Faire la queue

imageThe only place I have ever seen a line streaming out the door of a bakery and down the sidewalk. That was in Paris. I’d read that Clear Flour Bread in Brookline, Massachusetts, had the best croissants in Boston. The line out the door tended to support this praise. We joined the queue and ogled the rich variety of baked goods through the window while we waited our turn. When we were finally able to get inside the door, olfactory temptation was added to the visual enticement. What to choose?

imageWe ended up taking a bit of everything; small loaves of bread, brioche, a rustic strawberry and rhubarb tart, and, of course, croissants – both plain and pain au chocolat. In the interests of gustatory research, we’ve been working our way through our haul. The verdict is that their pastries are simply excellent, but the bread, while perfectly fine, is not off the charts. The croissants were worthy of a Parisian boulangerie, the rustic tart was full of flavor and the pastry was flaky and light, and the brioche de Provence was studded with orange peel. Yum!

imageThe French phrase for “to line up” is faire la queue (fare lah kuh). Although Brookline is half an hour away from where I live, I see regular trips to Clear Flour Bread in order to faire la queue in my future. If you’re in the greater Boston area, I highly recommend that you faire la queue as well.

5166VddYUEL__SL75_The Larousse Book of Bread: 80 Recipes to Make at Home

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Les pattes d’oie

Les pattes d’oie (pat dwah) literally means duck’s feet, but it’s the equivalent expression to crow’s feet in English. I prefer my pattes d’oie on a duck paddling happily on a pond than anywhere near my eyes, but I must admit that I prefer ducks to crows. Some of the best rated eye creams are French: Lancôme Génifique Yeux and Caudalie Premier Cru, among them. Caudalie products incorporate grapes, one of the most famous creams in the world uses sea kelp. I’m never sure if the eye creams I’ve been using for almost three decades are effective or if they just make me feel better about my efforts to stuff the sands of time back into the top half of the hourglass. But I’ll keep using them; I don’t want those duck feet making any more tracks on

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Étrenner

imageIt’s spring in my corner of the world – officially at any rate. Even when we have lots of clothes already, spring calls us to add a few pieces to our wardrobe. After a brutal winter, it feels so great to shed all those heavy, dark layers and embrace something light and bright. I love that there is a word in French for the special feeling of wearing something for the first time – étrenner (ay-tren-ay). Every major retailer seems to offer a variation on the classic French marinière in the spring. I’m quite tempted by the one shown here by Talbots. I think it shouts “Spring!” What’re you adding to your wardrobe for spring?

513OVi6GGGL__SL75_How To Dress Like A Cool French Mom: Dissecting The French Wardrobe Philosophy One Breton Stripe At A Time

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Fortiche

TheBarnAt17-Home_08The Barn at 17 has one of the best selections of antique furniture and accessories that we have found in the Boston area. The building looks a little decrepit on the exterior, but inside it’s Ali Baba’s cave, chock full of heirloom-quality treasures. They are affiliated with a restoration business on the property, so any pieces for sale are in pristine condition. After touring the huge warehouse, I asked my husband what he would load in the car if money were no object. He was sincerely stumped – there was so much wonderful merchandise on offer. We decided that our hypothetical purchase would be a carved china cabinet from a Boston cabinet maker. If you’re not in the Boston area, they also sell on One King’s Lane; just type their name in the search box. Fortiche (for-teesh) is a slang term that means that something is really terrific. The Barn at 17 is fortiche from the smallest objet d’art to the largest dining room suite.

51+9yvb9mGL__SL75_The Flea Markets of France

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Un bouleau

imageWe discovered a new bakery café in a city about half an hour to the west of where we live, Birch Tree Bread Company in Worcester, Massachusetts. We loved everything about it – the old beams and wood floors of the old mill, the light that bathed the interior, and, of course, the food. I had a ham and cheese croissant that was flaky and delicious. We also bought a loaf of Coriander Raisin bread to take home. Oh my! That was the best bread I have ever tasted. The loaf was loaded with sweet, golden raisins and perfumed with coriander. Absolutely delicious. This is one of their regular loaves – they also have a bread menu of special loaves that they make only once a week. If I lived closer, I would totally be a regular.

imageOne of the gaps in my French vocabulary is all the words for the natural world you learn when you are a child – birds, flowers, and trees. I had to look up the word for a birch tree; it’s un bouleau (uhn boo-low). It’s always been one of my favorite trees. We had a beautiful weeping birch in our front yard when I was a kid. A beautiful tree, a beautiful café, and beautiful bread. I’ll be back.

5166VddYUEL__SL75_The Larousse Book of Bread: 80 Recipes to Make at Home

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Être pris au dépourvu

poussinI’ve never had a particularly high opinion of Detroit as a cultural center. Recently, my daughter took me to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and I must say that it gave me a much better opinion of the Motor City. The DIA is probably most famous for the Diego Rivera Detroit Industry murals, and the big event at the moment is the exhibit Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit (on until July 12, 2015). The exhibit focuses on the years that the couple was in Detroit while Rivera completed his monumental work and Kahlo developed her own style.

monet gladiolusAfter the exhibit, my daughter showed me the highlights of the collection. There was plenty of great works: Rembrandt, Canaletto, Van Gogh among others. Of course, I wanted to see their French collection. The DIA has a fine group of French works spanning three centuries by artists such as Poussin, Gericault, Renoir, Degas, and even Duchamp. We finished our visit in the highly appealing café that looks like a medieval courtyard.

Pierre_Auguste_Renoir_GraziellaI must admit that I was taken by surprise by the DIA. The French expression is être pris au dépourvu (et-ruh pree oh day-poor-voo). If you are near Detroit, it’s worthwhile being pris au dépourvu by the DIA yourself.

61s0o9VRekL__SL75_Treasures of the DIA: Detroit Institute of Arts

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Votre 06

imageYou’re in Paris. You meet someone delightfully . . . French. After a philosophical discussion during which you resolve all of the world’s problems, your new friend says, “Votre 06, s’il vous plaît?” (vot-ruh zair-oh seese, sea voo pleh) Unfortunately, you have no idea what that means so you stare blankly, unless, of course, you follow this blog. Because then you’d know that your French friend has just asked for your cell phone number. The first French cell phone numbers all began with 06 and the first digits became shorthand for the whole number. Now that almost all of the possible combinations have been used up, the latest numbers start with 07. When I start my summer job in Paris, one of our first tasks is to make sure that everyone has a cell phone. When we get back from the phone store Orange, the 06 numbers are highly sought after, almost a status symbol. Because who wants to say “Votre 07?”

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