DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Apr 21 2008

Paris, je t’aime

by Nolan R

Eiffel_towerAh, Paris in the springtime.  It makes me imagine flowers blooming, picnics in the park, people-watching from a cafe terrace…or at least it did until I got there last week!  Instead, I discovered that springtime in Paris is actually a few weeks behind ours here in Georgia.  Temperatures were in the 30s and 40s instead of the 50s as predicted, so we spent more time walking to stay warm than we did people-watching.  If you’re planning a visit in the early spring, I advise drinking lots of chocolat chaud–hot chocolate–and wearing the biggest scarf you can find!   

I had a great time despite the cold weather, and since my return, I’ve started digging through books and DVDs at the library to learn more about the people and culture of the magical City of Light.  I wanted to share a few of them with you, but bear in mind that some of the descriptions are pulled from reviews since I haven’t had a chance to read them all yet!   


Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik: In 1995, New Yorker Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light.  This funny and tender book provides a delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century.

Almost_french Almost French: love and a new life in Paris, by Sarah Turnbull: The charming true story of a spirited young Australian woman who finds adventure–and the love of her life–in Paris. “This isn’t like me. I’m not the sort of girl who crosses continents to meet up with a man she hardly knows. Paris hadn’t even been part of my travel plan…” A delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture clashes but rife with deadpan humor.

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t be Wrong: why we love France but not the French, by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow:  Described as “a journey into the French heart, mind and soul.” Decrypting French ideas about land, privacy and language, Nadeau and Barlow weave together the threads of French society–from centralization and the Napoleonic Code to elite education and even street protests–giving us, for the first time, a complete picture of the French.

French Toast, by Harriet Welty Rochefort: Did you know that in Paris it is quite normal to bang the cars in front and back of you as you maneuver in and out of a parking place? Or that you should fold and not cut the lettuce in your salad and that even fruit is eaten with a knife and fork? Fortunately, for those unacquainted with the finer points of French etiquette, Rochefort’s book bridges the culture gap admirably. Drawing on personal experience, she records her observations about Frenchwomen; French attitudes to food, love, marriage, and money; the French educational system; and the dynamics of living in Paris.

Designing the New Kitchen Garden: an American potager handbook, by Jennifer R. Bartley: I’ve mentioned this one before, but wanted to share it again.  While this book is about American gardens, the author discusses the history of the traditional European potager garden, like the one designed for Louis XIV. (I dragged my husband around the town of Versailles for two hours searching for this garden before we finally found it–apparently it’s not a big tourist site!)

A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway:  Hemingway’s memoirs of 1920s Paris when he lived there with his wife Hadley, surrounded by a circle of fellow American expatraiate writers.  The book was published posthumously in 1964.  The Shakespeare & Company bookstore claims this is the most requested book by visitors to their store.


Amelie:  This is a delightful story of a young woman with a lot of imagination and a lot of heart.  She decides to get involved with the lives of those around her and solve their problems–without their knowledge.  Much of this film takes place in the area of Montmartre, although artistic liberties have been taken with the neighborhood’s geography.

Paris, je t’aime: A panoramic view of Paris from twenty filmmakers who bring their own personal touch to various neighborhoods of Paris.  Each short film highlights a different arrondissement. There are too many actors to list, including: Juliette Binoche, Steve Buscemi, Willem Dafoe, Gérard Depardieu, Ben Gazzara, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bob Hoskins, Nick Nolte,  Natalie Portman, Miranda Richardson, Gena Rowlands, Rufus Sewell, and Elijah Wood.

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