Category Archives: Paris popular culture

Twenty questions

A happy Saint-Sylvestre to you all! A few of you may wonder what that means, but in France, New Year’s Eve is often called by the name of the saint whose day falls on December 31. That fact got us … Continue reading

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Nostalgic images of a vanishing city

Photographs of Paris in the snow were big news earlier this month. We are Canadians. As Gilles Vigneault sang of this country, “Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver” (My country is not a country, it is winter). … Continue reading

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Voutch and the evolution of a cartoon style

You know how it is: you notice something properly for the first time, and for the next while, you see it everywhere. So it was with us and the cartoons of Voutch (real name: Olivier Chapougnot). We had wandered along the … Continue reading

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Getting married in the City of Light

Many people dream of getting married in Paris. How romantic. How fashionable. Like this 1998 image of a Christian Dior wedding gown on a beautiful model, a Paris wedding seems like a dream too good to be true. The fantasy element appears … Continue reading

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Enough to make a cow laugh

New Year’s is a time of cleaning up and clearing out, and to that end I have unsubscribed from all kinds of newsletters and mass mailings to keep my head clear and my inbox manageable. But I’m keeping a few, … Continue reading

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First we take Manhattan, then we take Paree!

I bought my first Eloise book from a secondhand bookstall at school when I was 9 or 10. It was Kay Thompson’s Eloise in Moscow, and I was captivated by Hilary Knight’s illustrations, including a fold-out view of a wintry … Continue reading

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Paris in the year 2000, viewed from 1900

It seems that humans cannot resist dabbling in predicting the future. We have an innate need to ignore Yogi Berra’s clear warning, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” So what did the year 2000 look like from a … Continue reading

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The scavengers

Major nineteenth-century cities such as Paris or London depended on complex ecosystems in which the showiest sometimes obscured underlying layers. Consider a city in which by 1900 it was said that as many as 300,000 cigars (perhaps the number included … Continue reading

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The Jardin Mabille and the origins of the can-can

Paris has long been famous for dance, and not just the glamour of the ballet. The city was renowned for its bals (places and events for dancing). At one end of the social scale were the elaborate invitation-only affairs in … Continue reading

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Lost (and found) in translation

Among the pitfalls in learning French are what is known as “faux amis” (false friends) – that is, words that sound as if they ought to mean the same thing in English and French, but don’t. Like librairie, which is … Continue reading

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