All posts tagged: big

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 …

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 …

how to move to france

It’s Easier Than Ever To Move To France. Here’s Why.

Here’s why it’s easier than ever to move to France. And this is not a fake reason like, “Because you’ve never been less scared in your whole life!” or “Because after a lifetime of saying Oui mais non! the only answer must be Non mais ouiiiii!” There are a million ways to live full- or part-time in France — this is just mine; if you’re a student, spouse, fiancé, entrepreneur, artist, whatever, there’s a different path and an entirely different set of paperwork to assemble. And this does not pertain to work visas. Work visas? I have literally no idea. This pertains specifically to a long-stay visitor’s visa: a visa de long séjour — visiteur. A long-stay visitor’s visa is a very good visa for a writer to have. Stay as long as you like: The three-months-in-three-months-out Schengen rule does not apply to you. Have a nice time, drink wine. Renew it in a year. If you don’t like renewing it in a year, consider the skills and talents visa (la carte compétences et talents), if you are skillful and talented. Most …

Bienvenue à New York

A week after the Bataclan massacre, I flew home to New York for Thanksgiving on an OpenSkies flight. Each of those details matters: That it was only a week. That it was the day before Thanksgiving. That I was flying to New York — which, as a New Yorker, I know to be the best city in the world, and thus, the most attractive possible target to those who would injure America, regardless of our own distinct politics, regardless of the fact that we are the best example of myriad communities living in fractious harmony, drooling on each other as we sleep on the Q train. Also, that I was flying on OpenSkies. This is a strange, little airline, a subsidiary of British Airways that flies only between Paris and New York. Half its cabin is business or first class; the few remaining seats are given to us proletariats in economy. Flight attendants offer us iPads. We are the 99% in the back, but there are so few of us, and the iPads are so soothing. As …

Why You Actually Should Move to Paris

Short answer: Paris is as good as you think it is. Second short answer: Because there is nowhere better to learn to understand beauty. The long answer is longer. When I first came to Paris, I had a writing job that was a dream in that it paid a living wage and that it paid that wage on time. I could also live wherever I liked, as long as I was online between 10 AM and 6 PM Eastern time. I planned to stay in Paris until I perfected my French (allotted time: eight weeks) and then head elsewhere. Six weeks later, we’d all been fired, I spoke approximately three additional words of French, and I was in love with my Airbnb host. By the time we broke up, a few months later, I was hooked — on Paris. In Paris, I found a poor laboratory for language learning (everyone speaks English, everyone is in a hurry) but a singular workspace for un moment de calme, if you know what I mean. A 10-to-6 work schedule in New …

Today I Was Accused of Shoplifting and It Was Kind of Awesome

Un dimanche soir, Maubert Isabeau se disposait à se coucher, lorsqu’il entendit un coup violent dans la devanture grillée et vitrée de sa boutique. Il arriva à temps pour voir un bras passé à travers un trou fait d’un coup de poing. Le bras saisit un pain et l’emporta. … C’était Jean Valjean. First, as I believe it is customary, I begin my story about being accused of shoplifting by saying I am no Jean Valjean, stealing bread for my family — which is a terrible situation to be in, and something to think about as I share a city with thousands of migrants and refugees who cannot enter a supermarket as I can: with the knowledge that as long as I avoid the aisle with the very expensive whiskey, I can pay for what I see. I thought about that quite a bit after I was accused of shoplifting: how my experience, which, while amazing in a very sideways sort of way, was made possible — and ridiculous, rather than threatening — because of …

Protests Here, and At Home

My first real apartment in Paris was a one-bedroom sublet above boulevard Beaumarchais. This was exciting because I had never lived in a one-bedroom before, even if the kitchen was so small you had to walk through it sideways. Also, I stole my neighbor’s vacuum cleaner for three hours before putting it back. I feel bad about that. I didn’t know it at the time, but boulevard Beaumarchais is a central route for Parisian protests, connecting, as it does, place de la République and Bastille. Every other weekend, it seemed, someone was marching down the boulevard. My favorite were the farmers, whose demands I did not understand but who always brought ponies. The farmers and the ponies would march to or from République, municipal cleaners would magically descend upon the street to clean up after the ponies, and the traffic would resume. It was magical for two reasons. One: You don’t get to see a lot of ponies in the middle of a city, and that is exciting. Two: I had never experienced a culture …

francoise hardy eyeliner

Elements of Style: Françoise Hardy’s Eyeliner

Françoise Hardy is the sort of French polymath I’m not sure we have in America: She sings, she writes, she provides the soundtrack for pivotal moments in Moonrise Kingdom: Part of her genius is her management of her style: When I read Edith Wharton’s immortal wisdom (“Genius is of small use to a woman who does not know who to do her hair“) and I think of her. It’s a really interesting thing: Americans — well, American media, which is not the same thing  —is obsessed with the allure of the French women. I agree that it is a thing: They do, in my opinion, something that we (well, I) do not. I have tried to explain this to French women, and the ones I have spoken to, at least, get annoyed, and not that “Oh, I’m actually flattered” annoyed — it’s more of an, “Enough with your ridiculous stereotypes” thing. But there’s a reason books like “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are” work — there’s truth to it, and truths that I think are especially applicable, by contrast, to us. …

paris bataclan attacks

Kind of a Funny Story.

Let me jump directly to the point where we think we are about to die: I am sitting in the Café de l’Industrie with A., the cousin-once-removed I have never met before, when I turn to the windows and see people streaming by. “Oh,” I say. It’s the Rollerbladers, I think, because it is Paris, and it is Sunday night — this is important, that it is Sunday, and not Friday — and there always seem to be parades of Rollerbladers Rollerblading down the street on Sunday evening. “Oh,” I say, turning, even as I’m realizing that they are not Rollerblading but running — but from what? From something. I am turning toward A. but also, now, realizing that everyone in the café — which is packed, not a seat to be had — is up and then down and then on the floor. A., somehow, is under the bench, on which I am sitting — and how did that happen? Words cannot convey my surprise. OK! I think. This is the part where we all get on the floor! A. has wedged herself under …

Blue Is the Warmest Color, France: ATW in Movies

  As part of working on my book, I’ve been re-watching a few of my favorite movies about love: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Weekend (the U.K. one, not the French one), and Before Sunset, among them. The one I love most is Blue Is the Warmest Color. I am writing about it today because I realized I wanted to officially declare it my movie of France. I won’t summarize the plot beyond its most basic points: Two women fall in love. Complications ensue. I loved it when I first saw it, because I thought it was remarkably clear-eyed about a certain kind of love. I believe that with love, although we have a spectrum of choices, most relationships of some duration fall into one of two categories: relationships of convenience and true, crazy, harrowing love. This film, obviously, is about the latter. I personally don’t place much stock in the former, which I believe is mostly used as a shield against loneliness: I’d rather be with him than with no one. This position, I believe, …