Julie Gautier’s Ama, Stunning Underwater Dance of Strength and Courage

Julie Gautier in Ama

Humankind’s penchant for continually pushing the limits of creativity, science, and physical achievement never ceases to amaze me. You will find a shining example of this powerful predilection in the diminutive French free diver, Julie Gautier. Gautier was born on Réunion Island, surrounded by the Indian Ocean. She is a…

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Baudelaire’s Spleen Defies Translation, There Do the Foolhardy Tread

La Fleur du mal

In 1968, The Sunday Times in London ran a competition to translate the poem Spleen, by the famous French poet Charles Baudelaire. Upon learning of the contest, Nicholas Moore, who had once been one of Britain’s most celebrated poets, decided to have a little fun and also prove a point.…

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Affair Of The Diamond Necklace, Swindle That Ruined An Innocent Queen

The Queen as a Beast

Mention the name of Marie Antoinette and many people will credit her with the haughty citation, “Let them eat cake!” The frivolous queen allegedly uttered these words upon learning that French peasants had no bread to eat. Yet, Marie Antoinette never made this pronouncement nor was she indifferent to the…

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Camus’ Letters to a German Friend, a Warning for Our Times

Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower

Sunday, November 7, marks what would have been the 108th birthday of Nobel Prize winner, Albert Camus. During World War II, Camus joined the French Resistance, a movement dedicated to overthrowing the Germans. Camus lent his genius to the clandestine effort by working as a journalist and underground newspaper editor.…

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October Potpourri: Criminals, Choreography, Coronavirus, and more

Paris Halloween, 1997, AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT

At the end of each month, I select a handful of fun and informative Francophone news items that have come across my screen. Here are my picks for October 2021. Champagne Wars Last summer, Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced a new law stating that only Russia’s homegrown Shampanskoye can be…

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Photojournalist Jonas Bendiksen Risked his Reputation Warning the World

Veles Hackers

For a period of 15 days at the end of every summer, Perpignan, France hosts one of the world’s most prestigious photojournalism festivals. Photographers from around the globe come to Visa pour l’Image to exhibit their work and immerse themselves in the work of their peers. Galleries spring up across…

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There’s an App For That: Hexatrek’s Breathtaking Route Across France

Lake in the Pyrenees

Many years ago, when my husband Andy and I were visiting Mount Rainier National Park, we encountered a young couple who had come there to hike to the summit. Upon learning that they enjoyed backpacking, we recommended that they return someday to circumnavigate the mountain on the Wonderland Trail. They…

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Little Red Riding Hood, An Insanely Popular Tale from France

Little Red Riding Hood, Doré

One is hard-pressed to think of a tale as widely known and with as many versions as Little Red Riding Hood. First published in France, in 1697 the story remains popular to this day. It’s difficult to imagine any piece of modern-day writing receiving as much recognition. What is it…

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