Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-SquareLouvois

The Square Louvois, with the Biblio-
thèque Nationale in the background.
© Paris Update

© JR-ART.NET
© JR-ART.NET
 

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).

All-night art
> Nuit Blanche is an all-night festival of outdoor art events, plus special happenings in museums, which will stay open late for free. Various locations, Paris, Oct. 1.

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.

Two meals for the price of one
> Restaurants participating in Tous au Restaurant offer a second fixed-price menu for free. Various locations, Paris, through Oct. 2.

Feel-good films
> Classic movies starring the Marx Brothers, Peter Sellers, Cary Grant and more are sure to raise a smile at the festivalQu’est-ce qu’on Attend pour Être Heureux!, Forum des Images, Paris, through Oct. 2.

Indian films
> Indian film festival. Musée Guimet, Paris, through Sept. 30.

Chanson française
> L’Estival features singers performing in French. Various locations, Saint Germain-en-Laye, through Oct. 8.

Antique fair in a bucolic setting
> A visit to the Foire de Chatou antique market and regional products fair makes a great weekend outing. Chatou, through Oct. 2.

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

Classical, world, jazz & electronic
> The Festival d’Ile de France holds concerts in various locations in Paris and elsewhere, through Oct. 9.

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.

Music on the beach
> Sandy beach and nightly concerts or DJs at La Plage de Glaz’Art. Paris, through Oct. 1.

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.

 

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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