« Paris Sales Start Tomorrow | Main | Newsletter #92: June 2009 »

Best Question Contest

Win a copy of "Foreign Tongue", the fabulous new novel by Vanina Marsot, by replying to this post with a question for Heather. What kind of question? A GOOD question!

I get a lot of questions that are, frankly, pretty boring. These tend to fall into the "why don't you Google it yourself?" category, such as:

"What time does the Louvre close on Friday?"

"Are there any stores open on Sunday in Paris?"

"Where do the Bastille Day fireworks take place?"

Or in the "don't you read my website?" category:

"Do you recommend any places to eat in Paris?"

"Are there any hotels under €100/night on the Left Bank?"

"How can I move to Paris and do what you do?"

And then there's the "maybe you clicked 'send' before thinking" category:

"What will the exchange rate be next week?"

"Does Paris close in August?"

"You're American? So are we! Let's meet up for coffee sometime!"

(note: if you sent any of the above questions, I still love you; I just sent the message to email heaven)

What's a GOOD question?

- Something about Paris or the Parisians (no personal questions, merci).

- Something that can't be Google'd, that can't be found on my site, and can't be answered by the Paris Tourism Office.

- Something that you've always wanted to know and that, once you know the answer, will contribute to you personal well-being and feelings of inner peace and happiness.

- Something that makes me smile or admire your curiosity (not something that makes me want to block you from my inbox forever).

- Something that can be answered in one sentence (preferably in 140 characters or less, hee hee).

Deadline: July 13. Winner announced July 14.

The author of the best question wins the book. Judging is completely arbitrary and subjective, susceptible to my mood swings, the weather, and Pedro & Lena's digestive regularity. That's the way the world works on this side of the computer screen. ;)

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (21)


As a lover of French Impressionist and Expressionist painting, I've done exploration of locations where some of the greats were created. Been to Arles, St. Remy de Provence and Auvers Sur Oise, the last three towns Vincent Van Gogh lived, and paid my respects at his grave. Been to Giverny and l'Orangerie to see the source material and the magnificent creations of Monet. These were deeply moving experiences. Can you please suggest additional locations in the Paris environs where one can experience more of the same?

Heather's Reply:
Try Van Gogh's Paris haunts, using this guide: http://www.vangogh-paris.com/book.htm
(I Googled that one)
June 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEric Raynard
When Parisians (and French people in general) try to help you, they are sometimes a little bit pushy. In a few instances, I've found myself on a bus going where I don't need to be because they have "strongly suggested" I take that bus. Do they honestly want to help me, or do you think they're just being pushy? How should I take this French version of helpfulness?

Heather's Reply:
How should you take it? With gratitude! They're taking time out of their busy lives to help you, whether it's useful or not. ;)
June 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin
PS: Your last newsletter directed me to the K&K podcast (VO, but I also have the "learn French" one). I LOVE it! Thanks for being on it and letting your readers know about it!
I heard about the contest there, but I never really do these kinds of things--but I guess I have now!
June 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin
Heather, love the new layout and banner!

June 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChaz
In answer to Caitlin's comment about "pushy" Parisiens - here is a scenario that happened to us in 1982.

We left the Galeries Lafayettes at 17H00 and had to go to the 2nd arrondisement to meet my cousin. We hailed a taxi, gave him the address, and he said "Are you crazy? Take the metro." He was absolutley right on! It would have cost us the moon and taken 1 1/2 hours to get there at rush hour - It took 20 minutes by metro.

So "pushy" I beleieve, is just the Parisiens' way of helping out! With Drama!!
June 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarole
I have a thousand questions :) but will hopefully condense them all into one, as follows;
My home is french-themed, I speak the language, I watch french movies, I read french literature and I religously follow le tour de france on tv etc etc.
And yet I`ve never been.
People sometimes ask me 'how come you have this on-going love affair with France-somewhere that you have never travelled to'?
I can never give a definitive response, and nor am I able to find the words to describe exactly what it is about France that continually amazes,captivates and delights. Can you?

**I`d be interested to know your answer.
And thanks :)

Heather's Reply:
I wouldn't attempt to try and figure out what's going on in your head, but I would agree with the other comment here that you probably have an idealized view of France and wouldn't like the real thing. ;)
June 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjaycee2
Re: The Francophile who never visits France.

I have a friend who feels that way about Japan. My guess is that at some level, perhaps subconscious, you're unwilling to confront the real France that will certainly be at odds with your ideal France.
June 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteveArizona
Why is everyone kissing?

I did a blog post (http://kathieandjacksonsbigadventure-maisoui.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=1 April 18) on this very question soon after I arrived in Paris , but so far haven't gotten an acceptable answer. Are these PDAs between clandestine lovers who don't have any other place to be alone or is this something in the culture?

Heather's Reply:
People kiss because they like each other. The real question is why do people raised in Puritan cultures feel "uncomfortable" seeing people being affectionate in public. Especially since we have no problem seeing people kiss (and do more) on TV and in films. Here's an extra little fact for you: French public television channels will show sex scenes and full-frontal nudity at all times of day, but they edit out scenes of gratuitous violence in Hollywood blockbusters they air. We do the opposite in the US. What do we want out kids to watch?
June 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathie DeLoria

I'm studying in Paris for the month of July. I'm going by myself and don't know anyone in Paris, but I would like to go out to eat at some of the well known, but not too fancy, restaurants. My question is, would it be okay to read at a table at dinner? Would I be breaking some grave social code to a.) dine alone or b.) bring a book or magazine with me? I hope to make friends quickly but until then maybe I should stay in...

Also, any comments on good places to meet people (both American and non-Americans who are accepting of foreigners) would be great!


Heather's Reply:
You can dine alone and read if you want; the only time it may feel odd is in very high-end formal restaurants, where reading might be seen as rude (you're supposed to be focused on the food). When I dine alone, I go to busy barsseries or cafés where there are a lot of solo diners.

And where to meet people in Paris? That depends your age, what you're looking for and how good your French is.
June 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJustine
I already have this book (really liked it!), but I'm taking this opportunity to ask a question no one seems to be able to answer: what are those little brass discs embeddedin the Parisian sidewalks? What purpose do they serve?

Heather's Reply:
There are many different brass plates. If they say "Arago" and have a N and S (north and south) designations, they're part of a Dutch artist's installation piece spanning the city's original meridien as founded by the Astronomer Arago (before it was established in Greenwich, England). If they are just plain brass disks, they are markers used for market stalls or sidewalk terraces.
June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.