Tag Archives: Paris

Paris in July 2016 – Reading Adventures

If there is anything that would bring me out of my blogging hibernation, its probably my favorite yearly event. Paris in July hosted by the wonderful Tamara at Thyme for Tea.

Paris in July 2016


Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City
I don’t have much on my plate this summer. I’m currently reading this book:

Its a view of the political world and dealings of the Paris restructuring of the 1860’s under Napoleon III’s empire with Baron Haussmann at the helm. Its an interesting read, although I wish it included more maps, better pictures and more talk about the effects of the renovation and demolitions on the inhabitants of Paris, rather than the political dealings of government trying to get this grand project underway.


I recently stumbled on this amazing walking tour of Paris via my library’s Hoopla account:

Its an hour-long walking tour of the some of the most scenic and idyllic views of the city of light. Its technically meant for those passing their productive time away on treadmills and elliptical machines, but I prefer to watch the views pass by from the comfort of my computer chair.


I don’t have any other grand projects in mind beyond the usual. Watching some French movies, listening to French music and bringing home some picture books set in France for my preschooler. He’s already well-acquainted with the Eiffel Tower. In fact, almost everything he builds with blocks he calls “The Eiffel Tire.” We’ll see where the rest of the month takes me.


Book Review: How Paris Became Paris by Joan DeJean

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City by Joan DeJean

Source: library copy

Genre: non-fiction

How Paris Became Paris is a wonderful book for anyone interested in a brief history to the City of Light. DeJean’s book covers a lot of ground, focusing on the 17th century developments happening in the city. However, she doesn’t go in as much depth as say a history book. Her writing style is much more casual, although you’ll be inundated with interesting facts about the structuring of the city of Paris.

She starts with the Pont Neuf bridge, and from there, the chapters discuss the ripple effects of this bridge on French social society. The invention of this bridge quite literally paved the way for modern French interactions, fashion as well as development throughout the city. The widened bridge became the first in Europe to be of such a width as to allow the public to parade through the streets. It is as a result of this bridge, that the French started leaving their homes to go for walks. These walks led to the necessity of being fashionably dressed. The need for fashion led to the invention of clothing stores and the hobby known as shopping. The availability of shopping allowed for people of all class caste systems to be able to dress and intermingle with people above and below their rank. This intermingling led to many more social developments, particularly in relation to women’s freedoms.

The chapters have a very easy flow to them, picking up where the previous one concluded. I found them to be the perfect length. Neither too long, nor too short. There are a number of illustrations, photographs and maps dotted throughout the chapters to break up the text and help highlight the author’s opinions. The author has a clear love for the city, and it strongly reflected in her writing. Paris can do no wrong and had apparently been an inspiration to other European capitals over the centuries. I’d strongly recommend this to anyone planning a trip to Paris. Having some historical insight will make the tourist stops that much more meaningful.

Paris A to Z: I is for…

I is for Île de la Cité

Located on the Seine and one of Rick Steve’s Historic Walks, the Île de la Cité is one of two little islands located within the city of Paris.

Set up around the 3rd century B.C. In 52 A.D., after being plundered by the Romans, the settlement was rebuilt as the Roman city of Lutetia…Later, from the 6th through the 14th centuries, the kings of France lived on the Île de la Cité. A palace, constructed during Merovingian times (5th to 8th century A.D.), was built at the western end of the island, allowing the island to remain an important political center through the Middle Ages. In the 10th century, a cathedral – one that would be the predecessor to the famous Notre Dame – was erected on the island. (A View on Paris)

At one point, all of Paris resided on this one little island. That is why it  remains the heart of Paris. All road distances in France are calculated from the 0 km point located in the square facing Notre-Dame’s pair of western towers. On the Île de la Cité, you will find:

  • Notre Dame Cathedral – built from 1163
  • Pont Neuf – inaugurated it in 1607
  • Ancien Cloître- The oldest remaining residential quarter, that evaded Baron Haussmann’s gentrification mission
  • Palais de Justice – Modern day Supreme Court built in the 18th Century. The remains are found in the St. Chappelle Church which is where Marie Antoinette was held prior to her execution by guillotine.
  • Place de Dauphine – A cute little residential park
  • (http://www.aparisguide.com/ile-de-la-cite/)


Paris A to Z: H is for…

H is for Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann. He is best known as the civic planner who redesigned the narrow Rues of Paris with grand boulevards. He was commissioned by Napoleon III to modernize the city  in 1852. Its funny to think that the Paris we see today, is less than a 100 years old in its visuals. I wonder what the old streets of Paris used to look like? The narrow roads that took you nowhere, or pushed you through claustrophobic little alleyways.

parisBetween 1853 and 1870, Paris took a turn for the new under Haussmann’s watchful eye. How did he redesign the city? He razed many of the old, twisting streets and rundown apartment houses, replacing them with the wide, tree-lined boulevards and expansive gardens.  Haussmann’s plan also included uniform building heights, grand boulevards, and anchoring elements including the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Opera House, all of which is what Paris is known for today in regards to architecture.

Books on Haussmann

1.Transforming Paris : the life and labors of Baron... by David P Jordan 2.Haussmann : his life and times, and the making... by Michel Carmona 3.Paris reborn : Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann,... by Stephane Kirkland 4.The man who made Paris Paris : the illustrated... by Willet Weeks

  1. Transforming Paris : the life and labors of Baron Haussmann
  2. Haussmann : his life and times, and the making of modern Paris
  3. Paris reborn : Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the quest to build a modern city
  4. The man who made Paris Paris : the illustrated biography of Georges-Eugene Haussmann

Video Clip – The Transformation of Paris

Paris A To Z: F is for…

F is for Fromage!

But of course! With a wonderfully well selected glass of wines, goes a hunk of stinking cheese, right?

Speaking from experience, the smellier the cheese, the more delicious the taste and more tactile the textures in taste and the more delicious it tasted when paired with the appropriate glass of wine. For me, I will be eating some fromage de chevre sur un baguette aujourdhui avec un cafe creme.

Oh, to talk about cheese in France…I am woefully unqualified, so here is a list resources to help you get better acquainted with a food so essentially French.

Kitchen Art via Etsy – GeraldineAdams

Kitchen Art French Cheeses home decor - Art Print 8x10 Typographic print Gourmet cheese lover food illustration

Fromage Fort recipe from the Smitten Kitchen

fromage fort

What cheese will you be eating today?


Paris A to Z: A is for

A is for les arrondissements.

Paris, has 20 neighborhoods, or districts known as Les arrondissements. When I went to Paris 2 years ago (feels like 2 decades ago), I stayed in the 6th arrondissement, on the Rue Cler. That is also where Julia Child spent many of her days in Paris, walking the same streets, shopping the same shops.

This mini guide can introduce you to each of the arrondissements unique personalities.

This mini guide provides more fun details of what you can find in each arrondissement.

This is my favorite shot of the Rue Cler, with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower in the distant. We were right on the border of the 6th and 7th arrondissement, so it was a pleasant walking distance from our hotel.


Life in Perspective

2 years ago, I was celebrating May Day in Paris with a baguette, stinky cheese, wine and some beautiful flowers on the hotel balcony with my husband on our honeymoon. 


Today, I am not. 

EarthCam – Le Tour Eiffel

My Francophila has hit a new low. Behold, the EarthCam – The Eiffel Tower. A 24-hour live stream of the Eiffel Tower in all its shiny glory. Now I can sit at my desk, with a cup of coffee and a madeleine and pretend I am back in Paris.

I need help.

Paris Je’ taime, j’adore le tour Eiffel

That is all. Happy Friday everyone!

Paris in Love (Eloisa James)

Paris in Love by Eloisa JamesParis in Love by Eloisa James
Age: Adult
Genre: Memoir
Source: Library
Publisher: Random House, 2012
ISBN: 9781400069569 / 260 pages
Find this book at your local library

In 2009, Eloisa James, her husband and two kids took a big leap in their lives, hopping across the pond from New York to Paris for a year. The move came during Jame’s recovery period from her diagnosis and struggle with cancer only two years after cancer took the life of her mother. The memoir isn’t really about the cancer and learning to live in the moment. In her own words she:

did learn that moments could be wasted and the world would continue to spin on its axis.

The book is a wonderful collection of snippet observations that James had posted via Twitter and Facebook and emails during her time in Europe. This is by far, one of my favorite memoirs about living in Paris. James’ observations are witty, clever and eloquently written. The brief stories range from the experiences of her entire family. There was a very unique twist of her American born children going to an Italian school in France (their father is Italian, so the children are already bilingual). Both James and her husband, Alessandro, are teachers taking a year old sabbatical to live in the city of lights. The sections about the children’s time in school was the most entertaining for me. It added a depth of understanding to French culture that other memoris gloss over.

There is also an adorably overweight chihuahua that makes appearances throughout the book, although Eloisa’s mother-in-law might not want to hear him described as such. Eloisa seems to have a fantastic relationship with her family, and it was nice to read about their family adventures, particularly in the ordering strange foods department at restaurants.

Each chapter starts with a few pages of Eloisa retelling a particular story in-depth. The rest of the chapter is followed by snippet observations. The book chronicles their time in Paris from summer 2009 to summer 2010.

Here are some of my favorite posts to give you a feel for her writing style:

Quelle horreur! The guardienne came to clean and noticed that our glassware was smeared, which had been driving me crazy. The box of dishwashing powder that we’d been using? Salt! It looked like dishwashing powder, it was under the sink, and I never bothered to puzzle out the label. We have been running the dishwasher with salt alone for two months.

Due to my disinclination to chop off chicken heads, my butcher whacks them off for me, but he leaves the knees; black and red, hardscrabble knees for running hard. Parisian chickens are much more chickenlike than Mr. Perdue’s; furthermore, eggs come ornamented with tiny feathers. My children shriek: “Butt feathers!” Having grown up on a farm, I like remembering the sultry warmth of newly laid eggs.

Marina said today the first thing she plans to do back in Florence is find a new vet. That nasty vet who told her Milo is obese, she said, is too young and doesn’t understand Milo’s emotional problems. Taking his life in his hands, Alessandro pointed out that the vet was the third and most recent to cast aspersions on Milo’s weight, and that the most important number to keep in mind was not the vets’ years, but the figures displayed on their scales.  

Eloisa James’ also describes May Day in Paris, which is filled with protests, and lilies of the valley being sold throughout the entire city. My husband bought a bundle of the flowers, some wine, cheese and bread, and we had a fantastic picnic on our hotel balcony watching the rest of the world walk by. Although we didn’t see any protests on the streets last year.

I also adored the story of Milo getting stuck between the wall and the couch while making a run for a treat, because he couldn’t fit.  There are also a number of beautiful descriptions of the rain/snow falling down her window, off the roofs, on the floor; the relationship she and her family formed with the homeless man sitting outside their nearest metro stop, and their experiences with visiting family and friends.

Eloisa James is also a highly successful romance novelist, so this book will be a welcome addition for her current fans. I finished this book in 2 days, and would have probably finished it in one night, if I hadn’t started reading it at 11p. As an added bonus, James’ includes a list of the shops & restaurants that she and her family frequented during their stay in Paris.

Just for kicks, this is my favorite picture of Paris from my honeymoon last year. We stayed in the Rue Cler district, and this was our view every morning when we went out for breakfast. Is it any wonder why I’m so desperate to go back there? Maybe that’s why I’ve relegated myself to living vicariously through other people’s Parisian memoirs. I think I’m bordering on pitiful at this point. Oh well. C’est la vie.