Wishing you and your family very Happy Holidays!
Still no plans for New Year’s Eve? Join the fabulous Caroline Nin for her Edith Piaf concert!
Every November is Mois de la Photo in Paris (Paris Photo Month). This year, the Yousuf Karsh exhibit at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture was top of my list.
The Mona Bismarck Center aims to “enable the discovery of the richness and diversity of American art and culture through innovative exhibitions, educational and outreach programs and events.” The Mona Bismarck Foundation started in 1986, when American-born philanthropist and Countess (through marriage to the grandson of Otto von Bismarck) Mona Bismarck died, leaving her 16th arrondissement mansion and much of her estate to the cause of “fostering French-American friendship and understanding through art and culture”. The Center as we know it today opened in 2011 and continues with this same mission.
Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) was born to Armenian parents in present-day Turkey to and fled to Canada at the age of 16. At 20, he moved to Boston to apprentice with portrait photographer John Garo. While Karsh spent most of his adult life in Ottowa, he returned to Boston in the late 1990s, where he died in 2002.
The Yousuf Karsh exhibit, entitled “Icons of the 20th Century” includes expressive images of some of the most famous and iconic personalities of the 20th century, in France, the U.S. and beyond: Ernest Hemingway, Andy Warhol, Harry S Truman, Charles de Gaulle, Grace Kelly, John F. Kennedy, Christian Dior, Man Ray, Hillary & Bill Clinton….
The exhibit of over 70 black-and-white photographs will run through January 26, 2014. I highly recommend seeing it in these final 5 weeks!
This month, my report on Retiring to Paris’s Marais District will be published in the Overseas Retirement Letter, a publication of Live and Invest Overseas.
My editor, Lucy Culpepper, has shared some background on the publication:
The Overseas Retirement Letter (ORL) is a monthly e-magazine featuring retirement locations from across the globe… for all ages of retirees. It’s an intelligence-gathering service with real-world stories from folks who have found their own perfect haven… and retired in style overseas, often on a greatly reduced budget. The ORL provides “been there, done that” advice so that readers know all about a location before their feet touch the ground. From budgets to healthcare, pets to disabled accessibility the Overseas Retirement Letter delivers in-depth know-how on retirement-friendly locations in Latin America, Europe, and SE Asia every month of the year.
I encourage you to sign up today for the monthly newsletter! You will also be able to purchase my article as a one-off from the online bookstore within a few weeks after publication. And on January 7th, we will be holding a conference call to discuss the report further.
In addition to an introduction to the history, geography and culture of the Marais, my report covers topics such as the expat community, cost of living, the property market, health care, residency restrictions, tax considerations, bureaucracy and setting up in France, international schools, disabled access, gay & lesbian life, bringing pets to France, and inconveniences & annoyances. I also include a couple of top 5 lists for why to move (and why not to move) to the Marais, a glimpse into a typical day living in the Marais and into some of the literature set in the neighborhood, and finally an interview with an American retiree living in the Marais.
While the publication is targeted at the retiree population, most of the report will be relevant to anyone thinking of moving to the Marais, or to another Parisian neighborhood.
I leave you with an excerpt from the introduction to the report:
Just about anyone who took French in high school has thought, seriously or hypothetically, about moving to France one day. The romanticism of Hemingway’s Paris or Midnight in Paris does still permeate central Paris, but it is juxtaposed against a certain reality that is not always as rosy. I am an American expat who has lived and worked in Paris for the last six years and who recently purchased property in one of Paris’s most loved neighborhoods, the Marais. In the following pages, I will confirm and expand upon the romantic notion of living in the Marais, as well as provide you will dose of pragmatism to arm you for such an endeavor.
From Swamp to Marsh to Magnifique
The Marais literally means “marsh”, and that is exactly what this Parisian neighborhood was one thousand years ago. Before the area was drained into a fertile marshland, it was a swamp, and unfortunately the swamp-like odors remained even centuries after the transformation. Narrow cobblestoned streets, exposed stone and beamed-buildings and slanted walls and rooflines are still a common sight, a testament to the Marais’s medieval history. As early as the 13th century, the Marais began to serve as the heart of Paris’s Jewish community. Today, the Marais is one of Paris’s most trendy and desirable neighborhoods. It is the hub of the gay community in Paris. The Marais is also home to many restaurants, cafés and boutiques, many of which stay open on Sundays, an unusual practice in France. Despite this modernization, the Marais still retains so much of the medieval character that was bulldozed in the 19th and 20th centuries for bigger and better structures in other parts of the City of Light—but thankfully not the medieval smell. The most prevalent smell these days emanates from the numerous seductive boulangeries (bakeries) and pâtisseries (pastry shops). And built on what was once swampland, the land where my Maris apartment sits is not even deemed a flood zone….
“My plan is this: I’m gonna eat some f*ing cheese and I’m gonna get drunk and…you are always guaranteed to have a really good time.”
When I heard the intro to this episode of The Layover with Anthony Bourdain, I knew it was going to be good. If you can overlook a few erroneous factoids and Bourdain’s less-than-perfect French accent, he is absolutely spot on.
How many videos of Paris’s tourist sites and landmarks have we seen? I am sure there are 10s of thousands out there. But Bourdain has the guts to tell the truth about Paris, essentially: “It’s entirely possible to have a bad time.” He continues to plead, “Please don’t do that….Please make the most of it by doing as little as possible.”
What Bourdain is saying is don’t think you have to pack every last site into your visit. “Forget Notre Dame,” he says. If you want to cram it all in, aim to cram in lots of food and drink, interspersed with lots of walking, but not landmarks. Or at least minimize the dedicated landmark time (Bourdain reluctantly allots 7 minutes to Notre Dame in the end).
And don’t just hit up the touristy restaurants and cafés. Venture out to some of the up and coming neighborhoods–which generally have the added benefit of being cheaper.
A number of Bourdain’s favorites are also some of my favorites:
He mentioned a few spots I’d love to try:
Though Bourdain’s beloved blood sausage macaroons I’m happy to skip….
I highly recommend this video, particularly for the foodies among you. You can practically taste the food along with Bourdain. I would go as far as to say it’s required viewing for anyone planning a trip to Paris in the near future, and certainly for anyone planning a shorter or first visit to the city. His no-nonsense style (for example, his description of the “obligatory must-have if-you-don’t-order-it-you’re-f*ing-nuts cheese plate”) is refreshing and allows for one of the few honest Paris accounts I’ve seen.
So go ahead. On your next trip to Paris, try planning your visit around your food and drink goals. Map out your daily itineraries based on where you want to eat and drink, and you won’t be disappointed. And if you walk from one stop to another, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic stay.
“Food fads will come and go but hearty, delicious foods, rooted in the classics–one can only hope–is timeless.”
I recently spoke with Armelle Yons, the talented singer/actor and star of the new production “My Boudoir in Paris”. Here is Armelle’s story, and why you should buy your tickets now!
“My Boudoir in Paris” is a musical interlude, an interlude of the Parisian life which develops within a magnificent jewel: the Essaion Theatre. The perfect venue where time is suspended.
Who is Miss Tegree? Why does she make for the perfect hostess for the evening?
Miss Tegree is a modern woman, a woman of our times who draws her inspirations, her dreams, her fantasy, from the Paris of Yesterday–the Paris that she’s particularly fond of.
Accompanied by a Double Bass, her show is a true invitation to rediscovering theme songs that allow her to perform vocally and emotionally.
She is in love with life, despite its flaws and hard times. She tries to see each day as … “La Vie en Rose”….
How did you first come up with the idea for this show?
The “retro” repertoire is the interesting musical approach of our musical duo: the Vocal – Double Bass combination appealed to Caroline Nin instantly when she saw us perform. She then offered to produce our duo in the superb theatre that is the Essaion. You couldn’t hope for a better venue. It holds the true soul of Parisian Cabaret: its arches, its visible stones breathing the spirit of old Paris.
It was obvious that we should create the perfect ambiance to go with the songs we love to perform.
It is, above all, a “Parisian” show. There are spoken words, transitions adapted to an English-speaking audience as well as French-speaking, and songs in French. The show evolves each time. It is always different and this is what we love, as Miss Tegree doesn’t agree too well with routine.
Could you tell us about the songs in the show? How were they selected?
There were clear choices for most songs. Some of them I have sung for some time. But also, Arnaud Maudeux, the director who knows me well and has been my director in the past, suggested some lesser known themes and I am delighted about this. Through this show we are trying to discover or re-discover the French songbook. Thanks to the work of our duo: Vocal – Double Bass, you will find songs from over a century totally transformed and successfully modernized.
What is your professional background?
I started on the flute at the age of six at the French School of Performing Arts (Le Conservatoire Classique), and continued for 10 years. I then entered the Opera School of Luccia Scappaticci (soloist at the Opéra de Paris). From the beginning I have been attracted to the performing arts….
Amazing encounters have drawn me more and more to the performing arts, allowing me to sing in France, the USA, the Caribbean… wherever I am taken …. Music is the best way to share emotions.
Rémi is above all a friend, a very talented musician. His role in the show is more than the one of a simple accompanist, he is an accomplice, a soul mate, sharing his musical emotion.
I am astounded by him each night as he gives of himself and reinvents himself at each performance.
Re-inventing these ancient songs, giving them a new modern tone is a real challenge. It is a bet that we have taken as a duo. The obvious simplicity of our duo gives an incredible strength to our stage performance, each night, and the audience is always captivated and surprised. Without Rémi, Miss Tegree wouldn’t be so at ease in her Boudoir.
Would the show be appropriate for a younger audience?
Yes, the show is also appropriate for younger audiences, we have had many already. They love the lyrics of the songs, they are fun and witty, and the stage direction is playful. Kids see it literally even though it is a different story for the adults….
For someone who would like to experience a typical Parisian cabaret, do you have a recommendation?
As a Parisienne, I love the soul of “the City of Light”, its shows extraordinaires like the Moulin Rouge, where sequins and choreography of the French Cancan take us back to the Paris of the Belle Epoque.
I also love simpler venues, more unusual like “les 3 Baudets”, “le Divan du Monde”, “les 3 Maillets”, “la Vieille Grille” or the bistros where musicians come busking. To share true moments, raising a glass in your hand, singing in unison, with your voice, with your heart–this is what I love!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Armelle!