Free Exhibit Chronicles Paris’s 20th Century History

Paris, 1953. By Marc Riboud © Marc Riboud/Magnum Photos

A free exhibit of 150 photographs chronicling the sometimes turbulent history of Paris, its residents, and its challenges and triumphs throughout the 20th century has just been extended by a month so that Parisians and visitors to the City of Light can experience the region’s rich history as seen through the lenses of some of the world’s best photojournalists. Titled “Paris Magnum,” the exhibition includes images taken by 30 photographers from the renowned Magnum photo agency. The photo display, which opened just before last Christmas, was originally scheduled to conclude on March 27, but recently was extended an additional month through April 25. Continue Reading →

How Did the Croissant Become a French Staple?

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Croissants are ubiquitous in Paris. Every pastry shop and boulangerie makes them. Every café sells them. A typical Parisian breakfast? Croissants and coffee. And for travelers to the City of Light, indulging in a buttery, flaky croissant (or several) is every bit as important as a trip to the Eiffel Tower or a bateau ride on the Seine. But how did this simple pastry become so ingrained in French culture? No one is absolutely certain, but theories abound. (And here’s a guide to where you can find the 10 best croissants in Paris!) Continue Reading →

Au Revoir to Paris’s Best Cassoulet Restaurant

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One of my favorite cold-weather comfort-food meals in Paris is cassoulet. A few years ago, I stumbled across the very best cassoulet I’ve ever tasted, at Au Bon Saint Pourcain — a tiny restaurant in the shadow of Saint Sulpice church. But fellow fans of the eatery began to notice in mid-2014 that the restaurant was temporarily closed, with signs in the window indicating “Ferme Pour Travaillez (Closed for Work).” After several months of seemingly no progress, patrons–locals and visitors alike–began to question when the renovations would be complete. And now we know the disappointing answer. Continue Reading →

Love Truffles? You’ll Adore Maison de la Truffe

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It’s that wonderful, pungent time of year when fresh truffles are available throughout France. The odorous—but delicious—fungi that grows underground near the roots of trees chiefly in woodland areas (and are traditionally found with the aid or trained pigs or dogs) is abundant during the late fall and early winter. And these rare—and very expensive—are available in shavings, slices and even occasionally whole at high-end markets throughout France. But one of the best places to stock up on the smelly delicacy—and one where you can buy truffle-flavored products at any time of the year—is Maison de la Truffe (House of Truffles), a small shop with an adjacent truffle-themed restaurant located directly on the Place de la Madeleine on the Right Bank. Continue Reading →

Bottazzi Holds Art-Creation Event at La Defense

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French painter Guillaume Bottazzi is currently staging a live art-creation event at the futuristic D2 Tower in Paris’s La Defense district, where the artist is publicly painting a 250-square-meter (820-square-foot) work, adding to it a bit each day through November 18. The artist has installed an outdoor workshop at the base of the skyscraper located on the eastern edge of the La Defense district, where he works from sunrise to sunset each day on the work that will be displayed permanently in front of the building. Continue Reading →

Fete de l’Humanite: Music, Humanism and Activism

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This weekend in Paris—well, just outside the city, in the northern suburb of La Courneuve—is an annual event that many dub the French version of Woodstock due to its focus on music, humanism and activism. Called Fete de l’Humanite (Festival of Humanity), the three-day gathering is known mostly for its series of folk, rock and pop music performances. But over the decades, the annual September gathering has grown to include political debates, candidate presentations, calls to action, political organizing seminars and much more aimed at advancing the goals of humanism and equality, both in France and around the world. Continue Reading →

Does Paris Need ‘Epicurean Street’ La Jeune Rue?

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There’s a bit of a controversy brewing over plans by a wealthy French entrepreneur to turn a largely nondescript area along the Rue du Vertbois in the Marais into an upscale epicurean “village” called La Jeune Rue. Some say the initiative is the next big advance in urban gentrification, while others claim it merely turns the Paris neighborhood into a sort of Disneyland for the well-to-do. What do you think? Continue Reading →

Selfies Instead of Love Locks? Hmmm …

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Paris officials announced this week that they have a partial solution to the city’s “love locks” problem–asking couples that normally would place a padlock on the Pont des Arts to instead take a selfie on a Paris bridge and post it Twitter with the hashtag #lovewithoutlocks. The idea is that couples can celebrate their relationships through social media rather than via real-world padlocks. Yeah, good luck with that. Continue Reading →

Another Summer Treat in Paris – Fete des Tuileries

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Another summertime treat in Paris is the annual La Fete Foraine du Jardin des Tuileries (typically just called the Fete des Tuileries), a temporary funfair set up in the Jardin des Tuileries adjacent to the Louvre. Held this year from June 28 to August 24, the festival includes more than 60 “fair-type” rides, attractions and food vendors. Among the rides is the enormous La Grande Roue—a huge Ferris wheel that provides stunning views over the city. Continue Reading →

France Protects Booksellers from Amazon.com. Merci!

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While Amazon.com continues to put U.S. book stores out of business through its cut-rate prices and ruthless business tactics to destroy its competition, France has taken action to protect what it deems a vital part of the nation’s culture and heritage. A new law would ban Amazon from offering free shipping to all addresses in the nation, effectively eliminating one of the online seller’s biggest financial advantages. Government officials say the measure is needed to protect two key components of French culture–books and the proprietors that sell them. Continue Reading →