What I didn’t know: adapting to France

What I didn't know: adapting to France Because autumn is when I arrived in Paris as a permanent resident, autumn is always an intoxicating swirl of sense-memories: The fragrance of the fall air, the luster of the September-October light, the sweetness of the season’s first fresh figs, the toots of the swelling traffic, the feel of that infamous feast that Paris will always be. Every year, any one of these (and often all at the same sacred moment) catapults me back to those initial days decades ago. With no more than just the right mix of shrinking daylight and encroaching gray, “back then...” immediately becomes “right now!” I came to France knowing the language, the literature, the history, even-per Charles de Gaulle’s legendary quote*-a respectable number of cheese names.  Here’s a very abbreviated list of what I did not know: People I did not know that you have to say Bonjour! before any type of interaction about anything whatsoever no matter how desperately urgent…
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Why is it called? Part 4: Clothing Etymology

Why is it called...? Part 4: Clothing Etymology Have you ever asked yourself why something is called by a particular name? Why are bérets called that? How do clothes get named? There is often a story. Here is a short list of some clothing articles and how they got their names, etymology. We invite readers to add their own favorites or ask about other clothes for which they would like to know the origin in the comments. We'll try to find the answer. Charentaises A charentaise is a general French word for slipper. It refers however to a specific pantoufle usually plaid which came from the area near Angoulême in the Charente region of France about 300 years ago. Hence the Etymology comes from the place. The area had many paper mills. At the time paper was made from rags and leftover felt pieces from the paper making were used to line wooden shoes, making them warmer and softer. A bit later a shoemaker from the town of La Rochefoucaud in the Charente had the idea to add a r…
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Paris Quotes (France, La Seine …)

Paris Quotes (France, La Seine too) To be Parisian is not to have been born in Paris, but to be reborn there. — Sacha Guitry ... here's what Paris is: it is a giant reference work, a city which you can consult like an encyclopaedia: whatever page you open gives you a complete list of information that is richer than that offered by any other city. Take the shops... in Paris there are cheese shops where hundreds of cheeses, all of them different, are displayed, each labelled with its own name, cheeses covered in ash, cheeses covered in walnuts: a kind of museum or Louvre of cheese... Above all this is a triumph of the spirit of classification and nomenclature. So if tomorrow I start writing about cheese, I can go out and consult Paris like an enormous cheese encyclopaedia. -- Italo Calvino in Hermit in Paris Two days and three endless nights later we arrived in Paris... Paris looked much bigger than Bordeaux, but much uglier. The bread tasted flat. Everything, even the sun…
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Josephine Baker is back at the Bobino

The Gaîté metro station, on metro line 13, was rebaptized a year ago in the name of the French-American artist and resistant Josephine Baker. The choice of which station to name in her honor was obvious for her son Brian Bouillon-Baker, who was at the initiative of the request made to the Ministry of Transport and RATP. The station is located a few steps from the Bobino Theater, which is where the singer and dancer performed for the last time, on April 9, 1975, two days before her death. Place Joséphine Baker is just around the corner too. This Fall Brian Bouillon-Baker brings his mother back to the Bobino in a show which is part recreation of his mother's hits and part biography. It's a full circle! Tickets are now available for this fall's 6 dates. Reservations To whet your whistle enjoy this teaser: In case you've been stuck in a cave for the last year, Josephine Baker's cenotaph was installed in the Pantheon of illustrious French people in November 2021. …
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