Rapper spotting: Iggy who?

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So out of it that I am! I aimed my camera at the striking woman being rushed at the Tuileries not knowing who she was but that I’d soon find out knowing only her shouted out name: Iggy. Any twenty-something knows it’s Iggy Azalea, rap recording star, songwriter, model from Mullumbimby, New South Wales. Chic, looking older than 23, she’s wearing a Viktor & Rolf $680 sweater and skinny snake print pants. A definite standout in the crowd and most willing to pose for the geekers. For her upcoming gigs in the U.S. and Canada click here.

Sunshine avant garde from Elisa Nalin

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Trendsetter Elisa showing off some ways with denim. Ideas for the do-it-yourselfer. What American girl doesn’t have a denim jacket or shirt somewhere in the back of her closet. Almost time to store your boots and break out those stilettos.

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French Restaurants: r.e.s.p.c.t.

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Be aware their job is their profession, not a trade they’re temping at to get through school or a step in their career path. To get a waiter’s attention say: “S’il vous plaît, Monsieur/Madame.” Don’t call them over until you are ready to order and try to know what you want; their time is valuable.

A golden rule that will serve you well in restaurants and just about any place you visit (even elevators): say “bonjour!” (“bonsoir!” in the evening). This doesn’t just mean hello.
It’s recognized French code for, “Yes, I am here, and I am respecting you by being polite, so you are going to respect me and maybe even be pleasant to me.”

You’ll be amazed — it works.

Cezanne spotting in the 19th

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NineteenthArrBlueDoor

Take a walk down the villa strewn alleys of the 19th and you never know who will cross your path. A Cezanne look-alike walked right by as I sat in a neighborhood cafe after visiting Paris’s off-the-beaten track park, Buttes de Chaumont. Should you want to stay in one of the quartier’s budget hotels, here’s a sampling:

Nouveau Paris Park Hotel
4 Rue Hassard
33 1 42 06 67 67

Holiday Inn Express Paris-Canal de la Villette
68 Quai de la Seine

Hotel Le Canal
48 Avenue de Flandre

Mercure Paris La Villette
216 Avenue Jean Jaures

Hôtel de la Perdrix Rouge
5 Rue Lassus

Balladins Paris
219 Rue De Crimee

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It’s no wonder many who reside in this quartier don’t venture out beyond its boundaries. A whole week lolling by its canal, park, tree lined hilly streets, a good place to be if you already know the city and want to find a place where people still say hello. No remnants of the old slaughterhouses, just kitty cats on flowerpotted windowsills waiting for the quiet day to roll on by.

Choosing a studio apartment in Paris

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From totally basic (bed – usually convertible, kitchenette – alcove with two burner stove, sink, microwave, refrigerator, tiny bathroom w/shower, chair, table, tv, armoire) to French provincial splendor and views of the Eiffel Tower, here are some places to begin your search for a studio apartment. Pictured is what you get for about $125 a night. Location: right off the Champs Elysees. Not much, but where you stay matters if you’re walking Paris. Remember to bring you No Worries Paris guidebook for all the essential routes.

AirBnb: budget prices, huge selection of locations

HomeAway: deal directly with owner, illustrated with photos

TripAdvisor Paris: a good solid source with photos and reviews.

http://www.vacationinparis.com: my favorite. They send you the keys. Nice variety hand selected, proven. Reserve early.

Paris Perfect: another agency with well located properties.

Start your search a few months before you go. The good properties that are priced low are snatched up by those in the know.

Where to eat in Montmartre: gastropubs

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A few suggestions just down the hill from Sacre Coeur. All the rage now are tapas (french style) and you’ll find the most exquisite at chef Geoffroy Maillard’s Extension, 16, rue Eugène Sue, 33 1 42 59 43 24 Metro: Chateau Rouge, Jules Joffrin

waiter Montmartre

Chéri Bibi on the east side of the hill combines arty flea market decor, traditional French cooking and sensible prices. 15 rue André del Sarte, metro: Barbes-Rochechouart. phone 01 42 54 88 96

painter Montmartre

Le Grand 8,8 rue Lamarck serves unpretentious bistro fare, the kind of food you’d find in a Midi square. If you’re looking for comfort food, sign in here. Metro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt. phone 01 42 55 04 55

How to insult a Paris restaurant

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First on the list is capturing what you’ve been served with your camera or IPhone. Rude, rude, rude, an insult to chefs who consider themselves artists, don’t appreciate being copied or having a bad photo of something they’ve created spread across social media. Adding to that, some guests startle others at nearby tables with their flash and some go so far as to style the setting by moving chairs, tableware, other customers. Food porn? Sacre bleu!

Then there are the clients who ask for a doggie bag, call the waiter “garçon” and ask for butter for you know what. When in any country, a good general rule is to read up on the customs before you go. Be a respectful traveler. Some basic rules are in the No Worries Paris guide.

Paris to Tours for 15 euros: go in a BlaBlaCar

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Sweeping Europe is a new form of sustainable transportation. Don’t own a car, going farther than your bike or feet will take you, train too expensive? Go to the BlaBlaCar website and find out who’s going your way. The service is now available in France, England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, Russia and the Ukraine.

Not only is BlaBla convenient, it’s also social, there you are in a seat sharing conversation besides a ride. Drivers have member profiles to share their interests, occupation, spoken languages and musical preferences. What’s unique is the BlaBla preference which allows members to indicate their level of in-car chattiness: “BlaBlaBla” if you like to talk about life, the universe & everything or just “Bla” if you prefer to sleep or watch the scenery go by.

Meeting points are displayed on an interactive map. No need to make lots of calls describing exactly where you are, it’s been agreed in advance, and you know the model and color of the car (photo published of car and driver), so you’ll have no problem finding each other. Even the amount of baggage allowed and how many passengers can be accommodated is indicated.

BlaBlaCar has an automatic price calculator that suggests a price per passenger, that drivers can then adjust. Prices are capped so that drivers only offset their running costs (without making a profit), in accordance with regulation. They are also non-negotiable, making it perfectly straightforward to plan your car share, and transparent for both parties.

Are you allergic to cat hair? Don’t like smoking? Do you always listen to music while driving? You can add all these preferences to your BlaBlaCar profile. Clearly communicating them helps your passengers know the rules before hopping in, so you’ll both be able to enjoy the ride.

BlaBla coming to the U.S.? Hope so.

Best crepes from Grandmere Albine

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It’s all in the batter:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups milk
5 tablespoons melted butter
Grand Marnier, Cognac, or Triple Sec

Place flour, sugar and salt in deep bowl, make a depression in center and crack in the eggs. With a whisk stir the center and pick up bits of flour as you twirl, slowly add milk and butter.

My grandmother ALWAYS added a tablespoon or two of liquor and let the batter sit overnight. If you find it too thick, add more liquid so that it barely coats the pan. A thick crepe is a bad crepe. Make sure your pan is HOT and you cook the first side till it’s crispy brown. Flip it and fold. Don’t overcook. No worries, practice makes perfect.

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