Friday, February 20, 2009

{ my place or yours...nichole robertson in paris, france }

Coffee Love - Printable Notecards, Stationery and Tags
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Happy Friday and welcome back to another My Place or Yours feature. I've been looking forward to today's post for weeks because it takes us to one of my favorite cities in the world, Paris...yes Paris...for a visit with Nichole Robertson of the lovely and charming blog, little brown pen.

I became an instant fan of Nichole's incredible sense of style, spot-on finds, and eloquent observations via my daily visits to her blog. It was there that I also discovered the little brown pen shop--a wildly successful endeavor recently launched by Nichole and her husband, Evan, which features irresistible {and affordable} ready-to-print designs.  She's since become one of my best blogging friends {BBFF :)} and I was thrilled {and yes, a wee bit jealous} when Nichole announced that she was moving with her husband and two young sons to Paris for a six month rendezvous. Lucky for us, today, we get to tag along and experience this enchanting city with Nichole...


Please tell us where you live, and a little about yourself
Last November, my husband Evan and I found ourselves at a juncture in our lives where we could work from anywhere (Evan had just left a full-time position at Ernst and Young), had children who were not yet in school, and happened to be incredibly sick of living in the New York City suburbs.

Over too many glasses of wine one night, we asked ourselves this question: if we could live anywhere in the world for 3-6 months, where would it be? Answer: Paris.

So we pared down (actually about 75% of our possessions), packed up, and now live on Rue St. Paul in the heart of Paris.

I credit two things for making it possible. Our flexible jobs – I am a freelance writer, and my husband is a business development consultant. And our lifestyle. We both share the same values when it comes to living, and champion memories over material things. We don’t own a home, and we don’t own a lot of stuff, so we channel that money into other things. We’re certainly not living the high life, and there are definite trade-offs (I sometimes ache when I see a friend’s beautiful garden or gorgeously renovated kitchen), but most of the time, I am happy with our choices, and they’ve allowed us to live as fully as we have.

Three words that best describe Paris are...
beautiful, refined, appetizing


What is your favorite time of day?
Twilight. We take a walk after dinner, and at the moment, it coincides with sunset. We walk along the Seine, cross Pont Marie to the Ile St. Louis, and head toward Notre Dame. It’s about a five-minute walk, and as we approach Notre Dame, it’s often bathed in the most beautiful pink light. As the sun sets further, there’s this great moment where it’s not quite illuminated by the night lights, but it’s dark enough that it takes on the quality of a huge shadow in the sky. You have to be there at the right moment to catch it.

After our boys burn off some steam in the Park behind the church, we head home via Rue St. Antoine, which is alive with shoppers and cafe goers. I love the soft glow and buzz of conversation coming from the cafes. It puts me in the best mood.

Currently on my radar...

Éclairs. All shapes and sizes. Caramel and chocolate filled. I have one every day with my afternoon coffee. My current favorite shop is Miss Manon at the corner of Rue St. Paul and Rue St. Antoine.


My most cherished spot in my home is...
The dining room table. The bulk of our day revolves around eating the food we bring home from the shops we visit in the morning. For example: Fresh fruit for a mid-morning snack, cheese, bread and salad for lunch, éclairs in the afternoon, and rotisserie chicken and roasted potatoes from the boucherie for dinner.

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast, and my children love their new “morning coffee” routine. They each have their own small latte bowl, and we fill them with a teaspoon or so of coffee and warmed milk (just enough so it changes to a light caramel color). They squeal and clap as if it were liquid chocolate. Now that our 18 month old is starting to communicate better, sitting down to eat a meal is my favorite time of day. Now if the kids could just discuss the economy or Rimbaud, we’d be set.


Favorite discovery...

The people. We’re all familiar with the stereotypes, but I’ve found them to be completely untrue. Just about everyone is super friendly and many have helped us assimilate into Parisian culture.

Our main interaction is with the local shop owners and they take pleasure and pride in helping us select the perfect bread, vegetable or wine. It’s such a stark contrast to the big box-style approach to customer service we’re used to at home.

Where do you go to escape?
Notre Dame. Each time I’ve been to Paris, I’ve made a point to go to Notre Dame multiple times. It’s no different now. We live just a few blocks away, and walk past it at least once a day.

It's a humbling, absolutely logic-defying masterpiece. And architectural achievement aside, there’s something about the unbelievable cavernous space above you. As soon as you walk in, you look up.

When you stand in its shadows and grasp that it took 200 years to complete (sans modern tools), it’s an incredible testament to passion and faith.

On a personal level, it’s the most humbling and peaceful place I’ve ever been.


What are your favorite local shops?
Though I enjoy shopping at Monoprix for French grocery goodies, Naturalia carries the natural and organic food we’re used to eating. They sell oatmeal, whole grain breads and organic produce.
75 Rue St. Antoine


My former colleague and Friend Delphine let me in on this Parisian secret. Every baguette, every croissant, every single item in the shop is to die for. Light as a feather with a crackly brown crust that shatters into crumbs my sons lick from the table.
36 Rue de L’Atelier
Rue de Turenne


Chez Hannah
The. Best. Falafel. Ever. Crowds, faces dripping with tahini and smiles don’t lie.
Chez Hannah
Rue des Rosiers


Carre D’Artistes
Modern, local art for sale. Reasonably priced with framing! I plan to purchase a few before we leave.
Carre D’Artistes
66, Rue St André des Arts

Best-kept local secret...
La Rouge Gorge
Deb of
Bon Bon Oiseau insisted (thankfully) that I check out La Rouge Gorge--one of her favorite spots in Paris. It’s just down the street from us, and has a cheerful, old world Parisian feel. The owner always recommends the perfect glass of wine, and doesn’t mind that I speak in broken French.
La Rouge Gorge
8, rue Saint-Paul, Paris 4th

An ideal spot to linger over lunch...
Cafe Beaubourg
It’s right across from the Pompidou center, and it’s fun to sit and watch people meander by. They also have the best frommage blanc I’ve ever had.
Cafe Beaubourg
100 rue St-Martin, 4e


When visiting Paris, don't miss...

Chez Omar
We first went to Chez Omar a few years ago after my friend Catherine recommended it. It’s hard for me to eat cous cous anywhere else without comparing it to the delicious versions they serve here. The Vegetable cous cous comes in a huge bowl with just the right amount of flavorful broth. Heaven.
Chez Omar
47, rue de Bretagne


If you had the opportunity to live anywhere else in the world, where would we find you?
I tend to like extremes: urban life or remote, rural life. It’s the in between (cookie-cutter suburbs) that leave me most unsatisfied. Who knows, we may end up in the mountains next.

What is your motto?
Live simply, minimally and in the moment. Arguably cliché, but it’s truly how I live my life. Pleasure in the details is what it’s all about. Those details add up.

I am most homesick for...
Long hot showers. My cat. Whole Foods (so, so sad, but true).

Merci beaucoup Nichole!

Quick Links:
Enjoy daily updates of life in Paris via Nichole's blog
Take a moment to stop by the littlebrownpen shop


modernemotive said...

Great interview! Loved reading every minute! You gave some great advice there Nichole. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Great interview, I enjoyed it very much!

Vana said...

ahhh reading this makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy for them for pursuing such a dream with two young kids, and sad for not being able to do it myself...great interview!Love Nichole!

Krista said...

Can I just say that I love your blog? It's amazing! Everything a blog should be! :)

jae said...

Truly a great my place or yours....i'll take hers!

Cindy said...

wow, i loved reading more about, well, everything! looks like an amazing adventure.

Lori P said...

Wonderful interview! I'm green with envy and drooling over the eclairs!

Anonymous said...

That was fun to read! I'm glad that you find the people welcoming and nice. I'm always upset when the French stereotype is perpetuated because I've always had such wonderful experiences with them.

Di said...

Nice to read more about Nichole's move to Paris and her favourite places. Paris is one of my favourite cities too!!

knack said...

man.... how dreamy! I'm ready to go!

Anonymous said...

aahhhh a girl can dream but who knows... one day I hope. Thanks for a great interview, I really enjoyed it. Lisa x

Unknown said...

I love reading Nichole's blog and am so happy you are featuring her here. I love her zest for life and my love for Paris is only second to hers. The way she talks about it and writes about it...I feel like they are my words and thoughts. It's been well over ten years since I lived there and I was a student but with each visit I make back...I love it more and more. so much so that I was inspired to change my header today thanks to this post and to little brown pen!

Julia said...

What a great interview! I'm learning so much about Nichole, I'm so envious of this experience she's living right now, but I feel thrilled that she's letting us share it with her :)

Michelle {lovely little things} said...

What a fantastic post!

Makes me want to pick up, and follow in her brave footsteps.

What lovely memories they will have to look back upon.

Bonbon Oiseau said...

this is sushc a great interview--nichole is such a girl after my own heart...her answers are so honest and what a wonderful experience--i agree with her wholeheartedly about notre dame (i try to pass it once it a day myself when i'm there) and am so happy she likes le rouge gorge!!!!

Melissa de la Fuente said...

So fun! *sigh* Paris.....What a wonderful tour through this city that I love. Thanks for sharing ladies!

Mrs.French said...

I can't decide what I feel more...jealousy, because my heart aches for this...or happiness that such a wonderful family deserves this magical experience...xo t

Kasey said...

beautiful post. Said and true. To take memories over materialism.
well said.

Anonymous said...

Once again...another great feature! I loved learning more about the blogger behind one of my daily blog reads.

Lynne said...

I loved this interview - I have a free Eurostar ticket (due to a 5 hour delay last time...) and this so inspired me to go there again!

Stacy said...

This post just makes me wish I was in paris right this second.

dee said...

These photos are so gorgeous, I want to be in Paris right now!!

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