Carla Compared to Jackie O

Reading About French First Lady Carla Bruni in Vanity Fair on a Los Angeles Beach
Photo by Adrienne Maxwell Blackman

Carla Compared to Jackie O

Parler Paris…
Your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, August 4, 2008
Paris, France

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Newest Listing at Parler Paris Apartments!

Le Pinot Noir
Rue Debelleyme, 3rd Arrondissement
One-Bedroom, Sleeps up to 4

“Le Pinot Noir” one-bedroom luxury apartment is a wine connoisseur’s dream and everyone’s dream. Located just steps off the lively rue de Bretagne, but facing the quiet little street of rue Debelleyme across the street from one of Paris’ finest restaurants, Le Pamphlet, it affords views of rue de Bretagne and the adjacent Marais streets from close to rooftop level.

Le Pinot Noir is completely equipped for pure luxury. Newly renovated, it is complete with a queen size bed that converts to twin beds when desired, a comfortable and easy-to-open sofa bed for additional guests, a washer/dryer combination, microwave, four-burner ceramic stove, full size over, large refrigerator with separate freezer, high speed Internet, flat screen TV, DVD player, stereo, and free(!) long distance phone service

For more details and photos visit /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/pinot_noir.html

To book, email [email protected]

Dear Parler Paris Reader,

One of you readers who lives not far from where I have been staying while visiting Los Angeles, wrote with “loving humor” that “it’s a shame,” since each place is unique unto itself, that “true sophisticates” don’t make comparisons between them (like I do), but instead appreciate each for their own assets, values and virtues.

He’s referring, of course, to the comparisons I make between the city I live in (Paris) and the cities I visit (in this case, San Francisco, Los Angeles and as of today, New Orleans).

Yes, I can certainly agree with that, but perhaps considering that a) Parler Paris is about Paris, b) I’m not very sophisticated and c) my goal is to get you to think more deeply about your own likes, dislikes and life choices…it’s natural to express the culture shocks one is likely (and do) experience going in one direction or another.

Each time I travel, particularly back to my native land, the culture shock in reverse is acute and impossible to ignore. It is a ‘slap in the face’ forcing one to question one’s own cultural ‘default mode’ (a term to explain how when we look at another culture’s values or behaviors, we are unconsciously comparing them to our own ‘default mode’ and judgin

g them accordingly, used by Ruth Mastron and Gilles Asselin in their book “Au Contraire: Figuring Out the French,” /parlerparis/books/booksaboutfrance.html).

For instance, I was asked one evening over sushi in a San Fernando Valley restaurant why the French are so ‘rude.’ Funny, I find them rarely ‘rude.’ They are just ‘French.’ But of course, my perception is no longer from the American cultural ‘default mode’ which expects a smile (even when not happy) or good customer service (even if the customer doesn’t deserve it).

There’s a new film out titled “Bottle Shock: Wine ‘Wars’ Uncorked,” about the ‘war’ between California and French vintners. A review by “une Française” Daniele Thomas Easton, a former French consul in Philadelphia, sees life in the U.S. from her own French cultural default mode: “And if, you, like me, have lived long enough in the United States to reach the sage conclusion that both countries balance the good and the bad evenly; that you can eat in some fine Philadelphia eateries as well as you would in some Paris bistros; that bread from the Metropolitan Bakery can beat baguettes from some French supermarkets; that some new American cheese, made in the right way (read unpasteurized milk) can taste pretty good, you, too, will enjoy Bottle Shock.” (Bottle Shock will open in Philadelphia on August 6 at the Ritz East — )

The reader also didn’t seem to think that the “misspelling of French words in a Sonoma restaurant is no worse than the abominable spelling of English words in some of the most “branché” (hip) French restaurants,” and that “most travelers find these mistakes rather charming.”

Sorry to disagree, but mistakes in English on menus in France are not at all charming, at least from my cultural default mode — just illiterate. It’s offensive no matter which side you’re on — that one culture has so little respect for the other that they don’t bother to find out how to correctly spell or pronounce the other language. The French are so proud and protective of their beautiful language, that to see it mutilated is painful (from my new default mode).

Most English translations on French menus are yes, every bit as abominable, but would they have the English at all if English speakers made an effort to understand the French? And besides, the mistakes in French on an English-language menu are there because they use the French to look chic, “branché” and international…and instead, thanks to the errors, they only look pretty stupid.

Lastly, our loving reader claims there is a “real reason there is a difference between the two cafés” (Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots). Adam Gopnik, in his book “Paris to the Moon,” observes, “Still, one of the things you learn if you live as a curious observer (or as an observed curiosity) on the fringes of the fashionable world in Paris is that the Flore remains the most fashionable place in Paris, while the Deux Magots was long ago abandoned by people who think of themselves as belonging to the world, to ce pays-ci–this country here, as the inhabitants of Versailles called their little fashionable island.” ( So, what real reason what he talking about? I can’t be certain.

In Los Angeles, there is no choice to be made between Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots — since neither exist. Instead, they are lined up around the block to get a “Pinkberry” or a “Pink’s Famous Hot Dogs.” What’s up with “pink?” Is it the new hot trend in color or concept? How would you like to see the Eiffel Tower pink?! It’s blue at the moment. How about lining up for a “Blueberry” or “Blue’s Famous Meat Balls?”

(By the way, Pinkberry is a Los Angeles-based franchise of frozen dessert restaurants with 71 stores in L.A. and New York. Korean Americans Shelly Hwang and Young Lee “created a cultural phenomenon,” proclaimed by an American Express commercial for a new “Plum Card.” And Pink’s is “Home of the World’s Best Chili Dog” proud of their 70th year in Los Angeles at the same location in Hollywood near the intersection of Melrose Avenue on N. La Brea Boulevard at number 709.)

The cultural shock struck again while enjoying the sun and surf in La La Land, with my toes in the sand, reading Vanity Fair’s article about French First Lady Carla Bruni that compares her to Jackie O. So, you see, I’m not the only one to make comparisons from our own cultural default mode.

Now, wouldn’t you say that Jackie O is more like Café de Flore while Carla Bruni is clearly Les Deux Magots?

Adrian Leeds at the Hollywood Bowl A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. The Parler Parlor French-English Conversa

tion Group is open all summer long! Tell your French friends and join us now! Visit for more information.


P.P.S. We mourn the loss of art gallery owner and promoter of all souls creative, Anne Vignial, who struggled to bring young street artists to be recognized for their budding talents. She was a friend, a colleague, a neighbor and an illustrious resident of the 3rd arrondissement. We will cherish her memory forever.

Anne is pictured on the left with one of her young talents, Jef Aéroso, 2007.

Your Complete Solution to a New Home in France…

Adrian Leeds and her team of property professionals can help make your dream to live or invest in France come true. These experienced property experts provide comprehensive services including property search, purchase, mortgage and other after-the-sale services, such as renovation and rental management.

Let the Adrian Leeds Group guide you through the process with ease and peace of mind… to have your very own pied-à-terre in Paris or home in the French countryside.

Visit /frenchproperty/consultation or email [email protected]

This Week in French Property Insider…

Reporting on the 21st Living and Investing in France Conference
By Adrian Leeds

Most of the conference attendees this past weekend at the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference were residents of California with a small smattering from the heart of the U.S. Californians, we have noticed since beginning the conferences in 2002, are a delightful breed, always entering with broad smiles, open and willing to learn whatever they can. They just soak up the information and emote lots of appreciation. We love themSubscribers Read On…

Learn how to buy property in France!

French Property Insider is a weekly e-zine, sharing insights, recommendations, tips, and discoveries about Paris real estate and French property. Each information-packed issue is devoted to educating its readers on how to effectively, efficiently and profitably purchase property in France.

For more information visit or email [email protected]

Travel to Ecuador this Summer and Learn How Easy it Can Be to Turn Your Vacation Snapshots into Cash… Plus Master Spanish in Just a Week!
August 30 to September 6, 2008

Travel with a successful professional photographer to explore the color-rich markets and artisan towns of welcoming Ecuador… Plus, learn an extraordinary language-learning technique and master Spanish
in a week!

Over seven colorful, adventure-filled days: Learn from a professional photographer the techniques he uses to shoot pictures that sell… get hands-on practice applying your new skills while you explore one of Latin America’s
most colorful, friendly, and welcoming countries… photograph the people of Ecuador’s hidden villages…

PLUS, experience Dr. Georgi Lozanov’s breakthrough SUPER THINKING technique and learn to speak Spanish in only a few days…

To learn more, visit:

We wanted better guides. So we wrote them.

Insider Paris Guides are written for people who love the City of Light. You’ll get a Paris insider perspective on Good Value Restaurants… Making a Life… Black Culture… Expat Writers…plus the newest guide, Practical Paris!

Visit Insider Paris Guides

Email: [email protected]

Welcome to your home in Paris. Home is how you will feel in a private apartment in Paris that has the “seal of approval” from Parler Paris Apartments and me, Adrian Leeds.

One-Bedroom, Sleeps up to 4

L’Aubergine sits tucked away on an historic and quiet Marais “cul de sac,” making it an oasis of peace and calm. This second floor apartment (two flights) has two large bright windows that face a classic Parisian courtyard. With digicode, intercom entry system and elevator, it has been completely renovated and professionally decorated to the height of luxury, with a soothing “aubergine” (eggplant) and taupe color scheme. Everything in the apartment is new, from the designer linens and towels, to the appliances and electronics.

Reserve now! Visit /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/aubergine.html
or email: [email protected]

Parler Paris Après Midi

Come for a drink and to meet and chat with other readers in Paris…

The next gathering is September 9, 2008 and every second Tuesday of the month.

Please note: There is no meeting in August.

Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group

Practice speaking French and English. Make friends, discuss interesting topics, learn about other cultures, progress in understanding and speaking, naturally and easily. Meets three times a week — come as often as you like!


Parler Parlor meets Tuesdays 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

23, boulevard de Sébastopol (at the corner of rue de la Reynie), 1st arrondissement
3rd Floor on the Left (read notice on door to obtain entry code)
Métro Châtelet, Les Halles

Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
14 rue Mabillon, 6th arrondissement
(at rue Guisarde and Le Marché Saint-Germain) 1st Floor
Métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Mabillon, Odéon

For further details, visit

Join Us for the Rentree Party Picnic!

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Join us for the Conversation Group and then meet there to picnic on Sandwiches, Desserts, Wine and Drinks — 10€

Save 25€ when you buy a 20-Session card that Day!
Normal price 125€, but you pay only 100€! Discover the number one travel guide to central Paris, affiliated with the Tourist Bureau of Paris, is the creation of a team of journalists and advertising professionals. Passionate about their district, they want the world to discover it as well. The team constantly selects and recommends the best charming hotels, inexpensive restaurants, upscale shops, museums and galleries. Their goal is to provide information to all tourists and residents. Whatever your passion, everything you want to know about le Marais, in English, is on! So chic, n’est pas?

Subscribe to the free Parismarais® Newsletter and each month you’ll receive a review of great bargains to be found in the district…

Every day, check out what’s new in central Paris on the Parismarais Blog:

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