November 29, 2016


It was a brisk, dark evening in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, but from inside a shop with wooden floors and beams on the ceiling, lights beckoned.

The lights … were in the shape of wine bottles. And so began the introduction to Thierry Givone’s “Wine Tasting in Paris”, a company that partners with WICE to offer courses in appreciating and recognizing different kinds of wine.

Thierry Givone pours a Beaujolais.
On this particular night, Nov. 18, Givone focused on the Beaujolais region for a course that comprised tasting seven very different wines, including two types of Beaujolais Nouveau. This is of course the most known wine from the area located just south of Burgundy, and the course took place a day after its official release and national fete, with people filling cafés for a glass or two.

November 17, 2016


It’s the theatre where American icon Josephine Baker performed in a variety of revues and where Russian dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky caused an uproar in 1913 with Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), a ballet set to the music of Igor Stravinsky. The story goes that the reaction to the ballet was so intense that spectators came to blows – a battle between those who adored the show and those who despised its “avant-gardeness”.

The concert hall at the theatre.
Such sensational times may now be the stuff of legend, but the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is still putting on exciting and thrilling concerts, with internationally renowned artists.

The current season features recitals, concerts by resident and visiting orchestras, chamber music performances, dance, and famous opera productions, among other events. Earlier in November, the illustrious Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra played to a packed house, with the musicians and French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet receiving enthusiastic applause for their virtuosity.

October 27, 2016


“It’s probably more entertaining when you can understand what’s going on.”

This thought has doubtlessly occurred to many theatre-goers, especially if they've had to sit blankly through the uproarious laughter of other audience members and deal with the frustration of having completely missed the joke.

A scene from Anything You Want.
(Copyright Emmanuel Murat)
But missing out because of the language barrier is not an inevitable experience – translation, if done well, can make a big difference between enjoyment and befuddlement at the theatre. One just has to attend a show in Paris of the hit comedy Tout Ce Que Vous Voulez (Anything You Want) to understand how elevating subtitling, or "surtitling", can be.

As the play unfolds in French, the dialogue is projected in English on the horizontal bar high above the stage, with French colloquialisms and idioms transformed into the equivalent expressions. This is of great assistance to English-speakers, as could be seen from the reactions of a group of New Yorkers on one particular night. The visitors were able to chortle right along with the Francophone viewers and to clap with real enthusiasm at the end, because the brilliance of the play wasn’t lost in translation, or incomprehension.

October 8, 2016


Chef Didier Chantefort at Le Cordon Bleu Paris (Photo: McK)
To look and feel young, make sure you enjoy “red wine, love and travel”. That was just one of the many memorable quotes from Chef Didier Chantefort, who gave WICE members a private course at the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school on Sept. 29.

The course attracted some 40 participants, most of whom had won a prize at the WICE Fall Open House for this exclusive demonstration. Amid witticisms, life lessons and responses to questions, Chantefort showed guests how to prepare a perfect “pike-perch with hazelnut crust, carrot cream and red wine sauce”.

Chantefort answers a question.
(Photo: McK)
Without missing a beat, he chopped, stirred and tasted (“ah, c’est excellent”), while WICE members took notes and looked forward to sampling the masterpiece themselves. And it was indeed a work of art that Chantefort eventually presented – ladling food onto two regular platters at first, then on little plates for all to enjoy.

It looked almost too good to eat: the portion of baked fish sitting on a rich mousse of carrots in a ring of wine sauce, and topped by multi-hued greens. But that didn’t stop participants from clearing their plates.

The delicacy of the dish was of course to be expected from Le Cordon Bleu. Since its founding in 1895, the name of the institute has become synonymous with superior cooking, and it now has over 35 schools in 20 countries.

According to its Marketing and Communications Manager Sandra Messier, the group trains 20,000 students of more than 100 nationalities every year. In addition to guiding professionals in the culinary arts and hospitality management fields, Le Cordon Bleu offers a “wide range of culinary workshops in French and English … for private individuals, groups of amateurs and professionals”.

Sandra Messier, LCB's marketing and communications
manager, and Camille Jullien, sales and development
manager. (Photo: McK)
These lessons take the form of either visual demonstrations or practical workshops, Messier said. For WICE members, the private course qualified as a demonstration as the chef and his assistant did the preparing and cooking, while an interpreter translated the lesson into English throughout the various steps.

But members also got a chance to see the facilities designed for practical workshops, as Messier and her colleague Camille Jullien later led them on a tour of the new campus overlooking the Seine. The impressive features included huge kitchens with gleaming counters and utensils for creating pastry, baking bread, tasting wine and producing complete dishes.

Among the courses available in these classrooms are: the art of French cuisine, the art of cooking like a chef and the art of making sauces and jus. Furthermore, those who have always dreamed of being a pastry master can learn to make macaroons, tarts and cakes, while wine buffs can become skilled in food and wine pairing, for instance.

Creativity is key in cooking.
Children also have their place at Le Cordon Bleu, with tailor-made workshops for those aged 8 to 12 as well as for teens from 13 to 17 years old, Messier said. These youngsters get to work under the supervision of a chef and can take home their culinary or pastry dishes after the workshop.

Apart from the food, what many participants in the courses will leave with is the knowledge that cooking is an art, where creativity is of paramount importance.

“Just as you can pair a pink tie with a green shirt in fashion, it’s the same in the kitchen,” Chantefort told WICE members. “Dare to be different.”

WICE members watch Chef Chantefort in action at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. (Photo: Sipurzynska)
Members sample the finished dish: pike-perch with hazelnut crust, carrot cream and red wine sauce.

September 30, 2016


WICE’s Fall Open House attracted a dynamic group of people interested in learning more about the organization’s cultural activities and its wide range of acclaimed courses. 

Held at Dorothy’s Gallery in Paris, on Sept. 20, the event brought together members and newcomers, for a fun-filled evening of wine-tasting, prizes and course presentations.

The latter included classes on cooking, creative writing, languages, wine tasting, the visual arts and cultural studies, while visitors also received information about WICE’s guided walks and tours of France’s cultural institutions. Several lucky guests went home the winners of exclusive prizes.

Here are some pictures of the Open House, taken by WICE photographer RAYE.  

WICE members check out the wine list at Open House. (Photo by RAYE)
A visitor signs up at reception, entering the draw for prestigious prizes. (Photo by RAYE)
Members of the WICE Board pose for a picture. (Photo by RAYE)
Visitors receive information about courses and activities. (Photo by RAYE)
A few of the many volunteers at Open House. (Photo by RAYE)

September 12, 2016


Fun with WICE (Photo: Raye)

Exciting courses. Membership discounts. A chance to meet new friends. An invitation to expand personal and professional horizons. And loads of prizes!

These are just some of the attractions of WICE’s Open House, taking place Sept. 20.

Those who register to attend, and actually turn up on the day, stand a chance to win an exclusive cooking demonstration at the famous Cordon Bleu school, which has a gleaming new campus by the Seine.

This prize, valued at around 95 euros per person, is among several that will be on offer at Open House for which participants will be entered in the draw. Additionally, visitors will learn about WICE and its extensive range of programs.

WICE President Mary Sipper
(Photo: Meredith Mullins)
"Attending WICE's fall Open House is a great way find out about WICE's many cultural and educational offerings and to get to know the people – WICE’s dedicated team of volunteers and instructors – who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make them happen,” says WICE President Mary Sipper. “I hope to see you there.”

Participants at the event can browse information about classes on cooking, wine tasting, creative writing, cultural studies, languages, and the visual arts. They will equally learn about guided walks and visits to France’s numerous cultural institutions.

And they will be entered in draws for these other impressive prizes:

- An opportunity to win a Paris Day Bike Tour for Two, courtesy of Fat Tire Tours,

- A Picnic to Go for two people plus a 30-minute Photo Session at either the Eiffel Tower, Tuileries Garden, or Notre Dame area, with Pictours Paris,

- A chance to own a hand-colored etching, numbered and signed by the artist Nancy Wilson, from Maison Conti,

- Vouchers for the My American Market store,

- Two complimentary tickets from the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées – a stunning art deco theater that puts on opera productions and concerts during the year.

- Two tickets for a theatre production with THEATRE IN PARIS , a company that presents French plays with English subtitling,

Those who sign up for a course during Open House will receive 50% off their WICE Membership fee (terms and conditions apply).

Open House takes place from 3 pm to 7 pm at Dorothy's Gallery, 27 rue Keller, 75011 Paris.

As one current WICE member emphasizes, it’s an event not to be missed.

September 4, 2016


(A version of the following article appeared in a recent edition of Expatriates magazine. Please watch this space for more information about the WICE Open House on Sept. 20.)

Even with all its advantages, living abroad can sometimes be a challenge. But there are groups that can make the experience more fulfilling and fruitful – groups such as WICE.

Formed in 1978 by a number of ex-pat American women, WICE serves the English-speaking community in Paris and has become an organization that lives up to its motto: You’ll Fit Right In.

WICE offers a wide range of courses and networking events. Members can follow classes in cooking, wine tasting, creative writing, cultural studies, languages, and the visual arts. They can also participate in guided walks and visits to museums and other cultural institutions.

New courses, starting September 2016, are now available to view at Interested members can reserve immediately. 

WICE member Anna Sipurzynska
samples French red wine.
Former participants in the various workshops have had many positive comments, noting that the courses have contributed to both their personal and professional development in different ways. The Creative Writing workshops, for instance, support those who have always wished to write stories, while the Wine-Tasting courses enhance knowledge about Europe’s vast variety of wines.

Members seeking to improve their language skills can join conversation groups where they practice French or English and learn the intricate rules of grammar; and budding or experienced artists and photographers get to create work in a city made for art.

WICE will host an Open House on Tuesday, 20 September 2016, from 3:00pm - 7:00pm (15h:00 to 19h:00). This will be held at a famed art gallery in the 11th arrondissement – Dorothy’s Gallery, 27 rue Keller, 75011.

Visitors will have the opportunity to connect with fellow members and volunteers; to meet the people who create WICE’s courses; to speak with some of the instructors; to sign up for workshops; to find out about other events for the autumn program; and, of course, to join WICE.

Registration for the Open House, and actually turning up on the day, also gives one the opportunity to take part in a draw for an exclusive visit to Le Cordon Bleu's new cookery school, based on the banks of the Seine.

WICE is conveniently located in the 15th arrondissement.  The office is open Monday - Friday 10:00 - 15:00. Tel: 01 45 66 75 50.

More information is available on the website at

To become a member of WICE:

To volunteer with WICE:

March 15, 2016

Paris Writers’ Workshop 2016

People wonder why so many writers come to live in Paris. I’ve been living ten years in Paris and the answer seems simple to me: because it’s the best place to pick ideas. Just like Italy, Spain or Iran are the best places to pick saffron. If you want to pick opium poppies you go to Burma or South-East Asia. And if you want to pick novel ideas, you go to Paris. - Roman Payne

Are you playing with an idea for a novel or a short story? Do you want to find new ways to develop your work and find your voice as a writer? Are you a poet looking for ways to shape your work? Are you wondering how to get published and want to know what opportunities are out there and how you can make your work stand out?

Whatever your focus, the 2016 Paris Writers' Workshop offers a creative week of practical guidance and inspiration, as well as real-world tools for the craft of writing, finding your voice and ultimately getting published. Join us in Paris from June 26–July 1 for this exceptional opportunity.

What you can expect from PWW 2016:

● Morning small-group workshops with the writer-in-residence of your choice, depending on your genre. You'll work with this writer/group every morning, with discussions, writing exercises, and review/critique of your work-in-progress, including a 20 minute individual consultation with the course instructor.

● Afternoon panel focused on publishing.

● Private consultations with literary agents offering guidance on becoming a published author (sign up early, as these fill up fast on a first-come, first-served basis).

● Social and networking opportunities throughout the week with author and student readings, a guided literary walk through the heart of Paris, and the literary dinner in a traditional french brasserie.

PWW 2016 is honored to have an outstanding group of award-winning and bestselling writers-in-residence this year. The faculty for PWW 2016 includes an exciting mix of new and returning instructors, who will provide you with the tools and guidance needed to shape your manuscripts and skills in practical and rewarding ways.

This year, PWW 2016 is delighted to welcome:
■ Ayana Mathis (Writing Novels)
■ Nahid Rachlin (Writing Short Stories and Novellas)
■ Marilyn Hacker (Writing Poetry)
■ Michelle Huneven (Writing Creative Nonfiction)

You can find out more about their published work and experience by clicking here.

The Paris Writers’ Workshop is the longest-running creative writing workshop of its kind. The workshop will be held at the Paris UNESCO headquarters this year. New and established writers are invited to join our international community of writers.

You can find out more at or email The special discounted early-bird rate is available until March 31, and the workshops, open to non-WICE members as well, are filling fast ... so don't delay.