Archive for May, 2013

Fête des Voisins – France Neighbors Day

May 31, 2013 @ 12:46 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Fete des Voisins

Grand neighborly picnic in the Latin Quarter of Paris

If you have browsed through France Daily Photo often enough, you probably sense that I am a ‘softie’; when it comes to home, hearth and friendship.  And so it is with today’s celebrations throughout France and now in over 20 European countries.  The Fête des Voisins is ‘Neighbors’ Day’, when residents come together in their own neighborhoods to enjoy a grand picnic feast and fellowship. 

The history is interesting and sad, while offering a fine example of someone ‘doing something about it’.  The concept of Neighbors’ Day was born in 2003, when the President of the 17th Arrondisement in Paris found that an elderly neighbor had died and was not discovered for several weeks. 

In 2003, Atanase Périfan proposed to the Mayor of Paris to extend the event throughout Europe; and that is exactly what has happened.  Mayor Delanoe invited the mayors of Rome, Brussels and Geneva to join in the festivities to create and launch European Neighbors Day; and in 2012 over 15 million Europeans from 20 countries and 1,400 cities joined in the celebrations.

European Neighbors Day

French picnics May 31

One tragedy.  One man of action with an extraordinary idea.  One, united celebration of Solidarity. 

The French are very big on solidarity, unafraid to invoke the word and the active support it represents.  Back in 1999, I happened by the Hotel de Ville in Paris, when the Kosovos Refugees were at the heart of the Parisian communal mindset.  We have seen this unity on the closing of La Samaritaine and, naturally surrounding a variety of political and cultural issues; when mutual objectives and interests come together in a common front.

Paris France

Hotel de Ville, 1999

On this marvelous 10th Anniversary of Fête des Voisins, we wish all European neighbors, and particularly our friends in France, a lively picnic and warm celebration of neighborhood solidarity. 

We’d love to hear from you!

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




The Art of Kissing – French Style!

May 28, 2013 @ 11:21 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Audrey Hepburn

Elegant Sabrina gets a kiss from Bogie!

Have you ever looked up French kissing on line? You will discover a world of ‘how-to’s’ and very instructive YouTube posts. Wait – That’s not the kind of French Kiss I’m addressing here!

At least in movies, you must have seen the quick cheek buss that can be a greeting or a goodbye. With French friends and good acquaintances, the French do a lot of kissing on the cheeks. According to French etiquette: ‘To kiss or not to kiss’ is the question. Do I initiate a kiss? One cheek or two? Or more?

First, you shouldn’t offer up a French kiss, when you are first introduced to someone. Usually if you meet and get along well, you might buss them goodbye, instead of offering a formal handshake or an informal hug. Actually, when you think about it, the French form of cheek kissing is very much like a loose version of a hug and a kiss.

Actually, you can safely rely on the ‘body language’ of the French person. It’s such a natural action for them … in comfortable situations. Like you, though; they don’t want to rush into the infamous French kiss-kiss, if it isn’t appropriate. Who knows? You might be tucked away in the Auvergne region, where five kisses might be de rigueur!

Lessons for La bise!

Voila! Begin by moving forward to allow one cheek to ‘brush the air’ close to the other’s cheek – rather like a pretend kiss on the cheek. Hopefully, you’ll be in sync, so you won’t crash into one another with poor aims. Naturally, the other cheek follows the first, and it is very typical of those from the country to add a third – like, ‘swish, swish, swish’. No kissing noise is necessary – your choice here.

I think my favorite explanation of this tradition came from Peter Mayle’s enormously popular A Year in Provence.

Provence France

Peter Mayle’s delightful book

“…An amateur can easily make a social blunder if he miscalculates the required number of kisses. In my early days of discovery, I would plant a single kiss, only to find that the other cheek was being proffered as I was drawing back. Only snobs kiss once, I was told, or those unfortunates who suffer from congenital froideur. I then saw what I assumed to be the correct procedure – the triple kiss, left-right-left, so I tried it on a Parisian friend. Wrong again. She told me that triple-kissing was a low Provençal habit, and that two kisses were enough among civilised people. The next time I saw my neighbor’s wife, I kissed her twice. ‘Non,’ she said, ‘trois fois.’

It’s like a little cultural dance, an affectionate acknowledgement that demonstrates your pleasure in greeting another or your affection at their departing. Personally, I think it is endearing to buss friends and wish them bonne soirée!

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

Tributes to Heroes

May 27, 2013 @ 3:00 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Sancerre France

Memorial to WWI and WWII soldiers from Sancerre

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about war heroes and the constant reminders of war throughout France.  The message bears repeating on Memorial Day in the United States, and as D-Day approaches.  To honor all veterans who have fought for freedom and democracy –

The French have suffered so many invasions, so many losses over their long history.  The two Great Wars cost them generations of young men and women, who bravely fought to regain their Republic, to return their streets and farms and homes into French hands.  

Everywhere you travel in France, you see how deeply the French value their freedom and remember the price paid for their liberation.  And that price was paid with the blood of young men of many nationalities from the United States and Canada to France, Poland and Australia. 

In a small hamlet, just beside the road toward Riom, we see a monument to two young men who were casualties of World War II.  In Sancerre, a poignant memorial includes long lists of soldiers lost in the World War I.  In fact, look closely and you will be reminded of the movie, “Saving Private Ryan.”  On the list are four young men from the Lesimple and Boulay families, three from the Bernau household.   We notice they have added tributes to  those lost in the 2nd Great War, but the number of names is understandably fewer.  How many of your young neighbors can you lose to war?

Paris France memorial

“France Remembers You” Pere LaChaise, Paris


The tributes are not limited to towns and villages.  On Ile Saint-Louis in Paris, a plaque commemorates an entire building of people lost in the night to German soldiers.  Along a quiet rue, fresh flowers and even a note are tucked behind a plaque offering tribute to the young man who lived in this home. 

One of the most touching of all memorials is in the Pere Lachaise cemetery.  Carved of marble, a child’s hand reaches up, as if to write…and beneath the writing implement are the words,

“France souviens toi.” 

France remembers you.

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.   Photo and text, all rights reserved.

Julia and Jacque’s French Cooking

May 25, 2013 @ 9:05 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Julia  Child Jacques Pepin

An extraordinary cookbook

When I really love a place or product, I can’t wait to share the good news.  We recently have discovered a channel new for us – Create® TV, in particular the fabulous cooking duet presented by the legendary Julia Childs and renowned Chef Jacques Pépin.

Watch one episode of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, and you will appreciate how much Monsieur Pepin must miss his cooking accomplice, Julia, who died in 2004 and would have been 100 last August. The anniversary of that birth date prompted many fond remembrances and celebrations of her life.

The show is appealing on many levels. The thorough look at each category – meat or fish or potatoes – is very rich, covering everything from what to look for in cuts of meat to the chemical reactions that impact cooking.  Not only are DVD’s of the shows available, but the companion cookbook is one of the finest I have ever seen. Chapters cover soups and eggs, salads and sandwiches, potatoes and other accompanying vegetables, a wide selection of fish, fowl and meats and the pièce de résistance – desserts.

The book’s photography is excellent in illustrating the steps of cooking, methods of garnishing, preparation of meats and poultry and even directions for serving and carving. And then there are those little extras, like Julia explaining how to rid your hands of onion odors and Jacques showing us how to quickly peel garlic.

Both are geniuses in their arena and play off one another in a very entertaining way on the show.  Jacques doesn’t worry about de-veining shrimp; for Julia it’s a must.  Julia ‘collars’ her soufflés – not so with Jacques.

If you love cooking, you’ll love the show and recipe book. If you don’t love cooking, you just might change your mind, after watching these cum laude chefs! Bon Appétit.

Would love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.