There’s so much to see and do in Paris that many people feel overwhelmed trying to experience it all. But my friend Cynthia Morris, an artist, author and creativity coach, has found the perfect way to capture and savor everything she loves about the city without feeling like she’s on a touristic marathon.
Updated on Monday, June 1, 2015 by Heather Stimmler-Hall
The singer Edith Piaf (1915-1963) is a legend in France, usually known by Americans for her 1947 hit La Vie en Rose and her defiant classic, Non, Je ne Regrette Rien. For the centennial of her birth the French National Library (BnF) has a major exhibition, PIAF, about her life, her music, and her loves. "An entire room just about her lovers?!" said my friend in disbelief as we walked through the exhibit. "Bien sûr!" You can even see the dress worn and the Oscar won by actress Marion Cotillard, who portrayed Piaf in the film La Môme (aka La Vie en Rose in the US). If you visit the exhibit, there is a neat little takeaway bonus: a free 10-page guide in English titled "In the Footsteps of Edith Piaf" which is a 4-hour, self-guided tour through Paris.
Would you like a seasonal work experience on an organic farm in France in return for food and lodging? Try WWOOFing! WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and although it was started in 1971, some people don't realize it's still going strong. If you're not afraid of hard work, practicing your broken French, and meeting new people, then WWOOFing is an excellent way for those on a tight budget to live in France for up to three months.
Whether you're moving overseas, into a smaller space, or simply in the mood for a bit of spring cleaning, Parisian bookworms looking to quickly unload boxes of books have several options in Paris where they can be donated to a good cause. In any case, don't just throw them out!
Smoking may be banned indoors in France, but the sidewalk cafés and parks are all still full of people intent on stinking up the fresh air around them. Happily, this year the Mairie de Paris opened up what were once the mayor's private gardens to the general public every weekend and holidays.
And it's a strictly non-smoking garden!
There are many blogs by American expats in Paris that like to point out all of the "weird" things about France. Things that the French, of course, don't find strange at all, for example:
- The toilet is always separate from the bathroom
- They put the bread directly on the table, next to the plate, when eating
- They require fitted, speedo-style bathing suits in public swimming pools
- They wear scarves even in the summer, with a t-shirt
- Medicine is all behind the counter at the pharmacy
What most Americans don't realize is that the French living among them in the United States also find a few things to be rather strange.