Friday, March 25, 2011

French Fridays ~ Catherine Deneuve

I have been an avid reader this week of the reports and analysis of the life, loves and work of Elizabeth Taylor.  There are stars and then of course there are mega-stars.  Just a few years behind Elizabeth we have iconic women like Sophia Loren and Bridget Bardot.  Women whose work and presence rivets us, women with pure magnetism.
About ten years younger than Sophia and BB, we have yet another icon, that both men and women find fascinating, 67 year old Catherine Deneuve~
cdn sweep
Today is the U.S. release of her latest film, Potiche, which has opened to very good reviews.  While “foreign films” seem to get little coverage when they are released in the U.S., I was happy to see Catherine’s photo and an interview with her featured prominently in our local paper.  What would you expect, I suppose, for a French icon?  I’m still trying to find a cinema where Potiche is playing, but I hope to see it this weekend.  I’m a little concerned that co-star Gerard Depardieu is going a little Brando on us, but the chemistry between these two stars is always, well, so French and so wonderful.
While Elizabeth Taylor lived and loved in the public eye, Catherine is extremely private about her personal life.  This has contributed in part to her duality of being the “Ice Queen” while also being one of the most beautiful and watched women in the world.  Her cool image was reinforced by her character in 1967’s Belle du Jour, a film which Alfred Hitchcock greatly admired.  
Great women always have great company, don’t they?  In her younger years Deneuve ran in circles that included the great director Francois Truffaut, her lover Marcello Mastroianni (father of her daughter Chiara), actor and larger-than-life personality Gerard Depardieu (her costar in The Last Metro) and iconic French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg.  Catherine remained close friends with Yves Saint Laurent until his death.  Both intensely private people, with their own private suffering.  Catherine was utterly devastated by the loss of her sister Francoise in a car crash in 1967.
While we see little of Deneuve here in the States, the French hang on her every word and action.  She is revered like no other actress; it’s hard for me to name a French celebrity that is bigger than Deneuve.  Can you think of one?
She became well-known in the U.S. with her Chanel perfume campaign of the 1970’s.  Even speaking English, she remains somewhat aloof, somewhat detached, but at the same time fascinating, beautiful, elusive, refined…so French.  Her movements and speech are natural, gracious, yet still reserved.  Watching this old (1996) video clip of her, here, at the time her film My Favorite Season was released, you can see why she is so captivating.  She communicates so much with just a few flicks of her eyelids and other facial movements.
Are you a Deneuve fan or have you seen any of her films?
In April we will be running a small series on French Cinema for French Fridays, including a few giveaways of classic French film noir.  Check back next week for a mega post that will be very very fun~

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fabulous French Fridays ~ The Paris Flea Market

Welcome to Fabulous French Fridays a wee bit early.

Andrea is currently touring Italy this week. Dreamy sighs.  She has signed up for three separate cooking classes. She’s also hoping to hit a few Italian antique stores and markets. But I can’t imagine that they will come close to anything like the French flea markets or as they’re known in France ~ marché aux puces (pronounced “mar-shay ōh poose”). The literal meaning of marché aux puces is “with fleas” or “Fleas’ Market”. The name is believed to have originated when rag-pickers, (known as crocheteurs aka pickers or the more romantic 'pêcheurs de lune' aka fishermen of the moon ~ meaning those who dumpster dive at night) began trying to peddle their meager treasures on the fringes of Paris several decades before the area became officially designated as a public marketplace in 1885.

The flea market on the north side of Paris is known as Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen (“sant – ooh – ĕhn”). It is one of the largest in France, with over 3000 dealer booths and it is filled with the crème de la crème of antiques. Prices are somewhat higher than the lesser known markets throughout France but many of the dealers also accept credit cards in addition to euros. If you take the metro (subway) you will want to get off at Porte De Cligancourt (“port – duh – glee – yan – coor”) on line 4. The main street for antiques is Rue des Rosiers.
The market is open:
Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm
Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm
Monday from 11 am to 5 pm (but with limited dealers and often by appointment)
Many of the stalls close around lunch time ~ but as you should start right when the market opens, you will be ready to eat yourself.
A good website can be found HERE.
You can also get a Keys To The Fleas ap for your phone from apple.
The flea markets are generally a notch above the French garage sale which is known as a brocante. We will cover brocantes in a future post.
Laura Tips for Successful Flea Marketing Adventures
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
Bring a basket. The French do not do plastic bags. The very best baskets are of course found at French Basketeer.
Bring water. Not only to drink, but to wash off your hands. Things worth digging for are not always in a clean pile.
A handkerchief can come in quite handy too.
A pad of paper to write down information such as a booth number.
A camera to record items of interest.
A measuring tape.
Snacks if needed.
If you are shopping for silver, bring a magnet. It will not stick to true silver.
If you go with friends or family choose a designated time and meeting point if you separate.
It is recommended to attend the markets in morning as they often become crowded in the afternoon.
Hide your wallets under your shirt or sweaters around your neck if using cash. But most dealers accept credit cards. However do not bring your passports.
The French love to negotiate. But you need to be respectful and of course speak the language. It is ok to say you are a dealer if you are.
Happy Shopping!
Andrea and Laura

Thursday, March 3, 2011

French Fridays… Dressing for France

I posted pics this week of my parents in Paris in 1959.  A little freaky for me, yes, but dang don’t they look cool? 


I am prepping for Italie and striving for a little of this look~


Notice, no tennis shoes.  Suit and tie not required now-a-days. Sensible shoes, etc yes.  How do you dress when traveling in France?
Are you a classic? Or Contemporary?