Hangin’ out on the Champ de Mars at the Eiffel Tower

Hangin’ out. Like tying a scarf, the French have elevated hangin’ out to an art form. I think it’s in their genes. People here just hang out. Everywhere. All the time. Parks. Cafes. Squares. After two years here I still struggle with this concept since in Silicon Valley it is considered the eighth deadly sin and I am sadly engrained with that insane need to work constantly. The thought of simply taking a book to a park to read for a few hours is the last thing that comes to mind on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Luckily I have friends that have never come within 1000 miles of San Francisco nor a hi-tech company and they are much better at this hanging out thing than I am. Today it was a picnic at Champs de Mars, the park in front of the Eiffel Tower, and last week it was just hanging out in the Jardin de Luxembourg.

One reason that people spend so much time outdoors is that the cafes and parks are an extension of one’s living room. Most apartments are very small and kitchens even smaller so people socialize outside. How a French person can make a 2 oz espresso last three hours is nothing short of remarkable. Once again, I am convinced it is in their genes.

Also, picnics are not the normal picnincs that I grew up with. I was too busy eating and too in awe of the fact that I was eating under the Eiffel Tower to take pictures of the food, but most picnics here consist of a chilled rose wine, great cheeses, chorizo sausage, bright red cherry tomatoes, a huge bowl of the most delicious deep burgundy cherries and the sandwiches are not just your regular ham and cheese on rye, it is white ham with camambert on a just-baked whole wheat baguette. For me it was too hot to do much of anything so I hopped across the street to Patisserie Pinaud and crazy Jean-Marc, zee spreeeng cheee-ken, and bought an assortment of mini pastries which weathered the subway ride relatively well.

Here are some shots of Parisians just hanging out. If you are reading this from the Bay Area, give it a try. It will feel strange at first but you’ll get used to it pretty quickly. You might even catch yourself uttering a French phrase or two or craving a baguette. Trust me on this one. 🙂

Hanging out at Cafe Delmas on rue Mouffetard, one of Hemingway’s hang outs…

Hanging out at Cafe Contrescarpe across from Cafe Delmas at Place de la Contrescarpe…

Hanging out at the Champ de Mars under at the Eiffel Tower…

An artist at the Jardin de Luxembourg painting the fountain…

Hanging out at the fountain at the Jardin de Luxembourg in from of the Senate. They show movies here during the summer on a huge screen. You can see the bleachers set up in the background…

Hanging out at the Jardin de Luxembourg on one of the few grass areas that allows people on it…

Hanging out at the Jardin de Luxembourg under the palm tree facing the fountain…

More people hanging out around the main fountain at the Jardin de Luxembourg…

Catching up on the day’s news at the Jardin de Luxembourg…

An impromptu concert at the entrance to the Jardin de Luxembourg…

Hangin’ Out in Paris 17 June,2006Cucina Testa Rossa

  • Tanna

    Oh, how I love hanging out in Paris. You are right the Paris folk do know how to hang. And I can’t wait to return to the Jardin de Luxembourg, thanks so much for such great pictures that really transport me!!
    So great that you’re learning to hang.

  • cucina testa rossa

    thanks tanna, so glad you’re envjoying the view! i’ve been accused of becoming french so maybe this hanging out this is catching on 😉

  • Corine

    Comme c’est beau ! “Hanging out”, it’s what I miss the most in my American life.

  • cucina testa rossa

    merci corinne. je comprends ca completement! vous devez revenir pour une visite, vite!



Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world's most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin's PBS cooking show, "Fast Food, My Way", Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. "More Fast Food, My Way" should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor