News for the week of January 21

Reminder: This year's Mardi Gras celebration will be held at 6:30pm on February 13, at the Villas of Ada Clubhouse, 830 Bridge Crest Drive, just off Ada Drive.  Oh, and don't forget about Book club this coming Tuesday, January 23, at Schuler's, 5:30-6:30. 

How well do you know Paris?

Today we look at the 4th arrondissement.

1. What was the name of the department store opened in 1824 by Pierre Parissot on the quai aux Fleurs?

A. Le Bon Marché
B. La Belle Jardière
C. Le Joyeux Bazar

2. What famous renter lived at 21 places des Vosges?

A. Victor Hugo
B. Jean Giradoux
C. Georges Simenon

3. What is unique about rue de Venise?

A. It's the narrowest road in the capital
B. It's partially underground
. It's split by the canal Saint-Martin

4. What types of prisoners were housed in the Bastille?

A. Highwaymen and pickpockets of the quarter
B. Deserting soldiers
. Aristocrats and men of letters

5. The île de la Cité currently has about twenty roads. How many were there before it was completely redrafted by Haussmann?

A. 100
B. 350
. 500

Answers to last week's quiz on the 3rd arrondissement:

1. B; 2. B; 3. B; 4. C; 5. C.

Travel in France: Normandy and a visit to Mont St. Michel by drone

News for the week of January 14

Reminder: This year's Mardi Gras celebration will be held at 6:30pm on February 13, at the Villas of Ada Clubhouse, 830 Bridge Crest Drive, just off Ada Drive.  

How well do you know Paris?

Today we look at the 3rd arrondissement.

1. What is a "rambuteau"?

A. A coachman's whip.
B. A public urinal.
C. A gas sdtreetlight.

2. What is the construction date of the oldest house in Paris, situated at 51 rue de Montmorency?

A. 1074.
B. 1407.
C. 1740.

3. What is the specialty of the musée Cognaq-Jay, located in the hôtel de Donon?

A. The history of wireless communication.
B. The decorative art of the 18th century.
. The history of medieval Paris.

4. Who are the "Filles du Calvaire" that figure on the street signs of the boulevard that forms the border of the 11th arrondissement?

A. Prostitutes.
B. Martyrs.
. Nuns.

5. What letter writer lived in a hôtel that she called her "carnavalette" (little carnival)?

A. The comtesse de Ségur.
B. Ninon de Lenclos.
. The marquise de Sévigné.

Answers to last week's quiz on the 2nd arrondissement: 1, C, there were 12 courts in all; 2, all three are correct; 3, C; 4, B; 5, B false, it originated in England.

Travel in France: The ancient stones of Brittany

News for the week of January 7

Mardi Gras!

This year's Mardi Gras celebration will be held at 6:30pm on February 13, at the Villas of Ada Clubhouse, 830 Bridge Crest Drive, just off Ada Drive.  

How well do you know Paris?

This week's quiz focuses on the 2nd arrondissement.

1. The place du Caire is located on the site of the old cour des Miracles (the court of Miracles) Where does the name of this famous court come from?

A. St. Louis performed miraculous healings at the spot.
B. Small shows called "miracles" were performed there for the passerby.
C. It was a meeting place of beggars who faked being maimed.

2. What is unique about the rue de Degrés?

A. There are no doorways along its sides.
B. It is the shortest in Paris.
C. It's in the form of stairs.

3. What is  the longest covered arcade in the capital?

A. The passage des Panoramas. 
B. The passage du Grand-Cer.
C. The passage du Caire.

4. At no. 13 galerie Vivienne lived Vidocq, who was. . . 

A. a detective in the service of the emperor.
B. a convict who became the chief of police.
C. a policeman who became a gentleman bandit, head of a band of policemen robbers.

5. The croque-monsieur, a dish on the menu of every Parisian brasserie, was born in the 2nd arrondissement. True or false?

Answers for last's week's quiz on the 1st arrondissement: 1, A, the Austrian Campaign; 2, C, octagonal; 3, A, midnight blue ceilings; 4, A, Philippe Auguste; and 5, circular road.

"Mourning in Paris"

Incredibly insightful this wonderful essay is not as depressing as it sounds, and in fact it's quite upbeat. The focus on the impact of Impressionism on one's spirit is elevating and illuminating.

"Paris is a good place to mourn. I would say this even if my uncle Richard hadn’t lived there, but all the more so that he had." 

Read more. . . 

Finally, a short trip to the airshow at Le Bourget in 2017:

News for the week of December 31

Bonne année!

The upcoming AF Grand Rapids Mardi Gras party is scheduled for February 13 (Fat Tuesday) -- more details next week!

Last call for Winter French Class registrations so if you're looking to bone up on your language skills, head on over to the French Classes page.

How well do you know Paris?

Over the next few weeks we'll be testing your knowledge of the City of Light; answers will be printed the week following each quiz. Up first, questions about the 1st arrondissement:

1. What do the bas-reliefs on the Vendôme Column depict?

A. The Austrian Campaign.
B. The Egyptian Campaign.
c. The Italian Campaign.

2. What shape is the Tuileries pool closest to the place de la Concorde?

A. Round.
B. Square.
C. Octagonal.

3. What décor adorns the ceilings of Sainte-Chapelle?

A. A midnight blue sky sprinkled with golden stars.
B. A fresco showing God on a cloud, surrounded by angels flying through a clear sky.
C. Scenes from the life of christ.

4. Under the reign of what monarch was the Louvre started in 1190>

A. Philippe Auguste
B. Philippe le Bel
C. Saint Louis

5. What is unique about the rue de Viarmes?

A. It is the only circular road in Paris.
B. There are no house numbers on the fronts of the houses along it.
C. It is the oldest paved road in Paris.

Travel in France: Oradour-sur-Glane

On 10 June 1944, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in Haute-Vienne in Nazi-occupied France was destroyed, and all of its 642 inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company. A new village was built nearby after the war, but French president Charles de Gaulle ordered the original maintained as a permanent memorial and museum. Incredibly powerful and poignant. . . 

News for the week of December 24

Joyeux Noël!

Travel in France: Lille

Last year we visited our niece Christina and her family living in the city center and it was a wonderful experience. The two of us took the train directly from Charles de Gaulle airport to Lille where we were met by our niece and her children.

Lille is very walkable and very people friendly -- if you're ever standing in line at the Meert pastry shop and a woman with glasses starts chatting with you like you're a local that's probably Marie-Claire. Tell her the French Tarte and her husband say bonjour! Oh, and if you're looking for good food, any of these would do just fine:

l’Arbre a Gand
La Bottega
l’Assiette du Marche
Le Pain Quotidien

Life is short. Go to France.

The city's Eastern Cemetery, near the Gare de Lille Europe is a truly lovely place for a stroll. The people you'll meet along the way. . . well, you can see for yourself:

News for the week of December 17

Local Grand Rapids restaurant going for a Parisian brasserie theme.

Recently four of us had dinner at the New Hotel Mertens on Oakes Street in downtown Grand Rapids. The ambience was quite French but it was far too loud, which made us recall that  brasseries in France that we've experienced aren't really loud at all. 

Anyway, the food was mostly quite scrumptious -- deviled eggs and roasted marrow bones for starters were a hit. For our plats two of us had the steak frites which were perfectly prepared, very tender and rounded out nicely with hand-cut frites and a small green salad. One had coq au vin which, while very flavorful, was presented as a chicken leg and thigh with a few small vegetables, not typical of the usual preparation. Our fourth had the choucroute, an Alsatian dish which was done just to his liking. 

For dessert we shared the individualized croquembouche, which was a mess. It was toppling over, the overdone caramel was like concrete and attempting to pry the profiteroles apart required specialized tools. The pastry chef in our midst noted that the choux puffs were dry and the vanilla pastry cream lacked a luscious creaminess.

The wine list is very thin -- almost as thin as the red burgundy we sent back - and a disproportionate number of bottles were pretty pricey.

The food experience was truly all over the place but the willingness of the staff to forgive the dessert was appreciated.

I would be willing to return and give them another try.

Be aware that parking is only available on the street or in nearby ramps and lots. Cost is typically $10 for the evening.

New Hotel Mertens
35 Oakes St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Finally, a few postcards from Paris during the Belle Epoque -- compliments of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Diving into French

So, I'm sitting down to write about how a French immersion course in France might be your perfect holiday gift, when I'm alerted that France magazine mentions such a course offered in Villefranche-sur-Mer. I attended that course the September before last! Incredible, n'est-ce pas? This course is offered at L'Institut de Français, situated about a half-hour taxi ride east from the Nice airport, in Villefranche-sur-Mer. The school occupies an attractive villa, with a walled, terraced garden in which one can stand under a bougainvillea-draped arbor and look out over the shimmering Mediterranean sea and the green, terra-cotta-roofs dotted Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Quite a beautiful, historic surrounding. But the French immersion school experience comes down to adapting to one's new environment and learning to converse in French. And that's where one can feel underwater at times.

The view from my balcony at dusk. L'Institut is across the street.

The view from my balcony at dusk. L'Institut is across the street.

One wouldn't think immediately about how the differences in energy policy between the US and France would affect one's stay, but a common subject of conversation (en Français, of course) was how uncomfortably hot our apartments were. No air-conditioning in most of them. Worse, because of theft concerns, we were encouraged to keep our window-encompassing metal shutters closed while sleeping. It was each of us and our little oscillating fan. Energy costs are high in France; the resulting discomfort was an adjustment. 

The month-long, 5-day week classes were challenging and effective. Progress was made, even though we cheated at times, especially in the evenings, when we gathered for an apéritif or dinner and spoke English together. According to an Australian friend there, who has several years of experience with French immersion courses, one progresses faster if one doesn't indulge in that way! To that end she plans next to attend a two-week, relatively small (20 or so students), live-in language school in the Dordogne, where one is expected to speak French day and evening. She also said her favorite French immersion course so far is CREA-Langues, a valuable recommendation, I thought. We all agreed, however, that the very best part of our time at L'Institut de Français was meeting each other. A cliché, I know, but we did get along swimmingly.

Friends from Spain, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, Jamaica, the UK and the US.

Friends from Spain, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, Jamaica, the UK and the US.

Contributed by Ellen VanderMey

Alliance Française de Grand Rapids - Exploring the Many Facets of France.

Winter French Class Scheduled

Yes, the Refresh Your French class is being offered this winter! Class commences Tuesday, January 9. No, the Converse in French class (formerly known as Intermediate French) is not being offered this winter; however, it will be offered in the spring, beginning Thursday, March 15, as will the Refresh class, beginning March 13.  Intermediate level students are most welcome to join the winter Refresh class. For more details, please go to our website and click on "French Classes". Hope to see you there.

English French Book Club

For the January meeting we're reading Paris in the Present Tense, by Mark Helprin. This new novel by a best-selling author is set in present-day Paris. With a 5-star rating from Amazon books, it promises to be an interesting and exciting selection. Join with other AFdeGR members to discuss the book on Tuesday, January 23, 5:30 at Schuler Books Café, 2660 28th Street, SE, Grand Rapids. 

Noël, Noël, Joyeux Noël: A Celebration of French Music for the Holiday Season

This Monday evening, December 4, 7:30 p.m., at Fountain Street Church, Grand Valley State University presents music from France, with a large symphony orchestra and choir performing selections including Guillaume Du Fay's "Magnificat", Francis Poulenc's "Gloria" and beloved French holiday carols. Not to be missed.

Alliance Française de Grand Rapids - Exploring the Many Facets of France

Two Americans in Paris: Loië Fuller and Isadora Duncan

American dancing sensation Loïe Fuller was the toast of the Folies Bergères at the turn of the 20th century and an inspiration for Toulouse-Lautrec and the Lumière Brothers. The film revolves around her complicated relationship with protégé and rival Isadora Duncan.

In theatres December 1.  Check out the trailer for the film. In the meantime, here's a clip:

The places in France you'd never thought to visit (but really should)

This week's story is a recent article from The Telegraph

"It’s as delightful as it is surprising," says Anthony Peregrine. "At first sight, Barcelonnette is such an archetypal spot in the southern French Alps that you’d expect it to yodel. Come festival time (August), it is not yodeling you hear, but mariachi music. It’s as close as you can get to Mexico without leaving Europe, as in the 19th century, locals fled the valley to make their fortunes in Mexico, then returned, full of Latin ideas and cash." Read the full story

For photos from the AFGR dinner at Nonna's visit our Flickr page.

Paris falafel war and a French butter shortage

From Los Angeles TimesIn Paris falafel war, it's neighbor vs. neighbor in the city's changing Jewish quarter.

They line up like pilgrims at a sacred site and cradle the famous offering in their hands, swaddled in paper and napkins that soon prove Read the full story

And from the The New York TimesFrance, Land of Croissants, Finds Butter Vanishing From Shelves

A price spike has led to sporadic shortages in one of the world’s most butter-loving countries, prompting both mock panic and real anxiety. Read the full story

CNN calls it a "croissant crisis,"  and French chefs and home cooks are not taking France's butter shortage lightly. CNN's Jim Bittermann reports. Read the full story

Beaujolais Nouveau Fête

 Remember to call The University Club to make reservations for this Thursday's dinner. 616-456-8623.

More "The Dinner at Nonna's" photos

To see all the photos Joel took that Sunday evening at Nonna's, go to our website, locate the Flikr icon (round gray dot with two white dots inside) on the upper right side of our Home Page (above the image of the Seine), and click on it. You can see photos from all our events by then clicking on "Photostream", or just specific events by clicking on "Albums". Thanks, Joel, for preserving the evening in photos.




Renting an apartment in Paris

Scroll down for more AFGR news!

Over our years of traveling to Paris we've almost always relied on renting apartments as opposed to hotel rooms. The reason is simple: an apartment gives you the flexibility of cooking at home, especially if you're staying for a week or longer. It also has the added benefit of (usually) being the less expensive way to spend your money on lodging, especially in Paris.

My first inclination when looking for accommodations this past winer for our trip in September was to turn to the latest craze: Air BnB. While their website certainly offered plenty of options, in all price ranges, the one thing that put me off was they required all the rental charges to be paid up front. Yet the owner would only get their money once we actually showed up. Sooooo, Air BnB would be able to play with our money for five months. And I can just imagine the hassle of canceling. . . That nasty airline business model rearing it's head. No thank you.

Beginning in 2006 and until the end of 2010 we rented from the same person, both when we were living in Paris as well as when we returned for extended stays (such as two or three months at a time). We found her through the excellent local resource FUSAC (French USA Connection) and appreciated being able to meet with the owner in person. Unfortunately, that changed in 2013 and we found ourselves looking elsewhere. Friends from Providence, Rhode Island, had been very happy using the Parissharing website and so in 2013 we followed their lead. When we returned earlier this year to perhaps use the site again, we learned that prices had gone way UP so we thought to look elsewhere.

I recalled in years past a wonderful set of accommodation guides by Alistair Sawday called Special Places To Stay in France (or Ireland or Italy, etc.). I went to their website and before long had found just the place. It was very reasonably priced, quite spacious and a 10-minute walk to Père-Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement! We were sold. I emailed the owner, she called me, I called her back and we shook hands on it, in a manner of speaking.

As it turned out our hostess was a lovely British woman who had spent the better part of her adult life in France. After we arrived in Paris and made our way through the Metro to the 20th arr. we quickly found the apartment. Anne was waiting for us when we arrived at the apartment and this was one instance of when first impressions -- even those made by internet and phone -- proved spot on. She was charming, engaging and full of life.

The apartment was nearly perfect with a 10-minute walk to the nearest Metro stop, a grocery store (Franprix) right up the street, an open-air market just 10 minutes away by foot and the neighborhood quiet. We spent 11 wonderful days in Anne's home.

The October Wine Dinner at Nonna's.

Good food, good wine and excellent company--that's what we had at the AFdeGR Dinner at Nonna's Trattoria in Ada. Thank you to all who attended, to Joel Boland for organizing this event and to Ron Cook and his wife for creating the charming ambiance that is Nonna's.

See what I mean about excellent company? 

See what I mean about excellent company? 

Let's plan another gathering like this!

Let's plan another gathering like this!

Victor Hugo Sightings in West Michigan

Victor Hugo's character "Triboulet" on whom the character of Rigoletto is based.

Victor Hugo's character "Triboulet" on whom the character of Rigoletto is based.

Yes, twice the spirit of this magisterial French author has been with us recently.

The first time was in a television clip assigned to us by our AFdeGR French prof, Rita Selles, where, during the tour of the French Sénat, the seat in which Victor Hugo sat when a member in the mid-1800s was highlighted.

The second time was when I learned that Verdi based his play "Rigoletto" on Victor Hugo’s play L’roi s’amuse, a play which had been censored because of perceived criticism of the ruling government. After seeing the opera, with its scenes of a debauched and corrupt court, I had to find out what fiend of the Les-Liaison-Dangereuses type ruled during Hugo’s lifetime! The ruler proved to be Louis Philippe I, not a king notorious for leading a decadent court. Why was the play censored, then? Not because Victor Hugo was denouncing Louis Philippe for womanizing and encouraging womanizing, as François I did, in whose court the play was set, but because he was critical of Louise Philippe’s authoritarian and conservative tendencies.

Ah, well, Victor Hugo’s life has ended, but the controversies never have, have they.

By Ellen VanderMey

New Newsletter Format
For several weeks now, we’ve been sending a “Posts from News-Alliance Française de Grand Rapids” to your email address, usually on a Sunday. This replaces our traditional newsletter. In this weekly blog, edited by Steve Soper, you’ll find news about our chapter’s programs and events, as well as bits and pieces of interest about French culture and language.  Merci beaucoup to all those who contributed to and edited the newsletter over the years! We hope the weekly Posts, too, will contribute to the enjoyment and edification of life with a French accent!

French Conversation Date
Let your French conversation skills blossom.  Linda FitzGerald will lead a French conversation group Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 7:00 to 8:15 pm at the Meijer Gardens Cafeteria. (entrance to the cafeteria is free). All members of all French language skill levels are cordially invited.  Hope to see you there!

A little taste of Paris in Grand Haven


Looking for a slice of Paris in the middle of west Michigan? Visit Patricia’s Chocolate at 126 Washington Avenue in downtown Grand Haven. The décor, the ambience, the packaging, and, of course, the chocolates are très French! From the tinkle of the bell when you open the door to the smell of chocolate wafting through the air, it’s a wonderful place to spend a little time.

Patty Christopher is a chocolatier extraordinaire creating exquisite preservative free, ganache-centered chocolates in the French style. Using local ingredients whenever possible, offering flavors like bleu cheese/roasted fig, mandarin ginger, raspberry Chambord, peaches and cream and fresh mint leaf, chocolate samples allow you to savor the goodness and help you decide which flavors you find most enticing.

Don’t hesitate to engage Patty, Paul or any of the staff in the shop in conversation about the origins of chocolate, how the goods are made and where they source the ingredients. You’ll learn a lot!

Patty and I first met on Mother’s Day weekend of 2015 at Art of the Table on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids when Steve and I paid our first visit to that establishment. In the back corner I spied someone wearing a white chef’s jacket (hmmm, now who could that be?), so we headed back and struck up a conversation with Patty and her husband Paul.

We soon discovered our mutual love of France, Paris, pastries and chocolates and our friendship was launched. And the fact that they had both been school psychologists before going full tilt into the chocolate business was almost eerie as I recalled my own transition from emergency medicine to pastry. Wow – small world!  

So if you find yourself with a free afternoon, head out to Grand Haven for a taste of Paris. You’ll be glad you did.

Disclaimer: The French Tarte’s all butter shortbread cookies are baked and sold at Patricia’s Chocolate.

À bientôt!

Posted by Susan VandenBerg, pâtissière
The French Tarte


 Alliance Franҫaise de Grand Rapids Wine Dinner 

 A quick reminder about the upcoming AF dinner:

6:00 p.m.Sunday, October 22, 2017
NONNA’S The Trattoria
584 Ada Drive, Ada, Michigan 

We have reserved the entire restaurant for our dinner. Dinner seating will be at 6:00 p.m., but the doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for those who wish to enjoy a cocktail or aperitif at the bar prior to their dinner. Dinner includes:

Pâté de foie de Volatite au Cognac

Your choice of

Freshly grilled salmon topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, 
shallots, garlic and thyme. Served with a white wine butter sauce
and grilled asparagus


Thinly pounded veal tenderloin, sage and prosciutto, sautéed in a white wine sauce. 
Served with sautéed haricots verts

Your choice of a Floriage Côtes du Rhône from Visan and a Guilham Blanc
from the Languedoc region will be served during dinner

NONNA’S special Chocolate Mousse
Coffee as desired

The cost for the wine dinner is $70.00 per person, complete with tax and gratuity. The cost does not include drinks prior to the dinner, or any other bar service.. Please call NONNA’s directly at 616-920-7028 to make your reservation since seating is limited to 40 guests. The absolute deadline for reservations is Wednesday, October 18th. You will need to give them your name and the names of any others in your party and your entrée selection. You will also need to give them your credit card information. 

AFGR Book Club latest selection

The AF de GR book club met this past Tuesday to discuss Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran.

We had a lively discussion about the life and activities of Anna Maria Grosholtz ( the future Madame Tussaud) during the 5 years around the time of the French Revolution.

This historical novel gave us a better understanding of how wax figures and their setting were used as a source of news on fashion, gossip and even politics for the common people as well as the King and Queen. Anna Maria had a glimpse of life at the court by teaching Princess Elizabeth, but also the revolutionary events by being forced to cast wax models of recently decapitated acquaintances during the Revolution. Caught in the middle between the court and the outside world, how these events affected Anna Maria's loyalties presented an interesting topic of discussion.

For those interested in a more personal view of the French Revolution, I would highly recommend this fascinating story.

Marijke Wiersema, book club moderator

French Film Series at Calvin

The French Department of Calvin College is pleased to announce its 13th annual French Film Festival September 20-21 and 27-28, 2017. This year’s festival theme is “Fils et Filles”:

Sept. 20 - Fatima: Story about an immigrant mother (Fatima) and two daughters. Fatima is divorced; father appears on the scene from time to time. Older daughter is in medical school, under pressure to succeed. Younger daughter is in high school, rebelling, feels neglected, failing school. Fatima does maid work to support daughters. Fatima’s speaks French with difficulty. She tries to do the best for her daughters, and finally quits working as a maid to spend more time with daughters. Film ends well. Cultural portrait of immigrant experience in France. Language: mainly in French (Fatima speaks to her daughters in Arabic and they respond in French). 

Sept 21 - Hope:  Young Nigerian woman (Hope) and young Camerounais man (Léonard) meet up in the Sahara desert and make their way to Morocco together. Very well done to show the vulnerability of the refugees, violence against men and women, the great risks they have to take as they flee. They eventually make it across the strait to Spain, but Léonard dies of knife wounds in the boat, and Hope is left to keep going on her own, pregnant (unknown father—rape & prostitution have occurred during the film). For a mature audience willing to engage with emotionally difficult film portraying the reality of the refugee experience in West Africa. Languages: French, English and some Arabic spoken (Hope speaks English; Léonard speaks French).

Sept 27 - Good Luck, Algeria: Samir (Sami) and Stéphane make elite cross-country skis but their business is about to go under. Sami is half-Algerian by his father, but has no emotional ties to Algeria and speaks no Arabic. His mother is blond, French. Sami is married to a French woman who is pregnant with their second child. Stéphane comes up with the bright idea to save their business by having Sami become an Olympian star. Sami works hard to qualify for the Olympics as an Algerian and makes one quick trip to Algeria to seek funding from the Algerian government. Some comic moments, cultural insights. Filmed mostly in the area around Grenoble. Fun film showing a 2nd generation immigrant experience. Language: French.

Sept 28 - Rosalie Blum: Based on a comic book series by the same name. Rather eccentric characters in a creative story line. The film repeats the first sequence of events from several characters’ points of view, and plays with the viewer by not making that clear at first. The film then goes on to a happy (though not entirely predictable) finish. Fun quirky artistic film. Language: French.

All films are subtitled in English and are free and open to the public. Please see Calvin’s website for more details.

One Book One Federation selection for 2017


As a way of encouraging French literacy around the world, the Fédération des Alliances offers a program that suggests one French-language book for all Alliance members around the world to read, enjoy and have in common. 

This year’s selection is a roman policier (crime story) and comes with a twist: the Police Chief is a woman! La Commissaire n’aime point les vers by George Flipo

Police Chief Viviane Lancier isn’t exactly the poetry-loving type, but here she finds herself embroiled in a murderous affair with poetry at its heart. . . .

A homeless man who looks exactly like Victor Hugo is found assassinated in front of the l’Académie française; an erotic sonnet by Baudelaire becomes the calling card of a serial killer . . . as if she didn’t have enough problems on her hands, what with an ex who pesters her and her constant diets that drive her insane, and now she has to deal with literature to boot! Help comes in the person of Augustin Monot, her new lieutenant. He may be as bumbling as he is suave and well-read, but he manages to lend an appreciated hand to the Chief in this piquant investigation.

The plot of this engaging novel is full of action, intrigue, unexpected turns and a dry sense of humor. The characters are appealing and you will be rooting for them all along. The book was selected for its simple style, straightforward vocabulary and plot line, and will, as such, reach a wide audience of Alliance Française members. The French is accessible and suitable for B1 and B2 language students. This novel can be used in a book club setting or as the basis for a course around the “roman noir” and French crime fiction.

A complete study guide is available here and on the the One Book One Federation Facebook page . It includes a synopsis, biographical material, discussion questions and vocabulary lists.

Purchase the book online at MEP/Schoenhof’s Books .

Oh, and French classes begin next week. "Refresh Your French" begins Tuesday, September 19 and "Converse in French" begins Thursday, September 21. Registration info available on our website.