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Creative Chaos: 59 Rivoli


Creative Chaos

If I were to paint the city of Paris, I would probably use various shades of grey and brown. I would dilute any primary or secondary colors with water so they’d be a little duller. Hence, my palette would include stormy grey, sickly green, frozen blue and dusty red. When I finished my work of art, I’d rub some dirt all over it for a final touch of realism. I might leave it out in the rain, too, just long enough to give the canvas that never-quite-dry smell.

But if I were to paint 59 Rivoli, a six-story artists’ squat in the first arrondissement, I would throw electric blue, ruby red, radioactive green and sun yellow at my canvas and cover it all in glitter. Or mismatched buttons. Or peacock feathers. Most likely all of those things at once, actually.


59 Rivoli is a living art gallery. Each level is filled with studios where the artists create and sell their pieces as visitors meander through the building. Some rooms are bare, save for a few large works of art. Others are piled to the ceiling with odd objects like severed manequins, overturned bicycles, opened umbrellas and stuffed monkeys.

feet Paint face

The winding staircase that leads to the artists’ studios is painted in murals that seem to have been lifted straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. A cardboard sign hangs from the skylight into the middle of the staircase, reading, “Come to the sixth floor! There’s CANDY!”

Brushes 2 Brushes Batman

The artists who occupy 59 Rivoli are more than happy to talk to visitors who come walking wide-eyed into their creative chaos. They can be found in every room, some of them working, others chatting with customers, the rest sipping beers on tattered sofas.


If you’re searching for something colorful and eccentric in Paris, this is the place to go. When I went to visit the squat last week, I was thrilled to find that despite this city’s dingy exterior, there are enclaves of creativity and imagination. The sun shines and the spirit soars at 59 Rivoli, never mind the Parisian gloom.

Want to visit 59 Rivoli? 

Cost: FREE =D

Metro: Châtelet

When to go: Tuesday through Sunday, 1 to 8 p.m.

Happy arting! And Joyeux Noël to all those who are celebrating!





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Dans la forêt

Salut mes belles! I’m sorry things have been so quiet around the blog lately– I’m crazy busy! Like, über crazy, umlaut and all. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few minutes here and there to tell you about all of my adventuring!

Last weekend, one of my friends and I visited Fontainebleau, a town that is about 45 minutes outside of Paris. Fontainebleau is famous for two things: its castle and its forest. I am obviously more concerned with the latter.

Up until last weekend, I hadn’t left the city of Paris for about two months. That’s two months without seeing the horizon, without hearing the silence of nature, without touching the earth and getting dirt on my hands. Being an Arizona girl, living like this nearly drove me crazy. Last weekend, I decided I’d had enough. Luckily, the trip to Fontainebleau costs no more than eight euros, and it takes only 45 minutes, so I was able to make my escape without a hitch.

I couldn’t recommend a better day trip. La forêt de Fontainebleau is breathtaking, some sort of Jurassic Park-Chronicles of Narnia hybrid. It is full of ferns, pines, boulders and mushrooms. It is a prime rock climbing location, and it is perfect for hikers. The air is clean and moist. The trees whisper in the wind. The sticks and leaves crack beneath every prancing footstep.

And yes, that is what I did. I pranced all over this forest. It felt so liberating to get back to nature, to climb on rocks and throw pine cones through the trees. I may have transformed into a forest nymph.

Taking the time to get out of the city and reunite myself with nature has definitely rejuvenated my spirit. For the first time in weeks, I feel energetic and creative, and I’m definitely smiling more. I never realized how crucial my relationship with nature is, but now that I do I’ll be sure to pay more attention to it. I can’t let this concrete jungle devour me.

If you’d like to make your own trip to la forêt de Fontainebleau, here are some useful sites to help you plan your trip. The village of Fontainebleau is very charming, and the château is definitely worth seeing. Take a picnic or pick up some goodies from one of Fontainebleau’s boulangeries to snack on while you stroll through the town and explore the forest.

Happy prancing!

Smiles and all the best,



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Mon Corps, Mon Choix: Slut Walk Paris 2012

Paris was dreary and grey yesterday, and pedestrians walked the streets with their heads hung low beneath umbrellas and hoodies, hurrying to escape the rain. But unlike the rest of the city, Paris’s sixth arrondissement was alive. Here, feminists gathered to protest sexism, rape and victim-blaming as part of the international movement, Slut Walk. Slut Walk started in Toronto in 2011 after a police officer claimed, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” His statement caused thousands to take to the streets, and Slut Walk quickly spread to cities across North America and Europe.

I joined the marchers of Slut Walk Paris 2012 on their trek across the city, which ended at Place du Panthéon. The men and women brandished signs painted with anti-rape-culture slogans like, “mon corps, mon choix,” my body, my choice, and “le viol est un programme politique,” rape is a political program. At the front of the march, a woman with a megaphone led the protesters in their chants. “Le sexisme est une maladie sociale,” they yelled in unison. Sexism is a social disease.

The march concluded at Place du Panthéon, where France’s national moto, liberté, égalité, fraterité, loomed overhead. In the background, the Eiffel Tower stood like a sentinel guarding this historic, traditional city, where classic gender roles maintain a significant, yet waning, presence.

Attending Slut Walk in Paris was an opportunity I could not miss, although I’m still not sure how I feel about the movement as a whole. I invite you to read critiques of Slut Walk here and here. I support the movement’s message– there is never a justification for rape and sexual violence– but I’m still not sure I support the means as the most powerful, effective way to combat rape-culture and victim-blaming. Even so, the energy and determination of these protesters was contagious, and I found myself breaking my journalist’s rules and chanting and marching along, side by side in solidarity with fellow feminists.

Le sexisme est une maladie sociale. 



Filed under Most Popular, Paris, Photos

Enter the Madness: Braderie de Lille 2012

I had the pleasure of visiting ma soeur française in Lille, a college town in Northern France, last weekend. This was the perfect time to be in the city because it was the weekend of la Braderie de LilleImagine a giant flea market that falls on Black Friday, and all weekend long! It seemed that all of France had flocked to Lille to partake in the city-wide shopping bonanza. Shoppers flooded the streets and sidewalks, shuffling inch by inch from store to store. Why all the frenzy? Every store and business in Lille cut their prices in half, or more. Pieces of furniture normally priced at 300 Euros sold for 100. Designer clothes normally priced at 150 Euros sold for 30. If you are the kind of person who marches straight through the front of the boutique and into the clearance section (me!) then this is the event for you!

I spent all of Saturday shopping and I managed to get some smokin’ deals:

2 Embroidered Scarves– 6 Euro

2 Jean Paul Throw Pillows– 50 Euro (originally 110 each)

Manoukian Skinny Jeans– 19 Euro (originally 79)

Another aspect of la Braderie is the the food. The menu? Mussels, fries and beer. So delicious! But quite perilous for the little sea creatures! Thousands upon thousands of empty shells sat in mounds along the streets; the piles stood several feet tall– pauvre moules!

By the end of the day, my feet were aching from wandering the city and my hands were throbbing from carrying my purchases. Even so, attending la Braderie proved to be a fantastic way to explore Lille and all it has to offer. It’s a lively place, and I can’t wait to visit again soon.

Merci beaucoup à tous, spécialement ma soeur française, for making this weekend so special!

À bientôt!


Filed under Travel

Photo of the Week: Sacré Coeur

Sacré Coeur, or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, towers over the city like a loving king gazing out over his kingdom. Tourists swarm around the basilica and the surrounding neighborhood, buzzing like bees from photo-op to photo-op. At night, it can be seen from the opposite side of the city, glowing like a torch, or a really big night light. 

My mother and I went to see Sacré Coeur at the beginning of the week. I’d already visited the basilica when I toured Paris a few years ago, but what I hadn’t explored was the fabric and crafting district to the south. The 18th arrondissement is a creative haven, boasting row after row of materials in all sorts of colors and textures. Now when I want to get crafty, I know where to go.

Don a sun hat and a camera and be a tourist this week. You might see somethin’ unexpected.

Smiles and all the best,


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