Mardi Gras in France: a Louisiana Perspective

Mardi Gras in southern Louisiana is a massive day of celebration that Southern Louisianians wait for impatiently for 364 days of the year. But in in modern-day France it’s just another Tuesday.


My Mardi Gras costume back in 2011. Can you imagine going through the metro like this?

Whereas in Louisiana people spend well over a month eating “King Cake” (a tri-colored ring-shapped cake that is basically a filled cinnamon roll  or can be interpreted a number of ways including a giant doughnut or even a cheesecake) and preparing their costumes for carnival, or in the countryside we play the “Danse des Mardi Gras” as of the chime of midnight on New Years’. In France they eat “Galette des Rois” through the Epiphany and on Mardi Gras day they take part in the lackluster tradition of eating Crepes and allowing children to go to school in halloween-grade costumes.

This year as a homesick Louisianian where today is not just any other Tuesday I embraced two asspects of the cultures I find myself trapped between:

I made a Crepe King Cake. Continue reading

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Cherbourg Umbrellas: MADE IN FRANCE luxury.

Cherbourg Umbrellas are the ideal luxury gift or souvenirs for your Parisian or French trip.

 Everyone wants to come to Paris and buy something distinctly French and a luxurious product is certainly ideal. But if you’re wanting to come to the Champs Élysée to buy a luxury bag you might as well buy it at home or better, at the airport. But If you want a coveted, made in France product I would suggest a Cherbourg umbrella.
Personally I’m completely crazy about mine.
Cherbourg umbrellas are an homage to the 1963 film “les parapluies de Cherbourg” starring Catherine Deneuve in her breakout role. It was the first and remains one of the rare examples of a French films that evokes the Algerian war. Directed by Jaques Demay it was directly influenced by Gene Kelly’s Singing in the rain and contain an elaborate umbrella ballet. The cinematic opera won the Palm d’Or in 1964.maxresdefault.jpg
The creator of the “Véritables Parapluies de Cherbourg” Jean-Pierre Yvon was born and raised in Cherbourg and remembers riding his bicycle through the scene as the filming was taking place.
To hear him tell it: one day he was in the shower and as the water fell on his head he remarked that though his town was synonymous with umbrellas there was no real production of umbrellas associated with the town. and so Yvon, the member of a leather working family since the 1800s, decided to create his brand
Something extremely interesting about these umbrellas is they are actually designed to be carried by body guards of diplomats and heads of state as they can withstand close rage attacks of upto 25kg (at 35km/h) that is the equivalent of throwing a full bottle of champagne at full force.
Francois Holland could have used one on the day of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris. This is tradtionally the first act of the French President after election to attend this ceremony and lay a wreath at the foot of the tomb of the unknown soldier. However Holland would never live down how soaked he got.Francois-Hollande-president-de-la-Republique-sous-la-pluie.jpeg
And I’m sure Emmanuelle Macron would have liked his bodyguards to have had these at their sides when he took an egg to the head.
” Le companion irresistible des temps incertains” has since been sought-out by other luxury brands (such as Moët et Chandon and Cartier) to create custom versions of their now highly recognisable umbrellas. Today they proudly sport the made in France moniker that makes them a definitively original and recognizable brand that you can bring home!
Their mid-rang model runs for about 160€ with a finely polished wooden handle and a spring mechanism that prevents it from flipping in the wind and makes it easy to close one-handed. Each is handmade and boasts 41 stitches in each umbrella. The umbrella also opens with the touch of a button near the wood handle. The logo is discreetly embroidered into the cloth canvas in more than 20 couples The classics in including hunter green, black, blue, bordeaux and heather grey. Higher range models sport a wooden post that adds an addition touch of tradition and luxury.
You can buy them at the Bon Marche in the men’s section starting at 95 euros.
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What to buy in Paris 2

Thank you to everyone who has read my first blog on this subject. So now here is part 2 of what you should buy in Paris. These are fun, practical, and affordable gifts and souvenirs you can bring home from the city of lights that won’t break the bank and will give you a unique keep-sake from your unforgettable time in Paris!

A fun boutique I found one day walking with a friend is Gab & Jo. A store with MADE IN FRANCE products. Tons of fun quirky and multi-ranged priced gifts the store first captures you with their impressive taxidermy rooster in the front window. The owner dresses him regularly with all the new items in the store. The owner Alexis is very proud of his wears and eager to help you choose the best gift for your loved ones either in French or in English. There is an array of things for everyone from iPhone accessories, purses, princess dresses, children’ toys, even boxer shorts (Le Slip Français are amazing products!really good ones!) all made in France. I mention the prin Sure some of this you could buy something simile in the US but the beauty is to find so many products and curiosities produced in such a small county such as France. Many of these object are handmade in small ateliers by local artists. You can’t beat that! And Alexis himself is a small business owner! In a city where mass-production is all around us it is so refreshing to find a shop like this and it a MUST visit.

*the best Laduree in the city is also down the street from Gab&JO so why not kill two birds with one stone!?!

Chocolats Patrick Roger:Minimalist, earthy, potent, and structured this chocolatier is my personal favorite. These are especially a great gift for a as a hostess gift French dinner party: on the many occasions I have brought them they have prompted oohs and ahhs from all. His specialty are these little globes of wonderful that I can only explain as frog eyes that are filled with an oozing key lime chocolate ganache that just erupts in your mouth. The combination is divine and undecribably fantastic.51A4NhwQScL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

These little globes though do not travel well, we can barely get a box of them to Limoges intact. But other delights of thiers are likely to travel better. I have a personal attraction to their candies then truffeled almonds: pop one into your mouth and you get first the bitter cocao, after a sumptuous melting chcolate and finally carmelized sugar around the crispy woody almond. You can buy these either little plastic sachettes or thier famous turqouise “coffrets”. If you really want to bring chocolats I would suggest thier ganaches au citrons verts. Lime is Partick Roger’s strong point and something you can’t reproduce: he makes a small chocolate that is a poivré (peppered) lime that is amazing. Another wonderful gift are thier chocolat bars and also “plaques” that is spread and shattered chocolat which makes for a great gift to travel because if it breaks any more…no big deal.

My favorite Patrick Roger i've gotten so far. A little chocolate heart box with my favorite caramelized almonds inside.

If Patrick Roger seems too delicate you can always try Maison du Chocolat. They are more sturdy chocolats and have a more varried flavor choice. I gave a box to my mom while I visited her on tour in Germany (my mom lives in the US and tours with her group the Magnolia Sisters) and they were widly appreciated. They also have some stands in CDG airport.

Marriage trois freres: An amazing Parisien tea that makes for a great lightweight gift. My personal favorits are the Parisien Breakfast that has notes of vanilla and grapfurit and the Monté Carlo that is spicy and stubtile. You can easily buy this tea at the Bon Marché or the Grande Epicerie but I would suggest going to thier tea room  hidden in the backstreets between the sein and St Michel(. This colonial-india decored tea room with plam fans and the servers dressed in panama linen suits is a wonderful place to spend a rainy afternoon. It is on the pricy side but a pot of tea can go a long way. Try a few flovors and buy your favorite downstiars in the store. Why not even buy one of their signature teapots if you can manage to bring it home.

Gas bijoux: Handmade jewlry from the south of france; these bijoux are my favorite. They are very afordable, you can buy a 24 karat
gold braclet for around 60 euros which is usually what I spend on gifts to bring home. This jewlery is inspired by the bohemian-chique style of the french riviera and has beautiful accent peices. Some of thier stuff is very costumey but worn with your essential little black dress in winter or your maxi t-shirt dress in summer it has some major wow-factor!

only 65 euros for this handmade work of art!!

Éric bompart scarf: Cachemire! what more can I say? As I said in part 1 a beautiful scarf is a Paris MUST. So why no go for the best?

Lampberger: I remember this being a fad in america at some point but right off the Champs D’Elysee there is a Lampberger store. All thier products are still made in one atellier in Normandy and really are an amazing gift to bring someone. There are tons of models of defiussers and lamps. The one I have in my home is a proceline rose that emits a contiuous perfume. I either have lavendar, jasmin, or a great blend appropriatly named Paris Chique. It is such a beautiful peice that sometimes people mistaken it as simply part of the decore. A rose usually lasts about six months or two bottles of perfume. I then keep the roses (though a bit browned after the perfume) and then display them in my bathroom (they still smell SO good).IMG_3366

Comptoire de famille. Like I said in my last blog of what to buy in Paris and awesome gift is actually French dish towels. Well this is the place to buy them, along with tons of other adorable things with the iconic print of red and white checks that you will find on antique kitchenware. I once brought an entire carry-on full of these dishes as a gift for my mom. Though I wouldn’t suggest that entirely I would suggest getting at least one of their bowls to drink your morning cafe au lait out of. And yes I do mean coffee because many French families drink hot chocolate and coffee out of bowls in the morning… The better to dunk baguette buttered with beurre au gros sel…YUM!!! Another cool grab in one of thier sugar tins. One box fits a French box of sugar cubes which also makes a great gift! Use the tin later to store tea or even transform it into a memory box with all of your museum ticket stubs and cards of places you visited. *sometimes you can get them on amazon incase you forgot a gift for someone.


French net market bag: One of the things that I brought back home as a gift this time around were 100% made in france knit market bags. the Authentic Filet Filt are awesome market bags that are made by a small company in France that began in 1860! totally worth buying, useful and easy to pack I thought these were wonderful gifts (i even kept one for myself)imp_photo_34633_1421139493

Orangettes: As much as I love fine chocolate from Patrick Roger these lovelies are the one thing I can’t resist! Candied orange zests covered in
are just TO DIE FOR. They travel very well and can be bought in nice stores like Maison de Chocolate (37 euros for 230g) or just simply in the grocery store (mono prix 6,89 for 200g)

You can also buy other candied fruits and in particular lemon zest. I use these lemon zests on salads an they are so delicious. I also dip them in chocolate or bake them into little madeleines. At my market on Ave.Presdient Wilson (Blog to come) every Wednesday and  Saturday there i a salesman who sells wonderful candied and dried fruits and his sister just opened a boutique on the Isle St.Louis near Bertillon Ice-cream (made and sold only in Paris) at 3 Rue des Deux Ponts. I would highly recommend visiting her and telling here EmilieinParis sent you.

Tights: Oh my love affair with France and tights must be my mom’s fault. I just remember her raving about them and always bringing back beautifully colored ones. But it is SO TRUE. You can buy beautiful tights in this city. There is nothing more french than a black dress and a colored tight. So very french. (For more tips on dressing like the French click here for my blog about Dressing for Paris) You can buy tights simply in Monoprix but there are also some fun stores like

School supplies: The french do school supplies like no other. My mom use to always bring us back notebooks, folders, fountain pens and pencilecases when she visited France. They are so different and interesting. So once again stop into a mono prix or treat yourself to a French Librairie Papeterie like Lamartine 118 Rue de la Pompe, 75016 Paris (down from Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower).2ddada63aa25dd37d919ddf1ec97276a

Remember that in France the smallest thing are the finest. We live by the saying less is more. This is evident in the way we buy food and in the things that we hold dear. A small gift with a lot of thought counts for more than a large gift with only a passing glance.

Enjoy shopping, tasting and touring Paris and please read my blogs including part 1 of what to buy in Paris which you can access by clicking here.

A+ EmilieinParis

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The Eiffel Tower this week

So the Eiffel tower has really been at it last week. As I shared in my last post we had Blue-White-Red decorations until Thanksgiving day following the events of Nov 13th and then the tower went green (literally) for the COM 21 event and now we have an excellent light show on this Saturday night. I don’t know what we’re celebrating but PARTY ON PARIS.

For a daily photo update of the Eiffel Tower follow @Eiffletower_Paris_ to which I contribute some of my photos.

And don’t forget to subscribe to EmilieInParis! in the top right corner.



This morning’s light was too nice not to share as well

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Two weeks later: the Paris attacks of Friday the 13th

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 18.00.46

taken on 14/11/2015 “Still Standing”


November 27 2016:

It has been hard to know what to write. With everything that has happened and everyday new fears rising; I often am at a lose for words for the things that we are living in this moment. As a school teacher I’m trying to help my little ones understand how this all could be: how it is possible for me to tell them everyday to be accepting of eachother and then for them to hear that our city was attacted just for what we are. Some of them don’t sleep on Sunday nights anymore; their parents write to us telling us they are afraid that the terrosists will be at thier school on Monday. I don’t know what to tell them. I don’t know how to comfort them because I cannot tell them that we are entirely safe. I just let them express themselves when I can and I hope that the music and laughter reminds them that our world is a beautiful one and that we should do all we can to share that even with people who may not understand it.

It wasn’t for nothing that they chose this place. Paris in itself is a city of light, beauty, fashion, expression and gourmandise; the eleventh and tenth arrondissement even more so. My ever-loved quartier of Republique and the Canal St Martin is a haven for bright-eyed optimistic youths full of music, art and joie-de-vivre. This neighborhood is a cultural intersection of our city belonging not to the bobo, the bourgeoise, the Jewish, the Arab, or the African populations but a place that is truly shared and frequented by all Parisians. It is also a site for free speech, for rallying demonstrations, for people to speak thier minds and fight the injustices of our world. It is not by chance that they chose to strike us here.

Many of you were so outpouring with your support. Paris was also forced together; reminded by the fact that we are all united: even if we weren’t effected directly we all knew someone who at least knew someone who was there or worse.

But where “support” went askew is when people began to send words of “don’t worry we’ll get them”or “dirty terrorists we’ll nuke em all”… No I don’t think you understand. We don’t want that. The last thing this world needs is aggression towards these groups what we need is compassion and understanding for those that are around us.

The Monday after the attacks a man in my metro car took it upon himself to defend our city’s honor by trying to provoke a woman wearing a hajib in our car who was bringing two young boys to school. She spoke to the children in perfect (though midly-accented) French and yet the man insisted on telling her to go back to her country, to get out of his French neighborhood and other things that I wish I hadn’t heard. On my way home the same day I was behind to young men speaking in American; I could tell they were students at a local high school as they were dropping lingo about intéro, BAC, and DST. However on exiting the metro at TROCADERO (notably diverse and international neighborhood) an older woman took to exclaiming “quel accent. Oh quel accent” as her ears were bleeding and she would swoon ( and I assure you she was not of the swooning physicality) for hearing a foreign tongue on her cherished piss-sented metro platform. She persisted well after the youths had gone well-passed on a rant about foreigners that I very eagerly speed-walked away from.

How can we expect people to intergrate a culture if we are not kind enough to let them feel they belong? Have we learned nothing from the fact that these men were Europeans, with Belgian passports? These young men encountered enough prejudice, enough slander, enough hate in their everyday lives that ISIS seemed more welcoming.

Today there are hoards of refugees coming into new countries. These people are fleeing a war that they do not wish to be part of. And people are saying to turn them away because they are terrorists. I teach my students that love can save, that we are accountable for our actions towards others, and that no one is condemned to any fate. If we close our doors and turn our backs to refugees or people suffering from discrimination everyday, we are bound to create what we fear. Hate begats hate.

It is hard to love all of the time. People of every race can be proffetires: to take advantage of openess and use it as a weakness. I do solidly believe that we should gaurd ourselves but that does not mean that every person that you cross does not deserve human decensy and respect even if you feel they resemble what you feel is suspect. Even if they are the villains that you imagine them to be, cappable of acts of hate against western societites; you have an impact on them. I’m not saying that one smile to one person will keep them from the sort of madness that we were forced to witness the 13th of November but collectivly we can show people that our world can be an accepting and loving place.

Our only answer for hate is love and respect for eveyone around us. Paris does not need you to discriminate and threaten to vendicate us. We need you to do what is necessary to prevent these people’s numbers and strength from rising.It is not muslims who promote hate it is people who are hateful that use thier faith to jusitfy irrational actions. Embrase diversity, differences, and opinions that may not be your own. Honnor Paris and its fallen: show the world that we are united and that we do not anwser with hate as these killers have done.

We shall not be afraid. We shall not hate. We shall prevail. Paris est fort. Paris est uni.

Paris je t’aime.

picture by Alison Moon taken from our balcony 11/14/2015

picture by Alison Moon taken from our balcony 11/14/2015


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The Fella: Bad jokes in French

So here’s on for my French readers:

J’étais à table avec the Fella et je lui demande de me servir de l’eau et il pose sa fourchette pour me servir de l’eau.
Je lui dit: – T’aurait pu finir ta bouché avant de me servir
Il répond- Je croyais que c’était vitale
et j’ai répondu :Non c’était de L’Evian.


Very stupid joke.

A+ EmilieInParis

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