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France

A Visit to La Closerie des Lilas

August 3, 2010
A Visit to La Closerie des Lilas

The streets are tiny and quiet, lined by stately white buildings that resist time. Although the horses have been replaced by squat little Smarts and Fiats, these streets must look must the same as they did then, with flowers arranged neatly on tiny iron balconies beneath open white shutters. It’s dinnertime when we pass...
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Into the Arms of Europe

July 22, 2010
Into the Arms of Europe

Heather and stubby pines cover the shores of Royan, where narrow limestone cliff bands drop into the Atlantic and the mouth of the Gironde opens up to greet it. To me, the seagulls above are a sign of nearby ocean, but for Ernest Hemingway, 19 years old aboard the ship the Chicago, they were...
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The Woman on the Metro

July 14, 2010
The Woman on the Metro

Here is the woman standing on the Metro platform at the Gare de Lyon. Her dress, an African wrap of bright yellows, reds and greens, makes her stand out in the gray-lit subway terminal. She stands there with her boy. Maybe he’s 4 or 5, wearing a T-shirt and shorts and sneakers. The train...
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74 Rue de Cardinal Lemoine

June 7, 2010
74 Rue de Cardinal Lemoine

Eighty-nine years on, it’s still easy to see what Hemingway loved at this place. It’s lunchtime, and the brasseries on the Place de la Contrescarpe have filled with diners, looking out at passersby as much as they look at them. It’s a sheltered little corner of Paris, with all the ingredients a shaltered corner...
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Living in Limbo

June 6, 2010
Living in Limbo

It’s hard to look at the Seine in the same way after hearing the stories of Algerians massacred, their bodies dumped in the river. It’s the invisible history of Paris. A lot about the story of Africans in Paris is invisible – then as now. “It’s like a New World Order,” Sophie Nellis, of...
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Broken Plates or Echoes of the Past?

June 5, 2010
Broken Plates or Echoes of the Past?

Could these echoes still contain the sounds of chattering in Hemingway’s day? Listen. Is that James Joyce?
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