“Entranced by France” – A blog about all things French in Sydney and beyond.
Ever since I can recall I have been “Entranced by France”. My obsession with all things Francais has been a part of my life forever and, I make no apologies, is only intensifying with age. Paris in particular holds that special place in my heart – for me there is some unexplainable spiritual connection to the city of love. I know it’s not an original passion or obsession but it’s a heart felt passion and is something in my life that continually fuels my mind and soul. Everything about Paris excites and inspires me – the food, culture, language, art, the national love of literature, market streets, way of life, the beautiful architecture, the winding cobble stone streets and pristine Rues, bouquiniste stalls, the bridges, trees and lamp posts, street signs, countless cafes and bistros, the wines, boulangeries, fromageries, chacuteries, fairytale-like shop fronts and roof tops, shuttered windows, the magnificent Eiffel Tower and oh those enchanting Haussmann buildings with their ornate details.
When I look back at my childhood, I can remember how delighted I used to be when I would see Paris/France documentaries on TV and I can’t count how many times I had watched the old Hollywood classic movies like Gigi, Paris When It Sizzles, Funny Face and An American in Paris. I would spend hours as a child looking at books about Paris and French gardens in libraries. I would spend even more hours looking through magazines and cutting out images of France or French things and drawing images of Paris in my scrap books. In the days I dreaded going to school I would think of all the “French” things I could do at the end of the school day to get me through. Even as a child market scenes and the smells and delights of Parisian-like bakeries were more exciting to me than the pop culture of the 80’s. Any time expended in a bakery or cafe enjoying a flaky, buttery croissant or Petit Gateau was time well spent. Crepes and omelettes were the first things I learnt how to make thanks to my Grandmother’s patience and dedication and that has come in very handy today as they are requested regularly by my boys.
Growing up in European inspired Melbourne, a city that can be likened to Paris, was a lovely time and I remember days spent strolling through the many beautiful public gardens and walks along the Yarra river and city, especially Collins Street known as ‘little Paris” and not to forget the amazing Acland Street (Melbourne’s Mecca for cakes and all things sweet) and countless hours spent at markets and exhibitions of French artists were by far my favourite moments. Later in my teens, I was completely and totally captivated by Impressionism and Post Impressionism and developed an obsessive love for Claude Monet, his art, water-lilies and his enchanting gardens in Giverny. In my teens another French obsession appeared and has become a whole separate infatuation altogether and one I’ll perhaps need to create a separate blog for (ha ha) and that is the remarkable and fascinating Coco Chanel and all things Chanel. In my younger years I fancied the idea that I was her re-incarnation or soul sister as the more I read and discovered about Chanel the more I learnt how much I have in common with her especially my love affair with black or achromatic attire and philosophies on life. This obsession with Chanel all began at the tender age of 14 and my mother’s bottle of Chanel No 5 was the provocation. The prettiness of the bottle and the sweet smell it evoked put me under a life-long spell and sparked yet another interest and passion of mine – all things fragrance! My glamorous mother, who was pretty well stocked in the fragrance department and continues to be thanks to moi, was kind enough to give me her precious bottle of No 5 to have as my very own –tres bien! My most treasured and favourite accessories are my tres chic Chanel sunglasses, gorgeous 255 classic hand bag and of course my beloved Chanel No5 fragrance.
Now as a mature woman, this love affair of all things French continues to evolve, spreading into further tangents with every passing year. Over time, my home has become a shrine to France and I’m never too far away from my beloved Paris as my bookshelves are filled with music and literature on the subject. I have countless books on Expats to France, French fiction, French interiors, Impressionism and French artists, French bistros and cook books (love my celebrity chefs), books about dogs in Paris, cats in Paris and more Eiffel tower tchotchkes than I could possibly count but make me smile from ear to ear whenever I see them. Every morning I awake to the sight of an Eiffel tower art piece I adore that hangs beside my bedroom window evoking the feeling that I’m waking up in Paris. My love of all things sweet also continues to unashamedly blossom over time. I was beside myself with joy when a French Creperie opened a suburb away and a Parisian bakery appeared as if by magic around the corner from our street. Once again I could indulge in delicious Nutella crepes as well as French bread and patisserie just like they make in France. I’ve become a regular at our Parisian boulangerie and I’m now only a few minutes away from a breakfast Parisienne or a delicate madeleine or macaron not to forget those sensational almond croissants.
Having recently returned from my very first long-awaited dream trip to Paris, I have never been more passionate or inspired in my life and I will be happy to share my travels and future trips with you along the way. Finally visiting my beloved Paris for my 40th birthday with my darling husband Alex was a dream come true and the memories of this trip will stay with me until I die. Paris has changed my life and brought me so much happiness and yet every day since my return I long to go back and feel extremely broken-hearted like someone who has left a great love or soul-mate behind. This feeling of longing together with the great happiness that French things give me is the motivation behind this blog. My desire is to not only give myself the continuous pleasure and happiness of discovering and writing about all things French but to pass that happiness and knowledge on to you and to discover like-minded people along the way.
I could write countless more pages on the subject but instead of revealing all to you at once I would like to instead invite you to join me on my much anticipated journey to discover French related or inspired things in our city of Sydney and beyond when the opportunity arises. I will also be more than delighted to share with you any French related novels, art, decorative items, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, cooking classes, music, French language lessons, furniture stores or events that I have discovered and new things I encounter along the way. If you’re someone with a passion for all things French and want to read about where to acquire a French fix here in Sydney and feel like you’re somewhere in France even for a short while then Entranced by France is a dedication to you. So for now au revoir and bon voyage!
Mademoiselle Judy Shvarts