Friday, November 13, 2009

French by Heart

It is my firm belief if you walk into a Parisien boulangerie, you really could be walking into any boulangerie in France...
No matter how elegant the exterior...
Inside they are all the same, with the same testy vendeuse...
And the same pain au chocolat
OK maybe they are a tad better in Paris...
The same chausson au pomme and croissants...
The same palmiers...
And Lordie! Not to forget the baguettes!!!
Did you know the French government decides the price of a baguette or a croissant and it's the same all over France? Who knew?
So where am I going with this today..? Maybe you didn't notice but on the bus ride up to Boston I had my new book with me. It never leaves my side these days...
I discovered Rebecca Ramsey's French By Heart on someone's sidebar and I dropped by Amazon to read a few pages. I was immediately enthralled and continue to be.
Say you live in South Carolina, but have always dreamt of living in France...
Your husband comes home one night (he works for Michelin and travels a lot) and announces that you ACTUALLY are going to move to France for a few years!
That's right, you and your toddler, your 7-year old and your 9-year old AND the cat are all moving to France! To Clermont-Ferrand, 4 hours south of Paris in the Auvergne. Well really a small village nearby.
The kids will be attending French schools, you will be going to the local bank, and you will be going to the local boulangerie...
And you will have neighbors with a "lace curtain" mentality - i.e. they will keep an eye on your every move and correct you when you don't mow the lawn right or a kid's ball falls on their property etc.
This is a absolutely delightful book about Rebecca's family in France and the challanges and adjustments they faced living day to day.
I forgot to change trains Wednesday and rode 4 more stops with a big smile on my face before I noticed, I was so caught up in the Ramsey's adventures.
I'm only allowed to read French By Heart on the train. I want to make it last. Just 39 chapters to savor.
The point I want to make besides READ THIS BOOK, is even if you travel for a short vacation, there are challanges. Aside from all the local glories of Paris or where ever, you still have to figure out how to stand on line and buy a baguette without the vendeuse yelling at you and a whole slew of other minutia.
Travel reminds me of that line from T.S. Elliot,
"Do I dare to eat a peach..."
I'm sometimes afraid to go in a place in Paris and sometimes I don't because I'm intimidated. Rebecca takes those quotidian tasks and makes them into the most delightful stories. And she gives you courage too.
Rebeccca has a blog. Please visit.
Is there some bit of French minutia that drives you nuts?
Do tell...


  1. Ahhh....the when riding the metro and you are on a "jump seat" I didn't know you are expected to stand when the car begins to fill to capacity...or how about the first time you are the first one to exit the metro to open the latch to make the doors open....many. many little things that! Parisians learn these things as children! I will have to check the book out! Thanks, great post.

  2. You are such a sweetheart!
    You've absolutely made my day--my weekend! Seriously, Carol, I so appreciate your wonderful post. It's just perfect! Since the book has been out a couple of years now, it's hard to still get the word out.
    Thank you!
    And thanks too for the shout out for my blog.
    You're a dear.
    Love, Becky

  3. Laurie9:10 AM

    Love today's post!
    Carol, thanks for your post today. I can't wait to read Rebecca's book! I too would love to live in France, but the prospect seems so daunting, and totally unrealistic! :)

    I'm so happy that you had a great response at the French library in Boston. And the macarons looked delish, of course.

    Merci to you for the bit of France you bring to me each day!


  4. I lurk, I read, I love ... had to tell you ;)

  5. Hi Carol,

    This book is a treasure. You'll laugh, you'll cry. It is absolutely charming(as is Becky).

    Whenever I go into B&N, I rearrange a little and bring her book out front-hehe. This is a 5 star read.

    I have about 2 minutes but wanted to spend it here. Everyone- read this book!


  6. Sounds charming. They look like a lovely family, too. I've become much braver about what I'll "dare to" do, these days.

    I didn't know that about French baguettes--interesting. I make killer baguettes when I have time--but I hardly ever do, because my recipe makes 4 baguettes, and I could literally sit and eat all 4, fresh out of the oven slathered in butter if I had my way. That wouldn't be too good, n'est ce pas!?

  7. Love your post today. I can't wait to get this book. Sounds wonderful.

  8. I have not yet heard of this book- it sounds delightful! I'm adding it to my list :)

  9. Thank you so much for the link...I am off to see if Amazon Canada has the book. I love your blog and your amazing drawings/watercolours.

  10. I love those types of stories (True too). Thank you for sharing and for the recommendation. I will get my hands on this book.

  11. Valérie-jeanne12:19 PM

    As a B&N employee, ahem, I wouldn't mind if anyone faced out any book about France! I'm not familiar with this title. I'll make sure we get a copy of it into the store. I know I'll be reading it! Thanks for the recommendation.

  12. Wow, I love this one, Carol.
    I love the pics of the family (but I didn't see the cat!).
    Have a great weekend.

  13. Oh, I am so glad you are blogging about one of my favorite living-in-France memoirs! And I agree, Becky's blog is fab, too.

    Au revoir!

  14. Rebecca's book sounds a fab read. If my husband told me we were moving to France, I would be overjoyed, can you imagine :-)

    The boulangeries in Paris are just amazing, doesn't matter if it is on a busy road or in the back streets, they are superb.

  15. Annie in Maury3:19 PM

    Our local Boulangerie has delicious pain cereal, indifferent croissant and baguettes, fabulous croquants, a big cooler of Micheal Cluizel chocolates and one is greeted sweetly by Madam Labato or one of her equally nice helpers.

    The other day I parked our car up by the Mairie and unknowingly, dropped my shawl when getting out of the car.
    Next morning when I went to the car I found someone had tied it to my door handle.

    I love the country side.

  16. Marty H.3:20 PM

    You know your in Paris when the first thing you smell in the morning when you wake up is Bread.......!!!!!!!!


  17. Sharron3:21 PM

    Thanks for this recommendation. Ijust down loaded it onto my Kindle.
    See what influence you have.


  18. Ernest H.4:16 PM

    I even visited the blog & ordered the book!
    You are a powerful force, Dear PB.

  19. I want to read that book!

    We have lived in Paris 4 times now, 3 kids. Our stays are short enough that the local schools don't want our kids to enroll, plus they would be terrified as they don't know a lot of French. I would love to know that we were staying for awhile and they could have that real immersion experience.

    I also think the countyside would be fab!

    Annoying French moment, oh man, they come up almost daily! How about everything being closed for a little-known holiday? Or thinking you have it all figured out, which boulangeries are closed Mondays, and Saturdays, etc. Then you trek across town to check out a new one and it is closed on Tuesday...

  20. Ooooh la testy vendeuse? I love the voice of the boulangère - so chirpy and French! We could never lose that!! :-)


    --CHIC news from Paris--

  21. I'll have a look to Rebecca's blog right now but first I've to go down to my parisian boulangerie to get some croissants You're a dieting killer Caroll.
    Bon dimanche

  22. I went on Amazon and ordered one and then ordered two other books that sounded interesting. I'm having knee replacement surgery in a week and will need something to keep me smiling.


  23. French Lover4:21 AM

    Yes nothing like French minutia!!!!
    They have it locked up truly

  24. There is nothing about French minutia that drives me nuts, I have never been there! I am way to intimidated to go there. ;-)

  25. Hi,hi,hi Clermont Ferrand! NYC, I love you!

  26. 123 1235:43 PM

    Sounds like loads of fun
    A must read to add to my list.
    merci beaucoup

  27. I'm so jealous. Ah, ces petits pains au chocolat!


  28. Drat! I meant to make croissant dough and freeze some this weekend....maybe have a palmier or two with tea. Well, there's always next weekend.

  29. Hi what a delightful book, I couldn't stop reading it either!
    Oooh that pic of the palmier made me drool, I had one in Paris a couple of months ago and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! mmmmm delicieux!
    Funny that in Germany that pastry translated into English is known as 'pigs ears' - well it does look like pigs ears LOL More like a snout actually

  30. not fair, im so hungry right now

  31. When we semi retired it was a toss up between living in France or moving into our weekend cottage. I chose the cottage because when Charlotte tells me of all the strange little things you have to get right in France it confused the hell out of me. Visiting will have to do. I must buy that book.

  32. oh where to begin with irritating french minutia??

    i've been living here almost 5 years and there are constantly things that bug me. when i first arrived and needed groceries it didnt' occur to me that i wouldn't be given a bag to put my things in. so i end up carrying a HUGE load of things (the bags were extra and i didnt realize until after i had paid, and the cashiers are about as friendly as your average boulangere) so i end up nearly dropping everything as i balance it bag to my horrid dingy flat, arms sore from the balancing act.

    rudeness in general bugs me. while many french people are very nice and welcoming (my in-laws, surprisingly) strangers can be exceptionally, intentionally harsh. and nosy. there is very little sense of customer service in many places, its more like the salespeople feel like you should be doing them favors.

    thanks for the book tip, i think i've seen it but next time i'll have to snatch it up!

  33. hi my name's sam ramsey I was doing a project for scholl about my moms book and found your blog and i just want to say thankyou! I love your blog


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