Sunday, December 23, 2012

My French Life#2: clothing blues, hippest park, bar hopping

 Ma vie à la Française

Voila! New compelling & entertaining posts from our France-based African American, American and African-French contributors. Welcome to their world. This week: clothing dilemma,  the hippest, funnest (!) park in Paris, bar hopping.

You'll find each full bio at the end of this post.

Luna Vincent White  - Student

What To Wear

I quickly realized that my light load of clothing here would not be enough.   My backpack broke, and I don’t have a travel bag.  All of these things have lead me into many boutiques (primarily in the Marais).  I have to say; I have been either under or over whelmed.  In L.A., I have lived there for so long, and the sun is always shining; I know my favorite stores, and am always down to go to them.  Here I don’t know where to look, and there is so much!

But along with the fear of shopping in Paris (hah!) I have come to understand how important each choice is.  Everything semi-decent quality is pretty expensive (unless I am visiting a flea market) so I want classic items, which I will get a lot of wear out of (practical and long lasting).  Having said this, practicality is something different in Paris than it is in LA. There is a much stronger need for versatility.

I walk outside to what seems like a sunny day then in two minutes it is bitterly cold and pouring.  But five minutes into the rain it brightens up.  This kind of weather sums up my experience in Paris thus far, and also explains some of the difficulty in finding items.  

This city for me is named, “Be Ready”.  Every corner I turn is something different!  The weird cheap-y crap-selling stalls across from the Louvre turn into really expensive clothing and décor stores in the blink of an eye.  The metro is hot as hell, but the air outside is so biting.  I freeze and melt, freeze and melt, freeze and melt daily.  A city of extremes, of quick reactions, of confusing necessities for preparedness, and I am standing in front of what seems like boutique 1,000 not being able to face it all.  HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BUY A DANG JACKET?

I want something that will keep me warm in Paris’ coldest temperatures, but that will be comfortable during the fall cools as well, or that won’t be difficult to peel off on the metro, that won’t smell weird when it rains.  I just want something that can adapt.

In truth, I want to adapt.  I want that jacket but I also want that me.  Paris requires a versatility that I thought I had.  I want to look nice in all occasion as the Parisians do, even though the occasion can change up to 6 times a day!  This city is beautiful and very busy; strangely, I think I will always equate it with my sweat drying too fast in the cold air when I step out of the metro.



 Epee Hervé Dingong – Journalist  

Parc de la Villett

When it’s time to have fun or thinking about relaxing, Parc de la Villette in the 19th district of Paris is sometimes one of the best places. Summer or winter, you can see exhibits, shows, concerts of national and international artists of different genre of music. Zenith, Cabaret Sauvage or Trabendo are the popular places for parties and shows.

People love to hang in the park. It’s also a perfect place for kids who can play around. It’s at the same time a family place. A friend of mine from New York with her son visited the park for the first time in September. They loved the place and especially her son who played, danced and smiled for hours.
I found in La Villette “Le Café de la Musique”, it was a quiet place where I can brainstorm and work on my writing. As there are many activities and many spots around, I went there to see famous singers perform. I remember years ago when I saw the first Kanye West show in Paris at Trabendo or Wu Tang Clan at the Zenith. It’s a great place for inspiration.

Click for more info

This is the Dragon Slide - your kids will love it!

This angle of La Villette is a teaser - so much more to enjoy.

A music program like you'll find nowhere else.


Anna-Karina Caudevilla, Associate of The Shackles of Memory                   

From Bar to Bar

Festival “Bar-Bars” was celebrated on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of November.  A wonderful festival made up of bars and cafés all over France (Nantes having the most members/participants) supporting live music and other arts in small venues.  For three days there are shows of all kinds everywhere.  The vibe is great, everyone goes out on the town and the city is alive all over.  Because Nantes is a relatively small city, checking out several gigs in one night is easy.  There is something very homey about this festival.  

Out of the hundreds of choices available, my girlfriends and I opted for a night of “Queen” revival – the singer/pianist imbued with the Freddy Mercury spirit right down to the outfits.  Such a liberating evening of singing along and dancing!  As a matter of fact, every time I have gone out during this festival, I always have a serious dance moment.  Perhaps it's due to the fact that there are no pretensions behind this festival.  Simple yet real.     



Luna Vincent White was born in Chicago and when she was eight she moved to Los Angeles so that her mom could pursue her dreams of writing for television.
 Luna goes to the University of Southern California, studying a combination of history and sociology to look at racism (hopefully) with a minor in cinematic arts as well as French. She is also studying film because eventually she wants to become a director, whose films encourage empathy and cultural understanding.

    Luna has always loved traveling, and because she moved so much through out her life, she has grown used to the feeling of changing locations a lot. She was so excited to travel to Paris and has taken French since high school. Her hope is to become fluent and perhaps understand a bit of how racial prejudice and xenophobia play a part in Parisian life.

Epée Hervé Dingong is a freelance writer from Paris, of Cameroonian origin. He graduated from the prestigious C.F.P.J.journalism school in Paris.     During his time as a staff writer and freelancer he interviewed a lot of Hip Hop and R&B artists from US, France, Holland, UK and Germany.

     His work appeared in different print publications such as Radikal magazine, Tracklist, The Source France, Musique Info Hebdo, Lady Caprice magazine, Juice Magazine,  to name a few. He has collaborated with American print magazines and online publications such as The Source magazine, The Ave Magazine, Mugshot Magazine,, and He writes about music, politics and social issues.

Anna-Karina Caudevilla is a native from Washington DC currently living in Nantes, France (north-west coast).  A long time traveler, insatiable  learner, Jane-of-all-trades and militant believer in living life creatively, she has set up roots in the United States, Spain and France.  

     Anna-Karina is currently finishing a Masters in Art and Cultural Management in Nantes which led her to discover The Shackles of Memory Association – Resource & Study Centre for the Study of the Slave Trade, for whom she is now an active member.

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