Best of Paris - Part 1

I lived in Paris for 1 year.  What an experience it was.  What I love about France is its culture. America still has a while to go in this category because it's only 200 years old. It's the same reason i love Asia, for it's super old and super rich culture. France is like Japan in many ways. Examples: Pride in their cuisine, (which both countries should have because they take the care to go the extra kilometer), it's in their cultures to have attention to detail and hold most things to a high standard. That attention to detail carries over to their social hierarchies. Manners and politeness are emphasized. General pleasantries.  In New York you regularly purchase things with not a word exchanged between you and the cashier but in France if you don't say bonjour/bonsoir it doesn't go over well. End of similarities between Japan and France examples time.  The quality of life in France is higher than in the US, I guess that's because of socialism. A socialist country seems pretty cool to me. Socialism vs. what the US has got is a long philosophical discussion. Lots of things about socialism boil my blood too.  Would I be happy if i was paying into the French tax scheme and seeing tons and tons of people walking around all day having a nice content time while I had to work?  That's a tough one because I grew up in the American capitalist kind of free market economy. 

My aunt, uncle, and two cousins have been living in Paris for 12 years and they bought this awesome house in the 13th arrondissement.  and they let me live with them!  I had the whole basement level to myself.  Without them I wouldn't have even thought of living in Paris.

My initial thoughts of paris when I first visited were of how shady it seemed. The first thing you encounter after the airport is the subway system and it seems kind of shady because you don't know how to read people and know who is a normal person or who is one of those famous pick pockets you hear about all over Europe. Paris does seem more dangerous than New York in my opinion as a New Yorker but I'm sure Parisians would say New York seems more dangerous to them. They probably deflect gypsies as easily as we deflect street bums in New York. These Gypsy girls may look friendly and fun but they are the bane of my existence some days in Paris.  Do not be fooled, they've done got many and they'll do it again.

Markets twice a week, several different markets within each neighborhood.  Just one of the awesome quality of life laws.  Imagine having a market twice a week on your walk home, and also another one a 5 minute walk in the other direction from your every neighborhood! 

Paris was the first to have the public bike program and it shows.  Its a normal and accepted thing here by pedestrians and drivers alike.  I love it.

and along with that comes the bike paths and the acceptance of bikers as autonomous beings on the roads with rights to space and safety.  It feels very safe riding bikes in Paris.  Drivers move over, peds watch out for you and on the flip sides bikers aren't assholes that everyone hates and wants to punch as they ride by.

crepes, the salé (savory) or sucre (sweet) kinds.  The street crepes or the gourmet crepes.  They all are awesome and all went into my belly.  Some are better than others but I never met a crepe that I couldn't eat.  Pictured here is a street crepe ready to be stuffed in a paper cone and eaten on the go.

The street layouts of Paris.  I love all the acute angled corners.  These scenes make the Paris of your dreams

one of the joys of moving to a new country is the world of new foods available at the supermarket.  It makes like worth living again.  Going grocery shopping isn't a mundane chore anymore, its a welcomed adventure and cultural learning experience.  France definitely has many things you can't get in the US and has many things that after a year I still don't know what they are. 

The cafe scene in Paris is other worldly.  It's such a beautiful thing.  Outdoor seating at all cafes, you watch people, it's just what they do in France.  You slow down, you relax, enjoy life, enjoy an espresso or cafe créme or wine, or dessert, or snack or whatever you want.  If you're lucky they'll have wifi.  If you're not you will have to just sit there unplugged and actually enjoy a moment for once without instagramming it.  If you're lucky you're a freelancer and can work from cafes sometimes.  2 euros can buy you an afternoon of bliss.  This is one of the things I miss most now that i'm back in NY.  I think it's zoning laws that prevents this cafe scene from being a reality in New York.

My baby, an 80s Pugeot in near mint condition (not anymore) I feel naked walking around without this bike

French people.  They get a bad rap.  In my experience they have been pretty friendly.  Socialism at work?  you see a large number of French men playing petanque in the day time, varying in age.

Got to know my cousins.  This has never happened to me or bob because we never really hung out with cousins.

cleaning, scraping, sanding, plastering, painting the basement level where I would live for a year. 

Vietnamese food is good in Paris, probably because it used to be a French colony.

the romantic picturesque streets of Paris.  No explanation needed

decadent and rich French sweets like this hot chocolate that was so super thick and rich that you could only drink a double sized shot glass of it before you hit the floor in chocolaty creamy ecstasy.

Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse (children's book expo).  I had a few meetings with some art directors

At least in Paris the fashion is awesome.  Who had this department store thing first the French or the Japanese because they are both very similar unlike department stores in America.  I'm gonna guess the French were first.  Pictured here is Le Bon Marche, which is better than the other big dept stores in my opinion.  Also awesome are the winter and summer sales, the 2 times a year sales are legal in France.  You can score big.  People take care of themselves, and I may be biased as straight dude but the women especially take care of themselves.  As I always say, putting things in a nicer wrapper really does work, and in Paris it shows because more people look awesome. 

French wine.  I drank a lot of it.  It's in its own universe.  In the summer I drank a ton of Rosé, Chablis, Loire valley wines and Sancerre.  In the winter it was Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux St. Emillion and tons and tons i've never heard of.  And the prices, things start getting decent at 5 euros a bottle.  It makes me cry now when i see wine prices in new york.  You will never conquer the world of French wine unless you become a sommelier.  Don't cry, it's a beautiful thing, you can look forward to an adventure in a glass for the rest of your life.

French class at Aliance Française.  The best language school I've been too as far as learning goes and i've been to language school for Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and French.  This was one of my teachers, Anne.  She was very bohemian, had parties in class, drinking, smoking.  Oh the French

at Robert et Louise in the Marais.  Old time France feelings.  Not Louis the sun king heads will roll old time feelings, that would suck.  But 1950s old times feelings.  This one night we here everyone old and young alike was singing Les amoureux des bancs publics by George Brassens

Canal Saint Martin, my favorite neighborhood in Paris.  I love the scene along the canal, everyone is chilled out and it seems like this neighborhood makes everyone friendlier.  I do love me some canals too.  great restos and cafes abound.  people sitting by the canal drinking and being merry.

Paris night life, it's not like new york.  You need to know where to go after 11 or midnight because most places close.   There are numerous cool places.  This place Le Comptoir General is super cool inside but it closes early.  This is when you need to know where the next spot is.  The place below is a good start.

tiny bars, friendly frenchies.  There are a lot and lots of nights and lots of chances for good French.  Actually not really, everyone speaks english.

Bordeaux and its vast grape fields and chateaux

seeing Pau, small town France felt like small town America in a sense.  Riding around, avoiding cops, bar hopping

Petanque is a game I discovered in Paris and took a shine to.  I sought out a set but they were all new and shiny so I found this vintage set but it was in the southwest of France and shipping was as much as the set.  I suggested a trip down there to pick it up in person and the seller liked my adventurous spirit so that's how I came to go to Bordeaux, Pau, and Biarritz.

the Atlantic Ocean at Biarritz.  It was raining and cold but still cool

making thanksgiving dinner in France is quite a task and quite expensive.  This turkey was 67 euros ($88).  There are stores here that sell American stuff at exorbitant rates.  My cousins were so young the last time they had thanksgiving dinner that they had no memory of it so I set out to change that (they've been there for 12 years).  It was pretty good last year.

Vin Chaud, aka mulled wine in the wintertime.

Christmas in Paris was American on Christmas day because we are American but there were things that I saw differently like these tree stands everyone uses that magically work and the tree never needs to be watered. 

and delicious Buche de Noel yule log cakes that we made this Christmas in New York and now has been deemed a new family tradition in our family.  Best of France part 2 coming up.