Street scene in Nice

Observations on France

My husband and I are wrapping up a month of seeing, doing and eating our way through France. We’ve explored Paris, Nice, Toulouse and southern Pyrenees villages. The French experience has piqued and delighted my passion for both style and food. I can’t think of a better way to spend time than sitting at an outdoor café, eating a lovely meal, and watching styles walk by. So, here are some of my favorite visual and gastronomic observations:

  • Two little blonde French girls with jeans rolled up, pink sneakers, white cotton blouses with front ribbing, and tan trench coats — so adorable and so chic!
  • Young women everywhere wearing fish-net stockings under capri length denin jeans with sneakers and short-waisted denim jackets.
  • Twenty-something gals with pretty tulle skirts in lovely shades of spring, with high top sneakers in colors and metallics. Also, short-waisted leather jackets are clearly a spring look in Paris.
  • Boutiques that display only one size of each item to allow the shopper to see how an entire fashion collection fits together at a glance. Additional sizes are provided on request.
  • Cleavage… French women don’t show it, no matter their age; it appears to be deemed ‘un-chic’.
  • Croque-monsieur (French for “mister crunch”) is a “go-to” lunch option … a simple ham and cheese sandwich that is baked or fried with a coating of golden brown cheese on the outside, as well; a croque-madameis topped with a fried egg.
  • Brasserie tables pressed up against each other, requiring couples to dine shoulder-to-shoulder, yet the pairs seem totally oblivious to anyone else in the restaurant, immersed in their personal conversations.
  • Travelers, like us, trying to speak a tiny bit of French to communicate with café waiters, and instead succomb to pointing, hand signals and smiles.
  • Fromagerie, chocolate shops and patisseries are around every corner, and filled with more variety, quality and lusciousness than is reasonable to expect.
  • Burgers are on most brasserie menus, but you have to pay attention because many are made with horse meat. Oh, and the French eat theirs with a knife and fork, including the fries!
  • Bread rules here, and one bite will tell you why; crusty on the outside, soft, chewy and dense on the inside. No respectable French person is without their daily morning purchase of a baguette.

Seeing and tasting France has been a fashion and culinary inspiration, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these experiences influence my style consulting and cooking. Stay tuned.

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One Comment

  1. Bonjour Karen,

    This was formidable!!! So excited for you, and can’t wait to hear more about it! Loved your article in Ruby’s newsletter as well. I so want those white shoes in the photo that you used!

    A Bien Tot,
    Debbie Davis

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