Author Archives: A French Frye in Paris

About A French Frye in Paris

An American living in Paris, savoring the city one secret at a time.

Give It Away, Give It Away Now

Often announcements are made by saying “Without further ado”, but let’s get right to it without any ado:

936488_648463011836253_868264559_nThank you to those who entered my giveaway contest for a free one-year subscription to Mixed Media Art Magazine. Out of everyone who typed “MM” into the comments section, it’s now time to put your names in a hat and choose one of you at random. And the winner is…drum roll… Continue reading

Inspiration Station

Thomas Jefferson, after his time abroad as the American Ambassador to France, once said “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself if I tried. Just when you start slipping into dozy complacency about the treasures all around, a new discovery flashes in your path that rekindles the spark of wonderment you felt in your belly (in your soul?) on your first day in Paris.

It’s a reminder of historical accomplishments and at the same time an enticing invitation to unlock that latent genius that we all secretly hope lies within us. If by nothing else than simple osmosis, being surrounded by inspired objects makes inspiration seem that much more attainable. And that, for me, is when Paris is at its best.


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Spring Cleaning

I haven’t posted for a while, and I’m finding it hard to get going again, so in the spirit of spring cleaning I’m just going to dump out what’s been going on lately. And if you make it to the end there’s a free giveaway contest. :) Continue reading

Ringing in a New Era

Sometimes I like to imagine myself back in the year 2013.

I know it seems foolish and sentimental to some, this yearning for an old-fashioned, 21st century Paris—a Paris of asphalt roads and gas-powered engines, of dark clothes and books made of paper. But whenever I see those antique digital photos of the capital I’m instantly seduced by their charm and wonder what life was like back then. I run movies in my mind of old-time Parisians going about their daily lives: could they sense the importance of the era they lived in? Did the people of 2013 know how historically fantastic their Paris was compared to all the others? Continue reading

New Tones For Old Stones: The Bells of Notre Dame

“What [Quasimodo] loved above all else in the maternal edifice, that which aroused his soul, and made it open its poor wings, which it kept so miserably folded in its cavern, that which sometimes rendered him even happy, was the bells.” –Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame


Recently the nave of Notre Dame was the site of a unique meet-and-greet as a handful of fresh Parisian residents were on hand to say hello to their new neighbors. To celebrate the church’s 850th birthday, nine freshly-cast bells are being installed to bring the cathedral back to a former audible glory it hasn’t seen since the 17th century. Continue reading

Market Value

Any shopping section of a Paris guide-book will confirm it: while the chic boutiques and classy department stores are not to be missed, to round out a truly Parisian experience you must visit its flea markets and second-hand antique shops. Nothing beats the rush, they say, of spotting that gem hidden in plain sight under a century of dust and neglect; an old family heirloom from the attic of a calloused-fingered French grandma is just waiting to fulfill its destiny by adorning your modern home.


Yeah, I skip right over those sections.

But on Sunday as we brainstormed to find a pleasant married-couple activity, I realized that such an excursion would be a perfect fit: the designer in her would fawn over the vintage decorative aspects, while the Paris nerd in me would appreciate checking off another historical site from my to-see list. I had heard after all that the French term for these places, les marchés aux puces (markets of the fleas), is probably where the term “flea market” came from. Just add it to the long list of popular trends that Paris had a hand in inventing. At any rate it was time to see it for myself.

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Passing Below Without Passing Up: The Ceilings of Paris

Before I get this post underway: I’d like to invite all of you to this blog’s new Facebook page, which you can join by clicking Like over to the right, or by visiting directly here. When I’m not blogging I’m scouring the internet for cool Paris tidbits: rare photos, little-known facts and other secret treasures…only thing is, it’s impossible to blog about them all. The FB page will be a chance to share these smaller discoveries as I find them, and we might even build a bit of a community in the process. I hope you’ll join us! Ok, onto today’s post:

I recently entered a favorite bookstore with my friend Heather, a fellow blogger and Paris lover. The store sits inside a 17th-century city mansion called the Hôtel de Sully, and it’s one I’d visited plenty of times.

Maybe it was the distraction of the endless shelves of informative Paris books, but when I noticed Heather looking up instead, I realized with a certain guilt that after all these visits I’d never even bothered to check out the ceiling.



“How could I have missed that?!” I blurted, perhaps too loudly for a respectable place of commerce. Because I’ve always had sort of a personal maxim: when in an architecturally historical place — always look up! I clearly hadn’t followed my own advice here, passing time and again under what the shop’s employee informed us was an original hand-painted wooden ceiling from 1650.

1650! And I’d been blissfully ignoring it for a couple of years now. Talk about A French Fail in Paris.

But luckily for this blog I usually do look up, so this is a good time to take in some of the other fascinating views in Paris that dangle just above our heads. Depending on the locale they can range from Baroque uber-flash to subdued Gothic austerity, from the soft curves of stucco to the slicing lines of riveted iron; in any case you’ll never regret popping a glance up toward the heavens in a city like this.

Lux 2

Le Palais du Luxembourg


Opéra Garnier


Le Petit Palais


Le Grand Palais


Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte


Les Archives Nationales


Château de Fontainbleau


La Tour Jean sans Peur

Sometimes if you see enough of them they start to look alike:


And occasionally a beautiful scene will pop up where it wasn’t even planned:


Nissim de Camondo

Finally the Louvre, with decorated ceilings that are paradoxically some of the most exquisite around but also the easiest to overlook, on account of the other pretty stuff hanging on the walls.

Louvre 2

The Louvre


The Louvre


The Louvre

Oscar Wilde once wrote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Am I one of these true stargazers? Not sure. But I like to think that by pausing today to admire a detail that yesterday I might have walked right past — by simply remembering to look up — I’m at least pointed in the right direction.

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