Ho-ho-hum. Christmas in Paris

When you’ve gone around the merry-go-round of life as many times as I have, all you really want for Christmas is a thrill. Fact is, I don’t need more things (though a cattle prod would make a nice stocking-stuffer; I’d use it on those people trying to mow me down with their motorized scooters). No, what I want these days is adventure, tension, risk. Unfortunately, Paris tucks away its general surliness for the holidays, the way you might return Grandma to the old folks home. Everything is placid. You’re reduced to sipping vin chaud at a brasserie, sniffing the aroma roasted chestnuts (trust me, that’s better than eating them), and admiring dancing marionettes in the windows of the Galeries Lafayette.

There was an opening for excitement the other day when I stopped in a small store...

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Naughty Paris: A Lady's Guide to the Sexy City

Are you looking for a timeless gift for that special Parisian-at-heart...maybe even yourself?

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Is Paris's Bibliothèque District Cool Enough for Instagram?

When Parisians think of the 13th (if they think of it at all), they usually think of Chinatown or even the Butte aux Cailles, both which are highly Instagrammable. But this particular corner of the 13th arrondissement, known as the Bibliothèque district after the massive national library at its center, is not the place tourists usually want to Instagram. To most of them, it “doesn’t look like Paris”. But it’s actually quite photogenic and refreshingly contemporary if you’ve exhausted all of the possibilities of the Haussmann-and-cobblestones genre (and you know what you’re doing with a camera, which – clearly – I do not). And there’s Bob’s Café, which in itself may be exactly the bait needed to lure a few curious tourists out of their comfort zone. But more on that in a moment. First, let’s get a sense of where we are, exactly.

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New Hemingway Book Launch at Abbey Bookshop

One of the best parts of being an English speaker in Paris is the abundance of literary opportunities available throughout the city. Paris has always been a cultural mecca and often the temporary or permanent home of many English-speaking writers, from Ben Franklin to Mark Twain to the Lost Generation and beyond. Ernest Hemingway captured the imagination of worldwide readers like no other, and people come from all over to experience “Hemingway’s Paris.” There are plaques on the buildings he once lived in, tours dedicated to his old haunts, lines that queue up outside Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots so people can drink a coffee where Hemingway once sat.

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Armistice Centenary: November 11, 2018

The Great War, now known as World War I, officially ended after four long years with the signing of the Armistice on November 11th, 1918. Commemorated each year as a national holiday in France, for 2018 there will be special events in Paris for the hundredth anniversary, including new monuments of remembrance, guided tours, exhibitions, concerts and conferences. You won’t find much information in English, so here is a translation of some of the main events listed on the official City of Paris website.

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A Costco Near Paris: Worth the Trip?

I grew up in the US, but I moved to Paris when I was still a student, so my memory of member-only-discount-bulk-shopping stores such as Sam’s Club are a very distant memory for me. Not that I haven’t heard of Costco. You’d have to live in a cave (without Internet access) to not know how popular these stores are in the United States. But as someone who can’t stand shopping at all, I never made a point to visit one during my trips there over the past 25 years.

Until recently, competition from French hypermarchés such as Carrefour and Géant kept these stores out of France. But in June 2017 Costco finally managed to open a store in a very inconvenient location approximately 35 minutes south of Paris, just off the A10 highway near Orly airport. If you drive, you’ll most likely need 45 minutes to get there and about an hour to return if you’re dumb enough to go on the weekend or after work, because the traffic jams getting back into Paris are horrific.

If you don’t have a car or access to one, you’ll have to take the RER B to Massy, then one of the four local bus lines to La Brûlerie. And who on earth would bother taking the train and bus (and then the hike across the immense parking lot) to go to a store where everything is sold in bulk? Maybe if you’re just getting a discounted sonic toothbrush, a new winter coat, or a few bags of hot dog buns. But would that really be worth the trek?

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