Practical Info

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  • facade view of Hôtel de Mayenne Rue de Rivoli and a Philippe Starck history marker
    History,  Let's Explore

    Paris History One Translate App Away

    The upside down paddles on the sidewalks around Paris are history markers of the city. The Philippe Starck-designed paddles are in French. When walking and not speaking French you can read them. Shocking? No. Simply install the Google Translate application on your smartphone. How to do it follows this short story. Background story The paddles first appeared in 1992, the year I moved to Paris. The city of Paris contracted with JCDecaux to install the “pelles Starck” to inform the strolling passer-by about a monument, an event, an historical moment, a theater, a passage, etc. Jacques Chirac, then mayor of Paris, initiated the project. For me the shape of the…

  • Practical Info,  Transportation

    Travel Paris with Updated RATP App

    Getting around Paris is improving in French and English is getting easier. The RATP application has been updated and the Paris bus network has also updated many routes. The benefits of the application updates? After choosing the route to your destination, the metro lines the application propose include exit tips: which car and which exit number.

  • Annabel Simms' latest release Half an Hour From Paris
    Book Reviews,  Day Trip

    Annabel’s Book for Secret Day Trips Half Hour from Paris

    Antiquity, countryside and history greet you in Annabel Simms' book, "Half an Hour from Paris ... 10 Secret Daytrips by Train". First you have to find your way there. Annabel Simms arranges the book like a quality French baguette au levain sandwich: yummy ingredients between the crunchy crusts. This is a book of self-guided walking tours of various lengths.

  • Chair with stack of books about Paris and Champagne, Hemingway, Angels
    Books & Guides & Writing,  Practical Info

    Prepare Your Visit to Paris, France

    Suitcase? Check! Camera? Check! Walking shoes? Check! Reading material? Prepare in advance with some book ideas! Language? Brush up on that French grammar! Frantastique is my Wednesday exercise. Then when I go shopping or chat on the street, those proper verbs just slide right out ... still studying though! Some of the books in my library are Paris walking tours. They provide enough material to stroll through Paris and explore. Another prepares you with a story and history for your Champagne tasting. David Downie's books are walking tours of history. Each chapter of each book weaves a tale of discovery. Tilar J. Mazzeo's book whisks you into Champagne history with…

  • painting of à la Petite Fabrique
    Chocolate, Sweets & Bakeries,  Life in Paris & France

    Saying Goodbye to Icons in the Bastille Neighborhood

    Living in a small neighborhood of the Bastille, the hardest phrases to hear over the last year have been: "We're closing and retiring" and "They have sold the shop for their retirement": Holmes, the stationery store, and now à la Petite Fabrique, the chocolate factory. Holmes was transformed into an upscale Italian restaurant and word is that Alain Ducasse is buying the Petite Fabrique.... The neighborhood in the area of Hugo's Les Miserables and the French Revolution has gone upscale.

  • Pere Noel and La Poste Secretariat opens today November 9 for letters to Santa
    Christmas,  Practical Info

    Time to Write to the North Pole – Père Noël (Father Christmas) is Back in Business

    Don't complain about a full email inbox. Last year, Père Noël (Santa Claus) received around 91,000 emails once the season opened. And it is that time again. Madame and Père Noël's post office opened November 9. This year, you can email or send a colourful paper letter. Get out the crayons and colourful ideas. The secretariat is part of la Poste France. The elves are working in Libourne in the Gironde region. According a LaDepche.fr, 1.2 million children from over 140 countries wrote paper wish letters addressed to Père Noël".

  • David Downie's latest book comes out September 26, 2017
    Book Reviews,  Books & Guides & Writing,  Food, Drink & Health

    David Downie’s Parisian Love Affair with Food

    "A Taste of Paris, A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food" is a fun book in David's style. David combines history, travelogue and a personal quest. David's quest this time: "What is it about the history of Paris that has made it a food lover's paradise?" You can follow his Paris food seduction from 53 BC to the present. Bringing Paris food history alive, David presents lots of written culinary activity between the 1300s and 1792 (end of the Ancien Régime) with all the King Louis's, their chefs and the chefs’ cookbooks. David takes us back to the barbarian Parisiis squatting, eating with no tableware and demonstrates how the…

  • Roms waiting for the next ATM victim
    Life in Paris & France,  Money,  Police

    For the Paris Police Dial 17

    When an emergency arises in Paris or you want to report a problem to the police, dial "17". Today a security guard at the Banque de France helped me after an incident at the BNP Paribas Beaumarchais, Bastille. After speaking with the police on the guard's phone, I noticed the number on his screen "17". I will never forget that number and used it about an hour later. By coincidence the same three teenagers who hassled me earlier at the ATM inside the BNP Paribas were leaving the line one metro train the same time as I walked off. I dialed "17".