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

Living France - - Contents - lostincheese­

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

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