Friday Finds 9

img_4275How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair, by Jonathan Beckman – This is a detailed historical account of the scandal over a diamond necklace that may have been one of the causes that led to the French Revolution. Trust me. Hollywood could never make up a story like this.

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L’Empereur – Remember those cute little penguins that marched across our screens and into our hearts in 2005? Well, they’re back – in France at least. Filmmaker Luc Jacquet was now able to film them underwater, thanks to technological advances in equipment. There is currently no release date set for North America, but since the last film won an Oscar, I hope it’s only a matter of time.

imageSeda France candles and home fragrance – I bought some Seda France candles and diffusers as gifts at Christmas and ended up keeping one each for myself. When researching this post, I learned that the company is not actually French at all, but rather based in Texas. Nonetheless, the beautiful packaging recalls the 18th century French passion for chinoiserie and toile and the scents are rich and complex. After only fifteen years in business, Seda is a newcomer compared to such venerable companies as Cire Trudon that dates to 1643, but I must say I’m impressed. They currently have a sitewide sale if you’d like to sample a new fragrance. I’m particularly partial to Japanese Quince and Currant Pourpre.

img_4327Gad Gone Wild – French stand-up comedian Gad Elmaleh is on Netflix (USA) with a live show in Montreal. He has hysterically funny sets about immigration, taxis, cultural differences between Morocco, Paris, and New York.

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Friday Finds 8

img_4253MM. LaFleur – At this time of the winter, looking foward to spring – and spring clothes – is a popular coping mechanism. I need absolutely nothing, but I can’t help looking at the lovely clothes on the M.M. LaFleur site. Their clothes are designed for professional women and they have the added advantage that they travel well and are machine washable. Their permanent showroom is in New York, but they also have some pop-up locations in major U.S. cities. If you can’t travel to one of their shops, you can shop online, or they will also send you a “Bento box” with four to six clothing items to check out based on the preferences in your questionnaire. The only French thing about the company is the name, based on the founder Sarah LaFleur, but the esthetic is pure French, with its emphasis on quality and simplicity. I am soooo tempted.

img_4262Matisse in the Studio – The Boston Museum of Fine Arts will be welcoming an exhibit about Henri Matisse from April 9 to July 9, 2017. Matisse placed great importance on objects that he used regularly for his paintings. This is the only US stop for this exhibit that brings together 36 paintings, 26 drawings, 11 bronzes, and many other works, representing all stages of the artist’s career. Many are from private collections and have never before been exhibited outside of France.

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Friday Finds 7

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Peaches for Father Francis (original title Peaches for Monsieur le Curé), by Joanne Harris – If you liked the book or film Chocolat, you’ll enjoy the continuation of the story. All the same characters are here, but now Viane is trying to help the curé, Francis Reynaud, the man who tried to run her out of town in Chocolat. In that story, the town was suspicious of the River Rats, the travelers who blew into town and were treated with suspicion. Now, the “other” is represented by a group of Muslims who are new in town. Harris explores the issues of identity, tolerance, prejudice and lies with her blend of magical realism and keen understanding for the issues plaguing contemporary France. It’s pretty pertinent in the US right now, too.

img_4230Channel your inner French girl with a striped top from La Ligne. The name of the New York company means The Line, and they specialize in striped basics in their Essentials Collection as well as a some more fashion-forward pieces in the Edition Collection.  This snazzy top can even be personalized with your initials on the navy band on the sleeve. If I didn’t already own about twenty striped tops, I’d be adding this one to my closet. If you are going to be in New York on February 10 and 11, 2017, they are having their first ever sample sale, with prices starting at $50. (265 Canal St. Ste. 402, Hours Fri. 10-6, Sat. 10-5, cash or charge only)

img_4232My next book to giveaway is Le Livre des passages de Paris, a paperback, written in French, about one of my favorite places in Paris – the covered passages that were super chic shopping galleries, many of which are still in business. If you would like to have it, please just leave a comment to that effect. To keep shipping costs reasonable, I have to limit winners to the US only. I’ll announce the winner in the next Friday Finds. Dede Thompson, you won the prior book, Paris panoramique. Please send your shipping information to onequalitythefinest@me.com.

 

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Sans état d’âme

img_4205For years, I’d heard the expression sans état d’âme (sahnz ay-tay dam) without realizing what it really meant or how it was written. It was only when I recently saw it written that the penny dropped. Sans = without, état = state, and d’âme = of soul. A little more smoothly it is generally translated “without soul searching.” I took the photo, above, at the église des Cordeliers in Nancy. Since it’s been in use since 1487 (now as part of a museum), I imagine that those stone walls have seen their share of soul searching.

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Friday Finds 6

Cassolette à sirène et faunesse - Cassolette à tête de bélier

Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court – This exhibit of stunning gilt porcelain is at New York’s Frick Collection until February 19, 2017. Gouthière (1732–1813) worked for Louis XV and Louis XVI as a master ciseleurdoreur (chaser-gilder). His works commissioned and collected by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Not all of his noble customers paid their bills, and Gouthière liked to spend lavishly, which led to his bankruptcy.  His success was such that others tried to copy his work, so one aspect of this exhibit was the opportunity to closely study authenticated pieces by Gouthière to better identify imitations.

img_4195La Parisienne – “You were born to be French. But accidents happen. Receive weekly lifestyle secrets from real Parisiennes.” This is the premise behind La Parisienne, the latest spin-off from My Little Paris. I’m thoroughly enjoying the content, including a quiz to find out which French celebrity is my alter ego. I don’t really see myself as Edith Piaf, however.

img_4196Still Life, by Louise Penny – My sister recommended this Canadian author who writes mystery fiction set in Québec. The award-winning author throws in the odd word in French, but not enough to pose any problems if you’re an anglophone. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache eats brioche and croissants with his Tim Horton’s double-double and wears Burberry, so he doesn’t fit the stereotype of police detectives. It’s well-written fiction with an engaging plot. If you enjoy it, Still Life is the first of twelve books in the series.

img_4197Book Giveaway – In keeping with my one-word resolution for 2017, Light, I’ve decided to lighten my book shelves of some books that I’ve enjoyed, but don’t feel the need to keep any longer. I’m going to give some of my francophile books to readers of the blog, rather than just donate them to the library. First up is Paris panoramique, a book I purchased in Paris that features panoramic photos of the capital. If you’re interested, just leave a comment below saying that you’d like the book. I’ll pick one randomly on January 27, 2017 and reply to your comment to get your shipping information. To keep the shipping costs reasonable, I am going to restrict the giveaway to US residents only. Bonne chance!

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Léger et la lumière

img_4179Last year, I heard about one word resolutions from Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast. Rather than a series of long aspirations, select just one word to sum up what you hope for the coming year. Last year, I selected the word “Read.” I read voraciously as  a child, but as an adult, I realized that I was rarely reading – maybe only four books a year and those were usually books I needed to read for school. I wanted to read more, but to do so, I needed to make some changes.

PosterI decided on a two-pronged approach. I would try to stop working on things for school or this blog at nine each evening and read for an hour before bed. In addition, I discovered Overdrive downloads from my library to listen to while driving or on my long walks to and from school. (My daughter does not consider audiobooks to be ‘reading,’ but I beg to differ.) The strategy worked. I read or listened to over fifty books in 2016.

light bokehHaving had such success last year, I decided to try another one word resolution for 2017. I settled on “Light.” I wanted to be lighter physically, having crossed a line on the scale that was unacceptable to me. I’ve sworn off desserts and I’m diligently keeping a food log. The numbers on the scale are beginning to move in the right direction, but I’ve got a way to go.

IMG_4182.JPGI I also wanted to lighten up our master bedroom. Our room has a western exposure, so it’s bright in the afternoon, but in the morning, it’s a little gloomy. When we moved in two and a half years ago, we added a new light fixture in place of the ceiling fan and changed the curtains to something livelier. But the paint was still quite dull; the Manchester Tan that is such an easy neutral in the rest of the house is a light-sucking choice in our bedroom.

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Photo decorare.tumblr.com

I knew it needed to be changed, but I dragged my heels – moving our bedroom furniture was going to be so cumbersome, picking the right paint color is a roll of the dice, and we didn’t like the quote we got to have someone tackle the job for us. I’m off from school on Monday, so I started the paint job when I got home from school on Saturday. We went with a very light yellow, more like French vanilla ice cream than a daffodil – Down Comforter by Valspar. I actually quite like painting; it stays done! And to add even more light, I have my eye on a cheval mirror in a local consignment shop to reward myself when I’m done. And moving all that furniture took far less time than I imagined.

img_4184In French, there are two words for light: léger (or légère when referring to feminine words) to describe the weight of an object or la lumière, which means “the light.” I’m going to keep working on both senses of the word light in 2017.

img_4185Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light

 

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Sans jury ni récompense

img_4164I love my Page a-day Gallery Calendar; it brightens each day with beautiful images. Through it, I learn about new works from favorite artists and discover some new artists with talent that I admire. Paul Signac is one of those new-to-me artists; I love the happy colors in his paintings.

img_4163The pointillist Paul Signac was born in Paris on 11 November 1863. He was so inspired by an exhibit of Monet’s work that he left his architecture studies to become a painter. He abandoned Impressionism when he met Georges Seurat and adopted the technique of juxtaposing pure dots of color so that they would blend in the viewer’s eye, rather than being mixed on the palette. Over time, his style evolved to be similar to mosaic-like squares, rather than dots of color. He spent every summer painting in the sun-soaked south of France, which is often reflected in his colorful paintings.

img_4162Signac, Seurat and others founded the Société des Artistes Indépendants whose motto was Sans jury ni récompense (sahn zjoor-ee knee ray-kom-pahns), which means “No jury nor awards.” This refers to the established art experts who controlled admission to exhibit at the annual Salons, thus effectively limiting who got seen by the buying public and who got to be a successful artist. Signac was also instrumental in encouraging other artists, including visiting Van Gogh in Arles and being Matisse’s first client.m

img_4161A few years ago, a previously unknown work by Signac was found at a hotel in Holland. Apparently, Signac paid his bill with the painting in 1894. At the time of discovery, it was valued at €100,000. Now that’s quite a mini-bar bill!

img_4158Art Page-a-day Gallery Calendar

 

 

 

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