Wednesday
May212014

Dangerous Liaisons, as told by a former member of the safety patrol

This is my Paris bike. (I know--I didn't tell you...I have a bike.) When I ride it here, there is no helmet involved.

This is a piece of cheese. It is from the local outdoor food market. It is unpasteurized. Also, it is delicious.

These are eggs at the grocery store. They are displayed on a shelf and are not refrigerated. (Neither is the milk.) Both are currently in my apartment fridge.

Every day, around every corner, Paris does anything it can to assault my safety-focused American upbringing. It shakes me up, challenges me, and secretly thrills me. Put simply, there is a looseness here that isn't in the States. It's a pffffft attitude--a sort of recklessness (for lack of a better word) Americans don't naturally have.

The first time I noticed it was on the metro. [And I know it wasn't just me, because at least two other American friends visiting me commented on this, too.] On some of the older subway trains, the doors have to be manually opened via a pull handle if you want to exit. With a casual flick-click, Parisians boldly open them and hop off before the train comes to a complete stop in the station. (I know! Clutching the pearls here, too!)

You see this characteristic above ground as well. Drivers of cars, of buses, of anything, don't seem as uptight as we are. People ride around on bikes and skateboards and scooters without helmets. At the grocer, eggs and milk sit on shelves, not in refrigerated sections. And in my stomach, unpasteurized cheeses and butters made with raw milk have moved in and set up camp like they never could have in the USA.

Now, I don't mean to imply that Paris is some sort of free-for-all danger pit. Obviously not--no no. I liken it more to a proper young lady who has a wild streak that comes out in subtle ways--whether it's in a dizzying waft of her perfume, the way she purposefully wears a dress that's slightly too clingy, or the way you know, beyond all doubt, that she will totally pickpocket your wallet one evening when you bend down to give her a long, slow kiss goodnight.

It's seductive, experiencing a daily life that is less "safe" (because, really, let's do remember to put that word in quotes). It's turned out to be just another way Paris titillates and fascinates me. It adds to the romance. It makes me want to linger. And it makes me want more.

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #2, 8, and 14.

Tuesday
May202014

My Paris To-Do List: One Week Left!

Well, that went by fast.

I've got one more week in the City of Light. (What? Where did the time go?? Ahhhhhhh!!) Here's what I am hoping to get done between now and then. (And not surprisingly, it's mostly food-focused. But whatever. It's Paris.):

  • Try breads and all things carb-y from Du Pain et des Idées. 34 rue Yves Toudic, 75010
  • Take a day trip to Claude Monet's garden at Giverny, about an hour outside of Paris.
  • Get breakfast at Claus, as recommended by Susan at Fleurishing. 14 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001
  • Snack on caramels from Jacques Genin. 133 Rue de Turenne, 75003
  • Ask Nichole to confirm for the nth time how to seriously get Bordier butter back to the States.
  • Eat dinner at Septime. Or Semilla. Or Le Richer. Or anywhere else Lindsey tells me to go.
  • Shop. (I never bought myself any clothes! Gasp!) Ask Kasia for last-minute recommendations.
  • Hope for a few more Paris sunsets like the one above. The daylight is lasting until 10pm around here right now--total magic!
  • Figure out just how quickly I can get myself back. Because I am positive I'll be leaving my heart behind...

Le sigh.

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rule #2.

Wednesday
May142014

Here's how #5 leads to #6

Bikini season is going to be brutal.

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rule #6. Though I am not sure I am happy that I've "achieved" it. And I am certainly not claiming I am not freaking out!

Tuesday
May132014

5 Design Stores You Must Visit in Copenhagen

During my trip to Copenhagen with my girlfriend Lin, I swear to you, every time we headed out the door, I had to prep myself for the overwhelming design-store coolness that would instantly appear on its cobblestone streets.

Here was a typical conversation I had with myself:

"Calm down, lady. You can do this. You do not have to buy everything you see. Just appreciate things and move on. Maybe take some photos, maybe not. Keep the credit card secure at all times. If you start to tear up because you are surrounded by such bonkers-awesome home design, just hold it back. No design crying in Denmark! You will look ridiculous! You will scare Lin! Keep it together, Feezor!"

In short, everything I've ever pinned on Pinterest ever, everything I've ever included in a roundup for Herman Miller or mom.me, basically came to life in Copenhagen. Here are the places that made me the most overly and inappropriately emotional.

1. Normann Copenhagen. Normann was the first store I just had to see when we got to the city--I feel like I've written and daydreamed about it more than any other place in Copenhagen. It's a bit out of the city center, so plan accordingly! Østerbrogade 70, 2100 Copenhagen

2. HAY. Oh heavens. Such clean and modern and beautiful design. HAY makes everything from pillows to notebooks to brooms yes brooms look better. (Their store, in the city center, is pictured above.) Østergade 61, 1100 Copenhagen

3. Illums Bolighus. Just the typing of this store name makes me catch my breath. (This is not a joke. I almost turned around and walked back out when I first witnessed it. IT IS TOO MUCH FOR ME. HERE IS WHERE I MAY CRY.) Everything you need is in this shop. Everything. If you only have 24 hours in Copenhagen, this is your design store. 10 Amagertorv, 1160 Copenhagen

4. Tiger. Tiger is apparently all over Europe, but I wanted to include it here because the Denmark store was cheery and well priced. It reminded me of a mini IKEA, sans furniture and with more food options. Rådhuspladsen 59, 3.tv, 1550 Copenhagen

5. Sogreni of Copenhagen. Sogreni isn't a design shop per se, but it is a design-y bicycle shop. The perfect Copenhagen souvenir is here: one of their pitch-perfect, super-chic bike bells. Get the brass version--the owner told me it has the clearest tone. Sankt Peders Streage 30A, 1453 Copenhagen

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rule #10.

Monday
May122014

Cute Alert: The Homes of Copenhagen 

Over the last week, I learned that nobody does "cute" better than Copenhagen. Nooooooooobody.

I spent three days in the city on a trip I planned back in February with my friend Lin. (My travel companion to China a few years ago. We pick 'em well, don't we?)

Most of our visit, we just walked around, talked, people-watched, ate too much, and spent money, whether we wanted to or not--because lawd have mercy, Copenhagen is expensive. EXPENSIVE. But we also found that it is these things, too: quaint, clean, very friendly, safe with the hint of an edge, uber bicycle-y, super food-y, and really well font-ed. (As in, holy adorable branding on every store. What graphic designer got her hands on this place, and when can I hire her?)

Unsurprisingly, the homes in the city only add to its charm. Take a look at some of the sweet places we spotted while we were out and about.


Okay, I fudged that last one--it's actually Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, just outside of Copenhagen. Trivia for my fellow literature dorks: it served as inspiration for the castle in Shakespeare's "Hamlet." (I know!)

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #4 and 10.

Sunday
May112014

Lately

In the past few weeks, I've been exploring Paris without my camera. (Okay, well, except for my iPhone camera...I'm on Instagram on the regular.) The city has a bit of a hold on me--much more than I thought it would, to be honest--and I'm enjoying spending a little time with it one on one, with only my eyes seeing and experiencing what's going on around me.

In other words, I think I feel like I live here a little bit.

I went through this when I moved to New York (and to London before that, way back in the day). It's a time when the razzle-dazzle of a new place loses a bit of its shine, and starts to emerge as something familiar and comfortable. It doesn't make the city less beautiful; it's actually more so, I'd argue.

One of the first times I noticed I was feeling more comfortable was a couple of days ago, when I broke rule #3 of my Paris Plan. For the first time ever, I walked to the metro wearing earbuds, listening to a song on iTunes. (I know! Gasp!) I really needed the energy of music that day, and the trek to the train station is familiar enough now that I could allow myself to get lost in a song, and give Paris a soundtrack of my own for a minute. It was a bit jarring--especially because I was listening to this jam, which is not exactly a song that is in sync with a stroll along a central Parisian street. But I felt like myself in a city that's unexpectedly feeling more like me on a daily basis. It was weird and wonderful at the same time.

I'm not sure what to do with that feeling. Other than just go with it. But it's nice to find me here, you know?

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #14 and 15.