Âllo Quoi!

I have been here in France for more than ten years now….and over that time I have learned a few things about phone calls and courtesy. Often times, foreigners (being one myself I can speak from experience) have a harder time communicating over the phone. Especially understanding the person on the other end of the line. Perfecting that comes with practice. Another thing that comes with practice is finding the right words to use over the phone. I feel I have come to a point where I can perfectly manage phone calls using all the French courtesies and phrases that I have so diligently added to my repertoire over the past decade.


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Chéri je t’aime ♥

It’s Valentine’s day…  ♥

Ever since leaving the United States, I stopped making it a big deal. I didn’t boycott it though, even in my years as a single girl. That would be too drastic.

But Valentine’s day has never been a huge commercialized event in France. Well, until now. Most of the shop windows are sprouting V-day décor, and everyone and their brother is offering a Valentine’s day special. The Hallmark holidays are here to stay I think in France. They have seen what great commercial profit that can be.

Chéri and I have always done a little something…be it a dinner out together, or a dinner in together, or a little gift… But nothing too extravagant. And I just can’t go back to buying into too much of that over-commercialized-almost-forced declaration of love. I prefer to tell him EVERY day… Continue reading

French Spirit

French spirit

Sometimes, I like to be reminded that the French are proud of being French… You know how they are known to be “râleur” as we say in French (loud complainers). So it’s good to see a little French pride once in a while! Often it takes a sports game to brig out that national spirit, and that’s just fine as it is an innocent and festive reason to display such sentiments! Continue reading

Paris Wedding Wednesday : the DIY address to remember!

prete moi parisPlanning a wedding in Paris France is full of obstacles. How MANY times have I heard the phrase, “oh we just don’t do that here”.  This is from the mentality here that one that offers a product or service for what most “normal” people do or get for their wedding. There seems to be a sort of cultural agreement that everybody has the same things at their weddings, with perhaps a variation on the quality of the things depending on the couple’s budget. Well the budget quality here is often deplorable for my taste, and I don’t want to have what everybody else has, so I rely in DIY! Besides, I am a creative person and would quite frankly rather create things myself, than go buy them (when possible within the limits of my creative talents).

So this penchant for DIY has led me to seek out some VERY useful addresses in this city, where….let me tell you….nothing is cheap ESPECIALLY for wedding planning! As soon as you say the word “mariage“, people blink their eyes and then you see €uro signs where their pupils once were. Le sigh…

So since I learned how to share in kindergarten, I am blogging about these wonderful places for you! Continue reading

Repetto : press release : ballet slipper school

Normally I don’t publish posts about the press releases I get in my email inbox; this is because I want my blog to reflect my vision and my discoveries of Paris. But this one, I felt compelled to communicate on this platform because it speaks to me in so many ways that I felt it was more than appropriate. So much so that I took the liberty of translating it into English. For one thing, it’s about a French company that I love : Repetto. And this company works within an art form that I also love (and used to do) : Dance. And thirdly, it is concerning a place to learn how to make things, with your hands, and THAT speaks volumes to me. I am fond of detailed work done with human hands and not just machines, especially with the French savoir-faire for great quality. (I secretly wish I could make shoes myself). So without further ado… straight from Repetto :

Photo courtesy of Repetto

Repetto inaugurera son école de formation vendredi 20 janvier 2012 à Coulaures.

Repetto will be inaugurating it’s own artisan school on January 20th, 2012 in Coulaures.

Friday, 20 January 2012


 At the Lycée professionnel des Métiers du Bâtiment Chardeuil

24420 oulaures

 L’objectif de cette école – unique en France, est de former l’ensemble des salariés de nos ateliers Repetto ainsi que les premiers  150 futurs salariés sur les métiers du cuir afin de faire face à l’accroissement de l’activité de notre Maison. A l’issue de cette formation d’une durée de 6 mois, les personnes en mesure de confectionner une ballerine « cousu retourné » dans son intégralité et selon notre savoir-faire unique, intégreront l’usine Repetto.

The objective of the school – one that is unique in France, is to train their entire staff for their own workshops as well as the first 150 new artisans that they will be hiring, in leather work, in order to be able to meet the demands of their rising activity. At the end of the 6 month training, those who are able to create a ballet slipper that is “sewn and turned” in it’s entirety and according the the unique Repetto savoir-faire, will integrate the Repetto factory.

Photo courtesy of Repetto

Hébergée à Chardeuil durant la durée des travaux*, cette formation est ouverte depuis le mois de novembre 2011. Elle est assurée par des Repetto Genuine Craftsmen ayant acquis une longue expérience et une grande dextérité dans les techniques de fabrication ainsi que par des membres du CTC (centre Technique de la chaussure).

Housed in Chardeuil for the duration of the construction*, this training has been open since November 2011. It is given by the Repetto Genuine Craftsmen who have gained a lengthy experience and great dexterity in the techniques of fabrication as well as members of the CTC (Centre Technique de la Chaussure).

Repetto souhaite former  dans un 1er temps 150, personnes en 4 ans.

Repetto is hoping to begin by training 150 people in 4 years.

*A l’issue des travaux prévue en septembre 2012, l’école de formation prendra place sur le lieu de fabrication Repetto de St-Médard.

*At the end of construction, estimated for September 2012, the school’s training will take place at the St-Médard Repetto factory.


Photo courtesy of Repetto

L’Etat, la région Aquitaine et le département de la Dordogne, fiers de cette initiative, s’associent à cet événement.

The State, the region Aquitaine and the department of Dordogne, are proud to associate support this event.

The train : What a way to go! (On vacation)


I like LOVE taking the train. I used to love taking planes, but then we all became terror suspects and it’s now a frustrating experience where your rights, dignity and security always seem at stake. So if I can, I take the train. It’s relaxing, no rush, no panic, no stress, you have space to travel in comfort and it’s a treat to watch the countryside swish by. I get to SEE where I am going!


Chéri and I took the train to Bordeaux for a little break from Paris this summer and booked seats in the TGV from the Gare Montparnasse, but not just any TGV, the iDTGV, a concept train invented by the SNCF which is the national train service in France.

Chéri tried to book seats on the iDTGV zen, but it was apparently full, and we got seats on the iDTGV zap. Not sure what that meant we found out when the train was just pulling out of the station. I was in the bar car grabbing cups of tea, when I saw a conductor making the announcements over the loudspeaker. (In French) “Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the iDTGV. We’d like to remind you that wagon 14 is the iDTGV zen, where the ambience is to be one of silence, please respect the quiet of the other passengers in that car. Wagon 13 is the iDTGV zap, where the ambiance is one of conviviality, if you haven’t already, do take a moment to say hello to your neighbor.” The few of us in the bar car grabbing breakfast before the line got long, all looked at eachother, the conductor and server alike, and snickered like teenagers! Not that saying hi to your neighbor is unheard of, but it was a funny thing for the staff of the SNCF to be telling us to do. It reminded me of those times when I was a kid and at Sunday church service and we were invited to greet our neighbor with a “peace be with you” and a nod of the head or shake of the hand.

We all chuckled a bit more and somebody suggested that the conductor add something about greeting their neighbors’ dog with a pat on it’s head too. The conductor smiled and said he’d add that next time.


Well, we didn’t become lifelong friends with our neighbors, I don’t even think we said hello to their dozing, sleepy faces, but after 3 cups of tea I was certainly in a friendly mood and would probably have chatted with just about anyone! And to boot…there was aisle service in addition to the bar car. Win!

Keeping track of the past

Les Archives de la Presse


The boutique nestled in the Marais, sells books, magazines and newspapers of all sorts from the 19th century to the present day. It’s a place worth losing some time in. I was out shopping for holiday gifts when I happened upon this place, and found myself immensely distracted by the old-timey articles and publicity pages of 19th century newspapers. They used the same tactics that they use in our day and age to sell beauty products to women, for example: “it’s all natural and scientifically proven to make you look younger and more beautiful after the first usage!” Amazing how somethings never change.

There are also stacks and piles of vogue magazines, old pamphlets and catalogs from Printemps, copies of Le Petit Journal (I have two framed at home but I got them for a 3rd of the price at an open air antique market) for 15 euros.

Dusty and worn leather-bound books are stuffed into the shelves lining the walls, and all the written press is piled in organized stacked, arranged by year and category on the center of the boutique. There is so much to see that I literally didn’t notice the three quarters of an hour pass me by.

Perhaps a little history lesson might pop up at you if you read the articles or editorials of the papers… and a great way to discover the political atmosphere as it was felt at the time. Especially if you browse the political cartoons and satirical drawings.

A perfect place to “lose” yourself on a cloudy afternoon in Paris.

Les Archives de la Presse
51 rue de Archives
75003 Paris
Opening Hours
Thuesday – Friday : 10h30 – 19h00.
Monday – Saturday : 14h00 – 19h00

Subway and bus Access
Stations : M° Arts-et Métiers (lines 3 ,11)
M° Filles du Calvaire (line 8 )
M° Hotel de Ville (lines 1, 11)
M° Rambuteau (line 11)
M° République (lines 3,5,8,9,11)

Bus 29 : Archives-Haudriettes, Archives-Rambuteau, Rue Vieille du temple.
Bus 67 : Hotel de Ville.
Bus 69 : Hotel de Ville.
Bus 75 : Archives-Haudriettes.

Home-Made * Fait-Maison

The Marchés des Producteurs de Pays are held throughout the country in different towns throughout the year. I love when they come to Paris, because it is a way to purchase quality products direct from the people who make them. The merchants are held to strict rules if they want to participate in these special markets. They must cultivate, fabricate or cook themselves the products they sell.

Usually at these markets you run into people who are passionate about what they do. Like the “truffiers” that we met Saturday Nov. 20th at the market held on the boulevard de Reuilly. They are truffle specialists. Truffle mushrooms (not the chocolates!). Once we got the woman talking about her truffle hunting dog and pig, she was off and chattering about how to cook things while her husband kept handing us menus in an effort to make us salivate, and his wife taking them away saying that he was mean and torturing us! They had a photo album of their trained golden retriever, and proudly spoke of how if they merely said the word “truffe” the dog would go and get the basket used for collecting them (except in the summer, since he knows that it’s not truffle season).

2 truffles : they go for 65€ per 100 grams! 1 costs @ 26€!

Next to the truffle stand, there is a stand selling home-made jams. And another one selling bee’s wax candles. And yet another selling liqueurs and wines. And farther down, gingerbreads and madeleines. Hot crêpes are steaming on the griddle next to a merchant selling fresh cheeses…

You could spend all afternoon and a good chunk of your salary at these markets. But it is a way to connect with the food that you eat, and the products you consume, as well as the people that make them. With so many supermarkets and even organic stores that deal in large distribution, we are no longer “in touch” with what we put in our bodies.The marché des producteurs de pays is a good way to reverse this sad trend.

Look for upcoming dates and locations on their website. There is one going on this weekend at the Village Saint Paul in the Marais.