Bonjour and bienvenue! to my post this week about all things French. Spring is in the air and there is no more a romantic European getaway than going to France in the springtime, right? So, whether this brings back memories for you, inspires you to book a trip, or would rather simply pretend you are in Paris while we wait for the “warmth” of spring to arrive here in Michigan, this is the post for you.
1) La Musique. The soundtrack of Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulin is simply the most beautiful ‘background’ music you could play. It alone, takes you directly to a Parisian Cafe so much so, that you’ll swear you can smell the cafe au lait under your nose. A few others that I love are: Edith Piaf, George Brassens and Pink Martini.
2) Oh, how I love the little shop windows of the smaller villages, the stone work, the intimacy and how individual each building seems to have been there forever. Oh, and isn’t it nice to not have a neon sign flashing above it? This is of a little shop in Vence, the town my husband grew up in.
3) The French Baguette. There is nothing like the combination of a light crispy crust and soft warm middle when you tear a piece off of a super fresh baguette. Here, my son, Rémi demonstrates its power for the camera. I think it may just be possible that every single household in France has a fresh baguette every day.
4) Say Fromage! I dream about the cheese in France. Although we do have a lot of options now in the US, there is something about the taste and way in which the cheese is served. Always after a meal, with bread, and right before dessert. Oh, and you simply must have a splash of wine to wash it down. Ok, I’m salivating. ; )
5) Sophie le Giraffe. This plastic toy has made it’s way into the hands of every little baby in France and for good reason. It’s light, easy to grasp, cutter than a button and safe to chew. We buy them in bulk when we go because they are so much cheaper there.
6) Du Pareil au Meme. My favorite children’s clothing and accessories store. High quality cottons, amazing color choices (anyone else tired of blue=boy and hot pink=girl?) and best of all, its affordable. I have always loved their dresses and pjs. Check out the fun website here. They ship to the US. Your credit card may be fatigued. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
7) While we are on the topic of kid’s stuff, the French magazine, Milk is equally fun to read (or look at the pictures) as it is beautiful for your coffee table.
8) French Lavender. Grown in the south of France, lavender fields have always been a symbol of beauty for the Provence Region. A beautiful scent for perfume and oils, but what makes lavender so special for me is that it is the key ingredient in our favorite cooking herb, herb de provence. This mixture of oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary and basil would be very similar to any italian mixture you’ve tried before. Only in France, they add lavender, making it amazing and the most common spice/herb after salt & pepper.
9) The Regions. For a country roughly the size of Texas, it amazes how incredibly unique and varied each region is in France. The same way we say here that you can’t say you know “America” if you’ve only been to NYC, in France, you can never understand France if you’ve only visited Paris. The South has an Italian and Spanish influence, the Alps, Monaco and is dry, the North has German, Belgium and Celtic roots and in Brittany a very coastal climate, and the West is the heart of wine country and some of the best food in France. With each region, is very different cuisines, architecture, dialects and languages.
10) Walking in Paris is really the best way to explore the city of lights. The photo above, were people just dancing alone the Seine River. It was so fun to watch on our walk to meet some friends at a park. Something we would have totally missed if we had not taken a long stroll beforehand. Also, I loved this store front on Avenue Daumesnil. You can see my reflection if you look closely. ; ) I should have moved out of the way!
11) Long meals. Food in France is a religion and eating a meal is right of passage. It is a time with your family and friends not to be rushed, but to enjoy, talk, drink, laugh, argue and linger. Here, is a picture of a dinner last time we were in Brittany. This dinner started at 8pm, just two hours after our long celebratory lunch finished. This dinner lasted until 1am. I have to admit, I had to pack it in early (10pm) to get the kiddos in bed.
12) Alright, this one is only a favorite because on our last visit to France, my daughter and husband made this necklace for me.
13) Petanque. The bocce of France and a popular pastime in the countryside and the beach as much as it is in the parks in Paris. I am not good at all, but I really love to play with my family. If you have a Petanque set, you can take it anywhere.
We should all know please (s’il vous plait), thank you (merci), hello (bonjour), goodbye (au revoir) and where is the bathroom? (ou sont les toilettes?), but there are a few words that I just love to pronounce.
Hippocampe – Seahorse
Ratatouille – a mixture of cooked tomatos, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, salt, pepper, herb de provence.
Fait do-do – Go nighty-night
Coucou – Hi there / peek-a-boo
A tout a l’heure – See you later
And on that note, a tout a l’heure!