BLOOM

Each year since 1970 the Women of the American Church (WOAC) host Bloom Where You’re Planted, a program designed to help Anglophones settle into life in Paris. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, October 5th. The program begins at 9:00AM with a continental breakfast and chance to meet other participants as you take a stroll through the exhibitor hall. After breakfast, there are five whole-group sessions that discuss everything cross cultural adaptation to Parisian history with one of the city’s most informative tour guides and well known authors, Peter Caine. The morning sessions are followed by a buffet lunch and breakout sessions later in the afternoon. Topics for the afternoon seminars include cutting through red tape, the French education system, staying healthy in Paris, and much more. If you are new to the City of Light, BLOOM is an excellent opportunity to learn the ins and outs of your new home and connect with other English speakers. To register and see the complete program, visit the BLOOM website here.  The fee is  40 euros.  And trust us, the BLOOM book itself is worth the price of admission.

Bloom Where You’re Planted at the American Church in Paris
65 Quai d’Orsay 75007

bloom@acparis.org

Summer Camps

Les vacances d’été are just around the corner! It’s time to organize and confirm summer plans, schedule a poolside rendezvous or too, and for the parents out there, it’s time to sort out holiday activities for the kids. Fortunately, there are several schools in Paris that offer English and bilingual summer camps. See our list below!

American School in Paris
Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel
International School of Paris (language programs only)
La Petite Ecole Bilingue
Marymount International School Paris
The Bilingual Montessori School of Paris
United Nations Nursery School

Mairie de Paris French Courses

Language schools abound in the City of Light, but it’s difficult to find a program that provides quality instruction and doesn’t break the bank or wreak havoc on your schedule. However, the language program offered by the Mairie de Paris fits the bill–knowledgeable teachers, after-work hours, and convenient locations. The best part? The semester long courses cost as little as 1oo euros. For 60 hours of instruction, it’s the best deal in town.

But, there’s a catch! Signing up isn’t quite as easy as we’d like it to be and you must register in advance. Since the courses are cheap by Paris standards, lots of folks are vying for a classroom seat. To secure a spot, you need to stay on top of registration opening and closing dates*, fill out and mail in your enrollment paperwork (Bulletin d’Inscription), and, in some cases, follow up directly at the school where you applied to take the course (classes are held in Paris’s public school buildings). After the registration closing date, you’ll receive a response as to whether you’ve been accepted or put on a wait list. If accepted, the response letter will explain next steps, including payment, evaluation, and getting your ID card. The courses are extremely popular so there’s a slim chance you may be wait-listed. Don’t be discouraged! After the first few classes of the semester, many individuals drop out and spaces open up. Keep inquiring with the school to see if you can get in.

If you don’t mind going through the motions to get yourself enrolled, these courses truly are some of the best for the price. Unlike other programs, instructors are qualified professionals who often have backgrounds in linguistics and speak multiple languages. They have years of experience refining the prescribed curriculum to meet the needs of their students and generally work hard to make sure everybody’s French improves. If you’re willing to put in the effort, so are they.

If the Mairie de Paris program isn’t what you’re looking for, read our earlier post on language schools in Paris here.

 

Bra Shopping in Paris

There are only a few situations that can be as awkward in your first language as in a foreign one. Getting fitted for a bra is one of them. Whether in English or in French, an open conversation about cup size, cleavage, sag, support, and sexiness can make even the most brazen feel just a tad uneasy. In Paris, with lingerie shops on nearly every block, the experience may seem just that much more intimidating. But, buying the right fitting bra or something for a special occasion doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable experience. Take a cue from les femmes françaises by reading our interview with lingerie expert, Stéphanie Lherminier. Stéphanie, owner of Boutique Clair de Lune in the 18th arrondissement, graciously answered the barrage of bra related questions we sent her way. We hope you enjoy Stéphanie’s insights into the purchasing habits of her Parisian clientele and can benefit from her advice!

Posted in Paris: Do you think French women go for practicality or sexiness when shopping for bras and underwear?

Stéphanie: French women generally prefer comfort when choosing bras. They will always keep the more glamorous and sexy lingerie in their wardrobe for weekends and special nights or occasions, but for everyday, comfort and “le bien aller” are most important.

Posted in Paris: Do you think the rumor that most French women usually wear matching bras and panties is true?

Stéphanie: French women, for the most part, like wearing matching bras and panties. When they buy more classic colored bras–black, white, or nude–they rarely buy matching panties; but when it comes to fun colors, they go for the matching tops and bottoms.

Posted in Paris: How often do women in France shop for lingerie? Just for special occasions or more frequently?

Stéphanie: You must consider that on average, French women purchase only 2 bras a year. However, my boutique’s most loyal clients, buy on average 3 or 4 a year I would say. They buy new bras most often when new collections come out; I would say, a new ensemble for each new collection, so one fall/winter and one spring/summer. Then the same clients often come back to take advantage of the soldes (sales held twice a year). I rarely sell lingerie intended for special occasions; the more coquette French women often already have what they need in their wardrobe. On the other hand, we do have a large male clientele who buy the more sexy lingerie for their wives or lovers in anticipation of a special moment.

Posted in Paris: What is your best selling brand and model?

Stéphanie: I have two brands of bras that sell very well in my store. The first is Prima Donna, a very chic Belgian brand specializing in large cup sizes, and the other is the more glamorous, sexy French brand Lise Charmel.

The Prima Donna woman is a woman seeking class, sophistication, and also comfort; Prima Donna is known among professionals in the lingerie world to be very comfortable. They offer 58 different sizes and cups ranging from B to I.

The Lise Charmel woman is looking for a haute couture lingerie. She likes wearing bras adorned with the finest lace, guipures, and other materials. She is seductive and hyper feminine.

The type of bra that sells the best is generally a classic form, padded. Women who want to feel secure and protected go for the close fitting type of bra and those who like the push up effect go for the “basket” form.

Posted in Paris: What brands do you recommend?

Stéphanie: As for my favorite brands and what I recommend, it really depends on the client. I section off the products in function of the clientele. For a client with generous forms, I recommend Prima Donna for a mature and glamorous look, and Twist (also sold by Prima Donna) for younger fashionable women. For smaller chested women, I recommend Marie Jo and Marie Jo L’aventure for women who appreciate fashion but at the same time want comfort and a natural looking chest. And I recommend Lise Charmel’s push up bras for women looking to feel sexy and chic under their clothes.

Posed in Paris: How often should women change their bras?

Stéphanie: I recommend changing bras every 4 years. Of course it all depends on how often you wear them. If you don’t have many and you wash them more than 4 times a week, I recommend replacing them at least every 2 years. It also depends on how well you take care of them. Hand washing your bras saves them from the wear and tear of the washing machine so they’ll last a lot longer. If you must put them in the washing machine, always be sure to close the clasp and use a laundry net. In any case, if your bra rides up on your back or if your straps are tightened all the way and have to hook the clasp on the tightest hook, or if you just feel like you’re not getting the support you need, it’s time to buy a new bra as soon as possible!

Posted in Paris: Do you have any suggestions for going bra shopping in Paris? Are there any “do’s” and “don’ts”?

Stéphanie: When bra shopping in Paris, I highly recommend going to independent lingerie shops where you’ll get real service and you might be surprised to learn that you have been wearing the wrong size for years. You can find the addresses of these types of shops in the yellow pages under the section “Lingerie” or on the websites of your favorite brands under the section “revendeurs.”

Avoid franchises (H&M, Etam, etc.) at all costs. They are less expensive but you won’t get the same quality. Often times after only 3 washes, they become stretched out. And most of the time the sales people are not capable of informing you about the different models.

Don’t forget that the primary function of a bra is support. Good bras are expensive but our chest is subjected to a lot throughout our lives (puberty, contraceptive hormones, pregnancy, breastfeeding, swelling during periods, menopause…)–all the more reason to take care of it and provide it with good support. Otherwise, mesdames, you can expect to find yourself with a drooping, sunken chest because you didn’t do enough to maintain it. Besides their primary function, lactation, breasts play a very important role in seduction and sexuality. So take care of them!

Posted in Paris: Merci Stéphanie!

Boutique Clair de Lune
119 bis rue Ordener
75018 PARIS

Laundromat Matters

When you’re living abroad, the most simple tasks can sometimes be the most complicated. Seemingly easy things, like shopping at the grocery store or getting money out of a cash machine, take on a new level of complexity. One such task is doing your laundry at the self-service laundromat or laverie. Getting your clothes cleaned isn’t rocket science, but figuring out how to work the washing machine and what products to use is trickier than it sounds, especially if you don’t understand French.

If you’ve got dirty laundry spilling over your hamper, use our mini guide to get your pile of whites and darks washed and dried. After your first visit to the laundromat, you’ll get the hang of it. You may even end up doling out help to puzzled Parisians who sometimes have trouble figuring out the laundry machine directions themselves!

(If you have clothes that need dry cleaning or you’d prefer to use a laundry service, read our earlier post here.)

Useful Vocabulary

laundry le linge
wash la lessive
washing le lavage
laundromat la laverie
washing machine la machine à laver
detergent la lessive
to wash or scrub lessiver
softener l’assouplissant or l’adoucissant
stain la tache
stain remover le détachant
bleach l’eau de Javel
to dry secher
dryer le sèchoir
dry sec (m), sèche (f

(For information on international fabric care symbols, visit this link.)

Typical Laundromat Signage

Baring it All: What to expect at the French gynecologist

Today’s post is written by Aidan Larson. Aidan is the author of the popular blog Conjugating Irregular Verbs where she shares stories of her life in the South of France. Thank you Aidan!

When you think of moving abroad, doctors and health care are no doubt high up on your checklist. You wonder what you’ll do in an emergency as well as the random sinus infection, and if you have children, you are sure to find a doctor who can take care of them with checkups and preventive medicine.

But don’t forget about the gynecologists for the yearly going over that every woman needs. Just because you live abroad doesn’t give you a get out of jail free card for going to the gynecologist, even if you don’t know the French word for ovary. Admittedly, I put off my first French gynecologist appointment a bit longer than normal because I was nervous about finding a doctor who spoke English. And then I realized that, just as in all things, I would be able to figure it out. And if I can, then so can you.

One interesting plus is that the medical system in France is much more personalized. A visit to the doctor can be like a social call with an armful of prescriptions as your parting gift. But because of this, be prepared to wait patiently for your turn across the desk.

You will find large practices and clinics shared by several doctors just like in the U.S. but it is more common for your French doctor to have an office wedged into a section of a former residence or in some cases, inside their own residence. If there is a receptionist, she (it just usually is) sits at a desk taking calls and making appointments and is less concerned with announcing your arrival or taking payment. You just waltz right in and sit in the waiting room unannounced. This always feels a bit strange to my American sensibilities because we are so used to being announced and then called in by a nurse, but don’t worry. Somehow they know you’re there and they’ll come for you. I think it has to do with all the little buzzers and bells you sound upon entering the office.

In France it is more common for the doctor herself to come out and welcome you with a handshake. There are usually two portions of the doctor’s visit, gynecologist or not. You will meet and greet, exchange niceties, and then be directed to sit across the desk from the doctor to discuss the reason for your visit. Any paperwork, medical history, or concerns will be handled here, in conversation, rather than on a fill-in-the-blank form. This process can take awhile, especially if your French is around second grade level like mine, and may include drawings. But the doctors don’t mind. They really don’t.

The only time I remember going to a gynecologist appointment and sitting at a desk in all the years I visited the ob/gyn in Texas was during a pre-baby consultation to check for any genetic disorders. The rest of the time it was straight into the exam room, knickers off, gown on, perched on the table waiting for the exam. If this is what you’re used to, it may seem a bit strange to sit and chat about things across the desk while the exam table peeks out from behind a screen in the adjoining room. This leads me to the next portion of the French gynecologist visit.

After all the chit-chat the doctor will kindly ask you to go into the screened off exam area and take off your clothes. If you’re lucky there will be a tiny changing room where you can discreetly disrobe. If not, you’ll just have to chuck it all off right there. And I mean all of it. There are no softly worn cotton gowns with teal star designs or yellow duckies. There aren’t even any rough, blue paper gowns that gape open at the back. And there certainly is not a sheet to cover over your knees.

Nudity is not an issue in the doctor’s exam room. It’s as if you’ve passed through an invisible barrier from the get-to-know-you niceties into strip it and let’s have a look zone. I have had discussions with fellow non-French women about this, and we think it may be one of the reasons the French are obsessed with matching underwear. But of course you’re meant to peel your undies off too–at least you match while losing them!

Now, if I can give you any one piece of advice for a successful visit to the French gynecologist or obstetrician it is this: wear a skirt. This way you can slip off your dainties and leave the skirt on in order to maintain some level of Anglophone dignity. I even kept on my T-shirt (although braless), so on the surface it looked like I was just a normally dressed girl who happened to be up on a gynecological table in stirrups. The exam will be carried out in the usual way; sorry, that’s universal ladies. And then you’ll be done for the year, having marked another one off of the ‘scary things to do in another language’ list.

After this, you get yourself all back in order and return to the doctor’s desk to take care of any prescriptions (i.e. your goodie bag) and payment.

Here’s some helpful vocabulary to keep drawings to a minimum…(interesting how so many of the words are masculine!)

gynecologist le gynécologue
ovary l’ovaire
fallopian tubes les trompes de Fallope
uterus l’utérus
cervix le col
vagina le vagin
pap smear le frottis
menstrual cycle la menstruation
to menstruate avoir ses règles
menopause la ménopause
breasts les seins
mammogram la mammographie
pregnant enceinte
pregnancy la grossesse
miscarriage la fausse couche
birth la naissance
birth control la limitation des naissances
contraceptive le contraceptif
the pill la pilule
emergency contraception la contraception d’urgence
condom le préservatif
sexually transmitted infections infections sexuellement transmissibles (IST)
abstinence labstinence sexuelle
test (by doctor) l’examen
test (of blood, etc.) l’analyse
to test examiner
prescription la ordonnance, la prescription

Produce Baskets in Paris

If you’re unable to get to your neighborhood markets during the week or are frustrated with the quality of produce at your grocery store, signing up for a produce basket is an easy, affordable option for getting your weekly fruits and vegetables. A produce basket is an even better option if you’re interested in getting organic, local sourced produce that’s in season.

There are several online companies that offer produce delivery services to the Ile de France, including residents of Paris’s twenty arrondissements. While many companies provide similar products, they differ in the size of baskets offered, price, subscription options, organic versus non-organic, and delivery method. Depending on your needs, you may also decide to go with a company that does more than just fruits and vegetables. A handful of the companies listed below also sell specialty items, just as cheese, meat, and even oysters!

Bio Culture
Green Republic
Le Panier Paysan
Mon Pre Bio
Local Bio Bag
Ze Blue Box
Fruit Bureau
Dans Mon Panier Bio
Tous Primeurs
Les Paniers du Val de Loire
Panier Paysans
Le Campanier

Once you choose the company you’d like to use, signing up online for a weekly basket is quite simple. You select the size and type of basket you’d like (fruits, vegetables, mixed), the duration of your subscription (with options ranging from one time to one year), your delivery method, and finally you pay for your purchase. The companies will bring the basket to your home or office for a fee or you can choose to pick it up from a point relais on a specific day between set hours. The pick-up points are typically small stores, such as a local organic markets or health food boutiques. Most companies have more than one pick-up point in Paris and there’s often at least one per arrondissement. For example, Bio Culture delivers its customers’ baskets to a handful of pick-up points on Monday, different pick-up points on Tuesday, etc. After picking up your basket, all that’s left to do is whip up a delicious meal using the fresh ingredients!

Time constraints on grocery shopping, a desire to eat seasonal food, or a commitment to buy local are just a few of the reasons produce baskets are an appealing option to Paris residents. The vocabulary list below makes it especially easy for Anglophones to navigate the ordering process and take advantage of this alternative shopping opportunity.

Helpful Vocabulary

basket le panier
organic bio
to order commander
fruit le fruit
vegetable le légume
fresh frais, fraiche
mixed mixte
home delivery livraison à domicile
pick up ramasser
pick up point point relais