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Paris Travel notes from:  A French Affair by Mary Blume

When I read this charming book about living in France years ago, I scribbled a page of notes on places and people covered in her book that I’d like to know more about.  Though Blume was a Paris-based correspondent a while ago,  the subjects are timeless. I found contemporary information online for all the topics in my notes.

Down and Out in Paris?

Soupe Populaire on Rue Clément, near Mabillon metro, is a  cafeteria for the poor,  the homeless, vagabonds, nomads and those who can make a small donation. 

Places to Go

A vineyard still exists in Montmartre at Clos Montmartre.  And there are other wine makers growing the grapes in the city for micro production.  The wine  sold at Cafe Mélac, 42 Rue León Frot comes from grapes produced by vines embracing the bistro.   Jacques Mélac is the proprietor who makes Paris-grown wine with the “Château-Charonne” label.

La Balajo – Founded in 1936, it was once a bal-musette / apache bar, then a nighclub where Edith Piaf sang.  Then it became a disco at  9,  rue de Lappe near Bastille.

Paris Shopping Tips

Dehillerin for the best selection of kitchen utensils.

* Madeleine Gely for umbrellas, Blvd. St. Germain.  Now owned by a different family than the founder, but dedicated to the same principles of quality and service.

* Tang Brothers, in 7 locations, are comprehensive, immense Asian supermarkets.

Some Parisian Creatives

Classic Vionnet bias cut draped dress.

Classic Vionnet bias cut draped dress.

Mme. Madeleine Vionnet invented the bias cut clothing trend in the 1920s, freeing women from corsets and constriction. Her fashion design atelier began on rue de Rivoli in 1912.  She moved the company Vionnet to ave. Montaigne later. During the 1930s, she dressed Dietrich, Garbo and Hepburn. Several declines and revivals followed, the most recent in 2009.

Thérèse Bonney was an American photographer who was an

Thérèse Bonney, American photo-journalist during WWII in France.

Thérèse Bonney, American photo-journalist during WWII in France.

active photo-journalist during World War II and lived in Paris until her death in 1978.  She documented the impact of war on children and women, sneaking into the countryside to report the horror of war.  Bonney said: “I go forth alone, try to get the truth and then bring it back and try to make others face it and do something about it.”

Painter Auguste Renoir is well known, but his model Jeanne Samary is not so famous.

Jeanne Samary, actress and artist's model. Portrait by Félix Nadar, 1877.

Jeanne Samary, actress and artist’s model. Portrait by Félix Nadar, 1877.

He painted her often between 1877-1880 while she sought publicity to advance her acting career.  A decade later, Renoir married Aline Victorine Charigot in 1890, with whom he had already had one child prior to Jean, who was born in a stone house in Montmartre, near Sacre-Coeur Basilica, which wasn’t yet completed in 1894.  Jean Renoir, the son, directed films and for a long time lived on a hidden, tree lined street in Pigalle against the blackened remains of wall between the old boundaries of Paris and the open hunting grounds of Montmartre. He died in Los Angeles in 1979.

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