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If you’ve spent enough time in Paris, you know that surrendering to the peaceful exploration that Parisians call flânerie is a perfect way to re-discover the city in autumn. Noticing everyone’s new fall
styles boots, uncovering an area of the city under a rain of golden leaves fluttering to the sidewalk, or even stopping in a pop-up, or temporary, exhibit, are all part of the experience.
Who hasn’t ever dreamed of living in a penthouse apartment ? For the views alone, a flat on the top floor of a city building is tempting, even if the price is far less so. Penthouses are also known for their luxury appliances and frequently large outdoor terraces. But whoever invented the penthouse clearly never visited Paris, where life at the top takes on a whole different meaning.
Many books have been written about how to dress like a Parisian. When I first moved to Paris, I thought I would just naturally soak up the local style, through fashion osmosis. In my mind, the process also included a fairy-like personal shopper, who would actually go into stores for me and do the dirty work. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who doesn’t like shopping, right ?
Have you ever had a great cup of coffee in Paris ? If you haven’t visited the city in the last seven years or so, your last cup of caoua [ka wa] here was probably burned, bitter “sock juice,” a purely utilitarian beverage found in any number of the average-to-poor cafés around the city. No longer ! The “third wave” of coffee has arrived on Parisian shores.
Have you ever met the kind of person who says things were better “before” ? Before what ? Even though I feel passionate about the history of Paris, and especially eastern Paris, I’m not nostalgic by any means. Why is it that I keep running into people who say C’était mieux avant ?
We all know people who wear skinny jeans and lumberjack shirts, have a beard, or ride a skateboard. But put those things together, along with a penchant for free-trade organic foods, or a love of music and films hardly anyone has ever heard of, and you get the now well-known phenomenon known as the hipster. But what, specifically, does a Parisian hipster look like ?
English-speaking foodies often ask me what the difference is between a pâté and a terrine. For many Parisians, the definitions are hazy at best - it’s what the French like to call the flou artistique or artistic blur. I only know how blurry it is to Parisians because I think I’ve asked at least one third of the city’s population this very question : what is the difference between a pâté and a terrine ?
The first time I was faced with a mound of black figs, I have to admit I felt a bit half-hearted, and even a little anxious : a well-meaning friend had brought me a whole basket of the fruit from her parents’ house in the Parisian suburbs. Sure, I’d seen figs a few times at the local market, and I thought they looked good, but I’d felt too intimidated to buy any. Now that they were in my hands, what in the world was I going to do with all these figs ?