Tue, 15 August 2023
When I knew I would be sitting down to chat and catch up with the lead vocalist of the jazz band The Hot Sardines, Elizabeth Bougerol, I knew our conversation would be enjoyable, inspiring and much like taking a drink of refreshing water that leaves you energized, hopeful and inspired. And indeed that was the case. 😌
To talk with Elizabeth, now our second time (listen to episode #157 for our first conversation), is to talk with someone who knows and is passionate about her craft and the genre of jazz; in other words, the history of jazz. And it is because of her passion, along with her unquestionable talent of being born to do it, paired with fellow co-founder of the band Evan Palazzo, the pianist of the ensemble and his equal passion and talent for what they do, that more and more people who tune in to The Hot Sardines' music, and attend their concerts, are discovering and loving jazz all over again or for the very first time as you will learn about in our conversation.
Not only will she talk in detail about a handful of the songs on The Hot Sardines' new album C'est La Vie (released wherever and however you enjoy your music on August 4, 2023), but we'll talk about the difference between French jazz and American jazz which I found fascinating and also further revealing as to why I am enamored with the French culture.
We will also go beyond the album to talk about work-life balance, what it's like to perform on stage while pregnant and how she answers the ever common question often raised, oddly, nearly exclusively to women who work, about Mom Guilt. I so enjoyed her answer, and I think you will as well.
Lastly, we talk again about finding the courage to pursue a passion project, and she offers advice to anyone who is considering doing so but maybe hasn't taken the leap just yet.
I do hope you enjoy this episode which will also include three clips from the album that offers both French and English tracks, originals written by Bougerol and Palazzo and covers of beloved jazz favorites.
Now to the episode!
Links mentioned in the episode:
Listen to Elizabeth Bougerol partner up with Bob Parins in a duet covering Edith Piaf's classic "La Vie En Rose".
Listen to our first conversation together back in 2017, episode #157, talking Passion Projects, Jazz, Being French at Heart & Living in the Moment
~Explore more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
Photo credit of Elizabeth Bougerol above captured by Shervin Lainez.
Explore all posts shared during TSLL's 8th Annual French Week here
Tue, 2 May 2023
"N'ayez pas peur."
And the formal lessons continue into the wilderness and beauty of the French language. Or should I say langue française.
And yep, we have just dove into to learning the imperatif form, and as the command directs above in French - Have no fear! Which is a great place to start because when we choose to learn a new language, especially as an adult, and anyone proficient in any field other than the French language, humility must be brought with us on the journey.
To trip over any new language we wish to learn, or any new skill for that matter, is a practice in being vulnerable, and being vulnerable is scary. It's scary to try to form the words and say them outloud, even if we have practiced and know the alphabet of our new language. It is scary to bravely raise our hand and attempt to answer a question when we know the answer may be a direct and frank 'no' from the professor. And it is scary to keep raising our hand, to keep speaking the new language, after we have mispronounced and incorrectly answered in the past which is why, it is imperative to hold this directive with us as we choose to learn - Have no fear.
After all, what is there to be afraid of really? This is when we need to set our ego aside, take the many (many!) corrections from the professor and just keep trying, just keep speaking and gradually, ever so very gradually, improvements and a depth of understanding as our long-term memory begins to hold this new language in its arsenal of knowledge it draws upon when we least expect it to be easy to grasp, the new language becomes easier.
I write the words of encouragement for you, readers and listeners of the blog and podcast as much as I write them for myself because it is a slow journey, but all of a sudden, I will find myself in moments grasping and understanding what to say and how to say it when in the past such an occurrence would never happen. And it is in these moments, I know that the regular effort, vulnerability and bravery (and mental exhaustion) are worth it and are paying off.
Today, we return to the series of what I have learned so far in French class. A journey that began in 2016 as I shared in Part Quatre just a couple of months ago (visit that post/episode #349 here) and is continuing as I begin FR 104 (A2.2) with Washington D.C. Alliance de Française having begun with them FR 101 in September 2022. Part Quatre brought us to the mid-way point of FR 102, so today's episode will focus on what I have learned as FR 102 concluded and all of FR 103 which wrapped up in mid-April.
Admittedly, FR 103 is when I felt I was in brand new territory as up to 102 I had a clear awareness of present tense, the numbers, basic 'get to know you' phrases, and had been exposed to the components taught, but needed to polish them as well as fill in a few of the fundament gaps (proper pronunciation of the alphabet for example!). So now I am in the thick of new knowledge, and my head is exhausted each week, following each day of classes (two, two hour classes each week). However, well, I am getting ahead of myself. Let's take a look at the list of what I have learned so far in French class . . .
1.The mental exhaustion improves with time
As I shared above, when FR 103 began, with a new professor who has high expectations and uses every minute of class, after each week and each class, my mind was exhausted; however, that was the worst of it. In other words, my mind was working in a way it had not, and therefore, had to 'get into shape' by being stretched. Now, yes, I still have mental fatigue, but part of me is used it, but the other part of me knows, my mind as it pertains to learning the French language, is getting better toned and used to searching, remembering and applying the new knowledge. All the more reason to hang in there and keep attending class, keeping signing up for the next class.
2. Être, Avoir, Savoir, & Vouloir are the only verbs that are irregular in the imperatif
As hinted at above in the opening quote, we've begun learning the form and function of the imperatif! And it is really quite simple, especially when I discovered (and it makes sense logically) that there are only ever three forms of the imperatif for conjugation (tu, nous, and vous), and so long as you know your Present tense forms, and memorize the four new irregular forms of être (to be), avoir (to have), savoir (to know) and vouloir (to want), you know how to properly use/write/speak the imperatif!
What is the imperatif? The exact same thing imperative is in the English language, a command or direction given with an understood subject (so the sentence begins with the verb).
3. How to communicate time properly (formally and informally)
A simple concept, but knowing how to form a sentence when asked the time is slightly different compared to English, but it is quite simple. The key is to remember to once you begin speaking the time formally (military time) to continue to do so - only numbers, no phrases; and when you speak heure informelle, then you can use the common phrases - midi (noon), minuit (midnight), moins le quart (less than a quarter - 15 minutes), et demi (half past), etc.
4. What "liaision" and "enchaînement" are as they pertain pronunciation in the French language
Large, odd words, but all they are, and they are very important if we want to pronounce the language correctly, is how the sound of the word changes due to the words around it.
5. How to construct passé composé
Finally learning the past tense (aka the passé composé) was a big step in my learning journey of the French language. And it is soooooo much simpler than I had anticipated. While I won't teach the entire lesson to you, the key is knowing that every single conjugated verb will be preceded by either être (conjugated to fit the form) or avoir (conjugated to fit the form), and there are only approximately 15 verbs that use être (simply memorize them), and the reset all use avoir.
Below are the fifteen verbs that use être, and how I remember them is they are all verbs in which they describe a change of state or motion. Now do note, not EVERY verb that involves motion or a change of state uses être, but all of these in this list fit that definition.
And then, the verb that follows has a fixed ending for all forms (je, tu, il, elle, on, vous, nous, ils/elles, which comes down to memorizing, but most, if they have a certain ending in the infinitive form (i.e. -er, -ir, etc.) end in the same ending for that form. For example, my list captured in the image below:
6. Passé composé is easier than I thought and gives me so much flexibility in constructing phrases
It is worth reiterating that again, what I thought prior to learning was incorrect. I just needed to be taught by someone who knew the language. Once I had the knowledge, great progress in communicating was made and ease experienced knowing I could share what I had done in conversation, whatever that may be!
7. Positive encouragement and praise are wonderfully powerful no matter what the student's age
It has been a fascinating experience being a teacher who taught for 20 years and stepping into someone else's classroom who is the expert on a basic subject - the fundamentals of a language. Apart of the skills they are teaching and I am trying to learn, the energy and connection a teacher brings to the space determines the probability of their students remaining in the class, believing they can do it and the confidence to try.
As well, a teacher is a human being, and it is easier to notice when my professor is exhibiting an immense amount of patience, restraint and strength to keep us accountable, so I empathize and try to be aware that she will have good days and not so good days, but what I appreciate about my current professor is that she wastes not one minute of our class time, and is determined to teach us the language.
There are moments when it is clear that teaching a lower-skilled class to students such as myself and being someone who knows the French language superbly as my professor does, gets to be a bit 'why don't you know this?!' at times, and whether through their repetition of the skills we are just being introduced to, her patience is a bit lacking and I know that for my confidence in learning the language, I could use a bit more acknowledgement of my effort and willingness to try to speak out or try to speak. However, in those moments, it is also a very helpful exercise for myself to set my ego aside and dig down and choose to learn than to take it personal. After all, I can honestly say, she is the best and most knowledgeable and capable of explaining the language clearly professor that I have had in my 20+ years of trying to finally learn this beloved language, and I am grateful these classes and the quality of classes are available.
8. Le Passé Recent
While we just received a taste of how to construct the recent past (le passé recent), so anything that has just happened, seeing the formula for how to construct the phrases, knowing that all it is is the simple formula: use the verb Venir (to come) in the present tense + de + le verb de l'action a1 l'infinitif form, reminds me that I simply need to bulk up my knowledge of vocabulary with a variety of verbs I might need or use.
9. Hearing the language spoken first without the transcript is key to eventually (and more quickly) comprehending what you are hearing, even if it is more uncomfortable initially
When FR 103 began with my new professor, she quickly told us (gently scolding us) to not look at the transcript when we were listening to passages that we were trying to decipher what was being said. I can remember in FR 101 being so perplexed that other students were able to easily understand what was being said on the first go-round and even stating my confusion in class, but what I didn't realize was that they were reading the transcript as they listened and the professor had not told them not to, so why not? Not the case in FR 103. Our professor - Olga, pointed out emphatically that if we are going to understand what we are hearing more quickly, we need to first hear it (without peeking at the transcript), struggle with what we hear, and similarly to the mental fatigue that is intense initially, it become easier more quickly than we might realize.
Needless to say, lesson learned. Nobody is looking at the transcripts anymore and struggle with audio comprehension is expected, so long as we try.
10. Just 10 minutes a day of studying, everyday, is better than hours sporadically
Another quick tip Olga shared with us was to make sure we practice or study at least 10 minutes each day on the days we don't need to complete any homework or in between class sessions - our two week breaks, for example. As opposed to studying intensively for a couple of hours, but not doing so regularly, we will actually acquire the language more quickly through consistent, short efforts.
11. Phrases for moving a story along chronologically
12. Vocabulary for frequencies of occurrence (la fréquence) et l'habitude
13. Reflexive verbs aren't as scary as they seem
FR 103 began with reflexive verbs. A verb whose direct object is the same as its subject. For example, se lèver (to wake up); se doucher (to take a shower/wash oneself); se brosse les dents (to brush one's teeth); se coucher (to go to bed); se preparer (to prepare oneself).
Once I learned where the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, etc.) needed to go in the formation of the sentence, and in negated sentences, it was just a matter of remembering the reflexive verbs.
Simply by writing out these lessons has been helpful to remember all that was covered over the past two+ months, and now the journey continues forward. And while of course, there is guaranteed to be times in which I scrunch my forehead up and scream inside because it isn't coming quickly or at all, I also know that at the end of each class, I am grateful I am there. I am proud of myself for trying, and over-archingly I am following the directive seen below in the imperatif form, to have fun. Because if there is any class I would want to be enrolled in right now to learn something new, it is the French language, so I know I am exactly where I want (and need) to be.
Look for Part Six late this summer.
Merci pour la visite! À la prochaine, bonne journée!
SIMILAR EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
episode #276, The Art of Mise en Place
~Explore all of the episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
Wed, 19 April 2023
355: Talking Paris, Flowers and Elevating the Everyday with Sandra Sigman about her new book French Blooms
It all began with 18 months in Paris as a young woman more than 30 years ago.
Inspired by her time volunteering during the day at a Parisian floral boutique while she figure skated in the evenings, Sandra Sigman's life journey and approach to floral arrangements was forever changed, and thus began the unfolding of a dream.
In today's episode, author of the best-selling book in Floral Arrangements, Sandra Sigman joins me to talk about French Blooms: Floral arrangements inspired by Paris and beyond and goes behind the scenes telling more of the life journey, the highs and the lows that have left her grateful and celebratory for where she is today.
Sigman's floral boutique Les Fleurs in Andover, Massachusetts, continues to offer seasonal floral arrangements that draw direct inspiration from what she learned in Paris so many years ago. Whilst continuing to take regular trips to France to visit brocantes and antique fairs, Sigman's love for the country is abundant.
In our conversation Sandra will also talk about the French's sacred ritual of welcoming flowers into the home on an regular basis, just because, as well as go behind the scenes to the genesis of the book and how her friendship with Sharon Santoni, the founder of My French Country Home who makes her home in Normandy, France, played a role in many of the images found in the book (the image just below was captured on Sharon's property with her guest cottage setting the scene in the background; and her pup Ghetto is also captured in a few photographs as well). Also, the cover! Discover the cover story that took her to Paris to capture and why she felt it was important for this particular image to be the one we now see today.
And Sandra also shares how her mother holds a powerful role in the business venture both daughter and mother began together to open Les Fleurs so many years ago and how her spirit continues on in the work Sandra does.
I do hope you will tune in to listen to our conversation, and rest assured, a Petit Plaisir will be shared as Sandra extends ideas for setting herself up for a beautiful day.
Links from the conversation:
~Listen to more French-inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
~Learn more about the show, The Simple Sophisticate podcast and download all of the episodes here.
Tue, 17 January 2023
"On ne comprend jamais tout à fait une langue avant d’en comprendre au moins deux."
It took 43 years for me to finally learn the French alphabet, and when I say learn I mean how to properly pronounce each letter, even after taking French classes in college and then again taking French 102 and 103 back in 2016 at our local community college.
After sharing this with someone recently, they looked at me perplexed, but you see I never enrolled in French 101 as it was a fall course, and during the 2015/16 school year I was head-first transitioning into my new teaching position here in Bend, so waited until I was settled with my own schedule to explore French classes. Backtrack to college, as explained in detail in my first book, a similar situation; I began my studies during winter term rather than fall due to a shift in my life journey and needing to acquire the necessary prerequisites to study abroad in French the coming summer.
With that said, learning the alphabet, and singing the French jingle to help cement the sounds of each letter into my memory was one of the most exciting and appreciative moments of my novice French learning experience thus far.
Beginning today is a return to the series I began in 2016, so today's episode/post is labeled as Partie Quatre (part four). As I make my way through my courses - a new quarter/course each season - look for future posts/episodes to be shared. You can explore all of my French-themed posts and episodes via the respective links.
The Simple Sophisticate, episode #349
Tue, 6 December 2022
346: Parisian by Design and the Gifts of trusting the Stirrings of Your Heart, my conversation with David Jimenez
Those who know David Jimenez and his life journey often take a sigh of adoration followed by a smile and comment, “He is living the dream”. And indeed to us Francophiles, he is indeed.
Having called Paris home for the past six years, American interior designer living in Paris David Jimenez partnered with Diane Dorrans Saeks to bring to readers Parisian by Design: Interiors by David Jimenez.
David Jimenez captured by photographer Xavier Béjot whilst going about his day on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris.
Parisian by Design: Interiors by David Jimenez by Diane Dorrans Saeks
Parisian by Design showcases the seven residences he has called home over his life journey of decorating, beginning in San Francisco, moving to Kansas City, then to his apartments in Paris that lead him to his now sanctuary on the City of Light, his apartment on Île Saint-Louis, as well as his design atelier on the same petite Île and, what I think is my favorite of all of his abodes, although each is inviting and quintessential European in its aesthetic with a strong affinity for Parisian touches, his apartment in the French countryside (see pics below from David's IG account).
In our hour-long conversation, David will introduce readers to what they will find in the book which includes a 10-page source list for you too to enjoy and peruse first-hand David’s personal recommended shops, artisans and destinations, not only in Paris, but beyond, and we will also dive deeper because David made his dream a reality - calling Paris home. Exploring how he trusted his journey from a very early age along with sharing what he has learned along the way to be the best life advice for knowing what to do next, we talk about nudges from the universe, trusting yourself and so much more.
Oh! And his Petit Plaisir is Petit Plaisirs! Yes, David shares multiple Petit Plaisirs in the middle of our conversation, painting a picture for our minds through the senses that, if you are anything like me, will inspire and remind how powerfully rejuvenating savoring everyday seasonal pleasures can be. But I don’t want to give too much away. ?
As well, our final question speaks to the winter holidays in Paris, and how we too can bring a touch of the charm into our own homes.
I do hope you will tune in and thank you for stopping by.
SIMILAR EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
15 Ideas for Savoring Paris, episode #328
36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life, episode #253
~Explore more French-inspired podcast episodes on The Simple Sophisticate
Wed, 17 August 2022
It's been said that taking the Eurostar (which runs under the English Channel, connecting London to Brussels, Paris, Lille, Rotterdam and Amsterdam) is much more like taking a plane ride than taking a train ride, and in many respects, I would have to agree.
Why? It's swift, it's non-stop and there is wonderful service and amenities for comfort as you drift along in either direction.
Today's episode/post is for the first-time traveler choosing to take the Eurostar and especially for those of you like me, who don't live in Europe or Britain and want to see as much of the two countries that you love during one trip with ease.
I booked my first ticket on the Eurostar in 2012, boarding in London, destined for Paris. Riding Standard (aka Coach) with my traveling companion, the ease of having your luggage with you, sitting in comfortable seats with spacious seating arrangements all the while knowing the only stop will be your stop eased my mind as it was the first time I had traveled abroad to Europe since 2000.
Fast forward to 2022, and I booked our Standard Premiere tickets (there are three classes - Standard, Standard Premiere and Business Premiere), leaving Paris, departing for London. The upgrade was lovely and worth the additional space, a bit quieter (although Standard was fairly quiet as well), and the upgrade in dining service was oh, so good. But I am getting ahead of myself.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #338
Sun, 14 August 2022
Since the beginning of TSLL blog in 2009 and with the podcast when it began in 2014, I have regularly shared French-inspired ideas to incorporate into our everyday routine (be sure to check out Podcast Bundle #2 for many of these episodes). And the more I observe and savor how such choices elevate my life, as they become habituated, mature and marinate so to speak their way into my way of living, I discover how consciously welcoming such details deeply affect a positive change in how I move through my days.
For example, the muscle of savoring is strengthened, and I see more readily minute details to appreciate whether in my own home life or when I am out and about. I now more easily and without apology delight and exude my excitement without editing because it is not others' approval I am seeking when I, for example, get a good night's sleep that is in large part enabled by breathable sheets - à la linen! or when a flower blooms from a seed sown years ago, sitting next to an herb or a berry, planting inspired by the idea of cultivating a potager.
After more than a decade of welcoming such changes into my life, there are many that remain and feel a part of me, as though I could not imagine living any other way because it simplifies as well as adds a touch of luxury to my life as well as functioning just as I hoped it would and then some. While some on this list may not be exclusive to the French culture, it is in my exploring the French culture that I was introduced to the idea (for example, #1 on the list). Whenever we come across a way of living that speaks to us, in whichever culture we may find ourselves, that deepens our appreciation for said culture, and our affection seems to organically strengthen and take root.
Let's take a look at the list.
~Please note, I go into detail for each of the items below on audio version of the podcast. You can listen by clicking the 'Play' arrow above or download wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts.
1. A floppy straw sunhat for gardening or visiting the market
2. Brocante finds
Online Brocante shopping:
3. Focus on skincare, and thus, minimal makeup
episode #258, 22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment
4. Linen everywhere - clothing, sheets, curtains
5. Simple hair style, less perfect, more healthy and loose (even when in a chignon)
6. Un croissant on the weekend
French Croissants et Pain au Chocolat, step-by-step (cooking video included), Season 2, episode #6 of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show
A recent breakfast on the garden porch, enjoying one of the croissants
7. French thé
~Stop by tomorrow as a new giveaway will be posted (the 3rd) and a bag of French thé will be paired with something quite luxurious to enjoy your favorite cuppa.
8. Mix and match favorite décor aesthetics
episode #228, 21 Parisian Décor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange
9. Savon de Marseille soaps
Enter the Giveaway here (it will be posted at 4pm Paris time, Monday). Be sure to enter by Saturday August 20, 2022
10. Growing a potager
However you choose or are inspired to welcome the French culture into your everyday life, let your curiosity guide you. I am confident you will discover even more appreciation of the everyday moments and routines, and your 'savoring' muscle will become quite strong. Thank you for stopping by and tuning in. Be sure to explore all of the posts and the second podcast episode shared this week during TSLL's 7th Annual French Week.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #337
Sun, 10 July 2022
Bonne Fete Nationale!
To those of us celebrating outside of France, we may be celebrating France's national holiday with an exclamation of Happy Bastille Day, but within the borders of France, as I have been reminded more than a few times, it is Bonne Fete Nationale or Le Quatorze Juillet! Whatever you prefer to utter, it is a day of celebrations for Francophiles, and while TSLL entire premise when it comes to living simply luxuriously draws much inspiration from the French way of life, today I have lined up 24 ideas for you to celebrate July 14th in your own way.
The above vineyards in Provence take me back to my trip in 2018, and oh, how I long to return. Soon, I reassure myself, soon. But whether we have the opportunity to stand on the terra firma of France at the moment or pay homage from afar, we can absolutely partake in the annual celebration.
I am looking forward to even more deeply celebrating today's events in the simple activities that fill my day: a sipping of French thé in the morning, watching the 17th stage of Le Tour de France, making herbed gougeres for apéro time in the evening and bringing them with me to gather with a dear friend who grew up in Belgium at her home here in Bend to dine in celebration of today being Le Quatorze Juillet. Parfait!
Now to the list with many links for further exploration on many of the items shared.
1.Watch Le Tour de France
Vicariously travel throughout the countryside of France for three weeks as the annual cycling event takes place. Watch on Peacock (ad-free, $9.99/mo or with ads, $4.99/mo) if you live in the states, and for all other international viewers, read this detailed post on VeloNews for exactly where to stream for your country. Peacock also offers the option to watch the international broadcast rather than NBC's broadcast which I flip back and forth from every other day from time to time.
2. Plan and then shop for a favorite French meal (check out TSLL's many French-inspired recipes here)
3. Don't forget the cheese and salad course (before dessert and after the main entrée)
4. Play a game (or two) of pétanque
(this game was being played in Paris just outside of the window of Hôtel Particulier Montmartre near Sacre Couer)
5. Gather with fellow Francophiles for a French meal beginning with apéro time
6. Pack a picnic and go somewhere amongst Mother Nature (don't forget to pack the wine and bistro wine glasses - sturdy, but lovely)
7. Visit a local farmers' market, and be sure to bring your market tote
8. Begin the day with a fresh baguette picked up at your local bakery
9. Une croissant s'il vous plait!, pair with cafe au lait or hot cup of thé
~explore how to make your own croissants here in episode #6, Season 2 of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show.
10. Select a bottle of wine from your favorite French region or the next region of France you hope to visit as inspiration to bring your next trip to fruition
~explore Châteauneuf du Pape wines (I pick mine up at both Trader Joes - they carry one varietal at a great price for this vineyard, as well as my local wine shop for more varietals and vintages)
11. Seek out French thé and sip a hot cup in the morning to begin the day - pair with your croissant perhaps? :)
12. Cook a classic soufflé au fromage avec fresh herbs
13. Organize a cheese and wine gathering
14. Watch a French cozy mystery series
~explore the latest This & That weekly post which includes additional Francophile Finds, including more French television shows I recommend.
15. Look around your home and discover how you can add a touch of France to your sanctuary, or yet another touch :)
16. Shop and purchase French lingerie to update your lingerie capsule wardrobe
~Chantelle is one of the French brands I highly recommend for high quality everyday lingerie (and they are currently in the middle of their annual summer sale). As shared on this podcast episode Aubade is a quality French lingerie brand I also shop.
17. Make a Clafoutis Aux Cerises with the cherries just now ready to harvest!
18. Conclude the evening by watching a favorite French film
19. Listen to TSLL's Escape to France playlist - over an hour of French music to enjoy
20. Prefer lyric-free music? Listen to TSLL's French Jazz Cafe playlist
21. Make a simple French crêpe for dessert - Lemon and Brown Butter Sweet Crêpe
22. Speaking of crêpes, make a Buckwheat crêpe (or galette) with prosciutto, gruyére and egg
23. Read a French book to explore further the French culture
~Explore all of TSLL's Francophile Finds for books here.
24. Add a French cookbook to your kitchen library - add one each year to further inspire your culinary journey into French cooking
~Explore all of TSLL's recommended cookbooks here.
25. Fall asleep enveloped in French linen sheets
***EXTRA**** Mark your calendars for the 2nd full week in August as each year TSLL celebrates all things French during the Annual TSLL French Week here on the blog. (explore all posts and giveaways shared in previous French Weeks here on the blog)
~Explore becoming a TOP Tier Member of TSLL Community to not only enjoy ad-free reading blog-wide, but also be able to enter all the giveaways presented during the Annual French Week (and access to exclusive content - tours of TSLL's home), as well as be able to curate a library of your favorite blog posts.
Of course there is much French-Inspired content to peruse and explore on TSLL, so be sure to find all of the French-themed posts here, French-themed podcast episodes here, and TSLL's Best Selling book in the category of France Travel The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment, as well as TSLL's 1st book (with an entire chapter dedicated to French-Inspired Living and France Travel and 2nd book. Thank you for stopping by and santé!
~Délicieux, the film
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #334
Thu, 23 June 2022
"He who comes home with the most money doesn't win. He who comes home with the most experiences wins." - Steve Smith, contributor with Rick Steves in Rick Steves France 2015
The Simple Sophisticate, episode #23
One of the most exquisite pleasures in my experience has always been having time at home without a to-do list. To enjoy my sanctuary that comforts me, rejuvenates me and allows me to dream so that when I do step outside into the world I can do, seek and produce, is one of the things I most treasure about living simply luxuriously.
And so it began when I was a child, no doubt, as my mother always cultivated a warm home, but as I grew up and became responsible for establishing my own abode, it took much exploration, dead-ins from time to time and investment to create a space that allowed the everyday to be just as stimulating as new experiences brought about by travel.
And in so doing, paying attention to my home environment, I began to pay attention to how I spend my days. Was I exhausted and unfilled at the end or exhausted and feeling productive? Did I have time in my day to spend it with those I loved, converse with those who engaged in creative, uplifting and thought-provoking conversation or care for myself in such a way that respected my overall health? And depending upon my answer, I would tweak, eliminate, maximize or designate more or less time to those activities that improved the quality of living.
"He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much."
As the quote reminds us, living well is truly about prioritizing how we spend our days. Did we make time to enjoy the day, spend it with those we hold dear, take time to respect what our minds and bodies need or did we cram everything into our waking hours in order to fit a mold that we weren't asked for input regarding its creation? Everyone's path to living well will be different, but the key is to know what you want - more loosely rather than specifically. Because as we know, our lives intermingle with the rest of the world, but if we bring our best selves, have good intentions and are willing to be true selves, success is possible when it comes to living well.
Recently, I was watching the travel guru Rick Steves discuss on PBS his explorations through the countryside of France. While staying at Chateau de Pray and dining on their outdoor terrace, his dining companion shared the quote listed at the beginning of today's post. And I couldn't agree more especially when it comes to travel, but why not bring a similar way of living into our everyday? Why not . . . live well each and every day? Why not use the nice china in the middle of the week? Why not treat ourselves regularly to dinner or lunch with a dear friend at a restaurant that piques our interest or tantalizes our taste buds? Why not sleep on silk pillowcases each night?
Many may quickly scoff at such ideas as being too indulgent, thus deflating the exhilaration that is felt when they are only experiences from time to time, but what I hope to bring to your attention today is that with patience and careful planning, everyday life can indeed be lived luxuriously and can actually enhance the quality of our lives. Below are 20 ways to foster a simply luxurious way of living, but these are just a taste. If you would like the full list inspired by the French way of living, check out chapter 10 "Indulging Your Inner Francophile" in Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide.
1. Cook at home. Find simple, yet delicious recipes and discover the pleasures of cooking on your own schedule for your own dietary needs and preferences. (View TSLL recipes here.)
2. Indulge in café time. Once, twice or three times a week depending up on your schedule and enjoyment, select a favorite local café and stop in for some reading time, moseying through magazine time, or chats with friends. Indulge in one of the patisseries delicious sweet treats and lose track of time.~Les Deux Garcons cafe in Aix-en-Provence, cours Mirabeau~
3. Wear luxurious lingerie everyday. As I talk about in my book, lingerie is a necessity for the woman who wears it, not for those who might see her in it. Why? Because simply knowing we are wearing beautiful, comfortable, luxurious lingerie feels good. And everything begins with our thoughts. If we feel good, we smile more readily, we are more open to new experiences and our attitude is lifted.
4. Let go of busy. A powerful decision that will change your day-to-day living drastically for the better. Busy doesn't mean better or more productive, it simply reveals a life that perhaps could be managed better. After all, living well means living a life of quality. A life that focuses on what is necessary and lets go of the rest. And when you let go of busy, you have more time for moments of simple leisure and luxury that cultivate an everyday life to savor. (Click here to dive into this topic.)
5. Cultivate a capsule wardrobe for each season. Knowing you have in your closet clothes that will make you look and feel your best is a very powerful tool to possess as you begin your day. While this takes time and never really ends due to lives and bodies changing, it is worth our attention. (Click here to learn more about building a capsule wardrobe.)
6. Follow your own schedule. Perhaps it's Friday or even Saturday night, everyone must be out doing something, staying up late, right? Wrong. Your daily schedule is one that works for you and those you spend your time with. Perhaps you prefer Wednesday evenings out because Thursdays are lighter days at work and you enjoy spending your weekends waking up early and getting things done. Whatever schedule works for your goals, intentions, health, family, etc - adhere to it and don't apologize. After all, our lives, needs and desires change, listen to what is nudging you, calling your name and that is where you will find the unexpected beauty.
7. Discover a personal scent. Similar to knowing you are wearing luxurious lingerie is the choice of scent you layer upon your skin before stepping out the door for work or for play. A luxurious decision and investment, but one that will reveal your attention to detail.
8. Subscribe to daily/weekly/monthly periodicals. Running throughout the philosophy of living simply luxuriously is being well-read. Depending upon your lifestyle, curiosities, locale and interests, you will select reading material that interests you. Most importantly, gather knowledge, choose to learn something new each day, read a review of a new play or restaurant and be encouraged to give it a try. Become in the know of current events in order to strike up a conversation with anyone. Reading in truth, is a way of tickling your brain and refusing to live each day the same even if the events may be routine.
9. Save time and don't wash your hair everyday. Purchase a dry shampoo and have on hand for the days you don't lather up. Shampoo less often, thereby saving yourself more time in the morning, and believe it or not, improve the condition of your tresses. (Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk)
10. Invest in quality skincare products. In episode #13 of the podcast, specifics are shared on how to create glowing skin, and by investing in quality skincare products, your most beautiful skin will shine. The power of prevention is real, and while it takes time and a bit of investment, the pay-offs are tremendous.
11. Design a workout regimen to look forward to. Whether you enjoy exercising outdoors in Mother Nature or attending classes lead by instructors that inspire you and classmates that boost your mood, explore your interests and community to see what is available and what captures your needs and proclivities. Most people after having exercise will tell you that they feel better, energized and less stress, and if you can bring that into your everyday life, everything will be affected in a very positive way. (Revolver Yoga Studio, Walla Walla)
12. Find time to treasure hunt. Even if you are not necessarily going to buy, poke around in local consignment shops, yard sales, second-hand shops, antique boutiques and even boutiques that catch your eye. If nothing else, you will walk away with ideas on how to design, style and mix and match what you already have.
13. Be sincere, yet kind. While everyone has days that you are simply grumpy for any list of reasons, taking it out on others is something you will most likely regret. And even if you have to deliver news that isn't favorable, there is always a way to do so with kindness. Being conscious of how we treat people and our delivery will almost always be appreciated, and even if it is taken for granted, at least we can go home at night and feel good about the energy we put out into the world.
14. Shop at local vendors and boutiques. Perhaps you live in a town that you hand-selected for the community it offers, but what if you didn't? Either way, supporting local vendors when it comes to food or local boutiques when it comes to shopping for gifts, necessities and products not only builds good-will, but strengthens the economy of the local community. And additionally, when it comes to buying food locally, you benefit your overall health as most foods are free from pesticides and hold more nutritional value that your body craves.
15. Eat real food. Full of flavor that will satiate, real food is a choice your body will thank you for. Processed food may be more convenient and help you reduce the shopping trips to the grocery store, but in the long term, it is a bad investment. Returning home after a long day knowing the food you will be incorporating into your meal will be satisfying and nutritious will remove guilt and properly fuel your body for whatever it may be asked to do next.
16. Elevate the conversation. Easier said than done when we are exhausted, stressed and frustrated, but when you do your best to refrain from complaining and gossiping, you are less likely to go home in the evening regretting or feeling guilty about partaking. In fact, when conversations are full of curious information - books, local events, news, etc - you can walk away inspired, motivated and eager to do something new. Why not bring such a conversation to those in your world?
17. Create an evening routine to look forward to. At the end of the day, your body and mind may be entirely taxed which is why making time (even 15 minutes) for unwinding with a favorite pastime is crucial. Being able to look forward to this simple routine can be the silver lining no matter what your day has unearthed.
18. Schedule regular spa appointments for beauty and health maintenance. Much like exercise, caring for our bodies is a means to caring for our health, overall beauty and mind. So be sure to schedule your facial, massage, hair cut/color, waxing and any other must-dos before you walk out the door from your last appointment. They can often be the respite in a busy week and will no doubt leave you feeling rejuvenated.
19. Stock a bar cart for spur-of-the-moment entertaining. Whether you drink alcoholic beverages or not, stock a bar cart that has drinks and nibbles at the ready for last-minute guests. Even for one or two guests, having a bar with wine, beer or if it's morning - croissants and hot tea keeps the food with the conversation in the living room or sitting room. Luxurious and ready for any everyday occasion. (A glimpse of my
20. Fill your home with inspired music. For techies or retro audiophiles, have your turntable or playlists ready for any occasion. From leisurely jazz tunes when you return from work and wish to read the daily news to beautiful Bach in the morning as you get ready for work, set up your music station, turn off the television and forget about time, even if for a moment.
Whatever inspires you in your travels or remains memorable to you from your past, why not bring it into your everyday life if at all possible? Cultivate an everyday life that perhaps no one would believe is possible, but rest assured it is. After all, as Annie Dillard reminds us, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Why not spend your life living well each and everyday?
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile (episode #4)
~French-Inspired Living: Books to Enjoy
Befriend a local wine shop to ensure great wines no matter what the occasion.
~Liner & Elsen "One of America's six great main street wine shops." -Bon Appetit
2222 NW Quimby St. (off 22nd Ave.)
~Chateau Du Grand Bos (2005) Bordeaux, France (wine enjoyed in the photo to the right).
~Images: (1) a cafe in Paris in Montmartre captured by TSLL
Sun, 1 May 2022
Today I would like to share with you 16 ideas for savoring Paris fully no matter how short your stay may be. As I have written about in my first book and referred to in my third, the Paris Syndrome is real, but the magic of Paris is real as well.
Admittedly, I thoroughly enjoy the French countryside and appreciate and utilize my time in Paris for punctuating my visits as my trips begin and then as I conclude them before making my way to the airport or heading to England via the Eurostar. While in Paris, I give myself a day or two to soak up opportunities to explore exhibits, try new and different restaurants, step inside places I am most curious about as there is always something I have yet to see with my own eyes or simply sit on a terrasse and watch the city go about its day. The energy, the city itself is like no other, and it does seem to breathe new life, excite new ideas and bring them to the forefront for my attention to cease.
My recent trip found me traveling with my mother who I invited to join me as I wanted to get my feet back onto the terra firma of the two countries I adore and write about here on TSLL after the nearly three year hiatus. With this being my mother's first trip to either country (France and Britain), I decided against stepping outside of Paris and instead tried to give her a taste of what makes the City of Light so special. Seeing so much in the span of just under three days was a bit overwhelming, but each experience was quite special. However, with this being my seventh visit to Paris, it solidified even more concretely what I enjoy spending my time doing when I visit no matter how much time I have and what enables me to truly savor, appreciate and revel in any opportunity to be there in person. Let's take a look at the list.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #328
Sun, 6 February 2022
Photographer and Paris blogger, founder of Everyday Parisian, Rebecca Plotnick joins me on today's episode to talk about traveling to Paris during the time of Covid. Travelers are gradually beginning to make travel plans abroad, and as Rebecca traveled to Paris this past October, I invited her on the show to share her experience as well as assuage travelers who may wonder exactly how to meet the requirements for testing and proof of vaccination.
This past August, Rebecca shared a detailed Q & A here on the blog during TSLL's Annual French Week; however, I purposely waited for her to join the podcast until after she returned from Paris as I wanted her to talk specifically about what travelers can expect and thus prepare for as they step back on plans to visit the City of Light.
I recently read that Paris is the #4 destination American travelers have booked flights to for their summer 2022 travels, and as you will hear in our conversation, while visiting any time of year is wonderful, visiting in spring may be quite a special time to take in the natural beauty as well as the other sites and favorite tastes of a city so many TSLL readers love.
~NOTE: Since the recording of this episode, France as updated their requirement of a proof of vaccination (US Embassy for France) (French (French website - in English). You will need to secure a Vaccine Pass, but their online site is temporarily unusable. Currently what you can do, is as soon as you arrive in Paris, visit a local pharmacy, and for $40, show them your proof of vaccination (CDC card), as well as your passport, and you will be able to attain the necessary health pass to ensure access to all of the sites you came to Paris to see.
Links shared in today's episode:
SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #322
Wed, 11 August 2021
Provencal mystery writer M.L. Longworth joins me on the podcast for this year's French Week to share some exciting news about her series.
I invited Mary Lou back to the show (see our previous conversations here - ep. #268 - and here - ep. #203) as I recently learned her novels had been optioned for a television series to air on BritBox. Longworth shares many details about the cast, when it will premiere, which books will be included in season one and much more. Be sure to take the tour of Aix-en-Provence she gave me in this post to enjoy a taste of the world of Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet, and tune in to today's episode as she talks about food, shares a delicious recipe AND shares the synopsis for her upcoming 10th mystery and when to expect it to be released.
Links mentioned during our conversation:
M.L. Longworth's Lentil & Duck Breast Salad
As shared during episode #310 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, Provençal mystery writer M.L. Longworth shared a recipe during our conversation that offers a quintessential taste of summer in Provence.
~Sign up for TSLL's Free Weekly Newsletter
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #310
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
EXPLORE MORE POSTS FROM FRENCH WEEK 2021
3rd Giveaway: A Cozy Francophile Gift Package
~View more TSLL French-Inspired posts in the Archives
Sun, 8 August 2021
309: Let's Travel to Paris! My Discussion with Paris Perfect Vacation Rentals' Founder Madelyn Byrne
One day in the not too distant future, the dream will be realized for each one of us who longs to hop on a plane and slip away to Paris. Frequently during my daydreams I envision just this scenario happening, and when I do, I will find peace of mind knowing my accommodations with Paris Perfect await my arrival.
On today's episode discover just exactly makes each rental perfect for travelers looking to savor all that Paris has to offer - from the thoughtful attention to every detail down to how many outlets are in each apartment to carefully considered mattresses made in France and sofas made in Italy. Everything from the moment you arrive at the airport to any question you might have while you are in the city of light has been addressed. And who wouldn't want to wake up to a view of the Eiffel Tower? As so many Paris Perfect rentals offer, explore and find the ideal home-away-from-home for your next trip.
I am incredibly tickled to welcome to today's episode of the podcast the founder of Paris Perfect and London Perfect Madelyn Byrne (seen right). Her sister, Lisa Byrne is the General Manager of Paris Perfect, London Perfect, Italy Perfect as well as the Founder of Italy Perfect, and kindly arranged for this opportunity. What Madelyn shares will, I have a feeling, entice you to want to purchase that ticket to France sooner rather than later. ❤️🇫🇷☺️
Tune in to the latest episode of the podcast, in celebration of TSLL's 6th Annual French Week and discover why I personally recommend making reservations with the Paris, London and Italy Perfect team, as well Madelyn shares tips for success in any business venture you may be dreaming about, what life is like currently (as of June 2021 when the conversation was recorded) in both France and Italy at the moment due to covid, two Petit Plaisirs and much more. I do hope you enjoy today's episode.
~Tour the London Perfect flat I stayed at as discussed in our conversation in today's episode: London Perfect: A Traveler's Sanctuary
Visit and/or Follow Paris, London and Italy Perfect via the links below:
~La Lande rental~
Madelyn & Philippe
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #309
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Explore All Posts/Episodes from this year's 6th Annual French Week
~All images courtesy of Paris Perfect
Sun, 20 June 2021
Ten years of visiting, followed by three years of construction and refurbishing, and now Shauna Varvel's family Provençal mas situated just outside of Avignon, France, is an exquisite Provençal destination to see both inside and out.
Feasting first on the thoughtfully designed and decorated property through Instagram beginning in 2018, I continued to follow her as the property named Le Mas des Poiriers as well as serving as a family home for her and her husband, their adult children and the growing grandchildren, is also now available for rent (although, likely for the most elite due to the price point - which it is worth based on the expansive grounds and thoughtful decor).
Featured in Veranda's April 2019 issue, inspiration abounds whether or not we will be able to visit and see with our own eyes, as Varvel's new book Provence Style: Decorating with French Country Flair (published by Vendome, photography Luke White) was just released earlier this month.
With today being the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, I thought what better way to celebrate the ideal season during which to visit Provence than by dedicating this week's podcast episode entirely to welcoming the Provençal decor and garden ideas into our home and lives wherever we may call home.
Having had the opportunity to receive and read Shauna's book, if you are looking for visual inspiration as well as a historical exploration of the design styles associated with Provence, Provence Style is a book you will appreciate and find incredibly resourceful.
In today's episode I have gathered 15 ideas adding a touch or a wealth of Provençal decor inspiration to our sanctuaries. Let's take a look.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast308
Sun, 31 January 2021
France, food, seasonally fresh produce.
American expat cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis has just released a new cookbook and it is good. Deliciously good. Plat du Jour: French Dinners Made Easy was just released on January 12th, and I excitedly welcomed it into my cookbook library.
Today, Susan returned to join me on the podcast to talk about her new cookbook. Sharing the inspiration for the book, the history of the phrase Plat du Jour, recipes to enjoy during the middle of winter, much more along with another Petit Plaisir that will remind us all how powerfully delicious waiting for something delicious can be.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast300
Sun, 4 October 2020
"The thread of all good cooking: the right ingredients, fresh and the way they should be - not fancy or expensive." —Anne Willan, author of Women in the Kitchen and founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris
One of the world's preeminent authors on French cooking, a James Beard Award-winning author and the founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, Anne Willan joins me on the podcast today to talk about her new book Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today.
In today's episode we will talk about seven of the women featured in the book, as well as talk about Anne's time managing and founding La Varenne and much more.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast289
Sun, 9 August 2020
Author and blogger and American living in Paris Lindsey Tramuta joins me on podcast today to talk about her new book The New Parisienne: The Women & Ideas Shaping Paris (purchase on Bookshop.org). Having called Paris home for nearly 15 years, Tramuta explores the true Parisienne woman, looking past the myth and confining superficial stereotype that has been perpetuated for centuries through introducing readers to 40 Parisiennes in all of their diverse life journeys and talents and passions.
Joining me from Paris, our conversation covers where the myth of the Parisienne woman began, who benefitted from it and how we can shift the narrative to reflect the truth. We also talk about her happy place in Paris, the difference between universal feminism vs. intersectional feminism and with diverse individual profiled, what they all have in common. I do hope you will tune in and have a listen.
Lindsey's first book The New Paris (2017) is another wonderful Francophile resource to keep on hand as an introduction to new people, places and ideas in the City of Light.
Download and Listen to the full episode here or listen on the following podcast platforms:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #285
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~The TEDTalk mentioned during our conversation, The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Lindsey's Petit Plaisir links:
Images: (1) author pic courtesy of author, taken by Joann Pai
PREVIOUS POSTS from TSLL’s 5th Annual French Week
Sun, 31 May 2020
Today on the podcast, fellow podcaster Oliver Gee of The Earful Tower joins me to talk about his newly released memoir Paris On Air (shop here on Bookshop.org) as well as living in Paris during France's 59 days of confinement. I had the opportunity to speak with him the day after the lockdown regulations were loosened, and he shared what his and his wife Lina's experience had been and what the first thing they did was on May 11th.
The primary focus of our discussion is his new book. Tune in to our conversation to discover the behind-the-scenes of how his acclaimed podcast (recently recommended in The New York Times for the top 13 podcasts to listen to for traveling abroad while staying at home) came about, evolved and, in a short amount of time, became his full-time and one and only job in the City of Light. As well, if you enjoy listening to your books, Oliver explains how his book is a unique Audio Experience that welcomes the people he writes about in his book into the studio to share their voice for their part.
Follow Oliver on Instagram (@theearfultower), and visit his blog here (learn more about his virtual book tour as well).
~Listen to my first interview with Oliver, episode #222 in August 2018.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast282
Sun, 16 February 2020
Last fall two episodes were shared delineating ideas for a timeless capsule wardrobe for traveling about in Paris as well as in London and the English countryside. As promised, the series continues into winter, and while we are nearing the end of winter, with the Paris fall/winter collections about ready to take the runway sharing their 2020 trends and inspirations, I thought this would be the perfect time to share how Parisians dress in the chillest months of the year.
Of course the uber style stars who will share their street style at the end of February as they make their way to and from the shows, and while I highly recommend taking a look at what they are wearing as even though they may be out of reach budget-wise and offer strong signature style that is hard or less likely to be imulated and simply admired, the color combinations, layers, and fabric choices are worth noting most certainly.
Today, let's return to Paris and take a look at the necessities for a timeless winter wardrobe whether you are making a trip for business or pleasure.
First of all, what is the weather likely to be during winter in Paris? Paris Perfect explains that the average temperature during the months of December, January and February is 42 degrees Fahrenheit, so about 6 degrees Celsius. With a 50% chance of cloudy and/or rainy weather on any given day, be prepared for moisture, and likely not snow (although on occasion snow does fall, but it doesn't last for more than a day or two - typically).
Depending upon where you call home when you aren't visiting Paris, 42 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter may feel chilly, not-so-bad or perhaps even warm for winter months. Whilst keeping all of that in mind, let's take a look at the list of essentials for your capsule wardrobe.
1.Classic, well-constructed cashmere or wool sweaters
Since you are in Paris, you will likely be inside most of the time, but walking from place to place. Keeping this in mind, fine cashmere sweaters would be the best as you can layer them for more warmth, but also not become over-heated while inside at your desired destination.
2. Dark denim
Dark colors in general will never be a bad idea in Paris during the winter. From dark denim jeans to dark pants, dark shoes and dark outerwear, the benefit of knowing this and having such items on hand is that you can easily mix and match and then add the pop of color as you feel necessary.
3. Black jeans
4. Waterproof leather booties (ankle boot)
5. Leather sneakers
Ecco soft 7 sneaker, leather (many colors)
6. A Warm Winter Coat - Puff, Pea Coat or something similar - long preferred
The air is damp, so when the wind blows or the temperatures drop, it feels colder than it may actually be. A long coat will keep your entire body warm while you wait in line to go to a museum or venture outside to stroll from one destination to another.
~Be sure to check out Mango for beautiful coats at great price points.
7. A Wool Blazer
For days in which it is not as chilly, but still the air has a nip, wear an oversized wool blazer with a scarf.
8. Lovely warm, scarves
From classic oblong scarves to large stoles which can be used as a blanket on the plane while traveling, pack one or two favorite scarves that will work with what you have and provide the warmth you seek.
9. A Warm Wool Hat
Leave the beret at home and pack a warm wool or cashmere hat that covers your head and ears. Black, navy, ivory or anything neutral so you can wear it with anything you have packed.
Madeline Thompson cashmere navy beanie (black also avilable)
10. Leather, yet cashmere lined, gloves
Nordstrom's cashmere lined leather gloves (black also available)
Yes, an additional sweater, but turtlenecks are lovely in their retro chic silhouettes. Whether fitted or oversized, choose a luxurious fabric that feels good on your skin, a high neck that hugs your chin and a color that works well with your wardrobe, all while perhaps adding a touch of pop or a subtle unique shade of something fabulous.
Granted a cardigan is a sweater as shared in #1 being a must-have while traveling around Paris, but a cardigan is a casual choice to have for the flight, for snuggling in either in the morning or evening upon returning from being out and about, and well, just a lovely winter staple to have on hand (and a necessary one in Paris during the winter).
13. A travel umbrella
Likely, your accommodations will have an umbrella for you to use, but having a packable umbrella with you wherever in the world you might travel is never a bad idea. As shared at the top of the post/episode, the liklihood that it will rain in Paris is 50/50, so it's best to be prepared as you won't want to wear a coat with a hood unless you want to stick out as a tourist, unless the coat looks something like this.
14. Shop for what you need while in Paris - pourquoi pas?!
In January, the semi-annual French Les Soldes takes place in which every shop will be having sales on everything, not just the items they cannot sell. Take advantage of this opportunity and shop for what you need while you are there, but also what will live and be loved for many years to come wherever you call home.
15. Totes and handbags
This recommendation will be the same as it was for Autumn - a crossbody bag for going about the city and a tote for travel days. Poléne's full and mini crossbody bags are ones I recently learned about and now have and absolutely would recommend.
Whether your favorite time to visit Paris is the spring, summer or fall or winter, whenever the opportunity arises to escape to the City of Light, it will be hard to say no. Knowing you will be well-packed will ensure you feel confident and comfortable as you walk and explore and savor along with the Parisians themselves with no one being the wiser that you are a tourist unless you let it be known. Most certainly, your sartorial choices will not give you away.
Stay tuned as I will continue this series for the spring and summer months as the year unfolds and Anglophiles, rest assured, a winter shopping list will be shared soon.
View All Other Seasons & Their Timeless Wardrobe Essentials for Visiting France
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy:
28 Life & Style Tips from a Parisian Woman, episode #232
Traveling Alone Well, episode #220
~My French Country Home magazine
~created and edited by Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home blog and travels
Images: Click through on each image to be taken to the direct source
Sun, 1 December 2019
"Everyone knows you don't have to be born in Paris to dress like a Parisian." —Ines de la Fressange, author of Parisian Chic, Encore!: A Style Guide (2019) with Sophie Gachet, co-author
In 2011, Karl Lagerfeld's muse and the first model to sign an exclusive modeling contract with the haute couture fashion house, in this case Chanel, Ines de la Fressange published her first Style Guide. Becoming quickly a New York Times Book Review bestseller, eight years later, she has updated her much applauded Parisian Style Guide.
Parisian Chic, Encore!: A Style Guide was recently released this past November. Having written a detailed a review when her original book was first published (have a look), the updated version contains 50% new content, 300 full-color illustrations/photographs, and is completely refreshed. Now admittedly, much of the original holds true and is still a valuable resource, but if you too have the original copy, you know that the latter half of the book is a resource of addresses of boutiques, restaurants and many other Parisian locales recommended by de la Fressange. As one might imagine, these had to be updated.
Today, what I'd like to share with you are 32 Ways to Exhibit Parisian Chic style whether in your wardrobe, home or lifestyle because whether we live in Paris, wish to visit Paris or not, incorporate one or many of her style tips will help us to cultivate our own unique signature style. Let's get started.
~Be sure to tune in to the audio version as much more detail is shared on each of the items shared below.
1.Muster up courage and ignore the trends (p.13)
2. Create a vintage collection of your own (p.14)
3. Remember to let your style evolve (p.30)
4. Practice discretion when it comes to labels and accessories (p.12)
5. Take on the role of 'buyer' for your own wardrobe (p.15)
6. Hone the skill of 'mixing things up' (p.16, 26, 28, 29)
Wear a high end designer pant with a simple white shirt
7. Mix patterns and soften with white (p.21)
8. Know the universal rule of proportions when it comes to good style
9. Simple is good
"Not everything you buy has to be interesting. A nice scoop neck sweater is a must. You can wear it with jeans and a long necklace —it will look elegant without being boring." (p.32)
10. Welcome men's accessories into your wardrobe - especially belts
Worn and too long for a traditional outfit, belts with such descriptors are perfect for cinching everything that needs a waist. (p. 27)
11. Avoid fashion faux pas (p. 34-37)
Such as T-shirts with supposedly funny sayings and leggings (unless you are headed to yoga class or a your daily workout is calling).
12. Style idea for a date - cropped black trousers, a man's white button-up shirt and low heeled or flat shoes, but don't forget nice lingerie (p.41)
13. Don't be afraid of sneakers (stylish and thoughtful, bien sûr) (p. 45)
14. When packing for a getaway, bring denim (p.48) . . .
. . . also a loose shirt, white jeans, two long-sleeved shirts, a white cotton dress (and to view the entire list visit page 48-49).
15. Buy the right leather jacket . . .
. . . which is "as close fitting as possible with high armholes and patch pockets". (p. 54)
16. Never follow diets. Rather follow Ines' golden rule:
"Pay attention when you are eating and stop when you are no longer hungry." (p. 171)
17. Remember the truth about dinner parties - they are coming to see you, not for a gourmet meal (p. 170)
18. Dinner party - a simple, yet delicious dinner, followed by an amusing dessert (regarding the presentation). (p. 170)
19. Stick to a central theme in your home decor
View/Listen to episode #228 - 21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's New Decor Book
20. Make decor statements with a single piece of furniture - a chair, a settee.
Thoughtfully chosen items can stand-out against a neutral palette
21. Welcome the scented candles . . . to every room
22.Harmonize containers in the kitchen (p. 152)
23. Use vases to store kitchen utensils (p. 152)
24. Display a painting on an easel instead of the wall (p.156)
25. Collect and display a variety of ceramic items on a table - trés Parisienne (swap regularly) (p. 156)
26. Choose an inviting sofa (large, comfortable, plush is that is your liking) (p. 156)
27. Keep your eye out for a vintage stepladder to place next to a bookshelf (p. 156)
28. Unification in the closet - hangers of the same color
29. Give everything in your closet a front-row seat
So you can see what you have and wear it! (p. 162)
30. Don't worry about buying last season's trends
31. Walk or bike as much as you can instead of hopping into a car (location dependent)
32. Know what true effortless style is . . . "self-confidence and a smile" (p.26)
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
How to Cultivate Your True Style All Year Long, episode #149
Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange, TSLL's review (2011)
Mon, 4 November 2019
A stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg or one of the many other jardins located about Paris as the many carefully groomed leafy trees turn orange, red and brilliant gold is a memory to savor for travelers who come from far and wide to visit the City of Light during the autumn season. Granted, most travelers wish to visit for many other reasons as well, but being dressed well for the season ensures the visit will be comfortable and help one to fit in well so as to best experience the city as it goes about its everyday business and routines.
Last month I shared Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain — with the promise to share each season a capsule wardrobe to pack for both Britain and France. Today, specifically Paris is our focus.
To visit during autumn is for a select lucky few, and while I have only traveled abroad during this time of year once due to work restraints, I look forward in the future to more visits during this somewhat "off season". After all, from rain, to chilly temperatures, to stunning fall days complete with cobbled streets sprinkled with leaves, autumn in Paris encourages all the more slipping into cafes, museums, bistros and just soaking up Paris and Parisian life.
Let's take a look at what to pack for a comfortable visit for day and evening in Paris.
Paris can be quite cold when the right combination of dropping temperatures and whistling wind sweeps through, so having warmth, yet stylish warmth is a good idea. Depending upon how long you are visiting, pack one or two sweaters, at least one being oversized for wearing over slim jeans or trousers.
Just about every person you will see in Paris, men and women will be donning a scarf that is functional and subtly (or sometimes not so subtle) chic and perfectly paired with their outfit. Pack a wool or cashmere scarf for layering with your coat as well as silk large square scarves for wearing with your outfit after the coat has been removed.
3. Opaque tights
Whether you prefer classic opaque black tights or what the French call collants fantaisie hosierie, tights with details in them, having a pair to keep your legs warm when you still want to wear a skirt or dress is a simple, yet necessary detail to have packed in your suitcase.
4. Ankle boots
Worn with pants, jeans or skirts and dresses, ankle boots are a go-to must-have for the fall season.
5. A Leather or Faux Leather jacket
Layering is the approach to ensure you have what you need to stay warm, but also look pulled together. A leather jacket is a versatile item pairing well for casual occasions as well as evening outings. Choose a color that works well with your wardrobe and skin tone, and don't feel you have purchase a black jacket. Shades of brown or grey are a wonderful neutral choice depending upon what you will be pairing with it.
6. Knee-high or Over-the-Knee boots
Depending upon your style, choose a boot shaft that is tall, but slender. Over-the-knee boots are quite en vogue at the moment and actually have been worn by style icons for years, those that had the aplomb to wear them. And wear them well they most certainly did. With more and more price points available, if you have a nice slim skinny jean or a skirt that is knee or just above the knee length, consider having some fun with this style. However, knee-high boots will always be in style and work well with all ages and wardrobes. If you are comfortable with a little bit of a heel, knowing you will be walking about in them a bit more than usual, go for a heel, but if not, keep them low or flat.
7. Skirts — day skirts that can transition
Knee length or just below the knee skirts are frequently seen on the streets of Paris. Depending upon your body's shape, choose a cut that flatters your figure, but is also versatile to pair with a sweater, your leather jacket as well as a nice blouse.
8. Jeans and/or pants
Whatever you feel most comfortable in and can dress up or down easily, pack two or three - jeans, pants or a mixture. Dark denim if you choose jeans and a color of pant that can be worn with at least two different tops you have brought with you.
9. A Trench coat and/or a Wool coat
Depending upon what time of the fall season you will be visiting, one or both of these coats is a good idea. Wool coats will be ubiquitous in the winter season, but there will still be warm and temperate days in early fall in which a trench would be perfect.
10. Loafers or sneakers
Sneakers are not a no-no anymore so long as they are not trainers. With a vast array of wardrobe sneakers to choose from at varying price points, find a color (white is popular, but it need not be the only neutral choice) that works best with the other items you have brought with you.
Loafers on the other hand can be quite comfortable as well and are perfect on those mild fall days in which letting your ankles meet the fresh air won't chill you at all.
~While your sneakers do not have to be as fancy as the Saint Laurent pair at the top of the post, having a pair that is narrow and simple will make walking comfortable and make sure you don't feel out of style.
11. A crossbody bag
As you will be walking quite a bit, even if it is simply to hop on the metro or hail a cab, having a handbag that is secure, yet a decent size without being overwhelming is a good idea. While pickpocketers are certainly something to be aware of, and a crossbody bag will help you keep your purse secure, choosing a bag that is just large enough for what you need is perfect for walking about as well as traveling to and from Paris. And since you are in France, why not choose a Polène Numero Un or Numero Un mini?
12. A long-sleeve blouse
Choosing a blouse in a print (is always a simple way to make a statement with the other neutral items in your wardrobe) or a solid that pairs with at least two bottoms in your suitcase is a way to offer versatility for both day and evening.
13. One or two dresses
While your wardrobe will be dependent upon your itinerary and what you will be visiting and how you best prefer to enjoy the city, pack one or two dresses. Midi-length is quite popular right now and flattering to many different figures and ages. Depending upon how you most feel comfortable dressing up, make sure you have at least one nice evening outfit. If that is a dress, pack the dress that raises your confidence meter at least two notches. For day, choose a dress that allows you to move, sit, stand and still look wonderful.
Wearing what makes you feel your best, so much so that you can forget about your clothes and just enjoy being in Paris is possible when the wardrobe is thoughtfully compiled. These items should keep you warm, but also trés effortlessly chic. Finish with a scarf, and a curious heart and mind, and you will look absolutely stunning.
~View the remaining three seasons of timeless style for traveling to France below.
TSLL's 2nd Book is now available in Audio Format! (Audible, Amazon and iBooks)
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain, episode #263
~22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment, episode #258
~Top 10 Style & Beauty Lessons Learned from the French, episode #196
~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow
~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow
Sun, 11 August 2019
If you take an American man and place him in Paris, asking him to fit in, it will take a good sense of humor and a sincere love of France, but this man will be calling Paris his home, his sincere home, in due time.
Such a man, or should we say, monsieur, is author and writer John von Sothen.
I had the opportunity to meet up with John in the arrondisement he has called home for nearly 20 years - the 10th - and join him for what I like to describe as a "walk and talk". For more than two hours (which felt like minutes as I had the good fortune of being on a one-on-one guided tour of a city I too love, but have so much to learn), he showed me his everyday life from the fish monger where he picks up his poisson, the boulangerie where he walks down to pick up his faily's baquette (or two) in the morning and the restaurant where the neighborhood parents meet up after dropping their children off at school in the morning.
His new book, released this past May - Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French - shares the reality of being an expat from America living in Paris all the while being newly married, newly a parent and new to everyday living in France. Needless to say, with a dose of humor, an insatiable curiosity and deep affection for France, and being raised to "contribute" as his mother would also encourage him to do at dinner parties his parents would host in Georgetown in his youth, he has found France to be his home in more ways than he ever intended, but sincerely appreciates.
In today's episode, I have divided it into three parts (all included in this one episode). As our conversation begins, we are seated outdoors on a terrasse in the 18th arrondisements bordering the 10th.
I hope that you will appreciate the real-time acoustics of the city of Paris' background music as you will hear it all - French conversation, the traffic, and a city that is alive. With my trusty, but small hand-held recorded we chatted about everything, much of what I learned by reading his book and much more.
There are a few instances in which the wind is heard, and while I have edited out most parts of our conversation in which the wind was present and obstructive, the instances in which I have not is intentional as what we are talking about is worth hearing, and I did not have the heart to cut it out. Thank you for your patience in these rare moments because the rest is a dance of insights about Parisian and French living from the inside that we don't often learn or hear about.
From talking about the famed French vacances that foreign onlookers love to dream about, what being an aristocrat really means in France (psst - his wife is an aristocrat and from an aristocratic family, so he has the inside scoop), the truth about raising children in the city of Paris, how his mother influenced his love and interest in France, why he was raised unintentionally to be someone who could step into a new culture and not be intimidated, what escaping to the country in France is like for someone who loves the city life, the film Amelie, American politics as perceived by the Parisians, and his now quickly-becoming-famous rescue pup made it into a French film.~John von Sothen's family dog Bogart at home when I met in him July in Paris (left); the French film Yves in which Bogart stars. The film premiered on July 26th of this year.~
Now, a quick note about that last point. Of course, I was drawn to our entire conversation and intrigued about the realities, but when we started talking about his family's dog Bogart, I couldn't help but be intrigued. And perhaps John noticed this because he gave me the opportunity to meet his dog, and so, below I captured a picture of him after I had the chance to say hello. He is the sweetest pup, truly a kind soul and no wonder he is a star on screen because he is a star period. (view the trailer for the film - Yves - here - Bogart appears in the first seen sleeping on the sofa)
I do hope you enjoy our conversation. John von Sothen's book is available now, and you can find him writing for Esquire, French Vanity Fair, GQ, and AirMail, as well as other French and American publications (and even sometimes on French television as his book describes in hilarious detail).
~Learn more about John von Sothen and read more of his writing at johnvonsothen.com
~Purchase a copy of Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French (May 2019)
~John entertained graciously my attempts at a photo together, but I wanted to included especially the photo on the lower right as in the background is a piece of art created by his mother of which wsa talked about at the beginning of today's episode.~
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Find all of the French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .
SUNDAY August 11th
~Sponsors of today's episode:
Sun, 2 June 2019
"I firmly believe that it's the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary." —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
Sixteen years French chef Robert Arbor released a book that offers a personal glimpse into his everyday routines which adhere to the French's simple approach to living well. With time split between living in Connecticutt and living in a country home in Flaujac-Poujol, France, with his wife and two sons, he shares how the secrets of the French are really quite simple when it comes to elevating the everyday.
Yes, it took me far too long to pick up this book, but as soon as I did, his words were music to my ears as he too celebrates and revels in the everyday routines, cultivate seemingly simple rituals that are savored and deeply appreciated. A way of life that is inspired by his own upbringing in Fontainebleau, France, just outside of Paris.
Many readers recommended Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living and many readers have shared they return to read this book often to reminders of how to slow down and savor the lives they have worked so hard to have the opportunity to live. Joie de Vivre is a gem of a resource for reminding ourselves of the beauty of life - understanding that our lives are made up everydays is all we need to do to recognize and embrace a truly contented life.
While I will certainly be picking up the book many times more in the future, having highlighted and annotated heavily throughout, I wanted to share 36 ideas Arbor shares in the book as an introduction to how grand the everyday can be, and how it truly is quite simple.
~Be sure to tune in and listen to the podcast episode and more discussion on each point is shared.
1.Breakfast - enjoy alone and make it nice or with a very close friend, someone you like - make it your personal time of the day.
2. Savor the buttery goodness of a croissant on weekend or for special occasions
~TSLL's homemade croissant recipe~
3. Cloth napkins for everyday dining
4. Cultivate a routine you enjoy around your breakfast and morning "to give a quick thought to each day's potential".
5. Cultivate your own potager (vegetable garden) to "grow a few things to eat fresh". And only grow what you love to eat and share.
6. Disperse flowers throughout your potager, let go of perfection and separation.
7. Place your fresh, delicate vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, courgettes, most fruit) in a compote on the kitchen counter to be reminded to use them immediately (or very soon).
"A big part of comprehending joie de vivre is understanding that enjoyment in day-to-day life is the true key to happiness. Finding happiness in small things means that ordinary days are filled with pleasures rather than obligations. Joyful anticipation of life's everyday events is part of bringing joie de vivre into your home in a lasting way."
8. Grow your own garden of herbs
9. Make food shopping enjoyable - visit a special shop, a farm stand or make it a social engagement.
10. Enjoy good, seasonal food and revel in it.
11. Welcome cheese into your eating regimen
12. Regularly frequent le marché in your area when available
"Great food and ingredients can be found anywhere. One just has to make more of an effort and decide on a lifestyle choice about the quality of the food."
13. Make the kitchen the center of the house, but it need not be state-of-the-art.
14. No need to spend a lot of money to have a pleasant workable kitchen - regular height chairs, let go of the high stools, so you can relax and enjoy conversation - sitting back, etc. Only purchase the equipment you will actually use and buy quality items that will last. Here are a few ideas: 3-4 pots with lids, a cast iron skillet (keep it seasoned), a teakettle on the stove for boiling water, a Dutch oven or cocotte, but again, only tools you will need for the food you and your household enjoy eating.
15. Have the basic cooking utensils stocked in your kitchen so no matter what the season, you can make what you enjoy: 3 sharpened knives (paring, chef's and serrated), 2 cutting boards, earthenware jugs full of different wooden spoons and spatulas, a stainless-steel spoon and 8-oz ladle, perforated stainless steel spoon, tongs, a whisk, 3 graduated mixing bowls, a fine mesh strainer, hot mitts, a hand-cranked can opener, cork screw, cotton kitchen towels, and a scale, measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin if you are a baker.
~A Cook's Kitchen (necessary utensils)
~A Baker's Kitchen (necessary utensils)
17. Tidy your kitchen as you go to make the space a place you enjoy stepping into each time.
18. Lengthen and deepen (full and satiating) your midday meal as much as possible.
"This is a time for stepping away from your work — even if you are eating with your coworkers—and talking and thinking about something else . . . Whatever the company, the conversation is always pleasant and positive. And that, naturally, adds to the pleasure and anticipation of lunch. It is a real break from the rest of the day. Le déjeuner is not about using time, it is about taking time."
19. Enjoy a picnic and make it comfortable
"I do love a picnic in the French style, which, of course, means comfort, comfort and more comfort. First of all, a French person is simply not going to eat on the ground. Although we might lounge around on a blanket later, it is much butter to eat sitting up."
20. Reserve Sunday to enjoy a big Sunday lunch, focusing on pleasure rather than obligation.
21. And grab that nap after the lengthy lunch to add regular moments of rejuventation .
"Remind yourself that sometimes the best ideas and solutions rise to the surface when you're not thinking so hard."
22. Grab an afternoon break regularly with la pause gourmande to give yourself a treat - "a treat with a purpose" and offer the perfect solution to the "afternoon blahs".
23. Enjoy dinner in the dining room regularly and offer the opportunity for everyone to contribute (whether by setting the table, etc.) somehow.
24. Unwind after dinner with a little dessert treat (nothing too grand), and partaking in something you enjoy on your own or with others so that you can go to bed happy and content.
25. Share dinner with friends with a casual dinner party - only invite people you truly like and don't "overstretch yourself".
~10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from My last Dinner Party, episode #235
26. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere, which means you need to be able to be relaxed and enjoy the evening as well. The goal: good food, good conversation and good fun.
27. Begin with apéritifs - small nibbles and drinks.
28. Have very small groups of flowers on the table to create a welcome, but not cumbersome table to sit around and enjoy the meal.
29. Add candles to the dinner table either in glass hurricanes, or small tea lights spread around the tabletop.
30. Add a low volume lyric-less music to the background, as the conversation amongst friends is the best music.
31. Enjoy cheese and a vinaigrette dressed salad course after the main course prior to dessert.
32. Add water to the meal to be enjoyed while enjoying glasses of wine with each course.
33. Dessert need not be homemade when you have a favorite local patisserie.
34. Savor the winding down at the end of the day and do not skip this important part of each day. Cultivate a pleasant ritual, perhaps a different one for each season.
35. Make lavender-scented linen water to add an inviting scent to your bed linens.
36. Enjoy a good night's sleep
"Americans are fascinated with how the French manage to live so well, and so contentedly, in their ordinary, day-to-day life. It's not just about cooking, decorating, or entertaining — it's about enjoying all the small details of domestic life." —Robert Arbor
May your everydays be full of simple pleasures and moments of joy as well as you remember how extraordinary your life already is at this very moment.
~Order Robert Arbor's book Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS from THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life, episode #23
~View all French-Inspired podcast episodes here
~Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent)
Sun, 17 February 2019
Over the years I have recommended, reviewed and shared a long list of French films or films set in France either as Petit Plaisirs in previous podcast episodes, in the weekly This & That under the Francophile Finds category or during the annual TSLL French Week the past three years in August.
And as someone who appreciates simplicity and organization, I realized I didn't have one destination where readers/listeners could find my favorites. So today, that is exactly what I have done.
Understandably, there is a multitude of French films from decades passed that many people would place on their top list, but I wanted to share films I have loved that premiered in the past ten years.
As you will see, most are French films with English subtitles, but there are a few that are American films set in France, and one, I couldn't not help myself, that isn't French at all. It is Italian, but I learned about it while watching a French film in New York City's must-visit-foreign-films movie theater The Paris Theater (which is located adjacent to Bergdorf Goodman on the south end of Central Park). All of them are thoughtful, some more comical than others, but each will leave you in a contented mood having finished the film (and some will leave you with a voracious appetite - most for food, some for wine and others for . . . well . . . let's get to my list of the 12 French films I love).
1. Un Peu Beaucoup Aveuglement (Blind Date)
Released in France in 2015, this romantic comedy juxtaposes two tenants who need starkly different things in their lives in order to achieve the goals they have set. With merely a wall that separates them, the battle ensues and the humor begins.
First shared in episode #130's Petit Plaisir, you can listen to my full review there, and here is the trailer.
In 2015 I was looking for a light-hearted film, yet something to catch my eye’s attention as well as pique my curiosity. Released in 2014, Barbecue is a French film situated the majority of the time in the countryside of south France, but also in the city of Lyon. Amongst a group of long-time friends, one suffers a heart attack only to have it prompt him to question his entire life’s approach to living well. Enjoy the laughter, the camaraderie, the tears, the frustration and the ultimate happy ending. Available on Netflix, be sure to put it on your watch list.
Last year I had the opportunity to watch a new film which debuted on Netflix a few weeks ago, I Am Not An Easy Man. Not only will Francophiles appreciate this modern film as it is set in Paris and is written in French, but with the recent swelling of awareness surrounding the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp, the lead role stars a male chauvinist’s whose life is flipped upside down when after a concussion he wakes up in a matriarchal world in which men are inferior to women.
The satirical plot will perhaps have you laughing at times until you take a moment, pause, and then recognize how conditioned society has become to accept certain behaviors, roles and expectations of each gender. Watch it, absorb the message and then live more consciously. I know I was taking serious note of the message. The last scene alone was all too real of a wake-up call of where society is and the progress that still needs to be made.
4. Last Love
In 2013, Mr. Morgan's Last Love, aka Last Love, starring Michael Caine as a bereaved widower living in Paris, debuted. Co-starring alongside French actress Clemence Poesy, a jovial dance instructor, this film was a Petit Plaisir in episode #60's. While critics did not like the film, I found it unexpectedly lovely. The friendship between the two, the unexpected introduction to people Clemence's character may not have met, there is great love shared throughout the film from the love the retired professor shared with his wife, to the current relationships being built to the future love Poesy's character will embark upon.
The film is based on Françoise Dorner's French novel La Douceur Assassine, and while the main character in the novel is French, the screenplay was written with Caine in mind for the part. The title reflects the widower's contemplation with ending his life, and it is the young dance instructor that he meets that begins to change his mind.
5. Sex, Love & Therapy (2014) aka Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas (Do You Want It Or Not?)
Let's lighten it up a bit, and Sex, Love & Therapy are certain to do just that. Sophie Marceau and Patric Bruel star in this French romantic comedy about a marriage counselor (Bruel) who is trying to get over his love for sex, but his new assistant (Marceau) is not making it easy.
When I read the review of director Cédric Klapisch’s new French film in The Wall Street Journal, I immediately put it on my watch list, and since then I have had the opportunity to view the film and enjoyed it immensely.
Centered around a family vineyard and the dilemma of what to do when the patriarch passes, the three children come together, squabble, remember and then decide on the best path. The cinematography will transport you to the rolling hills of Burgundy and you will be spoiled with footage watching each season in the vineyard. It is a pure treat and a wonderful examination of siblings who dearly love each other, but are faced with a tough dilemma. Don't worry, the ending, I have a feeling will satisfy.
An American film, starring Diane Lane, Paris Can Wait was released in 2017 and was the Petit Plaisir episode #160. Written, directed and produced by Eleanor Coppola. Yes, that Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather series, The Outsiders, etc.) for 54 years. Debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival, Paris Can Wait is Eleanor’s first narrative feature film, but you wouldn’t have known. Now, not all the critics are loving it: The Boston Globe felt it was strained and relied too heavily on clichés, even those who thought they would love it came away unsure due to the ambiguous ending, but it is precisely the different approach to making the film that makes it lovely.
Coppola has shared that the film’s plot was inspired by her own life (be sure to read the San Francisco Chronicle‘s interview with her here), but not every piece and parcel of the story (there was no male companion). Along with the struggle Diane Lane’s character (Anne) wrestles with is what Coppola herself did as well, the “‘inner conflict, the push and pull’ she’s felt her whole adult life about pursuing her own creative ambitions while raising three children and supporting her husband’s career”. As well, both women (the character and Coppola) have suffered the loss of a child which is briefly, but touchingly included in the film.
Some readers have shared with me, they didn’t enjoy the insinuation of infidelity, but I think that may be taking it further than Coppola intended as nothing occurred, merely adoration and a woman (Anne) who was keenly aware and steadfast. What Anne’s journey does do for her is awaken her to her strengths, to her passions, to the realization yes of her imperfect, but still very adoring husband. And by not giving viewers the concrete ending, leaving us wondering, Coppola does something I must applaud her for: She doesn’t tell us how to think.
As someone who has been immersed in Hollywood due to her husband, then daughter and son’s successful involvement with silver screen productions, she doesn’t fall prey to the formula. Maybe she does have a sequel in mind, but I hope not only because this film, as she has stated, took six years to raise funds as it wasn’t full of “aliens, nobody dies, there are no guns and no car crashes. There was nothing that an investor wants to invest in. No sex, no violence”. Rather it was a piece of her life she wanted to share and explore, and in so doing, she allows the viewers to ponder what we don’t often see in movies: a leading female role who is complete all by herself so long as she embraces her passions, lets herself feel what she feels, appreciates her allure which may be initially noticed due to her beauty but is profoundly powerful and substantive due to her intellect and character.
And whether or not she remains with her husband (who isn’t perfect) or explores her attraction to Jacques, played by Arnaud Viard (who also isn’t perfect or ideal either) shouldn’t be needed for a happy ending. What the happy ending is is liberation for Anne who hears the reminder from Jacques to share her talents with her husband (and perhaps the world if she so chooses), and to savor the pleasures of everyday moments and food without rushing to Paris.
8. My Old Lady
The third and last American film, based in Paris, My Old Lady is film involving love, unexpected treasures and a renewal of life. Kevin Kline stars in the directorial debut of Israel Horovitz. Upon arriving from New York, Kline’s character is set to liquidate his estranged father’s Parisian property, but discovers a refined old lady as the tenant. While waiting to determine how he can acquire his asset, he comes to learn that the old lady (played by Maggie Smith), was his father’s lover for 50 years, as well as meeting and becoming smitten with the old lady’s daughter played by Kristin Scott Thomas.
Queen to Play is the most recent French film to be shared as a Petit Plaisir, and you may remember it was reviewed in episode #242. Kevin Kline also stars in this film, and while a much smaller role, it is his first role in a French film. Released in 2011, Sandrine Bonnaire stars as Héléne, a wife and mother who is a housemaid not only at a luxury hotel in Corsica, but also for Kevin Kline's character's home in the country.
Héléne becomes curious about the game of chess after watching a couple flirtatiously play a game in the hotel where she works. In hopes of bringing sparks to her own marriage, she discovers she has quite the talent for the game with the help of Kline giving her practice sessions.
“Did it meet your expectations even if you have felt at times uncomfortable or lonely? You’re still in time to choose, in the future, a more comfortable and protected solution – maybe more suitable to the needs of a family. It is well, to keep in mind, however, the happiness and well-being and strictly personal concepts. For some people, the sense of freedom and adventure is an essential part of the experience. Trust your instinct. This is your journey. The route to take is up to you. Have a safe journey.” –A Five Star Life
Upon watching the foreign film A Five Star Life, the ending will be an untraditional jolt to an American audience as it will deign to allow the heroine to journey into the credits in absolute contentment with her own company. The quote above is stated by Irene just as this last scene unfolds, and as I was collecting all of my sources for today’s post, I couldn’t help but realize with certainty that Irene is indeed the epitomization of self-actualization.
Why? You may ask. Does one have to journey through life alone in order to be self-actualized? Absolutely not. But what Irene exhibits is the knowledge of herself and the world around her. She is not limited by what society purports to define as a “happy life”, but rather investigates and discovers what happiness is indeed for her while accepting that others may, and many do, have a different definition.
While the language is Italian (with English subtitles), based on the trailer and the story line, and the premise that “real luxury is the pleasure of real life. Lived to the fullest, full of imperfections”. It aligns quite nicely with living simply luxuriously, non?
11. Le Chef
Now I am going to make your mouth water and your appetite perk up with the last two films of recommendation.
Haute-cuisine and France, a beautiful pairing indeed, come together for a light-hearted comedy starring Jean Reno and Michaël Youn in Le Chef. Written and directed by Daniel Cohen, a young self-taught chef played by Youn is far from lucky in his pursuit of professional success and happens on a star chef (Reno) who is in danger of losing his reputation and his restaurant. The two come together to help themselves, but end up helping each other along the way.
The story is based on the real-life case of Danièle Delpeuch, a lesser-known provincial chef and restaurant-owner who in the late 1980s was summoned by President François Mitterrand to be his personal cook at his official residence, the Elysée Palace. Catherine Frot stars as Hortense, the chef chosen by the French president and Jean d'Ormesson plays Mitterrand. An interesting point to share is that Jean d'Ormesson, not an actor, will be instantly recognized by French audiences as he was a writer and journalist and during Mitterrand's career, was one of his toughest adversaries.
Back to the film, based on Mitterrand's choice for his chef - The President prefers the traditional cuisine from his childhood and finds Hortense to be the chef he is looking for to the chagrin of the rest of the cooking staff.
Come with a full stomach otherwise your tastebuds will be tempted throughout. Or perhaps come with an appetite and make sure you have reservations at a delectable French restaurant afterwards.
Oh, my. I do hope you have discovered a film that tickles your curiosity, or perhaps one that you would like to watch again.
There is something about watching a film that enables you to slip away virtually to another part of the world that truly offers a respite from whatever is going on in your life. And then when we add the necessary requisite of paying attention to the subtitles, our full attention is captured.
Before long, if you are like me, you will begin to hear the language more than you knew you could and not look at the subtitles as often.
Wishing you happy viewing and bonne journée!
~Listen to all of TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes
~The Simple Sophisticate will return with a new episode on Monday March 4th. You can view the entire 5th season schedule below. In the meantime, next Monday, stop by for an Inspiration/Motivation post to kick off the week.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~6 Cozy French Mystery Series I Have Enjoyed (posted in Feb. 2021)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #248
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 16 December 2018
Season 5 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast kicked off earlier this year in September. Just prior to beginning, I shared the schedule of the season (see below) so that listeners would know for sure which Mondays they could tune in to find new and inspiring content.
But I must admit, as today approached, it was odd not to offer listeners something to begin their week (as only two new episodes were scheduled in December), so I have decided for the remaining three Mondays of 2018, to share with you the top downloaded episodes from previous seasons.
Today, one of the top episodes from season #1 is shared - episode #23: The French Way - 20 Ways to Create a Luxurious Everyday. This particular episode was not only one of the top five episodes downloaded on iTunes during our first season, but it has since been viewed 7K+ on YouTube.
You can view the complete list and links mentioned during the episode here, and as an update to the season's schedule, I will be airing a brand new episode of the podcast on TUESDAY January 1st! After all, it is the beginning of a new year, and I couldn't wait until the 7th to kick off the new month. So that means, you will have a top episode from the archives airing on Monday December 31st and the next day, Tuesday January 1st - a brand new episode to inspire you as you step into the new year. Wishing you a wonderful penultimate week before we say adieu to 2018.
~View the SHOW NOTES of EPISODE #23 (originally posted in February 2015)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #238
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Fri, 17 August 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #222
Sun, 12 August 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #221
Sun, 15 July 2018
The final episode taped in France during my travels shares a few memorable moments I had the opportunity experience, and as I had the opportunity to stay at author, blogger and photographer Sharon Santoni's home in France, I wanted to share a few images from the cottage I called home for a few days in northern France.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #217
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Dining at La Couronne (the location where Julia Child enjoyed her first French meal in 1949). Check out more images in my IG Highlights - FranceTripP2 I look forward to writing detailed posts on all that I experienced during my month long trip in France this summer. Look for a majority of the posts to be shared during TSLL's annual French Week which begins on Sunday August 12th; however, a few will be posted prior to this date as I have an abundance of content. TSLL will be taking a week off to settle back into my life in Bend beginning today and resuming with a brand new episode of the podcast and the regular weekly post schedule on Monday July 23rd. ~Catch up on all of my #TSLLFrance2018 moments on Instagram (and be sure to check the Highlights as well). ~Listen to the previous episodes from France below:
~episode #216, French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux
~Fresh goat cheese drizzled lightly with fresh, high quality olive oil, paired with a fresh baguette to be enjoyed after the entrée course of a meal. Below enjoy a few images from Sharon Santoni's cottage where I stayed over the past weekend. Sharon will be sharing tips about her approach to decor as well as details about the many tours she gives throughout France when TSLL's annual French Week takes place beginning August 12th.
Sun, 1 July 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #215
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
"It's worth the effort." —Patricia Wells(The following episode was taped while traveling in Provence, France, using a handrecorder. Please excuse indulations in volume.) The legions of birds and their signature melodies, the playful butterflies that promenade amongst our meals, the clock tower reminding us that indeed we are not dreaming and the vintner on his tractor tending to his vines. The sounds of Provence. More specifically, the sounds of Vaison-la-Romaine. As my fellow classmates and myself sat down for our final lunch together with Patricia and Walter Wells concluding a week long experiential cooking class, the words above were shared with the group. Speaking not only of the effort to plan, prepare, and shop at the market, but also to have the patience with our lives to curate them carefully so to provide the fertility for a beautiful life to grow, the Wells demonstrated that a good life can be simple, slow and yes, thus absolutely luxurious. In this particular moment the effort made by the Wells was to welcome a group of people that would appreciate in their own way the gathering as well as the food (which was exquisite and seasonal). Traveling abroad to a country which doesn't speak a language we know well can be intimidating, and for some seemingly dream crushing. But it need not be. In fact, as a language teacher, when the words are removed or pared down to the essentials of living an everyday life (thank you, please, how much, where is, I love, etc.), we are invited to see the world through a different lens. We begin to observe actions far more carefully, to value the importance of kindness and thoughtfulness. When we rely only on our words to navigate in this world we forget how influencial our body language, our facial expression, our tone can be on any given situation. Yes, even a smile can be sinister or sincere, and if we are studied in the skill of physical observation, we can ascertain the slight and subtle difference. Yes, undoubtedly, words are powerful, and to live well in a civilized society such as ours and much of the modern world, knowing how to communicate well in the language of the country and community in which we live is fundamental, but it isn't the only skill we should practice and improve regularly to build the relationships we want and need in our lives. So if there is another world (country) you long to see, to experience, to taste, but the language barrier is currently the dilemma, fear not. Ironically, I have found that the best way to pick up a language, for it to stick in my long-term memory, is to be amongst as it is used in the world. It has been with each trip, moreso with each subsequent trip, to France that while I do not understand 60-70% of what is said, I understand more and more and feel less of someone on the outside. What we fear is not knowing French, but what we long is to be amongst the French culture. What better teacher than a Francophone country? When you step into your fear, the language will gradually come. Not an immense amount, but in spurts and stalls. Give yourself the gift of one more language, even if you speak it poorly (which I do when it comes to French) because as the Chinese proverb reminds "To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world" and as the Czech proverb teaches, "You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once." And so if we each have one more window to broaden our perspective and provide a deeper understanding of the world and then one more life, how rich and wise are we? What does making an effort look like when it comes to our dreams? For the Wells it was purchasing a farm in the hills of Provence, remodeling for decades, little by little and choosing, taking the risk, to share their lives, a glimpse, but an intimate glimpse, eight weeks a year (one week at a time) with strangers from around the world. Effort. Let's take a look at other examples of effort: 1.Waking up early to begin the day with more time than needed so you do not have to rush 2. Saving each month money for retirement 3. Choosing to get to know yourself 4. Recognizing you can grow and becoming a student of the skills you can learn 5. Not doing as others do, traveling every weekend or every summer and instead, saving, planning or living where you love calling home. 6. Being thoughtful in your relationship building 7. Taking the time to understand someone who is good, but communicates or lives differently, in order to strengthen and express love 8. Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel, but also recognizing emotions are like the weather, not the climate - temporary. 9. Taking care of your health and body 10. Strengthening the muscle that is your mind
"It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly." — Basil Lanneau GildersleeveAs much as we are advised and even tell ourselves to live in the moment (heck, TSLL talks regularly about being present), we are given the gift of perspective as human beings. And it is through effort that dreams can be realized that are worth savoring upon not only attaining them, but making the journey towards them. My trip to France as I mentioned a few weeks ago has been years in the making. I might even suggest it began the moment I made my first month long journey in 2000. In some ways my trip to France is part of a larger journey toward other visions I have for my life, so in many ways our lives contain dreams within dreams that we pursue. Which when you contemplate this composition creates a beautiful life quilt consisting of many dreams that bolster and provide foundation for one another. Effort is worth being given, and your dreams are worth being pursued. Have the patience to let them fertilize, mature and grow when they have the strength to emerge. This requires of each of us careful awareness, a flexibility, but also a courageousness. All of these are skills; therefore, we all can learn them and use them. Bonne journée from Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence, France. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Everyday Life in Paris: A Fashion Show in the Palais-Royale (I was not invited)
~Back to Paris (summer 2018)here. ~View allTSLL French-themed blog postshere. ~Follow TSLL on Instagramto see all of the pics from my France trip. ~Sign-up forTSLL's weekly newsletterand never miss a post or exclusive news (delivered each Friday to your inbox)!
~My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now by Peter Mayle (his final book)If you are just beginning to read Peter Mayle's work (he has published 14 books, 7 of which were novels), begin with the memoir that caught the world's attention A Year in Provence, and if you love cozy mysteries set in France, begin with The Vintage Caper (2009) Sam Levitt detective series, there are four in the series. ~Visit Peter Mayle's website ~Read my full review here - Peter Mayle's Love Letter to Provence
~Sponsor of today's episode:
Sun, 8 April 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #203
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
Author of The Provençal Mystery series, featuring Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet, M.L. Longworth joins me on today's episode of the podcast to discuss her latest mystery in the series which was just released on April 3rd, The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche. Having lived in Aix-en-Provence for more than 20 years, M.L. shares insights into her daily routine, what she most looks forward to when it comes to Provençal spring cuisine as well as shares tips and recommendations for what to pack might you be traveling to the region. As a writing professor at NYU's campus in Paris, I also had the opportunity to ask her about her writing process and how she instructs students to find their narrative voice. Most importantly, we talk about the plot for her new novel The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche, where her inspiration for her lead characters comes from and other details that fans of her series will love to be privy to (I know I was). Be sure to tune and don't forget to enter the giveaway on Instagram (details shared below).
~TSLL's office (Norman waiting for his treat) pre-taping of my interview with M.L. Longworth, shared on Instagram~
Read M.L. Longworth's entire series in order:
Learn more about M.L. (Mary Lou) Longworth:
Three lucky listeners/readers will receive:
How to Enter:
Sun, 21 January 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #192
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
On today's episode of The Simple Sophisticate, author, award-winning journalist, expat living in France and proprietor of the acclaimed cooking school located in France, Susan Hermann Loomis joins me to talk about so many of TSLL readers' passions: France, food, and living well (and I cannot forget Julia Child as well). Discover how she came to live in France, her approach to food and cooking, discover what students learn when they enroll in her cooking school and its far more than just learning how to cook extraordinary well, and hear what it was like to sit down in Julia Child's kitchen in Cambridge and have dinner with her. All of this and much more. Be sure to download and have a listen. And look for Susan's new book French Grill: 150 Refined & Rustic Recipes will be released June 12th this summer. ~Check out her blog On Rue Tatin ~Discover and Enroll in Cooking Classes ~Rent Susan's home in Louviers, France, as your vacation rental - learn more here ~Follow Susan on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram Susan's cookbooks and memoirs:
~Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin (2005)
~French Farm House Cookbook (1996)
~View all of her books here (there are many more!)
~Susan shared two Petit Plaisirs during our conversation, one is below and the other you will want to tune in for. It is something I enjoy wholeheartedly myself. ~Check out more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here and peruse similar episodes below: ~189: Jamie Cat Callan's Parisian Charm School - Love, Life & Savoring It All ~182: David Lebovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home ~168: French Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni ~169: Understanding the French Culture: My Interview with Géraldine Lepere of Comme une Française ~175: 14 Ways to Eat Like the French — Savor Good Food, Don’t Fear It ~SUBSCRIBE to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter
Sponsor of this week's episode: Lifesum
Mon, 1 January 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #189
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
"French women will tell you that when you know who you are, you are able to become more yourself, and then you naturally and easily become more confident. When you know who you are, you are more 'contained' because you are confident, and as a result, you become more mysterious." —Jamie Cat Callan from her new book Parisian Charm School
Author and Francophile Jamie Cat Callan joins me on the first episode of 2018. The author of Bonjour, Happiness, French Women Don't Sleep Alone and Ooh La la!: French Women's Secret to Feeling Beautiful Every Day, Jamie's new book offers a curriculum on cultivating a life of engaging with the world, not only with a lover or a partner, but with your neighbors, friends and the community that surrounds you. Full of detailed anecdotes inspired by the intimate conversations with French men and women as well as expats living in France, Jamie shares with readers how each of our love stories is unique, and the key is to discover the joy in the everyday. She joined me from her farm in the Hudson Valley where she calls home with her husband and shares her own love story during our conversation and how she trusted her path discovering it was exactly and more than she could have hoped for. The book Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy and That Certain je ne sais Quoi will be released tomorrow, January 2nd. Visit Jamie's blog to discover her book tour schedule, and follow along on her journey via Instagram as she shares what delights her while living on a farm (view a few pics below) as well as images from her travels to France.
~Jamie's Instagram is full of images of her farm (the garlic braiding she mentioned is shown below), travels and her animals. Follow her @jamiecatcallan
~French Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni, episode #168
Mon, 6 November 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #182
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"Paris was always Paris, and the French were . . . well, the French. But because of what happened —j'avais mûri, I had 'ripened,' as they say." —David Lebovitz, L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home (released Tuesday November 7, 2017)
In today's episode of the podcast, food blogger, renowned pastry chef (having worked for 13 years at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse) and best-selling cookbook author David Lebovitz joins me to talk about his new food and Paris destination memoir L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home. Having called Paris home since 2004, it was after eight years of renting that he decided he wanted to put down roots, and thus the journey of delights and disasters began. Tune in to my conversation with David Lebovitz and discover:
Visit David's blog DavidLebovitz.com As mentioned in the conversation:
~images from David's Instagram, and be sure to check out his IG Stories as well~
~the French farmhouse sink worth the search as discussed in the episode~
More books by David Lebovitz:
~My Sweet Life in Paris, David's best-selling Parisian memoir
~My Paris Kitchen: Recipes & Stories by David Lebovitz (a cookbook to have in your kitchen and the cookbook he was working on during his apartment's renovations)
~Recipe for David's Quiche aux petits pois, lard fumé et estragon (Bacon, Green Pea, and Tarragon Quiche)
~Click here for the recipe
~Tune in to more French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate below:
This episode was sponsored by the following:
Mon, 18 September 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #175
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"How you eat, when you eat, for how long you eat, and with whom you eat might be more important than what you eat. Eating and enjoying real food is what matters, not tracking calories." —Johnny AdamicAs reported by Time magazine last year, while the United States unfortunately has been found to describe 34% of its population as obese, France is ten percentage points fewer. The British Journal of Nutrition observed that a significant type of diet that was contributing to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. was what they coined as the "sweet and processed" diet, in other words foods such as "skim milk, fruit juice, breakfast cereal, chocolates . . ." Much of how we approach food is based on the culture in which we were raised and most directly, the household habits in which we live as a child. However, the food producers and advertisers, especially in America (as you will see below) chose to exploit the health of their consumer in order to gain profits, and thus our parents or grandparents may have fell prey to welcoming into our childhood unhealthy food tastes. As shared in The Guardian, "All the foods that you regularly eat are ones you learned to eat" and the good news is since your choices were learned, you can learn new choices and unlearn the habits that do not suit a healthy body, mind and lifestyle. I was recently speaking to a family who had just returned from a month long visit in Italy. Sitting down to listen to them share their experiences with regards to dining and the appreciation for food and the portions served reminded me of why I appreciate the French, and as evident in their anecdote, the Italian culture as well. Food is to be appreciated, embraced and seen as a component in how to live well. While food may not be the absolute centerpiece of our lives, it is indeed a crucial component and to ignore such an everyday avenue to experience pleasure in the short-term and a healthy long life throughout the duration of our long lives is to be ignorant of the gift food can bring. Today I'd like to share with you 14 ways the French approach eating and welcoming food into their lives as a way to enrich each of our appreciation and experience with the daily detail we all balance, experience and need.
1. Step away from sugar at breakfastAs a child I can remember having boxes of cereal in one of our kitchen shelves; however, my mom was careful to limit us to Cheerios and Shredded Wheat. I quickly became aware of the more sugar laden options when staying at friends homes for sleep-overs and so when my mom would on special occasions let us purchase a sugary option, it was always Frosted Flakes. But I do applaud my mom for being cognizant of the sugar content in our morning routine. Since then, I eat the same breakfast nearly each morning as I shared in this post and the only sweet component is the local honey which is why I found it eye-opening that as shared in Michael Moss's book Salt, Sugar, Fat "the sweet breakfast was an invention of the cereal manufacturers in the middle of the last century". With each year I teach rhetoric to my high school juniors, the more and more parallels I see to not only determining the intention of writers, speakers, and advertisers, but in companies as well. In the case mentioned above, why are those breakfast cereal ads propositioning kids rather than parents? Perhaps because a savvy parent realizes what a child should be eating. My larger point is, rather than make choices of what advertisers would like to sell you or what is the trend in the food world, come to understand what your body needs. Healthy can absolutely make you happy, not artificially so as a sugary cereal will for a short moment and then leave you high and dry before the day has hardly begun.
2. Mind your portionsRecently I reviewed the newly established French Market here in Bend, and one of the reasons I enjoyed my experience as well as the owner and chef's approach to food was the smaller portion sizes. Each time I have dined there, my plate has been cleaned as if the chef knew exactly how much I needed to satiate my palate due to the delectable flavors. Ironically, the local newspaper just shared their review of the restaurant and one of the negatives they shared in their commentary was the small portions. Needless to say, I wholeheartedly disagree. Part of the reason portion sizes have grown in the United States is the food we eat doesn't truly satiate our palate. If food is fresh, well-cooked, seasoned well with herbs and spices as well as salt and pepper (before, not after it is cooked), as well as not smothered in sugary sauces or tasty, yet teasing fried batter, we don't need as much. And neither do we need doggie bags. Géraldine Lepere shared in her interview on the podcast (episode #169) that the need for a doggie bag is a poor reflection on the planning of the kitchen. In other words, when you come to a restaurant for dinner, you are coming for one meal, not dinner and lunch tomorrow, and so the goal is to give you what you need to feel satisfied and satiated in that moment, and no more. As well, the bottom-line of the restaurant is better able to invest in quality ingredients that will satiate their customer's taste buds rather than in cheap processed ingredients.
3. Welcome traditions that workWhile not all traditions are worth keeping (ahem, look to #1 - walk away from the sugary cereals), some most definitely are when it comes to food. For example tea and a small treat (savory or sweet) in the afternoon if you are in England, and eating a large lunch rather than a large dinner as is more commonly practiced in France. Why? In each scenario, the body's needs are heeded without going to excess. As well, each tradition involves sitting down, savoring and fully experiencing the food and the company.
4. Mindfully eatThe habit of being aware of what you are eating, savoring the flavors and the preparation enables you to notice when food is indeed delicious and when it is not (stop eating in such cases). As well, being mindful helps to slow down the eating process and allow time for your physiology to recognize when the body is naturally full.
5. Food is the common denominator not the main attraction
"For France, a meal is a very particular moment, in which you share pleasure, the food as well as the conversation." —nutritionist Dr Francoise L'HermiteWhile indeed food is an art of its own in France, it is not the reason alone you sit down to enjoy the combination of flavors and seasonal ingredients. Rather the food enlivens the celebration and the moment of time spent with friends, family and even strangers depending upon the situation. In so many ways, food is the common ground regardless of culture, belief or age, and what a powerful common denominator to spark conversation and help recognize that we have more in common than not.
6. Select quality again and again and again
"They know that quality food means pleasure in the short-term and health in the long-term." via Empowered SustenanceFlavor matters. If you taste a fresh locally grown strawberry that has been sun kissed by the warm summer heat, you don't gobble down the entire garden's worth. Rather you share and perhaps make a tart or a short-cake or a parfait to heighten the appreciation and share with those around you. When food is top quality, we don't need much of it. And when the quality has been selected, we want to slow down and savor it, reminding our bodies to slow down as well.
7. Lose the negative descriptors of delicious foodGuilty pleasures, sinful bites, naughty concoctions. To label food in such a way is to lessen the moment of pleasure we can have when we take the first bite of dark chocolate mousse. Last month I had the opportunity to have dinner at the French restaurant in Portland I have fallen in love with, Coquine. After a lovely, seasonally perfected three course meal, upon paying our bill and to be enjoyed as we returned to our Airbnb, we received a hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie with smoked almonds rolled in caramel and finished with sea salt (here's the recipe). I did not feel once ounce of guilt. I ate that cookie so slowly, with eyes closed and chocolate melting on my fingers that in that moment great pleasure was indeed experienced. The difference is quantity, and again, proportion plays a role. A savvy chef will make food for people, real humans who have a waistline and wish to keep it, but at the same time also want to taste delicious food. In other words, the piece of chocolate at night will not ruin your diet. In fact, if it is quality chocolate (preferably dark), with 60% or more cacao, it will help your overall health. Eat away (just one though, but that is all your tastebuds will want).
8. Take your timeEating while you drive, while you walk, while you work, while you do anything else besides talking with your dinner companions prevents not only the opportunity to be mindful of what you are eating but also the ability for your body to recognize when it is full. Again food is a significant component in our lives as we cultivate a way of life that is full of quality and appreciation and beautiful moments. And while food isn't the center, it shouldn't be looked at as a boorish necessity to fuel us.
9. Prepare real food, eschew processed and invented foodsAnother difference in the French approach to eating versus American and even English cultures is how often we cook our own meals. When we make our own meals, we are aware of what we are eating. And when we are aware of what we are eating, we can choose to cook with food that will heighten the quality of our life rather than inundate us with, for example, constant additions of sugar. As my palette matures and I begin to seek out natural flavors and appreciation of seasonal produce, I find myself noticing sugar in food that has no need for it such as thus choosing to refrain from eating it or seeking out more healthy options (such as Portlandia Foods' organic ketchup).
10. Make the visit to the market an enjoyable ritualOne of my bi-weekly routines is visiting the farmers market (when the seasons permit) and my favorite grocery stores (seen below is my visit last week to Trader Joe's - flowers are always on my list). I truly enjoy bopping into the store with my canvas bag with my list in tow and being part of the community experience of choosing food to fuel my life and savor each day. Such a concept may at first sound frivolous, but we don't enjoy our everyday routines, what are we enjoying? Life is made up of countless conscious and unconscious routines. Why not make as many as you can as enjoyable as you can?
11. Good fat is good for youYes, many have questioned the French Paradox (eat seemingly food such as cheese, chocolate and drink wine, yet still stay healthy and thin), but while their obesity rate has inched up due to outside influences (namely the United States' marketing campaigns for processed foods), they continue to eat differently by and large. In fact, 89% of the 2600 French people studied in the British Journal of Nutrition reported eating full fat cheeses. Why? Satiation occurs and the boy seeks out less food to feel full. As shared by Lisa Sasson, a clinical assistant professor of nutrition at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and a registered dietitian, is “The magic of the French diet, for example, is they still eat whole foods and eat more vegetables than we do. Yes, real food. Not fat free cheese.”
12. Keep it simple and eat the basics, just keep it realI was recently listening to an episode of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Kitchen, and a great piece of advice was shared about how to learn how to cook well: Master 10-15 recipes you love and learn them by heart. I do agree with this piece of advice, and I also have found that if you master the basic concepts of fundamental recipes (how to create the aromatics for a savory dish, how to roast vegetables, how to make pesto, how to create a basic sauce, etc.) you can then play with these skills and use the ingredients you have on any given day. Part of the reason I made this list for TSLL Épicerie (episode #109) was so long as you have these ingredients on hand at all times, you will be able to make any basic recipe at any given time, regardless of the season (all you have to do is add the freshest seasonal ingredients you find at the market). Knowing how to cook a simple chicken breast so that it is flavorful and moist is a dish you can make again and again and again, changing the flavors up each time and pairing with the freshest vegetable in season.
13. Enjoy wine as a partner to elevate the meal
14. Feeling hungry is not bad for youLast but not least, the French do not snack (unless you are a child and then after school at around 3 or 4 the children enjoy their le gouter). Allowing yourself to feel hungry, not starving, not famished so as to be fatigued, but hungry is a good sign. In fact, when I wake up in the morning, I hope I do feel hungry as it means my body is ready to eat rather than just eat because it is time to enjoy petit déjeuner. How can you ensure you won't become hungry too soon? Eat well when you do sit down for your meals. Eat well-balanced, yet satiating food. Enjoy eating, take your time and be aware of what you are eating and let go of feeling guilting about eating. An important part of the process of developing eating habits that work for us and feed our bodies well is to pay attention to how the food we eat makes us feel. Case in point, at Coquine, with a brioche shrimp toast as an appetizer, poached Monterey Bay squid and Black Cod (two dishes for two people) for the entrées and Benne Seed Pavlova for dessert, I wasn't full, but I was absolutely satisfied (and the cookie to enjoy on the walk home, as mentioned above, added a sweet punctuation of deliciousness to finish the night). The flavors were thoughtful, and the evening was memorable due to the company, the ambiance of decor and fellow guests as well as the knowledgable the wait-staff.
~the entrées at Coquine, as described in the above text~Fearing food is to fear life. Food is what gives us life or if thoughtlessly approached, is what can shorten our lives. Why not discover the basic tenets of good eating (see below for posts to get you started or to reaffirm what you already know) and come to understand the simply luxurious approach to food which is inspired by the French: quality over quantity and never deprivation, only moderation. ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Petit Plaisir:Episode #4 - 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile ~Episode #32 - The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials ~Episode #144 - 20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everyday Routine ~Episode #157 - Liz Burgerol of The Hot Sardines shares her thoughts on the differences between the French and American cultures SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave Download the Episode Download the Episode
Sat, 12 August 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #169
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
The French language guide for anyone who is curious about the French culture, will be traveling to Paris anytime soon or perhaps moving there to call it home, will find a wealth of a resource at the website created by today's guest on the podcast: Géraldine Lepere. Her website, blog and YouTube channel Comme une Française will help you learn to speak French and feel French. Because we know, simply knowing how to communicate - which verb goes where?, which tense should be used? - while important, won't help you become immersed comfortably into the way of life in France entirely. During our conversation, Géraldine shares what the important aspects of the French culture are to the French, the issue with the concept of the "doggie bag" at restaurants, what her everyday looks like, tips and ideas for traveling in Paris as well as which cities she recommends you should visit outside of Paris and how to travel the rail and rent a car without a hitch as well as much more. Show Notes: ~Comme une Française blog ~Sign up for the free Every Day Crash Course to Double Your Frenchness in 10 Days Watch a new French language learning video each Tuesday. Check out Géraldine's YouTube channel: Comme une Française TV. Check out a recent episode below. ~book mentioned during our conversation, The French Way by Ross Steele Géraldine's Petit Plaisir:
Quatre Quarts cake:
https://youtu.be/mFbaos68RbY ~Listen to more episodes from The Simple Sophisticate podcast here
TSLL 2017 French Week continues through August 12th. Amusez-vous bien!
Don’t Miss What Has Been Posted So Far:
Wed, 9 August 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #168
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
A returning guest to the podcast, author and blogger Sharon Santoni joins me to talk about her new book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons. Her book offers a beautiful glimpse into her everyday life as readers will discover inspiration for each season as they go about hosting formal and casual gatherings, using what the yard and market give them, all the while being present and savoring the everyday. From ideas for the hostess/host to shifting into appreciating the everyday simple luxuries rather than brushing them aside, we had a lovely conversation that is full of ideas and inspiration as well as a a more intimate understanding of the life so many readers have come to love and appreciate that is Sharon Santoni's. In the above photos, meet Gibson and Ghetto (on her lap) on her property in the country as well as the front yard and entry to her French country home. Sharon Santoni's new book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons (released August 8, 2017) Visit Sharon's blog My French Country Home Learn more about subscribing to receive seasonal French artisan goods with My Stylish French Box here (view some pictures below as well) Follow Sharon and discover her everyday life in the countryside of France:
Enter to win a free copy of Sharon Santoni's new book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons. How? See below:
~Listen to my first interview with Sharon Santoni in 2015, Episode #96 - Everyday Living in France: My Interview with Sharon Santoni
~Delivery to subscribers of Sharon Santoni's My Stylish French Box subscription. A box of hard to find, top-quality French goods is included each season. Learn more here.~
~Check out more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
TSLL 2017 French Week continues through August 12th. Amusez-vous bien!
Don’t Miss What Has Been Posted So Far:
Mon, 5 June 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #158
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Perhaps you've seen her pottery: simple, purposefully imperfect, white with black singular font, whether for your morning tea cup, the salt and pepper holder on the stovetop or a dish for your furry best friend. Rae Dunn's passion for simple and functional pottery has brought her deserved recognition. And it is with her eye for the simple everyday that led to her new book of French inspiration titled France: Inspiration du Jour. An artistic sketchbook of Rae's travels through Paris and Provence, be swept away to France no matter where you live as you peruse the pages. With pictures of everyday life in France paired with watercolor illustrations of the scenery, food, drink and daily activities, discover why Rae finds beauty in the everyday moments. Today on the podcast, Rae Dunn joins me to talk about how the concept of the sketchbook came about, why it's important not to overthink anything you are curious to try or explore and rather just step forward and feel your way, the power of serendipity, the realization of where true beauty resides and the importance of treasuring the imperfect. The discussion is one with a successful woman who simply followed what she loved and in so doing created a successful business which reminds us all to "notice and appreciate the small things". Have a listen to the interview and discover more than a few simple pleasures at the end of our conversation as Rae reveals this week's Petit Plaisirs. ~Rae Dunn's website ~Follow Rae Dunn: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram (a new illustration each day) ~Shop Rae Dunn pottery here and here ~Learn more about her new book France: Inspiration du Jour here ~Sharon's Art Studio in Golden Gate State Park ~Rae Dunn's recommendation for what to visit in France: Picasso Museum in Arles, France - Musée Réattu
~a sampling of Rae Dunn's daily illustrations on Instagram~
~samples of Rae Dunn pottery~
~Find more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
Mon, 29 May 2017
157: Passion Projects, Jazz, Being French at Heart & Living in the Moment: Elizabeth Bougerol of The Hot Sardines
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #157
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Jazz and France is a coupling that instantaneously grabs my attention. Add a woman who has followed her passion, appreciates the moment and lives life to the fullest all the while staying grounded in this ever-changing thing called life, and I want to get to know her further. Elizabeth Bougerol is not only the front woman of The Hot Sardines vintage jazz band that is making "the old sound new" again, but she is also the co-founder with the bandleader and man at the piano, Evan Palazzo (above with Elizabeth, bottom right). The band's music has been described by The Times (London) as "simply phenomenal" and their music has reached the No. 1 slot on the iTunes Jazz chart in the U.S. and internationally. With songs in both English and French, their first two albums are a must-have on your jazz playlist. Elizabeth joins me on today's episode to talk about jazz and the journey she has been on as The Hot Sardines have begun to catch many an ear of fans and critics alike over just a few short years. As well we discuss passion projects, knowing when to leap, redefining the term "stability" and of course we talk about France, where she was born and raised and regularly visits. The discussion continues into the differences between the French and American cultures and the different approaches regarding daily living, and the importance of living in the moment. From food to listening to the voice inside that wants to give something a try that may not align with your perceived self-image to taking advantage of opportunities even if you do not feel entirely ready, today's conversation is one to take 45 minutes out of your day and enjoy. I have a feeling, if you're like me, you'll walk away with at least one (if not many) thought to ponder and apply to your life. See one below, as well as the song (one of two) that is played and discussed during the episode. ~The Hot Sardines' website ~Elizabeth Bougerol's website ~The Hot Sardines: Instagram | YouTube |Facebook | Twitter ~Tour Schedule Albums:
~The title song of The Hot Sardines' most recent album: "French Fries + Champagne" ~The litmus test which sparked the partnership between Elizabeth and Evan: "Your Feet's Too Big" ~Elizabeth's recommended destination to visit in France: Cancale
~@hotsardines - Instagram pics: Elizabeth with Alan Cummings singing "When I Get Low I Get High"; with Alan Cumming who is featured on French Fries + Champagne; Elizabeth enjoying French Fries + Champagne; The Hot Sardines~
~The song I have been playing on repeat. "Wake Up In Paris".
In our conversation on the podcast, Elizabeth shares her inspiration for the song, as well as how long it took her to write it. Be sure to tune and discover where exactly the inspiration came from for the first two notes of the song.
Elizabeth shared with listeners, not one, but two of her favorite Petit Plaisirs. Have a look below:
~On the road:
~At Home (see below):
An enormous thank you to Elizabeth and her team for taking the time to join me on The Simple Sophisticate. ~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.
Mon, 24 October 2016
Inspired by Sarah Lavoine's new book Chez Moi: Decorating Your Home and Living Like a Parisienne, discover 20 of my favorite tips and ideas for living well in your sanctuary as we talk about decor, dining, style and lifestyle ideas inspired by a Parisienne who lives and decorates with effortless style.
This week's Petit Plaisir introduces the newest addition to TSLL brand: the "Live Simply, Live Well" notepads which have in full-color the newest illustration by Inslee on the layout.
Sat, 27 August 2016
New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Brown joins me on the podcast to talk about her latest novel The Light of Paris. Discover her inspiration for the novel, her thoughts on mother-daughter relationships, the importance of finding our own truth about who each of us has the potential to be and her favorite thing to do in Paris.
Sun, 14 September 2014
From the cuisine to the fashion and everything in between, there are many aspects of the French culture that continue to fascinate people from around the world. As a professed Francophile, Shannon Ables, explains how her love of all things French became the primary foundation of her blog's premise - The Simply Luxurious Life. With an appreciation for quality over quantity, a more fulfilling and content life can blossom with the 10 simple attributes derived from the French culture.