If you want to experience a real French Christmas market, don't miss Strasbourg's famous Marché de Noël. Europe’s oldest Christmas market was founded in Strasbourg in 1570. Four and a half centuries later it continues to celebrate Alsatian holiday traditions with over 300 chalets in a dozen locations throughout the picturesque town of cobblestone pedestrian streets and half-timbered buildings with decorated facades and twinkling lights. I’ve visited several times and have taken friends and family, and the Strasbourg Marché de Noël never fails to impress. Disneyland wished it looked this cute!
Entries in France (48)
We’ve been so busy gawking at the sorry slapstick of American politics that it’s easy to forget the other circus acts going on around the Atlantic rim. In France they’re trying to show how many clowns can fit inside the teeny cars of political primaries, and just when you think the vehicle is full to the brim, voila! --another sad-faced bozo tricycles over and squeezes in. It’s hard to believe that one of these Pierrots will eventually take command of the stage and start miming the actions of a president.
Many visitors to the Château de Versailles learn about the extravagant parties and masquerade balls hosted by the Sun King Louis XIV. But did you know you can actually attend one yourself?
It has been gorgeous and sunny in Paris since Monday. I went out for a morning run in the Jardin des Plantes Wednesday morning and thought I'd have a look at the level of the Seine along my usual running route on the quays, and was surprised to find cyclists and pedestrians already enjoying the Quai Saint-Bernard (5th arrondissement).
On the Quai St-Bernard near the Batobus stop for Jardin des Plantes.
The Resto du Coeur (soup kitchen) boat along the Quai St-Bernard back in service.
A bit of gravel and mud along the lower end of the quay.
The little amphitheatres where people dance on summer nights are still underwater. Click for the Instagram video I filmed here.
Quite a bit of mud here, but most of the flowering shrubs on the right seem to have weathered the submersion without problem.
Municipal gardeners are out planting the summer annuals now that the rain has stopped.
Closer to Notre Dame Cathedral, the water is still above the lowest paths along the quays.
You can see here on the right the benches peeking out from the water, which is still knee-high here across from the Ile-St-Louis. Note that the only roads that flooded in Paris were these auxiliary quays along the water. The Seine never rose above that wall on the left. Click the photo for the second video from Instagram.
This photo taken from the Théâtre du Châtelet Sunday night shows the first rays of sun shining on Notre Dame in the early evening. You can see more clearly here the pedestrian path along the river is still flooded, but the water, even at its highest level, never got close to the top of the main wall protecting the city (where you see all of the cars, buses, pedestrians).
Some cellars and the RER C, which runs rights along the river, were infiltrated by water, but the museums didn't suffer any flooding, even though as a precaution they closed for the weekend while moving crates of art works from lower level storage into the upper galleries. Sunshine predicted in Paris through Saturday, we should be back to normal in no time!
It’s hard for today’s American expatriates to fathom the lives of our forbearers who lived in France before the internet, commercial airlines, the telephone, or even the telegraph, completely cut off from their homeland for months at a time. When I first arrived in Paris as a student in 1995, France’s communications industry was suffering from a full blown identity crisis. They seemed both behind and ahead of the US, determined to modernize but only on their own Gallic terms.
"They stormed Omaha and Utah Beaches early on June 6, 1944. They've been written out of history. Movies don't show them. Most books don't mention them. But they were there." Watch the video to learn more about the men of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion.
Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War is the riveting story about the African-American soldiers who landed on the beaches of France on D-Day, virtually written out of history, their faces missing from iconic WWII films such as Saving Private Ryan. This well-researched book not only covers the military history, it also takes a hard look at race relations in the Jim Crow South and the sad lack of recognition these brave men were denied when they returned home.
American journalist and author Linda Hervieux, former editor of the New York Daily News now living in France, first learned about the 320th in 2009 when she attended a ceremony in Normandy for the 65th anniversary of D-Day awarding one of the soldiers from that African-American unit the Legion of Honor, France's highest honor. This began Hervieux's long and detailed research into the other men of the 320th that would eventually become the book Forgotten, published in fall of 2015 to much critical acclaim.
"Forgotten is an utterly compelling account of the African Americans who played a crucial and dangerous role in the invasion of Europe. ... The story of their heroic duty is long overdue." – Tom Brokaw, best-selling author of The Greatest Generation
"Hard to believe this story hasn’t been written before. Linda Hervieux’s Forgotten is essential, fiercely dramatic, and ultimately inspiring. All Americans should read this World War II history, which doubles as a civil rights primer, to learn the true cost of freedom." – Douglas Brinkley, best-selling author of Cronkite
I joined a fully-packed audience for the presentation of her book at the American Library of Paris earlier this month, and I doubt there was a dry eye in the room after she shared their stories with us. One of the most inspiring was about Corporal Waverly B. Woodson Jr. of West Philadelphia, a medic with the 320th.
You can read an excerpt from the book about his heroism and the many lives he saved on the beach that fateful day despite his own injuries, heavy firing from the Germans, and the slowly rising tide. But although Woodson was nominated America's Congressional Medal of Honor, no African-Americans would receive their own nation's highest honor in WWII. There is now an online petition to award Woodson the honor posthumously (he died in 2005).
Another fascinating part of her presentation were the stories of how kindly the African-American soldiers were treated in the small Welsh town where they were stationed before the invasions, and the friendships they formed with the locals who welcomed them into their community. Linda is currently touring the US for the book this February and March (including Washington, DC; the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia; Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; and Harvard Law School in Massachusetts).
The publisher is also offering the Kindle eBook version of Forgotten for just $1.99 during Black History Month (February). For more information about the men of the 320th, progress on the Medal of Honor petition, author appearances and news about the book, sign up for Linda Hervieux's free mailing list here.