Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Paris Cheese Guide

La Mom likes getting fan mail and loves when readers share a little about their lives. Here’s an email from Nicole, an expat girl after my own heart:

Dear La Mom,

I recently came across your blog and am totally hooked. I hope you're enjoying being back at work, but I wish you had time to post more often! Your blog is addictive!It's a mix of Sex And The City and Gossip Girl!

Like you, I'm an américaine who's been in France for a couple years (I came for grad school). Tis the season of Valentine's Day and I'm curious as to how you met Big Cheese - as a La Single Girl who'd eventually like to be a La Mom in France, I was wondering if you could recommend any good fromageries ;-)


Dear Nicole,

With Valetines’s Day fast approaching, here's La Mom’s guide to Paris fromageries (cheese stores) where you can find hard, soft, or stinky eligible men, oops, I mean cheese.


1 . Spend your mornings at Starbucks.
Specifically the ones on Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré in the 8th or the Avenue Victor Hugo in the 16th. Bring lots of newspapers and magazines and plant yourself at a table with a café latte from 8 – 10AM. You’ll see lots of young, firm cheese coming for an espresso before work . At the one in the 8th, you may even run into some CNN cheese as the network’s Paris office is in the same building.

2. Hit Maxim’s on a Saturday night.
If you are lucky enough to get into their once-a-month invitation-only party, you’ll find lots of rich cheese from all over the world: French, American, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, German, and South American. The cheese here is just waiting to buy a jolie américaine a glass of champagne and teach her all about their local cheese making process.

3. Make friends with someone hooked into the Paris art gallery scene.
It’s all about who and what you know. First, you need to know someone to get you into the exclusive gallery events where lots of refined, aged cheeses are making the rounds of openings, vernissages, and auctions looking to add to their personal collections. Second, you need to know a little something too. So do your homework. Learn just enough about the gallery's event to say something intelligent in case you cross paths with a creamy, dreamy cheese who wants to talk shop.

4. Travel Eurostar 1st class from Paris to London or vice versa.
An abundance of buttery, sweet, mild, sharp, and salty cheese are travelling back and forth on the train for business everyday. Don’t listen to music or watch a video on your iPad. Do read the French and English press to show the cheeses that you speak both languages and are open to conversation about current events. Make sure to take a coffee break in the snack car. Hint: Friday evenings are packed with expat French bankers returning to Paris from The City for a weekend visit.


1. Hang out at the Frog Pubs or any other expat-frequented Irish, Canadian, or English pubs.
No doubt about it, while you’ll meet a ton of firm cheese here, they’ll likely crumble after just a few months. These cheeses are passing through Paris for one to two year expat assignments then will be going back home to climb the corporate ladder. If you’re looking for a stable cheese to become a La Mom in Paris with, look elsewhere.

2. Jog at the Parc Monceau
My biggest mistake upon arrival in Paris? Taking The Lonely Planet’s guide to Paris word for word. The circa 1997 edition said the best place to meet single, eligible cheese was while jogging at the Parc Monceau on Sunday. What The Lonely Planet forgot to mention was that the best time to run into these cheeses was either early in the morning or in the evening. Don’t be an idiot like me and show up smack-dab at 4PM for an hour long jog around the park. All you’re going to run into are La Moms, Le Dads, Les Kids, Les Strollers, and Les Grandparents. Single cheeses are nowhere to be found.

Another downside to jogging at the Parc Monceau on Sunday afternoons? You’ll be stared at like you’re crazier than the stinky, moldy cheese who runs around the park with his headphones on while screaming the lyrics to the music he’s listening to. The Frenchies will gawk at you like you’re from another planet. At least that’s how I took it when I was La Single Girl jogging around the park. Now that I’m La Mom, I stare at the joggers too, but with nostalgic envy about the time pre-French Fries when my Sunday afternoons were spent elsewhere instead of at the Parc Monceau sandbox (I hate sandboxes).

3. Fish in the company lake.
As a rule, I’m not for cheese fishing in the company lake because company fish have a tendancy to stink after awhile. Although it can payoff sometimes. I know quite a few women who started out as secretaries at laws firms or banks and ended up marrying their Big Cheese bosses. Ten years later they’re living in a maison particulier in Neuilly, cruising around Paris in a Range Rover, have two live-in nannies, a country house in Brittany, a summer home on the Cote d’Azur, and a cheese who’s always at the office. Are these women really happy? That’s the million euro question.

4. Spend your Saturday nights in the Marais.
Cheese-a-plenty here. The problem is that the Marais cheese is rather soft and will never ever melt in your mouth!

Bonne chance finding your French cheese, Nicole. I hope my guide to Paris fromageries helps with your search. Let me know how it goes!

Kisses on both cheeks,

La Mom

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