Bill's trip to Paris - The Elzévir Newsletter

About bill

You may have already seen some of his black and white photographs in the AFSF's corridors and staircase. Bill speaks fluent French and visits Paris at least twice a year, and he has been a regular student of the Alliance Française de San Francisco for almost 20 years. It is a pleasure to share some news about his last trip to Paris with you!

Bill was introduced to silver halide photography by his father. He began to learn the art of photography at Eastman Kodak, where he worked as a photographic engineer. He first visited Paris in 1982, and he became a Kodak expatriate in Paris from 1995 to 1999.

This is how he describes his art:

"Capturing the essential nature of Paris and other cities is the driving force of my work. From shimmering reflections on the Seine to the long shadows cast upon the hills of San Francisco to the untouched landscapes of Tasmania, my photos reveal each location through my eyes. Probing the intersection of geometry, light and unique subjects, I capture unconventional views and turn them into photographic stories for all to enjoy."

-  Bill

To get in touch with Bill, receive his newsletters, contact him here


Paris in August started out more like fall with cool weather and rain (i.e. great for heading to museums, and I did a few) but afterwards, ten days of perfect summer weather arrived with highs in the upper 70s/low 80s. By 7:00 pm each day it was perfect for outdoor dining. As usual in August, there are many restaurants and small stores that are closed, but one adapts to what is open. Le Marais was active with a lot of tourists but when you headed out to the Belleville or Batignolles, it was quite quiet. I took a wonderful walking tour in Batignolles focused on the impressionists that lived there (more later), and for much of the “balade” it was rare to see someone.


During the first week I checked out the Paul Smith curation of the Musée Picasso, which showed a nice synergy between Paul Smith’s style and Picasso’s art with each room having a unique Paul Smith style and displaying pieces of the Picasso collection that fit right in. As always the Musée Chasse et Nature was a nice easy visit, though the most fascinating museum show for me was the Philippe Starck exhibit at the Musée Carnavalet where he reimagined Paris (“Paris est pas ta physique”), including some remnants from Les Bains and his meta-impact on Paris restaurants and bars’ styling and furnishings.

Next, the Sarah Bernhardt exhibition at the Petite Palais showed her impact on the arts and her perseverance to enjoy life even though she lost a leg, lung and kidney. She is an inspiration to modern women in France and it seemed over 80% of the attendees were women. I hadn’t been to the Petite Palais in a while, and I marveled anew at the beauty of the museum. At the end there was an opportunity to get your photo taken in a Photomaton and overlaid into Sarah Bernhardt’s hair.  I won’t share my photo, but it was definitely interesting.

One adventure that has been on my to-do list forever was to take the elevator to the top of the Montparnasse Tower. So after some morning rains and a regular Sunday get-together with Terrance Gelenter’s group ( at La Coupole, I paid the 21 euros and went to the top in less than a minute. What a great, unobstructed view! Afterwards I went to the Bourdelle museum and the Post Office museum, after learning that many museums are free the first Sunday of the month. Not sure why I never knew that.

Checking in with Richard Nahem of, he suggested we take a day adventure out to Fontainbleau. It wasn’t that hard (i.e. metro to Gare de Lyon, train to Fontainbleau then Bus #1 to the chateau – total about one hour). That morning it was rainy so we started with the chateau but when we finished that and made it out to the gardens, we discovered the many unique statues scattered throughout as part of a special exhibit. 

A few days later I made it to the Louis Vuitton museum west of Paris to see the Basquiat x Warhol exhibit.


As you might have noticed from the other newsletters, I love taking “balades” in neighborhoods that are off the beaten track whether it is via or I decided to take a tour with a guide through the Officiale de Spectacles that I had never done before and I was very positively surprised by it.  All these tours are in French, but my tour guide Romain’s French was impeccably clear. Beyond just wandering around the impressionist’s world of Batignolles, he provided a wonderfully succinct history of the impressionists: how they started and how they were the outcasts with their exhibition “Salon des Refusés”.  Using hardcopy photos, he shared details on how they painted and were influenced by photography. The tour ended with “Umbrellas” by Renoir which Renoir started as an impressionist and finished as a classical painting after relearning how to paint “correctly”. Fascinating.  

I did another walk with a greeter (JR) from Belleville that was very good and discovered several new things, including that there are ~300 villas (single homes) in Belleville and the villas remain because it is impossible to build taller buildings with its sandy and unstable ground. Also, I did my usual balade with Patrick. This walk was through the covered arcades from Palais-Royal to Passage Panorama. Along the way I noticed that the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF) had reopened, so I headed back one day to photograph the gorgeous areas where people research and study. Ah the French know how to make studying pleasurable.

One of the last adventures was with Shirley and Kathy (and their husbands Buzz and Woody) from my French classes at the Alliance Francaise. We traveled all the way to Suresnes, a suburb to the west of Paris, to eat at a wonderful and reasonably priced restaurant call Bistro La Haut. Before dinner I wandered around the area, which had some great views of Paris and an American cemetery.

Also, I made a trip to Pantin to meet with Mehdi (Alliance Francaise French teacher) and Kathy along with seeing for the first time the Musée de la Liberation. To see pictures from this and several other small trips, visit my photography website via the links below.  For those going to Paris in the fall, there will be an exhibit by Sophie Calle, an artist I love, at the Musée Picasso.

Closer to home, the restaurant “Fratelli” finally opened in the old Sevigné location around the corner, after two years of construction. The interior has been totally redone and the cuisine is solid quality Italian. 

One interesting thing to watch for is the upcoming opening of a hotel and cocktail bar on rue Saint Onge -

Finally, in 2024 there will be a new requirement before all trips to Europe called ETIAS ( You will need to fill out forms online and pay some euros to obtain a travel authorization. Normally it should be approved almost instantaneously but we’ll see!

As a reminder, I publish a subset of my best images each trip in my Vignettes series on Bonjour Paris (, and there have been several sets between the last newsletter and this one. I’ll be publishing my new “vignettes” from this trip over the next couple months. Maybe one day an expo in Arles!

You can see (and buy if interested) photos from this and other trips at:

My next visit is in November for a month so a big weather contrast compared to sitting outside at cafés at 9:00 pm in shorts! Ineke will join me again in Paris briefly in the spring.

Thanks, Bill, for being part of our community and for sharing your French experiences with us!

Photos: Bill OSuch

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