Inès sez…

Confession time… don’t you love confessions? They’re so dramatic, n’est-ce pas? Especially as the confessor beats around the bush, writing in circles and dragging it out in an attempt to create tension for the dramatic unveiling when she announces that has a crush. A girl crush. I chose the word confession because it is no secret among friends and family that I absolutely adore, respect and admire Inès de la Fressange. I think she’s elegant, cool and terminally chic.

Despite my advanced age, I dream of being Inès some day when I grow up, but I can’t: too short, too wide and and then there’s that whole mistake about being born in to a family without a de…. attached to their name. But I try!!! Really, I do.

In case you don’t know who Inès is, she is a model who was once Karl Lagerfeld’s muse, then married a fantastic man she was very much in love with, had two gorgeous daughters and started a career as a designer in her own right. There were bumps along the way; a falling out with Lagerfeld, the death of her husband and the end of her fashion line. But she gets back up and starts over again each and every time, which is what I admire
most about this lady In her most recent incarnation Inès is the spokesperson for Roger Vivier shoes and the author/illustrator of La Parisienne, a book that imparts the secrets of Parisienne style, teaching a girl like me (or you) how to be chic. Like a Parisienne. Like her!

Clearly I am not the only one who dreams of having a smidgen of the de la Fressange style, because the book sold well and after the book there were agendas in which Inès shares her favorite tips on style and lifestyle. Her gems always seem to strike me as good ideas, sometimes funny, usually relevant, so I thought I’d share them here with you, a multi cultural blend of Inès’ thoughts and the thoughts they inspire inspire in me…
There is a thought a week in each agenda, as well as an entire book on her thoughts, so this is not an article, it’ll be a regular little pow-wow over here at FindingNoon. I warned you it was something of an obsession!!!!

Inès sez…
To deal with the extra weight gained over the holidays…

go to the gym! JK!!! No, she’s way to kind to say something like that.That was the pragmatic little yank in me who fininshed off her sentence before reading it through.

What she really advises is to wear an over sized sweater with straight legged pants. And she adds that its ok to leave the pants unbuttoned if you’ve really gone to town on the foie gras (not joking, she says that) during the festivities.

I love that she recommends pants, not leggings and not skinny jeans, because even if she can pull them off, they’re really not flattering on your average full grown female. I mean, they look fantastic on my 15 year old, but you know, she’s… Fifteen!!!!

Oops. Just read the next line of her notes, and yup, she does say to go to the gym, only she puts it more kindly….. Reminding you to keep your resolution to go to the gym, the one she is absolutely confident you’ve already made because, well, you know, she believes we’ve all got our inner chic going on.

Off for a run folks…. and while I’m out there, tell me, how do you deal with your winter fat?

Advent -24


Technical, you’ve got all your gifts down by now, but I’m a girl who likes to meet her obligations, so I’ve got one last gift for you… the gift of Paris!

Be it 2 tickets for the City of Lights, or a night spent snuggled up on the sofa watching French cinema, there is little more romantic than Paris.

If you want it to last more than a moment, I have had hours of fun combing through the stacks of French movie posters and promotional photos at the Librairie Scaramouche.

But really, all you need is a bottle of bubbly, with some pepper Kettle chips, just like the ones they serve at the Café de Flore and a good film. I love everything from An American in Paris, or Gigi, to the more modern films like Taken, Marie Antoinette or Les Intouchables,

So cuddle up with a lovely soft comforter and

Bonnes Fêtes!!!

Here’s wishing for peace on earth to one and all.

Bises. Sylvia

ps.. I’ll be taking a break for the next few days, with just a random post here or there. See you after the holidays!!!


Advent -23

Get Out of Jail Free card

Or how about just a day’s escape? A little get away is a lovely break from the metro, bulot, dodo of life, but usually we are so caught up in the endless cycle of comings and goings that we never take the time out to get away, unless it is for a real holiday.

Day trips are a great solution and even if you can’t go this week, most of the work is in the planning and the actual going, so if you give your giftee a lovely box, or even an envelope with a series of cards of what you’ve planned, it can go over quite well.

Card 1/ Save the Date. It is essential to have a date chosen. Its really the most important part of the gift. It proves intent and keeps it from looking like a hollow promise.

Card 2/ A map. Let the person know where you’re going so they can get excited about your upcoming adventure.

Card 3/ Lunch plans. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It could be a picnic. But let the giftee know that you’ve been making plans.

Card 4/ The activity. Will you be going for a hike? Visiting a quaint village? Cycling a bit? Shopping at their favorite mall? Visiting a museum on the history of trains? Tide pooling? What ever it is let them know. One little idea is all you need, not a full blown itinerary.

If you happen to be in Paris, some of my favorite day trips are;

Baroque, not broke water fountains at Sceaux

Le Parc de Sceaux. – OMG folks, manicured lawns in France that you can sit on, walk across and even play a game of badminton (10€ Decathalon). There are tennis courts, an orangerie with concerts, a swimming pool and lovely grounds to explore. It is a short RER ride from Paris and the town bakery (one of several) L’Etoile du Berger, has great cakes and fantastic breads. Oh, and did I mention that this is where the fan-tab-u-lous chocolatier Patrick Roger has his first shop and atelier? the town has plenty to eat.

Versailles – I skip the town and the castle and head straight for the grounds where you can picnic, or rent a bike for a lovely cycle around sheep pastures and a dairy farm.

Deauville – Its a bit of a schlep, but the train is direct and a winter’s day at the beach is my kind of romantic. You can run the boardwalk, swim in the salt water pool, or go for a horse ride. Include a cheap lunch at Les Vapeurs with their astounding butter and I’m a happy girl.

Reims – Champagne capitol of the world. Need I say more? Hic’. Oh, and the Chagall windows in the cathedral make it my favorite house of worship in France.

La Coulée Verte – a 14km bike ride from the 14th in Paris to Massy. Makes me feel like I’ve done something with my day and Mr French always rewards me with a stop in Sceaux at my favorite bakery. Most of the ride is absolutely green, so we escape the city. And since cellphones are a very bad idea when pedaling, we also escape the rest of our world.




Advent -22


Can't you picture this lovely pink chez nous, chéri?

If you follow my blog, you’re probably in shock that I haven’t mentioned art yet, but I guess I was saving the best for last. Of course, not everyone has millions to give their loved on a Renoir and even Anish Kapoor is in the 6 figures these days (lucky you, Mr French, because, yes I WOULD love to have one of his huge holes in our walls).

But never fear, because art is never far; A ONE YEAR museum membership is a great gift to give. The passes often give the bearer the right to jump the queue, which is always a thrill. And if there are lots of show in a year, a pass  is like the gift that keeps on giving; inspiring the giftee to return several times over the next 12 months. They can often invite a guest, as well, so they can share their passion with someone. Maybe even you (although I really hope their passion isn’t medieval medical tools, for your sake). Some memberships even include invitations to annual parties, which are a great excuse to dress up in black tie, or your favorite scuba gear, depending on the museum you choose.

Which is a really great point, because it doesn’t have to be an art museum. In fact, only 1/2 the museums in Paris are art museums and since your gift should reflect the interests of the person your giving it to, it is worth looking around for the best options out there. Are they London bound next spring? What London museums have interesting events going on? Do they just love making fakes? In Paris there a counterfeit museum. There is a hunting museum for the hunters in your life. Sports, music, Indian art, the Holocaust, there is a museum for everyone and even if it is far away, people like to feel they belong, or they are supporting something they love.

Even better, some of the museums, like the Smithsonian in DC, have magazines, so your giftee gets a monthly update on what is going on at the museum and in the field, as well as a sneak peek on coming events, which can be key for trip planning if the museum is far from home.

Oh, and if your giftee is single, museums are major pick up joints. And no, I am not saying how I know that. Give the gift and find out from your friends.

Advent -21

We moved to Paris on Feb 1. A few days later the kids had a 2 week holiday and then we were back just in time to celebrate Easter. After a brief, brutal (we’re from California) winter, spring had sprung and it was wonderful. Still knew to the area and trying to get the lay of the land, I’d spend many afternoons strolling the neighborhood. Which is how I fell into the dusty, musty shop that was Deyrolle.

Taxidermist since 1831, Deyrolle is a treasure chest of the natural sciences. Famous for their educational posters that illustrate anatomy and biology, this once sleepy little store front was acquired by the Prince de Borglie, aka Le Prince Jardinier and revitalized into a luxury gardening store, with a still fantastic collection of taxidermy-ed animals, mounted insects and collectible seashells. And then it caught fire and he lost nearly everything. The community stepped in, artists donating work, Hermes creating a scarf and everyone trying to bring the place back to life. No longer lost and forgotten looking, the place is still magical.

As you head up the uneven wooden staircase at Deyrolle, it is not unusual find yourself unexpectedly facing a horse’s head, or a pack of wolves staring down looking like they’d like to eat you. There may be an elegant table with fine china and fragile crystal set up, with wild animals all around, including baby zebras frolicking on the table, or a monkey swinging from the rafters. In other rooms rabbits juggle, or dramatically sprout peacock tails. You never know what you’ll find in the menagerie.

A few steps further and there are glass cabinets full of stuffed tropical birds, and tables with long, thin drawers you can pull out to search for exotic minerals. In the very back of the shop are the mounted insects. I love the iridescent butterflies and beetles, which can be purchased framed, or just mounted on a pin. I’ve been known to gift a scorpion, and a Deyrolle ostrich egg has decorated my home ever since that first visit. This year I purchased a handful of heart shaped seashells (2€) as a sentimental gift for Mr French, reminding him of our love for the seashore.

Some seashells, ostrich eggs and printed art are available at the Deyrolle e-boutique. But on our last trip to SF, I’ve noticed that taxidermy is enjoying a resurgence in the US and you can probably find something special near you. If not, my 2nd favorite taxidermist in the world is Paxton Gate, and they’ve got everything you need from the hard to find, glass bird’s eye to an articulated bat skeleton, making the perfect gift for someone who truly has everything.

Advent -20


There is nothing that makes me feel like I am in Paris, when I am not actually in Paris, than the musique. My personal nostalgia track is Star Tubes 80, a precious collection of 2 CDs containing the music that had me dancing when in the clubs of Paris throughout my Junior Year abroad. Songs like, “Ou c’est oui, ou c’est non” and “Femme liberée” and “C’est la ouate” which were sung by one hit wonders and stars with traction. Stars like Vanessa Paradis.

As I got older and started entertaining it became rather uncool to slip off one’s shoes and start dancing on the table top, so I had to find some calmer musique that I enjoy without making a fool of myself. Paris Combo and Les Princesses Nubiennes became my go to tunes for those years of early adulthood.

Now that I am back in Paris and of ‘a certain age’ I no longer care what my guests think and on the rare occasion I have access to the music, I am back to shaking it like in my youth to the hits of the 80’s. And I know its über un-cool, groan illiciting, but I love Carla Bruni’s hit “Quel qu’un m’a dit que” that came out in the last few years, although I tend not to play it in public because I can not stop myself from ‘singing’ along and that word singing is in quotes because, as the French say, I sing like a casserole.

The moments I have control of the stereo are rare these because Mr French is quite the spin master with an amazing collection of tunes that includes old fashioned vinyl records. Ironically, the French aren’t really in to French musique. In fact, according to an article in Le Figaro earlier this week, the top 10 CDs to give for Christmas include Elvis, Rage Against the Machine, Peter Gabriel and the Velvet Underground. There was only one French title on the entire list!

Now excusez-moi. I must go “Chercher le garçon” and do all “Les betises” with my favorite 80’s tunes before the famille comes home and I can tell Mr French to “Embrasse-moi idiot!”

Advent -19


This calendar started out as a way to share thoughtful gift ideas that wouldn’t bankrupt the giver while still thoroughly pleasing the giftee, and hopefully not requiring child labour in cities I never knew existed. While writing I was able to share some holiday memories and favorite objects from my daily life. Before I knew it, the calendar had taken on a life of its own and it grew into away to support people I respect who have projects I particularly admire.

Kristen of the Kale Project is one of these people. Kristen did not come to Paris as a starry-eyed franco-phile. She left a fantastic group of friends she loves, a city she adores and the life she’d always dreamed of living to (quite willingly) follow her knight, Sir Lancelot, who had been transferred here.

Paris is a great city, but life here can be harder than it needs to be. Simple things, like how to work a drier, can be complicated. Even for the French. For a non-French speaker, it can be a full time job (today I spent 4 hours trying to get a sliding glass door fixed. No luck, I have to wait until New Years for my next shower)! Naturally, Kristen was finding living here something of a challenge. And there was the problem of the kale. Or more precisely, the fact that the French don’t eat kale and there was none to be found, which was a major challenge for a girl who had been raised on the stuff.

Instead of letting it get her down, or flying home every six weeks to escape her new world, Kristen decided to face reality head on and do something that would make her life better here; she launched the Kale Project, successfully getting local farmers to grow kale. Thanks to Kristen the vegetable vendors run out of kale at the market each week and the French are discovering kale! And she did it in a matter of weeks.It was an amazing moment to watch. Now that there is kale in Paris, Kristen is pushing forward and I can not wait to see where this project leads such a bright, determined soul.

What could this possibly have to do with holiday gifts? Why recipe books, of course. Give the gift of health and offer those you love a health-ful eating cookbook. My personal favorite is Everyday Greens, but that is only because I spent a year of my life as the official recipe taster for the official recipe tester of this cookbook. And also because I think Greens may be one of the most beautiful restaurants earth, sitting out there on the SF Bay, over looking the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh, and then there are the Korean pickles. I love the EDG pickle recipes!!! And Kristen recommends the Wild About Greens cookbook.

FINALLY, Kristen has a gift for you; KALE!!! Organic kale seeds, in a very cute, hipster package are yours for the asking. Simply send me your mailing address to sylvia (at) and Kristen will send you a gorgeously designed packet of seeds that you can plant, or offer as a gift, for a truly healthful holiday via La Poste!!!


Advent -17

An image speaks a 1000 words, and paintings demand a talent that I simply don’t have, so the click of the camera is my go to solution for saying so many things. Things like, ‘you’re important to me,’ ‘I love you’ and ‘I totally dig your passion for…..’ and today we’ll be studying those with a passion for Paris (I know, totally out of the blue, n’est-ce pas?, I’m sure you didn’t see that coming….)!!!

Carina Okula is an Australian photographer living in the Yvelines, an idyllic little region, just a half an hour’s metro ride from Paris. Locally, the Yvelines is known for large forest areas where Parisian’s escape to breathe, but you probably know it best for the little monument known as Versailles. Raising two French kids with an American husband, Carina spends her days out shooting. Carina’s work is soft and nostalgic, with candy coated colors that make great greeting cards. Which is exactly what she has done… made greeting cards. Carina’s cards will be available online starting January 2013. Until then…

A GIFT FOR YOU!!!! (or someone you like) -Carina is giving away TWO sets of gift cards to two FindingNoon readers. Just send an email to sylvia (at) findingnoon (dot) com 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. If you’ve entered the Kissed in Paris drawing, those who don’t win will automatically be added to this drawing as well!


If you need Paris photos and you need them before the holidays, I love the work of Nichole Robertson, of Little Brown Pen. Her book, Paris by Colors (available on Amazon) is bright, fun and oh, so Paris. And she’s on Etsy, at The Paris Print Shop with cards, prints and other gift ideas.



cbaarch is creating some cbaART!!!

Finally, one of you, my great readers, liked the idea of making gift wrap from Paris photos and sent me a shot of his project, which looks fantastic. For me, it like Christmas is here, because it lets me know that some of you are really getting into the not-so-commercial gift idea! It also sets me dreaming of a bunch of gorgeously wrapped gifts sitting under the tree (or around the menorah). Neither happens in my home, where brown paper bags are often the best I can manage, but the dream is lovely… Here is your inspiration from cbaarch as we all get ready for a very MERRY!!!


Advent -16


In theory there are 9 Arts, one for each of the original Greek muses. So far, I’ve mentioned gifts involving the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th arts (visual arts, music, literature, and theater).

I raved about Gregos and Urbacolors when talking about street art, the Opera Garnier, Les Déferlantes and I talked about the joys of theater tickets including all the best ideas for getting tickets to events in Paris. But not everyone is into theater, and even if they are, they may not want to be going out with you (or me, since I’m talking about the successful gifts I’ve offered in the past). Schedules can also be a tricky thing to figure out.

Cinema to the rescue. Considered the 7th Art, there are movies for everyone and theaters in France have come up with a fantastic idea for movie fans; la Carte UGC Illimitée (240€). Valuable for an entire year, replaceable if lost, this card allows the holder to go to as many films at UGC cinemas as s/he likes for any period of 365 days. Trying to please a science fiction buff? A fairy tale romantic? Vintage loving hipster? Bollywood, Hollywood and Paris have created the perfect entertainment, guaranteed.

Of course, some folks just like cinema, they’re not crazy about. For them there are 5 or 7 movie passes (30-40€) that they can use on their own, or to invite others for a movie date.

And then there are the really dedicated folk who love a particular genre or director. Last year we got our resident movie buff a DVD collection of the greatest Italian classics. Not only are you supporting somebody’s passion, but you’ll now have an entire vocabulary to explore and share with one another.We get our films at the DiskKing of the boulevard Montparnasse. Not only do they have some good deals, but the manager is one of the most knowledgeable film buffs I’ve ever met and his recommendations are always dependable, which is something money can’t buy.



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

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