All posts tagged: 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 …

Better Know a Frenchman: Jules Ferry

Once you’ve wandered through enough cities in France, you begin to notice some similarities beyond cobblestone-lined quarters and fragrant boulangeries. Just as we do in the US, the French name their streets and schools after their most impressive men and women and many of them crop up over and over again. After a while, my friends and I began to joke that France must not have enough famous people, because there seem to be a list of maybe 20 names you can reliably find in any city of a certain size. Charles de Gaulle is basically a given, and Victor Hugo shows up almost as often (Although, sorry France, no matter how you spell it, “Léonard de Vince” is simply not French). To pack an extra punch, they’ve also named several roads after the entire country: Rue de la République ran behind my house in Chambéry, just as it is a major thoroughfare of Lyon and an avenue in Paris (incidentally, the address of Lycée Voltaire). After meeting several of these “grands hommes” all around the country, I realized I …