Sweet romance or steamy vacation fling? How to meet a Parisian (when you’re a tourist)

I’ve spammed this post with a bunch of photos I’ve taken in Paris (of touristic sights)  just to set the mood right and make you want to pack your suitcase and go. Just in case meeting a sexy Frenchie who’ll knock your socks off wasn’t motivation enough.

When most people think of Paris, they think about romance and romantic cliches.

I am sure you’ve seen billions of inspirational Paris-photos online. Photos of beautiful girls in beautiful dresses, enjoying fluffy croissants and pain au chocolat on the balcony of a pricey Airbnb or 5 star hotel,  while watching the sunrise in the morning (I’m looking at you, Instagram-influencers). Obviously they all have a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

Because, it ain’t worth it if it’s not a multi-climax photo with everything there is to love about Paris, in one single shot. Go big or go home, right?

I’m sure you’ve pinned and liked it all and imagined yourself being that girl. All while being swept off your feet by a hunky Parisian, well dressed, well groomed and with the sexiest accent imaginable. He looks like he just walked straight out of a perfume-ad and he smells like a mix of cologne (maybe Yves Saint Laurent or Dior) and cigarettes.

He’ll take you to all his favorite bars and restaurants in the city, introduce you to the best wines you’ll ever drink, and desserts so delicious you’ll never want to eat anything else again in your life.  He’ll tell you you’re trop belle and proudly introduce you to his friends. Champagne high and with a great sugar rush from all the pastel macaroons you’ve eaten,  you feel like you’re on cloud nine and you wish you could just stay in this bubble forever. Just you and this mystery man in Paris.

That’s the cliche that a lot of hopeless romantics believe in, and that’s why a lot of women end up coming to Paris in the first place. To find that little piece of magic. The holiday romance – or vacation fling. Whatever you wanna call it.

This image of Paris is the city as it’s portrayed by Hollywood and novelists.

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The real Paris is different. Very different. Yes, the macaroons, the champagne, the wine, the 5 star hotels, the Eiffel Tower, it’s all there. It’s all real. And French. But all that glitz and glam is not part of a Frenchman’s every day life. Unless you’re aiming for the aristocrats, of course. But that’s a whole different planet than the one the average Jane such as myself (and probably you) live on.

I live in a Paris where a Friday night out means putting on your best jeans and checking the weather forecast to see if you’ll need to bring your umbrella or not. Where you can’t make up your mind whether to go to a Japanese, Korean, French or Italian restaurant. Where snacking on sliced cured sausage while drinking pint after pint of Belgian beer is considered a cultural thing (apéro) to do before dinner. Where your favorite neighborhoods are those where most buildings are covered in street art and beer bars and burger joints are located side by side.

That’s my Paris. And that, my friend, is probably also the Paris of your future vacation fling. I guess this means the way to approach and be approached by the average Parisian man might not be quite as glamorous as you expected. But that doesn’t mean he won’t add a little magic to your vacation.

opera garnier

Trust me, I’m speaking from my own personal experience. The guy will give you fireworks and the whole shebang (metaphorically speaking, of course) and might steal your heart and make you feel bad about continuing your Euro-trip instead of staying with him a little longer.

Like I said, I have experienced this firsthand. I’ve also observed friends who came to Paris looking for long term love or a short term romance. And, yes, I also happen to know a lot of French men who’d love to meet a mysterious lady who’s passing through Paris before heading off to their next adventure. Some of those guys might even ask to join you on your adventures!

Right. The travelers and the Parisians want to meet each other. So what seems to be the problem?

Well.

Yes, there are plenty of locals interested in meeting a charming foreigner and showing her all their favorite spots in Paris.Yes, there are lots of female travelers interested in meeting a handsome Parisian. But the problem might just be that you’re looking in the wrong place and approaching the wrong type of guys.

You don’t wanna end up with the local version of your hometown asshole?

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To make it easier for you to navigate, I’ve listed a bunch of DO’s and DON’Ts, tips and advice. Happy hunting!

How to find him

DATING APPS 

  • Don’t use Tinder, if you’re looking for something more than just a steamy night in bed with a Parisian. Tinder has a reputation in France for being a sex-app, not a dating app – and even if you might meet someone nice and genuine on there, there’s a big chance you’ll just be wasting your time.
  • DO try the french app Meetic instead (if you manage to navigate through it in French). If your French language skills are solid enough (and you’re in town long enough to schedule in an evening dedicated to something non-touristic), you might wanna look into signing up for a cooking class or any of the other events arranged by Meetic. That way, you’ll be able to meet someone in a more neutral environment – and even if you don’t, you’ve learned a new skill or a new recipe.
  • MAYBE try the app MeetMe. This app is either a dream or a disaster, depending on who you meet. I was lucky and met the love of my life on this strange app, but you kind of have to sort through a sea of creepers before you find someone decent to talk to.

INTERNATIONAL MEET-UPS and LANGUAGE EXCHANGE EVENTS

  • Don’t use the language exchange groups on Facebook for romantic purposes. A lot of the users are already in relationships and are only looking for someone who can actually help them improve their English language skills. There ARE a lot of single guys on there too, and from what I’ve been told (by friends who met up with some of them) while some might be genuinely nice, others were rather creepy. If you decide to meet someone off those groups, make sure you meet them in a safe, public place. Maybe in a park, such as Jardin du Luxembourg, or in a coffee shop?
  • DO attend language exchange events where you get to meet lots of different people – locals as well as other foreigners. With Franglish the language exchange is done speed dating style, with 14 minute one-to-one conversations with all the attendees (of whatever age and gender). Who knows, you might end up having a 14 minute conversation with Mr. Right (now).
  • DO attend international meet-ups! With MeetUp and InterNations you can sign up for guided tours, cinema/theater/museum events, brunches, lunches, dinners, hikes, drinks – anything, really. In a natural environment like this it’s easy to meet someone, although there’s a bigger chance of meeting someone not French than someone who IS French (with the exception of the bar/club events).

MEET SOMEONE THROUGH MUTUAL FRIENDS

This is by far the best way to meet someone, but it’s also the trickiest way. Do you already have a friend who lives in Paris? Or even a friend of a friend? Or a friend of a friend of a friend?

Once you’ve made your way into a circle of friends it will be easier for you to meet someone, have a nice conversation with that person – and hopefully arrange to meet again the next day.

  • DO chit-chat about your life, your culture, food, drinks, the weather, your job – and feel free to complain about things. In France, complaining is not a turn-off. Quite the contrary. It’s cultural to complain about your work, the weather and everything else you feel deserves an eye roll, a sigh and the negative ooh la la.
  • Don’t ask him about his religious beliefs or political views. A lot of French people are atheist and not at all interested in talking about religion. And politics? Just leave it. Unless you  feel like ranting – or you know a really good joke about one of the current or former politicians!

notre dame

How to get him interested

Keep it simple: In Paris, less is definitely more. Don’t go too heavy on the makeup, don’t show off any more skin than what you’re comfortable with – and just be yourself. A beautiful smile goes a lot further than having your boobs out on display. Any day.

Keep it funny: In France there’s a saying that goes; “Une femme qui rit a moitié dans ton lit” (a woman who laughs is halfway in your bed), which means, humor is the key to a woman’s heart (or bed). This does not only apply to women, though. French men love a woman who can make them laugh. A confident, happy woman with a great sense of humor. Now, that’s a keeper!

Keep it mysterious: As charming as he may be, don’t take him back to your hostel dorm to “seal the deal” right after you just met. And even though the bedroom in his tiny Parisian apartment sounds a lot more comfortable than your hostel bunk bed, don’t rush things. Just don’t. Leave him wanting more. Leave him thinking about you all night, waiting, wanting, wishing, hoping. He may be frustrated, but he’ll appreciate it so much more once it happens. And so will you.

eiffel tower angle

Remember the French etiquette

DO greet him (and his friends) with kisses on the cheeks (well, more like air-kisses, really) and say bonjour or salut.

Don’t shake his hand. It’s weird. Unless he just interviewed you for a job, that is.

Parlez-vous Francais?

You’re a tourist. Nobody expects you to speak French. But then again, speaking another language opens up a whole new world and allows you to be introduced to people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to communicate with.

An example; if someone asks you “As-tu un copain?” (do you have a boyfriend), you might wanna say “non, je suis célibataire” (no, I’m single).

Download Babbel and get on to it.

Motivate yourself and think about that perfume ad model and how great it would be to eat croissants on the balcony of a 5 star hotel while enjoying the view of the Eiffel Tower, with him.

paris eiffel tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Drunken shenanigans abroad: Women share their stories

Ah, alcohol. Your best friend on a Saturday night and your worst enemy on a Sunday morning. Maybe even more often while traveling, as you might find yourself losing track of time and don’t even know which day it is anymore. Any day could be Saturday. Or Sunday. And why would anyone blame you, as long as you’re not flashing your birthday suit and puking your guts out on public property?

And even then, who am I to judge?

You know what they say; you’re only young once (although that saying and the acronym kind of makes me cringe).

A big part of traveling is socializing with locals and fellow travelers, isn’t it?

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I’ve made a whole lot of friends (on Facebook) while drunk. Heck, I’ve even become best friends with people while drunk. I swear I’ve even felt like some of them were my soul mates. Sister from another mister. Brother from another mother. You know what I mean. Pals for life. Or at least until the next day, where I completely forgot everything about them and had no idea what these strangers were doing on my friends’ list on Facebook.

I remember that one time while waiting in line for the bathroom at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, when I became best friends with a fierce drag queen. I honestly don’t remember what we talked about, except from me telling her I loved her cheekbones and her telling me she loved my dress. And somehow we became friends on Facebook.

Then there was the guy who squeezed my belly that one time when I went to a nightclub in Paris, France. I told him I really loved pizza, and that’s why I was fat. He told me I was still beautiful, so it didn’t matter. Weird. That guy did not end up on my friends’ list.

Then there was that one time when I drunk-dialed my mom while I was in a bar in Oxford, England. The DJ played an 80’s song that reminded me of her, so I phoned her up and cried on the phone. It resulted in my mom being worried sick, and me being an emotional wreck the whole evening, then not remembering a thing the next day and wondering why my mom kept asking me if I was okay.

Then there was that one time in Krakow, Poland, when I ended up making out with a guy who was my friend and only my friend and we were never supposed to be more than just friends. He was sad because all the Polish girls were more into one of our other travel companions (who normally had no luck with women at home) and I was, well, available and kind of into him at the time. The guy looked like a spitting image of Stifler from American Pie – and his behavior was quite the same as well. This is not  a compliment, so please don’t question my taste. Still, the guy made me laugh. And his dance moves were the most hilarious I’d ever seen. He tried to look as sensual as a sizzling Latino, but his dance moves reminded me more of some strange kind of disco-dancing. After leaving the club, Stifler and I started kissing in the hotel lobby, then in the elevator and the corridor – before I came to my senses and told him good night.

Speaking of dudes. Now, this didn’t actually happen abroad. It happened in my hometown, but the person involved was a tourist – so I guess it sort of counts. I went to a nightclub in Stavanger, Norway with a friend and we ended up dancing with some Swedish guys. One of them ended up buying me lots of drinks, and I kept on drinking them. We were dancing and having a great time. And then something happened that ruined the entire atmosphere. He farted. At first I wasn’t sure if it was him or someone else on the dance floor who passed gas, but as we went to the bar to buy drinks (and escape from the smell) he farted again. Was he nervous? Had he eaten a bad burrito that day? Who knows.

mango cocktail

I asked a few ladies (fellow travel bloggers) to share their own experiences from some of their most interesting and memorable drunken nights abroad. These are their stories (and photos).

Meeting the love of my life – drunk in Thailand

After checking into Hug Hostel in Chiang Mai, I threw my bag on the top bunk and sat down. The English guy on the lower bunk, called Ed, started chatting away to me. He asked me if I wanted to go out to a bar that night with a few other people. Of course, I said yes.

Later on, 10 of us sat in the hostel playing drinking games and then headed out to Zoe in Yellow. Although it was a bar, it felt more like a club. The DJ was blasting dubstep and everyone was chugging buckets. To my disgust, it closed at 12 am. But I was still buzzing.    I wanted to keep going!

I asked around if anyone wanted to get drinks somewhere else. Ed was the only one that said yes. So we walked down to the 7/11 to get more beer, but they couldn’t serve it after 11 pm. We turned to walk back to the hostel, when I spotted a random hotel. I asked the manager inside if he had any beer. He smiled and pulled out two cold ones from behind his wooden desk. Ed and I sat in reception drinking our beer when I noticed a bellhop cart. Somehow, we ended up pushing each other around the hotel on this cart. And even weirder, the manager just stood laughing at us!

Ed and I went up a floor and climbed onto the roof. We talked for hours. And made out. We ended up spending a week together in Chiang Mai, then another 6 days in Koh Samui and Koh Tao in Southern Thailand. When you’re travelling, you never know if you’ll see someone again.

Admittedly, I had tears in my eyes when I was driving away from him. But when I got back home to Northern Ireland, Ed flew from England to see me. We kept flying back and forth. I spent Christmas with his family, and he spent New Years at mine. A year later, we’re in the best relationship we’ve both ever had. We’ve been to 6 countries together. In November, we’re going to Australia for one year, and who knows after that. It’s strange how one drunken night can have a massive effect on your life. I certainly never thought I’d meet the love of my life!

by Chloe @ journeywithchloe

chiang mai

Drunk and lost in Mallorca

Okay, let me start this off with a word of advice: DON’T get drunk and wander the streets of a foreign country. Luckily nothing bad happened to me, but I was fortunate!

When I was living in Madrid I took a solo trip around Europe. My final destination was Bergen, Norway. As most of you probably know, Norway is super expensive, and so are the flights (for Europe standards). All of the direct flights to Madrid were over 300 euros, which is crazy expensive for a European flight. Hell, I had just gone to Rome for a measly 40 euros!

The cheapest ticket I could find was to the island of Mallorca, for around 76 euros. I booked a ticket from Bergen to Palma de Mallorca, and planned on doing a stopover there for a couple of nights before returning to Madrid. Flights from Mallorca to Madrid are like, 15 euros, so I thought I might as well take a mini-vaycay before heading back to the city!

Ugh. Big mistake.

My flight arrived to Mallorca at 7:50 pm. I got a taxi from the airport and arrived to my hotel around 8:15 pm, only to find the reception to be locked and empty.

It turns out the hotel closed at 8 pm, and any travelers arriving after would be left without a room. And nothing could be done about it. A hotel closing at 8 pm is complete asinine to me, but I digress. My phone battery was dead, so I went to the closest bar to get WiFi on my laptop and book another hotel.

I should have just gone to Starbucks…

Stressed and upset Kerry decided to get a few drinks to calm her nerves. Stressed and upset Kerry had a little more to drink than she originally planned. Kerry got drunk. Like, really drunk.

Fast forward an hour or two, and I was obliterated. They take alcohol seriously in Mallorca, and one drink may be equal to two or tree drinks with the amount of liquor they put in. I’m tiny, and pretty much one of the biggest light weights ever. So by the time I left the bar to go to the new hotel, I was druuuunk.

Now, this is the time for you all to learn from my mistakes.

I had Google Maps out in one hand, rolling luggage in my other, a huge backpack on, whilst wandering aimlessly in the streets of Mallorca alone at night. I was at the point where I didn’t realize how drunk I was, and thought that I was completely in control over everything.

Probably half an hour went by and I still had not arrived to my hotel. I started walking up to people, stating that I was drunk, and asking them to call  a taxi for me. Finally, someone helped me out and directed me to where all the cabs were. Luckily, I had the name of the hotel written down so I could tell the driver where I was going.

We got to the hotel, I got out of the cab, walked up the steps, and stated that I had  a reservation. Oops, I accidentally mistook the ice cream stand that was next to the hotel for the reception!

The worker kindly pointed me to the direction of the hotel, and I finally checked in.

Needless to say, I ended up spending the next day of my “mini-vaycay” in the hotel room, terribly sick. Definitely one of those “I’m never drinking again” moments. Honestly, I am just happy that nothing horrible happened to me while I was roaming around alone and intoxicated. This is absolutely the dumbest mistake I’ve made traveling, and I would never advise anyone to make the same mistake.

Remember folks, Google Maps doesn’t work if you’re obliterated.

by Kerry @ thepetitewanderer

cocktail mallorca

The marriage counselor – drunk in the Maldives

Each time we remember our vacation to the Maldives, the first thing that comes to our minds is one particular embarrassing evening that we spent after getting drunk. While writing this down, our faces have already turned a shade of pink thinking of that crazy night and our most hilarious drunk moment till date.

We were holidaying at one of the idyllic islands of the Maldives and were staying in a gorgeous over water villa. The villa had a lovely sit out area from which a ladder led downwards, straight into the sea.

On one of the days, after watching a glorious sunset, we decided to enjoy the moment and share a couple of drinks. Two hours into the evening, we were on stage 2 of drinking, the most dangerous stage in our opinion (in our funny classification scheme, stage 1 is tipsy, stage 2 is can-drink-more-but-can’t-think-or-walk-straight and the final one, stage 3 is I-need-to-puke).

Typically, after stage 1, you are as good as good as you were before drinking. After stage 3, you would crash in bed and fall asleep. It is when you’re stuck at stage 2, that all those awkward and embarrassing memorable experiences take place.

So at stage 2, we headed to chit chat over a few more beers in the sit-out area of our over-water villa. While outside, we could hear a couple fighting in the neighboring villa. On purposely trying to overhear their conversation, we understood that they were on their honeymoon and were arguing over silly things. From their language and accent we figured that they were from the same place as us.

Rewinding three months before our Maldives trip, we were on our honeymoon in Greece and were fighting in a very similar fashion on yet other petty issues in our villa balcony.

Suddenly overcome by a sense of déja vu, Pushkaraj asked me to hold his beer bottle and without prior warning, took the ladder down, jumped into the sea and headed to swim over to the couple!

While I was still trying to fathom what was happening, Pushkaraj was in the middle of the sea, swimming with all his clothes intact, on a rescue mission, considering himself the savior of the night. In my alarmed and confused state, I crawled over the edge to see what was going on exactly. I was ready for him to be slapped and insulted for breaching someone’s privacy to this extent. Turns out, he reached their villa, climbed the ladder, walked up to them and befriended the shocked and surprised souls! He introduced himself and requested them not to fight as it’s not worth spoiling your honeymoon for! In his drunken state, he managed to give them half an hour of marital advice and how the first few months of marriage can be difficult and not as ideal and glorified as the world seems to portray. All this, when we ourselves were barely married for four months that time!

While he was chit-chatting with them, I don’t remember when I fell asleep in our villa and woke up the next morning to meet our new friends. As embarrassed as I was, I went to apologize to the amiable couple who in turn thanked Pushkaraj for helping to sort out the misunderstanding between them! For the next three days, the four of us did most of our activities together and laughed over that one crazy night.

We’re still friends by the way. I guess, all’s well that ends well!

by Meghna @ TrailingAbroad (with hubby Pushkaraj)

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The Cocktail Guru from S2 Beach Shack – drunk in Goa, India

Meet Ram -The cocktail guru of Goa, India. During our stay in Goa we stayed at a beach shack which came with a very unique bartender called Ram. Whenever we saw him we weren’t sure if we should run, hide or just drink. Every time he saw us on the beach we had to have one of his “famous cocktails” which made us swing well into most nights! I don’t even think he remembered what he put in them half the time but they came in all forms, tastes and sizes… it was such fun!

The one night it went one step further, he made a giant stiff cocktail with a giant hollow watermelon on top. Ram said that if we finished it one of us had to wear the top garnish as a hat. Keeping up with tradition, I was appointed the duty by my friends and a hour later I had this water melon cucumber hat on my head. We had so many laughs and left with good memories.

by Liza and Lisa @ Souldrifters

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What is YOUR greatest memory from a drunken night out in a foreign country?

Share your story in the comment section below.

 

 

 

What to do and what not to do in Montmartre, Paris

Montmarte is a large hill in the north of Paris. Montmarte is also one of the most famous neighborhoods in the city. And perhaps the most touristic and crowded one as well. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of tourists, illegal street vendors, artists who want to draw your portrait “for free”, street musicians, pickpockets, selfie-takers and annoyed Parisians asking you to move out of their way.

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Souvenir shops are lined up, one after another, selling plastic Eiffel Tower’s (made in China) and poor quality graphic tees – and all those handbags you think are oh, so Parisian, but Parisians wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. Don’t even get me started on the berets…

Large groups of tourists line up to buy crêpes from fast food joints and street vendors, while others go to the nearest brasserie with “service continu” written in capital letters, to reassure you they don’t follow the typical French dining hours. Generally, these restaurants have an overwhelming list of dishes to choose from on their menu, and none of these dishes will be made from scratch. Tourists visit these establishments because they wanna dine like locals. Most likely, they will ask the waiter for suggestions.

Let me guess…

Escargots or soupe à l’oignon for starters, magret de canard or perhaps some moules-frites (which is Belgian, by the way) as a main, and a nice little crème brûlée or a mouelleux au chocolat for dessert? Accompanied by a glass of wine?

How obvious.

Well, as delicious as all those dishes are – because they are – you can do better than going to an overpriced touristic brasserie eating something that might not even be freshly made. More on that later…

So, while you’re eating your half decent Nutella-filled crêpe or your overpriced onion soup, you may find yourself wondering why you’re still pretty much only surrounded by other tourists. Where are the locals? And where are the local shops? Is there really nothing in Montmartre but so-called “tourist traps”?

Of course there is!

Montmarte has so much to offer for everyone, whether it’s tourists looking for an authentic experience, expatriates looking for something familiar or locals looking for something they know, as well as something they don’t know at all. Montmartre has always been a neighborhood for artists and all kinds of creative people, and today it’s also a melting pot of different cultures.

But, you can’t go there and not visit the main tourist attraction, can you?

Sacré-Coeur – or, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris – is one of the most famous sights in Paris. In my opinion, it’s also one of the most beautiful. I made the mistake of missing out on the Sacre Coeur the first time I went to Paris. Good thing I came back – and stayed!

This Roman Catholic church may look like it’s been around for a very long time, but the construction was actually only finished in 1914!

While you’re there, admiring the Basilica, please watch your belongings. Pickpockets love tourists, and they go where tourists go. Even if that means climbing up the stairs all the way to the top, just to grab your phone, your wallet or whatever else you may have that’s valuable.

Also, beware of the bracelet scam!

There are people who make a living trying to sell tourists “free” friendship or relationship bracelets. Nothing is free in Paris. Tell them “non, merci” and walk away. Don’t stop, or they’ll put the bracelet on you, and finish making it right there on your arm. Sometimes these people can be quite aggressive and threatening as well. You don’t want that!

sacre coeur montmartre

Salon de thé, Bubble tea or Coffee Shops?

Like I said, Montmartre is a melting pot of different cultures, which also affects the food culture in the city. When I first moved to France from Norway, I missed my coffee-culture more than anything. I hated (and still hate) french espresso and got tricked when ordering café noisette (hazelnut), as I thought it’d be a latte with hazelnut syrup. Turns out it’s just a basic espresso with a tiny bit of milk in it. Yup. Really. What does hazelnut have to do with any of this? I’m as confused as you are.

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But the past two years there’s been quite a coffee revolution going on in France – especially in Paris. At first, Starbuck’s started popping up everywhere. Then expatriates, primarily from Anglophone countries, who’ve settled down in France for whatever reason, have taken their coffee-passion and hipster culture to the next level, and thanks to them, Paris now has lots of cool coffee shops to go to, with or without a laptop, camera, book or someone to drink coffee with. As Montmartre is one of the preferred neighborhoods for expats to live in, it’s no surprise that a lot of the coffee shops are located here.

I recommend: Lomi, Cuillier and KB Cafeshop (photo above: iced coffee and iced tea from KB Cafeshop)

KBcafeshop

And then there’s bubble tea. Not quite as trendy as coffee these days, but I sure like it and I’m glad this Taiwanese invention has made its way to Paris!

I recommend: Ô bubble

For a more local experience, visit a salon de thé. Although tea, and tea houses are not at all a french invention, the atmosphere in a Parisian salon de thé is a lot more french than in a coffee shop. Also, a lot of those places offer varied brunch/lunch menus and wine, so it’s not only about the tea and pastries.

I recommend: Pipalottes Gourmandes and La Bossue

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Montmartre will always be home to artists and creatives

The definition naive art is used to describe any form of visual art that is created by someone who doesn’t have the formal education and training that a professional artist would have. In Montmartre, there’s a museum and changing art exhibitions dedicated to self taught artists and naive art (Halle Saint Pierre). This former indoor market also houses a book store.

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If you’re passionate about designing your own clothing, you’ll find any fabric/material of any color and pattern – and all the supplies needed – at one of the many fabric stores in Montmartre. Best part is, it’s not even that expensive!

fabrics

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Now, let’s talk about restaurants, shall we?

As mentioned earlier, there are many bad restaurants in Paris. Especially close to all the tourist attractions. My best advice is to stay as far away as possible from any restaurant with an enormous menu. So they offer seafood, steaks, ten different salads, five different pasta dishes, ten different pizzas, five kinds of burgers, multiple soups, multiple sandwiches, curry, tartar, snails, duck, ten different desserts? Turn around and leave. Nobody can be good at everything, and those guys are generally good at nothing but reheating stuff from the freezer.

Other red flags? Restaurants that are open from morning/noon until late night, without any break between lunch and dinner service are often touristic restaurants, as the french never eat dinner before 7 pm. Another thing, plastic menus with pictures of the food they offer is tacky as hell, for a Parisian restaurant. Don’t expect anything decent to come out of that (although, there could be exceptions).

Small restaurants, especially bistrots, with small menus are generally quite good – based on my own personal experience.

I recommend: Le Grand 8 , Le Lamarck and Crêperie Brocéliande

How about a cinema date – in French?

As you may know, I have previously collaborated with Lost in Frenchlation, who create subtitles for french films and arrange screenings every Friday in Montmartre for non-french speakers. If you happen to be in the area on a Friday night and want to see a subtitled french movie at an old traditional movie theater, here’s your chance!

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Any other tips?

Well, pick up a fresh croissant in the morning from Le Grenier à Pain, visit the Place du Tertre – the artist’s square, wander around, take photos, enjoy your stay – and grab a glass of wine at the wine bar Caves des Abbesses.

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If you’re wondering why I haven’t written anything about cabarets, such as the famous Moulin Rouge, it’s because I will soon write a completely separate guide to the cabarets, bars and sex shops in Pigalle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 before 30 – The Challenge BEGINS

Disclaimer: Unnecessarily long post telling the tale of my background, my expectations, the bucket list and how I will try, most likely fail, and maybe succeeded to check all of these things off my list – with less than two months to complete it all! PART 2 of this post aka the final outcome of this ridiculous idea of mine, will be posted on my actual birthday: May 23rd.

So, here it is. The countdown to the day I enter a decade where I really  have to start to adult.    Goodbye fun, spontaneous happy-go-lucky twenties. Hello, my dreaded thirty.

If you’d asked me ten years ago, where I thought I’d be in life by the time I’d turn thirty, I’d probably say something along the lines of wealthy business owner, house owner, dog or cat owner, husband owner and owner of an over-sized jacuzzi. Ten years later and I own none of those things. Nada. On a positive note; it’s entirely because I changed my priorities and realized I didn’t want those things after all – at least not yet (except from the jacuzzi)!

Back when I was a selfie-posting, piercing-studded, rockstar-fangirl, changing-hair color-every-month kind of gal (ten years ago), I imagined thirty year old me as a boss-lady in a power suit and matching Louboutin’s,  with adorable pets and a loyal husband waiting for me at home. Back then my biggest worry was figuring out whether to go clubbing on both Friday and Saturday, or which movies I’d illegally download if I decided to stay in. Back then I couldn’t care less about traveling. Taking the bus downtown was way enough effort. I was usually too hungover or too lazy to do anything else. I was the kind of youngster that made elder people shake their heads in despair.

Back then, I hadn’t yet experienced the devastating event that completely changed the way I view life. The turning point, I guess you could say.

All I can say is, life’s too effin’ short to spend it binge-drinking, binge-watching Netflix, binge-eating pizza and letting yourself go while others are letting go of you.

I was twenty-six years old when I watched my father’s life slip away before my eyes. Terminal cancer. A man who had fled his homeland to start a new life in South-East Asia. A man who had traveled the world, enjoyed photography, loved animals, and donated a lot of money to animal rights organizations. A great man, way too young to die…was fading away, like a flower losing the fight against the seasons change.

His last words to me were, “I’m proud of you”. He’d said that because I’d finally taken a job across the pond; in the US. He said that because he knew I’d finally opened my eyes to the world out there. He said that because he knew how passionate I had become about writing.       I spent two and a half months isolating myself from the world, mourning the loss of him. Until my twenty-seventh birthday.

As a birthday present from me to me, I treated myself to my first ever solo trip (New York), where I indulged in New York style cheesecake, pizza and walked until my feet started bleeding. It was amazing – and I have not looked back since.

And now I’m turning thirty…

For the occasion, I challenged myself to create one of those “30 things to do before 30” kind of bucketlists – except (here comes the fun part), I’ve given myself TWO MONTHS to complete everything! And boy, has there already been some awkward moments and minor disappointments, and I’m sure there will be plenty more of those to come. Along with the occasional mishaps. You know, the usual stuff that happens when I try to do things that normal people master without a problem. Clumsy ol’ me. Spoiler alert: For some reason, I couldn’t even take myself (me, solo) out on a date in Paris without the result being as bad as a lousy Tinder-date (more on that later).

Before I move on to the good stuff, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I know there’s still life after thirty. I know I can still do all the same things and travel to the same places and it would make little to no difference. But, here’s the thing. This summer, my partner and I are moving to a different part of France to start up a business. Which means we’ll barely even have time for toilet breaks, much less a trip to somewhere. Also, to make myself even more unavailable, I wanna start writing a novel. For real. I’ve been talking about it for ages, and I want this year to be the year I finally take the plunge.

In many ways, I want these two months to be my bachelorette party before committing myself to adulthood. And maybe in a few years, I’ll write a post just like this one on my actual bachelorette party and wherever it is I’ll end up celebrating it.

To create this random list, I asked a bunch of women (whom I don’t know in person) in a travel-group on Facebook, what they think I should do before turning 30. While the majority seemed somewhat annoyed with the question and allergic to lists in general, others came up with some brilliant ideas – such as “go on your ultimate dream date – with yourself” and “go to a concert alone”.

I then moved on to asking my mother. Our mother-daughter weekend in Germany was the perfect occasion to squeeze in a weird conversation like this one. I didn’t wanna tell her about the list, as I am absolutely certain she wouldn’t understand and would most likely think I’m insane, going through some sort of a crisis and force me to spend my 30th birthday under her supervision, to make sure I wouldn’t do anything stupid.

“What is one thing I should do before turning 30?”, I asked. She gave me that worried look I was hoping to avoid. “Honey, why are you asking? Are you okay?”, she replied.        I repeated my question and informed her that, yes, I was okay and I was simply just curious about her opinion.

“Get married”.

I should have seen that one coming.

And when I asked my boyfriend what HE thinks I should do before turning 30, he suggested something too explicit to even mention on this blog. Charming. He could see from my expression that I was not impressed, so he suggested go kart racing instead.

“I’ve already done that”, I said and waited for him to suggest something else. He didn’t. Instead he looked at me as if I’d just told him I’d cheated on him.

“When did you do that?”

I told him I’d gone go kart racing with a friend, back when I lived in Orlando, Florida. The disappointed look on his face was priceless. I didn’t realize go kart racing was such a sacred thing in a relationship. I guess I should have saved myself for him.

According to women’s magazines and newspaper articles, I should do anything from learning to play an instrument, getting to know my vagina (whatever that’s supposed to mean), running a marathon (I think I’ll pass), failing (that’s already my specialty), getting lost (my other talent), protesting something – to eating whatever I want (easy) and attending a major sports event.

Just to be sure to add a little humor into the mix (on my expense), I decided to keep some of the awkward, strange ideas from the articles – which means I’ll get to know my vagina, somehow, for some reason – whatever that’s supposed to mean. Or just celebrate the female body.

Here’s my complete “Things I’ll challenge myself to do before I’m 30 in (less than) two months”-list:

  1. Go on my ultimate dream date (with myself)
  2. Go to a concert (alone)
  3. Learn to play an instrument
  4. Get to know my vagina? (Or just celebrate femininity and sensuality?)
  5. Eat whatever I want – and eat A LOT
  6. Attend a major sports event
  7. Protest something
  8. Challenge my culinary skills/take a cooking class
  9. Create something
  10. Have a 24 hour digital detox (no internet, TV, nothing)
  11. Take a class outside of my comfort zone
  12. Book a quirky and unusual acommodation
  13. Learn to meditate
  14. Become “one with nature”
  15. Embrace my fabulousness
  16. Learn to love myself
  17. See something I’ve never seen before
  18. Traverse Europe by train
  19. Do something that scares me
  20. Eat dessert for breakfast
  21. Explore somewhere new for a day – no map, no plan
  22. Splurge on something I wouldn’t normally spend money on
  23. Unusual Spa treatment
  24. See a Magic show
  25. Laugh more
  26. Visit a really weird museum or gallery
  27. Be 100% vegan for a week
  28. Invite a stranger out to dinner
  29. Try a dish I’ve been skeptical about trying
  30. Do something out of selflessness

 

In case you wanna help me out, I’ll be in following locations on following dates:

  • 29.03 – 11.05 in Paris, France (although I’m open to travel – plans might change)
  • 11.05 – 13.05 in Toulouse, France
  • 13.05 – 4.05 in Narbonne, France
  • 14.05 – 16.05 in Girona, Spain (and a few hours in Portbou, Spain on the 14th)
  • 16.05 – 17.05 in Pisa, Italy
  • 20.05 – until deadline: in the Netherlands!

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