Books

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman, out July 5

Can't wait to read the newest book, by my friend and writing teacher, Ellen Sussman.   French Lessons is the book, and it's out July 5th.

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Knowing Ellen, my bet is that this will be a well-told sexy story, with plenty to learn about life and love from the three main characters. Hopefully, she'll make some allusions to the life we lived in the '90s when we were in Paris together.

For tourists only, Hotel and lodging, In the News, Understand France and the French

France awards new “palace” label to top hotels

I guess we all needed to be able to turn the hotel amp up to 11, which is essentially what adding "palais" to the old star distinction means. Of all the new "palais," we've only stayed at the Hyatt Vendome, which is certainly a wonderful hotel, but is it a palace? Like any expensive hotel the world over, it has it's over-priced closet rooms that overlook an airshaft, as well its million dollar a night arena-size apartments.

PARIS (Reuters) - France granted a few top hotels the right to call themselves a "palace" on Thursday, a label which distinguishes them from rivals and is designed to boost the country's profile as a luxury destination.

The eight winners of the accolade include Paris hotels Meurice and Plaza-Athenee, both owned by the Sultan of Brunei, as well as the Bristol hotel, owned by Germany's Oetker family.

and 39 rue de Vaugirard...

For tourists only

New Paris iPad app

When I lived in Paris, I used to have a green hunting jacket with a big pocket in back (for birds?) ... An interactive map pinpoints hotels, restaurants and other Parisian accommodations, which is convenient if you're staying, for instance, in the Marais and want to find a nearby cafe, bar, post office or Metro stop. ... To help navigate the streets of Paris, the iPad's GPS chip reveals your location on the map, which can flip over to reveal a color-coded Metro map. A new feature, Paris in Pictures, includes dozens of color photographs of Parisian attractions to provide inspiration for what to do while you're there.
Health and Safety, In the News, Transports: Métro, Taxi, Trains and Planes

Paris tourist warning: 53% of violent transit thefts tied to phones

53% of violent thefts in Paris m and transit métro and transit thefts involve smart phones, including the ubiquitous iPhone. City officials even call it the "iPhone effect."

This is easy to understand. My wife lost her iPhone on the Muni bus here in San Francisco. The thief scoped the riders near the door and as the bus doors opened, he grabbed the phone and ran out the door. The doors closed and she barely knew what happened. I could see this easily happening in Paris. On the other hand, your odds aren't so bad. If you're standing at rush hour, you're usually surrounded by ten other people staring at their little screens. Still, a word to the wise...


In the News, Transports: Métro, Taxi, Trains and Planes, Understand France and the French

Paris bid to ban SUVs?

Those French, so logical and practical, yet so infuriating to the American sensibility of freedom and waste. Ten years after the Hummer was introduced as the ultimate extension of small apartment masquerading as automobile, this seems like a sensible step, especially in cities where there are no mountains to climb or icy roads to navigate. Bulky, gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles (SUVs) could be banned from the chic but traffic-clogged streets of Paris within 18 months following a resolution passed by the city council.


In the News

French jobless rate hits 25 pct among young

Huge issue in France and the not surprising effect is that most college grads want safe jobs in the government bureaucracy if they can get one at all. French parents worry they are preparing their kids for a lifetime of unemployment, made worse by a lack of ambition and risk-taking. PARIS (Reuters) - France's youth unemployment rate rose to a record 25 percent in the third quarter, well above the European average, and the overall jobless rate remained stuck at 9.7 percent in the latest gloomy news for euro zone growth. The jobless rate among people aged 15-24 years rose from 24.2 percent in the preceding April-June quarter, the highest level on records going back to 1975, data showed on Thursday.

Architecture and Design, In the News

Paris Skyline Ready to Tour Montparnasse heights

Hidden in the fine print of all the articles on this however, is that the development will only be allowed to take place in the 13th arrondissment, leaving almost all of what tourists think of as "classic Paris" untouched. ... One of the striking things about Paris is that, for a major city whose metropolitan area includes nearly 12 million people, there are very few buildings more than five or six stories tall. Since 1977, soon after the construction of the 689 foot tall Tour Montparnasse, a building that sticks out like a sore thumb and is widely disliked by Parisians, there has been a height limit of 121 feet on all new buildings. ... But on Tuesday, Le Monde reported, the Paris City Council voted to raise the height limit to a revolutionary 590 feet, meaning that in the next few years, the Paris skyline will have a growth spurt.