A Brief History of Famous French Fools, Farce, and Fanfare

Bouffon, by William Merritt Chase

From the time of ancient kings, people have appreciated humor arising from the behavior and appearance of fools. Throughout history, such characters have taken many forms. Comedic actors have created entertaining personas that reappear in performance after performance. Others adapt idiotic conduct to real-world figures in an attempt to mock…

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Masterful Street Artists Across France Hail Ukraine, Vilify Putin

Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, people around the world have found myriad ways to show their support for the besieged European nation. The French are no exception. The day after Putin’s first attack, the Eiffel tower was illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. A week later, Notre Dame…

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Battle for Ukraine, Through the Eyes of French Editorial Cartoonists

Putin's table by Chappatte

We can argue about whether editorial cartoons make us laugh or cry, but the best among them should make us think. Here are some of my favorites from France which take aim at Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine and the West’s counter-reaction. See Also Masterful Street Artists Across France Hail…

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Pondering Diderot’s Encyclopedia Never Ceases to Blow My Mind

In the fall of 2011, I signed up for a French literature course at Eastern Michigan University. I loved the class and am indebted to our professor, Benjamin Palmer, who improved my understanding of great literature and its relationship to history. I enthusiastically enrolled in a second semester that winter…

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The Indefatigable Nadar and his Pantheon of Cultural Big Wigs

Nadar focus image

Perhaps you’ve heard of Nadar, an industrious, yet chaotic, bon vivant who lived in Paris at the end of the 19th century. I had not until writing about the life of Gustave Doré, a brilliant illustrator whose career was launched, in part, through Nadar’s promotional efforts. His name popped up…

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La Tour Triangle, Controversial New Skyscraper to Grace Paris

La Tour Triangle

The city of Paris is known for many cultural treasures, including a long history of architectural marvels. To maintain the city’s celebrated beauty, however, skyscrapers have largely been forbidden. Other than the Eiffel Tower, constructed in 1889, and La Tour Montparnasse, an office building erected in 1973, there are no…

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January Potpourri: Buzz, Beauty, and Beguiling Media from France

EU Blue Eiffel Tower-focus

Fun and informative Francophone news items that came across my screen in January. France Heads the European Union Until this month, I didn’t realize that the presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates between its various member states, changing every 6 months. Starting January 1 and ending June…

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Rebuilding Notre Dame, Painstaking Battle Between New and Old

Notre Dame on Fire

This spring will mark the 3-year anniversary of the devastating fire that destroyed the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A day after the inferno, President Emmanuel Macron announced to the world that within 5 years France would “rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, more beautiful than ever”. Since then,…

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