A Bit of France in Texas Wednesday, Mar 14 2018 

Bonjour! As you know, our mission at French Affaires is two-fold: to bring wonderful aspects of France to the U.S. and also to help Americans experience the best of France while traveling there. A propos, we’re putting on sort of a ‘France Fest’ this March in Texas. Below is a summary of the French events and classes going on…If you are thinking about traveling to France and could use some insider tips or just want a fun France moment without having to pack a suitcase, come and join us!

“French for Travelers” - March 19 to 21, 2018, at SMU in Dallas


If you’re headed to France for the first time or even if you’ve been before, our “French for Travelers” course will help ensure you have a marvelous time – and also help avoid any unwelcome surprises! Instructor Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz has been teaching this class at SMU for over 10 years and it’s always a sell-out. In this special mini-intensive lecture series, Dr. Seitz will discuss French and American habits and attitudes, introduce essential language for a variety of situations (including restaurants – how to order, what to order, what NOT to order), highlight French customs and vocabulary for a variety of contexts (table manners, shopping, hotels, museums, how to ask for gift wrapping!), teach indispensable pronunciation tips, and provide a great 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 like a pro in France (by train, Metro, air) as well as the confidence to really enjoy your time there.   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 the 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. (NB: This is the only time this course will be offered in 2018 – just in time for the spring, summer and fall travel season!)

“A Day at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte” Special Event Featuring Owner Alexandre de Vogue Co-Hosted with The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture – Thursday, March 22, 2018, from 6 to 8pm in Dallas*

French Affaires is pleased to partner with The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture to co-host this insider’s tour of the magnificent privately-owned 17th century French castle and gardens that inspired the great chateaux of Europe, including the Palace of Versailles. Vaux-le-Vicomte’s rich history began in 1641 when France’s Finance Minister Nicolas Fouquet bought the estate and enlisted architect Louis le Vau, decorator Charles le Brun, and landscape designer Andre Le Notre to transform it into a perfect ensemble of artistic beauty and taste. King Louis XIV was so impressed that he took these designers and transformed the Chateau of Versailles into the dazzling palace it is today. Through the coordination of French Affaires Director Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz, Alexandre de Vogue, son of the owners of Vaux-le-Vicomte, will present a stunning virtual tour of “France’s best kept secret” and speak about A Day at Vaux-le-Vicomte, the beautiful volume co-authored by Alexandre and his brothers. Photo credit: Private Collection Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

* This event is featured as part of the “French Cultures Festival” calendar for March 2018 sponsored by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Houston.

“Paris Museum Tour: A Visual Guided Visit of the French Capital’s Best Art Venues” – Monday, March 26, 2018, from 7 to 9pm at SMU in Dallas*

Paris is the museum-lover’s paradise par excellence. With France expert Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz as your guide, take a visual tour of the most spectacular art institutions in the French capital. Explore the history, architectural features, and art collections of Paris’ most renowned museums including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin among others. Discover lesser-known venues and their artistic treasures, such as the Musée Jacquemart-André, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and many more. You’ll enjoy your “art evening in Paris” and also come away with insider knowledge and logistics tips to make the most of your next trip there. Advance registration required through SMU’s Continuing Studies Program.

* This event is featured as part of the “French Cultures Festival” calendar for March 2018 sponsored by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Houston.

NB: For more information on the events and to register, please click on each event title. For questions, please email us at culture.france (at) frenchaffaires.com. Merci et à bientôt!

Snow in the French Countryside Thursday, Mar 1 2018 

Bonjour from snowy France! You may have heard it’s been quite a wintry weather experience here the past few weeks. And it came on rather suddenly after a very mild December and January. In fact, I thought spring was just around the corner since our flowering cherry trees were starting to bloom and the daffodils were more than halfway up. Then it snowed…and snowed. Here in our village of Courances south of Paris, we were almost ’snowed in’ for about a week in early February. Then this morning, it started snowing again in the wee hours and we woke up to another white wonderland. But this may be the last of the white stuff as temperatures are set to warm up starting tomorrow. Just in time too as our ‘Paris Insider Shopping Trip’ group arrives Monday for the start of our whirlwind insider cultural experience of this incredible city!

In any case, the snow has been absolutely beautiful and such a different way of ’seeing the French countryside’ so I thought I’d share a virtual ‘walking tour’ of our French village and environs covered in the blankets of white. You can just imagine the peaceful silence accompanying the images. And our sweet French dog Marcel adores la neige - he can hardly wait to go outside and start eating the white powder. You’ll see him playing in his winter amusement park, aka my French garden… So grab your coat and ear muffs, and let’s take a snowy walk in the French countryside!


The 12th century church of St. Etienne in Courances


Snowy walk in the village


Day of sun and snow in my French garden







The Chateau and Park of Courances


Geese in the snow at sunset


 Nice spot for a hot mulled wine station, don’t you think?



The Chateau de Courances’ ’sister chateau’ in the neighboring village of Fleury-en-Biere


Our Monsieur Marcel surveying his winter domain, aka my French garden

And if you want to see French dog eating snow out of my daffodils, you can take a peek at the video on the French Affaires Instagram feed at french_affaires. At least he didn’t eat the plants!

French Affaires Travel Program Update

For yet another way of seeing France from a completely different perspective, we’re offering the special “France Photography Workshop: Seeing Paris and the Loire Valley Through a Photographer’s Eyes” from October 12 to 20 of this year. This exclusive France travel experience will feature celebrated French photographer Eric Sander who will lead our creative journey to enhance your photography skills and photo portfolio with an unforgettable insider’s view of France!



For more than 30 years, Eric Sander’s photographs have been regularly published in some of the best magazines worldwide and in more than 50 books. Today, Eric mainly works on assignment for private estate owners (extraordinary homes, vineyards and great gardens), magazines (Figaro magazine, Smithsonian..), publishers (Flammarion, Acte Sud, Xavier Barral Editions, Ulmer, Gourcuff Gradenigo, Rustica), landscape designers (Louis Benech), interior designers (Jacques Garcia), and major events (Garden and Contemporary Art Festival in Chaumont-Sur-Loire). www.ericsander.com

IMG_6664 E Sander

Our trip group size is limited for a fully hands-on and rich creative, cultural and travel experience. For the trip itinerary and registration details, please email us at e.new (at) frenchaffaires.com. Photo credits: Eric Sander private collection.


Traveling in France Sunday, Jan 21 2018 

Bonjour! It’s a new year and all sorts of new France experiences are in the works here at French Affaires. Our special 2018 journeys to Paris, Normandy, the French countryside and more are set to be personal, unique windows into the rich culture, history, cuisine and people of France. We also have a host of French-related activities slated for this spring in the U.S. – really a sort of ‘France Fest in Texas’ for a couple of weeks in March. Click here for more details. From the always popular “French for Travelers” class at SMU in Dallas to the “Paris Museum Tour” lecture also at SMU to “The French Cookbook Club” culinary evenings to the special event “A Day at the Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte” featuring French owner Alexandre de Vogue in partnership with The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and additionally with cultural groups in Houston, all promise to bring a bit of France to the U.S. – no packing a suitcase or jetlag involved!


The stunning French castle and gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte outside Paris (Photo credit: Private collection Vaux-le-Vicomte)

Our exciting trips and events calendar will also be accompanied by a series of upcoming articles and newsletters on traveling in France such as my recommended top 25 sights to see, what’s happening in Paris in 2018, French regional gems not to miss, why Provence is always a top destination, how to get around France by train and by car, tips for navigating Paris’s CDG airport, great hotels and restaurants, French artisans and personalities doing interesting things, French food trends, life in the French countryside and more… all with luscious photos to transport you directly to this beautiful country.

Today’s post highlights our France travel opportunities in 2018 – we have many wonderful guests signed up so far, with a few spaces still open for those who would like to join us. So take a peek below at our French trip destinations and themes, and consider joining us for some great French culture whether on site in France or at our French events in the U.S.!

“Paris Insider Shopping Tour” – Pop-up trip – March 4 to 11, 2018

Be French and Parisian for a week this spring! Join us for a marvelous insider girls’ week in Paris all around exploring and shopping the world’s capital of style, trends and design. You’ll get to know a whole other side of Paris through its marvelously creative boutiques, shops and beacons of style – for fashion, accessories, home décor, gourmet and culinary treasures, and much more. We’ll be treated to private guided tours of Paris’s Right Bank and Left Bank shopping and style venues with insider experts as well as take in the history of how shopping has evolved in Paris since the 19th century. We’ll also experience a custom perfume workshop where you’ll create your own unique fragrance to take home. No shopping tour would be complete without a day at the fabulous Chatou Antiques Fair just outside Paris, a special décor and brocante market that happens only twice a year. Our group size is limited for a very special and intimate travel experience. Be part of our unforgettable week of getting to know Paris and French style like a native – and remember it at home with your wonderful French shopping souvenirs from our trip!


“Culinary Journey to the French Countryside” – May 9 to 14, 2018

We have been hosting our popular “French Cookbook Club in the States for more than 7 years now, and recently we’ve added amazing culinary journeys to France designed especially for our French Cookbook Club guests. Come join Elizabeth, her husband Chris and their French dog Marcel this May in the charming village of Courances near Paris for an unforgettable culinary adventure focused on wonderful French food, wines, culture, history & gathering around the French table. We’ll have incredible foodie experiences including a private culinary day at The Cook’s Atelier in Beaune, Burgundy (we’ll go for the day!), shopping the food market at the centuries old marketplace in the nearby town, tasting local food specialties & chatting with local food producers, cooking a French dinner together, a bit of brocanting for antique cooking tools & accessories, a French cookbook dinner featuring the new “The Cook’s Atelier” cookbook, cultural excursions & more. With warm weather & everything in bloom, it will be a heavenly time to be in France both visually & culinarily! Our base will be Elizabeth’s 17th century stone house in Courances with lovely accommodations in vacation homes on nearby chateau estates. You won’t want to miss this extra-special and personal French Cookbook Club experience in France!


“The Wonders of Normandy” – September 8 to 16 and September 22 to 30 (two identical trips)

Although it lies at Paris’ doorstep, Normandy is a world unto itself with rich historical, cultural, architectural, religious and gastronomic traditions. Our special journey led by Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz will treat you to an insider experience of the best attractions in this marvelous region of France. This one-of-a-kind trip includes private guided visits of Rouen, Bayeux, Honfleur, Mont St. Michel, special chateaux and gardens, and more by hand-picked historians, experts and hosts. We’ll relive the momentous events of the World War II American D-Day landings on the Normandy coast. And we’ll also explore the signature architecture, landscapes and sights that have inspired multiple Impressionist artists. No Normandy stay would be complete without savoring region’s culinary traditions so we’ll have plenty of gourmet meals and tastings highlighting fresh apples, Calvados, cider, seafood, butter, cream, and cheeses as well as other French specialties. And our exquisite Normandy hotels are all so lovely and comfortable you will never want to leave. Join us for this unique travel experience through French history, culture and cuisine in gorgeous Normandy!


“France Photography Workshop” – October 2018

France is so beautiful, it almost seems it was made to be photographed! This October, French Affaires is hosting a one-of-a-kind photography workshop featuring one of France’s most celebrated landscape, chateaux and interiors photographers. Our unique, creative week on location in France will include hands-on photography sessions in various settings, locations and lights (October is superb in France for the light!); one-on-one tutorials; group brainstorming; special projects to try techniques and ideas; editing coaching; and more. You’ll also get exposed to cutting edge technologies and approaches as the workshop unfolds. Over the course of the week, you will have strengthened your photography skills and your artistic vision all in the context of France and the superb subject matter she offers. (Please note that to hit the ground running, this workshop is designed for those with previous photography experience. We’re working on offering a beginning option sometime in the future.)



For all trip details and itineraries and questions related to our travel program, please email us at culture.france (at) frenchaffaires.com. Merci et à bientôt!

SPECIAL EVENT: “A Day at the French Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte” featuring Alexandre de Vogüé whose family owns this historic castle and gardens outside of Paris – Thursday, March 22, 2018, in partnership with The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture

French Affaires is delighted to partner with The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture to co-host this insider’s tour of the magnificent privately-owned 17th century French castle and gardens that inspired the great chateaux of Europe, including the Palace of Versailles. Vaux-le-Vicomte’s rich history began in 1641 when infamous France Finance Minister Nicolas Fouquet bought the estate and enlisted architect Louis le Vau, decorator Charles le Brun, and garden designer Andre Le Notre to transform it into a lavish residence. His extravagance piqued King Louis XIV’s jealousy, and he was thrown into prison for life ostensibly for mishandling government funds. Through the coordination of French Affaires Director Dr. Elizabeth New Seitz, Alexandre de Vogue, son of the owners of Vaux-le-Vicomte, will present a stunning virtual tour of “France’s best kept secret” and speak about A Day at Vaux-le-Vicomte, the beautiful volume co-authored by Alexandre and his brothers.



Photo credits: Private Collection Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Date: Thursday, March 22, 2018
Time: Reception – 6-6:30pm; Talk and book-signing - 6:30 to 8pm
Cost: $20 per person ($10 Dallas Institute Members, $5 Students). Please click here to register with The Dallas Institute. Telephone: 1-214-871-2440 * The Vaux book will be available for purchase at the event. *
Location: The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture 2719 Routh Street Dallas,Texas 75201  

French Kings Cakes ~ Happy New Year 2018 Sunday, Jan 7 2018 

In France, New Year’s greetings and king’s cakes go hand in hand. After all the Christmas bûches de Noël (yule log cakes), it’s immediately time for the galettes des rois (king’s or kings’ cakes). During the season of Epiphanie, also known as la Fête des rois (Three Kings Day, or Feast of the Epiphany, or Twelfth Night), just about every French pâtisserie displays dozens of these deep golden rounds in its windows in late December and January.



Les galettes are proof that the sacred continues to infuse French life and cuisine even if fewer people actually observe this traditionally religious day. According to the Bible, three kings or Magi came to pay homage to the baby Jesus and brought him gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Christmas carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are” recounts this journey. Today, the arrival of the Magi and the news of the birth of Jesus to the Gentiles are commemorated by many Christians twelve days after Christmas. This beautiful panel of stained glass from the medieval basilica of St. Denis just north of Paris illustrates the Epiphany events…



So what exactly is a galette des rois? In the northern part of France, a galette is made of puff pastry filled with a delicious almond cream called frangipane. The southern France version called a gâteau des rois, however, is more like brioche, a rich egg bread, and comes studded with candied fruits. What makes the cake eternally festive in France is the tradition of hiding a lucky charm, or fève (literally “bean”) inside the round cake. Even though many pastry chefs today use small porcelain or plastic figurines instead of a bean, family and friends still gather around the table as the cake is cut. And whoever receives the piece with the fève inside is king or queen for the day (or year) and wears the gold paper crown that accompanies the galette.

And how do you buy a king’s cake in France? Most French pastry shops sell the whole galettes in various sizes from four persons on up. Then when it’s time to eat it, you cut the galette in slices like a pie. One of our local pastry shops here in the French countryside near Paris often makes a huge one – about three feet in diameter so it’s really for show - and gives out little pieces to its customers during Epiphanie. Then too you’ll see pastry shops selling a one-person galette about three inches across – not a bad way to do it since you’ll be sure to get the fève!

Interestingly, les fèves have become quite collectible in recent years. I see flea market vendors all over France with huge tables of the porcelain charms for sale. Here are selections from some marchands de fèves (lucky charm vendors – what a job!) at the Aix-en-Provence and Isle-sur-la-Sorgue antique markets. Some people collect them just for fun and to display. Others use them in their own homemade king’s cakes.



If you’ve shopped around lately in Paris for a king’s cake, you have probably come across ‘mod’ versions at some hip Paris pastry shops. Ultra-cool French pastry chefs always like to put their particular take on traditional pastry offerings and galettes des rois are no exception. Citrus, pistachio, chocolate, pineapple, coconut and other exotic flavors – and even shapes - now show up in king’s cakes at fancy pâtisseries such as Fauchon, Pierre Hermé and others. You can click here for fabulous photo parade of this year’s best king’s cakes in Paris from the French newspaper Le Figaro - all 29 of them!

Many of the big pastry shop names also offer a special collection or coffret de fèves each year that fans can buy. Click here to see this year’s limited edition set from Ladurée which features three multi-colored, mini-macaron charms for 14 euros – a must for any almond macaron fan. And Fauchon has special editions of six individually numbered fèves 2018 for 60 euros. (Be sure and click on the links for photos.) While these shiny new collections are tempting, it might be more fun – and memorable – to put together one’s own set by rummaging through the colorful piles of figurines at the French flea markets. Yet another great reason to travel to France – bonne année (happy new year) to you and yours!  


Christmas in France ~ Joyeux Noel! Monday, Dec 25 2017 


Yesterday, my husband and I joined the crowds of bustling French shoppers picking up last minute items for Christmas. Yes, people were out buying gifts but the main attraction of course was the FOOD. This is France, after all. The boulangeries (bakeries), pâtisseries (pastry shops), boucheries (butchers), charcuteries (gourmet deli, though that term doesn’t do it justice in France!), poissoneries (fish shops), chocolateries (chocolate shops), supermarchés (supermarkets), you name it, they were all doing a roaring holiday business.

We buzzed into one of our local boulangerie-pâtisserie boutiques for a final run of baguettes and desserts, though it took a lot longer than usual as the line was out the door and down the block. What caught my eye after seeing the queue (and also the pastry fantasyland of bûches de Noël), however, was the wonderful holiday message in the shop’s window…“Noël…partager joie 2018.” Roughly translated, it reads ‘Christmas means sharing joy in 2018.’  What a marvelous thought…joy for Christmas and all throughout the year. So I took a quick pic (above) and am passing it on with this short post. Chris and I and our French dog Marcel (who definitely will have to improve his Santa hat photo skills in time for next Christmas – see below – actually, he really was a good sport) send you our warmest wishes for un très joyeux Noël – and may you and yours experience much joie in 2018!



 P.S. Follow us on Instagram (French_Affaires) and Facebook (Elizabeth New Seitz) for lots more Christmas photos and almost daily postings on life in the French countryside with the city of Paris as our not-too-far-away neighbor! 


Fall and Winter in the French Countryside Wednesday, Dec 13 2017 


Greetings from the French countryside where we have enjoyed an exceptionally beautiful fall this year! It has been wonderfully sunny, and the leaves spent several weeks turning a more-lovely-than-usual spectrum of yellows, oranges and reds. On my daily bike ride around our village of Courances in all seasons, I fly past this allée looking down towards the château. While it is a marvelous sight in spring and summer and even in winter, I think the fall version is the most spectacular. Then there comes a point when it’s time to clean up the colorful leaf carpet. Hats off to the Château de Courances gardeners who just a few days ago were blowing and hauling the leaves away. When I catch sight of them at their task, I find it kind of fascinating to see how many huge truckloads of leaves get taken away to the massive garden compost piles!


Our sweet French chien Marcel loves the fall out here in the country as well. Of course, he could care less about the pretty leaves – it’s the birds and game that really get his attention. Hunting dog that he is – his race (breed) is the Braque d’Auvergne – Monsieur Marcel becomes très excité by anything that moves in the forest. But in case he doesn’t get enough chasing on his walks or when it rains, he and I have taken to playing a combo game of tag and hide-and-seek in the house!

This fall has also been busy with French Affaires’ trips to France.  Our guests on the ‘Paris Antiques Trip’ in September took home lots of wonderful treasures as we toured various French flea markets, auction houses and brocantes. We got lots of inspiration from our cultural visits including one of the world’s best decorative arts museums on the Right Bank. One of these days we’ll have to host an afternoon tea show-and-tell in the U.S. to display some of the fabulous finds acquired by our antiques trip-goers!



And our ‘Fall in Southwest France’ sojourn in October was magical as always. With several days spent exploring the Dordogne river valley followed by time in Bordeaux, our wonderful group took in centuries of French history and architectural wonders. Below are a few pics of our journey as we traveled through time and culture across the French countryside. And we made it a point to try the culinary treats and specialties of the region and fall season accompanied by an array of southwest France wines. Foie gras and sauternes anyone? 






As we’ve moved into winter, the French light and landscape have continued to change with the season and temperatures have grown chillier. But the views here continue to enchant. We’ve had one light snow already – Monsieur Marcel adores la neige - and I am hoping we’ll get some more here soon. In anticipation, I’ll wrap up this fall-going-into-winter post with a couple of photos from last year when two days of fog fully froze on everything and turned our corner of the French countryside into a frosted winter wonderland…Meanwhile, we’ll try to stay warm – rester au chaud - by the roaring fire and be looking forward to another French Christmas. More on that next week – à très bientôt!



Save the Date! French Affaires Travelers Alumni Party

Wednesday, March 28, in Dallas, Texas

We’re hosting a wine and cheese party to celebrate all those who have traveled with us to France over the past several years - it will be a great time to catch up with your fellow trip-goers and also meet other France lovers. It is amazing the wonderful friendships that have come out of our French Affaires trips to France. Mark your calendar and we’ll send invites in the spring. Be sure to bring some pics or photo albums from your trip(s)!




French Film Sneak Preview: “Paris Can Wait” Monday, Apr 24 2017 

Bonjour France friends,

We have a fun event to propose coming up next week. French Affaires has been invited by Sony Pictures Classics to attend the free advance screening of PARIS CAN WAIT in Dallas, Texas, on Monday, May 1. ”Paris Can Wait” is a new romantic comedy starring Diane Lane on her food, wine and love adventures throughout France. The screening will take place at the Dallas Angelika Film Center at 7 PM. Again, this event is free and it’s open to all our readers so if you are anywhere near Dallas next Monday, please join us!

FILM SYNOPSIS: Anne (Diane Lane) is at a crossroads in her life. Married to a successful but inattentive movie producer (Alec Baldwin), she unexpectedly finds herself taking a car trip from Cannes to Paris with her husband’s business associate (Arnaud Viard). What should be a seven-hour drive turns into a carefree two-day adventure replete with diversions involving picturesque sights, fine food and wine, humor, wisdom and romance, reawakening Anne’s senses and giving her a new lust for life.


Cast: Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin; Director: Eleanor Coppola (wife of director Francis Ford Coppola); Screenplay: Eleanor Coppola.

You can CLICK HERE to see a short trailer of the film.

To RSVP, please click the special link below that will add you to a reserve list for the screening. Under ‘organization,’ please note “French Affaires” so you will be included with our group. The studio organizers will send you a reminder the day of the screening, but please know your email address will not be kept for any future use. When you arrive at the screening, simply provide the studio representative your name so you can be checked in. Be sure and arrive early for a good seat.

Merci beaucoup – we hope you can come out to enjoy this light-hearted ’evening in France!’



 Screening Details

Monday, May 1, 2017

7:00 PM

Angelika Film Center and Café Dallas

5321 E Mockingbird Ln, Dallas, TX 75206

For questions, please contact us at French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com



French Eggs Saturday, Apr 15 2017 

Since it’s Easter and eggs are top of mind, I’m reposting a previous article on wonderful eggs in France. ”Joyeuses Pâques” to you and yours!


I am always amazed at the food side of Easter in France. Of course, the French plan a big Easter Sunday lunch with family and all kinds of favorite recipes and dishes. But it’s really the Easter chocolate which is astonishing. Every pâtisserie and candy shop is overflowing with chocolate eggs large and small, chocolate bunnies, chocolate bells (in France, their ‘Easter bunny’ is the church bells which bring candy and chocolates back from Rome), chocolate chickens, and so much more, all wrapped with colorful ribbons and bows. As French Affaires’ friend Betty Reiter – Betty was born in France and now lives in Dallas, Texas – puts it, “Childhood memories… We got loads of chickens, fishes, eggs and bells all made out of chocolate and stuffed with more chocolates!” And this is no dime-store candy, my friends. This is great eating chocolate even at your more humble pastry shops. So for Easter in France not only do you do your Sunday lunch market shopping, you do your Easter ’chocolate shopping’ as well.

But in the extravaganza of French chocolate eggs at Easter, let’s not forget the joys of real French eggs all year long. Eggs in France are fabulous in my opinion – large, flavorful and with deep golden, nearly orange yolks. You can buy wonderful fresh eggs from vendors at weekly farmers’ markets all over France and also from local farms where one lives. This egg vendor and eleveur in Normandy raises his own chickens outdoors – “en plein air” – and is proud of his wares.


Recently, I’ve been craving the French version of deviled eggs, les oeufs mayonnaise. A popular staple on many bistrot and café menus, this cold French starter of hard-boiled eggs comes with a side of homemade mayonnaise and a little bit of salade. Though it may not sound all that interesting, les oeufs mayonnaise is always a surprisingly tasty and satisfying French dish. Not only French eggs but also real mayonnaise make it delectable whether the mayo is served straight up or enhanced with fresh herbs, spices or something else. The other day, I ordered les oeufs mayonnaise at a neighborhood café on the Rue du Bac in Paris. It felt like spring on a plate – and their mayonnaise came flavored with a hint of salty anchovies…miam, miam!


Also delicious were the oeufs mayonnaise served with lettuce spears I had not long ago at the cozy Left Bank bistrot La Fontaine de Mars…



Eggs take center stage in another very French dish, les oeufs en meurette. Originally from Burgundy, this comfort food of eggs poached in rich red wine sauce with shallots or onions and bacon is a classic hot starter on French menus. La Fontaine de Mars offers its own version with a Southwestern French red wine touch. 


But of course, there are numerous other French egg dishes that don’t require more particular ingredients such as wine or anchovies. Omelettes in France make a great lunch or an easy dinner at home and are often made with ham and cheese, herbs, mushrooms or other fillings. This nice tender one at Ladurée featured ever-so-pungent truffles. If you’ve never tried the divine egg and truffle combo in France, be sure and put it on your “Must taste” list! 



The French also do scrambled eggs remarkably well. Very creamy and almost pudding-like, les oeufs brouillés in France make me never want to eat scrambled eggs anywhere else. The secret is cooking the eggs very slowly using a bain-marie with the water kept just below the boiling point. Of course, French cooks add a bit of cream to the mixture for that perfect taste and texture. Les oeufs brouillés make a great French brunch as shown here in Paris with smoked salmon, shrimp and salade. If you like your scrambled eggs dry, however, you’ll definitely pass on this dish in France.


Not to be left out of any food conversation concerning eggs in France are quiche and soufflés. French quiches are rich and hearty and usually are accompanied by a side salad with vinaigrette. This one from the restaurant at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris was délicieux, although it was hard not be distracted by the exquisite decor of Tiepolo ceiling frescoes, Flemish tapestry wall-hangings and ornate red and gold lamps. And if you are a fan of soufflés in all their egg glory, you can click here for a previous French Affaires’ post on “The Best Soufflés in the Universe.”




The French also use eggs to accent a variety of dishes in their meal repertoire including hard-boiled ones in la salade niçoise or un club sandwich… 



There’s also the noteworthy fried egg served on top of a croque madame sandwich – or sometimes on top of certain pizzas in France…


And this traditional bistrot in Versailles served steak tartare with a fresh egg yolk on the side to be mixed in by the diner – moi! – at the table… 


We could go on and on about French eggs – we haven’t even mentioned the nice soft-boiled ones the French sometimes eat for breakfast with toast sticks to dip into the yolk or poached ones that show up on top of salads or with steamed asparagus and hollandaise sauce. And exotic egg offerings like duck, goose or quail eggs are pretty readily available in France. This vendor at the Aix-en-Provence market had a basket full of tiny quails’ eggs waiting to be added to a dish or slightly boiled and served with sea salt to be eaten as an appetizer! Bon egg appétit!


French Take-Out ~ La France à emporter

French language tip: A note on the pronunciation of ‘eggs’ in French – one egg or “un oeuf” is pronounced with the ‘f’ as in ’uhn uff’ (sounding almost like ‘enough’ in English). But in the plural “des oeufs,” the ‘f’ is no longer pronounced as in ’dayz euh.’

And for a touch of Easter egg whimsy on French Affaires’ Instagram pages today, April 15, 2017 (French_affaires):


I love these French topiary ‘Easter eggs’ from the lovely gardens of an historic manor house in southwest France. We’ll have aperitifs outdoors in the garden during our French Affaires’ stay there this fall. Just magical. We still have a bit of space on this ’Fall in Southwest France’ trip if you want to join us. And airfares to France are way down this year! (You can mail us for the trip itinerary and details at: French.culture (at) frenchaffaires.com.)

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.



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. 

Market basket 2

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.




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.

233 - MILLY (S-et-O) - Les Halles 

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!

Paris market vendor

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!


“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!


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.


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!



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.”  


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.


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!


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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