love on the left bank

I have this really serious post started but between work and life I can’t find the mind-energy to sit and write it. Instead, I’m going to write about the thing that has been RULING MY MIND since I found out about it on Monday. I don’t even feel like it’s real, but we bought the tickets, so…WORK IS SENDING ME TO PARIS FOR A CONFERENCE. Well, technically the conference is in Germany, but we’re going to meet folks all over to learn more about the movement there and how consumers interact with it.


We’ll be flying in and out of Paris and using it as our hub. I am so. so so so. Excited. Today I told S. I was more excited about going to Paris than I am about having a wedding. This is a fact, he was neither shocked nor offended. The wedding is just stressing me out, I’ve stopped thinking about it entirely and am assuming it might just happen even if I put no more effort into it. The point is, I’ve wanted to go to Paris much much longer than I’ve wanted to have a wedding.

I’ll have 5 extra days to wander & to stay with the very charming Mathyld, and I’ve been doing basically nothing but reading books about Paris, listening to French music, listening to Amelie on the headphones at work, answering all S’s questions in my horrible very bad French and other totally annoying COMPLETELY CRAZY OBSESSED THINGS.



I have a list started of places! Macarons! Taxidermy shops! Museums! Picnics on the Seine! Eating croissants! Feeling old and chubs next to all the French ladies!! Being too embarrassed to speak! Setting myself up for extreme disappointment because I think it’ll be 1952 in Paris somehow!! YESSSSS.



Did I mention FREAKING OUT?!!?

Where should I go? What must I see? What books should I read before I go?

{photos by Ed van der Elsken except for the Funny Face screenshot}

38 Comments on love on the left bank

  1. Mathyld / under the pyramids
    May 14, 2010 at 1:04 am (6 years ago)

    Yay !!! I can’t wait !
    I’m excited and feeling shy, too !
    Home-made cakes and teas will sure be consumed !
    And don’t worry : you’re way classier than most French girls !

    Eeek !
    x x x

  2. alita
    May 14, 2010 at 5:03 am (6 years ago)

    oh my. I can’t help but think of my favorite French noirs – Elevator to the Gallows! Touche Pas le Grisbi!

    and not noirs but, have you seen the Umbrellas of Cherbourg? and Breathless?

    Paris is somewhere between here and 1952 still, thank goodness, with its beautiful Metro signs, and strict laws against building taller than Notre Dame (I think it was…)

    My very favorite thing I did there was to visit the Catacombs. I’m not sure they’re open to the public any longer but if they are, it will be worth a visit. Jenene was just there visiting a friend whose father is a flea marketer – so she might have the inside track on where/when is best for that. I hope Paris puts on its most romantic face for you. Do you know the phrase – jolie laide? It’s this very French idea of being striking instead of conventionally pretty, and I definitely saw it on the streets of Paris years ago. I am interested to hear what you think…

    • verhext
      May 14, 2010 at 7:56 am (6 years ago)

      Yesss, but for every Charlotte Gainsbourg there’s an Audrey Tatou, right? ;D or that’s what the films (& those french girl blogs!) will have us thinking…

      I will look for Elevator to the Gallows & Touche Pas le Grisbi!

  3. oola
    May 14, 2010 at 6:47 am (6 years ago)

    love on the left bank is the best book. vali is perfection in it. i am so glad a have one of the old copies because they suddenly started costing a million dollars in the last couple of years? elsken also took the very best nina hagen photos.

    marchés aux puces for certain! but i have a paris list in the making, will send…

    • verhext
      May 14, 2010 at 7:54 am (6 years ago)

      I havent seen the Nina Hagen photos! Or I have, and didn’t know — weirdly I was on a Nina / Lena video kick last night.

    • verhext
      May 15, 2010 at 11:03 am (6 years ago)

      p.s. practicing eyeliner now

  4. laura
    May 14, 2010 at 7:43 am (6 years ago)

    i may just be cracked, but one of my all time favorite things to do in paris is to visit pharmacies. yup! just look for the immaculate little shops with neon green crosses for signs. they’re glittering and full of magical high-eng/low-end lines, homeopathic remedies, t. leclerc powders…and the pharmaciennes are always eager to dispense really handy advice. when i was in high school i used to grab boatloads of mustela baby products since they had yet to come to the u.s.
    go on a binge and grab me some magical things while you’re at it!

    • verhext
      May 14, 2010 at 7:52 am (6 years ago)

      Flashbacks to Timotei shampoo!!! Pharmacies are on the list, and T LeClerc! (Though there are faux-euro pharmacies in SF, it’s not QUITE the same…)

  5. la la la liza
    May 14, 2010 at 9:54 am (6 years ago)

    i keep a list for the next time i go to paris. i haven’t been to any of these!

    les passages! they sound so mysterious.

    le marche des enfants rouges! this is the oldest food market in paris. it was named after the children of a nearby orphanage, who wore red uniforms.

    les puces, an enormous antiques flea market.

    poilane bakery for famous poilane bread.

    books: at kinokuniya, they have a series of books by a publisher called paumes. they’re photo-heavy and really beautiful and inspiring! there’s one about paris junk shops, one about bookstores, one about paris women artists’ studios, parisian kitchens, etc… they are unfortunately in only japanese and french, but i think the pictures say it all. also they include addresses of shops they photograph.

    have fun, je suis jalouse. :)

  6. april
    May 14, 2010 at 1:58 pm (6 years ago)

    exciting! i’ve never been off the continent, so i have no advice for places to see… but! i love that you think that it will magically be 1952 in france! i always want to go places in the sixties!

    • verhext
      May 14, 2010 at 9:09 pm (6 years ago)

      I can’t believe I’m missing you when you’re here!! We’re actually over in Berkeley now, but I lived in SF for 13 years & love taking people around. I made lists for Angeliska when she came — at the bottom here:

      • april
        May 22, 2010 at 11:14 am (6 years ago)

        i know! it would have been so great to meet up for cakes and tea! thank you, thank you for the links. there looks like lots of great things to keep me busy!

  7. Belle
    May 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm (6 years ago)

    Please, please go to Shakesphere & Company, it’s a used and new bookshop right near Notre Dame.

    It was the highlight of my trip to Paris because a) the shelves are crooked and b) there was a cat inside sleeping on the books. It also, has a pretty fascinating history:

    Ps: This is voicemail from livejournal. Returned from the cyber-dead. Congrats on the Love!

    • verhext
      May 14, 2010 at 9:10 pm (6 years ago)

      Yes of course!! My coworker who is going with me told me today her mum lived in the ATTIC of Shakespeare & Co in the 70s in exchange for working there – um, so amazing.

      & hi!!!

  8. nichole
    May 14, 2010 at 7:18 pm (6 years ago)


    Definitely go to:

    Coquelicot – fab little bakery in Montmarte
    L’as Du Fallafel or Chez Marianne for Falafel
    Chez Omar for seriously good cous cous
    Rue Montorgueil – the whole street. Top to bottom, and buy whatever cheese, meat, bread and chocolate strikes your fancy. It’s ALL good.
    Berthillon on the Ile St. Louis for ice cream

    Oh man, I could go on and on. Enjoy!

    • Jenny
      June 13, 2010 at 10:25 am (5 years ago)

      Hello there. I live just outside of Paris and second Nichole on her idea of a stroll down rue Montorgeuil, it’s fabulous but don’t miss the vintage and new clothes shop Kiliwatch on rue Tiquetonne just round the corner. Also Berthillon ice cream is indeed the best but closed in August – when are you going? I highly recommend their cacao sorbet (for a vegan like me it’s chocolate heaven especially when paired with blood orange sorbet).
      As for the As de Falafel well I beg to differ but laughingly so! Having a falafel sandwich for lunch and eating it in the nearby park is a must but I ALWAYS buy my falafel from MI-VA-MI just opposite l’As. OK they don’t have photos of famous people up on the walls but their falafel are great, the queues are generally shorter and I like the guy who sells the falafel tickets outside.
      If you are in the area and like Japanese things (sorry but this is the first time I have visited your blog – I linked from Door 16) then the shop Trazita on the rue des blancs manteaux – they sell great clothes and shoes.

      My favourite place for a coffee is at Le Train Bleu a café, bar, restaurant at the back of the Gare de Lyon. I really recommend you go there for it’s awesome 1900s decor. It’s pricey, hence just the coffee.

      OK a world cup match is about to start so that’s all I’m posting!

      Have fun while you’re over.


      • verhext
        June 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm (5 years ago)

        I leave next Thursday!! I’ll have to map all this out, thank you!

  9. Stella Polaris
    May 15, 2010 at 8:59 am (6 years ago)

    How long will you stay in Paris? And are there things you’re specially interested in (like museums, walks, shopping…)? I’ve been living there for the past six years and I’d be delighted to give you some addresses :)

    • Stella Polaris
      May 15, 2010 at 9:28 am (6 years ago)

      (Forget the “how long will you stay” part, I clearly can’t read.)

      • verhext
        May 15, 2010 at 11:01 am (6 years ago)

        So we have 2 days at the beginning, then 3 days in germany/belgium, then 2 days in paris where we work, then i have 4 days of freedom! i like walking, museums, antiques, textiles, history, books, cafes, charming things…i don’t like spending a ton of money. at least the USD>EUR is ok right now…

        thank you!!

  10. nath
    May 16, 2010 at 11:16 am (6 years ago)

    oh oh oh, amazing. so jealous. i LOVE paris. so, i’d say unplanned walking to explore = always good results, nice to have that feeling of discovery for yourself. i would also suggest L’as Du Falafel, it is ridiculously good. i love places like La Feline for drinks, the Musee Picasso for um, Picasso and the Porte de Montreuil flea market for clothes and junk.

    here’s Sofia Coppola’s Paris list.

    and you might enjoy this too

    bon voyage dearest, i am tempted to catch the eurostar and share a plate of macaroons with you!

    • verhext
      May 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm (6 years ago)

      Yay all those things are so wonderful sounding. I don’t know how much I could afford Sofia Coppola’s Paris, though!!

      Zip down & eat macarons!! Day trip!!

    • verhext
      May 17, 2010 at 12:55 pm (6 years ago)

      AAAGGHHHHHH that link actually just made my heart EXPLODE with wanderlusting. 5 weeks to go! (But I get Vermont hometimes next week, and that’s almost as good.)

      • nath
        May 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm (6 years ago)

        hahahahaha! i’m so glad! it’s Paris distilled to perfection isn’t it?

        Fiona’s tip sounds am.a.z.i.n.g. i’d really love to go there (*understatement*), we once found a similar place in Amsterdam on an icy cold cold day, it was glorious to emerge clean and warm to the bone.

    • verhext
      May 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm (6 years ago)

      Ummmmm yesssss that link looks amazing. That’s a must see, I think! Thank you!

  11. 'tine
    May 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm (6 years ago)

    J’adore Paris!!!

    You MUST go to Shakespeare and Co which is located at Zero Kilometer (literally the center of Paris). It’s on the Rivre Gauche (Left Bank) and across the Seine from Notre Dame.

    Henry Miller and Anais Nin used to go there all the time back in the 30s.

    • verhext
      May 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm (6 years ago)

      Of course! I had such a Sylvia Beach and (& the whole group of expats, really, but especially the women) obsession in high school!

  12. Fiona
    May 17, 2010 at 10:11 am (6 years ago)

    If you possibly have a spare couple of hours grab a bikini, towel and a girlfriend and head to the hammam baths at the Paris Mosque. It’s not expensive. There are male days and female days so check it out in advance.

    It’s like walking into a dream. Stunning interior, beautiful marble steam rooms, lots of women bonding and grooming each other, all sizes, all walks of life. When you’re all wrinkly and blissed out, get a massage and gommage, scrubbed and rubbed to within an inch of your life. Then have a mint tea in the rose garden outside, looking 5 years younger and 3 inches taller. Happy days.

    • verhext
      May 17, 2010 at 8:06 pm (6 years ago)

      Yes! I linked it in the post!! ^^

  13. gillian
    May 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm (6 years ago)


    I just went last fall– you will absolutely fall in love (sorry to S.) Not kidding. One of the rare times where my highest and most fanciful expectations were actually exceeded! Really!

    The food is to die for (even sandwich shops, pastries ANYWHERE… i ate tarte tatin every day… yummm). And we walked so much every day that even though i was never without pastry-in-mouth, I lost weight. It was heaven.

    Read Julia Child’s memoir “My Life In France”, and Adam Gopnik’s “From Paris to the Moon”. It’s a delightful, true, witty memoir of an American couple raising a small child in Paris.

    Also the best meal we had there (and all the meals were good) was at a little hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant called Higuma, in the 1st Arrondissement. We went there twice. Best tempura I’ve ever eaten.

    You’re gonna have an amazing time. Bon Voyage!

    • verhext
      May 18, 2010 at 1:49 pm (6 years ago)

      I JUST read From Paris to the Moon (I linked it in the post!!) SO SO SO GOOD. I wanted to read it twice!!

      And yay for Japanese food, I’ll need something to break from all the CREAM I plan on eating…

  14. zara
    May 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm (6 years ago)

    ummmmm…omg, i’m freaking out for you! what a dream come true.. cannot wait to hear about it and see pictures! i so wish *le sigh* until i go.. someday. how wonderful & magical. congrats! love, zara

  15. Sunny Buick
    May 26, 2010 at 11:34 pm (6 years ago)

    You should come see me!
    I love your blog. I’m glad you get your dream to go to Paris, I understand completely.

  16. Ruth
    June 1, 2010 at 9:58 am (5 years ago)

    A Vali Myers reference?? I thought I was the only person left alive who had heard of her. That is awesome.

  17. Ashe Mischief
    June 18, 2010 at 8:38 am (5 years ago)

    Ah! The marionette theater in Luxembourg Gardins. It was used in the 400 Blows and is MAGICAL. It was one of my favorite places when I visited, and I went back several times. For museums, my favorites where the Pompidou, the Dali Museum (hard to find!).


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