Paris Picks…!

In this week’s Paris Picks…!, ACCENT Paris’ Housing Coordinator Jennifer Talevi describes the advantages of Paris’ bike-sharing system, Vélib. Jennifer shares with us the wonderful journeys Vélib allows her to take as she ride along the banks of the Seine and enjoys the culture and beauty of Paris.

JTaleviSince its creation in 2007, 286,000 people have joined the urban bike-sharing program Vélib. I recently joined and cannot imagine doing an activity in Paris now without a part of it spent pedaling. With 1,256 Vélib stations located in Paris, renting a bike is convenient and a great way to see the city. Annual membership is not mandatory; one can rent a bike for a day or even obtain a week-long membership! Continue reading

Paris Picks…!

Today’s edition of our “Live Like A Local” series rounds out our look at notable Parisian theaters. Paris Center Cultural Activities Coordinator and Excursion Leader Mirek Siedliski describes his favorite places in Paris to take in a film.

Bienvenue à Paris—the city of cinema! Not only was Paris used as a film set in hundreds of films (and still is), it’s also the town where you’ll find an amazing number of movie theaters and a mind-blowing selection of films, ranging from the most recent ones, to the great classics of the 1950’s and 1960’s, to jewels from the silent film era.

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Paris Picks…!

In today’s edition of our “Live Like A Local” series, we follow our ACCENT Paris Center Director Melissa Smith-Simonet as she takes us on a virtual tour of the Parc Montsouris.

A Walk in the Parc

When you live in a fast-paced city like Paris and are pounding the sidewalks and the crowded halls of the metro every day to get around, a little greenery and space to spread out is a welcome getaway.

The Parc Montsouris, located at the southern point of Paris just across from the Cité Universitaire campus on the boulevard Jourdan in the 14th arrondissement, is where you’ll find such a place. Built in the 19th century, it’s one of the four large parks located at each cardinal point of the city, the other parks being the Bois de Vincennes at the eastern point, the Bois de Boulogne at the western point, and Buttes Chaumont at the northern point.

Montsouris consists of over 35 acres of grass, trees, shrubs, flowers, a lake, and even a waterfall. The lake is filled with all kinds of water fowl that splash, primp, and preen, completely unbothered by their human Parisian FullSizeRendercompanions. There’s a small café on the outskirts of the park where they serve crepes, sandwiches, coffee, tea, and in the holiday season, cups of vin chaud. In the summer months, French organic ice cream carts are strategically placed throughout the park for refreshment. Children can ride the merry-go-round, pet ponies, and even see a puppet show at the old-fashioned Theatre du Grand-Guignol.

Jubilee, my one-year-old Cavalier King Charles puppy, loves to frolic in the grass and chase the ducks. Sometimes, we are not very sage and when no one is looking, we let Jubilee run, roll, and bark on the deep, rich lawn that says “pelouse interdite” (French for “keep off the grass”). Often, the park rangers notice and blow the whistle so we have to move along, but the dog is generally so playful and joyful that they have to laugh while they scold us!

~Melissa Smith-Simonet, ACCENT Paris

Paris Picks…!

Scott Rothwell worked with ACCENT in 2015 as Programs Assistant in Paris. He was also a part of ACCENT’s social media team, managing the posts on our ACCENT Paris Facebook page. Though Scott has recently moved on in his career, we were delighted to have him as part of the team this past year and would love to share with you his personal “Paris Pick!”

A Day in the Marais

As a local in Paris, a typical day will commence with a walk to the local boulangerie to buy breakfast. Just off the Place de la Bastille in the quartier of the MaraisParis Picks - Scott Pic 2 and a short walk from the Saint Paul Metro station, the service at the “Boulangerie du Coin” is not only quick but also friendly. Croissants, Pain au Chocolate, or Croissants au Amandes, pick your choice of the dozens of pastries that are each as mouth-watering as the next.

On a nice day, the ideal way to enjoy this breakfast would be to sit on a bench in one of the capital’s parks, like the Place des Vosges that is less than a five-minutes walk from the Bastille. Passing by the Rue des Tournelles in the morning hours, you will probably spot a number of small, private art galleries opening their doors for business. Take the first left off this street and you will end up in the Place des Vosges, which is a classic square to visit with imposing architecture and residences bordering each side of the square and a peaceful, decorative French park and fountain in the center. While visiting Place des Vosges, it is also worth seeking out the house where renowned French author Victor Hugo resided for over sixteen years.

Moving deeper within the Marais, the Carnavalet Museum is a gold mine for everything related to the city’s history. With objects and famous paintings dating from the 18th century Revolution, the museum contains many must-see attractions of the capital. And just ten minutes away by foot is the oldest covered market in Paris; the Marche des Enfants Rouges is the perfect place to get your grocery shopping done and enjoy a nice meal. From Italian to Lebanese to traditional crepes from Brittany, this market really capture how diverse and cosmopolitan the city of Paris has become.

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Finally, a visit to the theatre in the Marais will complete your immersion in this lively and artistic corner of Paris. The Theatre des Blanc Manteaux is famous for spotting up and coming comedians. With two rooms that can fit a maximum of 80 people in the audience, the theatre has kept its original atmosphere and feel from its opening back in 1972. One of the venue’s great features is a small bar attached to it that allows the audience to meet the artists and to chat with the cast both before and after the performance. It helps give a unique experience to the theatre and is truly a great way to finish a day discovering the district of the Marais.

~ACCENT Paris

Paris Picks…!

AFOur “Live Like A Local” post series continues with this tale from Programs Coordinator and Academic Liaison Adrien Fropos on one of his own very interesting adventures in Paris.

For many people, the idea of Paris conjures up images of Amélie skipping stones on the Canal St Martin, high-speed chases as seen in “The Da Vinci Code” movie, or famous kisses immortalized by photographs like Robert Doisneau’s “Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville.” At the mention of “Paris,” people will think of the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night and the Mona Lisa on display at the Musée du Louvre. They will think about the last time they sat watching Parisians on the terrace of a café on a sunny day. Yes, Paris is indeed all of that, but to us native Parisians who have been in the city for so long and tend to not always recognize its beauty, the city we seek beckons constant reinvention in order to keep us from becoming what we “Frenchies” are so notorious for being: blasé.

le manoirConsequently, I often like to look for odd and unusual museums, shows, and restaurants. One of my latest discoveries was “The Paris Mansion,” or, “Le Manoir de Paris,” a show that brings to life the darkest legends of this enchanted city. As I walked through the impressive gothic gates of a building located in the 10th arrondissement, I found myself immersed in a completely different world. Throughout the performance, famous Parisian myths, like the Phantom of the Opera, the Man in the Iron Mask and the Ghost of the Tuileries Gardens, to name a few, were brought to life by over 30 professional actors. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back with more friends!The Odyssey

To top off my very engaging afternoon of theatrical entertainment, I continued on in my exploration of the lesser-seen landmarks of Paris. With some luck, I thought I might travel across galaxies to a faraway planet, but since I didn’t have the keys to Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, I decided to take the métro. The scene was set during the bumpy ride that made it feel like I was powering through an asteroid belt near the Tatooine planet. I landed in a strange place called “The Odyssey,” a Star Wars-themed restaurant. No Aric tongue, Crispic, or Danaru were available for consumption there, but rather delicious crêpes (I was still in France, after all) served in a place where the decor seems to have been imported directly from the set of Star Wars. The crêpes had names inspired by the Star Wars mythology and were served by Monsieur Gregory, a die-hard fan of the saga. He even had the menu translated in Aurebes, the written language of the Star Wars universe! Regretfully, I didn’t see any stormtroopers in the kitchen, and the Force wasn’t strong enough within me to persuade the waiter to let me go without paying the check.Star Wars Decor

As you can see, Paris is full of hidden treasures – some of them are quite traditional, and others much less so!

Que la Force soit avec vous, or, “May the Force be with you!”

~Adrien Fropos, ACCENT Paris

Paris Picks…!

Continuing our new “Live Like A Local” series, which kicked off with our first “London Likes…!post, we bring you our first “Paris Picks…!” post from our ACCENT Paris Study Center staff member, Katherine Holt.

Keep an eye out on the ACCENT Blog for more “London Likes,” “Paris Picks,” and, coming soon, “Florence Favs,” and more! These posts will give you a glimpse of what it’s like to live like a local while you’re in Europe, and will offer great recommendations from the ACCENT staff on where to go and what to do in each ACCENT city.

Making a Splash in Paris

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When you live and work in a fabulous city like Paris, where there is such a wealth of places to visit, exhibitions to see, concerts to attend, and sights to take in, sometimes a little “down time” is called for. The buzz of the street and the crowds in the metro can be exhilarating, for sure, but in order to appreciate them, it’s sometimes necessary to capture a moment for oneself, and to take a little time to breathe.

Having been a water baby from just a few months old, my first port of call when it comes to taking some time for myself is the swimming pool. Here in Paris, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to piscines municipales of which there are 39 within the city walls, not to mention the many and varied “aquatic centers” in the neighboring suburbs. Entry is cheap, with those under 26 years of age paying only €1.70 per session, €14 for a 10-entry pass, or €19 for a three-month pass (usable in all municipal pools within the city).

As I plunge into the cool blue of the piscine Boiteux – ex Reuilly just three metro stops from the ACCENT Paris Study Center, the noise and bustle of the city is lost in the water; I swim under, over, and around other Parisiens as they splash away the worries of the day.

The advantage of the swimming pool over the gym is that there are no phones. Nobody is connected, nobody is interrupted. Instead, everyone is there alone with their thoughts and their goals, together in this basin of water which mutes noise, impact, contact, and even time. Not one swimmer is looking at a watch, not one person is in a hurry to leave. For all the movement and flurry of physical activity, the piscines municipales might just be some of the calmest places in the city.

~Katherine Holt – ACCENT Paris