Verdict: Doing a ‘No Added Sugar’ Month in Paris in November

Photo of a glass of champagne with a slice of cake through it.

All throughout the month of November, I decided to do a ‘No Added Sugar’ month here in Paris. This means, no gâteau, no pâtisseries, no sugars in coffee, no artificial sugars, no fruit juices and so on. This also extends out to not eating foods high in sugars in the carbohydrates dietary information that is available in foods, which these days could be anything.

After watching a couple of YouTube videos, I really thought that I’d have a hard time doing this say within the four day and 15 day mark. I thought that I would lack energy, that I would be irritable, that I would constantly complain and so on. But take note, these videos were coming from people either used to consuming mass-produced types of foods all the time.

How my body dealt with it

However, it turns out that my body did quiet well. In fact, I had very little complaints or issues taking out refined sugars and artificial sugars from my diet.  I don’t have this problem in the first place anyway, having completely changed my diet in the past several months. In fact the diet changes I did (intermittent fasting, LCHF type, ketogenic recipes) were far more challenging to go through.

Sugar-free was good for the budget

I went to the gym about 3-4 times a week, which meant that I went through a very busy entertainment precinct in Paris. Doing this sugar-free month actually helped with dealing with the cravings of getting ‘something’ to eat on the way to and from the gym.

It also made purchasing decisions much easier since I defaulted to bananas, clementines, freshly squeezed orange juice (not the ready made stuff), 99-100% cacao (with 1g or 0g sugars for the whole block) and lots of tea to snack on.

There was very little effect with social events

In social events, I usually just have something to eat before going and then have a glass of water.  There was a tart involved which I declined in one of the events. There was also a lunch where I opted instead for coffee. Otherwise, there were little negative effects when it comes to social events and minuscule, compared to if you were vegan.

Expat How To: Take Yoga Classes in Paris

I just started a subscription at a yoga studio here in Paris since early last month. Ever since I moved here late July, I’ve been looking at what my fitness options there. There is actually a range of options – from aquacycling, to the free ‘fitness machines’ available on the streets, large parks where you can even meet with a group and exercise together, as well as a number of gym offerings and other sports centres. They are not usually in large ‘warehouse style’ buildings like you’d expect in North America or Australia, usually quiet smaller buildings just off the street or tucked away in a private driveway.

Whenever I looked for options, I usually considered the following (and is applicable beyond studios):

  • How close is it to me? Can I walk? Or take a bike? I want an option that does not take long for me to get to, especially during the colder winter months.
  • What are the subscription options? For one month? 6 months? It’s really unfortunate, but I have noticed that many gyms will offer low subscription options but they tack on high fees to join, to be able to leave flexibly, to use the lockers and so on.
  • What is the facility like? I’ve seen gyms that look quiet upbeat, and others that are more depressing such as actual doors that had been broken into and dark rooms.
  • What are the people like? If you are about to spend an hour or so in a centre, you might as well also gauge the community vibes.
  • What is the area like? Paris is a very built up city, with many different personalities. It is an extra plus if the area that you go to happens to have a lot of activities or things to do before our after your practice, or if it’s a central transport hub.

Late in September, I was browsing along and noticed an ad that a yoga studio near me is offering yoga in English classes. Not only that, but the classes were free. There was no option to sign up, so I had all the dates in my calendar and I ended up attending to quiet a few free yoga classes in English.

If you are new to the activity and don’t know the language – starting in English is recommended

This is the case in yoga, but can be applicable elsewhere. The reason why is that you are doing a new intensive physical activity. If you are new, then you are not only unaware of the posture names being used, but also what the possible alignment is.

Instructors should be there to make sure that you are not overly straining your arms, legs, back and so on. Doing so can lead to some injuries or at least some discomfort after the practice.

If English is not available, learn the poses first (such as on YouTube) and learn the French language names of the poses.

There are some key terms and phrases that you need to know to get a grasp. Hopefully after taking a few lessons in French, you get an idea of the instructor as well as the French language!

Photos: Enjoying museums, galleries and more in Paris, September to October

One of the first things that you do in Paris after moving here? Making sure to make the take to go to the museums, art galleries, walk around the gardens and get lost and explore the city.

Here are some photos mainly from September and October 2018.

Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature on rue des Archives was the most unique museum that I have been to and highly recommended!

Outside and inside the Archives nationales in Paris:

Inside the Picasso Museum and works by Picasso

An outside garden as part of the Rodin Museum, with sculptures inside

Amazing and iconic outside sculpture at the Rodin Museum

Commissioned sculpture outside a de ville (city hall):

Typical scene at Les Marais:

Two types of art near Les Marais, street art and commissioned sculpture:

Translates to: “Go ahead boss and let me have a dream”:

Boats moored near Cité/Bastille:

Some interesting reflections near Cité:

Just one of the stores selling various knick knacks near Bastille:

The most famous boulevard in the world opened itself up to accept pedestrians only on Sunday:

The public parks and gardens of Paris in summer

Paris may be busy in the summer period, but it is definitely a great place to be to capture the floral and greenery of the major parks here. From the large Jardin du Luxembourg right through to the smaller pockets of greenery, these parks offer a respite from the crowds.

A thing I like to do is to grab some fruit, a bottle of water, and a salad from Monoprix or from any of the groceries, sit in the park and eat lunch. It’s a cheaper way to refuel compared to going to sitting in a cafe (which is also nice!).

There was one such time near the Picasso Museum where I overheard a group of three women talking about perfume scents (I think their job involved coming up with ideas to talk about perfumes), not to mention watching the families and tourists alike mill around.

I highly recommend milling around Jardin de l’Ecole Botanique and so on and taking a look at the descriptions (if you can read the French).


Discovering the Père Lachaise Cemetery

Normally, it would be quiet unusual to add a cemetery in your itinerary, but in Paris it is not. Alongside the Catacombs, there is also the Père Lachaise Cemetery which holds a number graves for famous people (from Jim Morrison to Chopin) as well as memorials, the most affecting one being for the Holocaust victims.

Paris 2017 after four years!

It has been four years since I last visited Paris in 2013.  It was a cool April where I was still wearing a winter coat.  Back then, I was a lot more spontaneous and unplanned with my travels.  I booked one of those ‘secret hotel’ deals only to be pleasantly happy that I was staying just minutes walk to the Eiffel Tower.  I was there for Art Paris Art Fair and PAD Fair, and simply referred to a map for the big tourist destinations.  I remember wandering around Montmarte shops and cafes (though at the time, I didn’t realize it was the area), Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre.  I was only there for a very short amount of time, before going back to London.

This time, my stay was a lot longer.  I was staying in a lovely apartment in Montmartre furnished with art deco furniture and a number of paintings.  I could tell the occupant was into the arts with numerous books lined up the bookshelves and original works of art everywhere.  I actually had a daily itinerary this time around to help plan the trip.

Paris was a lovely, beautiful city filled with so much history, culture and the arts.  However, it was a reminder as to why I probably would rather be a visitor rather than as a resident. As much as it is a lovely city, I missed going back to Germany after my trip!

A few other (food-related) snaps from the trip…

France 2017 – Exploring Provins, a UNESCO world heritage medieval village in the Île-de-France region

Having been to UNESCO heritage villages before, I really wanted to see what Provins was like.

Getting there

I bought a return ticket from Gare d’Est station and waited almost an hour for the train to arrive.  The trip in itself will stop at a few villages before arriving at Provins.

Walking to the village centre

Outside the station, you’ll be on the edge of the village which is both retail and residential.  Cross a small brook and walk along its narrow streets and you’ll eventually make your way to the village centre.

There is an option to take a taxi or to catch a small tourist bus.  But I think that this ruins the experience of walking through the small town.

I didn’t have a chance to walk around the village that much.  But, there is an amazing French patisserie place that’s opposite the city hall.  They have this amazing chocolate dessert that had chocolate ‘pop rocks’, and inside some chewy caramel bits and just full-on chocolate.

Getting your bearings

Eventually, you’ll notice the towering cathedral and keep.  There is also a bell tower near the village centre which I used as a visual guide to get my bearings.

Making your way to the medieval church and keep

Eventually, you will see some signs alluding to this area.  Just follow them.  There is a steep uphill walk though.  When it’s time to walk down, it’s worth walking downhill from the road that runs around the church (not the road leading out from the keep).  In this way, you will see some wonderful sights above the village.

Medieval church and keep

The church is free to enter, but the keep has an entrance fee. After some exploring, there is a small business from one of the side streets between the keep and the church.  It’s catered to tourists, but has the best local Provins rose jam!