Category Archives: way of life

Paris : Stormy birthday party for Simone de Beauvoir!


Simone de Beauvoir would have been a hundred year old in 2008, if she had lived that long. Her major contribution to non-fiction literature, “the second sex”, published in 1949, has nourished the feminist movements of the seventies, and is still a reference.



This anniversary was celebrated by two interesting documentaries on public cultural French television channels (“la 5” and “Arte”), and by literary press.


In this harmonious appropriate praise concert, the false note came from “le Nouvel Obs'”, which is not exactly a tabloid.


What? Scandalous she may have been in her writings as well as in her life, but she was never known as a play mate. So rose the first protest choir : How shameful it is to dig out this nude picture of a dignified writer and put it on first page, just to sell more copies !

Then, of course, the original photo came out, which started a righter contest : the real indecency was to use Photoshop to model her figure according to modern taste.


It seems that Simone de Beauvoir never asked for this picture to be taken, but was not really mad at Art Shay : he was a professional photographer, a friend of Simone’s american lover Nelson Algren, and she left the bathroom door opened.

I don’t know if it was appropriate to put this picture on a front page, but I think it was certainly not to modify it, for it’s a really good picture. For myself, I am glad that it came out. I think it makes her look really cool, just pushing up her hair looking in the mirror, feeling just comfortable to stand naked and not bothering to close the bathroom door. It reminds us that she was not only a solemn thinker, nor her life time companion Jean-Paul Sartre eternal “girl friday”: she had the unconventional way of life which matched exactly with the ideas expressed in her writings, and she never tried to hide it (which can’t be told of all male writers).


Shay’s beautiful portrait of Simone de Beauvoir in Chicago in 1952 is as accurate as the more conventional ones. To read his version of the facts, go to :

To get an idea of the passion it rose, go to :

We’ll never know what she would have thought about this. “Much ado about nothing”, maybe?

And by the way, did you read “the second sex”? If you prefer the english version, go to :



2008 January 9 : Sales in Paris


Christmas and New Year festivities are over, it’s sales time !


On January 9 before dawn, fashion addicts will stand in line waiting to rush in as soon as luxury shops and department stores doors will open. But don’t worry, sales will go on up to January 20, and if you fear to get lost in this jungle, just go to :

Best wishes from Paris

I wish you all the best and a great time in Paris in 2008 !

Shall I take you for a virtual ride on Champs-Elysées ?

If you’re staying in Paris for new year’s eve, I would not advise you to get there for real at midnight, unless you really enjoy crowded and not so safe places.



Christian Lacroix already dresses Evian’s bottles for New Year’s eve.

Since 1992, year of Albertville’s Olympic Games, French mineral water Evian produces every winter specially shaped or adorned bottles for Christmas and New Year eves.

Evian Millennium bottle:


Since 2000, other mineral water trade marks have done the same :

Perrier 2000 :


Badoit 2004 :


So that Evian had to become more creative for it’s 2005 edition :


This year, for 1,98 euros, you can buy fashion designer Christian Lacroix‘s Evian “midnight supper”(ready to wear) bottle in Monoprix and major Paris supermarkets.


If you prefer the “haute couture” version, it’s far more expensive : 5000 euros, but it would be generous : profits will go to charity institutions.

There was a “preview”sale on line of this 2007 edition, and collectors wait each year for new Christmas water bottles.

I have some left, maybe should I sell these on e-bay.

Visit this most elegant site :

a piece of Eiffel Tower stairs sold at Paris Drouot

Last Monday at Drouot, Paris main auction room, a piece of Eiffel tower staircase was sold for 18 000 euros to an executive of a Dutch legal advising company called … Eiffel.


credit : AFP Stéphane de Sakutin

It’s 4 meters and a half high, 1 meter 70 cm round, and weights over 700 kilos. It’s a piece of a staircase leading from second to third floor, which was cut in twenty four pieces and sold in auction in 1983. Gustave Eiffel himself is supposed to have climbed those stairs on 3/31 1989 to put a flag on top of his tower as elevators were not yet in order.


Salle Drouot, 9 rue Drouot, 75009 Paris, metro Richelieu-Drouot, tel : 33 (0)1 48 00 20 20

For a virtual visit and to get information on all (less or as goofy) Drouot auctions , go to :

Sunday Morning : Aligre Market

Food markets are part of Parisian way of life, there are at least 69 outdoor and 13 indoor markets, and they’re all very popular. Sunday morning’s market is a social institution, and one the most famous is” le marché d’Aligre“, located in east center (between Bastille and Gare de Lyon). It happens to be my market.


The outdoor market opens every morning except on Mondays, but there are only a few stalls in the beginning of the week, so it’s better to visit it on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, and it gets crowded around 11 am up till closing time (13.30).

Customers lining up around the best fruits and vegetable stalls meet friends, also talk to people they don’t know (and not only to their cell phone), and joke with the stall holders.


On the Aligre square stands a covered market, le marché Beauvau-Saint Antoine, a bit more expensive, but opening in the afternoon also, and offering many other products, like cheese, fish, meat, poultry, delicatessen, Italian food, selected olive oils and Caribbean dishes.


A lot of film and television people live nearby and make the place a bit trendy, but Aligre used to be a working class district, and the market still has an informal and independent spirit. There is an associative FM radio channel, Radio Aligre (93.1 on FM band) and an active district association, “la commune libre d’Aligre” (Aligre free community).

At the end of Sunday morning Market, it’s too late to cook lunch, and there are plenty tempting cafés around to sit and rest.

Another Aligre Sunday morning institution is to sip a glass of wine and taste oysters at the Baron Rouge. If you don’t go for oysters you can feed on a plate of “charcuterie” or cheese. The place is always crowded, and people drink and eat on the sidewalk.


On the opposite corner, you will find the Penty, where you can sit and taste a delicious and burning oriental mint tea, unless you rather go for the traditional “pastis”.


Marché d’Aligre : Place et rue d’Aligre 75012 Paris (Métro Ledru-Rollin) everyday except monday : 9 am to 13, 13.30 on week-ends. Beauvau- Saint Antoine covered market : place d’Aligre, same hours plus afternoon 16.30 to 19.30.

Le Baron Rouge: 1 rue Théophile Roussel (almost at place d’Aligre corner )

Le Penty : rue Emilio Castelar / place d’Aligre

For more informations :

Radio Aligre schedule and programs :

district association activities :