C’est chic…?!

Well, hello lovely readers! I do hope there are still some folk reading this blog. It seems to have been an awful long time since I wrote my last post. It’s mainly a question of life getting in the way – especially where family is involved.

Anyway, I’ve been planning this post for some time and it’s mainly thanks to one of my favourite bloggers, Catherine https://atypical60.com/ She is a very funny, feisty and opinionated American blogger who happens to have a French husband. She loves France, too and has some interesting thoughts about French style.

Why chic? ‘Chic’ is a word that is bandied about a lot but what does it actually mean? I decided to do some research via the dictionary.

Here’s what I found: ‘elegantly and stylishly fashionable’.
“she looked every inch the chic Frenchwoman

And there’s the rub. Is this a myth, a stereotype or the truth? Chic is an adjective often applied to French women and you only have to look on Pinterest, for example, to see countless boards telling us ‘How to be Parisian’ or ‘How to dress like a French woman’.

 

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But, as someone who has a home in France, I have to tell you that not every French woman is chic. I love people watching and I am on the look out for some local chic French women so that I can take their photo and put them on this blog, assuming they don’t mind! Unfortunately, I haven’t spotted any yet… I think this is because there is not a lot of money in the area where we live and perhaps all the chic people are at work… If we go to the nearest city, Toulouse, there are lots of chic and stylish people around but there are also lots of people who are less so. Toulouse is a university town and has a feeling of affluence, so perhaps this is the reason.

I believe that ‘chicness’ – is there such a word? – varies considerably from town to town, place to place, country to country. I know of Italian, Spanish, Brazilian, Indian (I could go on) women who are incredibly stylish. There are even some in the United Kingdom!! JOKE…

But, I would suggest that there is a classic look that we ascribe to French women; including simple black dress, white tailored shirt, trenchcoat, striped top … Ah, striped tops. We all know of my love of the striped top!

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https://wordpress.com/posts/fancyingfrance.wordpress.com?s=breton+tops

But is this accurate? Anecdotally, when I was working as a primary languages consultant, in the UK, I was observing a French lesson and I heard one of the pupils comment that I must be French because I was wearing a striped top! Vive les stéréotypes!

While looking at the original definition of chic, I decided to look at synonyms for this word. What should appear but ‘stylish’? If you put ‘French style’ into a search engine, page after page are available to tell women how to dress like a French woman. I’m sure this advice is all very helpful should that be your goal but, as far as I am concerned, it is more important to find one’s own style, whatever that may be. I feel I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here…

As a more mature woman, I do get fed up with being told what I can or can’t wear because of my age. Not that I take any notice! A subject for another blog post, perhaps?!

As I’m beginning to ramble and this post risks turning into a dissertation, I’ll finish by saying that there are certain French style ‘icons’ whose style I do admire. These include Coco Chanel, Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Hardy, Juliette Binoche, Ines de la Fressange but there are many other style icons I could name who are not French.

I’d love to know your thoughts about French style and French ‘chicness’ ! Is it a myth, a stereotype, a generalisation or the truth?! Do please share!

 

 

 

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Jean Dujardin … late to the party?,

Me, that is, not him, obviously.

At this point, I must ‘fess up that I have never seen ‘The Artist’ (for which he won an Oscar) nor ‘The Monuments Men’.

 

 

But I have seen ‘Un homme à la hauteur’

homme a l'hauteur

Or ‘Up for Love’ as it is called in English. Some of the English reviews of this film were less than enthusiastic, especially about the special effects used to ‘shorten’ Jean Dujardin. The implication being that it would have been better to cast an actor who is genuinely small. Nevertheless , I thought it was a really charming film. Perhaps I’m just a real romantic at heart or easily pleased! But Jean’s smile… well, what can I say? And those eyes… I think you get the idea!

I really enjoyed the soundtrack, too. It introduced me to the music of Emilie Gassin which I didn’t know before.

Have you seen this film and are you a Jean Dujardin fan? It would be really interesting to know!

I am linking this post to #All About France. A great place to discover lots of interesting blogs with a focus on France.

The Merry month of May…

Especially if you’re in France!  May starts with a Bank Holiday and there are several more to follow. On May 1st  there is the celebration of  not only Labour Day (La Fête du Travail) but also La Fête du Muguet. This translates as Lily of the Valley Day.

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I have written about these celebrations before!

https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/1st-may-la-fete-du-travail-and-la-fete-du-muguet/

The next Bank Holiday takes place on the 8th May and is to commemorate the end of World War II in France. It is known as ‘La Fête de la Victoire’  and is celebrated with parades and religious ceremonies.  Traditionally, the French president lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lights the flame at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I was quite surprised that our local supermarket had a ‘special’ opening on that day. 

the-tomb-of-the-unknown

The final Bank Holiday  is on the 25th May; Ascension Day which falls on a Thursday. As a result, many people take a day of their annual leave on the Friday to be able to take a four-day weekend. This is known as a ‘pont’ or a bridge. It is quite usual to hear the phrase ‘faire le pont’.

And, then there’s Eurovision! No Bank Holiday for this, of course, but all part of the May madness. I did watch it when we were here last year as I wanted to see what it would be like without Graham Norton. This year I managed to avoid miss the contest somehow.  I must admit that I do like the French entry which came twelfth. It’s by a singer called Alma and the title is ‘Requiem’ . This video of the song is worth watching for the background shots of Paris:

Are you a Eurovision fan?  I’d love to know…

I’m in a SPIN…

Well, not me personally! Although some of my family and friends have commented on my current to-ing and fro-ing between the UK and France and some of them are surprised that I’m not in more of a spin.

I’m actually talking about the series ‘Spin’ or ‘Les Hommes de l’Ombre’.

Here, in the UK, the third series is currently been shown on More4. I love this programme! We don’t tend to watch much television, when we’re in France. If we do, we tend to watch more films.

Generally, I watch a lot of thrillers: Line of Duty, Broadchurch, Unforgotten, the Killing, the Bridge. I’m sure you get the idea!

However, Spin is something different; a political drama – very topical, as it turns out.

The cast has been brilliant. The first series included Nathalie Baye, one of my favourite French actors. The second and third series has Carole Bouquet but two of the main characters are the Spin doctors themselves, who have appeared in all three series.

They are played by Bruno Wolkowitch and

52nd Monte Carlo TV Festival Closing Ceremony - Golden Nymph Award

Grégory Fitoussigf spin

You may recognise him from the series ‘Mr Selfridge’, a programme I have never seen.

Unfortunately, the current series is the final one. Perhaps someone can recommend another French series I could enjoy? Have any of my readers also watched ‘Spin’ ? I’d love to know!

#AllAboutFrance

Une question de langue

One of the things I have always loved the most about France is the language. I feel as if I morph into a different person when I’m speaking French. I wonder if everybody feels like this… I wonder if it’s the same for other languages…I’m guessing: yes!

Anyhow, we’re now back in Castelnaudary and on this occasion decided to drive down. We caught the ferry from Newhaven and broke our long journey south by staying in a hotel outside of Tours. It was an unremarkable hotel, one of a chain, but ideal if you just want somewhere to lay your head that is clean and comfortable. However, the staff were exceptionally accommodating and friendly.

At breakfast this caught my eye:

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It wasn’t the coffee machine that intrigued me, although it did produce surprisingly decent coffee. It was the expression ‘nuage de lait’ which I’ve never noticed before, perhaps because I always drink my coffee black!

I’ve known about a ‘larme de lait’ – a tear 💧 drop of milk but this is the my first experience of a ‘cloud of milk’. What a charming expression!

All kinds of images came into my head:

I’m afraid I can’t credit for the two photos above. They are from freeimages.com  The cloud was taken by Kimberley V and the coffee by se hui (Shirley) Kim.

Do you come across phrases that really catch your attention and charm you?

Please share if you do!

I am linking this post with #AllAboutFrance

Bonne Année!

This quote turned up on my Facebook page. I rather like it, although I am a couple of days late in posting. Apparently, it is from Molière. I had to study Molière at school and for my degree. I’m afraid I’m not a fan…and I haven’t been able to verify the source, despite much searching. Perhaps one of my lovely readers might know?!

The second photo is of: The Moulin de Cugarel. This is in the old town in Castelnaudary where we have our house. I haven’t seen Castelnaudary in the snow…yet!

Happy New Year!

Gendarmes in our garden!

             Why you might be wondering? What had happened? An accident? A robbery?

firebugs

Actually, none of these! I have recently discovered an unfamiliar creature in our garden in S.W. France. From a distance, I thought these little bugs were a type of ladybird – must have been the colours! After much research (wasting time reading all sorts of ‘stuff’ on the internet!) I discovered that these striking looking insects are often called ‘les gendarmes’ by the locals.

Apparently, (more research!) this is because red and black were the colours of the original gendarme uniforms when they were soldiers and part of the army. Are you following?!

However, for English speakers, these fascinating insects are known as ‘firebugs’. I must admit I had never seen nor heard of them before coming out here.

I have usually seem them in large groups and they appear to love the sun. They eat the seeds of lime trees and mallow but are generally not viewed as pests.

This is a close up of a firebug on the outside wall of our house. They move surprisingly quickly!firebugs4

And another one on a garden chair!

Here are some random facts about firebugs: they hibernate, their diet includes dead insects  and they have been accused of cannibalism…

Have any of my lovely readers seen firebugs? Can you add any facts to my somewhat limited knowledge?

I am linking this post with the very brilliant: #AllAboutFrance!