Today on the blog we share the story of one creative woman’s journey into the city of light, living in alternative Paris, enjoying student life and the woes of the French administration told so truthfully, with wit and grace.
There is another story behind the story, of course, is that I’ve known this creative woman for a while and am beyond appreciate to know her and her peaceful, funny and nurturing spirit. She has a magical green thumb and came into my Parisian life personally and has made my life a much greener place, healthier place. From her Instagram with all these hanging plants to her magazine feature in Apartment therapy – you’ll see what I mean!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Janaé Bianca. I’m the oldest of 3 siblings. I consider my mom my hero and one of my closest confidants, my dad a current inspiration, an example that you never stop learning no matter how old you get. And I consider my grandparents as valuable historians and wizards of infinite wisdom hahaha. Currently, I’m a graduate student in anthropology, specifically ethnomusicology. With a background in culinary arts and international relations and government affairs. I’m a librarian, and a server, and a cat and plant mama. And I’m far from home.
2. What do you enjoy the most about life in Paris?
I enjoy the many opportunities to have a “pause” in my day. That’s to say, the ability to seriously enjoy life. It’s just not common where I’m from.
3. Where are you originally from?
How long have you been living in Paris? Originally, I was born in the Philippines. My father was in the military and we moved a lot. But I grew up mostly in Tampa, Florida, USA and I consider that my home. Now, years later here I am, in Paris, France since 2015.
4. When you’re not working/ studying what do you enjoy doing?
Eating… food is a passion, and I have a love affair with food (as my dad would say). But if you don’t find me eating, you would most likely find me dancing or at a concert… anyplace with live music or a dj and a dance floor. Or simply spending time with friends…most likely we will be dancing. Hahaha
5. Anything or any place you’d recommend a first-time visitor ?
I think if you come to Paris the best areas to really see and maybe experience Parisian daily life are the outer arrondissements (18th, 19th, 20th) as well as the 10th and 11th of course. The center is cool and all. It’s extremely historic. But there are so many other parts of the city that are just as historic, and exuding creativity and life.
6. What’s the most interesting (crazy) things you’ve done (or seen) in Paris?
When it comes to living in the city, I don’t do too many crazy things, but I love the house parties…honestly there’s nothing like a Parisian house party, where you spend the entire night dancing to all kinds of music, having conversations that vary from pop culture to politics to sexuality, and having to continue this until the first metro comes around at 5am so that you can eventually go home. You can take the velib (city bikes) but you see the most interesting people on the first metro of the day, and sometimes you’re still not ready to go home, so you can pass by a boulangerie, or have a coffee/breakfast or brunch (if you brunch) at a café that is just opening and then head home. Hahaha.
7. What do you like the least about living in France?
Administration…to the French Administration out there…get with the program and save some trees, please. It’s slowly advancing in some areas, but sweet baby jesus, it takes an eternity to do anything sometimes.
8. Any music, bands or venues you’d like to suggest to people visiting?
Most of the year, but specifically during the summer there’s salsa music along the Seine. Random people get together and dance their hearts out. There is Fête de la musique in June of course. There are tons of music venues throughout the city and the spring/summer are the seasons for music festivals. I have seen the most concerts and been to the most music festivals I have ever gone to in my life, just in the last 2 years I have been here. Really, you can get your fix for anything you really want to hear. Jazz in the Latin quarter, like at Le Caveau de la Huchette, or even near Châtelet, or in thé 18th near Pigalle. In Belleville, La Zorba had an amazing improv jazz night on Sundays. La Bellevilloise has always got great options for funk and hip-hop. Le Comptoir Générale was one of my favorite spots, that played an array of African and Caribbean music. And now, I’m sure that Montrieul’s Le Marbrerie and Le Chinois will soon be 2 places that will top my list, and they are gradually becoming really popular amongst the younger Parisian crowd.
9. Where do people buy homewares and plants in Paris? Honestly?
The street…people put anything and everything outside on the street, and hey, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And if it’s not on the street it’s from the many many thrift stores and brocantes (outdoor / open air sales – kind of like a yard sale). It’s pretty much the Kingdom of reusable goods. Haha
10. Anything else???
Just get here already. But don’t stay in the center, really explore. Get to know the past, but also the present and the future. Get to know and understand the rich cultures that have become apart of Paris and make it the city it is today. Take the time to know the people that live here now and not just the people who used to live here. Paris is extremely diverse and every neighborhood has so much to offer to your experience. BOOM. *drops mic*
You can see more of Janae’s life in Paris on her Instagram where she shows her green thumb and delightful decor skills via images from her beautiful bohemian Parisian apartment close to the canal: Green Frohemian.