Things we have seen on the Paris Metro

Things we have seen on the Paris Metro

We take the Metro everywhere, especially in winter, as it’s the fastest way to get around. Nothing bad has happened to us yet, but we’ve seen a lot of things. None of us has been pickpocketed: in fact, the closest we got was an guy in a hoodie telling Murray not to carry his cell phone in his back pocket or someone would “piqué” it.

Ibiza Bound

Ibiza Bound

Ping! The message hits our BeHomm home exchange profile just before Christmas. Would we like a week in a 7-bedroom villa in Ibiza in exchange for our house in Palm Springs? A flurry of emails later we all decide it’s a great fit. Renu and Bas are a Dutch fashion stylist and DJ couple with a daughter exactly Charlotte’s age. Normally they run Villa Amore as a boho-chic boutique hotel during the party season, but they’d be with family in Amsterdam, and we’d have it all to ourselves.  Cheap flights booked on lastminute.com, we were there within a week.

A New Year in Paris

A New Year in Paris

The French ring in the New Year with La Revéillon, or The Awakening, a huge feast that goes into a “nuit blanche,” – till sunrise. We decide it’s a tradition we’ll adopt, well, at least the feast part.

Early on the morning of December 31st, the four of us set out on foot, in the near zero temperatures with a flutter of snow, to shop. Destination: Marché President Wilson. While it’s not our closest market (that would be Batingnol near the Place de Clichy, the only 100 per cent organic market in Paris, and the only place you will find apples with spots on them).  President Wilson, on the other hand, is the supermodel of food markets. Her roses are stacked high and perfectly, her seafood glistens, and her poultry comes with its elegant white head plumage intact.

A Paris Christmas Photoshoot

A Paris Christmas Photoshoot

I wanted to remember our year in Paris without one person missing from the photos (namely me, holder of iphone). Plus the Vancouver Sun had commissioned me to write a feature on Christmas in Paris (to be published December 24) so we needed some shots of everyone together, enjoying the sights and lights of Paris like we do every day.

The Real Reason French Women Don’t get Fat

The Real Reason French Women Don’t get Fat

While I am devouring a gorgeous plate of dorado with sautéed “mangetouts,” the glorious name for the peas in their pods that means “eat all,” I complain that French women seem to eat enormous lunches and totter around on heels without ever exercising. Not true, S says. She tells me about the dance studio she goes to in the Opera district, called Elephant Paname. I take a quick note on my phone, then we order the chocolate cake...

Learning to speak Franglais

Learning to speak Franglais

The Anglification of French in Paris has lead to more than a few “malentendues” (misunderstandings). Last weekend I was making chit chat with the sales rep at a free Champagne tasting at our local wine store. As I sipped through three vintages of Perrier-Jouet on the sidewalk, I tried to tell him that I went to a party in San Francisco where they served magnums of vintage Krug Champagne with Doritos and spicy chicken wings. “Les ailes de poulet?” I tried. He looked confused. “Oh,” he finally exclaimed, “les wings!” And then, “Why not foie gras?”

Couture Shock

Couture Shock

I am amazed by how many couture stores there are in Paris. In one day, I might pass three Hermès locations. The flagship on Rue de Faubourg St. Honoré has a block long line up in the mornings, so they play music and have valet parking. There is always a queue at Louis Vuitton on the Champs Elysées. But are people buying, or are they shopping tourists?

How much does a sabbatical year in Paris cost?

How much does a sabbatical year in Paris cost?

So how does a family afford to spend a year in Paris? you might be wondering by now. The rent for our two-bedroom apartment in the 8th arrondissement near the Champs Elysées is double what we pay for a large house in a leafy Vancouver neighbourhood. But everything is relative: we once saw a guy dole out 5 Euros for a bottle of Coke in a café while our wine was 3 Euros...

Making friends in Paris

Making friends in Paris

I do know a few people in Paris – mostly Canadian transplants like the fashion writer Clara, the Printemps womenswear buyer Yeny, and Corbin accessories designer Bridgitte. I hound them all for lunch dates like a desperate teenager. I’ve also been on a few girlie blind dates, set ups with friends of friends. These go remarkably well, and are an invaluable source of essential information such as cleanest yoga studios and fastest bikini waxers. But I’m still yearning for an authentic, Parisian-style dinner party. And then Murray gets the text: Saturday night, 8 p.m., apartment in the Marais! We start training the girls immediately to stay up late like French children...

The Best Store in Paris

The Best Store in Paris

Are you thinking The Bon Marché? Or maybe Printemps? Or the Hermès store on Rue de Sèvres that is housed in a former swimming pool?

You would be wrong. And while I am often found walking down Avenue de Montaigne lusting after the luxury goods at Dior and Chanel, I am just as often pushing a cart through my all-time favourite Paris store: Monoprix. They are everywhere in Paris, and when choosing our apartment I wasn’t oblivious to the fact that there was a large one two blocks away. 

Our first French holiday!

Our first French holiday!

Now that we are getting into the psychology of actually living in Paris and not being here on vacation, I figured it was time for a French-style holiday. Every five weeks the kids get two weeks off school, and this was the Toussaints vacations (All Saints) the last two weeks of October. I booked us on a TGV (translation: fast train) to La Rochelle on the Atlantic Coast. From there we would cross the 3.5KM bridge to L’Ile de Ré, and island of 10 small towns connected by bike paths and known for its oysters, strawberries and sea salt...