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A la Franςaise – A Creative Video

Anyone who’s in the know, knows that I love anything and everything to do with Louis XIV & Versailles and am looking forward to being there again soon for a special event (stay tuned for blog post in June)!

The video (link below) was created by a group of graduate students and is done incredibly well as a tongue in cheek short animated film about life at court in 1700 – creative and amusing entertainment!

See video HERE

What do you think of it?

 

 

Six reasons why France is top tourist destination

 The Local looks at just how did France manage to attract over 84 million tourists last year – far more than any other country – and hear’s from one tourism industry chief in the country who believes the figures do not tell the full story.

Some 84.7 million visitors from across the world flocked to France in 2013, far more than any other country in the world, and plans are underway to up the number to above 100 million mark.

But what makes France such an attractive destination for holiday makers year after year? The Local looks at six reasons to explain the country’s tourism appeal.

But do the figures tell the real story of France’s table topping tourism industry? One professional says the ynumbers are misleading and France needs to do to match the success of the United States and Spain.

Six reasons:

1. The City of Light (incorrect with “s”)

It almost goes without saying, but the French capital is a huge draw for foreign visitors – over 30 million of them a year in fact, more than any other city in the world. What makes it so popular? Where to start. There’s the city’s romantic image, the stunning architecture, the Louvre museum, the iconic Eiffel Tower as well as the simple pleasure of sitting at a café terrace and watching the world go by. European and US visitors have flocked here from all the world for many years, and they keep coming back and in recent years the appeal of Paris has gripped the far east, with mor and more Chinese nationals coming to get a glimpse of the Champs Elysées and its array of boutiques.

And don’t forget Disneyland, which is a destination in itself for foreign visitors. With around 15 million visitors each year, the theme park, just to the east of the French capital is Europe’s top tourist destinaton.

2. A variety of sun, sea and mountains

Many French people shun international destinations for their summer holidays and instead choose to travel within their own country. Why? Well, as they’ll be keen to tell you, it’s because France has everything, from sandy beaches, to snow covered mountains and vast expanses of countryside.

Simon Dawson, from UK tour operator French Cycling Holidays, agrees. “Different regions have completely different appearances,” he says. “There’s the rolling countryside, great cities like Paris, Lyon, Marseille.”

Basically France offers something for everyone. While the Germans may come for the beaches, the Brits for the countryside the Americans come for the chateaux and the culture.

“The weather is a big factor too. “France tends to have really good weather in the summer, it’s hot, but not baking hot like in Spain or Italy for example,” says Dawson.

3. Strategic location

Part of France’s appeal, however, could just be a sheer coincidence of geography. For example, for UK holidaymakers looking to escape their homelands unreliable summers, France is just a short hop across the Channel, a journey some 12.6 million made in 2013. Travellers from another of France’s neighbours, Germany, made up 13 million visitors to France last year, more than any other country. However, not all these visitors are coming to see France itself.

“Because of France’s position many tourists are forced to pass through the country on their way to other destinations,” explains Didier Arino, president of tourism industry specialists Protourisme. “Between 15 and 20 million of the visitors who come to France are just passing through on their way to Italy or Spain.”

4. Escape to the countryside

Around 80 percent of France is countryside – and most of it stunning and tranquil. Besides Paris, this is the part of France most tourists want to see, says Dawson. “The most popular areas for our customers are the Loire Valley, Provence, the famous beautiful regions of France,” he says.

The countryside is particularly popular with those from the UK, who have a romantacised vision of rural life in France, according to Protourisme’s Arino.

“The British are in love with rural France. They idealise the countryside,” he says. The Brits enjoythe contrast of the peaceful “France profonde” compared to the hussle and bussle of the towns and cities many of them live in.

5. Food and wine

France is, of course, inseparable from its famed gastronomical traditions and the chance to dine on French specialities, even the clichéd snails or steak tartare is no doubt a major part of what attracts visitors to the country. France knows this and is keen to protect its status as the world’s food capital, as evidenced by its recent “homemade” food label scheme designed to discourage chefs from using frozen or ready-prepared ingredients.

No proper French meal is complete without a few glasses of ‘vin’ and the country’s vast array of home-produced wines is another draw for tourists. Each year, around 24 million foreign tourists visit Bordeaux, Burgundy and France’s other wine regions.

6. Art , history and culture

France is extremely proud of its long and often tumultuous history, from the French revolution to Napoleon and the two world wars, and historical sites are often on the itinerary for visitors. There’s the famous battle sites of the Somme and the D-Day landings, as well as the stunning chateaux, churches and cathedrals that decorate the landscape.

In fact, France has some 39 sites on Unesco’s World Heritage list, putting it fourth in the global rankings. Museums and art galleries are also a major pull for tourists. The Louvre alone, home to the Mona Lisa among around 35,000 other artifacts and artworks, attracts 9.7 million visitors a year, more than any other museum in the world.

The Lonely Planet’s destination editor Kate Morgan sums it all up like this: “As a destination for travellers, France virtually has it all. France entices people of all ages with some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, world-class art and architecture, sensational food, stunning beaches, glitzy ski resorts, beautiful countryside and a staggering amount of history.”

But do the stats tell the real picture?

Despite being the world’s most visited country, France is hoping to boost its tourism numbers still further. Earlier this year, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius unveiled a plan to increase foreign visitor numbers to more than 100 million a year.

Protourisme’s Arino, however is not getting carried away with the figures. For him France needs to focus on persuading the tourists to spend more. While France has the highest number of visitors a year, it is only third in the world when it comes to revenue generated from tourism, he says

“These figures don’t give the whole picture,” he says. “For me France is the third tourist destination in the world, behind the United States and Spain, where the tourism industry in both countries generates more money than in France.

“The only figure that matters is the commercial revenue, not the amount of visitors.

Arino points to the situation of tourists sleeping in their cars as they pass through France on the way to Spain, who are no use to the country economically.

For France to squeeze more money out of visitors Arino says it needs to improve the variety and prices of the accommodation it offers, encourage people to stay longer by giving them a warmer welcome, and make France more competitive in terms of value for money.

Foreign Minister Fabius would agree and has come up with a list of tasks to help improve the welcome for visitors to France.

Source/credit/photos: Written by Sam Ball published in The Local

Sun, Sea, & Green

SUN:

“In an open-topped tour bus, a collector’s car, by Segway, by tram, on foot by boat or by bicycle, there are so many ways to discover Nice and its attractions! Are you having trouble choosing between a classical tour or a chance to get off the beaten tracks, an instructive treasure hunt to discover the history of Nice, a photographic trail accompanied by a professional photographer, a guided tour through some of the city’s most attractive districts with the Heritage Centre, a culinary tour featuring the theme of Niçois cuisine or a custom tour designed especially for you, supervised by a guide?

SEA:

Just imagine… 7 km of beaches bordering the famous Promenade des Anglais! 15 private beaches and 20 public ones in the very heart of the town! Beach restaurants where you can enjoy fish-based dishes, salads or other summertime cuisine with the sound of the waves in the background. Disabled access beaches, children’s games, organised features and entertainment and nautical activities, crystal clear water at just the right temperature …and an amazing view out to sea!   A number of private beaches organize music evenings where you can dance through the night under the stars, with your feet in the water!

GREEN:

As the “green city” of the Mediterranean, Nice is home to more than 100 gardens and some 20 parks with a surface area exceeding 10,000 m2 including the 7-hectare Parc Phoenix, a holder of the “Jardin remarquable” (Remarkable Garden) label. Genuine oases of greenery in the heart of the city, these parks and gardens have been designed to bring man into contact with nature, which can be discovered and admired at any time of year. Already ahead of target in terms of the national ECOPHYTO 2018 Plan, Nice is continuing its efforts to promote sustainable development and has opted for “zero pesticides” to protect biodiversity and the health of its citizens and visitors. Waterfalls, water fun areas and varied tree and shrub varieties await… Enjoy a lungful of fresh air… You’re in Nice!”

See major SUMMER EVENTS HEREKD paperback cover

Source: Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Baccarat Celebrates its 250th Anniversary in Glitter and Glass

By Diane Stamm

To celebrate its 250th anniversary this year, Baccarat, renowned purveyor of crystal to royalty, celebrities, and yes, even just plain folk like us, has mounted a sumptuous exhibition at its headquarters, Maison Baccarat, at 11, place des États-Unis in the Paris 16th. Baccarat. Les 250 ans,which runs through January 24, 2015, presents a retrospective of nearly 250 of the company’s most famous, award-winning, and iconic creations.

The Baccarat brand had auspicious beginnings. At the end of the Hundred Years War, French King Louis XV granted the Bishop of Metz a Royal Warrant to establish a glass-making factory in the village of Baccarat in Lorraine on the banks of the Meurthe River. The factory was to serve as an economic stimulus and to provide employment. The kilns fired up in 1764, and in 1816 the factory began producing crystal.

The company’s prestige and international reputation began with an order for a set of glasses placed by King Louis XVIII following his visit to the factory in 1823. It was Louis XVIII who launched the fashion of the complete glass service in the Russian style, with each glass a distinct size – one each for water, white wine, red wine, and champagne.

The glasses were so admired by fellow crowned heads who dined at his table that they, too, began to order from Baccarat.

The company’s reputation steadily grew, in part thanks to its expert craftsmen, and after Baccarat won all the gold medals for its entries to the Universal Exhibitions at the turn of the 20th century, orders began to flow in from around the world. Today, Baccarat employs twenty-five craftsmen who have won the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Craftsmen in France – more than any other company in the country.

Baccarat. Les 250 ans presents decorative art at its highest quality. And its most dramatic.

The first section, Foli des Grandeurs, showcases monumental pieces such as the Tsar Nicholas II candelabra, and the Ferrières chair, stool, and pedestal table commissioned by 19th century Maharajas and delivered by elephant to them. The section called Alchemierepresents Water, Earth, Air, and Fire, the four elements essential to the creation of crystal.Au-dela de la Transparence (Beyond Transparency) explores the themes of lightness, refinement, and femininity. The Prestigious Commissions section displays some of the most important commissions from heads of state, such as Emperor Hirohito; royal and imperial courts, such as the Prince of Wales; and celebrities, such as Josephine Baker.

So in demand were Baccarat pieces by certain sovereigns that, for example, Tsar Nicholas II commissioned caravans of crystal pieces carried by mules bound for Russia. Through the 19th century, the Baccarat factory operated a special furnace at full capacity dedicated to the production of crystal for the Russian court.

Baccarat’s best-known pattern is Harcourt, created in 1841 when French King Louis-Philippe commissioned a ceremonial chalice engraved with the royal monogram. With its hexagonal foot and flat facet-cut bowl, its design is now nearly ubiquitous, especially in French cafes and brasseries, but it originated with Baccarat.

In addition to being the headquarters of Baccarat and housing a museum, Maison Baccarat also houses a boutique; an elegant restaurant named the Cristal Room; and a ballroom that comes from a Neapolitan palace decorated with paintings by Francesco Solimera, a disciple of Tiepolo. During the first half of the 20th century the mansion was home to wealthy art patrons Viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles and her husband, Charles de Noailles, and was the venue for salons that included diplomats, royalty, actors, and artists.

When Baccarat relocated its headquarters to the mansion in 2002, it hired designer Philippe Starck to redecorate the place. His style is pervasive throughout, beginning with the dramatically lighted foyer dominated by mirrors framed in Baccarat’s signature ruby-red crystal, a color produced by heating 24-karat gold powder.

The boutique sells the full range of Baccarat pieces, many of which are displayed on a very long table set for a grand dinner. Also for sale are all sorts of crystal arts de vivre– lamps, panthers, chess sets, decanters, chandeliers, jewelry, and much more. Of particular note is a large, fan-shaped vase with four exquisitely executed galloping horses etched in gold, the dust swirling under their feet.

 

 

You might conclude your visit to Maison Baccarat with a meal at the elegant Cristal Room, overseen by Michelin three-star chef Guy Martin. You will dine off Baccarat crystal and experience a little of the cachet for yourself. And before you leave, be sure to poke your head into the second floor bathroom for a look at one of the most atmospheric rooms – bathroom or otherwise – you’ll ever see.

 

 

Musée Baccarat

11, place des États-Unis, Paris 16th

01 40 22 11 00; 011 33 1 40 22 11 00

Metro: Boissière – Line 6; Iéna – Line 9

Museum hours: Mon and Wed–Sat 10am–6:30p; closed Tues, Sun, and holidays

Entrance fee: 7 euros; reduced fee 5 euros; free for those under 18, for students under 25, the unemployed, and the handicapped

Handicapped accessible

Restaurant

The Cristal Room

Tel:  01 40 22 11 10

Hours: Mon–Sat 12:30pm–2:30pm; 7:30pm–10:30pm; closed Sun

 

Credits: Article & Photos by Diane Stamm

Reblogged from: BonjourParis

French Jazz Fans outsmart Hitler

Article written by Margo Lestz (The Curious Rambler)- Reblogged with permission:

France has a special place in its heart for jazz and in the summer, you’ll find jazz festivals all over the country. In fact, the world’s first international jazz festival was held in Nice, France in 1948. But France’s relationship with this music started some 30 years earlier during the World War I and developed under some interesting circumstances during the Nazi Occupation of World War II.

Jazz comes to France

During World War I, African-American soldiers introduced France to jazz. After the war, this lively new sound was the perfect accompaniment to les années folles, or “the crazy years”, when all art forms were changing and tastes turned to the unconventional and exotic. This new African-American music made people feel alive again, just what was needed after the horrors of the First World War.

Miles Davis statue – Negresco hotel in Nice.  Photo by Margo Lestz

Miles Davis statue – Negresco hotel in Nice. Photo by Margo Lestz

Hot Club

Jazz was especially appreciated by the young and in the early 1930s, a group of Parisian students formed a jazz club. At first they just met to listen to the music, but later they became ambassadors of this new sound. The Hot Club de France quickly grew into an important organisation working to promote jazz in France. Hugues Panassié was president and Charles Delaunay secretary, but in 1936 Louis Armstrong was elected Honorary President of the club and held that title until his death in 1971.

French Jazz

With the help of the Hot Club, jazz took root in post-war France. Although they appreciated the American jazz groups, the Hot Club was on the lookout for French talent. They “discovered” guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli who, along with others, became known as the Hot Club Quintet, the first “all French” jazz band.

Jazz during the occupation

When the Second World War was declared, most of the African American jazz musicians left France and the French bands were worried. Hitler wasn’t a jazz fan. He considered it a tool of the Jews and detrimental to society.

But, Hitler was more tolerant in France than in other countries. He wanted to remain on good terms with the French and use their resources for his war effort. He also planned to make Paris a recreation centre for his troops so he encouraged the entertainment industry there. Foreign tunes were absolutely forbidden but he allowed traditional music, thinking his propaganda would be better accepted if it was broadcast along with popular songs.

“Frenchified” jazz

The Hot Club took advantage of this situation and set about creating a “French history” for jazz, proclaiming it a traditional French form of music. They held conferences explaining how jazz was directly inspired by Debussy, an influential French composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and circulated flyers detailing this invented pedigree.

They wrote books to convince Hitler and the Vichy regime of the merits of French jazz. One music critic published a book explaining how it was intrinsically French and how it could become the new European music under the Nazi regime. Hugues Panassié, president of the Hot Club, published a book addressing the Vichy regime’s argument that jazz couldn’t carry a patriotic message. In his book he claimed that jazz had simply been misunderstood and he scattered biblical passages and political quotes throughout to make it sound convincing.

louis_armstrong_aquarium_04Louis Armstrong disguised as a French man (photo: The Curious Rambler)

It’s not swing, it’s jazz

Music experts pointed out that the jazz musicians of the time were all French (the American musicians had left at the start of the war) and they made “adjustments” to make jazz seem more French. At the time the music was called “swing” in France so they started calling it “jazz” which sounded less American.

It’s not blues, it’s tristesse

The titles of songs were changed to French: “St. Louis Blues” became “Tristesse de St. Louis” and “I Got Rhythm” became “Agate Rhythm”. The names of composers were either left off or changed. Louis Armstrong’s songs were credited to Jean Sablon during that time. When they had finished, jazz looked as French as baguettes and brie. Their efforts paid off when the Nazis banned subversive “American swing” but permitted traditional “French jazz”. Of course, it was the same music, just cleverly repackaged.

Jazz and the Resistance

Hot Club members weren’t just defying the Nazis with music, many of them were active members of the Resistance. They used jazz concerts and conferences as cover to pass information to England. In 1943 the Hot Club headquarters in Paris was raided and some of its officials were arrested. Delaunay, Hot Club secretary, was released after one month, but several of the others perished in Nazi concentration camps.

However, jazz survived and kept the French company during the occupation. And when the war was over, France remained faithful to the music that, by that time, really had become woven into French culture.

Click on the video below to see Louis Armstrong learning a song in French with Claudine Panassié, daughter-in-law of Hugues Panassié, president of the Hot Club and director of the 1948 Nice Jazz Festival. It was filmed in 1969 at Armstrong’s home in Corona, New York.

History of the Nice Jazz Festival:

1948 – Nice hosted the first international jazz festival in the world. Louis Armstrong was the headliner and performances were in the opera house and the municipal casino (which once stood in Place Massena).

1972-1973 – The next jazz festival in Nice took place 23 years later. The performances were held in the garden Albert I.

1974 – The Nice jazz festival returned under the name, Grande Parade du Jazz. Musicians played on three stages in the open spaces of the garden of Cimiez. The Nice jazz festival has continued since 1974.

1994 – The name was changed to Nice Jazz Festival.

2011 – The festival moved back into the centre of town and to the garden Albert I where two stages welcome multiple performers each evening.