Author: FP

Hiking the Thames Path: Day 2

I am hiking the Thames Path, a path that follows the Thames for 180 miles, from the Thames Barrier in London to its source, near Cirencester.  Day Two: Vauxhall Tube to Hammersmith Bridge So: day two! The start was not a particularly inspirational one: In addition to smashing the screen of my phone into a million small pieces (to record the Pulitzer-worthy sight of a cyclist wearing a yellow vest), I also destroyed my earphones. After nearly being sold a pair of fake Apple earphones, I turned around and took the Tube into central London to go to the Apple store. Really, if you are at the Apple store at 9:50 a.m. on a Monday morning, you have made a serious error/dropped something within the previous 12 hours. And then I couldn’t avoid stopping at the Waterstone’s. And getting lunch (to pack, at least) at Eat. In short: No walking was done (in the intended direction, at least) until 11 a.m. (So much for that 7 a.m. start.) The good news was that once I …

The Five Most Beautiful Parks in the Marais

Paris’s Marais neighborhood doesn’t have an expansive park like the Jardin des Plantes or the bois that edge the city’s western and eastern edges — instead, it has gorgeous pocket parks, ranging from a fraction of an acre to several city blocks. See below for my five top picks, with a number of lunch suggestions — this list is a biased list of personal favorites, and does not include iconic spots like the Place des Vosges — simply because I prefer these. Vive la différence!  1. Square Léopold-Achille Bigger than the Square Georges Cain around the corner, Léopold-Achille was once part of the expansive royal park that stretched all the way to the Place des Vosges. The statues were rescued from the former City Hall, which burned to the ground during the Paris Commune. This park is especially nice in the spring, when the flowering trees are in bloom. 2. Square Georges Cain There’s a beautiful ornamental garden in this pocket park, organized around a 17th-century statue at its center. This park is equally well …

Hiking the Thames Path: Day One

I am hiking the Thames Path, a path that follows the Thames for 180 miles, from the Thames Barrier in London to its source, near Cirencester.  Day One: Paris to Vauxhall I do not remember the last time I was so excited to do something I couldn’t sleep the night before — which is difficult, because it means you are excited to do something having slept the hours of 2 to 5 the previous night, and you make questionable decisions like not bringing your sunglasses. Also, you are very tired, in that wiry, jittery way. But who cares: I am hiking as much as I can of the Thames Path before I need to return to France in five days: Sunday to Friday. I have not been to England for three years, though I used to spend enough time in London to require a long-stay visitor’s visa. (It is a less permissive visa than the long-stay visitor’s visa I have in France. I am forever a visitor, but I stay for long times.) I have …

Marine Vacth: French Style Icon Encyclopedia

It’s August in Paris, which is my favorite time of the year — because the weather is perfect and no one is there. So either you’re on vacation and it’s awesome or you’re in the city and it’s empty and wonderful. Fact: My last trip to the airport took 26 minutes and even my Uber driver was like, “Fuck this place I’m outta here Barcelone a demain!!!!!”  My choice this year, as the Uber-to-the-airport suggests, was not to be in the city. Because I am endeavoring to not forget all of the French language (as usual) I’ve been making a point of watching French movies on Netflix. Tonight: Young and Beautiful (a.k.a. Jeune et jolie). Marine Vacth is the star and she is very good, as a 17-year-old student who embarks upon a career in prostitution. TBH I’m not usually seduced, as it were, by 23-year-old (as she was when filming) former models-turned-actresses, but she is great, and there are important lessons to uncover here in her off-duty/red-carpet style — specifically her hair and makeup, which is basically …

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid: ATW in Books

I am reading a book from every country in the world. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is my book for Pakistan. The last book I read was Norway: The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas.  THE BOOK: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid IN SHORT: This is the story of one man’s rise from poverty to wealth — and then, possibly, to contentment and companionship. THE BEST BIT: It’s impossible to talk about this book without spoiling everything, so — SPOILERS. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is the story of an unnamed “you” who travels “from my-shit-just-sits-there-until-it-rains poverty to which-of-my-toilets-shall-I-use affluence.” It is also the story, told in parallel, of the near-biological evolution of the city (and country) where he lives, and finally, his love for “the pretty girl,” a woman whose story is told in a manner more complex than her moniker might suggest. I read this book in 32 hours (not straight), which I found amazing considering that my last ATW book — Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday — took about …

kaysersberg

Weekend Trip: Kaysersberg

Weekend destination: Kaysersberg, Alsace Why: It’s the prettiest village in France! Also, hiking. Total travel time, door to door: Going out: 3:45 (Uber-direct TGV-cab). Coming back: 5 hours (bus-direct TGV-metro) Time spent: Three nights Glad I went? Yeah — it was neat to get a look at a part of France so different from Paris and the Normandy/Brittany corridor I know best Would I go back? Maybe, at Christmas 1. Kaysersberg itself Kaysersberg was just named France’s prettiest villages, a title which I personally feel is as meaningful as World’s Most Adorable Puppy or The Planet We Like Best. Still: It is exceptionally pretty, and after endless miles of limestone in Paris, all the colorful timber-frame houses were hallucinogenic. (Normandy, say, has plenty of timber-frames, but they’re nearly always white.) It is, for sure, a tourist town: I was worried about finding an ATM, only to find that there’s one on every other block, no doubt to facilitate the purchase of stuffed storks or Alsace-themed soup rests. 2. A hike led by a magical tree I don’t …

This Week’s Free Map: Montmartre

This week’s free map is Montmartre! The most romantic neighborhood in Paris, especially if your romance is with hills. To download the map, shown below, just click here. Save it, print it out and frame it — it’s distressingly indistinguishable from a screenprint. The better quality the printer, the better quality the print, though even a super-cheap printer (like mine) will do a half-decent job. Each map is only available for free for a week, so download away.

in bloom movie

In Bloom, Georgia: Around the World in Movies

In Bloom was not the movie I intended to see: That would have been Happy Families, the second film by the team of “Nina and Simon,” or Georgian writer/director Nana Ekvtimishvili and her German partner, Simon Gross. Happy Families is playing in Paris, in Georgian, with French subtitles. And so, it seemed, that In Bloom might be the better place to begin. It is, in fact, quite a beginning, to Ekvtimishvili’s career as a chronicler of life in Georgia, a country many of us know best as the one with the same name as the American state. In Bloom is set in 1992, when the country was only newly released from its time under Soviet rule; judging from the state of things in Tbilisi, it does not seem to have been a propitious relationship — even two decades later, when this film was shot. Broken, brutal Tbilisi is the home for the film’s two central character: beautiful Natia and her serious best friend, Eka. (Natia looks like the most beautiful possible Kardashian sister; Eka, like the smartest.) War rages in the north. There is violence at home and …

val du marne roseraie

Paris Field Trip: Roseraie du Val-de-Marne

Destination: Roseraie du Val-de-Marne What’s happening: This is an unbelievably beautiful rose garden within easy reach of central Paris. How I got there: The stupid way. Don’t go this way. Instead of entering the garden into my phone like an adult, I instead headed for the town where it’s located: L’Haÿ-les-Roses. I took the RER B to Parc de Sceaux (well worth its own field trip). From Parc de Sceaux, I had a 20-minute walk — to the center of town. From there, realizing my error, I had another 20-minute walk to the garden itself. On the way back, I went the smart way: Bus 172 to Bourg-le-Reine RER B. That, unlike the original trip, was a snap — about 40 minutes door [of bus] to door [of my apartment]. Entry fee: €3.10 Verdict: This place is awesome. The Roseraie du Val-de-Marne is a beyond-beautiful rose garden in a park with quite a lovely view north, toward Paris. (You can see the top of the Eiffel Tower, if you look.) That the garden exists at all is thanks to Jules Gravereaux, who retired at …

This Week’s Free Map: Lower Manhattan

  This week’s free map is Lower Manhattan! It is best enjoyed with this tour of Alexander Hamilton’s favorite bars. Well, one bar: Fraunces Tavern. To download the map, shown below, just click here. Save it, print it out and frame it — it’s distressingly indistinguishable from a screenprint. The better quality the printer, the better quality the print, though even a super-cheap printer (like mine) will do a half-decent job. Each map is only available for free for a week, so download away.