Monday, February 23, 2015

French women’s beauty secret revealed #BOAW2015

French Village Diaries Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2015 #BOAW2015
Beauty of a Woman Blogfest #BOAW15 

I am no fashionista and my life in rural France is many miles away from the catwalks of Paris, but I still consider myself to be fairly well informed on the subject of French women and their style and beauty secrets. You don’t have to search too hard to find books about their ooh la la or their je ne sais quoi or their ability to never get fat and I have read most of these books. However, after living among them for over ten years I can tell you that some of them do get fat, some do go out without make-up, some don’t wash as often as my nose would like them to and some even have chin hairs and unplucked eyebrows – quelle horreur! Despite this I would still agree that a French woman has a special something that holds her apart from the rest of us and although there is no one fit answer, I can tell you it’s not all about Chanel suits and expensive fragrance, skin care products or lingerie.

What French women have is that they know how to feel happy and beautiful from within. This happiness radiates their beauty through their body and mind, making them stand tall and giving them confidence, allure and attitude. For some it is the knowledge that they are wearing an expensive set of matching lingerie that puts a smile on their face and gives them an inner glow, for others it will be a manicured set of nails, a perfectly made up face or a fortnightly appointment at the hairdressers (from my observations there are as many hairdressers as boulangeries in France). What works for you may not work for me, or the next woman in line, but that doesn’t matter, there are no hard and fast rules. For me it is the knowledge that I know their secret, that I am bien dans ma peau (happy in my skin) and never too far from my tweezers to keep those pesky chin hairs in order. I can now happily hold my head high as I walk into a room of French women and know they are my equals, not my superiors. Now you know their secret you just have to discover what you can do to give yourself that inner glow and confidence. Good luck!

This post has been written as my contribution to the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest 2015 #BOAW15 being run by writer August McLaughlin. I’m joining bloggers all over the world sharing their stories and celebrating the beauty of women. You can read what the other contributors have to say and be in with a chance to win some great prizes by clicking here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My patisserie challenge, the Paris-Brest

French Village Diaries patisserie challenge Paris-Brest boulangerie
My patisserie challenge the Paris-Brest

Welcome to my patisserie challenge. This year I have decided to buy something different from our village boulangerie every Sunday and to enjoy the simple pleasure of treating myself each week. I’m getting quite used to popping down to the village boulangerie, all of a short walk from home, buying the croissants for breakfast and making my choice of sweet treat.

French Village Diaries patisserie boulangerie Paris-Brest food FranceThis week I’ve chosen something I have never tried anywhere before and more fool me. I give you the Paris-Brest, a circular choux pastry shell filled with a creamy praline flavoured mousseline (a mix of crème patissiere and cream beaten together until light and fluffy). This wheel-shaped patisserie was created in 1910 to celebrate the Paris-Brest cycle race. What's not to like about a patisserie that celebrates cycling!

I might only have eaten one of these, but I think I'm in love and it might be my favourite patisserie ever. There was an initial crunch as I took my first bite into the crisp shell, followed by the soft, nutty flavoured creamy filling that gave a delicate, light as air experience in my mouth. It was a bit messy to eat, but I don’t mind messy, especially when it tastes this good. It will be difficult not to buy one of these every week.

Please join me next week to see my next choice from Bernadette at the boulangerie.

Here are my previous patisserie challenge posts, in case you missed them, buchette de noel, éclair au chocolat, forêt noiregalette de St Jacqueline and tartelette aux pommes.

I've linked this blog post to author Paulita Kincer's Dreaming of France weekly link up. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Found in a car park in France, All About France Blog hop

Today is the first day of the first ever #AllAboutFrance blog link up run by my online friend Phoebe at Lou Messugo. This will be a monthly event and is open to anyone who has ever blogged about anything French; links to old posts are as welcome as new posts. Phoebe’s idea is to bring together the online community and in time create a resource about all things French. If you like reading about France do click on the image below and hop over to read some of the other posts, I will be.

Lou Messugo

I could have linked to any of my informative posts on life in France, but as it’s almost the end of the week and for us, the start of the two-week school holiday is just a sniff away, I thought a fun picture post would be just perfect. Over the years I’ve spotted many different things popping up in French car parks, some things have made me smile, some are great ideas and some of them are just rather French. Here are my favourites:

French Village Diaries #AllAboutFrance blog linky France Baguettes
Car park boulangerie
Not all villages in France are lucky enough to have their own boulangerie, but it is now becoming common to see car park vending machines selling fresh baguettes, stocked by a local boulangerie. A Frenchman loves his bread and it must be very reassuring to know that a baguette is now available day or night without having to travel too far.  

French Village Diaries #AllAboutFrance blog linky France raw milk
Car park milk cabin
I found this rather sophisticated vending machine in a supermarket car park. The supermarket has a huge dairy produce section, but for those traditionalists who prefer their milk and yoghurts raw or unpasteurised this is the place to go to. The milk is bought by the litre and you can either fill your own bottles or buy an empty bottle to fill. Soft cheeses and natural yoghurt are available from the refrigerated cabinet on the left. The name, address and telephone number of the local farmer who keeps it stocked is clearly displayed. The price that the supermarkets pay to the farmers for milk is often in the news with the farmers protesting they are left out of pocket. Buying from this machine ensures you are buying locally and paying a fair price directly to the farmer. 

French Village Diaries #AllAboutFrance blog linky France mobile library
Car park library
All our local bus stops have a small box of books attached to the bench. Books can be taken, donated, exchanged or just read while you are waiting for the bus. I think this is a brilliant idea to encourage the children waiting for the school bus to read more.

French Village Diaries #AllAboutFrance blog linky France public toilets
Car park convenience
This has to be my favourite public toilet ever. Found in a car park in France it has been lovingly decorated to become a work of art and brought a smile to my face.

French Village Diaries #AllAboutFrance blog linky France farmer protests
A farmer protest at the supermarket
French farmers know how to protest and are firm believers of 'actions speak louder than words'. This heap of farmyard manure, dumped in a supermarket car park, is what happens when they feel they are being exploited.

As you can see a car park in France is so much more than a place to leave your car. Have you ever spotted anything unusual in a French car park? 

Happy eating, drinking, reading, painting and protesting - happy days in France.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book review of We'll Always Have Paris by Jennifer Coburn

It's Monday and I thought I'd share a memoir with you, so here is my review for We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir by Jennifer Coburn.

French Village Diaries book review We'll Always Have Paris Jennifer Coburn memoirFrom the beginning this book was so much more than the mother/daughter travel memoir I was expecting. Jennifer includes plenty of entertaining accounts of their trips to Europe, but also writes openly and honestly about her fears and anxieties, something that stemmed from losing her father when she was only 19. The many flashbacks to her youth, interspersed throughout the book, gave an insight as to why making memories and travelling with her daughter Katie was so important to her, even though they didn’t have an endless budget. They start with Paris, when Katie is 8, but that is only the beginning of their fun adventures. Every few years the bug bites them again and they jet off together taking in London, Italy, Spain and Amsterdam, but Paris will always be somewhere they want to return to.

This cleverly written memoir is very moving in places but Jennifer's amusing anecdotes also had me smiling, especially where they find things in Europe can be rather different to in America. They seemed to have such fun together and enjoyed being silly it was a privilege to be there with them. Sometimes teens can be moody and very embarrassed, but it seems their time together obviously had a calming effect on Katie and she was able to let go and have fun.

This is a very readable book and perfect if you love entertaining memoirs.

We’ll Always Have Paris is available in paperback and ebook format and if you are quick the ebook format is currently reduced to only £1.98.

You can follow Jennifer on Twitter here.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My patisserie challenge, tartelette aux pommes

French Village Diaries patisserie challenge tartelette aux pommes boulangerie
My patisserie challenge tartelette aux pommes

Welcome to my patisserie challenge. This year I have decided to buy something different from our village boulangerie every Sunday and to enjoy the simple pleasure of treating myself each week. My choice of sweet treat today is the tartelette aux pommes or apple tart.

From the first bite into the crisp crunch of buttery pastry my mouth was smiling as despite a moist topping of apple compote and sliced apples there are no soggy bottoms on Bernadette’s pastries. The  apple compote is sweet but not too sweet, the sliced apples are soft but not mushy and it’s finished off with a glaze that makes it shine. Compared to some French patisseries this one might be more simple than sexy but it was my kind of tart and I will be buying more of these.

Don’t forget to come back to see what my next treat from the boulangerie will be.

Here are my previous patisserie challenge posts, in case you have missed them, buchette de noel, éclair au chocolatforêt-noire and galette de St Jacqueline.

If you enjoy patisseries as much as I do, check out Paris my Sweet, a memoir of a year spent sampling the best delights Paris has to offer. It is reduced to only £2.99 until the beginning of March. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.