Friday, September 24, 2021

What do you do with your exhibition posters?

 I have been traveling to France for more than four decades and argh, I am an inveterate collector of exhibition posters.  So timely! But what to do with the collection?  Wallpaper a bathroom? Donate, but to whom? I sure can't put them in paper recycling. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

L'hexagone dans le Triangle

It's been a while since I have posted to Polly-Vous Francais!  I am happy to report that I am now in the "Triangle" area of North Carolina, where there is a vibrant French and Francophile community.  Stay tuned for updates on French-related activities in the area.

For starters:

RDU, the airport has daily flights to Paris

And the Alliance Francaise de Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill has just launched its new website:

And of course Raleigh is the sister city of Compiegne, which has great connections

And American Friends of the Chateau de Compiegne

Stay tuned!  Lots more updates from all over to be posted!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Seating Arrangements

Today I was at a meeting of French and American dignitaries to discuss French/American cultural activities.  Just my cup of thé!

The American organizers asked the ranking French diplomatic officer to sit at the head of the large conference table.  "Non, non," he demurred, "we will sit across the table from each other."

So the French delegation was on one side, the Americans on the other.  "L'océan Atlantique au milieu!" I joked.

As we were settling in, I mentioned to my French colleagues how seating arrangements can vary so much culturally between France and the U.S.  "For example, the rule that in France a woman always sits on the banquette in a restaurant, and the man..." Before I could finish they all nodded appreciatively.  "In the U.S., that doesn't exist," I said.

"Ah," said monsieur, "Alors, that is because there aren't banquettes in the U.S.?"

"Si, si, il y a des banquettes," I said.  "Mais il n'y a pas de règle."

Monday, February 29, 2016

O Panic! O Thrill! I'm Moving to Paris (History 2006 version)

Is it possible to imagine the sheer excitement and thrill and bone-chilling what-the-hell-am-I doing  anxiety when you are about to embark on a move to Paris?

Well, that was me, one decade ago today.

Breathe, Polly, breathe, I told myself.

House was turned upside down.

I was busy moving my stuff into storage. Becoming best buddies with the consignment store.

Organizing my grown kids' stuff into their own separate storage units.

Figuring out bank accounts, mail, goldfish, phones. Not sure I was doing any of it right.

Breathe, Polly, breathe, I told myself.

Every day was panic and exhilaration.

I had friends and helpers, joyful and forceful, who boosted me when I needed it.

I knew it was right, but I was anxious.  Helpers insisted on Rescue Remedy. Friends and I insisted on wine.

Breathe, Polly, breathe, I told myself.

Then the email of emails arrived from my Paris landlady, whom I hadn't yet met:

"The apartment is waiting for you!  Do you prefer tea or coffee for breakfast?  We'll stock it for your arrival.  The bed is made up with fresh sheets, and all you have to do is arrive safely and collapse into bed. We are having friends for dinner the next day to welcome you to Paris."

Polly wept briefly and breathed a deep breath of relief. This would work. This would WORK!

And so I embarked on my Paris adventure, March 2006.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Booksellers on the Seine (Post card version)

I love my collection of vintage Paris postcards.  I add to it every time I am in Paris, usually at lingering but somehow way-too-short trips to the Marché aux Timbres or the Marché aux Puces at Vanves.

This one, of a bouquiniste (book seller) on the banks of the Seine, appealed for a very specific reason:  I have a painting from almost the same vantage point.

Here is the post card:

And here is my painting, which I wrote about here.

Cool, oui?  I love how the shadow angles are the same.

Some collectors prize unblemished cartes postales, i.e.,  those which have no writing on them. Shame on me, maybe, but I love the post cards and greeting cards of yore with messages to friends, family, lovers, and -- in this case -- colleagues.  I get a glimpse of French life -- someone else's life --  in a brief message. (Or sometimes not so brief, but that's another story.)  Am I just a voyeur into others' past lives?  Oh well.

Here is the flip side:

Translated, it reads
"Best wishes to all the team.  Work,  work work. Fun, Fun fun!  Hi to everyone."

And the other cool thing that I discovered was that this company, Rhovyl, still exists in Tronville.  I wonder if anyone there remembers this co-worker.

I was trying to figure out the date of the post card, and so I hunted down the stamp.

Ah, it turns out it's not just any stamp.  This is none other than the Marianne Stamp designed by Jean Cocteau for La Poste in 1961.

 How cool is that? (Marianne, of course, is the symbol  of la République.  In the U.S. we have Uncle Sam, who is unfortunately kind of fixed in a goatee and hat.  Marianne is always evolving. One beauty after another.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stealing Paris

Today I received a notice from a reader that someone was using a photo from my blog, which had been doctored and captioned,  for a hateful and racist post on a Facebook page.

Steam poured out my ears.  As if this week hasn't been awful enough for everyone who loves Paris and France.

It is bad enough when people use photos or other artistic creations without attribution or permission.

Alas, sadly we bloggers get accustomed to that sheer theft for our finer works of art or prose.  It shouldn't happen, but it does, and we try to remedy the situation as best we can. (I've been writing this blog for 8 years without remuneration, just for the love of sharing my bit of France.  I cringe to think of the number of people who have used images or text from this blog without asking.)

Just ask me, and usually -- USUALLY -- I will give permission.

Fortunately, Facebook was responsive to my report of copyright abuse today.  And for the pages which had shared it.

Here's what I wrote to my friends.  I rarely swear, so you have to understand my outrage:

There are lots of photos of Paris, I know. But dammit, *I* spent the money to be there for that moment, to take my kids to Paris for New Years, to rent the apartment on that street, to take the time and effort to get up early to take the photo, to post in on my blog. All for free, to share the love of Paris on my blog. And some idiot A-hole thinks he can just appropriate it to promote some anti-Islamic crap? That's the outrage.

Here is my original blog post, dated January 1, 2011.

The New Year's photo from that post.  I love Paris!  I love so many friends in Paris, of all different races and nationalities.

And  -- gahhhh --here is the doctored photo that some despicable thieves used to promote their own hateful agenda this week.

Whatever can be done to knock down these messages is not soon enough.  Not only did they steal a photo of beloved Paris, but they contorted it and turned it into a message of hatred.  Thankfully, Facebook has been prompt in stopping these pages.

Let's get rid of these thugs' photos!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Heureuse Année!

A lovely, if somewhat dark, 1928 carte de voeux that I found at the Marché aux timbres in Paris.

Bonne année cards haven't always been images of popping champagne corks, fireworks, and glittery Eiffel Towers, I guess. This one is just serene.

And on the flip side, a sweet and somewhat traditional message returning good wishes for the year.

I think that in France one normally doesn't wish Happy New Year until after the stroke of midnight.  After that, you can wish Bonne Année for the entire month of January.  I like that.

Anyway, here is the message side.

It reads:

"Ma chère Renée,
Je vous remercie bien vivement de vos souhaits qui m'ont fait le plus grand plaisir.

Je vous envoie, ainsi qu'à ma cousine, mes meilleurs voeux pour cette nouvelle année et vous prie de croire à l'assurance de mes sentiments très affectueux.  Je vous embrasse de tout coeur."

Loosely translated:

My dear Renée,
Thank you so much for your good wishes, which made me so happy.

I send to you, and to my cousin, my best wishes for this new year, and beg you to believe in the assurance of my very affectionate sentiments.  I send kisses with all my heart."

(I just love the French sign-off on letters, don't you?  So flowery and elegant.)

And so, mes amis, I beg you to believe in the assurance of my warmest wishes for a happy and healthy 2015.

Bonne année to all!!
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