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‘It’s at once a movement and a spirit’ — Lindsey Tramuta on The New Paris

Sometimes visiting a new city can feel like coming home. For Philadelphian Lindsey Tramuta, a visit to Paris soon saw her dreaming of packing her bags and moving abroad. Now author of The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement, Lindsey is a woman who knows this well-travelled destination inside-out. We asked this Francophile about her experiences living in Paris, and her tips for those visiting this beautiful part of the world. Here’s what she told us…

We love your new book, ‘The New Paris’… tell us, when did you first fall in love with this city and why did you decide to create this book?

The love affair first began in high school when I travelled to Paris and Normandy on a class trip. Though a quick trip, the first impression was strong enough to reassure me in my decision to continue pursuing French studies. At the time, I didn’t think a transatlantic move was a realistic ambition but I kept with it and returned to Paris two additional times during my undergraduate studies. That sealed the deal! It was also during this time that I met Cédric who I would later marry.

The idea for the book, however, came years later. I may have been writing my blog Lost in Cheeseland since 2009 but I never felt that I could spin that into anything else. In 2012, I began writing for international media – The New York Times, Afar Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, etc. – about food, culture, and lifestyle in Paris and the rest of France. When I took a step back and assessed what I was writing, the running theme was energetic change. And that’s when I realised (with the help of a friend who encouraged me from the very start) there was a broader story about Paris to be told.

How would you define ‘The New Paris’?
It’s at once a movement and a spirit. There’s an energy in Paris that was dormant for many years after I arrived ten years ago. You might also call it the rise in the city’s creative class or a focus on making the everyday experience better for Parisians across all areas of life – dining, drinking, shopping, exploring.

What do you love most about this city?
Its diversity: in ethnicities, in cultures, in styles, in spirits. And most of all, their respect and appreciation for lasting moments around food!

Is there anything you don’t love about Paris?
It’s easy for inconsequential things to take on dramatic proportions here (e.g. slow service in a bakery; packed metro cars go from annoying to cause for exasperation and arguments with other passengers, etc.) and, for the most part, the myth about Parisian pessimism is true – and you know it because they don’t hide their discontent nor their complaints! It’s easy as an expat to adopt a negative spin on things or situations, so it takes a concerted effort to resist.

Where are you from originally, and what inspired you to make the move?
I’m originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated with a degree in French literature from Temple University. I discovered a facility for language in middle school and knew early on that the French language would need to be a part of my life. Making the country home, however, wasn’t as clear a path. But it was a combination of spending time abroad as a student and meeting my husband that make the move feasible.

If someone is visiting Paris for the first time and has only a weekend to spare, what would your top advice be?
Don’t try to do it all and don’t force yourself to spend hours in a museum if you’re not truly passionate about art. I’ve heard from so many travellers that they spent an entire day in the Louvre because it’s iconic, because they were told there was so much to see, but in fact they would have preferred to spend more time outside exploring. Also, plan ahead for your meals to avoid any disappointments! There are restaurants and cafés on nearly every corner and it’s easy to stop anywhere when you’re tired and hungry. But you’ll have a much better experience if you book a few restaurants ahead.

Can you possibly name your favourite place to hang out in all of Paris?
The Palais Royal Gardens! It’s easy for me to get to and it’s a space of incredible calm, right in the heart of the city. I tend to go with a book and spend a few hours reading and watching people (and dogs!) stroll by.

For those travelling to this city via their armchairs, what are your favourite Paris-set books and films?
Two Days in Paris will always be one of my favourite films set in Paris (plus it’s in English!); it’s hysterical. I loved ‘Bonjour, Kale‘ which was an expat memoir by Kristen Beddard and ‘Les Parisiennes,’ which looks at the struggle for Parisian women during the occupation and how they banded together in resistance.

 

Book credit: The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement by Lindsey Tramuta (Abrams, out April 18, £18.99) Image credit: © 2017 Charissa Fay

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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