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A Year of Blooms in Paris

Paris changes radically depending on its weather, and what’s blooming — or not. Here, you’ll find a quasi-chronological look at the city over the span of seven years, for an anecdotal take on when you’ll see cherry blossoms, fall color, and brilliant flowers at the Jardin des Plantes (noted here as the JDP). While the dates are chronological, the years are all messed up, so you might see cherry trees blooming in late March or mid-April — it just depends on the year.

Something I really noticed is that with sunshine, fall is beautiful here — without it, wow. No one does dreary like northern Europe!

If cherry trees are your thing, I have created a 5.5-kilometer, roughly hour-long walking tour through the very center of Paris (at the bottom of the page), with lots of opportunities for seeing them in bloom.  And if you like roses, there’s nowhere better than the Roseraie du Val-de-Marne, just outside Paris in L’Haÿ-les-Roses, and absolutely spectacular when they’re in bloom.

Scroll down, or you can jump to the month in question right here:

January February March April
May June July August
September October November

January

first mimosa in paris

February

bois de boulogne

March

cherry trees

hyacinths in paris

April

white cherry blossoms

cherry blossoms in the 5th

parmain trees

 

wisteria

cherries square du temple

May

full spring

June

Roseraie du Val-de-Marne

Roseraie du Val-de-Marne

late springs

jardin luxembourg

July

calendula

marguerite daisies

August

zinnias

neo dahlias

fall color

September

dark leafed dahlias

October

october trees

fall flowers

october flowers

fall seine

fall seine

orchid lace dahlias

mid fall

chateau de maisons

seine trees

November

fall color

november colors

late fall

mums at mairie du 12eme

fall dreariness

gare de l'est park

olympics tax

So What’s the Story With the “Olympics Tax” in Paris — AKA the Hotel Tax?

Paris loves taxes. Loves them! They (literally) make the trains run on time, and fund the libraries, and support that wild and expansive social safety net we Americans keep hearing about. Now, with the Olympics coming up, those taxes are going up — at least one of them will definitely impact your credit card statement if you’ll be staying in Paris this year. The hotel tax — known in some quarters as tourist taxes, the taxe de séjour, and also as the Olympics tax — is going up.

Visitors to Paris have already been surprised to see these higher-than-usual taxes on their bills — but the Olympics tax does not, of course, wait for the Olympics. Rather, they came into effect on January 1, 2024. In 2023, the nightly hotel tax started at €1 for one-star hotels, holiday villages, guest rooms and hostels, rising to €5 for “palace”-level establishments, like Le Bristol and the Four Seasons George V.

Now, the cheapest tier is €2.60, while the palace level is €14.95 — and those are all calculated per night, not per stay. If you’re bunking at the Four Seasons, an extra €100 on the bill at the end of the week might not matter much, when you’re paying €1200 a night for the room — but for all of us staying in two-star hotels, an extra €3.25 per night could register as an unpleasant little surprise. [See here for a complete breakdown of all the price increases, at each level of accommodation.]

Of course, this is totally separate from the (much) higher hotel room rates you’ll see from late July through mid-August, when the XXXIII Olympic Summer Games kick off in Paris. (Specifically, from July 26 – August 11.) Quite average one-bedroom Airbnbs are now fetching $500 per night, while five-star hotels like the Barrière Group’s Fouquet’s Paris is nothing short of $6,000 per night — if they have availability for your dates. (Maybe that extra €14.95 supplement per night isn’t the worst thing about staying in Paris this summer.) And we’ll note it’s part of a larger trend that is not at all specific to France, with perennially oversubscribed destinations like Amsterdam, Iceland and Venice in varying stages of considering-to-implementing similarly sizable tourist taxes — and they’re not even hosting the Olympics.

aruba eagle beach view

Ask a Traveler: A Safe, Low-Key Spring Break

In this week’s Ask a Traveler, we have a letter-writer in need of a low-key spring break with sandy beaches, a direct flight from New York, and, ideally, a Hilton points-friendly hotel. Our suggestion involves burrowing owls, a 19th-century gold mine, world-class windsurfing, and more. If you have a travel dilemma, please send it to me! The more parameters of travel desire, the better.

Hello! 

I’m looking for a spring break destination for me and my boyfriend, both tired and cold New Yorkers just hoping to spend a few days getting sunburned on a beach. I’m hoping for a warm-weather destination where you can stay somewhere nice without it being crazy expensive — I’m not interested in places like St. Barts or Anguilla. We’d also like to avoid all-inclusive resorts where the resort is really beautiful but you’ll never leave the resort and if you do it can be sort of stressy. We definitely want something beachfront, even if it means paying a little more. We don’t mind a big, corporate hotel for this trip — actually, extra credit if you can find something where I can use my Hilton Honors points. I’d like to stay somewhere we feel safe away from the hotel. 

M. Read More

12 Big Problems With Your Paris Airbnb

 

1. Am I Going to Be Burgled?
Violent crime is rare within Paris’s city limits, at least compared to similarly sized American cities, but property crime is not. (My building, with nine apartments and in a very nice part of town, has had nearly a half-dozen break-ins in the past 18 months.) This problem is most apparent in late summer, when Parisians go on vacation and thieves…do not. Keep valuables well out of sight and always close and lock your windows when you leave — and don’t assume (as I did) that a top-floor apartment means you’re out of danger, since many break-ins are launched from the roof.

2. What Time Do Renovations Start?
Many Parisian apartment buildings are hundreds of years old, which means that renovations in neighboring apartments are a fact of life. Obviously, this being France, there are strict rules about when construction can start and stop to maintain general public health — in my building, drilling started at precisely every morning at 8:15 a.m. for three months. If you’re staying for a while, it might be worth asking the owner if renovations are forecast for the time you’ll be there.

3. How Much Does a Lost Key Cost?
Paris locksmiths who advertise on the flyers distributed in vestibules and entryways are sometimes fronted by cheats and scammers, who’ll accompany you to an ATM and empty it out, charging €3000 to let you into your apartment. This is why you’ll see Parisians sleeping in front of their apartment doors sometimes, waiting until morning (or a Monday) to call the local locksmith. Homeowners’ policies can greatly reduce this fee, and some providers of rental insurance have deals with local locksmiths for service.

4. How Small Is This Apartment?
Even more than in the U.S., French apartments are listed according to their square meterage — it’s the primary unit of measure, as much as whether the apartment is a studio or one-bedroom, etc. If the Airbnb listing doesn’t mention it, the lister should be able to provide the figure. Google can handle the calculation between square meters and square feet — note that you’ll often see this noted as something like “50m2” — 50 mètres carrés, or 50 square meters, or 538 square feet. Parisian apartments have a reputation for their small size, though I think they’re not too different from those in New York (to name another city with a reputation for small apartments).

5. Why Are The Toilet And Shower In Separate Rooms?
One is for dirty things! The other is for clean things! That about sums it up! If you see a listing with a “WC séparé,” that means that the toilet is in a room separate from the shower. Usually there’s a sink in a WC séparé, but not always. This is also a feature of older buildings.

6. Why Is Everyone Screaming Outside At 2 A.M.?
It’s summer, and since few people have air conditioners, everyone’s sleeping with the windows open — which means street noise. This effect is amplified in the older parts of the city, where the streets are narrower, so the sound ricochets between the walls, and in older buildings, which are often built around a courtyard — obviously, if your apartment faces the street, you’ll catch more noise than you would if it was on the back. Personally, I like it — the convivialité! — but if you don’t, I’d invest in ear plugs, or seek out an apartment that doesn’t look out on the street.

7. Is This Even Legal?
Probably?? But less likely so than previously? These days, Airbnb hosts are limited to renting out their primary residences 120 days per year — more than that, and they’re subject to fines. Note this only applies to “Entire Apartments” — if they’re just renting out a room, they can do it all year long.

8. What Am I Supposed To Cook On A Hot Plate?
Some Parisian kitchens are grand and full of gadgets, but most are not.

princess of montpensier

How Do French People Eat Olives? Aude de Vathaire Has the Answers

Many of the finer points of French culture elude me, even after living there for nearly a decade — so for the nuances of etiquette, manners, and elegance, I reached out to life coach and therapist (and French more expert) Aude de Vathaire, who’s amassed a sizable online following for her pointed, refined counsel. She was kind enough to respond to a selection of my queries — and I recommend following her for more insight and advice on Instagram and YouTube. For a truly deep dive, note that she also offers a masterclass on summoning an elegant spirit, as well.

The French culture is renowned for its elegance worldwide. Do you think this reputation is deserved, or is it simply mystique?
Elegance is part of our essence as a human being, so it is present in each one of us on Earth, ready to be expressed more thoroughly in our personal lives. In all cultures, there is a notion of elegance that is developed — this is what makes the world so full of diversity, creativity and colors.

Elegance isn’t only about wearing pretty outfits, it is all about EMBODIMENT of a true heart-centered elegance in the way you act, speak, and dress. There is a profound mindset to this. Each human being has this deep inner desire of wanting to be considered, loved, seen, heard, recognized…and the core of the French principles around manners, chivalry, etiquette is an ode to honoring, respecting, and celebrating Life that flows in each one of us. This comes from centuries ago, in France, from the Middle Ages, probably even before.

Of course, there is the reality and the theory, but at the root of the elegance of French manners, there was this mindset influenced by Christianity. The knights and the landlords were there to LOVE and to SERVE. They were to love and serve God, their landlord, the lady, the women, the poor, the sick, the widow, the orphans, their country, the ones in need… I know this is very controversial these days, but it is important to understand the mindset and principles behind elegance even if this is only the theory (just for the sake of understanding, let us put aside the trauma and difficulties and let’s focus on the theory), because it gives the general view of the foundations.

Centuries ago, art was a means to honor God, the king and queen, and it developed in all areas: architecture, fabrics, cutlery, furniture… The most important art pieces in the world are connected to the honoring of a person, a god, or place. So what we call today elegance, I think is the continuity of honoring people. And in France, this aspect has been very highly developed. French elegance, which has had a worldwide reputation in the past, stems probably in part from this history. It isn’t something that is conscious, I think, but the consequence of centuries of artistic background in sync with this mindset of honoring life.

Let’s not look at manners like a series of rules, but certain principles on which everything is built upon. If the focus is on serving, respecting, honoring, the human being in front of you, than that changes everything in the way you will act, speak, and dress.

And so, from this point of view, there is space for creativity and celebration of the life which is given to us to live. Wanting to show up in an elegant way makes sense! This mindset probably contributes to the fact that certain people in France are mindful about style and outfits.

As a life coach, the basis of my work consists in helping people to act, speak, and dress to uplift their lifestyle and confidence in all life situations. I help people step into their own unique elegance, the one that is part of who they are deeply, heart and soul. And as a former artist and painter, I help them refine their eye and creativity while adapting to situations with grace and simplicity. The goal isn’t [for people] to be over-sophisticated but to adapt the best way to [experience life] while giving themselves permission to step into their unique personal elegance.

Are there behaviors that immediately reveal a visitor to France as an outsider? If you could convince every tourist to do one thing, in terms of their comportment – what would it be?
Be aware of others and environment to adapt the best way possible. This should be the way we visit any country.

Do you find that the French are becoming less elegant these days? I would suggest that elegance is not easy – that it requires much effort. Do you think it’s as important to them as it has been in the past?
I find that the French are becoming less elegant these days. Even in certain social classes where there was a habit of getting dressed elegantly, there isn’t much left. As a life coach and therapist, I feel that people are exhausted and overwhelmed in their everyday life. Consequently, there isn’t much energy and thinking space left to consider living with more elegance.

Elegance requires you to be more aware and intentional in the way you perceive life and respond to it. And when you are tired, preoccupied, and stressed, there isn’t much space available to reflect calmly and start being more mindful of uplifting your lifestyle. Our modern life doesn’t leave us much opportunity to do this personal development work.

Unless people are really willing to transform their lives and to uplift it considerably, staying in the known, even if it is uncomfortable, is the only immediate response most people have to life.
My job as a coach is to let people reclaim their personal power — to let them step out of victime mode, to let their true potential glow again, to let them put more beauty and joy in their lives for us all. The world needs to be uplifted. Adding more fear to the fear isn’t helping. But adding more beauty, inspiration, and joy uplifts, and it is beneficial for every one.

Above: A still from Princess Montpensier.

anatomy of a fall promo image

Anatomy of a Fall Is About Marriage — But Also About the Trials of Being an Expat

Everyone wants to talk about Anatomy of a Fall as a dissection of marriage: the impossibility of relationships, the petty one-upmanship that infects so many of our connections with the people we love most (or used to love most), illustrated most beautifully and plainly in the opening scene, when “German bisexual novelist Sandra Voyter” (per Wikipedia) sees her quasi-flirty afternoon with a journalist interrupted by her husband, Samuel, playing a cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” as loudly as possible. (That it is a steel-drum calypso cover only heightens the insult.)

But it is not only this low-simmering grievance, or Sandra’s bisexuality, so often pushed to the fore as a personal quality of extreme dubiousness. (Why wouldn’t a bisexual woman kill her husband??? duh????), that functions as a presentation of guilt. It is her Germanness — more specifically, her non-Frenchness — that gives the film so much of its antagonistic shimmer.

What do we know about Sandra? We know, as above, she is a bisexual German novelist. Now, the film (and obviously director Justine Triet) is well aware that each of these qualities positions Sandra, within the film’s moral world, as unusual, as an outsider, and therefore not to be trusted (and possibly, quite probably, also a murderer). The main question is which of these qualities is worst — is the one most likely to lead to a literal indictment — and I would argue that it is the one in the middle. We know she is German. We know that Germany and France are not currently at war, but historically have been, quite a lot, with Germany predominantly in the role of the antagonist. Sandra is German in the film in a way that aligns with our ideas about how a German might be, whatever the current demographic reality: She is plain-talking, emotionally blunt, fair-skinned and fair-haired. And she has been brought to this place she never wanted to be by her husband, the Frenchman, who has finally come home.

This is why I think Anatomy of a Fall is so interesting as a portrait of a marriage involving an expat — and particularly of the slow slide that occurs when love becomes coercion. As Sandra’s case comes to trial, we discover that she and Samuel first lived as a family in London — if their marriage was not thriving, even then, it did not, at that point, involve accusations of murder. Perhaps this was because even though it was marked by grave misfortune — their son’s injury in a car accident — it was stabilized by the equalizing force of two expats, living abroad, neither speaking their maternal tongue in their daily lives. Following that injury, the family — broke and on its heels — retreats to Samuel’s home country. (The film was shot in the alpine Savoie département, bordering northern Italy and immediately south of Lyon.) But this was not what Sandra wanted. She did not want to come to his home, with its cheese and alpine lakes. Not for nothing, but this part of France, like most of them, is exceptionally beautiful — but it doesn’t look beautiful in the film. It just looks cold and unwelcoming. Her husband is home, and she is not.

Anyone who’s ever been to the préfecture to process a visa will sympathize with the many scenes of the trial, in which government officials of all sorts speak the French of officialdom with puissance (and unforgiving velocity). I bet Sandra can do most things she’d need to do in France, in French, without much trouble — but defending herself for murder??? Mais non. As time progresses, we see Sandra’s language ability improve alongside it — it was impossible not to think of the trial of Amanda Knox, who came to Italy as an exchange student and was convicted for the murder of her roommate but ultimately freed. The parallel was no accident, as reported by Paris Match:

J’ai été fascinée par l’affaire Amanda Knox, une jeune américaine accusée de meurtres en Italie. Je me souviens qu’il y avait évidemment beaucoup plus de preuves pour un type qui était passé dans le coin, mais la fille était tellement belle, qu’en fait, c’était plus intéressant d’imaginer qu’il y ait le mal derrière ce visage magnifique. Donc l’affaire a pris un tour délirant. Cela m’avait beaucoup marqué. À un moment donné, tout devient un récit. L’affaire judiciaire, c’est un récit et il y a des récits plus intéressants que d’autres. Une romancière très belle qui écrit des romans soi-disant autobiographiques sur des histoires de meurtres, c’est plus passionnant qu’un mec qui s’est suicidé.

But there Sandra is, struggling to explain the intricacies of a relationship — which would bedevil anyone in their most private conversations — in another language. (And in fact, actress Sandra Hüller asked to perform her scenes in a more-competent French, but the director insisted: She would rely instead on English, the not-too-hot, not-too-cold porridge of expats worldwide.) It makes me think that if coercion is the foundational sin of all failed relationships — one person wanted something the other one didn’t, and insisted upon it — the worst coercion here wasn’t the violation on a near-monopoly of affections (via Sandra’s numerous affairs) or the sequestering of her talent he, perhaps unintentionally, forced upon her, as his own failures required her to let her own star shine a little more dimly, in the name of marital calm. Worth murdering someone? Probably not. But Sandra’s expatness is as much a weapon for the prosecution as blood-stain evidence and expert testimony. And Samuel’s insistence on returning to the place he called home — the one thing it could never, truly, be for her — was the small act of self-regard that ultimately destroyed his marriage, and led to his fall from a window some years in the future, whether by his hand, or his wife’s.

emily in paris season 1 episode 2 recap

Emily in Paris: Season 1, Episode 2 Recap

Welcome to our Emily in Paris Season 1, Episode 2 recap. (Here’s our recap of the first episode!)

Well! Here we are again, only instead of running through Chicago, Emily’s running through the Jardin du Luxembourg — and this time, she’s running while listening to language instruction tapes for tips on how to say such things as “I do not speak French” and “Please slow down a little bit.” We discussed this last week but I think it’s worth repeating: This show seems to portray Emily as both very sharp and very stupid, but I do not think her failing to learn a language spoken in a country where she was not anticipating moving to (and only did move to because her boss, with her master’s degree in French became incapacitated/pregnant) is a personal failing. If someone told me tomorrow that I was moving to Tokyo, I would be extremely happy but also in terrible trouble, language-wise. Justice for this non-francophone version of Emily! Current Instagram follower count: 230.

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emily in paris screenshot - gabriel

On her way up the stairs, she again tries to open the door belonging to her fourth-floor neighbor, Gabriel. I happen to live on the fifth floor, and my landlord is on the fourth, and I can assure you this is not a mistake I personally make very often — though I will agree that it an actually be very difficult to remember which floor you’re on, since they’re never marked in these small buildings. “You’re very wet,” Gabriel says. I was skeptical about this, and I have to do some research into it, but “mouillé de sueur” can be translated as “sweaty,” and “mouillé” does mean “wet” (it’s literally “wet from sweat”) I will report back on whether this is a normal problem (like how “excité” means horny, not excited) or a weak pun. TBD.

emily in paris screenshot

Emily goes outside and promptly steps in dog poo, an experience which she records for posterity on Instagram — where she suddenly 1205 more followers than she did five minutes ago? I can believe mouillé, but I cannot believe this.

Returning to the office, Julien offers a hearty “Bonjour, la plouc” (“good morning, redneck”) to which she responds, via phone translation: “Va te faire foutre” (“go fuck yourself”). “I think I like you!” Julien responds, which actually is even less credible to me than the Insta followers situation. Sylvie tutors Emily on why she is la plouc rather than le plouc (“It depends on the plouc you’re referring to,” she says — fair enough) as well as the pronunciation of “De l’Heure,” (the client which happens to be throwing a big party, I wonder if Emily will be invited!) and larger cultural ideas about the value of openness versus privacy: “You want everything to be accessible to everyone, everywhere,” Sylvie tells Emily. (This is not a compliment.) “You want to open doors. I want to close doors. We work with very exclusive brands. They require mystery. You’re very very obvious.” And this is why you still can’t buy handbags on the Chanel website.

As the plot requires, Sylvie relents, and invites Emily to the De l’Heure party, where she is promptly introduced to Antoine Lambert, “the best nose in France.” Real Emily would not, in any possible world, mistake this compliment for a critique of the actual man’s actual, physical nose — surely Emily, hyper-prepared Emily who works in marketing, would be aware that “nose” is a word used to describe those involved in the creation of fragrance. But Show Emily, because Show Emily’s a dumb bimbo, insists on saying something very stupid (“It’s very symmetrical”). Justice for Show Emily!

emily in paris recap screenshot - julienAntoine explains the industrial definition of the word, and his wife — yes, his wife — asks Emily why she’s come to Paris. To market, Emily says: to market all the beautiful things French people make so us crass, Cheeto-fingered Americans might buy them, and thus prop up their dying industries. Antoine, at least, is interested, and Emily is ready with her analysis: “I think you have an amazing, sexy product that could practically induce pregnancy in older women.” I mean, there’s a lot going on in that sentence, and not much of it good, but it’s clear that Emily has done her homework, and in no universe would that person not know what a nose is. Sheesh! After Emily’s impromptu presentation, Sylvie scolds her for talking shop after hours: “We’re at a soirée, not a conference call.” Maybe Married Antoine’s got an American stepmom or something though, because he’s all too happy to take things offline with Emily and continue the conversation. What does she smell in his fragrance? “Gardenia, leather, musk, and a little bit like sweat,” she says. (Yes, totally, that is the response of a woman who doesn’t understand the term “nose.”)

Married Antoine continues to make married-guy come-ons, inviting comparisons of his fragrance to lingerie and suggesting Emily get a French boyfriend, as the best way to learn the language is “in bed.” Mon dieu. “I’m not sure that’s going to help with your French,” Married Antoine says, when Emily says that she has an American boyfriend. He wraps up his seduction by explaining that his reference point for his fragrance was, in fact, “expensive sex.”

Back in the office, Emily hears that Antoine wanted her for his account — but Sylvie pulls her onto a different, slightly less glamorous product: Vaga-Jeune, for the dry vagina. (I do appreciate how this episode is basically a 30-minute exploration of the word “mouillé,” first used to describe Emily post-run.) “[Given] your experience with pharmaceuticals, this makes total sense,” Sylvie says. That seems actually very justifiable?

After Julien arrives to explain that Sylvie — best friend to Married Antoine’s wife, Catherine — is also his mistress, Emily calls her fellow expat, Mindy, to debrief: “I don’t get it — what’s the point of being married if you’re just going to cheat on your spouse?” says Emily.

Mindy, worldly-wise and weary, explains the French attitude toward affairs: “After being married for 20 years you might feel differently — I mean, the French are romantics but they’re also realists.” Pessimists, I’d say, but OK. They stop for dinner at a popular neighborhood restaurant, where Emily’s insistence on a well-cooked steak irritates the chef…who just turns out to be sexy neighbor Gabriel! Quelle coincidence. “I’d be happy to burn it for you, but promise me you’ll try it first,” Gabriel says. “Surprisingly tender,” Emily says. Also, Mindy is heir to a zipper fortune.

emily in paris recap screenshot - market

The random Cubs fan boyfriend who’s definitely not lasting beyond this episode is due to arrive the next day, so Emily hastens to a market, where she tries out quite an amazing hat. Good news: She takes a selfie with the woman from the bakery and now she has over 5000 Instagram followers? Bad news: Her boyfriend isn’t coming. “I packed, I took a week off of work and then I thought, what am I going to do there all day?” This is pretty dumb. He doesn’t know how to do long distance. He likes their life in Chicago. This is her pose as Lily Collins says: “This is Paris! This city is filled with love! And romance! And light and beauty and passion and sex! Which are clearly things that mean nothing to you!”

emily in paris season 1 episode 2 recap screenshot - emily at the pantheon

They’re not going to make it, so it rains. “Paris is weeping.”

emily in paris recap screenshot - paris

Back in the office, Emily settles in with her task: finding a workable angle for Vaga-Jeune:

In considering this text, however, Emily discovers that “the vagina” is a masculine noun (le vagin).

emily in paris season 1 episode 2 recap - le vagin

“Are you kidding me?” 

emily in paris season 1 episode 2 recap - office

This is Emily’s face as Sylvie explains that the vagina is masculine because “it’s something that a woman owns and a man possesses.” That literally does not make sense. “Le vagin n’est pas masculin!” Emily broadcasts to Instagram. And you’ll never guess who then tweets that out (after being alerted to this matter because Carla Sarkozy is following Emily on Insta?? Ok totally!!): none other than France’s most famous age-gapper, Brigitte Macron.

emily in paris - macron

Exactement!

Emily in Paris Season 1 Episode 2 recap recap: Emily is a vaga-jeune, Mindy is nice and also extremely wealthy, Sylvie is sleeping with her friend’s husband, and Gabriel is a sexy chef. Also, “mouillé” can mean a lot of different things, in both sexy and unsexy situations. 

Simone Perele Has Made Your Perfect V-Day Bra

I really like Simone Perele, which sits between the rah-rah ease of Princesse Tam Tam and the pricy luxury of Eres. Enter Simone Perele, founded in 1948 by the Mlle herself, following the receipt of her diploma in corsetry making. She handled the design work, her husband Wolf took care of growing the enterprise, and together, the pair opened their first Parisian studio in the 9th arrondissement, at 8 rue de Montyon. Sixty-nine years later, the label opened its first Simone Pérèle-branded shop, in the 4th, at 84 rue de François Miron. (They have five boutiques in Paris, total — the one in the 4th, two in the 6th, one in the 14th and one in the 16th — plus one nearby, in Neuilly-sur-Seine.)

I love their bras, don’t feel strongly either way about their panties, and think American brands should have a lock on shapewear until Kim Kardashian is starring in The Golden Bachelorette. Ergo, these picks focus on the soutiens-gorge.

simone perele - wish demi bra

Pretty!!! Unlike Eres, which feels to me quite sexy/utilitarian, and unlike Princesse Tam Tam, which to me feels quite sexy/youthful, this is just super pretty. There’s a place for it! Underwire, with floral embroidery on tulle cups. Wish demi bra, $125

simone perele saga triangle bra

Love this in red if you’re into Valentine’s Day-themed lingerie. This is literally the first bra I’ve written about that has any level of padding, and it’s pretty minimal. Saga plunge bra, $140

simone perele demi wish bra

This is the Wish bra above in a different colorway, and if I celebrated Valentine’s Day through color-coordinated underwear, this is definitely the one I would go with. Wish demi cup, $115

Comete Lace Trim Tulle Bralette

As bralettes go, this has very beautiful lace and very little support. Comete lace-trim tulle bralette, $115

simone perele comete

If you’re looking for something equally pretty and delicate but have boobs that would much prefer a little support, consider the Comete, which has been “specially engineered with extra coverage and support for larger cup sizes.” Simone Perele Comete, $120

Princesse Tam Tam Is Entry-Level French Lingerie, and I Love It

I remember when I first started looking to buy a bra in France and walked into Princess Tam Tam. I had been raised on apple pie and Victoria’s Secret — where were the bras with padding? With small pillows, embedded in the stitching? Mais non. It was such a sartorial shift from what I was accustomed to that I think I walked out without buying anything. These were the non-inflated bras I had always dreamed of; I just couldn’t believe they existed.

That was a while ago now, and obviously we’ve collectively moved beyond the trend of B cups dressed up as D cups. I still love Princesse Tam Tam, and all my favorite underwear is from there. It’s definitely not cheaper (there are cheaper options on this list), but it’s a fraction of the truly pricy lines, like Eres. It’s probably no accident that the line was founded by two women, Loumia and Shama Hiridjee, almost 40 years ago (1985, specifically). Like Eres, it feels like lingerie designed by women for women, not by some weird dude in Ohio for really sad girls working overtime to stoke a really specific kind of desire.

Two important notes: I’m including Princesse Tam Tam even though they don’t deliver to the US, just to get them on your radar for your next trip to France. (If you’re super motivated, there’s always reshippers like Easy Delivery, which, for a fee, will forward your package from France to the U.S.)

And as your resident B cup, I want to note that a lot of their bras are unwired or unstructured, so this might not be the best choice for larger cups.

I love the light ‘n’ bright collection shown above, which is from the new spring line — the briefs are 15€ and the bras are 25€.

princesse tam tam - hypnose briefs

Full coverage! Very cute! No thongs! Hypnose briefs, 29€

princesse tam tam - ella bra

A triangle bra with moderate support, no wires, and double straps at the shoulders. The Ella, 59€

princesse tam tam - eden bra

It may not look like it, but of all the choices here, this one has the most support and is fully wired. Embroidered stretch tulle in a very sweet pink. Eden bra, 59€

princesse tam tam - flore bra

I have this bra and it’s basically a bralette, it’s so light. You will know if that is a good fit for you, or nah. Flore bra, 59€.

eres lingerie

5 Excellent Lingerie Selects from Eres

Eres makes some of the world’s most in-demand swimwear — and wouldn’t you know it, some of its loveliest, and priciest, lingerie as well.

Eres makes exceptionally well-made and attractive lingerie, but I don’t think it’s particularly sexy. Or maybe it’s that French brand of sexiness, which is so often not exactly the same thing as American (or even British) sexiness — obvious, over-the-top, “feminine” in the most clichéd way. (See: Agent Provocateur.) Eres is lingerie for the female gaze, if you know what I mean: sexy but not a stereotype, made to last, made to be beautiful.

One big plus in Eres’s column is its quality. If you’re not bothered about quality, I feel like Princesse Tam Tam does a very similar look, it’s just not as well made. With some luxury brands, you are legitimately just paying for the brand, but swimwear (which is the brand’s bread and butter) is activewear, and much has been made of Eres’s commitment to creating performance fabrics. This WWD article reads like #sponcon, but it goes deep into how strenuously the fabrics are tested, so that the colors are fast and so that use doesn’t wear out the fabric. Quite a lot of the brand’s lingerie in fact looks like swimwear, so if that’s your thing, there’s plenty to choose from. It’s not my thing, so the picks below are lacier.

Below, my fave five pieces.

best french lingerie - bodysuit

My favorite part of the product description for this lovely bodysuit is the color: “A dark navy blue like a night sky.” Mais oui! I feel like Siobhan Roy might have worn this to a board meeting? Eres Aérobic bodysuit, $620best french lingerie - triangle bra

I love that very structured cup, which is as structured as it can be while still being wireless. Fragrance bra, $335

best french lingerie - chataigne bra

You probably have a quasi-sheer white blouse that would be perfect for this bra. Chataigne full-cup bra, $410

 

best french lingerie - parfum briefs

Super cute, but also full coverage — quite possibly a winning combination. Parfum high-waisted briefs, $205

best french lingerie - tisane briefs

I mean that’s a very slight revision on the pair above. Personally I love the higher waist and full, non-thong style. Tisane briefs, $190