If you settle for the typical “Le Chat Noir” postcard and think you’re sending something unique to your friends in the States, then you’ve sold yourself short to the touristic confines of Paris.
Walking along the cobblestones of Montmartre the other day, my eyes glanced over a rack of neon-colored postcards displayed on the street. I stopped in my tracks and turned around, my eyes adjusting to the neon amidst the warm fall colors lining the streets. I was greeted by a card with the word “salope” (bitch) printed on it, and then another sporting “petite bite” (little dick).
I have to say, Montmartre isn’t given enough credit by Parisians. While people rush to frequent the “hipster” spots centered around République, they overlook the other gems of Paris. My ex-boyfriend, who grew up in Paris and dares not leave his 10ème boundaries, was shocked when he starting exploring Montmartre while I was living by Lamarck-Caulaincourt. “There is no place more beautiful than Montmartre,” he once told me, as spring was just about to bloom on the hilltop village neighborhood.
Not only is Montmartre a stunning backdrop for soul-searching walks during every season, it’s also where you can find unadulterated jewels like Sérigraphie Montmartre. Relatively undiscovered by hipsters who choose to wander only in the “cool” neighborhoods, you’ll find postcards, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and canvas bags printed with funky, Paris-themed designs, and all for an affordable price. I bought this t-shirt for €15, which I love:
The studio is run by a young man named Victor Gouteyron. He wears a paint-splattered apron, and he does all of the designs and printing himself. While I was perusing the prints and additional antique treasures for sale at the shop, tourists wandered in and out, taking advantage of the original designs and low prices that haven’t been hiked up yet by hipster crowds popularizing the place.
I asked Gouteyron why he didn’t use Instagram to market his unique and quirky designs. They would really pick up quickly with the young people of Paris, I said! His recurring themes of drugs, gentrification of neighborhoods like Barbès, and mainstream pop culture symbols (Adidas’ Stan Smiths) truly resonate with the interests of many young Parisians today.
Gouteyron responded that it’s better when people find out about his shop through word of mouth. How sad is it, he asked, when people only visit a certain store because they’ve researched it on the Internet? Why doesn’t anyone just wander and discover anymore??? So I must give you my deepest apologies, Victor, if I have sent customers your way because of this Internet blog post. I thought your designs were too fresh not to be shared.
Each postcard you see above costs €1 each. T-shirts run for €15, and sweatshirts cost €35. Does Gouteyron take credit card? “HELL NO,” he’ll respond in English.
Enjoy your pop-culture prints, and thank you, Gouteyron, for painting us accurate pictures of Parisian youth culture to hang up on our walls.
Don’t be fooled by the title—Love is no romantic comedy safe for a first date. This is a film about the sperm, fluid, and tears of love, not the predictable feel-good story lines that chicks love.
Gaspar Noé’s new film features a passionate romance shared by Murphy, an expat American studying film in Paris, and Electra, a French art student. The pair’s chemistry isn’t electric—the majority of their conversations involves Murphy blurting out “deep” questions (que frat boy drawl: “What is love? What do you wanna name your kids? If I got you pregnant, what would you do? What is your sexual fantasy????”) and Electra answering coyly in her sexy accent. The conversations these two have are, frankly, so dull to listen in on. But that’s what Noé’s “love” is: it transforms the average boring and mundane comment into something ten times funnier, deeper, and more interesting. Noé shows that it doesn’t really matter what you’re saying, because from the first few moments you meet, you already have this amazing connection based on a mixture of body language, eye contact, reactions, and other factors I haven’t figured out yet.
Murphy and Electra’s relationship progresses from a bubble of happy and endless dumb stares into each others eyes to shrieking insults at each other in a taxi after both proving themselves as cheating and deceitful lovers. However, one thing remains constant throughout it all: the sex. Until the end of their relationship, love and sex are tied together. Prepare yourself for 3D projectile cum shots, a 10-minute opening scene of a hand job, and a threesome with a minor.
Look past the sex, however, and you’ll see Noé’s subtle depiction of love: something so passionate, so volatile, and so baseless. Murphy’s tactless questions and the couple’s dumb conversations might lead some audience members to believe that Noé’s idea of young love is based on sex. But this is proven untrue by the introduction of the third member of the threesome: Omi, the alluring 16-year-old neighbor who will later be the mother of Murphy’s child. But Murphy never falls in love with “hot” Omi. Sex is a huge part of love, but it doesn’t create that magic, pulling connection that two young lovers share.
I know I’ve gotten into spoiling the film quite a bit now, but the point is this: watch the film, and go alone. Because if you’re spending the entire time giggling with your uncomfortable girlfriends when an on-screen penis cums into your lap, it’s harder to understand the subtle messages about love that Noé includes in his film. Love is not a predictable thing. We can’t tell who we’re going to have a connection with, no matter how bad their frat boy drawl is, and why we do or don’t. Love just is this crazy idea that makes you so engrossed in someone else’s being, and when it’s absent, it’s easy to see how boring or not stimulating those people really are.
Apart from the message, the film’s got a killer soundtrack, beautiful 3D shots, and editing that mimics the blink of an eye, making the progression of scenes so much more human. This movie is real, it’s raw, and honestly, it’s 100% the kind of love I die for.
Check out the trailer for the UK release below (most Safe for Work and comprehensive of the plot), which gives me the chills every time.
Enjoy a picnic at Paris’ free outdoor concerts on the Fete de la Musique.
If you’re reading this in Paris and you’re debating on whether you should check out Versailles or the Louvre today, do neither. Every June 21 is France’s Fete de la Musique, a country-wide celebration of music with public concerts on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
There are hundreds of concerts held each year in Paris alone, dedicated to all genres of music.
Interested in exploring world music? Promenade tonight through the gardens of the Palais Royal, where 4000-9000 people are expected to attend and share their own music talents.
Feeling hot to show off your head banging skillz? Walk around the Place de la République and enjoy the rock and alternative concerts in this hip neighborhood of Paris.
For blues lovers to jazz appreciators to pop music enthusiasts, the Fete de la Musique is a day of partying to one of the best and most powerful things in life: music, which can lift us up when we’re feeling down and change the world through its message and song. Take part in this celebration of human creativity on June 21, and check out the programme to see the thousands of concerts available today in Paris, France, and other countries around the world.
Calling all cocktail connoisseurs and rookies alike: it’s Paris’ first-ever Paris Cocktail Week, meaning you can try CRAFT COCKTAILS for about one or two euros LESS than normal prices!!!!!!!
Yes, you read that right. One or two, or maybe even three, euros off what are usually €12-16 drinks. I’m not complaining; the celebration of the recent exploding cocktail fad in Paris is a glorious thing and I’ll take discounts any day.
I just want you, dear reader, to be informed: if you’ve been dying to try out a trendy craft bar in Paris for a while, check out the list of participating bars here to see if you can save a few euros on a beautifully-garnished craft cocktail.
Mind you, not all cocktails available on regular menus will be discounted. Each bar has created a unique reduced-priced drink specifically for this week.
On the left: Le Mary Celeste’s zesty cocktail for Paris Cocktail Week. Right: One of Little Red Door’s manly cocktails.
This first-time celebration is keeping up with the growing Parisian cocktail revolution. After interviewing a few bartenders, I found that just several years ago, there were maybe two or three bars dedicated to craft cocktails. Now, American-inspired cocktails can be found in almost any neighborhood brasserie.
The bars on the Paris Cocktail Week program are some of the most unique, trendy, chic, hipster, and thematic hangout spots in Paris. The ambiances are movie-like. You won’t find your run-of-the-mill dive bars on this list of the best of the bestof Parisian bars.
If anything, I recommend checking out these bars during this slightly-discounted festivity just for the ambiance. Cocktails are hip, cocktails are cool, so where there are cocktails, there are hip Parisians. You’ll meet some of Paris’s coolest minglers at Paris Cocktail Week, that’s for certain.
Le Perchoir is one of the participating bars in Paris Cocktail Week.
Even when I leave Paris for just a week, my heart sinks, knowing I’ll have to leave behind watching old men with plaid felt caps hoist themselves onto buses or the way my corner bakery lets me take baguettes home on credit when I’m short on change. I consider this city my home in the world now, and it’s hard to leave my life constantly filled with scheduled immigration meetings and spontaneous rendez-vous at the Christmas markets.
As I’m currently home in southern California for the holidays, here’s my list of the top 10 things I miss about Paris after each time I tearfully wave goodbye to the Eiffel Tower.
1. Eating bread every day. At every meal. For every snack.
I’m seriously suffering gluten withdrawals in southern California, the land of acai bowls and wheat shots. I miss having people not judge me as I walk down a Parisian street stuffing an entire baguette into my mouth. Why isn’t eating a loaf of bread in one meal normal outside of Europe?
2. Light in the City of Light.
And I’m not just talking about the electric ones that light up Paris so magically by night. I’m talking about the daylight, from watching the sun rise over the Haussmannian rooftops in the early morning to the beautiful sunsets that provide a pink backdrop for the Eiffel Tower. A girl in one of my classes once told me that her favorite thing about Paris was the way the light hits this city in particular, and take a look around to see what she’s talking about: you’re walking around on a perfectly-lit movie set, with soft light hitting the Seine to make it sparkle *~just so.~*
3. First-rate food at almost every restaurant in town.
There’s hardly ever a need to Yelp before choosing a restaurant in Paris. If you’re out on a romantic stroll with your sweetheart and decide to spontaneously sit down at the nearest café, you can rest assured that the food will be nothing but what you’re used to: excellent. Gastronomy is sacred to the French, and this is why you can sit down in pretty much any restaurant in town and expect an amazing meal.
4. Walking to get around.
There are three reasons I love walking in Paris: 1) It’s like walking through a 1920’s movie set, 2) I can get to most places I need to be in 30 minutes or less (maybe in combination with the metro for getting to the outer arrondissements, but Paris really is a walkable city), and 3) I hardly ever feel unsafe here.
5. Bouncing off of that, the metro.
One of the biggest things I loved about Paris the first time I visited was how every metro was beautifully decorated in its own style, whether it be with colored spotlights or mosaic walls. Besides the artwork, which is sometimes shrouded behind the mist of a homeless person’s piss, one of the best things about Paris is the tangible sense of a community. Even though the pearl-wearing grandmothers may eye you up and down when you step onto the metro, one of the biggest things I miss is being a part of that underground train car, watching my fellow Parisians interact or find ways to pass the time until their stop. This is something you don’t get in my hometown, where everyone drives in their own cars everywhere, isolating themselves from each other.
6. The manifestations.
You may blame my love for Parisian protests on my being a fairly new inhabitant of the city, but I think the Parisian fighting spirit is incredibly inspiring. The history of this city is ancient and charged, from the multitude of revolutions the French citizens ignited to today’s democracy that was truly built from the bottom up. When I see huge manifestations, or protests, I see this as a source of pride for the Parisians: a pride in the fact that peaceful demonstrations for political, economic, and social change usually works. This politically-active city is self-assured that when things don’t seem fair, the people’s voice usually prevails.
7. The style.
I’m floored by some of the women who confidently walk past me on the street, dressed head to toe in the perfect chic combination of clothes, while looking like they pieced everything together effortlessly at the last minute (***this is the mostimportantpart for those of you looking for Paris Chic style inspiration: be effortless***). And the men all look like they just stepped out of a Land’s End catalog during the winter. I have a feeling that part of the education in the French system is learning how to wrap your scarf perfectly over your cardigan or what colors and trends will always be in style (black, Converse). Plus, these people are always dressed classy: I think I’ve only spotted high-waisted shorts once while walking around Paris.
8. Graffiti and the artistic spirit.
Even if you’ve been living in Paris for years, the streets will never look the same: the face of Paris is continually changing because of its abundant street art. Graffiti and urban art adorn ancient apartment buildings, sometimes as political and social commentaries, and sometimes for purely artistic means. I take pride in a city where someone cared enough to create a beautiful mural of flowers over a historic city building, adding to the story of the structure. And the artsy spirit extends beyond the external graffiti—I love when I stumble upon an underground art gallery showing and how a large chunk of advertisements in Paris are for the many new and constantly shifting exhibits around Paris.
Because where else can you enjoy two bottles of wine, a loaf of bread, fresh fruits and vegetables (grown without hormones or additives), and cheese in a country that offers over 350 types, and sit for hours chatting away with friends as you become tipsier and tipsier and this is all publicly acceptable???
10. French children.
Because when they speak so effortlessly, we are reminded of our inability and constant struggle to speak this beautiful and complex language. Seeing French kids scooter and skateboard around the city in packs is also a part of the French charm: even though Paris is one of the largest international hubs of tourism in the world, the French still maintain their cultural values in this urban cityscape. The small-town mindset in a major city is what allows youth to roam freely, yet another reason why Paris is a city unlike any other.
Welcome to Hangar 56, the underground artist’s collective that is continually morphing and feeding off of the creative energies of artists, musicians, photographers, dancers, bondage girls and paper airplane crafters alike.
The gallery opens up to the public every first and third Sunday of the month in organized events called the “Portes Ouvertes.” These open door events include hair sculpting in which an expert hair artist shaves a design into your head, a secondhand shop where you’re not required to pay for anything, and a gallery with artwork from up-and-coming artists for sale all accompanied by free live music.
Hair sculpture artist Jeff Décoiffage styles hair for free at Hangar 56.
Silk screen artist known as “Plasti Max” prints t-shirts for free with designs of bondage girls.
Most of the art on display exudes an urban and grungy mood with dashes of sex and violence. With the exception of the low-priced drinks at the bar and the artwork, everything is free—it’s up to you to leave a donation if you support the expansion of free art appreciation at Hangar 56.
A year ago, the warehouse near the Marais was abandoned and empty. In February, a few artists breathed life into the dusty old place and turned it into this living creature of art, known as Hangar 56 because of its address on 56 Avenue Parmentier. This “squat” serves as a gallery, studios for independent artists, and a home to several squatters, otherwise known as those living in abandoned buildings.
Walk up the stairs from the first floor and you’ve entered the private bedrooms of some of Paris’ artistic talent. All of the amenities in the kitchen, living room, washroom, and bedrooms were donated or found off the streets of Paris.
Pioupiou, one of the artists who both organizes events and squats at the warehouse, said that what sets Hangar 56 apart from other artistic galleries is that it is in a freely-occupied space. The squatters who organize the gallery showings ask for no percentage of sold artwork. Artists, like the public, can choose to give a donation back to Hangar 56 in support of the free artistic movement and gallery space.
Up-and-coming artists showcase their works for sale at this artist’s collective.
The warehouse is not limited to the “Portes Ouvertes” gallery showings. A filmmaker organizes monthly amateur film competitions that are screened within the cinema room in the warehouse, and during Game of Thrones season, you can attend public screenings of the series. Photographers can use the studio for projects and writers are welcomed to write in the always lively and creative setting. Slam poetry competitions are also organized regularly.
Let your creative juices flow at Hangar 56, an underground artist’s haven.
Pioupiou said that Hangar 56 is continually accepting new artists to showcase in its gallery. “We are flexible people,” said Pioupiou, “[Hangar 56] is always moving–like life, actually.”
I’ve been adventurous lately, trying to fill unplanned weekends with explorations of all of Paris’ metro stops. The last time I did this, I landed at a flea market by Oberkampf and this time, I found myself by Canal Saint-Martin, an area teeming with life, art, and open bottles of wine.
Besides the vibrant graffiti that adorns the area around the canal, the businesses around Canal Saint-Martin are all young and exciting. The canal is surrounded by rad hair salons that blast crazy rock music and indie wifi cafés where young professionals type away. This is not an extremely English-speaking part of Paris, meaning that it’s a non-touristy and therefore guaranteed cool place to go.
You’ll find many cool and young people having apéros (short for apératifs), which are get-togethers in the evening to enjoy wine, cheese, beer, and friends after work. Canal Saint-Martin is brimming with young people in their own respective clusters, each of them enjoying stereotypical French snacks while playing the latest hipster tunes on mini stereos.
I also stumbled upon this amazing art and design store by the canal called Artazart Design Bookstore. I spent an hour at this place, slightly wine-drunk and overwhelmed by the sheer number of amazing books on typography, graffiti, magazine design, interior decorating, body art, and so on. The store was filled with people but it was silent; everyone was immersed in a book.
Take a day to walk around this trendy neighborhood and you’ll learn so much about Parisian culture. You can understand the sentiments of young Parisians by the “manifestos” pasted onto old warehouses and the rampant political graffiti. You can gain foresight into upcoming fashion trends by watching the chic girls who walk by. You can check out one of my favorite cafés on the canal, Point Éphémère, and peruse the secondhand bookshop, art gallery, or enjoy a reasonably-priced beer. And you can actually become a part of the young Parisian culture here by bringing along a bottle of wine for a rendez-vous with friends.
Welcome to the blog that's on the pursuit of everything Paris Chic. I'm Ariana, a multimedia journalist based in Paris. Read more about me here.