Friday, October 10, 2008

Give This Mama Some Shelter

Coming to Paris and need an inexpensive yet hip place to stay in these trying times? Well look no further than the 20th arrondissement where a fabulous hotel designed by Philippe Starck recently opened: the hotel Mama Shelter.

Yesterday, I delegated my parental responsibilities to third parties (namely school and the nanny) for a couple of hours and went to check out this new hotel where rooms start at only 79 euros/night. Tres cool is all I can say. It's very refreshing to see a trendy hotel off the beaten path in this city. If the 20th arrondissement was good enough for Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf to spend part of their lives there, then it's got to be OK, non?

Oh, and I just love the crazy name. Mama because it suggests a welcoming mother and Shelter because the hotel shelters you from the aggressions of Paris. Somehow the name works and rolls right off the tongue.

Even though there is no fancy spa, a yoga facility will be installed shortly and the rooms are very chic since they are designed and furnished by Philippe Starck.

In fact, I'm thinking of getting a few mommies together to spend a weekend away from our kids and husbands. We'll explore the Belleville and Menilmontant neighborhoods, go dancing at the well-known club La Fleche d'Or, relax at the Parc de Belleville, then pop on over to the Père Lachaise cemetery to scout out Jim Morrison's gravesite like every other American tourist in this city.

Give these Mamas some Shelter!

Hotel Mama Shelter, 109 Rue de Bagnolet, 75020 Paris, tel: +33 (0)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Daddy Profiling

Yesterday, I took Big Fry to a birthday party in the exclusive Parisian suburb of Neuilly. Let’s just say providing pony rides at your kid’s birthday party in this city means your parents have some serious euros to spare and some serious real estate too. I was told by the birthday boy’s mother that they “live in a little red brick house.” Yep, it’s red and made of bricks, but definitely not little! This city-house took up the whole block and had a “garden” large enough for 5 ponies, 12 kids, their moms and siblings . Anyway...

As Big Fry and I were walking back to the car, we walked by a boulangerie and out comes a very (American) looking man with a white poodle and holding a baguette and a little boy’s hand. I took not un, not deux, but three looks at the Monsieur and the words were out of my mouth before I had a chance to stop them, “Are you Adam the lifeguard from the Hidden Valley Club in Hometown, USA?”

It was. Of all the places in the world to run into somebody from your ancient past, do you expect to do it in Paris? It’s a petite world after all . Adam the lifeguard knew me when I was La Teenager. How wierd is that? Now he’s in town for 2 years with his wife Amy, son Andrew, dog Dag, and he looks like he’s trying very hard to become more French than the French with his poodle dog and baguette. Gotta give him an “A” for effort. And since I’ve been doing a little Mommy profiling lately, Adam gave me the idea to do some Daddy profiling too...

Papa du jour: The American Dad

Natural habitat: Paris´ 7th, 8th, 16th & 17th arrondissements, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Western suburbs

Hangouts: Any English speaking pub hoping to catch a baseball or football game on TV (preferably the Superbowl or World Series) transmitted via satellite from the US. Starbucks too.

Uniform : Winter: Levi's jeans, Nike running shoes, LL Bean polar fleece jacket, college alumni sweatshirt; Summer: khaki shorts, Crocs, Ray Bans, college alumni t-shirt

How to spot him: He’s the Dad who actually plays with his kids at the park instead of sitting on a bench watching the kids play. He usually brings a soccer ball, football, or baseball + bat to the park. He’s also the only business man walking down the street holding a cup of coffee and eating a muffin from Starbucks.

Raison d´Etre : To teach his kids how to play American sports just in case the expat contract ends unexpectedly and the family is shipped back to the US in a hurry. His kids will then seamlessly fit into PE class.

Profession: Diplomat, Lawyer, Consultant, IT or Insurance exec

Vacations: The US – gotta take the kids to see the Yankees play live – “I’m sick of this satellite stuff!”

First name: Brian, Jason, Kevin, or Brad

Reading Material : Sports Illustrated (purchased at WH Smith for 3 times the US cover price!), The International Herald Tribune, NY Times

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Le Cul de Plombier

What's this little French phrase you ask?

Here's a hint courtesy of Wikipedia:
Buttock cleavage is minor exposure of the buttocks and the gluteal cleft between them, often because of low-slung trousers

If you still don't know what I'm talking about, here's a more vulgar definition courtesy of the Urban Dictionary:

When a man bends over and his butt crack hangs out

Eh oui, the subject du jour is Plumber Butt.
What's this have to do with being a mom in Paris? Everything...

The good news is that I fit into my svelte size 27 Sevens again after having French Fry number deux. The bad news is that not only do I have a slight case of muffin top, but -even more worrisome - bending over to pick up Small Fry gives me a serious case of "cul de plombier". Technically, the French term is "la raie" (if you can call "plumber´s butt" a technical term), which means "part". As in parting you hair. You get the picture, I´m sure. And so did I at the Parc Monceau yesterday.

La Mom spotted a cool-looking blonde maman in a cashmere turtleneck, Prada riding boots, and low-slung Sevens leaning over to catch her young son at the bottom of the slide. I was comparing her pricey casual chic look to mine when I was visually assaulted by the Y of her black lace thong as her jeans shimmied their way down her derrière.

The outfit scored ten out of ten in my book until I saw the thong. Well, at least it was lace and not cotton. But seriously, once we become moms and we're not 18 anymore it's time to exchange the thongs for something a bit more practical if we're wearing low-rise jeans at the park. Keep the thong for the naughty-Paris side of you that only your husband (or lover) sees, keep it practical for the kiddies and moms.

What to wear then?
La Mom recommends boy's shorts. They're not granny panties because they still retain part of the thong floss concept, but your whole derrière is not flossed. The material lightly curves around your cheeks while keeping a high waist, which as we know, is très important especially on those cold winter days at the Park Monceau. Bending over at the slide and catching wind on your crack can be a killer. Boy's shorts solve this problem.

For up-market boy's shorts La Mom recommends La Perla. They are truly beautiful panties. For down-market ones - just hop on over to H & M and load up on them. They are sold 3 to a pack for 5 euros and come in black, white, and beige. Can't crack (oops, I mean - beat) that!

Lesson learned: Classy mommies do not show their cul de plombier. Even in Paris.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dinner Party ROI

Photo courtesy of Tod's.

In Paris, almost everybody (especially if you are married with kids) gets invited to or throws dinner parties in their apartments on Saturday evenings. It’s customary to bring the hostess a gift (in addition to an excellent bottle of Saint Emilion or Champagne). Usually flowers or candles do the trick.

Last night, we attended a dinner party of American & English playgroup parents. The parents all had classic expat professions: lawyers, IT execs, diplomats. Then there was the couple who I’ll just call the Fords. Mr. Ford works in fashion.

Everyone wants to be friends with the Fords. The moms really, really do. The Fords must have a packed social calendar – with invitations here, there, and everywhere. Especially since word on the street is that Madame Ford gives the best hostess gifts ever! She takes things one step beyond the traditional gift of flowers and showers her hostesses in leather.

As in designer leather.
As in designer leather bags from Tod’s.

OK, so they are the low-end bags, but who cares? Better than rien, right?

Apparently Mrs. Ford’s second cousin’s wife’s brother’s boyfriend’s roomate’s sister is one of the designers (and friends with Gwyneth Paltrow who’s the new spokesperson for Tod’s) and her husband is a VP of one their biggest resellers in Europe. Looks like they have more connections than I do and a very deep discount on bags to be able to offer them to all the moms who invite them over for dinner!

The Fords just moved here 8 months ago and they have quickly become THE couple to have at your dinner parties and their kids are the most sought after for playdates. Their nanny is the best-accessorized nanny at school. She’s got a Tod’s chocolate brown leather custom-made diaper bag in addition to her seven other bags that she matches to her Tod’s shoes. One for everyday of the week!

Every cute little fashionista (and hip mom) on the streets of Paris carries a Gerard Darel bag, but you always know who’s had the Fords over for dinner on a Saturday night because at the Park Monceau on Monday afternoon you’ll see a mommy friend with a brand new Tod’s bag hanging on her stroller. Now that’s what I call a Dinner Party Return-On-Investment, n’est –ce pas?!! registered & protected


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