October 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Paris Changes: 3 Favorite Startups du Jour

As a journalist in Paris, I am lucky enough to meet a lot of people, both locals and otherwise. I get to become a specialist for a day in all sorts of topics, like eco-friendly sex toys or frozen yogurt – far more eclectic than I ever imagined back at NYU as a journalism undergrad.

Sometimes I think to myself, “How am I ever going to find a new topic to cover?” But Paris is far more dynamic than a lot of people give it credit for, despite what a lot of people write. Much of the English-speaking press about the city focuses on food, a decaying quality of life that apparently has always existed, or how globalization is ruining the city. Thinking with our stomachs and looking behind us – well, neither has ever been an entirely wise choice.

Like it or not, Paris is changing, but it’s not all in in the direction of “doom” or “Americanization.” Three of my favorite start-ups have been bringing some fresh air to Paris in ways that neither mar the postcard image that most people hold nor threaten the age-old traditions that people imagine have always, and will always, be so utterly “French.”  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Paris: The Last 5 Years

Oh hey, that's me!
Some hallmark moments pass without even noticing. October 5th marked the five year mark for a little boy from Bucks County who found himself in Paris more or less by accident. Instead of throwing a big party and going crazy, I was eating Japanese food in Lyon and watching Indiana Jones in anticipation for a marathon – not something that the Bryan of 2008 necessarily had in mind.

This weekend, a neighbor asked me how long I’ve been living in Paris, and my eyes widened as I realized it’s been 5 years. Long enough to apply for citizenship. Long enough to be taken seriously by locals. More importantly, long enough to know the difference between a good baguette and a great baguette.

From working at a study abroad program during the day and selling pizzas at night, with a short stint as a weekend brunch cook in between there (oh Rose Bakery…), I started off in a unique position. I didn’t have to come teach English, marry a Frenchman, or uproot my adult life to move to Paris. I just had to leave my friend’s apartment floor in Manhattan and pack a few sweaters. It was a comfortable floor. But I had a job, and for the first time, money, in a city that I hardly knew. Paris welcomed Bryan with open arms and a confused look each time I opened my mouth to speak French (cue photos of me!).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Run, Lyon, Run

Bag packed, legs stretched, body hydrated, I went to bed Friday night awaiting a 5:15AM wake-up call in order to recheck everything for the 7:30AM train. I was off to Run in Lyon for my fourth marathon in France, just a month after the liver-testing Marathon du Médoc, and this time without my trusty partner Heather. I trained for months, logged my miles, and prepped the entire weekend trips weeks ago.

As I rose Saturday, I glanced at my phone to see that the clock had struck 6:45AM, the alarm silenced, and all sense of preparation was lost.

I bolted out of bed, threw on my clothes, and ran out the door to get to Gare de Lyon on time. I didn’t eat anything, I barely peed, and I wasn’t sure I had enough clothes for after the race. But fearing missing the train and throwing my training out the window, I couldn’t let a full bladder get in the way. My travel mate was more upset about missing breakfast, but two pastries at the train station made up for that. We made the train, just in time, and we chugged along to Lyon for the big pre-race day of eating and strolling with a healthy dose of lying around.

No bouchon lyonnais for us. It was a market-fresh roasted chicken and rice for dinner, after a delicious Japanese lunch. Nice and light and healthy. A day of strolling the city ended with a bit of Indiana Jones in the hotel as my eyes closed and sleep washed over me.