Monthly Archives: October 2012

Nice: La Ville Arc-en-Ciel. Rainbow City

Nice: La Ville Arc-en-Ciel. Rainbow City

I am counting the days to my next French vacation. As always, there will be several great cities in the itinerary. It will be difficult to choose a favorite. Two at least hold a special place in my {French} heart. One of them gets mentioned often on the blog, or on the French Girl in Seattle Facebook page: Nice, the queen of the French Riviera. As I was going through old photos the other day, I thought of a new name for Nice: La Ville Arc-en-Ciel. Rainbow city. Why don’t you join me on a colorful promenade niçoise today? You will agree, I know it. Allons-y!

The first thing you notice is the sky. It takes on so many different shades throughout the day, and blue does not even start to describe it. It is best to show it. 

Painter Henri Matisse’s old house, place Charles Felix

Near the Préfecture

Do you see what I mean? While approaching the maze of seemingly dark, narrow, and winding streets of le Vieux Nice (Old Nice,) one might hesitate for a split second. After all, one can’t ignore the neighborhood’s once shadowy past. They say la fortune sourit aux audacieux (Fortune favors the brave.) Come on, follow me…

Is it Italy? Is it France? Old Europe, definitely. Everywhere around you, intense sounds, smells, and colors. Bright façades or unassuming walls. Sleepy houses in the early morning. 

Les volets de Nice. Did you notice them? Nice’s wood shutters. A world all of their own. Unless their American counterparts, they work for a living, keeping houses dark at night, and cool in the summer heat. Sleepy giants who may – or may not – open one eye as you walk by. They serve the city well, as Nice façades reflect into their eyes. Again, colors, so many colors. Shades of ochre, yellow, red, green and blue. You feel yourself smiling. 

Leave le Vieux Nice (the Old Town) behind, and the rainbow follows you… 

Place Masséna

La Grande Bleue. The Mediterranean

At sunset, then at night, Nice, la ville Arc-en-Ciel, shines.

Le port, en feu. The harbor, ablaze

Place Masséna

Palais Rusca. Place du Palais de Justice

Convinced yet?

Many years ago, I found it, my Happy Place: It is a lively, hospitable city on the shore of la Grande Bleue (the Mediterranean.) I have friends in la Ville Arc-en-Ciel; and this makes it all the more special. One day soon, I will go back. Until then, whenever I need a dose of good old-fashioned joie-de-vivre, I can look at these photos and pay Nice a visit. And now, so can you. 

A bientôt.

My table awaits…

All photos by French Girl in Seattle
Do not use, repost, or Pin, without permission.
Thank you.



60 Responses to Nice: La Ville Arc-en-Ciel. Rainbow City

  1. Quel bel hommage!Je te sens amoureuse …J’aime toujours voir ma ville par les yeux des visiteurs, qui forcément voient les choses autrement. Comme je voyage beaucoup,je sais que les couleurs et la lumière ne se retrouvent pas partout, loin de là.Mais je ne pensais pas que ça avait un tel impact sur des yeux neufs.Pour nous, les couleurs et la lumière font partie de la vie, et on ne le réalise que quand on arrive ailleurs.
    Bon, je suppose qu’après un post aussi élogieux, je vais devoir faire face à une vague de touristes ?! :o)
    Et moi, hier, ravie parce qu’il pleuvait, j’ai passé la soirée devant Twilight IV, savourant la vue des épaisses forêts moussues du nord-ouest américain! ..:o)
    Bonne semaine et bisous d’azur!

    • Bon, tu n’as pas du être trop surprise, Marie. Tu connais déjà mon attachement à ta belle ville. Mais tu as raison, on s’habitue aux choses, aux couleurs, à l’espace quand on y a accès tous les jours. Et puis quelqu’un nous rappelle que nous avons bien de la chance, et nous sommes un peu surpris… Ne t’inquiète pas pour les touristes. Il s’agissait d’une ballade “virtuelle,” et avec les prix des billets d’avion en ce moment, il ne devrait pas y avoir de déferlement dans les semaines à venir. Tu devras quand même me rendre visite un de ces jours. Si tu aimes les forêts, la mousse et le brouillard, tu seras servie! Bisous.

  2. Hello Veronique

    A brilliant post and so uplifting. The light in France and Italy is so spectacular even in winter.
    I find Florida to have wonderful light too and one of my favourite states.

    To sunshine and light

    Helen xx

  3. Dearest Véronique,
    Oh, that button is tricky but you will remind yourself to stay OFF the orange button till the very end. But let me give you a tip. Put on the side ‘Published on’ the time you want to publish it. Save and click Publish. Than you go back and edit or whatever. If you click publish again, it doesn’t matter as it is being held till the time you set.
    Oh, I guess since we lived for 3 winters in the tropics while working in Indonesia, we do suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Winters are very tough to live through. Can’t blame you for wanting to go to your beloved Nice.
    Hugs to you,

    • Bonjour Mariette. As always, you come to my rescue with your technical expertise. Merci beaucoup. I will give it a try. You should have heard me swear when I inadvertently pushed the “Publish” button – twice! – I was mostly swearing at myself. Poor me. I got to hear it in French AND in English! If you think winters are tough in Georgia, imagine what they are like here, in the Pacific Northwest. Hugs to you.

  4. Dear Veronique thank you for very much needed cheer up post. Nice really is very beautiful and I’d like to return there one day. I fell in love with this belle instantly. And when the scorching heat subsides the swimming in sunset is unforgettable.
    Colors are a great solution to winter blues. November can be a real drag, everything is depressingly gray, no leaves and no snow. The in-between-ness is confusing.
    Sandy touched us a bit, very strong winds – nothing compared to NY, but a sleepless night for me glued to CNN.
    Artificial light isn’t helpful, I turned to colors instead to resist the seasonal gloominess .
    More posts like this one please.

    • Bonjour Natalie. I am so glad Sandy did not harm you or your home. The poor people of New Jersey did not fare as well. Like me, you understand the power of colors. I am surrounding myself with orange these days. Looking at it always makes me happy! Take care.

  5. Exquisite photos of what looks to be a lovely, exquisite city by the sea! The last photo is my special favorite in this post. Your table is waiting. 🙂 And you’re right, it seems the perfect ‘fix’ for a dark, Northwest winter! Geez, does it ever! lol. Perfection of a post, Veronique, and a real treat on an overcast, drizzly Thursday-in-November Oregon afternoon. Yummy blue sky in these pics. How i miss it already! Gack! How will i feel in January? lol again.

    • Exquisite. That’s a perfect way of describing Nissa la Bella. You and I will need to look at these photos often over the next few weeks and months! By January, we will be sobbing in a soggy tissue, while looking at them through swollen eyelids 🙂

  6. Your photos are popping off my screen.We went to Nice..mais malheureusement..pas la vieille partie..Dommage.
    In QC..once the leaves have gone..everything seems monochromatic..until the snow and blue skies.
    So happy I found your blog:-)

    • Bonjour Nana! Bienvenue chez moi! Comment? You went to Nice and missed la Vieille Ville? What happened?! Well, I guess you now have a reason to go back… You have monochromatic in your neck of the woods then? Geez. And I thought we were cursed with “two-toned everything!”

  7. thanks i needed that-just back from our house on the jersey shore-by the grace of GOD we only have clean up issues and they are NOTHING compared to atlantic city area (about 45 minutes north from my house) so these happy bright pictures were the best tonic E-V-E-R!

  8. How beautiful. I am sure I have mentioned to you that my parents honeymooned in Nice many “moons” ago. Of course, they were living in Toulon at the time, so it wasn’t far to go. Some day I will visit for myself the “scene of the crime.” In this case a crime of passion that produced me nine months later.

    Bises, M-T

  9. Wow I really think that city might be one of the most beautiful places on earth. How visually stunning and charming!

    I wish I had money so I could go there to combat my seasonal blues. I tend to get it pretty bad, actually. And it gets worse when you mix in the stress from having to drive in snowy hazardous conditions every day. 🙁

    I might have to look into that blue lightbulb your friend swears by lol.

  10. Lovely Veronique! Yes, it really cheered me up here in slightly overcast Carmel-by-the-Sea. Like you am sending prayers to America’s badly hit east coast. No blue bulbs for moi! Hugs, Suzanne

  11. Hi Veronique,

    I hope you don’t mind if I follow along. Your pictures of Nice are be very beautiful. I love all of the color, the blue skies and especially the water scene.

    I come to you from blogs we jointly read. By the way, you look so very much like our French exchange student we had several years ago. Marine was from Limoges.

    Our daughter’s husband did his residency at Children’s Hosp. in Seattle so we are familiar with the dark and the wet….For you I am wishing sunshine! Janey

    • Oh Véronique…
      Convinced ? No. TOTALLY convinced? Absolutely yes!
      You are the best ambassador to the city you love so much. You got it: Blue sky, multicolor facades: much better than any artificial light to fight the S.A.D. syndrom. Thank you for the free visit, doctor Véronique.
      A friend of mine – who lives in Nice – recently complained about Nice being too touristic. LOL. Next time she says it, I will tell her the reason why… Because a French girl in Seattle ………..
      I’d love to be there too (one more tourist) with you as a special guide / friend. Maybe one day!

  12. These photos are fantastic, Veronique!!! Wow. Do you know that I have never been to Nice?!? Isn’t that crazy? Now, I will have to go…
    Thank you for this insta dose of happiness on this gray day…

  13. It’s such a grey, wet day here made worse as I have just returned from a week in the sun (blue skies and 30 degrees – back home to 4 degrees!!)However, your lovely post has brightened my day – such a riot of colour. The amazing ochre not to mention the blue sky and the pretty ‘volets’. I remember my very first visit to my penfriend’s house near Bordeaux being reminded to close the shutters to keep out the sun (obviously not something I was used to coming from the North of England!) I haven’t been to Nice for several years but your stunning photos remind me that I should return sometime – until then I shall no doubt come back here to look at your pictures!

  14. Oh my what wonderful images Veronique, I’m having a very strong urge to paint my house yellow and paint the window frames blue, I wonder how that would go down with my neighbours haha! I think my happy place is strolling the streets of Paris in springtime..but also working in my garden here in Perth is tres joli aussi, simple pleasure oui!

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71 Responses to Ballade gourmande (*)… Seattle’s best pastry shops

  1. Your timing is perfect! I’ll be making two trips to Seattle in the next 6 weeks and I’m excited about checking out these shops! Merci mille fois!

  2. Ma chère comment ça !… Je n’étais pas invitée à te suivre dans ce merveilleux périple ?… Pourtant accompagnées de ta “totomobile”, de nos deux appareils lumix nous aurions passé une excellente journée !
    Il est tôt chez moi, je ne dors plus et je suis en train de prendre une tasse de thé. Toutes ces douceurs que tu nous montres seraient les bienvenues !
    Je sais comment je vais occuper ma matinée! Je vais cuisiner ! pas de souci, j’adore ça !
    Merci pour cette charmante publication sucrée.
    Je te fais de gros bisous et la prochaine fois, fais-moi une petite place !

  3. Ooooo! That sounds like my kind of exploring and experimenting. No need for test tubes and graphs. 🙂 I spotted black kitty right away. And yes, it feels as though winter has arrived ‘down south’ here too! Cold and windy and lots of showers today and off and on all weekend. And yep.. wearing my fleece. 😀 We Portlanders like it too.

    All the pastries look absolutely divine. Buttery, sweet deliciousness. And believe it or not, though it’s not sweet, the croque portobello would be my favorite.. if i HAD to choose for a multiple choice test or something. LOL. Splendid post Veronique. And stay dry and warm up there!

    • Bonjour Mary. Of course you would love the black cat! Sorry to hear Portland has been hit by the bad weather too. I was thinking about “driving south” to find some sun… Rats. Oh well, thank goodness we have these wonderful pastry shops to cheer us up. And that reminds me: I found a wonderful one in the city of Portland last time I was in your neck of the woods. I believe it was called “St Honore Bakery,” north of the Pearl district. Do you know it?

  4. Being also a French girl in Seattle I approve your selection and more specifically the croissants from Café Besalu (my favorites in Seattle) and the double baked croissants from Le Rêve. Next time you are craving good pastries you should try Crumble and Flakes in Capitol Hill and their amazing choux à la crème 🙂

    • Bonjour Benedicte et Bienvenue! Capitol Hill is on my list on neighborhoods to visit this fall, so I will definitely check out that bakery. My favorite croissants are actually made by Nora at Ines Pâtisserie in Madison Valley. A very special place…

  5. Hello Veronique

    I love your images and the journey through Seattle to find the perfect French bakery.
    Your family must be encouraging you to take another trip. What a wonderful selection of sweets.


  6. another really sweet and delightful post-my mouth is watering-love the photo of TONKS- we are a vw family too-hope all is well with you and your family -glad the coat is even better than you hoped for-enjoy the rest of your week!

    • you know i devour each and every post even if i remain hidden-ALWAYS POPPING IN to read comments-has been an extremely hectic time here and not in a good way- classes are okay-i may be losing my zest for aquisition of the language-but i have been sick so maybe just overwhelmed by it right now-A MILLION THANKS for asking-your pictures are so wonderfully detailed capturing the best elements those classes were worth it -how are your students this term wishing a sun filled rest of the week-

    • Sorry to hear you have been under the weather lately. It is ok to take a break from learning French, you know, if you have a lot going on. You can always swing by here in the meantime and get your “French fix” 🙂 My students are well – and surviving so far – but I only teach three days a week this quarter. I wanted to have time for field trips like the one described above… 🙂 A bientot, g. Hugs to you. Courage.

  7. Sounds great fun checking out the French bakeries. Next time I am headed your way, I am going to check with you for French restaurant suggestions in the Seattle area.

  8. La ruse suprême: faire un reportage sur les pâtisseries locales, et rapporter le butin à la maison , genre pour tester.. Je vais y penser! :o)Pas trop de macarons, mais de belles et bonnes choses , variées, et assez représentatives de toute la France , je trouve.La déco n’est pas toujours frenchy, mais qu’importe le flacon! J’adore aussi les maisons que tu montres, et la déco. La sorcière me fait mourir de rire!je trouve que ça fait chaud au coeur, un Américain qui chante la Marseillaise!Ici, on nous rabache qu’ils nous détestent tous..
    Encore un bien joli post!
    Sinon, oui, je connais Cath Kidston. et j’adore! Pas eu le temps d’aller voir sa boutique londonienne qui était pourtant sur ma liste(faut vraiment que je retourne à Londres!), mais elle a un excellent service de vente en ligne :o)
    Ici, hier, 26°..tout le monde soufflait, trooooop chaud.
    Allez, bisou!

    • Mais je suis très rusée, tu sais… Je pensais bien que tout le décor Halloween te plairait. La sorcière, incroyable. J’étais en voiture quand je l’ai vue, et j’ai pilé pour pouvoir descendre et aller la photographier… Alors comme ça il fait chaud à Nice cette semaine? Quelle surprise! Dire que je pourrais être là, à déguster une glace sur la place Rossetti près de mon appartement. Snif. Ici, on gèle et il pleut comme vache qui pisse. On dirait que nous sommes passés directement de l’été (très long cette année,) à un hiver précoce. Brrrr… Bisous–

  9. How I would have enjoyed this ballade gourmande! Just my kind of treat with all those pastries …..and of course macarons! Those colourful houses are amazing (the purple one especially) and all the Halloween touches. So much to admire on the way to the coffee shops. Seattle definitely looks well worth a visit (and not just for the sweet treats and coffee)

    • Seattle is well worth a visit, miss b, but try to time it so you don’t arrive here during Monsoon season– Be warned; Monsoon season can last… – I am glad you enjoyed my leisurely – but efficient! – stroll in Ballard and Queen Anne.

  10. How fun. And great photo skills. I love the saying of the first picture. And your neighborhood is adorable…I especially love the drunk witch. I’m a bit jealous because the nearest french bakery from me is in Durango, CO…a 45 min. drive. Tant pis for me. Have a great week my friend!xx

  11. Veronique, I’m drooling on my keyboard. Love Cafe Besalu, but haven’t tried the other two. During monsoon season I don’t like to go to far from home, but fortunately, we have Ines Patisserie in our neighborhood. Yum! Stay dry out there! XO

    • Bonjour Jeanne. Ah, so glad you mentioned my friend Nora’s Ines Pâtisserie. I still think her croissants are the best around! (sorry, Café Besalu…) and Nora is such a hoot! Maybe I will meet you there one day… Wouldn’t it be fun?

  12. Oh my goodness, my stomach is growling right now after viewing all of this deliciousness!! 🙂 Good thing it’s lunch time. I won’t have to suffer too long, haha.

    And those colorful houses are so pretty! I love the purple one. I think non-traditional colors work for homes, if done tastefully, like these.

  13. Dearest Véronique,

    Ah, you made me feel quite at home! Nothing smells better than the fresh baker on a Saturday morning where people get their fresh breads and pâtisseries for the weekend. In Italy we could even buy fresh breads and pâtisseries coming out of Church on Sunday mornings. I still can smell the city square. Most Americans don’t know what that sensation of smell and taste means. It also means great family time over a cup of freshly brewed coffee around table. We have huge coffee tables in our country, for that cozy purpose…
    Hugs to you,

    • Well, I wish I could get some of these on a regular basis, but they are too far away from my house. Back in Paris, we would walk to the bakery on Sunday mornings to get fresh bread and croissants… I still miss that after all these years… Old Europe offers charms that won’t be easily forgotten…

  14. J’aime Le Rêve! Thanks for recommending Café Besalu, will check it out soon. I had always imagined that Tonks would be a Citroën or a Peugeot.

  15. Bonjour!

    This was really fun, Veronique! In any town I make a beeline for what is French–so now I know where to go if ever in Seattle. Love the witch on the telephone poll!

    Here on the Monterey Coast we have several authentically French spots…three I prefer are owned by Bretons! I love Macarons et Cannelés but just one of either a week.

    BTW in San Francisco, my fave place (after living there 20-years) is: The owner lived in the apartment above his original location, kept expanding, never losing the quality. He recently sold to Starbucks for $100 MILLION!! And will stay on for overall management and quality control.

    SF and Paris are Sister Cities there are a lot of French success stories in SF. Which today has become the #1 most expensive city in the US–surpassing even NYC.

    Merci for the smiles and info!

  16. this is a delightful post and i cannot believe i have not tried any of these… i must get over to ballard and try the wonderful croissant…. i am sure i will LOVE them… hoping to meet you soon!

  17. OMG, everything looks delicious enough to eat, especially that gorgeous black cat nonchalantly going about his ablutions while you snapped his picture. Can’t you just tell he knew he was HOT?

    En bien, Véronique, you’ve convinced me the Doudoune is to die for. I’m a convert.

  18. Mademoiselle plume, elle a un petit côté Audrey Hepburn, c’est frappant ! Sinon que dire de tout le reste, à part : MIAM !!!

    Tes promenades gourmandes sont passionnantes à suivre !!!

  19. Bonjour Veronique, I am in love with your blog already with all of those delicious French viennoiseries. My favourites are the macarons, croissant and croissant aux amandes. I am your new follower. Merci beacoup for following my blog too and for your comment. I love to study the French language. I will use your french language references here to help me improve. Keep in touch. Bonne weekend!

  20. I am sure les boys had a scrumptious surprise what a lovely day you had all in the name of research of course! Good girl Veronique for giving Le Lumix manual a workout and good luck Carla x

    • Eh bien, merci beaucoup. Coming from you, Carla, this means a lot 🙂 Le Lumix and I can’t wait to go on another excellent adventure. Still fiddling with manual settings, with often surprising results, but will keep doing so… 🙂

  21. Ah! Research…everything in the name of a great post, a world of sacrifices just to made the best research ever…ok! I’m totally jealous here, and salivating, by the way…amazing pictures!
    A big hug!

  22. Oh ma chère Véronique,
    How dedicated you have been to explore Seattle French bakeries and to taste all these “pâtisserie” for us. Tonks, le Lumix and you did a great job! I am worried about you though: how do you feel after all these macarons, tarts, viennoiseries and croque-monsieur(s) you had to eat just to please your readers (and to make them jealous too)??? It would be safer next time you go for such a ride to ask for help. Let me know in advance and I’ll be there.
    Bonne digestion, chère gourmande!
    Anne – qui a pris 5 kilos rien qu’en voyant tes photos….

  23. I know that this comment isn’t like the “raspberry vinegar in salad dressing” , but I just wanted to say that I am still an avid reader of your lovely blog, even though I may not always stop to comment. I hope to do so more regularly again once my “life is on a more even keel”. Bisous

  24. It looks like Seattle knows how to do French! How nice to have all those reminders from home just a field trip away. The macarons look especially authentic. I hope they tasted just as good. Great photos – worth the pain with the manual settings!

  25. My favorite is Bakery Nouveau…but I live near Besalu and Honore so I tend to hit those two more often. Funny you post about this…I am prepping my French bakeries in Seattle post too 🙂 Just an excuse to visit and take pictures 🙂

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Deconstructing the French Woman: Marion Cotillard

Deconstructing the French Woman: Marion Cotillard

This story was originally published in 2012. It has not been updated.– French Girl in Seattle Elegant. Flawless. Inimitably stylish. Flaunting a certain Je-ne-sais-quoi. Exuding a subtle confidence. Ah, the French woman. A timeless myth still in the making. How she intrigues, and captivates around the world. Visit your local bookstore, or browse online, under “French style,” “French…

84 Responses to Deconstructing the French Woman: Marion Cotillard

  1. Thank you for featuring Marion Cotillard, she is one of my favorite actresses. I recently learned that her father, Jean-Claude Cotillard, was the mime in the 1987 “French in Action” educational film that some of us were exposed to while studying French.

    • Very interesting information. I knew her parents were artists too, and likely very supportive of all Marion’s creative endeavors. I remember French in Action and have used recommended it to students in the past. I guess I will have to watch it again …

  2. Elle est belle, elle a du talent, elle a la grace de la ‘vraie’ femme, la delicatesse. Elle incarne le reve, mais elle est aussi authentique, accessible, naturelle.

  3. Such a gorgeous post, Véronique. I savored every picture and all of your delicious words. I have spent much of my professional life deconstructing the French woman and her style in an effort to explain it to my students and my clients.

    I do think it is about the way they approach perfection. I believe French women and their men find perfection rather boring (I agree); so, they come just to the edge of it and then take a step or two back. So much more interesting and original.

    Qu’en penses-tu?

    • I like your theory, M-T, and I agree with it. Marion is actually a good example. Even when she wears traditional outfits, she always throws in a “quirky” detail to stir things up: the shoes, or the way she does her hair. That’s how you can keep surprising people I guess, by not being where everyone expects you to be… As for the Jeanne Moreau comment, I believe you are right. I had not noticed until you mentioned it… Bien vu!

    • M-T, tu as l’oeil d’un pro!
      And I agree with you and with Véronique: maybe the point is to approach perfection rather than trying to be perfect (= static, constantly posing). Marion Cotillard’s beauty is fascinating because it’s not fake. Therefore each little imperfection (very little indeed) she may have becomes part of her charm…

  4. An exquisite tribute to, and analysis of, the quintessential French Woman. Nodding in agreement as I read every thought, but i suspect you nailed it at the last – that about life being too short to take oneself too seriously. Perhaps that is the secret to both elegance and happiness, n’est-ce pas? xx

  5. Beautiful post! Ms. Cotillard is a favorite of mine. Such chic, class and attitude, (but the right kind of attitude, of course!) She reminds me a little of Catherine Deneuve, who i’ve also always loved. Not in appearance so much as in a certain way about her. And really, the picture of her wearing a hat! 🙂 She looks even MORE glamorous and poised, if that’s possible? Wonderful photos. Thanks so much for this post, Veronique!

    • Marion definitely has Catherine Deneuve’s elegance, but I agree with you, they also seem to share a personality trait: a desire to make their own choices, and to do things their way – a rebel side, in short. I like that about them.

  6. Now, please repeat after me, and write 100 times : I must not make Owen’s heart race like that, I must not make Owen’s heart race like that, I must not…

    But what I really want to know, is how on earth did you get to take all these lovely photos of her ? And can I please, pretty please, tag along with you the next time you do a photo shoot with Marion ? 🙂

    • I must not make Owen’s heart race like that, I must not make Owen’s heart race like that… 🙂 Pauvre Mr Toad. I am sorry. Are you feeling better now? 🙂 To answer your question: It was an easy photo shoot. Marion la Magnifique and I are great copines, you know?! (I wish!) – A bientôt.

  7. Hello Veronique

    You presented this beautiful example of a classic French woman. Beautiful, yet unique and so attractive. She has a beautiful figure and is also a great model.

    You have such insight into the French persona. It takes one to recognize one.

    Have a glorious week


    PS I am going back and looking at how she exited the car. Can I look this elegant stepping from our jeep suv?

    • Well thank you very much, Helen! Like most women (French or otherwise) I can only look at Marion and drool… 🙂 As for “Operation SUV,” I would not recommend attempting that move in a short skirt, no matter what 🙂

  8. One of your best posts Veronique! I enjoyed this exquisite and delicious post to the last drop.
    You certainly know all the quoi in Je-ne-sais-quoi first hand as a French Girl and you’ve selected perfect images of beautiful and immensely talented Marion Cotillard. What a story you’ve compiled! Once again a tiny prove that French woman style is impossible to imitate no matter how hard one tries, packed in Dior/Chanel head to toe.
    How ridiculous looked fashionista Carrie Bradshaw dressed Paris style when in Paris.

    The essence will be always lost in translation.

    Thank you for putting it all together in such a fun way.

    • Bonjour Natalie, and thank you for the kind comment. Marion was such an easy “subject!” I honestly did not see a bad photo of her online. That is quite a feat! She looks equally good when she is dolled up by a designer, or “au naturel” on a paparazzi shot. As for Carrie B. I do have a soft spot for that lively, adventurous New York girl. Her fashion choices were not always subtle, but she wore everything with such aplomb (including her Paris outfits) It was hard not to be impressed! 🙂

  9. C’est incroyable ma chère Véronique ! vendredi soir, j’ai revisionné “les petits mouchoirs” et aujourd’hui je lis ta sublime publication !… oui quel talent naturel qu’a notre petite Marion Cotillard !
    Je te remercie pour ce merveilleux panel commenté de photos.
    Gros bisous à toi

    Je t’envoie un petit rayon de notre timide soleil, mais bien français!

    • Bonjour Martine. Comment va Leo le Toucan? J’aime beaucoup “Les Petits Mouchoirs.” Un très beau film, un peu long parfois, mais les acteurs sont tellement sympatiques! Merci pour le rayon de soleil. C’est la gadoue à Seattle, et on en a bien besoin!

  10. Partie de rien, Marion Cotillard a su, par son côté simple de Française ordinaire, faire rêver toutes les femmes. Sans doute par ce qu’il est plus facile de s’identifier à elle plutôt qu’à Angelina Jolie.

  11. You have chosen a wonderful, varied selection of images, Véronique. The key to French style seems to be ‘understated’. Marion always looks so natural without heavy make up and she just excudes elegance. I agree that it’s that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that many French women have (Inès de la Fressange is another perfect example) So many try to imitate but fail mainly because it’s not just about how much you spend but something much more subtle.
    P.S.I must keep practising getting out of a car like Marion. If only I had her shoe collection too!

    • Bonjour miss b. That photo of Marion getting out of the car seems to have inspired more people than just Moi! 🙂 Natural elegance is not something everyone can achieve, but understated outfits and make up, we can all work on…

  12. Marion Cotillard absolutely defines the classic French woman. Both her and Audrey Tautou (in my opinion) have this particular quality about them, of managing to look glamorous and natural at the same time. Of course, their looks help a bit, it’s not like all of us French women can claim to look that amazing wearing the basic jeans, black jumper and mascara combo.

    • Bonjour to you. Yes, Audrey Tautou is very French too, but more in a “gamine” sense… I find her less convincing than Marion as a femme fatale (something she has tried in a couple of movies.) She was a perfect choice for the Chanel movie however, as she pulled off quite successfully elegance and tomboy-ish looks. Not an easy feat. No, not all French women look as naturally elegant as Marion, but that does not mean they can’t try… 🙂

  13. Très jolie, certes, mais dès qu’elle parle, qu’est-ce qu’elle est nunuche..(je vais me faire lyncher!:o)je préfère une Inès de la Fressange, beaucoup plus pétillante.
    Oui , je suis allée à Notting Hill et Porto Bello, je suis allée partout!:o) Londres est vraiment ma ville préférée à moi aussi, un vrai tourbillon, un régal!J’ai adoré l’autre côté de Kensington, vers le Royal Albert Hall.Lorsque nous déménagerons là-bas, nous pourrons donc nous retrouver dans les jardins, au milieu des écureuils! :o)
    Pour l’instant, c’est valises , lessives et rattrapage de boulot..
    un peu déphasée!

    • Ah, enfin des nouvelles de ma “Niçoise” préférée! 🙂 Ravie que ton séjour à Londres se soit aussi bien passé. Tu as raison: Nous pourrons peut-être nous y retrouver un jour. Vous y êtes restés pendant les trois semaines?

      En ce qui concerne Marion, tu as raison: Tu risques de te faire lyncher. Si j’ai bien compris, ton message pour notre jolie star c’est “Sois belle et tais-toi?” 🙂 C’est bien que tu mentionnes Ines. Je prépare un petit quelque chose sur elle et une autre grande dame du cinema français (mais pas forcément celle que tout le monde attend…)

  14. What a great post about a great actress and an interesting beauty.
    Proof that such a combination can exist in the often shallow and mindless world of celebrity.
    As we warm up for summer in this part of the world (Perth, Western Australia), you prepare for the winter months ahead.
    Wishing you a clear day, Joanna

    • Bonjour Joanna. Ah, summer sounds nice as we are bracing for another round of rain here in soggy Seattle. We can’t complain. We had a nice long, dry summer – while it lasted.

      As for Marion, what I like the most about her is that she manages to stay out of the public eye when not working, at least in France. Interestingly, all of the paparazzi shots of her/her family I found online were taken in the United States while she worked there…

  15. She is one of the very few movie stars left who really has that old Hollywood glamour about her. She very easily could go back in time and be a major film star in the 1950s. It would be a flawless transition because she’s just so classy and naturally stunning.

    I really love this post. I love how she gets out of a car. I’m embarrassed when I think of American celebrities getting out of cars and how they simply don’t care how much they expose when they do. Ugh.

    And as for those books on how to be “French” haha. Well, that’s what France gets for being so chic and stylish. Everyone wants a piece! I will admit though I got that “French Women Don’t Get Fat” book from the library a few years ago because a friend of mine swore she lost 15 pounds using it. I enjoyed the recipes and the stories and I like the idea of being able to eat what I want, when I want and not gain weight. But living in the American Midwest, it seems living like the French (according to that book) is almost impossible. There are no charming bakeries in my neighborhood to go grab a croissant whenever I feel the urge. We have Krispy Kreme, haha. And the portion sizes here are out of control. That is one thing I envy about Europe. Everyone is accustomed (it seems) to small portions. You buy lunch and get a small sandwich. Here, I grew up where a lunch portion could feel a family of four. :S

    • Hello Jenny. I agree with you: Marion is timeless, and she could easily act in an old black and white movie.

      I loved your comments about trying to live like the French in the American Midwest… What? No French bakeries in your neck of the woods? Shocking! How can people LIVE like that? 🙂 Hey, don’t beat yourself up too much. Krispy Kreme ain’t that bad, and I am pretty sure a French pastry like the Millefeuille (Napoleon,) would do just as much damage as a doughnut, portion control or not!

      Thank you for stopping by, my friend.

    • Bonjour Kim. I would have to say A Good Year is a favorite of mine. In fact, I re-ordered the DVD just this week. I had lost the original one I got several years ago! Hilarious movie; chocked full of stereotypes (about the French, the Brits, and the Americans…) Russel and Marion had pretty good chemistry, I thought. I could never quite figure out why the movie had flopped when it came out?!

  16. Love her!! That was delightful, Veronique, thank you!

    The ‘Kardashian Era’ you eluded to really is so tacky.

    We used to have Jackie, Audrey, Grace….true ladies who lit-up the world!

    Marion is like that. Truly adorable and admirable. Love her films! Like Audrey, she so becomes the character.

    Lovely post!!

    • Cours Saleya in Nice? I’d have to say I have had a couple of good meals at 26 Cours Saleya, not a small feat in that very touristy and overpriced area of town. My favorite café (for breakfast or Sunday brunch) is in a small street in the Old Town, two minutes away from Cours Saleya, “Café Marché,” rue Barillerie. They offer free WiFi too.

  17. What a pleasure to see all these photos of gorgeous Marion!
    She is phenomenal, both as an actress and as a woman. She has played and can play so many different roles…
    How many great movies since the first one (Taxi) which revealed her talent! A lot!
    She is the best ambassador ever to French women. We can be proud of her… (though we all know she is not representative of the average French woman as her beauty is outstanding)
    Not sure I am allowed to post a link with my comment I will try though: it’s Lady Dior campaign (video) with Marion… A short movie but a great “chef d’oeuvre”. Hope you can enjoy it.


    • Marion Cotillard is definitely divine and irresistible in this clip. And the way Dior makes fun of itself in this video is flabbergasting! I used to work for Dior some twenty years ago and at that time it would have been totally inappropriate to make fun of the brand… I can’t believe how bold and modern Dior has become. To me Dior is now miles ahead of Chanel regarding communication. Les temps changent!!!

  18. I love Marion. Enjoyed all the pictures. She made A Good Year a very good movie in my opinion. We visited several of the movie locations when we were in Provence last week including the old house that Max inherits from his uncle.

  19. New to your blog Veronique! So happy a reader made me aware…not sure how I’ve missed you in the two years we’ve been in Seattle.

    I loved this tribute…very inspiring!

  20. She’s beautiful but not very bright as she said she believes we knocked down the buildings on 9-11 ourselves because they were old. Seriously these people should just act and not speak too much in public.

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A French Girl masters the art of French cooking with a little help from special friends

A French Girl masters the art of French cooking with a little help from special friends

Julia Child would have been 100 years old this fall.  In her honor, I read the excellent new biography by Bob Spitz, Dearie. This made me respect Madame Child even more. How adaptable, fun-loving, and determined she always was, as she enthusiastically embarked on the roller coaster of life! When I reached the end of…

56 Responses to A French Girl masters the art of French cooking with a little help from special friends

  1. Oh Véronique,
    Your post made ma laugh so much!!!
    Next week I am teaching… a French cooking class, a scarf styling class, and a “dress thin and elegant class”… all these topics which are truly – or not truly – French.
    So I read your post with the greatest interest and I have so many comments that I am afraid I’ll be stuck in front of my computer all night long…

    – Julia Child: she was a real stitch.
    Yet, between you and I, her cooking recipes are freakingly complicated even to someone who loves French cooking. I once looked at her boeuf bourguignon recipe… endless and discouraging (whereas it can be the simplest recipe in the world). Julia Child was a perfectionist but all her recipes are an ordeal… No wonder why Americans still don’t get French cuisine after reading her books…

    – No, not all French women are stunning cooks. Yet, many I know are doing a pretty good job compared to other friends I have in the US. Sorry to say. No offense to our beloved American friends who have other talents!

    – Yes, some French women do get fat… No further comment on this sensitive point!

    – Scarves? Please acknowledge that Parisians are pretty good at tying scarves…

    – Cooking tools
    . Crockpot? I am with you!!! After a few miserable attempts trying to use the one I bought, I finally gave up…
    If anyone is interested in getting one for free, please let me know…. JE LE DONNE AVEC PLAISIR!!!
    . The raclette and crêpes Tefal dishes: so many fond memories come back to my mind from the time I was young ( my “studio” was rue Cambronne – 15e)
    . Rognons: the best deal ever, here in the US. Cheap, cheap, cheap and so good. Unfortunately, I was never able to convince any of our American friends to eat “rognons à la crème fraîche” flambléed with cognac. Oh well… My husband and I can easily work on one or two packs of rognons for dinner!

    Now about the cooking tools we couldn’t live without? Mine is a wok…
    Not really French but perfect for so many recipes. One of my favorite cooking classes is called: “cool French cooking in a wok”. A hit ( and a personal ode to my mother-in-law whose Brittany fish stew in lobster bisque is to die for!).

    OK, enough with all these frantic comments I made… Hope I didn’t bother.
    Thanks for this fun post. You are the best!
    Bien amicalement,

    • Ha! Loved your comment, Anne. Thank you for taking the time! I knew you, of all people, might react when reading the scarves part of the post 🙂 It sounds like I will have to come and visit you in Florida soon. I am very curious about that “rognons” recipe, and that fish stew in lobster bisque… Miam! Bon weekend!

    • For you Véronique and for all our friends who love good (and easy) French cooking:

      My mother-in-law Brittany fish “bouillabaisse” (serves 4). Bon appétit!

      . 8-9 cups Lobster bisque or fish soup
      . 2 pounds firm flesh fillet cut into big chunks (salmon, tuna, mahi-mahi, grouper, snapper, swordfish, monkfish)
      . 8 shrimp, uncooked
      . garlic croutons
      . 2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
      . 4 big potatoes, cut into 4 pieces

      Peel the potatoes and hard boil them.
      In the meanwhile, heat in a wok on medium high heat the lobster bisque. Add in the fish chunks and the shrimp. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
      Serve in individual plates with the garlic croutons, the shredded Gruyere cheese and the potatoes.

    • You are welcome, Véronique:-)
      Other cooking dishes will work too BUT the good point with a wok is that you can use it on the table and “cook” in front of your guests/ family members. That’s another reason why I love a wok. It’s perfect for fun and convivial cooking.
      A bientôt,

  2. My mother had a pressure cooker that she used mostly for artichokes. I’ve been pondering one, may have to take the plunge. My issue is NO time to cook, at least during the week. I’ve never had much luck with crockpots either. My in-laws were fans of raclette, and we inherited at raclette machine from them. Will definitely put it to use this winter.

    • Well, it sounds as if you could use one of these cute pressure cookers. How about the Nutricook? I would LOVE to get it, but I fear it is not available outside of France. Let me know if you “take the plunge,” and how things turn out for you. I can recommend a couple of good recipe books too.

  3. Dearest Véronique,

    This is hilarious! You and I could be sisters… for using Le Creuset and so many French things in the kitchen. Guess what? We had an outlet in 240 volt built into our kitchen so I could use all the kitchen appliance that I brought from Europe. I was not going to sacrifice them. Works fine, still does. I’ve never had a crock pot either… even though certain friends pressured me. One friend’s daughter moved to Brussels and was missing her American crock pot so badly. Funny world.
    Enjoyed this story, you are a great writer!
    Hugs to you,

  4. I never cared for the crock pot or the mush that comes out of it, but you have sold me on the pressure cooker. I’ll take one in Framboise, someone tell my husband, please 😉

  5. Oh my, you are going to roll your eyes at this American but the cocotte-minute freaked me out so much that I got rid of it! 90 € out the window!!! I think I did indeed have Audrey on the brain. Sigh. Oops.
    Bon weekend!

  6. Ha! You remind me of my second French host parents. They both told me if I had come hoping for some of that famous French cuisine, theirs was not the right household for me. I was changing host families, from one where Maman made a delicious soupe aux légumes nearly every night in her pressure cooker. I’m kicking myself today for not paying closer attention!

    Never fear, though, I did not starve with my second family. In fact, they taught me the proportions for a basic vinaigrette, which is certainly a sign of culinary elightenment, n’est-ce pas?

    • Well, you have got to appreciate your host parents’ honesty AND they did teach you how to make the perfect vinaigrette! The pressure cooker makes soup making a snatch. Too bad I am the only one in my house enjoying la soupe aux légumes!

  7. Oh dear..sorry you haven’t had much luck with the new crockpots. I’ve had my slowcooker for about 15 years now. I only ever make soup in it…I don’t like mushy food at all, so soup is about as mushy as I will go…mine’s probably the older version, perfect soup every time…back to the long way of doing things for you it seems… Have a great weekend!

  8. First, that behinds the scene look at the show is INSANE.

    I remember pressure cookers. My dad used to use one for cooking Indian food all the time when I was a kid. But he doesn’t anymore, and I don’t know why. All of the sudden, the pressure cooker disappeared one day. Hmmm…I need to investigate that.

    I think you’re spot on about today’s crock pots. My mom invested in a new crock pot and she hates it. It burns everything and doesn’t work the way her mom’s old one used to. The one she sold in a garage sale to get a new one. Lol.

    • Bonjour Jenny. Isn’t that a great photo of Julia “and crew”? It takes a village, as they say…

      Do let me know what happened to Dad’s pressure cooker. We already know it did not blow up in his face. You would have remembered seeing contractors all over the kitchen to repair the damage! Ha! ha!

  9. So much here made me smile particularly not all French women can tie a Hermès scarf twenty ways ….and some even get fat! I loved the film and have the paperback version of Mastering the Art of French cooking. You reminded me about my old Crock Pot at the back of my cupboard and the Raclette machine. I must get them out again -ideal for this time of year. I do like my kitchen gadgets (my friends laugh about my growing collection!)and I would definitely like one of those crêpes machines.Now I wonder if they sell them in the UK……..

    • Welcome back miss b. There is nothing wrong with loving kitchen gadgets. I don’t like slaving away in the kitchen (you had already guessed that part,) so any contraption that is going to 1. keep me entertained and 2. save time, is ALWAYS welcome!

  10. So much turf covered here…
    But I can get over you once had a 240 square foot studio in Paris
    ! ! ! !
    this is like palatial in today’s Paris – a loft practically.
    Even 24 meters is huge for many places – I think I stayed in 12 last time – very convenient but tiny by comparison..or is it
    meters vs. sq ft.
    qui sait?
    now I want some melted cheeeese!

  11. omg
    Originally I was going to say before being distracted by yr huge apart in Paris that I almost got DEARIE yesterday but thought it too big to read in bed (500+ pages)
    Now I shall have to go back and give it a whirl

    • Remember the new French word I gave you yesterday? Well, here’s a great use for it. This is a reply with several [epaisseurs!] Ha! Loved reading your comments this morning before I head out to the local community college where I will be teaching my travel workshops all day. Bon weekend et bonne lecture!

  12. We must have been channeling Julia at the same time this week. I watched Julie and Julia all over again. I will tell you my daughter prefers Ina Garten’s beef bourguignon to Julia’s and I”ve had it and it’s divine. Have I made it? NON.

    I can still hear my grandmother’s old pressure cooker whistling away and will admit I was always afraid the top would blow off and cover the kitchen in pot roast, as we all had heard the tales of that happening…somewhere.

    Great post today dear. Thoroughly enjoyed it and as only Julia could say it….”Bon appétil!”

    • Bonsoir V. Your daughter and I see eye to eye. I think Ina may understand the modern woman better than Julia (sacrilege, I know…) Her recipes are so easy to make, and yet so delicious – probably as a result of the ENORMES amounts of butter and cream she uses, always, but to quote Ina, “How bad can it be?!” 🙂 Come back soon!

  13. Ma chère, this post really brought back soooo many memories. Where to begin?

    My Mother brought back a pressure cooker from France when they moved to the US with little “moi” in tow. She was always afraid of it and never used it.

    We cooked our artichokes in a big stock pot in boiling water with a touch of red wine vinegar and a bay leaf. To this day, I would sell my soul for a perfectly prepared artichoke, and I prepare them the same way my Father did, with a vinaigrette (dijon mustard, vinegar, sea salt, pepper, chopped shallots and a Extra Virgin Olive Oil) to dip the leaves and that fabulous “coeur.” I have never bought a bottled dressing in my life. Why would you when you can make a fresh vinaigrette so quickly and so easily?

    Someone gave me a crockpot when I got married 35 years ago, and I gave it a valiant effort (repeatedly), but everything always came out gray and mushy. I do use it to keep things hot when I serve food buffet style for a party, but only after the food has been cooked.

    Oh, raclette, I simply adore it, but it’s just not the same here as in France. Maybe it’s the ambiance and the tradition.

    I can’t wait to try Anne’s recipe. Oh…..and I have a somewhat simplified version of a cassoulet from Jacques Pépin, if you’re interested. It’s an absolute winner.

    • Bonjour M-T. What? Your mother, a FRENCH woman, was afraid of the pressure cooker? It sounds as if she was ready to move to the United States all right 🙂

      Your recipe for artichokes sounds perfect to me. As for the Jacques Pepin cassoulet recipe, I would not mind taking a look at it. I like Monsieur Pepin and trust his skills dans la cuisine.

    • Don’t be too surprised about my mother. She’s only half french. She may be bilingual and binational, but she was raised in the US and her mother was British and never at home in the kitchen. My father, who was indeed 100% french and raised in France, was a fabulous cook. Sadly, he died too young, but everything my brother and I learned about cooking we learned from him. Grandfather Eugène was the head chef in a very high-end restaurant in La Rochelle (I don’t remember the name).

      I’ll pass along the Pépin recipe via separate e-mail. It’s sooo easy, and you can add your own special French touch.

  14. Oh my gosh, you really cover a lot of ground here, like slugs at night in the garden, only, errr, aren’t escargots snails ??? Snails I can stomach, indeed I love their little chewy bodies in garlic butter sauce… but slugs, no, never, not in a million years…

    Can remember seeing Julia on TV as a kid, so this brought back lots of memories. But of course we are shocked that you spilled the beans, and funny, Le Silence des Agneaux was on TV here very recently, speaking of which, un bon gigot d’agneaux peut être une vraie délice, non ? MMMMmmmm, je commence à avoir faim tout d’un coup !

    Merci pour toutes ces saveurs!

    PS May I ask if could be so wonderfully kind as to vote for a photo I entered in a contest here in France ? The link is here :

    From the US you may have to enter a fictitious phone number on the voting form, in French format, ten digits, no spaces, and starting in 01 or 06 or whatever… Mille fois merci…

    • Oh, Mr Toad. Slugs, escargots, quelle difference? They are all slimy, aren’t they? And who is going to be able to tell them apart once they are immersed in that delicious garlicky butter sauce? 🙂

      This post made me hungry too. I have been using la cocotte minute all week. Cooking a garlicky lamb stew right now, in fact…

      Bonne chance for the photography contest. I did vote.

  15. Oh Mon dieu ce n’est pas possible! Some french ladies can’t cook and get fat?! 😉 This was another wonderful post and thanks for sharing your kitchen experience in Now you have me drooling for dinner. What to make that’s easy?=)

  16. Hello Veronique

    You certainly have mastered the art of the pressure cooker and you are right to stay with it. Your results look delicious.
    I succumbed to a crock pot two years ago and used it twice and decided it was taking up too much storage space, so disposed of it this summer.

    I used like when Jacques Pepin cooked with his daughter in the tv series some years ago.

    Have a great week

    Helen xx

    • I wish these were actual photos of my “creations,” Helen, I really do… I remember Jacques cooking with his daughter Claudine. He was pretty strict with her as I recall. He never tried the same tricks on Julia, though. She would not have put up with it! 🙂

  17. Hi Veronique!

    This is a wonderful post! Great pictures and a bit of history 🙂 I received the Julia Child DVD’s for my birthday last month. They are great aren’t they? My favorite picture is the one in her small Paris apartment.

    Her battle with breast cancer was news to me! She never allowed anything to stop her from following her dreams. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had such a will to succeed?

    The crock pot.. I do have one put don’t use it much. It’s so bulky and difficult to store.

    Enjoy the start to a new week!


  18. Goodness, thanks for the warning! I was just eyeing the shiny slow cookers at the store the other day. Now I know that I can stick to my trusty Le Creuset cocotte!

    I loved reading this post about Julia, always an inspiration, but even more so as I dive into Dearie!

    • Et voila. Just saved you $50 at least. Aren’t you glad? 🙂 Did the same for a lady I saw at the store last week. She was about to buy one for her daughter. Hope she got her a pressure cooker (or a Le Creuset) instead…

  19. Lots of fun “fooder” Love the behind the scenes shot with Julia and all of your fun stories. My mother used a pressure cooker. I think I am the only person who doesn’t have a crock pot, all my friends rave about the meals they are able to make in them, with ease. Bon Weekend!

  20. I’m totally with you on this one Veronique..Most of my girl friends and both my sisters have le Crock Pot..pas moi, way too scary, on saying this so to is le pressure cooker haha! Love Julie Childs, Meryl Streep played her so well in the movie don’t you think?

    • I love Meryl in the movie. I just found a fun montage on YouTube where you can see Meryl and Julia side by side saying the same lines. I thought she did great, but not everyone agreed apparently… Oh well. Can’t please everyone I guess.

  21. You write so well.:-) I have a newer crockpot..tout blanc..but also have the second one in your photos:-)
    I love being in the kitchen..and now you have made me think of s Presto:-) My mom loved hers..the knob scared me.I see big differences..cute cute!

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