Sérigraphie Montmartre: A Pop Culture Print Shop

If you settle for the typical “Le Chat Noir” postcard and think you’re sending something unique to your friends in the States, then you’ve sold yourself short to the touristic confines of Paris.

Walking along the cobblestones of Montmartre the other day, my eyes glanced over a rack of neon-colored postcards displayed on the street. I stopped in my tracks and turned around, my eyes adjusting to the neon amidst the warm fall colors lining the streets. I was greeted by a card with the word “salope” (bitch) printed on it, and then another sporting “petite bite” (little dick).

I have to say, Montmartre isn’t given enough credit by Parisians. While people rush to frequent the “hipster” spots centered around République, they overlook the other gems of Paris. My ex-boyfriend, who grew up in Paris and dares not leave his 10ème boundaries, was shocked when he starting exploring Montmartre while I was living by Lamarck-Caulaincourt. “There is no place more beautiful than Montmartre,” he once told me, as spring was just about to bloom on the hilltop village neighborhood.

Not only is Montmartre a stunning backdrop for soul-searching walks during every season, it’s also where you can find unadulterated jewels like Sérigraphie Montmartre. Relatively undiscovered by hipsters who choose to wander only in the “cool” neighborhoods, you’ll find postcards, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and canvas bags printed with funky, Paris-themed designs, and all for an affordable price. I bought this t-shirt for €15, which I love:

The studio is run by a young man named Victor Gouteyron. He wears a paint-splattered apron, and he does all of the designs and printing himself. While I was perusing the prints and additional antique treasures for sale at the shop, tourists wandered in and out, taking advantage of the original designs and low prices that haven’t been hiked up yet by hipster crowds popularizing the place.

I asked Gouteyron why he didn’t use Instagram to market his unique and quirky designs. They would really pick up quickly with the young people of Paris, I said! His recurring themes of drugs, gentrification of neighborhoods like Barbès, and mainstream pop culture symbols (Adidas’ Stan Smiths) truly resonate with the interests of many young Parisians today.

Gouteyron responded that it’s better when people find out about his shop through word of mouth. How sad is it, he asked, when people only visit a certain store because they’ve researched it on the Internet? Why doesn’t anyone just wander and discover anymore??? So I must give you my deepest apologies, Victor, if I have sent customers your way because of this Internet blog post. I thought your designs were too fresh not to be shared.

Each postcard you see above costs €1 each. T-shirts run for €15, and sweatshirts cost €35. Does Gouteyron take credit card? “HELL NO,” he’ll respond in English.

Enjoy your pop-culture prints, and thank you, Gouteyron, for painting us accurate pictures of Parisian youth culture to hang up on our walls.

Sérigraphie Montmartre

5, rue Paul Albert

75018 Paris

Film to Watch: "Love" by Gaspar Noé

Don’t be fooled by the title—Love is no romantic comedy safe for a first date. This is a film about the sperm, fluid, and tears of love, not the predictable feel-good story lines that chicks love.

Gaspar Noé’s new film features a passionate romance shared by Murphy, an expat American studying film in Paris, and Electra, a French art student. The pair’s chemistry isn’t electric—the majority of their conversations involves Murphy blurting out “deep” questions (que frat boy drawl: “What is love? What do you wanna name your kids? If I got you pregnant, what would you do? What is your sexual fantasy????”) and Electra answering coyly in her sexy accent. The conversations these two have are, frankly, so dull to listen in on. But that’s what Noé’s “love” is: it transforms the average boring and mundane comment into something ten times funnier, deeper, and more interesting. Noé shows that it doesn’t really matter what you’re saying, because from the first few moments you meet, you already have this amazing connection based on a mixture of body language, eye contact, reactions, and other factors I haven’t figured out yet.

Murphy and Electra’s relationship progresses from a bubble of happy and endless dumb stares into each others eyes to shrieking insults at each other in a taxi after both proving themselves as cheating and deceitful lovers. However, one thing remains constant throughout it all: the sex. Until the end of their relationship, love and sex are tied together. Prepare yourself for 3D projectile cum shots, a 10-minute opening scene of a hand job, and a threesome with a minor.

Look past the sex, however, and you’ll see Noé’s subtle depiction of love: something so passionate, so volatile, and so baseless. Murphy’s tactless questions and the couple’s dumb conversations might lead some audience members to believe that Noé’s idea of young love is based on sex. But this is proven untrue by the introduction of the third member of the threesome: Omi, the alluring 16-year-old neighbor who will later be the mother of Murphy’s child. But Murphy never falls in love with “hot” Omi. Sex is a huge part of love, but it doesn’t create that magic, pulling connection that two young lovers share.

I know I’ve gotten into spoiling the film quite a bit now, but the point is this: watch the film, and go alone. Because if you’re spending the entire time giggling with your uncomfortable girlfriends when an on-screen penis cums into your lap, it’s harder to understand the subtle messages about love that Noé includes in his film. Love is not a predictable thing. We can’t tell who we’re going to have a connection with, no matter how bad their frat boy drawl is, and why we do or don’t. Love just is this crazy idea that makes you so engrossed in someone else’s being, and when it’s absent, it’s easy to see how boring or not stimulating those people really are.

Apart from the message, the film’s got a killer soundtrack, beautiful 3D shots, and editing that mimics the blink of an eye, making the progression of scenes so much more human. This movie is real, it’s raw, and honestly, it’s 100% the kind of love I die for.

Check out the trailer for the UK release below (most Safe for Work and comprehensive of the plot), which gives me the chills every time.

Étretat: Fairytale French Village on the Atlantic

If you’ve already seen the gardens of Versailles and all of the magic that Paris has to offer, and you’re looking to take a quick day trip to one of France’s shorelines, I recommend renting a car or reserving a BlaBlaCar to see the majestic cliffs of Étretat, Normandy.

Étretat is a small seaside village located around two hours northwest of Paris. The village, which inspired some of France’s most famous artists and writers, has now become a major touristic spot for travelers from all corners of the globe. What makes this seaside village so special? Its famous cliffs, of course.

Here are 5 Things You Should Do in Étretat:

1. Explore the famous cliffs. There are widely-used hiking trails and much-more-discreet caverns to explore at the famous falaises d’Étretat. And it’s doubtless you’ll snap your perfect fairytale photo of the tiny village and its enormous cliffs from the bird’s-eye view at the top. It’s not so certain that you’ll lug a bottle of cider up the cliff like I did, innocently hoping to enjoy a sunny-day picnic with the ocean at my feet and instead being met with hurricane winds slamming my back into the cliff every 2 seconds, thus resulting in my hurrying to finish the damn bottle of cider because the sunny-day picnic was actually horribly uncomfortable, further leading to my getting piss drunk and stumbling like a drunk high schooler after prom with empty bottle in hand (I recycle) on the descent back towards the village, which “professional” hikers were ever so eager to snicker at. Amateur.

2. Order moules-frites at a restaurant on the beach. There are only a few restaurants a few feet from the sand, and they offer mostly identical “specials” of the day for the same prices. If there’s the option of ordering your moules-frites (mussels and fries) cooked with famous Normandy cider, then do so. And then smile and flirt with your waiter, because when you travel alone like I do, that’s a recipe for lucking out on a free tour guide or bottles of wine on the beach or a corner of his floor to sleep on when you show up at his door crying at 2 a.m. because your hostel bunk was infested with bugs.

3. Buy loads of cider and biscuits. Normandy is your dream come true for finding impersonal-with-a-personal-touch gifts for the distant aunt who gives you knockoff Louis Vuitton bags every Christmas. Many people recommend La Mer à Boire for cider, although you can get quality and cheap cider all over town. I went to La Biscuiterie Jacques Delaunay for my biscuit fix, and they sell their biscuits pre-packaged in cute tin boxes with an Auntie’s cheek squeeze guarantee.

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3. Visit Étretat’s #1 supplier of all things goat, La Valeine Goat Cheese Farm. The mom-and-pop farm tour lasts about an hour and if you want excellent, fresh goat cheese, I wholeheartedly recommend the visit. And don’t forget to pick up a chocolate or pint of ice cream made out of goat’s milk. Sharp and delicious. 

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Play away your troubles at the casino. It seems so odd that with the four main streets that Étretat has (you can literally walk anywhere you need to be in 2 minutes or less), they dedicate half of one of these main streets to a casino. A casino. Hardly fitting for a village on the beach, you may think. But you’ll never be more grateful for the flashy and warm insides of the casino if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in Étretat on a rainy day. There is absolutely nothing to do in this village when it rains. I know, because I asked every waiter at each of the 5 restaurants I took refuge in that day. If your sunny-day picnic and hiking plans are ruined because of shit weather, plop down on one of the plushy couches in the casino. They have free wi-fi, and you can watch 80-year-olds either stare mindlessly at slot machines or dance away their troubles through soft, muted dancing, the way old, old, old people do. 

One thing that you probably can’t do in Étretat: swim. I brought my bikini with a hoping heart and found out when I got there that apparently no one bathes in Normandy. HA! Stupid tourist, go to the south if you want to splash water at your tan man while having “fun in the sun.” Here, the water is cold, the “sand” is actually fist-sized rocks, and the view? Well. Can’t say anything about that.

Taste Craft Cocktails This Week for a (Slightly) Reduced Price

Calling all cocktail connoisseurs and rookies alike: it’s Paris’ first-ever Paris Cocktail Week, meaning you can try CRAFT COCKTAILS for about one or two euros LESS than normal prices!!!!!!!

Yes, you read that right. One or two, or maybe even three, euros off what are usually €12-16 drinks. I’m not complaining; the celebration of the recent exploding cocktail fad in Paris is a glorious thing and I’ll take discounts any day.

I just want you, dear reader, to be informed: if you’ve been dying to try out a trendy craft bar in Paris for a while, check out the list of participating bars here to see if you can save a few euros on a beautifully-garnished craft cocktail.

Mind you, not all cocktails available on regular menus will be discounted. Each bar has created a unique reduced-priced drink specifically for this week.

 On the left: Le Mary Celeste’s zesty cocktail for Paris Cocktail Week. Right: One of Little Red Door’s manly cocktails.

On the left: Le Mary Celeste’s zesty cocktail for Paris Cocktail Week. Right: One of Little Red Door’s manly cocktails.

This first-time celebration is keeping up with the growing Parisian cocktail revolution. After interviewing a few bartenders, I found that just several years ago, there were maybe two or three bars dedicated to craft cocktails. Now, American-inspired cocktails can be found in almost any neighborhood brasserie.

The bars on the Paris Cocktail Week program are some of the most uniquetrendychichipster, andthematic hangout spots in Paris. The ambiances are movie-like. You won’t find your run-of-the-mill dive bars on this list of the best of the best of Parisian bars.

If anything, I recommend checking out these bars during this slightly-discounted festivity just for the ambiance. Cocktails are hip, cocktails are cool, so where there are cocktails, there are hip Parisians. You’ll meet some of Paris’s coolest minglers at Paris Cocktail Week, that’s for certain.

 Le Perchoir is one of the participating bars in Paris Cocktail Week.

Le Perchoir is one of the participating bars in Paris Cocktail Week.

10 Things You'll Miss About Paris

Even when I leave Paris for just a week, my heart sinks, knowing I’ll have to leave behind watching old men with plaid felt caps hoist themselves onto buses or the way my corner bakery lets me take baguettes home on credit when I’m short on change. I consider this city my home in the world now, and it’s hard to leave my life constantly filled with scheduled immigration meetings and spontaneous rendez-vous at the Christmas markets.

As I’m currently home in southern California for the holidays, here’s my list of the top 10 things I miss about Paris after each time I tearfully wave goodbye to the Eiffel Tower.

1. Eating bread every day. At every meal. For every snack.

I’m seriously suffering gluten withdrawals in southern California, the land of acai bowls and wheat shots. I miss having people not judge me as I walk down a Parisian street stuffing an entire baguette into my mouth. Why isn’t eating a loaf of bread in one meal normal outside of Europe?

2. Light in the City of Light.

And I’m not just talking about the electric ones that light up Paris so magically by night. I’m talking about the daylight, from watching the sun rise over the Haussmannian rooftops in the early morning to the beautiful sunsets that provide a pink backdrop for the Eiffel Tower. A girl in one of my classes once told me that her favorite thing about Paris was the way the light hits this city in particular, and take a look around to see what she’s talking about: you’re walking around on a perfectly-lit movie set, with soft light hitting the Seine to make it sparkle *~just so.~*

3. First-rate food at almost every restaurant in town.

There’s hardly ever a need to Yelp before choosing a restaurant in Paris. If you’re out on a romantic stroll with your sweetheart and decide to spontaneously sit down at the nearest café, you can rest assured that the food will be nothing but what you’re used to: excellent. Gastronomy is sacred to the French, and this is why you can sit down in pretty much any restaurant in town and expect an amazing meal.

4. Walking to get around.

There are three reasons I love walking in Paris: 1) It’s like walking through a 1920’s movie set, 2) I can get to most places I need to be in 30 minutes or less (maybe in combination with the metro for getting to the outer arrondissements, but Paris really is a walkable city), and 3) I hardly ever feel unsafe here.

5. Bouncing off of that, the metro.

One of the biggest things I loved about Paris the first time I visited was how every metro was beautifully decorated in its own style, whether it be with colored spotlights or mosaic walls. Besides the artwork, which is sometimes shrouded behind the mist of a homeless person’s piss, one of the best things about Paris is the tangible sense of a community. Even though the pearl-wearing grandmothers may eye you up and down when you step onto the metro, one of the biggest things I miss is being a part of that underground train car, watching my fellow Parisians interact or find ways to pass the time until their stop. This is something you don’t get in my hometown, where everyone drives in their own cars everywhere, isolating themselves from each other.

6. The manifestations.

You may blame my love for Parisian protests on my being a fairly new inhabitant of the city, but I think the Parisian fighting spirit is incredibly inspiring. The history of this city is ancient and charged, from the multitude of revolutions the French citizens ignited to today’s democracy that was truly built from the bottom up. When I see huge manifestations, or protests, I see this as a source of pride for the Parisians: a pride in the fact that peaceful demonstrations for political, economic, and social change usually works. This politically-active city is self-assured that when things don’t seem fair, the people’s voice usually prevails.

 

7. The style. 

I’m floored by some of the women who confidently walk past me on the street, dressed head to toe in the perfect chic combination of clothes, while looking like they pieced everything together effortlessly at the last minute (***this is the most important part for those of you looking for Paris Chic style inspiration: be effortless***). And the men all look like they just stepped out of a Land’s End catalog during the winter. I have a feeling that part of the education in the French system is learning how to wrap your scarf perfectly over your cardigan or what colors and trends will always be in style (black, Converse). Plus, these people are always dressed classy: I think I’ve only spotted high-waisted shorts once while walking around Paris.

8. Graffiti and the artistic spirit.

Even if you’ve been living in Paris for years, the streets will never look the same: the face of Paris is continually changing because of its abundant street art. Graffiti and urban art adorn ancient apartment buildings, sometimes as political and social commentaries, and sometimes for purely artistic means. I take pride in a city where someone cared enough to create a beautiful mural of flowers over a historic city building, adding to the story of the structure. And the artsy spirit extends beyond the external graffiti—I love when I stumble upon an underground art gallery showing and how a large chunk of advertisements in Paris are for the many new and constantly shifting exhibits around Paris.

9. Apéros.

Because where else can you enjoy two bottles of wine, a loaf of bread, fresh fruits and vegetables (grown without hormones or additives), and cheese in a country that offers over 350 types, and sit for hours chatting away with friends as you become tipsier and tipsier and this is all publicly acceptable???

10. French children.

Because when they speak so effortlessly, we are reminded of our inability and constant struggle to speak this beautiful and complex language. Seeing French kids scooter and skateboard around the city in packs is also a part of the French charm: even though Paris is one of the largest international hubs of tourism in the world, the French still maintain their cultural values in this urban cityscape. The small-town mindset in a major city is what allows youth to roam freely, yet another reason why Paris is a city unlike any other.

AnonymouS Bar: Cocktail Heaven for "V for Vendetta" Fans

Prague: a stunning, untouched city of ancient pastel-colored buildings, cobblestones, and beautiful bridges. So stunning, in fact, that Hitler apparently spared this city from war bombings to someday become the arts capital of Nazi Europe. This Czech city is more than its stupefying architecture, however; as soon as you get a first glimpse of the graffitied walls of downtown, you can feel artistic rebellion in the air.

  Image Credit:   Alexandra Korba

Image Credit: Alexandra Korba

Prague has a thriving underground culture, and I was lucky enough to have my indie/artsy friends show me the coolest spots of the city. Besides the well-known Lennon wall (as pictured above), the awesome metronome that hovers over Prague’s hilltop skatepark, and huge politically-inspired murals that cover the city walls, my friends showed me one final hidden gem that I couldn’t believe existed: a bar themed entirely off my favorite film, “V for Vendetta.”

If you haven’t watched the film, I highly recommend you to stop reading right now and find a way to watch it–I don’t care if you have to stream it illegally. For those of you who have watched this movie, you know that streaming the film illegally online is the *only* right way to pay homage to its message.

The bar is AnonymouS. Yes, with a capital S. And yes, all of the drinks really are based off of major themes from the movie.

As soon as you enter, you’re handed the quirky AnonymouS menus, which are DVD cases with unlabeled disks sitting mysteriously on the inside. The first two pages of the menu are completely blank. However, if you read the cover of the English menu, you’ll find that in order to unlock a secret menu of drinks named after obscure operations, you’ll have to utter a “secret password” to the bartenders.

These highly-skilled guys, who sport Guy Fawkes masks while they make drinks, ensure that you’ll get your history lesson on the operations while you drink. Despite the maybe intimidating aura of the bar, however, the barmen here are silly guys who really love to show off how quickly they can whip up a complicated drink while wearing a plastic mask.

Drinks are pricy for Prague, which makes these intricately-made drinks still a steal if you calculate how much you’re spending in American dollars. For a fancy-schmancy cocktail that would cost around $20 at any upscale American cocktail bar, you’ll end up paying around $9-10 at AnonymouS and other higher-end bars in Prague. And their presentation is impeccable: drinks are served in little wooden dog houses to giant syringes.

 A rose petal garnish recalls symbolism from “V for Vendetta,” when protagonist “V” would leave a rose on each person he killed.

A rose petal garnish recalls symbolism from “V for Vendetta,” when protagonist “V” would leave a rose on each person he killed.

 The walls at AnonymouS Bar are covered in quotes from “V for Vendetta.”

The walls at AnonymouS Bar are covered in quotes from “V for Vendetta.”

Also, it’s very politically-fitting that AnonymouS Bar, which is based off a movie that promotes the questioning of authority, is located in a country that recently emerged from communist rule. There’s no better place for a bar like AnonymouS than Prague, not only because of the underground and artsy atmosphere, but also the appropriate history of politics.

If you’re interested in visiting this bar during your visit to Prague, it’s not easily accessible. If you don’t look sharply enough, you could easily miss AnonymouS while walking down the street–it’s tucked away slightly off the main road, recognizable only by a large Guy Fawkes mask. Check out the bar and “V for Vendetta” fans, I’m warning you: you are gonna fangirl so hard. If you want to visit other underground bars in Prague, my savvy film-studying friends also recommended Hemingway Bar, which is similar in the amazing amount of detail that goes into the experience of a night spent at a cocktail bar.