THE NEW PARIS
Uncovering a new side of Paris is at the heart of Lindsey Tramuta’s blog, Lost in Cheeseland. She tells Catriona Burns why the French capital is the perfect place to live
Cover story American travel writer and Paris resident Lindsey Tramuta shares the secret side of her adopted home city
Lindsey Tramuta could be a born and bred Parisian. Sitting in an 11th arrondissement café, the Philadelphia native looks the epitome of effortless chic in a crisp white shirt and cropped navy chinos, tucking into a dessert that looks almost too good to eat.
But mastering the art of French style is not the only reason why Lindsey could pass for a Parisian. As the award-winning writer behind Lost in Cheeseland, a blog about food, life and travel in Paris, Lindsey knows more about where to go and what to do in the French capital than most.
“There’s so much happening here,” she enthuses. “You’ve got access to all these amazing things; from the best food, the most amazing art and designers and yet you can still go home and live a very homebody life,” she says.
A Paris resident for over 10 years, Lindsey got her first taste of the city as a student while on a six-month study programme. “It was an eye-opening experience,” she remembers before adding, “and it’s when I met my nowhusband”. Falling in love with a Frenchman in Paris is not a dream many would readily give up and so, when she got back to the United States to complete her studies, Lindsey focused on returning to France. She eventually came back to study at Boston University’s Paris campus before enrolling on a master’s degree in global communications with the American University of Paris. “I graduated from college and just never left,” says Lindsey who married her French husband while she was still studying.
Unsure of what to do once she had graduated, Lindsey started a blog, documenting what she did, ate and saw while living in the City of Light.
“I used the blog to figure out what stories I wanted to tell,” she says. “I started paying attention to what exhibits were happening and that curiosity led me to get out and explore in a way I hadn’t been. It was really about getting out there and feeling like I could find my own place within the city,” she says.
Not only did the blog cement her place within Paris, it helped her to find her feet professionally too, and she began writing full-time, with articles published in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal among others. “The blog was a good window for when I wanted to take ideas to more ambitious places,” she says.
Perhaps most ambitious of all was writing
a book, and this month sees the publication of her first called The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement. Just like her blog, the book puts the spotlight on the new trends and people that are making France’s capital a more whimsical and vibrant place than its traditional reputation might suggest. It shows a new side of Paris that Lindsey was focused on.
“I was getting a bit frustrated seeing the same narratives about Paris. I didn’t even want to include the Eiffel Tower in the book,” explains Lindsey. “There’s so much happening here that makes it so special. Whether it’s urban development, the food scene; it all plays into the fairy tale that people have, it’s just a different version of the fairy tale. People who come to Paris will want to see more than just that surface level. It’s a different layer; it’s a more local layer for sure.”
It’s quite possibly this small-town feel that has Lindsey so infatuated with the French capital, and she is clearly very happily settled in her own little pocket of Paris, in the 11th arrondissement of the city.
“I’ve lived in the 11th from day one,” she explains. “We found a place that was relatively affordable and we just haven’t left. I love the atmosphere and how much choice there is in terms of food and nightlife. It has its own village feel yet it’s an interesting starting point to easily access a lot of other destinations in the city. I have my favourite bakery, coffee shop, cheese guy… I have trouble imagining where else I would feel this comfortable,” she smiles. “Every neighbourhood has its own vibe; this one’s very particular, but it suits us quite well.”
As such a familiar face on the Paris social scene, Lindsey now has a good network of friends, many of whom she met through social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter, but she says it wasn’t always
“I sort of blossomed when I came to France; I became more sociable because I had to. Paris asks the person living here to push themselves to get out there”
that way. “It was difficult at the start, and it did take time,” she remembers. Striking up conversations with people in cafés and attending literary events in creative venues such as Shakespeare and Company gave her the chance to connect with like-minded people. “I sort of blossomed when I came to France,” she smiles. “I became more sociable when I came to Paris because I had to. Paris asks the person living here to push themselves to get out there.”
It would seem that since arriving in Paris, Lindsey has been at the forefront of the cultural scene. “Even within my own neighbourhood I’m quite aware of what’s going on,” she explains. And it’s clear that her work has transformed her into something of a social butterfly. “Doing enough stories introduced me to lots of chefs, pastry people, chocolate makers, crafters,” she says, before she explains how she hears about the city’s cultral happenings. “Some of it’s word of mouth, Instagram is very helpful too – a lot of these Parisians are active in documenting what they’re working on and it’s a good way to make sure I don’t miss anything. My network also expanded dramatically when I was researching the book. I spent months going around and interviewing various people – over 50. One of my friends is connected to the nightlife scene and he told me ‘talk to this person’, and so it was a chain reaction; I’ve been exposed to a lot of people that I wouldn’t initially have thought to reach out to.”
But while her work takes her to some of Paris’s most fashionable spots, Lindsey is just as happy being at home with her husband.
“On the weekend my husband and I will go out to eat, we go to the market and we buy cheese for the week,” she says. “We’ll have an apéro at a local wine bar and then come home to cook. We have two cats called Charlie and Leo who we like to spend time with – I’m totally head over heels for them.”
And while Lindsey finds Paris “perpetually inspiring”, she and her husband also enjoy escaping the city for long weekends. “Last weekend we were in Champagne,” Lindsey says. “The fact that we were away from all the activity here actually made it easier to take a step back and write what I needed to write. I’m starting to reach that point where I like having getaways and going to the south of France, or to Normandy is easy. I’m also really excited that as of July, Bordeaux will be only two hours away on the train.”
Admitting that Paris now feels like home more than anywhere else, Lindsey was delighted to obtain French citizenship over a year ago. “It was pretty drawn-out,” she says of the process, “and then one day an envelope showed up announcing that I was French.” “But it was very much worth it; I know I’m going to be spending my life here. I will be voting for the first time in the upcoming elections and I want to make sure that my voice is heard.”
Lindsey’s blog and book go to show that there is plenty more to Paris than its classic image and perhaps this refresh is part of the reason why the writer continues to be captivated by the charms of the city.
“I find it almost impossible to find a place that matches the quality of life that Paris offers,” she says. And while some are resistant to change, for Lindsey it can only be a good thing. “I’m pleased to see how much Paris has evolved,” she says. “The city has embraced international influence and is looking to the future. It would be hard to leave that now. Who knows where I would be had I not come to France.”
Clockwise from main image: The Boot Café in Paris’s 3rd arrondissement; a hidden Parisian courtyard; Lindsey loves finding the city’s best sweet treats; the blogger at home with her husband
Clockwise from top: Trying out different boulangeries is part of the job; Lindsey met many of her friends by going to cafés; the Left Bank bookshop Shakespeare and Company; the cover of Lindsey’s new book; Lindsey has discovered many Paris hot spots by going off the beaten track