A French Controversy: Who Will Sing at the Paris Olympics?

Rumors surfaced recently that French President Emmanuel Macron had invited Aya Nakamura to sing at the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympics. A firestorm immediately erupted, and it has not died down yet.

The French-Malian Nakamura is by far the most popular French-language singer performing today. Her songs have been streamed billions of times, she has 25 Top Ten singles in France and has won multiple musical awards. Lancôme, part of French luxury house L’Oréal, recently named her its new World Ambassador.

So, why the controversy? Well, it’s complicated.

Read all about it in My French Life!



The Great French Hope Hits the NBA

A year ago, French phenom Victor “Wemby” Wembanyama was the world’s most sought-after young basketball player. His skills were so otherworldly that even the great LeBron James could not find the right word to describe him. He finally settled on “alien,” as in “from another planet.”

What makes Wemby so rare? It’s his never-before-seen mix of size and agility. He is one of the tallest players in the world, but has a 3-point shot as smooth as crème Chantilly. That gives him a one-two punch: the dominance of a center with the shooting and ball-handling of a guard.

So how is Wemby doing now that he’s in the NBA, the world’s premier basketball league? Let’s just say that even LeBron James might be at a loss for words!

Read all about it in Frenchly!

The Great Women of France, Part 2

Who are the great women of France? There are so many, it is hard to list them all! But let’s start with 15 who have played important roles in the history of la belle France.

There is so much to say that I’ve divided my list into three different articles, each discussing five women. This second article covers the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Some of the women you are probably familiar with, like the author George Sand. But did you know that the mathematician Emilie de Chatelet not only corrected some of Isaac Newton’s theories, but also developed an early form of financial derivatives? Or that Berthe Morisot was considered one of the finest of the Impressionist painters? And how about the salonnières, the women who ran the famous salons of the Enlightenment, sometimes called “the cradle of the French Revolution”?

Read all about these and other great women of France in My French Life!

Driving in France Without a License

Let’s say you are driving on a French country road and find yourself stuck behind a slow driver. A very slow driver. “Can’t this guy go any faster?” you wonder. And the answer might be…no!

France is full of microcars, called voiturettes or pots de yaourt (pots of yogurt!), that are specially designed to go slowly. Anyone can drive one, even without a license, as long as they are at least 14 years old.

Why would anyone drive a tiny car that can’t go very fast? And why are they so popular with young urbanites? Read all about it in The Good Life France!

12 Influential French Women to Know

France was behind many countries in granting women the right to vote, doing so only in 1944, but a lot of progress has been made since then. Today French women hold top roles in politics and business: the prime minister and the mayor of Paris are women, as are the heads of some of the most important companies and financial institutions. Women are leading lights in the worlds of art and entertainment and are some of the country’s greatest chefs.

Would you like to meet a few? I’ve written about a dozen of them, all immensely talented. And soon I’ll share a series of articles about some of the greatest women in French history, from Eleanor of Aquitaine to Madame Curie, and many more.

Read all about 12 of today’s most influential French women in France Today!

Christmas Traditions in Provence

Like many parts of France, Provence has Christmas traditions that go back centuries. Some are well-known, like those cute little santons and the 13 desserts eaten after midnight mass. But did you know about the wheat that predicts the future? Or the lamb and shepherds in church? And how about those camels strolling through the streets?

Read all about these fun Provençal Christmas traditions in The Good Life France!

Destination Christmas: Strasbourg vs Provence

Strasbourg is known as “the Christmas capital of Europe,” with its festive mood, lights and holiday magic. The city gives you the feeling that if you were to bite into any of its buildings, they would taste like gingerbread and chocolate.

But is it the best place to experience a real French Christmas? I think not.

In Provence you’ll find festive local markets, colorful parades like the bravade calendale, and santons galore. There won’t be the crush of international tourists you’ll find in Strasbourg, and the weather will be much better than way up north.

One of my colleagues and I recently faced off, each arguing for our favorite Christmas destination. Who’s right? See what we have to say and decide for yourself!

Read all about it in Frenchly!


Book Ideas for the France-Lover in Your Life

Christmas is coming and you might be having a hard time coming up with gift ideas. I am here to help!

The French are famously literary, but they don’t sit around reading Proust and Molière all day. They like a good page-turner as well as anyone else. So how about gifting a book that was a top seller in France, but has recently been translated into English? It would be a great gift for a France-lover, or someone who loves good books, or both!

I’ve put together a list of 11 books that covers a lot of bases.You’ll find serious reads, thrillers, inspiring tales, and even a touch of science fiction!

Read all about it in France Today!


What the French are Reading: The Arab of the Future

One way to gain insight into a culture is to see what its people are reading. Topping the French charts lately has been The Arab of the Future 6, the final volume of a series that has been a massive best-seller in France. It’s a bande dessinée, or graphic novel, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Written and illustrated by Riad Sattouf, one of France’s top cartoonists, it tells the story of his childhood.

Sattouf’s heritage spans two very different cultures. His mother is from Brittany and his father from Syria, and they met when the father was pursuing a doctorate at the Sorbonne. Sattouf was raised in France, then Libya, then Syria, then back to France, experiencing culture shock every step of the way.

The Arab of the Future is funny, touching, enlightening, infuriating, and much more—it’s easy to see why the French love it. It tells the story of a child raised between two worlds, offering a unique look at both French and Arab societies, and is a great read in any language. For those who want to try their hand at reading in French, a bande dessinée is a great place to start, with lots of pictures to help you along, and not too many words.

Read all about it in Frenchly!

One Thing French People Agree On: McDonald’s

France is the land of haute cuisine, with dishes like escargot and foie gras and bouillabaisse. It’s a country with food so elegant and delicious that UNESCO has declared it part of the world’s cultural heritage. So, then, you might imagine that the French, with their refined palates, would turn up their noses at fast food. But the reality is more surprising.

After a rough start, McDonald’s has become a fixture of the French culinary landscape. It is so popular you could even say it’s about the only thing French people agree on! And while there are a lot of similarities with McDonald’s in the US, the French “McDo’s” are different (and better) in many ways.

Read all about how McDonald’s has captured French hearts in Frenchly!