December 10, 2021
Dear Frenchly Readers,
I woke up to snow drifting out of the sky this morning and spreading a thin sheet on the top of the brown, frozen ground. My pre-teen begrudgingly put his Converse All Stars into his back pack and pulled on boots and a hat and my younger one packed up his snow pants. Things are getting festive in our house as our tree twinkles in the evenings, gifts are worked on, secrets are kept, and our neighbor keeps his outdoor Christmas lights on all night long, casting light into our bedroom and thumbing his nose at the planetary crisis we find ourselves in.
I haven’t been to Paris at Christmastime in a long while. But I do remember one year flying over just after the holiday to visit a boyfriend. I got some crazy rash on my face as the plane crossed the Atlantic that night. It was healed almost instantly by an angel who worked at the Christian Dior counter in the airport and took pity on a weary, anxious traveler. I have tried to figure out for years what it was she gave me—some magical cream and maybe a pill, too—but have had no luck. It’s a mystery that hovers in my memories as a moment de la grâce from a complete étrangère. Back then, I was young enough, that like my older son, I didn’t care about cold feet, or even, in my case, the pain of heels. I just liked how they clicked and clacked with a distinct hollowness on the cold cobblestones, an American in Paris’ Jazz-like beat accompanying the bells of Notre Dame in the background.
But let’s get right to it this week, because my head is spinning with all of the holiday stuff at home and on Frenchly.us. I’m guessing so is yours. So I am going to keep this short for both our sakes!
First off, today we have a really exciting holiday gift giveaway that we’re doing with our friends over at the classic French designer, Agnès B. If you click here and are the first to sign up for their newsletter (and are already signed up for ours—or will sign up for ours, too, if you aren’t!) you will be eligible to win one these beautiful, classic, French cardigans that pair so beautifully with both jeans and skirts and are made in France from 100% cotton. Like a good bottle of wine, this is a cardigan that only gets better with age. We at Frenchly cannot believe our luck that we get to offer this to you—we hope you will rush right to this link and sign up! Happy Holidays!
What I’m reading, cooking and watching ce weekend:
On Frenchly this week, we have a beautiful and moving essay called “The Peach Pie” by the novelist Kate Christensen. It is the second in our series, Love in France, and is about when the novelist went to France as a young woman and found a version of herself she couldn’t be at home. This is a notion my boss, Emmanuel, and I have talked a lot about—the idea that you need to go somewhere else to be who you really are and to be seen as the person you want to be. We want to explore this topic more on Frenchly from a variety of angles and we’re thrilled that Kate is kicking us off with that. I hope you all read this essay and share it widely. It’s not to be missed!
This weekend we have some dear friends coming for a night—the first time we will have had anyone in our house in almost two years, thanks to la pandémie. But we are boosted and vaxxed and testing and crossing our fingers. We can’t wait to see them. I will make on of my favorite recipes: roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. I am also going to make some of these outrageous chocolate cookies their son loves, that have candy canes crushed on top. Here’s to hoping we have a dance party Saturday night and that we all get outside for a snowy walk on Sunday before they head back to Boston.
Speaking of food, I learned a new word today: entremet. I’d love to hear what your entremets are going to be this holiday season. Write and tell me!
For watching, we have Andrea Meyer’s terrific review of the new Léa Seydoux movie, France—you will love her piece, even if you end up thinking the film might be a dud.
And our new hire, Angelika Pokovba, has three pieces today! You have seen her byline before but now we are so pleased because Angelika has come on to help with social media and is officially a “staff writer” for Frenchly. Today she has this round up of French fare from Netflix to help you make it through the holidays; this piece on some picture-perfect bûches de Noel and a pitch for the French Press—the universal and perfect gift for the season.
I am hoping that some of you will join me this winter in reading The Art of Losing, Alice Zeniter’s amazing novel about the Algerian War for Independence. It came out in 2017 in France and has just been published in English. In the New Year, I want to devote some time in a Le Weekend to Algeria.
Some of my Le Weekends have vanished from the website, so I will be reinstating those—we are still working to figure out all the website kinks—stay with us!
And, please, if you haven’t already, fill out our survey here so that we can learn more about you and give you more of what you like on the site in 2022! It’s going to be a big growing year for us!
Finally, if you need a gift for someone special and still haven’t found it, consider our Frenchly gift box. I am buying one for my 95-year-old grandmother. Here’s a piece I wrote this week that tells your more about the wonderful French delicacies that are nestled inside this lovely care package anyone will appreciate.
And there’s more on Frenchly.us—come visit us!
I hope you are happy and snuggled in this winter season!