The Best Books for Francophiles (pour vous et les enfants)

It’s no secret that I’m a total Francophile. Most of my favorite books are about France. I fell in love with France on my first trip to Paris at seventeen and I’ve been reading about it ever since. Everything sounds better in French. I love the style, butter, language and joie de vivre of the French.

You know those books that grab hold of you from the moment you start reading the first few pages? Who doesn’t love when that happens? If the book is French-inspired, I’m hooked! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite French reads…one for adults and also a list for les enfants. 


Mastering the Art of French Eating: Ann Mah’s book will make you hungry for a crusty baguette and thirsty for a good rosé. Her book is about love, food and France. The life-lessons she learns in France truly give her food for thought and make memories you can taste.

My Life in France: See France through the eyes of the charming queen of cuisine, Julia Child. Her joie de vivre, charm, personality, voice, quick wit come through in this beautiful book.

Widow Clicquot: The story of the visionary young widow who built a champagne empire, showed the world how to live with style, and became one of the world’s first great businesswomen and one of the richest women of her time.

All you need to be Impossibly French: The Frenchwoman is sexy, sophisticated, flirtatious, and glamorous. This book is full of the secrets that make them that way…face creams, silk lingerie, and shopping-as-exercise. Powell reveals how French women stay impossibly thin and irresistibly sexy.

A Year in the Merde: This book made me laugh out loud several times. It’s the perfect entertainment for Francophiles.

Lunch in Paris: It was a pleasure reading Elizabeth’s adventures in Paris and I love her recipes.

Dinner at Mr. Jefferson’s: I have yet to read this book but it’s next on my list. Jefferson was one of my favorite Presidents…probably because he was a Francophile too. This book celebrates Thomas Jefferson and his two guests, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and the meal that saved the republic. I can’t wait to read about a single great evening that achieved compromises that led to America’s great expansion.

Colette’s France: Colette was a true vagabond who came of age during the Belle Époque. She had all kinds of affairs and wrote about love in France.

How to be Parisian Wherever You Are? Love, Style, and Bad Habits: French women “don’t get fat,” are always elegant and effortlessly chic… How do they do it? We non-Parisian woman can learn something from Caroline de Maigret and her co-authors Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas.  I imagine these four women to be the French equivalent to the American Sex and the City girls…”without her girls gang, the Parisian is incomplete.”

Claude & Camille: Monet was prepared to make any sacrifice and have his family undergo discomfort for the sake of his art. For Monet, art came first and family second. Monet truly loved Camille but he had a difficult time balancing his two loves (art and family). Painting was how Monet dealt with reality and relationships.

Le Divorce: Two Californian sisters in Paris take on men, art and sex. Isabel helps her pregnant sister through a divorce as an American in Paris.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey: One of my very favorite books! The Journey is a beautiful portrait of Marie Antoinette’s life from early marriage to her reign as queen.

A Year in Provence: Peter Mayle’s dream come true…making a move into an old fashioned farmhouse in a small French town with his family.

The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Coco’s life and personal philosophies of charming theories about love, style and career.

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris: Australian, Sarah Turnbull writes a travel  memoir as a romantic with her husband as she tries to fit into French culture and learns to adapt to the country’s customs.

Eight Days in Provence: A love story set in the countryside of Provence, Eight Days in Provence will make you dream in color…like your swimming in a Van Gogh painting.


Pour les enfants

Chasing Degas: After a rehearsal, a young Parisian ballerina realizes that her satchel, supposedly containing her tutu for that evening’s recital, now holds tubes of paints. She deduces that Monsieur Degas must have mistaken her bag for his, and she rushes off to find him. Along the way, she meets a series of artists, including Monet, Caillebotte, Renoir, and Cassatt.

Bon Appetit! The delicious life of Julia Child: you will see the illustrations and little scribble notes are child-like and joyful. I’m so excited to be able to introduce Julia to my children through a bedtime story. It’s sure to inspire children to try new foods and find their own talent.

Le Petit Prince: This is the Beatles of children’s books…changing the world of readers forever. It’s about how a child sees the important things in life much more clearly than many adults do.

This is Paris: This book is so visually pleasing. It’s a wonderful book to introduce your children to the magic of Paris.

Eloise in Paris: Eloise’s mother wants them to come to Paris to get roses in their cheeks. I rawther love that Eloise is never bored…especially in Paris! Think about all the good things that come with being the age of six…Paris is her playground. My little girl LOVES Eloise!

Madeline: In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines…there’s not a more recognizable beginning to a book!! Madeline is my favorite children’s book. I used to dress as Madeline for Halloween. I love everything about Madeline from Miss Clavel to Pepito and the dog Genevieve, bien sur!

The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette: I wish I had a series like this when I was a young girl…what a fun fantasy! Louise Lambert’s best friend’s thirteenth birthday party is fast approaching, so of course the most important question on her mind is, “What am I going to wear?!” Slipping on an exquisite robin’s egg blue gown during another visit to the mysterious Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, Louise finds herself back in time once again, swept up in the glory of palace life, fancy parties, and enormous hair as a member of the court of France’s most infamous queen, Marie Antoinette.

Degas and the Little Dancer: I’ve been reading this book to my classroom for years and years! It’s the true story of a young dancer, Marie, who worked as a model for the artist Degas in order to pay for her dance classes.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden: I brought this book home from Giverny. The joy that Linnea discovers in Monet’s garden is touching. She has such enthusiasm for Monet’s Garden that will make your heart melt.

Charlotte in Paris: It’s 1892 and Charlotte lives next to Claude Monet in Giverny when an exciting invitation arrives. The celebrated impressionist Mary Cassatt is having an exhibition in Paris. Charlotte enjoys Paris to the fullest and even celebrates her birthday at the Eiffel Tower.

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers:  A young child brings Van Gogh a gift of beautiful sunflowers that become the subject of a magnificent painting.

Adele & Simon: My daughter loved this book when she was younger. She could relate to it since, like Adele, she has a little brother. Adele and Simon takes you to Paris…around the park, through the market, and all the way home.

Everybody Bonjours! Shop a fancy France-y store. Eat a pretty petit four. Discover! Sightsee! Explore! On this fun and friendly tour, everybody says “Bonjour!” Whether at a soccer stadium (“players scoring”), a crêpe stand (“batter pouring”), or strolling the Champs d’ Elysee (where folks “bonjour” in every store).

Julia, Child: This is a charming book! Some friends are like sisters. Julia and Simca are two young friends who agree that you can never use too much butter — and that it is best to be a child forever. The friends share a love of cooking and create recipes for growing young.

Happy reading fellow Francophiles! xx


Send Someone a Love Letter


What’s better than a love letter for Valentine’s Day? Jean Honoré Fragonard knew how a love letter and flowers could make a girl’s heart skip…add some chocolate and she’s smitten. Just look at the way Fragonard painted this young lady’s cheeks, she’s as giddy as a girl from the 1770’s could have been. Fragonard’s paintings were so flirtatious. Wouldn’t you like to know what was written inside this love letter? I imagine it was sensual enough to rival the Fifty Shades of Gray.

My husband used to leave me love letters under my windshield back when we were getting to know each other. You learn so much about a person when they write to you…it’s a glimpse inside their heart.

Letters are treasures…especially love letters. Here are a few love letters to inspire you to create a Fragonard kind of Valentine’s Day.  Happy Valentine’s Day and happy writing.


My Beloved Angel, 

I am nearly mad about you, as much as one can be mad: I cannot bring together two ideas that you do not interpose yourself between them. I can no longer think of nothing but you. In spite of myself, my imagination carries me to you. I grasp you, I kiss you, I caress you, a thousand of the most amorous caresses take possession of me. As for my heart, there you will always be — very much so. I have a delicious sense of you there. But my God, what is to become of me, if you have deprived me of my reason? This is a monomania which, this morning, terrifies me. I rise up every moment say to myself, ‘Come, I am going there!’ Then I sit down again, moved by the sense of my obligations. There is a frightful conflict. This is not a life. I have never before been like that. You have devoured everything. I feel foolish and happy as soon as I let myself think of you. I whirl round in a delicious dream in which in one instant I live a thousand years. What a horrible situation! Overcome with love, feeling love in every pore, living only for love, and seeing oneself consumed by griefs, and caught in a thousand spiders’ threads. O, my darling Eva, you did not know it. I picked up your card. It is there before me, and I talked to you as if you were here. I see you, as I did yesterday, beautiful, astonishingly beautiful. Yesterday, during the whole evening, I said to myself ‘She is mine!’ Ah! The angels are not as happy in Paradise as I was yesterday!


I am in the act of asking myself if I ought to reply to your question? A question furthermore most indiscreet and which merits a sharp reprimand. Reply, don’t reply, reply! Oh to the devil with discretion!

Well, you ask me pointblank why I love you… I love you, Vita, because I’ve fought so hard to win you… I love you, Vita, because you never gave me back my ring. I love you because you have never yielded in anything; I love you because you never capitulate. I love you for your wonderful intelligence, for your literary aspirations, for your unconscious (?) coquetry. I love you because you have the air of doubting nothing! I love in you what is also in me: imagination, the gift for languages, taste, intuition and a host of other things…

I love you, Vita, because I have seen your soul…


Fräulein Felice!

I am now going to ask you a favor which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well, this is it:

Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday — for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them. For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you. I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don’t want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that’s why I don’t want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?

Oh, there is a sad, sad reason for not doing so. To make it short: My health is only just good enough for myself alone, not good enough for marriage, let alone fatherhood. Yet when I read your letter, I feel I could overlook even what cannot possibly be overlooked.

If only I had mailed Saturday’s letter, in which I implored you never to write to me again, and in which I gave a similar promise. Oh God, what prevented me from sending that letter? All would be well. But is a peaceful solution possible now? Would it help if we wrote to each other only once a week? No, if my suffering could be cured by such means it would not be serious. And already I foresee that I shan’t be able to endure even the Sunday letters. And so, to compensate for Saturday’s lost opportunity, I ask you with what energy remains to me at the end of this letter…

If we value our lives, let us abandon it all… I am forever fettered to myself, that’s what I am, and that’s what I must try to live with.


Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



Feeling inspired? Grab you favorite pen and send someone a love letter! Happy Valentine’s Day! xx

LOVE LETTERRelated posts:

Letters from three famous Americans

The passion for literature and the romance of letters


How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Un Petit Guide


French women “don’t get fat,” are always elegant and effortlessly chic… How do they do it? We non-Parisian woman can learn something from Caroline de Maigret and her co-authors Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas in How to be Parisian Wherever You Are? Love, Style, and Bad Habits.  I imagine these four women to be the French equivalent to the American Sex and the City girls…”without her girls gang, the Parisian is incomplete.”

There’s hope for us non-Parisian women because the most famous Parisienne women are foreigners: Marie Antoinette, Josephine Baker, Romy Schneider, Jane Birkin…

Add some joie de vivre to your winter and read How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. It will make you laugh as you slip into their ballet flats and tap into your inner Parisian.


  • Wear a black bra under your white blouse.
  • Do not wear too much make-up, too many colors, too many accessories.
  • Do not wear logos. You are not a billboard.
  • Do not wear sweatpants. No man should ever see you in those. Except your gym teacher. Leggings are tolerated.
  • All you need is one signature item: the one you wear when you need to feel strong.
  • Do not match your purse with your outfit.
  • Wear navy blue with black. (And red with pink, a la Yves Saint Laurent.)
  • Don’t follow trends. (Trends follow you)
  • Your bag is not an accessory; it’s your home (…) If it is beautiful on the outside, that’s just to keep up appearances. And so that no one ever wonders what’s inside.
  • A small silk scarf is an essential to the Parisian wardrobe.
  • The Parisian wears very little jewelry: a fine chain, a simple ring, a family heirloom. It is as discreet as possible.
  • Parisians love going to the market. To go to a market, dress casually and carry a large basket over your shoulder.



  • Either go all gray or no gray hair. Salt and pepper is for the table.
  • Short, clean nails, sometimes worn with nail polish but not always. Simplicity is key. In fact, the French manicure is something of an enigma: it is the exact opposite of French chic. The Parisian does not understand the point of it and never wears it.
  • Do not have lip augmentation. It makes you look like a duck.
  • Of all the precious fabrics you love, your skin is without a doubt the one that fascinates you most of all.
  • In Paris, the rules are clear; you anticipate, you prepare for the future, but you’re never totally correct.
  • You never go to bed without taking off your makeup.
  • Cheat on your perfume, but only on cold days.
  • What you need for a restorative hair mask: Rum, honey, two egg yolks, and the juice of a lemon.
  • Enjoy the face you have today. It’s the one you’ll wish you have ten years from now.
  • Always look as if you are gazing at the sunset. Even during rush hour in the Metro. Even when picking up frozen pizza from the supermarket.



  • When pregnant…The word pregnant is an adjective. It describes you, it doesn’t define you. You replace your Bloody Marys with Virgin Marys, but that’s it: you’re no saint.
  • The Parisian is a selfish woman. A loving mother, yes, but nonetheless incapable of forgetting herself completely.
  • The Parisian does not stop existing the day she has a child. She does not give up her somewhat adolescent lifestyle, her nights out with friends, her parties, or her mornings-after feeling worse for wear.
  • According to the Parisian, this joie de vivre is the best way of inspiring children to grow up. And also the best way for mothers to never miss the lives they led before they had children.
  • A Parisian never hires a babysitter who is too pretty, always finding the less attractive one to be far more competent.
  • You don’t share the photos from your last ultrasound with your entire address book: you still have some secrets.

Hosting a diner party:

  • Never say “Bon Appetit!” when you sit down for a meal.
  • On Saturday night, the Parisian stays home and hosts intimate dinner parties. The true Parisian never goes out in restaurants and nightclubs on Saturday night.
  • When hosting a diner, the trick lies not in being a gourmet chef, but rather mastering a couple of recipes perfectly. One of them should be easy so that you can rustle it up at the last-minute. The other should be very complicated, to wow your friends.
  • The cook should never appear stressed out – everything must look effortless.
  • Your glasses on the table don’t have to match but they should be clear (nothing colored) and should all have stems.
  • At a Parisian’s table you will often find Laguiole folding knives, named after the French village where they are made.
  • Parisian’s favorite dinner topics: Politics, sex and adultery.



  • Laughing at yourself is better for your health than crying.
  • Do not take yourself too seriously.
  • The Parisian never gives too much away. When it comes to revealing herself, she follows one golden rule: less is definitely more.
  • Take the time to take the time because nobody else will do it for you.
  • Drink at least one glass of red wine between 7:30pm and 10:30pm
  • Asprin in the water makes your roses live a little longer.
  • Cancel your gym session to have a drink with your friend who’s just been dumped.
  • Be thankful that you always wear nice lingerie – you never know what might happen.
  • One should never attempt to hug a Parisian. La bise (kiss on the cheeks) may bring faces together, but bodies must stay apart.



  • The Parisian is in love with the idea of love. To a pathological degree. Her entire life revolves around the flutterings of her heart.
  • Statistically speaking, Parisians don’t often get married, but every Parisian dreams of her wedding.
  • The man carries your suitcases and your shopping – a woman only ever carries her handbag.
  • When it comes to kissing, the Parisian does it the same way she does everything else: with cinematic flair. Preferably all kissing should take place in the middle of the street. The city is after all her stage and she treats each kiss like a once-in-a-lifetime performance.
  • Always be baisable: when standing in line at the bakery on a Sunday morning, buying champagne in the middle of the night, or even picking the kids up from school. You never know.
  • The man pours your wine; you should never have to touch the bottle. It suits him- that way you’ll get drunk faster.



Related posts:

Mastering the Art of French Eating

Farewell, My Queen

The Little Red Hen Comes Full Circle

little red hen play little red hen play1 little red hen play2

It’s a beautiful thing when life comes full circle. My first year of teaching first grade (I’ve taught fifteen years in second) and I kept thinking of my beloved first grade teacher, Mrs. Lane. It is such a coincidence that Mrs. Lane found herself in my new first grade classroom at the beginning of this school year. Her granddaughter just happens to be in my son’s class.

When I was a six-year-old, Mrs. Lane gave me swimming lessons, took me horseback riding and had me over for dinner. She had hair like Crystal Gayle and she used a pencil to hold her bun. One of my favorite memories of first grade is when I was the Little Red Hen in the first grade school play.

“Who will help me harvest the wheat?” asked the Little Red Hen. “Not I!” said the pig. “Not I!” said the cat. “Not I! said the dog. “Then I will do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

Thirty something years later, I find myself teaching the same lesson that Mrs. Lane taught me.

The Little Red Hen works so hard,” said one of my first graders. This made for a great discussion. Poor Little Red Hen! She is always asking for help before she does anything but her friends refuse to help her… lazy farm animals! Once she has made a delicious bread, she asks “Who will help me eat this bread?” Finally, her friends agree to help her… This was everyone’s favorite part of the story because the Little Red Hen says, “NO! NO! NO! You did not help me…I will eat it all myself!”

The Little Red Hen is a cherished folk tale that teaches children the importance of a good work ethic…those who are willing to contribute, will reap the benefits.

I’m hoping that my hard-working little first graders will remember our class making bread together. Some of the best memories involve food…the smell of yeasty bread in a first grade classroom made for twenty-one very happy children. I think Mrs. Lane would be proud! Who knows? I may have a future first grade teacher in my room…and wouldn’t that be wonderful!

When someone asks you, “Who will help me plant these grains of wheat?” You should reply “I will!”

littleredhen1 littleredhen2 littleredhen3

There are several very cute interpretations of the Little Red Hen. My first grade class enjoyed The Little Green Witch just as much! The Little Green Witch is left to do all the “unhousework”…hanging cobwebs, dirtied laundry, and spreading soot. When she finds some pumpkin seeds and asks for her “tree mates” to help her plant them, the trio is too lazy (much like the farm animals). The BEST part is when the Little Green Witch turns her “tree mates” into LITTLE RED HENS!

Another Little Red Hen transformation is The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza. This Little Red Hen grows basil in a pot on her balcony apartment. The animals live in a city and are busy listening to music, jumping rope in the street, playing in the spray of a fire hydrant or chasing after an ice cream truck. When the Little Red Hen realizes she is missing an ingredient for her pizza, she cries out “Cluck!” The Little Red Hen calls out the window to see if anyone would like some…unlike the original, this hen likes to share. When the Little Red Hen asks, “Who will help me do the dishes?” The animals all reply, “I will.” “I will.” “I will.”

Related posts:

Battle of the Books

I had a Favorite Dress

P.S. Every first grade teacher should own a bread machine!

The Evil Eye: A Lucky Charm


Nobody has more evil eye charms dangling from their pot rack, key chains, doorways, rear-view mirrors and necklaces than a Turk. My sister-in-law Jeyhan is Turkish. We have a few evil eye charms that she has given us that we proudly display in our home…they are our lucky charms.

The evil eye is said to absorb negative energy and to ward off anything that will attract envy and greed. My sister-in-law graduated from college with a 4.0, was the Homecoming Queen, the president of her sorority and is now a plastic surgeon and a Mom. Do you feel envy now? Could it be that growing up surrounded by evil eyes her whole life has brought the ultimate luck? Here’s hoping some of that good luck will rub off on us.

The Turkish evil eye is called the Nazar Boncugu, which literally means the “evil eye bead.” The blue and white glass beads look like eyes. The evil eye is most effective if given as a gift.

The Nazar Boncugu is a beautiful blue color because blue is believed to hold shielding power and absorb negative energy. Don’t you want them all over your house? I have an evil eye on my necklace that I wear every day…it’s my lucky charm. This evil eye jewelry is dainty, sweet and perfect for layering.

Turkey is not the only place where evil eyes are used. Greece, Brazil, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, German…have all been wearing and using the evil eye for thousands of years.  Many different cultures and religions love the evil eye. Nazar Boncugu is unique for Turkey with its long-time glass making history.

You can’t go wrong; the evil eyes are beautiful, and they just might protect you and bring you good fortune. Wear or display yours proudly for good karma and say…serefe!

evil eye 2

Related posts:

Three sisters saying serefe!

A Charmed Life


Graceful Grace of Monaco

Grace Kelly is loved for being a movie star icon and a princess. Born in 1929, she came from an upper class Irish family in Philadelphia and was extremely well educated along with her three siblings.

She was the daughter of a self-made millionaire who was a socially enthusiastic brickworks owner and Olympian, Jack Kelly. Grace’s Dad was a champion sculler who won three Olympic gold medals as part of the U.S. rowing team and Grace’s Mom, Margaret, was the first coach of women’s athletic teams at the University of Pennsylvania. Grace displayed talent for performing on the stage instead of the Olympics early on.

Grace became famous in the 1950’s starring in movies such as Dial M for Murder (1954), The Country Girl (1954), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress, To Catch a Thief (1955), The Swan (1956) and High Society (1956).

She had the right connections and was a muse to many…Hermes even renamed one of its most popular bags “the Kelly” after her. She wore powdery gowns designed by Edith Head and MGM’s costume designer, Helen Rose. The pearls, ladylike clothes and hats (that she had to wear to all public functions) were all part of Grace’s charm.

She had a lot more independence than most women of her time and was hardly innocent. She supported herself early on, lived by herself and chose her movies, friends, social activities and men. She was comfortable with her sexuality and enjoyed the company of most of her costars off camera…and in her bed.

In 1955, Grace was asked to attend the Cannes Film Festival where her film, The Country Girl, would be shown. During her visit in Cannes she was invited to participate in a photo session at the Palace of Monaco with Prince Rainier. There were several complications and delays on route to the Palace but the end results were memorable and the Prince and Grace began a long series of correspondence with letters.

After getting to know each other through their letters, Rainier traveled to Philadelphia and met Grace and her family and friends. He proposed after three days and she accepted. Jack Kelly agreed to pay a two-million dollar dowry to Prince Rainier in preparation for their wedding…”The Wedding of the Century.”

As Rainier’s princess, Grace was forced to give up her acting career.
Her movies were banned in Monaco by the Prince. Besides being Catholic and the love for their three children, (Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stéphanie) they didn’t have very much in common. Grace didn’t speak French and usually remained silent so not to embarrass herself or Rainier. It was an adjustment for Grace to have her life centered around her husband.

Grace was kept on close watch in the Palace by her lady-in-waiting, Madge Tivey-Faucon. Her role was to spy on Princess Grace and watch her every move for Rainier.

Grace began to lose herself and became extremely unhappy. Rainier forbid her to act in what would have been her fourth Hitchcock movie, Marnie. Grace contemplated divorce but their Monaco priest, Father Frances Tucker said, “Your children will suffer most. They are heirs to a European throne. You’ll be lucky to see them again. I suppose the world will also hang its head in disappointment. She also consulted an American divorce lawyer but after being advised that she would lose her children, she accepted her life in Monaco.

Princess Grace may have seemed to have a fairy-tale life but she missed the freedom she was used to before marrying the Grimaldi Prince. She missed the closeness of her New York friends. She became more of a loner in the Palace due to being surrounded by Rainier’s disreputable friends.

Rainier was very opinionated and insensitive. He thought Grace’s appearance should remain unchanged. Grace wore low healed shoes so not to appear taller than him. Once she cut her long hair into a bob of the moment, the new artichoke style, and Rainier was so angry that he threw his drink to the floor and stormed off.

Rainier Grimaldi said of his wife, “She had the Irish in her, a mixture of good-heartedness and kindness, combined with strong will.” 

The spirit of freedom remained missing from such a beautiful heart, banished as a part of one of the world’s highest profile trades of one life for another. Sadness and happiness often walk along the same road of difficult choices.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie, Grace of Monaco due to release this year. Have you seen the trailer?

Five things Grace Kelly said:

“Fairy tales tell imaginary stories. Me, I’m a living person. I exist. If the story of my life as a real woman were to be told one day, people would at last discover the real being that I am.”

“It would be very sad if children had no memories before those of school. What they need most is the love and attention of their mother.”

“I’m basically a feminist. I think that women can do anything they decide to do.”

“My real difficulty was to become a normal person again, after having been a movie actress for so long. For me, at the time I was living in New York and Hollywood, a normal person was someone who made movies.”

“I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds, and who was a kind and loving person. I would like to leave the memory of a human being with a correct attitude and who did her best to help others.”


 Other posts you might like:
Elizabeth Taylor: National Princess
Romy Schneider: Greatest Actress of All Time

Romy Schneider: Greatest Actress of all time

Romy Schneider was only introduced to me within the last couple of years by my Austrian friend. Romy is not as well known in America but she is unforgettable in Europe. She was known as the “German Shirley Temple” in her early age. Romy Schneider was an Austrian-born actress who starred in German, French and American films from 1950’s through the early 1980’s (making over fifty films).

Although she played the Empress of Austria in Sissi, her life was far from a fairy-tale. Her father left Romy’s mother (actress, Magda Schneider) when she and her brother were young. Magda’s new husband (Romy’s stepfather) embezzled her acting money. On romance…her heart was broken several times (first by Alain Delon who left her for another woman and then the suicide of her first husband). The worst was when she lost her son when he was only fourteen in a tragic accident.

Romy Schneider was voted “Greatest actress of all time” by the readers of French newspaper “Le Parisien” and voted the premiere star of the 20th century in 2006.

Romy didn’t want to play princess roles or be known as a movie star. She said this about her role as a princess…”Sissi sticks to me just like oatmeal.” She refused to make a fourth Sissi movie. She wanted to be taken seriously as an actress. She moved to France and escaped her stepfather and was also challenged more as an actress.

She was stunning and a true talent. She died of natural causes when she was only forty-three. Her friends and family have complete conviction that she died of a broken heart.

1. “The moment I put on that first Chanel suit I knew I’d never wear anything else. Fashion is unimportant…elegance is all important.”

2. “If you get a great opportunity you have to grab it and don’t let go, then extend it with a lot of effort…talent is nothing more than love for the cause.”

3. “To get everything, one has to give everything. Which is quite a discovery for me. I know I am not easy to live with. I am hot tempered. I ask too much of friends. One should ask the maximum of oneself. But not of others.”

4. “Work, work and more work is my only true life. Life must go on. My work gives me strength.”

5. “The most important thing about me is that I am an actress. It would be a lie to say that acting was just my job or something I did for fun. It is my life. I have my home, my husband, my son. I have to be a little schizophrenic to cope with it all. But I am basically an actress who has a family; not a wife and mother who also acts. I prefer to work in films but if I was unable to then I would work on the stage. I couldn’t just stop and not be an actress any more.”

*This post is dedicated to my Austrian friend, Margot. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag und danke for introducing me to Romy Schneider. xx

Mastering the Art of French Eating: love, food and France

You know those books that grab hold of you from the moment you start reading the first few pages? Mastering the Art of French Eating is one of those treasures.

Ann Mah’s book will make you hungry for a crusty baguette and thirsty for a good rosé. Her book is about love, food and France. The life-lessons she learns in France truly give her food for thought and make memories you can taste.

Mah’s diplomat husband was assigned to Paris for a three-year posting. They were living the “American in Paris” dream together until her husband was transferred to Iraq for a year.

Mah’s situation was similar to Julia Child’s…both diplomatic spouses spending their days in Paris learning about French cooking. She even bought a house on the same rue de l’Universite that Julia lived on.

At first, the Skype chats she schedules with her husband are all she’s looking forward to until she gets a part-time job working at the American library and starts exploring France.

Reading her book, we can travel with Ann as she meets fellow food enthusiasts…a farmer’s wife who offered to give Ann the details and secrets of her cultured butter, a fellow food writer that she invites over for dinner to make soup dumplings and a wine adviser who leads Ann through her wine cave in Pommard.

Using Thomas Jefferson and Julia Child as tour guides she journeys through France, searching for the country’s most famous provincial and iconic dishes. Mah loved traveling to Alsace for choucroute, Brittany for butter and crepes, Lyon to experience a Salade Lyonnaise, Languedoc to taste cassoulet and Provence for soup au pistou…including regional recipes along the way.

Ann writes, “There is no croissant as crisp and flaky or as sweetly buttery as the one you eat, still warm from the oven, on your first morning in Paris after a long absence.”

Ann Mah is easy for me to relate to…she’s shy, has had a love for France since she was a child, is a tea drinker and loves Julia Child. I want to be her friend and make a pumpkin pie with her…a fellow Francophile.

Reading Mastering the Art of French Eating will make you want to be in Paris…preferably with your husband because as she writes,“If you want to go fast, eat alone. If you want to go far, eat together.” And “Somehow everything tastes better eaten with your favorite dining companion.”

Merci Ann! I so look forward to reading your next book.

Other books you might enjoy that take you on a journey through France: Eight Days in Provence, Paris to the Moon, Almost French, Chasing Matisse, A Year in the Merde and My Life in France.

Other French inspired posts you might enjoy: