‘French It’ This Christmas

Paris Canal Saint Martin – Copyright Carla Coulson

“Paris is romantic, dirty, warm, kind, rude, enchanting, frustrating, heavenly, infuriating and impossibly beautiful –  if you can’t see the beauty in Paris you must be blind.”.

This was Toro’s, my black and white printer’s definition of Paris when I asked him years ago what he thought of Paris.

I was still trying to find my feet in a city that I didn’t understand. I loved his definition and often when I am walking around Paris spying beauty or getting ignored at my local boulangerie I think of his words!!

My love affair with Paris (for those of you who have read Bridget Jones Diary or seen the movie) was more like Bridget’s relationship with Mr Darcy than with her sexy colleague Daniel!!

It certainly wasn’t love at first sight, my heart wasn’t thumping or I wasn’t going weak at the knees. I had to scratch the surface of Paris and dig deep into its layers to get it. Some, fall in love with Paris the first time they put their Louboutins on her cobblestones, others who have arrived from Latin countries (moi)  are reeling with the off-hand behaviour and the cold..

But just like Mark Darcy who won over the hilarious Bridget, Paris got her claws into me!! And they are well and truly stuck.. I know so many of you out there who are gah gah for Paris and if you want to take a little bit of Paris home this Christmas here are some of the things I love about Paris.

Yvon’s Paris

For all of you in love with photography and Paris you will lurvvvee Yvon’s Paris. Yvon was no ordinary photographer, he only shot Paris in a particular light that played on the moodiness of Paris and her beauty. Imagine a book with every photo shot in the same light!! Shot at the beginning of this century Yvon’s Paris it is a must for the nostalgic.

A friend of mine was working in an Italian restaurant in Paris when Alain Ducasse walked in and sat down for dinner. The owner instantly recognised Mr Ducasse and as any restaurant would (if one of the best chef’s in the world came for dinner) went into a flap. Mr Ducasse was researching J’aime Paris,  the above book so when I received it as  a gift I knew that his favourite Parisian addresses had been test driven by the man himself.

I love this book!! I have since given to other friends who love Paris and eating! What is great about this book is the restaurants aren’t all Michelin star joints, they even have my local falafel shop in it.. The second best thing is the little red book with all the addresses in J’aime Paris that comes with this weighty volume that one can tuck into your handbag and have it whenever the restaurant questions comes up!!

Paris loves Ines de la Fressange. Fashion muse and effortlessly stylish Parisian this is a little book about how to dress, shop and look like a Parisian.. If you want the look check out Parisian Chic.

I loved Sue Roe’s Book, The Private Lives of the Impressionists.. Ohh the struggle. On bad days when I think this photography thing is hard I just read through a chapter of The Private Lives of the Impressionist and bingo,  I feel better.

Boy were their lives tough and what a struggle to convince the establishment that their new style was not only beautiful but also saleable. I always think of Camille Pissaro when I see one of his paintings and admire his persistance – he held onto the end. He never gave up painting yet he lived his entire life in poverty and died poor. A shout  out for Pissaro!!

Paris by Cedric Klapisch

I remember watching Paris and thinking this is as close to real life in Paris as I have seen on the big screen. Beautifully shot, director Cedric Klapisch interweaves stories in a beautiful and heart warming way. Of course the fabulous Juliette Binoche is a pleasure to watch as is the marvellous Paris seen through Klapisch’s eyes..

Ohh soooo easy to watch the beautiful Audrey Tatou in Coco before Chanel. Cast as the young Coco Chanel, Audrey Tatou is effortlessly stylish and so damn beautiful!! This film gives a wonderful insight into how Coco really changed the way us women dress. If you love fashion and France you will adore Coco before Chanel.

I have beaten a trail to the Dyptique store on rue Francs Bourgeois in the Marais. If I have been once I have been 30 times!! I love Dyptique products especially the candles and the body creams and it is a gift I give with love!! Who wouldn’t want a house that smells of French chic.. The one above is fig and I adore it in the winter..

I love the ideas of postcards flying around the world with words of love on exquisite photos. These black and white images of Paris are particularly beautiful!!

The French are brilliant at stationery! They love their fine papers and exquisite lined envelopes with beautiful calligraphied addresses. And I love having them land in my mailbox. If you love fine paper and letter writting check these out

Keep the carambars away from me!! It might be the five year-old within (who is always trying to get out) but I am addicted to these caramel bars.. Carambars  are on sale everywhere in Paris which makes resisting them difficult! Good luck..

Converse are to Parisians what thongs are to the Aussies – essential footwear. You can wear your Converse to the opera, the fashion shows or to museums and nobody would bat an eyelid. I have them in red and black and where them with everything.. They are the new Hermes scarf??

They would take away a Frenchman’s (or an Italian’s) passport if he didn’t have a decent bottle opener. This is the one my hubby uses!!


Wishing and hoping and praying one day I will have a little of France’s most celebrated crystal, Baccarat

on my table to make washing the champagne bubbles down so much smoother!! Loving these Champagne flutes!!

For all of those of you who are checking out now I want to say many thanks for all your wonderful support this year for my blog, my photos and my books. I wish all you all lots of love and happiness during the holiday period and look forward to seeing you back here in the New Year. For those of you staying around.. stay tuned.

If you want to check out more cool French stuff for Christmas have a look here. If you want to have a look at some of my Italian Christmas Look here. And if you want to see what Vicki Archer has in her Christmas hampers have a look here.


Carla’s pick of Italy
Carla’s pick of France

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14 Responses to ‘French It’ This Christmas

  1. Mary Jo at TrustYourStyle says:

    How is it possible that I want every single book on your list, in fact every single thing you picked out–what impeccable great taste you have Carla! I love the analogy you make to Mr Darcy–haha, that's always a bit how I have felt about Paris, although I can see the deeper appeal too, and when I was about 4 I was so in love with Paris I told my sunday school teacher that we had just moved from Paris–that little lie didn't go over to well with my parents, lol. Well you are slowly changing my mind about Paris, I am starting to have a hankering to visit. Hope you are having a lovely pre-Christmas week!

    xo Mary Jo

  2. Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... says:

    Bonjour Carla. What a wonderful post! From Coco Chanel to Bridget Jones, to les Carambars (my favorite French candy as long as I can remember) and Ines de la Fressange… and let's not forget Dyptique candles and French stationery! Great selection. I smiled when I read the Converse are the "Hermes scarf." I am not too sure about that one ;-) Joyeux Noel, Carla. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  3. Lost in Provence says:

    Carla, I am loving your blog and have to agree with Mary Jo that your taste is fabuloso. And yes, please, me too for all of the above save for the Carambars because although I love them dearly, I cannot for the life of me, get them off of my teeth.

    I met your b&w printer only once. What a fascinating man. We don't make 'em like we used to, eh? Save for one or two… ;)

  4. Lauren says:

    If I haven't seen or don't already have what you've mentioned here, I WANT IT! Awesome list, as usual! I couldn't agree with these lovely ladies more, you have fabulous taste! xo

  5. Rosalind says:

    What a sublime post. Thank you for introducing me to books I didn't know about before – that are now on my wish list after reading this. I just wrote a post about my only, very brief visit to Paris nearly 2 years ago. Your descriptions make me long to return.

  6. Corrina says:

    Carla, I have already some of the things on your French list but am heading straight to my online bookstore to try and get 'Paris' the movie. I love Coco Chanel it is exquisite. My feet have not yet touched Paris soil (or cobblestones) or anywhere in France. It has been a long time dream to go. I have French heritage and it seems the roots go deep as I am already in love. Just a look at an image or hearing or speaking the language and I tear up! I just know I will be in heaven when I eventually get there. In the mean time I live through people like you who live my dream and keep mine alive! xxCorrina. PS thanks so much for your generosity that you pour into your blog and books. joyeux noel

  7. The Style Schedule says:

    I love your list Carla! Something for everyone, to read, to look at, to wear, to watch, to touch all the senses. Fabulous. I fell in love with Paris years ago just by watching golden hollywood classics as a child, and then I arrived there one crisp March morning- and wow it was everything I imagined it would be. The glitter definitely came later – and I still love everything about it. It's the one place that I could imagine living as I do here in Melbourne.
    Joyeux Noel ; enjoy the holidays!

  8. Dustjacket Attic says:

    Oh thank you for the great selections, must get some of those books.

    Yes I've left things till the last minute too…help!!
    xoxo DJ

  9. kate xx says:

    Carla! just started (finalllyyyy!) reading chasing a dream, already entranced by it! thankyou so much for sharing your amazing talent with us in such raw emotion! youre truly an amazing inspiration! :) x

  10. what are they wearing now says:

    Hi Carla,
    Thank you for all the wonderfully thoughtful posts during the year.
    Thank you also for your kind comments on my blog.
    Best wishes to you and your husband for a blessed Christmas filled with love and happiness.
    PS 'Bread and Tulips' is one of my favourite movies too. I love the idea of being able to jump off the conveyor belt and re-invent oneself. Anyone who does it I truly admire.

  11. leah of sang the bird says:

    carla, my head is swimming with so much parisian goodness. really lovely list!!! converse, a great staple for every wardrobe. i'd love a green pair! carla, thank you for the lovely messages you leave on my blog, they make me to happy. enjoy xxx

  12. Rachel says:

    HI Carla,

    Another great post, as a French expat living in London I do miss Paris and love taking the Eurostar just to spend day in Paris.Canal St Martin is probably the place where I would love to have flat in Paris.

  13. Georgianna says:

    Brilliant list, Carla! A real box of delights. Reading your holiday recommendations has been such a treat, the perfect intro to a festive week.

    Joyeux Noel and Buon Natale!


  14. dina vanessa mercado says:

    great blog!!!

    following you now…

    visit my blog…!!!



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