| The Jewish community
|| American landmarks in
France has the largest
Jewish community in the world outside Israel and the USA (around
one million). The main Jewish landmarks in Paris are :
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire
du Judaïsme ; 71
rue du Temple 75003, in a beautiful XVIIth Century building,
a unique collection of artefacts and documents : visit his site
| Two major
synagogues : Synagogue de la Victoire, 44 rue de la Victoire
75009, Synagogue des Tournelles, 21 bis rue des Tournelles 75004
and The Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr, 17 rue Geoffroy
An old Jewish tradition, with
delicatessen shops and schools, in several neighborhoods :
rue des Rosiers (le Marais district, with Jo Goldenberg emblematic
restaurant and delicatessen), near Belleville and in the Sentier
(garment district), ...
Anti-Semitism in France : according to the Webster
Dictionary, anti-semitism is " Hostility toward Jews as
a religious or racial minority group often accompanied by social,
economic and political discrimination ". Recently there
has been an increase of isolated anti-Jewish acts which are universally
condemned, but can one say that the French are anti-semitic ?
Literally speaking : no, but the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict is strong in the poorest parts of large French cities
where many Muslims live. Read
a tentative answer to this recurrent question (in the US
press) and an opinion by an important member of the American-Jewish community in France.
Visit the Holocaust Memorial
: a heart-breaking monument with 76,000 names with a very
moving and informative museum and a good bookstore (3 rue Geoffroy
Lasnier 75001). Read my editorial about the French "Justs among the
- An Anglophone synagogue...
- More to come
There are many places with a
particular meaning for Americans ; some of them are major landmarks,
others are little details. Here are a few examples:
The former Texas Embassy : on 1 Place
Vendome 75001, a beautiful XVIIIth century building was the Texan
Embassy during the few years Texas was an independent country
(on September 9, 1839, France was the first nation to recognize
the Republic of Texas, as mentioned on a plaque on the building)
Harry's Bar (5 rue Daunou,
75002) the most popular and long-established American bar in
Paris, famous for its election nights.
Center, on Boulevard Raspail, was a magic place where you
could enjoy the best of American culture (films, dance, jazz,
etc...), learn English, meet American students, eat a real hamburger
(years ago, it was one of the few places in Paris where you could).
The building was sold and destroyed and the new building is now
the Fondation Cartier (by architect Jean Nouvel). The American
Center moved to Bercy in a building designed by US architect
Frank Gehry and then was shut down due to the lack of funds.
Purchased by the Centre National du Cinéma, it is now
Too bad that now the only things that the Parisians can see of
American culture are sitcoms on TV, McDonald's restaurants and
Eurodisney. Don't you think that this shameful shut-down feeds
? Read a letter a visitor
of this site sent to a Congressman about it.
is no American cultural Center in Paris : American taxpayers,
stand up and do something!
Recently, the Mona Bismarck American Center (34 Avenue de New York 75116 Paris) started enlarging its mission from a sort of an art gallery to a real cultural center, trying to play this role and to recreate this unique atmosphere. Let's hope it will succeed!
- The Cimetière de Picpus (35 rue de Picpus, 75012) is an interesting private
cemetery which contains only the families of the victims of the
Terreur, beheaded during the French Revolution. Lafayette's
grave is in it, and it was the only place in Paris where an American
flag remained during the whole WWII.
- The history of the Jewish
community in France includes
- a long period with an alternance
of banishment and persecution (the most famous by King Philippe
le Bel in the XIVth century) and re-installation phases
- untill Napoleon solemnly granted
full citizenship to the Jewish community in 1807
(one of the first, if not the first, in Europe)
- at the end of the XIXth century
the Jewish community was large and influential (with bankers
such as Rothshilds, Foulds, Pereire, artists like Rachel, Pissaro)
; Alfred Dreyfus, a (Jewish) French officer in the army, was falsely accused
of treason and condemned to servitude in Guyana in 1894 ; for
twelve years the country was split between "anti-dreyfusards
" (the right wing, the army, the church) and "Dreyfusards
" (the left wing, many intellectuals such as Zola) ) and
anti-semitism flourished ; the "Dreyfusards" triumphed
and Dreyfus was brought back to France and rehabilitated ; the
"Affaire Dreyfus" is a major part of modern French
- another shameful episode is
the Vichy regime, analized by Robert Paxton ; 80,000 (i.e. one quarter) of the Jewish community were
killed by the Nazis
; it is fair to say that this tremendous toll is still the lowest % of all occupied countries in Europe.
- after the independence of Morocco
and Tunisia and the end of the Algerian war in 1962, and the
return to France of thousands of non-Arabs, the origin of the
Jewish community changed dramatically from Ashkenaze (Eastern
Europe Jews, now 27%) to Sepharade (now 73%, see "pied
- Most French Jews live in Paris
(56%), the others in Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Toulouse and
- More to come
- Francois AZOUVI, Le mythe du grand silence : Auschwitz, les Français, la memoire, Gallimard, 2015
- Jean Denis BREDIN, L'Affaire,
Juilliard, 1983 (one of the best among hundreds of books on Affaire
- Dominique JARRASSE, Guide
du patrimoine juif parisien, Parigramme, 2003
- Robert PAXTON, Vichy France,
Columbia University Press, New York, 1974
- Robert PAXTON & Michael
MARRUS, Vichy et les Juifs, Calmann-Levy, 1981
- More to come
DID YOU KNOW THAT.... When Dreyfus was
convicted in 1894, a solemn ceremony took place in the courtyard
of the Ecole Militaire in Paris ; his officer's stripes were
torn away and his sword broken in front of the troops and of
a huge audience ; a young Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl was
so shocked that, soon after, he published his book (Der Judenstaat)
and founded Zionism. You can see a statue of Dreyfus on
Boulevard Raspail/Rue Notre-Dame des Champs.
Do you know where the final
act of the War of Independence was signed
? On the building at 56 Rue Jacob 75006, a plaque says : "En
ce bâtiment, jadis l'hôtel d'York, le 3 septembre
1783, David Hartley au nom du Roi d'Angleterre, Benjamin Franklin,
John Jay, John Adams au nom des Etats Unis d'Amérique,
ont signé le traité définitif reconnaissant
l'indépendance des Etats Unis".
The kidnapping of an American
Landmark! Place de l'Alma
(75008), the International Herald Tribune presented to the City
of Paris a copy of the torch of the Statue of Liberty. It has
been turned into an altar to Princess Diana (Lady Di), who died there in a car
accident in 1997, and it is covered with flowers and thousands of messages,
some of them touching, most of them ridiculous. By the way, did
you know that the restoration of the (real) statue in New York
was made by French "Compagnons
du Tour de France" workers ?
Jim Morrison died in 1971
and since then his grave in the Père Lachaise cemetery
has been visited by thousands of young people (most of them were
not born in 1971).
- Street by Street, you can read
: Brian MORTON, Americans in Paris- An Anecdotal Street Guide,
The Olivia & Hill Press, Ann Arbor, 1984. See our page American writers in Paris.
- Click for just-like-home
places and for historical
landmarks in Paris...
DID YOU KNOW
THAT...? In 2001, as in the past 23 years, Paris ranked first
city in the world for international conventions, with 2,6%
of the world market. London ranks #4. See the figures for the
total number of tourists
DID YOU KNOW
THAT......? The oldest tree in Paris is the "Robinier
de Robin", next to Saint-Julien le Pauvre, the most charming
church in Paris ; it was planted in the 1660s and survived the
huge 1999 storm (140,000 trees reported down in Paris).
The Greater Paris project
Launched in 2010, the Grand Paris project is based on a massive increase (the doubling) of the offer of public transport not only for Paris (2.2 million) but for the whole urban area (12.3 million). The total cost of the new transport infrastructures is estimated at 28 billion Euros. It includes 4 new metro lines, the extension of 3 existing lines and the building of 68 new stations. It would generate the building of 250,000 dwelling units. It is now under construction and will be finished by 2030. In addition to this project, several other major infrastructures (including a new dedicated direct train line between Paris and Charles-de-Gaulle airport) have been decided in the framework of the candidacy of Paris for the 2024 Olympic games.
Greater Paris involves a major organizational side : a transfer of power from the city of Paris to a new larger entity, which does not exist yet. For historical reasons, the city of Paris is a very strong power, feared by the State and which does not wish to abandon its power to the suburban cities. The war between them will last (at least) as long as the building of the infrastructures.
With this project, the border currently created by the "Boulevard Peripherique" is expected to disappear.
| Walking in Paris
|| Places you can avoid !
Contrary to most American
cities, Paris is a city where is easy to walk. Here are a few
- Walk along the Canal
Saint Martin and the Bassin de la Villette or (better) take a
small boat from the Bassin de la Villette to the Musée
d'Orsay : a 2-hour trip, with a dozen locks and a very unusual
view of the eastern part of the city or walk on the "Promenade
Plantée" (4 km-walk on a viaduct where former rail-tracks
have been changed into a beautiful garden of trees and flowers,
between the Bastille Opera and the eastern border of Paris and
underneath the "Village des Arts", with a plethora
of Art and Antique shops).
- Visit the cemeteries of Paris: the Père Lachaise
Cemetery where Sarah Bernhardt, Balzac, Isadora Duncan, and Edith
Piaf are buried; the Montmartre Cemetery, the permanent resting
place of Utrillo; the Picpus Cemetery where Lafayette and the
descendents of people beheaded during the Revolution are buried
(35 rue de Picpus) - and (somewhat more unusual).... the dog
and cat cemetery in Asnières. Read "Permanent
- Try one of the (many) walking tours with a guide, some of them in English (generally
10 Euros each, groups of 10 to 15 : see the list in the weekly
Pariscope). Among them :
- The Marais and its magnificent
- Saint-Germain des Prés
- The Palais Royal
- Ile Saint Louis
- The Père Lachaise cemetery
- and many others
- Read about historical
Paris and about gardens
- "Secret" guides to Paris bars and restaurants and unusual places as well as to the French Riviera are published by Editions Jonglez in English.
- A very useful book is the "Guide
du Routard", Paris Balades, Hachette, with 24 historical
walks (2 to 3 hours each)
A few remarkably ugly buildings
or neigborhoods deserve to be avoided (read the page about the ugliest buildings in Paris) :
- Bibliothèque Nationale
François Mitterand : an upside-down table...
- Tour Maine Montparnasse : stabbing
- An absolutely ridiculous building all wrapped in iron noodles, one block from the delicious garden of the Palais Royal. Ironically, it is the Ministry of Culture (!?!)
- The Opera Bastille : excellent
concerts and operas but close your eyes before you enter, to
escape the ugly architecture of the building....
- Everything you can find anywhere
in America : Starbucks,McDonald's, Pizza Hut, etc... Try something
- Pigalle : miserable and sad
- Front de Seine : a blight on
- EuroDisney : you've seen it
before (read about the cultural
misunderstandings Disney experienced)
- More to come (unfortunately)
.... In Paris, use the metro : it is fast and efficient
(count 2 minutes per station and 2 to 5 minutes per connection).
Beware of gypsies, especially in the metro. When you are surrounded
by several of them and trying to figure out what they want, one
of them may be pulling out your wallet from your pocket ! Do
not try to be nice....
DID YOU KNOW
THAT...? For 100 Parisians, the city counts 10 dogs, 8
trees, 4 pigeons, 26 cars .... and 100 rats ! Too many pigeons ? The city of Paris builts dovecotes for them and feeds them with contraceptive grains !
|To related pages : more unknown
Paris (#1), Paris notebook, ugliest buildings in Paris, historical landmarks,
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Back to home
For more on intercultural
differences, order Harriet Welty Rochefort's books :
- "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
- "French Toast, An American in Paris
Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press,
New York, 1999
- "French Fried, The Culinary Capers
of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
More on Harriet's books (excerpts, upcoming
events, testimonials, etc..)
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