Lindsey is a food & travel writer based in Paris. Musings on food, love, life and struggles in Paris from a Philadelphia native. She is a Philadelphian expat who fell in love with a Frenchman and moved to Paris.
It’s not only travelers that are astounded by the sheer number of cultural institutions and art museums in Paris — locals like me could spend their whole lives trying to experience it all. And that includes museums with far less name recognition than the marquee attractions that find their way onto most traveler’s itineraries.
Emma Jacobs, illustrator and multimedia journalist, has cleverly captured those smaller but no less important institutions into one beautiful book, The Little(r) Museums of Paris, which includes brief histories, anecdotes, and a number of watercolor surprises. In anticipation of the book’s release on June 4th, Emma has graciously provided an excerpt that highlights some of the museums whose inspirations go well beyond France.
1 rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 5e 01 40 51
Tue, Wed, Fri: 10am–6pm | Thu, Sat, Sun: 10am–7pm
Adult: €8 | Under 26: €4
Metro 7 10 Jussieu
At the opening of the Institut du Monde
Arabe (IMA) in 1980, then-President François Mitterrand said the project undertaken
with member nations of the Arab League represented “the friendship, the
French-Arab understanding,” that “the cultures and civilizations should
continue to come together.”
This was a politically cautious description
of a complicated relationship. Coming out of the oil crisis of the 1970s, and
just twenty years after decolonization, France did have ties and familiarity
with the League’s member-nations. But that came with historical baggage,
particularly France’s colonial involvement in North and West Africa and the
French architect Jean Nouvel created an
innovative home for the IMA, incorporating visual motifs from the Arab world in
a light-filled building with an unusual feature—windows with photoreceptive
cells that could respond to the sun to regulate light and heat.
The permanent exhibition originally focused
on Islamic art but was redone for the institute’s twenty-fifth anniversary in
2012. It now presents themes including early developments in science and ocean
navigation, archaeological finds, and architecture.
rue Payenne, 3e 01 44 78 80 20
2pm–8pm | Fri–Sun: noon–8pm; Free; Metro 8 Chemin Vert
Sweden’s only cultural center abroad owes
its existence to Gunnar Lundberg, Sweden’s cultural ambassador to France in the
1960s. Planning to donate his extensive art collection to his country, he
thought the sixteenth-century Hôtel de Marle would provide a suitable showcase.
He convinced the Swedish government to purchase the then-dilapidated mansion in
the Marais in 1965 and carry out extensive restorations.
Lundberg’s and the institute’s permanent
collection highlight artistic exchange between France and Sweden, including
five Swedish artists inducted into the Académie Française in the eighteenth
Temporary shows of contemporary Swedish
artists take place on the lower floors. Another highlight of the institute is
its popular, light-filled coffee shop offering tasty Swedish pastries.
Musée national des arts asiatiques-Guimet
MUSEUM OF ASIAN ARTS-GUIMET
6 place d’Iéna, 16e 01 56 52 53 00
Wed–Mon: 10am–6pm Adult: €11.50 | 18–25 yrs: €8.50 | Under 18: Free
Metro 9 Alma-Marceau
In 1876, industrialist Émile Guimet convinced the French government to give him a diplomatic
passport and a letter attesting that he was on an official mission to study
Asian religions, then left on a two-year trip across the continent.
“The work of art,” Guimet believed, “does
not reveal the secret of its form and the full enjoyment of its beauty without
prior knowledge of the myths and symbols.” He first created a museum and
library on Asian religions from his personal collection in Lyon but later
concluded it deserved the larger public it could reach in Paris. Eventually,
the Guimet Museum also received the Louvre’s Asian collections.
The layout of the galleries still emphasizes historical context, following religious and aesthetic movements as they crossed the continent.
In 1871, Henri Cernuschi and art critic
Théodore Duret traveled from France across the United States and sailed from
San Francisco across the Pacific to Yokohama.
In Japan, Cernuschi, who had made a fortune
in banking, would buy art and antiquities at an exceptional scale. Dealers
brought hundreds of antiques for him to review on a daily basis. Cernuschi
bought an enormous seventeenth-century bronze Buddha from a fire-damaged temple
outside Tokyo, despite objections from neighboring residents.
Duret wrote Impressionist painter Édouard
Manet that his traveling companion was bringing back “a collection of bronzes
the like of which has never been seen anywhere. There are pieces that will bowl
you over; that is all I am telling you.”
Back in Paris, Cernuschi built a town house
designed to showcase his collections on the fashionable Parc Monceau. He never
returned to Asia but continued to acquire Asian, as well as European, art and
artifacts for the rest of his life. He left the town house and all of his Asian
art to the city of Paris, which opened the museum in 1898.
Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme
OF JEWISH ART AND HISTORY
71 rue du Temple, 3e 01 53 01 86 53
Tue, Thu, Fri: 11am–6pm | Wed: 11am–9pm | Sat, Sun: 11am–7pm
Adult: €10.50 | 18–25 yrs: €5.50
Metro 11 Rambuteau
While France’s history is well-represented
in the museum, the collection actually traces the movement of Jews and Jewish
culture throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and farther afield. Religious
objects made in different regions show the assimilation of local artistic
traditions—from pagoda-shaped Torah ornaments from a nineteenth-century
Iraqi-Jewish community in Shanghai to menorahs with North African geometric
Many of this institution’s most treasured pieces
were assembled by composer Isaac Strauss, considered the first collector of
Judaica, in the mid-nineteenth century.
Museum director Paul Salmona said this museum,
with its survey of Jewish themes, plays a role in combating prejudices,
particularly in a time of resurgent anti-Semitism in France.
“It’s a way of providing a human, cultural reality of Judaism,” he said, “to show the richness and diversity of Jewish cultures.”
When America’s leading baking magazine, Bake from Scratch, asks you to contribute a story on how bread baking has changed in Paris in recent years, you not only jump at the chance, you jump ensuring you have an appetite for the nibbling you’ll do while researching!
If you read the food and dining chapter in my book The New Paris, you’ve had a solid introduction into the symbolic role of bread on Parisian tables, at home and in restaurants, and how a handful of bakers worked to make hearty loaves made from sourdough and ancient grains a real companion to any meal, not merely a side affair. In Beyond the Baguette, published in Bake from Scratch Magazine’s French issue (March / April 2019), I take it a bit further and look at a wide range of bakers who weren’t about to let the tradition and art of bread making become a cultural footnote due to mediocrity and mass production and have pioneered a spirited bread revival.
In case you need more enticing, the issue also features kitchen tours and interviews with David Lebovitz and Dorie Greenspan, incredible cake recipes from my dear friend Frank Barron (also known as Cake Boy Paris!), that were inspired by specific French patisseries, a trip to Beaune to meet two of my favorite women in Burgundy — The Cook’s Atelier — and so much more. Plus, all of the stories I mentioned above were photographed by my talented friend Joann Pai, whom you will see more of on my site very soon since she photographed my second book!
In case you don’t have access to the magazine near you in the United States (I’ve been told it’s readily available at Whole Foods markets and Barnes & Noble but you can also order it online), you can download a digital version — you’ll want the recipes inside, no matter what form they come in! Bonne lecture and happy baking this spring.
2 — SPECIALTY COFFEE SUBSCRIPTION Get freshly roasted specialty coffee delivered to your door from Parisian coffee roasters Belleville Brulerie (France and Europe delivery only… for now!)
3 — TRAVEL-INSPIRED FRAGRANCES FROM L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR L’Artisan Parfumeur, the original small-batch perfumer launched in 1976 that regularly works with the world’s leading noses, has launched travel-inspired scents that I can’t get enough of (and that’s saying a lot since it’s taken me *years* to find fragrances that didn’t set off a migraine!). The house began by rolling out Bucoliques de Provence, a scent that evokes the lavender fields in Grasse (which I wear almost every day), then Un Air de Bretagne, a scent inspired by Brittany’s sea breeze and most recently, Mandarina Corsica ,which recalls the island’s warm nights in early summer through a sweet and sharp citrus notes. I highly recommend them all for fragrance lovers.
4 — LIMITED EDITION DIPTYQUE CANDLES (Shown: Exquisite Almond) Confession: a Diptyque candle at the holidays is as much about the specially-commissioned design as the scent itself. That said, I’ve been a big fan of these collections in recent years and this year’s iteration is equally as beautiful. Dreamed up by French designer and artist Pierre Marie (who regularly designs prints for Hermes scarves), the collection features whimsical folkore-inspired illustrations that make them keepsakes long after the last burn.
5 — PETIT TEA CUPS BY GIEN 200-year old Faience maker Gien is still going strong with new collaborations and new collections, including these tea and espresso cups (or gobelets, as they call them). I discovered them at La Trésorerie, a homewares store I love in the 10th arrondissement, and bought some in mint green. Fortunately, you don’t have to come to Paris to find them — they ship internationally and their products are carried at stores around the world. If you don’t know the brand’s back story, you’re in for a treat!
6 — SCENTED MATCHES FROM L’OFFICINE UNIVERSELLE BULY Old-timey in the best way possible. Why scented matches? They’re far less expensive than a candle and equally as effective at perfuming ambient air (and slip into a stocking very nicely). According to Buly, the deodorizing power of matches has been attested for centuries and are excellent for sanitizing a restroom quickly and innocuously (in other words: put down the chemical air freshener!).
7 — HANDMADE HANDBAG FROM PARISIAN LABEL FAUVETTE If you read “The New Paris”, you already know about Fauvette, the leather goods brand from Claire Rischette. My father gave me one of her small bucket bags from an earlier collection for a milestone birthday and I’ve followed her ever since. Her latest collection is stunning and can be personalized — a different color leather, monogrammed, etc. Far more unique than an LV, wouldn’t you say?
8 — SNUGGLY SLIPPERS FROM LE SLIP FRANCAIS Or Charentaises as these guys are officially known since they’re made in Charente! Le Slip Français began as an undergarment brand and evolved into broader leisure items but one of my favorites are their comfortable slippers. What makes all of their goods special is their craftsmanship — the brand works exclusively with specialized ateliers and workshops across France (hence the higher cost) and has effectively kept many of these companies in business as a result. Not only for the items themselves but for their tags and all of the furnishings in their brick-and-mortar shops.
9 — A SUSTAINABLE WEEKENDER BAG BY RIVE DROITE PARIS I’ve turned so many people onto this small, women-run brand and am happy to do so because I love their designs and their commitment to fighting fashion waste: their goods are upcycled, made from offcut and surplus fabrics. More about their vision here!
10 — MESSAGE ON A KEYCHAIN Back to Fauvette! Another stocking stuffer (or anytime gift, really) that is affordable and absolutely lovely — a leather keychain that she’ll personalize with a word or two. You can also choose from the pre-designed models like Maison, Bisou, and Maman <3 Order online or pick them up directly at Atelier Couronnes, the boutique she co-owns with jewelry designer Louise Damas (also featured in “The New Paris”!).
11 — A LITTLE LOTION BY BULY After the scented matches, you might as well go for the très utile Pommade Concrète, hand and foot cream, another stocking/handbag/briefcase stuffer and nightstand staple you’ll be glad to have in the dryness of winter.
And coming in January 2019: “The New Paris” audio book! Many of you have written to inquire about the availability of such a version and it’s finally being produced as we speak. More on this soon! Until then, have a wonderful end of the year, bonnes fêtes, and see you back here soon.
For the French, the fleeting interlude between a long workday and the evening meal is not meant to be hectic or crazed. Instead, that time is a much needed chance to pause, take a breath, and reset with light drinks and snacks. As a ritual, it goes back generations. Whether it’s a quick affair before dinner or a lead-up to a more lavish party, apéritif is about kicking off the night, rousing the appetite, and doing so with social connection.
For food stylist and author Rebekah Peppler, a longtime fan of spirits, the fascination with the tradition of apéro actually began when she was still in Brooklyn, unaware of its existence. In her new book Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way(Clarkson Potter) she writes, “I was sick of paying twelve dollars a round, so I started stocking my bar and bringing cocktail hour home. While my lovely, sun-drenched, 250-square-foot studio was, well, 250 square feet, there was a roof. It wasn’t much, but it was big with a view of Manhattan. In good weather, the roof became an extension of my apartment: a dining room, a living room, a place to gather to watch the sun drop and usher in the evening, drinks in hand.“ When she moved to France, she understood that very ritual had a name.
The act of making time for apéro itself is as ingrained as the drinks and snacks served — all of which are covered in the book, its chapters divided by the (environmental) temperatures in which one would likely consume them. Peppeler includes original cocktail recipes that use lighter, low-alcohol spirits, fortified wines, and bitter liqueurs that have influences from both Old World and New, but are always low fuss and served barely embellished—an easy feat to pull off for the relaxed host at home. The bites she includes are equally as breezy (think Radishes with Poppy Butter, Gougères, Ratatouille Dip, and Buckwheat-Sel Gris Crackers). Favorite recipes from leading bartenders and historical context/pop-culture anecdotes for each of the go-to aperitif spirits make it a smart and useful guide.
But writing the book was also a revelatory experience for Rebekah, something she explains in depth in my interview with her on the latest episode of The New Paris podcast. There, we talk about the tradition of apéro, the spirits, the modern execution of the ritual, the photography by Joann Pai and a whole lot more. Stream the episode on my website HERE or subscribe and listen on iTunes! And of course, pick up your copy — the book hits shelves today!
Podcaster Oliver Gee is midway through a massive scooter ride across France with his wife. He says the unusual experience has skyrocketed his French skills. Here’s how…..
There’s no better way to improve your French than to drive through 200 French villages. Preferably on a little red scooter. And I should know, because I’ve just done exactly that.
Now let’s put a few things in perspective before I share the story with you. When I left Paris on this honeymoon adventure six weeks ago, I spoke about a 7/10 French. Now I’d give it a 9/10. A 10/10, for the record, would be another foreigner who speaks French fluently (let’s face it, few of us are ever going to match the natives at their own game).
And why? Because it’s hard to improve your French in Paris. As soon as a Parisian smells a native English-speaker’s accent, they love to switch to English. To make matters worse, it’s criminally easy to befriend fellow immigrants – especially if you don’t have a French partner – and to languish forever in your native language.
But this doesn’t happen in the French countryside. For one thing, people in small French villages typically speak less English than their distant Parisian neighbours. And on top of that, they’ve got a lot more patience than Parisians to allow you to get through whatever you’re trying to say.
And then, perhaps most importantly, actually living through daily life and struggles in the French villages catapults you way past the boulangerie-level French you may be used to speaking in Paris.
For example, I wish I’d never had to learn the translation for maladie de lyme (Lyme Disease) but that was exactly the diagnosis of my doctor in La Sourn.
The deputy mayor of Castelmoron d’Albret, the smallest village in France, went scrambling for his thesaurus to explain what he meant when he called me “malin” (which meant, it turned out, something between clever and smart-alec).
Further south near Toulouse, a woman gave me my first glimpse of the famous southern twang when she offered me what sounded like “peng”, but which turned out to be “pain” (bread). Everywhere else it’s pronounced puh, but not in the southwest. I’m still getting used to it.
And I had no idea how how to talk about brake pads on a scooter until mine failed somewhere near La Rochelle. They’re called les plaquettes de frein, in case you ever need to know too. And it was two wheat farmers who came to the rescue, telling me they’d never met an Australian and wanted to know about life on the other side of the world.
In short, the best way to improve your French is obviously to use it, which can be harder than you’d think in a big city like Paris. But my advice: Take on an adventure, add a dash of danger and a hint of romance, and you’ll find a willing and attentive audience across the French countryside. Just remember to clean your brake pads.
Oliver Gee runs The Earful Tower podcast. He’s currently halfway through his honeymoon trip and he’s podcasting every step of the way. Join him for the next 2,500 km by following on Facebook and listening to his show HERE.
A few of the books I’ve picked up and enjoyed this summer — more coming throughout the fall! Bonne lecture!
In the French Kitchen with Kids This debut cookbooks by my friend Mardi Michels, a Toronto-based food blogger, teacher, and lifelong Francophile, takes all of the complication out of French cooking and baking with step-by-step guidance and tips to make the process fun for the whole family. Mardi brings to the table years of experience running cooking classes twice a week for 7-12 year-old boys from her school (they go by the name Les Petits Chefs!). You can be sure these recipes have been vetted, tasted, practiced a hundred times or more and loved. Spoiler: everyone I know who cooks with their children is getting a copy from me for the holidays!
Travels Through the French Riviera
This is a beautiful, illustrated guide to France’s cinematic coastline by artist Virginia Johnson. Some first land in Paris, others somewhere along the French Riviera, like Johnson. Charmed by the light, « absurd beauty » and abundance of rich colors after a first visit during adolescence, the artist returned to dream up this guide, as inspirational as it is practical.
The Lost Vintage I first discovered Ann Mah’s work years ago, when she was living in Paris full time and had recently published her first novel, Kitchen Chinese. She went on to write a tremendous reference for the cuisines of France with Mastering the Art of French Eating, equal parts memoir and historical guide. With her latest novel, we’re taken on a much different kind of journey but one that is as historically rich and personally moving as her previous work. Mah’s story largely takes place in Burgundy where her heroine returns to her family’s home to prepare for her Master of Wine exam. Unexpectedly, she finds herself faced with more than just the history of her family’s vineyard; she uncovers WWII resistance relics and wine hidden from the Germans, leading her on a trail to discover the truth about their involvement during the occupation. A profound, exquisitely written book whose end you’ll never want to reach.
The Measure of My Powers
The Paris-memoir genre, as written by foreign authors, generally follows a theme with little variation: whether by luck, circumstance or perserverence, the narrator ends up in Paris. After the intense urban love affair peaks, drama unfolds — heartbreak, rejection, linguistic fails, you name it. Eventually, the city either succeeds or fails to ease the narrator along on the path of self-reflection and integration and we follow them as they grow or move on. What I loved about Jackie Kai Ellis’s book was that Paris wasn’t the headlining star — it was truly Ellis herself, documenting her journey through an unhappy marriage, crippling depression, pastry school in Paris, the success of Beaucoup Bakery, the company she started and eventually sold in Vancouver, and transformative travel experiences in France, Italy and the Congo, to ultimately finding herself and crafting a future for herself in Paris. Though in more of a supporting role, the city ultimately taught Ellis the abiding lessons she needed to learn to shore up her sense of self when she needed it most and nourished her — both figuratively and literally — on the long road to joy. It’s precisely the edifying power of Paris as Ellis describes, with great insight and honesty, that can open our own eyes to an entirely different side of the city.
Paris in Stride With her new book Paris in Stride, my friend, la très talentueuse illustrator Jessie Kanelos Weiner alongside writer Sarah Moroz, dreamed up a clever and inspiring guide to strolling Paris with must-visits, things to eat and facts to remember along the way. “When developing the idea behind Paris in Stride, I asked myself the question, ‘what makes Paris timeless? What are the little details that preserve its visual DNA, drawing tourists back time and time again?’” explained Jessie when I asked her about the particular challenge she faced in producing a book like this. The result is a book that is as pragmatic as it is beautiful with over 150 gorgeous watercolor illustrations and maps of architectural marvels, gardens, historical highlights, cultural hubs, markets, food and wine favorites, and a host of other elements that draw generations of dreamers and artists to Paris.
Eat Like a Local in Paris Slight self-promotion: I was one of the handful of writers / photographers asked to contribute her thoughts on a whole host of dining options in Paris for the Paris edition of the series Eat like a Local. It came out this summer and is an incredibly useful, visual tool to where to eat and for what occasion! On top of that, it was photographed by my friend Joann Pai, who will be photographing my next book! More news on that coming soon.