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If Trump Wins…Mona May Move, and Lost in Lamb

Two little girls looking at the Mona Lisa in Paris


I hear it almost every day. I hear it from clients and I hear it from friends. “If Trump wins, I might leave America for good.”

That’s the title of David Andelman’s Opinion piece in the that ran on May 1st, France’s official Labor Day holiday.

David Andelman

David Andelman

Even David and his wife, Pamela, are considering making a permanent move over, but he admits, that “As for my wife and me, a permanent move to France would not be such a leap—merely, as would be the case for many others—it would be an extension of the time we spend there today.” Andelman served as the Paris correspondent for CBS News for seven years while traveling through and reporting from 52 other countries, and keeps a pied-à-terre in Paris for frequent stays.

The article was so well received that David appeared live on CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip to discuss the subject. It’s only a 7-minute segment that you can watch by clicking here.

Screenshot of David Andelman on CNN News Night

When I moved to Paris almost 30 years ago, it had nothing to do with “leaving” the US, but everything to do with experiencing France. Now all these years later, I’m thankful I made the move then, while I was still young and could really take advantage of all that France has to offer. As you already know (if you’re reading these Nouvellettres®), I’ve been singing France’s praises ever since and helping others make the move to the other side of the “big pond.” It’s given me great rewards and satisfaction.

I had no idea then I’d be in this position, as an emissary for a place I simply fell in love with the minute I landed—even though it was a cold, gray and rainy Paris in August 1979. Something just snapped and I didn’t want to leave. No other place I’ve ever visited (or lived) has had that effect on me…except Paris. It can’t be explained. And to this day I’m not 100% sure of what is that is so addictive about a city that lives under a constant cloud…but it gets under your skin and never leaves. I call it “La Maladie” (The Sickness).

Now that I share my time with Nice, often I am asked which city I would choose, if I had to. That would be impossible, and fortunately, I don’t need to make a choice. I can have them both. It seems to be an American cultural thing to think that you must trade one thing for another, like stopping at an intersection to let the other cars pass before venturing forward, whereas in France, there are traffic circles that allow you to enter and leave at any point in a natural flow without having to stop at all. The US culture is “monochronic” while France is “polychronic.”

I could write a dissertation on this one cultural difference, but will leave that for another time. There are simply too many differences, about which many books have been written. I don’t need to write another one!

CNN Editor’s Note: David A. Andelman, a contributor to CNN, twice winner of the Deadline Club Award, is a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, author of A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen and blogs at SubStack’s Andelman Unleashed. He formerly was a foreign correspondent and bureau chief for The New York Times in Europe and Asia and for CBS News in Paris. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.

Screenshot of David Andelman on CNN

See David’s CNN articles and subscribe to his Substack blog, “Andelman Unleashed” for news, critical analysis and original perspectives on the world and America’s place in it.


Mona Lisa could very well get her own room at Le Louvre…in an underground gallery this time around. This is all because of the immense crowds that flock to see her, and the widespread visitor dissatisfaction with the viewing experience. A recent study by CouponBirds, a company that assists consumers in finding discounts, labeled the Mona Lisa as “the world’s most underwhelming masterpiece,” with approximately 37 percent of tourist reviews expressing disappointment, largely due to overcrowding.

The Mona Lisa, aka “La Joconde” in French, is just a half-length portrait painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It stands as a quintessential masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance era, lauded as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, and the most parodied work of art in the world.” Notable aspects of the painting include the enigmatic expression of the subject, the grandeur of its composition, the subtle shaping of forms, and the atmospheric illusion it creates.

Traditionally believed to portray Lisa del Giocondo, an Italian noblewoman, the painting is executed in oil on a panel made of white Lombardy poplar. Da Vinci never officially presented the artwork to the Giocondo family, believe it or not. Although initially thought to have been completed between 1503 and 1506, there’s speculation that he may have continued refining it until 1517. France’s King Francis I acquired the Mona Lisa following Da Vinci’s demise in 1519, and it has since belonged to the French Republic and has been prominently displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797. Do these dates not confound you?

The painting’s worldwide renown and allure are in part due to its 1911 theft by Vincenzo Peruggia, who cited Italian patriotism as his motive, believing it rightfully belonged to Italy. The theft and its subsequent recovery in 1914 garnered unprecedented attention, leading to various cultural representations, including an opera titled “Mona Lisa” in 1915, two early 1930s films (“The Theft of the Mona Lisa” and “Arsène Lupin”), and the iconic song “Mona Lisa” recorded by Nat King Cole, which became one of the most successful songs of the 1950s.

Regarded as one of the most valuable paintings globally (if not the most), the Mona Lisa holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known painting insurance valuation in history, reaching US$100 million in 1962, equivalent to $1 billion as of 2023.

She deserves her own room, don’t you agree?


It had been years ago that I had last dined at La Coupole, so when a friend suggested going to one of the Montparnasse cafés famous for wining and dining members of the Lost Generation—such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Jean Rhys Henry Strater and Sylvia Beach—I wholeheartedly agreed. We settled on La Coupole.

The interior of La Coupole in Paris

La Coupole opened its doors on December 20, 1927, courtesy of Ernest Fraux and René Lafon, amidst the exuberance of the Roaring Twenties. This period saw Montparnasse bustling with a vibrant artistic and literary community, comprised of expatriates who embraced the contemporary art deco style. It quickly became a favored haunt for artists of the School of Paris and intellectuals during the interwar era.

Descending into the basement, even as you do today, patrons could find the La Coupole Dance Hall, inaugurated on December 24, 1928, where musicians such as Rico’s Créole Band, led by Filiberto Rico (1910-1976), took center stage with rhythms spanning rumba, bolero, guaracha, samba, and baião until the 1960s.

The Seafood bar at La Coupole in Paris

The Seafood Bar at La Coupole

Luminaries from the worlds of art and intellect became regulars, including Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti, Joséphine Baker, Man Ray, Georges Braque, and Brassaï. As the years unfolded, the brasserie continued to draw distinguished figures such as Pablo Picasso, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Sonia Delaunay, André Malraux, Jacques Prévert, Marc Chagall, and Édith Piaf, among countless others. In subsequent decades, luminaries like Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Marlene Dietrich, and Ava Gardner graced its tables. Post-World War II, Yves Klein became a familiar figure, frequently dining at La Coupole and even hosting judo sessions on its terrace. And then there was…us.

If you want fresh seafood on a platter, raw or cooked, this is the place! The “Curry d’Agneau” (lamb curry) has been served at La Coupole since it opened and is still served today by a Tamil server in traditional dress. Legend has it that François Mitterand ordered a curry for his last meal. The dish is unctuous, the lamb tender and the seasoning perfect. I understand why the former president made this choice! All four of us ordered it for old times sake, and besides…it’s delicious.

The Curry d'Agneau at La Coupole in Paris

The Curry d’Agneau at La Coupole

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds with a version of the Mona LisaAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

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