Author: FP

Checked Bags

When I first came to France, I brought yoga tights and Wheat Thins plus as much Diet Coke as I could carry. When I flew home, I brought cheese, macarons, morning-bought bread, rose jam. That list has changed over the past three years. Now I bring toothpaste and deodorant. (Ours are better.) And when I come home, I bring prescription drugs and contact lenses: the things that help my body survive from one day to the next. * * * Something you might never guess about me is that I have always had health insurance. I have private American insurance and comprehensive expat insurance. I also live in a country where a doctor’s visit costs about $25. People are often surprised when I say this: There is something slightly witchy about a single woman over 30, and a disinterest in health insurance seems, I think, to be one of those things we might avoid, we witches, like compromise and caregiving. No, I say. I like having the bed to myself. I do not like millions of …

paris mineral expo

Minéral Expo Paris: Paris Field Trip

Destination: Minéral Expo Paris, which I have come to understand is the very popular exposition of minerals, gems, fossils and rocks, as well as a billion crystals shaped like (a) hearts, (b) angels and (c) magic wands. Spot: Espace Charenton, at Porte de Charenton, which might be the least attractive place I’ve ever been in Paris. Report: This was an amazing outing. As I have recently discussed, I am a fan of crystals. Generally, I am happy to go to Minerales do Brasil, which is a very weird, very amazing store in the 8th. This, of course, was a once-a-year opportunity to view thousands of crystals at once. I wondered if I would see enough new stuff to warrant the weird trip to this extremely weird place, and I am happy to say that I absolutely did. (See pictures below.) One of the things I liked most about this trip was that it was so extremely un-Parisian. It’s in a room that looks like it’s the basement conference space at the most middling hotel in the …

This Week’s Free Map: San Francisco

This week’s free map is … San Francisco! San Francisco (as you can see from the image above) is sort of a weird looking place. We actually did this one in two colors: Millennial Pink, above, and a blue one, below: All you need to do is click on the links above, save the PDF files, print, et voila, instant wall art! If you use nice paper (and a decent printer), it’s basically indistinguishable from a screenprint. Would you like a free map every week? Then just sign up for our newsletter! It’s FUN!    

Sézane: Paris Field Trip

Much is made of “French girl” allure. Maybe the reason why it’s so easy to conjure up that term is because — at least in Paris — it’s a real thing. “American girl” — what would that be? We are multitudes, we are that Coachella girl in the fringed poncho in Mitski’s video, we are Mitski in the raspberry pantsuit, we are Mitski in the gold mini-dress, we are myriad and various. Parisian girl style — not so much? I can’t describe it better than a French person, so here’s the situation, straight from a Parisian Instagram star: In France, we have style but the problem is that this style could be so boring. This is the same for every woman: In the upper class in Paris, you have a slim jean, you have ballerinas [flats], you have a simple tee shirt, you have a gray coat, and then your hair is with no artifacts [accessories]. This is a typical French woman. Honestly, if you find this subject remotely interesting (and I find it fascinating), …

minerales do brasil

Minerales do Brasil: Paris Field Trip

Minerales do Brasil may be my favorite store in Paris. There aren’t a lot of perks freelancing, and it’s equally hard to come by a finish line. When you finish a big project — congrats! Now you get to go look for more work! YAY! To deal with this, I started doing this thing where I would set myself a certain number of tasks, and then based on the difficulty of that task, I would reward myself WITH A SPARKLY ROCK when I finished. My collection, all purchased at Minerales do Brasil, currently looks like this: There’s a rock for when I finished a chapter of my book, a rock for when I finished a short story I was working on. You get the idea. This is a weird, random store, at the back of the second courtyard in a building in the 8th (it’s a 5/10 minute walk from the Miromesnil metro stop). I love it because — well, obviously, I love rocks (and minerals and crystals and the rest). But also because it’s …

This Week’s Free Map: A Wine Country Sampler

This week’s free maps are actually three free maps: Sonoma, Napa, and Santa Rosa, three of the cities in Wine Country. I went to art school in S.F. a few years after 9/11 but close enough to remember what it felt like when it seemed like the place where you lived might one day not be there. Maybe it’s ironic that the Bay Area felt to me so permanent and substantial (see: earthquakes). What I do know is that when I was there, I felt safe. And also that it was very possibly the most beautiful place ever. If you like these three maps, all you need to do is download them (here’s Napa, Santa Rosa, and Sonoma) and print them on nice paper, and they’re frame-worthy, if I do say so. (If you’re coming here without having subscribed, you can still do so! A free map every week! Plus some cool other things going on in the world: And then. I usually sell these for $5 (the downloads), which gives these a value, all told, of …

A Word About Parisian Salads

So the thing I have noticed about salads in France is that they are not so much salads as ham with a side of lettuce. I clearly remember my first salad in Paris, which was at a cafe called Le Sully near the Ile St Louis. It had potatoes and goat cheese on toast, plus a lot of ham. It was not this, but it looked a lot like it. WTF is that? For the record: I like potatoes, goat cheese, and toast. In fact, I strongly prefer them to vegetables. But this is the point: I eat salad to balance out the times when I eat potatoes, goat cheese, and toast. If the salad is actually potatoes, goat cheese, and toast … that is not a very good system. This is all to say that today I went to Charonne to explore — Sunday afternoons being made for exploring, of course, since nothing else is open. My destination: Cafe Moca.

This Week’s Free Map: Stephen King’s Derry (A.K.A. Bangor, Maine)

This week’s free map! It is of lovely Bangor, Maine — known as the inspiration of Stephen King’s Derry, the setting of many of his most popular books, including It. I don’t know about you, but I watched the entirety of that movie from behind my hands, because I actually thought it was super scary. Maybe you’re thinking: Wait. That’s not the scariest town in America. I was going to do Salem, Massachusetts. Witches! Very seasonally appropriate! But — TBH — I know it was like 400 years ago but I just couldn’t get into the idea that women getting hanged was suitable fodder for a Halloween marketing promotion. You know? We should, or I should, not make light of such injustices, even those that are a long time ago, now. I swear to goodness that this map looks terrific if you print it out. I did that, above, on my little Pixma, and it came out great. Download it here!

Our October Giveaway

This lovely mottled blue enamelware milk pail is our giveaway for October! It is no longer available for sale (though you’re welcome to have a look at our shop). The only way to get this one at home, though, is to sign up for our newsletter. Honestly: Our newsletter is super fun. It is our pride and joy, and seriously, if you subscribe, you will make someone (c’est moi) extremely happy. Just drop your email address right here: If you’re already a subscriber, simply forward one of our newsletters to a friend — the magic of Mailchimp means we’ll see who was kind enough to do so. Honestly you could just forward it to yourself and we probably wouldn’t even know. (Though: Maybe don’t do that!) We’ll announce the winner in a November newsletter! And don’t forget — win or lose, every subscriber gets access to a new, printable map every week, that looks more or less like this one, of Bangor, Maine — perhaps better known as the real-life inspiration for Derry in Stephen …

some girls some hats and hitler

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler by Trudi Kanter: Around the World in Books

I am trying to read a book from every country in the world. The last book I read was Pakistan: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid. THE BOOK: Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler, by Trudi Kanter IN SHORT: This is the ridiculously titled, profoundly moving memoir, originally published in the 1980s, of a singularly wily Viennese hat designer whose relentless invention saved her family from the Holocaust.