Friday, 11 December 2015

Four weeks on from the Paris attacks


It has been four weeks since the Paris attacks and it is only now that I can say our lives have started to get back to normal. Whatever our interpretation of  "normal" is anyway.

Tonight for the first time since the attacks, Frenchie and I went out after we both finished work. We walked into an old Parisian bar in the 3rd arrondissement, not too renovated nor modern nor hipster and perched ourselves at the counter. It was apéro time, drinks and a platter to share on a Friday night after finishing the working week. Across the bar we could see the delicate slices of chiffonade jambon being shaved and falling ever so gently onto our plate from the machine, the old fashioned way. 

It felt nice being there. It was the first time we'd gone out at night to a bar since the attacks. It felt like life was finally getting back on track. It felt like time to write this post. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Biocoop 21 - the first PACKAGING-FREE supermarket in Paris


My favourite place in Paris at the very moment isn't anywhere fancy nor monumental. 

It's in the 10th arrondissement at number 14 rue du Château d'Eau where Biocoop 21, along with the help of SEAMEST, a City of Paris organisation supporting the maintenance and development of local trade, has just set up shop.

Biocoop is your French fair trade, organic, local and environmentally responsible supermarket supplying quality produce and household items around France. And a few days ago, it opened its very first supermarket in Paris with ZERO PACKAGING and ZERO WASTE. 

ZERO PACKAGING

Customers are encouraged to bring their own jars, bottles, bags, containers etc. to transport their purchases home. For those who aren't able to, bottles, cloth pouches and 'algobols' made from 100% recycled algae are available for their initial purchase to be refilled at your future shop.

ZERO WASTE

*Sous les fraises ("under the strawberries") is the waste conscious eco-friendly French startup that will manage the responsible disposal of all compostable organic waste material produced by Biocoop 21.

*PHENIX is the organisation that will recuperate all unsold produce and distribute it to associations and charities to help those in need.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Salon du Chocolat 2015 Highlights


We just got back from the Salon du Chocolat 2015, held in Paris this week and I've been feeling like the German exchange student kid from the Simpsons "don't make me run, I'm full of chocolate..!" ever since. No biggie though because the Salon du Chocolat was totally worth it.

220 chocolatiers, pastry makers, confectioners and cocoa experts from France and around the world came together this week to celebrate their passion for chocolate. Today, I found myself wandering through 20,000 square metres of chocolate and chocolate-related exhibitions ranging from demonstrations, workshops, and countless stalls as well as samples, samples and um.. more samples! 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Everything you need to know about the Louvre


The largest and most visited museum in the world, the Louvre, is a Parisian icon not to be missed. On this very day, the 10th of August in 1793, the Louvre was officially opened with 587 paintings on show.

222 years later, the Louvre houses over 380,000 pieces of art and receives 15,000 visitors a day from around the world. In 2014 alone, 9.3 million visitors passed through the doors of the Louvre.  

Monday, 27 July 2015

10 Ways to Eat for under 10€ in Paris

1. Alain Miam Miam
TAKE AWAY 

Marché des Enfants Rouge

39 rue Bretagne
75003
Métro Saint Sébastien Froissard

Alain Miam Miam is a favourite of mine. Nestled in the Marché des Enfants Rouges (the oldest under cover market in Paris that used to be a 16th century orphanage), you won't miss Alaim Miam Miam's galette/crêpe stand. It's the one with more than often a long line of hungry customers winding around the corner. Here Alain handles every galette, crêpe or panini order personally, by hand, pausing to chat with you or to casually slice off a thin wedge of cheese to taste so you can make your choice.




The servings are huge. you might even be able to share. A MASSIVE galette like this (buckwheat crêpe with savoury fillings served in both hot and cold versions) will cost you between 7.50€ and 8.50€.

This is the hot one with caramelised onion, gooey stretchy cheese, delicious ham and that crunchy Alain Miam Miam galette exterior. 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Getting Into and Around Paris - the Metro, RER and airport buses/tram

So you've arrived in the City of Light, there's so much to see and do and take in! You can't wait to take in the beautiful surroundings and get lost in your thoughts while exploring little hidden cobblestone paths. 

But first things first, before even leaving the airport/train station/bus station, you need to work out how to get around Paris. And chances are, you'll want to work out the most cost-effective and (time)-efficient way of exploring Paris too.

There are a few options and combinations to choose from, so where should you start? There is the metro, the RER, the Transilien train, buses, trams, Autolib' (car hiring), Velib' (bike hiring), an upcoming Scootlib' (scooter hiring) and of course, your own two feet. 

There's the single pay-as-you-go ticket option or the all-you-can-eat travel buffet option. Dilemmas dilemmas. For the purposes of keeping this blog post as short and concise as possible, I'll just stick to the two main routes of travel that you are most likely to use - the metro and the RER

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Dîner en Blanc Story


Once upon a time (in 1988 to be exact) a Frenchman named François Pasquier returned to Paris after a period of living abroad. He wanted to celebrate his birthday with friends he hadn't seen while away but didn't have enough room at his place. So he decided to organise a picnic in the Bois de Boulogne instead. Not your average picnic of course, this one had chairs and tables and a proper meal (as the French seem to do, take something normal and Frenchify it into something chic..!). 

Back in the day, before the introduction of widespread mobile phone use, the group opted to dress in white in order to spot each other more easily in the Bois de Boulogne (the Boulogne Woods). Little did they know that in doing so, they would be giving birth to a future worldwide phenomenon and the largest 'impromptu' dinner party ever known to exist.  

Friday, 12 June 2015

Paris Diner en Blanc 2015



Every year around the same time in June, thousands and thousands of Parisians immaculately dressed from head to toe in white gather for an incredibly surreal impromptu dinner in a public space, the famous Dîner en Blanc. The secret location is only announced at the very last minute, as levels of suspense mount among diners waiting patiently for the all important final reveal.

Previous monumental locations have included the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Invalides, Place de la Concorde, the Louvre Pyramid, Trocadéro, Pont Alexandre III and Versailles just to name a few.

The official event takes months and months of tireless work to organise, the effort involved is a feat in itself as the coordination of 10,000 people dining at a public location is by all means no easy task. However what makes the event unique and impressive is not the novelty factor of a flash mob dinner nor the publicity nor the media attention that surrounds the event but in fact the genuine desire by those involved to preserve and honour the true Dîner en Blanc spirit. 

The rules are strict and paramount to maintaining the real essence of the Dîner en Blanc, a desire to celebrate the sacred "art de vivre" with respect, mindfulness and elegance. White chairs, tablecloths, napkins and white attire are expected as well as the preparation of a proper entrée, main and dessert or cheese. No beer or spirits, only champagne and wine. No paper or plastic, only real white crockery and real cutlery. It's the ever present respect for food and the dining experience that is embedded into the DNA of French culture.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Pierre T Lambert Photography Collaboration


Earlier on in the year, we teamed up with Pierre from Pierre T Lambert Photography to shoot a Winter Engagement Photo Session in Paris - a really fun experience and something we never would have done otherwise!

Friday, 15 May 2015

How and Where to Dine at Michelin Starred Restaurants in Paris on a Budget


Want to dine at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris but travelling on a budget? 

Welcome to my world (except substitute 'travelling on a budget' with 'living on a budget'). 

As your standard food-obsessed human, I'm equally curious about all types of cuisine and all types of dining experiences. I will try pretty much anything once. Street food, supermarket food, hole in the wall food, home food, fast food, market food, food truck food, bistrot food, restaurant food and, fancy Michelin starred degustation food. One must not discriminate after all ;)

Monday, 4 May 2015

Château de Sceaux - A Well Kept Parisian Secret


France is home to countless beautiful palaces, châteaux and perfectly landscaped gardens stretching out into the distance. However the majority of them happen to be a little further out from Paris. A well kept Parisian secret I recently visited was the Château de Sceaux, located in Parc de Sceaux, south of City of Light. 

It's a perfect little getaway not too far away from Paris and a stunning place for a picnic and leisurely stroll, (or a 5km run and then an espresso shot at one of the kiosks on site if that's more your thing!).

Surrounding the sumptuous château grounds designed by talented landscape architect André Le Nôtre is the Parc de Sceaux. It's a day trip or even an afternoon trip you can easily incorporate into your Parisian sejour. Best of all, the entry fee into the park is free and the RER train ticket will only set you back a few euros.  

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Breakfast in Paris - Le Train Bleu

Every week, there's a new, modern, minimalist, quirky, hipster or vintage café popping up in Paris. You can't keep up with them!  

Over the last three years I've been here, I've seen more and more of these great places appearing, catering to every niche market you can think of. KB Caféshop (flat whites on the menu!), Café Pinson (raw food, vegan food, green magma drinks), Ten BellesHollybelly, Thank You My Deer (gluten-free everything) - the list goes on. 

These places have fulfilled my craving for a decent coffee (nice to see the coffee scene in Paris finally pick up!) and, my craving for..  a certain degree of familiarity. All these places remind me of cafés I would frequent in Australia and in London - modern, quirky and maybe a little.. Anglo Saxon?  Sometimes when these places are full of expats or travellers, I have to remind myself that I'm still in Paris because my senses tell me I'm on Getrude Street in Melbourne or on Upper Street in Angel in London.  

And, as much as I love these places, and I really do, every now and then, a part of me also longs for the Paris of the "belle époque"

The Paris of the past. 

The old Paris where I would never be able to order my free range, organic scrambled eggs and gluten free toast with a soy flat white and wheatgrass antioxidant goji berry green smoothie to wash it all down. 

Which brings me a place like Le Train Bleu.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

12 Ways to Avoid Pickpocketers/Scammers/iPhone-Snatchers in Paris

Paris is a beautiful place. 

One of my favourite places in the world, it's the City of Light, the City of Love, the City of Romance.

On the other hand, Paris (and greater Paris) can also be the city of.. scams, pickpocketers, snatch-and-runners (or for me personally anyway, iPhone snatchers) and, the city of "seriously-can-you-please-just-stop-hassling-me..!"



Like any big city with tourists roaming around, there's money to be made. Whether it's being ripped off by your 8€ coffee legally, being pressured into giving some money through coercion/guilt, being pickpocketed without even knowing or being brazenly robbed, it's moments like these that tarnish the otherwise potentially magical Parisian experience.

And it's not just the actual money you lose or the sentimental possession that was taken away from you. It's the feeling of being duped, the uncomfortable feeling of someone entering your personal space, having schemed and plotted behind your back. Or, it's the feeling of someone snatching something right out of your hand, right in front of your eyes. 

You feel a little violated.


After the initial shock, it's the feeling of 'I really should have done this', 'why didn't I do that?', 'if I had only done this!', that self blame that creates a vicious cycle in your head leaving you feeling guilty, stupid, highly strung and paranoid, long after the event itself is over.

Having been through this awful (in a first world country sense) experience myself, I found that there were generally 3 camps of people responding to my story. 

Camp A : Those who were genuinely concerned and outraged and shocked, who sincerely sympathised with me from the bottom of their hearts, fearlessly defending my right to use my phone whenever I needed to without living in fear that someone would snatch it (members from this camp also threatened to jump on a plane, fly over here and hunt down the thief himself)

Camp B : Those who asked me why I was doing what I was doing in the first place and told me I should never really have been doing what I was doing 

Camp C : Those who reassured me that I wasn't alone with their personal story, or a story of a friend, or a story of a friend of a friend of a friend, reminding me that although it's an unpleasant experience and it's completely unfair, sadly it's a part of life and it happens everywhere, I was just in the wrong carriage with the wrong people, at the wrong time.

And it's true, it does happen everywhere. 

Yes, be vigilant and aware and alert but remember that everyone is a potential target, some more so than others, but still. Local Frenchies, experienced travellers, first time tourists, maybe even the perpetrators themselves (on a bad day), we are all potential targets. Don't beat yourself up about it.

So here is my guide of 12 things you can do, based on all my discussions with Frenchies, Parisians, expats, colleagues, clients, students, friends and family.


1. TRAVEL INSURANCE

Make sure you have this organised. Keep your policy number and emergency contact phone number handy. If something happens, at least you will have the peace of mind that you will be reimbursed, something, if anything.


2. REPORT IT

I was in tears after my iPhone was snatched from my hand. No one helped me on the train and I felt like Dorothy, wishing I could just close my eyes and click my red shoes to go back home to Australia. Luckily I soldiered on and reported it to the nearest police station as soon as possible. You need some kind of proof and documentation, dated as soon as possible after the incident for the insurance claim. Also, being around the police makes you feel like your matter is being taken seriously, just jotting down details and recounting your story can be therapeutic. 

Momentarily you will imagine that the police will immediately send out a patrol car as soon as you leave. They will mutter the words "justice will prevail" in their French accents, and track down your stolen item...!!! ;)


3. ON THE METRO/RER

* Pickpocketers
Scan the carriage and look at everyone around you (pickpocketers will target those who are pre-occupied and unaware).
Women make sure your bag is zipped up, held slightly/right in front of you, under your eyes.
Men make sure your wallet is not in your back pocket.
When they announce over the PA system to be aware of pickpocketers, resist the urge to check where your wallet is.
Be wary when the carriage becomes crowded, often they will swarm the crowded carriage and you won't be able to notice anything because everyone is pushed up against each other. 
When things get tight, pull your belongings in even tighter. 

* Snatch-and-runners
Snatch-and-runners will wait until the very last minute, just before the doors are closing to snatch your phone/bag/whatever and jump off the carriage. 
Be careful when seated/standing near the doors especially when the train is about to leave the station.
Hold on tight, if they can't snatch quickly, they will let go and jump off the carriage regardless, they don't want to be stuck on the same carriage after a failed attempt, I've seen a guy try to snatch a phone but the woman had such a tight grip he gave up and ran off. 
There will be times when you will need to take out your phone on the train to use it, it's hard to avoid realistically so when you do, hold it securely with both hands.

NOTE: If you are taking the RER on a longer journey, I've found that it is better to sit upstairs, but not too close to the stairs, second or third row in is where I normally sit now. My girlfriend and I analysed the RER seating plan after my snatching and figured that it was harder to snatch and run, leap down 8 steps then off the carriage, than to snatch and run, leap up 4 steps then off the carriage. Also try to sit close to the window, away from the aisle where it's easier to snatch and run, preferably with people around you and choose a carriage with as many passengers as possible.


4. ON THE STREETS/AT ATMs

Don't head out with too much cash on you, always keep a second debit/credit card locked up in your luggage and think carefully about where to stash your passport. Keep your belongings close to you on the streets and be wary of anyone trying to strike up a conversation, especially when you are at an ATM, where they may steal your money straight away or spy on your PIN code and steal your card later. My friend actually witnessed this happening in broad daylight. 

Many of these groups of pickpocketers are minors, they are barely even teenagers, kids even - operated by adult gangs. They are dressed normally and probably the only thing giving them away is the fact that they are out and about during school hours and that hypothetically if they were on holidays, why are their parents nowhere to be seen? They hang out in groups around famous monuments and often work more discreetly in pairs near ATMs. 
There isn't much the authorities can do with this problem because first of all they need to be caught red-handed. Secondly, even when they are caught, because of their age, they are soon released afterwards, making pickpocketing a very lucrative way of earning money for these groups.


5. THE STRING SCAM (normally around Montmartre, Sacre Coeur)

Before the steps leading up to the beautiful Sacre Coeur, you will find groups of men loitering at the bottom with their brightly coloured pieces of string. They will approach you to show a 'magic trick' and offer to make a bracelet/ring/whatever, for you/the church/good luck/as a gift/present/souvenir. After that, they will hassle for a payment. Obviously, with a piece of string tied to your fingers/hand/wrist it is going to be hard to refuse giving a donation (that you never agreed to in the first place!). 
They will be insistent and intimidating in their groups and paying them might be the only way to get rid of them.

Walk through them, don't stand around wondering how you can get away, just walk away purposefully, walk behind a group of people if you are travelling alone, don't engage in any eye contact, body language, conversation, anything. Watch out for pickpocketers who might mill around at the same time. Try to act like a local, shake your head, keep your hands in your pockets/crossed and say as little as possible - 

NON merci (no thank you)
Non, c'est bon (no, it's good)
EHH - OH (which is like an "errrr I don't think so" remark, I've seen John do this quite effectively a few times, it sounds like a deep "AAAY - OH" which the emphasis on the AAAY part) 


6. THE CLIPBOARD SCAM

This scam seems to be everywhere (even in the metro outside Galeries Lafayette as well as all the major monuments). You will see groups of girls/women holding clipboards approaching tourists asking if you speak English to sign a petition. Normally it is some deaf/mute petition. Sometimes the girls pretend to be deaf/mute then you'll see them talk to each other afterwards. These girls can get aggressive and grab your arm and pester you to sign, it's really really annoying. Once you've signed they will demand a donation. 
Once again, watch out for pickpocketing while you are signing or trying to get away.

Don't make eye contact, walk through them as quickly as possible and be firm. Don't underestimate these girls, I've had them grab onto my arm to the point where it actually really hurt.
Once again, you can use:

NON, merci (no thank you)
J'ai dit, NON MERCI! (I said, NO THANK YOU!)
Non, je suis pressé(e) (no, I'm busy)
Non, je n'ai pas le temps (no, I don't have time)


7. THE GOLD RING SCAM

This is where someone will pick up a gold ring and then approach you to ask if it is yours and try to give it to you claiming that they can't use it. Later on they will ask you for some money, because they are hungry/thirsty/have given you the ring. This scam seems to be popular among many scamming groups, men and women of all ages.


8. THE CUP GAME SCAM

I've added this scam because I keep on seeing it. Initially I wasn't going to include it because it's not a scam that approaches you but rather one that you willingly participate in but this scam has been increasing in numbers. Here you will see men trying to coax you into playing a game where you guess where the ball is underneath the three cups. The cups move around and at the end you choose which cup it is. You will witness other people off the street "winning" 50€ notes and exclaiming their disbelief and excitement after "winning"! 

Great in theory but problem is they are all in it together. 

Step away from the game. It's too good to be true. Go and spend that 50€ on something else instead! 


9. BEGGARS - THE HOMELESS, THE ROMA PEOPLE


This is a complex social issue to write about. But it's one that is strikingly obvious as soon as you set foot in Paris. It isn't a scam as such but rather it's a complicated situation that can have scam potential but you don't really know for sure. 

In the metro station, along the streets, on little stretches of pavements, on top of those vents with openings on the ground, on street corners, in front of boulangeries, in telephone booths you will see people, even families, groups of people begging for money. They'll often have a sign saying they are hungry and that 1€, 2€ or a "ticket resto" (which is like a food voucher) would help them. Sometimes they are accompanied by a dog, some puppies, kittens, rabbits. Sometimes they will present a little speech on the metro. Sometimes they will distribute little pieces of paper (in Comic Sans font) in French or English stating how they have 3 children and they are homeless and don't have a job.

It's something that I have found difficult to understand, especially coming from a country like Australia where I hardly saw any beggars or homeless people. 

What I've noticed over the time I've been in Paris (and correct me if I'm wrong as this is merely my personal observation) is that generally speaking there are two groups. Firstly, there are the homeless people and you will see different types of homeless people. There are the homeless who don't seem stereotypically 'homeless'. They look like average people and they often present a little speech on the metro starting with "Ladies and gentlemen I'm so sorry to disturb you..". Then there are homeless people who are seated on the ground with a little sign, usually on their own. Sometimes they don't even have a sign. Sometimes they sit in their little spot surrounded by a few possessions and a sleeping bag. Sometimes you will even notice them refusing help from authorities offering shelter in the middle of Winter because they don't want to leave their 'spot'.

Secondly, there are the Roma people. They often distribute the little pieces of paper on the train, their young children will also beg in the train carriages. It will break your heart seeing that image. They sit on the streets, sometimes on mattresses, sometimes in telephone booths, sometimes in tents, sometimes with their babies, children, their whole family. There are some who are linked to the organised pickpocketing groups and others who aren't. There are some who actually live there on the street corner and others who live in shanty towns on the outskirts of Paris and go into Paris each day to beg.

It's a difficult call this one. I'm not saying that one beggar may be more deserving over another. I'm not saying that anyone is deserving of anything. I'm not saying that you should or shouldn't give anything (be it money, a ticket resto, food - although I do tend to choose giving food over money) to anyone. I don't know their life story. I don't know their personal circumstances nor how they arrived at their current situation. I don't know if they were offered help and had refused it. I don't know if they were able to access help in the first place. I don't know if they are linked to organised crime. I don't know if substance abuse/dependence is involved or depression or other psychological factors inhibiting them from "just picking themselves up and just getting a job". Sometimes it's not all that easy. I don't know because I'm not in their head. 

I don't know if they refused to send their children to school. I don't know if culturally, they believe in 'schooling' for their children. I don't know if they have actually chosen to live like this and do not wish to conform nor integrate. I don't know.

One thing I do know is that I feel really uncomfortable when I see babies/young toddlers asleep while their "mother" begs. Normal babies do not stay asleep and quiet for hours on end. I can understand for a nap but not long periods of time. Normal babies fidget and cry and are restless and want to squirm around and move about. I don't know for sure in each case but there is a chance that these babies/young toddlers have been sedated with something to allow the "mother" (which could be anyone really) to beg. I may be unsure of everything else but there is one thing that I am sure about. I am sure that I do not want to support this kind of practice in any way, shape or form. If this type of practice/scam attracts pity and makes money, well it's effectively going to continue. If it doesn't make money, it won't continue. Another scam might take its place but at least those babies/toddlers won't be involved.


Now back to something less emotional..

10. BACK UP YOUR PHONE/ENABLE GPS LOCALISATION/UPDATE YOUR PHONE

Invest in some extra iCloud storage if you have an iPhone so that you can back your phone up over wi-fi whilst travelling. Otherwise just try and back up your contacts and photos manually. It's a pain in the *** trying to retrieve all that information if it's not already backed up.
Install apps like Find My iPhone, it may help in locating or deleting your phone remotely. Other times it won't make a difference because many thieves work in groups - they turn your phone off immediately then pass it on to someone else in another location.
Some updates will render your phone useless without the passcode or fingerprint access. Although your phone might still have been stolen by then, at least it's just become a fancy paperweight to the thief. 


11. C'EST LA VIE

If this does happen to you, don't beat yourself up about it. I spent forever thinking why I didn't I do this, why didn't I do that. There will be times when you will need to use your phone on a train, there will be times when you will have had no other choice. There will also be times when you can't help but just assume that people are nice and that they won't take something that doesn't belong to them. Maybe they are just petitioning for a good cause! It's completely natural to want to use your phone, open your purse or give a stranger the benefit of the doubt as you please, without feeling paranoid. 

Understand that you were unlucky and that it happens to everyone, even locals who were born and bred in Paris have had this happen to them. Everyone is a potential target, there's nothing you can do about it now. You live and you learn. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise to make you more vigilant in order to avoid something more serious that was lined up to happen in the future.


12. AIN'T NOTHING GONNA BREAK MY STRIDE.. 

Nobody's gonna slow me down. Oh no, I've got to keep on moving.

(This might not make sense if you didn't grow up in the nineties ;)

Lastly, don't become paranoid - it will ruin your experience and you will lose faith in humanity. Sure it's hard when you hear about ATM snatch and runs, people being pushed off the platform for a phone, people being hospitalised after getting into a fight with the thief etc but these cases aren't the common ones. Listen to the stories but try to take them on board with a clear head. 

Also another reason not to become paranoid is that it's actually really exhausting being on meerkat-on-caffeine mode all day (trust me), you'll miss seeing beautiful things pass by because you're too busy planning how to execute your imaginary ninja moves to trip over the next wise guy who decides to try it on you. 

It's always about balance. 

Balance between being paranoid and too relaxed. Balance between being overly suspicious and naive. Balance between letting the situation consume you and learning to just, let go.


Sunday, 5 April 2015

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Free Museum Sunday in Paris

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

It's the first Sunday of the month today which means that it's Free Museum Sunday for everyone in or visiting Paris! This particular day can be a fantastic "wow, I'm so glad I did that today" kind of day or, a downright "urgh, I'm never doing that again" kind of day. 

Here are my five tips to make it more of the former and less of the latter. 

1. Plan ahead

Check out our blog post to get yourself familiar with which museums are free when to plan your day. For a complete list with museums you've never even heard of before, check out this page

For example, if it is March, it's better to opt for museums such as which aren't free after March 31st such as the Louvre, the Panthéon, the Towers of Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe etc.

However, if you are only here visiting, check out which museum is free on your given Sunday. There's nothing worse than lining up for a free museum then realising that you have to pay at the end. 

So research and have a few museums decided. That way if the line is ridiculous at one you can cut your losses and hop over to another one!

2. Arrive at a good time

Either get up early to beat the crowds or wait until lunchtime when people are eating and are less likely to be lining up. 

If you can't be bothered (which is often the case for many of us, myself included!) then read on directly to tips 3, 4 and 5!

3. Be prepared 

Bring snacks and water for the wait. But don't drink too much water because then you will have to leave the line to look for some toilets! 

Grab a tasty baguette on the way and have lunch while you wait in line. It's not the most pleasant dining experience but you get to kill two birds with one stone while eating and waiting, not to mention you get to save money on lunch as well as the museum ticket in the process.

4. Charge up your smartphone

Instead of getting annoyed at how long you have to wait (which my partner often  loves to do when I drag him along to these Free Museum Sundays!), optimise your time in the queue. Edit those photos, reply those emails, write up your list of things to do for the week, delete and clear up some memory on your phone. There are loads of things you can do with or without internet access, and with or without a smartphone. Write those postcards, talk (?!) to people.

5. Be patient

The line does move, trust me. You just need to keep inching forward and soldier on. I successfully visited 3 museums on one Sunday once and it was a relatively painless experience for me. I dedicated the day to museums and managed to save almost 40€ in entrance fees. 

Another time, I decided I would make a day trip out of it instead so I hopped on the train and headed out to Château de Fontainebleau to visit the château out there instead (for free!). Remember that it's not only museums but places like Versailles as well - you just have to check out what's available.

Enjoy! 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

My Top 15 Paris Fashion Week Highlights

1. Sir Paul McCartney and Kanye West entering the Stella McCartney show at Opera Garnier from the secret side entrance flooded with the paparazzi. Luckily I have long go-go-gadget arms to sneak my iPhone in between all their fancy SLR cameras.


2. Solange Knowles up close at the Balmain show, this woman has presence. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Paris Fashion Week - The Who's Who at Valentino


Without a doubt, Valentino stole the show at this year's Paris Fashion Week. If you haven't seen it already, you have to see Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson's appearances on the Valentino catwalk to promote their upcoming Zoolander 2 movie. 

I'm not sure which moment was funnier, the moment when Owen Wilson nonchalantly shrugged off his Valentino coat to reveal his satin designer pyjamas or the moment when Ben Stiller dramatically threw off his Valentino coat to then grab the smartphone of a guy in the front row trying to film a selfie video. 

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Fondation Louis Vuitton


I finally got myself to the Fondation Louis Vuitton the other week. 

I wondered if I was the last person in Paris to visit the highly anticipated private museum, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, which was unveiled last year in October, a whopping $143 million later.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Berliner Wunderbar - the New Kid in Town



There's a new kid in town and his name is Berliner Wunderbar. Brand new to the Parisian bar scene, Berliner Wunderbar had its official opening only last weekend. You can find him nestled in the 11th arrondissement near Bastille on rue de Lappe (after you pass all the seedy bars at the start of the street). 

Berliner Wunderbar is a breath of fresh air to this famous/infamous street. Its precise location is 49 rue de Lappe, on the other side, walking away from Bastille, near the baked potato joint and the charming little bistrot with its red and white checked table cloths at the end of the street.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

2015 Lunar New Year Celebrations in Paris and What It All Means to Me Now


2015, the Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram started off with an amazing display of Lunar New Year celebrations in Paris. Incredibly impressed by the largest Lunar New Year Parade of France (and quite possibly Europe I might imagine), I was taken aback by the authenticity of the traditions displayed, as well as the French influence that brought on the warm and fuzzies I often feel in these multicultural situations. Last year we went to the parade in the 3rd arrondissement but didn't end up making it to the one in the 13th, this year it was noted in my diary. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

10 Reasons Why I Didn't Start My Blog


We've had such an amazing response to our previous blog post after announcing that our own domain name www.myloveforparis.com was ready to go that well, here's the prologue - what happened BEFORE My Love for Paris began. 

Friday, 20 February 2015

www.myloveforparis.com


Today marks an important day for My Love for Paris. 

What started off as just a simple home-grown blog on Blogger (read: user-friendly-easy-to-use Blogger, not even your fancier WordPress) a little over a year ago has turned into something I never imagined.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Paris Hôtel de Ville Tour


As many of you know, I also blog for AngloINFO Paris & Ile de France, a leading global expatriate network present in Paris that provides dependable local information and invaluable support to those who call Paris home. Recently, Karen our Director of AngloINFO Paris & Ile de France and I were invited by the city of PARIS and Que faire à Paris to meet their team in person along with other prominent bloggers on the Paris scene. We were treated to a breathtaking private tour of the Hôtel de Ville interiors before sitting down to discuss how to better streamline and communicate Paris-related information to our readers and visitors.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Paris London Tandem 2015 Press Conference


Straight from the Paris London Tandem 2015 Press Conference today, Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris together with Boris Johnson, Mayor of London launched an exciting Paris-London cultural exchange tandem due to take place from March to July this year.

During these four months, Parisians will be able to enjoy a taste of the British cultural scene in Paris. At the same time, on the other side of the Channel, Londoners will be able to enjoy a taste of the French cultural scene in London. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture - Elie Saab SS15



Running from Sunday 25th of January to Thursday 29th of January this year, the magical whirlwind that is Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week has officially come to an end presenting us with some of the most stunning and boldest haute couture creations to date. 

This week, I was lucky enough to experience my very first Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week show at none other than the romantic ethereal Elie Saab défiléFifty five beautiful creations gently floated along the runway in dreamy soft hues of powder pink, beige, blue and ivory as well as striking black. Contrasting fabrics and textures, from feathers and ruffles to sequins and pearls were meticulously hand-embroidered onto each breathtaking piece. Saab's signature style of timeless femininity and elegant lines was clearly present as full skirts and cinched in waists prominently featured in his Spring Summer 2015 Collection.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Spring Summer 2015


Italian blogger and fashion designer Chiara Ferragni 'The Blonde Salad' 

Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture in January is one of the most important dates on the industry calendar. Spring Summer haute couture collections are unveiled for the year and couture houses go to lengths to create the perfect setting to showcase their creations. 

In France, the term "haute couture" (high sewing, high dressmaking or high fashion) is a term that is defined by the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris and protected by French law. In order to use the term 'haute couture' and call oneself a 'couture house', companies and couturiers must satisfy a list of very specific conditions. Some conditions that are set out include: couture houses must design made-to-order pieces with one or more client fittings, couture houses must have an 'atelier' (workshop) in Paris and must present at least 50 pieces to the public in January and July.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How to Move to Paris in 12 Steps


Every now and then I get asked the question: "So, what brought you to Paris..?" or, "how did you just, you know, move to Paris like that?". I secretly love being asked this question because it transports me back to a time in my life where I finally had the courage to fulfill a dream that was filed away right at the back of my head.