Up and Down the Market Street

January 22nd, 2016

coverElaine Sciolino moved to Paris in 2002 when she was assigned the position of bureau chief for the New York Times. First living on the rue du Bac in the haute bourgeois Saint Germain, raising her two daughters with her husband Andy, she always had the desire to live on the rue Martyrs. With its reputation as one of the great food shop streets and a more down-to-earth and authentic Parisian neighborhood, it was her 9th arrondissement antidote to the snobby St. Germain and over-commercialized and touristy Marais. Wanting to downsize her living space when her daughters went off to college in the U.S., in 2010, Elaine found here dream apartment on rue Notre Dame de Lorette, just a few steps from her beloved rue des Martyrs.

martyrs 2Her new book, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, is a combination of a true passion for her new neighborhood, the respect and genuine caring about her neighbors and local shopkeepers, and a good reporter’s persistent curiosity in uncovering a great story, the book from page one is delightful and highly entertaining.

A major part of the book is the stories about the shop owners: the troubled fish shop that eventually closed which the neighborhood was up in arms about, the touching chapter about the aging octogenarian showman Michou and his past glory as the greatest and oldest ongoing drag show artist in Paris, the quirky shop that restores old barometers, getting past an insecurity from college by bravely befriending the owners of a bookshop with a sign saying “Non Intellectuals Not Welcome”, and a lovely story about a Tunisian antiques dealer who gives her his Hermes scarf right from his neck and invites her to his Passover seder, plus a funny madcap caper about retrieving an enormous neon sign from the junkyard cherished by a shopkeeper who was forced to close his shop.


Wanna Be on TV?

January 15th, 2016

camera-crewA researcher for the British TV Channel 4 is seeking the following. If this is you…and you fancy seeing your mug on TV…you can email Shaymaa at outlineproductions dot co dot UK

I’m looking to speak with anyone who lives in Paris but commutes back to the UK for work.

channel 4 logoIt would be great to speak with someone to help with my research even if they don’t wish to appear on television.
I’d love to hear what attracted them to a life abroad and how they’re finding it.

The programme is a new lifestyle and property show for Channel 4 which will look how people can improve their quality of life by moving abroad whilst maintaining a career in the UK.

Um…Is It Hot in Here?

January 3rd, 2016

Pompiers_SexyEvery December in France you’ll see the French firemen, or pompiers, selling their annual calendar to raise money for their non-profit association, ADOSSPP (Association pour le développement des œuvres sociales des sapeurs-pompiers de Paris), which provides assistance to injured fire fighters, as well as their families in case of death. As the French fire fighters are part of the French military, the calendars are rather…professional. You will see images of the fire fighters at work, putting out the flames, saving lives, in training exercises, etc.

I like to follow the Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris on Facebook because they always post photos and videos of their work. I should warn you the remains of burn-out houses and apartments are depressing, but you also get some pretty cool stuff, like this amazing rescue of an injured tourist in the dome at Sacré Coeur Basilica and needed to be taken out through the windows in a stretcher. You can watch one of their training videos to see what kind of physical strength and endurance is required of all fire fighters (note: they’re not all firemen; women make up 8% of the French fire brigade, or about 14,000 total).

pompier_calendarIf you would like your own 2016 Calendrier des Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris, and you haven’t run into any firemen selling them at the market, you can simply stop by any caserne in Paris to buy them direct. Here is a map of all of the fire stations in Paris and immediate suburbs.

It should be said that the French buy these calendars to support the fire fighters, not because they’re very interesting calendars. Or rather, not very exciting. But now there is a new calendar by Pompiers sans Frontiers (Fire Fighters without Borders), a French NGO that responds to humanitarian crises around the world as well as working with at-risk and vulnerable populations in France. To raise money and awareness for their work, they have come out with a très chaud calendar featuring the sexiest firemen photographed by Fred Goudon and published by Flammarion.


France’s First Gender-Based Museum Show?

December 20th, 2015

shows about womenConstrained by social norms or cultural tradition, women working outside the home in the mid to late 1800s walked a fine line when wanting to earn a living. Three Paris exhibitions follow the working life of women for almost a century from 1839 to 1945. All three are exploring subjects assembled for the first time. “Qui a peur des femmes photographes” (Who’s Afraid of Women Photographers) Part 1 (Musée de l’Orangerie until January 24, 2016) and Part 2 (Musée d’Orsay until January 24, 2016) is the first gender-based exhibition in France (!). and “Splendeurs et Misères, Images de la prostitution 1850-1910″ (Splendour and Misery – Pictures of Prostitution 1850-1910 Musée d’Orsay until January 17, 2016). “Splendeurs…” is the first time a museum is dedicating an entire exhibition to prostitution.


Paris Survival Kit

December 9th, 2015

kit de survieBecause I am what my family calls the Queen of Guidebooks, I couldn’t resist this Paris Survival Kit I bought in a Paris museum recently. Isn’t it it cute? I bought it because of the genuine information I found in it, such as a few places to eat, work, or send visitors; also because it’s fun to see how real Parisians look at themselves– this book is aimed at them. The only foreigners to get their own chapter in the book are Americans. But don’t be flattered! Despite the scholarly-looking preface from the (bogus) Harvard professor John P. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D (the real author got it right in having him dateline it Cape Cod, July 2015), the book’s Americans are there strictly to be avoided.

How do you learn to identify (and avoid) Americans in Paris?

1) The American in Paris smiles.

This physiognomic particularity should warn you, since in Paris no one ever smiles. (see Gueule [attitude], p. 64)

2) The American in Paris is loud

You won’t even have to bother looking around the restaurant to identify the Americans who have infiltrated the clientele. The background noise will tell you quite enough. Moreover, the American in Paris is the only person to call the waiter “Garçon,” even when it’s a waitress.

3) The American in Paris lives in an amusement park.

For the expat American, “Paris is a moveable feast,” as Hemingway wrote, which shows you how completely he got things wrong. When you explain that your Paris life is nothing but an exhausting series of underground journeys, interminable office hours, and dreary evenings, the American in Paris laughs! Because as for him, he is having a great time going out, eating and drinking!


The Man Behind the Meme

November 15th, 2015

eiffel tower peace

Slate has the story behind the now-iconic image, and the man who drew it.

The creator of the drawing was a French illustrator named Jean Jullien, who posted it to his Twitter page around midnight Paris-time with the caption “Peace for Paris,” and watched it swiftly take flight. Jullien, whose work tends to be marked by a light touch and a breezy, sometimes high concept sense of humor, has made a habit of reacting to the news in graphic form before, drawing pictures to mark the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the legalization of gay marriage in Ireland, and the massacre at Charlie Hebdo in Paris last January.

World Rallies for Paris

November 14th, 2015

the world supports paris

Tragedy in Paris

November 14th, 2015

NYTIf you live in Paris or are visiting, make sure to let everyone know if you are OK right now. Today’s terror attacks differ from the Charlie Hebdo murders earlier this year; those were targeted and these are clearly all-out slaughter. Not that it makes any difference to the victims or their loved ones.

Go Fish?

November 9th, 2015

Ever wonder why so few people fish in the many waters in Paris? Maybe because there ARE NO FISH?! This seasoned fisherman, having bought a rod in the specialty store Des Poissons Si Grands (in the 7th), cast his lures in three different spots this past weekend: The Seine, the Canal St. Martin, and the big lake in the Bois des Vincennes. He received nary a nibble! Though he did meet some friendly young Frenchmen and spotted a sunning turtle. canal st martin fish seine fishing bois de vincennes

Paris’s Gated Communities

November 1st, 2015

gated community in ParisIn the U.S., there are gated communities. Paris has its own versions– these private streets, which abound in the 16th arrondissement. Usually you have to know a code to get in. One of them, the Villa Montmorency in the southern half, Auteuil, even has full-time guards who patrol the streets and monitor the gates. Inside, behind the screen of trees, is one of the very few (or the only?) places in Paris where large private one-family houses exist with gardens and even swimming pools.