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Newsletter #43: February 2004

vintage Paris photo


  • From the Home Office
  • Pro-France Slogan Contest!
  • KMZ is Back
  • Events at Abbey Books
  • Paris Culinary Insider
  • Outdoor Adventure Fair
  • Fashion Shows at Le Bristol
  • Book Recommendation
  • Volunteers for Peace Work Camps
  • WICE Volunteer Training
  • Housing Links
  • Suite101.com article
  • Is John Kerry French?
  • Comme des Conards

* From the Home Office *

Paris or Bust! Mr. Hall has accepted a job offer from a company in Paris, so we’re knee deep in boxes once again for the move up next week. We’re actually only taking what will fit in our car (and with the dogs, we’re not going to get much into a Renault Clio) and putting the rest into storage until we find permanent housing. And thanks to everyone who sent letters of encouragement during the past few months! To celebrate, I’m organizing the first ever Secrets of Paris contest (see details below), and the newsletter will be sent out twice per month from now on. In other news, my Paris & Ile-de-France Adventure Guide is a bit behind schedule at the publisher’s, so it probably won’t be available until the end of April. I’ll keep you all posted! – H

* Pro-France Slogan Contest Announcement! *

It was hard not to notice all of the anti-French slogans printed on t-shirts, baseball caps, bumper stickers throughout the US (and on the Internet) during my last trip home, so I’ve decided that the Francophiles of the world should put our heads together and create a pro-French slogan of our own. It should be short and witty — and in English. Clever humour is always more impressive than counter-attacks (this isn’t meant to be an anti-US contest). The contest will begin in the next newsletter (mid-March), when the detailed rules and prizes will be announced. Stay tuned, and get your thinking caps ready!

* KMZ is Back *

The Kilometer Zero Project is back after a short lapse in activity over the past six months, with a monthly bilingual show of performance, art, literature, drinking, and funk. The next one is tentatively scheduled for 7pm (doors open at 5pm) on March 7 at: 7 Boulevard des Capucines (Metro Opéra, Tel: Call to confirm or check the website for more info.

* Events at Abbey Books *

Travel author Kathy Borrus will be at the shop this Wednesday (February 25) at 8pm for the launch of her book “One Thousand Buildings of Paris” (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, NY). Sunday (February 29) is the Sadie Hawkins Day Hike in the countryside just outside Paris. For information on either event, contact Brian Spence at Abbey Bookstore: 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 5th, Metro St-Michel; Tel E-mail: abparis@compuserve.com.

* Paris Culinary Insider *

Francophile Alan Pavlik told me about Louisa KL Chu’s hilarious new blog: Food.France. Now. an insider’s look at the world of French haute-cuisine. Ever wonder what the difference is between L’Arpège and L’Ambroisie? Louisa tells all. Just don’t try reading it on an empty stomach…

* Outdoor Adventure Fair *

It may seem cold and wet outside right now, but those of you looking for some spring and summer outdoor adventures in Paris and the surrounding region should try and visit the Salon de la Randonnée, des Loisirs, et Sports Nature (Hiking, Leisure and Outdoor Sports Fair) at the Paris Expo – Porte de Versailles from March 26th-28th. As part of the Salon, the “Roue Libre” bicycle guides will be conducting a free tour of Paris (free bike rental included) on the evening of March 26th. On-site registration starts at 6pm, the tour begins at 8pm. For more info, call 01 56 20 88 88. On March 30th there’s a 12.5km group hike across Paris organized by the Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP) which leaves from the Porte de Versailles at 1pm, everyone welcome. For more info, check out the Salon website (French only).

* Fashion Shows at Le Bristol *

Fashion aficionados should book a table at the beautiful bar of the Hôtel Le Bristol for Fashion Saturdays. For €40 you get a fashion show by top Parisian designers, and afternoon tea and pastries by the hotel’s pastry chef. There are two shows in March and three in April. To see the calendar and sign-up online, check out the Bristol’s website.

* Book Recommendation *

I just finished reading Mark Twain’s fabulous novel, Joan of Arc. Completely different from his more widely-known books such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, this was supposedly the author’s own favourite, taking him twelve years to research and write. It’s a fascinating tale of the young peasant girl who saved France from English occupation, closely based on the historic facts documented in the French archives. Highly recommended. Look for it at your local English library or order it from Powell’s, the legendary independent bookstore.

* Volunteers for Peace Work Camps *

Looking for working vacation opportunities in France? Want to help restore a medieval chateau or help rebuild historic city ramparts? Volunteers for Peace organizes several work camps in France (some within an hour of Paris) from one week to several months. Membership is required, but many sites only cost €75 per week for food and simple accommodation. Have a browse around their website for more details.

* WICE Volunteer Training *

WICE is a non-profit cultural and educational association for the English-speaking community in Paris, with classes in everything from writing to Teaching English as a Foreign Language. They’re always looking for volunteers to help run the office and classes, so those interested should attend the orientation sessions on March 12, 16 or 22. For more information contact WICE: 20 Blvd du Montparnasse, 15th. Tel., e-mail: volunteers@wice-paris.org.

* Housing Links *

Everyone’s always asking me where to find short-term, furnish apartment rentals in Paris. Here are two sites that are quite helpful: www.Paristay.com (be sure to click on the left-hand menu to start) and www.Expatriates.com (read or place ads in the Housing section).

* A Writer in France *

Ever dream of moving to France to become a writer? Read my latest article A Writer in Paris, with links to other writers’ websites, literary magazines, and writers’ resources in Paris.

* Is John Kerry French? *

Much has been made in certain (anti-Democrat, anti-French) circles about John Kerry “hiding” the fact that he’s French. Well, he’s actually not French at all, but he does have relatives over here, and in politics, too! Kerry’s mother’s sister (his aunt) moved to France and married a Frenchman. Their son, Brice Lalonde (Kerry’s cousin, if you’re not following) is the mayor of a tiny town on the Brittany Coast. Et voila. Of course, the French can’t help but like an American presidential candidate who has not only traveled abroad, but also speaks their language fluently.

* Comme des Conards *

This is just for fun…as a French student back in the US I was subjected to horrid French music (waaaay to much Francis Cabrel) as a “learning tool”. But I think a bit of humour goes a long way. Check out the song “Comme des Conards” off the soundtrack for the French comedy film “Les 11 Commandements” starring Michael Youn. It’s sung to the tune of the old rock hit “My Sharona” by the Knack. The first time I heard the song on the radio I thought they were singing “Coca Cola”, but it’s “Comme des Conards” meaning “Like Idiots”. Here are the lyrics. If you want to hear the song, you can hear en extract at that same link, or tune into the live web feed of Le Mouv’ Radio, click on the little ornage arrow under the “Musique en Cours” in the upper left-hand corner to hear the music.

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