Alex from yogaandtea.fr is our second guest on the rubric “On a visit to…” and for me was a great pleasure writing this post. Alex is a kind of person that quietly and delicate enter to our lives, always ready to help and to hear your problems. Her presence stays long after that. Wonderful friend, deep and very interesting person, she is present in my life for so many years. With some time of lost communication, I am glad that we found each other again to share our friendship and our common passion for yoga and life inspiration. Today, in the context of our om trips she will serve us a cup of tea and share different itineraries of Paris, which I’m sure would have escaped even the most avid tourists. You will receive tips and tricks for your stay in Paris and for those who do not know, you’ll learn some French words… Allons-y!
How do you imagine the ideal om trip?
I simply love your idea of the name of the blog ever since you launched Om Trips. Every time I see it was written I think about the same – where‘s the boundary between the physical journey to far away destinations you’ve dreamed about and the journey to your own self? Somebody somewhere said that the only journey one takes is the journey of one’s own personal growth. I know from my own experience that each journey changes us a little and I think this is because the encounters with new people and new ideas represent situations which help us to get to know ourselves from a new point of view and to look at ourselves from a new and different perspective. Isn’t yoga just about this? For me, Om Trips is the point of intersection between these two – the physical and the spiritual world, between us and the others.
Can we take an om trip to Paris or is it impossible?
You can take an om trip to anywhere! On the yoga mat in your bedroom, or to an overcrowded city like Paris 🙂 This depends entirely on you!
Three things which we absolutely have to take with us to Paris in our luggage?
- Eyes and heart hungry for new adventures! I’ll definitely advise you to leave all the clichés you’ve heard and seen about Paris and France (and they’re many). Paris is one of the cities people talk about a lot and expect a lot from… One thing’s for sure: your experience will be entirely new and different. You should leave the city to surprise you in its own way and keep your eyes open so you can get to know the real Paris!
- Enthusiasm – there’s so much to see!
- Comfortable shoes – the city’s enormous and the best way to feel it is to take long walks around.
How to look like the locals?
Even after the 11 years, I’ve spent here I’m still asking myself who exactly are the locals in Paris? 😉 This is a multicolored world. One thing’s for sure, the camera hanging from your neck, the tour guide in your hands and a big backpack won’t help you to look like locals… I’ve encountered people saying “Bonjour!” when they get in the subway (this is the kind of nice politeness you can still find in small French towns) but this is not typical for Paris. The Parisians walk quickly and impetuously. They don’t wait quietly and calmly in the middle of the escalator. The people of Paris know the subway plan by heart and they are Candy Crush champions. They’ve got the perfect mixed intellectual-chic-casual look and understand English more than they can speak it. If you’d like to get to know the “à la française” style better, here are some blogs of popular très très chic French bloggers:
The place you’d like to share with us.
One of my favorite places in Paris is the amazing Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens. If you like surprises, nature, and photography you definitely have to visit them. They’re going to be renovated and made even more beautiful (the project will be finished by the beginning of 2018). The first time I went there I was so impressed that I changed the theme of my thesis and decided to write about them 😉 They’re far from the typical tourist places but you’ll get to learn about these by the tourist guides anyway. If you come to this part of Paris you can also visit the Parc Saint-Cloud which is nearby and has a wonderful view of Paris!
We can’t visit Paris without stopping by some museums and galleries. Show us some of your favorites?
Of course! What is Paris without the art? I’ve worked in some museums and galleries and I have to admit I prefer the museums for my walks. My favorites are the Musée d’Orsay, Musée Guimet and Musée du Quai Branly. I like multicultural experiences and for me, Paris is exactly this. If you want to visit some typical and chic Paris galleries you may go to rue de Seine and just choose one 😉
What should we absolutely try while we’re in Paris?
The wine, of course! (Don’t misunderstand me – I’m really proud of Bulgarian wines…). Wine in France is an institution and you definitely should have an apéro with wine and salami or some French cheese. Each restaurant offers an option (usually, the portions are for 2-3 people) called planche.
I also really like the French pastries (patisserie). I’m still fascinated every time I pass by the full of beautiful pastries shop windows of the boulangerie. When I came to France I told myself that I have to try each kind at least once while I’m living here. I still find more and more different kinds!
Where would you take us to have some tea?
Yes, drinking tea is really important to me. I’m not sure how it happened exactly but with time I became a great tea fan and now I drink 4-5 cups of tea every day! It’s not typical for France but lately, it became fashionable because of the tendency for a healthy lifestyle. Now you can find a lot of nice places with comfortable sofas which offer a large variety of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Thanks to Starbucks who showed the French people the cozy style of living! Here are some places in the center of Paris I can recommend to you:
Mariages Frères is one of the oldest tea shops in Paris. It’s a mix of the colonial atmosphere and the French chic. There’s even a tea museum.
And my most recent discovery is a coffee shop with cats, a Japanese fashion which recently got to France. It’s super cute for all lovers of the purring mini tigers!
Where would you take us to a yoga practice?
There are already lоts of yoga studios in Paris. I’ve been practicing yoga for a few years now and I’ve definitely seen the change with my own eyes. When I started practicing during my university years yoga was still a strange activity, kind of sect-like, either for girls who are too lazy to practice a real sport or for elderly people. Now yoga’s practically fashionable! But prices here are still high in comparison with the USA, for example. If you want to go to a group lesson in Paris you have to set aside 15-25 Euro J The good news is that after you get a bit experienced you learn how to practice at home. For me, however, nothing can exchange the dynamics of practicing in a group and the meetings with the teachers. I often go to Qee (http://qee.fr/) which is a chain of studios. I intend to go soon to Tigre Yoga Club (http://tigre-yoga.com/), which is chicer and they invite some famous teachers there. You may have already gathered that I like to try new things! Call me if you’re in Paris, I’ll be happy to take you to a yoga lesson J
Where can we practice yoga outdoors?
In Paris, you don’t often see people practicing yoga outdoors. Why? Maybe because it’s rainy or cold during most of the year J There are some initiatives, though. For example, in 2015 I participated in a mega outdoor yoga session just below the Eiffel Tower! It was a part of the famous Löle White Tour – yoga sessions in various capital cities. Otherwise, weather permitting, you may take your yoga mat and have your yoga session in one of the many parks in or around Paris.
Do you practice yoga while you travel?
I have to admit that I practice yoga a lot less when I’m traveling. Maybe that’s because I like to concentrate on the travel, the people I meet, the current moment. Also usually it’s complicated, I don’t have a mat or the place is not quiet. Sometimes I do a few yoga asanas in the morning and in the evening before I go to bed so I can prevent back pain. I definitely want to take a yoga lesson in another country, in a different language. Having in mind that I discovered yoga in France, I’ve still never had a lesson in Bulgaria. It’s definitely on my priority list for my next trip home!
Which book do you think will be most suitable for our trip to Paris?
I’ve just bought Garance Doré’s first book. She’s really famous here as she’s a symbol of the French style although she lives in New York. She’s the First Lady of the French blogging sphere – an illustrator, yogini, traveler, inspirational person, a connoisseur of a beautiful life. I still haven’t read the book to its end but I think it gives a pretty good idea of the American dream with a taste of French.
Where should we go after Paris?
If you have the possibility you definitely have to visit other places in France! Here people say that there’s Paris, but then there’s France. You can’t sum up France just by visiting Paris and although many Parisians will tell you the opposite, I simply adore the variety of the different French regions, each with its own climate and culture. I like to travel to Honfleur and Etretat which are not far from Paris (up to 2 hours by car) and are on the coast of the Atlantic. To the South, there’s La Rochelle, another beautiful place, also my favorite Bordeaux – Bassin d’Arcachon. Southeastern France is magical with its lavender fields and the sunny towns around Avignon, Marseille, Nice.
Have a nice trip to France! Don’t forget to write about it!
Who is Alexandra Atanasova?
Alexandra Atanasova was born in Plovdiv, but her passion for travel, meeting new people and learning and speaking foreign languages takes her to France. More than ten years she spent in Paris and this year she moved to Bordeaux, where she will continue to write about her favorite topics – yoga and tea, in parallel with professional development in the cultural field. Her yoga adventures, aromatic tea rituals, and other inspirational stories can be found at www.yogaandtea.fr