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Sex in the City is No Comédie Française

Last night after Parler Parlor’s session at Berlitz Opera, I headed down avenue de l’Opera toward the Palais Royal to meet a friend for dinner. Now that we’re on daylight savings time, it was still bright at 8 p.m.. The sky was its usual overcast self, having been raining on and off all day, diffusing the light and sending warm pink tones down to the glistening wet streets.

There is tremendous beauty and serenity in the subtle lighting — no brights, no dark shadows — against the symmetry of the Parisian architecture. Just as I was reaching Place Colette, where the bejeweled Métro entrance is juxtaposed against the colonnaded Comédie Française, I noticed two young women walking toward me, independent of one another — one smiling broadly, taking in the sights; the other reading as she was walking, paying no attention to anyone or anything other than the pages of her book.

It struck me that the first could easily have been an American, so happy to be here, smiling with contentment as we often see them doing (yes, we do this!). The second I assumed was Parisian, typically oblivious to the scene around her. Meanwhile, La Comédie Française was busy with spectators entering to see the “Platanov — Le Fléau de l’Absence de Pères.”

This famous theater was established in 1680 by Louis XIV’s troupe of actors and members of a rival troupe from the Hôtel de Bourgogne representing the works of Corneille, Racine and Molière. It marked the beginning of theater in France. Today it is comprised of three theaters: Salle Richelieu, Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier and the Studio-Théâtre. (For more information or to reserve upcoming spectacles, visit the official site [in French] at

Wednesdays marks the day of the week most spectacles and events open. There are a few different entertainment guides in Paris we live by that publish their new listings every Wednesday: Pariscope, L’Officiel des Spectacles and Zurban, being the most popular.

My personal favorite is the most recent on the scene — Zurban. It’s both an entertainment guide and commentator on the coming events. I find the articles interesting and informative, easy to read (in French) and the listings easy to follow…a subscription puts it in my mailbox every Wednesday like clockwork.

This morning, I couldn’t help but be shocked by its content…even for an American living here so many years! The cover: “Sexe à Paris.”

Okay…that in itself is nothing to blink an eye at…but as you head toward the main article about the liberation of sex in the capital, you realize the photos leave nothing — and I mean nothing — to the imagination. A page later, an article is titled “Steak and the City” — and from my own cultural base, I couldn’t help but misread it as “Sex in the City!”

Hustler, move over. Zurban rivals you. Zurban is on every newsstand, along side the other guides, Le Monde and the International Herald Tribune. Clearly, the French culture, sexually liberated as it is, thinks nothing of exposing orgiastic encounters to a general audience.

Would the woman I saw who was reading as she was walking have even noticed? I wonder.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
[email protected]

P.S. We were notified that last Wednesday’s newsletter titled “Sein” Advice — Americans Bare Their Breasts” landed in a lot of readers’ spam or junk mailboxes, likely due to the word “breast” in the subject line. If that happened to you and you’re not opposed to reading about breasts (!), you can do so by visiting /parlerparis/issues/readpastissues.html where all past issues can be accessed!

P.P.S. Anything you need to make your stay in Paris perfect can now be found at Parler Paris Classified Ads, powered by! Click here now:


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