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All in the Life of a Frenchie: Beautifying, Eating, Drinking, Reading, Writing, Listening

Notre Dame - by James Kigin, Taken in Early April, Just Before the FireNotre Dame – by James Kigin, Taken in Early April, Just Before the Fire

Helena Rubenstein exhibit at Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme

The Rounding Up of Jews, 1941, Photo by Roger Viollet, Rue Cafarelli, 3rd.The Rounding Up of Jews, 1941, Photo by Roger Viollet, Rue Cafarelli, 3rd.

The Eataly entranceThe Eataly entrance

The new EatalyThe new Eataly interior

Eataly cheesesEataly cheeses

With the area around Notre Dame closed off as the workers busily begin the repairs, the quays on both banks are suddenly clamoring with tourists and residents who have no choice but to walk around. If you’re on the Left Bank, along Quai de Montebello, you can get an excellent view of the cathedral, missing its roof and spire, looking terribly sad. We can expect to stay a good distance from Ground Zero for many years to come as the reconstruction takes place…but have no fear, when Our Lady is ready for her Debut, we’ll be there to celebrate her new-found glory.


You might not put this exhibition high on your list compared to others in town, but don’t think that an exhibition devoted to Helena Rubenstein’s life is just for the ladies. This is the first time in France that the MAHJ (Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme, or in English, the Museum of the Art and History of Judaism) is featuring more than 300 exhibits from Rubenstein’s collection of objects, garments, photographs, etchings, books, paintings, sculptures and tapestries, including works by Marc Chagall, Michel Kikoïne, Sarah Lipska, Louis Marcoussis, Elie Nadelman and Maurice Utrillo, recounting her life and career as one of the world’s first independent women entrepreneurs, who Jean Cocteau called “the empress of beauty.”

Born in Krakow 1872 to a moderately orthodox Jewish family, she rebelled against marriage and reinvented beauty applying science to cosmetics as early as 1902 in Melbourne, Australia, with the vision of empowering and emancipating women. Along the way, she amassed an impressive collection of eclectic artistic works and posed for some of the world’s most famous photographers and painters. She also supported architecture and the decorative arts, having commissioned modernists to design her homes and salons. Her life took her to live in key cities around the world: first Krakow, then to Vienna, Melbourne, London, Paris, New York and Tel Aviv. She considered Paris to be her favorite, but escaped in 1939 during World War II to New York. She returned to Paris when the war ended in 1945 and found her apartment ransacked and in ruins, the Saint-Cloud factory smashed, her cosmetic formulas stolen and in London, her salon had been bombed. She was 72 years old at the time, but she determinedly rebuilt her salons and empire in Paris and London.

A woman to be reckoned with, who was to the beauty industry what Coco Chanel was to ready-to-wear, emancipating and empowering women, Rubenstein is worth remembering and celebrating in this way.

Note: While visiting the museum, at the entry are a series of photos of the Jewish Quarter in Paris, the location of one of which I recognized as rue Cafarelli, the street that runs behind the Mairie of the 3rd arrondissement. It was taken by Roger Viollet in 1941 –– a depiction of the Jews being rounded up to be deported to the interment camps, and taken from the northern end so that what you see at the southern end is now Chez Omar, one of my favorite restaurants. Chez Omar has been in existence 40 years. Before that, as you can see from the photo, it was a brasserie, or beer hall.

Don’t miss the exhibit…on until August 25th at the MAHJ.


This is Eataly’s first venture outside of the U.S. Having opened April 12th in Paris tucked into a spot behind the BHV at 37 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 4th. With 26,000 square feet spread over three floors, the giant retailer of all things Italian boasts of seven different eateries and eight market counters, including a butcher, a baker, a cheesemonger, fresh mozzarella, and fresh pasta stands, plus fruit and vegetable stalls, all in an open-air space, as well as the largest Italian wine cellar in Paris, with 1,200 unique labels, and a cooking school, to boot.

An exclusive franchise with the Galeries Lafayette group, I think it’s funny that they tout promoting “the French Art of Living,” when in fact, it’s all about Italy, not France. I can remember when there were very few Italian restaurants in Paris, and those that existed were expensive. Now, not only do Italian eateries abound, but you can barely move for the adoring crowds in this new all-things-devoted-to-Italy enclave. When we visited it during lunchtime on Saturday, the streets were empty as was the BHV, but Eataly was virtually SRO, with queues at every restaurant or bar. So, be prepared to battle the crowds to spend way more than you should on pasta, pizza and the like.

The other stores are located in New York City (2), Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas…and now Paris! For more information, visit



Come to Nice and Meet the Authors! This June 15th, at the Scotch Tea House (4 avenue Suède), from 3 to 5:30 p.m., Ella Dyer, Organizer and I, Emcee/Moderator, will welcome nine illustrious authors. They will talk about their recent works, read a bit from them and answer your questions. You will have an opportunity to purchase their books and get signed copies! The authors will have a few of their books for purchasing and signing, but to be sure, you may want to pre-order your copy and bring it with you for your own personal signed copy!

Participation is free (but we ask that you purchase at least one drink to show the host venue how much we appreciate their hospitality). Don’t miss this special event in Nice! No need to register in advance.

Meet the Authors

* Lisa Anselmo: My (Part-Time) Paris Life
* Jorge Armenteros: The Roar of the River, The Book of I, AIR
* Craig Carlson: Pancakes in Paris, and soon to come, Let Them Eat Pancakes
* Mike Colquhoun: Returning
* Cathie Fidler: Hereng
* Margo Lestz: Berets, Baguettes, Beyond
* M.D. Poole: Dogs Never Lie
* T.J. Riley: Ladies Invited
* Debby Woods: Girl Lost Found

Visit  our Events page for complete information or email Ella Dyer at [email protected].

See you all there!

A la prochaine…

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P.S. Our newest House Hunters International episode, A PARISIAN PLACE FOR MOTHER AND DAUGHTER, will NOT air today as previously announced — HGTV occasionally makes changes to their schedule. A new air date has not been assigned. We will notify you of the new premier date as soon as it is posted! See for more information.


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