It is hot and muggy in New York right now and the really bad news, apart from making one's forays into the city nearly unbearable, -and a sure recipe for catching quadruple pneumonia from air conditioning excess- is that it is impossible to enjoy alfresco dining at all. 
I miss the long evenings of France in the summer, where you can stay and talk with friends while having a great meal, late into the night, without being eaten alive by mosquitoes or melting away in the heat... and into the darkness.
I guess I may have to be content with just beautiful memories and images of such glorious evenings from the glossy magazines that seem to really want to make me homesick at every turn. Oh, well. Bientot. I am relatively soon to experience anew the wonderful late night diners dehors I love so much. I really should not complain. So, in the meantime, share with me lovely shots of stunning homes with stunning eating areas somewhere south of somewhere. 
Revons un peu.

We can dream, non?
images cote sud, cotedetexas, brillantehome, desiretoinspire, mauresque immobilier, graphique de france, agedandgilded
au revoir.



I am regularly approached for "a word" of design advice. What would YOU do in this and that case?
This is not a rare occurrence and as flattering as it is to be asked, giving advice for a space you usually have not seen is not exactly like driving blindfolded but it does feel a little like driving without a rear view mirror; not really impossible, but pas très comfortable. 
Hence, this column: 
I will post  general advice in answer to non site-specific questions I have been asked. 
You may participate, of course. 
That would be so much fun. 
Just keep it relatively general, if you could. 

Martine:  I live in an apartment from the 60's. The floors are the square parquet kind, typical of the era. Is there anything I can do to make them more special on a tight budget.

There is good news and bad news concerning this type of flooring. 
First the bad news: 
1) those run of the mill, "blah" floors don't do anything in the way of style for a home. 
2) They usually need to be sanded and stained, at the very least, so as to remove the inevitable yellowish shade.
Very simple solution #1: 
plain stain and 3 coats of polyurethane
I suggest either very dark smoky brown, or light sandy natural. Both are sophisticated and will give a boost of style to this type of ordinary flooring.
Very simple solution #2: 
a few coats of paint 

Now for the good news
The geometric checkerboard pattern of the squares is the perfect canvas for something happy and creative or sophisticated or subtle..in other words, the possibilities for a great look are almost endless; the square pattern is an instant grid that makes any geometric pattern very easy to execute successfully.
Depending on the design style of your home, you can stain or paint and you can keep it very simple or let your imagination and your talent run free.
Stain checkerboards

Stain more intricate patterns
Paint checkerboards
All paint
paint and stain
Paint: more intricate patterns
If you can pull this one off, bravo! You are VERY talented and VERY patient.
I hope these tips help. Good luck and remember that the key here as always is good preparation, patience and a steady hand.

If you have any topic you may want me to analyze or any design question you would like answered, let me know at un petit commentaire below. It would be so much fun for me to put my 2 cents in. 
au revoir.



Today, Letitia Jett, the witty, amusing, brilliant blogger behind  a femme d'un certain age , and I, play a weekly game on our blogs. We share our views on our adopted countries, France for Letitia and The States for me, all the while comparing one and the other. We "come up" with a topic to "discuss" and we each publish our thoughts on the subject from our respective sides of the Ocean, never looking "at each other's sheet", so to speak.
There are some things we really love, others we miss. Some drive us nuts and sometimes we are very amused by something typical about our new homes. Whatever our point of view, we bring it to you on Mondays. This is what we interested us today...

Le bon, le mauvais et les ambuches
The first time I moved to the United States, I was going into 6th grade which was the year I would have begun to learn English had I stayed in France. Our maitre d'école tried his best to teach us a language he did not know during the 2 months or so that were left before our big trip to the Nouveau Monde. I don't remember and I can't imagine what he found in the way of pronunciation except for the words "all right" which I remember we were told was something resembling "al rig". We were surprised when our young neighbors said "Hi" to us. So that's how they greet you here, we thought; we had not been taught that! We soon went to school to a place where we knew not a word of the language - so "al rig" was not much help...to make things even more difficult, we had to take correspondence courses at home to keep up with our French curriculum as my parents knew we would go back to the French system in a few years. 
Our friends wanted to know why we did not "come out and play" and we tried to explain by way of an English dictionary from which we tried to translate word for word; so our first of many "translations" was as follows, more or less: "we must do our duty", we said. We took the word for devoirs (homework) and translated into "duty"; a correct translation of the word... if used in the singular, however. They must have surely thought we were doing some kind of military service at home! 
When one is obligated to learn a second language, youth is key. Even then however, learning the language while living in a country other than the one where the particular language is spoken, is still very difficult. My daughters were educated in the French schools of New York but were raised in a half American home, their father having studied and become perfectly fluent in... German, as it happens. Joy, the eldest told me that one day, speaking with French friends from the school about beggars she asked how to say it in French and they answered someone who asks for money, un mendiant. She asked what kind of coin was un mendiant, not knowing it meant a beggar. She is still teased about it to this day. 

By the way and totally off subject for your linguistic information, un mendiant is also a round chocolate candy covered in nuts and dried fruit.
There have been, however, small miracles in the foreign language department in our family. My dear husband Steve who is American, has had to overcome some difficulties learning and speaking French. One day when we were in the South of France, I left him with friends of ours who do not speak more than 2 words of English for a few hours, hoping communications would not grind to a halt after my departure. Everything went just fine and it was announced that Steve was much better in French than he admitted. At dinner that night I was stunned to hear him ask for "une tranche de pain"-a slice of bread- "Where did you learn the term tranche", I asked. "I don't know" he answered; a clear case of modesty would you not say?
So all of you out there who think French is a difficult language to learn,  I sympathise. I know what you mean: I had to learn English and that's MUCH easier than French!
Do you have a story to tell? I would love it if you shared your experience with a foreign language. What fun to hear the good the bad and all the challenges!

Please leave your comments, either below in the petits commentaires or at Letitia Jett's magnificent "Parallel" post at a Femme d'un Certain Age . It's always so much fun to discover your reactions and ideas.
Au revoir.




Palais des Institutions Italiennes
(Palais Moulay Hafid)
During all the trips I have made to Tangier Morocco, I had never been to the Palais des Institutions Italiennes. This time there was an exhibit of drawings there and so we went and got a double treat; the exhibit though small was charming and the palace is spectacular. It is a typically grand Moroccan palace with colored glass marble floors and ogee shaped doorways and just as typically, breathtaking gardens.

Another fabulous place where to go have a fresh squeezed orange juice or a cocktail or a meal is the stunning Villa Josephine where the grounds are just as perfectly tended as the interior is refined and cosy. On a clear day, which as you can see was not the case on the day I took these photos, the view of the sea and the coast of Spain is astounding and the grass is surprisingly green and the geraniums a beautiful shade of dark red. The Villa, now a top notch hotel, has an  air of the French colonies somewhat reminiscent of Indochina in the 30's. I could stay there forever. 

au revoir.



Part two
An afternoon in the Marais district of Paris is always pure enchantment and this time it did not disappoint, if only because of the spectacular greenery cascading on the facades of apartment buildings and restaurants, and in the many small parks surrounding marvelous hotels particuliers - large townhouse from the 17th and 18th centuries, some -or rather most- of them now grandly hosting some of Paris' most breathtaking museums the least of which is undoubtedly the Musee Picasso.

au revoir.