Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-Montmartre

Street in Montmartre. © 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).

Christmas singalong
> So British! Concert: Join the choir and sing along. Practice session on Dec. 10 or click here for singing tutorials. Philharmonie de Paris, Dec. 16.

Gourmet food fair
> Just in time for Christmas, the Salon Saveurs. Espace Champerret, Paris, Dec. 2-5.

Organic food and wine fair
> Vinibio and Bio Gourmet: 120 winemakers and 80 food specialists. Carreau du Temple, Paris, Dec. 3-5.

Christmas markets
> Mulled wine and gifts galore. A full list of Christmas markets in Paris. Various locations and dates.

American Contemporary Chamber Music Festival

ParisUpdate-Mona-Bismarck
> Hear Now Paris. Mona Bismarck American Center, Paris, Dec. 2-4.

Art Fair
> The Experiences Art Fair shows art in empty buildings. 14 Place Jacques Bonsergent, Paris, through Dec. 6.

African music and film
> Africolor cultural festival. Various locations in Paris suburbs, through Dec. 24.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Katell Quillévéré’s Réparer les Vivants, followed by cocktails (tickets online only). Le Brady, Paris, Dec. 1.

Master of Indian cinema
Festival Satyajit Ray. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Dec. 14.

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.

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.

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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