Photo of the Week


The upside-down innards of the Conciergerie shown on a tarp on the facade and reflected in the Seine. © Paris Update


Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Monster contemporary art fair
> FIAC: 189 galleries show their wares in the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, Paris, Oct. 20-23.

Art on the Champs
> Art Élysées: 75 modern and contemporary art and design galleries in tents on the world's most famous boulevard. Champs Elysées, Paris, Oct. 20-24.

Asian art
> Asia Now: 30 contemporary galleries showing work by Asian artists. 9, av. Hoche, Paris, Oct. 20-23.

Art brut
> Another kind of art at the Outsider Art Fair. Hotel du Duc, Paris, Oct. 22–25.

Art in a townhouse
> Paris Internationale: contemporary art fair in a Parisian townhouse. 51, avenue d'Iéna, Paris, Oct. 19-23.

Young international artists
> YIA Art Fair: Youth takes precedence at this art fair. Carreau du Temple, Paris, Oct. 20-23.

Digital art
> Variation: Contemporary digital art fair. Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, Oct. 18-23.

“Music for old people”
> Le Classique C'est pour les Vieux: The ironically titled music festival holds classical concerts in skateparks, cafés, artists' studios and other unusual venues and incorporates street art, 3D performances and more. Paris, Oct. 20-23.

Film festival for kiddies
> Mon 1er Festival: some 400 screenings, premiers and more for kids aged two and up. Various locations, Paris, Oct. 19-25.


For Brassens fans
> The annual 22V'laGeorges Festival celebrates what would have been the great singer’s 95th birthday this year in his hometown of Sète. Oct. 22-29.

Refugee children speak through art


> From Syria with Love, an exhibition of drawings by Syrian refugee children. Galerie CInq, 5 rue du Cloitre St Merri, 75004 Paris, through Oct. 21.

Classic Danish films
> Festival of movies by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Nov. 6.

Jazz galore
> Paris's leading jazz clubs cooperate for the festival Jazz sur Seine, with special prices for concerts, showcases and master classes. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 22.

Cultures of the world onstage
> Music, dance, theater and ritual performances from around the world at the Festival de l'Imaginaire. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 20.

Strange Happenings in St. Germain
> The exhibition Bizarro, with works by a number of artists, fills seven Left Bank galleries with “Bêtes de Scènes et Sacrés Monstres.” Don’t miss the Meta-perceptual Helmets by the Irish duo Cleary/Connolly
at the Librairie Alain Brieux, which allow the viewer to see forward and backward, for example, or the way a cyclops or horse would see. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 30.

Contemporary arts festival
> The Festival d’Automne presents leading talents in art, dance, film, theater and more from around the world. Various venues, Paris, through Dec. 31.

Amazing gardens
> The popular Festival International des Jardins de Chaumont-sur-Loireis held annually in the park of the Château de Chaumont in Chaumont-sur-Loire, through Nov. 2.

Music & more in park bandstands
> Kiosques en Fête brings life to the bandstands in Paris’s parks with concerts, writing workshops, club meetings and even a square dance. Various locations, Paris, through Dec. 31.


Books - Non Fiction


Almost French

Better Than a Guidebook

Turnbull does some frog-bashing, but eventually falls in love with the French way of life.

Sarah Turnbull’s book Almost French has reportedly been flying off bookstore shelves in the United States. Some readers might well have been reading the book in the hope of finding some appropriate frog-bashing in the aftermath of the Iraq war, and they will not be disappointed. But that wouldn't be doing justice to a book that does indeed display irritation at the many infuriating aspects of life in France, such as the bureaucracy and snobbery, but which in the final analysis is a story about an Australian woman falling in love with a French man and then with the whole French way of life.

The quirks and wonders of Paris are vividly and wittily depicted by Turnbull, even though her description of excruciating dinner parties suggests that she should change her friends. My Parisian dinner party friends have in no ways ever resembled Turnbull’s stuck-up, conventional dinner companions. At times it is hard to empathize with Turnbull when she claims proudly that she has become truly French by acquiring a dog and paying 84 euros at a dog-grooming salon, but her feistiness and honesty in writing about the problems she faces settling into Paris make an engaging and absorbing read. And her love of French food and food-shopping is mouthwateringly evoked throughout the book.

Those looking for a knowledgeable assessment of French culture will, however, be disappointed: the nearest Turnbull gets to stepping into an art gallery, for instance, is when she looks at a painting depicting the street where she lives. But for visitors to Paris who want to discover French life as experienced by an outsider, Turnbull’s book will be much more revealing and fun to read than a hundred guidebooks.

Almost French, by Sarah Turnbull (New York: Gotham Books), paperback.

Nick Hammond

© 2005 Paris Update

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