The Little Jew?!

July 19th, 2014

funny boneI just whacked my funny bone and oww did it hurt. I realized I didn’t know how to say “funny bone” in French. None of us are actually Franco-French in my house, and I can’t say it would normally come up in a conversation. So I looked it up on WordReference (which by the way is a great resource), and it said that the informal translation was le petit juif (the little Jew). As in (this is the example given), “I accidentally hit my little Jew and my arm is still tingling.” I think I’ll be using le nerf ulnaire instead.



Emerging from Obscurity

July 18th, 2014

atlantic limpet the paris blogThe crepidula fornicata, or Atlantic limpet as it’s soon to be better known in English (sometimes also known as the Atlantic Slipper Shell, or berlingots de mer in French) is actually native to the northeast of the U.S.

Until now, few people have tasted this shellfish as it’s very difficult to extract the edible part from the shell. But now, Brittany native Pierrick Clément and his team at the company Britexa have invented a machine that separates the shell more easily. Why is this machine in Brittany, if the limpet is native to the U.S.? As the story goes, the limpet was actually brought over from the U.S. to France in the D-Day invasion. The shellfish stuck to the hulls of the military ships. The limpet has multiplied exponentially in France, making it an environmentally friendly food to eat; it is not overfished.


The Other Tower in Paris

July 17th, 2014

old tour st jacquesla tour st jacquesA high stone edifice in a small park in the very centre of the city looks like there ought to be some more of it; it ought to be part of something—yet it stands there all alone: 54 metres high (171 ft). It is the Tower of Saint Jacques and it’s some five centuries old.
Once it was part of the Church of Saint James of the Butchery – Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie – named for the butchers of the wholesale market of Les Halles, which was close by.

The church, tower included, was constructed from 1509 to 1523, when the King of France was Francis 1 (1494-1547). In 1793, with the French Revolution raging, the State bought the building and tower from the Catholic Church, planning to demolish it. That happened, except for the tower. The Church had stipulated that it would only sell the building if the tower was to remain standing.


Accidental Art

July 16th, 2014

louvre rivoli metro stationI always thought the Louvre-Rivoli metro station was so cool with the fabulous fake treasures of the Louvre lining the platforms. I attempted to photograph it many times but the lighting was too dim. A few months ago they stripped the station bare to renovate it and the platforms now look like an art installation, somewhere between an archeological dig and Robert Rauschenberg paintings with remnants of phrases from old posters and splotches of bright paint on the dirty white tile.

>more photos

Shopping and Style in Paris

July 16th, 2014

Guest Post by Devin Galaudet

1guestpostBefore top brands and suave designers took over, fashion was already meandering along the River Seine.

To date, the “City of Lights, Brogues and Fedoras” remains the inimitable fashion capital of the world.

It all started with Anne Boleyn’s hood.

In the 16th century, her hood failed to cover most of her hair. It was bold. The foundation had been set and haute couture emerged in the 18th century, but it was dominated by the elite class. In the 19th century, an Englishman started experimenting with novel designs displaying them on mannequins for the world to see. He labeled them with his own name and heralded a fashion revolution of sorts. After that, it was understood that anyone who wanted to succeed in the fashion world had be part of a couture house or an independent owner of one.

Paris Shopping WomanDuring the World War, while Paris was occupied by Germany, New York and London gained some fame on the fashion runway. However, once it was over, designers went back to Paris, claiming it irreplaceable. Dior, Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent gained prominence.

The number of couture houses has diminished since then and the designers are fast losing their independence but Paris still hosts the best fashion shows of the world. The city evolves, and therein lies its strength. It is up-to-date with changing tastes and anyone looking to make a mark in fashion still prefers Paris over Milan, London or New York.

Fashion in Paris isn’t subtle but bold. It chases you while you look for it. Rent a car from Thrifty in order to not miss anything out of exhaustion. The Louvre-Tuileries and Faubourg Saint-Honoré districts are among the best to shop in. Just a few minutes away from Boulevard Haussmann, the Faubourg Saint Honoré is home to brand gurus such as Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes and Chanel. The classics go hand-in-hand with the trendy in this district with concept boutiques like Colette to be found as well.

‘Tu’ or ‘Vous’ Made Easy

July 15th, 2014

infographic tu or vousThe Los Angeles Times, a paper whose coverage of France is typically lame, has redeemed itself with this handy and hysterical chart on whom to tutoyer and whom to vouvoyer. Thanks to Polly Vous Francais for spotting!

Bastille Day from Far and Near

July 14th, 2014

orchestre national de franceNo matter where you live, you can commune with Parisians today, the national holiday known simply as “July 14th” (only outside of France is it known as Bastille Day). The National Orchestra of France will play a classical concert with a theme of “War and Peace.” The show, which takes place on the Champs de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower, will be simulcast here starting at 9:30 pm Paris time. Tune in, turn on, frog out!

A Car-Less Champs-Elysees?!

July 12th, 2014

champs elysees parisFor the first time ever, the Champs-Elysees will be closed to automobiles in observance of July 14, or what Americans (but not the French) call Bastille Day. From 2pm-6pm, the famed promenade will be for pedestrians only. Most Parisians and savvy expats avoid the Champs-Elysees, a morass of tourists and chain stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch.This novel event might be a chance to rediscover it.

Velib for Velittle Ones

July 10th, 2014

velib childrenThe famous city bike-sharing system Vélib’ is now available for kids. P’tit Vélib’ exists in four sizes (and always with helmets) through special rental centers in the Bois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes, Les Berges, Canal de l’Ourcq, and Paris Plages. They can only be rented by the parents, of course, from €4-€6/hour.


The Goat Moat!

July 8th, 2014

the goat moatYou may have noticed, while strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries, that there are goats in the grassy “moat” near the Grand Bassin (on the east end of the gardens). Don’t feed them! These are an endangered breed of goats (Chèvres des Fossés) brought in to “mow” the grass in the steep ravines that are inaccessible to the gardeners’ regular lawnmowers. And they make less noise. The goats are managed by a non-profit association that’s trying to reintroduce this old French breed known for its milk and its docile disposition.