Where Can I Find……

Don’t pull out your hair.  We’re keeping a running list of those things you may be searching for but just can’t seem to find.  

Dental floss:  Yes, dental floss exists in France but you won’t find it in the supermarket with the toothbrushes and toothpaste.   Stop by your neighborhood pharmacie.  You will find it there.

Fresh tortillas: Take a trip to the Latin Quarter to stock up at Mexi and Co., 10 rue Dante (5th arrondissement).  These flour tortillas freeze well.

For corn tortillas, we’re hearing good things about Mil Amores Tortilleria at 52 avenue Parmentier in the 11th.

Rice Krispies:  Kellogg’s products are widely available in Paris and you’ll easily find chocolate flavored rice cereal as well.  But for some reason, only two of the major supermarket chains carry Snap Crackle and Pop:  Auchan and Super U.  Unfortunately neither has a store in the city of Paris.  Check their Web sites for an outlet in a suburban community near you.

Graham crackers for making graham cracker crust: You can probably find graham crackers at one of the markets catering to Americans but for one-quarter of the price, grab a package of Speculoos cookies at your local supermarket. These Belgian treats, nicely spiced with cinnamon and cloves, crumble well and are the perfect foil for cheesecake, Key Lime pie, and pretty much any treat calling for a graham cracker crust.

Bread crumbs:   Take yesterday’s baguette, let it sit out another day until it’s good and hard, and then smash it with a rolling pin or put it in your food processor.  If you don’t have the time or the patience, you can usually find boxes of bread crumbs in the supermarket next to the flour.  Look for the carton marked chapelure.

A decent hamburger: Okay first of all, the beef tastes different in France so it’s never going to be like a burger back home. And second, let’s just say that neither France nor the U.S. can really do each other’s cuisine justice. That being said, there comes a time in the life of every North American expat when a decent burger is just what the doctor ordered.  So take a look at blogger David Lebovitz’s post: Where to Find a Great Hamburger in Paris and his review of the food truck specializing in American style burgers Le Camion Qui Fume.  Here’s a more recent take (in French) from Le Figaro:  Les meilleurs burgers de Paris.

A place to rent a tuxedo:   Two good sources are: www.jjloc.fr and www.lesdeuxoursons.com.  Bear in mind that you cannot rent accessories so be prepared to buy ties, shoes, pocket squares, even shirts.  Thanks to Anne at Fête in France for the info.

Dried sweetened cranberries:   Although you may find them elsewhere, you might be surprised to learn that the ubiquitous urban supermarket Franprix carries dried cranberries.  Look for a display of green or orange plastic packages with various types of nuts, dried fruit, and popcorn.    You can also sometimes find them from the fellow selling nuts, dried fruit, olives, and spices at your local open air market.  And the word in French for cranberries is…….”cranberries.”

Aluminum foil that doesn’t feel like tissue paper:  Look for the package marked papier aluminum renforcée which has roughly the same durability as the regular aluminum foil sold in North America.  Stay away from the regular variety which tears at the slightest provocation.

Aveda hair care products:  There are two licensed Aveda salons in Paris: Joel Villard at 16, rue de Saint-Simon in the 7th arrrondissement (Metro: Rue de Bac) and Montecino Salon at 7 rue du Louvre in the 1st.  Joel Villard’s stylists are trained at the Aveda Institute and familiar products like Rosemary Mint Shampoo, Be Curly, Shampure, and Hand Relief are for sale.  Call 01 45 55 85 69 for hours.

Information about what’s going on in Paris this week:  Pariscope is the definitive source for all things cultural — art shows, theater, concerts, movies, special events.  It comes out every Wednesday and is available for only 40 centimes at every press kiosque.  (And if your French is limited, check out this on-line guide  to how to read Pariscope!) Figaroscope, a weekly supplement to the newspaper Le Figaro. also comes out on Wednesday and includes feature articles as well.

A playground that suits my kids:  There are tons of playgrounds in Paris, ranging from a tiny seesaw and a sandpit in a pocket park to full fledged affairs for older kids.  The city of Paris has a complete list on-line arranged by arrondissement and you can download a .pdf here.  Look for the photo with the title “les aires de jeux” and click on the text that says “Consulter le document au format pdf.”  If that sounds like too much work, the 2011 list can be found here.

Fabric, notions, and everything else for sewing:   Take the metro to Anvers, head up the hill towards Sacre Coeur, hang a right and you’ll find everything you need for sewing whether you’re making clothes or decorating your Parisian apartment.  The two biggest stores are La Reine and the Marché Saint-Pierre but there are also a dozen or more other stores selling material, buttons, trim, and the rest.

Musical instruments and sheet music:   All musical roads lead to Rome, in this case, not the city in Italy but the metro stop on the border of the 17th and 8th arrondissements.   Some of the stores rent musical instruments but get there too late in the school term and you may be out of luck.

Plants, seeds, window boxes and other gardening gear:  Paris is thick with florists and you probably won’t have any trouble buying geraniums, vases, and small pots in your neighborhood.  If your needs go further, check out the stores along the Quai Mégisserie in the 1st arrondissement.  There’s also the Marché aux Fleurs on Place Louis Lepine on Ile de la Cité (Metro: Cité).

A cheap but decent manicure: There’s no equivalent in Paris to the $15 manicure you find in the Vietnamese nail salons in New York or LA. For the most part, a full manicure will set you back 30 to 35 euros. But if you can trim your own nails and deal with your ratty cuticles, you can get nail polish applied expertly for around 6 to 8 euros. Ask for a pose de vernis rather than for a manucure.

Plus sized women’s clothes:   Heather, the genius behind Secrets of Paris, says that “one of the best clothing brands for women shopping for size 42-60 (US sizes 12-28) is Jean Marc Philippe, a French brand with three stores in Paris (including 89 rue de Rivoli, 1st).  Down the street is another shop carrying sizes 42-62 called Couleurs (17 rue de Rivoli, 1st). In general, when looking for similar shops or sections within department stores, look for “Grandes Tailles” or “Femmes Rondes”.

Autolib: Tips on Using Paris’ Car Sharing Service

autolib

On the heels of the wildly successful bike sharing venture, Velib‘, the city of Paris launched an automobile sharing program, Autolib’, in 2011.  Although we here at Posted in Paris have not yet had the occasion (or the guts) to test out one of Autolib’s blue cars, Heather Stimmler-Hall, the knowledgeable author of the terrific Secrets of Paris site, has all the details in this article from March 2013.

For up to date info on rates, locations, etc. (all in English), try the Autolib’ English language site.

Christmas Tree Recycling

IMG_5538It’s always a bit depressing taking down the Christmas tree and packing away holiday decorations, but it’s even sadder when you have to plop your tree by the garbage bin and wait for it to be carted off to the landfill, droopy branches and all. But, just like last year, the city of Paris can save your tree from this gloomy fate. Now through mid January,  the Mairie de Paris has set up dozens of locations throughout the city where you can take your tree (minus any and all decorations) to be recycled. The recycled trees will be used as compost and mulch in the Parisian gardens. The list of recycling points can be found here.   (Scroll to the  bottom of the page.)

Replacing An American Passport in Paris

passport-1

Photo credit: Ann Mah

If your American passport’s been lost or stolen, take a deep breath.  Writer and Paris blogger Ann Mah has taken the guesswork out of the process with this informative post (originally posted on her site annmah.net).  Many thanks to Ann for allowing us to repost.  And be sure to check out Ann’s new book, Mastering the Art of French Eating which is getting rave reviews.  It’s the perfect gift for your favorite Francophile (including you.)  Did I mention the recipes?

by Ann Mah

After my passport was stolen a few weeks ago, I went to the U.S. Embassy in Paris to replace it. (Though my husband is a Foreign Service Officer, his assignment in Paris ended last year, and I visited as an ordinary American citizen.) A lot of people are intimidated by the American Embassy — and it is a bit of a fortress — so I thought I’d share a few tips to smooth your path in case you need to urgently replace your passport in Paris. Learn from my mistakes, friends!

After you discover the loss of your passport:

Report it to the French police. This will probably take hours, but it helps guard against passport fraud and/or identity theft. Also, I found the gendarmes extremely kind, sympathetic (and one of them was pretty cute).

Visit the U.S. Embassy in Paris website, specifically the page U.S. passport services and read the information carefully. I don’t recommend phoning the Embassy switchboard as the website is extremely helpful and offers all the information you need. Bottom line: if your passport was lost or stolen, you can apply for an emergency replacement in person, without an appointment, by showing up at the Consular Section of the US Embassy, Monday-Friday, 8.30 am sharp. (Note: The embassy is open during regular business hours, but closed on French and American holidays.)

What to bring to the embassy:

Bring your forms, completed in advance. Go to the U.S. passport services page. (Really, I cannot emphasize this enough.) It will tell you which documents you need and give links to the forms, which you can print and complete in advance. You can also fill out and print the forms on computers at the embassy, but the system there is not reliable (I had trouble printing, for example) and I got yelled at when I asked for help.

Bring your wallet. You will be charged for your new passport. They take Euros, US dollars, and credit cards, including American Express.

Bring lots of loose change — specifically one- or two-Euro coins. If you are applying for an emergency passport, you can take the photos at the embassy, but the photo booth only accepts change and on the day of my visit the change machine was out of service. Loose change is also handy in case you want to buy a snack or coffee from the vending machine.

Bring something to read to pass the time — a book or magazine. There will be a lot of waiting.

Note: If you are applying for a regular (not an emergency) replacement passport:

You cannot take your passport photos at the embassy. Instead, take them before your visit — I recommend the day before. Photo Madeleine — a five-minute walk from the embassy (41 rue Boissy d’Anglas, 8e) — shoots photos that meet the required regulations. Also, bring a pre-paid Colissimo envelope. The embassy will ask you for this so they can send your new passport back to you. You can buy the envelopes at the Concorde métro station. The embassy also sells them via vending machine, but they cost €25, the vending machine only takes change, and the change machine was out of service the day of my visit.

Your visit to U.S. Embassy Paris

Make sure to arrive at 8.30 am, or slightly earlier. You’ll wait in line to go through security. You cannot bring your cell phone, i-Pad, laptop, or any electronic equipment into the building, but you can check them at the guard hut. I also had to check my Kindle, which made me very sad as it was my only form of entertainment. Don’t bring a Kindle.

Be prepared to spend several hours at the embassy. I arrived at 8.30 am and didn’t leave until after 12 noon. The lines are long, especially on a Monday, when everyone who has lost their passport over the weekend applies for a new one. The good news is, I found my fellow passport theft victims to be extremely friendly and chatty and their stories of being robbed on trains and in markets were fascinating cautionary tales. I also thought the Embassy personnel was also very professional and polite (except for the woman who got testy with me about the printer).

Don’t expect to receive your passport immediately. If your flight is scheduled for the same day, change it to the next. I saw a woman in tears because she hadn’t changed her flight –even though she’d read the website, (which clearly states “we cannot guarantee that we can issue a passport in time for same-day travel”) she didn’t believe it. Believe it.

There is a clean bathroom.

If you have a question, ask a security guard. There are a few of them wandering around the waiting area. I found them all very friendly and helpful.

With any luck, your emergency passport will be ready the same (or next) day and you’ll be able to go home, a smarter traveler with a good story under your belt.

Thanksgiving Dining Options

Mary Kay Bosshart, intrepid adventurer of Paris and author of the blog Out and About in Paris, recently posted her suggestions for Americans seeking a Thanksgiving dining experience in Paris.   She graciously allowed us to repost here.

IMG_2564When I was a child, my mother and father would ceremoniously gather our family of seven in the living room a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving Day. One by one, we were asked to name our favorite holiday dishes while my mother meticulously transcribed the menu onto a sheet of paper. My older brothers and sisters, who always seemed to go first, enthusiastically called out the star attractions: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. When my turn finally came, only the uninteresting dishes, like “relish plate” or “scalloped corn”, seemed to be left. Nonetheless, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s a day for families. A time when we pause to give thanks for all of our blessings.

If, like me, you’re going to be far from your loved ones on Thanksgiving Day, here are some ideas for where to celebrate this American holiday in Paris.

Breakfast in America: This American diner is offering two seatings of a traditional dinner that includes an aperitif, a starter, turkey plate with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetable, cranberry sauce and a slice of pumpkin, apple or pecan pie for €32.95. Wine, alcohol and other drinks are not included in the price. Reservations via email required: bia.thanksgiving@gmail.com. Breakfast in America, 17, rue des Ecoles, 75005 Paris.

Ralph’s: Ralph Lauren’s namesake restaurant in its flagship boutique in St Germain des Prés celebrates Thanksgiving in true American tradition with the season’s most festive dishes including turkey, stuffing, apple pie and more for €120 per person. Call Ralph’s at +33 (0)1 44 77 76 00 to make reservations. The two seatings (6:30 and 9:00 pm) are sure to fill up fast.

Blues-Bar-B-Q: My favorite barbecue joint in Paris will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for €35 per person. There will be two seatings (6:30 and 9:00 pm). Reservations are required. Blues Bar-B-Q, 1 rue Sedaine, 75011 Paris. Phone: +33 (0)1 48 06 79 53

The Moose: This Canadian sports bar and grill is organizing a Thanksgiving party with a traditional menu. If you would like to follow the NFL football games direct from the United States, this is the place for you. Call for more information and to make reservations. The Moose, 16 rue des 4 Vents, Paris 75006. Tel: + 33 (0) 1 46 33 77 00

La Cuisine de l’E7: The restaurant of the 4-star Hôtel Édourd 7 is offering a fixed price menu with pumpkin soup, cornbread, stuffed poultry, sweet potato purée, cranberry sauce, pumpkin tart and ice cream for €40 per person, drinks not included. Reserve online or contact the restaurant. La Cuisine de l’E7, 39 avenue de l’Opéra, 75002 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 61 86 11

Joe Allen: The classic American restaurant has created a special menu with traditional favorites and interesting alternatives, like corn chowder with Thai curry, roasted pumpkin and ricotta enchiladas with spaghetti squash coleslaw, grilled marinated tuna steak. The three-course menu is €46 and includes coffee or tea. Reserve online or send an email to thanksgiving@joeallenparis.com. Joe Allen, 30 Rue Pierre Lescot, 75001 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 36 70 13

Le Saint-MartinJust in case you don’t eat your fill of turkey on Thanksgiving Day, this bistro is offering a traditional menu for €40 per person on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Reserve your table or order your feast to go via email (lesaintmartin@yahoo.fr) or phone. Le Saint-Martin, 25 Rue Louis Blanc, 75010 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 46 07 73 68

American Church in ParisFor a less expensive option, enjoy turkey and all the trimmings for €25 per adult and €18 per child under 12 in the Thurber Room on Saturday, November 23. The family seating at 5:00 pm features children’s activities and a special movie. The adult seating is at 8:30 pm. Tickets available online. American Church in Paris, 65 quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 40 62 05 00

Meetup’s “The Paris Thanksgiving Dinner”: Mainly for expats who live in Paris, Meetup’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be between €37 and €40, including a glass of wine. A short, digestive, slow-paced, post-meal walk to Sacré-Cœur will follow the meal. Join Meetup and reserve online.

Grange aux Dîmes de Wissous: located outside of Paris, this gastronomic restaurant is offering an all inclusive traditional Thanksgiving dinner for €49.90. Included in the menu are pumpkin souffle, corn pancakes, roasted turkey stuffed with chestnuts, cranberry relish, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and more. La Grange aux Dîmes,  3 Rue André Dolimier, 91320 Wissous (approximately 30 minutes from Paris) Tel:+33 (0)1 69 81 70 08

Ideas for a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner:

Whether you’re on your own or in a group, I highly recommend Le Foodist’s “Cook and Dine”. After a glass of champagne, you’ll hone your cooking skills for two hours and then sit down to a five-course meal while your host shares wine, stories and images to explain how all the dishes relate to the local culture. It’s Thanksgiving with a French twist! The all-inclusive evening is €130. Reserve onlineLe Foodist, 59 Rue Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)6 71 70 95 22.

Alternatively, we thoroughly enjoyed stuffing ourselves with delicious Basque food at Chez L’Ami Jean two years ago. Here’s a blog post from the archives with more information.

Make your own Thanksgiving dinner:

You’ll find all the essential ingredients to make your own holiday dinner at the aptly named Thanksgiving and The Real McCoy, two small American grocery stores in Paris.

It’s also possible to order a roasted turkey from your local butcher. Just be sure to plan ahead and order it about three weeks in advance.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  For those of you who will be cooking, take a look at our post on American groceries if you’re missing that special something.  You might be surprised, however, what you can find in Paris without going too far from home.  Supermarket pain de mie works fine for your stuffing (just leave it out on the counter over night to get it good and stale) and markets catering to the West African community almost always have sweet potatoes.  Cook up some potimarron for your pumpkin pie.  Cranberries can also be found in open-air markets but be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for them.  And make sure that turkey you ordered will fit in your oven.  Bon appetit!

Paris Farmers’ Markets: Dos and Don’ts (Mostly Don’ts)

Many thanks to Sedulia Scott who writes the Rue Rude blog for allowing Posted in Paris to repost these words of sage advice.

Went to the marché, or farmers’ market, this morning and got a little carried away on the flowers– €49 later, I came home with some peonies, Easter lilies (which in France are called arum, but I just read that both names are wrong: this is not a real lily), some yellow freesia, and four bunches of lilies of the valley, which will last only a few days, but are a symbol of May. Children sell them on May Day here on all the street corners. Aren’t they pretty?

Today, as usual, the market was full of foreign tourists gawking at the lovely food and product displays. As the vendeuse was cutting the stems and wrapping up the flowers (she gave me some foliage for free), I saw out of the corner of my eye a tall, impatient American man, identifable by his khaki pants and button-down shirt, but also by his attitude. While the florist was taking care of me, he had gotten more and more annoyed. The florist was aware of his annoyance but not of its cause and looked puzzled. Finally he just laid down his money, pointed at the lilies of the valley in his hand and said, “Pour les fleurs,” and flounced off.Enfin, he would have if he’d had flounces. The florist made big eyes at me and said, “What’s wrong with him?” and then shrugged her shoulders.

What was wrong? He didn’t know the rules of the marché. I didn’t either when I first came to France. So, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few!

1) Enjoy the market all you want! It’s fine to walk through slowly and gawk at the gorgeous fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, meat, and surprisingly high-quality linens, etc.

2) Don’t touch the food! This is not done. Mais non, non, non! The merchant will serve you.

3) If you don’t plan to buy anything, photograph discreetly if at all. Understandably, the vendors don’t love being the focus, year in, year out, of lots and lots of cameras of people who never buy.

4) At the height of the market, it will be crowded and you will have to wait your turn at popular, high-quality stands. If you are a customer, make a signal if the vendor doesn’t realize you’re not just a tourist staring. Then wait your turn. There may not seem to be a line, but there is. The French don’t love orderly queues. But the vendor notices who’s first, second and so on. If they make a mistake, it’s not usually out of malice toward tourists but because too many people are waiting. Sometimes there’s a long wait, that’s just how it is. When it’s your turn next, make a little signal with your hand. Whatever you do, don’t lose your temper. And remember to begin with Bonjour! and finish with Merci! Au revoir! 

While you are waiting for your turn, don’t expect the merchant to pay you the least bit of attention. This is the problem my American man, at the beginning of this post, must have had. The vendeuse was completely ignoring him to focus on me– this is the polite, correct way for a vendor to behave in France. The American was expecting her to acknowledge him and in some way say “Don’t worry, you’re next,” or “I’ll be right with you.” But to the vendeuse, that would be rude to me.

5) If you don’t speak French, no problem! Say Bonjour and then ask if they can speak English. If they can’t, there is always someone nearby who can and will come to your aid if you need it.

6) If you are not a regular customer, watch carefully what you are being given! The French way of privilégier-ing their regular customers means that non-regular customers are the ones on whom they try to fob off the less good produce. Feel free to point at an unsatisfactory choice and say, “No, not that one! That one.” French customers do this all the time. Smile!

7) If you come at the very end of the market, you can get some good bargains, but a lot of the best stands my be out of produce. Also, the market people have to spend quite a lot of time taking their stands down, and they aren’t happy to have a customer show up just as they are putting things into the truck. So try to get to the market before 13h15. (I have no idea what time to show up in the morning. I am not a morning person.)

And voilà, one of the greatest pleasures of France!

La Rentrée: Back to Paris

It’s that time of year again–la rentrée. The tourists return to their homes and Paris begins to bustle as it fills back up with residents readying themselves for fall. Summer is behind us, work has geared up and school is in session. Whether you’re new to Paris or returning from holiday, here are a few posts to help you and your family get into the French swing of things.

School Supplies
School Calendar
Back to School Clothes Shopping
Sports Equipment
The Rhythm of the Week
Making a House a Home
Getting the News
Making Sense of the Supermarket
Where Can  I Find…

Visit our categories section to find more extensive information on settling in the City of Light. There are posts on everything from dealing with food allergies in Paris to where to find the city’s 24 hour gas stations!