February 28, 2014
As a single Mom of two teens, this is not the first time I’ve lived with a man. With almost half a century of life and decades of dish with girlfriends on both sides of the Atlantic behind me, I have identified some undeniable signs that there is a Frenchman in my house. He is not classically good looking, my Frenchman, but he has a magnetic attraction that pulls me in. I can’t quite describe it, and I’m not the only one — it’s why the French had to invent the expression je ne sais quoi. There are so many Frenchmen with that certain inexplicable charm that it has almost become a cliché, with quirky looking men like Serge Gainsbourg able to seduce gorgeous, intelligent ladies à la Jane Birkin. Living with a Frenchman is very much like marriage; for better and for worse.
1/ Bathroom clutter. The French are addicted to their lotions and potions. There are currently about a dozen bottles leaving water rings on the shelves, and only two or three of those are mine. When I complain about the disorder and suggest we open one product at a time, Mr French is horrified, “But, I must choose how I smell in the morning. How can you ask me to wear a citrus scent on a day that must be sandalwood, or patchouli?”
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September 17, 2012
Paris is for lovers. Unless you’re single. Like I was for the nearly two years I lived there. It was always a jab to my heart, like a deliberate and personally directed taunt, to see couples canoodling in dark café corners, pressed intimately together along the quais of the Seine, or just shopping at an outdoor market on a Sunday afternoon. Oh lovers, how very nice for you.
Then a year after I left Paris, I returned. With a man. And indeed it was a different experience. But as happy and, oui, sometimes smug, as I felt during that week of amour, I also realized that the old adage is true: the grass is always greener.
Every moment I basked in my City of Loooove romance was rudely followed by the memory of something I was missing from my solo days. It made me realize: no relationship is perfect. Continue Reading »
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May 29, 2012
Today we’re all about the Paris book love. Amy Thomas interviews bestselling author Eloisa James on her latest book, Paris in Love, a memoir of a year spent in Paris enjoying the good life. For a chance to win a copy of the book, leave us a note in the comments below! We’ll pick one lucky reader at random on May 31. ** Update: the contest is now closed. Thank you for commenting! **
’Tis the season for books about Paris. There are new non-fiction titles (Dreaming in French, French Kids Eat Everything), photography tomes (Paris in Color), cookbooks (La Petite Cuisine à Paris) and a slew of memoirs including Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, A Family in Paris and the one I just devoured on my recent trip to the City of Light: Paris in Love by Eloisa James.
Having lived in Paris for nearly two years and written my own memoir, I’ve been giddily burning through these titles, alternately living vicariously, laughing out loud in empathy, and tearing up at the memories. Eloisa’s memoir was no different. A mélange of personal thoughts, family anecdotes, historic and cultural references, practical facts and general observations, delivered in a fun, self-deprecating voice, in short spurts of prose lifted largely from her Facebook and Twitter accounts, it’s hard not to fall for the lovely writer, her Italian husband, her two moody teens or her chubby Chihuahua, Milo.
Partly what makes Eloisa so irresistible is her lack of pretense. A writing professor and best-selling author of romance novels (don’t miss the giveaway below!) who underwent a mastectomy to treat breast cancer, she sold her home, took a sabbatical from work and moved her family to the ninth arrondissement. During her year devoted to enjoying life’s everyday pleasures, she becomes hyperaware of seductive details everywhere, from the “dreamy dark pink” of a tote bag to Sacré-Coeur’s basilica covered by rows of “creamy scallops” to Paris mornings that are “moody, cool and empty.” It’s a book that reminds you of the best things about Paris: the kindness of strangers, those poignant feelings of magic and melancholy, and that food can fix things. Now back in the States, Eloisa took the time to respond to some questions, just for HiP.
Of all the places in the world you could have taken a sabbatical, why did you choose Paris?
I have always loved Paris. Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, I had a black-and-white etching of the city on my wall, and I lived in Paris during my junior year abroad. After being treated for cancer, when I realized that I wanted to run away from my normal life, Paris was an easy choice: I love the chocolate, the light on the Seine, the time — or rather, the lovely way that Parisians savor their days rather than dashing through them. Continue Reading »
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