Thursday, February 23, 2012

Contre le Blues Hivernal

Henri Rousseau, The Dream, 1910
I guess I have mentioned that I am not a Winter person. And we did have a reallllllllly cold Winter here in Lyon. But 4 days in Paris, walking around and breathing in culture, absorbing colors, laughing and window shopping really changed my perspective. I am ready to take on the crazy challenges I have ahead of me this Spring: selling a house then packing up said house and an apartment, getting the girls through some major end-of-year exams, keeping track of 2 dogs and two jobs (at least,) figuring out the shipping of a container of personal effects and antiques for Basic French, developing Basic French wholesale, finding an apartment (closet;-) to rent in Manhattan—the list goes on.

It has been years, perhaps since 2007, that we could not give away antiques or vintage pieces. The Ikea, Domino-style has reigned supreme, spattered with a bit of DIY ingenuity. I predict that old things will re-find their place in the decorative world. The trend is reversing and we will all realize that disposable furniture is just that, disposable. My focus now is on beautiful old things, 18th and 19th century pieces, that were made with loving care, to last a lifetime, or six. Those are the things that we want to pass onto our children, n'est-ce pas?

I noticed in Paris a few trends. Oddly enough, colors that seem to be huge for Spring are kelly green and peach. The red, white and blue, striped marinière theme is still looming large here, which is comforting since I love that look and it is so very basic French. Fabrics that are exotic in a far eastern way, like a printed paisley in poppy, crimson, indigo and celadon. Leather goods in simple, classic forms, made of stiff cowhide that will weather perfectly, last for decades and that carries the de-bossed logo of it's artisan manufacturer. Curtains and pillows with hand-made embellishments, like embroidery, comfy things, things hand-knit, things that are organic or bio, things made of paper. A most noticeable trend is animalia. There are animals and flora and fauna on everything. My friends at Objet de Curiosité and Hollister Hovey have loved this forever, but it seems everyone has now caught on and as our world becomes more and more computer-oriented we escape to the decorative forest, the inside of our home, where we surround ourselves with images of wild beasts, pillows with embroidered owls, decorative wallpaper recreated from Victorian originals, collections of insects. It is romanticism as it's best, pure escapism. Comforting, nurturing, a segue back to our natural selves.

Paris is an incredible antidote to the Winter blues—but if you can't go to Paris or escape into a world of French movies, go to a concert or go to an auction, hop in the car and just go. Drive 100 miles in any direction and do something you have never done before. I swear it will work, and then it will be Spring. Woo Hoo! Yippee! Yahoo! Hooray!

Out with the new and in with the old!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Being French Means Never Having to Say You're

So, so, sorry!

The French language is so complicated, so complicated that after four years of living here, I learn at least one new thing every day. And while my relationship with France is a true "love story," the more French I learn, the less fluent I feel.

I actually speak quite well, but that's only one aspect of knowing French. I suddenly realized that, before I move back to New York in July, I need to make some progress in my French...writing wise. So I signed up for a business writing course which starts next week. YIKES, I am going to get my derrière kicked!

At my gym, Lady Fitness (a circuit-style Curvesesque kind of gym, because nothing else exists here in the land of les skinny femmes,) I was chatting with one of the coaches and she told me that I should never say "Je suis désolée..." to express  "I am sorry..."  Now, I have probably said that one million times, thinking I was correct. She explained that, in France, you may never excuse yourself, you must ask forgiveness of the person you have wronged, and it is for them to pardon you...or not! You never admit wrongdoing.

So here's what you can say when you don't respond to someone's email quickly enough next time:

Je vous prie de bien vouloir m'excuser du retard de ma réponse. (I pray of you to really want to excuse me for the lateness of my response.) Who knew?    or 

Veuillez m'excuser de ne pas avoir répondu plus tôt à votre courriel (Would you excuse me for not having responded earlier to your email?) I beg of you, please please, I procrastinated ;-(

When you think about it, c'est logique (it's logical.) You can't pardon yourself. You have to accept the fact that some will pardon you, and some will not. And besides that, the French do not like to take responsibility for anything, and I do not say that lightly. They might be sorry, and they might not be, but you are never going to get them to admit it, not on your life. No siree. Sorry buster.

Je suis navrée! Non, vachement navrée!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Super Stalker

My girls were absolutely mortified when they saw this video I took of my new favorite bistro in Lyon, Bistrot de la Passerelle. I really did not mean to be a stalker, but from the looks of the faces of a few of those girls at the table, my flip video was just not subtle enough to capture the moment without freaking out the guests. Anyway, the Bistrot de la Passerelle has the best burgers in all of Lyon and the ambiance is the perfect mixture of causal, typically French, busy and lively. Franck and his wife, who used to live in Brooklyn and plan to move back and open a restaurant somewhere in Brooklyn (Red Hook?) in two years are funky and welcoming and just French enough to pull it off, though Franck really has the Brooklyn look down. He does not look typically French, that is for sure. So, this is my segue restaurant, with my one foot in Lyon and my other foot crossing the New York state line.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Bedroom Makeover!

I am a bedroom person and I have always been a bedroom person. When I was 10 years old, my two favorite things were to clean my closet and rearrange my bedroom. I did both of these things frequently, unsolicited by my parents.

Now, many moons later and a few homes removed, I remain faithful to my bedroom. I love to redecorate it, but not in a big way, just in a quiet little way, moving around my vignettes of books, mirrors and vintage "vieux Paris" virgins, changing sheets, throws, pillows, to create a new perspective.

So today, I was completely inspired by the sunshine (it has been brutally cold here but at least the sun brightly shines;-) I was most inspired by an embroidered sheet I found and a Louis VIII fauteuil with fabulous fabric. I remade my bed, I moved some furniture around et voila. A bedroom with a cheery view.