Author: FP

kaysersberg

Weekend Trip: Kaysersberg

Weekend destination: Kaysersberg, Alsace Why: It’s the prettiest village in France! Also, hiking. Total travel time, door to door: Going out: 3:45 (Uber-direct TGV-cab). Coming back: 5 hours (bus-direct TGV-metro) Time spent: Three nights Glad I went? Yeah — it was neat to get a look at a part of France so different from Paris and the Normandy/Brittany corridor I know best Would I go back? Maybe, at Christmas 1. Kaysersberg itself Kaysersberg was just named France’s prettiest villages, a title which I personally feel is as meaningful as World’s Most Adorable Puppy or The Planet We Like Best. Still: It is exceptionally pretty, and after endless miles of limestone in Paris, all the colorful timber-frame houses were hallucinogenic. (Normandy, say, has plenty of timber-frames, but they’re nearly always white.) It is, for sure, a tourist town: I was worried about finding an ATM, only to find that there’s one on every other block, no doubt to facilitate the purchase of stuffed storks or Alsace-themed soup rests. 2. A hike led by a magical tree I don’t …

This Week’s Free Map: Montmartre

This week’s free map is Montmartre! The most romantic neighborhood in Paris, especially if your romance is with hills. To download the map, shown below, just click here. Save it, print it out and frame it — it’s distressingly indistinguishable from a screenprint. The better quality the printer, the better quality the print, though even a super-cheap printer (like mine) will do a half-decent job. Each map is only available for free for a week, so download away.

in bloom movie

In Bloom, Georgia: Around the World in Movies

In Bloom was not the movie I intended to see: That would have been Happy Families, the second film by the team of “Nina and Simon,” or Georgian writer/director Nana Ekvtimishvili and her German partner, Simon Gross. Happy Families is playing in Paris, in Georgian, with French subtitles. And so, it seemed, that In Bloom might be the better place to begin. It is, in fact, quite a beginning, to Ekvtimishvili’s career as a chronicler of life in Georgia, a country many of us know best as the one with the same name as the American state. In Bloom is set in 1992, when the country was only newly released from its time under Soviet rule; judging from the state of things in Tbilisi, it does not seem to have been a propitious relationship — even two decades later, when this film was shot. Broken, brutal Tbilisi is the home for the film’s two central character: beautiful Natia and her serious best friend, Eka. (Natia looks like the most beautiful possible Kardashian sister; Eka, like the smartest.) War rages in the north. There is violence at home and …

val du marne roseraie

Paris Field Trip: Roseraie du Val-de-Marne

Destination: Roseraie du Val-de-Marne What’s happening: This is an unbelievably beautiful rose garden within easy reach of central Paris. How I got there: The stupid way. Don’t go this way. Instead of entering the garden into my phone like an adult, I instead headed for the town where it’s located: L’Haÿ-les-Roses. I took the RER B to Parc de Sceaux (well worth its own field trip). From Parc de Sceaux, I had a 20-minute walk — to the center of town. From there, realizing my error, I had another 20-minute walk to the garden itself. On the way back, I went the smart way: Bus 172 to Bourg-le-Reine RER B. That, unlike the original trip, was a snap — about 40 minutes door [of bus] to door [of my apartment]. Entry fee: €3.10 Verdict: This place is awesome. The Roseraie du Val-de-Marne is a beyond-beautiful rose garden in a park with quite a lovely view north, toward Paris. (You can see the top of the Eiffel Tower, if you look.) That the garden exists at all is thanks to Jules Gravereaux, who retired at …

This Week’s Free Map: Lower Manhattan

  This week’s free map is Lower Manhattan! It is best enjoyed with this tour of Alexander Hamilton’s favorite bars. Well, one bar: Fraunces Tavern. To download the map, shown below, just click here. Save it, print it out and frame it — it’s distressingly indistinguishable from a screenprint. The better quality the printer, the better quality the print, though even a super-cheap printer (like mine) will do a half-decent job. Each map is only available for free for a week, so download away.

The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig: Around the World in Books

Bereft of an adjective to describe the experience of reading Stefan Zweig’s memoir and manifesto, The World of Yesterday, I looked up the definition of “uncanny”: “strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way.” That is the one that fits. Read before November 2016, The World of Yesterday would be intermittently involving, occasionally fascinating, often tedious, at least for this reader. (I found myself in the habit of discovering paragraphs and sentences of startling beauty, amongst gossip, and bragging, and name-dropping, and blather.) Read now, it is terrifying in a particular way. Watching a house burn down is sad. Watching your own house burn down is horrifying. Watching a house that seems to resemble your own, in so many unexpected ways — that is uncanny. Once the most-translated author in Europe, Zweig’s life began in the cradle of the Hapsburg monarchy: “We lived well, we lived with light hearts and minds at ease in old Vienna, and the Germans to the north looked down with some annoyance and scorn at us, their neighbors on the Danube who, …

I Met Yvan Amar And It Was Amazing, At Least For Me

So last weekend was the Salon du Livre, the big Paris book expo, and it was amazing, for so many reasons: for the chance to see a bazillion books all in one place, for all the booksellers from all over the world, especially the Middle East and Africa, and for all the amazing book design. I took many pictures of the book covers, and they are all below. That, though, is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to say that I met Yvan Amar, and it was amazing. Yvan Amar is the RFI broadcaster responsible for les mots de l’actualité: the words from the news. These have included calamité, démonétiser, couteau, and many others. I use it to practice my French, and so I constantly have Yvan Amar’s voice in my head. Hearing it in real life was trippy. Here is how I handled it. I believed I spotted him, at the RFI broadcasting booth. I walked toward him, to see if I could hear him speaking. (I could.) I …

Aquaboulevard Is the Most Amazing Place in Paris

When one thinks of Paris, many things come to mind: the Eiffel Tower, croissants, the Louvre, the lovely buildings, the blossoming trees, excellent customer service. I’ll tell you what does not come to mind, unless you are a sophisticated consumer of the world’s finest indoor/outdoor water parks, and that is Aquaboulevard, delighting French children and wandering expats alike at the end of line 8. Aquaboulevard is not a secret, but I have found that it is universally known among parents of children, somewhat well known among Parisians, and not at all well known among everyone else. Let me describe it: Aquaboulevard is a massive water park, with both indoor and outdoor facilities. Its activities include many water slides, a “wake box,” and “la corde,” which appears to be a rope. I did not know this at the time of my reconnaissance, but apparently there is also a Sauna Parc accessible for an additional €9 over the €33 entry fee, comprised of three saunas and a hammam. I do not know if I can describe why I found …

A True Story About Customer Service in Paris

Last night, at trivia night, I decided I wanted not fish and chips (€13) but fish and mozzarella sticks (€6.50). Pourquoi pas? You only give your arteries one chance in this life; you might as well clog them with only your first choice of snack foods. Anywhere else in Paris I would have gone up to the bar and paid my €19.50. But trivia night is at a Scottish-themed pub: Perhaps they would be amenable to some negotiation? I went to the bar and explained my situation. “I would like fish and chips but no chips and an order of mozzarella sticks,” I said. Actually I explained it at significantly more length than that. “I’m not saying you should like swap the fries for the mozzarella sticks,” I said, because I am not a monster. “But could you maybe take like €2 off the total?” “Sure!” the bartender said. “That’ll be €19.50!” The bartender’s friend laughed and explained something I did not entirely understand in French. “Oh, oh,” the bartender said. “Let me see what …