Archive for the 'French Traditions' Category


Mimes…Oh, My!

The first time I ever saw a mime was in that wonderful movie, Children of Paradise, which a more sophisticated friend introduced me to when I was 19. Baptiste, the mime in the movie, is first seen on stage, saving the heroine, who was in his audience, from disgrace by showing the crowd that the real [...]

Gallerie Vivienne Gathering

If you frequent the side halls in the famous covered passages of Paris, you will likely see gatherings of students sketching the century-old architecture. The arches, the moldings, the skylights, and even the floor tiles are worthy of a sketch. You will see students in the not-so-famous covered passages as well.

The Catholics of France

The French bourgeoisie is very Catholic. To what extent they are truly religious, I can’t say, but for example, most of the top private schools in Paris are Catholic, the upper class goes to church (or pretends it does) more than the other urban classes, and every family seems to be related to a priest [...]

Just a Facade?

Paris is said to be a city of pretention, where appearances are more important than the realities of the interior. Whilst this may be true for a certain number of the city’s inhabitants, it is also often true for the city’s buildings. Here is an interesting example on the Boulevard Pereire. From the Boulevard, this [...]

Sunday: Rest or Work?

There’s been a lot of talk about “repos dominical” around here lately.  Every time I hear the phrase I imagine a priest having a late afternoon cup of tea, but it really refers to the right of French people to relax on Sunday, and (most importantly) not work. Worker’s rights have always been a hot subject in [...]

A Novel Idea

What’s so special about mornings at a French café?  Well, look at the photo.  See the guy sitting by himself reading?  What is he reading?  A novel.  Not a newspaper.  Not a magazine.  Not a computer screen.  Look around the cafe (which, by the way, is Chez Prune just off the Canal Saint-Martin).  Do you [...]

It’s Just Not Said

Most Americans know better than to ask their friends how much money they earn or to ask how much was spent on a large ticket item like a house. It is considered uncouth for us to be so nosy. The French, on the other hand, take the subject of money to a whole new level. [...]

Coming Up: European Heritage Days

French politician Jack Lang decided in 1984 to open the doors of French public buildings to the public. 50 countries in Europe now do the same, annually the third week in September. After that first Journée Portes ouvertes dans les monuments historiques (Historical Monuments Open House) on the third Sunday in September. The Sunday visits [...]

France’s Lactariums

Often when I’m on the road, I’ll end up watching France 2′s “Télématin” program while getting ready in the morning. It’s sort of like the French version of the “Today” show, but not as fun. So the other day, I was listening to it in my hotel room while repacking my suitcase, and I heard [...]

American Lunch at the Palais Royal

The new dining mecca Verjus, which serves gourmet sandwiches at lunch at a teeny wine bar, offers local favorites from American cities including Mr. Chang’s Buns from the East Village in New York. Midnight Cuban from Seattle, Washington, and Bakesale Betty from Oakland, California. I’m a sucker anytime or anywhere for fried chicken and the [...]

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