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Demystifying the French + Discovering 1,100 Artists

Photography by Pascal Sentenac
Photography by Pascal Sentenac

As you read this, I’ll likely be on the train headed to Nice for a week of events and activities—Après-Midi on Thursday afternoon with Tax Advisor, Jonathan Hadida and the Relaunch of the Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group on Saturday morning.

I am also looking forward to warmer weather. On the average, Nice is about 10 degrees warmer than Paris during the winter. This past week in Paris has been particularly cold, hovering around freezing. Nice sun and warmth will be a welcome change.


The most difficult thing about moving to France from North America is not any of the hurdles one must go through to get a visa, find a property or move belongings, is overcoming the cultural differences which do not appear on the surface, but lie hidden in the way we think and behave differently…on just about every level.

So, if you want to get a head start, mark your calendar for Saturday, February 17, 2024 when author of “Demystifying the French” Janet Hulstrand and Edith de Belleville team up with the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA to bring you a cultural conversation with two of France’s most well-informed experts! (11a.m. PST/12 p.m. MST/1 p.m. CST/2 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CET

"Demystifying the French" Janet Hulstrand and Edith de Belleville team up with the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA

Join Janet and Edith for a Bicultural Conversation—the fourth in their series of conversations about Demystifying the French. This program offers the opportunity to explore the concept of demystifying the French from a French point of view as Janet Hulstrand discusses her book, and the general topic of cultural differences between France and the United States, with Edith de Belleville. After their conversation there will be an opportunity for participants to ask questions or add their comments to the discussion.

Janet Hulstrand is an American writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who lives in France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France. She writes for Bonjour Paris, France Today, and France Revisited. And, she teaches online classes featuring books about France for Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington DC. She lives in a little village in Champagne, where she is working on her next book.

Edith de Belleville was born and raised in the Parisian neighborhood of Belleville, just like Edith Piaf. Edith is a licensed French tour guide, an attorney, a licensed teacher of French for foreigners, and the author of two books: Belles et Rebelles: à l’ombre des grandes Parisiennes, and Parisian Life: Adventures in the City of Light. When she is not guiding visitors at Versailles or the Orsay Museum, Edith is sitting on a café terrace in Paris, enjoying a café crème and either watching the world go by, or working on her next book.

Edith will be speaking at Après-Midi in Paris on “The Jewish Heritage of Paris” this February 13th. Mark your calendars and be there!

To purchase Demystifying the French, visit

This event will be on Zoom and is free for all Alliance Française members in the U.S., AATF members, and invited guests of the presenters or publicists…like me!

Non-members or persons who have no AF chapter nearby can purchase tickets ($10). Please click here to register. Or, visit their website for more information.


Artist Laura Figueroa regularly comes to Paris from her native Mexico City, not only to enjoy the City of Light, but to show off her beautiful sculptures of horses.

She was raised in the city and the country, surrounded by horses, art, travel and music. Although she studied law at Mexico City’s Anahuac University, it was in art that she found her true calling. Her sensitivity and experience as a rider, combined with her love of horses, led her to dedicate herself to equestrian sculpture.

Laura Figueroa and one of her horse sculptures

Her work was on display this past week at the annual Le Salon d’Automne, an exhibition that has taken place since 1903 (!!) of which I had never attended…until now.

The Salon d’Automne is a non-profit association of artists designed to encourage and develop the fine arts in all their forms, particularly through exhibitions both in France and abroad. Over the past 120 years, the Salon has built up a veritable network between artists from all over the world.

Poster for Le Salon d'Automne in Paris

Held this year at the Grande Halle de La Villette, the exhibition consisted of 1,107 different artists’ works, representing 43 countries and 85 different techniques including painting, engraving, digital art, drawing, watercolors, photography, environmental art, singular art, sculpture, artists’ books, architecture and small formats. The enormous 6,000 m² of exposition space was well organized by category. Wandering throughout was simple and easy, with the music from a piano concert taking place center stage acting as background atmosphere.

I knew Laura’s sculptures to be beautiful and in a class of their own, but I wasn’t expecting to see so many seriously wonderful works of art in such a venue. My expectation was much lower—that the work would be largely commercial, the kind you see in the art galleries lining Place des Vosges that are executed to adorn walls and tables, but will never to land on museum walls. We found some of that, but almost as many really amazing works that deserve to be on museum walls and pedestals, like Laura’s horses.

The artists were on hand to discuss their works, making the exploration and discover even more fun and enlightening. So we also had the opportunity of speaking with a few of them who explained their concepts and techniques, adding valuable insight to their works and to our visit.

Here were some of my favorites:

Bei Yoneto

Artwork by Bei YonetoMaike Nowottny
René Roeser
Jean-Jacques Lecoq
Marjorie Chevalier

Artwork by Marjorie ChevalierLuc Arnault
Véronique Almarine

Artwork by Véronique Almarine Anna Tepli

Artwork by Anna TepliBilichenko & Bukhtiyarova
Pascal Sentenac and here
Laura Figueroa

You can learn more about the Salon d’Automne by downloading their press brochure.

And to see the works virtually, click here, then click on each category. Scroll to the bottom and click on “Pour découvrir les artistes de cette section, visitez l’exposition virtuelle” to see each artist’s work.

Or you can start a slide show by clicking here. You can spend hours and have the time of your life!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds wearing her signature red beretAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian Leeds and guests on House Hunters International episode, Threesome in ParisP.S. If you want to watch our latest House Hunters International episode, “Threesome in Paris,” click here.



  1. Brian Francis OConnor on January 22, 2024 at 8:04 pm

    My wife and I will be spending the month of February in Nice. We were wondering if Adrian or others could advise us of restaurants and cafes that you could recommend. Any other recommendations for activities would be wonderful as well including any markets to visit. Thanks Kellie & Brian

    • Adrian Leeds Group on February 8, 2024 at 9:39 am

      There are many good restaurants in Nice! Some favorites are Le Safari, Bistrot Antoine and Comptoir du Marche. Enjoy!

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