Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine, V. III

Nourishment for Body and Soul

April 1, 2020By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture
"Five Studies for Mary Magdelene" (c. 1620), by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri). Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris.
“Five Studies for Mary Magdelene” (c. 1620), by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri). Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris.

We continue our ongoing feature to keep everyone who loves France and/or wants to keep their French-language skills in good shape with entertaining cultural nourishment from this hexagon-shaped country.

That great treasure house of French culture, the Bibliothèque de France, has a site called Gallica that lists literally millions of documents (6,015,636, to be precise). It also offers access to 45,000 recordings dating from 1949 to ’62, with everything from Glenn Gould’s interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations to Miles Davis’s soundtrack for the film L’Ascenseur pour l’Échafaud. The easiest way to access the recordings seems to be by subscribing to the YouTube channel here. Over 20,000 images of Paris are also available. This site alone could provide months of entertainment and instruction.

Scene from the Battle of Verdun. Collection Mémorial de Verdun
Scene from the Battle of Verdun. Collection Mémorial de Verdun

If you want to learn rather than just look, there are plenty of MOOCs (massive open online courses) to choose from, notably the MOOC Culturels of the RMN-Grand Palais and the Fondation Orange. A recent addition to the catalog, “Couleurs: Bleu, Jaune, Rouge dans l’Art” (“Colors: Blue, Yellow, Red in Art”) is a snappy look at the subject, with short videos, a transcript and accompanying images of the artworks described. For a totally different kind of MOOC, the Mémorial de Verdun is offering one as of today on the longest battle of World War I. These MOOCs require a good level of French.

In the art world, museums and galleries continue to help out. The wonderful Fondation Custodia, which regularly exhibits both Old Master and contemporary drawings, has put the entire catalog of its latest exhibition, “Studi & Schizzi: Drawing the Human Figure in Italy 1450-1700,” online, and is also gradually making its own collection available, beginning with over 600 Italian drawings.

The Centre Pompidou has a variety of entertaining and instructive offerings on its site, including two-minute videos (with English subtitles) on such subjects as body art or the Pictures Generation; visits to the Christian Boltanski, Vasarely and other exhibitions; and a free MOOC (in French) on Pop Art.

French chefs are helping out with special confinement recipes. I definitely plan to try two-star chef Alexandre Mazzia‘s recipe for the simplest chocolate cake ever. And celeb chef Cyril Lignac has a new nightly TV show (M6) called “Tous en Cuisine!” created especially for people in lockdown, in which he cooks up a simple recipe every evening in his own kitchen. Watch it in replay here.

And the immensely popular Paris-based cookbook author and food blogger David Lebovitz is whipping up cocktails from his new book Drinking French on his Instagram channel. The videos are live at 6pm CET (Paris) time, noon ET and 9am PT. If you miss the live version, they are archived here and here.

The Rungis market. Photo © Jason Gardner
The Rungis market. Photo © Jason Gardner

For those of you who live in Paris and would rather avoid the grocery stores, the city has created an interactive map of shops offering home deliveries, while the English-speaking wine seller Yves-Marie Bastien is also delivering his wares; request his list by writing to him at  The Rungis wholesale market has set up a website, Rungis Livré Chez Vous, to make home deliveries to individuals (at retail prices). 

Those who live in France and would like to help the less fortunate (the sick, elderly, health-care workers) during this difficult time, this government site puts volunteers together with people who need such help as childcare or shopping, or who just need someone to talk to on the phone

In case you missed previous weeks’ “Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine” (free films, audiobooks, music, comedy, SOS Help hotline, and more) read them here and here.


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