Born in Cuzco in 1500, the Inca leader, Son of the Sun, Atahualpa, was trying to reign over 10 million Indians in an Empire that went from Ecuador to southern Columbia and Chile when his fate made him meet the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro. This conquistador had spent twenty years in Haiti and Panama before mounting an expedition to Peru. Pizarro by twenty years his elder had a clever army and caught him by surprise at a meeting on November 16, 1532 Cajamarca. Remembering Cortes’s success in Mexico in 1519 with the Azteqs, he sent a priest to discuss with Atahualpa. After catching him, like Cortes, he took an Inca mistress Mama Ocllo, Atahualpa’s own sister with whom he had two sons.Read More
When American food writer Elizabeth Bard and her French husband Gwendal Auffret moved to the Lubéron six years ago, they had no idea their lives would change so drastically. In Céreste, East of Apt, they bought the house of poet René Char, who spent the war there, fighting in the Resistance. And they started a gelateria, ice creams and sherbets, called “Scaramouche” after the film with Mel Ferrer and Janet Granger.
There is an exhilarating feeling in landing at Perpignan airport, in the gentle warmth of early summer, and driving straight to Collioure, the famous little port where Matisse (Fenetre, 1914), Signac, Derain and friends used to paint at the beginning of the XX th century. The 3 000 population Mediterranean fort and beach are minuscule and so is the museum where an exhibition of French artist Pierre Buraglio is taking place this summer. I could not resist buying fresh anchovies on the way and realised that this busy little town has a dual attraction that of fish and Banyuls wine.Read More
The city of Beauvais, an hour North of Paris, has a long tradition of tapestry weaving since Colbert, Louis XIV th’s minister, established a Manufacture Royale in 1664. Three centuries later, French Minister of culture André Malraux decided to create a museum devoted this art. It was built in the early 70’s, just in front of the sumptuous medieval cathedral, by architect André Hermant, a student of Auguste Perret. And I visited there an intriguing exhibition of twenty tapestries lent by Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris on the theme of « Amours, Vices, Vertus » (Love, vice, virtue) until August 30 th.
You have certainly seen once in your life the fabulous and dark, black and white portraits of Italian aristocrats photographed very still in their palazzos ? Over the last 30 years, photographer Patrick Faigenbaum has accustomed us to dramatic images. After winning the Fondation Cartier Bresson Prize in 2013, he took the time to travel to India six times and came back with approximately fifty colour and black and white images. Two exhibitions celebrate him in Paris at the moment and his pictures will travel to the Aperture Foundation in New York in mid September.Read More
I almost cancelled the reservation when I drove past « Gare au gorille », a very small and unnoticeable restaurant on rue des Dames in the Batignolles. But Georges Brassens had sung « Gare au gorilla… supérieur à l’homme dans l’étreinte, bien des femmes vows le diront » (Beware gorillas, superior to man in hugging, many women will tell you) and my curiosity had risen. Very glad I went in.Read More
It’s about time for Charles Kaiser to celebrate ! He has been at work on his new book « The Cost of Courage » for ten years, including three in Paris for research. The result is a very authentic and clearly written story of the Boulloche, a typical high society French catholic family, with a very unusual destiny. Three of the children, André who survived three differents camps in Germany, Jacqueline and Christiane, were resistants during the war. Their parents and older brother, Robert, who were not, ended up being deported to Germany. Kaiser had privilege access to Christiane’s journal through family connections, and managed to convince her of the importance of her lifestory. He has mastered a gripping tale of daily life in Paris under the German occupation, which now fascinates her children and grandchildren. And his personal sensitivity has turned it into a literary masterpiece.Read More
There is nothing I like more than having lunch in St Germain des Près (this time I returned to la Ferronerie on rue de la Chaise) and wander around for an hour in the bookstores and shops nearby. It is well known that since the Bon Marché became the trendiest food shop of the 7 th arrondissement, the rue du Bac has considerably changed. There are about five different pastry shops, all fighting for the first place, on one block, and also many little gift shops like