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cheap paris apartments

10 Paris Apartments Under €200,000

I have written many times, with much emotion/crying/whining, about my apartment search here in Paris — but the difficulty of that nine-month process belies the fact that Paris real estate is cheaper than anywhere else I’ve ever lived: cheaper than New York City and much cheaper than San Francisco or London. (I am not a Communist, but I thank them for the countervailing pressure supporting tenants’ rights and prohibitions against rent increases.) TL;DR: You can rent an apartment in Paris for under $1,000 a month, or buy one for less than the cost of one of those really ginormous trucks (like a 2024 Ford Super Duty F‑250). And not in the London/Zone 5 sense of a “London apartment” could be an hour from Piccadilly Circus. Paris is small, and all these apartments are within its borders.

This post was inspired by a novel written by a friend of mine, which begins with the discovery of an apartment in the Marais (read: Paris SoHo) for sale for 135,000€. Half the class found this impossible; the other half said nothing. I was in that latter group, but walking home that day from school, I noticed a rash of postings for apartments not much more than she’d suggested. Here, some of the best of them — small, yes. On the very upper floors, of course. Hugely in need of renovations — well, yes, for one of them. But a foothold on the property ladder? Dare to dream.

1. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Studio in a buzzy part of Montmartre
Hard sell:
“Vous serez séduit par son EMPLACEMENT, son AGENCEMENT et son CALME.” (“You’ll be seduced by its LOCATION, its LAYOUT, and its CALM.”)
Price: €200,000
Size: 190 square feet
Nearest métro: Blanche

2. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Studio with amazing floors near the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Hard sell:
“Ce studio de 16m² vous séduira par sa grande luminosité avec le calme qui règne. La pièce principale avec parquet, offre une atmosphère chaleureuse avec un grand placard avec machine à laver.” (“This 16m² studio will studio you with its tremendous light and calm. The warm living room has parquet floors and a large closet with washing machine.”)
Price: €168,000
19th arrondissement
Size: 172 square feet
Nearest métro: Laumière

3. Appartement à vendre

Soft sell: 1BR investment property
Hard sell:
This apartment comes with its own renter (and a zillion laws protecting that person), who’ll be paying you €600+ per month.
Price: €189,000
18th arrondissement
Size: 300 square feet
Nearest métro: Marcadet–Poissoniers

4. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Absolutely tiny studio in ritzy neighborhood
Hard sell:
“Situé au 6ème étage d’un immeuble sans ascenseur, ce studio est intelligemment aménagé afin d’optimiser l’espace de vie. Vous disposez d’un lit ”bedUp” escamotable, qui permet d’avoir à la fois des fauteuils, une table à manger, un bureau et bien évidement, un lit.” (“Situated on the sixth floor of a building without an elevator, this studio is smartly laid out to optimize its living space. You’ll have a “bedUp” retractable ceiling bed, which allows the use of armchairs, a dining table, a desk and of course, a bed.”)
Price: €77,000
7th arrondissement
Size: 64 square feet
Nearest métro: École Militaire

5. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Not-too-small studio apartment with lots of light in fun neighborhood.
Hard sell:
“Deux grandes fenêtres offrant une belle luminosité. Donnant sur une cour intérieure calme, offrant tranquillité et sérénité.” (“Two large windows offer tons of light. Overlooks a calm interior courtyard, offering tranquility and serenity.”)
Price: €174,000
18th arrondissement
Size: 226 square feet
Nearest métro: Chateau Rouge

6. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Insanely small apartment on top floor in great neighborhood
Hard sell:
“Idéalement située boulevard Beaumarchais dans une copropriété très bien entretenue avec gardienne, au sixième et dernier étage, une chambre lumineuse entièrement refaite.” (“Ideally situated on bouleveard Beaumarchais in a well-tended copropriété with gardienne, on the sixth and top floor, sun-filled, entirely renovated room.”)
Price: €66,000
3rd arrondissement
Size: 53 square feet
Nearest métro: Chemin Vert? [It doesn’t say but it can only be one of a few.]

7. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Fixer-upper with good bones
Hard sell:
“Cet appartement fonctionnel, sans aucune perte d’espace, s’adresse aussi bien à un étudiant, un actif ou pour une location saisonnière, en raison de son emplacement idéal. Des travaux de rénovation sont à prévoir.” (“This functional apartment, without any loss of space, is suitable for a student, a working person or for a seasonal rental, due to its ideal location. Renovation work is to be expected.”)
Price: €165,000
19th arrondissement
Size: 236 square feet
Nearest métro: Stalingrad

8. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Small, cute apartment right next to Bassin de la Villette.
Hard sell:
“L’appartement en parfait état saura vous séduire par sa clarté, son exposition Sud et son plan sans perte de place.” (“This apartment in perfect condition will seduce you with its light, southern exposure, and smart layout.”)
Price: €199,000
19th arrondissement
Size: 236 square feet
Nearest métro: Stalingrad(?)

9. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Easy access to the super-pretty Georges Brassens park.
Hard sell:
“En face de l’un des poumons verts de Paris, à deux pas de toutes les commodités, venez découvrir un studio au 3ème étage accessible par ascenseur.” (“Right across from one of the ‘green lungs’ of Paris, close to shopping, come see a third-floor studio (with elevator).”)
Price: €165,000
15th arrondissement
Size: 161 square feet
Nearest métro:Porte de Vanves(?)

10. Studio à vendre

Soft sell: Balcony! Elevator! Fun neighborhood! 
Hard sell:
“Idéalement situé, rue de l’Aqueduc, à deux pas de tous les transports et des commerces, dans un très très bel immeuble en pierre de taille dont la façade a été récemment ravalée et les parties communes rénovées, nous vous proposons un studio baigné de lumière situé au 6e et dernier étage avec ascenseur et balcon.” (“Ideally situated on rue de l’Aqueduc, close to public transportation and shops, in a pretty pierre de taille building with a recently renovated facade, this studio is bathed in light and situated on the sixth floor with elevator and balcony.”)
Price: €189,000
10th arrondissement
Size: 247 square feet
Nearest métro: Louis Blanc(?)

francoise hardy

Francoise Hardy: Five Songs That Tell Her Story

Françoise Hardy was a French icon, known nearly as much for her style as her work as a singer and actress. (Her eyeliner, throughout, is peerless.) She died today, at the age of 80, in a Paris possibly quite unlike the Nazi-occupied city where she was born, in 1944.

Throughout her six-decade career — which, in her later years, also included writing columns on astrology for a Swiss newspaper — she remained heavily identified with the yé-yé phenomenon, and if you don’t know what that is, but have seen Mad Men, just think back to a mini-skirted Megan Draper singing “Zou Bisou Bisou”: impossible youth, impossible beauty, and gently sung pop music.

Here, five songs worth checking out:

1. “Tous les garcons et les filles”

2. “Comment te dire adieu”

3. “Message personnel”

4. “Mon amie la rose”

5. “Fleur de lune”

taylor swift on stage in lyon

Taylor Swift in Lyon: Trip Report!

Taylor Swift in Lyon was amazing. If you can go to one of the remaining ERAS tour dates — go!! Undoubtedly one of the best musical experiences of my life.

I bought my ticket last summer for a ridiculous €140. Do I regret not buying a ticket for a friend? I do. I got the message to hop online and scoop up my ticket at 9 AM Paris time, and just couldn’t get anyone back home on the phone to give me the thumbs up (and Venmo me the cash), so I only bought a single ticket. Who cares, honestly, as a travel writer I’ve done a zillion amazing things on my own (or next to other travel writers) and it’s fine.

Because I was going straight from school to the show, I had to pack extremely light — this is everything that made it into my bag except for two prescription drugs, which I stowed in my pocket. I have traveled light before, but this is exceptional. As it turned out there were plenty of bagages consignés around the stadium in Lyon, but I didn’t want to take the risk. This was, by the way, the longest I’ve been apart from my laptop since my last one was stolen out of my apartment. I stayed at Meininger’s, which was fine, though definitely not worth the €200(!!) I paid, with prices elevated far beyond normal due to the concert. (Its normal price is closer to >€70, which is very fair — it’s cheerful and cute.) I saw nothing else in Lyon except a corner store where I bought everything that looked like I could eat it. (It was after midnight and I was glad to see anything open at all.)

The highlight was probably the surprise songs: a mash-up of “Glitch!” x “Everything Has Changed” and “Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus” — both live premieres! This is my video of the latter below and I loved it.

You know, I spent the whole way home from Lyon thinking about what I would say in my trip report, and I did have lots to say: about how inspiring it was, as a female artist, to see such a grandly plotted spectacle, such a total and amazing piece of performance. It’s inspiring! Not just because I love the music, which I do, but because every element in the show seemed so incredibly thoughtful, from the costume changes to the set pieces to the animations to the stage environment (I have no idea what the technical terms are for any of those things). Writing books sort of operates like that, but it also sort of doesn’t — you make up a huge world, but it only exists (until the Netflix series!!!) in your head. This happens in the real world. I think the best analogy for books is to think not just of the text but the book itself: the paper, the cover, etc. A lot to think about there. Seeing Taylor Swift in Lyon will be one of the highlights of my year.

I have a video of Champagne Problems and the Glitch! mash-up, but those uploads need to wait for my internet to be fixed on Wednesday. For the moment, a few more photos. Here’s a take on why I like TTPD so much — I wrote it when much of the early word was negative. If anything, I love it even more now — I truly feel like it’s her first properly adult-adult album. Obsessed.

taylor swift in lyon - evermore taylor swift in lyon - smoke effect

what time is it in paris - scene along the seine

What Time Is It in Paris?

Wondering what time is it in Paris?

The answer is:

The time comes courtesy of the Time & Date website, which is great.

While you’re here, I hope you’ll take a look around this website, which is written by me, a travel writer living between Paris and the U.S. I write a weekly newsletter about France, which I hope you might like to subscribe to.

My most popular posts include:

Paris is six hours ahead of New York (and Eastern time), seven hours ahead of Chicago (and Central time), eight hours ahead of Denver (and Mountain time), and nine hours ahead of Los Angeles (and Pacific time). Should you be in Hawaii, it’s a pleasing 12 hours ahead of Honolulu.

You might be surprised — I was surprised — to learn that France spans 12 time zones (13 if you include Antarctica). The main “France” France is in a single time zone: Central European. But its overseas territories are all over the place, from New Caledonia (UTC +11), the same time zone as Sydney (when Sydney’s on Daylight Savings), to French Polynesia (UTC -10) — Tahiti Time, the same time zone as Hawaii. Réunion is France’s biggest overseas département — both by area and population — and it’s UTC +4, either two or three hours ahead of France, depending on whether France is on summer time or not.

One more time, before you hit the road: What time is it in Paris?

It is precisely:

french fashion essentials - jean seberg in breathless

The 12 French Fashion Essentials (No Berets Included)

I recently entered a season of life focused on lists of French fashion essentials — and I did not always like what I saw. I have seen more trench coats on these lists than on the streets of Paris. I don’t think that many people are walking around Paris in ballet flats, unless they like being as close to dirt as humanly possible. I once spent hours recording all the shoes I saw worn by the super-stylish women walking down my street — and an hour could pass between high heels.

Here, you’ll find my highly researched list of 12 top French fashion essentials, from the straw market bag to oversized white button-downs and androgynous black blazers. The normal French rules apply: Dressing here is much more conservative than in similarly fashionable cities, and success is often awarded to looks that master a specific style of dressing than in purely out-there looks (like those that might win the day in New York, London, or Tokyo). There’s very little here that’s purely sexy, since the dominant vibe of self-aware androgyny, and really judicious sex appeal, is deeply entrenched. I admire how the French dress, and the pieces below are a good place to start.

I also admire how they shop, which is to say how they spend: maybe more than I’d like, but less often. Buy it once, buy it right — and check resellers, thrift shops, and vintage stores for discounts, especially for  in-demand brands like Sézane. Of course, if you’re in France, don’t miss the vide greniers, where you can score excellent deals on less-trendy pieces — think 5€ Petit Bateau tops, designer coats, etc. etc.

Affiliate links below. Above: Jean Seberg in Breathless, in an appropriately sweatshirtified marinière (for something similar and very cute, see the Go Gently Nation one below.)

1. A Straw Market Bag

A straw market bag is a hallmark of French accessories. It’s nearly as much a cliché of French style as a beret — yet unlike a beret, these bags are, indeed, a style staple, and a common sight at Sunday markets and summer beaches.

The price differential here is tremendous. I’ve yet to meet a straw market bag that’ll last for generations — a few seasons of good wear is probably more realistic — and a perfect, iconic tote can be found in France for under $40. That hasn’t stopped luxury brands from creating their own takes — and charging nearly into the four figures for them. Spending more will get you tighter, more durable weaves, an increasing amount of leather trim, and that all-important designer logo — with that last item definitely not a generally desirable element in France, a culture as branding-averse as I’ve ever visited. This is absolutely a case where cheaper is better, within reason.

Do consider whether you want the handles long enough to slip over a shoulder (yay!), rather than a shorter style meant to be held by hand (boo!).

french straw market basket

Love this for the price, with your choice of short or long handles.

BUY IT HERE: Bowl & Pitcher, $43

french fashion essentials - anthropologie french market tote

The leather edging is almost a little too fancy, but I love the chunky stitching.

BUY IT HERE: Anthropologie, $88

french fashion essentials - etsy french straw bag

An inexpensive, made-in-Morocco option.

BUY IT HERE: Etsy, $26

2. Cool Sneakers

This is pure research, friends: I sat on a bench for three hours one warm morning in June and counted up the shoes passersby were wearing. Stan Smiths were the clear favorite, followed by Nikes (specifically, the blazers below). Vejas actually might not have made the top five, but I account that to their priciness and the fact that they’ll a little more niche — but of these three, I only Vejas, and I love them.

white stan smith sneakers

The ultimate Parisian walking shoe.

BUY IT HERE: Zappos, $99

nike blazers high tops

The most popular choice for the (seemingly) under-25 crowd.

BUY IT HERE: Nike, $78


My choice — though note their level of comfort is up for debate. (Still the most fashionable pick.)

BUY IT HERE: Anthropologie, $135

3. The Slouchy Coat

I was having trouble defining the slouchy coat outside of a “you know it when you see it” context until I found this definition on Vogue, which labeled it “the it-piece of the season” (in 2019). I would argue that especially in France, this style is durable and remains as popular deep into the 2020s as it was five years ago. (For the record, Vogue’s description pegged a slouchy coat as one with “rounded shoulders, baggy sleeves and an overall relaxed fit.”)

sezane rick coat

Yeah, I know this is like a very relaxed trench, but I’m including it here because I love it so much.

BUY IT HERE: Sézane, $445

french fashion essentials - aritizia slouch coat

This is Aritzia’s hit slouchy coat, the subject of multiple YouTube videos examining its fit.

BUY IT HERE: Aritzia, $375

french fashion essentials - zara slouchy coat

This option from Zara is nearly a blanket coat. But extremely slouchy!

BUY IT HERE: Zara, $109

4. Wide-Legged Pants

I’ve been a skinny jeans devotee for as long as I can remember, even though this is truly an unpopular style in France — even more so than here at home, where it’s at this point synonymous with out-of-date style. I aspire to the sort of wide-legged pants you’ll see below, which range from the quite fashion-y to the somewhat office-y.

Of all my French fashion essentials, this is the one I’m least likely to wear, but I can appreciate the line.

sezane wide legged pants

These are super flowy, thanks to the fact that they’re 91% viscose.

BUY IT HERE: Sézane, $175

madewell harlow pants

A more office-ready fit (for anybody who’s still working in an office). Note the pleats, which you may love (or hate).

BUY IT HERE: Madewell, $118

everlane Organic Wide-Leg Pant

This is another part that’s leaning more into American lifestyles than French, but they’re easy to wear and lovely of silhouette.

BUY IT HERE: Everlane, $74

5. A Very Specific Kind of Jeans

French denim is so its own thing: high-waisted, and straight-legged, rather than truly relaxed or boyfriend-y — it really runs right down that line between sort of desexualized but never sloppy. Also: never embellished, never ripped, never bedazzled — just classic denim, usually in medium to dark rinses, and often more cropped and/or tailored than you’d expect from a pair of American jeans. Anecdotally (though not surprisingly) I’ve found French denim to be stiffer/less jegging-y than US brands, since comfort there is not such a priority.

everlane way high jeans

A very high waist from Everlane, available in organic cotton and with three lengths ranging from 25.5″ to 29.5″.

BUY IT HERE: Everlane, $89

reformation straight leg jeans

A lower, below-the-belly-button rise, with a very generous straight leg.

BUY IT HERE: Reformation, $168

sezane iconique droit trousers

My top pick from Sézane, with a very high waist and slightly cropped (7/8) length.

BUY IT HERE: Sézane, $125

6. The Mariniere

The classic, inspired by the central garment worn by sailors in the French navy. (Many of them were seafaring men from Brittany, which is why this is also known as a Breton top.) Of all the selections here, this is the one I’ve seen most often at vide greniers and the like — I think every French person has a Petit Bateau top somewhere in their closet. You can decide whether you like the classic shape (quite fitted) and colors (always navy and white) or want to mix it up with slightly outré colors (you know, white and navy) or more relaxed shapes, like the Go Gently Nation sweatshirt below.

sezane mariniere

An ever-so-slightly-modernized take on the classic Breton top, with a relaxed fit and four-button openings at the side you can leave open or button up.

BUY IT HERE: Sézane, $105

petit bateau mariniere

The definitive marinière.

BUY IT HERE: Le Petit Bateau, $139

french fashion essentials - go gently striped sweatshirt

Obviously this is a sweatshirt rather than a classically shaped marinière, but it feels fun, modern and easy.

BUY IT HERE: Go Gently Nation, $84

7. Androgynous Black Blazer

Wear it with nothing underneath, obviously! A slightly (possibly) less itchy option than the slouchy cardigan below!

Here, I’ve prioritized relaxed but dramatic shapes and full (not overly fitted) cuts.

french fashion essentials - gina jacket sezane

Somewhere between a jacket and a blazer, best worn with nothing beneath.

BUY IT HERE: Sézane, $250

reformation blazer

A relaxed, lightweight blazer — love it with that cropped tee underneath and some lowish-cut jeans.

BUY IT HERE: Reformation, $278

french fashion essentials -  oversized dad blazer

This one looks even more relaxed — pair it with skinnier jeans when you decide to leave France.

BUY IT HERE: Dylan, $125

8. Oversized White Button Down

“Oversized” is a key element in French fashion essentials — proportion and fit are everything, and at least in my experience, they take some practice in perfecting. Of the selects below, the Sézane top (in the middle), with the straight-leg jeans, is the easiest to replicate: voluminous on top, tighter on the bottom. Balance!

oversized white shirt - soeur

A little more outré than the usual picks from Soeur.

BUY IT HERE: Soeur, $240

sezane oversized white button down

An absolute classic, in organic cotton with mother-of-pearl buttons.

BUY IT HERE: Sézane, $125

french fashion essentials - target white oversized shirt

A less expensive take on the same shape as the picks above, in poplin cotton.

BUY IT HERE: Target, $25

9. Slouchy, Sexy Cardigan

Your typical grandpa’s cardigan, with something extremely minimal beneath. I like to keep these a little on the long side, so you can choose where you’re showing some skin and where you’re not.

french fashion essentials - basile cardigan

I love that this one is long enough to dip below most jeans, so it’s easy to be judicious about what’s on view and what’s not.

BUY IT HERE: Sézane, $170

rita row organic cotton cardigan

A lovely shape through the chest and just the right length.

BUY IT HERE: Rita Row, $189

sltuesday slouchy cardigan

A slightly cropped option, with lots of room through the arms.

BUY IT HERE: SLtuesday, 54€

10. The Vanessa Bruno Cabas Tote

You could argue that the Vanessa Bruno Cabas tote bag has had its day — in the 2010s? the ’90s? the 1890s? the beginning of time? — but it’s still omnipresent. (Fast fact: This design launched in 1998.) It’s the French equivalent of the LL Bean tote bag: perfectly proportioned, and an endurable summer classic (though the Vanessa Bruno tote is notably more expensive than LL Bean). Available in a substantial range of materials (linen, raffia, denim, canvas, leather, etc.) and colors. Made in France.

These aren’t cheap but they’re also widely available on your reseller of choice (including Poshmark).

vanessa bruno linen tote bag in black

BUY IT HERE: 24S, $350

french fashion essentials - vanessa bruno cabas tote linen

BUY IT HERE: Shopbop, $350

vanessa bruno cabas fluoro

BUY IT HERE: Vanessa Bruno, $335

11. Perfect White V-Neck Tee

My personal favorite French fashion essential of all time is a white linen tee from Soeur, which I absolutely murdered over a single summer and wore to death. There’s nothing better for your summer Euro vacation than a slubby, nubby tee worn into transparency. Just get the right cut: I personally prefer something boxy, so there’s no need to tuck, with a generous v-neck, and relaxed (but not sloppy) short sleeves.

cos linen tee

The perfect slubby linen tee.


le bon shoppe organic tee

This is organic cotton, rather than linen, for anyone who wants to avoid the latter.

BUY IT HERE: Le Bon Shoppe, $64

faherty linen tee

A generous V-neck with relaxed sleeves and a curved waistline for easy tucking.

BUY IT HERE: Faherty, $88

12. Flirty Warm-Weather Tops

Just a little camisole, made to wear with wide-legged pants, a tailored denim skirt with patch pockets, and almost literally anything else. The prices below reflect the truism that the more delicate the knit, the more you’ll pay.

french fashion essentials - sezane francisco top

A beautiful, delicate knit in wear-everywhere black.

BUY IT HERE: Sézane, $100

french fashion essentials - aubrey sweater top

Basically the same as above, in a slightly chunkier knit — this possibly make it less of a French fashion essential than an American one, but I like it for the price.

BUY IT HERE: Saltwater Luxe, $59

jacquemus cable knit top

I’m obsessed with the square shape of this top’s neckline, though I know it can be less flattering than those above.

BUY IT HERE: Jacquemus, $181

A Running List of the Best Places to Eat and Drink in the Third Arrondissement

1. Le Progrès
The whole neighborhood’s here on a perfect summer night. And a chilly fall night. And the dead of winter. The terrace is the place to see and be seen, but don’t sleep on the warm, buzzy, convivial interior. 1 rue de Bretagne

2. Mmmozza
Peerless mozzarella-centric sandwiches — I dream of this place when I’m away. Look for the line out the door at lunchtime, and consider going early if you (like I) get nervous that they’ll run out of baguette (it happens). Also the cannolis!!! 57 rue de Bretagne

3. Bouillon Pigalle
A newish outpost of this stylish reinvention of the cantine concept: cheap, good food, for the masses. The original is, as the name suggests, in Pigalle, but this one is just as large, stylish, and fast. Come here for the Frenchest of French foods, at killer prices: œufs mayonnaise (€2.50!), magret de canard with sauce à l’orange and pommes paysannes (€12.80), steak frites with sauce au poivre (€12.60) — I couldn’t love this place more. Delivery available to heat-up-at-home via Deliveroo. 39 boulevard du Temple

4. Breizh
An exceptionally popular crêpe place — I love it so much. This is where I eat the night before I leave, always ordering the same thing: a Vendangeur (with fourme d’Ambert, raisin, pignons de pin, miel de sapin, salade verte et vinaigrette au cidre), followed by a salted caramel crêpe with ice cream and whipped cream. (All the creams, basically.) 109 rue Vieille du Temple

5. Bar Nouveau
This two-level bar is absolutely tiny (“No reservations because it’s trop petit”), so I look to go right after it opens, at 4 p.m., to grab one of the few stools. The decor is gorgeous; the menu leans toward the highly crafted, like a Ramos with vanilla yogurt, peat and St-Germain liqueur,  served with a bespoke oyster-shell spoon. It’s notable that when the bar hires staff, it rates “niceness” as a top qualification, and the bartenders here are notably more personable, including to anglophones, than similar spots. 5 Rue des Haudriettes

6. Café Charlot
This is the sister restaurant to my favorite restaurant in Paris, the St-Regis, on the Ile Saint-Louis — it’s stylish, not incredibly expensive, and has excellent people watching, especially during Fashion Week. Expect plats like salmon tartare with avocado, a variety of burgers (though there are better places to get burgers nearby), entrecôte, etc etc. Come for the crowd more than the food, but the food is decent as well (though better at the St-Regis). 38 rue de Bretagne

7. Marché des Enfants Rouges
The oldest covered market in Paris! A neighborhood institution, this covered market is home to a variety of fruit and veg stalls, a cheeserie, a fishmonger, a couple florists, and a number of sit-down food counters, including Caribbean, Moroccan, burgers, and more. 39 rue de Bretagne

8. La Perle
An infamous neighborhood institution, La Perle is similar in vibe to Café Charlot, though more in the mix of the shopping of rue Vieille du Temple — same fashion-y, late-night style and more tourists, though the terrace is better at Café Charlot since rue de Bretagne/rue Charlot is a cuter and calmer intersection than rue Vieille du Temple/rue du Parc Royal. The food — well, you’re here for the vibes, which are usually good. I only go early in the morning, when it’s quiet. Note it’s cash only unless your bill is over €16, which is very well might not be if you’re following my advice and sticking to drinks. 78 rue Vieille du Temple

9. Cambridge Public House
If you’d like to try the craft cocktail spirit of Bar Nouveau but in a safely anglophone-sounding and -looking spot, voilà: Cambridge Public House, which its owners baptized as a “cocktail pub” when it opened in 2019. Comfy sofas and a selection of anglo “snacks,” like hummus, olives, sausage rolls, and meat pies. 8 rue de Poitou

10. Pierre Hermé
The neighborhood’s ultimate grab ‘n’ go. It wasn’t that long ago that rue de Bretagne had hardware stores and other hallmarks of neighborhoods where people actually live, rather than just visit, and I remember being very annoyed at all these high-end-ish, corporate macaron shops replacing useful stores. That said: I do like the pastries, like the Paris-Brest and the “2000 Feuilles,” as well as those macarons. 4 rue de Bretagne

11. Le Ruisseau
There’s no shortage of fancy burger places in Paris — I like this one, even though it’s absolutely tiny and the bathroom is not literally but almost literally in a different time zone. It’s €16.50 for a burger, fries, and a drink — I like the Blue Burger, with blue cheese, onion confit, and honey mustard. 22 rue Rambuteau

poet margaret yapp

Margaret Yapp Just Released This Beautiful Book of Poetry And We Should All Buy It

I have two favorite Midwestern writers: One is the Wisconsin-born Thornton Wilder, who is dead, but whose The Bridge of San Luis Rey you should read immediately. The other is the Iowa City poet and artist Margaret Yapp, who has quite wonderfully just released her debut book of poetry, Green for Luck. Here’s some more info about it, as well as a calendar of her upcoming readings — if you’re in one of the cities she’ll be visiting, do not hesitate to attend. Margaret is the best poetry reader, and I swear it will be time well spent. I was just at one of her readings on Friday, and almost started surreptitiously recording it on my phone, it was that good, before deciding that surreptitiously recording anything on a phone is creepy.

I am so happy to know Margaret – who, as I say below, is the coolest person I know in all of Iowa (and likely many of the surrounding states as well). I am also extremely delighted that she took time out of her launch week to answer my questions, below. I think poetry can be a bit of a hard sell sometimes, but I truly and heartily recommend this book, which is funny and wise and extremely alive. Is there anything cooler than reading a book of poetry on a bench under the May sunshine? Obviously there is not. My top suggestion: Buy the book, and read the poem about fields! It’s my favorite! You will not regret it!

green for luck cover

How does one read a book of poems, especially for those of us who don’t read a lot of poetry?
Don’t worry about understanding anything, don’t worry about plot, don’t worry about narrative. Put those goals out of your mind. Do you feel the need to understand a song in order to enjoy it? Probably not. I think reading poetry is more like listening to music or looking at visual art than like reading prose. I’m a really slow reader and when I read a book of poems, I often read each poem multiple times before I move onto the next one. Ultimately, though, poetry is entertainment. So if you don’t like a particular book of poems, find another one. Just because you don’t like one type of music doesn’t mean you don’t like other types…there are infinite styles of poetry, and I think every reader can find poetry they enjoy. 

What’s your favorite poem written by a woman before 1950?
This is slightly cheesy, but my great grandma Jane wrote amazing poems. I have them scanned somewhere but the physical copies got lost in the shuffle when my grandma Jo passed away in late 2022. I hope to find them again, but until then I repeat the lines I remember in my head.  

margaret yapp poem

You’re described on the Barnes and Noble website as “American midwestern poet” Margaret Yapp. Is that a fair assessment? Is there something in your work that feels particularly Midwestern to you?
My friend Alana Solin (amazing poet and artist) and I joke that as soon as someone refers to us as “minor American poets” then we’ll know we’ve made it. 

But I think AI wrote that bio! I’ve never described myself that way. I found it funny and weirdly affirming. I’ve only ever lived in Iowa and Minnesota, so that obviously seeps into my life and therefore my writing, even if I don’t know exactly how. The most direct source of midwestern-ness in my writing is probably from just copying down what my friends and family say. And of course, any literal place I’m writing about is probably in the midwest, so: plant life, geology, animals – all of that enters the writing both directly and indirectly.

What’s it like attending the world’s best MFA poetry program in your own hometown?
I hadn’t lived here for nine years when I moved back for the poetry program, and ended up living like four blocks from where I grew up. I would walk through my elementary school playground to get to workshop every week. I’m already default sentimental, and flinging myself into writing poems while back in my hometown…lots of nostalgia. But I got used to being back, and my hometown was ultimately the perfect place to do an MFA program. Proximity to my family and old friends kept me anchored to something beyond writing, and that was really good for me.  

You’re the coolest person I know in Iowa City. What do you think is the coolest thing about Iowa?
I don’t think Iowa is necessarily cool, but I also don’t think it’s boring. I’m really happy to be living in Iowa City. For people interested in writing/reading/books, this is a fantastic place to be. There’s a lot going on and a million events a week and I’ve met so many amazing poets, writers, artists, musicians, publishers, etc since moving back. And obviously my family and old friends are here, and I’ve made a lot of new friends — so I enjoy myself! I don’t know if I’ll stay in Iowa City forever, but I’d be very happy to. Midwest for sure. 

Do you have a favorite song lyric?
I have a rotating cast of Fiona Apple lines.

What poem in your collection do you love most?
Like any good mother, I don’t have a favorite! I feel most embarrassed by the oldest poems in the collection (the sexy ones) simply because they aren’t how I write anymore, and aren’t what I’m interested in writing about anymore (though recently I’ve been writing sex poems again hehe). I feel most excited by the newest ones (“C”, “MY CHIPPED TOOTH FEELS GOOD LIKE”, and “WORLD ANGEL LOGISTICS”). I also love the “GLACIAL ERRATICS” poems and am excited to read them out loud at readings, they’re really fun to perform. I hope that eventually I’ll feel vaguely embarrassed by all of the poems in this book because that will mean I’m getting better.

What should we buy from your shop?
I printed myself a broadside of my poem “THE LIST OF FIELDS” which is the opening poem of Green for Luck. Available on my webshop!


I Know Why Everyone Hates The Tortured Poets Department (And I Love It)

I am a Taylor Swift fan but not a Swiftie. I have a ticket to see the Eras tour, but only because I was able to purchase one at face value. I have tried to convince a boyfriend, in Paris, that we should dance ’round the kitchen in the refrigerator light, while listening to Taylor Swift sing about doing exactly that, an exercise in imitation that I do not recommend, not least because how is this done? How does the refrigerator door stay open, so that it might shed its light? Do you stand there with one hand on the door and the other hand on your partner’s waist? Do you prop it open with a broom? Do you do this in time for the line to play while you are still dancing, rather than only figure it out in time for “22,” which is a completely different vibe, and not at all appropriate for dancing in a mostly dark kitchen in Paris?

I did not seek out the leaked Tortured Poets Department tracks, or even stay up late on Thursday watching the Spotify countdown timer tick down to zero, but I did listen to the new album on my way to the grocery store on Friday morning. I did not hear the hits! I heard the Post Malone song, and the Florence song, and a bunch of other songs that sounded quite a bit like each other. I walked into Hy-Vee listening to “Fortnight” and walked out with three oranges, two mangoes, and “Cornelia Street” playing through my headphones. I read the NME review, which concluded:

To a Melbourne audience of her Eras Tour, Swift said that ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ came from a “need” to write. It’s just that maybe we didn’t need to hear it.

Was this fair? Yes, I thought. It was fair. I read other, and more personally vexed takes on Reddit, many of which united on a central theme: Taylor had never matured in an appropriate and agreed-upon way of how a person’s maturation should unfold, though whether the blame fell to her status as a cosseted billionaire, or as a cosseted young star — was unknown. This was why she could only write songs about heartache or romantic foibles; no “I’ve been selling my soul working all day / Overtime hours for bullshit pay” from her. The album was not, in fact, about her longtime love, Joe Alwyn, and it would not function as a bookend to the album focused on their promising relationship, Lover. Instead, it was mostly about Matty Healy, of The 1975, the sort of person who says racist things on podcasts and about whom people tweet “What is wrong with this fucking guy” and 4800 people take a second out of their day to agree with them.

Matty and Taylor’s public relationship was brief. They had first connected in 2014, exchanging phone numbers; nine years later, in May 2023 — a month after the public end to the Alwyn relationship — they were photographed together in Nashville. (BTW if you google “matty taylor timeline” you will get 7.25 million results. This is the one I consulted.) The most empathetic comment put the question thusly: What if throughout the sad, slow end of her relationship with Joe Alwyn, Taylor had kept the idea of Matty Healy alive in her heart, a little flame nurtured carefully into a sort of guide light? What if throughout the end of that relationship, she had been led forward not quite into the unknown, but into a more exciting and dynamic and new relationship, with Healy? And what if it all blew up shortly thereafter? It’s the better, longer narrative: Joe was not the end of the story, but only the preamble, the set up to the fairy tale. Only that guy’s kind of a dick, maybe.

Can you imagine the disappointment? The way that that dream had sustained you through the end of a failing relationship, and you get there, only to realize it was vapor?

This, I think, is the disconnect between Taylor and the disappointed listeners in Taylor’s audience when it comes to this album: the incredulity that that guy should have been the cause of all this. He has not been relegated to footnotes. He got the whole fucking thing, and the NY Mag stories like ‘Is The Tortured Poets Department Really About Matty Healy?

The answer, obviously, is yes, and no one likes it, because Matty Healy seems like he sucks, and we’ve all had that friend who wouldn’t stop talking about that guy. The flavor of that guy is different: Maybe he’s not saying shitty things about Ice Spice. Maybe he’s sleeping on his ex-girlfriend’s couch (what?) or says he wants to keep things low-key because he’s moving to a commune in Bali. “That guy?” we say. “Are you serious?”

Long relationships can end with nothing left to say — and, presumably, no songs left to write. The almost-guy relationships, though — you have so much to say! You have so much to say to that guy! To your friends! (“I look unstable, gathered with a coven around a sorceress’ table.”) To anyone who will listen! Because unlike your boyfriend of six years, the almost-guy wasn’t obligated to stay and listen, whether as a matter of courtesy or hope or obligation! The almost-guy felt possibly none of those things! He’s probably got his own stuff to deal with! Of course Taylor is going feral! Of course all these songs sound the same! As all of us who’ve loved and lost an almost-person will know, a huge part of these relationships are spent trying to understand what the fuck just happened! And nearly all 31 songs on this double album are precisely that! Trying to understand how someone just swooped in and destroyed your life and then poofed fucking right off the stage!

In this context, the point is not the hits: The point is the gestalt, the whole; the point is that you can start enter this album like a body of water, travel through different temperatures, and exit it, having only swum through a single body of water. No wonder the album is so replete with references to poetry and writing — I know people criticize her for her prominently, and pridefully, displayed songwriter’s badge, but this is mostly misogyny, and what else was she supposed to do? Run it out? Start a career as a boxer? Throw pottery, move to the ocean? What do people do when they need to metabolize their heartbreak? Taylor is a writer, so she wrote about it: endlessly, discursively, repetitively, beautifully. I love this album. I love that you can swim in it for hours, and that it is telling us the same thing in 100 different ways: He blew her up from the inside out, and she’s still figuring out what the fuck happened.

I am also a writer, and I have written two books. I have had long and substantial relationships, but I have not written about them. My first book, which I wrote in my early 20s, was mostly about a man I dated for a little under two months, and who then slept with my boss. (I say “then,” as if these events were sequential, but I mean “while dating me.”) Why did he do this? Didn’t he ever like me? Didn’t he like me more than Fiona, at least? And if I may quote myself, from a different story, but appropriate here: “The question was not terrible only because it was terrible; it was terrible because she could not solve it, and so she kept asking. It occupied her mind like a song she could not place, played endlessly and at an incredible volume.” 

This album is that process: an investigation, a trial conducted with the accused in absentia, with no hope for justice. At least there seems to be little hope for love in the songs themselves, which is, in my opinion, Taylor’s gift to us, since we all saw what happened after Matty Healy departed the stage. Yes, there are some apparent references to Travis Kelce, including “You know how to ball, I know Aristotle” from “So High School.” But there aren’t many. Maybe TTPD was the album she had to write to get right with herself, and start a new life with a football player. I bet when the next new album comes around, we’ll look back at this one with a sense of loss, and newer, hotter takes on the TTPD-era Taylor, the one who offered us a magnifying glass to dissect her broken heart. I bet her next album with have fun beats, and cool remixes, and very little to say about Travis and their lives together. As every writer knows, you keep the good ones to yourself.

le perchoir 15th

A Running List of the Coolest Places in Paris

What is cool! Everyone’s cool is different from everyone else’s — so when I say this is the list of the coolest places to go in Paris, I definitively mean that it is my list. Ergo: more bookstores than restaurants, more shops than bars. Your list will be different from mine, but I stand by all these picks.

Le Pavillon des Canaux: the sunniest, basin-side café/live music venue in the city. 39 quai de la Loire, 75019

La Recyclerie: Basically the same thing (a combo art space/café/brunch experience), but in the 18th, just below the flea markets at Saint Ouen. 83 bd Ornano, 75018

La Bellevilloise: Maybe one more? A live music/art space with more of a nightclub vibe than the two spots immediately above. 19-21 rue Boyer, 75020

Le Perchoir: This brand has four super-style-y cafés/bars — I love the rooftop one in Menilmontant, but I’m very interested in seeing the new one in the 15th at Porte de Versailles (pictured above), not far from the new Mama Shelter hotel, Mama West. Menilmontant: 14 rue Crespin du Gast, 75011. Porte de Versailles: 2 av. de la Porte de la Plaine

Jacques’ cocktail bar at the Hoxton (very close to the Sézane on rue Saint-Fiacre!). 30-32 rue du Sentier

Yvon Lambert: Artists’ books, art books, magazines, a gallery space, and more — maybe my favorite bookstore in Paris? 14 rue des Filles du Calvaire

0fr: My other favorite bookstore in Paris? More books about art and design, fewer artists’ books. 20 rue Dupetit-Thouars, 75003

Empreintes: Like if all the most beautiful ceramics makers in the world banded together and built their own four-story shop. 5 rue de Picardie, 75003

Café Saint-Regis: I wrote a huge portion of my book here, driving $8 Diet Cokes. 6 rue Jean du Bellay, 75004

Galignani: A half-English, half-French bookstore that has a beautiful gallery of books organized by the author’s country of origin in the back. 224 rue de Rivoli, 75001

Hemingway Bar at the Ritz: Wildly overpriced but still worth it?? 15 pl. Vendôme, 75001

Mmmozza: There are no better sandwiches in Paris (except for those formerly made by the guy with a sandwich shop in the lobby of my old apartment building, who chucked it and went back to Italy. But these are beyond great, too.) 57 rue de Bretagne, 75003

Bouillon Pigalle: A modern take on the traditional cantine, I’m obsessed — the food is both delicious and cheap, by Paris standards. 22 bd de Clichy, 75018

Le Bon Marché: My favorite department store in Paris, and often the site of large installations by leading artists. Equally good for the food hall across the street, La Grande Épicerie. 24 rue de Sèvres, 75007

Merci: Like Empreintes, but with clothing and design objects and super good, location-specific collections. 111 bd Beaumarchais, 75003

Peniche: It’s a boat! It’s a bookstore! It’s a boat! It’s a bookstore! Somehow it also serves brunch! 9 quai de l’Oise, 75019

Palais de Tokyo: I feel like this is definitively the coolest major art space in Paris, though obviously the experience there depends on the quality of whatever exhibition they are presenting. 13 av. du Président Wilson, 75116

Breizh: My go-to for fancy, not-inexpensive crêpes. Several locations