Archive for the 'TIPs (This is Paris)' Category

Create What You Seek + The Kale Project

Eiffel Tower in the mistBetween my writing residency and road trip, I’ve been away from Paris for some time. I’ve gotten caught up in other worlds, but the city’s on my mind.

“April in Paris” is one of those phrases that instantly evokes a certain nostalgia. A mood set in three simple words. (Listen to Ella & Louis do their rendition of the song).

I’ll be interested to return to Paris this month (though I’m not rushing my sojourn in Guadeloupe. Bravo to those who figured out my current location from the last post’s clues!). Distance is always great for allowing us to see places we know with fresh eyes. I wonder, too, if Paris – and France – have some new changes in store.

After two rounds of voting, Paris elected its first-ever female mayor, Anne Hidalgo. (Most of France moved to the right politically in the recent municipal elections, but as Paris is so often an exception, the Socialist candidate prevailed there).

Hidalgo was born in Spain, but grew up in Lyon, becoming a French national at the age of 14. She quoted the writer Sacha Guitry in saying: “Being a Parisian is not about being born in Paris, it is about being reborn there.”

Continue reading ‘Create What You Seek + The Kale Project’

Luck and Expectations: Some Thoughts on Moving Abroad

Thinking of moving to Paris? Carpe Diem.

Thinking of moving to Paris? Carpe Diem.

Recently I was tapped as an “expat expert” and asked to contribute a tip about living abroad for an HiFx campaign. At first I balked at being considered an “expert.” But then I reasoned: if experience is what makes someone knowledgeable, then I must know something after 7 years in Paris.

Still, I had trouble coming up with concrete advice. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that everyone’s experience is different. Part of the adventure (and frustration) of life in France is that it’s difficult to pin down the precise rules. Documents asked of one person for a dossier, for example, may not be requested of another.

Art along the Seine

Art along the Seine

In the end, perseverance counts more than anything. My tip, therefore, emphasized attitude, summed up in a few short lines. (You can see the full list of tips here; mine will be added soon).

The topic got me to wondering, though. How could I expand on the lessons I learned moving to the City of Light? I realized expectations and the perception of luck play a major role when I talk to people about moving abroad. Here are some broad thoughts on the subject:

Continue reading ‘Luck and Expectations: Some Thoughts on Moving Abroad’

Quiet Paris (Giveaway!)

Quiet ParisAs if in answer to my pleas, the sun finally appeared in Paris this week. Starting Sunday, spring burst forth fully formed. The city sighed collective relief.

The long walks I alluded to last post obviously bring even more joy now.

In a bout of perfect timing, I also received a new guidebook that champions the wandering approach. The introduction to Siobhan Wall’s Quiet Paris has her musing: “walking around, I wondered whether we are now less familiar with losing our way and coming across places by benign accident rather than preordained design.”

Wall seeks the calmer side to cities, you see, places off the beaten track. Previously she has produced Quiet London and Quiet Amsterdam. But is it really possible to escape the hustle and bustle in Paris, the world’s most popular tourist destination?

I always approach anything promising a “secret” City of Light with a slice of skepticism. Luckily, this sweet little pocket guide soon swiped away any hesitation. It delivers.

While some old standbys certainly appear (the elevated leafy walkway known as the Promenade Plantee was packed this weekend, for instance; ditto, I imagine, Parc Buttes Chaumont), plenty of entries were new to me (the Musee Bourdelle in the fifteenth? The Bibliotheque Marguerite Durand devoted to French women and feminism?)

Author Siobhan Wall

Author Siobhan Wall

After the elegant intro, the guide is divided into 12 sections: museums, libraries, parks & gardens, places to relax, places to worship, shops, restaurants, cafes, bookshops, galleries, cultural centers, and places to stay. At the end is a handy index of places by arrondissement. There are more than 120 listings in all.

Continue reading ‘Quiet Paris (Giveaway!)’

Of Melancholy and Marvels; Paris Years On

Sion_Crossroads_PereLachaise
Did I ever tell you about my first trip to Paris?

A rainy weekend in late November 2005.

At that time, I didn’t know the gray of the sky was semi-permanent, that the drab monotony even had a name (la grisaille). I did intuit, however, that the city always looked beautiful anyway.

A transport strike (another common feature, I would learn) was in full swing and so I arrived into central Paris only after a chaotic RER and metro ride.

But out I finally popped onto Rue de Rivoli, the Hotel de Ville lit bright by early holiday lights. Beautiful. There’s that word again. I was overcome by my first sight.

Continue reading ‘Of Melancholy and Marvels; Paris Years On’

First Signs of Spring!

Last night I returned from Prague around midnight. It was wonderful discovering a new city – and I’ll be sharing more about that trip soon.

Prague was pretty cold, though. Much better than I expected (the forecast before I left had predicted rain and below freezing temperatures and that did not come to pass), but I have to say waking up this morning in Paris to bright sunshine was fantastic. The sun is supposed to continue its star role and the City of Light will hit 60 degrees this week. Hooray!

It’s not my neighborhood park by any means (I’m a Right Banker all the way!), but the Luxembourg Gardens holds a special place for many. It’s certainly a good place to mark the arrival of spring.

I hope your week is starting off bright and sunny, too. More soon!

Mon Pays et Paris

The Friday before Christmas Eve – woo-hoo!

Just thought I’d share my version of holiday music. I’m no caroler, but this puts me in a certain kind of spirit.

J’ai deux amours: mon pays et Paris, the song says. “I have two loves: my country and Paris.” Ain’t that the truth.

I do sometimes feel stretched across the great Atlantic. Family and friends gathered together back in the States; I miss them from here. But I also feel like I am home. Home in Paris. Why limit love? Love is meant to be big and generous and open-hearted and deep. How great to have two loves.

Mon pays et Paris.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tea Time

Tea at L'Oisive The

Well it had to happen sometime: my first cold of the winter. It’s not so bad, but when I felt the first tickle in the back of my throat, I knew it was on.

It is a time of tea. Much tea and honey. Before my (very minor; I am a baby) sickness befell me, I had just been frequenting two teahouses quite recently. One new to me; one an old standby. Was I preemptively preparing?

I’d heard about L’OisiveThé in the village-y Buttes Aux Cailles neighborhood for awhile. Owned by Aimee (which sounds French, but she is really American!) the teahouse also doubles as a knitting mecca. On first glance you’d be forgiven for focusing on the yarn more than the tea.

L'OisiveThe

My friend could also be forgiven for whispering, “I’m the only dude here.”

Yes, yes it was true.

Continue reading ‘Tea Time’

Going Vegan at Voy Alimento

As you know, covering restaurants isn’t my main focus. There are tons of great Paris foodie blogs and I am not one. I do love checking out the offbeat, though, and this little place fit the bill.

Voy Alimento is located on a small street just off Canal Saint Martin. I’m pretty sure I saw the name “Sol Semilla” first, though. Turns out Voy Alimento is a combo resto/medicinal herb boutique. It serves vegan food with a Latin American emphasis and is a supply shop for imported plants and spices. If that’s not niche, I’m not sure what is.

One side of the small space is devoted to products for purchase and the other side is set for eating. Recycled barrels serve as chairs. Clues that this will not be a traditional dining experience.

Continue reading ‘Going Vegan at Voy Alimento’

Postcards from Paris

When Andrew Shemin, an American filmmaker living in Paris since 2001, contacted me to share the trailer for a new documentary of Paris he recently shot, I was interested not only because I love getting to know more of the creative community in the city, but also because of the way he described the impetus for his film.

“My motivation to make this documentary came out of the fact that I moved here because I was in love with Paris from a very early age, and yet after living here for so many years, I was starting to feel disillusioned in some ways…I made this documentary to get some images that can share the way I feel with an audience.”

You know me; I had to ask more. It’s one of my obsessions, of course: this complicated relationship I think a lot of us have with Paris. Loving it fiercely, but experiencing its flaws. Differentiating between the fantasy and the real City of Light.

Continue reading ‘Postcards from Paris’

Belleville’s Portes Ouvertes

Any guesses as to where this photo was taken?

If you said in the middle of Paris’ 20th arrondissement, gosh you’re good!

I, for one, was surprised (and delighted!) to come upon this patch of woods behind a very unassuming door in the city.

These sorts of serendipitous discoveries were numerous this weekend, as Belleville’s annual Portes Ouvertes took place over 4 days. Nearly 130 artists’ ateliers were open to the public.

I have to admit, finding interesting passageways and cute spaces was as much, if not more, my goal than looking at art as I set out. I just love stumbling into different nooks and crannies of the city, discovering spaces that are often hidden from sight.

Cutie-patootie courtyard

I started out on Rue Denoyez, which is definitely not a secret. It’s a popular street for graffiti artists and it changes by the day. It’s always a good bet if you need a riot of color.

I then went wandering at random. There was a list of all the different artists showing work, but I liked the idea of just popping in and out as the spirit moved me. Much of the arty scenery was simply found by walking around the back streets.

My favorite discovery was a little area around Rue des Cascades and Rue de Savies. It felt like its own private neighborhood – and the neighbors made us feel that, too! Many of the people on the street looked at us like we didn’t belong there and a woman yelled at us not to take a picture of her bar.

We went in to places, anyway. It was “portes ouvertes” after all!

Can't begin to describe how, ahem, interesting this studio was

On the lookout for those who don’t belong!

Rue des Cascades/Rue de Savies

Trying for an arty shot to go with the event:

Pouty Sion in Paris painters' forest

And me in my more natural pose (Can’t. Contain. Laughter.):

A great little stroll!

If you’re in Paris, there’s still time to visit. Today is the last day – Portes Ouvertes from 2 – 9 PM.


paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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