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Inspiration: Paris, Meet Boston

Notre Dame, Paris in evening

In introducing my fashion and lifestyle blog, Paris, Meet Boston, I decided to write about what inspired me to create the blog and what I believe its purpose to be.

What is the goal of Paris, Meet Boston?

The goal of Paris, Meet Boston is to inspire and connect with those who love fashion, beauty, culture, cuisine, art, travel, worldliness, and sophisticated living inspired by the City of Light.

What inspired me to create the blog?

We are drawn to what we love. While I am a proud American who grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, I have always loved and been drawn to all things French. This blog is my way of reintroducing the French culture to Boston, and elsewhere in the United States and the world, predominantly through fashion, culture, and cuisine.

I started learning the French language at the age of six when my parents got together with the parents of a few of my classmates and hired a French woman from the Alliance Française of Boston to tutor me and a small group of my friends outside of school, since French was not offered in our academic curriculum. We would meet at one of our houses and practice basic expressions, learn songs about the colors in French, and eat gâteau au chocolat.

What wasn’t there to love? From that moment on, I was completely and forever enamored of all things French, from the sound of the language, to the delectable food, to the elegant sophistication of the people. Above all else, I could not wait to go to Paris.

Paris, France

I continued my French studies all the way through my schooling, and over the years, my adulation of French culture became quite apparent to everyone who knew me. Once in college, I jumped at the chance to fulfill one of my great dreams to study abroad in Paris. I was majoring in economics and French at Boston College, so when it came time to choose the appropriate université at which I would study in Paris, I naturally chose Université Paris-Dauphine, the economics school of Paris.

While at Boston College I also studied and was very passionate about art history, but in Paris, my course of study in art would come from museums like Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, Centre Pompidou, and Musée Picasso, not the classroom.

Musée du Louvre | Paris, France

I knew I would love Paris before I arrived, and when I got there, I did. The language was so beautiful, the food of such superb quality, the fashion ideal for my tastes, and the culture definitively alluring. I felt at ease, unburdened, and truly chez moi.

Paris became, as it remains to this day, my home away from home. Everywhere I looked, I found myself gazing in awe upon beautiful architecture, art, and history. In Paris, I lived surrounded by French style, and I dined on expertly-prepared food. My apartment was steps away from the Place de la Bastille, where French peasants took up arms and stormed the Bastille prison at the onset of the French Revolution. Now the area is brimming with fantastic restaurants, cafés, shops, and nightlife.

**The following part of this post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. 

Seeing as I am a huge café person, and I fancy myself a writer, being able to sit at a Parisian café to my heart’s content with my espresso and my journal or a good book was a dream. I felt like Hemingway in Paris, but modern, female, way more into fashion, and not as blunt or concise in my writing. I’ll dive into discussions on A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s memoir about his time as a struggling writer in Paris in the 20’s, in later posts. You can find this Hemingway classic (that is close to my heart) on Amazon here: A Moveable Feast.

When I was in Paris studying abroad, I could not count the collective hours I spent thinking, reflecting, watching what was going on around me, reading, writing, and thinking some more, while at cafés in Paris. And no one bothers you or hurries you out in order to turn over your table. Café time is sacred, respected in Paris, as is the time spent at meals.

Reading at a Parisian café

While living in La Ville Lumière, I strolled through the Marais, shopped at my local marché every Sunday for fresh produce, and paired divine French cheeses with fresh baguettes and croissants from the boulangerie downstairs from my apartment in the 4ème arrondissement. The aroma that rose from that bakery and wafted up towards my window at dawn was heavenly.

Don’t even get me started on Nutella crêpes, the prevalence of Nutella in general in France, or the French chocolate that I frequently (understatement) enjoyed in Paris. This post could become a multi-volume epic. My friends who roomed with me in Paris are definitely laughing at this one.

Whenever I miss French chocolat, I order it online at zChocolat, which I discovered through my extensive online search for quality French chocolate that would ship to me and my friends and family in the United States (Merci infiniment, zChocolat!).


In Paris, I spent afternoons at Galeries Lafayette (see the photo below and understand why I refer to this place as fashion heaven), visited countless gorgeous museums, and sampled incredible French dishes along with various inexpensive, yet delicious, French wines.

Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France

Weekday nights were mostly spent cooking at home and having deep philosophical talks with roommates. There was, of course, French wine, which we could buy at the supermarché or the épicérie around the corner.

Weekend evenings especially were spent with our fellow American friends as well as other foreign students from all over the world that we met at our schools through Erasmus. We switched off between speaking English and French.

First there was either wine and cheese at one of our little apartments, or a dinner out, followed by coupes de champagne and dancing nights as the Eiffel Tower twinkled alight against the Parisian night sky.

Tour Eiffel at night in Paris, France

This was Paris, and there I was, really living the whole cosmopolitan experience. You can understand why I felt as though I had been launched into the sublime.

All of these activities accompanied my rigorous academic schedule at Université Paris-Dauphine, so no, I was not blinded by the bliss of a Parisian vacation, but rather I had my eyes wide open to the wonders of the French capital while working hard and living the real life of a student in Paris.

I also shopped at the local supermarché, Monoprix, and frequently picked up household items at the department store BHV in the Marais. I walked to the store and carried everything home and up the four flights of stairs to the apartment I shared with two friends. It’s things like this, too, that made me feel like a veritable parisienne.

Although I was studying l’économie and not working at Vogue Paris, a big part of me felt like I was following in the footsteps of my favorite film character of all time, Sabrina Fairchild. I grew up watching the 1995 remake of Sabrina starring Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford. I think it’s safe to say that it was most likely my countless viewings of this film that intensified my fixation with traveling to Paris, throwing off all traces of awkwardness, and becoming undeniably chic, stylish, elegant, and confident – “Frenchified,” if you will.

My experience in Paris did change me. It made me grow. The world was bigger after Paris. Everything I saw and experience thereafter felt different to me than if I had not lived and studied in the City of Light.

It is impossible to chronicle all the infinitesimal ways that living among the Parisians can affect or change a person, but I certainly left France with new thoughts and mannerisms, a renewed respect for grace, elegance, and politeness (la politesse is highly valued in Paris), a much-improved French accent and language fluency, and a heightened sense of French style that had permeated my entire fashion philosophy.

I remember that for my Air France flight home for Christmas (Noël, en français) during my time studying abroad, I wore a gray dress with black opaque tights (French women will pair a dress or a skirt with tights in cold weather, for obvious reasons, but more on this versus Boston winter fashion later) and my new black boots from Zara coupled with a pink scarf tied the way I had been wearing it for months. After a brief conversation (en français, bien sûr!) with one of the French air hosts, I was mistaken for a French woman. My quiet jubilance knew no bounds.


Air France

This small interaction made me realize that I must have attained some semblance of the French je ne sais quoi, a quality that I have always aspired to attain.

I returned home feeling contente, often living all of my experiences in my mind and knowing that I had definitely expanded my horizons, just as I had set out to do. I was a bit more French than I had been before, and for me, that was a major win.

Years later, I have traveled back to Paris again and again. My husband and I were engaged in Paris and return there frequently. We have made so many memories there, and Paris has become a very special place for us as a couple. We now both consider the City of Light a home away from home.

Below is a photo of my husband and me at one of our favorite Saint-Germain haunts, Bistrot d’Henri.  Don’t try to make reservations online, but rather call or go there in person. The first time we went to “Henri’s,” located at 16, rue Princesse in the 6ème, Dan and I made verbal reservation earlier that day with the man himself. We knocked on the door during his afternoon sieste. You see, the restaurant was closed, as in Paris, most restaurants close down for a period of time between lunch and dinner rather than running a continuous service. I’ve always loved the definitiveness, common sense, and firm, yet relaxed, nature of French dining hours. One could almost say they are strict about being relaxed.

So we were being silly, awkward Americans (we are still allowed these moments) when we knocked on the door of Henri’s and stumbled upon an empty restaurant, save for one man in a chef’s apron taking a doze on the banquette.

It was the restaurant owner, Henri, and he accepted us so warmly, despite the fact that the restaurant was not open and that we had been a bit rude to intrude.

When I asked in French if it would be possible for us to make a dinner reservation, he asked if it would be we two dining, and upon receiving confirmation, Henri said that he would remember our faces and that we need not leave a name for our réservation. “Dîner pour vous deux à 19 heures” was all the information he needed, which he said aloud to himself only once as he reclined back again.

We returned later for dinner, and or course he remembered all about us, and of course Dan and I have returned to Henri’s time and time again. The food and ambiance there are sublime and magical and quaint and professional and comforting and like you’re back in time all at once, by the way. I will rave about all this again later.

My husband Dan and I at dinner at Bistrot d'Henri, one of our favorite restaurants in Paris

All of this remembering brings me back to the elucidation of the purpose of this blog, Paris, Meet Boston, and why I felt inspired to create it. Today, my perennial pursuit of French chic and my goal of living a life of sophistication have inspired me to create this written and photographical story to share with you.

As I consider the search for a French-inspired, and ultimately enriched, life, I am reminded of a favorite bit of poetry from Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
For ever and ever when I move.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

Every experience we have enriches us, should we choose to let it. For those of us who are always pushing boundaries, hoping to learn more, to improve our style, grace, breadth of knowledge, and our various aptitudes, it is the pursuit of living our best lives that motivates and inspires us, that occupies our hearts and minds and sets our spirits aflame.

Paris changed me and continues to inspire me to grow into the best version of myself. The margin of undiscovered knowledge, style, and cultural enrichment is always moving, and I, for one, will never stop chasing it.

For those of you who share my love of French chic and the sophisticated life that accompanies it, I invite you to follow me on Paris, Meet Boston as I share my experiences in pursuit of achieving the Parisian lifestyle in Boston, Paris, and beyond.

While there are certainly pockets of French culture to be found in Boston, I think we Bostonians could certainly benefit from an even stronger infusion of Parisian style and culture.

Through this blog, I will be speaking primarily through the lens of fashion, which I find one of the most powerful communicators and forms of artistic media that exist. My fashion posts will exist within cultural contexts. I choose to do this on account of the following simple truth: Fashion does not exist in a vacuum.

Fashion lives with us, out in the world, at our offices, at the parties we attend, at the theater, the ballet, or the opera. Fashion accompanies us to the restaurants where we dine and in our own kitchens where we cook for our families and friends. It entertains our guests along with us as we serve cocktails and hors-d’oeuvre in our living rooms. It reclines with us on the sofa as we read a book on a lazy Sunday. Fashion lives and breathes in life. Notez bien the words of the most famous Mademoiselle in the history of fashion:

Il n’y a pas de mode

si elle ne descend pas dans la rue.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel famously reminds us that fashion is not fashion until it is worn out in the streets, out in the world. Fashion is art that you wear, art that interacts with the environment, art that you use to communicate with other people. Coco Chanel believed that fashion does not exist only in dresses, but rather that fashion has to do with ideas, beliefs, social mores, what exists and is happening all around us. Je suis d’accord avec Mademoiselle Chanel.

See me below in my first visit to the original Chanel store at 31, rue Cambon, the store above which Coco kept an apartment even while she was living in her suite at the nearby Ritz. I will describe the awe-inspiring, momentous occasion of my first visit to Chanel with my husband Dan in an upcoming blog post.

First visit to the Chanel store at 31, rue Cambon in Paris, France

So once again, I invite you to follow Paris, Meet Boston and sign up for our newsletter, Paris, Meet Boston Weekly, as I attempt to bring a bit of Parisian style and the French way of living that I love to Boston.

It is my sincere hope that in following this blog, you will feel a bit more connected to your fellow Francophile, to people who love what you love, and that you will be inspired to bring more French style and living to your lives in Boston, or wherever you may find yourself in the world. If you happen to be a Parisian or a French person, you can follow Paris, Meet Boston to gain insight into how your beautiful culture translates into the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

Merci beaucoup for reading, and please remember to sign up for our newsletter, Paris, Meet Boston Weekly, to receive your weekly dose of French fashion and lifestyle inspiration straight to your inbox!

Et n’oubliez pas (and don’t forget) to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Bloglovin’ and to share Paris, Meet Boston posts with your friends on social media!

Do you love French style, culture, and cuisine? Do you have a special love for Paris, or for the French culture in general? Have you ever had an experience in Paris that changed you, or do you dream of visiting the City of Light? Answer in a comment below! We would love to hear from you!

À bientôt, 

Lindsay Shores

 

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