Paris cemeteries…where the saints go marching

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Oscar Wilde’s grave

November in Paris begins with yet another long weekend away from work – le pont de la Toussaint (All Saints Day) – one of many strewn along the French calendar year. As Paris florists bring out their stock of chrysanthemum for the annual commemoration of Parisians now gone, and as other Parisians pack their cars and pile up at the exits of the city for yet another frantic weekend on France’s chock-a-block highways, why not use this most appropriate time of year for a less stressful outing to one of the capital’s cemeteries. This should be completed with the purchase of Georges Brassens’ “La Ballade des Cimetières,” a perfect way to record your outing and do your French homework. Continue reading “Paris cemeteries…where the saints go marching”

Albert Renger-Patzsch’s “Things”

Stapelia variegata, Asclepiadaceae 1923 Albert Renger-Patzsch

A major exhibition of around 190 photographs revisits the work of the German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897-1966), whose photographs are associated with the “New Objectivity” genre ( to January 21, 2018).  His typologies and industrial landscapes have influenced the documentary style of several generations of photographers including Bernd and Hilla Becher as well as Andreas Gursky. Continue reading “Albert Renger-Patzsch’s “Things””

The Mistress of Paris

Take a walk on the wild side of Belle Epoque Paris with this biography of Emile-Louise Delabigne, known as countess Valtesse de la Bigne (1848-1910). who was a legendary French courtesan and demi-modaine. Her lovers included countless painters, writers and politicians, while her affairs with women caused a scandal in turn-of-the-century Paris. She was painted by Édouard Manet and inspired Émile Zola, who immortalized her in his scandalous novel “Nana.” Continue reading “The Mistress of Paris”

John Baxter’s Saint-Germain-des-Pres

The Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighborhood is world famous for its connection with artists, writers and intellectuals… and now shopping. For many years this part of Paris has been a stronghold of the “sans culottes,” a refuge to artists and a place for bohemians. Napoleon, Hemingway, and Sartre have all called it home. Descartes is buried there. The writer Oscar Wilde spent his last days in the quarter, at the small, run-down hotel called the Hotel d’Alsace at 13 rue des Beaux‑Arts. The legendary Ecole des Beaux-Arts—attended by such artists as Pierre Bonnard, Edgar Degas and Georges Seurat—is here. And the Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres is where students battled the police in May 1968. Continue reading “John Baxter’s Saint-Germain-des-Pres”

Can My Kid Cope with French Schools?

ImageQ: I am moving from the States to Paris in the fall with my 6-year-old son who will attend a French public school. Since he doesn’t speak any French I worry that he’ll be traumatized when he realizes he can neither understand a thing, nor make himself understood. How can I make the transition easier for him? A: Children learn languages faster than their parents. They are far less self-conscious about making mistakes than adults are, and make frequent use of body language that is pretty much similar across cultures. Still, to help the process along, here are a few suggestions. Continue reading “Can My Kid Cope with French Schools?”

Paris Impressions

A new bilingual book “Paris Impressionniste” illustrated with 100 paintings brings together some of the images of this mythical city many of us carry in our head, such as Camille Pisarro’s “Le Pont Royal” or Caillebotte’s “Rue de Paris, temps de pluie,” or Edouard Manet’s legendary “un bar aux Folies Bergere” When Humphrey Bogart told Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca we’ll always have Paris. he wasn’t talking about the Paris of surly bureaucrats, strikes and traffic jams, but the Paris of Manet’s lovers in “Chez le pere Lathuille”… the romantic Paris.

Monet painted smoke clouding the Gare Saint-Lazare, Renoir captured the Pont Neuf’s reflections in the Seine, Pissarro portrayed Avenue de l’Opéra from his hotel room, Manet immortalized waitresses in a café at Pigalle… Between its river and its tall skies, the French capital lacked neither nature nor textures for artists intent on capturing the magic of light in an urban setting. Plus the city with its street life, workers, cafes and entertainment was an extremely happening fin de siecle place to paint. Continue reading “Paris Impressions”