• 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…

  • Scene de Carnaval, place de la Concorde, Lami
    Let's Explore,  Museums

    Romantic Paris (1815-1848) The Lull Between Upheavals

    Was there a single event that led to Romanticism? Where did it begin? You could say the era Enlightenment and war brought on Romanticism. It started in Germany. The Petit Palais's latest exhibition, Paris Romantique (1815-1848) until September 15, is one of a two-part exhibition. The second part takes place at the Musée de la Vie Romantique. Initially, I went to the exhibition out of curiosity; drawn to this period of emotional art. I found Romantic stylings of the Gothic, Middle Ages and Renaissance decor, women artists, writers, composers, sculptors, elements of the medieval and the erotic, theatre and fashion. I left Googling the whole story, its influences, philosophical connections and…

  • Fernand PINAL (1881-1958) Le Pont du Marché à Meaux, 1913, Musée Bossuet, Meaux
    Day Trip,  Let's Explore

    Meaux, A brie(f) half hour from Paris

    You know the typical vacation questions “Got the tee-shirt” or “Got the postcard”!? Well I can say, “Got the Brie (de Meaux)”! Brie de Meaux cheese that is. Meaux is a a 25-minute train ride from Paris.Meaux, A brie(f) half hour from Paris. One hot August mid-afternoon I took a direct “P” train from Gare de l’Est to Meaux. Many of the Meldois (local residents) within the Gallo-Roman walls had left on vacation. I followed Annabel Simms‘s exact directions ....

  • 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…

  • The gardien ending his day at Square Louis XIII - Place des Vosges in the 4th arrondissement of Paris walking toward the statue.
    History,  Neighborhoods

    Paris Parks begin Winter Hours

    Walking through Square Louis XIII (also known as Place des Vosges), my short cut route was cut short. The route became the long way around! The corner where I usually exit was already locked! And then I heard a hint of why."Le square ferme. Mesdames, Messieurs et Mesdemoiselles*, le square ferme," he called out. To my surprise the 7:30 pm closing time was no longer; it was now 5:45 pm! The majority of Paris park changed to winter time when the clocks fell back an hour. ...

  • ham and cheese sandwich the croque monsieur at the grocery store
    Life in Paris & France,  Specific Info

    How did le Croque-Monsieur get its name?

    Le croque-monsieur (croak-missyou) is THE real French sandwich. It is not just a ham and cheese sandwich made with two pieces of bread. It is toasted and it is famous. Le croque-monsieur is one particular sandwich that has made it's way from the brasserie and bistro to the microwave in France. Diners take photos of meals exquisitely arranged on the plate. Not many take a photo of a sandwich. These foods, however, do share something in common. They are available in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.