Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a Francophile. I grew up dreaming of going to Paris, decided to study French in college, and I currently call this beautiful country my home.

But if you’re planning on taking a trip here, there are some things you should know.

1. France isn’t Paris.

This seems simple, but the amount of times I’ve had someone ask me “How’s Paris?” when I live nowhere near the city is… astounding? Sad?

For anyone still confused, here’s a map of France.

Map courtesy of Mapswire.

See that little star? That’s Paris.

Mainland France has 96 departments, so there’s definitely a lot more to see than Paris. The French often consider the countryside more “French” than the city anyway. So there’s that.

2. The French are very kind.

Contrary to popular belief, the French are not rude. They just don’t like tourists. It’s nothing personal, really.

If you are planning to take a trip to France, simply avoid looking like a tourist. This means no super bright colors, no crossbody Kavu bags, and yes…no Chacos.

Oh, and maybe learn a couple French words to at least prove you’re trying. Knowing simple words like bonjour/s’il vous plaît/merci can go a long way.

3. When it comes to restaurants/touristy stuff, you pay for the environment.

Unlike the Americans chugging their Venti Starbucks as they rush out the door, the French prefer to take things slow.

But it comes at a cost.

Getting a meal à emporter (to-go) is cheaper than staying sur place. For example, a coffee could be 1 euro, but it will be 2.50 if you stay to drink it.

I’d recommend indulging the extra euro and just staying to enjoy the atmosphere. There’s truly nothing better than people watching outside of a café as you sip your tiny expresso.

4. Public transportation is your best friend.

Typically when I envision public transportation, I think of Elaine Benes stuck on the disgusting NYC subway and having a mild panic attack.

But in France, the majority of people use public transportation. It’s actually clean (yes, even in Paris). It’s also pretty affordable if you’re a young adult. Anyone under 26 is considered a youth in France and receives discounts on pretty much any public service (museums and movies included).

So don’t be afraid to hop on the bus, metro or train!

5. Prepare for late nights.

The French love their soirées. They typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 p.m. and meals last two (or more) hours. They eat and talk and eat more and talk and eat and are still somehow super skinny…

In short, don’t plan on the next day’s itinerary being jammed pack if you’re eating dinner with a bunch of French people the night before. After dinner and drinks are all said and done, you’ll probably be getting home around 1 a.m.


French culture is fun and wildly rich, so try to enjoy it in as many nonconventional ways while you’re here! Bonne chance!

Got more travel questions? Leave a comment below. I’d love to start doing some travel blog posts, so tell me what you want to know!

Advertisements

What Fashion Month Looks like in the Age of Instagram

What Fashion Month Looks like in the Age of Instagram

You’ve seen it everywhere. Bella Hadid or Kaia Gerber snapping selfies in their runways looks. Vogue’s fancy 5 minute makeup tutorials with models like Winnie Harlow or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. And we can’t forget Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty performance that went viral.

It’s pretty obvious that Fashion Week is in flux. It’s changing and morphing to match the current social media-crazed culture. Just searching the hashtag #FashionWeek on Instagram brings up 20.6 million posts.

So, what does that mean for the industry as a whole? One recent development is the inclusion of many freelance writers and bloggers who are now getting the chance to attend these high profile events–an opportunity not many had before the Internet.

This year, I had the privilege of chatting with two journalists/media communication professionals who attended New York Fashion Week.

Amanda Randone

Amanda Randone is a journalist, New Yorker and fellow French speaker. She was also formerly the editorial manager at Barney’s New York and a regular contributor to Refinery29, Cosmopolitan.com and Coveteur.

Briefly tell me how you got started going to fashion weeks. What was your inspiration? How long have you been attending?

“Believe it or not, I started attending shows at New York Fashion Week seven years ago when I was in college! Which I thought was simply the coolest thing in the world (it was). I was representing the NYU school newspaper, the Washington Square News, where we managed to land invites to higher-profile shows like Badgley Mischka, Lela Rose, and Rebecca Minkoff. I even covered a party hosted by the legendary Patricia Fields (also an NYU alumna!).

This exposure to the fashion world was thrilling, and I loved channelling the creative energy I witnessed on the runway into my own writing. The whole experience helped me envision what a future in fashion journalism would look like, and I knew it was a path I wanted to pursue professionally.”

What were your favorite shows this year?

“I was utterly inspired by the Burnett New York Spring 2020 show this season. A very talented friend of mine is a cofounder of the label, which is still in its industry infancy. Having a personal connection to the talent behind the collection–especially when the brand is so authentically committed to empowering women—and watching their vision materialize in all its beaded, vibrant glory gave new meaning to the whole experience. Plus, the venue was the sun-drenched Elizabeth Street Garden, a dreamy garden oasis tucked away in Nolita. It was the perfect Sunday afternoon.”

What trends did you see the most of? What do you think will actually hit the streets this fall and winter?

“I was definitely seeing geometric sleeves (a good example is the strong circularity around the arms of a few Maria Cornejo looks that were unforgettable… examples here and here).

I also can’t get my mind off of two-toned pants and dresses à la Cynthia Rowley and Dima Ayad (Dima is actually a Dubai-based designer who’s showing in Paris, but here’s a sneak peek of her take on the trend). And there were a few billowing shirt/dresses styled over pants, see Brandon Maxwell and Rosie Assoulin for reference!”

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue fashion journalism?

“Write your heart out! And read trade journals like WWD to better understand the business behind the fashion. It’s an ever-evolving industry, and there are a lot of brands doing innovative things that’ll inspire you to think differently about how retailers hope to further engage with their customers (aka, your readers).

I also think it’s important to understand the major challenges facing media companies today. Get your feet wet with all things digital so you can dive into your first position well versed in SEO, e-commerce partnerships, and data analytics.”

Where can we find updates about you/your media company/your experiences as a journalist?

“I update the selected clips section of my website regularly, which is also where you’ll find the reporting I do outside of fashion (I cover women’s issues and write a lot about Islam, examples here and here!). My thoughts are occasionally on Twitter, and my looks/family/friends are often on Instagram.”

Hannah D’Avanzo

Hannah D’Avanzo is a journalist and founder of HD Access Media. She also happens to be someone I met (and became friends with) in college.

Briefly tell me how you got started going to fashion weeks. What was your inspiration? How long have you been attending?

“I was promised an interview with Jason [Derulo] during Fall Fashion Week of 2017, which was the start of my attendance for fashion weeks. Since then, I have attended Milan Fashion Week, Rome Fashion Week, New York Winter Fashion Week, and this past New York Fall Fashion. People have always inspired me. Everyone has a story to tell, and I became addicted to learning and hearing from others. Creators in particular inspire me because there is always a story behind their clothes and designs. I love a good story.”

What were your favorite shows this year?

“My favorite show this year was Cynthia Rowley.  Cynthia held her show outside which was a nice change from being indoors at shows all day. She had the most fun, summery outdoor theme. Some models even carried surf boards and wore bright colored clothing. I also liked that Cynthia featured one model that was much older and shorter than everyone else. This left me wondering, ‘What the story was behind the older model and who was she?’

I also enjoyed Bibhu Mohapatra’s show because he featured beautiful gowns that displayed his vibrant Indian culture. I’m also obsessed with sequins and details, and each of his gowns were beautifully embellished. I was so thrilled to get an interview with him!”

What trends did you see the most of? What do you think will actually hit the streets this fall and winter?

“Though all the shows were very different, I saw a lot of pieces featuring shades of mustard, orange and dark turquoise on clothing. I noticed lots of models on the runway wearing leather throughout the show. This did not only include black leather but all different muted colors on leather. I would not be surprised to see lots of leather trends in the near future.”

What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue fashion journalism?

“Stay up to date with trends. Dress the part you want to play ahead of time because the industry can be very superficial. I’d also say be friendly and get acquainted with publicists. Ultimately, they control everything and know everyone. I’ve had many publicists help me beyond measures. Just this fashion week I was able to watch a show backstage with the designer himself because of a publicist I talked to right when entering the show. I’ve also had many publicists tell me no and brush me off. Though this has happened on several occasions, I’d always recommend reaching out to publicists. This could potentially help further you in the industry.”

Where can we find updates about you/your media company/your experiences as a journalist?

“On my Instagram @hannahdavanzo or website www.hdaccessmedia.com.”


What have been your favorite Fashion Month looks so far? Leave a comment below! Also, follow this blog for more updates about upcoming fashion weeks.


P.S. If you’re looking for more information on London Fashion Week, I’d suggest starting with this article by Man Repeller.

For the styles at Milan Fashion Week, check out Refinery 29’s recap. Oh, and this video of J. Lo sporting the iconic dress that literally launched Google Images.

Ras de Terre.

Ras de Terre.

My leftover soup was cold (and in a paper bowl nonetheless). I was sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, flipping through January’s issue of Vogue. As I gazed out at the cold winter sky, my heart longed to be in Paris.

All it took was one giant sneeze to plunge me back into reality. Until I remembered the postcard Pascal sent me. I picked it up.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I smirked. He wrote of the rainy Parisian skyline. My smile dissolved as I recalled how much I missed the dreariness of the city in winter. My mind began to wander, and when I looked back at my own bleak horizon, it was as though a piece of Paris was peeking through.


The gentle breeze blew through my hair as I walked through the park. My eyes were fixed on the desert sand beneath my feet. It was nearly sunset, and I was astounded that it could get so cold so quickly. So much was on my mind. So much could be said. So little was.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I knew it would all be okay. I knew that the inexplicable, inexpressible array of emotions I felt in that moment would disappear just like the dust that covered the ground.


I stood on the shore, letting the water barely touch my toes. I desperately stared at where the ocean meets the horizon, searching for something, anything. I thought of my new life. I was happy and sad and scared and content. The phrase shot into my mind again.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre. Ça veut dire qu’on n’est pas très loin, l’un à l’autre.

After all that time, I remembered the postcard. “We aren’t so far away from each other after all.”

Watching the same sky. Feeling the same emotions. Thinking many of the same questions. Living and breathing and loving and hoping. The sky begins at ground level, and we aren’t so far away from each other after all.