I was really itchy about New York for quite some time. Since I was maybe 25—I’m 31 now—New York hadn’t felt the same since my teenage years and early twenties. The city, as it does, kept holding on to me, but when I had my kids, Ciel and Sora, it became financially intense to raise them. My husband, Kyle, and I started to list any city that felt reasonable. Everyone thought it was going to be Los Angeles, but I was already driving a lot for my flower business Oat Cinnamon, and driving really brings out the worst in me. My husband and I were really familiar with Paris—I speak French fluently and my son was already going to French daycare—so we applied for a visa and got it three weeks later.
Culturally, I feel at home. Parisians don’t have a reputation for being super friendly, but neither do New Yorkers. Sure, we’re still getting used to the hang of things, like transportation or everything being closed during the summer, but the hardest adjustment has been operating my business. The majority of my clients—maybe 90 percent—are still New York-based. I work with flowers, so it's all very localized, and I end up working New York hours.
For a big city, Paris is quite small, and so within each neighborhood, there’s an even smaller village-y feel. We’re going to live in Montmartre in a couple of months, but for now, we're in the 18th arrondissement, which feels like quintessential Paris.
There’s a bistro culture here. It's almost similar to what diner culture used to be: There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the food and they’re all the same-ish, but they’re these social meeting places where you spend so much time. Obviously, there are some hot spots, but for the most part, I think some of your best days can be doing the most nondescript things and going to random places that you'll never remember the name of.
It's pretty touristy, but there’s a super American brunch spot called Holybelly that my husband and I used to go to when we vacationed here. It’s a buffet with pancakes and bacon, but in a very chic, Instagrammable way, so we go there when we want a slice of home.
It’s been a little difficult to find a good matcha spot, but I found a shop called Buddy Buddy that’s very trendy. They have a lot of specialized nut buns, and it’s an area where there’s a lot of people-watching, which is always fun. On that same block, there’s a store called Centre Commercial. It’s a well-curated lifestyle store with women’s and men’s clothes, beauty products, ceramics and magazines, just a lot of things that feel homey. It’s really, really cute. I discovered mid/night 00.01 shampoo there, which smells kind of fruity and great.
Our whole family loves books, so a trip to Gibert Joseph makes us all happy. We particularly like the big one at 5-7 Rue Pierre Sarrazin. With two kids, my husband and I take turns going to the kids section and browsing for ourselves. You can definitely spend hours there.
I’ve been trying to go to the Ambassade Biologique Recherche once a month. It’s truly a luxury experience at a fraction of what I thought I would pay for a facial. While they don’t do extra treatments, like extractions or microcurrent or dermaplaning, they offer an optional 30-minute, in-depth skin consultation for free. They scan your skin and talk about everything from your skin’s hydration to thickness, to customize your treatment.
On the other side of the Seine, I’m completely obsessed with Jah Jah By Le Tricycle. It’s plant-based and Afro-Caribbean, and the food is so tasty that even as a non-vegetarian I could easily eat there every day.
Bouillon Pigalle is the type of place to go to when a friend is visiting from out of town. They have classic French food, and we will get carafes of wine for maybe 10 euro? It's a hotspot for sure, but it’s also really spacious so you can get a table pretty quickly.
La Chope Des Artistes is one of my best friend’s favorite Friday night spots, and it has become a favorite of mine, as well. It feels very local. You grab a table early in the evening, and your friends all slowly meet you as they get off of work. If you stay out after their kitchen closes, my bonus spot is the kebab shop Sürpriz. It is so good, and of course, food always tastes better at midnight.
If you’re looking for vintage, then you need to visit Nuovo. It's quite popular now, but there are always some great finds and a great curation of pieces.
I don’t love running, but I still do it because I know the benefits. If I’m doing that, then I’ll jog around the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It's not comparable size-wise to Central Park, but it feels like a bit of a hidden gem; it’s absolutely gorgeous. But boxing’s my go-to workout. I started doing it in 2016, and I was pretty consistent with it until the pandemic. I found a gym I really like—I’m keeping the name to myself for now—and I’ve been taking classes there. I have really sensitive skin, so before I leave the house I always make sure I don't have any products on since it’s a very sweaty class. La Roche-Posay has a great Physiological Cleansing Milk that I like for a nice, light face cleanse after sweating. If I want a deeper clean, I might grab Dr. Jart+’s Cicapair Foaming Face Wash Cleanser. I also have a little dry brush—mine is from OSEA—routine after boxing because my skin, especially around my arms, is prone to body acne. I also exfoliate really intensely with an Ameliorate Exfoliating Body Mitt, otherwise I turn into a skin picker. I love Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Body Scrub, followed by the NUXE Huile Prodigieuse Riche, although recently I’ve been liking OSEA’s Undaria Algae Body Oil. My skin is always so dry so I run through a lot of body oil—it’s insane.
I travel a lot between New York and France at the moment, so right now, the name of the game is moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. I put on Hyaluronic Sea Serum from OSEA and follow it up with the Agency Weightless Whipped Moisturizer; I usually use Biologique Recherche’s Crème Masque Vernix during the day, but I ran out. Then I always wear sunscreen. I took a 23andMe genetic test, and it told me I have a predisposition to skin cancer, so I’m super intense about SPF. I’ve been grabbing Supergoop!’s Daily Dose Vitamin C Serum with SPF 40 recently. Oh, and another thing I’m religious about? The Augustinus Bader Eyebrow and Lash Enhancing Serum and Treatment. It’s maybe the most effective beauty product I've ever used. My lashes are so much longer since I started using it.
—Ryan Norville as told to Daise Bedolla
Photos via the author