages of Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate).

You can also follow Amy via facebook, twitter and on her blogs God, I Love Paris and Sweet Freak.

 

New York in Paris

As I’m getting to know Paris more intimately and discovering it’s characteristic neighborhoods, each a small village in its own right, I think of how we come to identify with our hood (as the New Yorker would say it) or arrondissement to the Parisiens. The city is made up of 20 arrondissements, as decided by Napoleon III in 1860. Where you are on the map is evident when you glance up at the street signs and find a number ranging from 1 to 20. (Still easy to get lost, trust me!)

Much like in New York where one of the first questions asked ‘Where do you live?’ can create an instant bond, Paris too forms identities via neighborhoods. When I came across this map created by artist Vahran Muratyan of Paris versus New York, I couldn’t help but to think of how well these two cities compliment one another. From someone who shares my sentiments, “When I’m in Paris, I miss New York, and when I’m in New York, I miss Paris. It’s really impossible to choose.”

Even though I lived in the Lower East Side, via Paris I managed to find my way to the West Village bordering SOHO, my two favorite neighborhoods. Yes, I can attest to the accuracy of this map!

Fellow New Yorkers in Paris (and those still to arrive) where do you call home? In NYC and in Paris.

foreign treasures

This weekend I went hunting. This time not for treasures at the Louvre but for antiques. Specifically a danish modern shelf unit to fit a television. (Yes, after over 2 years television-less we are ready. Mostly as a tool to aid in French of course, and the occasional Anglo film.) The marché aux Puces had made it’s biannual appearance on Rue de Bretagne and I gave in to temptation. How could I not, as it was just a few blocks away. So the adventures in the history of ‘other people’s treasures’ began.

In the end, did I find what I was looking for? No. But I did find what I wasn’t looking for. Hard to resist, especially when it’s a foreign treasure. I did return home content, but will be sure to peruse the next antiques market when it returns in May. Or perhaps find another before then…

If you are on your own French treasure hunt, here’s a list of antique markets in and around Paris.

year two

Today marks two years of life in Paris. A place I now call home. Much in the way I called NYC home for almost 12 years. It feels like just yesterday I was the ‘new expat in town‘ and now I’m offering advice to fellow newcomers adjusting to the cultural nuances of life in the city of lights. (Not to mention those who dream to live here.) Not an easy adjustment might I add, but certainly one that leaves you feeling accomplished when you finally change your status from visitor to local.

Year one left me with with many lessons learned. Humility among them. All in preparation perhaps.

Year two has been a momentous one, proving just how much can happen in the space of 12 months. Most notable is the change in my status from mademoiselle to madame. Beginning and ending with Greece. Italy being the setting for the fairytale. In professional matters, I set my creative mind to work and launched my handbag business. Perhaps anything is possible in Paris. Socially I am grateful. Surrounded by like-minded expats and even a few French friends.

Most of all, year two has proven how privileged I am to live what often feels like an adventure. For better or for worse. To have the possibility to follow my dreams. And to be given the gift of love.

I look forward to year three. I hear that’s how long it takes to really master the city. I’m on my way.

gratitude

I am a Francophile. An expat. A dreamer. A traveler. A seeker of that and those which inspire me. Above all else, I am grateful. In just under two years I have not simply found, but created a life in Paris. Not a city that easily embraces outsiders. And so us outsiders found a way in. By sharing our stories and thoughts via the world of blogging. A passion for some, therapeutic for others. I am equally excited to share stories that inspire me via my own blog, as in The Dream Life series, as well as to share my life via others.

Today I am honored to be featured on fellow Francophile and friend Lindsey’s fabulous Paris blog, Lost in Cheeseland. A series very aptly titled Franco File Friday. This gal never ceases to amaze. (Fellow Frenchies, have you tried her cookies yet?)

Other recent and honorary features include design savvy Anne from Prêt à Voyager. She shared my travels on her ingenius Boarding Pass series and my neighborhood of the Marais in her Tour de France. Doubly honored! I’ve also appeared on the lovely (and romantic might I add) Susan’s blog Fleurishing, in her Proust Q&A series.

I cannot neglect to mention my HiP Paris dining adventures as of late, with fellow Paris bloggers at the haute Petrelle. Many more foodie explorations to come!

As I have done in the past and will continue to do, I share the love as year two approaches, life in Paris evolves, I feel even more gratitude, and the language of blogging continues to unite.