I started off the month by baking a a fresh batch of madeleines. The napkin is courtesy of the most adorable little French shop in Capitola in CA if you’re ever in the area. Petite Provence. They host French conversation clubs, and have a beautiful assortment of napkins, tablecloths, bread baskets, dishware, soaps, etc. Everything and and anything you would want. It reminded me of the little shopping booths I would snoop through in Arles.
I even brought my husband into the mix and we enjoyed some wonderful apertifs with Lillet Rouge and making our own Pastis this week.
This week has also graced me with unexpected books set in France to add to my reading list. On Wednesday, I found an unexpected copy of THE PORTRAIT by Antoine Laurain from Meryl Zegarek Public Relations. (Thank You!!) I came into work on Thursday and found ARCs of Last Christmas in Paris and Whispering in French waiting for me on my desk at the library. #libraryperks
This month is off to a wonderful start! Not sure where it’ll lead me next.
It seems like there’s a slew of new travel memoirs coming out this summer! Here are a few that caught my eye. Just in time for Paris in July too!
“One grey dismal day, Janine Marsh was on a trip to northern France to pick up some cheap wine. She returned to England a few hours later having put in an offer on a rundown old barn in the rural Seven Valleys area of Pas de Calais. This was not something she’d expected or planned for. Janine eventually gave up her job in London to move with her husband to live the good life in France. Or so she hoped. While getting to grips with the locals and la vie Française, and renovating her dilapidated new house, a building lacking the comforts of mains drainage, heating, or proper rooms, and with little money and less of a clue, she started to realize there was lot more to her new home than she could ever have imagined. These are the true tales of Janine’s rollercoaster ride through a different culture—one that, to a Brit from the city, was in turns surprising, charming, and not the least bit baffling.” (via Goodreads
I loved the author’s first book, Letters from Paris. I’m super excited to read this next installment!
“Part memoir and part visual journey through the streets of modern-day Paris, France, A Paris Year chronicles, day by day, one woman’s French sojourn in the world’s most beautiful city. Beginning on her first day in Paris, Janice MacLeod, the author of the best-selling book, Paris Letters, began a journal recording in illustrations and words, nearly every sight, smell, taste, and thought she experienced in the City of Light. The end result is more than a diary: it’s a detailed and colorful love letter to one of the most romantic and historically rich cities on earth. Combining personal observations and anecdotes with stories and facts about famous figures in Parisian history, this visual tale of discovery, through the eyes of an artist, is sure to delight, inspire, and charm.” (via Goodreads)
Many of my favorite female authors write about their connections to Paris and France.
“Brown (The Light of Paris; The Weird Sisters) pulls together a collection of Paris travel stories from 18 renowned best-selling female authors whose books have taken place in the City of Light in this engaging book. While each essay is a glimpse into the authors’ relationship to or experience in Paris and is unique, common themes include: expectations—the ideal of Paris vs. reality; love; breaking up; Parisian women and their penchant for extraordinary scarf wearing; and the ubiquitous dog excrement throughout the city. Brown acknowledges in her introduction the lack of diversity in writers whose books take place in Paris and so this collection reflects mostly heterosexual, white women’s personal experiences, and issues such as race, politics, and religion are not addressed. Numerous books covering life, travel, and experiences in the city exist (Janice MacLeod’s Paris Letters, Vicki Lesage’s Confessions of a Paris Party Girl), and this collection from writers who have written about the city is an enjoyable addition for readers who wish to travel to Paris or who enjoy travel essays. VERDICT An engaging, delightful glimpse into female writers’ experiences in Paris.—Louise Feldmann, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins
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.
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.
How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City by Joan DeJean
Source: library copy
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.
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
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.
Between 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. 2. 3. 4.
- Transforming Paris : the life and labors of Baron Haussmann
- Haussmann : his life and times, and the making of modern Paris
- Paris reborn : Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the quest to build a modern city
- The man who made Paris Paris : the illustrated biography of Georges-Eugene Haussmann
Video Clip – The Transformation of Paris
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
Fromage Fort recipe from the Smitten Kitchen
What cheese will you be eating today?
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.
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.
Posted in Books
Tagged May Day, Paris
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.