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The Pill: An American Invention Popular with the French

Developed in the United States in 1956, the birth control pill has since spread to the rest of the world. Today it is the third most used form of contraception, but its biggest success has been in France. With names such as Liloo, Diane 35, and Jasminelle, the pill is a daily routine for one in two French women who...

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Iconic: The Louis Vuitton Trunk

What do the 18-carat gold FIFA World Cup trophy and Johannes Vermeer's The Milkmaid have in common? Both items travelled in a bespoke case designed by the French house Louis Vuitton. Rediscover the trunk originally designed by Louis Vuitton in the 19th century. Crafted in poplar wood and featuring the monogram fabric bearing its inventor’s initials, it raised travel to the...

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1900, the Birth of the Parisian Myth

The City of Light was at its peak in 1900. The Alexandre III Bridge, Orsay Station, the World’s Fair, and the first subway line were all inaugurated. An exhibition on Paris from the Belle Epoque era, initially presented at the Petit Palais, is now at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville from October 12 through January 6, 2019. It will...

Sergeant York Gets His Very Own Comic Book

An avenue in Manhattan bears his name, but who really remembers Sergeant York, the most decorated U.S. soldier of World War I? He proved his mettle in France during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, whose 100th anniversary is currently being commemorated, and is now the subject of a comic book published by Association of the United States Army. On October 8, 1918,...

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Saint-Martin: French Touch Meets Caribbean Twist

The island of Saint-Martin is a choice destination for Americans but little-known in France, and hit the front pages following the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. This territory jointly owned by the Dutch and the French is located between Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico but has staunchly American leanings. And while the "Friendly Island" mainly relies on...

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Aznavour, the “French Sinatra” in America

The renowned French singer passed away on October 1, 2018, but his influence had long since stretched beyond France, his native country, and Armenia, the land of his ancestors. He was known as the “French Sinatra” in the United States, where he represented a romantic and slightly old-fashioned image of France. Charles Aznavour should have been American. But his Armenian...

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“The Sisters Brothers”: The American Frontier Through the Eyes of a Frenchman

In his very first western, French director Jacques Audiard combines a Canadian screenplay, American actors, and scenes filmed in Spain and Romania. The result, released in the U.S. on September 21, loses its way in parts but offers a beautiful take on America during the Gold Rush. This project was long the stuff of fantasy for movie buffs. But those...

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“The Order of the Day,” a Goncourt Laureate Like no Other

For the first time since it was founded, the Prix Goncourt has been awarded to a historical account instead of a novel. The winner is none other than The Order of the Day by Eric Vuillard, a staggering work of some 130 pages which was recently translated and published in the U.S. After the initial surprise, readers will be firmly...

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Sennelier, a Merchant of Colors in Paris

A stone’s throw from the Louvre and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the Sennelier store has catered to the likes of Cézanne, Soutine, Picasso, Karl Lagerfeld, and Sempé. Since 1887, artists have come here to buy their colors that were once hand-milled to order in the workshop behind the store. Among its achievements, Sennelier has invented Helios Red, Cinnabar Green, and...

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“Colette” in U.S. Theaters

British actress Keira Knightley is cast in the role of the French renowned novelist in this biographical movie, out in the U.S. on September 21, looking back over her nascent literary career and turbulent private life. In 1893, despite their 14-year age difference, a young Burgundy girl named Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette marries Willy, an egocentric writer and womanizer. He introduces her...

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Jeanne Damas’ Love Letter to Parisian Women

The book of photographs À Paris, which was released in France last year, is now available in the United States under the title In Paris: 20 Women of Life in the City of Lights. According to French fashion designer and model Jeanne Damas, it is impossible to define what the archetype of la Parisienne really means: there are as many Parisian...

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Heritage: We Must Save Our Old Stones!

For the European Heritage Days on September 15 and 16, 2018, France will organize a lottery whose proceeds will help restore endangered historical sites throughout France. Thousands of monuments in rural areas or small communities across France are falling into disrepair, including bridges and garrets, abbeys and fountains, theatres and synagogues, factories, ramparts, orangeries, greenhouses, windmills, viaducts, châteaux, and hundreds of...

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France and the United States From Liberation to Exasperation

How did Americans go, in the mind of the French, from gum-chewing liberators to Coke-swilling invaders? A U.S. historian and a French cheesemonger examined this transformation in a book published this summer. During the Liberation, American GIs used calvados brandy to fuel their Zippo lighters. In 1948, the French communist party called for a boycott of the American soda giant, accusing...

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Crossing the Line: Thought-Provoking Performances in New York

From September 18 through October 13, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) presents Crossing the Line Festival 2018, the 12th edition of its critically acclaimed interdisciplinary showcase for avant-garde creative talents from around the world. The wide-ranging, thought-provoking lineup includes What Remains, a collaboration between choreographer Will Rawls, poet Claudia Rankine, and video artist John Lucas that explores the effects...

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Hijabs and Freedom: How a U.S. Ad Shocked the French

The French controversy surrounding an advertising campaign featuring a young girl in a hijab has revealed cultural differences between France and the United States — the latter of which has applauded this diversity. American ready-to-wear brand Gap was met with criticism in France in late July. The label’s advertising campaign for its back-to-school collection includes a young girl wearing a blue...

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Corot’s Women Revealed in Washington D.C.

French landscape painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was also a talented portrait artist and observer of the female form. This lesser-known part of his art is revealed in an exhibition opening on September 9 at the National Gallery of Art. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875) is best known as a master of landscape painting in the 19th century, and a transitional figure between the French Neoclassical tradition...

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“The Apparition” in U.S. Theaters

In Xavier Giannoli's latest film, out in U.S. theaters on September 7, Vincent Lindon plays a reporter who is hired to investigate a divine apparition. Vincent Lindon (The Measure of a Man, Mademoiselle Chambon, Welcome) plays Jacques, a highly-regarded reporter for a French daily newspaper who receives a mysterious call from the Vatican. In a small town in Southern France, an...

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Saint Barthelemy, a French Diamond in the Caribbean

Saint Barthelemy is known as "billionaires' island" due to its celebrity population. A former French colony and now an Overseas Collectivity, the island also attracts American tourists looking for sun and French culture. St. Barts is a volcanic gem spanning 10 square miles, located ten hours by plane from France and three from the United States. When French pilot and...

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Iconic: The Laughing Cow

These triangular cream cheeses combining comté, emmental, gouda, edam, and cheddar are actually a French invention, and known as La Vache Qui Rit. Sold in little round boxes, these snacks are part of fond childhood memories in France. The lighter version is also a best-seller in the United States, where it is sold in supermarkets as the Laughing Cow. The saga...

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How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of Marcel Proust

At the turn of the 19th century, three celebrities of their day reigned supreme in the uppermost crust of Paris. These three women, Madame de Chevigné, Straus, and Greffuhle, are important to us today not because of their status but because they inspired the pen and passion of Marcel Proust. The famed author conflated their characteristics to create the fictional...

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“In the Realm of Perfection”: McEnroe From all Angles

In his latest documentary, out in U.S. theaters on August 22, French filmmaker Julien Faraut takes a close look at American superstar John McEnroe, a tennis player who became a case study on perfectionism in sports. Julien Faraut is the director of several documentaries blending sports and cinema, and exhumed 600 meters of “instructional” film reel designed to teach tennis technique...