The Independent Traveler's Newsletter                                  PAGE TWO
This column is intended to advise you about cultural events, news and happenings
in France or France-related events taking place in the United States
 between now and the publication of our next issue.

In France. . .

Photo of Canaletto painting Wikipediao  Don't miss the Canaletto exhibit at Musée Jacquemart-André on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris' 8th arrondissement. Entitled Canaletto - Guardi: Les deux maîtres de Venise, we were fortunate to see the exhibit and enjoy the quality and talent of these two masters.  The Musée Jacquemart-André is one of our favorites in Paris and a fitting venue for this exhibit as the couple for whom it is named and in whose home it exists collected Italian art of every description.  The museum itself is exquisite.  Not to be missed.  Through January 21, 2013.  Information can be obtained at

o  Coinciding with the above is the show Canaletto à Venise through February 10 at the Musée Maillol.  Details at

o  The Grand Palais is offering the works of the American Edward Hopper through January 14th.  Divided into two parts, the show covers Hopper's formative years with comparisons of his work with his contemporaries in Paris when he stayed there in 1906, 1909 and 1910.  The second half examines his more mature work which led to comparisons with De Chirico.  Visit

o  Intérieurs romantiques:  Aquarelles 1820 - 1890 is a collection of paintings of the interiors of homes owned by the 19th century European haute bourgeoisie that was donated to the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York by Eugene Thaw from his private collection.  All are watercolors and gouaches.  Through January 13 at the Musée de la vie Romantique in Paris.  Information can be found at

o  With a connection to our Feature article on Art Déco in Paris, this exhibit, L'impressionnisme et la mode, is quite appropriate for this issue.  The department store was a new concept in Paris beginning with Samaritaine.  This exhibit at the Musée d'Orsay through January 20th, looks at the role of fashion as it was evolving through ready-to-wear clothing and fashion magazines.  The art includes figure paintings, period costumes, accessories, photos and prints focusing on the relationship between art and fashion in the 1860s to the mid-1880s - the time when Paris became the fashion capital of the world.  Information at

o  The Musée de Montmartre will exhibit the works of Toulouse-Lautrec, Vuillard, and members of Les Nabis through January 13 in a show entitled Le Chat Noir.  More than 200 canvases, watercolors, illustrations, etchings and posters will be on view.  Details available at

The Maid and the Queeno  "Croatie, la voici!" Festival de la Croatie (Croatia) en France is spotlighted this autumn throughout France with 60 events in 45 locations, mostly in Paris and the Ile-de-France.  There will be art exhibits, theatre productions, dance performances and films from this Balkan country.  Through December.  More information at

o  2012 marks the 600th birthday of Joan of Arc.  Author Nancy Goldstone says that Joan should be most remembered for her "faith, unswerving dedication to her cause and, above all, her astounding bravery."   Her book about Saint Joan, entitled The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc reveals how this peasant girl gained access to the King of France, and how she was championed by Yolande of Aragon, the Queen of Sicily.  Available now.  Click on book cover to order online.

o  Garden Tours in the Dordogne are scheduled for the Spring.  Ray and Jacinta Standen at Domaine des Faures, about five minutes from the bastide town of Monpazier, offer several tour options and lovely accommodations in their bed and breakfast.  Click on the link to read about the Domaine and the tours available.

In the US . . .

o  Manet: Portraying Life is the exhibit at the Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art from now through January 1.  For more information visit

o The Baltimore Museum of Art presents Matisse's Dancers, a collection of more than 30 of his sculptures and work on paper done between 1909 and 1949.  It focuses on the artist's ability to use minimal lines to depict dancers in motion.  Through February 24.  Details available at

o The exhibit Matisse: In Search of True Painting will be at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art until March 13.  There are some 48 paintings, some sculptures and 158 plates from his series "Themes and Variations" .  Information at

o  Cleveland Ohio's Museum of Art offers Mary Cassatt and the Feminine Ideal in 19th-century Paris through January 21.  This expatriate American's work with an assortment of female subjects from ballerinas to  prostitutes to housewives is on exhibit.  Visit their web site at

o  French-American scholar and historian, Jacques Barzun, who taught for almost fifty years at New York's Columbia University, died on October 25 in San Antonio where he had retired.  He was 104 years of age.  The author of more than thirty books, he was known for his integration of wide ranging subjects and the founder of the field of cultural history.  His epic, From Dawn to Decadence, was more than 800 pages in length and was a survey of Western civilization from the Renaissance to the end of the twentieth century.  When it was published in 2000 it remained on the best seller list for months.

ANCIENT PARIS SHOP SIGNS - From Puns and History to Sexism
                                                                                                                                                                                         by Arthur Gillette
Let's imagine you wanted to market a product to the Parisians of several hundred years ago.  How did you get your message across?  For starters you could have displayed a description of your ware's advantages. Sorry.  That wouldn't have worked because your potential buyers were about 85% illiterate. OK, what about sexual imaging? Nope – the Authorities-That-Were frowned on anything even vaguely akin to draping a lightly-clad damsel across the hood of a new-model sports car. 

So, you began by inventing a (curiously) unrelated symbol for your goods. Many merchants did so, and their long-gone shop signs left such street names, e.g. in the Latin Quarter, as Rue de l'Hirondelle ('Swallow Street', ca. 1200) and Rue de la Huchette ('Little Hutch Street', sign attested in 1284). Although perpetuated in Parisian toponymy, these advertising gambits were apparently not striking enough.

Sign of the Cross - Credit:  J. M. Schomburg, then, about a humorous presentation, like some of today's TV ads? Ah, now there was an idea to explore!  Number 13 rue Saint-Séverin was a 14th-century inn. Its name? 'At the Sign of the Cross'. How did you get prospective clients to remember that? With a bas-relief pun, still visible today on its façade: a swan (cygne pronounced the same as signe: 'sign') curling its neck around  (you guessed it!) a cross. On neighboring Little Hutch Street, today's number 14 was built in the 18th century, but (in an oval wreath on the second floor façade) a stylized letter Y recalls a workshop dating from 300 years earlier. It produced gentlemen's garters, called lie-grègues – pronounced roughly the same as French for “Y”, i-grec ('Greek-I', representing the letter ypsilon). 

Relief of 14th century of Julian the Hospitaller, 42 rue Galande, Paris - Credit: WikimediaPopular historical allusions, often with religious overtones, were also called into service by some shopkeepers. Possibly the oldest Paris shop sign in existence, dated by experts as 14th century, survives on the façade of 42 rue Galande. It recalls the climax of the 'Saint Julian the Poor' legend: nearby Saint Julien le Pauvre church, consecrated around 1240 A.D. A young nobleman enamored of hunting, Julian (6th century A.D.?) was faced one day by a talking stag who, in exchange for his life being spared, predicted that Julian would… murder his parents.  Horrified, Julian and his wife fled the parental castle to an undisclosed abode. But the parents tracked them down and arrived at the hideout one evening when Julian was out hunting so late that his worried wife had gone to look for him. On returning home, Julian found two people snoring in the marital bed and killed them.

As penance, he donated his worldly goods to the Church and founded a kind of hospice by a river (the Seine? the Saint Julian church?), Rue de la Femme sans Teste.  Credit: beegirl.squarespace.comacross which he ferried the ill and poor free of charge. One day, a cowled stranger asked to be taken across. In mid-stream, he threw back his cowl (the sign shows this climactic moment) and pardoned Julian his sin of parricide – the stranger was Jesus!

Humor, history… the cutting edge of old marketing could also call on sexism. At the corner of Quai de Bourbon and Rue Le Regrattier, on the Ile Saint Louis, is a carved inscription defining the latter thoroughfare as Rue de la Femme Sans Teste (17th century spelling for 'Headless Woman Street'). The headless woman in question has nothing to do with the adjacent decapitated statue (actually Saint Nicolas, patron saint of mariners) but recalls a shop sign on the street advertising second-hand goods. The logic? Where a woman has no head she has no tongue; and where a woman has no tongue, tout est bon.

[Mouse over photos for detailed descriptions and credits.]

Contact Arthur Gillette to take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris
and nearby sights by enjoying one or more of his Paris Through the Ages Strolls. 
Visit our Marketplace page for a complete list of strolls and information about Arthur.


A Travel Insurance Review
                                                                                                                                                                     by Damian Tysdal

While carriers and travel suppliers assume almost no financial responsibility to travelers for cancellations that occur due to events beyond their control, travelers can protect themselves by having the right travel insurance plan.  Here are five reasons you may want to take a second look at travel insurance.

1.  You might have to cancel your trip - or abandon it and return home to handle an emergency.

One of the most popular reasons travelers buy travel insurance is to have coverage if they have to cancel their trip, and it's a very valid reason because even if your trip to France has to be delayed a few months, you still may want to take it.  After you add up the cost of prepaid airfare, tours, and accommodations, a trip to France can start out costing thousands of dollars.

What most travelers don't know is that trip cancellation coverage is also bundled with trip interruption coverage, which is similar to cancellation except that it covers the unused portion of a trip if a traveler has to suddenly return home.  Trip interruption coverage also reimburses a traveler for unexpected return airfare costs and lodging should they need it on their return trip.

The covered reasons for trip cancellation and interruption vary from policy to policy, and it's important to understand the covered reasons to fully understand your options should you have to cancel.  For example, you may have to cancel or interrupt your trip in the event a family member develops a serious illness or dies, but that family member has to be listed as a covered family member.  Beloved family pets don't count, unfortunately.

2.  Medical emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime.

Tourist buses crash, flu viruses attack, people get hurt - it happens all the time and a medical emergency can be quite costly when you consider emergency transportation, physician's expenses, medicines, X-rays, and more.

France: Cabinet MédicalFrance has a strong network of medical practitioners, so you will have no problem finding a doctor even in a very small town. The standard of medical care in France is extremely high.  To find a doctor, ask any local resident or step into a pharmacy and inquire.  If the patient is too sick to move, a doctor will make a visit to their accommodations.  Ask your host to contact a local doctor.  The cost is slightly higher than a visit to a doctor's office (cabinet du médicin), and the payment and refunding expectations are the same.

The standard principle of the French health service is to pay first, make a claim and be reimbursed (except with hospital treatment).  Visitors from the European Union countries are advised to be sure they have health insurance coverage before traveling to France.  The same is true the US visitors to France, although many make the mistake of believing their existing health insurance plan will protect them overseas.  In truth, their health insurance generally stops at the border, and Medicare always stops at the border.

Some US health insurance companies will reimburse a traveler's overseas expenses at out-of-network rates and with proper documentation; and some Medicare supplement plans provide travel medical coverage up to a relatively small limit.  Should you, or your spouse or traveling companion become seriously ill or be seriously injured, however, it may not be enough.

While trip cancellation and travel medical emergencies are the primary reasons travelers like to purchase travel insurance protection, there are a number of other reasons you might want to buy travel insurance for your trip to France.
                                                                                                                                                  continued on page three

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