Montmartre: Home of the Creative

Cobblestone roads, enormous hills, and a hidden beauty in every nook and cranny; this historical city is, without a doubt, the heart of Parisian life.

Paris

Photos By: Charlotte bergen | Instagram: @charlottebergen

Montmartre is more than just the home of the Sarcé-Coeur Cathedral or near the infamous Moulin Rouge. It’s a city where tourists roam in the daytime and artists flock the streets by sundown. In the 18th Arrondissement of Paris, one can’t help, but get hooked on the food, the scenery, the daily effortless fashion and of course, the artsy neighborhood.

The history speaks for itself. Pablo Picasso, Gen Paul, Vincent Van Gogh, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec and literature royalty, Ernest Hemingway have all either resided in or found their inspiration in Montmartre.

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My Airbnb listing stated that my apartment was a studio, but not that it was an actual historical arts studio that catered to an array of French artists. Now, I admit that I am a young woman who knows more about what type of stitching Elie Saab uses in every garment each season than what it takes to capture La Seine on canvas. But I, like the lives of many of those I’ve met in this playful little town, lives for creativity. Painters, photographers, fashion designers, actors and actresses, sculptors; they have made and continue to make Montmartre what it is today.

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If you look in the right places, such as near rue Durantin, you’ll find the coolest hipster bars and cafés with the best Parisian food. Every bar has its own pizazz and homemade arts decor that make the atmosphere feel extremely welcoming.

Constantly distracted by the northern Parisian atmosphere, I didn’t realize that I was getting a daily workout on this mountain of a town. But it was all worth it.

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Thanks for stopping by! Tune in next week!

 

À la prochaine!

A.

À Paris!

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Bonjour à tous!

Okay, let’s be honest. Going on trips and experiencing new adventures is exciting, but packing…not so much fun. Have you ever packed for a trip, promised yourself that you wouldn’t pack a lot…then end up packing your entire closet?

This happens to be a bad habit which I possess, but sometimes, it’s also a good habit. The worst thing is coming across an unexpected event in another state, country, or anywhere that is not your hometown and having to go shopping for an outfit that you most likely already have hanging in your wardrobe back home.

To pack light or not to pack light? That is the question.

The answer is pack “smart.” 

Shoes: Steve Madden, Jeans: Fashion Nova, Top: MissGuided, Bralette: Forever 21

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Bodysuit: Lilac Shade

Here are a few packing tips that I’ve learned through traveling:

• Think of at least three events that you will likely attend on your trip and be realistic. Pack three specific outfits for those occasions. The rest of your suitcase should be clothing that you wear on a regular basis.

• Accessories, accessories, accessories!! I cannot stress this enough. If you wear a black dress on one day and you add a popping handbag and a matching scarf the next, you’ve just expanded your outfit choices.

Dress: H&M France, Sneakers: H&M, Scarf: Net-A-Porter

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Top: Nordstrom, Pants: Express, Shoes: Express

• At least 25 percent of the clothes in my suitcase are what I call “toss-worthy.” Toss-worthy clothes are anything that can be tossed if worst comes to worst and my suitcase is too heavy. Toss-worthy clothes are anything that costs ten dollars or less.

For example, one-dollar flip-flops, two-dollar tanks, or seven-dollar shorts are a few pieces that I consider to be toss-worthy.

I love clothing stores like Old Navy, Uniqlo and H&M where there are regular bargains and deals. If the option of making my suitcase lighter before traveling back home approaches, getting rid of a $1.90 top or a $5.50 pair of pants will not severely harm my wardrobe or my wallet.

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Shorts: H&M, Flats: H&M, Choker: Forever 21, Bodysuit: Forever 21

• The same goes for toiletries. Travel bottles are great for weekend and week-long trips, but they should never be a burden. They are very cheap and they can afford to be tossed out if needed. For long trips, if possible, it’s best to buy most of your toiletries in the place that you are visiting. It may save you a lot of space and hassle.

Wherever you go, just remember that you may want to bring a few things home from your trip, so make sure you have space in your travel bags to do so!

Thanks for tuning in!

I will not be posting next week. It’s Final Exam Preparation week. Stick around for the week after!

À la prochaine,

A.

Unforgettable Summer | An Attack on Paradise: Nice, France

It’s been almost two months, and talking about it or writing about it still causes me pain…

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. At Montclair State University, the Global Education Center gives students a chance to expand their education while exploring a variety of cities around the world. ‘Montclair In Nice’ is one out of many study abroad programs at Montclair State that is offered every summer for five weeks in France. After years of obsessing over France and the French language, I spent twelve months preparing for my summer trip to this beautiful country. When I arrived, I was prepared to have a great summer, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened on Bastille Day.

After missing the 4th of July back home, Bastille Day was a day that my classmates and I really looked forward to. After a great day tasting wine, cheese, and olive oil with our French professor Dr. Joanna Dezio, seven of us decided to sit on the beach that night below the Promenade Des Anglais along with thousands of other people to watch the firework celebration before heading to the holiday activities near Le Negresco hotel. Last minute, we all decided to go to cross the Promenade over in the old city to go to a karaoke bar. Just three minutes after crossing the street, two American students ran by us while one said, “there’s a guy with a gun.” A gun went off in the distance and the narrow streets of the old city flooded in panic and fear as people ran from the unknown. Some hid in nearby shops, some made it out of the old city, and others, such as myself and two of my classmates, scouted shelter in stranger’s homes.

The other four people who were with us got swept away with the crowd. Somehow, they were able to make it back to our residence building safely.

After a fun day, it didn’t occur to us that something like that could happen. It didn’t occur to us that in just three minutes, our view of the world we thought we knew could change forever.

The three of us ran up a hill away from the crowd and began banging on random house doors. I saw a man and a woman smoking outside and begged them to help us. They were a Dutch couple visiting Nice. The apartment was an Airbnb rental. They let us inside the apartment along with nine other strangers. Silent and terrified, everyone sat on the floor with the lights off, doors locked, and curtains closed. Out the window, all we could hear were people screaming and still running. Contacting family members back home was the hardest thing to do because we all thought that that was the last time we’d ever speak to our loved ones. “That night was the scariest night of my life,” said Montclair in Nice student, Gabriely De Almeida. “I’m just happy [that] I didn’t see the [incident] because I know [that] I wouldn’t have easily recovered from that. I’m extremely blessed to be alive.”

France had endured three terrorist attacks in 19 months. The first attack happened on January 7th, 2015, when the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo suffered a fatal shooting by two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi. They murdered twelve people including many journalists of the newspaper. The gunmen’s motive for the shooting was that the newspaper had offended an Islamic prophet.  On November 13th, 2015, six different locations in Paris were attacked by the Islamic State (ISIS), killing 129 people. Then, on July 14th, 2016, on France’s national holiday, the Nice attack shook the nation. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian national who resided in Nice, drove a white cargo truck onto the Promenade Des Anglais near Le Negresco hotel at approximately 10:30pm. The attack left 86 people dead and 434 injured. “This doesn’t happen here,” said Nice local, Sébastien Genovese. “It was a shock to everybody.” Genovese, along with several others, witnessed the attack on a café balcony near Le Negresco.

The attack left many questions, especially about the attacker’s religion. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was known to Nice locals as a “loner.” People who knew him personally said that he wasn’t a religious person, but joined a Mosque and began supporting the Islamic State months before the attack. So far, every attack in France has been religion-based and raised the question, ‘Why is France under attack?’ In September 2014, after France launched bombing runs against the Islamic State in Iraq, ISIS extremists called the French “spiteful” and “dirty.” They then urged those of Muslim faith to target and kill French citizens as an act of revenge.

After eight hours of seeking shelter in this Airbnb apartment, my classmates and I thanked the Dutch couple for their generosity and kindness and left. Still afraid of the unknown, we walked back to our residence, where we found everyone else awake, scared, but safe. The morning after the attack, I felt numb. I couldn’t eat, sleep or leave my apartment due to overwhelming fear.

Montclair State’s Modern Languages and Literatures Chairperson, Dr. Lois Oppenheim and the Global Education Center Interim Director, Domenica Dominguez were the first people from MSU to reach out to me during the attack. From getting ready to fly everyone out of France as soon as possible to organizing over-the-phone counseling for all the Montclair-in-Nice students, they did everything in their power to make sure everyone was brought home safely. On the morning after the attack, Dr. Oppenheim sent out an email to every student that stated, “Please know, all, that if there is anything at all that I or the department can do, you need only let me know. You have been through a horrific experience. It may take [some] time to fully absorb it. Don’t hesitate, please, to make use of any services that we can make available to you through the university.”

The Nice attack was the scariest thing that I’ve ever encountered, but the aftermath was what helped me recover. After the attack, the people of Nice stood by one another and supported each other like family. Religion, race, or gender didn’t matter. Strangers wiped stranger’s tears as if they were their own. Everyone came together as one people and showed the rest of world that united people do not cower in fear over terrorism.