Hi there! My name is Sarah and I’m the new Rue Amandine intern for the summer. I’m from South Africa but have been living in Paris for 8 months. While I still haven’t got used to french bureaucracy (or La Poste), it’s been a spectacular ride so far. This summer I’ll be spending most of my time around the 11th arrondissement where the Rue Amandine offices are situated. Here’s a short list of what I’ve learned so far being in Paris and some places I plan to be over the next few months.
Not all croissants were created equal. A bad croissant is doughy, heavy and chewy. You want them to be flakey, feather-light and (ideally) warm. Avoid buying them from chain stores and opt for a small boulangerie. Most mornings I stop by Dupain on my way to work. The smell of fresh pastry wakes me up but I still can’t resist a coffee to go.
Paris is tiny. Everything is two metro stops away and only an hour or two by foot. In the sunshine, grab a bike or take a stroll to absorb the glow of the city. My metro ride from Rue Amandine takes exactly the same time as it would take to walk so I like to finish off my day soaking in the Paris evening light. Definitely beats the suffocating metro rush hour.
To “bise” or not to “bise” – that is the question. And if so, HOW MANY? The bise is the familiar cheek kiss so quintessential amongst french people. I’ve found that amongst friends and everyday acquaintances, a bise on both cheeks is the norm. If you’re unsure, you can’t go wrong with a handshake. On no account should you attempt a hug.
Cheese is not just a bulky block of cheddar. Cheese is not just a snack. It’s a whole course by itself. It’s a lifestyle. And it should be treated with the respect it deserves. There is always an intimidating selection wherever you go, so I try to experiment and find my favorites. It’s normally hit or miss but for me, the stinkier the better. You can find cheese in all types of shops in Paris; from supermarkets to little artisan “fromageries”. For a more personal experience, Charlicot is great with their carefully curated cheese selection.
Find a view. Paris is full of tall, overarching buildings that seem to enclose you in a magnificent bubble of bustling streets. But sometimes it’s necessary to get another perspective. I like the view from the top of the Pompidou Centre at sunset – you can see the Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower. Also people-watching from above is strangely cathartic. Otherwise for a more laid-back time, I like the The Perchoir for a sundowner.
In summer, it’s important to be picnic ready at all times. Carry a wine opener and paper cups in your bag. I have my very own compact picnic blanket which comes with me everywhere. You never know when there will be an emergency. Your day might finish, the sun might be beaming and you crave a Seine-side picnic ASAP.
Embrace the culture of “Apero”. The aperitif is said to be the “evening prayer of the French” and whets your appetite before your meal. Think Pastis and salmon blinis galore! Aperos are mostly DIY but the very cool Apero Saint Martin has opened up next to the canal and it’s an aperitif imperatif!
The French give the best and warmest goodbyes! When leaving a shop I love to hear “Merci, bonne soirée, bon weekend, au revoir, à bientôt” all in one breath.
There is no greater pleasure than getting fresh vegetables from the market on a Sunday. There are many scattered around Paris and there is a market for everyone and everything. Going to the Marché Bastille is a vibrant Sunday morning activity with friendly fishmongers, extravagant florists and curated vintage clothes. Go hungry with a list for the week.
Paris is THE big picture but it’s also about the details, so keep your eyes peeled. Sure, the Louvre and Pompidou are spectacular but it’s the small pieces of street art, the creative Boulangerie signs and the spontaneous metro jazz saxophonists that make the city truly wondrous.
Dupain: 20 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75011. Open 7h – 20h, Tues-Sun Charlicot: 6 rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011. Open 10h30 – 13h30 & 16h00 – 20h30 Le Perchoir: 14 Rue Crespin du Gast, 75011. Open 18h00-1h30 Apero Saint Martin: 104 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010. Open 12h00 – 00h00, Tues – Sun Marché Bastille: 8 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011. Open 7h00-3pm, Thursday; Sunday