Defining ‘francofolie’ – Sarah’s turn

Sarah, from francophile to francofolle

Sarah, from francophile to francofolle

You’ll soon read that Sarah, a Brit graduate of Columbia University, has a real feel for French language. But bear with me, first, for a (self-indulgent) diversion about my own folie.

An element of francofolie may indeed be an affinity for the language. Where did you learn French? I’m asked. Why do you speak well? When I speak well, which is far from always (a glass or so of wine really can boost my fluency), I explain it’s because I make an ongoing effort — je fais un effort. (But when I say, I learned on the pillow — sur l’oreiller — that gets a smile from Frenchies, too.)

As for the effort, when not in France, I go for one French course per semester at FIAF (French Institute Alliance Francaise), where teachers assign riveting French reading, and students discuss. Also vital — a heavy dose of French movies — one almost every Tuesday — included, gratis, in your FIAF membership!

Jean Gabin in Le Jour se leve

And FIAF movies are just a start. At the Film Forum, in Greenwich Village, I can . . .you-can-she-can (etc.)  see the best of new French films — and classics. In the tatter category, Film Forum is about the only commercial venue where you could catch a classic like Le Jour se leve (1939). “Another Sunrise” (my title translation effort) with famed actor Jean Gabin. Alors, getting back, finally, to Sarah:

antonin

Merci, former French cultural counselor Antonin Baudry, for Albertine bookstore

I empathize with your feeling, she emailed, of missing French culture (or, to put it in the French grammar form which I find more poetic, to have Paris ‘missing from you’); even though I am not French in the slightest and only lived in Paris for two months in the summer, during that time I became a helpless francophile and now feel something lacking in my New York experience. I find myself thinking back almost daily to the independent bookstores. . . in the Latin Quarter, the relaxed café culture and the patisseries which I would make regular pilgrimages to during my short time there.

Clearly, Sarah is well on her way from francophile to francofolie.  As for indie French bookstores, in New York, where for about 15 years there was a desert where French books should have been, a brilliant French Cultural Counselor genie arranged for an oasis:  beautiful and well-stocked. Called Albertine, the shop is housed on two levels of Continue reading

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, 17ème) 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 Le 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 (not that often, but I love Paris gray, don’t you?), 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. In Montmartre, usually. Sometimes, I’d add a side trip Continue reading