November 21, 2014

Day Trip Idea: Giverny, Monet, Culture

In all its fabulousness, Paris can get tiresome. When in need of a tranquil escape, we recommend Giverny, where Monet and his family settled in 1883. You can visit his house and gardens. There are two parts in Monet's garden: a flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the house and a Japanese inspired water garden on the other side of the road.
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Clos Normand Garden
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the Clos Normand gardens with the house in the background
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The two parts of Monet's garden contrast and complement one another. In 1893, ten years after his arrival at Giverny, Monet bought the piece of land neighbouring his property on the other side of the railway (where the road currently runs). With the support of the prefecture, Monet had the first small pond dug ; even though his peasant neighbors were opposed. They were afraid that his strange plants would poison the water. Later on the pond would be enlarged to its present day size. The water garden is full of asymmetries and curves. It is inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected avidly.
after crossing the underground passageway under the ex-railroad/road situation, you're met with this view
Japanese-inspired water garden
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIn this water garden you will find the famous Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, other smaller bridges, weeping willows, a bamboo wood, and above all the famous nympheas (flowers) which bloom all summer long. The pond and the surrounding vegetation form an enclosure separated from the surrounding countryside. Never before had a painter so shaped his subjects in nature before painting them so he created his works twice. Monet would find his inspiration in this water garden for more than twenty years. 
After the Japanese bridge series, he would devote himself to the giant decorations of l'Orangerie museum, which we suggest paying a visit to prior to Giverny. It was really cool to see the real thing after seeing the artist's impression of it. Always looking for mist and transparencies, Monet would dedicate himself less to flowers than to reflections in water, a kind of inverted world transfigured by the liquid element. This really comes through in his paintings in l'Orangerie. 
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Upon exiting the house and garden grounds, you are greeted by the town of Giverny.
As you can imagine, tourism is the town's main source of revenue, revolving around the famous painter's abode.
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There was a flea market that we believe takes place every Sunday that went for miles. Miles and miles of stands selling the same exact things. You could find utensils, plates, glasses, clothes, electronics, and old antiques -- chairs, tables, unidentified objects of standing furniture -- as well as old family memorabilia.  
We recommend packing a picnic, strolling around the gardens, and then plopping down on a particularly enticing spot along the flea market to enjoy your food.
Before hopping the train and returning to Paris, to be again reminded why you came here in the first place:
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November 14, 2014

WICE Cultural Studies: Spotlight on Vincent Fournols

WICE presents its Up Close and Personal series to give you an insider view of the fascinating members and staff who make up this exciting association.  This week's focus is on Vincent Fournols, WICE's Cultural Studies instructor. 
Vincent Fournols

Join WICE in welcoming Vincent Fournols,  a Parisian born and raised movie buff.  Since childhood, he has seen, documented, and analyzed around 4,000 different films.

Vincent in his own words:

Paris has allowed me to cultivate and nurture a taste for movies (that I inherited from my parents), that has grown over the years.   There is positively no other city in the world that has as many movie screens and offers such a wide range of films of all kinds and nationalities. When I was 15, I started a cardboard file of all the films I saw, and now it is a hefty computerized database. When I was 22, I spent 3 months in Paris constantly going to the cinemas. Then I did a 3-month internship at Gaumont, one of the two major French film companies. I saw 150 films in 6 months and that's when my expertise on film really started. In my experiences of living abroad and extensive travels, I always watch the local film productions, (most recently India).

October 27, 2014

WICE Cultural Studies: Spotlight on Maggie Cardelus

WICE presents its Up Close and Personal series to give you an insider view of the fascinating members and staff who make up this remarkable association.  This week's focus is on Maggie Cardelus, WICE's Cultural Studies instructor. 

Maggie Cardelus is an internationally exhibited multi-media artist whose photo-based works challenge our conventional understanding of photography and stretch its boundaries into drawing, sculpture, installation, and video. Her work is internationally exhibited and collected. At the Accademia di Belle Arti di Santagiulia in Italy, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in studio art and in the theory of photography. She earned her undergraduate degree in studio art and art history from Wellesely College, and her graduate degrees in architecture and fine arts from Columbia University and Hunter College in New York City  

Maggie in her own words:
I am an artist who has worked for 20 years in a variety of media, and most of my work is photo-based. Photo-based work deconstructs photographs and concentrates on specific aspects of the medium, be it its formal qualities like time or flatness, questions related to process, questions related to how society has used photography to document and remember, questions related to its cultural ubiquity and ability to create desire, and much, much more. A look at how contemporary artists delve into these questions is a great way to understand how artists think of photographs not as images but as complex nodes of power that shape how we think.

October 8, 2014

The New Cultural Studies Department

Join WICE in welcoming Nancy Jochimek, the new Cultural Studies Department Director, as she takes this department in the exciting direction of learning experiences with a social twist to them.   Nancy brings to WICE a rich history of working with groups and organizations that use art and cultural events as a fantastic way to bridge the gap between the international and local communities.  

Nancy Jochimek
Cultural Studies Department Director
photo by Ruben Jochimek
As a lawyer turned creative communications manager, Nancy’s extensive experience managing creative talent to produce various projects led her to cofound an organization that promotes art and culture to international communities by way of events that offer both an educational and social experience.  Her organization worked with creative talent and cultural institutions such as the world renowned designer Ron Arad, Bat Sheva Dance troupe, and the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.

September 30, 2014

Nuit Blanche 2014

Time to stay up all night and see Paris like you’ve never seen before.

For one night only, this Saturday, October 4, 2014, the Left Bank of Paris will become an open air museum with art installations from over 50 international contemporary artists.  Every first Saturday in October for the past 13 years has become the annual Nuit Blanche citywide art exhibition which changes neighborhoods and themes each year.   To accommodate the ever growing number of visitors, this year’s theme, Itinéraire de la Grande Randonée Artistique, features six neighborhood walks that will allow everyone to leisurely appreciate the various works of art which will be mainly displayed outdoors.  Some of this year’s artists include the American street artist Mark Jenkins and French aerial artist Chloé Moglia.   

  • For added convenience, several restaurants and food trucks will be open throughout the night along each of the six itineraries. 
  • For families unable to stay up late, a free Sunday Brunch will be offered at both the Cité de la Mode et du Design and Hôpital Necker so that the kids can still see some of the art installations that will not be taken down until Sunday evening.

For more information:

Bonne Nuit Blanche 2014!

September 22, 2014

Open House 2014 – Find Your Piece of Paris in the International Community of WICE

Come and join us this Saturday at WICE’s annual Open House event, where you can have fun finding out about WICE and how it can enrich your stay in Paris.   Open House 2014 is a free event that is open to the public.  Complimentary wine, soft drinks, and snacks will be available.

When:   Saturday, 27 September from 14h30 to 18h30
Where:  American Church of Paris, 65 Quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris
             Metro: Invalides, Alma-Marceau

WICE holds a unique spot in the Paris expat community, with its diverse offering of courses in English.  WICE also holds free weekly French-English conversation groups and many free social events throughout the year.  

September 2, 2014

WICE Visual Arts: Spotlight on Nica Junker

WICE presents its Up Close and Personal series to give you an insider view of the fascinating members and staff who make up this remarkable association.  This week's focus is on Nica Junker, WICE's Film instructor. 

Nica Junker

1)     What brought you to Paris?
 I was assigned by the Quattropole (Metz, Luxembourg, Saarbrücken, Trier) for 2013-2014 for an installation called silent neighbors, that was exhibited there for one year.  Previously I lived in Paris in 1995 studying at the Sorbonne and I always wanted to come back in my mid-thirties. Now I’m here to stay for a while.
2)     How has WICE affected your stay in Paris?
I have met a lot of very nice people at WICE. Having an exchange with all the members has inspired my stay here. WICE is a wonderful network to meet great people.

June 24, 2014

Coming Soon at WICE: Fall Courses Preview

With this great weather, everyone’s gearing up for their summertime vacations.  But it’s never too early to start thinking about and planning exciting activities for the Fall.  The WICE Program Directors are pleased to bring you an impressive Fall Course selection that will make you look forward to the Rentrée, all summer long. 

But first, kick off the new season with WICE’s Open House on Saturday, September 27, 2014 at the American Church in Paris, where you can:   
  • Meet the Instructors
  • Participate in Workshops and Demonstrations
  • Learn more about WICE and its Courses and Events

See photos of last year’s Open House on WICE's Facebook page.

Fall Courses

Get the Ink Flowing with Creative Writing's:

  • Short Stories
  • How to Write a Novel
  • Fairy Tales & Myths
  • Paris Vignettes - How to Capture, Revealing moments, Encounters, and Events in 1500 words or less
  • Flash Fiction - Narrative, Voice and Imagery under 1000 words  
  • Getting Published Part I
  • Getting Published Part II

June 20, 2014

Strutting in the Parc de Bagatelle

Parc de Bagatelle
Photo © Masina Hunnicutt
The WICE Photo Exploring classes travel to all corners of Paris to discover—and rediscover—the most captivating places the city has to offer.

For the last journey of the spring course, the adventurous photographers traveled to the Bois de Boulogne to wander in the lush Parc de Bagatelle.

How many photographers does it take to capture "essence of peacock"?
Photo © Meredith Mullins
The chateau and gardens were built in the late 18th century by Marie Antoinette's brother-in-law in just 64 days, because she bet him it couldn't be done. He won the bet.

The odds are in our favor.
Photo © Meredith Mullins
The gardens now boast the summer rose competition, as well as irises, waterlilies, vegetables, pagodas, and a very vocal pride of peacocks (also called a "muster" or, even more aptly, an "ostentation").

Amelia Vargas . . . stalking the wild peacock
Photo © Meredith  Mullins
One of the class assignments was to capture the essence of peacock. Our group proved to be excellent peacock stalkers.

The subjects seemed to relish the attention and put on quite a show for our cameras. They strutted, ostentatiously, and flaunted their beautifully designed feathers and jewel toned bodies.

There were so many creative peacock shots that a friendly competition was born, and a prize was awarded by instructor Meredith Mullins for the best peacock photo. The photos were judged by the curator of the Yousuf Karsh photography estate, Jerry Fielder.

June 10, 2014

WICE Members: Spotlight on Evelyne Picard

WICE presents its Up Close and Personal series to give you an insider view of the fascinating members and staff who make up this remarkable association.  This week's focus is on Evelyne Picard, WICE member and artist who recently sold some of her artwork at the WICE Member Gallery exposition. 

art class Paris
Artist Evelyne Picard
1)   What brought you to Paris? 
 After living in San Francisco California for four years I moved to Paris in September 2013 where my husband was offered a new job assignment. In San Francisco I was working as a primary school substitute teacher as well as a teaching artist at the French American International School. I was also taking art classes at City College of San Francisco where I had the chance to study with excellent professors. Although it was very hard to leave San Francisco I believe that Paris is the perfect destination. It is a beautiful multifaceted city that has so much to offer and people are very nice here. I am currently dedicating most of my time to my artwork
I am working on commissions and just finished participating in a show under invitation of Le Cercle des artistes de Paris at the Parc Floral de Paris in May.

2)  How did you become a WICE member? 

On my arrival to Paris I wanted to stay in touch with a community of permanent residents who enjoyed bicultural lives. One of my San Francisco friends introduced me to a friend of hers who moved to Paris from New York. She invited me to WICE's annual open house event. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that WICE had something to offer for each and every one of us: courses, friendships, visits, community support. I joined right away!
art class Paris
Un peu beaucoup
Evelyne Picard

May 21, 2014

Don’t Leave Your Holidays Back Home: Memorial Day Activities In France

Memorial Day weekend:  That time of the year when people are busy enjoying great-weather picnics, adventure-filled camping trips, and lively family gatherings.  But really, that’s not what this American holiday is actually about.  Three-day weekend aside, Memorial Day (observed on the last Monday in May) was created to honor all of the men and women who have died fighting for our freedom and democracy while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  

Lorraine American Cemetery
photo courtesy of AODMA
From WWI and WWII, there are thousands of American soldiers buried in cemeteries throughout France. Celebrate Memorial Day in France by paying your respects at the following events.

The American Overseas Memorial Day Association (AOMDA) website lists all of the ceremonies taking place in France this year.  The American Battle Monuments Commission lists all of the Memorial Day events and also the ceremonies to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  

Memorial Day Ceremonies

Saturday, May 24, 2014:
  • Memorial de l'Escadrille Lafayette at Marnes-la-Coquette :  11h00.
Sunday, May 25, 2014:
  1. American Legion Mausoleum - New Cemetery of Neuilly 10h00
  2. The American Church of Paris  - Annual Memorial Day Service  10h00
  3. Arc de Triomphe, Paris – American Legion & AOMDA 18h30

Ceremonies in American Military Cemeteries:
  1. Aisne-Marne, Belleau, (3,000 individuals buried)   – 9h45
  2. Epinal, (6,000 individuals buried)   – 15h00
  3. Lorraine, Saint Avold, (11,000 individuals buried)   – 11h00
  4. Meuse-Argonne, Romagne sur Montfaucon, (15,000 individuals buried)   - 11h00
  5. Normandy, Colleville sur Mer, (11,000 individuals buried)   – 10h30
  6. Oise-Aine, Seringes et Nesle, (6,000 individuals buried)  - 15h00
  7. Rhone, Draguignan, (1,000 individuals buried)   -  10h00
  8. Saint Mihiel, Thiaucourt, (4,000 individuals buried)   - 16h00
  9. Suresnes, (2,500 individuals buried)   - 14h30
  10. Somme, Bony, (2,000 individuals buried)  – 15h00)     

Monday, May 26, 2014:
  • Brittany American Cemetery, Saint James, (5,000 individuals buried)  – 15h00

photo courtesy of AODMA

D-Day Commemoration
June 6, 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.  The following list of information about the ceremonies to commemorate this event.

  1. The 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Normandy (info & events)
  2. The American Chamber of Commerce in France and The American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union are organizing the Freedom and SolidarityForum on June 4-5, 2014.
  3. Normandy American Cemetery, bi-national ceremony, June 6, 2014.
    • American wishing to attend the ceremony must email the US Embassy to register.

May 14, 2014

The Guarantees You Need to Rent an Apartment in Paris

When in the process of renting an apartment in Paris, and France in general, one of the main rules of thumb is to have patience. Another is to provide the proper guarantees to the landlord. France reserves additional rights for tenants, and so landlords are more stringent in this respect. Here is a breakdown of all the types of guarantees and documents that may be required:

1.     Proof of employment:
This usually requires copies of the tenant’s last three pay slips (fiches de paie). S/he will need to prove that his or her monthly income is at least 3 times the monthly rent, and s/he must also provide a copy of his or her employment contract to show that s/he is not employed in a temporary position or still on a trial basis (période d’essai).

2.     Guarantee from an employer:
Many of our clients are covered by a guarantee of rent payment from their employer (who often in this case also pays their rent). AND/OR:

May 7, 2014

WICE Members: Spotlight on Henrietta Richer

WICE presents its Up Close and Personal series to give you an insider view of the fascinating members and staff who make up this remarkable association.  This week's focus is on Henrietta Richer, longtime WICE member. 

Photo by Henrietta Richer

1)  Why did you move to Paris and what do you do  here?   

I moved to Paris in 1986, having completed my university degree, to be with my future husband. I taught English language, culture and translating for many years and free-lanced articles providing both the text and the photographs. Now that my daughters are grown up and financially we are more comfortable, I devote all my time to writing short fiction, photography and my blog. This past year I’ve been improving my photography thanks to WICE courses, with a view to selling my work in the future, probably on a print on demand site, although I’ve no idea which one to choose. 
Henrietta Richer
2)  How did you find out about WICE and why did you join?   

When I first lived in Paris I read FUSAC to look for jobs and saw the WICE ads. The first courses I took were with Jennifer Dick, who has since moved on, about developing creativity in our writing. I was on maternity leave at the time and it was such a pleasure to be me again and not only la maman de... Jennifer encouraged me to continue writing.  

 3)  Which WICE courses have you taken and what did you gain from them? 

I’ve taken lots of WICE courses over the years, many of the fiction courses, a meeting with a publisher during the Paris Writing Workshop, and more recently photography and art. WICE courses are always great value and I’ve never been disappointed by the instructors, quite the contrary. All the instructors I’ve had through WICE have helped me move forward creatively and along with working alongside other participants.   

April 29, 2014

WICE Volunteers: Spotlight on Jill Bourdais

For the WICE Blog’s Up Close and Personal series, long term Member and Volunteer, Jill Bourdais, discusses the origins of WICE and shares her experiences  as the organization has evolved over the years.

Jill receiving flowers at a Gala from Carol Allen, a former WICE President.
Originally, WICE was formed in the late 1970’s with a mission of expanding career opportunities for women.  As the women’s rights movement made strides and gains in the US, many of the English speaking women in Paris were trailing spouses, who remained isolated from these progressive changes.   WICE grew out of this need for women in Paris to join the battle for equal rights and to learn the steps and tools that they needed to get into the work force.

A WICE member painted the mural pictured 
in the former WICE Office's inner courtyard
Before today’s conveniences of the internet, home computers and printers, and smart phones, WICE offered a goldmine of career information and support for its members.   Women could easily go to the WICE office with its resource center and learn resume writing, interviewing skills, French, getting working papers, job hunting, and other skills such as starting a business.  Jill began volunteering for WICE during these early years because she really wanted to help other women learn what they needed to improve their lives in Paris.

Over the years, WICE’s purpose and mission gradually changed.  As WICE grew more successful, culture-based courses, such as Art History, French History, and Creative Writing, were added to the career-based curriculum.   As these courses grew in popularity, WICE opened up to men and began to serve the entire Anglophone expat community in Paris.    Simultaneously, the world changed too.  With the proliferation of personal computers and widespread internet access, it was no longer necessary for people to seek out a resource center for information.   Information that had been previously difficult to obtain, now became available at a click of the mouse.   As it also became easier for women to find jobs and pursue their careers, WICE’s focus on career development for women was no longer a priority.
Today, WICE’s mission has evolved to providing cultural education and social events to its members.

April 7, 2014

Adventures of the Place de la Concorde Obelisk

The Luxor Obelisk at Place de la Concorde
You can't miss it. The Luxor obelisk rises 75 feet from the center of the Place de la Concorde in Paris, taller than anything in the neighborhood.
I have passed this gold-tipped monolith a thousand times, on its little island in the middle of frenzied Paris traffic.
I noted it as one of those odd Paris monuments—a bit discordant with its surroundings, but somehow fitting in—like the Louvre Pyramid; the too colorful, externally piped Pompidou Center; and the mother of them all, the Eiffel Tower.
Though I formed fleeting impressions of the obelisk, I never really stopped or studied. Just how did a 250-ton piece of granite make its way to Paris using the tools available in the early 19th century?
The story unfolds like an epic adventure film. Read on ...

Story by Meredith Mullins with permission of OIC Moments.

March 31, 2014

An Easy Way to Satisfy Your Cravings

There can be many reasons why people decide to leave their home countries and make the move to France, with work, lifestyle or simply to get away to start a new life being just a few of them.   Since day to day life in France can be very different, there’s always a transition period where people have to adapt to their new lifestyle.  Not surprisingly, food often plays a big part in how at home someone feels.  

WICE staff member, Joyce Rubin, shares a similar sentiment:  "As exciting as it is living in a foreign city, there are certain American and English foods that I miss and want to eat all the time. Like pancakes, buffalo wings, cheese covered potato wedges, Indian curries from England, etc. I think this miss/crave of a culture is something that is part of you that will never change so it is important to find how to overcome these misses/cravings when they are not easily accessible."

Some people, especially fussy eaters, find it particularly difficult to adapt to living in a different country without their favorite foods from back home.  Fortunately France has an abundance of exquisite delicious foods, so adopting French foods as your own is usually not a difficult task. 

However, old eating habits are hard to break and regardless of the endless supply of mouth-watering buttered croissants, sometimes you just have to have your old faithfuls from back home.   To satisfy these cravings, some people resort to traveling mules to fill their luggage with grocery list goodies.  Visiting family and friends wind up not having enough space for their own clothes, as cupcake frosting and favorite salad dressings weigh bags to their 23 kilo limit.  

But there’s got to be an easier way.  

March 23, 2014

Help Wanted: Feathermaster at the Lido

The best feathers in Paris are at The Lido
© Meredith Mullins
When I first learned that there was a Feathermaster at the Lido, I admit to rolling my eyes a bit. However, when I toured backstage and saw nearly 600 costumes for the current show, most of which had feathers, there was no further doubt. 

Of course, there needs to be a full-time feathermaster. Why would there not be?

If you've ever wanted to know more about being a Feathermaster (who hasn't?), read on …

Post by Meredith Mullins, with permission of OIC Moments.

March 13, 2014

WICE Visual Arts: Spotlight on Alastair Arthur

WICE presents its Up Close and Personal series to give you an insider view of the fascinating members and staff who make up this remarkable association.  This week's focus is on Alastair Arthur, WICE's coordinator for its Film courses and events. 

photography film classes paris
Alastair Arthur

Why did you move to Paris and what do you do here?

paris photography film classes
photo by Alastair Arthur
My wife was initially on a short-term assignment in Paris while I continued to live and work in England. When her company wanted to extend her assignment significantly we decided to accept and move to Paris long-term. It seemed too good an opportunity to turn down!
I run my own photography business, offering portrait sessions for families, couples and individuals in Paris and the UK. I also coordinate the film courses for WICE as part of the Visual Arts team, and I'm a trustee with Unseen, an amazing anti-human-trafficking charity that started in my hometown of Bristol.

February 12, 2014

Behind the Seams of French Lingerie

Image copyright 
Marie-Pascale Mayette 
With Valentine's Day approaching, chocolates, flowers, and lingerie are getting a lot of attention.  Most of us can describe all of the types of flowers we like, and our favorite kinds of chocolates, but how much do we know about lingerie?   Luckily for us, Kate Kemp-Griffin, Associate Editor, France, for The Lingerie Journal has arranged for an exclusive tour of the ins and outs of the world of lingerie, where you will have the privilege of meeting the Creative Directors of two leading French lingerie brands.  On this tour, you will be sure to learn just what it is that makes French lingerie so special.

The Paris Lingerie Tour - Behind the Seams of French Lingerie -  March 4th, 2014
Image courtesy of
This amazing tour starts at the luxury Bon Marché department store in the 7th arrondissement, whose impressive lingerie collections will leave you marveling at all of the variety of the different designers.  See the differences in quality, styles, fabrics, and designers' specialties, as you admire the diverse brands.   You will also be treated to the incredible experience of having the Creative Director, of the designer brand Simone Pérèle, present the Spring 2014 collection.  Simone Pérèle’s collections have a tradition of elegance and design details that the Creative Director will shed light on.  Imagine getting to ask questions to the person who’s creating the lingerie style trends that will ultimately wind up in your boudoir!

January 28, 2014

Money Matters for Women

Already the first month of 2014 has passed us by.  How many of you are still sticking to your plans and resolutions for this new year?  If you're like most people, money-related goals probably figure pretty high on your list of things to accomplish in 2014.  Unfortunately for some people, getting their finances in order and planning for the future can be a challenge.  Add the complexities of living abroad and having to navigate financial systems and tax laws of different countries and you've got a daunting task to accomplish.  To help clarify and facilitate successful financial planning for both personal and professional endeavors, WICE is presenting for the fourth time, its popular Money Matters for Women seminar, on Saturday, February 8th, 2014. 

The Money Matters for Women seminar has valuable information for everybody, regardless of your current financial situation.    The diverse speaker topics will inform and empower you to be able to make the right decisions to take control and achieve your goals of financial stability and prosperity.   And even if you've already mastered managing your finances and are a sophisticated investor, you can come and learn about the new changes in financial and tax laws (such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act for Americans residing in France -FATCA) and how they can affect your financial future.