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5 Charms of Provençal Avignon!

Papal city of Avignon France

Avignon overlooking the Rhone River

We hate the numbers ‘game’,  but there are so many reasons to visit this enchanting city….one must limit!

1.  Provençal Avignon owes its very history and much of its attraction to the Papacy.  The medieval politics of the early 14th century led Pope Clement V to move the papacy to Avignon, under the protection of Philip the Fair of France.   His successors came along, and Benedict XII and Clement VI felt the need to locate the great Palais des Papes overlooking the Rhone River in the center of the medieval city. The imposing palais offers a magnificent, stark white contrast to the vivid blue skies of southern France and the sprawling square beneath the palace. Read more…

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Top French Textile Designers

French textiles

One of the lovely tablecloths offered by My French Neighbor

I was walking through the local park with a friend in our oh-so-upscale little ‘village’ in Florida, when a woman walked toward us.  My friend commented to her, “Oh, I like your purse.”  She paused a half step and responded “Dior”, before stepping her way on down the walkway.

Now that’s what I call name-dropping, particularly in the face of an innocent compliment and about as boorish as it is ill-mannered.  So why am I going on about ‘name-dropping’?  Because that is precisely what I intend to do in discussing one of my favorite topics – sumptuous, breathtaking, lovely-to-touch French fabrics.

You simply can’t cover the topic properly without a touch of D. Porthault here and Frey there.  There now.  Please accept my rather limp apology for this transgression.

French textiles

Sun-swept colors of Provence by Valdrome

Naturally you can discover fine French linens and fabrics in a number of boutiques and high-end department stores in the United States, but I have discovered a very nice, comprehensive on-line store with an impressive offering of table linens, towels, kitchen and bedroom textiles and fabric by the yard (or meter).  French-brand.com offers what may be the widest selection of Designer Luxury Bedding anywhere on the Internet.  Imagine the wealth of choices – over 45 brands from France and elsewhere and up to 50 designs per brand in silk, pure linen, cotton mixes, Egyptian and Organic Cotton.

French textiles

Intricate Pierre Frey pillow

Let’s just introduce a small sampling …. Like The Company Olivier Thévenon Sélection, created in 1908 and specializing in upholstery fabrics, coordinating net and jacquards.  Moutet is another from the French Basque country with very traditional stripes as well as crisp and colorful contemporary designs.  Pierre Frey is synonymous with luxury in home décor and fabulous fabric and wallpaper designs.  In the wonderful French tradition, Pierre Frey brings a sumptuous look and feel to any room with a blend of touch, sight and harmony among patterns.

I love to shop at the base of Montmartre in Paris, where textile shops fill the streets from multi-story department stores to barely-large-enough-to-walk-around-in boutiques.  It is one of my favorite pastimes.  Perhaps, I have now discovered ‘the next best thing’ to shopping there.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

 

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French Copper and Cookware

French copper cookware

Lovely cookware at E. DEHILLERIN in Paris

My grandparents lived in Paris for seven years before World War II and among the no-doubt vast array of experiences and collections, I most remember my grandmother’s gorgeous Mauviel copper pans. Made all the more beautiful with age, the pots not only shone with beauty but served ideally in exceptional meal preparation. Didn’t hurt that she had a maid to handle the sometimes tedious business of cleaning the copper!

That reminds of a lovely Jacque Pépin show, in which he explained the magic use of the copper bowl in whipping up egg whites for your favorite soufflé or meringue – “The metal interacts with the egg whites to make them more stable, as they take on air.” Hand beating is his preference, when he begins with rapid beating and slows to lift the whites that have begun to set up … without touching the bowl a lot.

Isn’t it the perfect moment to tell you that my favorite chef has a new book out? Mais oui! Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen underscores one of the reasons I am drawn to this special chef. Probably the most important ingredient in his magnificent meal preparation is his love of family and friends and the intimate occasions for sharing special meals together. I have watched him on television with his daughter, granddaughter and a special friend here and there. Without exception, he refers to the delight he takes in the warmth of shared meals.

French cookbooks

The ever delightful Jacques Pépin

His new book includes a wide variety of recipes (200 in all), and even shares how to raise a child who will eat almost anything. I can say from experience, my mother accomplished just that with three exceptions: Brussel sprouts, shrimp creole and liver. No thank you. Period.

Time and again, I have given Monsieur Pepin’s lovely cookbooks to friends, daughters and daughters in law; so you can be sure the same will be true this holiday season.
We’d love to hear from you

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

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Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

French cooking Pepin

An exceptional cookbook – Julia Child & Jacques Pepin

No grand secret in this admission:  when I really embrace a place or product, I can’t wait to share the good news.  When available on television, the fabulous cooking duo of Julia Childs and renowned Chef Jacques Pépin have entranced us.

One need watch but one episode of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home  to appreciate how much Monsieur Pepin must miss his cooking accomplice, Julia, who died in 2004.

So many elements in the show are appealing.  The in-depth look at each chosen subject – meat or fish or potatoes – is enormously rich in information, covering everything from what to look for in cuts of meat to the chemical reactions that impact cooking (don’t you know that’s why wine is a central part of their repertoire!)

It’s doubtful that you will sit with pen and paper to record the recipes, as the friendly banter and demonstrations between the two capture your attention.  And besides, “sprinkle some sea salt” and “add some Vermouth” are not exactly precise directions.

No problem.  Not only are DVD’s of the shows available, but a companion cookbook that is one of the finest I have ever seen.  In-depth chapters cover soups and eggs, salads and sandwiches, potatoes and other accompanying dishes and 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 – a bit like Maurice Chevalier’s duet with Hermione Gingold in Gigi.

“We met at nine.  We met at eight.

I was on time.  No, you were late.

Ah, yes, I remember it well.”

Jacques doesn’t worry about de-veining shrimp; for Julia it’s absolutely a must.  Jacques always, always has his eye on special presentation of meals (could all of those years in Lyons and other restaurants be the reason?)  Julia ‘collars’ her soufflés – not so with Jacques.

Trust me on this:  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.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

We’d love to hear from you!

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

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Le Prieuré – Elegant Avignon Retreat

Retreat to the French countryside

Le Prieuré – hotel in the country by Avignon

Gift-giving season is here, and who among us wouldn’t cherish the gift of travel in France?  While we love the refined manoirs within the storied walls of old Avignon; we would easily enjoy experiencing a private setting with easy access to the historic area.  Le Prieuré,  just across the Rhône in Villeneuve- lès- Avignon, would definitely fit that bill!

The owners promise a stay that is both authentic and elegant. You’ll first want to book your stay at Le Prieuré, though keep in mind their seasonal closure may run to mid March, 2012.  A member of the distinguished Relais & Chateaux collection of luxury hotels and restaurants, Le Prieuré is a former 15th-century convent, magically transformed into a welcoming hotel and perfumed by the priests’ trellised garden of roses and wisteria.

Lavish Provençal style mixes with contemporary convenience in the carefully restored rooms and suites, that guarantee an intimate and comfortable stay. You may be surprised at the rich heritage and treasures in the village.

The dominant tower on the skyline – Fort Saint André and the Philippe le Bel Tower – remind us of Avignon’s alliance with the Holy Roman Empire and the need to protect the Benedictine abbey and town.  And the municipal museum in the Pierre-de-Luxembourg mansion displays exceptional art, notably religious works from ivory carvings to 17th century paintings.

The charming village becomes the focal point for performances and festivals throughout the year; due to their strategic location where Provence, la Camargue and Languedoc come together. Of course, you will visit the lovely old streets of Avignon to enjoy its’ special blend of history, striking architecture and inviting collection of shops and restaurants.

But the delight comes with your return from those lively moments to seal each and every memory with a quiet glass of wine on the balcony.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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French Gifts for “Him”

French Champagne

Elegant French flutes

I love to theme gifts – French gifts or otherwise – so let’s call these gift ideas for Monsieur “A Matter of Taste”.  For the budding to the mature wine connoisseur, we begin with a focus on very appealing champagne from France.

Perhaps to whet his appetite, you will include an engaging and comprehensive book by one of the world’s leading wine authorities, An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France.  Author Clive Coates shares his expansive knowledge of wine, its character, the meaning of appellations and the finest of French wine estates.

Now, let’s get right to the heart of the matter with an enticing bottle of Taittinger Champagne!  Go to your favorite specialty wine shop for guidance.  In Orlando, that would be Tim’s Wine Market, where they have been helping customers with personal guidance for over 20 years.

Taittinger is one of the distinctly historic champagne houses of France and one of only five to cellar its wines in the renowned “Crayères” of Reims – the chalk caves originally dug out by the Romans. Since their discovery early in the 18th century, champagne merchants found the cave conditions ideal for aging wine.  The Taittinger family is one of the largest vineyard owners in Champagne, and this esteemed brand was the official champagne at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Perhaps you will choose Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne, chosen in 2012 as “Best Champagne” by Fine Champagne Magazine. 

Reims fr

Taittinger chalk caves, Reims

Round out your themed gift with a pair – or a set of champagne glasses – yet another opportunity for learning the ins and outs of the heavenly nectar.  Flutes, coupes and tulips are your choices, and there are myriad designs from which to choose.

Champagne flutes aid in capturing the flavor and aroma of champagne with their tall narrow shape, medium to long stem and point at the bottom of the glass.  Champagne coupes (saucers) are the wide-rimmed, shallow glasses with a short stem.  A favorite in the early 1900’s, they are not as popular with ‘experts’ today, in that the shape allows the aroma and carbonation to escape.  Finally, the aptly-named champagne tulip is similar to the flute but curves inward at the rim.  Especially recommended for finer French champagnes, the wider base allows flavors to be captured and taste enhanced.

French champagne

Taittinger – voila!

Voila!  So there you have a wonderful assortment of French gifts for him, and I’m certain you can find a handsome bag or box in which to present your refined collection.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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5 Traits to Love in Jacques Pépin

French cooking

Beloved French Chef Jacques Pépin

Accomplished chef.  Cookbook author and star of television.  Conspirator with Julia Childs.  Former personal chef to President Charles de Gaulle.  Columbia University graduate with a B.A. degree in General Studies and a Master’s degree in French Literature.

  • Knowledge and science of cooking – We have come to know this delightful chef through our local Public Broadcasting System, where his various television shows have entertained, amused and informed us. Despite the sad loss of beloved Julia Childs, we are still able to enjoy Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, and Emmy award-winner in 2001. Their energy and amusing give-and-take approaches to cooking blend their enormous knowledge of cooking with practical tips and no small amount of fun-poking humor. And Monsieur Pépin’s explanations of the science of cooking are as fascinating as they are helpful – from the use of copper bowls to the difference in texture of whipping warm versus cold egg whites.
  • Innovation and Practicality – Perhaps many of us are intimidated by French cooking, by this entertaining Chef certainly makes the activity look easy and tosses in many everyday shortcuts and practical tips to ease your way. Other television shows that demonstrate his ease and expertise are Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way (based on his 2004 book of the same name) and Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way. I was really intrigued to try his innovative Pear Tarte, as he used a tortilla for the ‘base’ in lieu of pastry – delicieux!
  • Presentation – His years of work at distinguished restaurants like those of Grand Hotel de L’ Europe in France and New York’s historic Le Pavillon shine through in those lovely finishing touches that make meals so appealing. Whether a main course or inviting dessert, he regularly serves the pièce de résistance in the center of an appropriate sauce and garnishes with fresh sprigs of parsley, mint or other such savory choices. In fact, we have never seen him prepare any dish without these final appealing strokes of the Master’s hand!
  • Joie de vivre – That is a quality that permeates Monsieur Pépin’s presentations. Whether by himself or In cooking with his daughter, granddaughter or Julia Childs; he takes such delight in cooking and invariably reveals that special ‘spark’ in sharing his knowledge with others.
  • Rewards – Essentially part of that joie is the reward he relishes in pouring a glass of wine, after serving up delicious entrées – perhaps the real sign of a happy Frenchman!

    Favorite French chefs

    One of many Pépin cookbooks

You can enjoy daily interaction with this endearing chef on his Facebook page, and don’t forget to find his shows on your own PBS stations.  Finally, I have made it a practice to make gifts of Jacques Pépin’s many cookbooks.  They are a special treat for anyone who loves to cook.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Retreat to Josephine’s Garden

Josephine Baker in Paris

Josephine’s passion for flowers and birds

Paris visitors are never at a loss for unique excursions, not the least of which is an appealing new exhibit that opened at the beginning of April.  Just west of Paris at the Musée des Châteaux de Malmaison et de Bois-Préau, is an intimate and fascinating expo – Joséphine, La Passion des Fleurs et des Oiseaux.

Mais oui, the exhibit focuses on Empress Josephine’s passion for flowers and birds, no doubt an influence from her early Creole childhood. The Château itself showcases her refined taste and informal gardens, but this particular exhibit expressly « proposes to revive the passion Josephine vowed to flowers and birds. »

Though forced to divorce Napoleon for lack of producing an heir, Josephine maintained her title and devoted herself to botanical pursuits and collections at Malmaison.  Your visit provides a quiet retreat from the city, where you can easily imagine the country manor life of the Emperor and Empress.

Paris exhibits

Reproductions of Empress Josephine

The Musée boutique offers special reproductions of Josephine’s porcelain and jewelry- nice mementos or gifts from your visit.  The exhibit runs until the end of June, and is easily reached by taking the metro to La Defence and the bus 258 to the Château stop.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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The French “Stradivarius of the Kitchen”

How could you not be drawn to a company so devoted to excellent craftsmanship that they see themselves as “the Stradivarius of the Kitchen”?   That is exactly how Lacanche views the production of their exquisite French stoves, those stunning works of art that combine beautiful decoration with technological precision to elevate the realm of cooking.

A little village in the hills above Beaune is home to Lacanche factories.  Bearing the name of that village; the famous Lacanche stoves literally rose from the iron and timber of the land in the 18th century, when artisan skills were devoted to the manufacture of stoves for stately homes and the professional trade.  Today those traditional values and exceptional products generate considerable demand from the top chefs and the general public who want authentic stoves.  And adding further appeal is the Lancanche owners’ devotion to rural traditions, country life and the value of fine craftsmanship over mass production.

French bath fixtures

Elegant Herbeau powder room

In a similar manner, Herbeau devotes fine craftsmanship to the manufacture of sinks and faucetry for kitchens, bath and powder rooms.  Herbeau’s delightful designs range from rustic Provencal to elegant Chateau creations with hand-painted finishes.  Started in 1857 by Louis Herbeau, five generations have created beautiful baths and kitchens for great homes and establishments.

Staub applies the same type of exacting standards to the creation of fine enameled cast-iron cookware.   For over 40 years, Staub has merged exceptional craftsmanship with attention to performance detail.  From tight-fitting lids with self-basting spikes and heatproof nickel-plated steel knobs to the textured cooking surface of matte-black enamel,  Staub has elevated kitchenware to unprecedented function and design.

For anyone who appreciates creations that enjoy the “touch of the master’s hand”, these fine products celebrate the French art de vivre and become treasured heirlooms at the heart of your home.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Elegant Gifts from France

French silk scarf gifts

Paris Je T’aime silk scarf – Anne Touraine

There’s a certain irony to the fact, that I fully applaud ABC News’ “Made in America” segments, while I search through this season for ‘just the right’ gift from France for my loved ones.  Perhaps, it is part of my dual nature that I support job-creating American enterprises and artisan-supporting French products.

And so it is that I recommend another delightful shopping site for those, who are not fortunate to be combing 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

Boutique games for the family

Closer to home and without the burden of international postage Anne Touraine offers a beguiling collection of exquisite hand-rolled, silk scarves in designs that perfectly capture the mood Anne seeks.  My favorite – naturally – is Paris Je T’aime! 

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 evoke the spirit of France.

We’d love to hear from you!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

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

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Maxim’s de Paris – A Charming Boutique

Paris France

Maxim’s de Paris

Maxim’s de Paris.  Literally an Art Nouveau universe of its own, Maxim’s was founded by Maxime Gaillard as a bistro in 1893.  That is well over 100 years of entertaining diners in one of Paris most fashionable restaurants.  Today, Pierre Cardin owns the stunning restaurant that has entertained a host of sophisticated patrons through the years.

We recommend, though, Maxim’s charming boutique for delightful gifts to take back home with you.  Each and every time we go to Paris, we enjoy shopping there….finding just the right coffee or tea tin, chocolates, Maxim’s porcelain and assorted food products.

Not only are the gift choices sophisticated and handsomely packaged, the service is discreet and personable.  On our first shopping excursion together on our honeymoon, we stepped into the atmosphere of rich wood and tasteful product presentation. We chose strikingly attractive tins of Arabica coffee and assorted teas and a handsome demitasse set. Each selection was carefully placed on the unobtrusive desk to be packaged with care by our shop manager.  We talked with him throughout our visit, and he recommended a couple of favorite gifts.  We told him we were on our honeymoon, and he seemed very pleased to be waiting on us.

As we checked out, he offered us our shopping bags.  In the final bag, he said, “This is a gift for you on your honeymoon!”  It was one of the iconic Maxim’s menus with Toulouse-Lautrec’s Parisian artwork.  We now are Maxim’s customers for life….and the menu is framed and enjoyed in our home.  What a wonderful reminder of one of many of our shopping excursions!

We welcome your recommendations and comments.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

 

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

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RealReal – Interesting Online Luxury Resale

Upscale Luxury Resales

RealReal Luxury Bargains

Found a new site that might be of interest – www.therealreal.com.  Their niche is completely upscale with a well-defined list of designer label offerings.

The concept is the self-acclaimed “world’s premier online luxury resale store” and offers some real advantages for upscale buyers and sellers.  Savvy buyers and sellers know that fine designer goods are often timeless in design and enduring in craftsmanship.

With an eye to authentic, pre-owned men’s and women’s designer brands, RealReal provides a convenient outlet for amazing values up to 90 percent off retail prices.  The site eliminates the uncertainty of purchasing luxury brands online and allows buyers to step through the veil to a world of luxury.

French luxury

Chanel, what else?

Two Types of Sales

New sales are launched every morning in two forms: the RealReal’s 72-hour sale and the ongoing Contemporary Designers Sales.  The first features seasonally-focused premier designers, while the ongoing sales feature designers like Tory Burch, Catherine Malandrino and other more casual wear, designer diffusion lines, denim, and gently-worn accessories for mere fractions of their original cost.

Luxury FranceHighly-Selective Consignment

The Consignment feature is ideal for those who regularly clear their closets for the season’s latest styles.  In RealReal’s consignment program, their team of tastemakers hand-select inventory of timeless wears to insure each piece represents the highest quality of brands authenticated by professionals. They constantly are in search of timeless designer pieces and facilitate the consignment process with ease.

You can simply call RealReal stylists at (855) 435-5893 (9am-5pm PT, M-F) to discuss your items, e-mail your questions to stylist@TheRealReal.com … or fill out the online form. Shipping is free with online tracking of your sales an attractive feature.

Take a moment to browse The RealReal site to learn more about their Membership features that offer customized experiences and style profiles.  Perhaps, RealReal will add benefits to your particular closet or wardrobe needs!

Chanel  *  Hermès  *   Manolo Blahnik  * Gucci  * Cartier

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5 Mistakes to Avoid in France

Paris dining

Refreshing gelato along rue Mouffetard, Paris

Following the “When in Rome…” mantra, there are a few things for you to keep in mind as a visitor in France. Out of courtesy and to maximize your experience, observe local customs and traditions. Just making small efforts to appreciate French people and their language yields warm benefits.

1. Parlez vous – Even if your French is minimal or ‘elementary’, begin your conversations or questions in French. In so doing, you acknowledge that you are the guest and you defer politely to the ‘host’. Does that sound terribly ‘Book of Etiquette’? I hope you don’t think so; because we all have our points of pride, and the French have great pride in their language and go to great lengths to preserve it.

Just a few French phrases will earn you smiles … and even warm responses instead of the French shrug. Purchase a simple French phrase book and visit on-line resources for pronunciations. I’ll assume you understand everyone should go armed with please, thank you, hello, my name is….etc. Others to learn might be:

Je suis désole I’m sorry.

Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.

S’il vous plait – J’ai une question (probléme) Please – I have a question/problem.

The small amount of time and effort you apply to learning a few phrases will yield incalculable results! (And by the way, if your French is painful to them, they will speak to you in English!)

2. Lunch breaks & tipping – Don’t fight the noon to 2 p.m. break, when everything is closed. Everything. As in banks, brocantes, fashion houses, boutiques. Yes, the occasional supermarket might be open; but for the most part cafés and brasseries and restaurants steal the mid-day thunder … and business. Yes, we are used to tipping handsomely for good service; but that’s not the way in France, where the tip already is included in your meal cost.

3.  About those ‘strangers’ – Don’t grin your way down the street with a happy American smile for every stranger. You might be from the deep South or the frozen North, but French people don’t extend blanket friendliness to complete strangers. That is not to say they won’t be friendly; they just don’t spread the sunshine on their faces quite as much as we do. Unless …. we employ those magical French phrases we have learned!

Gien porcelain

Porcelain shopping? Stunning choices – Gien

4. About those ‘friends’ – Strike up a modest friendship, and be prepared to kiss! Pardon? Yes, kiss – sometimes even several times, traditionally twice in Paris- three times (or more) for those from the country or other regions. And I don’t mean planting a grand kiss on the mouth. You’ve seen it in movies or on TV, no doubt; when greeters sort of kiss the air by the cheek on both sides of the head. This subject deserves its very own post, but just flow with the French experience and tradition for now. Don’t be the first to initiate the kiss, but don’t reject this type of greeting or ‘adieu’ kiss either.

5. And speaking of shopping, always greet the store owner/help, when you enter a store. “Bonjour Monsieur/Madame”. Sounds so simple, but I well understand the hesitation and shyness one can feel at first in France. Forget that simple rule, and you might find your shopping experience to be chilly with little, if any, service. And don’t forget your, “Merci, au revoir” on departing.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved. 

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A la Mere de Famille, Paris

Paris chocolates

Appealing French chocolate collection!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a taste must be worth several hundred thousand!  And so it is, indeed, at the oldest chocolate shop in Paris – the fine confiserie and epicerie by the name of A la Mere de Famille.

Tucked away in Montmartre on rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, the store was founded in 1761 and still occupies the original building.  Antique cases and cashier station, displays and vintage tiles simply enhance your visit; where the family  perfected the savoir-faire artisanale to the delight of generations of confectionary … and ice cream lovers.

The marrons and glaces are equally delicious, but the chocolates are definitive works of art.  Superb ingredients, deft artisan skill and the subtle mix of citron and pistache, truffles and caramels –  all contribute to the sublime offerings of A La Mere de Famille.

Paris ice cream

A la mere de famile, Paris

As you can easily imagine, a family (and the addition of  talented Julien Merceron), that takes so much pride in excellence does the same in delivering personal service.  We were residents of Montmartre for several weeks and found the epicerie to be one of our favorites, where widow displays tantalize the palate and lure the heart – perhaps a fresh macarron or truffettes savoyardes today and candied fruit or calissons tomorrow.

A La Famille is the perfect place to pick up assorted chocolates for your ‘hostess’ gift on the way to dinner.  It would seem that excellence has its just rewards because several other Paris locations are available:

rue Montorgueil, 75002
rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006
rue Cler, 75007
rue de la Pompe, 75016
rue Jouffroy d’Abbans, 75017
rue Legendre, 75017

Paris shops

Calissons, marrons – delectable treats of Paris

By all means enjoy shopping at any of their locations, but a visit to the original A La Maison de Mere is de rigueur.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Hermès – Never Out of Fashion!

Paris luxury shopping

Magnificent Hermes bag

A saddlery? Yes. Way back in 1837 Thierry Hermès founded the family-named saddlery business. That’s certainly a touch of irony, in that the Hermès name is synonymous with French luxury products. After first manufacturing silk scarves in the late 1920s, Hermès rapid ascent to haute couture prompted their establishment of a special scarf factory in Lyons.

Today two special scarf collections make their debut every year, adding to the more than 25,000 scarf designs that are so treasured by women throughout the world. In France, tenderly coddled scarves are passed from generation to generation, and even rare scarves from yesteryear command increasingly high prices in the marketplace.

Paris shopping

Sterling bracelet by Hermes

Iconic Hermès wearers like Grace Kelly and Jackie Onassis no doubt contributed to their esteemed fashion position, further enhanced by Hermès additional fashion niches, as well. Uniquely-stitched leather goods like the Birkin and Kelly bags are signature ‘heirlooms’, and refined jewelry pieces are every bit as reverd and collectible as the spectacular scarves.Despite otherwise sluggish worldwide economic woes, Hermès continues to attract elite clients with an ever-expanding luxury product line, timeless and elegant designs and exacting standards of production.

“In her 2007 book, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, journalist Dana Thomas called Hermès bags ‘the antithesis of an It bag: Most of the designs have been around for almost a century and are coveted not because they are in fashion but because they never go out of fashion.’”

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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D. Porthault – Luxury Linens & Service

Whispers of style and luxury – exactly what comes to mind, when I think of D. Porthault linens.  Nearly a century ago, the linens came to life with traditional screen-printing by hand and couture designs inspired by artists.  Soft finishes, delicate embroidery and appliqué details define the signature luxury linens.

Fine designs spring each year from the 5,000-plus archival varieties that issue forth on percale linens or towels, porcelain dinnerware and patio tablecloths.  Even children’s wear – little robes, baby quilts and delicately-smocked dresses – are a treasured part of the elite D. Porthault offerings.

What makes D. Porthault products so unique, so appealing in luxury shopping?  Early in the 20th century, Daniel and Madeleine Porthault launched their luxury house linen business, setting out to produce superb bed linens in traditional whites and off-whites with hand embroidery and elaborate edging.  But they went a bold step further by introducing vivid touches of color with an impressionist aura.  In the previous traditional white world of linens, they revolutionized the industry of luxury bed dressing.

Through the years, they have continued to satisfy their premium customers from their historic workshops in northern France and artisan frame-printing facility in Normandy.  Three key steps are involved in the delivery of their tailor-made products:

Fine materials – long Cotton Fiber, cotton voile, silk, linen, Chinese crepe, sateen, and organzaEmbroidery – by hand or machine with more than 60 shades of thread

Premium orders – responding to special, custom requests for exceptional events … in other words, luxury service.

 

In Paris, be sure to visit Maison D.Porthault’s Boutique Show Room in the 8th Arrondisement or fine their prestigious products at Printemps in the 9th.   And New Yorkers are fortunate to have their very own store on Park Avenue at 58th Street in Manhattan.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

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

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Emilio Robba – Paris to Miami Florals

Paris floral designs

Red roses from Emilio Robba

Seemingly nothing can bring a room to life like flowers – large or small bouquets or even a simple, single rose or orchid stem.  Today I share an exceptional resource for beautiful floral accents that are works of art in themselves.

Renowned floral designer Emilio Robba was born to Italian artists residing in Paris – how could you lose with that mix of culture?  Early on Emilio discovered his own artistic roots.  After studying form and color at the prestigious Beaux-Arts school, he instinctively focused on floral design.  The orchid and nature are his favorite treasures – 

“I always knew that nature would be the guide in my life…”

Today, Robba’s creations grace the Galerie Vivienne, Parisian Department Stores and his own Paris and Miami boutiques.  When you choose Emilio Robba’s refined works of art, the permanent floral accents of this exquisite calibre add life … and conversation … to any room.

Miami and Paris florals

enduring glass floral designs

And they make elegant gifts for family and friends, who might enjoy a hint of color and a designer vision.

We welcome your comments and suggestions!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

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

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Faience Gifts from Gien – France

Gien porcelain

Porcelain shopping? Stunning choices – Gien

French Faience. I am drawn to this fine art like bees to nectar, and Gien France is one of the prominent Faienceries today. Gien first came to my attention, when I received some of my grandmother’s earthenware pieces. She lived in Paris for nearly ten years and clearly had a very clear eye for quality and handsome design.

Particularly with wedding and graduation gifts top of mind this season, Gien products are well worth considering as elegant and lasting gifts. The company manages to combine the pure color, exceptional design and profoundly excellent workmanship that makes them the number one producer of the highest quality earthenware in France.

Gien’s pedigree is noteworthy. Founded in 1821, the company first produced rather functional tableware and ultimately progressed to creating tableware emblazoned with notable families’ coats of arms. Today a favorite for discerning brides-to-be (and their proud mothers!), Gien continues to embellish artistic designs and improve quality.

Blend respect for tradition with innovative creativity.  Add rich colors and refined shapes and styles. Finish with flawless know-how, and you understand exactly what draws you to their exceptional earthenware. Today that combination of excellence with a deeply-engrained philosophy has led Gien to distribute their products to over 30 countries. Although Gien offers a boutique on line, you might just browse through Bloomingdale’s Gien selection to discover the ideal accent for your own table or perhaps one of the special gifts you seek.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

 

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

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Fine Shopping from Paris Museums

Paris Museums

Etienne Meurice – The Bather . . .

We easily recommend a delightful shopping site for those, who are not fortunate to be combing the shops of French villages and cities for graduation and wedding gifts.  The Boutiques de musées offers a wide variety of French-oriented products directly from the many national museums they represent.  The magnificent range of gifts runs from reproduction sculptures to elegant silk scarves and elaborate pieces of jewelry – many reproducing some of the finest art in the world.

For example, take the time to review a refined replica of “The Bather of Falconet” by Étienne Meurice.  Other exquisite choices include handsome coffee-table art books, an enchanting fresco reproduction of Raphael’s “La Belle Jardiniére” or a set of Arabesque dessert plates.

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 gift shopping list with memorable items that evoke the spirit of France.

We welcome your comments and recommendations.

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

 

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Bernardaud French Porcelain

Paris porcelain

Bernardaud Paris votive light

Graduation and wedding gifts may well be on your horizon, so today we introduce one of our favorite gifts – a lovely wedding present from a dear friend.  Understanding our profound love of France and in keeping with our French-themed wedding, she presented us with an incredibly delicate Bernardaud votive light candle themed with scenes of the Seine in Paris.

The Bernardaud mystique extends back to the birth of French porcelain in 1768.  A villager from  Saint-Yrieix La Perche near Limoges discovered a soft, white clay that later would be identified as kaolin.

This magnificent substance is critical to fine china for its resiliency, durability and flawless iridescent translucency.  Voila!  The villager’s discovery gave birth to French – particularly Limoges – porcelain.

French porcelain

Elegant Bernardaud porcelain

Toward the end of the 19th century, a workshop apprentice, Léonard Bernardaud, so distinguished himself among fellow porcelain workers, that he would become a partner in the company, as would his sons.  Today we owe the exceptional beauty and craftsmanship of their products to the tenacious resolve and creativity of the Bernardauds. 

Our beautiful votive light is but one of an exceptional collection produced by Bernardaud that is available in fine department stores and Bernardaud boutiques.  Head for Neiman-Marcus or Bloomingdale’s or take a look on line to discover where you might purchase that special gift for a friend or family member. 

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Fine Lingerie & Swimwear – Paris

ERES Paris France

Striking swimwear designs and fine lingerie

Requiem swimwear from Eres Fashion and France are inseparable mates, and Eres demonstrates that magnificent ‘marriage’.  While their gorgeous line of lingerie and swimwear is not available for shipping to the United States, the sumptuous products are available at their e-boutique, Bon Marche, Galeries Lafayette and several Eres boutiques in Paris.

For years now, they have mastered the enhancement of body ‘architecture’ and its contours.   Eres’ designs are distinctly understated and flattering, with each piece beautifully crafted of innovative materials.  Absolutely stunning!

 

We welcome your comments and suggestions!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

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

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French Kitchens – Classic & Classy!

Julia Child French kitchen

Julia’s Smithsonian kitchen

Julia Child’s kitchen resurrected at the Smithsonian – now THAT’s a famous cuisine!

I have so many Francophile preferences – for windows and light, for colorful textiles and pottery, for old rush-seat chairs and for ‘imperfect’ touches that underscore the real life lived in that lovely kitchen.

We neither need nor want grand décor – though one of those classic French stoves by Lacanche would be perfectly acceptable! I think I’d settle quite well with a nice square kitchen with big windows. Some open shelves could hold old copper and brightly-colored pottery casserole dishes.

French design

The Cluny French range by Lancanche

As I do now, I’d have space on the counter for my copper basket filled with potatoes; and the coffee-fixin’ area would have everything within easy reach. A colorful Provençal pitcher next to the range would hold my handled kitchen utensils, and a handsome French lamp would shed light over the aged country table and chairs.

Now, doesn’t that sound like the perfect place to fix a lovely French Onion soup….and sweet raspberry and chocolate crepes? There I go back to My French Neighbor for their exceptional Dijon mustard, because savory vinaigrette would be the perfect touch for a salad to go with the soup.

Daydreams are such fun. Enjoy your own today and, who knows? You just might make your way to a bric-a-brac store to find a fresh addition for your kitchen.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@luxeeuro.com
Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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