The Pleasures of French Markets Tuesday, Mar 21 2017 

If you’re like me, spending time in France’s open air markets is an endless pleasure. Pyramids of beautiful fruits and vegetables in season, fresh and aged cheeses, breads, whole fowl of every kind, rabbits and other game, charcuterie, seafood, spices, and more are a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. The sights, the sounds, the colors, the smells, and the people all come together to create a festive and unique experience for French and non-French alike. A centuries old tradition, food markets in France are a culinary experience as well as a social one–people from all classes and walks of life rub elbows in the common pursuit of good cooking and good meals.

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When I was a grad student in Paris nearly 30 years ago (!!), the colorful and earthy Rue Mouffetard market in the 5th arrondissement was one I returned to again and again as it was near my university and away from all the tourists. And it seemed to say on every visit, “I am a true Paris marché (market).” It was also where I acquired my first French market basket. Tall and sturdy with a tight weave, the light-colored fiber panier (basket) was my new best friend. With it at my side, I belonged to the French market landscape. No longer did I hike back to my Paris apartment loaded with bulging plastic bags, a sure giveaway of a non-resident. And it was delicious fun to fill my panier artistically with newly-acquired vegetables, fruits, flowers, and bread so it looked like a photo straight out of a gourmet magazine. Wonderfully enough, I still have this basket somewhere.

Still enamored of market baskets today, I have a hard time passing up the vendors that sell them. There is always some new version that tempts me. Staples are rows of traditional light colored baskets with leather handles. Fancier styles come in bright colors of various sizes and shapes. Some have cloth with drawstrings inside – perfect for use as a summer purse. 

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On the other hand, I can always sit at a market café and watch the market basket parade where baskets and their male or female owners walk by. It’s a great way to live various baskets vicariously. For some market shoppers, le panier (basket) or le caddy (basket or bag on wheels) is just a practical tool. For others , they seem to be a stylish accessory. And you’ve got to love the ladies who walk by in heels with their basket or caddy. It’s about being a stylish French woman no matter what you are doing. And I’ll never forget the caddy I saw on a cold February morning in Aix-en-Provence. Perfect for the cold weather, this caddy had a canvas body topped by a faux fur lid and was tugged along by an owner in a leather coat trimmed with fur! I must confess my basket tastes run on the simpler side.

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Market basket in hand, how then does one  enjoy the food pleasures and treasures of French markets? I often get asked about navigating the French market experience – what is the etiquette, what are the unspoken rules, etcetera. In preparation for your next trip to France, here is a quick overview of how French markets work:

1) When: Most French markets operate roughly from 8 or 8:30am to 1pm. You’ll want to get up and go early for the top offerings – and avoid the crowds. A good Provence market in summertime can be a madhouse! Depending on the town or city, markets run once a week – a favorite example is the terrific Sarlat market on Saturday mornings in the Dordogne – or two to three times per week all year long. For example, my other Paris neighborhood market is on the Boulevard Raspail on Paris’s Left Bank which happens every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday morning, with Sunday featuring the completely organic, or biologique, market. In Aix-en-Provence, the main market occurs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with Saturday being the biggest and most festive day of all. In some locales, markets are daily such as the Rue Cler market near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And more cities and towns are organizing late afternoon or evening markets as well. Interestingly, the market in our nearby shopping town of Milly-la-Fôret holds its weekly Thursday market in the afternoon in the 15th century halle (photo below). Contrary to most markets in France, it’s been an afternoon market for as long as anyone can remember.

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2) Seasons: Take advantage of the intensely seasonal offerings in France. Buy strawberries in May, melons in summer, figs in late summer and early fall, apples and mushrooms in the fall and winter, lettuces in late winter and spring, you get the idea. And be sure to buy local so that the food products are super fresh. French vendors are great about noting where their food is from.

3a) Choosing your purchases: Most vendors will choose food items and bag them for you. Always assume that this is the case and you won’t have any problems when shopping in French markets. Note that many vendors have spent a considerable amount of time on their displays so you don’t want to make a lovely mountain of fruit or vegetables come tumbling down!

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3b) Part 2 of why vendors consider it their job to choose your food items: After all, this is their métier (career) and they have the expertise to pick perfect peaches or a camembert that will be ready for your lunch tomorrow, if that is what you want. In this interaction, the better the rapport you have with the vendor, the better service (and often better products) you will get. Markets are really all about the people. So how to you get a vendor to warm up to you? Compliment him on his products and his know-how—and he’ll give you the world, or almost. I love what Julia child said in her autobiography My Life in France (2004):

“Shopping for food in Paris was a life-changing experience for me. It was through daily excursions to my local marketplace on la Rue de Bourgogne, or to the bigger one on la Rue Cler, or, best of all, into the organized chaos of Les Halles—the famous marketplace in central Paris—that I learned one of the most important lessons of my life: the value of les human relations.”

3c) NOTE: A few vendors will let you choose your own food items—keep your eyes open for a sign such as the one below so you’ll know it’s ok to serve yourself!

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“Bags – please serve yourself. Merci.”

4) Prices: Market prices on food and the like are usually not negotiable. Sometimes vendors will throw something in for free, however, particularly as they wrap up for the day or occasionally you get a price break for buying multiples of something. Purchases are payable in cash so have some euros on you.

5) Tastings: The French love to offer tastes of their products. You can almost make a meal out of tastings at some markets. If you sample a product a vendor is offering, you are not obligated to buy. Say, “Merci beaucoup” and move on. But usually everything is so good that you’ll end up wanting to buy it anyway.

6) Ready-made foods: Some vendors sell prepared foods such as this paella vendor in Aix-en-Provence. If you want some paella for lunch, be sure and buy it early as he regularly sells out!

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7) Don’t always buy from the first vendor you see: When visiting markets and vendors for the first time, I like to check out the entire market and then come back to the ones that have the best quality and/or price. If in doubt, note which vendors have the longest lines—the French always know good food and good bargains.

8) Lines:  Speaking of lines, it is necessary to faire la queue (stand in line) to be served. When it’s your turn, you can make sure the vendor knows by saying “C’est à moi” (sayt ah mwa), or “It’s my turn.” When it comes to food markets, the French are pretty good about lining up in an orderly fashion. However, it can be a free for all in other venues such as the French post office, so beware!

9) Crowds: Note that weekend and summer markets are the most crowded. This means they are more festive but it can take longer to see what’s on offer and make your purchases.

10) Key phrases for use in the markets: It’s good to have a few French phrases handy to enable smooth market transactions and relations…and also to know how much to buy since the French use the metric system.

“Bonjour Madame / Monsieur!” (Always greet French vendors with a Bonjour and Ma’am or Sir. This goes a long way towards a good shopping experience.)

“Je voudrais un kilo de pommes, s’il vous plaît” (“I would like about 2 pounds of apples, please.” Since a kilo is about 2.2 pounds, you can ask for a pound of some by saying “un demi kilo,” a half kilo, or “400-500 grammes” which is about a pound.)

“Une tranche de pâté, s.v.p.” (A slice of your paté, please.)

“Encore un peu, s.v.p.” or “un peu moins, s.v.p.” (A little more, please, or a little less, please.)

“C’est combien?” (How much is it?)

“C’est parfait, merci.” (That’s great, thanks.)

“Merci beaucoup, Madame. Au revoir.” (Thank you, Madame. Good-bye. Be sure and close your shopping transaction with a nice thank-you and good-bye–it’s required French etiquette.) 

Final tip: After you’ve finished shopping, take a rest at a nearby café with the locals. You’ll overhear the latest gossip and can enjoy people-watching as the market winds up for the day. Have a coffee or do as many French do and celebrate market day with a glass of wine or pastis—even in the morning!

French Take-Out ~ La France à emporter

To find great markets wherever you are in France, consult guidebooks for the towns or cities you’ll be visiting. Markets are always noted there. In addition, you can browse the French tourist office websites “Office du tourisme” which will post market days. For a good tour of Paris or Provence markets, check out these books below. Bonne lecture!

 

 

 

  

The French Cookbook Club Friday, Mar 10 2017 

France and food – what a match! The joys of the French table are legendary and for good reason. France is endowed with a magnificent array of culinary specialties, products and traditions which make sitting down to a French meal one of the finer experiences on earth. Happily, you don’t necessarily have to live in France to enjoy these culinary riches. Cooking and eating French style can be shared anytime, anywhere. And for the seventh year in a row, French Affaires is hosting our unique “The French Cookbook Club” as a special way of cooking, savoring and sharing French cuisine with like-minded gourmet friends on location in both in the U.S. and now also in France.

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Each year, French Affaires’ founder and France expert Elizabeth New Seitz chooses a distinctive focus for our French Cookbook Club season. Our past themes have included Americans cooking in France – think Julia Child and Ina Garten, French chefs, a spotlight on La Varenne’s Anne Willan, French cooking in America, and more.

Via specially selected cookbooks, our French Cookbook Club explores the best of French culinary traditions. Typically each quarter, we read and cook our way through a superlative French cookbook. We gather for a seated multi-course dinner to taste our recipes and enjoy an evening of great French cuisine, wines and conversation. It is a unique chance to really get to know French cookbooks already in your culinary library or add to your cookbook collection as the French Cookbook Club continues. We also have added an annual French Cookbook Club trip to France to experience French cuisine in its authentic home environment and to actually cook and dine in France together. And of course, our French Cookbook Club dinners and trips are festive occasions to make friends with others interested in French cuisine and l’art de vivre!

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This year, with Elizabeth on the ground in at her home in the French countryside, our French Cookbook Club 2017-18 theme will highlight this wonderful French connection: “From Elizabeth’s French Kitchen ~ Cooking & Dining French-Style”

Along with the dinners and annual France culinary journey, our French Cookbook Club is expanding to include a quarterly French culinary experience sent directly to you from France. Elizabeth has specially chosen topics for French spring, summer, fall and winter – for each of the four seasons, you’ll receive a gift of goodies directly from her French kitchen in the village of Courances. Your culinary goodie box will feature a beautiful compilation of French recipes, food stories about cooks and food producers in France, cooking quotes, dining table ideas, food market happenings, cookbook suggestions, online French cooking resources, France culinary travel ideas, Paris restaurant and food shop updates, French terms in the kitchen, and more  – the very latest from Elizabeth’s kitchen and from being out and about in France. In addition, the culinary box will include several gifts you can use and put in your own ‘French kitchen’! It will be like receiving a delicious ‘taste of France’ in your mailbox every season. Our French Cookbook Club 2017-18 quarterly goodie box topics will feature “French Kitchen Gardens” for spring, “A French Cook’s Tools” for summer, “Cooking with the Seasons in France” for fall, and lastly for winter, “French Holiday Dishes from Throughout the Year.”  

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Our French Affaires’ French Cookbook Club 2017-18 Schedule

Part One) French Culinary Goodie Boxes from France 

SPRING 2017 – “French Kitchen Gardens”

I n France, kitchen gardens and herb gardens are a way of life. This quarter’s culinary treat box from Elizabeth’s kitchen will showcase everything about the French potager and how the French incorporate fresh, simple, colorful and flavorful garden bounty into their French cooking. Elizabeth will include recipes using what’s fresh from her garden and from local market produce as well as from her neighbor the nearby Château de Courances huge potager. We’ll take a tour of the 7-acre Courances kitchen gardens and see what their indefatigable gardeners are up to. We’ll also see how French restaurants change their menus according to garden and food market offerings. We’ll get ideas on how to grow something – whether or not you have a green thumb. Even if you don’t have a kitchen garden, the goodies and recipe features of our spring French culinary goodie box will make you want to celebrate vegetables and herbs French-style in your kitchen and cooking.

SUMMER 2017 – “A French Cook’s Tools”

This season’s culinary goodies will focus on cooking tools and techniques essential to a French kitchen. What are the top 10 tools for a French home kitchen? For a French chef? How do some specific French utensils transform your cooking experience? Which French antique and vintage culinary cookware, tools and accessories make your kitchen as fun to look at as to cook in? What’s the story behind Dehillerin in Paris, Julia Child’s go-to shop for everything cooking tool related? We’ll also highlight French recipes and dishes that use mainstream and specialized utensils. Not to be missed will be the resources for new and antique culinary pieces both online and in France. Of course, Elizabeth will send you her all-time favorite French cooking tool so you’ll have one in your own kitchen. And cooking tool stories and easy tips from French friends and cooks will make this a special culinary goodie experience!

FALL 2017 – “Cooking with the Seasons in France”

Fall is a great time to think about the seasonal food calendar in France. French cooks look forward to each season with delight and allow the time of year to influence their culinary efforts. And seasonal doesn’t just mean fruits and vegetables in France – cheeses, meats, wines, and more all have their moment in the French culinary calendar. In our French goodie package this quarter, Elizabeth will share a host of season-oriented culinary ideas including vintage and modern points of view on French seasonal cooking, a top easy-to-make French recipe for every month of the year so you can try your hand at a French foodie calendar, and more. We’ll also cover the great French foodie festivals that take place in France all year long to showcase France’s specialty food items. In addition, Elizabeth will share her list of favorite French seasonal products and producers so you can order in the U.S. or pick up some in France whenever you’re here. With this culinary goodie connection, you’ll get a great feel for the rhythms of the French cooking year and how it makes eating and dining very meaningful in France.

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WINTER 2017 – “French Holiday Dishes from Throughout the Year”

We’ll round out the year of our French cooking goodie boxes with a focus on holidays in France. Of course, Christmas and New Year’s are when the French pull out all the stops for their holiday meals. So we’ll have a treasure trove of recipes, dishes and desserts from this celebratory time of year. But there are a host of other fêtes and celebrations with their signature dishes and traditions as well, including the yummy galette des rois for Epiphany, crêpes for Chandeleur, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Bastille Day cookouts, and more. We’ll even touch on regional variations for some of these holidays including Les Treize Desserts (Thirteen Desserts) from Provence – a wonderful Christmas custom going back centuries. As always, Elizabeth will handpick the gift goodies plus the compilation of recipes, stories, travel recommendations, and resources all inspired from her cooking and dining adventures in France!

 Part Two) French Cookbook Club Dinner(s) in Dallas – To Be Announced  

Part Three) FRENCH COOKBOOK CLUB Cooking Trip in France

~ Spring/Summer 2018 (Specific dates to be announced)

We’ll be scheduling our cookbook club dinners and France trip as our travel calendar permits – stay tuned!

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Here’s how the French Affaires’ French Cookbook Club works:

Part One) French Culinary Goodie Boxes from France – Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter 2017

-       Sign up for the 4 French Cookbook Club goodie boxes. The cost for the full year – spring, summer, fall and winter – including packaging, shipping and postage to your home is $195. To subscribe, send us an email at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com, and be sure to provide your current U.S. mailing address. Payment may be made by check (made out to ‘French Affaires’ and sent to PO Box 25536, Dallas, TX 75225) or online at http://www.frenchaffaires.com/registration_information.htm .

-       As each goodie box is hand created and assembled by Elizabeth, we have a limited number of subscriptions available. You’ll want to sign up early to reserve your spot!

Part Two) French Cookbook Club Dinners in Dallas (Dates TBA)

-       Sign up for the French Cookbook Club dinner online (will be posted when dates announced). Make sure to get our cookbook selection.

-       Read through our cookbook selection and choose a recipe that you would like to make. Each cookbook club guest is asked to choose one recipe from the following categories: appetizer, starter / salad, soup, main dish, vegetable, dessert.

-       Prepare your recipe and bring it to our French Cookbook Club evening along with your comments on the recipe-making process—was it easy? was it challenging? what aspect of French cooking did you appreciate in this recipe? would you make this recipe again?

-       Attend the French Cookbook Club evening and enjoy a brief overview of the French cookbook and its author by French Affaires host Elizabeth New Seitz. Our cookbook introduction will be followed by a four-course seated dinner of the various dishes prepared by fellow French Cookbook Club guests. Our French meal will be accompanied by specially selected French wines.

Part Three) French Cookbook Club Culinary Journey to France ~ Spring / Summer 2018 (Dates TBA)

-       Our unique France cooking adventure dates and itinerary will be finalized as soon as possible. Preference for trip spaces will be given to those who have participated in our French cookbook club dinners, trips and/or French culinary box subscriptions. The 2018 trip registration form and deposit will confirm your space in this extra-special France travel experience.

-       French Affaires’ can help you with travel arrangements before or after our culinary journey dates for a seamless trip to la belle France!

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Bordeaux is the New Paris Friday, Mar 3 2017 

The French sleeping beauty has woken up. Bordeaux has become the modern, hot, hip place to be in France. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, you can’t help but feel the vibe every time you step out into the city streets. Named for the ancient Roman site of Burdigala, Bordeaux has it all – history, architecture, art, music, nightlife, cuisine, wine, shops, parks, gardens, modern transport, good employment, and much more. And it’s located smack in the middle of the best wine country in the world. In fact, Bordeaux is so noteworthy that the city of approximately one million inhabitants was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. And this year,  the travel guide Lonely Planet named Bordeaux the number one metropolis to visit in the entire world!

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Bordeaux has been a favorite of mine for years with its impressive medieval gates, elegant 18th and 19th century architecture, terrific cuisine, and superb situation along the Garonne River. And it’s been fascinating to see its urban renovation in progress. In 1995, Mayor Alain Juppé began a program of renewal, and Bordeaux has never looked back. First off, to combat its shabby, run-down exterior, the city incented residents and property owners to clean the facades of their buildings. Most residents responded and the beautiful blond stone shines bright once more. However, you can see below where a few Bordelais (residents of Bordeaux) have held out against the clean-up project and black soot remains on their building (or even their PART of the building) – and paid fines as a result!

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Bordeaux also has been cleaning up its dull and dilapidated industrial riverfront, tearing down old warehouses and creating new outdoor spaces and view-friendly development. To my mind, the stunning Place de la Bourse overlooking the river is the city’s centerpiece with its wonderfully symmetrical architecture set off by mirror fountains. 

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Also critical to breathing new life into the city was the installation of a modern tramway system which crisscrosses the town making it very easy to get around. Bikes are another great way to travel, thanks to kilometers of good bike paths and trails. And Bordeaux also decided to make large parts of the historic city center pedestrian only. Bustling shops and restaurants attract patrons day and night, particularly on the Rue Sainte Catherine the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe.

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Getting all the buzz these days, however, is smashing new Cité du Vin on the Garonne River north of the center city. Hailed as Bordeaux’s version of the ’Guggenheim Bilbao’ or Paris’s ‘Fondation Louis Vuitton’, the museum and cultural center focuses on everything about wine including the design of the building. The daring architectural curves of the upper portion are meant to resemble wine swirling in a glass and also the eddies of the Garonne outside. The lower part takes on the form of ship which recalls the centuries old shipping and wine trade of Bordeaux. The Cité du Vin offers exhibits, events, tastings, restaurants, shops and other activities all year round – click here for more details. It is the latest must-see for anyone interested in wines and their cultural significance in France. 

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We could go on and on about all the other things to see and do in Bordeaux. A few of the most important include the Esplanade des Quinconces – the largest square in France and one of the largest in Europe, the historic St. Pierre district, the Aquitaine Museum covering prehistory to modern times in Bordeaux and southwest France, the Bordeaux Fine Arts Museum, many churches in the center city, the Grand Théâtre – Bordeaux’s gorgeous opera house second only to the Palais Garnier in Paris, the antiques district, and Bordeaux’s lovely Botanical Garden and Public Gardens. And of course the shopping. You can find top designers and brands as well as local specialty boutiques. My favorite French scarf designer has their headquarters in Bordeaux and their design atelier in a chateau about 40 minutes outside the city – great article to come on their fabulous scarves, shawls and accessories!

And then there’s the food. Bordeaux has loads of super bistrots, classic brasseries, trendy restaurants, haute gastronomie (think top chefs Gordon Ramsay, Philippe Etchebest, Joel Robuchon), tapas bars, wine bars, fusion cuisine, and more. With the Atlantic not far away, seafood is a great culinary option as well. And all this can be paired with local wines coming from thousands of different Bordeaux vineyards, wineries and chateaux. Last but not least are two Bordeaux sweet treats that you can’t miss on a visit to this jewelbox of a city. The first is the divine cannelé bordelais – a delicious little fluted cake with a light custard-like interior and dark caramel-like exterior that fits in the palm of your hand. Culinary legend has it that the recipe was invented around 300 years ago by convent nuns eager to use up the egg yolks given to them by local vintners; the yolks were left over from the wine-making process when stiff egg whites were used to filter wines. Whatever the recipe’s origin, you’ll want to taste cannelés from a good shop such as Baillardran (see below) which makes them the old-fashioned way.

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Finally, Bordeaux has a specialty for chocolate lovers too – its version of the truffle. As soon as you arrive, be sure and head to the historic chocolate shop Cadiot-Badie for a box of ‘diamants noirs’. These ‘black diamonds’ feature a chocolate ganache interior flavored with crushed grapes soaked in Bordeaux wine and are enrobed in dark chocolate and then rolled in fine sugar crystals for a little culinary sparkle.

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To sum up, Bordeaux is now a true destination and not just a side trip. If you haven’t been, be sure and add it to your France visit list ASAP. And if you haven’t been in a while, it’s definitely worth coming back to see the city in its revitalized glory. As for me, it’s on my visit-as-often-as-possible list - I discover something new every time I’m there. Fun, dynamic, modern, historic, interesting, elegant, profound, Bordeaux might just be the new Paris.

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Photo courtesy of the city’s convention bureau

How to Get There

Bordeaux is accessible by plane, train or automobile. Air France has multiple flights a day from both Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports. This summer, a new super-fast TGV line will make it possible to get from Paris to Bordeaux two hours and four minutes, down from three hours and fourteen minutes. (With such a short journey now from la Capitale, the Bordelais are bracing for all the Parisians who will be zooming down from Paris for the weekend!)

Join French Affaires in Bordeaux This Fall!

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Our ‘Fall in Southwest France Trip’ this October includes several days tasting the pleasures of Bordeaux plus experiencing the delights of the Bordeaux and Dordogne countryside. For the full trip itinerary and registration information, please email us at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com. A bientôt!

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Our French Valentine’s Week Cake Thursday, Feb 16 2017 

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, my husband and I decided to make a nice French dinner at home here in France. I drew the lucky straw and got to come up with dessert and the sparkling wine. On the other hand, my husband spoke up for the main dish – God bless him. He had been wanting to try a recipe from one of our vintage French cookbooks – Veal Scallops with Tarragon. So I said, “Vas-y”. “Do it!” “Go for it!” I thought, how can you miss with a recipe that includes beef broth, tarragon and brandy? Simple answer, you can’t. It was divine.

Then for the dessert. As my French Affaires’ French Cookbook club friends and guests know, my French culinary roots run deep. I would have been game to try a challenging dessert recipe. Goodness knows, the French offer quite an array of sweets choices from every region of the country. But on Tuesday, I was running errands in our neighboring village of Milly-la-Forêt… mini-market for a few staples, boulangerie for baguettes, pharmacy for aspirin. And then, I remembered THE CAKE.

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For months, I had been wanting to try the signature local dessert from the Milly pâtisserie (pastry shop) called Le Pavé de la Halle. Also named le pavé de la Halle, this gâteau (cake) is a dream – rich butter pound cake laced with candied orange peel and candied bigarreau cherries and infused with cherry liqueur… then the whole thing is enrobed in a luscious layer of marzipan. Wow. Why had I not tried this before? I think I just had gotten distracted by the various French tartes, desserts and pâtisseries from other pastry shops in town. So I thought, THE special cake for the special day – le jour de Saint Valentin.

So I marched straight over to the pastry shop and said, “Bonjour Madame, un pavé de la Halle, s’il vous plaît.” Of course. She scooped it up from the pastry display case and placed it carefully in the square box made for this ultra-special, original cake. She gently handed me the dessert box. It was nice and heavy, and it just felt delicious. Then she said in French, “Be sure and cut it into tranches fines (thin slices). It tastes better that way.”

On Tuesday evening, I served the lovely cake chez nous with a nice crémant de Bourgogne (champagne-like wine from Burgundy). It was out of this world. With marvelous flavors and not too sweet, the taste was satisfying in every way. And in true French fashion, not only was it a culinary masterpiece, but it had special cultural meaning as well. For in honor of the pastry shop’s location facing the 15th century market in town, they had named the cake a ‘pavé de la Halle’ – a paving stone from the market square . The shape of the cake itself is formed to look like a square cobblestone. In addition, they modeled the almond marzipan on top to resemble many little paving stones. You’ve got to love France – they’re always putting great cooking, culture and history together with outstanding results. Here’s a great old postcard photo of the Milly 15th century market with the signature paving stones all around it. Looks a bit like the top of the cake, no?

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Our French Valentine’s Day gâteau has stretched into the Valentine’s week cake – we’ve enjoyed a wonderful tranche fine every day. And we’ve appreciated the thought and meaning behind this local specialty tied to the local architecture and history. Whoever said history was dry and boring wasn’t thinking about France! So next time you’re in or around Paris, you might think about making a detour by the delightful town of Milly-la-Fôret for a taste of this fabulous local dessert – and there are other great sights to see here too. Bon appétit et bonne visite!

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Hello from France! and France Travel 2017 Thursday, Feb 9 2017 

Bonjour France-loving friends! Greetings from my 17th century stone house in the French countryside near Paris. Life is good here in our little village of Courances, and French Affaires had another wonderful year sharing the real France with you through our trips, classes and events. Though I must confess, our newsletter pause to finish our new website lasted a lot longer than planned! Renovations on our French house have proceeded at the proverbial snail’s pace (anyone who’s read ‘A Year in Provence’ by Peter Mayle will know this side of France) and took much of our attention – we have our fingers crossed that everything will be finished this March. Whew. So we are now putting the finishing touches on the new French Affaires’ website, and it will go live very soon. Stay tuned for a whole new look with great stories and things to experience here in la belle France.

Despite the house finishing delays, my husband and I have still been able to enjoy the stunning beauty of French country life and the soul filling rhythm of the French seasons. Life is full too with saying hello to our neighbors on our walks to the boulangerie, with catching up on the latest village news from Madame la boulangère or Madame la charcutière ,and with having aperitifs or dinners with our friends here and in the villages around. And our French puppy Marcel continues to entertain us with his antics. Monsieur Marcel, as I like to call him, is growing up fast body-wise so he looks like a full-grown dog. But he still acts like a puppy through and through – puppy mind, adult body. Whenever any workmen or delivery people cross paths with Marcel, they immediately say, “Mais c’est un bébé!” (but he’s just a baby!) Here he is as a little tyke in our garden a few months ago:

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In addition to rolling out our new website for 2017, we have our 2017 France travel calendar ready to go. We’re featuring some client favorites this year including the “Paris Antiques Trip 2017″, “Provence Painting and Culture Workshop 2017″ and “Fall in Southwest France 2017″. As with all our French Affaires’ trips, these rich journeys allow our friends and guests to experience France at its finest. Our special custom trips leave behind touristy clichés and focus on personal contacts with locals, artisans and experts; the best places and sights to visit often with insider access; culinary excellence with special chefs and purveyors; and more. And best of all are the wonderful friendships and warm camaraderie that unfailingly develop amongst our travelers both on our trips and at home afterwards. Hopefully this will tempt you to come travel with us. Below are brief descriptions of this year’s trips – and come and join us for a real taste of France!

 

Paris Antiques Trip – September 25 to October 2, 2017

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Join us for a marvelous week in Paris filled with French antiques, vintage finds and heirlooms. We’ll spend a day at a special twice-a-year antiques market outside Paris featuring over 800 dealers. Also included in our trip are visits to the main antiques flea markets of Paris itself. We’ll get plenty of decorative arts, antiques and cultural inspiration during our private guided visit of an extraordinary historic mansion on the Right Bank filled with beautiful furniture, paintings, sculpture and objets d’art. As part of our special French decorative arts immersion, we’ll enjoy a fabulous gourmet dining experience at a private Paris townhouse-turned-restaurant where each salon is decorated with lovely antiques and period decor. Another great part of our trip is a visit to Paris’s principal auction house where fabulous finds and bargains abound. And so you can look for great French antique finds with confidence, we’ll share our special insider tips and strategies for navigating the markets and bargaining for your treasures. Be part of our unforgettable week of French antiques and decorative arts in and around Paris!

For the detailed Paris Antiques Trip 2017 trip itinerary and registration information, please email us at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com . This special trip is limited in size for a highly personalized travel experience.  

To see a recap of one of our previous antiques trips with great photos, please click here.

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Provence Painting and Culture Workshop – September 22 to October 1, 2017

Provence is possibly the most beautiful and rewarding region in all of France. It is known for its charming villages, stunning countryside, warm sunshine, lively markets, fragrant gardens, flavorful cuisine, wonderful wines, and relaxed culture. And Provence’s stunning light and color have inspired artists for centuries.

  

Everything is arranged for your perfect French art and culture adventure – private apartment accommodations in the heart of lively Aix-en-Provence, painting lessons for beginning to experienced artists with celebrated painter Jill Steenhuis, superb cultural excursions in the steps of artists Cézanne and Van Gogh, wonderful lunches and dinners featuring Provence cuisine with wine, visits to colorful outdoor markets, airport transfers and land transport, and more. You’ll love soaking in the art and ambiance of Provence during this personal and unique painting trip in southern France.

 For the detailed Provence painting trip itinerary and registration information, please email us at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com . This special trip is limited in size for a highly personalized art and travel experience.  

 

Fall in Southwest France – October 18 to 27, 2017

Southwest France is one of the country’s best kept secrets – a remarkable region still steeped in glorious French history & tradition. From medieval villages clinging to sheer cliffs to majestic fortress castles overlooking the Dordogne River to ancient cave paintings to exquisite topiary gardens to lush vineyards to fabulous cuisine & wine, Southwest France offers amazing opportunities to travel through time & culture across the French countryside. On our itinerary: the delightful towns of Sarlat, Bergerac, Trémolat, Rocamadour, St. Emilion and Bordeaux; gourmet meals with local wines; vineyard visits and tastings – maybe we’ll even catch the grape harvest like last year!; guided visits and tours with local experts; shopping outdoor markets; special viewings of authentic prehistoric cave art; and of course, enjoying the spectacular landscapes and ambiance of Southwest France in the fall (our favorite time to be there!). Join us for this rich immersion into spectacular Southwest France!

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For the detailed Fall in Southwest France trip itinerary and registration information, please email us at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com . This special trip is limited in size for a highly personalized travel experience. 

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Paint in Provence this September! Wednesday, Feb 8 2017 

Provence is possibly the most beautiful and rewarding region in all of France. It is known for its charming villages, picturesque countryside, warm sunshine, lively markets, fragrant gardens, flavorful cuisine, wonderful wines, and relaxed culture. And Provence’s stunning light and color have inspired artists for centuries.

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In September 2017, your can have your own French art experience with French Affaires’ upcoming “Provence Painting & Culture Workshop” featuring southern France artist and resident Jill Steenhuis and trip organization by France expert Elizabeth Seitz. During this hands-on week plus of French painting and culture, you’ll discover various motifs including Provençal landscapes, village architecture, outdoor markets, still lifes and more while working on composition, brush stroke and color mixing. Cultural visits to Cézanne’s art studio, Van Gogh’s painting sites and more will deepen your understanding of the real Provence. Jill’s artistic expertise, energy and poetic spirit plus Elizabeth’s deep cultural knowledge, warm welcome and desire to share the riches of this region make it a creative journey you won’t want to miss!

“Provence Painting & Culture Workshop”

September 22 to October 1, 2017

Everything is arranged for your perfect French art and culture adventure – private accommodations in modern apartments in the heart of lively Aix-en-Provence, painting lessons for beginning to experienced artists with celebrated painter Jill Steenhuis, superb cultural excursions in the steps of artists Cézanne and Van Gogh, wonderful lunches and dinners featuring Provence cuisine with wine, visits to colorful outdoor markets, trip organizing by French Affaires, airport transfers and land transport, and more. You’ll love soaking in the art and ambiance of Provence during this personal and unique painting trip in southern France.

Provence Painting & Culture Workshop Highlights

Eight days, eight nights in your modern, centrally located Aix apartment

Outdoor & studio painting classes with celebrated artist Jill Steenhuis

Guided cultural tours of Cézanne’s & Van Gogh’s Provence

Gourmet Provence lunches & dinners with wine

Colorful Provence outdoor markets & villages

Full day excursion to the Mediterranean coast

Your wonderful paintings & sketches as souvenirs of your trip!

Your Connection to Provence 

Jill Steenhuis, Artist - Jill Steenhuis, an Atlanta native, is a French impressionist painter living in the south of France. Jill earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Sweet Briar College in 1980. Upon graduation, she studied at the celebrated Leo Marchutz School of Painting & Drawing in Aix-en-Provence, which follows in the tradition of Cézanne. Since then, she has become an acclaimed artist & has sold more than 2300 works to private collectors, museums & art enthusiasts. She regularly exhibits her work at art shows in France & the U.S. Jill has lived in Provence with her French husband for more than thirty years & has three sons.

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Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz, French AffairesA native Texan, Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz is a specialist in France & French culture. She is the founder of French Affaires, a unique company celebrating French travel, culture, language & l’art de vivre. She received her B.A., M.A. & Ph.D. in French from Vanderbilt University & studied at the Sorbonne in Paris & with Vanderbilt-in-France in Aix-en-Provence. She has lived, worked & traveled extensively in France since 1983. Her specialty is making France personal & special to everyone through her trips, classes & lectures. Elizabeth lives in the French countryside near Paris & travels regularly to the U.S. to speak about French culture to groups across the U.S.

Provence Trip Overview

Day 1: Friday, Sept 22 – Depart your home city & fly to Marseille.

Day 2:  Saturday, Sept 23 – Arrival at the Marseille Airport, Transfer to your apartment, Walking tour of Aix, Welcome bistrot dinner

Day 3: Sunday, Sept 24 – Cezanne art tour, French country lunch, Jill’s art studio, Creative activities, Artist’s palette

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 Jill’s beautiful home just outside Aix-en-Provence 

Day 4:  Monday, Sept 25 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Landscape Painting en plein air

Day 5:  Tuesday, Sept 26 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Charming Port of Cassis on the Mediterranean  

Day 6: Wednesday, Sept 27 – Van Gogh’s Art in Provence: Arles & the Arles’ Countryside St. Rémy’s charming town, Bistrot lunch

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Van Gogh’s Asylum near St. Rémy with reproductions of his works in the garden

Day 7:  Thursday, Sept 28 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Aix Flower Market, Free time in Aix, Sunset painting

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Day 8:  Friday, Sept 29 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Still Life & Garden scene painting, Hang artworks, Free time in Aix

Day 9: Saturday, Sept 30 – Aix Market Tour & visit, Time to shop, Jill’s home for Art Exhibit & Celebration Cocktail Dinner 

Day 10: Sunday, Oct 1 – Farewells & Trip Departure

About Aix-en-Provence

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Aix-en-Provence is a gorgeous, vibrant city in the heart of Provence. With a rich history & welcoming southern French culture, Aix provides a superb base for our stay in France. Aix is known for its majestic monuments & architecture, beautiful old town, centuries old fountains, fascinating museums & cultural institutions, wonderful cuisine, colorful outdoor markets, popular universities& schools, lively arts & music scene, & grand boulevard the Cours Mirabeau, noted by many to be the prettiest main street in all of Europe.

 For the detailed Provence painting trip itinerary and registration information, please email us at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com . This special trip is limited in size for a highly personalized art and travel experience.  

A personal invitation from Jill to the “Provence Painting & Culture Workshop”:

“We look forward to welcoming you to Provence for an intensive week of painting and cultural inspiration! Our French art workshop is designed for both experienced and beginning painters alike. The focus is on experiencing nature and culture in Provence through the senses in order to engage one’s inner poetry — to see, hear, smell, taste and feel, which will lead you to create new paintings expressing these experiences.

Out in the fields of wheat, sunflowers and lavender in the Provençal landscape, at the seascapes of Cassis or in the flower and vegetable markets of Aix, we will celebrate color. Our workshop will begin with learning to mix a harmonious palette at l’Abeille, my Provence studio and home, which will be our headquarters for the week. After warming up with special drawing exercises, each participant will do a landscape or garden painting in order to get used to the colors and light of Provence. The rest of the week we will draw and paint in the landscape and see places that inspired geniuses like Cézanne and Van Gogh, always seeking to release our creative spirit. Ideas come to our fingertips. Brush strokes go on the canvas. Immediacy is a key element to being able to let go of the intellect and let the paint fly onto the canvas without thinking and calculating, allowing artistic grace to happen. The exhilarating joy of being there to paint, to create from what is visually there in front of you, the sublime fragile beauty and translucent light of Provence will make it an unforgettable experience. A bientôt!”

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French Affaires Update ~ French Kings and Queens Wednesday, Jun 1 2016 

Bonjour France friends! It’s been a very full spring at French Affaires which has meant a slight pause in sending out our French Affaires Weekly newsletters. We thank you for your patience and look forward to sharing a great line-up of new French cultural and travel features in the weeks to come. In today’s post, we thought we’d highlight the latest news including photos from recent group trips to France, our newly designed website which will debut very soon and also the big news that my husband and I are now living in France. Yes, we’ve got a real French house complete with a real French wine cellar and a real French puppy. More on all that below!

French Affaires kicked off the 2016 France travel season with our annual “Paris Antiques Trip” in March. Our great group of intrepid antiques lovers scored lots of fabulous finds all week. And our special decorative arts culture excursion featured a private guided visit to the exquisite Musée Nissim de Camondo, a gorgeous 19th century Parisian mansion filled with extraordinary furniture, art, sculpture, porcelain and more.

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Next up was our custom ”Springtime in Paris” trip for the darling ladies of the Dallas Garden Club. Our special week in and around Paris was filled with luscious gardens, flowers and châteaux. In particular, the ladies received a royal welcome at the gardens and château of Chantilly from Frederic Nancel, Director of Special Events, as well as a unique opportunity to tour with Chantilly’s head gardener.  The trip even included a private perfume workshop where we learned all about various floral elements and created our personal scent to take home. Talk about the ultimate Paris springtime treat!

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Then we kicked off our two-week “Provence Language and Culture Immersion” in historic and lively Aix-en-Provence. Our fun and enthusiastic group savored French lessons, art and culture excursions, culinary delights and daily living in France. Below is a charming view of Arles from our ‘In the Steps of Van Gogh’ visit one afternoon. The inhabitants of this Arles house should win an award for always having the best flower boxes in town! On another day, our group enjoyed art and afternoon tea at the stunning new Aix museum known as the Hôtel Caumont. A former aristocratic mansion then music conservatory, the Hôtel Caumont now hosts wonderful temporary exhibitions – the current show is on Turner – and features restored period rooms and beautiful gardens.

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This spring, we’ve also been hard at work on French Affaires’ new website which will be launching very soon. For those of you who are Instagram fans, we’ve been posting great travel and culture tidbits on the photo sharing app. Here’s a recent posting from May Day in France where everyone gives muguet – lilies of the valley – to their loved ones. For photos that will transport you to France at a glance, come follow us on Instagram at ‘french_affaires’ .

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Last but not least, the move to France! As many of you know, I’ve been spending a good amount of time here each year hosting Americans on special France travels, all the while teaching, speaking and sharing the best of France back in the U.S. This spring, my husband and I moved to a small village near Fontainebleau, about an hour south of Paris. It is a beautiful corner of the world out in the French countryside – see our 17th century house below in spring – but with Paris right on our doorstep.  I will continue to create one-of-a-kind stays in France and also will be in the States regularly to speak and teach (come join me for a special seminar on “French Kings & Queens” on June 15th at SMU in Dallas). The best of both worlds!

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With the launch of the new French Affaires website, I’ll have many stories and cultural happenings to share from life over here in la belle France. There will be some great features on our small village of Courances – population about 350! – and on our new neighbor, the stunning Château de Courances. In the meantime, we have just found out that our village is going to be on French TV on June 7th. It’s one of 13 French towns up for the “Le Village Préféré des Français 2016″ award on channel ‘France 2.’ Hosted by Stéphane Bern, the show began five years ago and each year, the charming candidates are presented via spectacular footage. Before the show airs, the French vote on their favorite and the winner is announced at the end of the show. Click here to see a short preview of the Courances segment (you might be able to see the entire show later on the French channel TV5 Monde if you subscribe to it in the U.S.). And YOU can vote too – please click here to vote for our village of Courances by June 3rd. Merci beaucoup!

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UPCOMING FRENCH EVENT IN DALLAS, TEXAS:

If you need a French fix soon, I’ll be in Dallas for various events and talks including the rich seminar “French Kings & Queens: A History of the Monarchy of France” that I am teaching on Wednesday, June 15th, for the SMU Continuing Studies program. See the lecture details below:

“French Kings & Queens”: Come join us for this exciting overview of French royalty throughout the centuries! Discover the essence of French history with this special course focused on the monarchy of France. Through illustrated lecture, Dr. Elizabeth Seitz will trace the French royal dynasties through the centuries such as the Valois and the Bourbons. We’ll learn about the lives of known and lesser known French kings and queens as well as the castles and monuments they built. Remarkable stories and intrigues of the French court will add color to the rich content of this class. You’ll also receive travel tips on how to experience French royal history in France as well as a reading and film list for further exploration. Advance registration is required through SMU. Please click here for more details.

 

French Easter ~ Your French Easter Basket Saturday, Mar 26 2016 

This past week in France has been la Semaine Sainte (Holy Week) in the Christian tradition. The culmination of the period of Lent or le Carême, it started off last weekend with Palm Sunday, le dimanche des Rameaux, and has continued on to le Vendredi Saint. In France on Good Friday, faithful Catholics often attend Good Friday prayer services and participate in the “Way of the Cross” liturgy. Of course, Notre Dame in Paris is a majestic place to be part of French Holy Week and Easter.

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But further afield, one of my favorite places in all of France to experience le Chemin de la Croix is in the breathtaking cliffside town of Rocamadour in Southwest France. A major pilgrimage stop on a key pilgrim route leading down to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Rocamadour is full of history and worth a visit at Easter or any other time of the year. And its stunning Way of the Cross path zigzags up the cliff to arrive at the 14th and final station hewn out of the rock, highlighting the spiritual culmination of Easter.

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On a more secular note, Easter in France also makes a splash at pastry and candy shops across the country. Colorful displays of chocolate eggs, chickens, chicks, rabbits, fish and more tempt shoppers of all ages. You’ll also see lots of chocolate bells both in chocolat noir and chocolat au lait. The presence of candy bells in France harkens back to the legend that on Maundy Thursday, all the cloches (bells) in French churches would fly away to Rome for the culmination of Holy Week. Then on Easter Sunday, they would fly back to France dropping chocolats and bonbons for the children on the way back. But whether you prefer the story of the Anglo-Saxon Easter bunny or the French cloches, they all make darling additions to Easter baskets. You can see the lovely array of French Easter treats below for just a sampling of items to add to your French Easter basket!

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French kids also love to go on Easter egg hunts to search for eggs and candy. In Paris, there are numerous options for the chasse aux oeufs across the city on Easter Sunday. This year, over 20,000 eggs will be hidden at the Champ de Mars park by the Eiffel Tower, an event sponsored by the French children’s charity Le Secours Populaire. In addition to the egg hunt, there will be lots of other activities including face painting, games, sports and dancing. The event lasts from 10am to 5pm, and the 5 euros per child supports a great cause.

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There are a couple of other important things to note about this Easter weekend this year. The French change their clocks for daylight savings time tonight – so everyone in France will be moving their clocks forward one hour. And Easter Monday is an official holiday so many businesses and official entities are closed on that day.

Wishing you a wonderful Easter – Joyeuses Pâques!

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French for Travelers 2016 Wednesday, Feb 3 2016 

Bonjour! This little French word is quite possibly one of the most important a traveler can use while in France. Why so? Well, it means ‘hello’ so saying it at appropriate times is a practical necessity. But the real importance of ‘bonjour’ has much more to do with politesse (politeness) and courtoisie (courtesy), two critical aspects of French culture.

Along with having a few French phrases handy, knowing the French habits of politeness and respect go a long way to avoiding any ‘faux pas’ when traveling in France. Just for fun, check your French culture knowledge with this short travel quiz below:

When saying goodbye to someone in France, you can say:

a)      Bonsoir

b)      Au revoir

c)      A bientôt

d)     All of the above

When served bread at a French restaurant, you should:

a)      Put it on the edge of your plate

b)      Eat it directly from the bread basket

c)      Place it on the table next to your plate

d)     None of the above

When invited for an aperitif at a French person’s home, you should:

a)      Stay for half an hour

b)      Arrive late and stay for 20 minutes

c)      Stay for an hour or so

d)     Stay until the family starts to sit down for dinner

When interacting with a French waiter at a restaurant or café, you can:

a) Call him over with a loud “Garçon!”

b) Address him as “Monsieur”

c) Address him by his first name as noted on his name tag

d) All of the above

If you’re intrigued by the French politeness associated with ‘bonjour’ as well as the answers to the little quiz above, I’ll be talking about it all in depth along with French etiquette, attitudes and much more in my annual “French for Travelers” seminar coming up at SMU in mid-February. For the ninth year in a row, we’ll explore how making an effort with the language in France goes a LONG way to a great travel experience there, even though many French speak a bit of English these days.

In this special mini-intensive course, I will also teach essential phrases for a variety of situations (including restaurants – how to order, what to order, what NOT to order – tête de veau, anyone??), French customs and vocabulary for a variety of contexts (table manners, shopping, hotels, museums, how to ask for gift wrapping!), indispensable pronunciation tips, and a long list of French travel essentials. Real life stories and anecdotes about travel in France and interacting with the French make this a lively and fun class. You will also walk away with specific tips and strategies about traveling well in France (by train, Metro, air) and also the confidence to really enjoy your time there.

If you already have some French, this course complements previous study of the language, though no prior knowledge of French is required. The class includes six hours of rich instruction plus comprehensive handouts so you will walk away with a great toolkit and guide to take on your next trip to France. Please note that this class is conducted primarily in English with lots of good practice in French. You can bring your France travel questions too! Advance registration is required through SMU’s Continuing Studies Program(Please note that this is the only time in 2016 this course will be offered – just in time for the spring, summer and fall travel season!)

“French for Travelers 2016″

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – February 16, 17, 18, 2016

SMU Continuing Studies – Main campus location

For registration information and to contact SMU, please click here

What does one say to call over this busy French waiter??

For those who live outside of Texas and might like to take this course via webinar (online seminar) format, we are exploring this option. Please let us know of your interest in the comment section below. Merci beaucoup!

Paint in Provence This September! Monday, Feb 1 2016 

Provence is possibly the most beautiful and rewarding region in all of France. It is known for its charming villages, picturesque countryside, warm sunshine, lively markets, fragrant gardens, flavorful cuisine, wonderful wines, and relaxed culture. And Provence’s stunning light and color have inspired artists for centuries.

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In September 2016, your can have your own French art experience with French Affaires’ upcoming “Provence Painting & Culture Workshop” featuring southern France artist and resident Jill Steenhuis and hosting by France expert Elizabeth Seitz. During this hands-on week plus of French painting and culture, you’ll discover various motifs including Provençal landscapes, village architecture, outdoor markets, still lifes and more while working on composition, brush stroke and color mixing. Cultural visits to Cézanne’s art studio, Van Gogh’s painting sites and more will deepen your understanding of the real Provence. Jill’s artistic expertise, energy and poetic spirit plus Elizabeth’s deep cultural knowledge, warm welcome and desire to share the riches of this region make it a creative journey you won’t want to miss!

“Provence Painting & Culture Workshop”

September 15 to 24, 2016

Everything is arranged for your perfect art adventure – private accommodations in modern apartments in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, painting lessons for beginning to experienced artists with celebrated painter Jill Steenhuis, superb cultural excursions in the steps of artists Cézanne and Van Gogh, wonderful lunches and dinners featuring Provence cuisine with wine, visits to colorful outdoor markets, trip organizing and hosting by Elizabeth Seitz, airport transfers and land transport, and more. You’ll love soaking in the art and ambiance of Provence during this personal and unique painting trip in southern France.

Provence Painting & Culture Workshop Highlights

Nine days, eight nights in your modern, centrally located Aix apartment

Outdoor & studio painting classes with celebrated artist Jill Steenhuis

Cultural activities & trip hosting by France expert Dr. Elizabeth Seitz

Guided cultural tours of Cézanne’s & Van Gogh’s Provence

Gourmet Provence lunches & dinners with wine

Colorful Provence outdoor markets & villages

Full day excursion to the Mediterranean coast

Your wonderful paintings & sketches as souvenirs of your trip!

Your Provence Trip Hosts

 Jill Steenhuis, Artist - Jill Steenhuis, an Atlanta native, is a French impressionist painter living in the south of France. Jill earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Sweet Briar College in 1980. Upon graduation, she studied at the celebrated Leo Marchutz School of Painting & Drawing in Aix-en-Provence, which follows in the tradition of Cézanne. Since then, she has become an acclaimed artist & has sold more than 2300 works to private collectors, museums & art enthusiasts. She regularly exhibits her work at art shows in France & the U.S. Jill has lived in Provence with her French husband for more than thirty years & has three sons.

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Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz, French AffairesA native Texan, Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz is a specialist in France & French culture. She is the founder of French Affaires, a unique company celebrating French travel, culture, language & l’art de vivre. She received her B.A., M.A. & Ph.D. in French from Vanderbilt University & studied at the Sorbonne in Paris & with Vanderbilt-in-France in Aix-en-Provence. She has lived, worked & traveled extensively in France since 1983. Her specialty is making France personal & special to everyone through her trips, classes & lectures. Elizabeth lives in the French countryside near Paris & travels regularly to the U.S. to speak about French culture to groups across the U.S.

Provence Trip Overview

Day 1: Thursday, Sept 15 – Depart your home city & fly to Marseille.

Day 2:  Friday, Sept 16 – Arrival at the Marseille Airport, Transfer to your Apartment, Walking tour of Aix, Welcome Bistrot Dinner with Jill & Elizabeth

Day 3: Saturday, Sept 17 – Aix Outdoor Market Tour, Cezanne’s Art Studio, Jill’s Art Studio, Cocktails & Dinner at Jill’s Provence Home

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 Jill’s beautiful home just outside Aix-en-Provence 

Day 4:  Sunday, Sept 18 – Provence Painting Workshop Begins: Color Palettes, Sketching, Painting Demonstration by Jill  

Day 5:  Monday, Sept 19 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Landscape Painting en plein air

Day 6: Tuesday, Sept 20 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Charming Port of Cassis on the Mediterranean  

Day 7:  Wednesday, Sept 21 – Van Gogh’s Art in Provence: Arles, Abbaye de Montmajour & St. Paul de Mausole, St. Rémy’s Charming Town & Market, Bistrot lunch

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Van Gogh’s Asylum near St. Rémy with reproductions of his works in the garden

Day 8:  Thursday, Sept 22 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Aix Flower & Vegetable Market

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Day 9: Friday, Sept 23 – Provence Painting Workshop Continues: Still Life & Garden Scene Painting, Hang Artworks, Evening Art Exhibit, Cocktail Party & Farewell Dinner 

Day 10: Saturday, Sept 24 – Farewells & Trip Departure

About Aix-en-Provence

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Aix-en-Provence is a gorgeous, vibrant city in the heart of Provence. With a rich history & welcoming southern French culture, Aix provides a superb base for our stay in France. Aix is known for its majestic monuments & architecture, beautiful old town, centuries old fountains, fascinating museums & cultural institutions, wonderful cuisine, colorful outdoor markets, popular universities& schools, lively arts & music scene, & grand boulevard the Cours Mirabeau, noted by many to be the prettiest main street in all of Europe.

 For the detailed Provence Painting Trip itinerary and registration information, please email us at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com . This special trip is limited to 8 to 10 participants for a highly personalized art and travel experience.  

A personal invitation from Jill to the “Provence Painting & Culture Workshop”:

Elizabeth and I look forward to welcoming you to Provence for an intensive week of painting and cultural inspiration! Our French art workshop is designed for both experienced and beginning painters alike. The focus is on experiencing nature and culture in Provence through the senses in order to engage one’s inner poetry — to see, hear, smell, taste and feel, which will lead you to create new paintings expressing these experiences.

Out in the fields of wheat, sunflowers and lavender in the Provençal landscape, at the seascapes of Cassis or in the flower and vegetable markets of Aix, we will celebrate color. Our workshop will begin with learning to mix a harmonious palette at l’Abeille, my Provence studio and home, which will be our headquarters for the week. After warming up with special drawing exercises, each participant will do a landscape or garden painting in order to get used to the colors and light of Provence. The rest of the week we will draw and paint in the landscape and see places that inspired geniuses like Cézanne and Van Gogh, always seeking to release our creative spirit. Ideas come to our fingertips. Brush strokes go on the canvas. Immediacy is a key element to being able to let go of the intellect and let the paint fly onto the canvas without thinking and calculating, allowing artistic grace to happen. The exhilarating joy of being there to paint, to create from what is visually there in front of you, the sublime fragile beauty and translucent light of Provence will make it an unforgettable experience. A bientôt! Jill

 MixingColors 

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