Thursday, December 6, 2012

If you can't go Christmas shopping in Paris...



Christmas market on the Champs-Elysées
(American Frog Photography) 

Imagine that: We could be Christmas shopping in Paris right about now. 

We could visit les grands magasins, the great department stores depicted in so many novels and movies. 

Le Bon Marché, the only major department store located on Paris' Left Bank, celebrated its 160th anniversary this year. 160 years! 


The store was founded in 1852. This photo dates back to 1929
Le Bon Marché today
Le Bon Marché, Christmas 2012

What do you mean, "You prefer la Rive Droite?" 

Let's see... La Samaritaine, the first Bon Marché off-spring, closed in 2005, and when it finally re-opens, in 2014, it will be a luxury hotel, no doubt owned by an international chain. Quel dommage

Granted we could always pay les Grands Boulevards a visit; and stop by les Galeries Lafayette or le Printemps stores. There is just one tiny little problem: When I shop there, I get distracted by the flamboyant buildings and forget to peruse the wares... Does that happen to you as well?


Under the Galeries Lafayette's glass and steel dome, a couple of Christmases ago...
(American Frog Photography)
Le Printemps

In fact, there is another tiny little problem: Christmas crowds. Why don't we skip them altogether and head to favorite boutiques and neighborhoods instead?

Let's stop at the Lancel flagship store on the way. It is located next to the Opéra Garnier


Inside Lancel (my favorite French leather goods brand)
(American Frog Photography)

Let's jump on the Métro and head for le Marais neighborhood. La rue des Franc-Bourgeois and its boutiques await... Life is good in le Marais. Shopping or not, we will keep busy...






Oh, I know, why don't we walk to la Galerie Vivienne, the most elegant of all Parisian passages (covered shopping arcades?) We could stop by le Grand Colbert afterwards for a late afternoon pastry and coffee; or even stay for dinner, pourquoi pas?


Galerie Vivienne
Le Grand Colbert
(www.mytable.com) 

So much to do... So many boutiques to see... We could... 

Pardon? What do you mean you can't go? Oh. You're right of course. I can't go either, this year. Well, the fantasy was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?

Our friends will be disappointed, you realize. They hoped we would return stateside with bags overflowing with French gifts. Wait. We can still do that. We do not need to fly to Paris. We can find gifts for our favorite francophiles, here in the United States. 

Suivez-moi... Follow me...


  • Pour l'amoureux/l'amoureuse de Paris (for the Paris lover)

... because one can never have too many Eiffel Towers...



Red Parisian Pajamas
Eiffel Tower Muse Ring Holder(a wonderful hostess gift!) 
Pottery Barn's Eiffel Tower bottle stopper
Pottery Barn's Eiffel Tower Cocktail shaker


  • Pour la fashionista...

Kate Spade "Aced" this shopper, don't you think? Now is a good time to get it. It is on sale I believe...

Kate Spade's French Pâtisserie Bon Shopper 



Lancel leather handbags are difficult to find in the United States. On the other hand, Longchamp has become widely available, thanks to their US online boutique. Everyone knows their famous (and affordable) Pliage line. I like to surprise my special girlfriends with their cute and versatile pochette (or large size cosmetic bag.) Like the rest of the line, it comes in a variety of colors. My favorites (they go with everything:) graphite and taupe.






It is not secret French women love their scarves. The trick is tying your pretty foulard (silk scarf) just so. Not an easy feat, you realize, unless you want to stick to the same knot for ever. Anne, a fellow blogger, knows everything there is to know about scarves and loves to share her expertise on her elegant blog, Playing with Scarves. Even better, she has come up with a wonderful CD tutorial, available on her site. I received my copy a few weeks ago and loved the beautiful photos and clear instructions. An excellent gift idea for all Grace Kelly wannabees... made in Florida... by a French woman!





Finally... a unique new fragrance by Guerlain. I love le parfum, and who could resist that bottle?

Guerlain's new fragrance and its irresistible bottle: 
Every woman needs a little black dress...

  • Pour le gourmand/la gourmande (for the gourmet)

Savor life as the French do...


Join Macaron-mania... 

Even picnics have several courses in France... This is the knife you will find on most French picnic tables. Comes in different sizes and colors (mine is a # 8.) Always sharp. Indestructible. 

Opinel knife

Another item a good French home won't be caught without: linens by Garnier Thiebaut. When we have picnics at the local winery and attend outdoor summer concerts, I often use a couple of their colorful kitchen towels and spread them on the grass... an elegant way of displaying les munchies. Recent models wear Garnier Thiebaut's trademark whimsical colors and patterns. 



Beautiful... and they can teach you French words too!

Garnier Thiebaut Kitchen towel

French chocolatiers are renowned around the world. Most work in France, but fortunately, a few have brought their talent and creativity to the United States...

Meet the chocolate Master! I discovered Jacques Torres' confections during my recent New York trip. Once "le Meilleur Ouvrier de France," (France's Best Craftsman,) and later on the pastry chef at the prestigious Le Cirque restaurant, Torres owns boutiques all over Manhattan. The "Jacques' Choice" collection, packaged in his pretty signature boxes, offers a sample of his most popular confections. And who could resist his darling chocolate snowmen?



  • Pour l'amateur de bouquins (for the book lover)

You wish you lived in a beautiful home in the French countryside. You love dogs. Look no further: Voilà le perfect coffee table book...


The French Dog: Amazing!



Let's not forget [French] cat lovers...



The French cat

New York or Paris? Entre les deux, mon coeur balance... (My heart sways between them) Why choose? Everyone is talking about this fabulous little book by illustrator Vahram Muratyan, as they should: It is clever, humorous and mostly spot on. For the Paris/New York/big city lover in your life. 



A gem of a book...





I may get the matching postcard set...


Paris vs. New York: Postcard set

Finally, art lovers will be pleased to hear they can visit le Musée d'Orsay without the long Christmas lines... thanks to this new book found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art store...


Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Orsay museum!


See? It was not that difficult... and we did not even have to fly to Paris to find all these treasures. Merci, l'Internet! By the way, if you feel like searching some more, do visit etsy.com. Many French-themed, handcrafted gifts, made - with love - in the  U.S.A., await... 

So what do you think? Do you like any of these, for yourself, a friend or a relative? Isn't it fun to play "Père Noël?" 

I don't know about you, but Christmas commercialism or not, I  love looking for the perfect gift for that special someone; then watching their face as they unwrap le cadeau; and finally feeling soooo happy when you realize you "nailed it." 

Happy gift giving!

A bientôt.


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72 comments:

  1. There are just so many things mentioned here that I would love, where to begin...all of the books, the bag and purse..a few new scarves, a shopping spree in Galleries Lafayette and absolutely at least two chocolate snowmen.. Super post Veronique, bon weekend.

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    1. You're right Grace: Let's not forget the chocolate snowmen! (they taste wonderful too!)

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  2. please come shopping with me in paris! i'll meet you in the marais for a falafel! :)

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    1. Ma chère Pam, it would be my pleasure. Maybe next time I am "dans la capitale..."

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  3. This was wonderful, Vero! Like hopping on the TGV without all of the hassle. :) Lots of wonderful ideas here but I am done! Yep, done. I did all of my shopping while in the States so I could either leave the presents behind for family there or bring things home for Remi and Ben too. :)
    Bon Weekend!
    H

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    1. No hassle. You got that right, Heather. Oui, convenient, but could not replace walking in Paris streets for a session of "lèche-vitrine," right? It sounds like you had a fabulous time at home with your family AND you were organized enough to take care of Christmas shopping while you were there. No international shipping. Impressed, I am! :-)

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  4. That was quite a shopping trip..You are so good at finding the right things ..Lots of great choices here..I ave to admit the chocolate snowmen made me smile..
    That square umbrella would be a great gift too..remember?

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    1. I do remember the square umbrella chez Heyraud, Nana, but could not figure out how my American friends could order it online. It is hard to believe but some French companies (like Heyraud apparently,) do not do "online shopping" very well yet... Maybe next year...

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  5. Fabulous post! I was planning on going to Bon Marché for real today but it snowed so I stayed home. I think there might be something for everyone on my list right here in this post though!

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    1. Well if you do, have a fun time, and try to take a few pics (I know they discourage this au Bon Marché, but as the great Katharine Hepburn used to say: "If you follow all the rules, you miss all the fun" :-)

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  6. Love the photo of Galeries Lafayette's glass dome. Also..."les munchies." hee hee!

    I do love the Kate Spade bag, but we would be laughed out of the farmers' market for the cost of it (this year we got one free from our turkey farmer with his farm logo on it.) But chocolate is a different matter. And yes--it does taste better than snow!

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    1. Bonjour Alison. I agree. The Kate Spade bag is not that easy to carry around. Like most Kate Spade items, it tends to steal the show :-) Reading your recent posts, though, it seems you and your partner would make the most of the great Opinel knife (food for thought...)

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  7. No one does the Parisian "good life" like you do... Hopefully Seattle offers some good shopping opportunities as well, in compensation for not being in Paris ? In consolation...

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    1. Un grand merci Mr Toad. I confirm there are shopping opportunities in Seattle, and I make the most of them. But I still had to go and find my Christmas gift (to myself) at the Longchamp boutique store in Soho a couple of weeks ago. Incorrigible, I am :-)

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    2. ... I meant the Longchamp CONCEPT store in Soho. Sheesh.

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  8. Wow, that was quite the expedition. I could be happy just strolling around the Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché, an amazing place. I will have to get that CD tutorial "Playing with Scarves" for Shirley as she loves scarves, except for the Hermes scarf I bought her (she doesn't like that it is square) and wears them daily when we are in France. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Bonjour Michel. I love la Grande Epicerie too, but then again, when I visit France once a year, most supermarkets keep me busy for an hour or so... There are so many products I can't find here in the US. And the yogurt aisle... ah... the yogurt aisle... :-) Do look into the scarf CD. A great investment if your wife enjoys wearing silk scarves...

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  9. Ah, Veronique! Merci, merci for taking us on this virtual Paris shopping jaunt. I almost feel like I'm there, even though I am sitting at my breakfast table in my PJs! One of my best friends left yesterday for Paris - she goes in December every year. I have yet to go with her but someday, I hope. Your gift ideas are fantastic - speaking of PJs, I think I need the Eiffle Tower ones - do you think they would help me dream of Paris? Have a wonderful weekend! XOXO

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    1. Jeanne, you MUST get the Eiffel Tower pjs. They look really good in the catalogue I received, and they are made in the USA I believe (not many Christmas gifts can make the same claim I am guessing...) Do try to visit Paris for the Holidays at least once. It really is a special time in the City of Light.

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  10. So much to comment on here! Firstly, I too get distracted by the beautiful dome in Galeries Lafayette then eventually I start shopping in this wonderful store. I read a few posts on the Paris v New York blog and meant to order the book – thanks for the reminder. I’ve made a note of Le Grand Colbert which is new to me (and you know that I have a sweet tooth!)
    In fact, I would be happy with any one of these gorgeous gifts in my stocking on Christmas Day. Maybe I should leave my laptop open at this page..........
    Bon week-end, Véronique.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Dear miss b. I am glad I am not the only one who gets "distracted" by the beautiful buildings in Paris. I think you would love visiting Le Grand Colbert. It is mostly a restaurant, open for lunch or dinner. Until you do, you can take a closer look if you watch the entertaining "Something's Got to Give," with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I believe that movie is single-handedly responsible for making le Grand Colbert a "cool" place all over again :-)

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    2. I really enjoyed that film - I shall have to watch it again to spot Le Grand Colbert!

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  11. A very nice post, so much to see and to dream of. You made a lot of work to find all the presents for us, like a real Father Christmas. A few years ago I was there in December. It is such a nice time to visit a city. The shops are so nice decorated and the lights in the streets. Next week we go for a day to the Christmas market in Antwerp, also a city I love very much.
    Marianne

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    1. Merci Marianne. I think I shall be named: "Mother Christmas," from now on. :-) Have fun in Antwerp. It will be cold, but lovely this time of year!

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  12. Dear Véronique,
    Thank you so much for mentioning my Scarf CD dedicated to all scarf lovers! Thank you too for all these ideas you suggest. They are all great. I am sure Santa will get inspiration after reading your post.
    I really need this fun PJs... it's really cool. On my list!!!
    Much love,
    Anne (Playing with Scarves)

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    1. Je t'en prie, Anne. C'est bien naturel! You would look really good in those Eiffel Tower pj's... with a Hermès silk scarf artfully tied around your neck :-)

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  13. Whew!~ what a wonderland of images and things to see, eat and wear in Paris! I must cast my vote for The French Cat. I received this last year and it is one of my very favorite French books, and that is saying a LOT! The photography is superb and I'm sure her French Dog book is equally as well done.
    V

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    1. Bienvenue, V. I knew you would love Les Chats... et la Tour... :-) Thank you for your visit!

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  14. If shopping could be done in such a beautiful setting, I would probably quit buying over the internet. The only thing missing was the glass of champagne or kir royale that I would sip at the end of my shopping spree!

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    1. ... Kir Royal au Grand Colbert after a shopping spree... Tempting, so tempting, Jackie...

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  15. Dearest Véronique,
    Funny but we don't exchange any 'cadeau' especially for Christmas. It is magical throughout the year, without all the over done pressure and way too commercial push. Maybe we changed after having lived and worked all over the world and getting to know poverty... For us, we celebrate Christmas purely religious and that is le plus grand et le plus beau cadeau!
    Hugs to you,
    Mariette

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    1. And that is a very personal and interesting approach Mariette. You must feel a bit lonely upholding that tradition in your corner of the United States... :-)

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  16. Loved this post. It is like a Christmas gift! Thanks. Actually you have done a bit of my shopping for me. That New York verses Paris book is the perfect gift for a dear friend. Have a wonderful holiday season. Janey

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    1. You're welcome Janey. I am glad I saved you some time during the busy Holiday season. And as we both know, time is of the essence right about now :-)

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  17. Thanks for the French tour! I went from Vicki Archer's blog right over to yours and feel very French chic about now.

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  18. Oh! It all looks so fabulous. And you're absolutely correct. The new Guerlain bottle is stunning. I want one. As well as the scent inside, of course. :) And i love Rachael Hale's books. I have her book "Small Dogs." It's adorable. Then there are the chocolate snowmen.. and.. and.. But wait! I'm supposed to be shopping for those other than myself, right? lol.

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    1. Well, you could get a couple of these for others, and then a couple more for you... I am sure you have been "nice," this year, right, Mary? :-)

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  19. I enjoyed both your tour in New York and this shopping tour in Paris. I just realized when reading your last post that Edith Piaf had been gone 50 years – I just can’t believe it. Before I came to the US I worked for an international music publishing company and once, when the secretary was out, I had to take a phone call from Edith Piaf who wanted to change some lyrics in a song and I had to write them down. I also saw her at l’Olympia. The years went fast. Now I do miss les vitrines de Paris because here, since the Macy’s stores and others like Nordstrom are in malls they don’t have windows. But that was when I was a kid, when I was in France later on though we did not celebrate Christmas much with my friends, that was for the family and children, but we had a ball for the New Year! This year I did my Christmas shopping in Venice, Italy – they have pretty things there too.

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    1. Bonjour Vagabonde. Always wonderful to hear from you! You are right about Edith Piaf. I believe the Patricia Kaas tour was organized to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Edith's death next year. And you actually talked to her once! Wow!

      I enjoyed seeing some of the photos of your Venice trip. I am hoping for a few more to be honest :-)

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  20. Oh yes - I'll take all these potential gifts!
    I would also love to give these wonderful gifts to all my friends and relatives.

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  21. So many lovely places and things. Love the French Cat book. Lili loves it too! ;)

    Happy Holiday!

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    1. I bet she does. You should get the book for Lili for Christmas :-)

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  22. Bonsoir Veronique. Everything you featured here are so tempting to go to Paris and just shop till we drop. I love all of those Grand Magasins and petit boutiques in those different arrondissement in Paris. Merci beacoup.

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    1. You're welcome Pamela. I hope you get to visit Paris during the Holidays soon...

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  23. This is the very reason why I will avoid Paris for many years to come. I'm too young to declare bankruptcy. I remember being in London for Christmas shopping one year, and I was in awe.

    Anyway, great blog, would you like to follow each other?

    WWW.ROXTHEFOX.COM

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    1. "Too young to declare bankruptcy..." -- Ha!Ha! Funny! Will swing by your blog later on today...

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  24. I so very much loved this post. (And those pajamas!!) You actually answered a question I had many years back. I went to visit Paris once in 2006, and I could never figure out the store hours to La Samaritaine!! HAHAHAHA Now I know: it wasn't ever going to open.
    Sad.
    I so hope that I get to return to Paris and spend a good deal of months there. I'm trying!

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    1. Bonjour Amber, and welcome back! I was so sad when la Samaritaine closed down. I still remember the amazing view from the restaurant sitting at the top of the building; one of the best in Paris! I hope you get to return soon.

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  25. Oh how this post makes me smile. I love performing that delicate balancing act you speak of between New York (my soul) and Paris (my heart). I am incomplete without them both.

    I will have to expand my Christmas list to include all those gorgeous books, particularly the French cats. My Victor will love it.

    Joyeuse Fêtes.

    xoxo, M-T

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  26. J'adore Dior! I want that Eiffel Tower bottle stopper. Fun Post.xx =)

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    1. I think I want the Eiffel Tower bottle stopper too. I already have the big Bulldog one. They would look cool next to each other, don't you think? :-)

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    2. They would look super together! =)

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  27. Oh la la, what a marvelous fantasy tour with a realistic turn in the end. Great links and notions! Merci!

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    1. Je vous en prie... Hope Nice and la Côte d'Azur are treating you well, lucky dog!

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  28. Drop me off at Galleries LaFayette and leave me there for an hour or two or three .... Oh No ! I will need all day .... all those pretty baubles and bows a a spitz or two of Guerlain's newest parfum La Petite Robe Noir.
    Oh to be in Paris at Christmas-time ... now you've got me dreaming!

    "All Things French"

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Dianne, and for joining my "Followers..." I hope you enjoy your visits here, chez French Girl in Seattle...

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  29. What a delightful gift-tour of Paris! I am truly missing the big tree at GL this year along with the animated windows. If I were shopping for myself, I would have a complete list now with a knife and another kitchen linen - oh la la!

    Our young French friend Isabelle is in the US with Holly and her family for three weeks and all will be down to see us on the 26th. She will be making Canelés de Bordeaux with us - miam-miam!

    Bises,
    Genie

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    1. Well, so you will be having an almost-French Christmas, then. And les Cannelés sound wonderful (I would pick them any day over la bûche de Noël...) Any chance Isabelle is from Bordeaux? :-)

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  30. Such amazing scenery!! I think I'll add Paris to my bucket list :)

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    1. I am guessing there may be many things already, in your bucket list. Beware: Paris will outshine them all :-)

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  31. Me again..I just wanted to let you know that I featured Marina today,(on my blog) My French exchange student from France who I think looks like you.

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    1. Welcome back, Janey. Will stop by to see *your* French Girl! :-)

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  32. A very good way to shop Veronique... love your selections..
    I wanted to wish you a happy Christmas and to thank you for all your generous and lovely words this year... Our blogging community is a very special one and I feel so privileged to be a part of it with you... Happy holidays... xv

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    1. Merci Vicki. Happy Holidays to you and your family... in Provence, in Paris, or in London! :-)

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  33. My goodness, Veronique! What a wonderful and interesting post!
    Merci for given me the chance for this comfortable "armchair-shopping" :) :) :)
    Beautiful images, really stunning!

    Best wishes and warmest greetings from the Périgord,
    Karin

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    1. Ah, le Périgord... I bet it will be a lovely Christmas in that beautiful French region... Joyeux Noël, Karin!

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  34. beautiful images... happy holidays!

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    1. Merci beaucoup. Joyeuses Fêtes à vous aussi!

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  35. I'm keeping an eye on the Eiffel pj's from Gump's. I love the toile ones I ordered from them.

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle