What’s Hip and Hot in 2016

At InsiderFrance, it's our job to select the most exciting places, people, and events that are going to make a difference in 2016--whether you travel to France or not. Naturally, we are not going to stop you from returning to your tried and true favorites--whether...

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Chocolate in France: Past & Present

Although the Swiss or Belgians are probably the most well-known for their chocolate expertise, the French are an up and coming competitor. Not only can the French create delicious cocoa creations, they know how to enjoy them too! Taking a step back into history, chocolate...

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A New Spin on Louis XIV: The King of Art de Vivre

Louis XIV: Man & MonarchLast Saturday on a foggy, drizzly day in Paris, my husband and I headed out to Versailles–the ultimate temple to excess–for a visit to a long over-due exhibition on the chateau’s creator: Louis XIV, or “The Sun King” as he liked to call himself.

Even under the gray skies of Ile de France, the château’s new golden gates, roof and window decorations, proved so dazzling that I could have used a pair of sunglasses. Talk about the king of Bling! For years, Versailles survived quite nicely without that gold-topped roof–we owe this one to France’s last President Jacques Chirac, who embarked on a campaign to restore the palace to its former glory to the tune of 130 million€. (While some of the funds are coming from the private sector, our tax dollars are paying a hefty amount as well). This was more of a priority than housing for the homeless.

It is worth noting that on his death-bed, Louis XIV did regret this kind of prodigality, telling his great-grandson the future Louis XV: “Don’t imitate me in my passion for building and for war.” Being all of five-years-old, the adorable heir soon forgot this advice, growing up to commission multiple chateaux for himself and his mistresses.

The Camondos: A Saga of Splendor and Tragedy

c18Tomorrow evening, the Jewish Museum of Art and History in Paris is inaugurating an exhibition about a prominent and relatively little-known Jewish family, that could have figured in Marcel Proust’s great opus: “In Search of Lost Time.”

Known as the Rothschilds of the East, the Jewish Sephardic Camondos first made their mark as bankers to the grand vizirs of the Ottoman Empire, under the enlightened patriarch Abraham-Salomon de Camondo (1781-1873). Heir of the bank Isaac Camondo et Cie, he not only consolidated the family fortunes, but also participated actively in the modernization of Constantinople and the economic development of the Empire. In short, the Camondos became the indispensable go-betweens of the Sublime Door and the West.  They were particularly remembered for their contributions to secular education in both French and Turkish as well as the Jewish community.