My Top Ten Films of the Decade- #9 Drag Me To Hell

8:16 PM 12 Comments

And no, I’m not kidding.

I have to start by saying I do not generally like horror movies. Which is why I was completely surprised to find myself loving this one (*Disclaimer* If you are of the faint of heart variety, I suggest you give this film a miss as it is rather scary. If you can handle a little thrill every now and then, however, do read on).

Sam Raimi’s 2009 horror flick, Drag Me to Hell starring Alison Lohman was one of the most thrilling cinematic experiences I’ve had in a long time. It was scary, funny and camp all rolled into one.

Lohman plays Christine Brown, a bright-eyed Los Angeles loan officer. She doesn’t want much in life- just a promotion at her job, a happy future with her boyfriend (future husband hopefully!) and a shot of happiness- just like the rest of us. But when she turns down an extension on a loan to a mysterious (and scary looking) Mrs. Ganush (played by Lorna Raver) a curse is placed upon her and all hell breaks loose. This movie frightened me, made me laugh out loud on several occasions and thrilled me with its twists and turns… Overall a rollicking good time- and very apropos for this Halloween weekend don't you think?

I do hope you'll stay tuned for my number 8 pick...

Alison Lohman and Co. in a scene from Drag Me to Hell is pictured above.


Dinner Parties- Comme les Français- Famille Chic

7:59 PM 20 Comments

Ahh, the French dinner party. That intimate affair: the subtle interactions, the amazing food (the wine!), the ritual. If you have an opportunity to attend an authentic French dinner party- go, I tell you, allez!

Famille Chic threw at least one dinner party a week. This still amazes me. In America, dinner parties are a rarity (So many diets to take into account. So many allergies. So many picky eaters!). Staying in France really made me appreciate the art of a dinner party. It is, in my opinion, the most intimate type of party one can have.

The format for Famille Chic’s dinner parties were very formal. We would always dress up (no jeans, s'il vous plaît) - the men would wear jackets and ties (or for the most casual of dinner parties- a sweater with a collared shirt). Madame Chic would wear a skirt (but then again- she always wore skirts. I never saw her in trousers- even on the coldest of days). We would all sit in the salon for a little aperitif beforehand. The aperitif would range anywhere from a kir to whiskey to tomato juice. (I am quite a lightweight so when we had whiskey as an aperitif- it really became a party for me!)

Classical music would ooze from the record player. After the aperitif we would all move to the table. Madame Chic would disappear to the kitchen (how on earth she managed to create 3-5 delicious courses, mingle with her guests and not be a slave to the stove was beyond me) where she would roll out the tray containing the first course (the kitchen was not adjacent to the dining room, remember). The first course would often be composed of a soup, savory tart, salad or delicate slices of cured meats. The women would always be served first starting with the female guest of honor, then me, then Madame Chic (on non dinner party evenings, I was always served first- without exception), then the men served themselves last. It was like this for every course. At first all this etiquette following and pomp and circumstance felt very daunting to me (I come from the land of outdoor BBQs remember) but I grew to love this following of tradition and always feel slightly disappointed when the protocol isn’t followed aux États-Unis .

After the starter, Madame Chic would disappear into the kitchen again and roll out the main course on the trolley. This could range anywhere from lamb, to fish to roast chicken- and was always served with fresh vegetables and usually a gratin of some sort. And then the same thing would happen with the dessert- either a selection of delectable cheeses eaten with bread or a homemade apple or strawberry tart, a cake, crepes or fruit drenched in Grand Marnier.

**Sigh** I am getting depressed just writing this. I miss those dinner parties so much. I loved their formality- the ceremony involved- the pomp (the circumstance!) The different courses- the different wines. I long for that here in California… I suppose the only way to stave off my culinary depression is to throw a little dinner party of my own comme les Français . Now all I need is a little bit of courage…

The Dinner Table by Henri Matisse is pictured above


My Top Ten Films of the Decade- #10 Intimate Strangers

3:21 PM 19 Comments

I can hardly believe the decade is almost over. The past ten years have produced some amazing films and I have decided to celebrate by counting down my ten favorite films of the past decade, connoisseur style. We start with number 10…

Intimate Strangers
, or Confidences Trop Intime, is a French film released in 2004 starring Fabrice Luchini and Sandrine Bonnaire. It is the story of a woman named Anna (Bonnaire) who one day walks into the office of William (Luchini). William is an introverted tax attorney, bored with his life- frustrated. His world changes when Anna mistakes his office (and him) for that of her new psychologist. William wants to tell Anna that she is in the wrong office, but he is so intrigued by her- so beguiled that he allows her to talk and unfold her darkest secrets… and thus, the games begin...

What unfolds is a tale of erotic subtlety- one that explores the longings of the imagination and the heart. This movie is not overt in any sense of the word- its subtlety is rapturous and leaves the audience with a sense of passion and a longing for more...

I hope you'll stay tuned for my number 9 pick...

Sandrine Bonnaire is pictured above in Intimate Strangers


Culture- Comme les Français- Le Théâtre

4:55 PM 15 Comments

In my ongoing effort to support the arts and keep myself culturally active, I have been upping my game by attending more films, museums, art galleries, and live theatre. There is a certain feeling that I get when I take part in any of the aforementioned activities. Each occasion allows for a certain specialness- dressing for the occasion, socializing with close friends (or spending some quality alone time) and being fully in the present moment- immersing myself in the art at hand.

Going to the theatre is one of my absolute favorite activities. Theatre is one of the subjects I studied at University and I hold a soft spot of appreciation for it in my heart. There is a lot of great independent theatre in Los Angeles and over the past three weeks I have taken full advantage. I attended: Mother at the Imagined Life Theatre, The Dig at The Doheny Memorial Library of U.S.C., Ruby, Tragically Rotund at the Los Angeles Theatre Center and Meadowmount- an original one act play at the SIPA Performance Space.

The plays were each original pieces- unique in their own right. Their topics ranged from: mother-daughter relationships, to a Jewish archaeologist looking for love, to an overweight Filipino beauty queen seeking acceptance, to a true story of murder, sexuality and intrigue in the military.

While the subjects were largely diverse there was one common denominator at each performance- the audience. That special gathering of people, the excited murmur amongst friends before the curtain goes up, the hushed delight shared when a sacred moment is explored on stage, the joy of shared laughter and the special experience of being moved- even if just a little- by the collaborative effort of everyone involved.

Such, for me, is the specialness of the theatre…

Have you seen any good plays lately?

I am pictured above (left) at the Los Angeles Theatre Center with Fran de Leon (center), one of the stars of Ruby, Tragically Rotund, and Newton Kaneshiro (right), theatre artist and director of Meadowmount.


End MS Charity Event, Technical Issues and Book Update

3:39 PM 11 Comments
Dear Readers,

I have a very exciting charity announcement... If you love tennis and will be in the Los Angeles Area on November 14th, please check out the amazing charity event called: Ojakian Tennis Celebrity Pro-Am to End MS. This event will take place at the Jack Kramer Club and is geared at raising money for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis.

Ojakian Tennis will host celebrities, professional tennis players and tennis enthusiasts from around the country. This exciting event begins with junior and adult tennis clinics, followed by the official Celebrity Pro-Am tournament. The day wraps with a fantastic cocktail party, silent and live auctions, and an awards ceremony.

For tickets, please visit www.ojakiantennis.com.


**Technical Issues Update** The technical issues on The Daily Connoisseur seem to have been sorted out. Google Friend Connect was down for a period of over 24 hours and this seems to be the culprit. Thank you!

For those of you that are not a regular on Blogger, I have recently added a new feature whereby you can subscribe via email and receive new posts from The Daily Connoisseur in your email inbox. Simply enter your email address in the space provided (see top right) and then confirm your subscription by checking your email and clicking on the provided link.

**Book Update**

I have finished the second draft of my mystery novel today **celebrations!!** And will commence with the third draft, final changes and finishing touches tomorrow.

And finally, thank you so much for joining me on this journey. I so greatly appreciate your reading, following, commenting and subscribing on The Daily Connoisseur... you keep me inspired.


Jennifer xx

A Room With a View

9:45 AM 11 Comments

This is the view from our dining room table. The month of October is particularly special at my house because the large tree out front produces these gorgeous pink flowers.
If I am ever feeling less than grateful, I sit at my dining room table and take in this magical tree with its thorny trunk and pink blooms and reflect about how truly lucky I am to live in Santa Monica and have a room with a view…


Color- Comme les Français

5:00 PM 15 Comments

One brisk Monday morning in Paris I was running errands with Madame Chic. We were on our way to pick up a few fresh items for that evening’s meal. Madame Chic and I spent a lot of time together. I would help her with the cooking (she always refused my help but I insisted! I wanted to learn to cook comme les Français). We talked a lot and my French was slowly getting better. Our relationship was lovely, but still very formal.

So I was shocked when that morning she told me rather bluntly. “That sweater does not look good on you.”

I looked down at my spring green twinset from Banana Republic. It had been a gift from someone back home (Who? I can’t remember). “Really?” I had asked, “But it’s silk/ cashmere blend!”

“No it’s not the quality that disturbs me,” Madame Chic said, eyeing my sweater with concern, “It’s the color. It doesn’t suit you at all. It washes you out. You look sallow.”

Great. I looked sallow. The sensitive American in me was shocked that Madame Chic had been so blunt with me. In America we tell each other we look good no matter what. And if someone looks really bad? We usually just don’t say anything at all. Mon Dieu, I must have looked horrible if Madame Chic actually told me so!

She could see the crestfallen look that overtook my face. “Don’t be upset!” she said, “It’s just an observation. As a woman you must know what colors look the best on you and how are you to know if no one tells you?”

This was true.

I asked her tentatively, “What colors do you think I would look good in? Not green obviously.”

“Pas du tout!” she exclaimed, “You would look ravishing in emerald green, in deep aubergine, royal blue, ruby red… black, bien sûr.” She advised that I stay away from yellow and spring green. I went home and looked in the mirror with new eyes. Dear God she was right. The color had washed me out. I think I instinctively knew this but because I received the twinset as a gift- I just wore it without questioning whether or not it worked for me.

“French women pay very close attention to what enhances their beauty and what doesn’t enhance their beauty,” Madame Chic had said.

This turned out to be a lesson I would never forget.

I would love to know… what colors work best for you?


'Le No Makeup Look' Favorite Brands and Shades

4:58 PM 16 Comments

My last post on Makeup- Comme les Français received a great response- merci! It seems that a lot of women (French or not) love 'le no makeup look’ and from the few male comments I received- men seem to prefer it on us too!

Below I am sharing with you the basic products in my makeup bag that give me the best no makeup look. Please keep in mind I am a brunette with medium tan skin tone. (Although I think a lot of these shades are universally flattering).

Bare Minerals Matte in medium beige

Bronzer: Bare Minerals in warmth

Blush: NARS in Orgasm / Benetint / Lorac in Plum or Bare Minerals in Laughter

Eyebrows: Mac eye shadow in Orb

Eyeliner: Chanel in Ambre

Lip Color:
Bobbi Brown cream lipstick in Heather Mauve or Christian Dior Ultra Gloss Reflect in beige or Guerlain Terra Cotta Baume au Coeur in Coeur Caramel

Highlight: Fresh Satin Lustre in Chantilly Lace

Mascara: Lancome Defencilis in black

I would love to know… what are your favorite brands and shades for le no makeup look?


Interiors, Comme les Français- Madame Bohemienne

6:14 PM 12 Comments

Madame Bohemienne was a single mother with two boys (one teenager, the other early twenties) that lived at home. She was such a marvelous woman- warm and welcoming. She frequently invited me over to her home... and her home was lovely.

Madame Bohemienne’s apartment was on the 10th floor (I have already described my journey in getting to the 10th floor sans elevator here) and while her apartment was very different to Madame Chic’s (no ancient antiques or portraits of formidable ancestors to speak of), Madame Bohemienne’s home was equally as inviting and uniquely Parisian.

When I first met Madame Bohemienne she asked me what I thought about the walls of her living room. I had noticed them as soon as I walked in. To say they were yellow would be an understatement. They were bright yellow. Strong yellow. Parisian yellow. When I gave her my opinion, I spoke the truth “I absolutely love them,” I said. Madame Bohemienne’s walls spoke volumes about the way she led her life. They were bold, creative, stimulating- these were not tranquil walls- these walls made you think and they would (as I would find out soon enough) be walls to host countless animated dinner parties. They were walls for living in.

Yellow wasn’t the only bold color in Madame Bohemienne’s living room, however. Her curtains were a deep red as was the cover on the built-in seating arrangement; not quite a sofa, not quite a bench… it was an l-shaped built in- covered with bold Moroccan-inspired cushions- perfect for before dinner socializing.

There was, of course, a very large dining table (a pre-requisite, I think for true Parisian living), lots of books and a very tiny television (another pre-requisite, I believe). Her kitchen was a modern one- modern appliances, new fixtures and it was painted bright blue- Madame Bohemienne, as you can probably already tell, was not afraid of color.

Her apartment vibrated with great energy. Some of my favorite memories of my time in Paris are from attending her wild dinner parties (more on those later). But one moment I will never forget happened late in Spring- Madame Bohemienne had just popped out to grab a bouquet of flowers for her dinner party that night. She walked in breathless (no elevator, remember) and placed her flowers down, walked to her open French windows and proclaimed, “We are so lucky to live in Paris. This is truly the most beautiful place in the world”.

I couldn’t agree more.

Image courtesy of www.zazzle.com


Luis Meléndez- Still Life and Little Luxuries

3:23 PM 8 Comments

Today, in my ongoing effort to keep myself culturally aware, I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the Luis Meléndez Still Life exhibit. I dressed for the occasion (taupe peasant skirt, striped shirt, ballet flats, wayfarers and messenger bag- perfect for for the museum) and journeyed to LACMA by myself for an afternoon of indulgence in art.

My art history knowledge is pretty abundant when it comes to French artists (thanks to my stay in Paris), as well as for religious art (thanks to Art History 101 at USC... Virgin and Child with Saints, anyone??) so I knew little about the Spanish painter Luis Meléndez (pictured above in his self portrait) going into today's excursion. I am so glad I went- they didn't call Mr. Meléndez the 'master of Spanish still life' for nothing.

His art was so vivid, so impeccably realistic I almost felt like I was looking at photographs. Meléndez painted everything from fish to figs, melons to grapes and the bread... let's just say I was longing for some tapas after the museum...

My favorite painting of his was the Still Life with Chocolate Service, Bread Roll and Biscuits (pictured above) painted in 1770. At the time, chocolate was a novelty from Central America and the Spanish upper class was obsessed with drinking it in the form of hot chocolate. I love the idea of chocolate as an exotic and coveted item- 1770's own version of a little luxury.

Sadly, like so many other artists, Luis Meléndez did not receive the acclaim he deserved in his lifetime and died a poor man in 1780. But his artistic genius is greatly appreciated today... and rightfully so.

The Luis Meléndez exhibit runs at LACMA through January 3, 2010.

www.lacma.org for more information


On Posture (again)

12:58 PM 11 Comments

Yesterday morning I was making breakfast for myself- chopping strawberries and bananas into a bowl- making a cup of green tea (I was having a healthy day) and I noticed with some chagrin, that while I was chopping the strawberries my shoulders were hunched in a very non-attractive manner.

I straightened up instantly.

Throughout the rest of my day I was acutely aware of my posture- in front of the computer (horrendous), at work (leaning against walls and objects to avoid standing straight), at dinner (elbows off the table!). When did my posture get so bad? I visited this very question on my blog about a year ago (see here). After that post I vowed to constantly have good posture. That didn’t last long.

I am finding a correlation with walking around ‘unconscious’ and having bad posture. I am a dreamer and tend to live a lot in my imagination and whimsy… meanwhile life is carrying on around me and I am going through it like the Hunchback of Notre Dame! (Okay, it’s not that bad but it might as well be… bad posture is a sin in my book).

This got me thinking about how I can straighten up and have more poise. Stop daydreaming? Live more in the present moment? Breathe deeper? Probably a combination of all three. This goes back to everything I've been exploring over the past few months... eating mindfully, being present, living with passion... (I can imagine it would be hard to live passionately with hunched shoulders- the two simply do not go together).

I’m glad I’m revisiting this subject again because I would like to know about your posture… how has it been lately?

Seurat's Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte is shown above. His subjects show impeccable posture. Something to aspire to perhaps?


Makeup- Comme les Français

10:32 AM 22 Comments

Madame Bohemienne had it… Madame Chic had it… practically every French woman I observed in Paris had it! “It” being what is commonly referred to by Francophiles as “le no make-up look”.

Do you know which look I am talking about? It’s the look that says, “yes my cheeks are flushed, my lips pouty, my skin tone flawless and my lashes ready to bat but I didn’t lift a finger to get this look. This look is au natural- it’s just me! I have better things to do with my time than spend an hour in front of the mirror every morning applying makeup. I go to art galleries! Read Proust! Embrace my lover by the Seine!" (Okay, this scenario is getting a little out of hand but you do get my point, don’t you?)

The truth is, most French women do wear makeup every day- they just look like they aren’t wearing any. The look is polished and pretty- a slight definition of the eyes, an accentuated lip... I have been embracing this look during the day for quite some time now (thanks to Carmindy for teaching me the 5-Minute Face!). But when I was living in France- I actually (horreur) didn’t wear any makeup. Yes, you heard me right. I was a fresh-faced bohemian college student- an idealist- a dreamer! I didn’t have time for blush and lipstick and other such mindless pursuits!

That is until I dropped my preconceived notions about what it means to be a well-rounded woman and realized that doing things like reading Proust and visiting museums is a lot more fun if you look good! Now every morning I spend five to ten minutes applying powder, blush, lip gloss and mascara (oh, and eyeliner…. I can’t live without it). It is a minimal look- my version of le no makeup look.

Madame Chic would be so proud…

Audrey Tautou, one of my favorite actresses, sports le no makeup look above.


Little Luxuries- NARS Eyeshadow in Corfu

9:38 PM 12 Comments

Anyone familiar with The Daily Connoisseur knows how much I adore Chanel Eyeshadow Quads. I love their colors, textures- the richness of the pigments. I still love my Chanel but I have found a new little luxury in NARS cream eyeshadow in the shade Corfu.

Corfu is a shimmery, creamy taupe that I would imagine would be flattering on any woman. The color is buildable - one application is perfect for a pretty day face- two or more applications and you have a shimmery smokey eye for a sultry evening out. I do recommend using an eyeshadow primer beneath as this is a cream eyeshadow and can tend to crease (I like Urban Decay Primer Potion). What I love most about NARS Corfu is that you can apply it with your fingertips for easy glamour.

NARS cream eyeshadow retails for about $21 and can be purchased at www.sephora.com


Modesty- Comme les Français

10:09 PM 12 Comments

I have already divulged the fact that there was only one bathroom chez Famille Chic. I quickly got used to sharing this bathroom with the three other members of the family: Madame Chic, Monsieur Chic and “A” (their son). I was asked my first day on arrival by Madame Chic whether I wanted to take my baths every morning or every evening. Hmmm. I chose morning and secretly wondered if I would also possibly be able to take the occasional hot bath before bedtime. I thought I might ask- but decided not to stretch it- especially on my first day there.

Time passed and I quickly got used to my routine salle de bains. I kept a little basket in my bedroom that contained my toiletries- as counter space in the tiny bathroom was sparse. Each morning at 7:00 am I would go to the bathroom and partake of my morning ritual. The bathroom, like the kitchen, was very bare bones. It was always sparkling clean and had very modest features- tile floors, a tiny mirror and a freestanding sink with hardly any counter space. There was no shower (which I found very odd, at first) but, instead, an ample-sized tub with a hand held showerhead fixture.

The tub was situated in front of a very large window. The window did not have any covering on it (no blinds or curtains) because it did not look out to anything but a wall. One morning, about three months into my stay, I was in the bathtub, well- bathing, when suddenly I looked up and there was a man in the window. This sounds very creepy- and believe me, it was! It was the window washer, doing his monthly rounds. He was washing the windows for the entire building, suspended on one of those window washing scaffolding things (at the time I was at a loss for the proper terminology and I still am). Mon Dieu! I shrieked and scrambled to find a cloth or towel or something to cover myself! The window washer looked in the window and merely smiled and waved at me and carried on with his business. He did not leer, he did not stare (I wasn’t sure whether I should have been relived or insulted).

After my traumatic bath I immediately went to Madame Chic and told her what had happened. I expected her to be outraged- shocked! Instead she looked at me with an amused smile and said (in French) “Oh yes, he’s seen all of us in the bath. He only comes once a month.” Madame Chic probably sensed my utter bewilderment towards her nonchalance. She asked if I would feel more comfortable if curtains were put up in the bathroom. I thought about it for a moment and decided against it. Yes it was weird, but perhaps my Puritanical American instincts were in overdrive and I just needed to chill. I said ça va, no need for curtains… after all… when in Rome…

The next morning I discovered someone (presumably Monsieur Chic) had installed a makeshift curtain over the bathroom window. I have a feeling that the moment I left Paris it was taken down.

Edgar Degas' Woman After the Bath courtesy of: www.encore-editions.com

National Poetry Day

9:42 AM 6 Comments
Today is National Poetry Day. So in honor of this glorious occasion, I am sharing with you one of my poems...

In Paris

I lounge and dream of Paris
Of the rue upon which I lived
Rueful to the thought
That my heart didn't completely give
into the lights the sounds-
the mist of the city.
I loved it (I did)
But oh what a pity
I am not there now
But my memory remains
As constant and pure
As the predictable rain.


Little Luxuries- Zooey Deschanel for Oliver Peoples Sunglasses

7:35 PM 6 Comments

Okay this is more of a big luxury than a little luxury (due to price), but I love my new Oliver Peoples Zooey sunglasses so much I had to share them with you! Oliver Peoples is a luxury sunglass line loved by fashionistas the world over. Their sunglass designs are quirky, classic and glamorous.

I have mostly been an 'aviator' girl my entire life. I love the aviator aesthetic (my favorites in the past have been by Michael Kors and Prada) but have been recently looking for a classic pair of wayfarers. So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across these ultra chic Oliver Peoples sunglasses (that are very wayfarer-esque, non?) at my favorite sunglass shop, Ilori in Beverly Hills.

The salesgirl at Ilori enthusiastically told me that these were glasses designed for Oliver Peoples by indie actress Zooey Deschanel (who I loved in 500 Days of Summer, btw). She intrigued me further by explaining that a kiss mark appears when the lenses are fogged. I fogged the lens with my breath, saw the kiss mark, tried them on and fell in love! I love them because they are a glamorous take on the classic wayfarer- not too trendy and chic enough to become a classic.

Oliver Peoples Zooey sunglasses are $350 and can be purchased at www.oliverpeoples.com or at Ilori in Beverly Hills.


Laundry- Comme les Français

12:16 PM 13 Comments

Famille Chic had one washing machine and a very tiny dryer. The dryer was only used for things like bed linens, table cloths and certain articles of clothing… everything else was hung up to dry on a laundry string suspended in the front hallway and the hallway leading to the kitchen.

The first time I gave my washing to Madame Chic was early one morning before I jetted off to the Sorbonne. When I came home that evening she had lovingly folded my clothes and placed them on my bed (so nice of her!). I remember wondering at the time where she had put my underwear as I couldn’t find the ones I had given her to wash. Famille Chic was having one of their many dinner parties that night so I made a mental note to ask Madame Chic about my underpinnings later and quickly freshened up for the dinner party. We had an apéritif in the lounge while waiting for the guests to arrive. When the guests did eventually arrive we all moved to the front hallway to greet them. Something caught my eye as I greeted these dinner guests (two chic Parisian couples) and I looked up to discover (in horror) that my underwear was hanging out to dry above all of our heads!

Now back then I was in college so I was wont to wear knickers with cute little sayings on them such as Go Team! and Drama Queen (TMI, I know- and I know I just wrote a post about that- but I feel that I have to describe them to you so you could fully grasp my horror). But no one seemed to notice and if anyone did they were probably wondering who on earth would wear hot pink underpants with immature slogans on them.

This must be one of the reasons why French women only wear the best lingerie!, I remember thinking at the time. Ever since that experience I now buy only sophisticated and alluring underwear- the sort that I wouldn’t mind hanging over my head at a party ;)


Interiors Comme les Français- Famille Chic

6:02 PM 15 Comments

I love seeing how other people live. Living in Paris with Famille Chic (and befriending Famille Bohemian) was like heaven for me because I could experience first-hand the way true Parisians live. The most fascinating aspect of observing both families (who in their own right were very different from each other) was observing the interior of their apartments. Here, in Part 1, I will discuss the general interior of Famille Chic’s home.

As I have already touched upon, Famille Chic’s 16th Arrondissement apartment was not typical of the ‘average’ Parisian household. Famille Chic came from a long line of aristocrats and their apartment- while not extravagant (no nouveau riche gaucheness here to speak of) their interior definitely spoke of their distinguished lineage. High ceilings, equally high windows, beautifully restored (probably ancient) wooden floors created the shell for their 4 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment.

As for the decorations, gilded portraits of their ancestors hung on the walls (that seriously looked like they belonged in the Louvre), Persian Rugs adorned the floors, and the furnishings were mostly antiques (the only modern “new-looking” furniture was found in their tiny kitchen- the kitchen table and chairs). Everything in their home was ‘real’. There were no “fake” antiques or decorations purchased from a mass-market home furnishing center. It had all been passed down from their esteemed family members or purchased somewhere abroad. Everything was tasteful and everything had meaning.

Below is a list of my general observations- things I was surprised to find in the home of Famille Chic when I was fresh off the boat (or plane, rather) from America:

- Famille Chic had one small television for the whole house. (We are talking tiny!) No flat screen ‘entertainment’ system Chez Eux. Their discreet little television was placed in their living room almost as an afterthought and was rarely watched. (In fact, their record player got much more use than their TV. Monsieur Chic would religiously play Debussy after each dinner- listening in rhapsody with his eyes shut while drinking his digestif). Every now and then the son of Famille Chic (who was the same age as me and I will call “A” for short) and I would watch a film on the television but because the format of the living room did not revolve around watching television- this was not a very comfortable event. Which brings me to my next observation.

- There was No sofa! No sofa? Where was the huge sectional, or lazy boy recliner I was so used to seeing in American homes? There was none. Probably because Famille Chic would rather die than pass out on an enormous couch in a television-induced coma after work. The set up of their living room included four chairs all facing each other to maximize conversation. There were two large upholstered chairs and two wooden backed chairs.

- The dining room table was très important. Naturally. After work/ school we would all sit at this wonderful antique table with its worn, polished wood and marks from years upon years of fabulous dinners. We would sit there for hours- eating, discussing, drinking…. living.

- One bathroom. (One bathroom?! Was my first thought). I come from a home in America with four bathrooms! I had my own bathroom my entire life! Suddenly I was having to share it with three other people? Quelle Horreur! But actually, it wasn’t bad at all. If anything- it curbed my vanity ;)

And lastly,

- A tiny, utilitarian kitchen that produced some of the best meals I have ever had in my life. There were no stainless steel appliances in this kitchen- no granite countertops or marbled sinks- no state of the art cooking tools either. This was a barebones, (did I mention tiny?) kitchen- modest, humble and tucked away at the back of the house.

What struck me the most about Famille Chic was that they lived extremely well- but did not rely on an abundance of material luxury (there was no keeping up with the Joneses in this home). They clearly lived surrounded by wealth but there was nothing flashy about them. They were modest and humble- the interior of their home revolved around living a good life- eating well, conversation and family.

I hope you will stay tuned for Part Deux…

Above Image of the Salon at Versailles courtesy of msn.com