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Archive for November, 2012

Gifts from France AND America!

November 29, 2012 @ 10:36 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Made in America ABC News featured craftsmen

Made in America Mississippi barnwood ‘window’ – frame

Not surprisingly, I have focused several recent posts on gift giving for the holiday season. Naturally I am inclined to give French gifts as my signature ‘centerpiece’ of giving; but I also encourage all of our readers to shop “Made in America”.

While I mentioned this ultra-positive series presented regularly by ABC News, I did not include a link. For those unfamiliar with their initiative, ABC has chosen to do far more than recount the daily, depressing drudgery of unemployment news.

They have presented segments, in which they visit people in their homes and search for items Made in America.  In every case, as the homeowners and reporters scoured the home; they found almost everything made in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India – you name it – all sourced outside of America. Then they go about the daunting task of replacing all of those imports with goods Made in America.

And during this gift-giving season, they challenge each of us to spend just $64 on Made in America gifts. That amount ensures jobs – imagine the impact!

ABC says it best – “The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, the National Retail Federation estimates. If each American spent just $64 of that $700 on American made goods it would create 200,000 new jobs.”

Provence tablecloth from

Colorful Provence linens from My French Neighbor

By all means, indulge your love of French signature gifts. For the rest of your shopping list, BUY AMERICA! Like or share this and spread the word!

Wishing you joyous preparations for the holiday season. Personally, we have so much fun seeking special gifts that say “We know you and love you.”

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

Storied Château and Dumas’ Career

November 26, 2012 @ 1:14 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Alexandre Dumas statue near Paris France

Alexandre Dumas statue in Villers-Cotterets near Paris

Some historic buildings dramatically transform through the ages, as much as their colorful inhabitants. Such has been the ever-changing history of the Château Villers-Helon, just 80 kilometers northeast of Paris in Villers-Cotterets. First built by a knight of the First Crusade in the 12th century, the fort-like chateau became a Templar “Safe House”, prompting one to imagine scenes from The Da Vinci Code.

After seasons of seizure and even conversion to a factory, the edifice became the nurtured home of Alexandre Dumas. Once again, though, war brought occupation first by the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War and later by the Germans in both World Wars. After so much turmoil, one can appreciate the relatively peaceful existence today of the Chateau and the village, where a grand statue of Dumas commemorates the beloved 19th century creator of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti today), Alexandre’s great-grandfather was the mixed-race son of a French nobleman and an Afro-Caribbean slave. With that heritage and his own personal idiosyncrasies, Alexandre Dumas endured as many ups and downs through his life, as the Château that was an important part of his early life.

A renowned general in Napoleon’s army, Dumas’ father died when Alexandre was only four years old; and it wasn’t until his mothers’ fortunes were depleted, that he would make his way from his rather isolated village life to the City of Light.

In Paris he was able to play on his father’s favorable relations and earned a clerkship with the Duc D’Orleans. His fine penmanship cemented that position, but he reportedly commented to his father’s friend, General Foy, “General, I am going to live by my handwriting, but I promise you that I shall someday live by my pen.”

Honestly, his spirited up-and-down personal journey almost sounds like the history of many modern-day athletes, whose storied careers rise to pinnacles of wealth and abysses of personal disappointment and failure. Through periods of prolific writing and distractions with politics, Dumas enjoyed an explosive career. With his teasing and tantalizing “to be continued” phrase, Dumas’ daily published narratives captured the imagination of his adoring public.

Despite resounding success, his indulgent personal lifestyle constantly landed him in financial trouble. It would be his own writer son, who would amass the fortune that eluded Dumas and come to care for him in his final days in 1870.

Throughout his life, Dumas experienced discrimination in a French society then far less liberal in its view of mixed ancestry. In a famous response to a man who insulted his African ancestry, Dumas is said to have responded:
“My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.” It would seem ill-advised to insult a person who has an exceptional way with words!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

Paris Slipping Toward Winter

November 23, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris France

The Jardin du Luxembourg moves through autumn

It’s hard to imagine that our dearest friend moved to Paris nearly 18 years ago. Through those years, we both have married; and to our everlasting enjoyment, our mates have become good friends, as well. Though they have been back and forth between Paris and Florida, and we have done the same; we still miss the day to day walks and talks and cafe au laits on the corner. Yet, when we are there, we explore the Marais and Montmartre, the Latin Quarter and any quirky shop or stop that “calls our name”.

I guess the wonder of the electronic age, not to mention the cherished endurance of special friendships, is that we are able to speak to one another by phone, as if we were right next door to one another.  And we are able to fire off the latest news and photos by e-mail. I suppose for the time being that will have to be “the next best thing to being there”.

My friend continues to take to the streets to see every possible sight and enjoy every singular moment in relishing Hemingway’s “Moveable Feast”. We share that ‘I-want-it-all’ embrace of life, and what better place to exercise that predisposition than in Paris.

She tells us the days are growing shorter and shorter, as Paris begins to slip toward winter. The leaves are changing colors and drifting downward to the packed paths around the Jardin du Luxembourg. The skies too are losing a bit of their sunny luster, graying up a bit perhaps in warning of the brisk days and nights to come.

Fall colors around Notre Dame in Paris

Fall colors before the onset of winter by Notre Dame

Whatever the weather, we take pleasure in imagining their rosy-cheeked selves returning home. And we envision their cozy, toasty retreat, where a pleasant glass of lovely French wine sends them off to sleep. On this Thanksgiving weekend, you can well imagine how thankful we are for warm friendships in the City of Light.

We’d love to hear from you!
Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

Reviled and Revered Parisian Graffiti

November 21, 2012 @ 10:12 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
a rather forlorn Modigliani-like grafitti image Paris

Modigliani-like grafitti image on Montmartre

Graffiti – did you know it’s the plural of graffito? The dabblings, drawings, sprayings on walls in public places is revered and reviled. In the dark of night, would-be artists or ‘politicians’, social commentators or thugs in training gather up their arsenal of marker pens and spray paints to head for the Metro or the unsightly wall down the boulevard. They might be intent on expressing a social message or simply eliciting a little smile from the passerby.

Naturally graffiti is controversial. What is considered art on one corner is condemned as vandalism on another. And Paris is one of the most graffiti-rich cities of the world! In fact, one Paris neighborhood is bowing to this expressive art form.

Over the past few years, the traditional working-class 20th arrondissement in Paris has become a graffiti mecca. Their actual le graff (grafitti) campaign aims to “develop urban culture at the heart of the neighborhood.”  Rather than disown the art some consider irreverent, the 20th embraces the expression and has transformed an old bus station into a graffiti open-house, with

Artist opinion of rugby?

colorful coordinated murals on otherwise bland and blank walls around the neighborhood. Within the next year, they plan to have a community center entirely dedicated to graffiti.

C’est la vie. It simply proves that one man’s meat is another man’s poison!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.