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Archive for October, 2016

“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

Holiday shopping? Please take a moment to browse through my book – maybe the perfect, personalized gift for friend or family?

Autographed copies with notecard gift

Marseille – Chaos and Charisma!

October 24, 2016 @ 8:40 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Cafe Jeannot overlooking Vieux Port

Along 35 miles of Mediterranean coast, Marseille is transforming itself into quite the jewel of Provence – a mix of old world charm and contemporary growth.  On the one hand, you discover quaint little fishing ports and sherbet-colored buildings; on the other the brand new tramway and futuristic buildings.  To the south are the dramatic “calanques”, wild rocky cliffs and inlets, where the mountains meet the sea.

Panier, Marseille’s Old Town, was where Greeks settled in 600 BC, founding the city of Massalia.  The imprint of immigration shows through the over 100 villages that make up the city; where Italians and Corsicans, North Africans and South Americans now share the French city in an eclectic mix of culture, cuisine and custom.  Add the ambitious transformation project called   Euroméditerranée – the largest urban renovation project in Europe – and you have a city embracing its past, while headed firmly toward the future.

For a stunning view and instant understanding of the complex maze of Marseille, make your way to Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde.  Beautifully restored and topped with a graceful, gilded statue of “Our Lady”, the cathedral is perched high on a hill overlooking the whole city.  In addition to colorful, Byzantine mosaic domes, the interior includes an interesting collection of ex votos (votive offerings), primarily model boats left by sailors grateful for surviving treacherous seas and dangerous pirates.

Fishing and pleasure boats fill the old port

Every day the old port hums with its traditional fish market, where the fresh catch of the day will become tonight’s bouillabaisse – hearty fish stew.  The Vieux Port is the perfect place for a leisurely lunch and more discovery.  Try the upstairs terrace of Chez Jeannot for good regional cuisine and a wonderful view of the old fishing port and colorful boats.

We’d love to hear from you!

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

Planning a trip to Paris? I hope you will take a moment to browse through … and order … my book filled with practical information, stunning color photographs and appealing vignettes!

Autographed copies with notecard gift

Big Cheese in a Little French Village

October 23, 2016 @ 9:13 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Mont d’Or – golden, glorious cheese

Next month a soft celebration will happen in France.  Mais oui – this is the only time of year the remarkable Mont d’Or cheese (Golden Peak – also called Vacherin Mont d’Or ) is available.  For those who lament the onset of cooler weather, many balance their feelings by embracing autumn with a quick trip to their favorite cheese shop.  Alas, they have awaited this treasure for several months – a small AOC “Mont D’or”, carefully belted with spruce bark that is only available from September to April.

Renowned for the luxurious taste and treasured tradition, the cheese enjoys a storied history and even represents a center of contention.  While summer hikers thread their way across the Jura mountains, local farmers herd their cows up to the grassy pastures.  The summer grazing leads to considerable milk production and – voila! – ultimately to large wheels of Gruyère de Comté.  Why?  Milk can spoil.  Until I read the story, I hadn’t thought about trying to transport that volume of milk down the mountains.  The large cheese wheels are the answer.

French cheese

Stunning mountain views from Le Mont Dore

In the autumn and winter, though, the cows laze in warm barns in the valley, fed on dried mountain grasses.  Milk production drops off, and smaller cheeses are created.  A handful of producers deliver the raw milk to a select group of affineurs (finishers), who then refine the cheese, according to strict AOC standards.  There’s Edy and Jean-Pierre, René and Serge – to name a few of these distinguished cheese artisans.  And each will tell you their favorite uses of the cheese – cold or warm (but of course – fondue!), over potatoes, in a Cordon Bleu dish or stuffed in avocados.

Need I even suggest, if you are in France between November and April, you stop by the fromagerie to request Mont d’Or?  Bon Appetit!
We’d love to hear from you!

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

Please take a moment to browse through my book:

Autographed copies with notecard gift – clicquez ici!

Museum Gifts from France

October 19, 2016 @ 3:10 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris France art

Along the Seine – Paris original watercolor

Hard to believe that the holidays … and gift giving season … once again have arrived. And I plead guilty to my dual nature in fully applauding ABC News’ “Made in America” segments, while I search through for ‘just the right’ gift from France for my loved ones. No apologies here, as I support job-creating American enterprises as well as artisan-supporting French products.

If French-themed art appeals to you, I invite you to browse our original watercolors, where a variety of colorful and whimsical paintings evoke French scenes.  I also recommend a delightful shopping site for those unable to comb the shops of French villages and cities for holiday gifts.  The Boutiques de musées offers a wide variety of French-oriented products directly from the many national museums they represent.  Whether your budget is large or small, you can find a simple magnet or an elaborate piece of jewelry that reproduces some of the finest art in the world.

Sculpture of Etienne Meurice The Bather of Falconet Paris Museum

The Bather of Falconet – reproduction of Étienne Meurice sculpture

How about a refined replica of “The Bather of Falconet” by Étienne Meurice?  Exquisite choices range from handsome coffee-table art books to an enchanting fresco reproduction of Raphael’s “La Belle Jardiniére” or a set of Arabesque dessert plates.

Children are not forgotten in the boutique offerings either with a variety of calendars, puzzles, model kits and books – even an “Animals of the World” game for the entire family.

Family game from Boutiques de musees France

Family game from the Boutique

Closer to home and without the burden of international postage, My French Neighbor offers an enticing selection of home decor and bath items, as well as a wonderful selection of gourmet foods.  Whether you shop abroad or in your local or on-line French shop, we hope you round out your Christmas list with memorable gifts that embrace the spirit of France.

We’d love to hear from you!

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