I first encountered Hanna after seeing her feature on Urban Bush Babes. A kindred spirit! I thought to myself. I subscribed to her blog, Deja Vu, which quickly became one of my favorite expat reads. I love reading about her life in Paris and seeing pictures of her gorgeous friends and family. And can we talk about the clothes? Honey, this lady is chic with a capital C! (AND she's available, locally and remotely, if you need a personal stylist.) Read below to get to know more about Hanna and and to see Paris through her eyes.
Paris, in one word:
Inspiration. I have never been in a city that has made me grow this much on a personal level. I feel like Paris is constantly reminding me of new ways of seeing life and not to be afraid of trying new things.
Your best friend's coming to visit. What's the most special thing you're going to plan for her/him to do/ideal day?
I would show her “my Paris” and do less of the very “touristic” things. We would have late breakfast at my place and then start the day with shopping at Chatelet and walk over to Le Marais for vintage shopping. I would take her to Chez Prune in Republique for lunch and then have a seat by the canal to rest a bit. After that would we walk to Ile Saint-Louis for some ice cream and sit by the river Seine and watch the boats going by. For dinner would I take her to Belleville, also known as Chinatown, for some delicious Bobun. We would later end the day at the bar/restaurant Barbershop for a drink or two before taking a short taxi ride back to my place.
What's the best way to get around Paris?
The best way to get around in Paris is by metro. Traffic is a bit crazy in this city so I don’t even like to ride a bike here. However, if you are more adventuress than me; bikes are a great way of seeing the city. You can rent a bike (Velib) all around the city and just park it whenever you feel like walking. Taking the bus is also a good option since you can get off closer to your destination,
When in Paris, where's the one place you have to eat, and what's one dish/food you have to try?
Oh, where shall I start? There are so many good restaurants I like and could not live without but since I love my mother’s food, I have to say Ethiopian/Eritrean food. I have tried many Ethiopian restaurants in Paris but one of my favourites is La Reine du Saba. If you visit this place (which you should) try the traditional plate so you can taste a little bit of everything.
You have amazing style, and Paris is known for its excellent shopping. So--you HAVE to give us some shopping tips! What are your favorite shopping places (market? vintage store? shopping street? cool local boutique?)
Oh, thank you! Well, I love Swedish brands like H&M, COS and & other stories so I often do my shopping at those stores but Les Halles in Chatelet is a great place to shop! This is a huge shopping mall in the center of Paris with great shops. You can find many small streets with cute boutiques around Chatelet so there is something for everybody in that area. Another good shopping mall is located in La Defense and it’s called 4 Temps. When it comes to vintage stores, the area Le Marais is filled with good vintages spots and one of my favourite is the Kilo Shop. Near the metro station Port de Clignancourt will you find the biggest market in Paris (open from Saturday-Monday) with thousands of stands so this place is definitely worth visiting!
What's one thing you can find in Paris that you can't find anywhere else?
The romantic atmosphere! This city has a natural charm and I don’t think there is one person who would leave this town without a romantic story to tell. And that could include a person or a place and after three years in Paris, I have my share of stories to tell! I just love how you can walk next to the river Seine while passing by one beautiful bridge after the other as the sunsets next to the Eiffle tower.
I'm bringing my kid(s). What's something we can do together/that they'll love?
If you don't do anything else while you're in Paris, do this:
Go visit the very lovely jazz bar in Le China! This place is also a restaurant and I often go here to enjoy live music with great artists and I actually meet Lenny Kravitz there ones. And ladies, he is even more handsome in person!
Best place to party?
I party less today then I did a few years ago but one place I always go back to and that I love is a bar/restaurant/club that is called Favela Chic.
Best place to chill?
There are many good places but one place I love to go to hang and chill out with my friends is Comptoir General. This is a great place that is definitely worth a visit and I can promise you that it will be a very unique experience.
Best place to people watch?
I love watching people in this city! It’s actually one of my favourite things to do since I love fashion. I would say that all the cafes in the area Le Marais because this area is known for attracting chic and fashionable people.
Best day trip from Paris?
There are many great things to see and cool areas to visit outside of Paris but one favourite thing to do is to take the train out to Chateau Versailles. Here will you be able to spend a whole day in this magical place with beautiful gardens, amazing buildings and a very relaxing atmosphere. Bring some food if you feel like having a royal picnic!
Best time of year to visit?
My favourite time of the year in Paris is during spring/summer when the weather allows you to be out as much as you like! I would recommend people to visit during spring/early summer so you guys can enjoy sitting on a café/restaurant outside, have picnic in one of many beautiful parks around town and dance under the stars at Wanderlust or Nuba.
Oh, it’s hard to say which area is the coolest but from a fashion point of, I must say Le Marias. This area is filled with good looking people, great restaurant and cool bars.
Hotel/B and B/etc. to stay in?
Whenever friends or family are coming to visit me, they always stay at my place so I honestly don’t know much about good hotels to stay in Paris.
I'm moving to Paris. What's the best piece of advice you can give me?
Be ready to do things different, very different! I thought I knew the meaning of the word rational meant but boy was I wrong. I often find myself saying: “but why is it like that? It does not make any sense."
Million dollar question: where do I get my hair done? Or where can I buy hair stuff?
The best shops and salons are in “black” areas like Chateau Rouge, Chateau D’Eau and Strasbourg Saint-Denis. For me, coming from Sweden (Gothenburg) where there is literally one good salon, Paris is like a paradise for bush babes like me! Oh, I almost forgot that a friend of mine recently told me about a shop with great products for black girls with natural hair called Bellebene.
Best annual event:
It’s really hard to pick one event since there is always something going on in this city! You have film festivals, Fete de la Music, Nuit Blanches, plenty of concerts during summer, fashion weeks, interesting exhibitions etc. There is really no end to interesting cultural events that takes place in Paris.
If someone asked me what I love most about Paris, I'd say...
My answer would be on a very personal level but I would say that what I love the most about Paris is the challenges I go through. The French culture and Paris is very different from where I come from, and I love how I constantly find myself in situations where I am forced to see things in different way. I learn so much about life and myself just by interacting with people from Paris and I love it.
What would a perfect day look like for you?
A perfect day would be waking up late on a Sunday at my boyfriend’s place and go down to the marked in Saint-Denis to by some fresh food, cook late brunch and eat too much. If the weather is good would we take the car and drive to Cergy-Pontoise, Base de Loisirs (outside of Paris) for an evening swim. Since I’m working in the heart of Paris do I prefer to spend my days off a bit outside of the city to relax and enjoy the nature.
Merci, Hanna, for taking us through the City of Lights! And for those of you who've been to Paris--do you have any places that you'd recommend?