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.


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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Une Empreinte

img_4147On a stroll around our temporary neighborhood in the Haut Marais, we came upon a gorgeous store named Empreintes (5 rue de Picardie). This light-flooded concept store is filled with the work of hundreds of different artisans: potters, jewelers, wood-turners, fibre artists, glass blowers and so on. A card by each artist’s display explained a little bit about their work as well as a map showing where they live in France. Prices ranged from about 20€ to 10,000 €, so there is something gorgeous for every taste and budget.

img_4073In addition, there is an appropriately hipster café on the second floor, run by Season, the very popular café a few streets away (1 rue Charles-François Dupuy).

img_4148Une empreinte (oon ahm-prent) can be variously translated as a finger print, mark, or imprint. It can be literal, such as the mark left by an animal in the woods, or figurative, such as the impact a special person makes on your life. Empreintes certainly made an impact on me. I can’t wait to go back there and snag something special or just hang out with a coffee and feel French and artsy.

img_4149The Little Black Book of Paris, 2017 Edition

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Friday Finds 5

Here were some of our favorite discoveries on our recent trip to Paris. Many of our new finds were in the neighborhood of the Haut (Upper) Marais. I’ve spent lots of time in the Bas (Lower) Marais, but only just passed through the Third Arrondissement before. Our apartment was off the Square du Temple and we loved it. It was so quiet that it was impossible to believe it was a block away from busy République, but the area was full of interesting shops, cafés, and restaurants. I highly recommend it to you.

  1. Gigi Crêpes de comptoir (4 rue de la Corderie) – This is a fabulous little crêperie – easily the equal of Breizh or Josselin. We particularly liked the mini-crêpe options: nine bite-sized crêpes in three different flavors in either savory or sweet flavors – like French tapas. We used the mini-crêpes to hone in on the flavors we liked best and then ordered their full-sized versions. Our favorite savory crêpe was the Chèvre cendré with carmelized onions, apple, and spinach. The dessert crêpe that wowed us was their version of a crêpe Suzette with chocolate whipped cream. So good!
  2. Charme d’Orient Spa (18 blvd du Temple) – Our daughter treated me to a facial at this Moroccan-inspired spa as my Christmas present. The treatment left my skin supremely moisturized and it was done without the hard-sell for products that often seems to come with a spa treatment.
  3. Tammy & Benjamin (33 rue de Poitou) – I loved the reasonably priced, made-in-France purses and wallets at this gorgeous little shop. Most of their bags are a more structured shape, sort of Kelly bags for Millenials. Their round bag in red leather called to me. I wish I needed a new purse!
  4. Marché Noir (18 rue Perrée) – This vintage clothing shop has a carefully curated selection of accessories and statement pieces, many from Togo. I picked up a really pretty Italian scarf for 5€. There is also a wing of the store dedicated to striking pottery. I particularly liked their pitchers in two sizes and several colors.
  5. Cirque le Roux – The Elephant in the Room (Bobino theater, 14-20, rue de la Gaîté) – This show was 80% acrobatics, 20% film noir, and 100% fun. I did lots of oohing and ahhing as the performers sailed through the air. You can see a clip of it here. If you’re in Paris, it’s on until January 14. It’s been traveling to other cities, so if you may have a chance to see this, or another of their shows, I highly recommend it. As there was almost no dialogue, you don’t need to speak French to have a wonderful time.
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Une Citation digne d’être citée

img_4130Well, my vacation in Paris is drawing to a close. We had a wonderful time. The weather  cooperated – not too cold and mostly dry. The skies were almost solidly gray, which did make it much more difficult than normal to adjust to the time zone.  Our daughter was able to join us for the second half of our trip, always a bonus. There was only one day when I was mysteriously unwell, but that soon passed. Paris in the off-season is definitely calmer. We saw a different museum exhibit almost every day – including Christmas!

img_4132I had wanted to see the Oscar Wilde exhibit at the Petit Palais as I am a big fan of his writing. I grew up listening to a beautiful recording of “The Happy Prince,” and The Portrait of Dorian Gray has always fascinated me. The exhibit itself was a little text heavy (rather inevitable for a show about a major writer), but it interspersed art from his days as a critic and clips of some of the movie adaptations of his works.

img_4131As we moved through each phase of his life from one room to the next, my attention was grabbed by all of the quotations painted on the walls. Few writers can claim as many quotable and notable quotes as Oscar Wilde. Probably the best way to translate “a quotable quote” is une citation digne d’être citée (oon see-tah-see-ohn dee-njuh det-ruh see-tay). I jotted down the quotes from the exhibit for you:

Lorsque les dieux veulent nous punir, ils exaucent nos prières.
When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.

Vivre est la chose la plus rare au monde. La plupart des gens se contentent d’exister.
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist.

J’adore le théâtre. Il est tellement plus vrai que la vie.
I love acting. It is so much more real than life.

Le public fait preuve d’une tolérance étonnante. Il pardonne tout, sauf le génie.
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.

Il n’existe pas de livre moral ou immoral. Un livre est bien écrit ou mal écrit; un point, c’est tout.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.

Quand on est amoureux, on commence par se tromper soi-même et on finit par tromper les autres.
When one is in love, one begins by deceiving oneself and one ends by deceiving others.

Rien ne nous distingue plus aujourd’hui de l’Amérique à l’exception du langage, bien entendu.
We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

S’aimer soi-même, c’est se lancer dans une belle histoire d’amour qui durera toute la vie.
To love one self us the beginning of a lifelong romance.

Tout art est parfaitement inutile.
All art is quite useless.

Dire des choses belles et fausses est le véritable but de l’art.
The telling of beautiful untrue things is the proper aim of art.

La moderation est une chose fatale. Rien ne réussit mieux que l’excès.
Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothings succeeds like excess.

On ne doit jamais faire ses débuts par un scandale: il faut réserver cela pour l’intérêt de ses vieux jours.
One should never make one’s début with a scandal. One should reserve that to give an interest to one’s old age.

img_4133The exhibit did not, however, include my favorite Wilde quotations-said to be his dying words in a shabby Parisian hotel – Ou c’est ce papier peint qui disparaît, ou c’est moi. “Either this wallpaper goes or I do.” If you are, or will be, in Paris, the exhibit continues until January 15, 2017.

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Une pochade

img_4009We went to the Henri Fantin-Latour exhibit at the musée du Luxembourg today. Not only did we thoroughly enjoy his paintings, but I learned a new word. Early in his career, Fantin-Latour practiced his craft with numerous self-portraits. In the notes next to the paintings, they refered to one portrait as une pochade. When my husband asked me what that meant, I was stumped. Wordreference.com to the rescue!  Une pochade is a sketch, or hastily executed painting. It can also be applied to writing. I loved his flower paintings, particularly the one in the blue vase. My husband preferred the lady in the blue dress, Fantin-Latour’s sister-in-law. If you’ll be in Paris by February 12, this is a beautiful exhibit.

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Friday Finds 4

  1. I Was Vermeer: The Forger Who Swindled the Nazis, by Frank Wynne – This is a fascinating account of swindler and art forger Han van Meegeren and it raises larger questions about the authenticity of much of the art hanging on gallery and museum walls around the world. An embittered van Meegeren took to forging Vermeer and other artists when his own art was ignored by the serious art world. He and his wife relocated from the Netherlands to the south of France where Van Meegeren set up a studio and an elaborate lab so that he could fool the art experts. He was talented, prolific, and a prodigious liar. It’s quite the tale – as much about psychology as art.
  2. www.thrillist.com – Our fabulous daughter is joining us on our trip to Paris and she told me about this website. Type in the name of the city you’re visiting, and a series of targeted articles appears. Best spots for brunch? Check. Best cafés? Check. Best chocolatier? Check. Your itinerary just got a lot easier to put together. Since some of my favorite spots are on their lists, I trust the recommendations.
  3. To Catch a Thief – Watch this 1955 classic for the amazing scenery along France’s Côte d’Azur and for the soignée wardrobes of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. The acting and special effects don’t hold up so well, however!
  4. My French County Box – If you need a last-minute gift for your favorite francophile (or yourself), blogger and author Sharon Santoni has the perfect solution. Santoni will ship you a box of French goodies quarterly or just one for a special occasion. The price is not exactly cheap ($195 for a single box or $700 for one every three months), but shipping, customs duty, and taxes are included. As Santoni says, “Each box includes : 4 principal gifts and 4 smaller indulgences, plus a limited edition watercolor print in a French theme for you to collect throughout the year. Each box is curated along a seasonal theme, smells fantastic and introduces you to our favorite French creators and iconic brands.”

I’ll be in Paris for the next ten says where I’ll be able to curate my own box of goodies for this francophile. I will not likely post again until after Christmas, but you can follow our adventures on Instagram @onequalitythefinest. Joyeux Noël!

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