Novel Set in WWII France

May 25, 2015 @ 2:57 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Normandy france

Approaching the Northern coast of France

Though not planned, on this Memorial Day I have just finished Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer-Prize winning All the Light We Cannot See. Set in occupied France leading up to, during and after World War II; the author immerses you in the lives of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy whose lives ultimately come together with a gentleness that belies the inhumanity of the times. I’m not a book critic, but several elements in the novel attract me.

In particular the initial and end setting takes place by the Jardin des Plantes in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Because one of the main characters is blind, the author painstakingly provides details about the neighborhood, details that are critical navigation points that help a blind girl find her way from her apartment to the place of her father’s work at the Museum of Natural History. They walk along the graveled garden paths, where I have spent quiet moments watching nannies and grannies looking after their young charges. They climb to the gazebo on the hill that stands against the sky. They walk to the Gare d’Austerlitz, as we have done so many times. Don’t we always embrace the familiar?

But I get away from the centerpiece. The timeline begins with the dropping of leaflets on Saint Malo – Allied leaflets warning of bombs to come, warning residents to go to the country. The novel wraps itself before and after those dates in a wrenching but beautiful story of the people and places and divisive horror of World War II.

WWII France, Normandy

American cemetery in Normandy

So much of the novel is rich with detail, with the intricacies of each person’s talent or chosen path or imposed route in life. While I always have had an interest in World War II, due in part to the active participation of two favorite uncles, I find new stories and viewpoints continue to emerge from the mountains of books, documentaries and movies that try to make some sense or at least some historic preservation of this insane blight on the world.

I do come away from All the Light We Cannot See with a new perspective of those in Europe, whose lives were entangled with World War I, with the aftermath of poverty and anger and building rage that would lead to World War II and that aftermath. So many lives knew little but the approach to war, the constant deprivation, the devastation and the horrible lasting consequences. Like a constant pool of eddies, those circumstances whirled their lives pulling them this way and that with little leeway for choosing a plan for life.

Remembering those who served and those who suffered.

Au Lys D’Argent – Paris Salon de Thé

May 23, 2015 @ 11:30 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Dining in Paris

Au Lys d’Argent on Ile Saint-Louis

Managing expectations? I’m not sure what to call my thought process, but I decided I would introduce one of my favorite little hideaways on Ile Saint-Louis in Paris. I have plenty to say about Au Lys D’Argent, but I thought I’d see what some of those infamous on-line reviewers would have to say.

The majority really liked my little salon de thé, found good value, good service and an appealing atmosphere. Mais oui – some naysayers stepped forward to grump and groan about the tiny restroom down the steps, the cramped dining area, the noise, service and food. I come away from those kinds of comments quite happy that I neither live next door to nor work with the complainers.

Now that I have that out of the way, I can tell you that I discovered my jewel on the island way back in 1997. One afternoon I was in search of a little hideaway for absorbing my day in Paris, for journaling and for a few quiet moments to cement the whole unfathomable concept that I was in Paris finding my own places and spaces with no fear of being lost … or found!  Au Lys was the perfect answer that day. I was tucked away in my own little space by the window; where I could see passersby, as I enjoyed my delicate and delicious Nutella crêpe. I ate. I sketched and made notes. I watched the gentle pace of life on the island. And I finally asked, in my timid French, for “l ’addition s’il vous plait”.

Paris France travel

Pre-order today at Paris Book 

No trip to Paris would be complete without a pleasurable visit to my favorite salon. I have been there with my husband, our friends, our daughter and many times quite alone in my wonderful refuge. Allow me to introduce you to my haven – a petite salon with perhaps ten tables on two levels with high ceilings and a broad front window overlooking rue Saint-Louis en l’ Île. Simple artwork, books and occasional bric-a-brac adorn vivid goldenrod yellow walls, and a buffet showcases an assortment of cakes and pastries. Floor-to-ceiling drapes of rich, chocolate brown silk flow from either side of the wide doorway to the small interior room.  (The drapes changed, as you can see, according to the wear and whim of the owner!)

Primarily the owner waits on you, as he has done so with us for the past 18 years. As to the two people who complained in their review about unfriendly service, the owner is neither your best friend nor does he feel compelled to sally forth with, “Hello. I am Philippe, and I will be your server today.” And for the ones who felt the salon was cramped and the downstairs toilet unacceptable, please be reminded that this is Paris. Space is short. Tables are close together. And bathrooms normally are located downstairs…in this case down tiny curving stairs that prompted my 6’2” husband to descend with care. Can we all join the chorus – “So what!”

I don’t mean to be caustic, but I love Paris, and I accept and appreciate the differences. I hope you will do the same, and please do visit Au Lys d’Argent. They will welcome you, assure a pleasant experience and hopefully meet your expectations.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved.

Update – Preorder The Promise of Paris

May 21, 2015 @ 9:12 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris France travel

Enchanting anecdotes, practical recommendations

Bonjour dear friends – Everyone has been so warm and welcoming about my new book, and we have had several requests for ordering information.  We expect to have our first shipment on soon after June 1.

For our France Fanatics and France Daily Photo friends, we are accepting pre-orders that will include signed copies and a gift of handsome Euro-style notecards.  Your order will be shipped, as soon as we are in receipt of our shipment.

Just click on Paris Book here or on the menu above.  Thanks again for your enthusiastic support and acceptance!  And for those who did not read my announcement, see below.

Fait!   Fired Up for France: The Promise of Paris. My book is finished, and this child of my heart is a thing of beauty. Really. Filled with enchanting images in vivid color, The Promise… showcases the endless charms of Paris. I originally thought to go the pragmatic black-and-white route, reasoning ….cheaper, better for … for … for whom exactly, I finally asked. The truth is when you are amassing a battalion to wage war against procrastination on deciding to go or not to go to Paris; the black-and-white route is about as enticing to the hungry target as a grey worm over a healthy, plump shrimp!

I have wrung my hands and pounded my psyche with questions. Do you think you are Frommer or Rick Steves? No. I do not. Oh, so you think you’re Robert Doisneau? No, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t taken some amazing photos in Paris. Neither one book nor one photo tells the story of Paris, least of all mine. The Promise of Paris is an accolade and an invitation to join the ranks of those who have been fortunate enough, and often daring enough, to walk along the cobblestones by the River Seine.

I hope you will love it as I do. I hope you will embrace the passion I barely conveyed. And the labor, labor of love that drove the entire book. But how can I speak of labor on finishing this book with all of my faculties (well most of them) and in good health with a sleek computer, high-speed internet and efficient printer to aid my cause?

I need only think of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s completion of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to understand that I know nothing, nothing of work. The victim of locked-in syndrome following a stroke, he wrote the entire book by moving his left eyelid in response to an alphabet arranged according to the frequency of use of the letters.

And I know anything of work?

With the hope that I have created an empty space that can only be filled with my book, I will keep you posted on availability.  You may purchase today through e-store … or pre-order through the “Paris Book” on the above menu.

À bientôt …
We’d love to hear from you!
Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved.

Being “Present” in Paris

May 19, 2015 @ 2:04 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris France Seine

Always wonderful sights along the Seine

Perhaps not everyone would agree; but when I am in France, I leave my “nit-picky complainer” at home.  Oh, I don’t mean I am stoic about aching feet or the sudden, claustrophobic heat of the Metro.  No, I just don’t notice little things that might annoy me at home, because the Parisian feast before me is so appealing!

A scene at an outdoor table on Place Contrescarpe in the Latin Quarter brought that whole thought process to mind.  With my journal ever ready, I was enjoying an early morning chocolat chaud and croissant at Delma’s.  My observations readily made their way into my journal.

“Two Americans are sitting next to me with a breakfast spread that challenges the tiny table – juice, coffee, eggs, croissants, tiny toast sticks, salt, pepper, jam and butter.”  Given their conversation (yes, of course I eavesdropped!), I assumed they were mother and daughter, and I certainly recognized the American breakfast spread that is atypical of the French.

breakfast in Paris France

American breakfast, Paris table

“The girl is describing her roommate, the annoying habit she has of putting the hot plate on the highest power and burning everything she cooks.  ‘She eats fish sticks a lot.’  Oh my dear, I want to say.  You are in the most fantastic city in the world, enjoying – I would hope – a meal that would feed many here for an entire day; and your conversation centers on roomie’s hot plate habits?  Jaded, are you, to all of the lovely little things around you?  Did you notice that darling little girl walking with her father, covered from head to toe, her arms outstretched, as if all of the layers of clothing prevented her from lowering her arms?”

Paris musicians

Save your coins for Paris musicians!

One can only imagine that this young woman might have the privilege of going to school for a time in Paris.  And perhaps her mom is having a ‘check-up on her daughter’ visit.  In that scenario I wouldn’t imagine spill-all stories of romantic liaisons or wee-hour partying along rue de Rivoli, but I would be very disappointed in my daughter’s mundane observations.

Have you walked along the Seine at all hours and at every opportunity?  Have you smiled at the stolen kiss you saw on the steps down to the quai?  Have you stopped to enjoy the entertainer on the bridge and slipped a coin or two into his case?  Have you been a little confused and had to guess, when ordering a ham sandwich at a bakery and being asked what type of ham?  (Not quite as simple as in the states!)  Have you washed your clothes and spread them along the heaters and from the doorways to dry without a thought of that large washer and dryer at home?  It’s a bit like camping, you know, where the conveniences and space may be less but the self-sufficiency and charm are great.

All of that rambling is to say that those little scenes erase some of the momentary irritations you have at home… and they should.  In Paris a uniquely appealing universe greets you at every corner.  Choose to embrace all of those experiences and let the little stuff slide!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC.   Photo and text, all rights reserved.