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May You Have a Merry, Mellow and Sparkling Christmas à La Française

 Paris' gay chorus The Mélo'MenParis’ gay chorus The Mélo’MenThe Mélo'Men's holiday programThe Mélo’Men’s holiday programThe Georges Braque exhibitionThe Georges Braque exhibitionThe Cartier exhibition at the Grand PalaisThe tiara Kate Middleton wore on her wedding day part of the Cartier exhibitionCartier: Le style et l’histoireCartier: Le style et l’histoire, clothingCartier: Le style et l’histoireCartier: Le style et l’histoire

Mellow Out

These guys are so mellow, it’s no wonder they call themselves Mélo’Men. The international all gay (or gay-friendly) amateur and volunteer chorus (founded in 1994) of more than 60 men performed to a packed house at the Théâtre 13 Seine three nights this past weekend. Brit John Dawkins is their director and Canadian David Loyer is pianist.

Their sound is smooth and their staging of the performance is exactly what you might expect from such a group of young and old alike…fresh, fun and comical. I have to admit, I giggled throughout the two-hour songfest as they changed their costumes between each song using silly props to support the lyrics.

They started out with striped ties, and when the lights went down between each song, something changed…like donning bowler hats or French sailor hats. In one scene, they changed their ties for neck scarves, and striped sailor shirts in another. One that was particularly comical was a Japanese-themed song during which they all wore a hair bun on top of their heads with a chopstick protruding from it! In another, they became cowboys, Indians, Amish and other American icons. Stuffed animals were a part of the story, too — ET is treated like a child and another — a fox terrier named Loumi, whose master, a young blogger, has lost him and goes all over the world to find him.

The men in the choir are clearly having fun with it all, too. Don’t expect it to be the year’s most sophisticated stage performance, but no matter — there’s no way you can’t have a fun time and enjoy some great musical talent, amateur or otherwise.

For upcoming performances, visit

Diamonds in the Not So Rough

Can someone explain to me why the line to get into the Georges Braque exhibition at the Grand Palais is long, but there’s no line to see the Cartier: Le style et l’histoire? Braque is a bore compared to the diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and other precious stones on display in the Salon d’Honneur manufactured by the master of masters into the most stunning works of wearable art one can imagine.

Case after case after case of wondrous works — jewelry, watches and clocks, personal objects and even clothing…Cartier was the jeweler of the kings and rightly so. On display is the tiara Kate Middleton wore on her wedding day, also worn by the Duchess of Cambridge on hers, “composed of stylized petals and paved with 739 brilliant diamonds and 149 baguette-cut diamonds,” it takes its name, “Halo Tiara,” from its halo shape and was made in 1936. The tiara was a birthday gift to the then Princess Elizabeth on her 18th from her mother, the late Queen Mother.

The exhibition could make one of even wealthy means feel poor, the works are so elaborate and valuable. It brings to mind the serious downturn of the economic state of France today and how French companies account for one-quarter of the world’s luxury goods. Just a few days ago, France was described as the new “sick man of Europe” — with declines in manufacturing and services firms and unemployment at a 16-year high. How does this make any sense?

With Christmas eve and day just a day away, the stores seem to be filled with shoppers, although it’s tough to know just how much they are actually spending. My guess is less than last year.

In an article in the Economist today, titled “Bleak Chic,” it touts the French as more pessimistic about their future than Albanians or Iraqis. “A global barometer of hope and happiness puts the French second to bottom of a 54-country world ranking, behind austerity-battered Italians, Greeks and Spaniards, and ahead only of Portugal.”

After 20 years in France, I am still perplexed over the French way of thinking. The Economist goes on the conclude: Perhaps the French need dissatisfaction and thrive on doubt. ‘There is a certain pleasure taken in being unhappy: it’s part of an intellectualism of French culture,’ says Ms Senik. ‘Malaise and ennui are to France what can-do is to America: a badge of honour,’ wrote Roger Cohen in the New York Times recently. Pessimism does not preclude pleasure. All that sitting around at pavement cafés, looking fashionably discontented, can be fun. Optimism is for fools; sophisticates know better. Bleak is chic —- especially when opening another bottle of Saint-Emilion and reaching for the three-tier cheese trolley.”

Merry Christmas…
A la prochaine (on Christmas Day)…

Adrian Leeds, the Adrian Leeds Group, LLCAdrian Leeds

Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC


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P.S. If you’re coming to Paris for the January sales, take advantage of this special offer on La Paris Plage and you’ll have more money in your pocket for shopping! Book your stay for arrivals now until February 28 (excluding December 19 to January 2) and you’ll pay only 100 euros per night for stays of 4 to 6 nights, and 90 euros per night for 7 nights or more — that’s 20% off! And for only 50 euros per night more your friends or family members can stay at the adjacent Le Parisol. Don’t wait — book today!


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