5 Less-Touristy Places for Great Views of Paris

Forget views from the Eiffel Tower. (You can't see the famous iron structure from THAT view--and you know that's what you want!) Here are five places to catch great views of Paris, most of them for free.

1) Printemps. Trek to the cafe terrace on the 9th floor of the Beauté/Maison building of this department store and get ready to squeal like a little tiny baby girl. HOLY COW. (I mean, HOLY VACHE.) This is hands-down my favorite view. I recommend going on a stormy day. Because take a look at the above pano my iPhone took just before a storm a week or so ago. Beyond. 64 bd Haussmann, 75009 

2) Parc de Belleville. Go at sunset (duh, but still). At the top of the park is both a cool-looking boulangerie (I didn't stop in, but it smelled gorgeous) and a great cafe/bar where you can grab a drink and a bite for a decent price. So dreamy in the spring! 47 rue des Couronnes, 75011

3) Panthéon. Not the most dramatic view of the city, but it somehow makes you feel a little king-of-the-world-ish. Place du Panthéon, 75005

4) Centre Pompidou. I keep reading how beautiful the view is from the 5th floor of this modern-art museum. My girl Zovig is currently in town visiting, and she confirmed it for me after she spent a last-minute evening there. (It's sometimes open as late at 11pm.) On the must-do list! Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004

5) Le Parc de Saint Cloud. If you're feeling adventurous, hop a train and hit this park for a sprawling view from just outside the city. Bonus: tons of tree-lined paths and rolling meadows peppered with fountains and fancy regal architecture. Your Instagram followers will totally heart you for it. 92210 Saint-Cloud

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rule #2. (I like this rule, y'all.)


Things I should stop confessing in public

A couple weeks ago, I admitted to saving a few adorably reusable, terra cotta-made La Fermière yogurt cups here and there.

Several weeks later, I think we need to call an intervention.

For starters, here's what the yogurts look like in their packaging, before I feast on one for breakfast.

You'll notice that, unlike the baby blue cups at the top of the post, these particular cups happen to be a dark navy color. That's because, if my poorly translated French is correct, they are a special "horoscope edition" of the vanilla flavor. I happen to casually (not casually) spot (stalk until I found them) at a nearby convenience store.

And what did I do?

I bought six. (Not really. Eight.)



But, come on, you get it, right? They're sweet, right? They can be bud vases! They can be pencil cups! They're dishwasher safe! You can cook in them!

Somebody help.

What would you do with these suckers?

Should I paint them in even more fun colors and use them to create an art project? Do I sell them on eBay or etsy? (This happens, apparently.) Or do I just recycle them and chalk it up to a funny little breakfast habit I had when I lived in Paris?

Do throw me a bone in the comments. (Just don't throw it in the direction of the pots. We don't want them to break. Don't hurt the babies!) (Okay, seriously. SOS.)

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #5 and 6.


Purple Haze

When you are told to go find the wisteria in the back alleys of Paris' Montmartre neighborhood, you go find the wisteria. Here's what else you'll find.

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #1, 2, and 4.


The Paris Journal from Obvious State: A Sneak Peek

This spring, I had the very good fortune to help edit a new book by my fellow-Paris-passage-dwellers and dear friends Nichole and Evan Robertson. It's smartly called "The Paris Journal."

And seriously, y'all, it is so good.

Editing it was one of those experiences where you got to see your friends at their finest--when you KNOW they're already great at something, but then you spend a focused amount of time on their project and you realize, "Damn. These people can REALLY WRITE."

Because they can. And it's done so well that it almost makes me mad. (You know, in a healthy, inspiring way.)

Now that I've spent a good amount of time experiencing this fair city, I can tell you that, within their essays and photos, Nichole and Evan have managed to capture precisely what it's like to explore a neighborhood in Paris.

I can also tell you that they spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking this story. I heard their across-the-globe iChat conversations. I talked to Nichole about it late at night while we were on different sides of the apartment, trying to convince ourselves it was time to sleep, but instead staying up and chatting away. As an editor and reader, I got to see its different versions evolve and change and get better at every turn.

The result is a funny, quirky, thoughtful collaboration--a wonderful book that I can't wait to add to my bookshelf (and Kindle; there's a version for that, too). I am proud to have been a small part of its creative process.

Cool thing is, Nichole and Evan made the first three chapters free to download. Check them out here. The ebook will be available April 29. The printed book will arrive in about four weeks. And there will be more in the series, so keep checking back for updates.

It's an awesome way to support creative folks and independent authors and storytellers who want to keep putting real, authentic content into the world. Because we need this stuff, you know? Go get it!

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rule #12. Big time.


#9, Les Hommes

I'm going to be honest here.

No matter how hard I try to emphasize to folks that my Paris Plan is about creativity and connecting and exploration and growth, all most people really want to hear about is one thing:

Rule #9. The guys.

And alriiiiiiight. It's kind of embarrassing to me and sort of personal, but I get it. I mean, after all, one of Paris' many nicknames is "The City of Love," right? Also, I do realize the questions and comments I hear are often about people projecting their fantasy of what dating might be like here, of all places on the planet. (Although, as I am learning, those comments and questions are not too unlike those I get about being single in The City That Never Sleeps.) (P.S. Is this all Carrie Bradshaw's fault??)

I've been writing on this blog for almost five years, and although relationships have come and gone since then, I've never made it a habit to discuss them in this space; I think it's only fair and appropriate for all parties involved. In the case of Paris, though, I will make a slight exception and share some general info. I get asked quite often, so it's clearly of interest! [Insert blushing-smiley-face-emoticon-thingy or whatever here to visually convey geniality mixed with slight discomfort.]

So, listen, #9 does happen to me...#9 is never actually a problem. Overall, it's been fun to date in Paris. The differences are this: dates seem to include a LOT of walking--around the city, in parks, on the streets--for MANY hours. There is less drinking of alcohol, and more drinking of coffee. There is more taking in of views, and more time spent outdoors. There are more displays of affection, and they are taken more seriously. (For example, a first kiss is a HUGE deal, and it is not rushed.) (I think that's nice, actually.) You will be expected to TRY to speak or at least repeat some words in French. And you will be gently corrected when you screw it up, which I inevitably always do. You have to be a bit more flexible in that nothing is planned too, too far in advance. That means you just have to go with it; if you're a Type A, you simply have to shift to Type C+ to keep things rollin'.

There are several (several!) things I haven't completely figured out yet. (And yes, I will admit that, for reference, I recently re-watched the Sex and the City episode called "The Ick Factor"--the one where there's a fainting spell outside the opera, remember?) Yet there are lots and lots of articles in the world that talk about what it's like date a French man, so that "helps." (Who knew? I didn't.)

The one thing I am confident about, though, is the same thing applies here as it does in the States. To make it work, you need to be armed with a willingness to communicate and the ability to be vulnerable. Also helpful? The guts to ask questions--even if it means you have to occasionally consult Google Translate, or, God help us, Carrie Bradshaw.

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rule #9.


Things that are bonnie

One good thing about being in Paris (other than the fact that you're in Paris) (okay, I know) is that you can easily leave it to visit the UK.

I spent the last weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland, visiting my dear friend Dawn. Part of me thought I'd blather on here about how I felt inspired by the dramatic landscape and the moody granite-stone architecture and the history of a castle we visited. But I'm just gonna be real, y'all. Here's what we really did:

Dawn has five kids. F-I-V-E.

At the same time, she's in medical school. M-E-D-I-C-A-L  S-C-H-O-O-L.

In the middle of her no-nonsense schedule, she made time for us to sit down and catch up. We drank coffee and tea. We ate a meal made by her husband. We washed dishes. We watched "Frozen" with her wee lass. We joked with her three big boys; we cooed over her infant one. We went to the store. She turned her head while I loaded the cart with too many Cadbury chocolates (a by-product of a time I lived in London). And on the way to the airport, we dropped by Crathes Castle for lunch.

She did it all with grace and humor and complete take-chargedness. And dang if she didn't look good the whole freakin' time.

I seriously didn't need people in kilts or rolling emerald hills to find inspiration in Scotland.

The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #6 and 10.