Fragments

A few weeks ago, I went to a delightful jazz concert at a winery in the countryside outside of Carcassonne. I’ve been to concerts there before, since we first moved here. This concert was by the Marc Deschamps trio, who embodied 1950s cool cats of jazz and who played a mix of beloved standards and lesser-known pieces by such pillars of jazz as Dave Brubeck. As lovely as the music was, the concert room, as always, was the star of the show.

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Tinsel Town

A couple of days ago, I noticed that reindeer had landed in the square, the first ride of the “Magie de Noël” (Christmas Magic–not Magi like the three guys who followed a star with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh). And today, I shared a laugh with a municipal worker who was rolling giant “snowballs” down rue Trivalle on their way to being hung up.

The sign says “Strasbourg Capital of Christmas”
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Truffles!

Today was the truffle market at Moussoulens, just northwest of Carcassonne. The beauty above is the one that came home with me, ringing in at 25€ (the going price is 800€ per kilogram). It will perfume my meals for a week, and that includes a truffled risotto dinner I plan to have with a few friends.

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Winter Style

Here’s a little look at some stylish people I’ve noticed lately. It’s more of a challenge in winter, when being warm and waterproof are an integral part of looking good. As always, my eye goes to colors, shape and flair, regardless of the particularities of the body wearing the clothes. Lots of coats, because it’s winter and we’re mostly sitting at outdoor cafés or shopping at outdoor markets and Christmas markets.

For example, this woman wasn’t young, but I thought she looked great. Her coat swung dramatically in the breeze. She had a cool scarf, which I didn’t get in the shot. With her bad-ass boots, she walked like she was on her way to chair a meeting of the Board to Run the World.

Quite another bad-ass. Partly shaved head, and the longer bit is dyed a pastel rainbow. Tartan shawl flapping long out of the coat. Jeans tucked into boots. Not my look, but she gets points for having A Look, call it My Little Punk Pony. Life would be boring if everybody wore classic, dark suits.

More classic, more typically French. The big paisley shawl adds a lot to an otherwise undaring look. How easy is that? Toss a shawl around your shoulders, and voilà! Instant flair. It’s attainable.

This one is interesting. Classic haircut and business suit meet patterned tights and combat boots. I haven’t found any combat boots that fit my wide feet, but they LOOK comfortable. They certainly change the attitude on an outfit. I bet her co-workers answer “how high?” when she says “jump.” Good for her.

More boots. Zebra print with leather jacket to move beyond your usual black-and-white outfit.

I think this is the same woman–red coat, hat. Both times she has red footwear–boots at the top and escarpins (pumps) at the bottom. And why not–with a pretty red coat, why not continue with a red accessory–but just one, not too many. She could have gone too far with a red hat, red bag, etc.

Speaking of colorful coats, I was at a café when a woman left wearing a canary-yellow single-breasted reefer coat. Around her neck, she had a multicolored silk scarf that had a hint of yellow in the design. White jeans with a frayed hem, and camel boots. I told her she looked great. I saw her again a few days later–hard to forget the yellow coat–and she was wearing it with black trousers and trainers. Looked great. Sorry I didn’t get her photo.

A few photos of what the younger ones are wearing. Monochrome is popular. Big shoulders are back! Also the kids seem to be dressing up–fewer ripped jeans, or, if they wear them, it’s with something “fancy.” High/low combos.

Buffalo check coats are everywhere, not just in these colors but also lots of black and white and even other colors. Notice: a French woman wearing a beret. They really do! She’s pretty monochrome, too–cream beret, cross-body bag and shoes, and the coat is in neutral tones.

I thought these two were cute, too. The flowing skirt with trainers, and the fuchsia sweater. The classic camel coat with trainers. There seems to be a shift toward wool coats and away from duvet or puffer jackets. You still see them–sometimes I count a dozen within a block–and they are undeniably practical, not weighing a ton yet being warm. But they fall down in the looks department.

As for me, my two main coats are each decades (yes, plural) old. And they still look good. In fact, I got compliments just last week on my 25-year-old long, gray Russian-style coat with frog closures and black “fur” trim at the cuffs and the stand-up collar. It could be vintage, except I’ve had it since it was new. One of the best cost-per-wear purchases I’ve ever made.

How do you style up your coat game? What trends are you seeing?

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

People Who Need People

It is heartbreaking to see what the pandemic is doing to French culture. Yes, the deaths and long-term suffering are far more important than complaints about culture. I hope the changes don’t take hold, either. It seems the major method of transmission is in family/friends settings, and so life has largely returned to normal with the exception that we have a 6 p.m. curfew in order to rule out get-togethers after work. Restaurants and bars are closed, and I see more and more of them dropping their flimsy lifelines of lunch takeout and “for sale” or “for rent” signs appearing in their windows. I think the survivors will be mobbed when they are allowed to reopen. It’s all everybody wants to do–go out, have a meal or drinks with friends. We crave company.

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Steps to Sophistication

I started this post a while ago, after I saw “Emily in Paris,” the social-media-drenched, Gen-Z version of “Sex in the City,” transported across the Atlantic. It’s a confection as substantial as a Ladurée macaron and equally delicious. The City of Light even outshines the series’ gorgeous star, Lilly Collins.

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Emily in Paris

Have you seen “Emily in Paris”? It’s fun, but oh-la-la! the exaggerations!

The story is about a young social media whiz sent at the last minute to fill in for a French-speaking senior colleague. Our heroine, Emily, is neither senior nor able to speak French. She doesn’t even have experience in the same sector as the Paris office she’s sent to. But she bubbles over about how she’s going to teach them. No wonder they aren’t happy with her.

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