Author: Diana

are veja sneakers comfortable - photo of v-12 mesh sneakers

Are Veja Sneakers Comfortable? No. (But Hold On.)

There’s an easy answer to the question: Are Veja sneakers comfortable? The answer is no. The answer is no! Sucks, but they’re not. However.  I love my Vejas — all my Vejas — and I continue to wear them. Let’s dig into this. First: What are Vejas? Despite its name, Veja is a French brand of high-end, athletic-inspired footwear. (Is it just me? Before a Veja store moved in down the block from my apartment, I thought it was a Spanish line.) Sustainability was built into the brand from the launch, in 2004, when co-founders Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion built out a production model in Brazil that made use of sustainably produced Amazonian rubber, organic cotton (farmed in the south of the country), and chrome-free leather, which supposedly means less waste in terms of water and energy. (According to them: “Coming from farms located in the south of Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), it undergoes an innovative tanning process where no chrome, heavy metals or dangerous acids are involved. By simplifying the tanning process, …

vintage makeup

The 15 Skincare Products My French Makeup Consultant Recommended To Me

One of my weird splurges this year was a makeup consult with a verifiable Parisian makeup artist. It was a strange experience — I don’t wear a lot of makeup, and I walked out of there wearing a lot more than I’m used to. I don’t know how much time I need to spend looking at my face, you know what I mean? But I loved her skincare recs, which definitely lean toward the vegan, the pricey, the Euro (especially Austrian!), and the exclusive. I think Gwyneth Paltrow might own everything on this list? It’s very Goop-y. She divided my suggested routine into three steps: makeup removal/cleansing, more cleansing, and then a soothing eau de rose. They’re all listed below. Wherever possible, I found US-based retailers for her suggestions — where I couldn’t, I included the French retailers. (This will be clear from whether the price is listed in dollars or euros.) Remember that though the prices are obviously correct, the French purchases will mean high shipping charges, so it might be worth considering another …

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Literally Everything You Need to Know About VAT Refunds in France

You think it’d be easy to get free money from the government — but not. Claiming VAT refunds in France can be confusing AF — but the good news is nearly everyone’s confused, which means that there’s a lot of let’s say “gentle instruction,” from retailers and customs officials accustomed to dealing with people who don’t understand what’s going on. There are a ton of restrictions and exclusions, and the amount returned will vary on a bunch of different factors (not least how you want your money refunded, with cash coming at a slightly disadvantageous rate) — but know that if you stick with it, you’ll save about 12% on many of your big purchases. And note that if you’re buying luxury French brands, the savings can really add up — for example, the same exact pieces from Louis Vuitton can be 30% cheaper in France than in the U.S. Get shopping! What is VAT? VAT is an acronym for value-added tax. One of the ways governments make money is by taxing goods. In the …

Is Louis Vuitton Cheaper In Paris?

Is Louis Vuitton Cheaper in Paris? is part 4 in an ongoing investigation. Please also see Is Chanel Cheaper in Paris?, Is Sézane Cheaper in Paris? and Is Diptyque Cheaper in Paris? If you’ve read our previous stories investigating whether famous French brands are cheaper in France — you’ve probably guessed that indeed, the answer to this question — Is Louis Vuitton cheaper in Paris? — is yes. Unlike Chanel, Louis Vuitton offers online shopping, which made comparing prices easy. Here we go! Is Louis Vuitton Cheaper in Paris: The Handbag Let’s start with the Neverfull. The Neverfull GM is a large tote bag in Damier Ebene canvas and natural cowhide trim — “it is ultra-roomy but never bulky.” (I bet it can get bulky.) In USD, it’s $2100. Let’s say you’re buying it in New York City, so we’ll add 8.875%, the current sales tax. Your total bill is now: $2286.19 So taking things across the pond: Your price is now 1550€. Using the current conversion rate,  that comes to $1,708.50. Maybe you’re paying in …

emily in paris recap season 1 episode 1 screenshot

Emily in Paris Recap: Season 1, Episode 1

If you like Emily in Paris, I guarantee you will love my newsletter about living there. Sign up here!  Welcome to our first Emily in Paris recap: Season 1, Episode 1. Oh là là. I remember how stressed I was when the show first debuted, in 2020. It was like watching your infinitely more glamorous and better dressed neighbor go on the same vacation as you — only their clothes were better, their hotel was nicer, the beaches that they went to had better sand and prettier views. It was your experience, only better, in every possible way. Mon dieu, I say. Mon dieu. Moving to Paris feels like a unique experience, but it is not. In fact, the silver lining is that it is infinitely variable, and depending on your experience, talent, ambition, and worldview, it is infinitely possible to make new, vital, and canonical work about it, like Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, and a million more. (Two of my favorites include dyed-in-the-wool Midwesterners: Iowa painter Grant Wood, most famous for “American …

Flodesk Review: My Take as a Flodesk User

My Flodesk review is I love it: It makes building beautiful newsletters easy. Here’s more. Hello! I’m the author of the Faraway Places newsletter, and I urge you to subscribe, if you like reading newsletters about France and travel. Regardless, whatever your interests are, I am writing this to recommend Flodesk. Use my affiliate code and sign up here. I’ve used basically every newsletter platform out there: Mailchimp, Tinyletter, ConvertKit, custom-designed systems for large editorial outlets. I haven’t used Substack, but I have an argument against it, which I’ll get to, below. Here’s a primer on what for me were the most important things to know. What is Flodesk? Flodesk is a platform for sending email newsletters to your email list. It’s made to be easy to use. I think of it as an email sender for people who are artists, writers, florists, designers, whatever — basically, everyone but marketers. Marketers, I’m sure, would be happier with more “robust” programs like ConvertKit, Mailchimp, AWeber, etc, offering more intense segmentation, retargeting, and stuff like that — but if …

plane flying above earth with glow of sunset on engines

15 Things a Travel Writer Takes on Every Flight

I think a lot about how to pack a carry-on — and indeed, how to dress — on the plane: Planning well can be the difference between a mini-retreat, with entertainment and snacks, and a freezing-cold brain prison. Below, you’ll find everything I bring to keep it more in the former vibe than the latter. I will add here that of course you want all your essentials in your carry-on, rather than any checked bags: medication, wallet, etc. etc. One thing I often pack by accident into my checked bag is charging equipment: cords and battery packs and wall chargers. Of everything here, the thing I forget most often is cables: a USB cord to charge my phone, a full laptop charger, and a cable to connect my headphones to the plane’s entertainment system. A quick note about budgeting, as several of the items below are expensive. As a freelance travel writer, my income varies hugely from year to year: It stabilizes when I take a staff job, and then occasionally craters when I’m freelancing, including some …

a view of the countryside including a pond and trees

An Interview With Annabel Simms, Author of “An Hour From Paris”

I’ve been living with Annabel Simms’ books nearly as long as I’ve been living in Paris. She’s the author of several guides to exploring the city from is outer limits and beyond, into the glorious French countryside, rife with forgotten castles, unexpected vistas, appealingly decrepit train stations, and much more. I’ve had a parasocial relationship with Annabel since I first bought An Hour from Paris, which includes detailed itineraries for 20 day trips outside the city (but easily accessible via a dense and generally well-run public transportation network.) Another book of hers, Half an Hour From Paris, earned a new edition in July and covers destinations including the Parc Saint-Cloud, Malmaison, and the Chateau de Vincennes. For all these reasons, I was incredibly excited to chat with Annabel over Zoom about her life in Paris — she in her 25 meter square apartment in Paris, me in Iowa City. Anyone dreaming about coming to Paris to start a new life should keep reading to see how she decided to, and succeeded, forge a new life in France, following …

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The 17 Best French Food Gifts: Fancy Cookies, Special Butters and More

It’s that time again! Time to buy presents: presents that reflect their loves (France?) and their interests (food?). If you’re shopping for someone who falls under those categories, we’ve got 17 excellent ideas below for your best French food gifts— all Made in France unless otherwise noted. Bon appétit! 1. The Mercer 12-Macaron Gift Set Who doesn’t love a macaron, the world’s most expensive mid-tier cookie? The iconic brand in France is Ladurée, with their famous pea-green bags and boxes. They deliver in the U.S., though macarons are not cheap. Delicious. Not cheap. They have all levels of gift boxes and promotions — this is a 12-macaron set with illustrations on the box of the Mercer Hotel in SoHo (New York, FTR). BUY IT HERE: Ladurée 2. Bacanha Grenadine Syrup Bacanha is a 10-year-old French brand making organic syrups — mostly for cocktails, but also, according to their website, for lattes(?? very specific?) and water(???). Love that packaging! They’re available at a bunch of U.S. retailers, but here’s a tight edit — as a person …

best fall Diptyque candles - picture of the citrouille candle

So What Are the Best Fall Diptyque Candles? (Hint: It’s the Diptyque Pumpkin Candle)

Is there anything nicer than lighting a lovely, powerfully scented candle as the leaves begin to fall and it gets darker earlier? There isn’t. Especially when that candle — my vote for the top spot on the list of the best fall Diptyque candles — is the Diptyque Pumpkin candle (a.k.a. Citrouille). As much as this is a Diptyque pumpkin candle review, it’s first and foremost a round-up of the five best fall Diptyque candles. When I began writing it, I was sure — sure! 100%! — it would be Feu de Bois. There’s no candle, Diptyque or otherwise, I love more than Feu de Bois (except, maybe, Sapin de Nuit, which was a limited-edition holiday candle and is sort of Feu de Bois adjacent — it’s like a woodfire, but of a pine tree). But I had never tried Citrouille, the Diptyque pumpkin candle, and I knew I’d have to before I wrote this. So I did — and let me tell you, I hated it when I first burned it. It’s so strong. Now: Don’t get …