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 -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 -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 -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


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...