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The Napoleonic Elephant and the Tuscan Horse

The Napoleonic Elephant and the Tuscan Horse

But for Spanish insurgents, Place de la Bastille — today the site of an Opera house  — would have been graced with a vast bronze Napoleonic Elephant, notes Toronto writer Norman Ball in his latest illustrated stroll around Paris. Republished from here by kind permission of the writer who is joint publisher of the Parisian […]

Play it Again Sam … at French Train Stations

Play it Again Sam … at French Train Stations

French railways aims to make your wait for a mainline train as pleasurable as possible judging from its recent roll-out of “a vous de jouer” pianos for talented and not so talented buskers at 15 stations around the country. “Before there was Rock and Roll, there was Boogie Woogie. Before there was Boogie Woogie, there was […]

No Taxation Without … Internet

No Taxation Without … Internet

After six years of fruitless requests, petitions, demands and complaints, fed-up residents of Bussy, a 30-strong hamlet lost in the Limousin, say they are going on a tax strike until the hamlet gains access to the Internet. According to a France 3 TV report the residents claim they are being treated as “second-class citizens,” because […]

Pastis in the Sun? Just a Matter of Time

Pastis in the Sun? Just a Matter of Time

The winter solstice over the residents of Florac in the Cevennes look forward to mid-February with particular passion, even though an early evening pastis in the sun still lies some way off.  Roger East describes why the Rocher de Rochefort lacks local love in mid-January. Fast forwarding the calendar is a tempting thought on long winter evenings everywhere. Florac, […]

Buddhist Monks Pray at Bordeaux Chateau

Buddhist Monks Pray at Bordeaux Chateau

Buddhist monks pray for happiness at ‘unlucky’ French chateau (via AFP) Buddhist monks Tuesday conducted a benediction ceremony at a French chateau and vineyard whose new Chinese buyer and its former owner are feared dead after a helicopter crash. Twenty-six members of the Fo Guang Shan monastic order led prayers for “happiness…  

Humble Hamburger Conquers Haute Cuisine

Humble Hamburger Conquers Haute Cuisine

Humble hamburger conquers land of haute cuisine (via AFP) Once considered the worst kind of food sin in France, the hamburger is conquering the land of haute cuisine. From humble fast food to Michelin-starred gourmet burgers, sales of the most quintessentially American sandwich have soared in France and the…  

Toulouse – Where Rose is Really Violet

Toulouse – Where Rose is Really Violet

If you thought the humble violet of Eliza Doolittle fame was merely a wonderful deep purple bloom, a popular posy from the past and particularly from Victorian and Edwardian England, you’ve clearly never visited Toulouse.   For those who love musicals the Julie Andrews/Rex Harrison version of My Fair Lady was among the most glamorous ever made. That is certainly the […]

Want to Spend Bitcoin in France? (Caveat Emptor)

Want to Spend Bitcoin in France? (Caveat Emptor)

Over the past year Bitcoin has become hot speculative stuff among trendy online currency investors but how easy is it to spend the coins? UPDATE: Scroll down to Max Kaiser’s latest video for some startling news from Cyprus on Bitcoin. While most of the early adopters were in north America the attractions of a cross-border, non-bank-controlled and non-governmental […]

On the Road in the Gorges du Tarn

On the Road in the Gorges du Tarn

For 500 years scattered settlements in Gorges du Tarn, southern France, punted downstream in flat-bottomed boats for supplies but then came the road. Here Roger East, a writer and walker based in Florac, casts a wintry eye over this magnificent valley. Anyone familiar with these parts in summer might find it hard to credit, but driving the whole length of […]

‘Crimes Odieux’ – How Paris Fared in WWl

‘Crimes Odieux’ – How Paris Fared in WWl

Through the ages, Paris has been a battleground in many conflicts, from the Siege and the Commune to the First World War.  Now, as the world prepares to commemorate the centenary of the Great War,  Philippa Campsie  scans the rather sparse literature on Paris in that war to unearth some fascinating insights. Republished from hereby kind permission of […]

A Photo Shoot at Café de Flore

A Photo Shoot at Café de Flore

What might Vanity Fair, Mademoiselle, Rolling Stone, Marie Claire, Glamour, ELLE and the famous Parisian Café de Flore on Saint-Germain-des-Prés have in common? Barbara Redmond, long-time Francophile and publisher of A Woman’s Paris®, travelled to Paris to join up the dots. Her piece which first appeared in A Woman’s Paris®, is republished below with permission […]

Show Some Solidarity With Ties (Shirts Too)

Show Some Solidarity With Ties (Shirts Too)

Christmas displays are already in some French shops so how about a gift for a group of Parisian student volunteers who run an unusual clothing collection and jobs advisory network? La Cravate Solidaire (Solidarity Tie) provides couture basics to first time job hunters for whom making that right first impression in a very tight employment market is mission […]

“Invasion forces” Repelled at Rodilhan Bullfight

“Invasion forces” Repelled at Rodilhan Bullfight

Efforts by joint American and European animal rights groups to disrupt the traditional annual bullfight in the village of Rodilhan (pop: 2 528) near Nimes in southern France were thwarted Sunday by a heavy riot police presence. (This story has been updated below, with a contribution from two animal rights activists to reflect their viewpoint), […]

War and Peace on Corniche des Cévennes

War and Peace on Corniche des Cévennes

In “Travels with a Donkey” Robert Louis Stevenson put the hardy Cévennes on the trail map of a region that harbours darker history including the persecution of Protestantism. Here Roger East, a writer and walker based in Florac, explores aspects of harsher times. The mild October weather in southern France has got mushroom lovers heading for the […]

Bouzy Yes But Not At All Bubbly

Bouzy Yes But Not At All Bubbly

Champagne’s Bouzy little secret (via AFP) If ever there was a place destined to produce a cheeky tipple, it has to be the village of Bouzy in the champagne country of northern France. Yes, it really is pronounced “boozy” and that is not the only thing that stands out about this charming little…  

The Discreet Charm of Elegant Art Deco Paris

The Discreet Charm of Elegant Art Deco Paris

A stunning exhibition of the work of George Barbier at the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, inspired Norman Ball to set off on a Parisian journey through the eyes of this French Art Deco illustrator, whose views on good taste are chronicled in the Gazette du bon ton. Republished from here by kind permission of the […]

All that Jazz – And an American GI in France

All that Jazz – And an American GI in France

Anyone living in France soon realises the country takes its jazz very seriously, ranking it as a high art form and ennobling it with prominent slots on flagship radio stations such as France Musique and France Culture. Not all that surprising perhaps. New Orleans – birthplace of jazz — was after all a French protectorate […]

Pile of EuroCoin Trouble for Chinese Tourists

Pile of EuroCoin Trouble for Chinese Tourists

Next time you trade in your old car without checking it, spare a thought for two innocent Chinese tourists denounced for carrying a large hoard of one euro coins and detained by police in Paris. The two tourists were arrested when a hotel manager in Bagnolet (Seine-Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb), alerted police after the men […]

Church 2.0 Blesses Phones, Ipads and Ipods

Church 2.0 Blesses Phones, Ipads and Ipods

St Christopher is the patron saint of travellers as many taxi drivers — with the saintly image glued to their dashboards — will tell you, but for Father Gil Fiorini of Nice, St Gabriel is the saint to watch, as in watch-over mobiles, Ipads/pods or other indispensable digital lifebelts. The good father Florini, an enterprising […]

Back to Basics in Food-loving France

Back to Basics in Food-loving France

Return to self-sufficiency in food-loving France (via AFP) Like many in food-loving France, Jerome and Marylin are serious about what goes on their plates — enough to quit the city, tired of factory-farmed goods and pricey organic foods, and return to the self-sufficient farming of bygone days. Despite having…  

Straw Bale Evangelists Building French Homes

Straw Bale Evangelists Building French Homes

No more huffing and puffing, houses of straw are far from fairy tales: in the Vosges, residents will soon be comfortably settled in Europe’s first 8-storey straw bale block untroubled by any Three Piggy wolf at the door. And as Mike Alexander, our roving nature and gardening correspondent, reports below, one enterprising farmer is literally sewing small […]

Making Moonshine is Illegal in France but…

Making Moonshine is Illegal in France but…

Making moonshine is illegal almost everywhere. However in France if you’ve a few orchards of unsold peaches or apricots and can find a licensed itinerant distiller you can still enjoy the  spirit-warming fruits of your labour. But for how much longer?  This was the question that prompted our Grumpy Gardener Mike Alexander to set off recently to […]

When it Comes to Chocolate is France King?

When it Comes to Chocolate is France King?

While admittedly not invented by the French, chocolate has — as with so much else that is food-related — long been a national passion, obsession even. Chocolates from Debauve Gallais Indeed a club dedicated to Chocolate Munching — Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat — was set up in 1981. Nicolas de Rabaudy and Claude Jolly-Lebey, the two […]

French Politics Puts its Boots on the Ground

French Politics Puts its Boots on the Ground

Fifty years on since the 50-Mile Kennedy Walk inspired extreme hikes in the US, Britain, South Africa, Australia — and ongoing endurance treks in Europe –French randonneurs are out in force … including three on a surprising political pilgrimage. Back in 1963 US President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans and others around the world to […]

Time to Blok your Mobile?

Time to Blok your Mobile?

Dutchman Dave Hakkens aims to be the man mobile phone manufacturers will either love or hate.  For he has a vision —  a mobile phone designed to last. His Phoneblok (see photo above) is made of detachable ‘bloks’ connected to a base which locks everything together into a solid phone. If a ‘blok’ breaks it is easily […]

Bucolic Canal du Midi Must Do Some Work

Bucolic Canal du Midi Must Do Some Work

Moves afoot to boost commercial use of major waterways in France and across Europe — reducing pollution by road hauliers — should apply also to the Canal du Midi local officials suggest. This debate about a commercial future for Pierre-Paul Riquet’s brilliantly engineered 330 year-old canal, is one of the topics under the spotlight at […]

1 Million ‘Likes’ for Burgled Nice Jeweller

1 Million ‘Likes’ for Burgled Nice Jeweller

An unprecedented one million French Facebook followers have ‘liked’ –shown support for — a Nice jeweller on bail on a manslaughter charge after a burglar who raided his business premises, was allegedly shot dead. The French Riviera has been hit by a wave of daring armed assaults by thieves who have gotten away with millions […]

On Capricorn and Aoûtat – an Autumn Lament

On Capricorn and Aoûtat – an Autumn Lament

So what do Capricorn and Aoûtat have in common? Not much except both are small, both are pests, and both cause damage in unusual ways. More importantly both recently have been making life tediously uncomfortable for our nature correspondent, Mike Alexander, a tale of autumn lament as he recounts below. While Capricorn are a pest […]

Why Collect when Chickens do the Dirty Work?

Why Collect when Chickens do the Dirty Work?

Forget plastic bags and poubelles the French have plumped for a better answer to household waste collection — a pair of chickens. Local authority officials in Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme, Picardie (north) have been distributing the chickens to householders — “we give them out in pairs because otherwise they’d be lonely” —  instead of waste collection bags and […]

Paris: Where “Chinese” Now Means Money

Paris: Where “Chinese” Now Means Money

As Paris sales staff, deploying their best Mandarin, push overpriced luxury goods — some even made in China — the big winners from the current Chinese influx is the national airport authority, writes Wolf Richter. This piece is cross-posted by kind permission of Wolf Richter (*) publisher of the Testosteronepit blog.   The Big Shift: […]

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