All posts filed under: Paris

Better Know a French…WOMAN!

I’ve been trying to regularly contribute to Better Know a Frenchman, my series about the people behind the names on streets signs and buildings all across France. Shortly after I started the series, I found out about a feminist movement to put more WOMEN’S names in those places of honor. FémiCité is a project by the group Osez le féminisme ! (roughly, Dare to be Feminist!)*. According to their website, out of 63,500 streets in all of France, 20,000 are named for men while only 1,270 bear the name of a woman! 1,270! That is barely 2%! Or as they say, “That’s 2% of streets dedicated to half of humanity.” They also note that of the 302 metro stations in Paris’ extensive system, only three bear women’s names. And of those three, there is a single station where that woman does not share the name with a man! (Interestingly, one of the most recently built tram lines has 9 stations with women’s names, among them Rosa Parks and Ella Fitzgerald.) The problem here is obvious. The names we …

Smell the Roses

In dark times, sometimes we just need to be surrounded by flowers. Being fall, it’s not so easy to find many flowers in nature, so I thought it would be a perfect day to throw way way back to a beautiful and flower-filled place I visited back in 2013, when I interned in Paris. Then, I saw from the Chicago Art Institute that yesterday was Claude Monet’s birthday, and I knew my idea was meant to be. In June 2013, some friends and I took a day trip out to Giverny, famous for the residence and gardens of renowned impressionist  Claude Monet. The village is about 80km west of Paris. To get there, we had to take the train to a slightly larger town called Vernon and then a shuttle bus to Giverny. I remember that we all had major issues purchasing our tickets, because the machines in Gare St Lazare only accepted cards with the little chips. We were so afraid of missing the train that we dared not wait in the long line at the ticket …

Courage, Paris 💔💙

I was planning to write something fun and light-hearted tonight, maybe about some high points of my week, or another random story from my life, but I’m just so sad and in shock. Paris tonight suffered one of the scariest and most unprecedented coordinated terrorist attacks in recent memory. The death toll continues to rise, though the terror seems to be over for the night, thankfully. Social media has been both a comfort and an annoyance tonight…The cynic in me is frustrated by all the surface-level “solidarity” posts, which ring somewhat meaningless in the wake of such devastation. The misanthrope in me rolled her eyes at every person who tried to break the news to me, as if I hadn’t gotten it from French newspapers 2 hours earlier (she’s also a little bit snobby). But the humanitarian in me shushed those other guys down and was exceedingly thankful to have a direct line of communication to my people in France and all over the world. I am heartened to see strangers opening their homes to those who …

Même pas peur

Full disclosure*: I started writing this post over a week ago. I have been reading and talking and muddling through these pretty complicated issues and though I’m not sure my marinating thoughts are going to come out perfectly cooked here, at least I can share them with you in all their unseasoned glory. France was thrown into turmoil when, on a Wednesday afternoon, two gunmen attacked the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a scathingly satirical weekly that frequently criticized…well, everything and everyone, but especially organized religion. The attack and subsequent manhunt resulted in two separate hostage situations, ultimately leaving 20 dead, including the two French-Algerian brothers who orchestrated the attack. It is the most deadly attack to occur on French soil in at least 50 years. I come from a country that is (unfortunately) no stranger to gun violence; where it happens so frequently that we are all but desensitized to its tragedy. But on that Wednesday afternoon, 500km away from Paris, the New York Times alert on my phone still stopped me in my tracks. One of …