Ever the Nomad

Blast off to your dreams! (Or, at least, to Menilmontant)

Dream job? Travel writer.

Ok, not an original answer, but the sentiment still stands.

When Anja of Ever the Nomad introduced herself in my inbox recently as a professional travel writer, she had my full attention. (Didn’t hurt that the first sentence of her email also said that I did “amazing work.” Yes, flattery does work).

Before responding to her request for a guest post, I did what any reasonable person in this day and age does: I googled her.

The drooling soon began. Anja has written guide books for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, articles for Time Out and Travel + Leisure. Since I started following her on Twitter, she’s hopped from London to New York to a sea-view pool villa in Thailand.

Once I stopped daydreaming (not sure I’ve stopped, actually), I realized how pretty darn cool it was that she wanted some Paris insights from little old me.

The Promenade Plantee - check out *them* blossoms!

As a confirmed cheapskate and with the coming of spring, I found one subject the most natural to write about: places to frolic for free. And since it’s exactly four years ago this month that I fell in love (literally) with Paris + a boy, it was time for a little nostalgia. The 19th was my first home in the City of Light, so I have plenty of favorite nooks in that humble, but humming arrondissement.

Please find below a few sites I mentioned in the guest post, then follow the link if you want the full story. Enjoy!

P.S. I’ve taken a bit of a revised position now. Travel writer would be awesome. But someone paying me to “hang out” in Paris and write up the results could be the real prize.

So, friends: Do you read any such job in my future?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Off Rue de Mouzaia and its storybook lanes

• The side streets off Rue de Mouzaïa beckon with a rows of adorable bungalows. Wisteria creeps up brick houses, brightly-painted doors hide behind latched gates. Wander small passages with grand names, like Villa de la Renaissance or Villa de Progrès. (The three pillars of the French republic, in fact – Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité – all meet at one street corner here).

Best explored during the day, this area feels like stumbling into a storybook world of secret gardens. Check out Aux Petits Jouers or Les Mères Veilleuses for music and conviviality afterwards, if you’re still around at night. (Metro: Pré St-Gervais)

Buttes Chaumont Park = beautiful

Buttes Chaumont is one of the most gorgeous parks in Paris, yet it’s rarely given its due. From the Sybil temple perched high atop a cliff to hidden grottoes and gushing waterfalls, this park is at once dramatic and relaxed. Unlike the many manicured parks in Paris, Buttes Chaumont seems more rugged and untamed.

It may not appear on tourist maps, but Buttes Chaumont is no secret to Parisians. Expect lots of locals strolling around the lake or spread out on the green (another advantage over other Paris parks where usually you can’t sit on the grass!). Café/club Rosa Bonheur at the top of the park turns into a hipster hangout at night. (Metro: Buttes Chaumont, Laumière)

A stroll down Canal de L'Ourcq...and memory lane

• Nearby Parc de la Villette also lets you grace the lawns. Flat and modern, it’s nothing like the hilly wonder of Buttes Chaumont, but it boasts interesting multidisciplinary complexes like the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and offers several of the summer’s best events. Villette Sonique presents big-names and up-and-coming indie acts while the outdoor movie series draws crowds with its wonderful selection of free films.

You’re as likely to spot people practicing capoiera as playing the guitar at the Villette. You may stumble into a soccer game, an African drum circle, or a Brazilian batacuda. There’s no getting that in the Jardin de Tuilieries! (Metro: Porte de Pantin, Porte de la Villette)

Read more…click here!

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17 Responses to “Ever the Nomad”

  1. 1 Tanya in Transition April 19, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Lovely post. I’ll have a week in Paris next month and there are so many places to see before we head south.

    As for your future: you dictate that. If it is your bliss then it will be.


  2. 2 parisimperfect April 19, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks, Tanya. You’re right – there are many places to see in Paris, but one of the glorious things about the city is just taking the time to wander without an itinerary, sit in a cafe and watch the world, picnic in a park. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “see everything” (because obviously you can’t) and just enjoy (hopefully) warm and sunny days. You can’t go wrong with that plan!

    As for the future, nicely put! 🙂


  3. 3 Delana April 20, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Congrats on the guest post, Sion. Great job. I think you’ve got the future licked! I’ve printed it off to give to my son when he visits (and one for me too…I’ve got to get back to Paris soon!)


  4. 5 Alison April 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Congrats on the guest post! I discovered Les Buttes a few years ago and I just love it. I was surprised how rarely it seems to be mentioned. I think it’s a great little park.


    • 6 parisimperfect April 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks, Alison! Yes, I LOVE Buttes Chaumont. I miss living so close to it. I’m always surprised so few people (outside of Parisians, that is) know about it, but that’s ok – better to have it to ourselves without the tourist crowds 🙂


  5. 7 pariskarin April 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    It’s my ‘hood!! 🙂 Thank you for giving props to the wonderful 19th (although part of me wants to say “Shhhhhh! Don’t let the cat out of the bag!”).

    Still, I think the more people that come to visit this neck of the Paris woods will be a) pleasantly surprised, and b) help to continue the renaissance this area is experiencing. I know that the city is investing a lot to improve this area, some of the improvements are already evident, but there will only be more improvements as people come and invest their time and their money in places like the 19th.

    I think this area is Paris Present and Paris Future. It is very dynamic. For those that want a real taste of what it really means to be a person living in Paris, they should come to the 19th.

    Congrats on the guest post. Very nice work. Absolutely I can see your dreams of being a professional travel writer coming true! Here’s a little wish for you that they do.


    • 8 parisimperfect April 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      Aw, you are sweetness. Thank you!

      It’s true – sometimes with my favorite places there are often moments when I wonder whether to let the secret out! I mean, part of what makes these places so great is that they *aren’t* on the tourist map.

      But, in the end, I like to share 🙂 And the 19th is having a renaissance, so I don’t think it’s that big a secret. I really like where I’m living now, but I miss my old ‘hood. Buttes Chaumount, the canal, and the Villette are like the perfect triumvirate! I am so glad I got to know Paris with the 19th as my base.

      Keep enjoying the neighborhood for me 🙂


  6. 9 Adam April 20, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I was at La Villette on Sunday, but there was hardly a single square metre of available grass! I’m glad it’s not more well known!

    When I go to parks I’m almost always accompanied by my son. He absolutely loves the Parc de Belleville and it’s excellent play area, but is not so keen on the Buttes Chaumont – it’s impossible to play football on those steep hills!


    • 10 parisimperfect April 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm

      Hey Adam. You’re right. Like I said in the article, these places certainly aren’t secrets to Parisians. But I think they *are* off the main tourist itinerary. I’m with you – good thing they’re not even more well known or else there’d be no sitting on the grass!

      I like the Parc de Belleville, too. Just no room to write up every park in Paris I like (but the view! so great!) I can imagine that if a place to play football is the main criteria, Buttes Chaumont wouldn’t fit the bill 🙂


  7. 11 Carolyn April 21, 2010 at 5:23 am

    Great article and post! I enjoy your writing and would say you’re already a travel writer 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your part of Paris — I agree it’s not a secret but totally relate to the conflicting desires of sharing vs. keeping one’s special places private.

    Cheers and keep writing — I look forward to seeing your name/by-line (is that term still used?) in more and more places.


    • 12 parisimperfect April 21, 2010 at 11:04 am

      Thanks, Carolyn! I like your way of thinking: I’m going with the line that I already *am* a travel writer. Sometimes it helps to just name our identity so we can then embody it. Of course, I’m also shooting for fiction writer, copywriter, blogger, etc….Yes, I want the world! Thanks for the encouragement 🙂


  8. 13 Carolyn April 21, 2010 at 7:17 am

    P.S. I’ve added you to my blog roll — hope that’s OK!



  9. 15 PigletinFrance April 21, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Congrats on the guest post. Another step in the right direction and more interesting things for us all to read!
    I have printed your tips out and put them in a safe place for next time I’m in Paris!


  10. 17 Carolyn April 21, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Not sure my first comment got thru OK — great article and post, Sion. I really enjoy your writing and think you’re already a travel writer 🙂

    I agree your part of Paris may not be secret, but appreciate your sharing it here. Totally relate to having mixed feelings about keeping one’s special places private vs. sharing them with others.

    Cheers and please keep writing! I look forward to seeing your name (is the term ‘by-line’ still used?) in many places.


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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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