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A Tribute to Women Making History in Paris

 11-3-13felicitylemonFelicity Lemon restaurant11-3-13rueDenoyer-1rue Dénoyez’s graffiti

11-3-13rueDenoyer-211-3-13 Kim Bingham UP cd cover11-3-13PierretteDupoyetPierrette Dupoyet11-3-13Baker-childrenJosephine Baker and her adopted children11-3-13W46-3-13 Jeff-steiner1Jeff Steiner

Legendary New York Daily News photographer, Harry Hamburg, who is on a first name basis with Presidents of the U.S. over the last four decades, expounded over dinner “chez moi” (yes, I actually cooked!) that he had discovered a new restaurant worth a try: Felicity Lemon in Belleville (20th).

The restaurant is aptly named for the street on which it is situated, rue Lemon, and for those who read and love Agatha Christie novels, Felicity Lemon was fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot’s secretary, who had few human weaknesses, and who he described as “Unbelievably ugly and incredibly efficient.”

Felicity Lemon, the restaurant, is a “cantine” by “Parisienne” Sylvia François that won’t bust your budget serving seasonal dishes “entrée” size (first course/appetizer, not second course/main dish as noted on U.S. menus), so that you can order several and taste to your heart’s delight. Margie Rubin, who does “Personalized Vacation Planning Tailored to Your Tastes” under the name of “Paris Your Way,” agreed to give it a try as part of our discovery of new, out-of-the-way and inexpensive dining adventures that we could both write about and pass on to lovers of Paris seeking a deeper experience.

While the meal was creative, interesting and delicious, at a very affordable price, what was even more fascinating was the immediate neighborhood, which, after all these years of visiting Belleville and dining in nearby restaurants (such as Lao Siam), it took an explorer like Margie Rubin to point out something of which I was totally unaware — rue Dénoyez. Sure, I had passed the café on the corner, Aux Folies (8 Rue de Belleville) dozens of times and never thought to venture down rue Dénoyez.

Here lies a world one wouldn’t know without someone like Margie to enlighten you…a graffiti artist’s heaven. It’s a cobblestoned pedestrianized street that runs only a short two blocks between rue de Belleville and rue Ramponeau passing rue Lemon. The storefronts are covered in graffiti — painted, collaged, papered, posted, you name it. It’s one of the few legalized “laneways” for graffiti in the city, “bringing a kaleidoscope of ever changing murals on its walls” (untappedcities.com/) — meaning that the art is forever changing by the artists and residents who keep the mosaic tile planters, walls and street elements awash in color and expression.

Discovering this hidden corner of Paris felt like being a tourist in my own city, from someone who is, perhaps, even more passionate about it than me. All three are worth discovering: Felicity Lemon, rue Dénoyez and Margie Rubin from Paris-Your-Way.

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At lunch Friday, just-returned-to-Paris Florence Richburg introduced her friend as a “rock star,” although except for her stunning blue eyes, Kim Bingham was just as down-to-earth and personable as any North American in Paris. That evening, this “Montréalaise” singer/songwriter, who has performed with such legendary groups as “Me Mom & Morgentaler” and “Bran Van 3000” at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, performed at the Canadian Cultural Center to an SRO crowd. Playing an acoustic guitar she accompanied her musicians on some of her latest songs to introduce her new album, titled “Up!”

The concert was “WOW!” and we’re hoping Kim will come talk (sing) at an upcoming Parler Paris Après Midi! (I Hope to see you tomorrow, March 12th when David Burke, author of “Writers in Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light” talks about “Bad Boys and Bad Girls of Literature in Paris” at Parler Paris Après Midi — 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. It’s free and it’s fun! Visit Parler Paris Après Midi for more information.

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Pierrette Dupoyet, one of France’s most well-known actors and directors, paid tribute yesterday to Josephine Baker at Chez Elsa (99 rue de Charenton, 75012), in her one-woman show, “Joséphine Baker, un pli pour vous…” as part of a program by “Rencontres et Debats Autrement.” Baker’s oldest adopted son (of 12 adopted children), Akio, was present — another SRO audience who was held spellbound by her performance. After, the audience had an opportunity to debate how racism affected the celebrities of her epoch.

(Wikipedia.org): Josephine Baker (June 3, 1906 – April 12, 1975) was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress. Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, she became a citizen of France in 1937. Fluent in both English and French, Baker became an international musical and political icon. She was given such nicknames as the “Bronze Venus,” the “Black Pearl,” and the “Créole Goddess.” Baker was the first African-American female to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934), to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer. She is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States (she was offered the unofficial leadership of the movement by Coretta Scott King in 1968 following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, but turned it down), for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and for receiving the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.

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It’s a Women’s History Month Fund Raising Storm…a message from Tish Vallés and James Navé, The Women’s Worldwide Web.

Tish and James are recognizing Women’s History Month by helping the women of post-war DR of Congo rewrite their history and invite you to join in this fund-raising storm!

They have the deep joy and humbling privilege of belonging to the Paris-based non-profit, The Women’s Worldwide Web, of which Tish is a co-founder and James is an adviser. It is their vision to harness the power of digital technology and the web as a force for the empowerment of the world’s girls and women. We invite you to join our online community of change-makers and inspiring friends.

Parler Paris and the Adrian Leeds Group encourages all of you to become a part of this mission and support this Paris-based organization. Visit w4.org and make your donation

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Last week, Jeff Steiner of Americans in France interviewed me about life in Paris for his podcast series. Want to hear what we both had to say? Visit  americansinfrance.net to hear it all!

A la prochaine…

adrian kim binghamAdrian Leeds

Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC

(with Kim Bingham, photo by James Kigin)

Respond to Adrian 

     

david burkeP.S. Join us tomorrow, March 12th at Parler Paris Après Midi to learn about “Bad Boys and Bad Girls of Literature in Paris” with David Burke, author of “Writers in Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light”. Join us 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. Visit Parler Paris Après Midi for more information.

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