Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Martin Luther King, Jr. Global Day of Service

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Pam Pappas Stanoch

Pam Pappas Stanoch
Books for Africa
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

In celebration of the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Global Day of Service, the Union of Overseas Voters sponsored a talk at the Foundation des Etats-Unis yesterday evening.  Pam Stanoch, gave a presentation on Books for Africa, an organization that collects, sorts, ships, and distributes books to students of all ages in Africa.

* * * * * * *
Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

44 rue Vivienne
Part I – The Apartment

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
44 Rue Vivienne

44 Rue Vivienne
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We were recently contacted by Habitat Parisien, an agency that rents apartments for short-term stays in Paris. Would we, they asked, be interested in staying in one of their apartments for a weekend in November in exchange for a blog about the experience?

Seizing an opportunity to explore a Parisian neighborhood that we knew little about, we replied affirmatively. We selected a large (68m2) apartment on rue Vivienne in the 2nd arrondissement, an area in which we rarely venture.

One of the charming aspects about the apartment that we selected is that rue Vivienne, lined with shops that trade in bullion and gold coins, doesn’t look like a street on which anybody lives. The façades look old, and we learned later that the street and a number of buildings on it date from the 17th century. An acquaintance, whom we happened to bump into on our last day and who lives in the neighborhood, affirmed that he likes the area precisely because it looks uninhabited. “You push through old doors, climb creaky stairs, and find yourself in a beautiful apartment.”

Mathais Presenting Monique with Roses

Mathais Presenting Monique with Roses
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Mathias, who works for Habitat Parisien, greeted us at 5:00 o’clock on Friday evening in front of the building and ushered us two flights up a well-worn, wooden stairway to the second-floor landing. There, two heavy, imposing doors stood directly in front of us. Mathias unlocked one of them, we pushed through, and voilà!…we stepped into a large, handsome apartment.

Mathias presented Monique with the key to the apartment and followed by giving her two long-stemmed roses. A lovely gesture! He walked us through the apartment, pointing out its features, and took care to explain how the different appliances worked. He helped us connect our computer to the apartment’s WiFi and tested the phone before leaving us to enjoy our evening.

“Vivienne,” as the apartment is called, is equipped with a dishwasher, clothes washer, Jacuzzi tub, and wide-screen television. There is also a large enclosed balcony that provides a lovely view of rue Vivienne and its intersection with boulevard Montmartre. We didn’t use it much, but that first evening we learned that it serves as an effective buffer against traffic noise. The apartment was quiet and we slept well.

The bare, hardwood, herring-bone floor made wonderful creaking noises as we stepped on it — it was a pleasure to walk across in bare feet. Because of the high ceilings, we were concerned that we might not be warm enough, particularly because the weather was cold and damp on that first day. We were pleased to learn that two electric heaters on the wall adjacent to the balcony worked extremely well — we were quite warm and didn’t need to turn on the third heater located near the kitchen.

The Jacuzzi gave a great massage and we appreciated the towel warmer in the bathroom. The open kitchen was adequate, with a dishwasher, coffee maker, microwave, and toaster. Although we chose to eat out rather than prepare our own meals, we noted that there were plenty of plates and glassware.

Tomorrow…the party that we threw for our friends.

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Paris – Just in Time for Father’s Day!

Thursday, June 13th, 2013
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Does your father yearn for Paris? We have two publications that will stir his passion for the city! The first is our monthly newsletter Paris Insights, written to present an insider’s view of the fascinating history, culture, and contemporary life of the City of Light.

The second is our book Paris Insights – An Anthology, a compilation of a number of our most popular newsletters. Travel writer Jim Calio has called our book Paris Insights – An Anthology “…a witty, incisive and always informative compilation of sights, sounds and good advice about enjoying the City of Light…” Better than a power drill, a necktie, or even a shaving kit, it is a gift that offers an insider’s view of the things to love about Paris.

Just in time for Father’s Day, the Kindle edition of Paris Insights – An Anthology can be purchased and downloaded immediately! And remember…he doesn’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle edition of Paris Insights – An Anthology! Amazon.com provides Kindle reader apps that work on every major tablet, smartphone, and computer so that he can read Kindle books on whatever type of device he owns. These apps are 100% free. If he needs one, click HERE to go to the Web page for the application that he needs.

Click HERE to order Paris Insights – An Anthology now. Click HERE to enter an annual subscription to our newsletter.

Give your father the gift of Paris on Father’s Day!

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Sacred Music Concerts at Notre Dame Cathedral
By A.D. McKenzie

Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Lionel Sow

Lionel Sow
Director of Notre Dame Choir

Notre Dame Cathedral is celebrating its 850th anniversary with a year of “sacred music” concerts that run until December of this year.

The world’s most famous church traces its history back to 1163 when construction first began, and music has always been a part of its tradition, says Lionel Sow, head of the Notre Dame Choir and artistic director of the sacred music project.

“We’re having 25 concerts this season and the public will get to explore this rich tradition of ancient music,” he told Paris Insights.

Starting with polyphony and covering music up to the 20th century, the concerts include various orchestras in joint projects with the choir. Leading soloists will also be performing a variety of pieces.

This week, the acclaimed Chamber Orchestra of Paris (OCP) performed Haydn’s “The Creation,” conducted by Thomas Zehetmair and featuring soprano Sophie Karthäuser, tenor Werner Güra, and bass baritone Matthew Brook.

The OCP said that Haydn’s masterpiece oratorio is a “true celebration and glorification of the universe” and that the work was “at home” under the “celestial vaults” of the cathedral. The soaring voices of 60 singers from the Notre Dame Choir added to the uplifting pull of the 18th century composition, which was written for orchestra, choir, and soloists.

Sow says that the choir is not only presenting known works but that it also wants to help the public to “re-discover” rare or unjustly forgotten repertoires such as “La Vierge” oratorio by French composer Jules Massenet, which retells the story of the Virgin Mary.

The cathedral’s recently renovated grand organ will also have a starring role when Notre Dame’s small and select group of organists show off their talents during the year of celebration. On March 19th, Johann Vexo will present works by Franck, Dupré, Duruflé, and Vierne, while on May 28th, the organ recital will be by Olivier Latry, who is also a professor at the Conservatoire de Paris.

The public will get to see the relationship between music and architecture when the church’s acoustic qualities are put to good use for Gregorian chants, Pentecostal music, and a performance by Les Sacqueboutiers, an award-winning brass ensemble from Toulouse that focuses on early music.

The year began with Claudio Monteverdi’s Les Vêpres à la Vierge (Vespers for the Blessed Virgin) and will end in December with a specially commissioned work of the same name by Rome-born French composer Philippe Hersant. This will comprise the full Notre Dame Choir, Les Sacqueboutiers, two organs, and several soloists for a “truly dazzling sound,” promises conductor Sow.

We wish to thank A. D. McKenzie, a Paris-based author and journalist, for her contribution to the Paris Insights blog.

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

A Day in the Cemetery
By Robin Glasser

Saturday, December 15th, 2012
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

New York writer Robin Glasser moved to Paris for three years to live with her French lover. Later, she wrote about the experience in her book My Life as a Concubine, available at Smashwords. During her time there, her lover’s loathsome brother Pierre and his dog Racine came to stay with them. The following account of her encounter with Pierre and her walk through the Père Lachaise cemetery is adapted from the chapter entitled “Pierre Moves Out.”

* * * * * * *

Escaping the hellish house guests—my lover’s smelly brother Pierre and Racine, his ancient, incontinent mutt—I decided a trip to Père Lachaise would calm me down. After all, what could be more relaxing than a walk in a cemetery and Père Lachaise happened to be among my favorites. It was roughly an hour’s walk from our apartment house to the dead zone. The July day was hot but not unbearable—like some fungus-footed canine lover I knew. The exercise would do me good and clear my head.

Père Lachaise

Père Lachaise Cemetery
Photograph by Peter Poradisch
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The vast plot of land was originally owned by Père Lachaise, Louis XIV’s confessor. In 1804, the estate became a burial ground. Urban planner Nicolas Frochot, who developed the cemetery, persuaded authorities to replant Molière, La Fontaine, and Abélard and Héloïse there and the bone yard quickly became a symbol of the rich and famous.

Horoscopically speaking, if your planets are aligned you might luck out, find a ghostly guardian, and get a free plan of this monumental resting place. Even with a map, it’s difficult to find your way around the immense necropolis. The first time I visited this city of the dead sans lover, I was fortunate to attract the attention of a groundskeeper who gave me a guided tour. Being French, he wanted to give me more, but that’s another story. The map shows all the stellar grave sites. It’s a virtual Who’s Who of the dead, featuring such luminaries as Victor Hugo, Maria Callas, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Chopin, Proust, and Jim Morrison.

Morrison Grave by SuzanneGW

Jim Morrison’s Grave
Photograph by SuzanneGW
Source: Wikimedia Commons

For those of you not in the know, the infamous American rock star’s shrine is a major tourist attraction—on par with le Tour Eiffel. The French being, well French, aren’t too pleased. Pilgrims to Morrison’s tombstone are not exactly religious types. Rather, they’re the pot-smoking, flower-stealing, let’s-get-down-and-dirty sort of worshipers who know how to party. In fact, the guardians of Père Lachaise have concealed a camera inside an old gas lamppost to keep tabs on the rock-and-unholy-rollers. A chain-smoking policeman has also been posted to keep the uproar under control. Personally, I doubt that there’s any film in said camera and the bodyguard, euphemistically speaking, is usually elsewhere, doing something better with his time.

Like any cemetery lover, I had priorities—the older the final resting place, the better. An impressive number of the departed reside in mausoleums big enough to house an army! Many of these deluxe dwellings for the dead are constructed of imported Italian marble. They contain stained glass windows, museum-quality statuary, obelisks, cherubs, angels, and other such funerary folderol. Wrought-iron fences, serving as deterrents for trespassers, surround the lavish domains.

As I stumbled along the cobbled streets of the cemetery, gazing at the incredible array of corpse chalets, an idea struck me. Pierre could live here. Several of the tombs made our apartment seem about the size of a pup tent. It was quiet. There were plenty of trees for Racine. To me, this plot of paradise had to be a thousand times better than squatting in an abandoned building. I decided that a visit to Oscar Wilde’s grave would be the perfect place for me to mull things over.

As usual, the rapier-witted writer’s tombstone was littered with mementos. Most of the offerings were from gays. However, lipstick stains, which I surmised had been left by women, smeared the smooth stone. Notes—some clever, some not—candles, flowers, even articles of clothing added color and fragrance to the Irishman’s burial plot. I later discovered that the prominent penis of an angel guarding Oscar’s tomb had literally been hacked off, never to be seen again.

Victor Noir

Tomb of Victor Noir
Photograph by MRW
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another tomb that I found interesting was the burial plot of obscure journalist Victor Noir. His monument featured the sculpture of a man lying as if shot—which he was—in a duel. There appears to be a healthy erection inside the trousers of the bronzed body. Legend has it that by rubbing the crotch and placing a flower in the sculpted hat next to Noir’s effigy, a woman is guaranteed to get married within the year. The shiny spot definitely stands out, signaling that legions of women have fondled this area in hopes of waltzing down the petal-strewn aisle.

Although I wasn’t happy about facing my house guests from Hades, I took le Métro home. Luck was on my side. The place was deserted—quiet as any tomb, with the exception of Jim Morrison’s.

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

A Michael Jackson Look-alike Practices His Moves

Friday, September 28th, 2012
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Returning to Paris from a Sunday excursion in mid-September, I spotted a Michael Jackson look-alike practicing his moves while he waited for a train at the Gare de Lyon. He was checking his look in his reflection on the vending machines.

Michael Jackson Look-alike Sighted at the Gare de Lyon

Michael Jackson Look-alike Sighted at the Gare de Lyon
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Who is That Masked Man?

Friday, August 17th, 2012
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Tom with Bee Hat

Tom with Bee Hat
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Why, it’s none other than our intrepid reporter on his way to another story. The last time we saw him he was stumbling onto the dock from a boat where he had tasted six wines. Only small sips, mind you!

Tune in tomorrow for more adventure!

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Not Your Ordinary Chiclets

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Elma Classic Chewing Gum

Elma Classic Chewing Gum
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

We stopped by Mavrommatis, a Greek delicatessen near rue Mouffetard, and purchased a pack of chewing gum called Elma. It is made from mastic, a resin known to the people of the Eastern Mediterranean since Antiquity. It was the first natural chewing gum of the ancient world!

Flavored with mastic oil, the gum has a menthol-like, resinous flavor. It requires more effort to chew than your ordinary Chiclets.

Mavrommatis
47, rue Censier
75005 Paris
Tel.: 01.45.35.96.50

* * * * * * *

We participate in Wanderfood Wednesdays. Head over there to explore food from around the world!

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Ever Wonder How They Do It?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Washing the Inverted Glass Pyramid

Washing the Inverted Glass Pyramid
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Have you ever wondered how the inverted glass pyramid in the Carrousel du Louvre gets cleaned? The answer is, “Very carefully!”

I happened by the Carrousel du Louvre today and saw two workmen suspended inside the pyramid washing the glass, while two other workmen stood on the glass base as they cleaned it. For the two inside, it was a tedious job to stabilize themselves with mountain-climbing gear while hanging from the guy-wires. Give me a desk job over this any time!

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Ioo Flair at the Bar Academy

Saturday, December 10th, 2011
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Ioo Flair

Ioo Flair
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Last month we visited the Bar Academy, a bartender training school in the Parisian suburb of Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, where we saw Ioo Flair practicing the art of flair bartending. Flair was vice-champion of France in 2010 and placed 8th in the Paris Flair Open in 2011.

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!