Little Luxuries: Fresh Flowers

Little Luxuries: Fresh Flowers in France

Happy Spring! Here’s a little peek at the amazing, unusually warm, spring colors that have been  enjoying here in France for the last two weeks. Aside from amazing bread and cheese, another little luxury of life in France is an abundance of affordable, fresh flowers. There’s at lease one florist in every quartier whose bright bouquets are daily displayed on the sidewalk and whose doors are open even longer then the bakery for the last-minute date or hostess gift. You can get a bunch of roses for about five euros or a bunch of tulips for three; take them as they are or choose a few different bunches to create a unique bouquet. When you take them into the shop the first thing they ask is “Pour offrir?”, and with a simple oui and at no extra charge they arrange even a three euro bunch of tulips into a pretty package ready to take as any kind of gift. I’ve made it a habit to stop by the florist for a fresh bunch every few weeks, and even if it is only three euros it makes the house feel a little more luxurious. One of the little perks of the French joie de vivre. 

Little Luxuries : Fresh Flowers //  A Beautiful Journey
Fresh Flowers in France // A Beautiful JourneyLittle Luxuries : Fresh Flowers // A Beautiful Journey
Flowers may be pretty inexpensive around here, but I’ve learned few little tricks to keep my flowers fresher longer:
  • Change the water every few days, it keeps the flowers happy and keeps any swampy stink away.
  • When you notice a few blossoms are starting to get limp, downsize your bouquet. Instead of throwing all the flowers away, separate the blooms that are still strong. Find some smaller vases, glasses, or old jars, cut the stems down and make a few little mini bouquets to for around  the house to make the colors last even longer.

Happy Spring!

Besos, Dianne


Little (beauty) Luxuries from the French Pharmacy

   One thing I’ve come to love about French culture is the respect they have for aging gracefully. While I’m sure there are many women who do go under the knife, most of the women I see on a daily basis at work are not afraid to say their age and have the lines of life on their faces to prove it; the lines add grace to their simple style and attitude toward life. While they are not afraid to age, I’m guessing they also aren’t afraid to spend a pretty penny on the hundreds of products they can pick up to indulge themselves with in the French pharmacy. There’s no miracle to aging, except joy, sleep, and some special care, so inspired by GP’s list, and tried and tested by yours truly, here are a few of my (affordable) favorites from the French pharmacy.

1. Savon de Marseille: A block of natural soap from Marseille is simple and natural. My mom and I carried a bag of 10 bars of this soap around Italy for a week after our stop in the south of France this summer, and it was totally worth it. Or,the uber stylish bottles of liquid soap look oh so pretty in a kitchen or bathroom and they all smell so good-but you’ll have to go to a store for these the eastiest bet is at Gallery Lafayette.

2. Dry Oil:  by Nuxe or Lierac. OIL? Yes, oil. Where have you been all my life? Contrary to what I though, this dry oil absorbs quickly (I use it before I dry off from the shower) and leaves my skin soft and smelling like summer. I use it on my face (yes!), body, and hair (really!) year round. For 20 euros a bottle, mine has lasted more than 6 months. A little goes a long way. Nuxe also makes face cleanser and moisturizer too. I love Aroma-Perfection purifying cleansing gel to wash my face before bed.

3. Roger and Gallet-soap, oil, perfume or lotion-such pretty packaging and smells. The scents last all day and not only smell good but offer the benefits of aromatherapy too! I love Ginger, Orange Blossom, Lemon and Cedar, and the new Fig scent.

4. Uraige– Hyseac Mat pore minimizer- I tried this as a teeny sample and made it last as long as possible after seeing the results. A little dab leaves your skin perfectly primed and your pores invisible for the day.

5. Bioderma -Anything! I love everything I’ve tried from this brand- tinted sunscreen, daily body cream, face cleaner to lip moisturizer. Easy on the skin and the wallet.

6. Avene – Anything!  The first time I used Avene thermal water was on a tour bus in Spain with 10 high schoolers who my friend and I were chaperoning around the Iberian Peninsula for ten days. Our local guide was a cool girl who was reading Kerouac, using blue Dior eyeliner, and cooling off with Avene spray. Nothing like some French thermal spring water to calm you down on a crazy day with teenagers. I try to keep a little bottle in my bag at all times-its the perfect skin pick me up after a long day at work. I also love their daily moisturizer and just recently discovered the Avene soothing moisturising mask-a creamy mask that soaks into your skin in about 10 minutes and leaves you soft and moisturized.

7. Caudelie: Living in wine country it makes sense to use wine products on the skin too. Hand cream, face moisturizer or grape seed scrub. They smell wonderful and feel great on your skin.

8. Dermophile Indien: I saw that Garance Dore had this on her list from the pharmacy. I picked as stick up the other day and have to agree with her. A simple utilitarian look, no fuss, no frills, but it leaves your lips super soft for 3.50 euros.

Any products you’d add? 

Little (foodie) Luxuries from The French Supermarket

I always love to stop in a supermarket when I’m abroad. Not only can I pick up the makings for a great and inexpensive picnic, but you get a peek into the way people really live wherever you may be, from the fruit, the butcher or fish monger, to the junk food and candy. A stop in a local supermarket will give you a first hand look at what the people really eat (and, in France it is the chance to pick up some escargot or confit de canard for your dinner party when you return home!) and offers a place to pick up a few gourmet pressies too. Here are a few small, inexpensive and très French ideas for all you foodies.

1. Bonne Maman – while you can find these jams and marmalade all over the world for a pretty price tag, in France they are generally on the cheaper end on the jam aisle. A good price (under 2 euros a jar), lovely design with that calligraphy on the label and the checked top,  soo many delicious flavors to choose from, and the jar looks nice even after you’ve enjoyed the jam. Look for the mini jars if you don’t have a lot of room in your suitcase, they’re adorable and five jars cost less than 3 euros.

2. Maille Mustard – Of course, if you are in Dijon you must go to the beautiful shop on Rue de la Liberté, but anywhere else in France go to the condiment aisle. You’ll find a few different styles of mustard, from the original Dijon Moutard, the seedy Moutard a la Ancienne, a few flavors mixed with tarragon or blackcurrants, but my favorite is the Moutard Fins Gourmet with a blend of herbs and white wine which makes a turkey sandwich, or any sandwich, so much better. Again, while you can pick up some Maille mustard abroad, the price tag (under 2 euros) and the variety of mustards, vinegar, and pickles they offer in France offer a nice surprise. If you’re looking for something smaller check out the tiny pots of Edmond Fallot mustard. A pack of four flavors costs under 3 euros.

3. Fleur de Sel-if you’re not familiar with it, fleur de sel is the hand harvested salt scraped from the top layer of salt before it falls under the water. In France it is usually from Brittany. Lately you’ve been seeing it all over the dessert world with sea salt chocolates and caramels. It might be a bit harder to find, but check near the mustard aisle. If you can find a pretty little box your gift is good to go and will cost under 4 euros. If not get a bag and you can make some make pretty pressies when you get home, I’d use tiny little spice jars or a tiny lidded jar,  or you can check out Design Mom’s idea on how package them.

4. Herbs de Provence– Everything tastes incredible with a pinch of the mix of oregano, thyme, lavender, basil, rosemary, sage and savory. I especially like to mix some in a cheesy omelette for lunch or dinner. Look for some of the cute packages in the south of France, or buy a big package to make into smaller gifts at home as pictured above (from Terrain). A bag will cost about 4 euros.

5. Anise de Flavigny– These candies, made here in Burgundy in the tiny town famous for the film Chocolat, come in a variety of flavors from traditional anise to violet, lemon, or ginger. Pick up a few tins for the sweets inside and because the little boxes are so pretty. One tin will cost you about 2.50 euros.

6. Creme de Cassis I first tasted creme de cassis mixed with white wine in a typical Kir on a terrace during our first week in Dijon, and I was hooked. Since then, a Kir is my usual aperitif. The Kir is the drink of Dijon, it’s named after a former mayor of the city who created the cocktail; you can also take a ride around the Dijon’s lake – Lac Kir, named after the same man. Sweet and just a bit of tart, creme de cassis adds the perfect kick to a cold white Aligoté wine, or, if you’re feeling really fancy, mix it with some champagne for a Kir Royale. Look for the pretty Gabriel Boudier bottle, it is the best and comes in a smaller sized bottle that is perfect for packing. A small bottle will cost under 8 euros.

Which would you like to give or receive?

Any other light and inexpensive ideas for gifts from the French supermarket?