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1.27.2010

Au revoir!

My laptop (my NEW laptop) has mysteriously died. I'm typing this from a friend's computer, so this is a quickie to let you know that I won't be back here until February.

Happy rest-of-January! See you in the States.

1.25.2010

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Stephanie Perkins



I've decided to stay.

I mean, not really. But the dread of leaving grows. This is my last week in Paris, and I assumed I'd be homesick by now, but . . . I'm not.

Not even close.

I love that Parisians find nothing peculiar with eating dinner late, going to bed late, and waking up late. I love strolling the gorgeous boulevards and being surrounded by history and art. I love the scrumptious pastries and the strong coffee and the incredible wine. I love walking beside the Seine with my husband. I love sitting in the spots where my characters kiss and discovering future nooks for them to kiss. I love the yogurt in my fridge. The bakery across the street. The woman who sold me a postcard and then gave me a chocolate truffle. I love talking with friends until the bars close, I love that comics shops and movie theaters and bookstores are inescapable, and I love that everywhere I look, I find something beautiful.

I even love it when I unknowingly order gizzard salad and discover GIZZARD TASTES GOOD.

How am I supposed to leave? What happens when I return? Will New Stephanie retreat back into Old Stephanie, or will New Stephanie find a way to nurture this undeniable, unmistakable feeling of change?

I don't know. But I am happy here.




On Sunday, Jarrod and I visited the Mosquée de Paris, the largest mosque in France. The recommendation came via Laini Taylor via a "Pâtisseries of Paris" guidebook from her friend, Alexandra (who is visiting Paris this May!). This mosque is special because not only does it have a Marrakesh-like atmosphere of beautiful gardens and mosaics, but . . . yes! It has pastries.


Consumed in Laini and Alexandra's honor.


Here's our spread — hot peppermint tea with honey-drenched desserts of pistachios and flaky layers and coconut and sweet gummy fruit. Bliss!




After the mosque, we popped in the nearby Jardin des Plants. It's silly, because every time I pass one of these big gardens, I think, "This'll just be a quick pop in and out, since it's winter and nothing is blooming."

BUT LOOK:


IN JANUARY! STILL PRETTY!


And it's always like this. The gardens here are always still pretty. My mind boggles to think about them in the spring.

My favorite part of the garden was this . . . thing. (Okay, this will be tricky to explain. My apologizes.) It was a small hill with an alternating thick hedge/pathway that spiraled up into this gazebo.


No biggie, right? Well.


As we circled around the hill to the top, we discovered discreet holes in the hedges. At first we thought it was accidental, but NO. More holes. More holes. More holes.


Holes.


Then . . . we noticed the children. There were children hiding in the hedges. Underneath the hedges! Around the hedges and through the hedges and OHMYSTARS did we just find the most AWESOME PLAYGROUND OF ALL TIME? I mean, can you IMAGINE?? I would have given anything to have had this in my neighborhood as a kid!

But since the holes were child-sized, I had to content myself with looking and dreaming.


Just kidding.


OF COURSE I played in the hedge tunnels! Child Stephanie would be severely disappointed in Adult Stephanie if she did not.

So cool.

Today I returned to Montmartre, famous for being the home of France's Impressionist artists and bohemians, and famous for being topped by the white, cake-like Sacre Coeur. (It's also famous for the Moulin Rouge, which has turned into an expensive Vegas-style nightmare packed with American businessmen.) Montmartre is also the home of a beloved MODERN French figure — Amélie Poulin!


♥♥♥


As Amélie happens to be my second favorite film, a pilgrimage was required. This was, without a doubt, the cheesiest thing I've done here so far.

But it can't be helped. I mean . . . it's AMÉLIE. You know?

Jarrod and I were lucky enough to be guided again by our friend Manning, who used to live in the neighborhood. We started with lunch in her restaurant, Café des Deux Moulins. I was surprised to find the exterior so different from the version we saw in the movie! Remember how quaint the neighborhood looked?


Er, not so much.


(Ah, the magic of cinema!)

Inside, I must confess the food — among the things we ordered: foie gras, carpaccio, croque monsieur, croque madame, pommes frites, café crème, and a crème brulée named after our heroine — was only okay. (Though solidly GREAT by American standards. Ha!) And without the film's green and red color scheme, it certainly looked different.

BUT . . . NERD ALERT . . .


We sat in Nino's seat!!


If you look over Jarrod's shoulder, you'll see a gnome. It wasn't *the* gnome, but still. A gnome! And les toilettes had a gnome display, too. (I know. Weird but fantastic.)

Now, if you look over Nino's shoulder, you will find AMÉLIE:


♥♥♥


After lunch, we hunted down . . .


The produce stand!


Close-up of Monsieur Collignon's sign on top. (I think this is an original prop.)


Where she leads the blind man.


Sorry, that's a bad picture. I was jabbering and didn't look at it until later! Then we visited the carousel plaza where Amélie calls Nino on the payphone.


There is no payphone.


Also, it's TINY. Again . . . the magic of cinema and a wide-angle lens! The Sacre Coeur is in the background, of course. I'm not sure if you know this, but it was built just so Nino could run up the stairs a hundred years later.

I'm kicking myself that I didn't take a picture of the blue arrows someone had painted leading towards the top (!), but I suppose I'll live.


I look exhausted because I'm wearing the RED COAT again.


We also passed the street where Amélie and Nino are scooter-riding at the end, but I forgot to take a picture there, too. Argh! It's pretty though. You'll have to trust me. Then we ran across this, and even though it's weird to take a picture of a porno shop, THAT'S WHAT WE DID.


They changed the sign! Should I be ashamed to know this?


If you've never seen Amélie: (A) You've probably stopped reading this post. Sorry! Try me again next time. (B) You should watch Amélie.

And if you HAVE seen Amélie, you should watch this awesome alternate trailer*:




Now . . . off to enjoy my last week. Au revoir!


*Due to the number of people commenting that they've never seen it, I want to make it clear that the alternate trailer is nothing like the actual movie! The real film is a romantic comedy that verges on the magical. Not, you know, a horror film.

1.20.2010

In Which I Return to the Louvre and CROWN THE WINNER


Not in the Louvre, but it should be.


I pass this whistling guy every day on my walks, and I love him. He reminds me of Craig Thompson's work, which I adore. And Craig is, in a very very roundabout way, one of the reasons why I am here.

(Ooo, MYSTERIOUS.)

I haven't talked about that much, have I? I mean, I assume you know. Or can guess. But perhaps I'm wrong, so this is a nice time to make it clear. Although a GREAT deal of this trip is play, I am, indeed, here for work. I'm fact-checking Anna and the French Kiss and researching Something Else.

Which is why I'm not showing you everything I do! Because not only would it grow tiresome, but . . . I am rather fond of secrets.


Me, collecting SECRETS


I'm scribbling in a red Moleskine. It's just a coincidence that it matches my coat, which, by the way? Day twenty?

I am ready for a new coat.

So another thing I love about France is the availability of Moleskines. They're EVERYWHERE. EVERYWHERE!! As if the pâtisseries and boulangeries weren't enough, Paris has to whisper, "Duuuude. You neeeeeeed another notebook. This one is pink. You don't have a Moleskine in pink."




Except like my friend Shelley, who recently left the ranks of LWATWD (Ladies Who Abuse The Word Dude), Paris does not say, "Dude."

I am not sure what it says.

So, anyway, I'm busy. Seeing the Big Stuff. Seeing the Little Stuff. And eating as many Nutella banana crêpes as I can in between!

PROOF OF BIG STUFF. KIND OF:


Fire blankets.


So when the pilgrims inside Notre-Dame catch on fire, the rest of us tourists can extinguish them. (Credit goes to my sister for pointing out this awesome tidbit.)

And look! I went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe!


Otherwise I never would've gotten this picture of the insane traffic circle that surrounds it.


Watching the traffic circle was one of the unexpected highlights of this trip. It's like the cars and buses and motorcycles and scooters (and bicycles! Those crazy cyclists!) are playing an extra-dangerous, live-action Frogger. It's a million bad car crashes waiting to happen.

And believe me. Everyone on top of the Arc de Triomphe is waiting for it to happen.

I've also been hanging out with Manning (LIKES: werewolves, rock and roll) and his fabulous girlfriend, Marjorie (LIKES: rabbits, Dunkin' Donuts) who've been taking me to their favorite restaurants — crêpes, raclette, Tibetan, sushi — and cafés and bars, and have answered approximately eighteen zillion questions.

Manning is also the recipient of phone calls like this:


MANNING: Hello?

ME: I'm lost. I can't find the thingy. It's supposed to be right here.

MANNING: [politely] Try turning around.

ME:
OH! There it is!!


Thanks, Manning!


The above picture is taken in a park just across the bridge from the François Mitterrand Public Library. (Yes. That's the detail I remember. The library.) There are twenty-ish peculiar statues made from industrial road materials like manhole covers and gas pipes. The materials are collected from different countries around the world, and then assembled to look like a person from that country. Or, more often, a stereotype from that country.

It's fun to find hints to the harder statues by reading the place names or languages imprinted on the materials.

Manning is standing beside the American statue. This one had a tiny plaque with a name on it, something along the lines of "Joe the New Yorker." As Manning (American) and Marjorie (French) are preparing for a move from Paris to New York City, we felt it was appropriate.

It was also messed up. THE STATUE HAS A HEADDRESS, YO.

But wait . . .

Wasn't there something I was supposed to tell you in this post? Something specific? What was it? Whaaaat was it . . .


OH HELLS YEAH.


I returned to the Louvre today. Which means a WINNER was crowned.

That's right. I'm about to announce THE HOTTEST DUDE OF THE LOUVRE. Can you guess? Do you know whom it is? It wasn't Creepy Uncle, but for the record, Creepy Uncle came in third. Ha!

Because of his outstanding showing in a competition for which he was not even nominated, Jarrod gave him some love:


SooOOOooOOoo dreamy.


Oh, hey, guess what? I finally made it to Ladurée! For REAL macarons.


Pistachio, Lemon, Rose, Coffee, Chocolate, Vanilla, Blackcurrant Violet, Orange Flower. (I KNOW.)


They were all outstanding, but the blackcurrant violet and orange flower were stunning. SPECTACULAR. The tangy juicy boldness of the blackcurrant! The delicate, sun-warmed flowers of the orange . . .

Oh. Wait.

Are you still waiting to hear about THE WINNER? Without further ado . . .

Well, not TOO much further ado . . .

THE HOTTEST DUDE OF THE LOUVRE IS . . .

*

*

*

*

*

*

Alexandre Colin AND Léon Reisener!

HA!

They each received twenty-one votes. Initially, I was a bit sad there was no Official Singular Hot Dude, but now I'm happy for everyone who voted. These two — HOT — men were neck and neck, back and forth, the entire time.

So. I present to you . . . your official . . . Hottest Dudes of the Louvre:


The Street Urchin! Alexandre Colin, making women faint since 1798.


Mr. Darcy! Léon Reisener, making women swoon since Colin Firth dived into the pool in 1995.


If you visit the Louvre, make sure to visit them in the 18th century French paintings wing on the second (top) floor. Appropriately enough, they're in side-by-side rooms, #61 (Alexandre) and #62 (Léon).

OH. And Creepy Uncle is in #63.

1.17.2010

Sunday at Cimetière du Pére Lachaise

Jarrod arrives in France.


My husband and I spent the afternoon in Pére Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris, and one of my favorite spots in the city.

It's home to over 300,000 resting bodies, amongst them: Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Honoré de Balzac, Frédéric Chopin, Marcel Proust, Abélard and Héloïse, Sarah Bernhardt, Molière, Gertrude Stein, Colette, Georges Méliès, Richard Wright, Camille Pissarro, Marcel Marceau, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Max Ernst, Gustave Doré, and Isadora Duncan.

You know. Just a few names you might recognize.




It's the kind of cemetery that People Who Like Cemeteries fantasize about. It's a complete world, a miniature city, a tranquil haven. It's beauty and sheer enormity inspires poetry and sketches and picnics and sad love songs.

AND . . . it's filled with weird stuff like this:


Does anyone else think we should call Buffy?


It's already time for bed — this late night blogging habit of mine needs to cease! — but here are a few more quick shots:




(♥ Yes, I kissed it! ♥)




And, finally, with a friend . . .




Talk with you all again soon. Thank you for your support and excitement of Anna and the French Kiss! Your comments and tweets and Facebook messages have made me so, so happy.

I can't WAIT to share Anna with you.

1.14.2010

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT TIME (!)

Whee! La Grande Roue at the Place de la Concorde.


I interrupt my Paris travel blog for a piece of exciting news.

At least . . . it's exciting to ME.

I've just been given the okay from my publisher to announce my new title! Remember when Anna and the Boy Masterpiece was once called Anna and the English French American Boy Masterpiece? Well. Say "hello" to my new — and final! — title:

Anna and the French Kiss

Cute, non?! And you know how I feel about kissing!

As much as I loved my old titles, Dutton was looking for something that said "young adult romance in Paris." I've always been hesitant to put the word "Paris" directly into the title, because that conjures up a specific type of book (which Anna both does and does not fit into). So this is a wonderful solution! And how appropriate for me to be able to announce it while I'm here *in* Paris.

Squee!

Many, many, MANY huge thanks and hugs to Kiersten White and Paula Does-Not-Have-A-Public-Blog, who simultaneously thought of it one late, panicked night last November. They have each saved my butt so many times I've lost count. Friends are the best!

Especially when you are title deficient, like myself.

I hope to have many more things to share with you in the coming months — a publishing date! A cover! A synopsis! These are in the works, and I'm thrilled with them all. My publisher gets Anna.

(And they get The Boy, who remains a masterpiece with or without the title. Oh man, I LOVE The Boy. I'm very excited to tell you about him. Soon!)


One more pretty picture, because I'm feeling pretty.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to change my title on approximately one hundred different websites.

Starting with my own.

1.11.2010

More Foodage + The Competition Heats Up

The yogurt situation is off the hooooook!!


My fridge here is filled with dairy. Glorious, glorious French dairy. CHEESE. BUTTER. And YOGURT. Ohmystars, THE YOGURT.

I would consider moving here just for the yogurt.

The yogurt section of a supermarché is astronomically large, about the size of a frozen pizza section in an American grocery store. And I wish I could read the packaging, but I can't, so I just buy one of everything that looks good.

AND IT'S *ALL* GOOD.

No corn syrup or artificial flavorings. Just delicious, fatty goodness. Plain yogurt is my favorite — I found one that's whipped and frothy, and it's like eating the clouds of Care-a-Lot — but I'm also currently enjoying 70% dark chocolate and lychee raspberry.

I love any country that loves lychees.

My cereal, for the record, also has 70% dark chocolate in it. (HELLO, PARIS. YOU ARE AWESOME. LET'S MAKE OUT.)

A few more for the foodies:


Can't go wrong with the classics.


Don't let looks fool you. This flan-like-pastry was insane.


Poached pear, citrus curd, semi-madeleine cake-ish thing.


Isn't that last one beautiful?

I had it at an amazing restaurant near la Tour Eiffel (as the French call it), which my new friends, Barb and Paul, took me to. I met them through the super-fun Daisy Whitney, a fellow 2010 young adult debut author. Her novel, The Mockingbirds, hits stores next fall. I can't wait to read it! You also might recall that I met Daisy in San Francisco last November.

Anyway, Barb and Paul are Daisy's parents-in-law, and they are FABULOUS. They've traveled everywhere, and they know everyone, and they're incredibly funny and generous.


Love them!


And seriously, you guys. Look at their apartment! It's like something out of a magazine.




And they're the kind of people whom, after only knowing them for ten minutes, I found myself posing for the camera in their bedroom.

Not like THAT.

Like this!




Thanks for a fantastic evening, Barb and Paul! And thank you so much, Daisy, for introducing us.

I'm off to bed, but if you haven't voted in the comments of my Hot Boys of the Louvre post, please consider doing so. It's turned into a battle between Léon Reisener (Darcy) and Alexandre Colin (street urchin). My favorite comment so far is this one from Majo:

"Alexandre comes first in my list, but I totally would not mind a kiss from Leon. Actually, I'd just let Alexandre and Leon get at it at fisticuffs for me. I'd take whichever one won, or maybe the one who lost in a more dignified way. It'd be a tough decision."


EXCELLENT. Bonus points for using the word "fisticuffs," one of my favorites.

Two commenters have said Alexandre resembles Orlando Bloom, but he's also been compared to John Cusack and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Meanwhile, Léon has been compared to, obviously, Mr. Darcy, and a hybrid Ethan Hawke with John Cusack's mouth.

[Creepy Uncle, for the record, also has a few votes. I like your style, readers! But let's not let him win.]


Darcy versus Urchin


I'll keep the voting open until I hit the Louvre again with my husband next week, during which I'll crown one of them THE HOTTEST DUDE OF THE LOUVRE. And then I'll reveal his super-secret location, because let's face it: the cute ones aren't on the map.

OH. WAIT.

I have to defend myself from another comment before I go. My pal Amber Lough had the nerve to say:

"I was going to vote for the creepy uncle, but then I realized something...you don't like blondes, do you? Or redheads? Because the only blonde on that list is Mr. Martin. Or, maybe, blondes didn't sit well for paintings?"

No, no, no! While it's certainly true I lean towards brown hair (as evidenced by my husband), I'm an equal opportunity admirer. I assure you, there were NO blondes nor redheads whom ANYONE would consider attractive in ANY day or age in the Louvre.

Or, if there are, the museum did a stellar job of hiding them.

And yes, My Celebrity Boyfriend Chris Martin is quite put-out that you would think I don't like blondes. And you all know what this means, right? HE WAS MENTIONED. Which means I get to post another picture!

It's the rules. Having a blog iz the awesome!!




But what's he trying to tell me? Maybe if it wasn't so late . . . and my brain wasn't so tired . . .

1.09.2010

The Hot Boys of the Louvre



I am totally looking out for you. This post could be about how I saw the Mona Lisa or the Venus de Milo or whatever, but NO. It's NOT. It's about CUTE GUYS.

You're welcome.

For the record, it's really, really, really difficult to find attractive men inside the Louvre. Not that there aren't plenty of them walking around — the natives are quite well-dressed and groomed and such — but that would be exceedingly creepy on my behalf to take their photographs. Even for me. So you'll just have to picture them on your own. (Feel free to exaggerate their good looks, as it's your daydream.)

But it's hard to find attractive guys in ART. There are oodles of beautiful, seductive women baring their breasts. As my sister and I commented, painting after painting of "Whoops! My boob slipped out!" Which is fine. I get this. No complaints.

BUT the lack of beautiful, seductive men is way unfair! Instead, fine art museums are filled with ugly, grumpy men with peculiar facial hair and satiny tights. So I figured I'd do the job no one else seems to be doing. I'd find the handsome men, collect them, and bring them back here for your pleasure.

For the record, there are thousands of paintings in the Louvre. And this was the best I could do.


Self-portrait of Louis David. I think most of us can agree moody artists are hot.


Jean-Pierre Cortot (painted by INGRES). He looks worried and tragic! Swoon.


Self-portrait of Alexandre Colin. Slightly street urchin-ish. Still. I'd kiss him.


Charles William Bell (LAWRENCE). Not quite my type, but pretty good, all things considered. A bit like Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility, maybe?


Maurice Quay (RIESENER). Too scruffy for my sister, but I like him. He could be the hero of a swashbuckling adventure story.


I'm just testing if you're still paying attention. This was totally someone's creepy uncle.


Antonio Canova (LAWRENCE). What do we think? I'm reminded of Gabriel Byrne.


OHMYGOD, DARCY IS THAT YOU?!?!?!?!


The last one is Léon Reisener, also a painter (but different from the above Reisener), and cousin of the artist, Eugène Delacroix. He ties with Jean-Pierre Cortot for my top vote.

Who gets your vote? Leave a comment, and we'll crown a winner THE HOTTEST DUDE OF THE LOUVRE.

Oh! And I also saw The Coldplay Painting.




Which means, by the rules of my blog, I am thus allowed to post a picture of My Celebrity Boyfriend Chris Martin in front of the same picture.


He looks exhausted. But sweet!


I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend. Stay tuned for more updates from the (horrible, sad, tragique, my job is sooOOoooOooo hard) trenches of Paris.

Or, maybe, I have the best job ever.

YOU PICK.
 


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