cqfdA couple of weeks ago, a lovely reader, Eugénie Street, commented on a post on the blog. She included the abbreviation CQFD, which stands for “ce qu’il faut démontrer” (suh keel foe day-mon-tray), which is the equivalent to the Latin phrase QED (quod erat demonstrandum) in math proofs (not that I ever did many of those). It literally means “that which must be demonstrated.” These days, CQFD has been transformed to apply to businesses, musicians, TV shows, and various interest groups by making one or more of the letters stand for something else, as seen in the images on this post.

cqfd_louvetlogo_cqfdThe French LOVE abbreviations, known as sigles (see-gluh). They abbreviate people’s names (PPDA was a celebrity newscaster), the train system (SNCF), political parties (UMP), you name it. It can be quite confusing! Thank goodness for Google. Before it existed, it was a lot tougher to figure out what an abbreviation meant.  Thirty years ago, my husband and I puzzled endlessly over the English abbreviation SRO that we heard in a song. You probably know that it means “standing room only.” Ironically, this expression doesn’t seem to have a sigle in French – it’s salle comble. The intricacies of language are such fun. More fun than math any day. IMHO (in my humble opinion).

51y+BEQtqFL._SL75_The French Mathematician

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L’essor des boissons exotiques au XVIIIe siècle

couverture_the_cafe_chocolat_2015Raise your hand if you had a cup of coffee today. How about a cup of tea? Or does your taste run to something a little sweeter like a nice rich hot chocolate? If Thé, Café ou Chocolat are an important part of your day, then you might enjoy the exhibit at the musée Cognacq Jay that opens on May 26, 2015 and runs until September 27. The exhibit is entitled L’essor des boissons exotiques au XVIIIe siècle (less-or day bwah-sohn zex-oh-teek owe deeze-wheat-ee-m sea-ek-luh), which means “The rise of exotic beverages in the 18th century.”

France-Penthievre-famille-penthievre-JB-charpentier-820x300Introduced into Europe for their therapeutic and medical properties, tea, coffee, and chocolate were also the center of social life in polite society. Because they were imported from outside of Europe, the cost of the beverages was commensurately high. They were goods of luxury and status, as were the goods needed to prepare and serve them. And they weren’t only consumed at home; they gave birth to European café society where women were allowed to socialize in public. They gave rise to new traditions, like breakfast and tea-time.

Thé-café-ou-chocolat-L’essor-des-boissons-exotiques-à-Paris-au-XVIIIe-siècle-400x230 (1)The exhibit has three themes: The Virtues and Dangers of Exotic Beverages; Circles of Consumption; and New Services. Works by Boucher and Chardin showing people enjoying their chic beverages illustrate lifestyle created by these exotic beverages. Just writing about this has made me want to go make a nice cup of something hot.

519YXTZXK3L._SL75_The Paris Café Cookbook: Rendezvous and Recipes from the 50 Best Restaurants

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l-exposition-jeanne-lanvin-au-palais-gallieraI think that designer Jeanne Lanvin is often overlooked compared to such contemporaries as Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. The first Paris exhibit at the Palais Galliera musée de la mode that is on until August 23, 2015 will go a long way to rectifying this oversight. Over 100 models from the oldest couture house in Paris that is still in business will show what the designer achieved.

CAVALLINILike Chanel, Lanvin started her career as a milliner. Inspired by her own daughter, Marguerite, she then expanded into children’s wear and clothing for young women before launching into haute couture. The Lanvin realm continued to expand into bridal wear, lingerie, furs, interior décor, sportswear, and men’s wear. The entrepreneur then expanded into markets other than Paris, including resort towns both within France and as far away as Buenos-Aires.

11Lanvin became known for her use of her favorite intense blue, as inspired by 14th century fresco painter Fra Angelico. Her famous perfume, Arpège, was a gift for Marguerite’s thirtieth birthday. The highly personal logo features Lanvin and her daughter. Beading, embroidery, and cutouts all characterized her meticulous craftsmanship.

LanvinIn 2002, former president George W. Bush famously said, “The problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” Of course, the snicker went around the world, because the French word has roots back to the 16th century. It comes from entreprendre (ohn-truh-pren-druh), to undertake. If Lanvin doesn’t represent entrepreneurship, I don’t know who does!


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Napoléon avait 500 soldats

Carnavalet_-_Napoléon_by_Lefevre_01Our apartment for our Paris sojourn is going to be in the Marais, one of my favorite neighborhoods. And in that neighborhood is the always interesting musée Carnavalet. Until August 8, they are hosting the exhibit Napoléon et Paris. The exhibit aims to show the relationship between the Emperor and the French capital. Paris was also the capital of Napoleon’s vast empire and he lived at the heart of it, in the palais de Tuileries – destroyed during the Commune of 1830. Napoleon dreamed of a modern city of monuments and broad avenues. He started several projects that became the foundation of the sweeping transformation wrought by his nephew Napoleon III. Imagine Paris without the rue de Rivoli or his statue atop the column in the center of the Place Vendôme. Thousands still flock to see his tomb at Les Invalides 200 years after his defeat at Waterloo. The Corsican General’s step is still resounds in Paris.

7334157-11286904In Grade 5, I learned the song Napoléon avait 500 soldats (nap-o-lay-ohn av-eh sank sohn sol-dah), or “Napoleon had 500 soldiers.” It’s a simple tune where you drop one syllable off the end of a line each time you sing a verse. Once you get it in your head, you can’t get it out. The Corsican General’s step still resounds in my memory.

41oLjZYPpNL._SL75_Walks through Napoleon and Josephine’s Paris

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Une maison témoin

LES TEMOINSI stumbled across a French TV series on Netflix; if you like suspenseful police thrillers, I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s entitled Les témoins (tay-mwahn), which means “Witnesses.” One of the main characters, retired detective Paul Maisonneuve, is played by Thierry Lhermitte. I’m used to seeing him in comedic roles (Le dîner de cons, Quai d’Orsay), but he’s equally adept in a dramatic role as a retired cop with secrets of his own. His sidekick (Holmes always has Watson), is the beautiful Marie Dompnier, but she’s no mere foil character in the role of brainy Sandra Winckler. The series has only six episodes and they’re subtitled in English. It’s well written and well acted. I hope you’ll enjoy it if you check it out.

LES TÉMOINSI learned a new phrase watching the show – une maison témoin (oon may-zohn tay-mwahn) means “a show house.” The crime scene is a show house in a new development – with a perfect family staged inside – not exactly good for real-estate values!

51571Tl0goL._SL75_Le Diner de Cons

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Caravage-Garcon-mordu-par-un-lezard1A must-do on any trip we take to Paris is a trip to the musée Jacquemart-André. The lunches in the gorgeous ballroom enhance the enjoyment of any exhibition. This year, there’s a good one on until July 20, De Giotto à Caravage. The exhibit is based on works from the Roberto Longhi Foundation, on view for the first time in France, along with works from the top French and Italian museums. Longhi was a connoisseur of Italian Renaissance paintings, particularly works by Caravaggio. Works by the master are juxtaposed with those of his imitators.

caravageConnaisseur (kon-ess-uhr) is the French spelling of connoisseur. It has its roots in the verb connaître, which means “to know.” Longhi’s connoisseurship has made this exhibit possible – which gives me a marvelous excuse to eat the wonderful desserts in the ballroom, in the interests of art, of course.

61TplyBdSSL._SL75_The Paris Style Guide: Shop, Eat, Sleep

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À visage découvert

tudors_09-02-15Here’s another exhibit in Paris the summer that looks interesting. Les Tudors is on until July 19 at the musée du Luxembourg-Sénat, on the edge of the Jardin du Luxembourg. This is the first exhibit in France that has ever been devoted to the ruling family of England during the Renaissance era. The portraits on display show how cleverly the Tudors controlled their public image. Also up for consideration are the diplomatic links between the two countries, at a time when many of the Duchies that became modern France were under English control. Portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in London.

PHOc530abd4-c8c6-11e4-bac3-5be59eee9a01-805x453The French expression à visage découvert (ah vee-zasj day-koo-verh) means “openly, undisguised.” It literally means “by uncovered face,” which seems quite apt for this exhibit about a family that so masterfully controlled the spotlight of 16th century Europe that we’re still talking about them 500 years later.

61TplyBdSSL._SL75_The Paris Style Guide: Shop, Eat, Sleep

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