Author Archives: French Girl in Seattle

Trending in Paris: French Girl in Seattle reports

Trending in Paris: French Girl in Seattle reports

I am back, after twelve fast-paced, fun-filled, memorable days in Paris. A few nights ago, I lay wide awake in my own bed, five hours before I had to return to the office. I decided to fight jet lag like a champ, by browsing through several hundred photos from the trip saved on my laptop. This nocturnal Paris trip inspired this story, and the realization that when Paris is concerned, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.) What’s trending in Paris in April 2018? Overall, what was trending in Paris in April 2017, and more than likely , what was trending earlier too. Illustration.

(Still) trending in Paris: les terrasses de café (café terraces)

Like Parisians, they come in all shapes and sizes. Even if they are empty early in the morning, they fill in quickly, especially on sunny days. It does not matter if it is cold or raining outside. Many are covered or equipped with gas heaters, and comfortable year round. trending in Paris trending in Paris

trending in Paris

Why are they so popular, when sitting there often means inhaling second-hand smoke from the table next door, and paying more for drinks? Les cafés are the best place to socialize, to people-watch, and a natural extension to Parisians’ diminutive living quarters. It does not not matter that coffee quality is hit and miss, or that soda does not come with free refills and could bankrupt you. In Paris (and other parts of France,) it is a well-known fact life is best lived en terrasse.

(Still) trending in Paris: Les bords de Seine (the Seine riverbanks)

Ah, la Seine! The French capital’s lifeline remains one of her most iconic landmarks. She continues to inspire, and most Parisian strolls lead back to her.

trending in Paris

trending in Paris

(Still) trending in Paris: l’apéro (apéritif)

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” they say in other parts of the world. Parisians reply: “On prend l’apéro?L’apéritif remains a beloved ritual. It can be simple, your beverage of choice accompanied by a few slices of saucisson or cheese, a handful of peanuts or small crackers. It can be more elaborate. Lately, cafés have been offering dishes “a la plancha,” tapas-style, just like in Spain or the Mediterranean region. Charcuterie and cheese remain popular options.

trending in Paris
Happy Hours (les Heures Heureuses)

trending in Paris

(Still) trending in Paris: the Coffee Revolution

Forget old-fashioned cafés where le petit noir (a cup of bitter espresso) is best enjoyed au zinc (at the counter) with other regulars.

trending in Paris

In the much-touted “New Paris,” small, specialty coffee-shops, mostly run by Americans or Australians (or former French expats) have popped up all over the city, especially in the trendy parts of the Right Bank (10th and 11th arrondissements.) They pride themselves on serving top-quality, fair-trade, freshly-roasted coffee and talk about their selection du jour like a vigneron bordelais discusses his favorite wine vintage. One visits for the coffee experience, the Wifi, but not for the size of the room or the {non-existent} terrace. Tip for foreign visitors: These are the coffee shops you should visit if you are homesick and want to meet other English speakers.

trending in Paris
Café Oberkampf

trending in Paris

{Still} trending in Paris: the Americanization of France

Franglais (French: [fʁɑ̃ɡlɛ]; also Frenglish /ˈfrɛŋɡlɪʃ/) is a French portmanteau word referring initially to the pretentious overuse of English words by Francophones, and subsequently to the macaronic mixture of the French (français) and English (anglais) languages. (Wikipedia.)

Franglais has been an integral part of French life for many years, in ads, in magazines, and in the street. Le Fooding (paper or online version,) is one of the most trusted restaurant guides in France. It has become so big the famed Michelin guide has recently acquired shares in the company! Many French entrepreneurs meet daily in co-working spaces found in major French cities, to create and collaborate with like-minded people. In French restaurants, especially in Paris, the rumor has it le hamburger has been such un best-seller it has now replaced the traditional jambon-beurre sandwich in French hearts. One thing is true at least: Le am-ba-ga can be spotted on most menus, from gastronomic restaurants to more humble eateries.

trending in paris
Spotted in le Métro: an ad for lafourchette.com, the online restaurant reservation system

Let’s not forget France’s fascination with MacDo! Don’t les Français realize MacDo is singlehandedly responsible for Manny the woolly mammoth’s extinction? I was able to catch a very rare sighting of an exhausted Manny seeking refuge at le Jardin des Plantes, only to spot MacDo over his right shoulder, seductively calling his name! Run, Manny, run!

Trending in Paris

In recent years, a former French expat has come home to introduce Parisians to texas-style barbecue. As long as diners are allowed to use forks and knives, he should do just fine.

Are bagels going to replace the traditional baguette? Has le hamburger dethroned French fast food? Not so fast, Ronald McDonald: On a recent stroll at la place des Vosges on a glorious spring afternoon, among the many picnic afficionados sprawled out on welcoming grassy areas, I spotted a majority of jambon-beurre sandwiches and its famous cousin, le poulet-crudités, There were a few galettes complètes (savory crepes) too. Yet, not a hamburger in sight.

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{still} trending in Paris: walking

Parisians walk everywhere. Many foreign visitors are shocked to see they lose weight while vacationing in the French capital even if they enjoy generous meals, plentiful wine, and their daily guilty pleasure: une pâtisserie. In recent years, much ado has been made about the art of la flânerie, an alleged Parisian specialty many people (who can’t survive without their car at home and will go out of their way to park right outside the buildings they are visiting) are happy to adopt as soon as they arrive in the French capital. It is Paris’s blessing and curse: The most mundane event happening in her streets is instantly embellished by the enduring “Paris mystique.” Meanwhile, Parisians seem oblivious to visitors’ and photographers’ fascinated stares. They are in a hurry and walk fast, to work, or to an appointment they are late for; later in the day, or during the weekend, they slow down and stroll, taking in the scenery.

{Still} trending in Paris: le trench, le parapluie, les tennis

In order to brave Paris’s fickle weather, especially in April, modern-day Parisians stick to what they know and trust: a good trench coat, an umbrella, and comfortable shoes made for walking.

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Les basiques (basics) are still in

When you walk as much as Parisians do, you need the right footwear. Don’t trust everything lifestyle bloggers tell you: Not all Parisian women spend their days on stiletto heels or ballet flats. Christian Louboutin shoes look best in a window display… or on a pretty woman sitting at a café terrace. They prove disappointing performers on the French capital’s iconic pavés (cobblestones.) For many years now, both men and women in Paris have adopted les tennis, or les baskets. American sneaker brands score big, especially among the younger crowd. More mature customers (including seniors) will stick to basic colors (black, navy, beige.) When they indulge in a whimsical pair (a light pink, silver, or sparkles,) sneakers must match the rest of the outfit, or at the very least the coat or jacket. We are in Paris, after all, not at the local gym! You will find French-style sneakers everywhere. Elegant brands like Inès de la Fressange or JB Martin Paris feature at least a few pairs in each of their seasonal collections.

trending in Paris
La Parisienne’s essentials

There is another reason les Parisiennes choose comfort over high heels: Like many women around the world, they walk the streets while staring at their smart phone screens and can’t take the risk of spraining an ankle. This continues when they ride the Metro. Fewer and fewer Parisians read books (or work) there. Everyone is too busy texting and reading French Girl in Seattle‘s latest blogpost on their telephone screen. Et oui, hélas, smart phones, too, are still trending in Paris…

A bientôt. 

trending in Paris
A French Girl, her umbrella, her trenchcoat, and her “tennis.” (Photo C. Redor)

Text and photos by French Girl in Seattle. Please do not use without permission.

18 Responses to Trending in Paris: French Girl in Seattle reports

  1. Loved the blog! I am so glad, despite some changes, that Paris remains much the same. When I get to travel there, I want to see all the things I have read and about. Great photos! Thank for sharing.🗼

  2. Eh oui, tout est correct. Absolument! Spot on!
    I listened to your interview on the Earful Tower the other week. Loved it!
    …..and in reference to this show,
    bises from one Brigitte to one Véronique 😉

    • Bises back at you, ma chère Brigitte. Glad you enjoyed the Earful Tower podcast and agreed with my comments. As I mentioned that day, compliments coming from fellow French natives are particularly sweet to my ears. A bientôt.

  3. Great report, Veronique! It was lovely to see your chat with French Frye in Paris and to hear your discussion with Earful Tower. You are as charming to see and listen to as your posts are to read.

    Thank you!!!

  4. Very nice post, really gives you a taste of what feels like to stroll about Paris.

    I’m ambivalent about the franglais… makes me sad to hear so much English in France, and makes it hard for anglophones to learn the language if francophones are too quick to use English with them. That said, I have si peu d’occasions de parler français aux États-Unis and feel it comes across as snobbish when I try… whereas I feel mournful that my country is so monolingual and ethnocentric, it’s dangerous and sadly limiting….

    • Thank you for sharing your photos of Paris. Enjoyed reading about their lifestyle. Hopefully someday in the future, want to fly out to Paris and sit at more than one of those beautiful cafes!!

    • Merci Susan. This is a complicated issue indeed. The French go a bit overboard with le franglais in my humble opinion. I recently read an issue of the French Elle magazine that had me in stitches because the editor obviously went out of her way to use franglais to sound “cool.” Never a perfect world, n’est-ce-pas?

  5. Merci. Je ne suis pas allée à Paris l’année dernière et l’année d’avant je suis juste passée en coup de vent. Je vois que je n’ai pas vu venir la tendance “hamburger”.

    Cette année j’ai prévu de passer une dizaine de jours à Paris.
    Je vais essayer de ne pas être trop timide et de faire des “live” pour partager un peu Paris avec mes étudiants (je suis un French tutor/coach).

    Je ne maîtrise pas assez l’anglais pour écrire de bons blogs comme les vôtres alors je m’abstiendrai.
    Et je continuerai à lire les vôtres.

    Merci beaucoup pour vos blogs et votre page FB.

    • Merci beaucoup de votre visite et de vos commentaires Catherine. Je n’ai pas été assez courageuse (et ai manqué de temps) pour me lancer dans les “Live Videos” pendant cette visite. Je vous admire de l’envisager! Si vous voulez voir un maitre en la matière, je vous conseille les visites guidées informelles organisées tous les samedis matin sur Facebook par mon ami Corey Frye, sur A French Frye in Paris. Si vous n’avez pas encore regardé le “café chat” pendant lequel Corey et moi avons répondu en direct à des questions sur Paris, je vous le recommande. Vous trouverez le lien Youtube sur la page FB de French Girl in Seattle. A bientôt.

  6. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même choses.
    It is good that some things in Paris are immutable. It’s also good that other things evolve, that the place isn’t some kind of giant museum. The balance of ancient and cutting-edge, of tradition and trendiness, are what make Paris so tantalizing.

  7. Bravo 👏 I absolutely loved reading this blog! One of my favorites!! It was an update to Paris for me. You have it down pat on what’s trending in Paris for sure. I was there with you…such a fun and enlightening blog. I’m a vegetarian but when I did eat meat..the jambon beure was much better than hamburger. It’s all about the bread 🥖 for me. Peace french girl. xo

    • Sorry, I’m so franglais. I have nobody to practice french with. My mom goes right to English because we don’t have time to blab long on FaceTime. C’est dommage pour moi. Ciao!

      • Merci Sandy. You need to return to Paris yourself and see if you can uncover trends I may have missed there! I know you are more familiar with southern France, and “la province” often rolls differently from the French capital (but not always!)

        As for the use of franglais, that’s ok with moi. “When in Paris, do as Parisians do…” and all that… A bientôt!

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Favorite French songs about Paris

Next best thing to being in Paris? Watching movies set in Paris. Reading books about Paris. Listening to other people’s stories about Paris. Or, if all else fails, listening to favorite French songs about Paris on Youtube. This list is not exhaustive. There are many contenders! The City of Light has inspired artists depuis toujours (forever.)…

26 Responses to Favorite French songs about Paris

  1. Music is incredibly evocative, of time and place and emotional states, so here’s my left-field nomination: Michelle by Paul McCartney (& Lennon). I know, it’s not directly about Paris and has only a few lines of French in it (but the lines you remember!) but for me at least there is something powerfully evocative of Paris about it.

    First, is the period it was inspired by and released into, ie. the 60s counter-culture; here’s Macca on it (via Wiki):
    The words and style of “Michelle” have their origins in the popularity of French Left Bank culture during McCartney’s Liverpool days. McCartney had gone to a party of art students where a student with a goatee and a striped T-shirt was singing a French song.

    …we’d tag along to these parties, and it was at the time of people like Juliette Greco, the French bohemian thing… So I used to pretend to be French, and I had this song that turned out later to be ‘Michelle’. It was just an instrumental, but years later John said: ‘You remember that thing you wrote about the French?’ I said: ‘Yeah.’ He said: ‘That wasn’t a bad song, that. You should do that, y’know.’

    McCartney continues to favour it in concerts, particularly in any Francophone place; bien sur he sang it in Washington DC with Michelle Obama sitting in the front row. The song has been covered by innumerable performers including Nina Simone, an honorary Frenchwoman!
    It won the Grammy for best song in 1967, which leads to ..

    Second, it was used by Ettore Scola for his “Paris ’68” segment in his 1983 “Le Bal” which was an extraordinary film without dialogue (shot like a silent movie but with music) that tracked the fifty-year story of French society by way of a ballroom in Paris. IIRC the version didn’t use lyrics and was a solo performance on saxophone while the riots were occurring just outside the ballroom’s basement windows. There were dozens if not hundreds of songs one could have chosen to represent “the 60s” but they chose this one.

    Most people find the movie to be powerfully evocative, and for me of Paris (even though the movie is entirely set in the ballroom) because I was living in Paris when I saw it not long after its first release (and again several more times over the years). It is also one of those movies that benefit from being seen in a theatre–back then there often was one of those small cinemas showing it somewhere in Paris.

    Michelle, ma belle
    Sont les mots qui vont très bien ensemble
    Très bien ensemble

    • Trust “Aussie-on-Ile-St-Louis” to always leave thoughtful, informative comments! I, too, enjoy Mc Cartney’s “Michelle.” Incidentally, I recently connected with another Aussie while in Paris: Oliver Gee, the creator of the entertaining “The Earful Tower” podcast. I don’t know if you have had a chance to listen to the episode we recorded at his 20th arrondissement studio last week. It was quite fun! A bientôt.

  2. Many old favorites and a couple that are new to me, so thanks for those!
    Aux Champs Elysée is a karaoke favorite. I don’t think I’ve been to a wedding or community dinner where it wasn’t played, and everybody sang along.

    • I am finally replying to you, after my whirlwind Paris trip. Thank you for stopping by once again. I am certain that living in southern France as you do, you must have heard that Joe Dassin tune quite often at family celebrations! A bientôt.

  3. If you search for “French love songs” on Youtube, you come up with several different mixes of them. The best is over 100 songs starting with Dernier Danse by Indila, followed by Stromae, and going through a lot of songs from the sixties and Julio Iglesias. “French Afro Pop” also yields a couple of nice collections. ZAZ has a mix too but unfortunately, it reapeats a lot.

    • Bienvenue Rebecca. You are right: French songs are popular out there. I do like that Indila song and almost added it, but I had to make some choices; or the list would have gone on for ever. Stromae is also a favorite of mine. I once wrotet e an article about him on the FGIS blog. Have you read it? Merci de votre visite, et à bientôt.

    • Merci Jeanne. I have just returned from Paris. What a great trip that was! I hope you could follow me on Instagram or Facebook, but if not, keep an eye out for upcoming posts here on the blog, or in social media. A bientôt!

  4. Madame Veronique,

    What a beautiful photo of Balzac’s house! And what a coincidence! Right now I’m reading a delicious book called “Balzac’s Omelette”, translated from French. I also see in the photo the Turkish flag, flying from its embassy, in what used to be the magnificent home of the Princess of Lamballe.

    And I like all your songs! Thanks to YouTube I could also find my old favorites:

    Tino Rossi – “Le plus beau tango du monde”

    http://youtu.be/nnOuoI09GAM

    and our own USA born, Eddie Constantine, singing “Si si si” – He was like a son to the immortal Edith Piaf.

    http://youtu.be/TsJvIAch-zQ

    These songs take me back to the Paris of my youth. Maybe they’re not about Paris…but they’re French after all?

    Have a safe trip home. I can imagine the excitement!

    Thank you,
    Maria

  5. Thank you for these wonderful songs. I will listen as I fly from here to there this Thursday. We are in Nice the first two weeks, so if you are in the area let us meet up if time permits.

    • Bonjour DiAnn. I hope you enjoyed Nice. Another FGIS reader, Dave, has been in Nice the last two weeks and told me the weather had been pretty rough for the area. Hopefully Paris will treat you better now. It looks like spring has finally arrived in the French capital, looking at the beautiful Cherry blossoms I spotted this week. Maybe we will meet in Europe one of these days…

      • Yes, Nice is having some Spring weather while we are here but we role with it and enjoy the city nonetheless. I have already made some forever friends here and will be back for an even longer stay next time.

  6. J’habite en France – Michel Sardou
    Michelle – Gerard Lenorman
    L’important c’est la rose – Gilbert Bécaud
    Il n’y a plus d’autre – Juliette Gréco et Guy Béart
    Pour toi – Mireille Mathieu

    • Bonjour Melinda. Some great classics here, even if they are not specifically about Paris. “J’habite en France” was a very funny (i.e. sarcastic) song about my countrymen. Did you know Michel Sardou officially retired this week when he gave his last Live performance?

  7. Dear French Girl,
    I can see from recent comments you are making that you will be moving back to France soon. I wish you weren’t as I enjoy having you here in the Seattle area, and all the posts you write about that sort of touch on French life that happens here. We haven’t met, and yet it makes me happy that you are here and I will be sad when you go. Weird, huh? Even though I will still be able to read your blog and Insta if you are doing it in France…
    Thanks for what you do!
    Sheila in Port Townsend

    • Bonjour Sheila from Port Townsend (what a lovely place you live in! I used to visit on a regular basis…) I would not worry too much about my relocating to Europe. It’s been my plan for many years and yet, you see, I am still here, blogging from Seattle, or at least the Seattle area. It will be a while before I am able to move my life back to Europe, hopefully France. In the meantime, you will still have me around. As a side note, I am touched by your message. Thank you. I appreciate your support. Keep following FGIS! The next step – as soon as I can get it done in spite of my busy work schedule – is a brand-new website. I hope you enjoy it and send me some feedback when I release it later this spring. A bientôt.

      • I hope you still use the watercolor doggie in beret w/space needle somewhere. It’s the cutest thing ever!
        In fact, please have notecards printed with this pic on front. They’d sell like hotcakes!
        Sheila in Port Townsend

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La Bastide, Bordeaux: the old and the new

La Bastide, Bordeaux: the old and the new

La Bastide, Bordeaux’s Right Bank Challenging decisions await travelers exploring a city for the first time: To visit landmarks, or not to visit landmarks, that is the question. Embracing crowds near said-landmarks, or exploring the roads less traveled to make one’s own path, is another question. To really capture a city’s essence, one must do…

17 Responses to La Bastide, Bordeaux: the old and the new

  1. It’s wonderful when cities revive unloved industrial districts. So much better than tearing them down…or letting them rot.
    I also appreciate the hipster penchant for using vintage (or just old) furnishings. It’s green.

    • I meant to add that I’ve been astounded/amused by how many times I’ve seen people leave personal items out in public places in France, especially where I live (small town Carcassonne). It makes me feel safe and also very proud of everybody’s good behavior.

    • Thank you for stopping by! I, too, enjoy this trend of making the old new again, and in a creative way to boot. I also like when the new incorporates “the bones” of the old structures as a starting point, and preserves some of the atmosphere, (and the past, in a way.) DARWIN is a great example of a successful transition in that regard. What my story does not highlight is what a thriving, creative space this area has turned into, many companies already working on site, young entrepreneurs finding inspiration and help, in co-working spaces, cultural events scheduled for the public each week… There is a lot more there to discover and I plan to return one day.

  2. I visited Bordeaux twice last year staying near Cite du Vin the first time and Chartrons the second – I didn’t venture across the river. However we are returning in August so your article is timely – thank you Veronique

  3. More I read your posts, more I want to visit these places. But it’ll be hard to do for old man like me. Merci beaucoup.

  4. It does look cool of course. But I’m amazed by the globalization of cultures. Except for the writing on the signs, it looks a lot like many places in the US with the « magnolia » influence. Love it though

    • Very good point, and I agree with you. It’s a good thing, in that sense, DARWIN is located on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, and visitors can still experience this great French city on the other side of the river.

  5. Mon dieu Magasin Général looks the ticket! Thanks for the trip. Geeze, que la France est belle! 2020 might be my year to move there. Time will tell french girl. 😉 xx
    Sandy

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Finding France at Pike Place Market

Finding France at Pike Place Market

Finding France is what I do; finding France is what I enjoy, wherever I happen to be. In France, even in touristy areas like Paris or Nice, I look for my France, and I find her if I am lucky: I remember feelings or experiences I once knew before relocating to the United States so…

18 Responses to Finding France at Pike Place Market

  1. Thank you so much for the shops I have not seen yet in Seattle. I’m new here and still exploring Pike Market. Excited to explore the shops you recommend.

  2. You are quite correct There has been a revival of markets throughout the Anglosphere in the past 20 years or so, but they are different. They are one manifestation of gentrification and indeed usually spring up in inner-city areas that have been gentrified. As a consequence, the produce is often at eye-watering prices and one is not always convinced the quality is so much different than the usual supermarkets (which these days in Australia & UK are pretty good in that department; well Waitrose/John Lewis in UK).

    I suppose Paris is constantly gentrifying too but I think both tradition and its mix of covered (permanent) markets and biweekly street markets (or some permanent street markets like Mouffetard, Le Cler, Aligre etc) means they can avoid the worst of the trend. I like Pike Place Market because it is permanent and indoors (more or less obligatory due to the weather).

    Here, we also have a proliferation of “genuine French bakers” but they are never as good; even with French boulangers I think the problem is their market, ie. we Anglos (though Australia is a saved somewhaat by its big European immigrant population, not many French but plenty of Italians, Greeks, Dutch and others, to counter the awful influence of the Brits): you simply don’t get real French bread outside France. It has to do with the flour, and the lack of other additions (illegal in France of course) that prolong “shelf life” that we Anglos demand!

    Ditto, for croissants which I assume are just too labor-intensive, use “expensive” ingredients (like real butter) and in the end the public simply don’t appreciate the real thing (while paying at least double Parisian prices for an inferior fake!). Not far from me is a “real French bakery” called Chouquette which does have a French baker and whose goods are quite … good. But still not really French.

    In fact there is a place in Melbourne, called Lune, which apparently has been proclaimed by the NYTimes to make the best croissants in the world:
    https://wishmagazine.theaustralian.com.au/959145/lune-in-fitzroy/
    The owner/chef, Kate Reid learned her trade from Christophe Vasseur the owner/boulanger of Du Pain et des Idées, in the 10th arr.; so maybe it might pass my test (though of course the NYT author really meant best in world “outside France”. But from experience I reserve my judgement until I try their stuff.

    I love the look of Cafe Campagne, and your top photo is very evocative for me. One reason is that the dinner service is almost identical to mine! It has the fine red line around the perimeter (and on the cups) but without the printing. IMO trés elegant, simply without overt fussiness. I bought a setting-for-two from BHV (now BHV-Marais) when I lived on Ile St Louis (it being my neighbourhood store!) but sadly removalists managed to crush (or drop) the box containing them in one of my house/country moves and one of every pair was broken or chipped. So now it is a setting-for-one; but whenever I get it out, it still brings back my days in Paris. It’s just as well I don’t live in Seattle or I would probably attempt to steal some of their fine China!

    • Bonjour. Another informative comment from you, faithful visitor. Merci. Great observations about French bakeries (and pastry shops) abroad. They often charge high prices and fall short of delivering quality products to their (often) unsuspecting clientele. I guess after 20 years as an expat in the US, I have learned to be less discriminating and enjoy my “French moments” when I can, even if I have to pay a small fortune to do so (wine price tags, in particular, are very hard for me to stomach in the Seattle area.) As for Café Campagne and its lovely plates, it is indeed a wonderful place, one that never disappoints. Like Pike Place Market, it continues to do what it does best, without pretentiousness, ignoring the sound and the fury resulting from Seattle’s lightning speed expansion. That is why I like it there. It stays real, in spite of tourist crowds. That is more than the Emerald City can say, in many places, right now, sadly.

  3. Merci pour ça ! I have not been to Seattle in years. Inexcusable, when you consider I only live just on the other side of the Straits. This has definitely given me a new incentive to visit, especially Pike Place. A bientôt.

    • Well, then, Dave, what are you waiting for? Do cross the Straits and head over to Pike Place Market! I bet your camera will be all the happier for it! Let me know when you are in the area. Who knows? I may be around to share a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

      • Absolutment! I need to get off my … anyway, you know about me and my camera? Believe it or not, Seattle is high on this year’s travel. (Lille and then Nice are already booked, so they are a little higher). I will definitely let you know when I am in the area. Ce serait un plaisir de prendre un café ou un verre de vin avec vous.

  4. Bonjour V. This was a great post! Did I ever tell you, I lived in Seattle for 9 months in my 20’s? I worked at the 4 Season Hotel as Valet. I saw Bill Gates a few times and I parked Melinda Gates Porsche. I also parked Ed Norton and Selma Hayek’s ride. I remember Ed and Selma had Starbucks coffee cups in their vehicle. I was there during the 1999 Seattle wto protests. I remember walking home (capital hill) and getting pepper sprayed by military. It was quite a time. I also remember, I was happy to find crepes easily in Seattle. 👌🏻💕🙋🏼🤔😊 Looks like there is a lot to choose from.

    • Bonjour Sandy. You knew Seattle at the right time, before the craziness (resulting from unbridled expansion) started. I bet working as a Valet at that chichi hotel was quite entertaining at times. Ed Norton and Salma Hayek: Talk about a blast from the past! She’s gone up in the {jet set} world since, hasn’t she? It was still cool back then to drink Starbucks coffee, as illustrated in movies like “You’ve Got Mail.” Funny how most people don’t remember that and love to hate the brand that started it all. They forgot the only coffee available in the US before Starbucks was “jus de chaussette” at McDo and other fine retailers. Times change… Hope all is well in New Mexico, friend.

      • You got that right V! I also worked at Starbucks in my 20’s. I still like Starbucks. Is that bad? I had great benefits and I had stocks in Starbucks. After leaving Starbucks, I sold my sticks for a trip to France. The irony. I’d probably have some money about now! I was young and wanted to have adventures. Tant pis 😉 🙋🏼

  5. hello ,mafille!!!!oh,stupefaction!!!!j’ai pu lire tout ton article en Franç!ais sans avoir rien touché!!!un miracle!!!et bravo bises

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Bordeaux is always a good idea

Bordeaux is always a good idea

Bordeaux is always a good idea. Audrey Hepburn would have certainly said so in that famous movie, had she visited the current version of what was once an elegant but austere French city in need of an overhaul. Paris got her remodel in the second half of the 19th century thanks to Napoleon III and…

30 Responses to Bordeaux is always a good idea

  1. After my first visit in the 1980s, I might quibble about its “much needed facelift”–perhaps I was young and impressionable but I found it to be pretty fine that half-a-lifetime ago–however I won’t quibble that the facelift is excellent. I can’t quite remember from my earlier visit how much of the old town was infested with traffic (“lots” I suspect) but today’s large pedestrian zone, the rejuvenated riverside (including the to-die-for Chartrons old wine warehouse district) and the sleek new trams, are a model of how to improve a city. (The only cars in your photos are in front of the reflecting pool.)

    It has more heritage buildings than any French city other than Paris. And Wiki tells us:
    ” Victor Hugo found the town so beautiful he once said: “Take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux”. Baron Haussmann, a long-time prefect of Bordeaux, used Bordeaux’s 18th-century large-scale rebuilding as a model when he was asked by Emperor Napoleon III to transform a then still quasi-medieval Paris into a “modern” capital that would make France proud.”

    For urbanists of the trainspotter variety: My last visit was in 2007 and the city was the in the final stages of installing new parts of the tramway–with some of the roads on the edge of the UNESCO area being work-sites. It is worth mentioning because Bordeaux was the first site for the new wire-free tramway system, designed so as to avoid ugly overhead wires desecrating this zone that was planned to achieve UNESCO listing (and succeeding in 2007 IIRC). The system is “Alimentation par le Sol (APS)”, ie. electric power is from a clever system concealed in the ground, (ie. essentially a third-rail but only live while the tram is above it). It has now spread to many other French cities (eg. the “new” system in Nice, Angers, Reims etc) and around the world (Sydney, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Dubai etc.)

    One wouldn’t necessarily believe a modern tram would be compatible with ancient heritage areas but it is so sleek and silent, gliding thru the ancient Places seemingly on its own magic carpet, it works brilliantly, and seems to compliment the beauty of the old buildings. Also it means you can get off the sleek new TGV l’Ocean (2h from Paris) at Gare St Jean and board a sleek new tram and ride into the heart of the old town. The French really know how to do some things sans pareil!

    • Merci Dear “Aussie-on-IleStLouis” for yet another informative comment. I learned quite a bit about Bordeaux’ state of the art Tram system thanks to you and can only agree: It blends in perfectly with the old, stately buildings and beautiful streets and avenues. As such, it allows the Present and the Past to meet seamlessly. Interesting info as well about Haussmann’s finding his inspiration in Bordeaux before he remodeled Paris! Thank you for following, FGIS, as always. I took good note of your remarks about the new website’s future tagline in my other post this week. A bientôt.

  2. Another well done essay and excellent pictures! We stayed in Bordeaux just for one night (on our way to Arcachon) last September – lots of great walking around the old streets and market (which included sampling a few different flavors of cannales). Merci!

  3. Bonjour FGIS, another great post. Last fall I visited Lyon, but was torn between Lyon and Bordeaux. I loved Lyon, but now really feel I have to make it to Bordeaux this year. Thanks for sharing your adventures and great photos!

  4. I wish I could take French classes from you but I live in Port Townsend.
    It seems like you are now working downtown. Are you teaching there. It would be a BIT closer…

    • Bonjour Sheila. My teaching days are behind me, for now at least. I run an ESL (English as a Second Language) school downtown, and another one in Seattle’s suburbs, actually. Had a bit of a career change three years ago… I don’t suppose you need English classes? {Insert smile}

  5. Bonjour Madame Veronique,

    Happy Valentines Day!
    i just wanted to tell you that towards the end of the year, I made it back to France again. I wanted to spend the holidays there with my only sister. It was like a dream!

    From Paris, we took the TGV to Saint-Raphaël, and once there in a taxi to Les Issambres, where my sister has a summer home. Next day, when she asked me where I wanted to go sightseeing I said: Nice, of course! And once there I could totally understand your rhapsodizing about the place. It was a very cold but very beautiful day! And the strong light of the sun gave the city the most dazzling aspect possible…

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post!

    Maria

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Happy birthday, French Girl in Seattle!

Happy birthday, French Girl in Seattle!

French Girl in Seattle: The beginnings Happy Birthday, French Girl in Seattle! You have just turned 7. You were born in Paris, during a very cold winter when snow fell – and stuck – in the French capital’s streets, making sightseeing challenging and time spent indoors irresistible. You started as a blog meant to help…

37 Responses to Happy birthday, French Girl in Seattle!

    • Escape, travel , beautiful art, good food … loved France since my three years of French class in high school in the 70’s, I love your pictures and explanations of French life

  1. Congratulations, Veronique. Looking forward to your new site. Nothing creative is coming to me so I will just wait to see the winner’s creation.

    Jennie

  2. I’m so glad you find time to do this. I look forward to every blog or Facebook post. Travel in France has enriched our lives. Your words have made that travel more meaningful. But, I also enjoy your take on life here. It’s great to see American life from a different perspective. You’ve hooked my wife on Oui yogurt, and you’ve encouraged us to find an authentic croissant in the US. (Karen Donatelli’s In Asheville — we’re going there in about 30 minutes. ????) Happy anniversary to FGIS.

  3. I truly enjoy your international perspective and look forward to your blog posts. I am French heritage but don’t get to visit often.

  4. I look forward to your posts. They bring back memories of past trips and hopes of a return in the future. In the meantime, I’ll sip some Sancerre…

  5. I’m not great at creative taglines, but I really feel like you are my direct lifeline to France and Paris, and the French language. I am a francophile living in the Seattle area. Receiving a post or blog from you always brightens my day. My next big trip is 2 weeks in Paris in October 2018, and I am in the midst of planning for the trip now. Your travel tips, French language tips, day trip ideas, etc. are SO helpful. Thank you for all you do, Veronique!

  6. Bon anniversaire! I love FGIS it makes me feel that France is not quite so far away. I love your stories and the new format with emphasis on the blog rather than Facebook. I look forward to all your posts and stories.

  7. Merci, I’m happy to meet you today for the first time as I’m interested in: “Integrating the French Way of Living”. I’m delighted to learn more.

  8. I’ve been thinking about your request for a new tagliine but can’t improve on what you have. Instead I tend to think your main tag (ie. French Girl in Seattle) is perhaps part of the issue: it doesn’t suggest the blog is going to be about France rather than your experiences in Seattle. Now, of course I am not suggesting you change it since it is now well established and your USP. The only thing that comes to mind is a modification, very tentatively something like:

    “French Girl in Seattle… Dreaming of France”. or ” FGiS… Still Dreams of France”; or “Dreaming of France by French Girl in Seattle”. (all as title rather than subtitle). It clarifies what the blog is about, and of course importantly makes it more successful in google searches (your current subtitle works but it may be omitted in many listings? or in returns in google searches which may not quite attract your intended audience?).

    …………………
    Re the caption to the pic above of you “By the Seine river”: mon dieu, that is not just any old location next to the river. It’s the Ile Saint Louis, just about the greatest location in the known universe 🙂

    • OK, plagiarising a bit from Eric Mitchell’s suggestion, how about:

      “Exploring France with French Girl in Seattle”

      This just about captures everything you want:
      1. KISS (Keep it simple, stupid).
      2. Continuity with your current tag FGiS.
      3. Highlights the exploring France angle (versus implied exploring Seattle!).
      4. Comforts Americans that it will be from a partly-Americanised POV (I don’t necessarily approve but hey we all understand that, love ’em or hate ’em, Americans are a big chunk of the (English speaking, kinda) 85 million who visit France each year. We Aussies–or Kiwis or Canadians etc–just don’t compete .. numerically.)
      5. Nevertheless is a French expert, ie. native.

  9. Congratulations on this anniversary, Veronique. How about French Girl in Seattle…France: Exotique..Unique..Veronique. ? Best of luck in this new year!

  10. Bonjour Véronique ! Je trouve tes aventures racontées sur ton blog toujours attirantes, surtout au sujet de tes explorations en France. Donc, pour un tagline nouveau, je proposerai : 1) Explore France with a French Native ; 2) Adventures in France with a French Native ; 3) France From an Insider’s View.

    Amitiés !

  11. Congratulations Happy Anniversary….I keep coming back because you write about the place I love. France. You share so many wonderful places that I keep putting on my to do list. Keep doing what your doing xx

  12. Congratulations Happy Anniversary….I keep coming back because you write about the place I love. France. You share so many wonderful places that I keep putting on my to do list. Keep doing what your doing xx

  13. Bonjour, Véronique! I’ve been reading your blog through Facebook links, having discovered you through Eric Tenin’s Paris Daily Photo (RIP PDP…) and will now access through my WordPress account.
    I think your blog is one of the best I’ve seen and I do have a couple of ideas for the tagline.
    “Sharing all things French.”
    Or to be a bit more emotional, “Sharing my passion for France.”
    Of course everyone loves the “monuments” of France but it is lovely to find someone else who seeks out the real life beyond. Merci beaucoup and I wish you many more happy years of blogging!

  14. Tag line: A French Girl in Seattle can explain.

    Loved seeing you on Corey’s Cafe Chats today. So much fun to watch. Thanks.

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46 Responses to A French family reunion in the Perigord

  1. Merci!! C’etait merveilleux! J’aime beaucoup les photos. Ma famille me manque, et j’ai besoin d’alle les rejoinder en Provence. Je vous remercie. Celia m’a render heureuse at Trieste!! ????

    • Je comprends Michelle. Il est très difficile parfois, d’être éloigné de sa famille, surtout pendant des périodes prolongées. J’ai eu la chance de pouvoir rentrer en France chaque année depuis mon installation aux Etats-Unis il y a plus de 20 ans. Mes parents sont aussi venus me rendre visite pendant longtemps. A vous souhaitant de retourner bientôt en Provence, mes amitiés.

  2. Your photos are gorgeous. They really capture not only this region but also the essence of France’s quaint everyday beauty.

  3. Just lovely. How wonderful that your extended family not only keeps in touch but also gets together.
    Based on your earlier post about Sarlat, which was the final coup de pouce on top of everything else I had read, we were going to stop in Sarlat on our way home from the holidays. But Carmen interfered. We could barely see the road, and wandering around a village was out of the question in the déluge. I can’t wait to get back, and I definitely want to see Lascaux, too!

  4. LOVED the pictures. One side of our family lives in France In Charente-Maritime and we treasure our times together there.

    And you live in beautiful Seattle – best of both worlds I would say. I lived near Tacoma for several years – ahhhh when that Mountain shows her face – breathtaking.

    Again loved the pictures.

    Suz

  5. This post brought tears to my eyes – what a lovely family and what a lovely reunion! The tears came because I ache for at least a part-time life in the French countryside. Good food, great friends, beautiful architecture – the freedom to walk and talk through quiet streets and to explore the countryside and learn more about my beloved France – ah! Someday for me, I hope.

  6. Merci, merci, c’est un beau cadeau-partage, cet article, French Girl , pour moi qui aime tant Sarlat, la Vezere, et le Perigord en general. Chanceuse de pouvoir renouer le contact une fois par an. Merci, et bravo ♥

    • Avec plaisir, Lise. Je me rends en France tous les ans, mais je ne peux pas assister à ces réunions de famille la plupart du temps. C’est pour ça que celle-ci était très spéciale, et il était hors de question de la manquer, puisque nous avons célébré les 80 ans de mon papa.

  7. While we all know how wonderful Paris is, I have a very special place in my heart for the Southwest of France. I spent several sommers in Bordeaux and have memories that will last a lifetime. I have visited the caves and they are amazing . Oh and the quote by Michel Sardou who ismy favorite french singer . I really enjoyed your family reunion and look forward to more of your adventures ..

  8. Loved this. I’ve traveled a bit in France (Provence, Bordeaux) on several trips — and have been to Paris a few times (renting an apartment there twice). Don’t know when I’ll be back but at my age (80), think it would be wise to plan something this year.

  9. Beautiful photos, beautiful family! You are blessed. Thank you for sharing this wonderful occasion. I enjoyed every minute! Andi

  10. You keep writing. I keep reading! I may have to stay more than the two months in France to see it all. I want to see everything and go everywhere. I am so looking forward to April when my husband and I travel to France (mostly). The people, the places and the adventures we will enjoy for sure.

  11. Bonjour Veronique! Geeze I had no idea you had gone to this part of France! Finally getting back to your roots girl! 😉 It was super nice to see this. It touched my heart. I felt that family reunion. It’s been too long for me. You represented a typical french gathering perfectly. Love that and I miss those times. After my french grandmother died – it broke up the family. The inheritance etc…So I play diplomat and go to cousins to cousins to say hi. But that gets expensive. Especially now with the government shut down! How will I travel? =( xox Sandy

    • Bonsoir Sandy. Great to see you here again! I know you have enjoyed some of these French gatherings too over the years. I am a big proponent of staying connected with one’s roots, in spite of time, distance, family feuds… or government shut downs. Keep visiting la Belle France!

  12. comme c’est sympathique and heart warming to watch the beautiful pictures of your family reunion!!! you made me want to go back to my roots in Metz, but its just not the same since my parents passed away. I will see my baby brother this summer and he will come visit us in Arizona in the fall with his wife. We do what we can. I moved in the US 38 years ago and i feel french and american at the same time, a leg in each country and my heart in the middle….not always easy,, but doing my best, on day at a time, and one voyage at a time too! Your blog is full of such helpful infos like babacar, that I did not know. Thank you for sharing the knowledge et les petits trucs.
    Amicalement, Nicole

    • Thank you so much for your message Nicole. It means a lot. I appreciate all of my readers’ comments, but those coming from expats who live away from France, like myself, are even more special. One day at a time… Bonne année !

  13. je viens de e lire en essayant de traduire et suis ravie de voir combien de personnes aiment tes articles qui dé peignent si bien la France c’est un régal!!tu ferais une super journaliste!!!! bravo ,ma fille bises mom

  14. I think it’s magnificent that you have started your blog and we can also follow you through social media. Showing us such beautiful places and talking about all things French, really rewards us who cannot otherwise know this insider information on beautiful France and Paris. And of course seeing about a real French family. Merci for this opportunity! I hope one day to be able to go visit all those great places.

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Le Canal Saint Martin and beyond

Le Canal Saint Martin and beyond

In the heart of Paris’s trendy 10th arrondissement lies the peaceful and atmospheric Canal Saint Martin. Unlike some of the eateries, cafés and boutiques in the neighborhood, the canal has been there for a very long time. In the early 19th century, Napoleon I, who was as much a skilled administrator as he was a military…

27 Responses to Le Canal Saint Martin and beyond

  1. Once again an excellent stroll thru a less-visited part of Paris. In fact it was my second home, after I reluctantly moved from Ile St Louis. You say:
    “Over the next 20 years, the neighborhood would morph into one of the trendiest, most popular strolling grounds in Paris, favored by locals and out-of-town visitors alike.”

    It became trendy for exactly the same reason I moved there: it was the cheapest property in Paris and as a poor scientist it was where I could afford to buy something with proper rooms, ie. other than a very small studio (though it was also right next to my place of work at Hopital St Louis). For the same reasons young people could more easily buy or rent there. Not BoBo territory (though it may be morphing into that today?) but more youthful and studenty and ethnic.

    I suppose it was less desirable because the 10th contains Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est plus, like you say, was historically filled with light industry around the canal and train lines. Though most had gone by the early 90s when I moved there and most of the ZACs (rehabilitation zones) had been completed in the 70s and 80s. Almost all of Quai de Jemmapes, from Republique to Stalingrad, consists of modern apartment blocks, except for those patches of ancient ones such as Hotel du Nord (which in reality is pretty decrepit–probably its filmic heritage saved it from demolition). The transformation of the Place de la Republique from a car-infested traffic island into a pedestrian-friendly plaza has helped.

    • Merci de votre visite. I imagine a former resident must be even more interested in the many transformations this neighborhood has gone through over the last few decades. You are correct about l’Hôtel du Nord. It was run down, set to get torn down (and likely replaced by a new building like the modern apartment block you mentioned,) when Parisians (many cinephiles,) decided to organize and fight to save the old hotel in the 1980s. From street demonstrations, (in typical French fashion,) to fund raising efforts, to media campaigns, they were active and eventually won: Even after the hotel had been renovated and turned into a restaurant, the iconic façade was preserved and became a “Historic Monument of France.” It has been protected since. Here is an interesting article I meant to share but did not include at the end of the story. http://www.hoteldunord.org/fr/historique/hist-canal

  2. That scene of Amelie on one of the iconic green passerelles over the canal (and close by to Hotel du Nord) is perhaps the best known today, but I believe it may have been Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s partial homage to another famous film scene, from the Marcel Carné epic movie Les enfants du paradis (1945); if I remember correctly the scene is night time (or dusk, same as in Amelie) with Arletty and Jean-Louis Barrault on the bridge. Of course Marcel Carné also made Hotel du Nord which also starred Arletty.

    A more recent movie that features extensively features the canal is One Day (2011) starring Anne Hathaway & Jim Sturgess; they cross over the canal on one of the passerelles too but a bit further downstream, in fact at Avenue Richerand (my street). Much of the Paris segment of the movie is set around here (where the Hathaway character lives) and there is also a brief glimpse of one of the cafes involved in the 2015 terrorist shooting–at rue Alibert.

    But continuing the filmic links I want to mention something I discovered just last week. If you follow the canal right to the edge of Paris, ie. take the left (NW) turn into Canal St Denis, just beyond where it passes under the trains tracks from Gare de l’Est at the limit of the 19th arrondissement, there are three newish Metro stations. They serve the Tram 3b extension (and one also serves RER-E). Apparently their names were conferred, and insisted upon, by then-mayor socialist Bertrand Delanöe, even though they broke the rule about using geographic names (he perhaps got around this by also renaming streets around them). Anyway they are female icons: Rosa Parks, Ella Fitzgerald and Delphine Seyrig. I notice that opposite Rosa Parks there is a Passage Susan Sontag!

    When I went to Wiki to refresh my memory of Seyrig, I found this:
    “Seyrig was a major feminist figure in France. Throughout her career, she used her celebrity status to promote women’s rights. The most important of the three films she directed was the 1977 Sois belle et tais-toi (Be Pretty and Shut Up), which included actresses Shirley MacLaine, Maria Schneider, and Jane Fonda, speaking frankly about the level of sexism they had to deal with in the film industry.”

    Exactly 40 years before #MeToo!

    • Thank you for another informative comment. If you and I ever met for a drink by le Canal St Martin, we would discuss movies and popular French culture, I imagine… I will make sure to check out the area you mention, and already traveled via the new Rosa Parks station on my way to my parents’ place in the suburbs, another illustration Paris keeps changing and reinventing herself a lot more than many give her credit for. I can’t resist sharing the most iconic movie scene ever filmed by le Canal St Martin (at least for French cinephiles,) a long time before Mademoiselle Amélie stopped by to practice her “ricochets” in the canal: The “Atmosphère, atmosphère… Est-ce que j’ai une gueule d’atmosphère?” line, delivered by actress Arletty in the iconic “Hôtel du Nord” movie. The scene provides a unique peek into what the old Canal St Martin neighborhood used to look like in its working class days. It’s also a great illustration, via Arletty’s unique voice and delivery, of the famous “Parisian gouaille.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DKI0EP-RMA

  3. Wow, the canal has changed so much in the last 10 years since I have been there! I loved it then and am looking forward to exploring it when I go back. Thanks for a great post!

    • Merci beaucoup. I am glad you enjoyed your stroll with me today. I live for the details and am much more comfortable spotting (and capturing) them than I am with landscape photography. I leave that part to professional photographers!

  4. Love it!
    I used to live in Paris (for 20 years!) but I don’t know it very well.
    Now next time I am in the city I’ll go there for sure!
    You made me want to.
    What is the orange wall pic just before the Hôtel du Nord?

    • Bonjour Catherine. The orange wall has changed over time. It is located by le Canal St Martin, on quai de Valmy. The wall is popular with street artists who regularly paint different scenes and messages on it. It made the news after the 2015 terror attacks when a giant “Fluctuat Nec Mergitur” fresco was painted there as a tribute to Paris’s resilience (“Tossed by the Waves but Never Sunk.) It is the city’s official motto. You can look it up on Google. I have a few photos of it, but chose to share this version, captured last June, instead. Life goes on…

  5. Excellent reportage sur ce magnifique coin de Paris que je connais et adore. Merci Véronique. Les photos sont très belles.

  6. You’ve got me feeling nostalgique. I lived in the 11th and until 2012 my office was in the 10th near the canal. Your photos captured much of what I saw walking to and from work. We would eat lunch by the canal in the summer and play boules after work nearby. And Antoine et Lili got plenty of my euros. Thank you for highlighting this lovely corner of Paris!

  7. Thanks for this great article on the Canal St Martin area. This is my neighbourhood where I own a small flat 20 steps from the Canal. All my visitors love staying here as it gives a different look to Paris. A more relaxed, local feel. The number of great restaurants has increased in the last few years as well as a younger local crowd.

    Trish
    rentaparisflat.com

  8. Another great post! Thank you for sharing your way around Paris. I have noted the places in this post so to be sure to visit them when there in May. We will have a month to visit Paris (May 9th – June 9th), 2 weeks in Nice (April 5-20th), Bordeaux (5/1-5/4 & 2 weeks in Caen (late June) area. Almost forgot the Toulouse area (5/4-9th). I will scour your past blogs for more interesting places to see. I much prefer ‘off the beaten path’ type places.
    If you are at all planning on being in France somewhere during that time would love to meet up & share stories.
    Cheers!
    DiAnn

  9. What would be the easiest way to get there? It is on my list when I make my first trek to Paris in September. We are staying in the 5th. The friend I am travelling with has been to Paris once in 2012 but she did not visit that area. We want to keep 2 days for just exploring and this is an area I would like to see.

    Thanks much for any advice

    p.s. loved watching your Cafe chat with Corey!

    • Bonjour Tami. If you are staying on the Left Bank, you will have to cross over to the Right Bank. An easy way to visit le Canal St Martin is to pick “Republique” as your Metro stop. The Canal neighborhood is within walking distance of la Place de la République. Hope you enjoy it! If you are looking for a lunch place when you get there, I reviewed a new Italian restaurant by the Canal on the FGIS Facebook page this week. Bonne visite.

    • FGIS is correct. However it is one of the great walks of Paris and absolutely that is what you should do. Beginning in the Leftbank go to Notre Dame and walk across the (pedestrian) Pont St Louis at the rear of the cathedral, onto Ile St Louis. Walk the length of the island on its central (almost its only) street, rue St Louis-en-Ile, right to its end at Pont Sully.

      Walk north on Pont Sully across to the Rightbank and take the riverside walk here, heading upstream about 500m until you come to the Bassin de l’Arsenal. This is the pleasure port with a few hundred peniches (barges) and assorted river boats are moored. Go up the westside (Bvd Bourdon) of the port about halfway then cross high over the water on the passerelle (ped bridge, continuation of rue Mornay) to the eastside where you can descend to Jardin de l’Arsenal (with its ornamental gardens; note this area is locked early evening).

      Walk northwards in the gardens until you exit back to the street level almost at Place de la Bastille. Navigate anti-clockwise across the Bastille–passing in front of the Opera Bastille–and turn into the Boulevard Richard Lenoir. It is a long linear park that on weekends (maybe only Sundays?) hosts the now very popular Marché Biologique (ie. organic farmers market). You are now walking on top of the Canal St Martin which was buried in the 19th century under the road (and Bastille)–you can see the air & light “chimneys” along the park.

      So you just follow the park all the way until it finishes at Place de la Republique (well, 2 blocks east at rue du Faubourg du Temple; if you have time you could deviate to the Place which is the historic and modern centre of popular protest with its statue of Marianne). Cross over the F. du Temple and voila, Canal St Martin emerges from its subterranean passage courtesy of a few locks (visible at Sqe F. Lemaitre). Wait here long enough and you’ll see the Bateaux Mouche (tour boats) use the locks to go under and all the way to Bastille and the Seine.

      Now you can walk along the paths on either side of the canal. This is now the 10th arrondissement and will take you all the way to the Bassin de la Villette which is a good place for a canal-side lunch or dinner. This is the 19th arrondissement. Depending on how much energy you have you can continue waterside along the Canal de l’Ourq. In fact it is only about another one km to the edge of Paris. At this end (ie. junction Bassin Villette/Ourq) is the famous original elevating Pont Crimée (there is a passerelle next to it that is good for photos; these days I suppose a selfie with Pont Crimée in background; this bridge will elevate for the Bateaux Mouche).

      About 500m takes you to the junction of the two canals, l’Ourq and St Denis and on the other side you will now be in the Parc de la Villette with its Science & Industrie museum (you’ll see the Geode). Right at the far end just before the canal passes under the peripherique motorway, is the famous Zenith concert hall; about 200m south in the same parkland is the new (2014) Philharmonie de Paris concert hall. At this end you can catch Metro 5 at station Porte de Pantin (next to Cité de la Musique which is directly south of the Philharmonie).

      You will have done 100% of the canal route (well excepting St Denis which heads north-west and is less interesting). I’d bet you would have bragging rights over any of your friends who claim to have “done Canal St Martin”. It’s a longish walk but easily done in a day and of course no end of places to stop for lunch, a coffee or dinner etc. Incidentally plenty take the Bateau Mouche tour–and that is the only way to see the subterranean sections–but that’s the lazy way. Walking is far superior.

      But a warning: your biggest risk will be getting diverted! I mean you could easily get stuck on Ile St Louis for the rest of the day. You must discipline yourself to keep pushing onward 🙂

      • Of course it being Paris there are no end of side excursions you could do, though be wary of losing too much of the day.

        This route up Bvd Richard Lenoir will cross Boulevard Voltaire (cutting at an angle SE/NW) and you’ll see the Bataclan music venue (on the west side) where the terrible terrorist event happened in 2015. They have installed a memorial to the 90+ victims. In fact you could divert up Bvd Voltaire to Place de la Republique, then rejoin the canal at rue du Faubourg du Temple as per above.

        There aren’t so many of the hyper-famous monuments on this route (which doesn’t diminish it at all) except perhaps those you will pass anyway: Bastille & its opera; Republique and Marianne. Another very old bit of little seen Paris is just off Canal St Martin: walk about 120m up Avenue Richerand and at its end is an entrance to the oldest part of Hopital St Louis. It is this junction that is featured in the movie One Day (see my earlier post) and there is a photo of it in the Wiki entry. In fact I just learned that

        “The south-west entrance to the hospital, located at the intersection of rue Bichat and avenue Richerand, is popularly known as the entrance to the police station in the hit French detective television series, Navarro.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%B4pital_Saint-Louis#/media/File:P1040720_Paris_X_h%C3%B4pital_Saint-Louis_rwk.jpg

        Anyway make sure to walk further into the hospital (open to public during daytime) another 25m or so until you pass into the oldest part, the cloisters surrounding the beautiful and calm garden courtyard, built 1611. This was my daily walk to work (within the northern side of the hospital).

        If you do take this diversion be sure to retrace your route (ie. av Richerand) back to the canal, ie. don’t be tempted by any north-western shortcut, because this (Richerand to Recolletes) is perhaps the most famous part of the canal, much featured in movies (including Amelie, Infants des Paradis, Hotel du Nord, more recently One Day) and of course has the actual (heritage-protected facade anyway) Hotel du Nord (east bank). Note that there are five of the green passerelles (ped. bridges) here and the two road bridges are “pont tournant”, ie. they swivel on carousels to allow passage of boats.

        Note at the junction of Canal St Martin and the Bassin de la Villette is the elaborate Rotonde de la Villette, which hides the original waterworks to supply water to Paris from the canals (the reason Napoleon commissioned these canals though, like so much he ordered, he didn’t live to see it completed). I believe today it still serves as the supply point for all that water you see washing the gutters of Paris (and watering the parks & gardens), an eminently sensible arrangement rather than use precious potable water.

  10. Well, my dear “Aussie-on-Ile-St-Louis,” I guess you are the next best thing to my trusted “Plan de Paris par arrondissement.” These are very handy (and detailed) directions you provided. Any person able to take a good, long, urban walk should definitely follow them. Maybe you should be a travel writer? (I am somehow expecting you to reply: “Well, as a matter of fact, I have already published a book about the best Paris walks…”) – Merci beaucoup, as always, for enriching one of my blogposts with your comments. Bien à vous, FGIS.

  11. Excuse me. I can’t help myself. I did go OTT this time. You can tell I am OCD about two things (at least!), 1. Paris and 2. Walking in Paris. It is without doubt the best walking city in the world and I don’t believe anyone can really appreciate the city without hours and hours traipsing around it. No accident that it gave the world both the activity and the word that describes it: flanerie & flaneur.

    It’s why your blog is so good (yes, your are encouraging my OCD:-). Who needs to read about another view of the Eiffel Tower or the other Top Ten (or top 100) in the Paris everyone already knows about?

    As it happens Canal St Martin is my old “home” area, and in this case I was able to begin the flanerie/tour on my other home zone, Ile St Louis. Double heaven. As it happens I have also just finished reading David Jefferson’s “Paris by Boat. A Boatowners’ Guide to the Seine and Paris Canals”. (It is long out of print but I bought a secondhand copy via your current hometown’s little company, you know the one that has a z in its name …). It has been overfeeding my OCD and generating wild ideas of how to afford living in Paris again …

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Small Town France: Argenton-sur-Creuse

Small Town France: Argenton-sur-Creuse

Argenton-sur-Creuse, nicknamed “la Venise du Berry,” (the Venice of the Berry,) is a small town located in the center of France. For many travelers, zooming up and down the busy Autoroute (freeway) A20, linking Paris to southwestern France, Argenton-sur-Creuse may remain a pretty name on the map. Châteauroux, the second largest town in the Berry, is located only…

37 Responses to Small Town France: Argenton-sur-Creuse

  1. Mon père était un adolescent quand la 2eme guerre a éclaté et comme notre famille est juive ils ont été se réfugier dans la Creuse pendant presque toutes les années de la guerre, dans un petit village qui s’appelle Dun-le Palestel, ou nous sommes alles plusieurs fois dans mon enfance retrouver la famille du pharmacien du village qui avait si activement aidé mon père et son frère et leurs parents et qui sont reste lies au destin de ma famille au dela des generations.
    Un de mes souvenirs est d’être allée à la pêche à Dun dans un petit coin ravissant, et tout comme vous ma France est celle de la Province ou j’ai grandi (A METZ, en Lorraine) Paris oui, mais la campagne francaise c’est le top, et quand j’amene des amis americains en France on commence par Paris mais on finit toujours sur les petites routes de campagne, et ils tombent sous le charme a chaque fois.
    Merci pour tout ce que vous faites pour les expats comme moi, qui ne peuvent pas rentrer tous les ans au pays mais qui continue à se languir du pays natal.

  2. What a tranquil little town on a beautiful river. Even here in the U.S. we find ourselves bragging about the number of miles we have driven in one day, not realizing the beauty and joy we might discover it we would take the time to exit the freeway.

    • Many modern-day travelers only have efficiency in mind, not just in the US. To be fair, not all adventures off the freeway are as rewarding as a visit to Argenton. Still, worth a try, and with minimal research, staying off the beaten path usually pays off. Happy New Year Janey!

  3. I love your blog and would like to subscribe. Spent my junior year abroad in Besancon in the early 70’s and fell in love with France. I teach high school French and have taken students to France several times in recent years. Keep up the good work!

    • Merci beaucoup Pam. Signing up for the blog’s Mailing List (scroll down on the Homepage to find it,) is the best way to hear about new stories. I am stepping away from Facebook for a while and will be focusing on this website for the next few months. Happy New Year to you!

  4. What a beautiful little town! In late 1960’s I spent two month in Vichy (about 200 km) learning French in Centre Audio-Visuel de Langues Modernes. I love you blog – thanks.

  5. This looks like a “must see”. I try not to drive when I’m travelling so I wonder if there is a train or bus that connects. J’aime le chien de la maison. 🙂

    • Bonjour Dave. You can catch a train at Paris-Austerlitz that will take you to Argenton in as little as 2.5 hours. Spending a day there is just about perfect, but like I mentioned in my introduction, there are many more delightful discoveries to be made around Argenton if you can get out of town. I am certain buses are available locally.

  6. Another one on my list now, thanks to you. We will have an extra 2weeks in France and it will be a great and relaxing visit there.

  7. What a beautiful French town!! I am hoping on my next trip to Paris, I will spread my wings and explore more of France. Little gems like this would be a perfect stop!

    • Bonne Année Chérie! Thank you for continuing to follow my adventures. You must have been one of the first to sign up for email updates, so many years ago. Excellente année 2018! My little finger told me you may be returning to Paris with a good friend of yours this year…

  8. I’m going to have to give la Creuse a second chance. The only time I was in the departement (besides passing through on the autoroute) was for an offsite for the unit in which I worked at the boss’ place in the country. It was a big, beautiful but very drafty old manor house, 2 colleagues brought their babies with them, weird office rivalries exposed themselves as we worked in teams to prepare the meals, the boss led a forced march in the rain, I got blisters from the borrowed too big wellies — yep, I have PTSD from the experience. I was stuck driving the mom-mobile with the 2 screaming babies because the colleague who was supposed to drive that vehicle couldn’t even get it out of the rental company garage because it was an automatic… But you make a compelling case, so I will try to work through my demons. 😉

    • Great story Karen. I don’t think I would have had a lot of fun during that weekend either, in la Creuse, in Paris, or anywhere else. The trip in the mom-mobile seems positively awful. Funny how some people can’t drive an automatic car (I am guessing the culprit was a French native,) while others balk at driving a stick shift (many of my American friends do…) You should definitely give la Creuse (and la province) another chance. I guarantee it will provide the peace and quiet you were deprived of last time you visited. Happy New Year!

  9. Salut Véro, je suis ravi de découvrir ce superbe reportage sur argenton sur creuse… Nous connaissons le café de la place et l’hôtel depuis les années 1962/1963…Nous nous y arrêtons, tu le sais chaque fois que nous le pouvons, lors de nos escapades vers le gers.nous revoyons argenton avec un plaisir sans cese renouvelé!!! Tes photos sont splendides, ta documentation exhaustive et ton style brillant.. Bonne continuation??? Un jour, il faudra “attaquer” l’isle-jourdain et le fers! Continue…

    • Coucou! Je suis ravie que ce reportage t’ait plu. Tu vois ainsi l’aboutissement de notre bien agréable promenade il y a quelques mois. Merci de m’avoir fait découvrir Argenton! Quant au Gers et à l’Isle Jourdain, ce sera avec grand plaisir, dès que j’aurai l’occasion d’y retourner. Vive la Gascogne!

  10. Thank you, Seattle Girl. When I was 14 (I’m 78 now) my middle school French teacher in Brooklyn, NY, arranged for each student in her class to get a French pen pal of the same age. Mine was a girl from Argenton sur Creuse, Annie Jouhanneau, who lived on Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau (maybe it was #14? I forget the precise house number but it was low double digits and definitely on Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau.)

    We had a brief correspondence going. I wrote to her in terrible French. She replied to me in somewhat better English, on that faintly ruled graph paper that French school kids use. I abruptly terminated the correspondence when she sent me a letter of such adult sophistication that I was too terrified to reply. I remember to this day the shocking sentence that left me with trembling with fear: “After school, I go down to the edge if the river and I smoke with the boys.”

    Yikes! That was so grown up I couldn’t handle it and I never wrote to her again. All the same, I’ve wondered all these years what became of her? Did she get hooked on nicotine, as I did some years later as a high school student? Did she ever quit smoking, as I finally did at the age of 51? Or is she still down there on the bank of the Creuse River, blowing smoke rings at the water after all these years?

    • Dear Peter, thank you so much for sharing your memories with us. What a wonderful story! You have gotten me to wonder as well what happened to Annie Jouhanneau. I like this story so much I am going to share it tonight with the French Girl in Seattle community on Facebook. Who knows? Maybe Annie (or someone she knows,) will spot it. I will let you know if this happens. Encore merci et à bientôt.

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Trader Joe’s best French desserts

Trader Joe’s best French desserts

Every year, in France’s Provence, locals celebrate the Holidays with the traditional “12 desserts,” a selection of dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruit, cakes and sweet little nothings, an age-long Christian tradition (the 12 desserts symbolizing Jesus’s apostles.) These desserts are best enjoyed during le Réveillon de Noël, (Christmas Eve,) at the end of a copious…

29 Responses to Trader Joe’s best French desserts

  1. Glad you are finding tastes of home in Seattle. The thing I wish I could get in France is good Mexican corn tortillas. Everything else I can make from scratch, but the industrial corn tortillas on offer at the supermarket are a pale ghost of what you find at a real tortilleria.
    Bonnes fêtes et, surtout, bonne santé!

  2. We have a Trader Joe’s just down the street, so I have tried almost all of these wonderful treats. We always get a tin of their Sipping Chocolate . We sip it by the fireplace and pretend we are in Paris! Have a wonderful Holiday Season, and can’t wait to see what is n store for us in 2018!

  3. Tray Joe’s is the greatest!!! Tee hee—Bonaparte feels the same way about cannelés that you do macaron! I’m makeup by Meringue mushrooms to dit on the Bûche de Noël and I’ve made the puffs for profiteroles. I’ll hav this take a drive down ti get the frozen croissants ! Joyeux Noel to yo Véronique and all the best for 2018!!!

  4. That’s it! I’m writing Trader Jacque to come set up shop in my dusty southwest town inNew Mexico. We have a Target and Chipotle…why not? Merci! They just need one next to chipotles and I’m set! Lol

  5. I always go there to get this stuff, read the ingredients and the salt, sugar and fat content snd walk out empty handed. Does anyone else have this problem?

  6. Awesome post,Véronique…very helpful! Trader Joe’s is less than a few minutes drive away from home…I’ll be right back! 🙂

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Thanks for the tips on Trader Joe’s desserts! I had no idea they make caneles, I have never tried them and will see if I can find them at my TJs. Have a very Merry Christmas!

  8. We have a Trader Joe’s, a little inconvient for me, but you have convinced me! What better time than les fêtes to try some delicious new treats?

  9. Great article… We have bought many of TJ’s pastries for our Alliance Française board meetings in Atlanta, Georgia. They are fabulous and taste homemade – well almost!

    I will have to try the cannelés next time.

  10. We enjoyed the tartes aux fruits. Ingredients lists don’t lie so I was really impressed to see raspberries listed as the first ingredient! The tart was chock full of berries, including redcurrents which I love but can’t seem to find this side of the Atlantic (except dried)… blame it on a marvelous dessert I once had at the cafe in the garden at Versailles… anyway, the tart also has real butter and real sugar, no fake ingredients! Thank you for providing me the excuse to trek on over to Trader Jacques. My teenage daughters has a blast. They loved the pain au lait – sweet like the Hawaiian rolls they like, but I have to give a shout out to the Pain Pauline. Certainly a play on Pain Poilâne, and it does a respectable job – hearty whole wheat and sour like you’d expect from San Francisco. Now if Trader Jacques could import some amazing French yogurt in 2018… *sigh*

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