Archive for the ‘writers’ Category

Angels of Paris
By Rosemary Flannery

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Angels of Paris by Rosemary Flannery

Rosemary Flannery has written an intriguing book about images of angels that we see almost every day while walking around Paris, but never stop to think about. Her book, Angels of Paris, lists dozens of sculptures and images of angels, cherubs, genies, putti…any human-looking creature, large or small, adult or infant, that has wings. Flannery has found them on door knockers, church steeples, pediments, sundials, columns, niches, grills, just about everywhere.

She classifies three types of angels:

Renommées – these are adult angels that celebrate the fame of a person or a group.

Génies – these are angels that one finds on public and private buildings, often flanking a seal or blazon.

Angels – these are messengers of God found on church doorways, steeples, and roofs.

Some angels are celebratory and some are simply decorative or symbolic. The large angel on the face of a certain apartment building in the 3rd arrondissement, for example, is a decorative element that softens the façade’s oblique angle. In another part of town, two génies support a lightning rod on the roof of the Châtelet Theater. Perhaps they symbolize the benevolent protection that the heavenly host accords to theatergoers on stormy nights.

Elsewhere in Paris, angels are portrayed bearing coats of arms, or gifts, such as macarons, flowers, and fruits.

Angels of Paris contains photographs of over seventy angels, arranged by chapter. Each chapter represents an arrondissement, or district, of Paris, and within each chapter the angels are arranged in chronological order according to the date on which they were installed on their particular building. The oldest angel in Paris dates from 1146 – 1148, and the newest from 1936.

More than simply a book about angels, Angels of Paris is also about the history of the city and those who participated in its embellishment. Flannery has carefully researched the lives of the artists and sculptors who created each angel and except where no information was available, recounts each artist’s role in the beautification of the city. Some readers might find her use of architectural terms deterring, but those who bear with her will find their appreciation of the architectural beauty of the city richly enhanced.

Measuring only 6¼” by 6¼”, Angels of Paris is a small hardcover book that can be carried and consulted as one strolls around this enchanting city.

To learn more about Angels of Paris, follow this link: Angels of Paris – An Architectural Tour Through the History of Paris.

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

Award-winning Author Reviews Dining Out in Paris

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Dining Out in Paris

Indispensable! Tom Reeves’s Dining Out in Paris doesn’t just recommend places to eat. This is a guide book that decodes all the little customs, cultural quirks and expressions of speech a visitor to Parisian eateries will encounter. A longtime American expatriate who knows and loves his adopted city, Tom Reeves proposes restaurants that are off the beaten tourist tracks. Best of all, this book celebrates the multiculturalism of Paris, in all its variety and vibrancy. For visitors in search of an authentic Parisian dining experience, this book is indispensable!

Jake Lamar, author of Rendezvous Eighteenth and Ghosts of Saint-Michel.

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

Gerri Chanel’s French Life

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Gerri Chanel - Author of Saving Mona Lisa Photograph by

Gerri Chanel – Author of Saving Mona Lisa
Photograph by

Award-winning writer Gerri Chanel is in town promoting her new book Saving Mona Lisa: The Battle to Protect the Louvre and its Treasures During World War II. I had the opportunity to meet her recently and asked her about how her interest in French culture developed and what inspired her to research this fascinating story

Chanel’s father’s brother’s wife was born and raised in Paris and Chanel was fascinated from a young age listening to her speak French, her manner of food presentation, and the long, animated discussions with relatives at the dinner table. Though her aunt probably never knew it, she was the person who sparked Chanel’s life-long interest in French language, culture, and cuisine.

Chanel studied accounting and went on to become an international business consultant. The research and business writing skills that she acquired in her profession provided a good foundation for the work that was required to research the history of how the French planned and conducted the largest museum evacuation in history in the years running up to WWII. The operation’s purpose was to remove precious art from the Louvre and to store it in the countryside to protect it from German bombardment.

Chanel first learned of this massive undertaking while watching a documentary film on the Louvre many years ago. A brief mention in a film that a painting from the Louvre was hidden during the war by using it as a false ceiling in a restaurant kindled her interest. In researching this bit of history, Chanel found out that the information was incorrect and set out to write an accurate account. This led to many years of research, both in the United States and in France, culminating in the writing of her book.

Chanel’s work as business consultant first led her to Paris a number of years ago, where she taught management and accounting at several business schools. During this time, she was also able to indulge her longstanding passion for French cuisine. She started a small business called “Paris on Your Plate,” where she conducted wine and cheese pairings at her Paris apartment.

Participants in “Paris on Your Plate” classes enjoyed tasting up to thirteen cheeses and four wines per session. Chanel spoke to them about how French cheeses are made and guided them through the tasting, beginning with the mildest cheeses and leading to the strongest. Lasting about two hours, these sessions were quite popular.

Chanel was well prepared to launch this venture. Several years prior to moving to Paris, she received a certificate in cheese appreciation from a NYC organization called Artisanal Cheese. She received an additional certificate after taking a week-long course in the subject at the University of Vermont. Two French dairy specialists were among the professors who taught this course.

Chanel will talk about Saving Mona Lisa on Tuesday, July 8 at Adrian Leeds’ popular Parler Paris Après Midi, a free monthly meeting where guest speakers talk about a wide variety of interesting topics.

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

Heather Stimmler-Hall Launches a New Edition of Naughty Paris

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Heather Stimmler-Hall

Heather Stimmler-Hall is a travel writer who has been living in France since 1995. I recently had the opportunity to meet her for the first time at the CititenM launch party about which I blogged two Sundays ago. Heather told me that she was about to launch a new edition of her book Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City. This is a self-publishing venture, as was the first. For the second edition, she intends to have it printed as a gorgeous coffee-table style book measuring 6.25 x 7 inches, containing 352 pages and 295 color photos, and bound in sturdy Smyth Sewn binding.

A Woman in Paris

To raise the funds necessary for this costly venture, Heather has launched a campaign on Kickstarter.

The first edition of her book was awarded a Gold Medal for the 2009 Independent Publisher Awards Best Travel Guide. The second edition, to be released in December, will be shipped in July to those who pledge a minimum of $35 CAD (Canadian dollars) to her Kickstarter campaign. Pledges must be made online by Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

Take a look at her video on Kickstarter and see what a classy gal this writer is!

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

A Roll in the Hay with Lily Heise

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
The Irrepressible Lily Heise

The Irrepressible Lily Heise
Photograph by

I first met Lily about five years ago at a bloggers’ meet-up in Paris. At that time and at subsequent social events, she impressed me as a cheerful person with a bubbly personality. Little did I suspect that within the body of that effervescent persona beat the heart of a woman with the passion of an exploding volcano! I found that out just two weeks ago when I accepted her invitation to attend the launch of her first book, Je t’aime…me neither. There, at the Abbey Bookshop in Paris, she announced that her new book was about the saga of her search for love in the City of Light. It turns out that she found it…and then lost it…and then found it and lost it…again and again!

What makes her book more than a kiss-and-tell story is that she readily admits that her adventures have all ended in failure of some sort. (At least, that is what she told the audience at the book launch.) But she analyzes each failure in a humoristic way before she moves on to the next adventure. And she does move on! At the disappointing end of every adventure she manages to step back and find humor, even if it is dark humor, in her distress.

Lily Heise

Lily Heise with Her New Book
Photograph by

The night of the launch, the audience enjoyed her wit as she read several accounts of her adventures from her book.

Here is an excerpt:

Je ne t’aime plus (Stephane)

“Je ne t’aime plus.”

What do you mean . . . you don’t love me anymore? I sat there, dumbfounded, staring at my boyfriend—or rather, my exboyfriend—his words slowly sinking in. Once they had, the emotional floodgate opened, unleashing hot tears streaming down my cheeks.

What did he just say? He had never said that he did love me, so how could he not love me anymore? While I was trying to grapple with this unpleasant detail, another one hit me. Hey! I was being broken up with! This made me cry even harder. Here I was, in my tiny Parisian apartment, overlooking the eternal City of Amour, which had just transformed into the City of Désamour, as I was now unloved, dumped, ditched, or, in French: larguée.

This wasn’t how things were supposed to happen.

This experience must have been a sad moment for Lily, but when she read the passage in her sing-song voice the audience roared with laughter. (Not laughing at her, mind you, but with her.)

She saved the best passage for last:

A Roll in the Hay (Julian)

Where am I? Who am I with? More importantly . . . who am I kissing? These are not good questions to wake up asking yourself, especially when you don’t know the answers! Well, from what I could immediately gather, the answer to the first question seemed to be “a wheat field,” which could have been pretty much anywhere. The answers to the other two questions would remain—for the time being—something of a mystery . . .

How had I ended up in a wheat field at the crack of dawn being ferociously kissed by a young, sun-streaked blond stud?

No, I wasn’t on the set of the kind of racy TV show screened after midnight on French public channels. And no, I hadn’t gotten lost on a hike in the country and been rescued by a shepherd boy . . . or had I?

Intrigued? Lily leaves it to us to buy the book to learn the answer to this mystery.

Lily has given Je t’aime…me neither her heart and soul. Five years in the writing—and thirteen years of extensive research—have gone into its creation. Put this one at the top of your list of must-read books for the summer!

To learn more about the book, click here.

To purchase the Kindle edition, click here.

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Will the Last True Parisian to Leave the City Please Turn Out the Lights?

Sunday, January 1st, 2012
Facebook Twitter Linkedin
Claude Dubois

Claude Dubois, Journalist
Photo by

In this month’s Paris Insights we present Claude Dubois, a French journalist who, for many years, has been chronicling the decline of working-class culture in Paris.

Our newsletter is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

Bonne Lecture!

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

A Visit to the Hometown of Alexandre Dumas
By Monique Y. Wells, Co-founder of Discover Paris!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Statue of Alexandre Dumas
at Place du Docteur Jean Mouflier
Photograph by

Until recently, every time that I gave my Entrée to Black Paris tour called Black Paris after WWII and told the story about how the remains of Alexandre Dumas were transferred from his hometown of Villers-Cotterêts to the Pantheon in Paris, I would think to myself that I should someday make the short trek up to Picardie to see the original gravesite and the town where Dumas grew up. I made this trek a few days ago, and I am happy to share the details with you!

Last Thursday, Tom and I were treated to a special day trip to the region of Picardie by two friends—Elizabeth and David Berry. We visited the Royal Abbey of Chaalis in the morning, lunched at the Château d’Ermenonville, and visited the town of Villers-Cotterêts in the afternoon. The weather was perfect, the sites intriguing, and the meal sublime!

Down the street from the statue of Alexandre Dumas, which stands in the place du Docteur Jean Mouflier, lies the Alexandre Dumas Museum. For such a small museum, there is plenty to see! The museum consists of three rooms—one devoted to Dumas’ father, General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas; one to Dumas père (the writer that we know and love—the author of The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Man in the Iron Mask among myriad works); and one to Alexandre Dumas fils (son of Alexandre Dumas père). Thomas-Alexandre Dumas was born in Saint Domingue (Haiti) of a French marquis and a slave mother; hence, all three generations had African ancestry.

A beautiful portrait of the general, who served in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army, dominates the first room. Dumas was part of Napoleon’s Egyptian adventure, but fell out of favor with the Emperor and never received the pension that he was due once he left the army. On the way home from Egypt, he was forced to leave his ship in Taranto (Italy) and was imprisoned at Brindisi. While in prison, he contracted an illness from which he never fully recovered, and died a weak and impoverished man in Villers-Cotterêts in 1806.

Painting of Father of Alexandre Dumas by Olivier Pichat
Photograph by

General Dumas’ room contains numerous documents written by him, illustrations of him, and other artifacts.

In Alexandre Dumas père’s room, one finds several portraits and photos of him, his writing desk, a pair of boots, and many other artifacts.

Desk of Alexandre Dumas
Photograph by

Here is a lithograph portrayal of Dumas that is unlike any other that I have seen:

Portrait of Alexandre Dumas
by Jean-Pierre Moynet
Photograph by

There is also an original version of The Three Musketeers, which is open to the title page…

Original printing of The Three Musketeers
Photograph by

Alexandre Dumas père left Villers-Cotterêts in 1823 to seek his fortune in Paris. He went on to become France’s most prolific writer, a distinction that he still holds today. He gained and lost a couple of fortunes, traveled widely, and generally lived life to the fullest. He spent his last days in the care of his illegitimate daughter, Marie-Alexandrine Dumas, and died in the town of Puys in 1870.

In the room dedicated to Alexandre Dumas fils, the illegitimate and subsequently legally recognized son of Dumas père, there is a colorful portrait of him…

Portrait of Alexandre Dumas fils
by Edouard Louis Dubufe
Photograph by

and a letter that he wrote to his father, published in Le Petit Figaro in 1868,

Letter from Alexandre Duman fils
to Alexandre Dumas père
Photograph by

as well as other documents and artifacts. Dumas fils’ first play, The Lady of the Camelias, was an enormous success. It was the inspiration for Verdi’s opera La Traviata. He was inducted into the Académie Française in 1874 and awarded the Legion of Honor in 1894.

When we left the museum, we walked past the house in which Dumas père grew up…

House Where Alexandre Dumas père Was Born
Photograph by

on the way to the cemetery where the family plot lies.

Dumas Family Plot at Cimetière de Villers-Cotterêts
Photograph by

Buried here are Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, his wife Marie-Louise-Elizabeth Labouret, and the daughter and son-in-law of Alexandre Dumas fils. As indicated on his cenotaph, the remains of Dumas père were transferred to the Pantheon in Paris in 2002.

Cenotaph for Alexandre Dumas père
Photograph by

Alexandre Dumas fils was not buried in the family plot. His grave is located in the Montmartre Cemetery in Paris.

Bellying up to Hemingway’s Bar

Thursday, July 21st, 2011
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Plaque showing were Ernest Hemingway sat at the bar of the Closerie des Lilas.
Photo by

Last Saturday evening we had the occasion to dine with a group of Ohio State University alumni in the upper room of the Closerie des Lilas, a restaurant rich in history. After the dinner, Monique and I descended to the ground floor to see if it was true that there was a plaque marking the spot that American writer Ernest Hemingway occupied when he frequented the bar.

Arriving there, a couple who had just finished their drinks moved away from the seats that they occupied. Spotting the plaque and the empty seats, we decided then and there to sit down, enjoy a cocktail, and relish the moment in this chic place.

But what a price we paid to “relish” the moment—the price of cocktails start at 15€! Taking a deep breath, we each ordered a Kir royal à la fraise des bois.

I guess the adage is true that drinks taste better in Paris, and even better still at the very same spot where Hemingway once sat.

Ernest Hemingway looks down benevolently from above.
Photo by

Bartender pouring two 15€ champagne cocktails.
Photo by

Proof that we were there.
Photo by

Monique and Tom doing their best to relish the 15€/drink champagne moment.
Photo by

Why we may never go there again.
May Hemingway rest in peace!

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Big Turnout for Big-Bash Fifth-Anniversary Party Last Night

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Last night saw a big turnout for the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the founding of Richard Nahem’s Eye Prefer Paris insider’s guide to the city.

The event was held at Ô Château! wine bar, where Richard provided a generous number of charcuterie and cheese platters.

Richard Nahem and partner Vincent

Among the attendees were several bloggers, including:

Adrian Leeds of Parler Paris
Yetunde Oshodi of Like Home in Paris
Kim Petyt of Parisian Party
Colleen Shaughnessy-Larsson of Colleen’s Paris
Robyn Blaber of A Canadian in Paris
Monique Y. Wells of Entrée to Black Paris

Photographer Meredith Mullins, salon hostess Patricia Laplante-Collins, and chefs Eric Fraudeau and Diane Anthonissen graced the event.

Olivier Magny

Thirza Vallois

Mary R. Duncan

A number of writers were in attendance, including Ô Château owner Olivier Magny, (Stuff Parisians Like), Thirza Vallois (Around and About Paris), and Mary R. Duncan (Henry Miller is under my bed).

And, of course, yours truly, Tom Reeves was there, mingling with the crowd. The abridged version of my book, Paris Insights – An Anthology, is available on-line for the ridiculously low price of a Tweet. To learn more, follow this link:

A good time was had by all!

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!

Will Discover Paris! Finally Get Its 15 Minutes of Fame?

Friday, March 18th, 2011
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Tom Reeves and Monique Y. Wells being interviewed by Anna Bromwich
Cameraman: Stephen Mann

On Friday, February 25, we met Amanda Rogers and Stephen Mann of RPP Productions in New York at the Café Tournon to participate in a documentary for a Web TV program on “literary Paris.” They had heard that we have expertise regarding the African-American literati who frequented the café in the 1950s, and they wanted to film us talking about that history.

With the permission of the café’s owner, we occupied a corner of the dining area and were recorded discussing Chester Himes, Richard Wright, William Gardner Smith, and other men who met frequently at the café (perhaps sitting in the very same corner) to debate politics and particularly the condition of black people in the United States. They also played chess, drank, exchanged banter, and flirted with the local women who came by to see them.

After our conversation, we moved to the Luxembourg garden where Anna Bromwich, an English woman living in Paris, acted as moderator and asked us questions about black history in the neighborhood. I talked about Ira Aldridge, an American and perhaps the most famous Shakespearian actor in Europe in the 19th century. He performed the leading role in Othello at the Odéon Theater, across the street, in 1867. Monique talked about Alexandre Dumas, perhaps the most famous French writer of the 19th century, who is buried in the Panthéon. Its immense dome is visible from the garden, providing a great photo opportunity from our vantage point near the Medici fountain.

The photographs were taken by Bryan Pirolli, an American studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, who came by to help out Stephen, who operated the video camera.

Cameraman Stephen Mann Adjusts His Camera to Shoot the "Good" Side of Tom Reeves and Monique Y. Wells

* * * * * * *

Like our blog? Join us on Facebook!