30 before 30 – Halfway into the challenge

If you haven’t already read it, I suggest you read the 30 before 30 – the challenge begins post before you read this one. Only then will you fully understand what on earth I’m doing and why I decided to take on this challenge. This strange little bucket list of mine. We all react differently to turning thirty. To some, it’s the end of the world. To others, it’s a new start. To me it’s somewhere in between. I’ve started to reflect on all the things I should have done by now and never did, and I’m worrying about all the things people expect me to do that I don’t want to do. Such as buying a house, having babies and getting a nine to five job. This is a lifestyle a lot of people dream of, but to me it’s the ultimate nightmare. Maybe I’m saying this because I’m going through a so-called thirty-crisis, a kind of midlife crisis that didn’t even exist before my generation. I guess you could say I’m just another deluded, starry eyed millennial. I wanna hold on to my goals and dreams and give up on nothing, for no one. Is it still okay to keep trying and put all the responsible adult things on hold, even in your thirties?

I gave myself two months to complete the bucket list. The first month has almost come to an end, and this is what I managed to complete so far (and what I’ve learned from it).

1. Go on my ultimate dream date (with myself)

location: Paris, France

I thought this would be the easiest challenge of them all…I mean, me taking myself out to do fun things and eat good food and treat myself the way I’d want to be treated on a date, how hard could it possibly be? Turns out, I am my own cringe-worthy date. The bad date I would talk about to my friends right after making my great escape from the person I’ve wasted time on. That’s how it went down, when I planned the perfect afternoon-date for me and myself in Paris.

My original plan was to visit the Musée de la Magie (museum of magic) and/or Musée des Arts Forains (museum of carnival arts), have a coffee at the trendy Used Book Café then go to the Centre Pompidou to visit the gallery of modern art before spending the last few hours of the date at geek chic restaurant Comics Burger for dinner. I didn’t wanna do fine dining, Eiffel tower, Montmartre and all that stuff as I’ve already done that thousands of times with my boyfriend. Living in Paris makes you kind of spoiled, I guess.

Things did not go according to plan. Turns out you need to make a reservation in order to visit both of those museums…and obviously, I hadn’t done that. So I had to come up with a plan B. For some reason, I ended up visiting the Père Lachaise cemetery…because nothing says romantic date like a trip to the graveyard? I guess, if my date had been someone who’s fascinated by death and darkness, then sure, but I wasn’t on a date with neither Dracula nor Casper the friendly ghost. Or a goth. Just me.

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The Père Lachaise cemetery is the final resting place of famous people like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin and Edith Piaf. However, I got lost trying to find all of those graves and ended up seeing none of them. After two hours of searching, I gave up. I was dehydrated and my feet were hurting. If this had been a real date, we’d already be off to a bad start. Disoriented me, unable to impress anyone. I’m sure I would’ve said “I’m so sorry” over and over again, just to make it even worse.

At least the Used Books Café was open and I immediately got a table. I photographed my coffee and cake, as I always do, and two girls gave me the meanest stare I’ve ever seen…if looks could kill, I’d be dead. I didn’t realize people found latte-instagramming to be that offensive? I mean, they’re not the ones stuck with a lukewarm coffee in the end.

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Refueled with caffeine and sugar, I was ready to see some cool modern art at the Centre Pompidou.

However, when I got there, the doors were closed and there was a sign taped to the doors. Centre Pompidou was closed as all the employees were currently on strike. If there’s one thing that annoys me with the french culture, it’s how much they love going on strike. I mean, I get it. They’re french. They’re used to revolutions and protests and beheading royals. But why, WHY did the employees of an art gallery (of all people) have to go on strike the ONE day I cleared my schedule and made time and effort to go there?!

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Annoyed and no longer in the mood to have fun at all, I dragged my passive-aggressive self to Kilo Shop to do some therapeutic thrift-shopping. I wasn’t even in the mood to take the metro to the geeky restaurant anymore. I just wanted to eat somewhere close to where I was and get the eff home as soon as I was done eating.

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I ended up buying myself a polka dot dress, two basic tops and a black jacket with some silver sequin embroideries on it. And then I grabbed an actually pretty tasty vegan burger at Hank Burger before taking the metro back to the boring suburbs I live in.

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Mission accomplished? As much as it was kind of a lousy date, I still did it. It still counts.

24. See a Magic Show

location: Paris, France

I know it’s the cheesiest thing in the world, and I know I could have done it when I was in Las Vegas a couple of years ago, but it just never happened. Never in my life had I ever seen a magic show live – and I wanted to change that.

As mentioned earlier, living in Paris makes you kind of spoiled. If you wanna see a cabaret, a stand-up show, a theater play, a magic show or even a circus performance – it’s all there in Paris, every week, all year around. Obviously, it ain’t free. Far from it. So it’s not something you can do every weekend – unless you’re rich.

So for the first time in my life, I booked tickets to see a magic show performed by a french magician duo (Les Illusionnistes) The show was fun, and I am so glad they didn’t pick me while randomly selecting people from the audience to go on stage with them. They picked my boyfriend, though. The poor guy who doesn’t even feel comfortable showing his face on social media, obviously wasn’t too pleased with it. Although, I think he secretly loved it. Shh, don’t tell anyone!

Mission accomplished? Yes, absolutely!

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25. Laugh more

The weekend before I went to see the magic show with my boyfriend, I went to see a stand-up show (A New Yorker in Paris) all by myself. Is it socially acceptable to see stand-up shows alone? To laugh alone? I have absolutely no idea.

Before going to see the show, I had nearly two hours to kill. I decided to head down to the very hyped up instafamous ‘you can’t brunch with us unless you’re a fashionista’ cafe SEASON. I was the least cool person there, and probably the only one who thinks it’s kind of a rip-off to pay nine euros for three small pieces of toast with avocado on them. I left the cafe still feeling hungry, so I went to a nearby supermarket and bought myself a bag of chips. Halfway into the bag, I realized how fat it would make me to eat all that, so I gave the rest to a homeless guy who had raised his beer can and smiled at me while I was stuffing my face with saturated fat. Nothing tastes better with beer than salty chips.

During the show, the comedian asked everyone where they’re from. Some said Germany, others said Greece, one guy said England. More specifically, Manchester. A retired footballer as well. Me, I raised my hand and said Norway. And the comedian then asked me if I was friends with the German girls sitting next to me… Awkwardly, I responded ‘no, I’m here on my own’. I hadn’t felt this much shame since the time I went to a high end Parisian restaurant by myself and whispered ‘table for one, please’, only to be asked to repeat myself and say it out loud – in front of lots of people who were staring at me as if I had just told them I’d pooped my pants.

To make things worse, the comedian told everyone to give me a round of applause for having the courage to come to the show on my own. I felt like I was at an AA meeting, telling people it’s been two days since my last binge.

The show was great fun, though. I laughed a lot and eventually got over the shame of being there friendless and date-less.

Mission accomplished? Without a doubt!

15. Embrace my Fabulousness

Location: Paris

This one have kind of happened by default. Unlike the other things I’ve managed to accomplish for now, I didn’t make plans to do anything to feel “fabulous”. I didn’t get a makeover, nor did I pay to do a professional photo shoot. Those were things I actually considered doing – and I’m not even sure it would have an impact on me!

Instead of paying someone to make me look better, things happened that made me feel better. And as I started to feel better on the inside I also felt prettier on the outside.

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These past two weeks, I’ve gained a lot more attention than usual as a blogger and and Instagrammer – and I’ve even become a brand ambassador for a clothing brand and been offered sponsored meals at restaurants as an influencer. Getting free meals and discounted clothes is obviously a big win, but the greatest part of it all is finally getting recognition for all the hard work I’ve put into the articles I write and the photos I take. My biggest dream is to become a published writer – and guess what,  because of all the small wins, I’ve finally had the courage to start writing my first novel!

There’s no such thing as failures, only quitters. And I refuse to be a quitter. Today I’m feeling fabulous!

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Mission accomplished? Abso-effin-lutely!

With only four down, there’s still twenty-six left to go. Will I be able to complete my bucket list before turning thirty, or not?

Stay tuned!

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Enjoy French Cinema like a Parisian (with Lost in Frenchlation)

Two years ago, when I first moved to Paris, I remember telling my partner and his parents that my main goal with learning French was to be able to watch French movies without subtitles. A goal I have sort of achieved. Sort of.

Still, there are certain movies I know I won’t be able to completely understand because of the excessive use of wordplay and jokes that only the really Frenchified foreigners will get. A good example of that is the movie le dîner de cons. That movie is a 90’s classic and I know I can take my time and wait until I feel like I’ve reached a level of excellence in terms of language learning. Let’s give it a year.

What bothered me a lot when I first moved here, was how much I wanted to see certain French movies in the cinema, but couldn’t because they had no subtitles. I had the option of going to the cinema and understand absolutely nothing, or waiting patiently until the DVD-release of the movie and illegally download it from whatever sketchy website, and add subtitles found on other virus infected sites – and risk ending up with not just a computer virus, but also very poor subtitles.

Before moving to France, I used to watch a lot of French movies on Netflix…but as you may know, changing location changes your Netflix’ location and suddenly none of those movies have subtitles anymore. How frustrating is that?

My obsession with French cinema – and France in general – started when I first saw Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain when I was in high school. Yeah, THAT movie. The movie made Paris look like the most romantic and charming place on earth. I didn’t care if it was realistic or not, I was in love with the idea of Paris. I wanted to live in a small apartment on Montmartre and I wanted to become a Parisian waitress. Forget about being a wealthy businesswoman, supermodel or a future president. I wanted to wait tables in Paris, cut my hair short (which does not suit me at all) and see the world through Instagram’s Valencia filter (to set the mood right, I’ve added some of my photos of Paris – all Valencia filtered).

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Since my first taste of French cinema, I’ve been moved by Intouchables, laughed and felt slightly disturbed by les infidèles, felt inspired by Coco avant Chanel, re-lived the ups and downs of being an expat through l’auberge espagnole, fallen in love with un homme à la hauteur.

The last French movie I saw, was when I went to the cinema a couple of weeks ago, when Lost in Frenchlation invited me to the screening of compte tes blessures – a brilliant movie about grief, anger, love and acceptance.

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So what is Lost in Frenchlation?

As quoted from their website; “Lost in Frenchlation opens up the world of French cinema to the international community of Paris by screening the latest French films with English subtitles, and hosting drinks before or after the screening so that the international crowd can meet each other and native Parisians”. 

 

Manon Kerjean, co-founder of Lost in Frenchlation was quite busy mingling with all the guests when I was there for the screening, and introverted little me usually go hiding in the corner while attending social events, so I don’t blame her for not noticing my presence. But we managed to get an interview via e-mail, in the end – a really good one too. It just goes to show that if you’re truly passionate about something, you can make your dreams come true – and I can’t wait to visit their future full-time Parisian cinema and bar/cafe!

Tell me about Lost in Frenchlation. How did you come up with the concept?

Lost in Frenchlation was born from the frustration experienced by Matt, the co-founder who is Australian, when he came to live in Paris after we met in Berlin while studying on exchange. I wanted to share my passion of French cinema with him and realized that there wasn’t a single cinema in Paris showing French films with English subtitles. We thought it was such a shame considering how many international students, expats and tourists come to Paris, and because French cinema is such a huge part of French culture, so we decided to do something about it!

Who picks out the movies?

Most of the time I pick the movies, but Matt helps me understand what expats are likely to want to see. I studied French cinema and I want to help people discover more art-house independent films, but Matt tends to choose movies that are most attractive to the international community, such as films that are being widely advertised around Paris and talked about in peoples’ workplaces or schools etc.

What is the reason for selecting a specific movie? Personal taste, current news events, political climate etc.?

It’s actually a mix of all of that! We ask ourselves what everyone else in Paris would like to see, and then try our best to offer that experience to the international community. We want them to be as integrated into French culture as possible, so if their colleagues at work are speaking about politics and political films, then Chez Nous (This Is Our Land) for example, a controversial film about France’s far right Front National, is a great way for them to learn about contemporary French politics. We screen a variety of genres though – comedies, thrillers etc. – in a nutshell, we just try to provide our audience with what we think is the best of French cinema!

How do you envision the future of the company? Are you planning to expand?

A part of what we’re trying to do is help our audience discover great independent cinemas in different parts of Paris, so we may look to start working with cinemas in Le Marais, Champs-Élysées, or Le Quartier Latin in additional to our home cinema in Montmartre… we’ll see! More long-term and aspirationally, we’d love to one day have our own cinema where we bring French films to the international community all day, every day, maybe with a bar or cafe which could act as a hub for the international community. We may also look to start screenings with subtitles for various languages, but a full time cinema and additional languages are possibilities for the distant future at the moment!

What does an average workday at Lost in Frenchlation look like?

First we’ll catch up on any French film releases, and articles/videos about Cinema or Paris that might interest our followers. Then, we’ll watch any new trailers because as we’ve recently discovered, it takes a lot of work to come up with one film per week! There are also A LOT of emails to send to communicate each screening to as much of the English-speaking community of Paris as possible. We usually have one or two meetings a day to find new partners too, and that’s my favorite part of the day because we meet such interesting people who have the same energy and the same objectives as us. From 5pm, we focus on social media. It’s not my favorite part of the job, and there’s actually a good metaphor for it – when you want to have an active Facebook page, it’s like you created a hungry monster which you need to feed all the time!

What are your Top 3 favorite French movies – and why?

I would say Betty Blue/37°2 Le Matin by Jean-Jacques Beineix: This is my absolute favourite film. It’s also my favourite book! It’s a classic French movie from the 80s about passion and pain. It’s very powerful, and I think it really shows the intensity of French people with life and relationships. It’s quite a full on movie to begin your exploration of French film with, but it’s probably a good place to start anyway… it’s a real masterpiece. There’s the director cut DVD which is about 3 hours long, but it’s really worth it! – Jeux d’enfants (Love Me If You Dare) by Yann Samuell: Cap/Pas cap (Game on or not?) is a game that the characters start at the beginning of the film and which will last for their lifetimes. It determines every decision they make together. The chemistry between the stars Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard is perfect, and the couple actually went on to get married in real life after meeting during filming! Julien’s monologue as he is driving before the accident is a must-see – every romantic French person knows it! – La guerre est déclarée (Declaration of War) by Valérie Donzelli: Valérie Donzelli, the director, co-wrote the movie with the father of her son, Jérémie Elkaïm, and both star in the film which was inspired by their own personal experiences. It’s about a child who is diagnosed with a brain tumor and how his young parents, Roméo and Juliette, must come together to fight for his survival. Both actors give poetic performances and the film looks at the family bond as a beautiful declaration of love rather than war. Expect the Vivaldi music (Four Seasons – Winter) to keep playing in your head for a while…

What do you think is the main difference between French cinema and Hollywood?

I think that French cinema is original and closer to reality than many other kinds of movies. That’s probably due to the freedom left to the director, whereas sometimes in the US I think the producer has too much power over the film. In France there’s more independent, counter-stream cinema, the ‘cinéma d’auteur’, and more art-house cinema, ‘cinéma d’art et d’essai’… I also feel like some French movies tend to give more importance to the content rather than to the style of the film, and I like that. There’s typically less action, things are less obvious, and the spectator has to do a little bit more work to understand what’s going on. Because the psychology of French films is more complicated, it’s less Manichean than American cinema – there’s no black and white, but many shades of grey (excuse the pun!). I feel like I can really understand the characters and identify with them, but then again… I’m French!

How realistic do you find Hollywood’s portrayal of Paris?

Funny you ask that – actually there was a video released by the City of Paris not long ago to bring tourists back after the attacks – Paris Je T’aime. It really wasn’t typically French at all, it was very ‘Hollywood’ and fake. Two French directors responded with this an excellent video showing the real Paris – Paris, on t’aime aussi. We much prefer this second vision of Paris because it’s the one we really live in, and it’s the one we love because it’s more diverse and more exciting. We agree with the sentiment of the City of Paris though – we want the tourists to come back too!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to move to Paris?

Paris is an expensive city – do any job you can while trying to land your dream one so that you’re not burning through your cash. Make sure all of your documents are in order, e.g. your rental agreement, work contract etc. otherwise opening a bank account – or doing anything else administrative – will be an absolute nightmare. Always consult your French friends or colleagues if you’re not sure what to do – you might be instructed to do something in a particular way, but it might be widely known that there is a much faster and commonly used method for getting that task done.

Which French phrase, idiom, joke or even word would you say is impossible to translate?

‘C’est la vie’. Literally translated, it means “it is the life”, but it is more commonly used to as an expression for ‘oh well, shit happens!’ There are a lot of hidden meanings to it though and you can use it in many contexts… it’s in a lot of songs and movies!

And last but not least… why should tourists and expats watch French movies?

French cinema is undeniably a massive part of French culture. France hosts the Cannes Film Festival, and its film industry is the most active in terms of both shootings and cinema attendance – it is the world capital of cinema and French movies are one of France’s greatest arts. Tourists, expats and the rest of the international community want to experience as much French culture as possible – it’s why they’re here! With French movies, you are participating in France’s cinema culture while learning more about the French language, style, humor and general way of life. Besides being some of the highest quality cinema in the world, French movies are also highly informative and educational! And the best way to discover them is in one of our amazing art-house and typically Parisian cinemas.

Get in touch with Lost in Frenchlation for more information on upcoming events!

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Moments of Weakness: Christmas markets in Paris

It’s already December and Christmas is just around the corner! What better way to get into the Holiday spirit than by visiting multiple Christmas markets?

A few days ago, I visited two of the many markets in Paris: The most famous one (Champs-Élysées) and the biggest one (La Défense). I enjoyed a nice cup of hot wine, bought myself some delicious artisan salted caramel nougat and pain d’épices (spice bread) and ended up buying some saucissons au canard(dry cured duck sausages), perfect for apéro. I didn’t plan on buying any of these things, but that’s what happens when you take pictures at a Christmas market in France. You photograph food and the next minute you’re tasting it, having a nice conversation with the producers and buying products from them.Well, I guess I had a moment of weakness, but then again, how can anyone possibly resist French food – or charming French vendors?

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Champs-Élysées is currently decorated with gorgeous Christmas lights to celebrate the Holiday. When they light up at night, the boulevard transforms into something magical  – like taken out of a Disney movie. Last night I felt that magic, as I was strolling along the boulevard. However, the day I went to visit the Christmas market – in the morning – something way less magical happened. I witnessed a fight between a tourist and a pickpocket who had allegedly stolen a purse from the tourist. Seemed like the tourist won the fight – and the pickpocket surrendered and moved on to the next target; me. The pickpocket-lady tried to approach me, so I started speed walking my way out of there.

Few minutes later, there I was. Safe and sound at the Christmas market. As you all know, most European countries have increased security at the Christmas markets due to recent events, and even though it was strange to see more police officers than civilians at the market (it was 11 am), it sure made me feel at ease. My hands were cold, so I bought myself a cup of hot wine to warm my frozen fingers and to satisfy my taste buds. I took a picture of some lovely Christmas ornaments. The vendor noticed and asked me jokingly if I could take a picture of him too. I laughed politely, wished him a good day and moved on to the next chalet. The ornament-vendor wasn’t the only one pulling that joke. Most of the vendors did. I wanted to take a picture of the French traditional artisan nougat. So I did. “Do I look good in the photo? Do you want a different pose?” the vendor asked me in French. I explained to him that he wasn’t the star of the photo – the nougat was. He offered me to try three different types. The traditional one, a cashew one and one with salted caramel – which I ended up buying. The smell of raclette lingered in the air. Although the smell is awful, the fact that I know it’s raclette and raclette tastes amazing, made me wanna feed my stomach with this heavenly melted cheese.

The Christmas market on Champs-Élysées is quite spread out, as the main road and its traffic divides the market in half. Nonetheless, the market was quite a joyful event thanks to the funny vendors, high quality produce, delicious street food and lovely Christmas lights on the Champs-Élysées. Make sure you visit this market in the evening to get the wonderfully magical atmosphere!

where: Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris

when: From 11.11.16 to 08.01.2017

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La Défense has the biggest and most authentic Christmas market in the region of île de France. This market is set up like a village, filled with more than 300 chalets displaying handmade crafts, fresh produce and small restaurants. Set in the financial district, the market was obviously full of businessmen – and women – enjoying a nice lunch at the market before returning to the office. As I photographed the food displayed by one of the restaurants, one of the chefs called me over to tell me “that’s 2 euros per picture”. I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not, and he could tell by the confused look on my face. He laughed and shook his head to confirm that he was indeed messing with me. A vendor called me over and asked me if I wanted to taste some nougat. I had to disappoint him as I had already bought some from someone else. A lady offered me some caramelized almonds. I didn’t buy any – and felt guilty about it.  I didn’t take many pictures at this market, as it was way too crowded and actually way less picturesque than the market on Champs-Élysées. Picture-perfect or not, this market has great variety in terms of handmade ornaments, outerwear, artisan produce, street food – and drinks. The market is also right next to a shopping center, which gives you the opportunity to go shopping for Christmas presents before or after exploring the Christmas market. Be careful – or you’ll end up spending too much, eating too much and drinking too much. But then again, when in France…

where: Parvis de la Défense, 92400 Paris La Défense

when: 17.11.16 – 27.12.16

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Other Christmas markets in Paris

Christmas market and ice rink near the Eiffel Tower – at Champ de Mars

place Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Montparnasse Tower

Montmartre

Gare de l’Est

Notre Dame Cathedral

Place d’Italie

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(photos from the market on Champs-Élysées)

 

 

Art is all around? Guided tour with Street Art Paris

tour was complimentary, but opinions are all my own

who: Street Art Paris

what: guided walking tour, discover street art in Paris

where: Belleville (meeting point 107 rue Oberkampf)

why: Discover Paris from a different angle and learn interesting facts about Parisian street art and artists (local ones and visitors)

Is all graffiti vandalism? Is all street art graffiti? What exactly is street art anyway – and is it really an important part of Parisian culture?

For centuries, the city of Paris has been an inspirational and educational source for creative souls and have attracted artists from all around the world. As a result, Paris has acquired a reputation as the “City of Art”. The city is known for the famous art displayed in the famous Louvre and Musée d’Orsay and the famous architectural style of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomph. Mainstream community have mixed feelings about the city’s street art – and some may even refer to it as vandalism. Thankfully, times are changing. History is changing. And recent events have made it more clear than ever that we need the freedom of opinion and expression. And what better way to express yourself than through art? Isn’t that what the famous paintings displayed in the Louvre were all about, as well? This is why it’s important that you take a minute to appreciate the underground creative community. This is the art of today.

107 Rue Oberkampf, the guided tour’s meeting point. This is no coincidental address. This is the location of Le MUR (the wall), which once was a billboard site – now a contemporary urban art spot which has since 2007 been an officially sanctioned street exhibition space. In France there are currently 14 walls like Le MUR. Twice per month an artist is commissioned to fill Le MUR with a new piece of art for the public to enjoy. We got there just in time for the transformation of an empty black wall to a fascinating piece by Toulouse-based artist Snake (visit the website of Le MUR or go to rue Oberkampf yourself to see the finished piece!)

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I’m sure you’ve heard of the clothing brand OBEY. Founded by American street artist and illustrator Shepard Fairey, who first became known for his “André the giant has a posse”(OBEY) sticker campaign and gained wide recognition for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster in 2008. Today, Fairey has an impressive resumé with work included in the collections at the Smithsonian, the Victoria and Albert museum in London – and many others. We found André the giant on two different locations.

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Chiotte is the vulgar slang word for toilet in French. Which is why the logo of local street artist Chiot is, well, toilets. You migh have to look up to see his art, as these colorful toilets are most often painted on chimneys. The artist works at night with absolutely no security and is a highly respected one in the community.

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Kashink is one of the few active female artists in the French street art scene. Her signature style is the huge four eyed characters with thick lines and bright colors. She only paints men – and she paints them fat, hairy and often gay. This piece was painted illegally – at daytime!

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Moving on to Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, popular site for street artists but most recently known as one of the sites for the attacks in November last year. Street artists made it their mission to recreate an atmosphere of peace and unity and draw positive attention to this street – which is very similar to what people did at Place de la Republique after the attacks, when they decorated the square with flowers, candles and letters to their loved ones. At the end of the day, we’re all the same, we all want peace and happiness. We just have different ideas of what our decoration should look like.

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I don’t know who did this one, so if you happen to know – please comment below so I can credit the artist.

If you live in Paris, you may have seen these bicycles – well, what’s left of them – before. He calls himself Ride in Peace, a French artist and bike courier who fixed a lot of old bikes to use them for art displays like these.

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This is the signature style of Manolo Mesa, a Spanish artist who paints with a stick and is famous for using the “ghost effect”.

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I absolutely love this mural. The theme is Nepal and the art is created by Doudou Style and Pearl (the girl and the panda). French artist Pearl specializes in realistic portraits and finds inspiration in African art. Doudou Style is a Parisian painter, graphic designer, illustrator and animator.

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Tucked in a side alley in Belleville,  you’ll find Rue Dénoyez – the most important street in Paris for the graffiti community. The entire street is one big canvas and it is perfectly legal to paint there. Some of the artwork found on this street is simply amazing, like this portrait by Manyoly, an artist from Marseille who finds inspiration in photos she’s taken of women she met on her travels.

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This one’s by Eddie Colla, an American artist known for his wheat paste and stencil art. He often paints humans with masks, like this one.

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Place Fréhel, which is often referred to as “the missing tooth”, is a square that didn’t exist before the collapse of buildings on Rue de Belleville in 1986 turned it into a no man’s land. For a long time it was just a place without a purpose, but it is now used as a public garden and a canvas for street artists. The most famous art found on this square has been there almost ever since the year Place Fréhel became what it is. This piece is by French artist Benjamin Vautier aka Ben and the phrase written is French for “beware of words”.

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This piece was painted by art teacher and painter Jean Le Gac and portrays a detective searching for x-street. I’m sure the joke must sound better in French.

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And here’s a more recent piece. Titled “we are late”, by Pox.

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Intra Larue is an interesting artist. This French woman gives a feminine touch to Paris and to all the places she visits – with her boob sculptures. These sculptures are always painted differently and placed high and low on random locations.

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The city of Paris is also decorated with something else I’m sure you’ve noticed on various locations. Meet Invader , the artist behind the mosaic “pixel art” and the mobile application game that lets you collect points as you discover these little guys. Kind of like Pokemon Go, isn’t it?

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Our guide, Virginie, took us to the Belleville park – a park you’d only really know about if you live in the nearby area. This piece is a commissioned artwork created by talented local artist Seth.

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More by Seth (the maison de l’air building)

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This powerful piece of art is by Wild Drawing, an Indonesian artist based in Greece. The piece was made to honor the victims of terrorism.

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The tour guide obviously saved us some of the best for last, when taking us to see the mural with current theme “The dream”. This gorgeous piece by Hopare was done completely free hand.

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Do you recognize this lady? It’s FKA Twigs. The piece was made by talented artist Alex .

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Credits to Street Art Paris – for sharing all knowledge about these artists and their work. If you happen to be in Paris and want something fun and educational to do on a weekend – why not book a street art tour like this one? And if you’re a creative type interested in learning the art of graffiti, check out their graffiti mural workshops!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Anything You Want” is everything I wanted (French theater, English sub!)

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What: French theatre play with English surtitles. Romantic comedy starring Bérénice Bejo and Stéphane De Groodt

Where: Théâtre Édouard VII, 10 Édouard VII Square, 75009 Paris

Plot: From the moment successful author Lucie finally became happy, she’s had terrible writer’s block. In the past, she had only ever written about her troubles and ever since finding happiness she’s lost all inspiration. If only someone could just make her a little sad for a while. Fortunately, life is unfair, and the arrival of Thomas – her new neighbor – is about to change everything.

About the actors:

Franco-Belgian, Brussels born actor Stéphane De Groodt is mostly known as the creator of the series “file dans ta chambre” but has also had a lot of supporting acts and guest roles in movies and TV-shows, including “Asterix at the Olympic Games”(2008) and “Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia”(2012). This talented actor wasn’t always an actor, though. Before starting his acting career, he was, in fact,  a professional racing driver!

Bérénice Bejo was born in Buenos Aires and is the daughter of Argentinian filmmaker Miguel Bejo. She embarked on a successful acting career in the 90’s, with various roles in French television and film production. Her Hollywood-debut was in 2001’s “A Knight’s tale” but it was the award-winning movie “The Artist” that gained her international recognition. Bejo herself was nominated as Best Supporting Actress of the Year at the Golden Globes and the Oscars!

My Review of the Show: If you love French comedy, you’ll love this one. The lines are sharp and witty, and the characters are impossible not to fall in love with. Bejo does a great job playing Lucie, the depressed writer who refers to herself as damaged goods. De Groodt makes an excellent “annoying” yet caring and positive-minded neighbor. These two characters are the complete opposites and disagree on…mostly everything. The dialogues are hilarious and the chemistry between the actors is perfect. I laughed from the very first line until the very end of the show. Honestly, I hope someone will eventually turn this play into a movie. I give it a 5 out of 5!

About the theater: 

Théâtre Edouard VII is located in Paris between the Madeleine and the Opéra Garnier in the 9th arrondissement. The theater was first opened by the English King Edward VII, as a performance hall in the early 20th century. It was first opened as a cinema and shortly after converted into a theater. The theater is supposedly haunted by Orson Welles. I can reassure you, I didn’t see him when I was there. At least I don’t think I did…

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Theatre in Paris – The Authentic Parisian Night Out

“Break the language barrier and experience French theatre like a local”. The company Theatre in Paris offers you selected plays from the Paris theater season with English surtitles. Now you and your expat friends or partner, travel buddies or family members who don’t speak French, can all enjoy fantastic French plays in gorgeous theaters like this one!

Before the show started, we were given a quick presentation of the show, the actors and the history of the theater, by a lovely English speaking hostess. She suggested following the company on social media for updates on the latest theater news –  and upcoming social events!

So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets and enjoy a fabulous evening at a Parisian theater  – without barriers.

(although tickets were complimentary, all opinions in this review remain my own)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Outskirts: Oise (thrill rides and castles)

Paris is beautiful. No doubt about it. Beautiful parks, amazing Haussmanian architecture, famous monuments, delicious food, fashionable people. But do you know any thing at all about the banlieues (suburbs) and the districts close to Paris?

Paris. We’ve all seen the thousands of photos shared on social media. We all know what the Eiffel tower looks like. And the Louvre too. And most of us Francophiles have heard the song “Champs-Élysées” and have either been – or want to go – shopping on this famous boulevard. “Now I feel like a real Parisian,” I heard one tourist say out loud as she let her friend hold her fancy shoppingbag from Ladurée – containing overpriced macarons- while she was trying on a beret from a souvenir stand. She was probably the kind of tourist who came to Paris determined to visit the same sites, do the same things, and share almost identical photos with others who had been there and done that before her. Or maybe she wasn’t like that at all. Maybe she just didn’t know any better. Maybe she even wanted to befriend locals and get to know the REAL Paris. Maybe even….the towns and villages close to Paris? Certain Parisians would probably burst out laughing and tell you you’re wasting your time exploring the suburbs, when everything you need is right there, in the centre of Paris. Others would encourage you to see absolutely everything and maybe even offer to come with you. Me, I am a curious soul, interested in seeing every corner of France – and not just the ones mentioned in glossy magazines. 

Before I moved to Paris, I was completely unaware of all the amazing places located only a stone’s throw away from the big city. Parks as beautiful as the ones in Paris, enchanting castles, charming little villages, lovely cafes and restaurants. It’s enough to make you wanna book a flight to Paris – without even visiting Paris.

I will write about each department individually, as this post would seem never-ending, otherwise. You see, the outskirts of Paris have quite a lot to offer!

First, I’ll take you a bit further than just a stone’s throw away, but still not too far to qualify for a spot in this series:

Oise

Parc Asterix

Oise (named after the river Oise) is a department 84 km north of Paris. The biggest tourist attraction of the department is also one of the most visited annually by locals; Parc Asterix – a theme park based on the stories of Asterix (a series of French comics). The park has a large variety of roller coasters as well as many other attractions and shows.

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Beauvais

If you’re flying to Paris with Ryan Air, you’ll be arriving in Beauvais, which serves as the capital of the Oise department. I have never been to Beauvais myself, but I’d love to visit the city’s spectacular gothic cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Beauvais)  and photograph the facade of the Museum of the Oise Department, which is a museum in the former bishop’s palace and is classified as a historical monument. And why not visit one of the expositions at the museum while you’re there?

Senlis

Medieval town Senlis is another destination you should add to your list. Visit the impressive, Gothic cathedral – a national monument of France. The ruins of the Royal Castle is also worth seeing. The actual castle dates back from the 1200’s. Once you’ve visited the cathedral and the castle ruins, sit down and relax with a glass of red or white in one of the local restaurants.

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Château de Pierrefonds

Another must-see is the Château de Pierrefonds, a beautiful medieval castle built between the late 1300’s-early 1400’s. I visited the castle last year, and coincidentally  got there in time for the local medieval festival. I bought myself some souvenirs and farmers produce from the festival market and enjoyed a tasty crêpe to-go!

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Château de Chantilly

Last but not least, Château de Chantilly, a historical castle located in the town of Chantilly. The chateau houses the Musée Condé, which is one of the finest art galleries in France and is open to the public.The park is a French formal garden, which is the same style of garden as the ones of Versailles. While visiting the beautiful garden, we saw happy newlyweds posing for photos, using the gorgeous nature as a backdrop for their wedding photographs. The estate overlooks the Chantilly Racecourse (Hippodrome de Chantilly) , and the Great Stables. Make sure you check out the equestrian shows and demonstrations while you’re there. It’s great fun to watch!

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Château de Montvillargenne

Would you and your significant other like a romantic celebration at a 4-star spa hotel? Then check out Château de Montvillargenne. My partner and I celebrated our one year anniversary at this luxurious chateau. They have an indoor swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath and they offer a variety of spa treatments – including a duo massage for couples (we tried it, we loved it!). The rooms are neat, the interior is modern and the restaurant serves fine gourmet cuisine. If you’re already in the neighborhood and if you have the budget for it – why not spoil yourself a little?

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Château d’Ermenonville

Set in a medieval chateau, this sophisticated hotel château d’Ermenonville is located in a calm environment – in the heart of the Ermenonville forest, overlooking the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Park. The restaurant has a good reputation and I’d love to dine there someday soon. Just waiting for yet another special occasion.

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And you, will I see you in the department of Oise?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a Magical Day in Disneyland Paris

Magical. Nostalgic.Disney will always hold a special place in my heart. Not just because I grew up watching Disney-movies and idolizing the beautiful Disney princesses and crushing on their handsome princes, but also because I spent one of the most amazing years of my life working at Disney World. So did it really come as a surprise that I would eventually visit Disneyland Paris? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s good for the soul to take a trip down memory lane and release ones inner child!

Entering Disneyland requires a lot of patience. Just like any other Disney park. The lines are always extremely long, even if you get there about an hour before the park opens. It’s a good warm up exercise, though – as you’ll be spending an awful lot of time standing in line for most of the attractions anyway. But it’s all worth it – it really is!

Time-travel to the 1920’s as you stroll along the Main Street USA and hang out in the Town Square. Buy some cute little souvenirs and a sweet treat and enjoy yourself.

Did you know that the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was inspired by the water-based Disney-attraction? This spectacular ride is waiting for you, right here in Disneyland Paris (as well as in Tokyo and Magic Kingdom). I’m usually not a big fan of drops – in fact I hate them – but the drops are such a small part of this visually amusing ride, that it’s all worth it. When you’re a scaredy-cat like me, it’s not really easy and  not always enjoyable to visit theme parks with a group of friends or family. At certain parks I’ve spent all day being the bag-holder while waiting for my friends to finish, so we could go home and get it over with. That’s not magical. That wouldn’t happen at Disneyland. In the Disney parks there’s something for everyone.Even for me.

For example, I absolutely love the delightful and slow “It’s a small world” ride. What a cute portrayal of world peace and unity. The Snow White attraction and the Pinocchio ride were both nice as well, although I think I would have enjoyed them more if I was twenty years younger. Alice’s Curious Labyrinth is kind of fun if you find your way out of the labyrinth without too much hassle. If not, well, you’ll find it rather annoying and frustrating.

Dining in Disneyland Paris is kind of a downer when you’re used to the variety found in Disney World. Apparently, the restaurants used to have different themes and serve different food – but now it’s all burgers, fries and same old dull food almost everywhere. I’d rather enjoy a large breakfast, skip lunch and dine in Disney Village instead. Or stuff my face with pastries – because, hey, it’s Disneyland and I’m here to release my inner child.

The Castle of the Sleeping Beauty is as enchanting as the Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom, and the fireworks are as amazing as any fireworks display by Disney.

Can you feel the magic?

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Getting Personal: Paris is for lovers

It was a sunny afternoon in April 2015. My train had just arrived in Paris Gare du Nord, and I was so excited to finally see my Parisian boyfriend again. We had both been counting down the days for several weeks. We had Skyped, WhatsApped, texted, shed a whole lot of tears and felt the blues while we were waiting for April 15th to come along.

Norway is my country of origin. However, it’s been a while since I could call Norway my home. I’ve always traveled a lot and changed my place to call home whenever I got sick of the current location and lifestyle – or climate, for that matter. I have lived in the UK and the US, and I couldn’t stand the thought of moving back to my hometown in Norway after a fun year in Florida. So I traveled. To Poland. To Czech Republic. And it was in Prague which I had spent four amazing days with the man who ended up becoming my boyfriend. We had talked online for several months while I lived in the US, and we finally met in the romantic capital of the Czech Republic. This man was my soul mate. I felt it. And I was willing to take a risk for him. I was willing to move to Paris, so that we could be together.

I had been to Paris before. Briefly. In 2013 I had seen the Eiffeltower, eaten at touristy restaurants, seen the Louvre without entering the museum and seen the Notre-Dame. I remember falling in love with the city, mostly because of the lovely pastel macarons, delicious tarts and warm, buttery croissants. I was in love with the smell of crêpes and the taste of good fruity red wines. The small Parisian apartments in the Hausmannian buildings with their little balconies – often beautifully decorated with flowers – had become my biggest day dream. I wanted to live there. I wanted to be one of those people who were sipping espresso and eating jam on toast on the balcony while watching people pass by on the streets below. And I don’t even like espresso or jam on toast. I still wanted to be one of those people.

Moving to Paris was a whole different experience than what I had imagined it to be. My boyfriend took me to his apartment. My new home. It was not in the centre of Paris, but in the southern suburbs of the city. No Hausmannian building, but a yellow four storey brick. Not quite the idea I had in mind. At least the inside of the apartment was neat and modern. And the person living there was the man of my dreams. Which was a lot more important than the architectural style of the building I was moving in to.

Little did I know how much of an emotional roller coaster this would be, this new life in France. I took French lessons, made friends, lost friends, learned the language, got lost in translation, learned the local costums, made a fool of myself several times, laughed, cried as I’ve fallen in and out of love with Paris. And back in love again. And so it goes, on and on. All my friends in Paris are expatriates, like myself. We all share the same story. Boy meets girl, girl moves to Paris to live with boy. We all complain about the same things. About how Parisian girls won’t even give us the time of day so we’re just stuck with other expats. About how French bureacracy is a pain in the butt. About how going on strike seems to be the national sport here. And last but not least, how much we miss our traditions from home. France is not really a country of traditions. It’s a country rich in culture, but not traditions. Who would have known I’d miss my Norwegian holiday traditions as much as I do now?

Thanks to LinkedIn, I got headhunted for a teaching position in Paris. I now teach Norwegian to French students who are planning to expatriate to Norway. I teach them not only my language, but also about the traditions, the culture and the Norwegian gastronomy. The things I hold dear and miss the most when I’m away from the place I used to call home.

I still don’t call Paris my home. Paris is still my roller coaster ride. And only time will tell if the roller coaster ever stops, or if I’ll eventually evacuate – together with the love of my life.

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The Vegans Guide to Paris

I came up with the idea of writing a vegans guide to Paris after having spent a week exploring that side of Paris with a friend who is vegan. My friend had never been to Paris  or even France before and had been told and/or read online that she’d have a hard time finding anything to eat in France. After all, France is known for its Foie Gras, Boeuf Tartare and creamy pastries and buttered croissants. France is not exactly famous for being a veggie haven. But I did my research. And I got results. Needless to say, vegans won’t starve in Paris. Quite the contrary. I found several restaurants, a few coffee shops and even a 100% vegan supermarket!

Where To Get Your Vegan Coffee

Oatmeal Paris in the 5th arrondissement (metro: Censier-Daubenton, line 7) is a 100% vegan cafe. They offer coffee-drinks and other hot drinks, “sandwich du moment”, oatmeal of the week and different desserts. I tried their tarte tout chocolat, a rich chocolate mousse tarte. It was delicious! My cappuccino was good too, and so was the matcha latte that my friend ordered. Besides, this place is great for Instagram-snapshots!

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Las Vegans in the 10th arrondissement (metro: Bonne Nouvelle, line 8 and 9) is a 100% vegan take-out place. They offer hot coffee drinks, smoothies and are mostly known for their delicious doughnuts and ice cream. They also offer salads and vegan kebabs if you’d rather have something savory. Both me and my friend ordered a banana caramel doughnut. Good place for a quick takeout!

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Le Pain Quotidien is a restaurant and bakery franchise located in different parts of Paris. I didn’t take my friend there, but I’ve been there several times on my own and I know they have a lot of vegan options on the menu. They offer coffee, pastries, salads, fruit juice, tasty sandwiches and more. I usually order the hummus or the avocado tartine (open sandwich) when I’m there. They’re both vegan and delicious!

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Where To Get Your Vegan Sweet Treats

Vegan Folie’s in the 5th arrondissement (metro: Place Monge, line 7) is a 100% vegan bakery. I have heard a lot of positive things about this place, but was unable to go there as they were closed for the week while my friend was here. I’ll definitely check it out one day, though!

Ara Chocolat in the 9th arrondissement (metro: Anvers, line 2) is a vegan-friendly artisan chocolate shop. I only found out about this place today – so it’s yet another place I need to visit.

Where To Have Lunch/Dinner

Gentle Gourmet in the 12th arrondissement (metro: Bastille 1, 5 and 8) is a 100% vegan bistro-style restaurant. This restaurant is a perfect place for a date/romantic meal and for those of you who love and appreciate modern french gastronomy. I started with a faux gras with raspberry jelly and sauce, accompanied with bread and decorative, eatable flowers. The server recommended the portobello mushroom burger with polenta sticks as a main course, so I ordered it. Sadly, I didn’t order any dessert as I was too full. I will definitely return to this restaurant….and order a dessert – no matter how full I am.

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42 Degrés in the 9th arrondissement (metro: Poissonnière, line 7) is the first 100% raw food restaurant in France. This vegan raw food restaurant is – like Gentle Gourmet – for those who appreciate modern bistro-style dining. I haven’t been to this chic raw food place just yet, but would love to go one day!

Hank Burger in the 3rd arrondissement (metro: Rambuteau, line 11) is a 100% vegan burger restaurant. If you’re in the mood for fast food rather than fine dining, you should definitely check out this place!

Végét’Halles in the 1st arrondissement (metro: Châtelet, line 1, 4, 7 and 14) is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant that I’ve heard great things about, but have yet to visit. They have a large menu with plenty of options and I’m sure even the pickiest eater will find something they like there.

Where To Get Your Vegan Groceries

Un Monde Vegan in the 3rd arrondissement (metro: Strasbourg – Saint-Denis, line 4, 8 and 9) is a 100% vegan supermarket. It doesn’t look that big from the outside, but they have absolutely everything you need. And more. Everything you need for a vegan barbecue, cookbooks (in French), cereals and oatmeal, cheese and spreads, faux gras, vegan rillette, pizzas, different kinds of pasta and sauces, candy and chocolate, biscuits, ice cream – you name it.

…And last but not least, tips to non-vegans like myself, who are planning to host a vegan friend:

  • Cater to their needs. All supermarkets have basic things like soy milk and cereals without honey or traces of milk. And obviously fruit and fruit juice. So even if you don’t want to cook a proper vegan dinner, at least serve them a good breakfast.
  • However, if you do want to cook them dinner, ask them what they like. Just because someone is vegan, doesn’t mean they like absolutely every single vegetable. And it doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to serve them dry lettuce just because you want steak and they can’t eat it. Be nice. Make an effort.
  • Don’t ask them annoying questions like “Why did you go vegan? Do you think you’ll be able to stay that way for a long time? Don’t you think it’s just a phase?”. I got the exact same questions about having tattoos, and about moving to France. And I’m sure vegans get those questions even more often than I did, and I’m sure they’re sick and tired of hearing it.
  • Be open-minded. Take your friend to a vegan restaurant. Have a good time!