LouLou meets...Danielle Alvarez

Lovely readers, it's time for another LouLou meets...post! I'm always excited to be able to share with you the experience of other expat bloggers living in Paris. It is so enjoyable to read the answers of the people that I reach out to: the process allows me to discover new addresses for eating and drinking, see Paris from a different perspective, and get to know my interviee a bit better. This month, I'm delighted to introduce you to Danielle (from Danielle Abroad) who I met at the Champagne Social before Christmas. It's a relatively new friendship for both of us, but I love hanging out with Danielle, who I find to be thoughtful, articulate, sweet and with a dry sense of humour to boot. Oh and she loves wine, just like me. Make yourself comfortable, maybe grab a glass of wine and some cheese, and enjoy getting to know Danielle!

Danielle, how did you end up in Paris? 
The long story begins in my senior year of high school, when I hosted a French exchange student. The short story is that I wanted to go to grad school, stumbled across a perfect-fit program in Paris, and knew I'd have a small but significant support system there (or here, rather).

What do you do in Paris?
I'm a master's student at the American University of Paris.

Your Paris in 3 words? 
Gray, intellectual pleasures.

Your idea of a perfect day in Paris?
Cafe crème and a croissant on an off-the-beaten path terrace. Meeting a friend for the latest art/photography exposition and spending ample time in the gift shop afterwards. A long stroll to a park or the canal for a leisurely lunch picnic--endive salad, baguette, charcuterie, cheeses, fresh fruit, dark chocolate squares, and wine, of course. Wandering in and out of antique and design shops. An early movie as a result of a sun shower (my favorite). And a late dinner at Septime.

Which French "quirks" put a smile on your face? And which make you frown?
I've come to enjoy the 'intense' conversations related to politics, religion, or culture that follow initial introductions. Such topics would hardly ever come up right after meeting a fellow American, especially not at a party. Then again, French 'parties' are another concept that humor me. They tend to be more low-key, intimate, and conversational than parties I've been to elsewhere.

As for the ultimate French "quirk" that makes me frown: scolding by strangers. Neither my mom nor my dad have lectured me as much as the men and women I've passed while trying to sit on the metro, ask for an extra plastic bag at the store, take a picture at the museum, etc. They just seem to know so much better than I, having been born on French soil and all.

What motivated you to start blogging? 
I'd been blogging long before I became a Parisian resident. It was during my first bout abroad, at which time I was 20 (!) and studying in Santiago, Chile and Strasbourg, France. It was so satisfying then that I've been keeping a record of my life's adventures - still, oftentime abroad - ever since.

What have you learnt since you started blogging (both about yourself and the blogging community in Paris in general?)
Considering it's been 6 years since I started blogging, I've learned a whole lot! Though most of those lessons probably stemmed from real life growing up. With that said, I wouldn't have met some of my best friends and most inspiring confidantes were it not for my blog. Coming to Paris from New York, most of my network has been built by these connections. Kind-hearted and like-minded people are everywhere. Sometimes they’re best found online, and I'm so very thankful for that.

Where do you look for inspiration (for your blog)? 
My blog tends to be personal and would probably fit into the 'lifestyle blog' category, so fortunately (or not, ha), the everyday inspires my content. As a result, it's actually the blog that inspires me to live more boldly. An interesting blog makes for an especially interesting life.

If you could hop on a plane right now, which destination would you choose (and why)?
If I could hop on a plane right now, I'd like to fly to an ashram in India. I've never been to Asia and your dedication to yoga, Lou, has reminded me how much my mind and body miss it! Plus, I'm already going home for a friend's wedding in 6 weeks; might as well see some place new :).

One thing on your bucket list?
What to choose, what to choose… one of my favorite things on my bucket list is a return trip to Chile. One day, I'd like to visit my former host family in Santiago with my significant other (identity TBD) and then continue on to Patagonia--it's the one region in Chile I didn't get to see during my first study abroad stint.

What's the one thing you really miss from home that Paris cannot replace?
I really miss having so much family so close by. Whether or not I realized it at the time, that was one of my favorite things about living in New York. Oh, and pizza. Great pizza. No matter the hour.

What would you really miss about Paris if one day you left?
When I do leave (moment of silence and tears), I'm going to miss friends like you and consistent access to good, fresh, not ridiculously expensive food groups such as bread, cheese, and wine.

What would your advice be to any students coming to Paris for a short time.
My ultimate advice would be to be patient, with yourself and others. French administration is very unique and doesn't always make sense, immediately or ever. By following through with it though, you have the amazing opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful and dynamic cities in the world. Cheers to that.

Quick Fire questions

Favourite patisserie? Arnaud Delmontel
Favourite metro line? Line 14
Rive Gauche ou Rive Droite? Rive Droite
Red, white or rosé? Red… unless it’s a scorcher, then Sancerre (white)
Favourite Parisian café? Jeanne A / B – both are more of an eat-in épicerie than a café, but you'll eat better, promise.
Favourite French film? Paris, je t'aime
Favourite Parisian museum? D'Orsay

Many thanks to Danielle, for taking the time to answer my questions, and select some photos for me to share with you. You can find Danielle on several social media spots, so feel free to go and say hello!
Lou xxxxx