Friday, November 19, 2010

The Paris Proust Files: Forest Collins, Mixology Specialst, Cocktail Genius + GIVE AWAY!

Photo cred: Melanie Vaz
Get ready, because the Snark Parade is about to trample through your interwebs. But before you read on, check out another fave blogger of mine, Kasia from Love in the City of Lights, who has also interviewed Forest in her article The Dream Life of Forest Collins! Read it for more info on her background, how she wound up in Paris and of course, Forest's lovely sense of humor shines through in that one too!

- Comment below - tell us your favorite Parisian bar & why
- RT this story on twitter with @ShaNeSaisQuoi

Though Paris may not be as big as other major international hot spots like New York, or London, they have one thing in common: TOO MANY DAMN BARS. Should I go here? There? NO, no wait. Someone said this place was better than that place. And then there's that new one that just opened up, it's getting rave reviews. But should I trust them? Do we have similar taste? Do they know what the hell they're talking about or is it all just buzz?

By the time I get done reading all the reviews on Yelp, Qype, Cityvox, LaFourchette, and all the opinions from friends & bloggers my head is spinning and pea soup is ready to hit the walls. How the HELL does one find a good place for cocktails in this town without trying them all yourself?

I'll tell you: 52martinis is how.

Not only does this lovely expat know her martinis, but she has impeccable taste in bars. I can personally guarantee you that if Forest likes it, it's gotta be good. The best part is that you can join her escapades! Every Wednesday she has a cocktail evening, and monthly a big meetup! Looking to meet expats or people who enjoy good places? Now you have no more excuses to stay home! Here's where you can get info on her meetups:

And now on to the Paris Proust Files interview!

Virtues: What do you like most about yourself or your writing that you think you can say without sounding too conceited? What makes you so flippin' amazing? (You know this is what people mean when they ask 'what are your strengths', don't look so shocked.)

This is where I’m supposed to say something meaningful like “I don’t take myself too seriously. This allows me to learn, accept, analyze, synthesis and hopefully, from that process, come up with something new to offer in both writing and life - rather than just regurgitating what everyone else says. I believe true art is about creation rather than representation. Both have their pros, but I think – I hope – that by not taking myself too seriously, I (will eventually) have the ability to create something new, rather than just represent something that already exists.” But, it’s way more interesting just to tell you that I think I might be double-jointed, which makes me pretty flippin’ amazing!

Faults: What do you like LEAST about yourself or your writing that you think you can say without sounding too pathetic?

Like a lot of writers, I hate to “kill the little darlings.” But they’re so cute, so funny, so me, so appropriate. I always have to tell myself “Shut up and get out the damn butcher knife!” And, even then I’m not as cut-throat as I should be.

Chief characteristic: Define yourself or your writing in 1 word that I can repeat to other people when I talk about you behind your back, ie: He/She is so _______.

I have no problem with people talking behind my back, but I don’t want to know what they say. If it’s bad, I’ll just feel like a jerk. If it’s good, I’ll just feel like I have to live up to it and that’s a lot of work. But, when people do talk behind my back, I hope it’s to say she’s so sincere. Because as much of a nutcase as I can be or as diplomatic as I might seem, I hope that I always can, one way or another, be true to myself and express what I really believe. If not that, let’s just hope they say “She’s full of shite, but she’s totally effin’ hot!”

Men: Is there anything about Parisian men that doesn't make you roll your eyes? What do they do that makes you think, "Oh yah. That one's def from Paname!"?

They lie about their height…although maybe that’s universal. But, my first very un-PC answer was going to be “they’re short.” Then I realized I can’t throw out a blanket statement like that without some serious research (i.e. looking on the Internet.) It seems the average height of a French man is 5’ 7.5” (1.75 meters.) No way are half the guys in Paris taller than me and I’m only 5’6” (1.71 meters)! Trust me; I compare our height in the reflection of the metro window when we’re all crammed in there standing up during the strikes. So, I revert to my initial answer: Parisian men are short. Perhaps the national average is balanced out by all 6 foot Frenchmen who live in the countryside or move to Scandinavia where all tall people live.

Women: What about the Parisian women? Quite the bag of 'tude eh? Or are we the ones who require re-wiring?

I find French woman quite endearing and would like to be friends with them. However, they seem to have it in for me because I talk a lot of crap about the size of their men! Seriously, I find French women fall into one of two camps with me. They’re either overly friendly and want to have a pet American copine or they are very stand-offish, eyeing me over their Perrier’s with a look that says “You will never be française…” That being said, I do have some really amazing French girlfriends, so I can’t really generalize.

Heros: If you could be any Frenchie who would you be, and why? (Good luck choosing. Between the painters alone you're totally screwed trying to pick one...*evil laugh*)

I’d sound completely pervie if I said Anaïs Nin. I’d sound completely up my own cul if I said Montaigne. So, I’ll go with Chanel. She seemed to have faith in her own judgment, crossed boundaries and created something new, which is still influential today. And, whether she is credited with creating it or just popularizing it, an LBD is a girl’s best friend!

Emotions: What about Paris brings out the 16yr old drama-queen in you: happy, sad, mad, excited, love, hate; what brings out these emo-spaz-attacks? What do you love/hate most about Paris?

I’m one of the most emotional unemotional people I know. I’ll cry watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then hear about the world’s greatest tragedies with more of a practical “let’s not cry about it, what can we do?” approach. So, simply the fact that I live in Paris gets me pretty spazzy sometimes. But, then again, the fact that I can drive a car sometimes blows my mind…so perhaps this question is best left to the experts.

Places: In what Parisian hood would you love to live in? We all have our favorites! Why is it yours, what makes it all that?

I really like my old hood, around Place de Clichy. I don’t want something too bobo or trendy. Place de Clichy is close enough to the gentrifying Batignolles and my current locale, the village-y Montmartre, but also close enough to a bit of grit to make it interesting.

Wishes: What typical French characteristic do you wish you possessed? (If you say ability to to eat mounds of Camembert and stay thin, I may smack you.)

Of course, that stylish scarf thing. I pretty much look like I’m off to strangle myself!

Motto: What's your motto when in France? How do you minimize the hardships of life abroad?

The same as my motto anywhere: Keep your head down, your eyes open and be nice to everyone until given a reason not to be. But, when given that reason, give ‘em all you’ve got.

Thanks Forest!

Don't forget to enter to win your free drink, & to check out Kasia's interview as well!


  1. Damn. While you gals get to party it up in Paris, drinking Martinis, I'm stuck in a little town outside of Toulouse. I want a Martini! 52 of them! Love the interview!

  2. thanks Samantha! Get yourself up here for a Paris weekend and we'll take you out for 52 of them...or at lest one or two! :)

  3. Great interview! I love her motto. I try do the same; but never really thought about it until reading her words. Also, great observation about French women. I found some really nice ones, but kind of boring so not super fun to hang out with. The ones that do take an interest in me seem to do so because they want to practice their English. Luckily, my sister-in-law is very cool; and I have one other French gf who is a blast (and tolerates my French). Speaking of boring, I can't even think of a place to offer up. I guess I should go read Forest's blog!

  4. Love, love, love that interview! Keep'em coming, Forest!

  5. Forest, you are too funny! Great interview. Re: the giveaway, I'm up there with Amy - I'm such a hermit I don't even have a favorite bar to offer up. I trust Forest 100% to choose for me :)

  6. great interview, do you know the "sancerre" in the seventh, more like a wine bar, does this count?

  7. Thanks for the nice feedback, all! Samovar - i say a wine bar counts - but i guess we should defer to Shannon on that one since it's her blog! :) and I haven't been to Sancerre but I've heard good things of it - and i'll check it out now on your rec!

  8. @Sam agree, Forest is a crack up & who doesn't love martinis??
    @Debbie, I'm sure more will come, F's a great interviewee
    @Sion, good call trusting F ;)
    @Amy, def go read the blog, it's loaded w/ places.
    @Samovar, will have to check that one out!
    @Cailin, thanks!
    Comments & RTs count, no need to list a bar, just a bonus! :)

  9. I always go to Frog and Princess for drinks in Paris!

  10. Congrats to Sion who won the give away!!! You can collect your free drink at one of Forest's meet ups, CHEERS!!

    xx S

  11. Yeah Sion!! Extra bonus as that means I'll get to see you at a meetup soon! :) I'm currently scheduling the next one, so I'll keep you in the loop on it!

  12. Woo-hoo! I love winning things and I love free and I love Forest. All good news. See you soon then! :)


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