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”.