Archive for the 'Quiet Time' Category

Omniscient America?

Many French people have what seems to be a sincere belief that the U.S. government is in charge of things. Watching over the world. Blundering, doing things wrong, but omniscient. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard conspiracy theories based on the idea that the U.S. government had to know. Among the things that […]


Belief in astrology: it’s sort of like autism. Or sexuality. It’s a spectrum, not a black-and-white thing. Like many people, I don’t believe the planets guide our every action, but there’s little denying that the movement of our solar system (and beyond) has a real effect on us earthlings. Just look at the tide, or […]

Tools of the Trade

Ashtray in the home of one of the editors of the news agency Agence France Presse.

A WWI Survivor

Sufferings and betrayals in Paris under the German Occupation in the Second World War have been recorded in many memoirs, novels, and movies, but the literature on the city in the First World War is more sparse. I decided to look through our collection of postcards and books to learn more. I have two postcards […]

Right Bank Wifi Cafes

If spending a sunny day cooped up indoors and working away on your laptop sounds like torture, then head to les Têtes Brulées. This sunlit spot, located just off the legendary rue Montorgeuil, boasts one of the sunniest terraces in town. Thanks to the service continu, you can order a snack or even a full-blown […]

Here in Provins…

The stone and timber construction of this home is punctuated with the weathered but sturdy door. Each of the homes along the main street leading to the upper town of Provins is graced with lace curtains. From the bolted repairs of this door, one might think it abandoned, but the delicate touch of fabric at […]

Off the Beaten Path

On the secluded southwest corner of the grounds of Hôtel des Invalides is this quiet topiary garden walled off from the Avenue de Tourville. It is far away from the entrances to les Invalides and the tourists. In my many visits here I have seen families, lovers, readers, walkers, and not infrequently a single person […]

French Cats Don’t Get Fat

Lyon is considered the gastronomic center of France. Restaurants do not give out doggie bags, so plenty of food goes uneaten. This cat lives next to several restaurants in Vieux Lyon, the historic center of the city. Why is he skinny?

Do You Vapoter?

They say the best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one, and now that electronic cigarettes have become all the rage in Paris, let’s hope the fruity-scented vapor replaces the tobacco tar stink that still hangs over the city’s sidewalk cafés. In the past two months I’ve seen […]

Spa Treatments from Luxe to Frugal

It has been a long, long winter, and now that the sun is making timid appearances, you may be interested in gently reintroducing your body to the world with a trip to the spa. For a posh swim and gourmet pastries at a historic palace hotel, book an afternoon of “Gourmandise Sportive” at the Shangri-La (10 […]

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