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Bernardaud – Fine Holiday Gifts

December 1, 2016 @ 9:50 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Votivelight - delicate porcelain from Bernardaud

Scenes of the Seine in Paris, Bernardaud

Oui – the season has arrived, and naturally I gravitate to French gifts.  Here, I ‘dust off” my thoughts on a delightful selection of gifts for any age, gender or interest.

One of my favorite wedding gifts came from my Matron of Honor.  Understanding our profound love of France and in keeping with our French-themed wedding, she presented us with an incredibly delicate Bernardaud Votivelight candle themed with scenes of the Seine in Paris.

The Bernardaud mystique extends back to the birth of French porcelain in 1768.  A villager from  Saint-Yrieix La Perche near Limoges discovered a soft, white clay that later would be identified as kaolin.  This magnificent substance is critical to fine china for its resiliency, durability and flawless iridescent translucency.  Voila!  Her discovery gave birth to the French – particularly Limoges – porcelain.

Toward the end of the 19th century, a workshop apprentice, Léonard Bernardaud, so distinguished himself among fellow porcelain workers, that he would become a partner in the company, as would his sons.  Today we owe the exceptional beauty and craftsmanship of their products to the tenacious resolve and creativity of the Bernardauds.

Bernardaud porcelain

Bernardaud – stunning craftsmanship and color

Our beautiful votivelight is but one of an appealing collection produced by Bernardaud and available in fine department stores and Bernardaud boutiques.

So there you have a delightful idea for gift-giving this season.  Head for Neiman-Marcus or Bloomingdale’s or take a look on line to discover where you might purchase that special gift for a friend or family member.
We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

French Photo Holiday Gifts

November 28, 2016 @ 8:00 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
A chance photo while wandering the streets of Paris France

An elegant sight, while wandering the streets of Paris

If you’re staring at catalogues or wandering through stores to find that “perfect” gift for friends or family, STOP! Think about going personal with a gift from your own memorable travels in France.

I have done just that many times in the past, and it gives me great pleasure to see my photo of a quaint, festooned wedding car in Bordeaux hanging right there in my son’s entryway… or the elegant Hotel de Ville photo from Blois in our own home. Whether you want to make one of your own memories indelible or share stunning sights with others, a framed photo from your own collection makes an excellent, personalized gift.

The good news is that American Frame makes the process so easy. Choose a few of the photos you might want to print and frame. Go to the frame company site and begin the process of choosing frames, mats – even double mats! I have never seen such a user-friendly site. You will upload your photos, choose mats and frames and be able to see them with light or dark mats, metal or wood frames, ornate or simple frame designs. You can even change the color of the wall on which the framed photo will hang!

Overlooking the River Cher from Chenonceau Castle in France

Musing by the Cher at Chenonceau

Sometimes, simple thoughtful gifts provide far more pleasure than those break-the-wallet lavish ones. We hope you are stress-free in your preparations for the holidays!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Mastering Space, Saving Energy in Paris

November 9, 2016 @ 5:55 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan

The mirror expands the space in “My Little Home in Paris”

Anyone who has stayed in a tiny Parisian hotel room or dined at a 16-seat cafe understands the lack of available space in this spectacular capital city.  Every inch of space is important – the little entry alcove, the corner at the curve of the stairs, the stairwell itself.

Perhaps a comparison to American spaces will provide perspective.  A one-bedroom apartment in the United States  often includes 600 to 800 square feet – huge by Paris standards, where that space would equate to a 3- or 4-room apartment.

Our friends in Paris bought a studio for a small vacation rental – small being the operative word here!  At 21 square meters (225 square feet), “My Little Home in Paris” has a very comfortable, full-size bathroom with tub, a small kitchen and a little study, or half-room that serves as wardrobe, office or sleep space for the one with the short straw (futon for the night)!  How in the world do they do it, especially given the ancient building with a lovely little fireplace that can’t be removed?

Let’s start with the kitchen, where a high-tech water/radiator heater was installed behind the faux wall above the sink – quite the space saver.  The gas heater keeps a small reservoir of heated water, programmable to use energy when it’s the cheapest.  As soon as hot water is used, it is replenished with the heater’s quick recovery system.  A two-burner gas stovetop and microwave handle almost any cooking needs, save a Thanksgiving turkey.  Curtained shelves hold everything else from pans and teapots to coffee makers and spices.

Water heater above the sink

A comfortable sofa bed is the key to space savings in the living room, as is a small, round drop leaf table in front of the bright window. A lovely old mirror above the fireplace adds elegance, visual depth and light, and – voila – the small, flat-screen TV on the wall delivers CNN and France 24 without prejudice!  (Oh my – I just noticed I keep using the words “small” and “little” – can’t be avoided on this topic!)

In the half room, a desk under the window offers free computer and wifi connections and free internet phone.  Bookshelves above hold every imaginable tour book, museum guide and restaurant menus.  A large cupboard has plenty of space for hanging and folded clothes and supplies.

That’s just one example of the clever use of space in a small Paris apartment.  Older apartments with soaring ceilings make use of a sleeping loft to remove the bed from the main living areas.  Circular stairwells are also popular, as are some unusual appliance combinations to cater to “western” notions of comfort – combination stove/dishwasher or clothes washer set beneath your bathroom sink. One studio apartment cleverly disguised the kitchen behind lovely armoire doors that covered a generous space set in the end wall of the living room. You name it – the French have thought of ways to be comfortable without excess space.

Favorite Cafe, Ile Saint-Louis

Favorite Cafe, Ile Saint-Louis

Tiny cafes also demonstrate resourcefulness.  Along rue Mouffetard, a tarte salon welcomes some 9 or 10 customers at a time, while others walking along the street order their quiche to go.  The fact that the fresh tartes sit in an enticing window display probably doubles their daily sales.  Dine inside, and you’ll see how deftly your server assembles your order.  She cuts your chosen tarte from the window display to take to the draped kitchen in the back – one that looked to be the size of a large closet.  She returns the warmed quiche to the front, adds salad and your drink from a small refrigerator next to the window.  Dirty dishes go back to the kitchen, where it sounds like they might be immediately washed by hand for future customers.

A similarly small cafe on elegant Ile Saint-Louis handled service in much the same way, but with one important distinction.  They had the benefit of a dumbwaiter that would silently carry steaming tagliatelle and crisp galettes upward to customers, while whisking away dirty dishes to the cavern below.

In a city that continues to thrive in the face of growing populations, Paris demonstrates an uncanny appreciation for space and energy.  Schools double as voting sites.  Little autos, such as Smart cars, outnumber larger vehicles, and the city Velib system makes bike-riding popular.  Building entries have timed lighting for you to activate to avoid energy drain, and you can choose your drying cycles in the Laundromat to run in 10-minute segments.

In the United States, the economic downturn has brought about changes in thinking about spending and living.  We have been enamored with big spaces and special-occasion rooms, with large cars and more appliances than we know how to conquer.  Perhaps, we should look to Paris for inspiration.

 

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC.   Photo and text, all rights reserved.

“Astonishing Images of Paris”

October 27, 2016 @ 8:20 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Gaston Barret’s Watercolor of Contrescarpe

I resurrect this article, as it features a delightful discovery of Paris paintings and an interesting story to accompany that surprise.

A few years ago, we enjoyed dinner with a longstanding friend and her husband at their attractive home.  Not surprisingly for a woman of many interests, she had some delightful artifacts and art.  Knowing our love of France, she shared an unusual book with us – a gift to her uncle that ultimately came into her possession.

The beautiful volume was a limited edition of “Astonishing Images of Paris”, and included a striking collection of Aquarelles (watercolors) de Gaston Barret.  She allowed me to borrow the book, and I looked through the remarkable illustrations time and again.

With a little research, I discovered that Barret (1910–1991) had illustrated Marcel Pagnol’s play, Topaze with eighteen colored aquarelle etchings.  He also illustrated Pagnol’s Marius, as well as works of Gustave Flaubert, Jean de la Fontaine, Maurice Genevoix and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – definitely an impressive collection of authors!

Barret’s Montmartre

I had told our friend that I would share the results of my research with her.  We were amused, when I discovered a ‘sassier’ side of Barret.

In 1951 Monsieur Barret created several erotic prints for Justine ou les Maleurs de la Vertu – The Misfortunes of Virtue by Marquis de Sade.  Interestingly, the Marquis published several versions in the late 18th century; but Napoleon Bonaparte called Justine “the most abominable book ever engendered by the most depraved imagination” and immediately ordered the arrest of Sade, who spent the last 13 years of his life in prison.  Barret’s illustrations surfaced in the later publication during the more permissive era of the late 1960’s.

And so we travel from sophisticated old acquaintances and lovely illustrations of Paris to skeletons spilling from the closet.  What an interesting journey!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

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