Monday, April 13, 2009

10 Things I love this week / April (singing in the) Showers

1. La Societe

Where have all the celebrities gone? They’re not at l’Hôtel Costes anymore, le Baron is SO 2004-2007 and no one is home anymore (see: second French commandment, Thous shalt not sit inside at home when it’s nice outside). Don’t worry, I have located all of your favorite celebs – well, minus perhaps Dany Boon who is soaking up the Los Angeles sun as we speak or Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard who are galavanting around Manhattan, but I’ve found the rest. They’re all at La Société, the latest addition to the vast Costes empire.
Société [ sɔsjete ] noun. 1. French for “society,” a structured community of people. 2. The new Costes restaurant in Saint-Germain-des-pres serving “Germanopratins”* [*term designating inhabitants of the 6th arrondissement who rarely leave said neighborhood and frequent its establishments notably the Café de Flore and its environs], stars and wanna-be stars for a much too expensive menu of mediocre food in a chic setting with model-like waitresses.
Finally, the Germanopratin community can rejoice – “Left Bank chic” is back in style. After le Montana, the latest in La Clique’s master plan to take over the world, one nightclub at a time, comes THE place to be for the privileged, “look at me” crowd. Celebs from all domains have been coming out for the new restaurant located in what used to be le Bilboquet jazz club. Think: fashion fathers the Fendi family and Dolce and Gabbana, political heavyweights like Rachida Dati, gourmet gurus like Alain Ducasse, every French actor or actress ever to hit the big screen and even “American Idol” media powerhouse Ryan Seacrest, who dined across the room last Saturday night. So what are we eating, folks? [insert laughter here] Oh please, as if anyone comes here to eat. In any case, it’s classic Costes cuisine, read: the same menu that we all have memorized at this point. With the exception of a few Germanopratin additions such as the “Club Saint Germain,” an onion soup and a quinoa and asparagus risotto, the menu remains unchanged, namely a shrimp risotto, spring rolls (“nems”) or a mandarina crispy duck. It’s très cher (very expensive), that's for sure, but, with Carla Bruni sitting to your left, Karl Lagerfeld to your right and Brad and Angie across the room*, who really cares ? (*note: this scene has yet to be recorded in Societe history, but it would be pretty cool, huh?) The très chic décor is signed Christian Aliagre and the musical selection provides a relaxed feel. Financial crisis? What? Let’s go sip 20Euro glasses of wine and munch on slices of hard avocado for 18Euros. Oh come on, you know you love it. (I do.)
See photos taken at La Societe last saturday night.

2. Ca m’enerve

While ostensibly Helmut Fritz may seem like just another pissed off French guy, his latest pop sensation “Ca m’énerve” (“That pisses me off”) is my latest guilty pleasure. It plays on the radio about every .004 seconds, so “c’est normale” that I can’t get it out of my head. Basically, Mr. Fritz sounds off on everything that annoys him about Paris – getting snubbed at Costes or le Baron, not being able to find a taxi or girls who wear Jimmy Choos and can’t walk. He attacks the Zadig&Voltaire-wearing, black Amex card-carrying population, saying “For all of you who have borrowed bangs from Kate Moss.” At the end, he attacks “you who wait in line for macarons at La Durée” then adds, “But ok, I hear they’re pretty good.” Check it out for a good oh la la laugh.

3. Paul & Joe Eyewear

Last week, the stars came out for the launch of Paul & Joe Eyewear at the Grandoptical store on the Champs-Elysees. The designer herself, Sophie Albou, welcomed actresses Julie Depadieu, Marina Fois and Cristina Reali, actors Stephane Freiss and Tomer Sisley (aka “Largo Winch” – see attached photo of us at the Cesar Awards. Don’t we make a lovely couple? Yes, I think so too.) plus TV personalities Ariane Massenet (yay for “Le Grand Journal” !) and Sandrine Quetier (the host of E! News France, aka my dream job). The new collection of shades are what you would expect from Albou – the classic Paul & Joe style of simplicity and practicality with a splash of fun. I left with a beautiful pair of oversized black, round shades (see photo taken inside the Ritz) which I plan to wear as soon as the sun decides to make its way for a long stay in Paris, France.

4. Twilight

Teenage vampires in love. It’s like “Romeo and Juliet” with fangs. While I am perhaps the last mortal on earth to see the movie “Twilight,” I just had to express my adoration for the title. I wanted to see what all the buzz was about and rented the film from iTunes (long live LEGAL downloading, ladies and gentlemen). The film, based on the popular young-adult vampire novels by Stephenie Meyer, is a love story about a young girl named Bella who falls in love with a vampire named Edward. It is impossible not to fall in love with Edward – Robert Pattinson has “heartthrob” written all over his face. The story is completely ridiculous, the acting mediocre and the special effects déjà vu, but somehow it all works. Catherine Hardwicke strikes again with her adolescent angst expertise mixed with vampire thriller. I’m hooked, and looking very much forward to the upcoming sequel “New Moon,” so I can spend yet another night with Edward, my favorite vampire.

5. Ryan Seacrest or “I followed Ryan Seacrest into the bathroom last night …”

I followed Ryan Seacrest into the bathroom last night …
You know you’re about to hear a good story when it starts with following Ryan Seacrest into a bathroom. Actually, it sounds like the title of a book. Have you read “I followed Ryan Seacrest into the bathroom last night” by Rebecca Leffler? The scene: La Societe (see above). Saturday night, circa 10 pm. A young (well not that young, more like youngish) man flirts with our tall, gorgeous waitress on his way back from the bathroom. He is speaking American. (yes, not English, but American.) It’s Ryan Seacrest ! Part of me wants to jump up on the table, grab a fork as a makeshift microphone and belt out my rendition of “A Moment Like This,” but I decide against this course of action (maybe the acoustics aren’t quite as good as they are in my shower?). As I did not want to disturb Mr. Seacrest, who appeared to be enjoying his meal with a pretty blond woman and two other unidentified people (who have very nice back of their heads, that’s about all I can say about them), I gave my card to our waitress to pass along to Monsieur Crête de Mer (that’s “Seacrest” in French). Shortly thereafter, the waitress told me to go down the stairs towards the bathroom. “Monsieur Seacrest would like to speak with you now.” My mind began racing. Could it be that, while taking a stroll during his Easter vacation to Paris, Ryan Seacrest overheard me singing in the shower and thinks I am the next American Idol? That must be it. I begin to rehearse Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” in my head as I follow the waitress down the stairs. Ryan is waiting for me. Then, I realize that perhaps this is more like a scene from “Pretty Woman” than a scene from “American Idol.” Maybe he thinks I work nights? Turns out that Seacrest – who is a household name in America and probably enjoyed a weekend of anonymity in a country where no one watches American reality TV – simply wanted to talk in a more private setting. Probably to avoid papa razzi lenses – the headline “Seacrest and famous French TV star caught making out in Paris restaurant” probably wouldn’t be so good for his image. As for mine however… Anyway, so turns out Mr. S is quite friendly and down-to-earth. (Well, he was eating at one of the most chic, more expensive restaurants in Paris so perhaps I’d say more “closer to earth than most celebs” than DOWN to earth per se.) He even came over to our table afterwards to introduce himself. (Only natural as we are now best friends, of course.) I am waiting for my phone call – any day now – requesting that I become the next Guiliana Rancic and host my own French-accented version of E! News in Paris and at the next Cannes Film Festival.

6. Hotel Bel Ami

Want to meet my new dear friend? The Hotel Dear Friend, aka the Hotel Bel Ami, is among my favorite spots in the 6th arrondissement. The contemporary hotel in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-pres, has a prime location – directly across the street from the Café de Flore, down the street from la Hune and l’Ecume des Pages bookstores and just a hop skip and a jump (actually, I have yet to see any French person hop, skip or jump in my life) away from chez moi. I’ve filmed countless TV shows inside in the bar area, and the hotel staff is always warm and welcoming (a rare occurrence in most of the small boutique hotels in this neighborhood, may I add.) The bar/café area is a great place to meet for a coffee or a glass of wine – less touristy and less expensive than the Flore, and I recommend the hot chocolate which arrives as a hot glass of milk and a chocolate lollipop that then dissolves into the milk to create a frothy, delicious blend. The rooms are pretty basic, yet modern and clean, and relatively affordable compared to most of the other options in the neighborhood. The hotel also offers a quite impressive small fitness room and spa – “The Wellness Center by Payot” – for relaxed, modern luxury. Yes, “modern” and “Saint germain des pres” are not always synonymous, so it’s quite refreshing to see the contemporary touch at the Bel Ami. They even have a blog where guests and visitors can read about the various music-related events the hotel offers from time to time – how modern ! WWJD? (What Would Jean-Paul Sartre Do?)

7. Sliimy

He’s skinny, he’s French and he can sing. Sliimy, aka a skinnier, Frenchier version of Mika, has the entire country hooked on his unique sound. His hit song “Wake Up” has been echoing in my head for weeks (in between “Ca m’enerve,” Lady Gaga’s “Poker face” and admittedly Britney’s “If You Seek Amy”). Check him out:

8. A smart car convertible

I was strolling along the rue Jacob on a sunny Paris afternoon when I spotted this car and had to stop to take a photo. A smart car convertible. Now why didn’t anyone think of that before? I can just see the advertisement now: “Too tall for your tiny French smart car? Try our roof-free version.” For anyone who feels too confined in one’s itsy bitsy mini-vehicle, now there’s a warm weather-inspired way to enjoy a more spacious ride. It’s the latest in French technology (yes indeed, the terms “French” and “technology” are not in fact mutually exclusive contrary to popular belief). The ridiculously tall person’s smart car. Ah, how I love this land !

9. L’Instant Critique

This week’s “Instant Critique” segment on “Le Grand Journal.” I review movies for a weekly segment on Canal Plus’ popular nighttime show here in France called “Le Grand Journal” or, in English, “The big news show” (think: “The Today Show” meets “Jay Leno sitting around a table with David Letterman, Barbara Walters and lots of really pretty young girls”). Here are clips from this week’s episode and that of two weeks ago. Stephen Frears’ “Cheri” hasn’t come out stateside yet, but, when it does, RUN to the theaters. Michelle Pfeiffer is more radiant than ever in Frears’ melodramatic yet gloriously romantic adaptation of Colette’s novels.

9.5 While we’re watching me on TV, I thought I’d bring back some “Johnny Saucisson” for old time’s sake.

Despite it’s cult fan following, “Johnny Saucisson,” after a strong five-episode run on Canal Plus, wasn’t renewed for a new season. Here’s some “Johnny Sausage” nostalgia for those of you weeping in its absence (you know who you are).

10. Jelly beans, peeps and other Easter candy NOT found in Paris

As a former member of the Jelly Belly Flavor of the Month Club (yes, I was actually sent new flavors on a regular basis up to age 15) and a peep addict (wow, that doesn’t sound very good – to clarify, I am referring to the marshmallowy bunnies and ducks), I find the lack of bunny-influenced Easter candy in Paris to be UNE SCANDALE. I mean, how better to celebrate Christ rising from the dead than with popcorn-flavored sugar-coated gelatin and marshmallows shaped like ducks ? While jelly beans can be found at select locations such as the Bon Marche Grande Epicerie, the ubiquitous candy we know and love in America is scarce in these parts. Chocolate eggs are found everywhere, but non-chocolate products (see: my intense aversion to chocolate since birth) are hard to track down. So, all you Americans, remember how lucky you are as you enjoyed toasted marshmallow or watermelon-flavored jelly bellies, Cadbury cream eggs (or at least the middle part, my favorite) and pink peeps and think of those poor, unfortunate souls in Paris condemned to a candy-deprived Easter holiday.

****Sick of me yet ?

If not, check out my blog(well more like blogs – there are two parts to click on) from Gala Fashion week

Or on SayWho?

Or on GoGo Paris (which, by the way, is the BEST site of its kind, offering a fabulous tour of Paris with a much younger and cool selection than most English-language sites of the genre, check it out)

And don’t forget to put your email into the RSS feed below so you can receive updates on la vie de Lafleur de Paris.

Bisous mes amis ! à la prochaine…

Friday, April 10, 2009

10 Things I Love this Week/ April in Paris


Paris finally has it’s very own version of Gossip Girl. The veritable online popularity contest SayWho? was launched just a few weeks ago by Paris-based creative agency Say Hmmm! ( From the people who brought you drunken outdoor parties at Bagatelle, parties for luxury brands (think: Diesel, Givenchy and Russian Standard Vodka) and that ubiquitous tall sexy Danish dude Rasmus comes a new web movement which is picking up where Facebook left off. SayWho is basically a website – in French, but will eventually branch out into other languages and territories if all goes as planned – featuring photos of Parisian soirées. Party attendees are tagged and labeled, then thrown into a rating system where the city’s most-viewed partyers are ranked in order of social appearance. This week, for example, Kanye West is #15, Guillaume Canet #20, and Jeremy Scott #3. (and Rebecca Leffler #8 may I add.) A crew of photographers – including my favorite night reporter Mr. Jean Picon – let no party go unsnapped. Can’t make it out Tuesday night before your big meeting Wednesday morning? No problem, just check out the SayWho? photo recap and it’ll be just like you were there (only with no hangover or unidentified French guy/girl in your bed the next morning).

Check out my blog on SayWho? @

xoxo French Gossip Girl

2. OSS117

“He’s so French” was the slogan advertised all over the Cannes Film Festival a couple of years ago. The “he” in question is secret agent OSS117, aka Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, aka actor Jean Dujardin. The spy genre parody is directed by Michel Hazanavicius – I still can’t pronounce his name, but I love his movies – and the 2006 title “OSS117 Cairo, Nest of Spies” was a hit in Gaul. The next installment in the series “OSS117: Rio ne répond plus” (Rio isn’t responding anymore) is, in my opinion, even funnier than the first. Jean Dujardin is back in his starring role in this story filled with subtle humor and dry satire, a sort of “James Bond” meets “Naked Gun.” The screenplay is bitingly witty and Dujardin is brilliant as the anti-Semitic, racist, sometimes clueless spy. There’s even a token American guy in the film – actor Ken Samuels, who is hysterical in the role of Trumendous. The Paris premiere was held last week with the whole cast, among other French celebs. Jean Dujardin and his lady love fellow actress Alexandra Lamy, former OSS117 girl Berenice Bejo and current “Bath Girl” Louise Monot, and a hodgepodge of other French talent like Gilles Lellouche, “Hostage” director Florent Emilio Siri, and others who, if you can understand this English so well, you have no idea who I am talking about. Here’s a sneak peak at the fabulous film.


Or more like Leffler ♥ Zadig. Either way you look at it, it’s a trans-Atlantic love affair. Zadig & Voltaire is a French clothing brand – sort of a chic rock glam combo of hipster-wear with a twist. The brand is famous for its Parisian street style basics like cashmere shirts and dresses, jeans and funky leather studded bags. Zadig & Voltaire just opened up a store in New York’s trendy meatpacking district and also started a new Zadig&Voltaire Music label. Their new hit “Playground” is already making waves. I don’t think I go a day without wearing something with a “Zadig&Voltaire” label on it – the clothes are definitely too pricey (300 euros for a cotton dress?) but are logical purchases since they are all very basic and très chic. I have been carrying around my black leather Zadig bag for years already – it’s quality, great-looking leather. I just checked out their new Fall/Winter collection for next season which is fabulous and features the classic Zadig basics, but also more sparkly tops and dresses, cashmere wrap-around sweaters and a lovely straw hat I plan to wear to sport a “farmer chic” look this spring. Here’s the “Playground” clip for your listening pleasure.

and the NY store:


Finding tofu in Paris is like finding … well, like finding tofu in Paris, an ostensibly impossible endeavor in the land of steak frites and foie gras. While tofu is found at most organic stores like Naturalia or Bio Génération chains, it doesn’t compare to the “real” stuff from Japan. Luckily, that’s where Kioko comes in. The Japanese shop near Opéra sells Japanese imports of all kinds, including Suzu Tofu, homemade every day and hand-delivered by the tofu master himself, Mr Suzuki. I happened to arrive at Kioko just when Mr Suzuki was delivering his fresh tofu of the day. In Japanese-accented French, he described the entire process of the tofu-making to me, then went on to give advice on how to cook the tofu, all with a huge smile on his face. He is my new favorite person in Paris (or at least my favorite tofu-maker. He’s actually the only tofu-maker I know, but I think if I met the others, I’d still favor him.) Tofu has a bad reputation, but is a wonderful food – it’s filled with protein, absorbs the flavor of any marinade or sauce and can be stored in the refrigerator for longer than most meats. I am a To-fool.


Did I mention I adore all things Jean-Georges Vongerichten ? Or just Jean-Georges for short since nobody in any country seems to be able to correctly pronounce his last name, nor do many people know he does indeed have a last name since he is known across the globe (mostly in New York and in Asia) as Jean-Georges. I am addicted to his Paris hotspot, Market. I’ve been going since I moved here nearly five years ago, and even got the chance to celebrate the 7-year anniversary of the restaurant with JG himself (and copious amounts of truffle pizza and mini cheesecakes – it was a dream come true - see photo of me and the culinary master himself.) The trendy, New York-like décor is complemented by the, well, trendy, New York-like cuisine. Jean-Georges offers modern French cuisine with an Asian flare. My favorites include the black truffle and fontina pizza or the tuna rolls to start, the daurade (a white fish) served with a sweet and sour sauce or the always-changing variations of duck breast or chicken as main courses, and then – bien sur – the most amazingly delicious cheesecake ever in life to end the meal. Try not to fill up on the delicious breads and butter albeit very tempting – you must save room for dessert. JG is offering a special “recession menu” (he is the ONLY one in Paris, France to do this mind you) for 34 euros for three courses if you eat before 8:30 pm or after 10:30 pm. Please note that you need to ORDER by these times. I went last week with a group of friends. We reserved for 8 pm, sat down around 8:20 pm (see: I was eating with mostly French people) and didn’t place our order until 8:34 pm, and were thus told we were “too late” to take advantage of the offer. But 34 euros for three courses at JG is an extraordinary deal (most of the main courses cost that price or more) so I plan to return imminently for an early or late night chowdown. Care to join me?
PS It appears that my BFF JG has followed me onto blogspot?


When Moses was in Egypt land … he would have been appalled to discover that Paris, France is not very Pesach-friendly. While in the US, or at least in MY part of the US (read: the tri-state area), supermarkets dedicate full aisles to Passover products, the Parisian supermarkets are severely lacking in Passover fare. I had to go to four different supermarkets yesterday just to find K for P wine. And while the US offers Manichewitz products including everything from Passover muffin mix to Pesach-approved cereal, and matzoh in all forms – whole wheat, crackers, gefilte-fish flavored (no just kidding, but I imagine it will be on the market by 2015) – Paris offers a few boxes of matzoh and other canned K for P products. So sad. The Bon Marche Grand Epicerie sells 450 different kinds of olive oil, 600 different types of ham … and offers a measly mini-stand of a few boxes of matzoh and strange-looking chocolate chip cakes. So instead of “Next Year in Jerusalem” how about “Next Year at Monoprix”?
(see photo of THIS year in Monoprix)


It’s white and creamy and I swallow some almost every morning. Get your minds out of the gutter! I’m talking about French yogurt. While I do miss my occasional Stonyfield Farm’s during trips to America, French yogurt is in a class of its own. Don’t have a cow, the US has some good products too of course, but here the yogurt is mostly full-fat made from whole milk instead of the “fat free” (and usually “taste free”) fare found in US supermarkets. In French supermarkets, the yogurt aisle is a well-stocked department of its own. I have tasted every yogurt in the country (yes, 4.5 years allots a lot of time for yogurt-tasting). I enjoy the more commercial Danone products, have dabbled in sheep’s milk yogurts (much thicker and creamier, but typically easier on the stomach) and goat’s milk yogurts. I’ve decided to stick with cows for the time being (I’m moo-ving on, sorry Brebis sheep). La Ferme du Manège is probably the most expensive yogurt – I’ve found it so far only at the Bon Marché Grande Epicerie and the individual containers are quite costly, but are nearly twice the size of the average French yogurt (which is about 1.2 the size of most US yogurts) – 180 g instead of 125 g. The Ferme du Manège is creamy, but not too thick and uses no cream, only milk and fresh products. I love the honey flavor and the vanilla, but have also enjoyed the occasional “Mureboise” (the delicious offspring of a blackberry and a raspberry), fig and caramel (ok so it’s a dessert disguised as a breakfast addition, but let’s keep fooling ourselves, it’s damn good). They even have a few flavors made with skim milk. I’ve never been to the Manège farm, but I hope to one day take a trip and thank them for making my mornings even more enjoyable.


After hours and hours of tears and several visits to the Police HQ in Paris, I am still struggling with French authorities to renew my visa to stay here. I recently received a letter from the Minster of the Interior telling me that, while it is not under her jurisdiction, she has transferred my file to Monsieur Eric Besson, Minister of Immigration. While this appears to be good news – that is, SOMETHING is happening with my file – the idea of Eric Besson holding a fat file with “LEFFLER, Rebecca” written on it sends shivers down my spine. Besson has recently become well-known for cracking down on illegal immigration and has set arrest quotas for those citizens who “assist” such people. There was an article in this week’s New York Times that said this: "France is restricting visas for workers from outside the European Union in the face of rising unemployment, according to a policy directive by President Nicolas Sarkozy that was released Tuesday. “The absolute priority must be for people in France who are deprived of work to get back into jobs,” he said. The unemployment rate among foreigners from non-European Union countries living in France was 22 percent, he said, compared with 8 percent for the whole population." This is NOT good news for moi, ladies and gentleFrenchmen.
Dear Mr Besson, if you are reading my blog (you know you are), you are France’s Minister of “Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Solidarity Development” and I just happen to be very well-integrated into French society, not to mention do so much for the national identity of France through my many stories in the Hollywood Reporter and elsewhere and help, “solidarity development” is like my middle name. Please let me stay ! Je vous aime !


Oh how I miss you, Joe ! Joe-meo, Joe-meo, wherefore art thou Trader Joe-meo? Definitely not in Paris, France which is très disappointing. I have learned to live without my family in close proximity, without good bagels and without available taxis, but life without Trader Joe’s has become increasingly difficult. I have recently been diagnosed with SGW – Severe Granola Withdrawal. My body is craving those delicious clusters of whole grain goodness and my yogurt bowl weeps as it is forced to cover itself in unacceptable French cereals. Then there is the mix of “harvest grains,” the greatest thing to happen to “I just got home and am hungry and want something delicious, satisfying and well-balanced that goes with anything” since sliced bread. Not to mention their “just a handful” series which provide the perfect amount of nuts, trail mixes or dried cranberries. But Joe, woe is me – you refuse to offer your products online or send them to me (yes, I’ve sent letters requesting such a service) or to open a store in France. Your almond granola is my Proust Madeleine – it makes me feel like I am back home in America. So I will pine away in Paris for my dear Joe, eating a croissant all the while dreaming of rekindling our love affair soon in the USA.


Yes, I confess, I’ve been playing “Love Story” over and over on iTunes. I admittedly enjoy the country tunes from the singer who is still in her teens and sold more albums in American last year than anyone. I’m currently into her very cheesy, yet secretly (or not so secretly) “White Horse”.

I'm not a princess
This ain't a fairytale
I'm not the one you'll sweep off her feet
Lead her up the stairwell
This ain't Hollywood,
This is a small town
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down
Now its too late for you and your White Horse,
To come around.

Love it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

10 Things I love this Week/I Love Paris in the Springtime

Things I love this week
1. Ponyo
“Ponyo on the cliff by the sea,” a 2D Japanese animated feature from artistic genius Hayao Miyazaki, is my “coup de Coeur” this week. The “Little Mermaid” gets a Japanese makeover in this adorable story of a little red fish who becomes a human little girl. The story is simple, and the amazingly vivid and colorful images are complemented by an incredible musical score. Definitely worth a look.

2. The term « c’est normale. »

In sum, this expression gives the French permission to do or say whatever they want and then with a simple “c’est normale” (“it’s normal”) all is well. They’re French, so that’s how things go, no matter how bizarre, rude or insane the situation. For example, Me: “Some guy on a vélib just ran me over with his bike.” French person: “C’est normale. You must have been in his way.” Or French guy: “My girlfriend is around this weekend, but we can hang out next week.” C’est normale. Me: “I had to call that woman 150 times before she finally called me back.” French person: C’est normale. C’EST PAS NORMALE. (It’s not normal!) The French definition of what is “normal” is quite astonishing. Arriving 20 minutes late for dinner (and not even bothering to warn the person one is dining with of one’s tardiness because technically, until you’re over ½ hour late, it doesn’t even count as being late)? C’est normale. Blowing smoke into someone’s face as one smokes a cigarette? C’est normale. Cheating on one’s wife/girlfriend (and thinking this does not prove an impediment to continuing to sleep with other women at the same time)? C’est normale. However, the French consider “pas normale” (not normal) the following: eating peanut butter, going jogging, wearing shorts and (this one I am quite happy about) leaving tips. So, in sum. It is normal to be late, smoke cigarettes and cheat on your girlfriend, but abnormal to eat peanut butter before going for a run in your new pair of shorts. I rest my case.

3. “Someone I Loved”
Zabou Breitman’s drama “Someone I Loved” is based on Anne Gavalda’s novel “Je l’aimais.” The film, which opens the ColCoa film fest in LA end of April, stars Daniel Auteuil and Marie Jose-Croze in a story about finding love when it appears to be too late. The story is ostensibly very déjà vu and very French – a man cheats on his wife. However, Auteuil and Jose-Croze have wonderful chemistry and the film is beautifully shot.

4. The Luxembourg Gardens

The Luxembourg Gardens are definitely my favorite gardens in Paris.
I adore going running there, or pausing to read a book or write in the sun when the weather is nice. I’ve tried running in the Tuileries and risk plowing into unsuspecting Japanese tourists. I’ve tried the Parc Monceau but risk plowing into unsuspected children playing. ButI LOVE running in the Luxembourg gardens, especially because it is the ONE place in Paris, France where people don’t look at you strangely for going for a jog. The Jardins de Luxe are always filled with joggers. And students. And families. And cute little kids playing with old toy boats in the center. There are tennis courts and even outdoor ping pong tables. On the St Michel corner, there is a little crevice with a small pond and leafy fences – my favorite spot to think and reflect on la vie in Paris.

5. The organic market on the Boulevard Raspail
I am a reformed Sunday-hater. While I used to dread the day when everything in Paris closed, when none of my friends were awake before noon (or before 5 pm – you know who you are) and when the next day to look forward to was, my second least-favorite day of the week, Monday, return to work. Lately, however, I have learned to love le Dimanche, thanks, in part, to the organic market on the Boulevard Raspail. From the wee early hours of the morning through early afternoon, farmers from all over France make the trek to Paris to share their organic fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses and even wine with the Parisian population. (or rather, the more economically stable, healthy food loving population of Paris since all of the goods there are very VEP (very expensive produce)) The market is always bustling with people – mostly Raspail veterans who come with their baskets on wheels to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies for the week, but also some tourists. The stand owners are typically very friendly – probably because most aren’t from Paris – and usually volunteer samples of the week’s freshest fruit, or a sliver of the day’s apple tart so that a young American girl can taste it before she decides to invest (it was delicious. Investment made.)

However, I am apparently not well educated in the field of fruit and vegetable seasonal agendas. I asked for blueberries last week and the man working at the fruit stand literally laughed out loud and said to his coworkers “Hahahaha this girl asked for BLUEBERRIES in early APRIL. Hahahaha next thing you know she’ll be asking for butternut squash in June.” (I have indeed requested butternut squash in June.) It appears that while, in America, we memorize the 50 states and the months of the year, French schoolchildren are given a vast fruit and vegetable calendar to ingrain in their heads. “Apples in October, asparagus in April …” “Good, little Pierre! You get a gold star. And an apple. But not until the Fall when they’re in season again.”

6. Pizza Chic.

I’ve been saying it for years. Those who eat pizza are chic. Now there’s proof in the form of a big red neon lighted sign on the rue des Mezières “Pizza Chic”. The new ristorante Italiano from the people who brought us l’Altro (my go-to restaurant) (and by “go to” I mean, I go to there at least once a week), Les Cailloux, Lei and Quai Quai. The New York-like décor provides a posh yet relaxed background for the best pizza this side of the Italian border (note: I didn’t say best pizza, just best in Paris). Thin crust, fresh ingredients and REAL Italian chefs/servers for a change. I recommend the “Aurora” (which is also perhaps the most difficult Italian word to say in French with an American accent. Trust me, I’ve tried to say it about 450 times to no avail) with homemade tomato sauce and huge chunks of buffalo mozzarella. Or try the prosciutto – thin crust, just a bit of mozzarella and fresh tomatoes, topped with arugula and prosciutto. The panna cotta – same one as l’Altro – is delic as well.

7. Popup bar

Popup is the new ephemeral spot du jour from la Clique, set up to launch Vitamin Water in Paris. The bar is located at [… just kidding it’s supposed to be a secret…] in a little old theater. The neon chalk-decorated walls and bright red neon lights spelling Popup provide a retro-chic backdrop for the very hipster scene complete with cocktails à la Vitamin Water. There are different events every night from 6-10 pm. Two weeks ago, I went to a cinema night sponsored by La Maison de la Pub to see screenings of old ads from famous directors including Madonna getting naked with an American flag, strange Swedish TV spots and even an old ad featuring Guillaume Canet dancing around dressed like a pineapple. I also got to see Housse de Racket live for a mini-concert last weekend. Housse de Racket is a French punk band featuring two skinny little French boys in white tennis outfits. They’re actually good !

8. Dr. McSteamy

McDreamy has been less than dreamy these days on “Grey’s Anatomy.” McSteamy, however, is not only much better-looking (and taller!), but he has proven to be a big cuddly teddy bear (see: his romantic romp with little Grey, awwww)

9. Vanessa and Chuck (Chanessa? Vuck?)

Nate and Vanessa breaking up on “Gossip Girl” - FINALLY. And now she and Chuck? Oh PLEASE. Worst match made ever in life. Now if they’d just get that annoying Vanessa off the show…

10. The Tourette’s episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Best television ever made.