Bordeaux “Cité” will embrace the whole wine world! Drink to that on April 30th . . .

Bordeaux – “exclusive “? If the city ever was snooty, all those expat Brit wine fans must have imparted that rep. In any case, wine lovers of the world, bar none, soon will unite in the munificent first city of wine. The magnet now under construction — La Cité des civilisations du vin — plans to open its architecturally sophisticated space by summer 2016.


To read captions, mouse over photos!

Elsewhere in these “pages,” I’ve described my enthusiasm for Bordeaux, the city. From my first visit in 2010, when I was welcomed to, among other Bordelais venues, the state-of-the-art Police Nationale headquarters, I was dazzled by the urban renewal phenomenon masterminded by Mayor Alain Juppé — in photo below, wearing hard hat.  (Obviously, I don’t qualify to vote for Juppé — but if he can do for France what he did for his city, I’ll be the first to campaign for him. As soon as I ask my personal Paris political journo, Thibault Leroux, how exactly the French ‘campaign’ for their candidates?)

Anyway, I travel to Bordeaux every chance I get. I’ll definitely drop by in 2015 — and I’d love to attend the inauguration in 2016 of the Cité. News of this ambitious wine adventure was shared with members of the press invited for the purpose to the French Cheese Board by NYC’s French cultural genie, Elaine Leary (below, right, with George Sape).


Over glasses of excellent Bordeaux and well-selected compatible fromages, we were briefed by former Maître of the Commanderie de Bordeaux in New York, George Sape. Not coincidentally, Mr. Sape now happens to be president of the American friends of the Cité (AFCCV), whose goal is to raise one million dollars to fund the naming of The Thomas Jefferson Auditorium in the Cité — “symbolic,” he explained, of the unique history of close relations between France and the U.S. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Sape and Ms. Leary, you can help AFCCV make wine history – keep reading!

None other than T. Jefferson was responsible for introducing Bordeaux wines to his countrymen. Putting his vines where his mouth was, he planted the former at his Virginia estate, and produced his own cuvée de Monticello. Don’t be surprised if a Virginia vintage turns out to be among those offered at the worldwide wine tasting extravaganza that soon will launch the U.S. fundraising effort.

Very soon! On April 30th in the United Nations Delegates Dining Room, supporters like you will be invited to taste wines from no fewer than 50 countries “from Lebanon to Mexico and Australia to Jordania” — not to mention several French and American regions. Step 1, ticket. Step 2, definitely do show up with an empty stomach, in anticipation of the special dishes created by a squadron of elite French chefs to accompany the dozens of wines slated for presentation during the gala evening.

Love wine? No way can you miss this rare cross-cultural tasting and the chance to raise glasses with His Excellency Francois Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the U.N.,  Cité president, Sylvie Cazes, George Sape and Elaine Leary — and of course, who else but my French presidential candidate-to-be. . . Alain Juppé.

For useful details, click 30 April on the calendar. See you there!

NEW Updated French culture rendez-vous NYC|Paris


NEW for February 2015 – GallicFever French culture rendez-vous calendar!

Thankfully for us NYC francofolles and francofous, this city has more French culture resources than even the most France-crazed of us can manage to explore.  But give me credit for trying. For making the tough choices. . . .

Alors, for 2015, we’ve created the agenda you see on the right (and on every GallicFever page) that tells when and where I’ll get my French culture fixes this month in NYC. And even some dates in Paris that I really wish I could keep. CLICK calendar dates to see times and venues. . . .

If you’re in New York — check the calendar  and we may find ourselves crossing paths in one of my French culture haunts. I’ll post about my French culture experiences on GallicFever. If you’re in Paris — well, you’ll have our recommendations. We’ll expect your report, merci beaucoup. In person or online, I look forward so much to the pleasure of a French culture rendez-vous with you, my sister francofolles and fellow francofous.

February has even more GallicFever temptations to offer. For additions, watch our calendar! Share a French culture event in either NYC or Paris . . . Just comment and we’ll add your French culture rendez-vous recommendation!

Ibrahim Ahmed and Layla Walet Mohamed Courtesy of Cohen Media Group.

TIMBUKTU. Bliss for heroic couple living amid the beauty of fabled Timbuktu is tainted by foreboding under jihadist invaders’ sharia law [Photo courtesy of Cohen Media]

1-10 Feb. Telling yourself it’s only a movie doesn’t work, even as you watch the improbable scenic beauty of Timbuktu in Mali. Abderrahmane Sissako’s second feature dramatically brings home the easily fatal reality of living under religious fundamentalism as imposed by a band of hellbent jihadists. Ironically, you want to be transported to the magnificent natural and architectural settings that fill the screen. Go to Film Forum and see for yourself. Timbuktu won a 2014 Jury Prize at Cannes and is Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Film. CLICK 2 February for showtimes!

4 Feb. Middle class French women, like American ones, must juggle their work and home work. In La vie domestique (Domesticity), the third woman-at-crossroads French film shown this new year at Columbia La Maison Française, we find out that the juggling act is just as tough in La belle France. Emmanuelle Devos grabbed and nailed my attention as the wife in If You Don’t, I Will — so I regret that an event conflict keeps me from catching her performance in this one. Take my (free!) seat, why don’t you? CLICK 4 February for time and venue address.

Our French prof, Luc Georges

Our French prof, Luc Georges

6 Feb. Native French tutor, Luc Georges, has been teaching in New York since 1986. He leads an advanced French conversation group on the upper east side once a month (or more!) on Friday afternoon for 75 minutes. One or two places remain!  Plus d’infos? S’il vous plaît, contactez Luc ici!

6-10 Feb. Last chance to chase the cut-outs at  MoMA . . . Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. You missed a version of this exhibition at London’s Tate Modern, and so far, you missed these 100+ Matisse pieces here. But MoMA had you in mind when the museum extended  Continue reading

In NYC, ‘Je suis Charlie’ solidarity with France — Beryl Goldberg photographs for GallicFever

10 JANUARY 2015. A day before millions mobilized in France for Je suis Charlie solidarity, hundreds assembled in New York City’s Washington Square Park to let France know we support freedom of expression from Paris to Timbuctu — and everywhere else. Without fear of being silenced by late-model weapons in the hands of terrorists.

The form of free expression chosen by one New Yorker in the park was dance . . . pole dance. As leather-clad Carolyn Chui slowly waved a Je suis Charlie placard from high above the crowd, onlookers smiled.”Only in New York,” commented Lamia, who’s from France via Algeria.

Carolyn danced to music of Chopin and Rachmaninoff, played by Colin Huggins on a grand piano. Especially haunting to my ear was Colin’s rendering of Yann Tierson’s, “Contine d’un autre été.” Tierson wrote his ‘little story of another summer’ — as I later learned, for  the movie, Amélie.” That frigid January Saturday [scroll down. . .]

Editor’s note: Play slide show, read captions and click comment link — just move your mouse over the photo mosaic.

was not the first time Colin played Chopin in the Greenwich Village venue, nor will it likely be the last. Where does he garage his grand piano? Wait for warmer weather, stop by the arch in Washington Square Park. . . and maybe he’ll tell you.

Colin’s fingers surely were ready to freeze — as were mine, and GallicFever photographer’s Beryl Goldberg’s. Beryl has photographed West African dance on location, but outdoor pole dance in New York was a first. For me, a chance to stand with the French couldn’t have been more welcome, once I discovered the Je suis Charlie invitation on the New York in French forum. French Institute Alliance France (FIAF), organized the bittersweet moment of Franco-U.S. solidarity.

Beryl and I had planned a second stop that Saturday afternoon: Albertine bookstore, uptown on Fifth Avenue. We’d long wanted to take some photos of my fave Franco-American cultural hotspot, but first we decided to warm up over hot chocolate at the Eighth Street branch of Vive la Crêpe. We thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant warmth of the shop, the French posters and our fresh fruit-filled crêpe. Tasty, and totally French — right? Only the former, since it’s a Mexican chain that opened their first Vive la Crêpe in Manhattan about five years ago.

At Albertine, I scoop up my budget-priced Folio paperback of Le Père Goriot, the Balzac novel we’ll read in the FIAF class I’m taking this semester. Meanwhile, Beryl has been shooting. We sit down in the shop’s upper level reading room and chose perfect photos of la belle Albertine, where the flower of French literature is shelved in both French and English editions. And where, every week, fascinating Franco-American cultural events inevitably attract full complements of my brothers and sisters in francofolie.

Reflections from a Paris kitchen window: blue and white

Who? Moi. Toujours francofolle — forever France-crazy. For some of the reasons, read About . . .

The Parc Monceau colonnade looks much the same today as it does in the old post card I found at a street market stand on a rainy spring day.

The Parc Monceau colonnade looks much the same today as it does in the old post card I found at a street market stand on a rainy spring day.

Where? My apartment exchanger’s comfy digs in the chic and calm 17th arrondissement. My adopted neighborhood, not far from the Arc de Triomphe, and anchored by lush Parc Monceau.

What? Views from the kitchen window, fifth-floor, looking out across the courtyard. And perhaps looking slightly inward. And maybe a few dispatches from the living room window. . . .

When? June 2014 . . . finally! Not a moment too soon, either — considering I’ve been living here since early April. And, before long, my kitchen will be a different one. I’ll move at the end of June to a new exchanger’s apartment, from which the views, naturally, must be different. (My Paris apartment exchanges will continue till the end of August, and then I’ll travel outside France for ten days or so. Then back to my NYC kitchen where the “window” offers me less clarity.)

The kitchen window in my spring 2014 exchange apartment (rue Jouffroy D'abbans, 17e) showed me a quiet courtyard, and more. . ..

The kitchen window in my spring 2014 exchange apartment (rue Jouffroy D’abbans, 17e) showed me a quiet courtyard, and more. . ..

Why? The slothful blogger suddenly is moved to type! Not that I haven’t been pressing my laptop keys this spring. I most certainly have been — but to more specific purposes. (Read about those in Arts & Commerce, for instance, and in How’s Your French?) From my kitchen window, you can get my observations on the pleasures of quotidian Paris, more or less in the same time frame as I live them. When the Paris sun chooses to shine full strength (we’re not exactly spoiled that way, this spring), the effect can be incredibly

Mediterranean. Yes, the sky is so intensely, deeply, uniformly blue, the sun can’t help but radiate as if on the Riviera. Or in the Greek Islands.

The courtyard walls of the seven-storey house (I think it’s seven Continue reading

“Six months in Paris!” “Really?!”

“So, what will you do there?” Wait, must I have a vocational or other sensible reason to spend six months in this arguably more-interesting-and-exquisite-by-the-day wonder of the world? Come to think of it, at this point Paris is my vocation, whereas in the past the city was my… hobby, would not be a bad description. Three weeks here, a month there. Montmartre, usually. Sometimes, I’ll add a side trip Continue reading

Prêt à parler! Back to school en français

Is it the bilingual advantage hoopla, or simply the seductive sound of French vowels and intonation? Or a fervent desire, when visiting Paris or Bordeaux, or Brittany, not to be the misunderstood American? No matter the motive, we adults are headed back to school to study our language of choice, or to study other subjects – but en français. Or, to study anything – but in Paris.

I’m one of those seduced by the mere sound (not to mention influenced by a French teacher in my family). My pal, Theasa Tuohy, a journalist turned novelist, finally tired of miming “Can I borrow 150 grams of sugar?” to the lady in the house down the road from hers in the Continue reading