Favorite French Reads of 2016

20 December 2016

It’s been a rocky year for humanity overall but a great year for readers, particularly those who enjoy books about France or that take place there. In the run-up to the holidays (and for all you last-minute gift givers), here are a few of the titles I particularly enjoyed in 2016. Markets of Provence The second market-driven book from Marjorie Williams is a colorful guide to Provence’s food, antiques, crafts, and other regional specialities. A celebration of market culture, Williams demonstrates that they not only define the Provencial character but their role in forging social bonds among its people. Bonus: it’s small enough to travel with you comfortably! When in French To say I loved this book is putting it mildly. While Lauren is known for reporting on subjects ranging from Michelle Obama to the political undertones at the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris, she turned her attention to a much more personal story — her own journey from North Carolina, to London (where she met her French husband Olivier) and to Geneva, where they lived for several years before arriving in Paris. It is at once a hysterical account of the seemingly endless series of hurdles, adjustments, sacrifices and head-scratching moments inherent to expat […]…

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The Only Street in Paris: Exclusive Excerpt by Elaine Sciolino

28 December 2015

As the year comes to a close and many of you are flush with holiday free time and are perhaps in search of a good book to dive into with a glass of wine, I thought I would share one of my favorite recent reads. I’ve previously featured author and journalist Elaine Sciolino on this site (back in 2011!) and have enjoyed following her stories from all corners of France for the New York Times over the last several years. But I’ve been most intrigued by her declarations of love for a very personal piece of her Parisian life — the neighborhood and, more specifically, the street, she has called home for the last decade. Her new book “The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs” spoke to me not only because I know the street well but because I have a similar attachment to my own neighborhood, my street, the characters that make up its narrative and the energy they exude. Part memoir, part travelogue, Sciolino’s book is a magical stroll through one of the city’s most coveted streets, brimming with artisans old and new who have, somewhat unwittingly, ushered in a sense of renewal in […]…

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Franco File Friday: Elaine Sciolino

9 December 2011

Lifelong francophiles have a tendancy to employ a certain rhetoric when they express feeling perpetually beguiled by France. The key to this fascination is seduction. We find ourselves seduced by the way of life, the people, the architecture, the food and made powerless in its force. Is it any wonder that expats who tirelessly complain about red tape and bureaucratic nonsense muster the will to stay, often for their entire lives? Seduction is at play, however, beyond a simple plate of macarons or cruise along the Seine. It’s anchored in French history and if anyone knows a thing or two about the role of seduction in France it is longtime Paris bureau chief of The New York Times, Elaine Sciolino. After decidedly serious, political tones to her first two books, Elaine sought to demystify the French mystique with the perfect marriage of fact and wit. It is through personal tales (e.g. encounters with former French President Jacques Chirac) and historical anecdotes of public figures in La Séduction that she offers us entertaining insight into French culture. Today, she shares some of her favorite aspects of expat life in France! Describe what you love about France in three words. Conversation without end. That’s […]…

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