Donna Evleth Photo #2 croppedDonna Evleth is an American researcher and writer based in Paris. Her research on medicine in France has been published in Social History of Medicine and Le Mouvement Social, among others. A dual national, American by birth and French by naturalization in 1988, Donna arrived in Paris in 1974 with her husband who had taken a position with CNRS, the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, the French scientific research establishment. Although Donna and her husband had lived in France in 1965-66 during a postdoctoral year, then again in 1971-72 during sabbatical from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where her husband was a professor, it was in 1974 that they decided to make their move to France permanent. Since moving to France, Donna has become a historian, primarily in the history of medicine in France. She has had four scholarly articles published, three of them in English, one in French. Donna has given talks at two international conferences, one in Paris, and one in Giessen, Germany. Through her current research, Donna is making interesting discoveries about women doctors in France and their careers: their marital titles [Mme., Mlle. or none], the year of their degrees, military decorations, specializations, and diplomas and certificates held. Donna, whose husband died in July 2013, has chosen to stay in France, which is her real home. She is currently writing about women doctors in France, and writing poetry, in French, and short vignettes about life in Paris, in English.

Photo: Donna Evleth on right


“You learn the most from people who are not exactly like you.” — Donna Evleth

AWP: You first visited in France in 1965 and moved to Paris in 1974 – in context, following the Paris May 1968 mini-revolution. What was Paris like forty years ago? How is it different today?

DE: Forty years ago, the pace of life was slower, like everywhere. Computers and cell phones and social networks were not part of daily life. In the 70s, the strikes and demonstrations were fiercer than they are today. We had electricity strikes, which cut off the power without warning. Demonstrators on the main march routes were followed by “casseurs”, vandals who broke windows as they passed. The demonstrations these days still have some of that—I think of the recent Manif pour tous—but there isn’t as much of it, and the electricity strikes have stopped altogether.

A couple of societal changes have taken place. With the Evin law of January 10, 1991, smoking was banned in all public places. Americans believed the French would never obey this law. They did. Now Paris has the same groups of smokers huddled outside in the cold and rain as cities in the U.S. The French have also gotten much better—at least in my neighborhood (the 6th arrondissement, near the boulevard Montparnasse)—about picking up after their dogs. On both of these issues, the French seemed cast in concrete right up to the very last minute, when they made a complete about-face.

The most marking political event for me was the election of the Socialists with Mitterrand in 1981. Many Americans feared that because there were Communists in Mitterrand’s government—in ministries like Health and Transportation—they would take over. As a historian, I knew this was not likely to happen. I had studied Socialist governments in the Third and Fourth Republics. The Socialists ate the Communists alive. It happened this time, too. The Communists are no longer a force to be reckoned with, they are hardly a force at all.

The Mitterrand government of 1981 also dealt with an issue which is very important to me. I have been a death penalty abolitionist since I was in my twenties. Mitterrand’s Minister of Justice, Robert Badinter, abolished the death penalty. At that time, 60% of the population supported the death penalty, but the support was a mile wide and an inch deep. Abolition was part of the Socialist Party platform, everyone knew that if elected, they would abolish. The majority voted for them anyway. Robert Badinter is one of my all-time great men.

This abolition allowed one amazing story of rehabilitation. One of the men whose sentence was commuted was a man who had killed a cop. After his sentence was commuted, he undertook university studies while in prison. He has gotten out of prison, and is now a respected historian of the Middle Ages.

AWP: What sparked your interest in other cultures?

DE: I don’t know. Just about everything that has influenced me has happened by accident. As a child, and in college, I never gave other cultures much thought. I even had a negative image of France, conveyed by my mother, who had visited it right after she graduated from college and talked about nothing but the museums she had seen. A country that was just one big museum didn’t interest me.

Then my husband was invited to an international scientific meeting in 1963 in Menton, on the Italian border. Menton was chosen because it was the favorite vacation spot of the organizer of the meeting, who was head of a laboratory in Paris. My husband worked in this lab later on. But in 1963 all I was thinking about was a vacation, to a place I had never been before. My husband had gotten special leave from his job at IBM to attend the meeting, and by also using his vacation time we could take a whole month. We also visited Portugal, Spain and Great Britain, but it was France, with Menton, that made the big impression.

With Menton it was love at first sight. The climate and architecture reminded me of my native California before the war, before it was ruined by the developers. We stayed in a wonderful old hotel, the Hôtel des Ambassadeurs, which dated from the Victorian era. That hotel became our vacation headquarters for a number of years after.

AWP: You moved to France in 1974 with your husband and child. What inspired your career in medical research in France?

DE: Actually my research deals with the history of medicine, not medicine itself. Once again, it was not inspiration but accident. Within days after we moved permanently to France, I discovered that as an American I could not get a work permit. I could only be a trailing spouse, finding activities like walking tours to fill my time while waiting to go back to the U.S. But I wasn’t going to go back to the U.S., so I looked around for something I could do that would not require a work permit.

I found an ad in the International Herald Tribune placed by a Cornell professor of European History. He needed a research assistant: “No previous research experience necessary but must be fluent in French.” I was. I had spent my year in France in 1965-66 teaching myself French. My academic background was very sketchy, two years of French in high school 12 years earlier, so I needed help. Since I could not afford the Alliance Française, which was also too far away from our home in Montmartre, I developed a program for myself that I could do at home. I had a grammar book with lots of verb exercises with the answers in the back so I could correct my mistakes when I was through. I did the verb exercises over and over, until the tenses were hard wired. We rented a television set, so I could hear lots of spoken French. We hired a young woman who did not want to learn English to come and talk to us once a week. I was willing to do all this because I was convinced that learning to speak adequate French was the most important thing I could do. Time has proved me right.

I read newspapers of course, but also a lot of books. I became interested in the Vichy period from reading a book by historian Robert Aron, Grand Dossiers de l’Histoire Contemporaine. My husband had bought the book for himself, but found the French too hard (his background in French was non-existent). I read it and was hooked. I spent the rest of the year buying all the books I could find about this period.

But back to the Cornell professor. When I answered his ad, my husband suggested that I tell him that I could take a text written in French and sight translate it as if it were written in English. I had done this in the car during trips around France, to amuse the family. I read the Simenon Maigret novels to them.

The professor had never heard of such a thing, and wanted to see it done. I obliged. He had already hired a professional historian, but decided to hire me as well, because of the language skill. The Cornell professor was pleased with my work and recommended me to other professors. One of them was a Canadian professor of the history of medicine from McGill University. I did a lot of research for him, and read the papers he wrote. After a while I decided I could write papers too. I had a subject: lists of doctors I had seen in the French Journal Officiel, the French equivalent of the Congressional Record, who had been forbidden by the Vichy government to practice medicine. I wondered why. I found out that most of these foreigners were Jews, and the Vichy government was xenophobic and also anti-Semitic. I wrote a paper “Vichy and the Continuity of Medical Nationalism” and showed it to my Canadian mentor. He showed me how to improve it so that it could be published in a top journal. I followed his advice, got it published, and followed it up with “The ‘Romanian Privilege’ in French Medicine and Anti-Semitism”, “The Ordre des Médecins (French Medical Association) and the Jews in Vichy France, 1940-1944″, and “La Bataille pour l’Ordre” (in French).

AWP: You are making some very interesting discoveries about women in the medical profession through the data collected in the medical directory Le Guide Rosenwald: their titles (Mme., Mlle. or none), degrees, military decorations, specializations, diplomas and certificates, addresses, etc. Are you finding an underlying message that is especially significant for women today?

DE: Although progress has been made, as the number of women doctors increased steadily throughout the period 1939-1966 which I am studying, they were not very successful at climbing the ladder of the medical hierarchy. There was definitely a glass ceiling. In addition, the percentage of women as specialists actually declined during the period studied, and those who did specialize tended to be pigeonholed into a few specialities, primarily pediatrics and gynecology. In other specialties, notably surgery, they were practically non-existent.

AWP: In this research that deals with women doctors in France and their careers, will you follow the personal lives of these women? How will you trace the long-term trends going on in the practice of medicine in France during that time?

DE: I will not be following the personal lives of these women. The purpose of my study is to look at the information the women doctors gave about themselves in le Guide Rosenwald, a public forum to see what messages this information conveys about the history of women in medicine and medical trends and women’s place within them. For example: in 1946, a specialty in workplace medicine was created by law. I can compare the number of men and women interested in this new specialty who acquired a special diploma in addition to their medical degree.

AWP: What was the most surprising thing you learned about the history and practice of medicine in France through your research?

DE: It was the number of Jewish doctors (75%) who survived the war despite active, targeted persecution. Like many Americans, including one historian I know, I believed that almost all of France’s Jews were deported and died in the camps. I learned that this was not true through le Guide Rosenwald. I had made lists of foreign and/or Jewish doctors, using as my source lists of Jewish doctors found in the Archives Nationales, and the lists of foreign doctors forbidden or permitted to practice their profession found in the Journal Officiel. I located these doctors in the guide for 1939, the year the war began. I looked for them again in the 1948 guide, and to my amazement a large majority of them were there.

Although I cannot quantify it, I think I have found a reason for this: many non-Jewish French people helped these Jewish doctors. I was able to interview five Romanian Jewish doctors for my paper on the Romanian Privilege. Two of the five mentioned that French policemen had come to them to warn them of their impending arrest, so they could get away in time.

There has been very little publicity given to the phenomenon of ordinary French people helping the persecuted Jews. My extensive reading on the subject gives me a possible reason here again. After the war, the Jews wanted to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible. They did not want to talk about the war and the persecution. As to the people who helped the Jews, when they were discovered many years later and asked about this, they almost invariably gave as their reason for doing this, “It was the normal thing to do”. Because it was such an obvious thing to them, they didn’t talk about it either.

AWP: Your research is exemplary. How do you accumulate and obtain the information necessary for your work? Is the information primarily in French?

DE: As I read a book, I carefully go through the footnotes and the bibliography. These give me clues to other works. I do the same thing with them, and so on. Almost all of my sources are in French. There is one recent (2012) book in English on discrimination in the professions of law and medicine: Julie Fette’s book Exclusions: Practicing Prejudice in French Law and Medicine, 1920-1945. Almost everything else, including all of the archival documents and the periodical publications of the era, are in French.

AWP: In your research, do you explore the holdings of French archives and libraries?

DE: Yes, absolutely. I have worked in les Archives Nationales, Les Archives de Paris, Les Archives du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, les Archives de l’Armée de Terre, les Archives du Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine, la Bibliothèque Nationale, la Bibliothèque de l’Académie de Médicine, la Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de la Médecine.

AWP: What are the challenges?

DE: Tracking down and copying the documents. When I consulted the archives of l’Ordre des médecins I had to study and copy documents at two different places, which I look at as heaven and hell. Heaven was the Ministry of Health where I consulted those archives right after the first of them, for the years 1940-1944, were released for historians. It was within walking distance of my home, and the archivists were extremely pleasant and helpful. The archivist whose office I shared thought that the ideal way for us to start our workday was with a nice cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate. Hell is the contemporary archives branch of the Archives Nationales. These are located at Fontainebleau, and the public transportation is very difficult. The archives are outside the city, all by themselves, difficult for eating lunch. Nobody speaks to anyone else there, not because they are unfriendly but because they are all very anxious to get their work done so they can leave. Fortunately I only had to go to Hell once, while I went to Heaven for weeks on end.


AWP: Your career has taken you from wife and mother to translator and medical researcher in France. What inspired you toward a life and career so dependent on research and the ability to communicate?

DE: I found being a wife and mother in suburbia terribly, terribly lonely. We lived in an area without many close neighbors, and after my daughter started school, I spent long days all by myself in the house. It was hard to participate in outside activities because they almost always involved long drives and my daughter’s school let out at 2:30 p.m. I had to be there when she got home from school. I had worked in the unemployment office where I did nothing but communicate all day, and I really missed it.

As to research, it’s a challenge always, and I love challenges. There’s no challenge in doing laundry and washing dishes. Research is like detective work. Not surprisingly, my favorite type of fiction is detective stories.

AWP: Your short vignettes about life in Paris, for the most part, take place from the late 1960s to the present: its mini-revolution in the late 60s, Gorbachev’s Moscow and Afghan missiles in the ’80s, and events leading to the collapse of the Cold War. Did you feel a need to share a particular time and place?

DE: With my vignettes, most of what I have written so far involves the recent past, the last ten years. The historical events you mention are the Big Picture, my vignettes are drawings of a moment on a small canvas. For example, I wrote about a stained glass window in a ground floor apartment right around the corner from where I live. This one was published in Gary Kraut’s online magazine, France Revisited. Gary has also accepted a piece I wrote about the North American Fourth of July ceremony at the Picpus Cemetery in the 12th arrondissement, where Lafayette is buried.

AWP: In general, what opportunities or challenges do you experience as an American writer and French citizen living and working in Paris?

DE: I rather like challenges. My biggest one was going through the bureaucracy for our naturalization. My husband left me in complete charge of that effort, after I told him that we would not need a lawyer for this, since from looking at the list of things required I realized it was just a bureaucratic paper chase, and I am very good at that.

As to the opportunities, they have been legion. I have been able to become an independent historian, recognized for the quality of my work. I believe this would have been harder in the U.S., where there is such an emphasis on credentials. I do not have a Ph.D. I had a chance to be a translator. Translating is the kind of challenge I really like, finding just the right way to convey the writer’s message in another language. I did one translation with another woman, one all on my own. Both were prison subjects. Both were translations from English to French, harder for me than French to English, but a challenge I find great fun. French friends proofread for me. The one I did alone is called Lettres de Clairvaux and are translations of the letters of a black American imprisoned at that maximum-security prison on a drug charge. The letters cover a six-year period. The book was published by L’Harmattan in 2008.

I also have had a chance to write poetry here, again in French. I never wrote poetry in English other than light verse. My mother was a good serious poet and I was intimidated by her talent. By writing poetry in French, I have been able to break my poetry block. I have another French friend who helps me.

AWP: Could you talk about your process as a writer?

DE: I don’t think I have a process. I have no set time to write. I do it when the mood strikes. Fortunately for me, it strikes rather often, and when it doesn’t I coax it. The subjects often suggest themselves to me, along with the form (non-fiction, poetry) and the language they want to be written in. I have taken writing classes at WICE here in Paris, which gives me incentives to keep writing.


AWP: When you moved to France, how did you grapple with the cultural differences? Can you share the moment when you knew it had changed for you?

DE: When we moved to France permanently we had already lived here for two separate one-year periods. Thus we felt we knew how to adjust to the cultural differences.

I also had had a wretched experience with cultural differences when I was 13 years old and I moved with my parents from California to Houston, Texas. I had thought of Texas as the West, but Houston was the South. That meant Jim Crow laws and in-your-face racial segregation. All of us had trouble with that. One hot summer day my father gave the black man who mowed our lawn a beer after he was through. My father got an anonymous phone call telling him, “We don’t do that here.”

I was also stunned to discover the South was still fighting the Civil War, which had been over for almost 80 years. That made me, a girl from California, which had been on the Union side in the War, not only a foreigner but an enemy foreigner. This was obvious every time I opened my mouth and spoke. There was only one girl in my 8th grade class who was not from Texas; she was another enemy foreigner from New Jersey. We were best friends.

One thing that helped me get through that year in Texas was the book Gone With the Wind. It was full of sociological details and was a primer for me in dealing with White Southern mentalities. It saved my life.

Life in France has never offered me any bad experience that even touches my year in Houston.

AWP: How did you become a “little bit” French?  

DE: In my case it’s more than a ” little bit.” In my mind the biggest key was learning to speak good French. And not just speak, also read and write. In my family I am famous for my business letters in French. When I speak or write in French, I think in French. I have two tracks in my mind, one French, one English. When I write a poem or an article in French, I never write it first in English, then translate. I write it in French. Period.

My two closest friends are French. I follow French politics, I vote in French elections like any other French citizen. Right now I am watching with interest Sarkozy’s comeback try on the right. I also follow Sarkozy’s rival Jean François Copé, the head of the largest right wing party, the UMP. One evening while dining with my American friend Scott Haine, I recognized Copé sitting at a table nearby. The waiter was impressed that I knew about him.

AWP: An underlying theme in books about women and France is the message of freedom for women to experience their different selves or codify an articulate self. Why is this message significant, especially for women today?

DE: I certainly find it true for myself. I have both experienced a different self and codified an articulate self. My different self is a historian, something I never did in the U.S. My articulate self now writes poetry in French. Both of these are great freedoms, and I enjoy them to the hilt.

AWP: How has the idea of the Parisienne changed since you arrived in Paris?

DE: Do you mean my idea of the Parisienne? I had always thought of the Parisienne as very interested in fashion and clothes, always beautifully dressed, wearing Chanel suits and scarves that are perfectly tied. When I look around my neighborhood, I see very little of that. Women wear pants, so much more practical in the cool, damp winters we have here. There are some Chanel suits, worn mostly by women of a certain age. And there are scarves, but not always perfectly tied, often worn primarily for warmth. Most of the women in my neighborhood wear flat shoes, even though the shoe stores relentlessly place high-heeled shoes in their windows.

My two closest friends here are Parisiennes, one born here, the other came when she was five, from northeastern France. They are both retired professional women. We share intellectual interests. One of them I have known for almost fifty years, since my husband and I lived in France for the first time, in 1965-66. The other I met more recently, four or five years ago. In addition to the intellectual interests, I share with one a love for the Greek island of Aegina, with the other a love of dogs. I do not think of them as “Parisiennes”, I think of them as simply friends.

AWP: How do you define style? How do your express your own style?

DE: By “style” do you mean fashion? If so, I can tell you that I ignore it as much as possible. I am not interested in clothes, and I detest shopping. My own “style”, if you can call it that, is blue jeans or cords and sweaters, sweatshirts or T-shirts. Flat shoes. No makeup. I don’t make up anything, what you see is what you get.

AWP: What is the best part about living in Paris?

DE: My neighborhood. Everything is close at hand and I do not need a car. Everyone knows me. In the building where I have lived for 35 years, there is a doctor I can call any time, there is a concierge, now rare in French buildings, who is also my cleaning woman and whose husband is a splendid handyman, allowing me to circumvent the local plumber whom all the neighbors know as a crook. There is a commercial street at the end of my block, with a grocery store, a pharmacy, a real butcher, a laundry-dry cleaner. My part of the 6th arrondissement, between the boulevard Raspail and the boulevard de Montparnasse, has excellent public transportation, with three metro lines and eight bus lines.

I love living in a real city, rather than a suburb. Here I can satisfy my interests in both my languages. There are two medical research libraries, both in the 6th arrondissement. For my English reading there is the American Library in the neighboring 7th arrondissement, with a direct bus line. In the U.S. there was plenty of reading in English, but the nearest French bookstore was in San Francisco, 70 miles from our home.

AWP: Name the single book, movie, work of art or music, fashion or cuisine that has inspired you.

DE: I have favorites in all these categories except fashion, but I can’t really say that any one of them has “inspired” me. My favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo because the themes of overcoming adversity and finding that revenge has unexpected consequences speak to me. My favorite movie is a real old one, Twelve O’Clock High from the 1940s with Gregory Peck. The subject is a bomber command in World War II. It is interesting for me to look back and see that I already had the World War II interest when I was 14 years old. My favorite work of art is not famous. It is a primitive of a little girl in a red coat with her dog in the snow. The little girl is our daughter, now grown, with her dog, having her first real experience with snow in a heavy snow-fall in Paris the first time we lived here. The painter was our French concierge, who was very fond of our daughter. Both my daughter Peggy and I treasure this painting. I have it now and she will get it eventually. For music, I prefer folk music, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger. My favorite cuisine is French.

AWP: What is the last book you read? Would you recommend it?

DE: The last book I read was Deserter by Charles Glass, about American and British deserters in World War II in France. It is an interesting look at war’s reality behind the propaganda scene, which is what I remember from my childhood during the war. Some Americans might dislike it, finding its myth shattering anti-American (the author himself is American), but I found it very informative. I learned a lot, not only about the war itself, but about what Paris was like immediately after the war.

AWP: Tell us something we don’t know about Paris – its style, food, culture or travel.

DE:  Alongside the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés there is a little park. In this park there is a memorial to Jewish elementary school children in the 6th arrondissement who were arrested and deported during World War II. I only recently discovered this memorial. There are many like this in the 3rd, 4th, and 11th arrondissements which had much larger Jewish populations, and were working class districts, but I had never imagined seeing one here in the higher class 6th. Almost 40 years in France, the first four of it actually living in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, just a few blocks south of the church up the rue de Rennes, a historian who has written three papers on the discrimination against Jews in 1940-1944, and I just found out about this monument, though the arrondissement monthly magazine, Notre 6ème.

AWP: Tell us about your cooking and eating habits and traditions.

DE: I do only very simple cooking these days, grilled meat or fish, as my arthritic back can’t stand to stand at the stove. I am forbidden to eat sugar, so I do not make or eat desserts. I do like to eat other things. I was always an eclectic eater, for me there were never any “yucky” foods. My daughter has followed in my footsteps. Our favorites are the French plateau de fruits de mer (we count the raw oysters and divide them equally, trust but verify), confit de canard, foie gras, rognons de veau, just to mention a few.

We have a family Thanksgiving tradition. When we first moved to Paris in 1974 it was very hard to get the traditional Thanksgiving foods, especially the turkey which is a Christmas bird in France. All that has changed now, but it’s too late for us. We had done an inventory of the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, and discovered that there were a number of foods that one or another of us didn’t like. My husband and daughter did not like sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce. I don’t like white meat fowl, and that’s just about all turkey is. So we invented our own tradition. Our Thanksgiving dinner is lobster, eaten at the Dôme restaurant on the boulevard Montparnasse. Historical research has told me that lobster was in fact part of the feast given the Pilgrim Fathers by the North American Indians. So we think of our Thanksgiving dinner as the REAL traditional Thanksgiving. A number of friends have expressed a burning desire to participate in our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.


I already mentioned The Count of Monte Cristo. I re-read it every time I am going through a bad patch.

Mark Twain’s Pudden’head Wilson. Most critics dismiss this as a minor work, but I love it because it is a detective story, featuring a technique that was brand new at the end of the 19th century, fingerprinting.

More contemporary, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels. I love the witty dialogue, the spoof of the hard-boiled detective of the 1930s and 1940s.

Acknowledgement: Bailey Roberts, linguistics student at Macalester College, recently returned from a semester abroad in Morocco, and editorial contributor to A Woman’s Paris.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post Joan DeJean’s “How Paris Became Paris” – Capital of the Univers (excerpt). How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City by acclaimed author Joan DeJean. Paris has been known for its grand boulevards, magnificent river views, and endless shopping for longer than one might think. While Baron Haussmann is usually credited as being the architect of the Paris we know today, with his major redevelopment of the city in the 19th century, Joan DeJean reveals that the Parisian model for urban space was in fact invented two centuries earlier. Joan is the author of nine books on French literature, history, and material culture, including most recently The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual and the Modern Home Began and The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour.

French Impressions: Barbara Will on Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ, and the intellectual life during wartime France. From 1941 to 1943, Jewish American writer and avant-garde icon Gertrude Stein translated for an American audience thirty-two speeches in which Marshal Philippe Pétain, head of state for the collaborationist Vichy government, outlined the Vichy policy barring Jews and other “foreign elements” from the public sphere while calling for France to reconcile with its Nazi occupiers. In her book, Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ, and the Vichy Dilemma, Barbara Will outlines the formative powers of this relationship, treating their interaction as a case study of intellectual life during wartime France. 

French Impressions: The Angels of Paris: an artistic tour with Rosemary Flannery (part one). Rosemary Flannery’s Angels of Paris: An Architectural Tour through the History of Paris delves into the artistic trends and historic movements that the angels reflect and the stories of the artists who created them and those who commissioned them.

French Impressions: Marilyn Yalom’s “How the French Invented Love” a tradition of courtly and romantic love that reaches back into the 12th century. Marilyn Yalom’s latest book, How the French Invented Love: Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance, shares condensed readings from French literary works—from the Middle Ages to the present—and the memories of her experiences in France. The French have always assumed that love is embedded in the flesh and that women are no less passionate than men. 

French Impressions: W. Scott Haine on the origins of Simone de Beauvoir’s café life and the entry of France into WWII. “Café archives” seldom exist in any archive or museum, and library subject catalogs skim the surface. Scott Haine, who is part of a generation that is the first to explore systematically the social life of cafés and drinking establishments, takes us from the study of 18th century Parisian working class taverns to modern day cafés. A rich field because the café has for so long been so integral to French life. 

French Impressions: Dr. Alan T. Marty on the dark history of the City of Light. Alan T. Marty, MD, armed with an historically-informed exploratory spirit, has often encountered Paris’ endless capacity to evoke a mood, to surprise with similar absent/present paradoxes, as detailed in his A Walking Guide to Occupied Paris: The Germans and Their Collaborators, a book-in-progress. His work has been acknowledged in Paris dans le Collaboration by Cecile Desprairies, Hal Vaughan’s book Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War; and referenced in Ronald Rosbottom’s When Paris Went Dark, and in an upcoming book about Occupied Paris by Tilar Mazzeo.

French Impressions: Alice Kaplan – the Paris years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, on the process of transformation. Author and professor of French at Yale University, Ms. Kaplan discusses her new book, Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, and the process of transformation. By entering into the lives of three important American women who studied in France, we learn how their year in France changed them and how they changed the world because of it. (French

A Woman’s Paris — Elegance, Culture and Joie de Vivre

We are captivated by women and men, like you, who use their discipline, wit and resourcefulness to make their own way and who excel at what the French call joie de vivre or “the art of living.” We stand in awe of what you fill into your lives. Free spirits who inspire both admiration and confidence.

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. — Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971)

Text copyright ©2014 Donna Evleth. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.