Category Archives: French Icons

We miss you, Abbé Pierre!

We miss you, Abbé Pierre!

This article was originally published in 2011.
It has been updated – and shared – during the Holidays every year since.
I wrote this story to honor one of the most popular men who ever lived in France. That man was not a monarch, a president, or even a celebrity, quite the opposite, in fact. He was a priest and a sickly man, who doggedly led a lifelong struggle to help others. Many years after his death, he remains one of my countrymen’s favorite public figures. His is an incredible story. A story of courage, determination, controversy and deep humanity. It is the story of l’Abbé Pierre
 
FGIS, Paris, France, December 2016
 
 
L’Abbé Pierre: the Reluctant French Icon
December 2011
Today, I would like to tell you the story of a man who embodied Giving. France knows him as “l’Abbé Pierre.” His face (the grey hair replacement and beard, the big glasses, the béret,) and silhouette (the long, black cape, the heavy shoes, the cane,) are so familiar to my countrymen that a picture of l’Abbé Pierre hardly needs a caption. During his long life, he remained one of France’s most unlikely, and yet most beloved public figures, topping popularity polls year after year, until his death, in January 2007.
 
https://www.hairbro.co.uk
La Fresque des Lyonnais (the famous Lyonnais fresco)
Lyon,  France
Abbe Pierre
  
L’Abbé Pierre (1912-2007) was born Henri Marie Joseph Grouès, in Lyon, to a well-heeled bourgeois family of eight children. His father had a strong social conscience and introduced Henri to charity work at a very young age. A devout catholic, Henri was determined to become a missionary. He attended a Jesuit school, and later renounced his inheritance to join a Franciscan monastery. He was ordained priest in 1938. Strict monastic life did not agree with him (he was plagued with health issues,) and he eventually left the monastery.
 
World War II broke out in 1939. He was mobilized as an N.C.O. (Non Commissioned Officer) but contracted pleurisy while training in Alsace. When France fell in 1940, he became vicar of the Grenoble cathedral. Throughout the war, he would take enormous risks to help others; enabling Jews and other politically persecuted to escape to Switzerland; joining the French Résistance where he operated under several code names including the now-famous “Abbé Pierre;” founding a clandestine newspaper; stealing clothing from warehouses for the poor and the Résistance. He was arrested in 1944 but managed to escape and joined General de Gaulle and the Free French Forces in Algiers. He continued fighting and received top French military honors at the end of the war.
 
Abbe Pierre
A young Abbé Pierre listens to a speech by General de Gaulle in 1946
 
The war experience would mark him for life: From then on, he engaged himself to protect fundamental human rights and to fight for the causes he believed in. If legal means were not an option, then civil disobedience was all right too. He also knew how to use his reputation and growing fame, and his connections to politicians to further his cause, lecturing the formidable General de Gaulle, in January 1945 on the need for milk to feed babies. Impatient, stubborn, unruly and outspoken, l’Abbé Pierre was soon to become a major influence in French society, an indefatigable fighter who led a life-long crusade against poverty and homelessness. His tactical weapons: Prayer, provocation, charity work and political action. 
 
Abbe Pierre
 
 After the war, L’Abbé Pierre was convinced to join the French Parliament where he worked as a député (representative,) from 1945 to 1951, but he quickly understood that he would be most efficient fighting misery in the street. In 1949, using his lawmaker’s indemnities after he had left the Parliament, he started a community outside of Paris to help the neediest members of society. He named the center “Emmaus,” a town mentioned in the Gospel. His early companions were a motley crew of down-on-their-luck individuals. With them, he came up with the idea of a working community; organizing rag-picking and recycling of household goods to finance the construction of shelters for the homeless, often without construction permits. This was a far cry from traditional charity, as it encouraged the poor to fend for themselves. To those who had nothing, he brought not merely relief, but also purpose and hope. When money ran out, l’Abbé Pierre did not hesitate to take part in a TV game show to raise funds. Celebrities like Charlie Chaplin started supporting the movement as Emmaus grew steadily, first in France (where it is today one the largest NGOs,) then internationally after 1971 with the creation of Emmaus International.
 
 
“People are needed to take up the challenge, strong people, who proclaim the truth, throw it in people’s faces, 
and do what they can with their own two hands.”
— L’Abbé Pierre.
 
Abbe Pierre
1954: Laying the first stone of a new Emmaus-sponsored shelter
Abbe Pierre
L’Abbé Pierre and the first Emmaus companions
 
But it is during the exceptionally cold winter of 1954 that L’Abbé Pierre became a living legend. An indignant Abbé issued a radio appeal on behalf of 5 million homeless people after a baby froze to death, and after a woman died on a Paris boulevard clutching her eviction notice in her frozen hand. In his famous speech, he challenged the French to heed their moral duty. The opening words caught everyone’s attention: “My friends, come help… A woman froze to death tonight at 3:00am…” The French – no doubt remembering the privations endured during the war – listened, and donations poured in: Money, blankets, clothing, even jewelry and fur coats! My mother-in-law, a young girl at the time, remembers listening to the radio address with her family and walking down to the nearest temporary shelter with clothing and blankets.
 
Abbe Pierre
Throughout his life, l’Abbé Pierre used the power of the media
to further his cause
 
The following morning, the press wrote of an “uprising of kindness” (insurrection de la bonté.) Over the next few weeks, donations were sorted out and distributed all over France, often through the emerging network of Emmaus communities where the homeless were given food and shelter. Emmaus volunteers were former homeless people who had learned to depend for survival on their own efforts, reselling refurbished furniture, books and scraps. L’Abbé Pierre was everywhere, delivering rousing speeches; visiting politicians to push for new legislation to forbid landlords from evicting tenants during winter months; holding the hands of women and children while visiting shelters. As a result of his tireless campaigning, the French government finally undertook a large program of housing reconstruction.  
 
Abbe Pierre
Abbe Pierre
Leaving the Elysée Palace after meeting with the French President (1954)
Abbe Pierre
Years went by. L’Abbé Pierre did not slow down, always prompt to denounce injustice, not only in France but in the rest of the world where he was often seen with international leaders. Even when he turned down the Legion of Honor and other prestigious awards to protest the lack of official efforts towards the poor, he also understood the need to rub shoulders with politicians to get results. Always frank and often controversial, he wrote books about various topics, publicly disagreeing with Pope John Paul II on the issues of priest celibacy, the union of gay couples, the use of contraception, or the ordination of women as priests. 
 
There was controversy. There was media lynching when l’Abbé made unpopular choices, but the French public [a notoriously tough crowd] remained faithful to him. Then came old age, and failing health, and l’Abbé progressively retired out of the public eye. But there was always one more injustice, one more cause worth fighting for. So he would call the media; meet with officials; show up at the French Parliament, where the frail man would speak up from his wheelchair, his voice weak, but his commitment undiminished. At the end of his life, he accepted a few honors -reluctantly- and respectful crowds came to see him.
  
Abbe Pierre
Finally accepting the prestigious Legion of Honor
awarded by President Chirac in 2001
Abbe Pierre
L’Abbé Pierre meets l’Abbé Pierre in 2005
 
It was finally time for the man President Chirac called: “A great figure, a conscience, an incarnation of goodness,” to take his final bow. He died after a long illness, at the age of 94. Statesmen, celebrities, companions of Emmaus and the French public attended his funeral celebrated at Notre-Dame cathedral, on January 26, 2007. L’Abbé‘s companions were placed at the front of the congregation, according to his last wishes. His iconic béret, cape and cane lay on top of the coffin during the funeral service.
 
Abbe Pierre
A big funeral for a man who aspired to a simple, monastic life
 
Henri Grouès – l’Abbé Pierre – rests in a small cemetery in Esteville, a small village north of Rouen, in Normandy. At peace at last, (one would hope,) he is in good company, surrounded by several of his early companions and friends. At his request, his grave is anonymous, but it is easy to find, thanks to all the flowers left by visitors. 
 
L’Abbé Pierre (1912-2007): French patriot, human being. Led a life of action and service and knew a thing or two about giving.  
wedding dresses NZ 
Abbe Pierre
Adieu, l’Abbé. On t’aimait bien.
So long, l’Abbé. We liked you.
A bientôt.
 
Afterword: 
Several Abbé Pierre interviews or documentaries are available on YouTube. You may also rent the 1989 movie “Hiver 1954: L’Abbé Pierre” [“Winter 1954: L’Abbé Pierre”] with Lambert Wilson. 
 
 
Finally, a full English translation of the 1954 speech can be found here  
 

16 Responses to We miss you, Abbé Pierre!

  1. Thank you for such a beautiful story on Christmas Eve of a remarkable and loving man who lived a life of giving. He was a true inspiration.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. v this is one of my favorite posts…so inspirational-a call to action a call to love-how one person can make a difference– at this time of year (and always really) I find myself truly inspired by the stories such as these-a drop in the comprehensible ocean of human kind-but each drop can and does make a difference this is what matters in life-when all is said and done!

  3. Très émouvanteretranscription de la vie et de l’oeuvre de cet hommee ‘si humble mais sigrand dans son amour pour les pauvres et les démunis qui,s’il existe aura été reçu au paradisà bras ouverts:

  4. Ah l’Abbé Pierre, c’était un être exceptionnel. I am pleased that you shared his life with your readers.

    I hope that 2017 will be a great year for you with joy and happiness.

  5. I just found your post and am fortunate to begin with the life story of L’Abbe’ Pierre. It was a very inspirational read. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to learn a little of the life of an exceptional French citizen. I look forward to reading your upcoming stories. Happy and safe 2017! Del Lancaster

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Air France: Reclaiming French stereotypes

Air France: Reclaiming French stereotypes

  France, in the media: A depressed, immobile and arrogant nation, turned towards her once glorious past. France, in Air France‘s ambitious new advertising campaign (spring 2014:) Traditional yet modern, dynamic, and enjoying the finest things in life with panache and joie de vivre. It is unfortunate Air France made the headlines this Fall because of a…

16 Responses to Air France: Reclaiming French stereotypes

    • I am with you, Nadège. One of my prized possessions is a framed vintage Art Deco poster of Nice and the French Riviera. It looks spectacular, and towers over the main room in my new apartment. I smile every time I look at it (which is often.) I have always enjoyed creative advertising, “à la Orangina…” Bonne semaine !

  1. Yay that’s me! So excited that I won one of those fabulous books!Looking forward to reading it and of course many more new blog posts.

  2. I did not know about the new advertising push this year-I flew air france on my very first trip to france and remember the service well-hot moist towels before landing in the wee hours of the morning-I love advertising posters too– especially vintage ones bravo for you having what sounds like a large one in the main room-this was a very enlightening post and has me dreaming of france as USUAL. Have a wonderful week and must say again LOVE THE NEW LOOK!!

    • Merci beaucoup my dear g. I was lucky to be able to fly from Seattle to Paris when they opened the non-stop flight a few years ago. I must say it was an excellent experience. Eventually, Air France’s partner Delta Airlines took over, with mixed results. Dommage. This should be a good week, provided we don’t drown. I am afraid Seattle has entered Monsoon season.

    • Thank you for stopping by Peter. I wonder if the Queen would approve of the Air France ad? 😉 I hear she has a good sense of humor. I have seen versions of the main 6 visuals in American publications (Travel and Leisure as I recall.) What a fun and creative campaign! Bonne semaine à Paris.

  3. I like your new blog site, excellent work by you and Daria. Interesting posters by Air France. I really like the first one over Versailles, tres bon! Hope there is a flight in my future, smile.

  4. En France, “Air France” a plutôt la réputation d’être une compagnie chère et snob, surtout utilisée par des étrangers fortunés. Cette campagne publicitaire risque de conforter cette opinion (sauf pour Londres !). Malgré cela elle reste, pour les français, un élément de fierté, même si bien peu d’entre eux ont les moyens de se payer un aller retour Paris-New-York en 1° classe. (12 000 Euros selon “Le Point”)

    • Merci de ce point de vue intéressant, Alain. La majorité des visuels cultive certainement l’esprit “luxe” et quelque peu élitiste de la compagnie. Il y en avait aussi un (que je n’ai pas utilisé,) pour souligner la nouvelle politique de prix “low cost.” C’est vrai que les Français reste très fier d’Air France, et à juste titre. J’en fais partie et espère un jour pouvoir voler avec la compagnie un peu plus souvent… Malheureusement, elle a déserté Seattle après une tentative de courte durée…

  5. Bonjour Véronique! I can see that you have been rather busy whilst I have been away on holiday and le blog has moved over here! Firstly the new blog looks very attractive and I love the header with the cute dog! I’m now subscribing by email. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! The new posters are fabulous and so creative. I’ve been fortunate to fly on the amazing A380 with Emirates. I would certainly like to experience Air France’s new ‘refined menus’ especially those rather tempting desserts!

    • Bienvenue chez moi, miss b. You are always welcome here! I would love to fly on the A380 one day. That must be quite the adventure. Like you, I would not mind enjoying some of the desserts offered in the Air France menu. Kuddos to them for trying to keep the Magic alive. So many other airlines have given up, it seems…

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Il était une fois, Gabrielle Chanel… Once upon a time, Gabrielle Chanel…

Il était une fois, Gabrielle Chanel… Once upon a time, Gabrielle Chanel…

This post was originally published in 2013. It has been updated.   Chanel… A name. A brand. An iconic logo.    Chanel… The little black dress. The tweed jacket. The fragrance.    In her private suite at the Ritz Hotel, Paris Arriving at “the office,” 31 rue Cambon, Paris. Chanel… Behind the legend, a woman. Gabrielle Chanel. Coco. Mademoiselle. …

17 Responses to Il était une fois, Gabrielle Chanel… Once upon a time, Gabrielle Chanel…

  1. Wow, I love this post – It’s super! I really want my 2 older daughters to read it!! I love giving them insprirations of strong independent women! Thank you for such a beautiful – informational post. Interesting story – my third daughter is super strong in personality (well, I guess you must hold your own when you have 2 older sisters) – She’s spririted, charming and full of sunshine everyday. When she was little (about 2 1/2) – she nicknamed herself – Coco!! and it has stuck! Now, I will have to print this post and save it for her when she is older!! Thank you!

    • Well, I am so happy you enjoyed this story, Jennifer. You are right to raise your daughters to be strong women. Your little “Coco” sounds delightful! I bet she is quite the hit in Bordeaux with her French/American roots! 🙂

  2. A WONDERFULLY ENJOYABLE READ!!!-gosh I adore her…my Ex French boyfriend and I reconnected a few years back…I was so offended that he called me mrs-I was horrified-I said I am not married and never have been-MADEMOISELLE please-then in French class we debated the fazing out of mademoiselle with the exception of the young….some article was written about the changing culture/language-I still believe in the title mademoiselle like the great COCO-I LOVE HER STORY-thanks for sharing-as always

    • Good for you, g. I am guessing “Mademoiselle” would have been horrified to hear the ubiquitous “Ms…” I don’t believe she was embarrassed in the least by her single status. She did not care either what others thought about her. And that is the greatest strength of all. A favorite quote of mine: “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” – Ha! What a tough cookie she was.

  3. Thank you Vero for sharing the Lagerfeld’s short movies links. Incredible work. Truly the gems of the genre.
    I’ve read a book ‘Intimate Chanel’ lovingly and honestly compiled, the treasure trove of quotes and illustrations. Behind the legend She was a steel magnolia indeed: vulnerable, fragile, caring and loving, selflessly and discretely generous.
    Great post!

    • Welcome back, Natalie. I hope you are enjoying the fall in Canada… Like you, I have read “Intimate Chanel,” and found it interesting since it shed additional light on her private life (through the anecdotes of a relative.) I don’t think anyone will ever know the real Coco Chanel. That is how she wanted it. And that is how she has kept us all talking all that time, clever woman 🙂

  4. I enjoyed this post for many reasons. Firstly I never tire of reading about strong, influential women but you brought together all those wonderful quotes in one place and one I haven’t read before ‘You can be gorgeous at thirty …..’ That’s certainly one to remember! Her strong character and sense of fun shines through in these photos and aren’t those pearls just fabulous! Best wishes from a cooler England. Autumn has arrived! I hope all is well with you, Véronique.

    • Thank you for stopping by, as always, miss b. I won’t lie: This was a fun post to research and write. In fact, I kept finding so many “good” quotes, it was hard to choose, then organize them 🙂 A challenging job, but somebody had to do it…

      Autumn has arrived here also, with a LOT of rain. This is Seattle, after all.

  5. Of course, ma chère, you already know that I share you feelings for Mesdemoiselles Coco and Marlene. Two incredible women. The world would be so much less interesting had these grande dame never graced us with their presence. I, for one, would feel the poorer for it.

    Brava, Véro. Another fascinating post.

    Big bisous, M-T

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46 Responses to Orangina, the other French fizzy drink…

  1. Hello Veronique

    I found this post fascinating. I enjoy Orangina and loved learning about the marketing behind the product. Hope the sun shines this week in Seattle.
    Helen xx

  2. Orangina used to be quite readily available here in Northern California but to my great dismay it is disappearing from shelves and being replaced by San Pelligrino orange and lemon drinks. We used to have it for our Bistro but can’t get it anymore. Have a great week.

  3. Je n’aime pas la boisson elle même mais j’ai toujours aimé les pubs, celles en affiches des années 50/60 puis la saga de Chabat , absolument geniale.Les dernieres , avec les animaux, me semblent avoir perdu de vue l’esprit du produit. Mais vu que ça a été racheté par des Japonais , ce n’est peut-être pas étonnant, il faudrait leur rappeler d’où vient le produit, son code couleur, ce qu’il symbolise.. Ce que fait très bien ton post!
    “Secouez-moi, secouez-moi” est un slogan mythique, dès qu’on l’entend on sait de quoi il s’agit!
    J’aimais bien “Culture Pub”, une excellente émission comme on n’en fait plus .
    Merci pour les petits spots , ça met de bonne humeur de les revoir!
    Bonne semaine!bises!

    • Il y a tant t’Histoire et d’histoires derrière la petite bouteille ronde! Une sacrée invention. Un de ces jours, je m’offrirais bien une reproduction d’affiche de Villemot. Ce serait un coup de chaleur garanti dans nos climats nordiques! Chabat est génial. On n’en attendait pas moins de lui, et moi aussi, j’aimais bien Culture Pub. Bisous

  4. Now I really want some! I also love “Orangina rouge” (red Orangina) with blood oranges. And the ads were hilarious: “Mais pourquoi est-il aussi méchant? — Parce queeeeeeeeeee” (Why is he so mean? — Becauuuuuuuuuuuuuuse!)

    Bee

  5. This post brought back a lot of memories for me (well, from like eight years ago lol). When I was in college, there was a fabulous little French bakery/cafe built inside of an old silent film theater near my university. It was such an adorable, charming cafe, with all the old decor still in place from the 1920s. Jonny and I would go there for lunch almost every day and we always got Orangina. I collected the bottles and would use them as piggy banks or vases for small flowers.

    Well, a couple years after we graduated, I read in the news that the place burned down. The entire building was gone. And instead of rebuilding the cafe, the owners simply sold the land and now it’s a row of high-class bars. 🙁

    • Bonjour Jenny. Thank you for stopping by.

      Something tells me I would have probably seen you at that little café inside the old silent film theater. You can bet the new high-class bars only sell [bad] Champagne these days… Pffff… As the French say: “Ils ne savent pas ce qui est bon…” (they don’t know what’s good…)

  6. Hi Veronique – I loved the links to the advertisements for Orangina, and I loved the shot of the giant Orangina bottles in the square. But most of all I love Orangina – I grew quite fond of it while in France. Not as fond as I am of Cotes du Rhone you understand, but close!

    • Well, Craig… To each his own. There is a time for Orangina (a hot summer afternoon,) and a time for Côtes du Rhône (a delicious meal with family and friends…) There is no law saying you can’t enjoy both… in moderation, bien sûr!

    • Bonjour Mariette. Thank you for your kind comment. I did enjoy the “waiter’s” commercial series (the black and white ones.) They were hilarious, and never failed to make an impression. Everyone still remembers them, 40 years later! Pretty amazing marketing if you ask me…

  7. I love Orangina, but I didn’t know the history about it. Thank you for your research (and I am sure I will be thinking of you when ordering an Orangina in a provencal restaurant next time 😉
    Bisous, Monika

  8. Summers in La Rochelle with my tante Hélène, tante Colette and les cousins. Ahhh, Orangina…brings back memories. Thank you for the stroll down memory lane. I still love it.

    Big bisous, M-T

  9. I always think Orangina is so European even though you can find it in our grocery stores. It was fun to learn more about it! I”m going to forward that tv show to my daughter who is boning up on her French at college in Francais Deux(is that right?). Hope you are well Veronique!!! Happy Spring!

    xo,

    -h

  10. The nuns packed Orangina in a lunch for me when I was on a travel study tour of Europe in 1969. It was love at first sip! I have some fun mid-century memorabilia that I collected along the way. My most revered piece is a menu from the Eiffel tower. I’m a Seattle girl that moved to Tacoma 33 years ago.
    ~Lynne
    withLove.

  11. What a wonderful post! Just seeing the cute Orangina bottle immediately transported me back to France and more happy memories. I can remember the first time I tasted it and thought it was so delicious and different with the bits of orange pulp. It was many years before it finally arrived in England. I don’t think I have seen these wonderful adverts before and I loved the giant bottles too. Of course I’m a huge fan of the other famous French bubbly drink too! A very entertaining post, Véronique. Merci beaucoup!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

    • You’re welcome, miss b. You are correct: Orangina is a different kind of drink, and stands apart from the rest of the soda family. The cute little bottle makes it stands out too… Have a great week in England… or in Dubai, once again? 🙂

  12. LOVE!! The first time I had an Orangina was in Paris. We’d been walking EVERYWHERE and needed to use the bathroom. Went into a tiny place and they said buy something first. So that’s what I bought (not a soda drinker, ever, and that seemed the healthiest choice). Then confronted with a Turkish toilet in tight jeans. So not going to do that. The Orangina was good, but created a serious emergency 😉

    Fun post. You’re such a great writer, Veronique!

    • Thank you Suzanne. I loved your story. 🙂 Ah, the Turkish toilets. I *almost* miss them 🙂 They were always sure to provoke fits of laughter among my foreign guests when I showed them around Paris and France… The good old days!

  13. I have not had Orangina for a long time, reading this post made me pause to add it to my grocery list! Fortunately a few stores around here carry it. Thank you for such an interesting history of Orangina!

    ~Melanie

  14. Veronique everytime Aimee and I go to my favourite French cafe Aimee has an Orangina, there aren’t too many place in Perth where you can buy it so she never misses that opportunity 🙂

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La Concierge (the Parisian concierge)

La Concierge (the Parisian concierge)

This story was first published in January 2013. It has been updated.  La concierge aux lunettes – The concierge with glasses Robert Doisneau, 1945 Last week, Junior’s grandma, Mutti, sent me a little note to thank me once again for her Seattle vacation during the Holidays. The message was written on a postcard, and when I…

51 Responses to La Concierge (the Parisian concierge)

  1. What a wonderful real story! It brought (good) tears to my eyes, Veronique. Your mother in law sounds like a good, kind and fun woman. You are lucky to have her in your life. Beautiful post! And i love the photo of the concierge’s kitty! 🙂

  2. Oh, this is another wonderful letter from Mutti! Thank you for sharing this with all of us, Veronique. My husband and I both enjoyed ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG. And thank you dear friend, for the wonderful book. I look forward to receiving it. I’ve sent you an email……..Congratulations on your Anniversary. I look forward to reading and following along in 2013. ~ Sarah

    • Dearest Sarah. Félicitations! I am so glad you won one of the books in last week’s Giveaway. I will be shipping it to you this week.

      Elegance of the Hedgehog was an interesting book, but I think I enjoyed the movie even more because Josiane Balasko was so perfect as “la Concierge…”

      Bonne semaine!

  3. Great story and I love those black and white photos by Doisneau and especially the one of the boy and the cat.

    bon journee’
    Chris

  4. What an absolutely stunning and very moving post to start off your third year of blogging. Even as an adult, the few remaining concierges that I have come across have scared me so I can only imagine growing up under the watchful eye of one! Merci, Veronique and to Mutti for her generosity as well.
    Speaking of thank yous, hooray! I am delighted to be one of your winners and will email you pronto!
    Here is to a wonderful year ahead for FGIS,
    Heather

    • You are welcome Heather. I once knew an “old-fashioned” concierge, and she scared the living daylights out of me, too!

      Félicitations on winning the Inès de la Fressange book. It will be heading your way this week and should reach Arles before long. I am glad it is going to a good home 🙂

    • Merci beaucoup Janey. As I mentioned above to another reader, I am fortunate Mutti is willing to share these stories with me and my readers. History is so important. Even though I grew up in a country that has a lot of respect for it, it becomes so much more real, interesting and “usable” when you meet someone who actually lived through some of the events… Thank you for stopping by!

  5. bonjour veronique!! we have a kind of concierge in our building..she is known as “the guardian”. she delivers our mail, vacuums the stairwell, takes out the trash bins..oh and walks with me to the floor above us to complain about the noise. 🙂
    have a good day!

    • Bonjour Pam. Today’s “gardienne” is alive and well, and I guess she is la Concierge’s modern successor. La gardienne tends to be friendlier, and her role has shifted a bit: Once the war was over, and France was trying to get back on her feet, more and more people started buying real estate. Former tenants became landlords, and la Concierge did not have to spend so much time collecting rent anymore. Mutti may have to tell me a couple more stories about post-war France so I can write a “sequel” to this story…

    • Merci beaucoup Nana. Yes, that concierge was a kind and brave woman. She was probably under some pressure from the Germans or the French police to reveal the family’s new address when they disappeared. They knew she would have forwarded mail to them if nothing else. These were dangerous times. Yet, small heroic acts happened every day, even if nobody talks about them… but some people, like Mutti, remember.

  6. Dear Veronique, I don’t recall if I read your mother’s D-Day letter before, tears. I heard so many stories from my Grandmother’s great friend who lived in Brittany and their town was destroyed.

    As to the concierge…actually my son’s building in Paris had one who was somewhat responsible for the loss of a lifetime of photographs. I’d piled all the albums, cards, newspaper clippings etc into a large, heavy box…and took it to my mail place in San Francisco for it’s long ocean voyage to France. When it arrived at the building 6-weeks later the building concierge for some reason refused it while my son was out and it started the return trip back to SF. The day it arrived at Filmore and Sacramento I was busy leaving town and had just run in to pick-up mail. I couldn’t carry it home, they really didn’t want it left there for a week, so I sent to my mother…thinking she could throw it in a closet till I thought how to resend and bypass the concierge. It never made it to her, and never returned to me.

    The only photos I have of my son and I were the few framed ones I always keep on my desk. Life…

    • Dear Suzanne. What a shame this happened to all your family pictures! La concierge – or la gardienne, I suspect, in that case – should have done better. I am guessing this was before the days of digital photography, when photos were hard to replace…

  7. What a wonderful mother-in-law you have (and / or what a wonderful daughter-in-law you must be) to receive this kind of messages. I have also had some concierge experiences in previous flats (not where I live now). They have all been smiling and helpful, younger (and better-looking) than the ones we often refer to. They loved our kids, went to pick them up at school, when I or my wife couldn’t… I guess I’m also getting nostalgic! 🙂

    • Well, not all concierges are old and ugly, that’s true Peter. I am glad you clarified things a bit 🙂 I am not surprised to hear yours was a great help to the family. Concierges had a reputation for being protective of the buildings – and the tenants. Thank you for stopping by!

  8. “Councièrge” en niçois. Je n’en ai jamais eu mais il y en a avait une chez ma grand-mère Parisienne, effectivement, une vraie terreur!Ici, elles sont juste “ficanasses” (=cancaneuses)
    “L’elegance du Hérisson” est un des plus jolis livres que j’ai lus ces dernières années (pas vu le film, allergique à J.B.)
    Ma crèche fait deux metres de long , certes , mais tu n’as vu qu’un tout petit bout de l’appartement.. :o)
    Heureux bloganniversary again!
    Grosses bises et à bientôt!

    • Bonjour Madame La Niçoise. “Ficanasse:” Je m’en souviendrai. On dirait bien une expression du Sud! 🙂

      Je ne suis pas fan de JB d’habitude, mais dans le Hérisson, elle était tellement parfaite! Tu devrais vraiment voir le film. Tu seras sans doute surprise…

      A bientôt.

  9. I certainly do remember that moving letter from Mutti to your son and here we have another interesting story. I was not only fascinated to learn about the concierge but also Mutti’s escape to a safe place. I’m sure your mother-in-law has so many stories to tell – she could write a book and I’m sure it would be a best seller!
    PS Congratulations to the winners of the books.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

  10. Thank you so much for sharing Mutti’s story. Wonderful story. It makes me remember
    Of my morher’s friend who worked and lived at a hotel in Toulouse. She worked the front desk. We would visit her during lunch time. I believe she had a cat. I was really young and don’t remember more than that. I love the photos you provided. 🙂

  11. Thank you for this wonderful insight into the life of a concierge in Paris and yes! It is totally different to what I woul envision when hearing the expression Concierge.
    I’m sure Mutti would have many stories to tell and I’ve loved reading this one.
    Merci Beaucoup

    “All Things French”

  12. You seriously offer the most fascinating posts in my google reader. And that’s saying a lot because I follow a TON of blogs lol. Now when I think of a concierge, my image is going to be a LOT different!

    PS. Your mother-in-law writes very eloquently. She’s clearly a very articulate and intelligent woman. 🙂

  13. What a poignant story from Mutti. She has quite a way in telling her experiences. You are blessed to have her in your life.

    I love The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and have read it twice. I have not seen the movie, preferring to have my own literary images of this particular tale.

    Bises,
    Genie

  14. j’ai donc appris “bignole” et “demander le cordon” (pour une parisienne issue de générations de parisiens, hmm, shame on me!). ps: “ma” concierge, euh pardon gardienne, a accroché dans sa loge une boîte de chocolats (vide je suppose) sur laquelle se trouve la reproduction d’un portrait de l’impératrice sissi!

  15. I remember our concierge in our apartment building in Paris – she was nice though. When I would have to walk down the 6 stories, plus one to go to the cellar when we had the air raids going during the war, if I had forgotten my pillow she would bring me one, and if there were many air raids that night she would let me sleep in her loge rather than walk back up the 6 stories with my mum (my father could not go down as he was injured.) But you can tell your readers that there is a common expression “c’est une vraie concierge” meaning someone who talks a lot, or gossips.

    • Oooh, ma grande, I’m really late to the party on this one. What a wonderful post. My father spent the last 18 months of the war in a forced labor camp in Germany. He was liberated by the Americans, which is probably why he always had a soft spot in his heart for the WW2 GIs.

      Happy Blogger B-day, and many, many more.

      What great pictures, comme d’hab.

      bizzz, M-T

  16. Ah, la bonne vielle concierge. I have known a couple since I came to live in France but in this age of digicodes and intercoms they have begun to disappear, slowly but surely.

    But the best concierge I ever had wasn’t just one, it was half-a-dozen. I used to live in a quiet and very narrow ‘passage du…’ type street in one of the poorer areas just on the edge of Bordeaux city centre. 19th century apartment buildings, cobbled streets, it was postcard France personified. That street also happened to be the workplace of Bordeaux’s older and as-French-as-they-get sex workers, who, of course, had a clientèle of local and older men, who would come by for company as much as anything else. They were wonderful women and I used to chat with them when I walked by on my way to and from home. It was impossible not to because they used to sit on little stools outside their apartments whilst waiting for clients.

    Better still though, was that they were the eyes and ears of the street and its activities. Sure they could be a bit too inquisitive at times, sure they would say unwelcome and matronly things like “ah? late for work again?” or “I’m not sure that you should park there because…” etc but they were a godsend nevertheless.

    The children of local residents loved their kind words and felt secure in their company, which is why – rare in the France of tody – their parents would allow them to play out in the street because they knew that they were under the watchful and protective eyes of the ‘concierges’.

    And it goes without saying that burglaries and similar crimes were almost none-existent there, because nobody entered or left that street without knowing that at least a couple of the concierges had seen them, and it would have been impossible for a stranger to walk out of a building carrying someone’s computer without being seen instantly and reported to the police.

    Yup, concierges. I for one love ’em.

  17. Brilliant post Veronique, j’adore the Doisneau photos, such an inspiration for modern day photographers oui. I will definitely try and find ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’. Your family is so very fortunate to hear these stories of what life was like in those times from Mutti who lived them. I have a feeling that the ‘concierge’ was also a character known in England.

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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

    Helenxx

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

    • 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.
    http://jewelyettofind.blogspot.ca

    • 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!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

    • 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!
    Bises!

    • 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.

    xo,
    Anne

    • 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.
    Sheila

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The Repetto ballet flat story

The Repetto ballet flat story

The ballet flat: Il était une fois, une jolie petite chaussure… Once upon a time, there was a pretty little shoe…  Charming. Chic. Classic. Comfortable: The ballet flat – la ballerine, in French –  seduces women around the world. Check out your favorite retailers or online stores in the spring, and you will see it everywhere. Offered in…

68 Responses to The Repetto ballet flat story

  1. Lovely post as always, Veronique! I do not own a pair of Repettos…trop cher! But for an American brand, I am partial to my Tory Burch Reva flats, which I received as a gift from my very chic aunt. My feet are very prone to blisters, and these shoes are the most comfortable ballet flats I’ve ever tried on. Perhaps not as comfortable as Repetto? I will never know!

  2. You have dazzled us with a rainbow of Repettos… I know some frogs and tadpoles around here who have a few too… seems like they could never go out of style… A fine weekend to you, whichever color of flats you may be wearing… 🙂

  3. Well my dear, you’ve posted a blog that made my heart sing!!! J’adore Repetto flats…from a distance. Usually through the window on Rue de la Paix! Their windows are enough for me. I’m afraid my days of wearing these are long gone but I do love to see the new and colorful editions each season, not to mention that fabulous WALL of toe shoes!
    V

    • Dear V. I know your expert eye has already captured that Repetto “vitrine” to perfection. Looking at your photos would be the next best thing to actually stepping inside. I am planning on doing just that in June and will report back.

  4. just D-E-L-I-G-H-T-F-U-L…repetto is my favorite but love the cece j crew-you NEVER cease to amaze-gosh i miss my monday morning coffe and v dose….so HAPPY when you post – well i am off to go purchase the devine coral ballet flats from the j crew ballet boutique!!! have a glorious week end-your faithful reader here in philly-

    • Yeah! g is back!!! I hope you are well, my friend, and that your dad is feeling better. Thank you for stopping by today. Why did you have to mention the Cece coral flats? Why?! I was going to try and resist until I go to France but now that you have talked about them… Arggghhhh…

  5. Well you have just given me another life goal: to one day own a pair of Repetto ballet flats! These are so lovely and dainty and seem so comfy! I own several flats, but they are generic brands. I wore heels four straight years in a row as a news reporter. For the past two years I have been wearing flats, and I will probably never go back to heels.

    Awesome post! (As usual). 😉

    • Aren’t you happy that so many of the “life goals” I have given you already all involve visiting France? 😉 Heck, if you are super organized, you could probably achieve most of them in one long, carefully planned trip… Bon weekend, Jenny!

  6. Dearest Véronique,

    LOVED this post for your juicy writing and for the history that you always manage to interweave. La B.B. muah… But I’m not a favorite of ballerina flats. I have only one pair and they have ankle straps in navy blue and those I adore.
    In general, comparing these great stars with their race horse legs with the average woman is quite different. Therefore they most of the time do not ‘lengthen’ the silhouette of a woman in a flattering way, but rather stomp it off. But sure, all those with a bit of problem feet they certainly embrace these Repetto style ballet shoes.
    Love to you,

    Mariette

    • Good point Mariette. We don’t all have B.B.’s, Audrey’s or Zizi’s long legs, but you are pretty tall, as I recall, Dutch girl. What should I say? I will deal with my “stomped off” silhouette since ballerines are a fairly new addiction for me. Hope my hubby can still spot me in a crowd! 😉

    • Merci Richard. Ah, la Grande Catherine. J’ai bien cherche des photos d’elle en ballerines mais n’en ai pas trouve, helas. Passe un beau weekend ensoleille a Antibes, et bonne election dimanche!

  7. Such a fabulous post, as always Veronique! I love how you always manage to teach us something that we didn’t know–even about such French icons. I am actually a driving moc girl (gasp!) but do love the comfort and the all around wear it with anything of a good ballerine. Yay for BB and Audrey!
    Bon weekend!

    • Bonjour Heather. Nothing wrong with driving mocs. In fact, a pair of Tod’s driving mocs has been on my wish-list for years. You would look great in ballet flats, too, you tall, red-headed American girl!

  8. I didn’t know that Brigitte was the one who started the trend – fascinating! As a former ballet dancer, I adore Repetto. Thank you!

    • Bonjour Barbara. “B.B.” started many fashion trends in her time. I have only mentioned a few here… She was quite influential, and still is, from the look of things. Great to hear from an actual ballet dancer! Bon weekend!

  9. what a wonderful post! I have never heard of Repetto, and I even took ballet in college! Can you believe it? I’m off to Google him and admire more of his shoes.

    Amber

  10. Very much enjoyed your post, and learned about Repetto. During the 1960’s in the U.S., the Capezio brand was the shoe of choice for young women. Do you know it? I’m not even sure the brand survives today…I think not.

  11. I have to admit, I’m not big into fashion…but I admire it, what an art form! I think I have seen more high heels in Vegas than I have drank wine in France. I feel like they are getting higher by the minutes Veronique. Is this a good fashion? It’s so nice to see something new…like flats. =)

    • High heels… I can’t say I am a fan, even though I probably should, given the fact that I am the size of the “average French woman” according to statistics (read: “short!”) — I’d still pick a pair of comfortable ballet flats over vertiginous Christian Louboutin heels. Probably would look out of place in Vegas, then, eh?

  12. you are so funny -i was laughing out loud to myself-my dad is healing everyday- some very scary/serious stuff-and some life changes for all of us- but everyday more and more like himself-back to neurosurg doctor in another 2 weeks-we shall see-i hope that is not too much of a downer or too much info on this beautiful space-and what is this i read you will be attending the summer sales in france….OH PLEASE DO FILL US IN and please know i read your comments everyday to see what everyone else is saying-YOU ARE THE BEST! lovely weekend my friend thanks for your very thoughtful words!

  13. You have chosen a wonderful selection of photos here displaying all these lovely Repetto shoes. I love to wear ballet flats especially in the summer – my favourite pair (so comfy!!) are by Dune but are amazingly similar to those Chanel ones (less expensive however!) My mission now is to own a pair of the BB ones! I had ballet lessons from age four to seventeen and had pointe shoes although I can’t remember the brand so maybe I have already owned several pairs of Repetto!!!!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

  14. I had no idea Repetto was actually so close to me in the Basque Country. There is HOPE for an affordable pair (or 2) during a braderie. I would love a pair in black and another in red (mat!) GREAT article!

    • You’d better believe I would attend that braderie if I lived closer, too. The young lady this story is dedicated to, Marion, told me you can snatch a pair for 80 Euros (basically half price) during the event. Not a bad deal.

  15. Thank you for sharing so much background on Repetto and for the images of my Miss Audrey!

    Please, one in every color!!

    I have featured an Interview with Tina from The Enchanted Home…

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

    • One in every color would be quite fun. Imagine what a cheerful and colorful closet you would have! Enough to brighter any rainy day (come to think of it, every female Seattle home owner should have one of those!) Thank you for your visit. I will stop by The Enchanted Home today. Congrats on the interview!

  16. The best shoes there are. I am glad they are back in fashion. Used to wear them at the same time BB and Audrey wore them. Yes that long ago.:))) Big fashion then too. Have a nice weekend.

  17. The Repetto flagship store is a must-stop on each visit to Paris and I snap away. I do not actually own a pair of Repetto ballet flats but my sister Nanette who danced and taught dance wore out about a hundred pointe shoes over the years. The chandeliers, the brass ladder and the wall of shoes just sings to me on each visit and that does not even count the creative and amazing windows.

    I love your complete story here and the links… plus the tip about J Crew…

    Bises,
    Genie

  18. Excellent post, I’m not sure if there is an outlet for Repettos’s here in Perth Veronique, but believe me I will definitely be finding out asap, because all of a sudden I feel that I really need a pair haha! There is a brand here that I quite like called ‘I love Billy’ they are reasonably priced with many, many styles and really comfortable too. Loved the images of ‘Repetto’ wearers, they do look good on long slim legs, mine are not so long but I still love the ballet flats. till next time Veronique….

    • Bonjour Grace. Outlet store in Perth sounds doubtful but you could always hit the sale in Paris one of these days… Lovely to hear from you, as always. PS: Is it still hot, hot, hot and sunny in Perth?

  19. Truly, if I had to choose one brand & style shoe to wear for the rest of my life…I’d be very pleased if they were only Repetto! Fabulous post!! Thanks for the smiles.

    • You’re welcome Suzanne. Funny that both you and I mentioned Madame Sarkozy 🙂 Well, she is going to have a lot of free time now, and since she has a brand-new baby, that’s a good thing. I am happy that little girl will have her dad at home more often now. I bet, deep down, he is happy too (and he has earned a break from all that madness anyway.)

  20. “Un délice!!!” This was such a delight. It brought back so many sweet “souvenirs” of my French past. Thanks for the lovely walk down memory lane.

    I love your posts. They always make me smile, which, as you know, is something the French do all too rarely.

    Bises, M-T

  21. I used to wear ballerinas but after so many years of walking my feet need more “comfortable walking shoes..” What a well researched post with such fabulous illustrations – un plaisir à lire.

  22. Wonderful post! I always learn so many interesting things from you. You do your research! I wear ballet flats, but I was never a dancer. 😉
    Happy Mother’s Day!

    • The Repetto factory is located in St Medard d’Excideuil, in the Perigord region. They hold “braderies” (sales) several times a year, and Repettos can be snatched for as low as 40 or 50 Euros a pair then! Bonne chance!

  23. Hello, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your wonderful post on ballet flats – so much I did not know, but loved learning! Ballet flats should be in every girl’s wardrobe! I do appreciate you sharing and am happy to be your newest follower,
    Kathy

  24. How I wish there were an American store to buy these from! I am nervous to order them from France and not be able to return them if they don’t fit my fussy feet.

    Maybe an excuse to return to Paris some day?

  25. I have several ballet flats in my wardrobe, despite the fact that I’m short. I think there is no such woman that wouldn’t love them for their comfort.

  26. Great story about Repetto’s company, for me one of the most beautiful ballerinas makers in the world. IDespite being a young man, I used to wear ballet slippers from this brand for my ballet classes and I really love them. Good quality and price. Then I started , sorry I hope you dont mind, to wear ballet flats (ballerines)after had an injury at the top of my foot and discovered how comfortable and practical this kind of shoes are. I only tried twice Repettos ballet flats very comfortable but out of my budget, so I only wear Sam Edelman Felicia flats that are more affordable and also comfortables and by the way I also have a pair of TB Revas in black for dressy outfit. Finally I think ballet flats were and maybe will be unisex shoes in the future.
    Bonne journée
    Ivan

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55 Responses to The Negresco, Nice: The Museum-Hotel (French icons series)

    • I’ve moved to France from Italy last July, exactly in Nice. I feel very lucky, indeed, not only because I live in a very beautiful part of France (and as I understand, highly coveted ;-)), but mostly because I have the opportunity to discover this beautiful country that often I find in your posts . =)

    • Thanks for the follow! 😉

      I don’t know if my bad English can help (I hope so), but every post on my blog has also an English version (simply scroll down). I think it’s easier for you than learn Italian! ;-D

      However, if you prefer, some friends commenting in French and also I equally answer in French, but I’m still not so good as to write my post in French! I do a lot of mistakes! =P

  1. Merci pour la dédicace (et le lien)! D’accord, on “echange” une visite au Negresco contre une virée aux Hauts de Cagnes.:o)
    En fait , je suis entrée une fois au Negresco, avec une amie allemande. Elle disait que tous les touristes allaient y faire un tour,pour eux c’etait normal. Nous , à Nice, on est peut-être trop respectueux, je ne sais pas , mais peu de Niçois y vont. Pour en revenir à Mme Augier, oui, une sacrée personnalité! elle a fait aussi scandale il y a qq années par qu’elle militait activement contre la corrida, et avait accroché un panneau geant sur les façades de l’hotel!
    Encore un tres joli post, et je suis contente que tu montres à tes lecteurs autre chose que Paris de la France.
    Bonne semaine!

  2. Love that picture of the Ritz Paris! We have a trip planned for Paris in June and I am beyond excited as it will be my first trip. These are wonderful photographs filled with all kinds of great information – and a fun story.

    Happy Birthday to YOU!! Thank you for stopping by today and leaving the personal comment. I’m am following you and look forward to your next post 🙂

    xx
    leslie

    • Bonjour Leslie. Thank you for your message. I understand why you are excited about your upcoming trip. I will be going to Paris in June as well. This won’t be my first time, but I am excited all the same 😉

  3. This is such a wonderful post. It was, in fact, quite délicieux. I felt as if I were sitting down to a wonderful meal with old friends whom I have yet to meet.

    My parents married in Toulon and honeymooned in Nice, although not in such a magnificent palace as the Negresco.

    • I have not made a visit to Nice, although my husband (a devout francophile and “almost” francophone) would love to spend some time in the côte d’azur, particulalry Monaco. He did business with Princess Grace’s brother, Jack, in Philadelphia and was very fond of him — what a lovely man he was. I have always felt a special bond with Grace because I grew up in Philadelphia, which is Kelly territory.

    • Ah Monaco. I did write a review of the place last August. I would not let your husband read it before he arrives, though 😉 Grace Kelly is a favorite on this blog where she makes frequent appearances. Don’t forget to stop by chez French Girl in May. You should be happy 😉

    • Ouf! I checked out your August piece and am so glad I did…clearly not what I had dreamed of for so long…a bit of a “douche froide” so to speak. Still, the pictures were wonderful, “comme d’habitude,” particularly those of the tourists (“quelle horreur!!”). Thought you might enjoy my brush with fame à la Grace Kelly in a previous post: http://thefrenchtouch-m-t.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-life-in-hats_31.html

      I will stop by in May, if not not frequently before.

      A bientôt, M-T

  4. Gosh, watching the video I hope I look half as good as Jeanne Augier at 89 yrs. What an amazing Lady and what an incredible life she has led! I enjoyed this post so very much, I do think that the after the war years seemed to be very elegant, I guess everyone was so tired of the drudgery of war, that they wanted to celebrate in every way. Well Veronique, I know where I’m headed the minute I win that elusive lotto, I’ll let Malyss and yourself know as soon as that happens oui!

  5. This is so wonderful. I love this hotel although I never ventured to the executive floor, lol! The history is fascinating and the photos gorgeous. My last siting of the Negresco was of it decorated at Christmas in 2008 along with the whole main drag. Breathtaking. Oh, you’re making me homesick.

    Denise

  6. Ah Véronique quel post super! I really enjoyed learning about the famous Négresco hotel. I have walked by it several time and taken its outside picture but never been inside – it must be a feast to the eye. I am also pleased that France is strong in historic preservation and made it a Historic Monument of France.

    • Bonsoir Vagabonde. It’s amazing the number of people who have told me they have walked past the building without peeking inside! Truth be told, I noticed the hotel staff “screens” people at the door, especially people who are not dressed properly. The last thing they want is to have a bunch of flip-flop clad tourists shooting away at the Eiffel ceiling in the middle of the “Salon Royal.” I get that. 😉

  7. The hotel cat is something else.
    I am going through a phase of watching Babylon Hotel. I’m learning many interesting things about hotels. You have added many interesting details to my collection of hotel knowledge.

  8. You have taken me to two places calling my name: Nice (to have a visit with Malyss) and the Hemingway Bar. You, Malyss, and I can enjoy a nice déjeuner at Negresco. Let’s invite Grace, and perhaps Madame Augier could stop by our table… le sigh

    Bises,
    Genie

  9. Hello Veronica

    I love this post. We had our honeymoon in Nice – 31 years ago. We stayed at the Hyatt and visited the Negresco for lunch and drinks. ( Also the Ritz Carlton in Cannes). I loved this hotel so very much and how marvelous that it shall continue due to Madame Augier’s careful and strategic planning.

    Thanks for this journey

    Helen xx

    • Bonjour Helen. Thank you for stopping by. I see you are one of the happy fews who actually went inside the Negresco and enjoyed some of its amenities. I am due for lunch next time I go there (I might even book it inside le Chantecler…) One day, maybe, a room on the Executive Floor 😉 – A bientot!

  10. Another delightful tale that only you can weave. What a fabulous place as is most everything there. I wonder if our Jilly has had any meetings with Madame as she is an avid animal rights supporter and takes in rescue pups as well.
    V

  11. What a story Veronique! I was around last August but haven’t even dare to enter.
    It’s surely a crown jewel of Cote d’Azur, recognasied as a National treasure at last.
    Authenticity is as rear as a pure diamond.
    Thank you.
    Natalie

  12. Bonjour Veronique! I just found your blog through Becoming Madame… I am also a French teacher writing in English so i am looking forward to following your adventures!

    Also, I found great inspiration on your teaching website as I am in the process of quitting my job to become an independent teacher. Thanks!

  13. Oh my gosh! I want to go there! And you are right when you say 2 days at such a place is much more magnificent a vacation than a week at a spa. No question about that. What a gorgeous, marvelous place with so much charm and authenticity! The art! The history! The beauty! I have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for Madame Augier though i don’t know her. What a wonderful thing she has created with her Foundation. Her critics can bite it. (pardon the expression!) 🙂 And the dome! The chandelier! Sigh. Maybe someday i can meet Carmen the kitty. And the idea that this luxury place is pet friendly makes me love it all the way around. What a place. I could go on all night, so i best stop now. Thank you for such a great post. I truly savored it. Mary

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  15. Great post. The Negresco is one of the grand dames of Nice. How nice to be able to peek inside. As much as we love food, we had planned to eat at the Chantecler when we were in Nice, but were intimidated by the menu posted outside. Now I’m sorry we didn’t venture in. Loved the story of Jeanne Augier too.

    Merci beaucoup,
    Sam

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The Ritz Paris

The Ritz Paris

After an unprecented 4-year renovation, the Ritz Paris re-opens on June 6, 2016. Here is a story I wrote about the iconic hotel a few years ago. — French Girl in Seattle, June 2016   The Ritz Paris, has been named “Europe’s greatest hotel, and an enduring symbol of elegance,” by Frommer’s. It has collected…

50 Responses to The Ritz Paris

  1. Tu nous fais rêver, aujourd’hui, Véronique… Que d’endroits prestigieux et de rêve! On se mettrait bien dans la peau de ces gens célèbres pour quelques minutes magiques…
    Bon début de semaine!

  2. Tres belle evocation de cet endroit mythique! J’aime la façon dont tu clos le post, sur ton rêve..Moi, qui aime partir sur la trace des écrivains, et les cherche partout, au Ritz, je serais sans doute ravie de suivre les mêmes couloirs que Scott et Zelda, ou de m’accouder au même bar qu’Hemingway.Comme tu le dis, si les murs pouvaient parler…En tous cas, je te souhaite de réaliser ton voeu, et de passer une bonne nuit au Ritz!

  3. Merci beaucoup! I really enjoyed this post in so many ways – the history and photos in particular. The Windsor Suite is so elegant and that’s one of my favorite pictures of the late Princess Diana – stunning! A visit to the Hemmingway Bar and that beautiful terrace is definitely on my must-do list (and of course an overnight stay would be absolutely magnifique!)

    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.com/

  4. Wonderful post as always, Veronique. I love learning about the histories of all these French icons, especially the unattainable ones (sigh). Beautiful writing and wonderful choice of photos. If I ever win the lottery, the Ritz will be my first stop!

  5. The Ritz remains a dream firmly embedded in the collective imagination of the world. Your lovely post does it honor. Hopefully, the renovations only refreshen it. Thanks for the trip there!

  6. Wow I love the history of this hotel…only if these walls could talk! That’s where Madame Chanel was hiding. 😉 I always enjoy the photos you pick for your blog Veronique. I’m a sucker for history too. Very intriguing place. Have a fab. week! =)

  7. Thank you Veronique for a lovely written post and a great photo selection. Ritz is somewhere over the rainbow, at least we can have a glimpse.
    Please stop by my blog I’ve just awarded you The Liebster Blog Award.
    Natalie

  8. Ah, the unforgettable memories of my dejeuner there avec Marita! Surprising about the remodel. I hope I return to Paris again and would love to do lunch in the bar next time.

    Excellent and entertaining blog as always! Merci –

  9. I loved this post, just like everyone else I suspect. Paris, Chanel, Hemingway, Princess Diana and Windsor suits … what more can you ask for to capture the imagination. I’ve never stayed there but like you I shall one day. Right?
    pas de probleme!

  10. Dearest Véronique,

    Lovely post! You know that Christofle did equip the Ritz in Paris with all the flatware? Indeed, things back than looked so elegant! There has been a drastic change and often I fear that too much has been abandoned of the former style!
    Love to you,

    Mariette

    • Bonjour Mariette. I did not know about Christofle being at the Ritz Paris. I am not too surprised. I can assure you things are still very elegant there as our lunch at the Hemingway bar confirmed a few months ago… Quite impressive, really.

  11. Well thank goodness you found my blog today through the fabulous Heather – because I have now discovered this absolute treasure trove of fascination. What a glorious post this was, I loved every sentence and fact. Was just deciding whether I should prefer to attend high tea in 1957 or dinner in the 1930s, when you now tell me the place is closed for, what, are you serious, 27 months? That’s one helluva makeover. It will no doubt be something extraordinary (again) when it opens. Hope it remains true to the original spirit of glamour.

    • Thank you for your visit. You see, you are not the only involved in a massive remodel these days! 😉 High tea, brunch, lunch, dinner, or just a drink at the Hemingway bar. I will take anything I can get until I finally spend a night at the Ritz Paris 😉

  12. Such an elegant and eloquent post Veronique, yes that is definitely one for my ‘bucket list’ also, even more so now after reading your post!As you say, there are so many luxurious and fabulous hotels around, but the Ritz Paris is ‘la pièce de résistance’.

  13. Vero, I don’t know why this didn’t pop up for me on my dashboard! So thanks for the rendez-vous, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it! The Ritz. Sigh. When I lived in Paris, I would cross the Place once a week and it always sparkled with energy. Sometimes fans would be lined up waiting to catch a glimpse of their favorite star, sometimes it was just a lone doorman but always…that effervescence like…chamapagne!

    • Bonjour Heather. My dashboard has been acting up too. I found your two most recent posts by chance last night. Sheesh. I suppose we can’t complain too much, since good old Blogger is free to use. I knew “une coupe de champagne” at the Ritz Paris would warm you up… body and soul! A bientôt 😉

  14. Bonjour Veronique, I loved reading this post on the Ritz Paris. I was fortunate enough to have stayed here back in 2001 with my daughter on a trip of a lifetime that I earned with the company that I was working for at the time. It is truly everything you write about here in your post.

    Thanks for refreshing my memory on what helped to make Paris so special for me!

    Also, can you please email me your mailing address? I’d like to send you a little something in snail mail. Your contribution to the Love Auction for Amelia before the holidays was so kind and generous. We raised a total of $200 and it was sent out a number of weeks ago to the family.

    I look forward to hearing from you. serendipitea@bellsouth.net is my email address.

    Merci…
    ~CC Catherine

    • You lucky dog (no pun intended as I know you love dogs,) but seriously– you stayed at the Ritz Paris. Impressed. Mildly envious too. 😉 I sent you the address you requested, but you do not need to send me anything. I was happy to help. Bonne journée! Veronique

  15. What a magical and fascinating post! I had heard of the Ritz before, obviously, (who hasn’t?!), but I did not really understand the extent of the luxury it represents. These photos are awesome and I enjoyed learning all the history behind it. I can’t imagine staying there for one night, much less living there Chanel-style. Wow.

  16. Every time you make a post about French icons, it is a special event for me. All the information is compiled in such a way that I read this post while holding my breath. I especially liked this post; I even watched the clip of Fred Astaire. Thank you for your comments throughout this whole time.

  17. Oh this was a most delicious post my dear. I heard while in Paris that it was closing. Can ‘t even imagine the prices they will charge when it’s been “done up”! we’ll see won’t we.
    V

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L’Abbé Pierre: The reluctant French icon

L’Abbé Pierre: The reluctant French icon

Heureuses Fêtes / Happy Holidays to all my friends, old and new, near and far.  May you enjoy a peaceful Holiday season with your loved ones. Voilà a special story for you. I hope you like it.I will return in a few days…A bientôt! — Véronique “French Girl in Seattle” ‘Tis the season of giving…(photo…

29 Responses to L’Abbé Pierre: The reluctant French icon

  1. well just checking in and what to my wondering eyes should appear….but another excellent post…very interesting as well as INSPIRING.i respect this man’s vision and am awed at his tirelessness in execution of this mission. a life well spent! merry christmas v to you and all whom you love and my most sincere wishes for a happy healthy joyous new year!! hopeyour mil ejoys her time here.-g

  2. Dearest Véronique,

    A belated Happy 1st anniversary of your EXCELLENT blog. Always so educational, even though it is quite familiar to me already. But it is such a pleasure for finding reassurance in the New World about our past and history.
    Love to you and wishing you a Merry Christmas!

    Mariette

  3. I guess this is my all-time favorite post of Christmas 2011 of all I’ve read anywhere.

    While I love all the pretty images sailing around the Internet, the music clips, and the recipes I read but won’t make as am a eater of salads not of cakes. I am an American…but that is not synonymous with ‘shopper, materialism, gluttony, greed’ although by the looks of the landscape it would seem to be. My favorite people are the Saints like Joan of Arc, Bernadette, Terese, Francis de Sales and Francis of Assisi. Am sure l’Abbé Pierre will be on that list–as he should be.

    Thanks for a wonderful, true Christmas story.

  4. I’m ashamed to say this is the first I have ever heard of l’Abbé Pierre. He seems like not only a very influential part of French history, but also the world. It is people like him who change the world, in fact.

    His story is incredibly inspiring and perfect to read about during this holiday season. Sometimes with all the stress associated with this time of year (tight work deadlines and Christmas shopping and holiday plans) it is very easy to forget Christmas should be a time of year to celebrate love and kindness and generosity. 🙂

  5. — g — Welcome back, chère amie. I am happy you enjoyed hearing about l’Abbé Pierre. He was a very special man. Sending warm Holiday wishes to you and your family. I have enjoyed “chatting” with you in 2011 and will be looking forward to doing more of the same in 2012!
    — Katelyn — You’re welcome. I was hoping a lot of my readers would appreciate this story. I am glad you were one of them.
    — Mariette– Merci beaucoup! Happy Holidays to you too!
    — French Heart — Thank you for your heartfelt comment. Did you know that l’Abbé Pierre credited St Francis of Assisi for changing his life when he was a young man? Joyeux Noël.
    — Jennifer Fabulous — What a thoughtful comment. Thank you, my friend. Your Birkin book is on its way. Hope you get it before Christmas!
    — Olga — Exactly! Happy Holidays to you, my friend.
    — Veronique —–

  6. Un choix parfait pour la semaine de Noel!J’ai toujours admiré son coté bouillonnant, chien fou,atypique, toujours au combat quelle que soit la cause à defendre. Un vrai travail de fond , sans le coté “people” si derangeant aujourd’hui. Il n’y a plus de gens comme lui me semble-t-il.Tu lui rends un tres bel hommage!
    Comme tu ne postes qu’une fois par semaine, je crois qu’il est temps de te souhaiter, ainsi qu’à ta famille, un tres joyeux noel!

  7. Un personnage merveilleux et rempli de bonté qu’il était, tout comme soeur Thérésa ou soeur Emmanuelle…
    Une publication qui me touche beaucoup en cette période particulière de l’année…
    Que cette nuit de noël soit douce pour tous…
    Gros bisous

  8. I am so glad that I didn’t miss this! I would have had you not mentioned this beautiful post in passing chez moi (my dashboard has been having hiccups). I have tears in my eyes. Such a wonderful tribute to an incredible man. Merci, Veronique!

  9. — Malyss — Je pensais bien que tu apprécierais! 😉
    — Cherie — Je vous en prie. Thank you for stopping by.
    — Martine Alison — Merci de votre visite. Un homme remarquable, imparfait, mais si humain. Un homme, tout simplement.
    — Heather — Thank you for your visit. I knew you would like this story. did you ask Remi about l’Abbé Pierre?
    — The Fly in the Web– Very true. Many people tried to silence or imprison l’Abbé Pierre but he never let it happen. A good man.
    — Anni — A man who became an Association, a concept, a symbol. Not bad for a humble priest!

    Veronique

  10. A beautiful Hommage a Abbé Pierre! When he left us in 2007 it was heart breaking. He was one in a million!

    Joyeux Noël and warmest greetings
    from the Périgord, South West of France,
    karin

  11. I had heard of his passing in 2007 and believe that NPR broadcast a special on his life’s work. Your details are wonderful and the altruistic dedication has made an impact on so many lives.

    Again, you share such a rich story, le patrimoine de France.

    Merci, ma chère amie,
    Genie

  12. Bonsoir ma belle,

    Quelle histoire formidable, d’un homme, un veritable saint. Voilà, ce qu’il croyait, il faisait. Ce qu’il faisait a changé le monde autour de lui. Oh, que nos vies fassent pareil….et ma chère, merci pour tes mots de tendresse aujourd’hui….ma mère savait qu’un jour je voudrais écrire.

    Je te souhaite un Noël fabuleux et une année remplie de BONHEUR!!!!!!! BISES, Anita

  13. Brilliant post, and such an important message all year round but particularly relevant at this time of the year! I had heard of Abbe Pierre, but had not read his full story, thank you so much, he was certainly an man among men, hopefully many more young men and women will be inspired by his convictions. btw I wanted to say many congratulations on the one year anniversary of your blog, but I felt a little shy at the time as it was the first time to comment, but a great achievement.

  14. I first learned about L’Abbé Pierre just this past fall, in my AF French class. I had never known about him! I am so happy that you wrote about him here. It was such a joy learning about him. It makes me miss France, and it makes me want to move out there all the more, but I also want to be a part of something like this when I eventually DO get to move out there.

    Thank you for such a wonderful post!

    Amber

  15. — Karin, Genie, Splendid Market, Miss b., Richard, Anita, Helen, Peter, Virginia, Amber — Merci beaucoup, to all of you. Phew. This has been a busy week and I have not had a chance to sit down in front of the keyboard yet. I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas! My mother in law leaves tomorrow. She has had a great visit and I will blog about it next. A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  16. What an absolutely wonderful tribute to l’Abbé Pierre. I knew about him and Emmaus but you have filled in so much more detail. Fantastic and thanks.

  17. Dear Veronique, thanks for this very timely reminder of what caring and sharing is about – the spirit of Christmas as it were. L’abbé Pierre lives in the heart of the French people but the story shouldn’t stop there. Beautiful, beautiful post.

    May there be more caring and sharing in this world in 2012 – I think we’ll need it.

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