Advent -15

Give a man a fish you feed him for a meal. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life. I have a similar philosophy about travel. I love teaching people how to get out there and explore our world. And every good explorer needs a great map. Editions Blay Foldex knows all about good maps.

They also seem to get visitors who wish to eschew all things tourist. Things like maps, so they have created a collection of trés stylé maps (9€) that even the most discrete traveler would be confident whipping out of his pocket. Naturally, I chose their orange map, but I loved the Tiffany blue one so much I was sorely tempted start adjusting the contents of my handbag.

I found my map at L’Ecume des Pages, one of my very favorite stores in Paris. An independent book seller, L’Ecume is walking distance from chez moi and is open until midnight 6 nights a week. Oh, and it just happens to be next to “my” Café de Flore. My perfect late night out involved a flûte at the Flore, with their Kettle pepper chips, followed by a leisurely perusal of the stacks at L’Ecume, and if I score, a return to the Flore for a late night read over a cup of Verveine tisane.

Beyond maps, L’Ecume is full of fantastic holiday gifts; art books, bandes dessinées, and travel guides. They even have a collection of books in English. This is where Mr French picked up one of the most romantic gifts he has given me. Driving home one evening he heard the description of a book he was sure I would love. He made a brief detour, double parking to run into L’Ecume and purchased Les Déferlantes, a book about love by the seashore that is pure prose in poetry. I’ve read it twice, a habit I reserve almost exclusively for Jane Austen. I’ll never know what it was they said about the book that inspired Mr French to make dinner wait that night. I suspect it was something like this, “Written in very easy French. The language was so basic even a 1st grader could read this book in a weekend…” Whatever the dialogue, I love this book, which reminds me of another great holiday gift, a book you have loved and believe the giftee would love.

What has been your favorite book of 2012?

L’Ecume de Pages / 174 Bd St Germain, 6e / 01 45 48 54 48

Advent -14











Not easy choosing art for another. Can’t be too large, and you don’t want to spend a fortune, in case they hate it. But sometimes its worth the risk. Especially when you stumble into a shop like Fabien Breuvart’s Images&Portraits at the Marché des Enfants Rouges on the rue Charlot in the 3rd. The shop is dedicated to anonymous vintage photos and has treats for everyone.

A black and white shot of some surfer dudes in Biarritz is perfect for the beach bunny in your life, while the traveler may love an ancient shot of Angkor Wat. Photos range from 1€ to a few hundred euros, so you can even make a personalized collage of things your giftee loves. Or photocopy a bunch to make your own wrapping paper.

Some people really love vintage photography. Like really love it. They love it so much that they were devastated when Polaroid declared bankruptcy and announced the end of Polaroid instant film. Instead of crying about it, they went into action and started ‘The Impossible Project‘ an International Initiative to save instant film technology. These were some pretty dedicated folks, opening stores full of cameras and Polaroid photos across the globe to finance their endeavor. And the PROJECT WORKED!!! Recently they announced new instant film technology that they’ll be producing in large quantities. Their Paris store is short stroll from Images&Portraits and has old photos, revamps vintage Polaroid cameras and the film itself. A perfect gift for the budding photographer. Maybe they’ll start by documenting your holly jolly Christmas celebrations!

Images&Portraits /Fabien Breuvart Photographies / 35-37 rue Charlot, 3e / 06 65 23 95 03

The Impossible Project / 77 rue Charlot, 3e / 09 54 18 67 82




Advent -13


I recently heard of a (French) man who has lost his sense of smell. He feels that joy is gone from his life as he can no longer really appreciate the simple pleasures. Simple pleasures we take for granted; the fragrance of a berry rich Bordeaux, a perfectly ripe Camembert,or the knee weakening earthy perfume of a truffle can send some into ecstasy.

For my own little scent of ecstasy I head to Ryst Dupeyron, where Didier helps me chose the perfect wine for every meal, often down-selling me to bottles that are more reasonably priced and better suited to my palette. Every visit ends in a tear (larme). Usually its a petite larme of Porto, because he knows its my weakness. But sometimes he’s thrilled with a newly opened scotch, or Armagnac. Amagnacs are the house specialty, and they’ve been growing their own since 1905. They also make fantastic gifts; you can choose a bottle from the birth year of the giftee, or perhaps the year you met. And they’ll personalize the labels for you. They have small bottles so you can give a little sampling of different years and  they even have very single serving tubes. You can order online where there is something for every budget across the globe. If you order more than 80€, enter the promotional code; foiegras and you get a free jar with your order (don’t tell California).

Now wine is not for everyone and I could talk about my fromagerie, Quatrehommes, but I’m not sure a cheese platter makes a great gift for someone already in Paris and I don’t think it ships well (although it does ok when being smuggled out of the country…) so I am going to skip the camemberts and suggest my favorite food group; funghi.

More particularly the black truffle from the Perigord. I seem to have the nose of a well trained pig and have managed to find truffles in Paris ever since my arrival. I know! You’ve heard they’re expensive. This is true. One decent sized truffle will go for 20-40€. But please READ ON… that truffle can make 3-4 meals. This week, for example, I ordered a truffle the size of a walnut (about 20 grams) It will cost me 20-40€ depending on this year’s market rate. Monday night I’ll be making an omelette for 6 people: dinner, with the 12 eggs and 1 fungus among us, plus the baguette, Mache salad and the Pouilly Fume wine will be under 60€ for six. AND I’ll have 1/2 a truffle left over for Tuesday nigh with Mr French when I’ll use 1/4 to sliver over sea scallops and finally, Wed will be risotto for 4 with the 1/4 that is left.

Now that I’ve  totally justified it for you and you can buy your truffles guilt free, where do you find a fine specimen? I get mine at the boul Raspail organic market. If you start at the corner of Cherche Midi, about half way down on your left is a young couple selling Italian goods from a stand they’ve named La Cucina. Ask to speak to Monsieur with the goatee and tell him you’d like to order a truffle. If you’re lucky he’ll have an extra on hand, if not, you’ll have to return the following week. If you don’t have two weekends in Paris, or if you need your truffle, like NOW (which I TOTALLY understand) the butcher Fontaine and the fruit stand on the rue du Sevres are both selling truffles right now.

What special treats are you hoping Santa brings you?

Boucherie Fontaine – 133 Rue de Sèvres  6e, (M) Duroc – 01 47 34 55 83

L’Orangerie au Vieux Sevres – 66 Rue de Sèvres 7e, (M) Vaneau – 01 47 34 55 18

Advent -12


I’ve already talked about the fabulous ways you can help South African Kids effected by AIDS and giving donations as holiday gifts. This is a post about doing that and supporting a dream.

In September, fellow blogger and running mate, Jacki of HJ Underway was reading “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book brought her to tears  and instilled in her the desire to make a difference in the world, so she began searching for ideas of what one woman can do to support women and children across the globe, which charities to help and how. The options seemed overwhelming.

Jacki did not give up. She registered for the 2013 Marathon in Tanzania, and carefully selected 13 charities that supported causes worth sweating for. Her dream is to raise $500 for each of the 13 charities: #13for13.

What happened to Jacki happens to a lot of people; not knowing which charities are valuable, which are actually spending their money on those in need, makes donating a daunting prospect. How do I know my money is really going to make a difference? Without answers, many give up. WiIth her research and her creation of 13 for 13 Jacki has done the work for us and her website provides a generous list of charities to choose from.

The charities include Every Mother Counts, The Fisher Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, The Fistula Foundation, and more, each aimed at helping women and children in need.

Now Jacki has some training to do. As she clarifies, “People run marathons all the time… people except me. In September I could barely run one mile…. and I had signed up to run a half marathon?? However thanks to the ever-supportive blogging community in Paris, wonderful people like Finding Noon and Lindsey at Greetings From the American Girl, I’m literally running all over Paris.”

What I think is so cool about this project is that you’ve got an American Mom living in France getting people to talk about what is happening to women in places like Guatemala and Uzbekistan.

So give a gift to stranger. Support 13 for 13 and make a Mom’s dream come as she helps Moms from across the globe, making the world a better place for us all.

TO DONATE…. click on the link to anyone of the charities below (Every Monday Jacki features one of these organizations at HJUnderway. Check in weekly to learn more! AND if you go today, you’ll see a post that features material gifts being sold by her charities. Gifts that friends and family on your list would be happy to receive.)

East Meets West
Ishahayi Beach School Foundation – Support a school in Lagos Nigeria
Born Just Right – Help Jen & Jordan send limb different kids to summer camp
The Fistula Foundation – Make surgery possible for women with child birth injury
Cradles to Crayons
The Fisher House Foundation
Every Mother Counts – EMC is doing amazing work helping reduce maternal mortality
The Kanga Project
Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
National Ovarian Cancer Collition
The Shine Project
The Ronan Thompson Foundation

What charities do you support, and why?


Advent -11

Sleeping with Paris

(brief note / today is the 12th hour of the12th day of the 12th month of 2012, and while I have no idea where or why, this is a really big deal somewhere in the world – HAPPY WHATEVER THIS POSSIBLY MEANS!!!!)

No, this is not a lesbian tell-all in which I reveal having slept with sleeping with an over-publicized under-nourished heiress. Sleeping with Paris is an eBook that tells the tale of ‘a sassy, young French teacher who is two days away from moving to Paris with the love of her life and from fulfilling her dream of studying at the prestigious Sorbonne University in France.” from there Mlle Sassy tumbles through adventures in love and un-love à Paris.

Kissed in Paris is the author’s second title and throws up the high jinx of a young girl who finds herself in bed with a man who is not her fiancé, then awakes the next morning to find he has absconded with her trust and her engagement ring!

These quirky romances become even more adorable when you meet their quietly intelligently, absolutely charming author, herself once a sassy young French teacher who has had so much success with these books that she now has a book deal with Amazon’s publishing wing and has retired from teaching to become a full-time novelist. Even more impressive is that she makes Paris come so alive from her S Californian home. Talk about inspirational!

Not all your giftees will be fans of Paris, or romance novels, but book recommendations of any kind are always a fantastic idea.

A GIFT FOR YOU!!!! (or someone you like) – Juliette is giving away a Kindle copy of Kissed in Paris to a FindingNoon reader. Just drop send an email to sylvia (at) and I’ll add it to the drawing. Please note that your email address WILL NOT be used again. Not for any marketing of anything, not even this blog. All email addresses will be trashed immediately following the drawing which will be held (ready for it?) Christmas Day




Advent -10


Right up there with memories, I love creating traditions. Since moving to Paris one of our traditions has been attending the local carnival at the Grand Palais. Le Grand Nef is so big that they were able to get real rides in 19th century glass and steel monument. Included a mega-ferris wheel and flying swings. It was a child’s fantasy of pink lights and spun sugar, with candy apples and whirling taffy. Being Paris, there was also an oyster bar and champagne. Everyone wins, even if you can’t pop the balloons with your darts.

This year, there will be no carnival. Which sounds tragic, but its not, because instead, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux will be hosting Le Grand Palais des Glaces. Promising disco evenings, real snowfalls and lots of entertainment, this will be the largest indoor ice skating rink in France and it promises to be pure magique!

And because its the holidays and things should be easy, you can purchase your ticket sin advance, online, without having request an exact time or date, as easy as crossing your arms and nodding à la Barbara Eden. Go on line and *POOF* an evening of fun is at your printer tips.

After your time spent slipping and sliding, a stroll by the Champs Elysées Christmas market for a spot of hot mulled wine (please wait until after the skating. I don’t want to be responsible for any missing fingers) and maybe even a ride up the wheel.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

Advent -9

Go for a ride

I love giving memories as a gift, but in order to give a memory, you have to create a memory, like a few months ago when I wrote about taking a friend out on a topless ride through the city. I think that’s one we’ll both remember for a good long time. Its a bit cold for that this time of year, so I tried to think of an equally thrilling experience that would make an excellent gift for the holiday season. I was pondering the question while on my morning run in the Tuileries Gardens. I looked up et voilà the answer was before my eyes.

Heading up La Grande Rue de Paris (10€ adults, 5€ children) at Christmas time is a magical experience as the fairy lit city stretches out below your feet. Even better as the lights of the Eiffel Tower set to twinkle on the hour.

After your ride, it is actually nice to stroll up the Champs Elysées, savouring the perfumes of the hot spiced wines, wood grilled salmon and other regional treats at the Christmas market. Usually a touristy place many locals avoid, this time of year the area exudes holiday cheer. If you’re feeling flush, you could duck out of the crowd and head closer to the Arc de Triomphe for a macaron and hot chocolate at the historic pastry shop Ladurée, or turn north at the obelisk for a flute of champagne at the red velour bar of the Hotel de Crillon. Or just get two styrofoam cups of that hot wine you’ve been drooling over and warm your hands a you stroll side by side.

As a starving student in Paris I have memories of being fabulously dressed in my finest cocktail wear and going for a spin on the double decker carrousel in front of the Hotel de Ville. The City of Paris is trying hard to provide similar memories for everyone, by installing antique merry-go-rounds in almost every arrondisement of the city. The rides are free on these antique marvels which run Dec 22 – Jan 6 (or Dec 19 – Jan 3 depending on which official City of Paris site you use!) 10h to 19h. The perfect place to stop on your way to a magical moment anywhere in the city.

Advent -8

The gift that keeps on giving

Today is my birthday, so I’m featuring my very favorite gifts of all… and PLEASE, should be be feeling generous, do not be shy (I really like the chick on the Advent calendar, hint, hint).

Not everyone  is in love with the idea, but my family has gotten into the tradition of giving donations in each others name as a gift.

There are a lot of charities out there and it is hard to know where to start. My daughter M started at Le Bon Marche!!! Yes, we realize that LVMH does not need our €€s, but every Christmas a small group of individuals in wheelchairs come out to sell holiday cards (10€) just outside the rue de Sevres / Velpeau entrance. M has been buying her cards from the same gentleman for over a decade now and he still recognizes her despite her metamorphosis from skipping little 5 year old to the teen she is today!

E has a soft spot for Heifer International, so when her Bat Mitzvah came up, instead of gifts, she asked for cows, goats and flocks of chicks (10-25,000$). Heifer International gives the livestock to struggling families in rural areas across the globe. The families receive a potential source of revenue, a source of nurishment and, to ensure that it is the gift that keeps on giving, these families are required to donate one of their animal’s offspring to another family in need. The girls have given Mr French a flock of chicks to support his passion for all things poultry, while any French man would understand the importance of geese, ducks and rabbits (all available). This year Heifer International has a uniquely French idea… the gift of cheese, which includes the dairy producing animals required to make fetas, chevres and mozzarellas. They even have garden gift baskets and honeybees for the vegetarians in your life!

Two other charities I am a big fan of are ;

Arbor Day Foundation
Supports tree planting (4$ +) everywhere from suburban America to the rainforests of Central America, the Arbor Day Foundation is committed to to reforestation; preserving ecosystems and restoring wildlife habitats while fighting global warming. And their gift donations include tangible like chocolate, or wooden blocks your giftee can enjoy.

Doctors Without Borders
I had to include a French organization, and Médecins Sans Frontières maybe the most successful international charity to come out of France (50$ +). Every day, Doctors Without Borders field staff provides urgent medical care to victims of armed conflict, brings emergency relief in the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters and fights deadly epidemics. Your generous support helps make it possible.

Advent -7

The love child of a geek and hipster who calls himself an “urbanist à l’ame d’artist”  begets Urbacolors, a really great app that lets you track, find and record street art across the globe.

Once upon a time there was an “urbanist à l’ame d’artist” who spent three years of his life photographing street art in Paris and where ever else his travels would take him. One day this hipster runs into a computer geek cum app whiz and Urbacolors is born.

Absolutely free, Urbacolors lets your track, find and record street art ACROSS THE WORLD. Sharing addresses and competing with other ‘collectors’ for th emost points. Using Urbacolors you’ll find fabulous street art. Real masterpieces like the face I did in collaboration with Gregos, that has magivcally disappeared, but has been preserved for posterity by Urbacolors (merci foxie et permalien).

And if that wasn’t cute enough, Mr Hipster happens to be the chéri (and fiancé) of the beloved and belovable Ellacoquine who has been tracking  girlie street art across the city. C’est trop chou!

I know, a free gift. That’s cheap. But with gifts, it really is the thought that counts. One of my favorite gifts of all time is the playlist of inspirational work out music my daughter has put together for my solitary runs. It didn’t cost her a thing, but there is nothing cheap about a gift that shows you’ve really though of a person and their passions.

To be honest, I am not much of an app geek, so I don’t have a long list of really great Paris apps I love, but there are a few FREE ones that I simply can’t live without. Like;

Paris toilettes, or (if you notice, this post ended mid-sentence. That is because as I was writing I started sneezing and sneezing and sneezing until I had to call SOS Medecin and found myself in bed, a state of delirium. Weirdly enough, the Dr prescribed steroids and I am already back at the keyboard in less than 48 hours. In case you’re interested, steroids set your metabolism into overdrive, so I am eating everything in site while loosing weight. I heart steroids)

Nike+, for a great way to follow my speed, distance and time no matter where in the world I slip on my sneakers and head for a run.

LeFooding, for dependable restaurant reviews, and a geo-localisation service that lets you find the nearest standout food establishments to where ever you are in France. Even if the nearest address is 100km away!!!

Allocine, for what film is playing here in France and when, teamed with the IMDB app, it is da’bomb for sounding like a savvy aficionado of the 7th art.

The BIG three musuems: the Louvre, Pompidou and d’Orasy all have apps that I love, too.

AND FOR THE SUPER savvy, social media débutant in your life, regardless of what apps you choose, be sure to have them Like the FB pages and follow them on Twitter, when possible. Sounds obvious, but people forget and then they’re thrilled to be in the know while on the go!



Advent -6

Go Commercial

You know that tv show Mad Men? You know the least attractive female star on the set? The one who comes up with snazzy lines trying to sell things like cigarettes and slide carrousels? Yes, well, by day, that is me. Except, well, I was pretty clear about it when I was pregnant.

Anyway, I write ad copy for a living. And while I sometimes wonder if the world really needs another chewing gum, I pretty much love what I do, I mean, I get to play with words all day long. And get paid for it.

Which explains my passion for advertising art. Not that I collect it in large volumes, but I do enjoy an occasional moment spent flipping through the stacks of ads, posters and marketing memorabilia at L’Art de la Publicité antique shop in the 5th. The owner is passionate about his collection, so photos are not allowed and you kind of have to be immune to the ancient aromas of cigarette that have permeated his floor boards. But its worth it as you find hidden treasures like the Chanel card game (30€) I found during my last,  visit illustrated by IZAK to sell their ALLURE fragrance.

But ads don’t necessarily have to be on paper. France’s famous café culture has inspired some fantastic advertising tableware, like the Ricard carafes and Pernod ashtrays that were designed to please men. And mysteriously, they do! Especially those living far from Paris, yet nostalgic their students days lingering at a café over a couple of Gauloises while admiring the legs of all the prettily clad girls swaying by.

You can find this memorabilia at Caféware in the Village Saint Paul in the Marais. And if they don’t have exactly what you were looking for, there are another dozen antique dealers who might!

And finally, there is Jane. Jane? Jane. Marney, the 1930’s silent film star who stares benignly at me from my living room wall as I type this post. She was a British actress who starred in French silent films. Kind of like the movie The Artist, only in reverse. Jane traveled from the Jura to San Francisco and has now followed me back to Paris. I love Jane, but she is not for sale. There are, however, countless advertising posters for sale on eBayand I particularly like this dealer’s site (and prices).



Village Saint Paul : between the streets St-Paul, des Jardins St-Paul, de l’Ave Maria et Charlemagne / (M) Saint-Paul -or- Pont-Marie


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