A French Perspective in New York...
Join me as I search New York for everything that reminds me of Paris but of course is still New York. Follow me as I figure out what it means to be Paris in New York.
Directed by Mona Achache. Running time: 100 minutes, France/ Italy, 2009. With Josiane Balasko, Garance Le Guillermic, Togo Igawa.
Inspired by the beloved New York Times bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery, THE HEDGEHOG is the timely story of Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) a young girl bent on ending it all on her upcoming twelfth birthday. Using her father’s old camcorder to chronicle the hypocrisy she sees in adults, Paloma begins to learn about life from the grumpy building concierge, Renée Michel (FRENCH TWIST’s Josiane Balasko). When Paloma’s camera reveals the extensive secret library in Renée’s back room, and that the often gruff matron reads Tolstoy to her cat, Paloma begins to understand that there are allies to be found beneath the prickliest of exteriors. As the unlikely friendship deepens, Paloma’s own coming of age becomes a much less pessimistic prospect.
Directed by René Féret. Running time: 120 minutes, France, 2010. With Marie Féret, David Moreau, Marc Barbe, Clovis Fouin.
A speculative account of Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart (Marie Feret), five years older than Wolfgang (David Moreau) and a musical prodigy in her own right. Originally the featured performer, she has given way to Wolfgang as the main attraction, as their strict but loving father Leopold (Marc Barbe) tours his talented offspring in front of the royal courts of pre-French revolution Europe. Approaching marriageable age and now forbidden to play the violin or compose, Nannerl chafes at the limitations imposed on her gender. But a friendship with the son and daughter of Louis XV offers an alternative.
Some may say New York City lacks the necessary Francophile accoutrements to be considered Parisian. Instead of rues there are avenues, geometric high rises dominate the skyline, and there’s the constant hustle and bustle paired with the hum of subway trains rumbling below.
Since Marie Delecourt—author of the blog Paris in New York—moved to the U.S. in 2000 she has missed many things about France: the redolence of fermenting grapes in Épernay where she grew up next to the Moët & Chandon champagne factory; the romantic curves of Parisian architecture; and the ubiquity of alleyway cafés and corner bakeries. “It was difficult to adjust to the fast pace and the harshness [of New York],” she said. “Immigration is not easy because you have to cut out a part of who you are to integrate in the new country.”
But as a cosmopolitan metropolis, New York City is so diverse that just about anyone from anywhere could rediscover the idiosyncrasies of home and construct their own cultural enclave around them. Delecourt used to take periodic trips to France and return to New York with suitcases full of her favorite products, but she has since explored every nook and cranny of Manhattan to find them here, documenting the pursuit on her blog.
Bon appetit! It’s easy to eat like a Parisian in New York: Sip on brut cuvée or sparkling rosé at Flute Bar and Lounge, grab a fresh baguette at Francois Payard Bakery, or for a wide selection of low-priced fromage visit East Village Cheese. Don’t forget about the myriad of French eateries throughout the city—Epicerie Café Charbon, L’École Restaurant at the French Culinary Institute, and Balthazar to name a few.
Trés Beaux-Arts: Amidst New York’s brick-faced, English-style buildings you’ll find grand façades rooted in French Beaux-Arts. Characterized by grandiose pavilions, tall parapets and columns, classical detailing, and arched windows, many of the Beaux-Arts style buildings were constructed by American architects who trained at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from the 1890s until the First World War. Marvel at the New York Public Library, Grand Central Terminal, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art or visit the Beaux Arts Alliances for lectures and walking tours of the city that highlight this architectural movement.
French cinema: Take a free cinematic tour of France en plein air by catching a French summertime film screening in New York City parks during the Films on the Green series, co-organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.
Walk like a Parisian: Meander the cobblestone streets of 9th Avenue in Chelsea and dine at Pastis French Bistro. Then, peruse Chelsea’s High Line, which is similar to the Promenade Plantée in Paris. Both structures are tree-lined parkways built on former railway lines that run across rooftops in the city.
French indulgences: Spoil yourself with macaroons and hazelnut mousse at Francois Chocolate Bar, located on the fourth floor of Mauboussin, a Parisian jewelry boutique. Then, pop into the nearby French Institute Alliance Française and browse their list of French cultural activities or head over to The Paris Theatre to catch a French film.
Picnic in the park: Grab a crepe Suzette to go from Creperie NYC in the West Village then enjoy it under the Washington Square Park arch, which echoes the tunes of street musicians. New York architect Stanford White modeled the arch after the Arc de Triomphe.
Megan Snedden is a California-born writer and adventurer who currently lives in New York City. Connect with her on twitter @megansnedden.
Great selection of books I just received from Accredited Online College...Here is an extract of the books about Food (of course), but also some good Classics to read and also some books written by Americans leaving in France just in case you are thinking to move there...
" French language and culture is just about everywhere, from the Monet hanging in the dentist’s waiting room to the use of common words like cafe, foyer, and a la mode. Despite the jokes many Americans make about the French, the reality is that whether you’re aware of it or not, they are very much a part of our everyday lives. Those obsessed with everything Gallic are acutely familiar with this fact, and even with all the Frenchness that surrounds us, they still seek out movies, art and, of course, books to help them to immerse themselves in French culture. Whether you’re one of these avowed Francophiles looking for a great read or a college student studying the language and hoping to learn a bit more about France and its peoples, these books offer up a healthy helping of history, culture, and fiction. A word of warning, however. These reads may make you want to drop everything, hop on a plane, and start living out your French fantasies in real life.
The French are known worldwide for their strong gastronomic skills, and you can get your taste buds watering with these food-centric reads.
A Pig in Provence by Georgeanne Brennan: Georgeanne Brennan moved to Provence in 1970 to find a simple life making goat cheese. In this book, you’ll get a chance to see part of her transformation from a simple goat herder to an award-winning cookbook author and learn a bit about Provencal culture in the process.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris: This sexy book, perhaps better known for the film adaptation starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, explores the pleasures food can offer – even in a place where this kind of indulgence is seen as sinful.
The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin: A must-read for any foodie or gourmand, Brillat-Savarin’s treatise has created one of the most brilliant examinations of the process of cooking, eating, and truly enjoying food ever written.
On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town by Susan Herrmann Loomis: Leaving home to attend a French cooking school, Loomis fell in love with the country. In this book, you’ll not only read about her initial forays into French life, but her return years later with husband and child in tow – and get a few amazing recipes to boot.
French Lessons by Peter Mayle: While most of his work focuses on Provence, this book takes Mayle’s writing to new destinations within France, celebrating all things related to French gastronomy.
My Life in France by Julia Child: Known for bringing French cooking into the American home, Child learned a thing or two while studying and living in France with her husband – lessons which she happily shares here.
Numerous novels, including a large number of classics, have been set in France – and many more come from famous French authors. Here, you’ll find a good mix of the two, allowing you to indulge in French culture.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: While it is a fictional tale, this classic novel is an excellent place to start learning about the French Revolution, with intrigue, romance, and drama aplenty.
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky: A sad relic from WWII, this novel was completed mere weeks before Nemirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz. Uncompleted, yet still moving, readers will get insights into the lives of ordinary Parisians as they are affected in different ways by the horrors of WWII.
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes: Fans of Flaubert should flock to this novel, full of details about his life and ideas about writing.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo: This tragic novel is one of Hugo’s greatest and the descriptions of life in 15th century Paris will be enthralling for any Francophile.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas: Readers will be drawn into Dumas’ tale of revenge and romance as it plays out in the post-Napoleonic years in France.
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert: Perhaps one of the most unlikable characters ever created in literature, Emma Bovary is bored by her middle class life and her doting husband and daughter, seeking out affairs and eventually making an unconscionable decision. While readers might not like Bovary, the book is a masterpiece and offers great insight to French life and culture in the 1800′s.
Candide by Voltaire: While most political satire loses its bite after only a few years, Voltaire proves his worth by creating this work that still resonates with audiences today. Mocking the politics and philosophy of mid-1700′s France, the book is full of folly and a fair share of misery for its main character, Candide, as he struggles to reunite with his long-lost love.
The Stranger by Albert Camus: The brainchild of a number of French philosophers, existentialism made a huge impact on thought and philosophy in its time and is still talked about a great deal today. Camus masterfully applies the central principles of the philosophy in this novel, a classic every Francophile should read.
Nana by Emile Zola: A bit risque when it was released in 1880, this novel follows the determined Nana as she rises from poverty to the height of Parisian society, often through the use of her body as much as her mind.
These books come from those who have left their home countries and decided to call France home, whether for a lifetime or just a few years.
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle: Mayle abandoned his native England to take up residence in a small home in Provence. In this book, the first in a series, Mayle shares the many wonderful and not so wonderful things that happen during their first year in their adopted home.
My French Life by Vicki Archer: Buying a 17th century home in France with her husband and children, Archer describes her life in France, from tending the olive groves to taking in a delicious meal, in this book.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: Life in Paris in the 1920s was exciting for Hemingway and his wife, hobnobbing with big names like Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Stein. This classic novel perfectly captures the city in this idyllic pre-war period.
Paris Was Yesterday by Janet Flanner: In this collection of essays from theNew Yorker, Flanner brings to life Paris in the years leading up to WWII.
A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke: Acting through his alter ego Paul West in this fictionalized account of his time in Paris, Stephen Clarke’s work takes an entertaining look at how one Brit learns to adapt to life in France.
The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Love & Olive Oil in the South of France by Carol Drinkwater: Drinkwater fulfills a lifelong dream of owning a home in the French countryside in this novel. Of course, it wouldn’t be interesting if it were all rosy from the get-go, and in the book you’ll see this Brit struggle with a rickety old house, French law, and the natural elements.