“elle (Paris) est battu par les flots, mais ne sombre pas // she is tossed by the waves but does not sink”
It’s hard to know what to write after something like this happens, but we both felt like a post about the events of November 13th, 2015 was necessary particularly for our own healing. This post is very personal, but in line with why we started this blog, we hope to inspire Parisians, expats, and people in big cities everywhere to go out and live, have fun, and do the things you love to do as much as possible.
-A & N
Last year, when I was living in a box of an apartment (my sister likened it to an “efficiency apartment”, my dad to a sailboat) in the 11th, near Oberkampf, I would walk around at night, go running during the day, and feel removed and freed from the obligations of work and life. The neighborhood wasn’t like the ones I had lived in before or what I had envisioned as “Paris.” There are no immaculate buildings or straight-out-of-a-photo boulangeries. The bars I went to there were usually cramped and sweaty, the late-night kebabs or chicken wraps were the best food, there was the mix of Arab hairdressing salons and overpriced cocktail bars on my block.
In the 11th, in my efficiency apartment, I would walk around and feel that everything and everyone was teetering towards something, that the lazy cafés and croissants of Paris had been replaced by a rapid pulse. Every Saturday, I would think today would be the day to try out the new hipster coffee cum bicycle shop a few blocks down or tonight would be the night to drag friends to the tiniest bar in the world.
If I had to name the pulse of the 11th, I would have called it liberated, un-oppressive, free. It’s that feeling I’ve tried to recapture when I’ve seen the photos, seen the victims’ faces, read their stories. It’s that feeling I’ve tried to value this past week, an independence that felt unbound.
A list that I turned to this weekend, these are some of my favorite things to do in the city on a day when you’re need of some comfort:
Coffee/tea with friends or on your own
- Finnish Institute in the 5th – For its big, wide tables, its Finnish efficiency, the fact that you can sit at a table for 5 hours, get free wifi and write to your heart’s content without the fear of getting kicked out.
- A Priori Thé in the 2nd – For its slightly secret location in Galerie Vivienne, its endlessly comforting scones (with almost real clotted cream), and its caramel/vanilla tea.
- Walking past Maje or Sandro (let’s be real, walking in) and imagining your future self who will be able to afford and wear that black dress with the knotted tie.
Writing – in a journal, on a typewriter, at a café, with friends
Everyone in Paris has a connection to the events that happened on Friday November 13, 2015. Some tell tragic, horrifying stories and others feel strangely disconnected. I fall somewhere in the middle. Forever grateful to not have been more directly affected, I still feel that these events had a strong impact on my life.
A regular at Le Petit Cambodge, I can’t count how many times I’ve eaten there. Just a 10 minute walk from my office, my co-worker Will and I would often go together to indulge in one of Paris’ best Bo Buns. I even think that’s where I introduced him to the concept of Bo Bun (essentially a bowl of vermicelli rice noodles, vegetables, meat, herbs and topped with crispy imperial rolls), changing his life and understanding of food forever.
In fact, I ate lunch at Le Petit Cambodge on Monday, November 9th. It was the perfect sunny Fall day, and I decided to treat myself instead of eating the sandwich I had made and packed the night before. I ate alone, reading my book, but I felt connected to the other diners, all of us crammed shoulder-to-shoulder shoveling rice noodles, beef and fried rolls into our mouths. Always greeted by the warmest staff and servers, that lunch reconfirmed Le Petit Cambodge as one of my favorite spots in Paris. This is how I will remember the restaurant. Not for its role in the tragedy of that night.
That Friday night I couldn’t believe it. Le Petit Cambodge?? Mais, mais, I was just there! is the thought that ran through my mind as I tracked the events live from the safety of my apartment. As I still try to come to terms with what happened, I mourn for every life that was lost that night, and give my deepest condolences to their families and friends. But my thoughts will always linger on Le Petit Cambodge. I will continue to dream of their Bo Bun, and I hope to have it again soon when they reopen. Because life must go on.
Paris has shown amazing resilience, and although for me life is not completely back to “normal,” I feel optimistic after having a typical weekend just one week later.
For some inspiration here are some a few of my favorite weekend activities:
Coffee with friends — with so many great cafes, it’s hard to choose where to meet friends to catch up and have a relaxing afternoon.
La Institute de Bonte recently opened on the Canal (84 Quai de Jemmapes), and it has a very earthy, authentic vibe, friendly staff and an extensive tea menu.
Marcovaldo in the 3e, is one of my favorites. Serving brunch in the morning and homemade desserts in the afternoon it’s somewhere I could spend all day.
Marché Bastille — Sunday morning welcomes of one Paris’ most extensive outdoor food markets. With tons of fresh produce, meat, fish, cheese and even some prepared food, it’s worth getting up an out of the house for.
Bust a move — every weekend I try to do something active, whether it’s Zumba class, or a hip hop workshop (at LAX studio), the dancer in me can’t sit still.
Photo walks — on Sundays I love to just wander, explore a new area with my camera and see what I find.