It was 1925 and Victor Lustig was sitting in his Paris hotel room reading a newspaper article about the Eiffel Tower. That gigantic structure had been built for the 1889 Paris World’s Fair and was meant to be dismantled in 1909. But because of its height, it was used as a radio tower and came…
Marianne’s Story Did you know that France has been led by a woman ever since the French Revolution of 1789? It’s true! My name is Marianne and my image is on official seals and postage stamps, and sculpted busts of me adorn city halls and public buildings throughout the country. Every French person can easily…
It’s carnival time again and Nice is buzzing! Every year, the Nice carnival has a different theme, and this year it’s music. The Carnival King, His Majesty King of Music, who has the largest float and leads the parades, is depicted as the conductor of an orchestra – and he is rising out of a…
Medieval Florence, like many European cities, had ‘sumptuary laws’ to regulate luxury items, with an emphasis on women’s clothing. These laws proved difficult to enforce upon the clever Florentine women, however. All clothing was regulated, but there were few – if any – prosecutions brought against men, while a multitude were levelled at the female sex.
If you like bread, then when you’re in France you probably stop by the boulangerie, or bakery, every day to buy a baguette, croissant, or one of the other tempting treats that you will find inside. But if you were a bourgeois, or wealthy, family in the nineteenth or early twentieth century you wouldn’t need…
I’m sure we’ve all heard of the Moulin Rouge in Paris, the historic cabaret topped by a red windmill, which is famous for its can-can dancers. But do you know who was their highest paid performer at the end of the 19th century? His name was Joseph Pujol and he had a very peculiar talent.
For any book-lover, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris is a must-see. It’s been the centre of the English-speaking literary community in Paris for sixty years. Located just across the Seine from Notre Dame, it’s housed in a crooked 17th century building with huge exposed beams. The building, which was originally a monastery, has been transformed into a magical place which feels like visiting an eccentric uncle’s study. Every space is filled with books, interspersed with art objects, philosophical signs, and here and there, a vase of flowers or a cat.
Even though some of the American/British folkloric characters don’t come to France, you’ll be happy to know that the jolly old man in the red suit does. Of course, he goes by a different name: in France he’s known as Père Noël, or Father Christmas.
Yay! It’s Live!
It looks like my book is finally live on Amazon – so let the orders begin! Just kidding. :-) But if you know of someone who loves all things French, maybe this would make a nice little Christmas gift.
Well, I think I’ve done it! No, I haven’t robbed a bank – I think I’ve finished my book! I still have to wait to see the proofs, which should be here next week, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. It will be available on Amazon and I’ll be sure to let you know when…
I’m finally back to Nice after travelling for two months. I have basically been on the go since April and now, I just want to stay home. Travelling is nice, but sometimes it’s just good to get home and stay there for a while. So I am planning to stay home all winter long (or…
Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild loved her animals, but did she really host a formal wedding for her dog?
In Florence’s New Market (the same one where the bronze pig resides) you can find leather good and all kinds of souvenirs. But be careful about going there if you have any outstanding bills. This is where people were once punished for failing to settle their debts.
Il Porcellino, as the Italians call him, means “the little pig”. However the bronze porker fountain sitting at the side of the New Market, or Mercato Nuovo, is really a wild boar, or a cinghiale in Italian. He supposedly brings good luck when visitors rub his snout and put a coin in his mouth.
The French love their holidays. There are lots of them scattered throughout the year but July and August are the months of les grandes vacances when business almost comes to a halt….
When I recently toured Santo Sospir, the villa decorated by Cocteau, the guide pointed to a fougasse (a local bread) painted on the wall and said it was a reference by Cocteau to the hands painted by his friend, Picasso. I didn’t really understand the link because the bread looked nothing like a hand to me….
What would you do if you invited someone to spend a week at your holiday home and he decided to redecorate it and then he decided to stay – indefinitely? Francine Weisweiller was thrilled….
When the French Revolution started with the storming of the Bastille, one man saw his chance for fame and fortune….
French jazz developed under some interesting circumstances during the Nazi Occupation of World War II….
In summer, it’s hard to find an open space on the beach, so It’s hard to imagine that up until the 1920s there were no summer tourists here, no open hotels….
Cours Saleya is the heart of Old Town Nice and it’s always pulsating with life. Striped awnings….
Normally I’m not a fan of modern architecture. but there are a few modern structures that I really appreciate and one of them is in Nice, France….
I recently spent two weeks in Salamanca, Spain taking a beginner Spanish language class….
Some animal and plant related French sayings illustrated with photos from q day in the park….
There’s no Tooth Fairy in France so who collects the children’s teeth?…
May 1st, a day to take off work and give out flowers….