Month: September 2012

Journées européenes du patrimoine 2012: 15-16 September

le weekend This weekend, several of the city’s often inaccessible markers of French and European heritage will be open to the public. On the 15th and 16th, France’s Ministry of Culture runs an initiative to grant access to sites of European Heritage in keeping with a wider European Commission and Council of Europe ‘joint action’. While the event is European wide, the ‘Journées européenes du patrimoine’ (European Heritage Days) were actually conceptualised in France in the mid 80s with the rest of Europe gradually taking on the concept and localising it. In Paris, a whole range of sites (over 300 options) including the Élysée and the Assembly Nationale will be open to the public. (A site in French offers information on what is on offer through the ‘programme’ tab on the top right corner that leads to an advanced search engine – click here) Waxing Philosophical: European heritage beyond the weekend The concept of reflecting on a shared European heritage is an important one. In doing so, one most certainly bumps into Christianity at the …

Tasting Paris through film & 2-for-1 haute cuisine

The association between Paris and ‘haute cuisine’ is intricate, deeply entrenched and etched into the sub-consciences of savants and lay persons (like myself) alike. The reputation of France and Paris for its culinary prowess endures long after Louis XIV worked to establish the reputation of France as a centre for luxury, decadence and as a standard bearer for good taste. Since then, what has changed is that haute cuisine has somewhat democratised since the monarchical days of old when good taste was the esoteric preserve of the extremely well-heeled and powerful. Over the decades, the secrets to fine dining have been progressively leaked and common folk, like myself, can access information on what makes for good food. We also have access to the food itself, depending on our levels of willingness and capacity to pay. At the same time, a few things remain antiquated : The domination of the professional culinary world by men for example. While it is true that a broader proportion of middle class folk can enjoy fine dining, the profession itself …

Paris here, there, everywhere: Traces of the city beyond its bounds

After the annual takeover of the city by wandering tribes of summertime tourists, the locals are reclaiming the public squares, streets and métro platforms of Paris. Where tourists, impressed by the beauty of Paris, would have got away with sauntering at ease through the sparsely populated streets of the city and glided, unfettered, onto most of the city’s metro’s a few weeks ago, similar hesitation is likely to invite a range of impatient reactions from harried locals. (Reactions tend to range from mild curses to unabashed aggressive outbursts of anger in impassioned French). Well, one could even venture to argue that the imposing and assertive nature of Paris and her inhabitants is not anything particularly new. Nor has it, historically speaking, only been confined to the boundaries of the city. Evidence of Parisians imposing their presence reaches far across space and time. While on summer holiday, my appreciation for the extent of Paris’s influence beyond her peripheries deepened: It became clearer to me that the city I love most has clearly found means of asserting …