LOOKING TO FRANCE
Our North American Expats in France Quarterly Financial Forum—4th Quarter—took place Wednesday with a large turn-out of would-be expatriates (and even some who already are expatriates!), wanting to know more about immigration to France.
Daniel Tostado, a French and US attorney specializing in French-inbound immigration, was our guest speaker. Brian Dunhill, of Dunhill Financial, opened the session with discussion on how to prepare for your move to France. I followed with a brief list of money matters with which a newcomer will be faced. It was brief, with the knowledge that Thursday’s French Property Insider would go into great depth on the subject, and to allow Daniel plenty of time. He then took center stage and imparted his immigration wisdom upon us, then opened up the discussion with a Q&A.
As usual, many of the questions from the audience were “off topic” and related to taxes! Taxes seem to be the Number One topic on everyone’s mind. The trick to minimizing your taxes is working with professionals in advance of your arrival in France and a perfect reason to continue tuning into our Financial Forums!
Fortunately, if you missed the forum, not to despair. We recorded the session and it’s available for your viewing (1 hour) by clicking here.
And while you’re on our YouTube channel, be sure to subscribe so you’ll be notified of every new video we post!
It was 2005 in Paris. I stopped into a tiny optical shop on rue Saint Antoine with a friend to look at eyeglasses. A tall, beautiful dark-haired woman (who I later learned was named Sabine) working in the shop asked me, just like this…”Are you just looking or serious?”
No sales person in France had ever been so direct and to the point, taking me aback. My response was, “Well, maybe, if I found frames I like.”
She pointed to a seat and said with authority, “Go sit over there.”
“But, I’d like to look and choose.”
Emphatically, she said, “I’ll choose for you.” She then directed my friend to sit next to her opposite me after she had scooped up about 20 frames from her collection on the wall. She refused to give me a mirror so I could see them myself (although that’s tough with my bad eyesight).
“Your friend and I will decide which are best.”
Just imagine this. No French sales person had ever spoken to me this way, or given me orders in this way, but who was I to argue? So, I did what she told me to do.
As she posed the glasses on my face one-by-one, she and my friend created one selection of “nos,” another of “maybes” and “yeses.”
Then, she handed me a mirror and said, “Okay, now you can look.”
All this was in a mixture of French and English as she wasn’t fluent in English, but could manage well enough to be understood.
The first pair of glasses she put on my face were amazing and I burst out, “SOLD! I LOVE THEM! Uh oh, but, how much do they cost?”
That’s when she gave me the bad news—they were not cheap. The frames were a normal price, but my progressive lenses with three visions simply weren’t the bargain basement kind. But, she went on to say, “I’ll do the clip-on sunglasses for free!”
“Sold!” I signed on the dotted line and handed over my credit card.
A week later, I had my new glasses and my face never looked the same since. Before that day, my frames were boring and my face had no character. They changed both my outside and inner self completely. The French-made lenses rendered me perfect vision. It was money very well spent.
A couple years later, my purse was stolen in Barcelona (hasn’t EVERYONE had this happen?) and in it were the glasses. Frantically, I called Sabine.
With tears in my eyes and in pathetic voice I whined, “Sabine, my gla-a-a-sses were stolen!”
“I’ll call you back in 10 minutes,”” is all she said and hung up.
Ten minutes later the phone rang. “Adriana (that’s what Sabine calls me), the manufacturer only has three pairs left in stock because they were discontinued. They are shipping them to me today and you’ll have the new glasses in a few days.”
“I could kiss you!” I exclaimed and have been loyal to Sabine at Optique des Vosges ever since.
Sabine and her brother, Eric, run the shop. It’s filled with some of the finest makes, but most are her creation, so she can fit anyone, plus she has a gift of knowing immediately what works and what doesn’t on anyone’s face. There is no reason to go to some fancy optical shop, especially the chain operations, which hire employees to run them who aren’t so knowledgeable, experienced or invested.
Lots of my friends have taken my advice to consult with Sabine and Eric. Two of them from New Orleans asked me to come with them to the shop on Saturday, so we made an afternoon of it and scheduled an appointment with Sabine. Sabine did the same thing to them she had done to me. She made the selection and together we all made the decisions on which were nos and which were yeses. Bethany selected one and Lucy selected two…although she almost bought three pair as it was so tough to decide. In addition, they custom selected lenses that would graduate in tone to match how they would be worn and what colors would work best.
I have no idea what they spent, but they didn’t seem to care and I know Sabine made it worth their while. They both left happy as clams! Now you can judge for yourself if you think their new eyeglasses are as perfect on their faces as we thought! (See the photos.)
Note: If you go to Optique des Vosges, 12 Rue Saint-Antoine, 75004 Paris, phone +331 42 72 66 17), it’s best if you call in advance, ask for Sabine or Eric, tell them I sent you and ask for an appointment so they can devote proper time to your face! And they now have two locations—but this is one I call home. You will be forever thanking me for this advice!
LOOKING AT ROTHKO
Everyone said the Mark Rothko exhibit at the Fondation Louis Vuitton was a “must see.”
This was the first retrospective in France devoted to the American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) since the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1999. I personally hope it is the last! This is not to disparage those who are aficionados of the artist’s work. He is important enough to warrant such a massive display in 11 of the museum’s galleries. But, when you’ve seen one Rothko, you’ve seen them all (in my opinion).
The exhibition brings together some 115 works from major institutional collections, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Tate in London and the Phillips Collection in Washington, as well as international private collections, including that of the artist’s family. It follows a chronological itinerary, tracing the artist’s entire career from his early figurative paintings to the abstraction that defines his work today. Stick with the early stuff—it’s a lot more interesting, but even those left me cold.
I must be missing something. Even after reading all the esoteric nonsensical blurbs on the walls of each gallery, I learned nothing to impress me. Perhaps I’m just not intellectual enough to get excited about canvas after canvas that is simply boring and quite frankly, depressing. I saw visitors standing in front of one large canvas for many minutes, thinking what is wrong with me that I don’t see what they are seeing?
There are canvases which are of colors I adore (one of red and orange in particular) and thought they’d make a great scarf or bedspread…but to take up valuable territory on a wall? Not on my watch!
The best part of the exhibition (for me) are the two tall figures by Alberto Giacometti in the tallest room of the museum. Them, I get.
Don’t take my word for it. Go see for yourself and decide…art is very personal.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian in her first pair of Optique des Vosges eyeglasses, 2005
P.S. We have filmed over 50 episodes of House Hunters International?! Newer episodes frequently re-air, so we work to keep you informed when they’ll air. You can also review all the episodes and see if they’ll be shown again by going to .