Best of Paris - Part 2

Best of Paris part 2. 

the rooftops of Paris look so cool.  The shingled ones, the tin ones, the slate ones.  They shingle anything and call it a roof.  Mansard roofs.  I guess this can just be a shout out to Parisian architecture too. 

the Grande Mosquée de Paris is pretty awesome looking inside

Not everything on here is the best of Paris, this is more like a Paris in conclusion list.  This one is for French bureaucracy.  looks like a french word?  They're pretty good at it.  The hoops I had to jump through to get this card.  Sure every country has red tape but it seems like the US is more efficient than countries like France and Japan.  Sounds hard to believe I know but American red tape isn't as thick as it is elsewhere.  I had it fairly easy because I got this newish kind of special visa.  My friends Lori and Ahmed told me their horror stories of getting their more normal documents and visas.  I had it super easy compared to them.

I have never seen curators in America walking around like this.  Check out this Pompidou center guy.  Paris and its infinite number of museums.  the Pompidou was my favorite.  Sure the Louvre is the largest in the world but modern art is what really tickles my cornichon.   

Parisian girls are hot and even a lot of the moms are too(just like Japan). They somehow stay thin, take care of themselves, and dress well (sometimes a little too well and it throws me off when they turn around and they aren't 20-30 yrs old but 50-60 yrs old!).  Hot isn't the right word.  They have an air about them and their movements and posture create this air that I can only describe as "French".  Even the trashiest girl in Paris still has more elegance than the trashiest girl in America.  Keep up the good work Paris, you're really on to something.

Snow days in Paris are pretty awesome, at least for a foreigner who's reality isn't trudging to work in this for the rest of the winters of the rest of your life.  The most fun I found was in the Montmartre neighborhood.

got super sick went to the hospital, it only cost like $15.  I wasn't even on the French health insurance scheme, that's just how much it costs.  I of course didn't file a $15 claim with my own insurance company.  Cheap healthcare even for non French people is pretty awesome. 

My favorite park in Paris, Parc des Buttes Chaumont in Belleville.  Paris has numerous awesome parks and people actually enjoying them. 

Marché des enfants rouges in the Marais is awesome.  The best Japanese food I had in Paris.  It has a bunch of other food places and just has a cool vibe.

Here is to random nights out.  This tiny place is run by a Japanese guy and is Spanish and Japanese themed.  Everyone inside was super friendly and it out of the way somewhere on the back side of Sacre Coeur.  after a night of nigh photography in the freezing cold this place appeared like an oasis someone invited us in.  If you put yourself out there, adventure will come.

love how they cut the trees square in a lot of parks and gardens.

why didn't I start this project in China when I first started out on my 5 year journey?  Imagine the awesome people I could have met. 

The one and only time I worked for a french client, Le Nouvel Observateur.  A full page and a spot illustration.  Still it was a good experience.

Cafe Le Progrès in north Marais is filled with cool people.  I ended up drawing Catharina on the right and thus broke the seal and I started talking to people I wanted to draw from then on.

more random nights out and warm french hospitality.  Getting invited to random house parties.  Thanks Iga and David

the art high school down the street from my house.  went to their open house and was blown away by the talent there. 

Cafe La Palette in St Germain.  off the normal tourist route so it's more neighborhoody.  This is of course what I always strive for, the non-touristy more local stuff. 

Chez Gladines in my neighborhood "Butte Aux Cailles".  so cheap, huge portions, and pretty decent taste and neighborhoody.  I, as a hungry guy, really liked this veal with ham, cheese, mushrooms and creamy sauce all on a blanket of potatoes.  French people love this neighborhood because it reminds them of the old times.

first time having tagine was in paris.  A new world of north african food has opened up to me.

more than a few letters made it into our mail box about some neighbor having a party and apologizing for the disturbance.  This doesn't happen very often in America.

our back yard.  so lucky to have this in Paris.  My french friends couldn't believe it.

is this my favorite spot in all of paris?  the western most corner of Ile de la Cite when the sun is setting and you have a few nice cheeses, a baguette, a bottle of chilled rosé, some fois gras, a nice cool summer breeze, a view of pont des arts and the weeping willow is fully leaved out?.  It just might be.

XL airlines, a new french budget airline that flies from new york to paris for cheap.  not so bad because all the flights leave at midnight so you just sleep and don't even notice that there is no entertainment system in the back of your seat.  You can get tix as cheap at $350

started my French cooking thing in Paris.  I now miss real french ingredients.  Creme fraiche is just not the same.

saw the 100th tour de France

black swans at Parc Montsouris by my house.  They really have their park game locked down in paris i'm telling you

baguettes.  I love them so much.  I would sleep with them if they would let me.  My mom reads this blog so I have to keep everything PG.  I have searched new york for something similar and it doesn't exist.  There is something about the bread in France that can only be had there.  Getting a fresh baguette in the afternoon out of the oven of your local bakery (which are numerous and you're spoiled for choice) while it's still hot is a moment of bliss. 

Rue de Charonne is a pretty awesome street to explore

Jardin du Luxembourg although plagued by tourists is also frequented by french people because it's awesome and beautiful.  picnics on this stretch of lawn are the stuff of dreams.  I would do 10k runs in this park.  oh man do I miss it.

Kaz the family golden doodle.  I spent the whole summer with him whilst the family was away.

The People's Drugstore is a beer store in Pigalle right downstairs from my old classmates apartment.  It has a huge variety of beer all for 3 euros a bottle and there are lots of friendly frenchies hanging out.  I don't see why you shouldn't end up here for at least 1 drink.

Food, more so than just saying the food is good, french food is in it's own category.  French Cuisine is a UNESCO world heritage protected thing.  It's that good.  The French have their own AOC region controlled classifications and laws to protect various French foods.  Examples: It's strict as to what you can call a restaurant and what is just a bistro.  Cheese can only be called Roquefort by law if it has been aged in the natural caves of Roquefort, which was the beginning of the AOC designation by French parliment in 1411.  It goes on and on.  That's why its so good because they give that much of a sh!t about their food.

So in conclusion Paris has it going on.  No you don't need to be a chick to love it.  You need to be able to enjoy life a little.  I think my age made Paris better for me than if I had gone when I was younger because much of the food and wine would have been wasted on me as a young party animal barbarian.  Yes, much of Paris would have been wasted on me.  I guess this makes Paris a finer things in life city instead of an in your face city like New York.  French people are friendly if you are.  Smiles and greetings really do go a long way.  Their food and drink are legendary and so is their culture.  What are you waiting for.  As for me after 5 years on the road, Paris was a fitting final year of enjoying the finer things in life, and now I am pulling in my net and will enjoy the memories of all the experiences I had in Paris and the other countries for the rest of my life, and since I have a bad memory, I have this blog to help me.  You reader, have this blog too.  I hope it has served as an inspiration to someone.  It's not done yet either.  It will just be based in New York for a while.  The misadventures may be fewer in frequency but if you stick with me I still a few left in me.

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.