Archives for category: Francophilia

But I sit on it a lot less than I used to these days. Paris is a good place to get off your butt. Case in point, this morning’s dog walk:

I could handle living in this art nouveau-flavored apartment building…


There is art in the most unexpected places…


Everything is political in France.


Love the French attention to aesthetic detail.


I created my “pro” blog, LipstickGeek, because I needed a place to talk about my adventures as a Web entrepreneur and geekette. This is about the Web, but it really belongs on this blog.

The thing that drove me to the Web to begin with (aside from being a mermaid held captive in the Mojave Desert) was my startup project, Francophilia. Believe it or not, this project has serious potential to make life better for a lot of people and that, more than anything, is what keeps me going. One of these days I’ll find an investor and/or a rockstar programmer with a heart and some vision. (Please let me know if you know any.)

So I’ve spent a few years with my finger on the racing pulse of the Web and I’ll tell you what. There’s a whole lot of crap out there. There are so many utterly ridiculous concepts that have managed to find programmers and investors, so many brain-wasters helping to speed along the decline and fall of Western civilization… We could be doing so much better. It can get depressing sometimes. But the reality is just this, and it will never change:


In my ideal little world, every Web application would help people in some way to move up a level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and/or foster self-actualization. The social Web has the potential to do this. So much potential. You can find some gems here and there. Flickr and Etsy come to mind. They’re about creativity, bringing beauty to the world and, in the case of Etsy at least, improving lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if more Web apps targeted the bottom two levels? Like Kiva and others like it. What extraordinary beauty there is in Kiva. The founders should get the Nobel Peace Prize. How do you nominate somebody for that? (I found out how.)


Today my friend Claire sent me a link to a site that is a glimmer of what I want to do with my partially built software down the line (what I wished out loud that someone would do for the couturières of castoffs in Haiti. What I will do if someone doesn’t beat me to it.)

Claire sent me to a little e-commerce site. The sign on the virtual door says:

We are group of handicapped craftspeople in Eastern Congo.

We live in one of the most war-torn regions of Africa.

We work in a culture that teaches handicapped people to beg on the streets.

Each item we sew is our claim to a better way of life.

This is fair trade in its truest sense.

The founders are two young seamstresses. Mapendo, whose name means love in Swahili, is 18 and Argentine is 22. At 12, Mapendo broke her leg and it took her three years to learn to walk again with crutches. Her family lives in a refugee camp outside of the city of Goma. Argentine got polio when she was four. The girls met when they were teenagers at a center for the handicapped where they were both learning to sew.


Here is more on their story.

Moments like these I love the Internet most of all. I also happen to love African fabrics. The skirt I fell in love with is not my size, but I’m sure I’ll find something else to love while browsing the shop of these young girlpreneurs.

Can’t think of many better ways to spend my time online…

It was a coup de foudre (love at first sight).

You know I’ve been pining and scheming and (online) window shopping for a dog for a long time… So I had the closest shelter (forty minutes away by train) of the Société Protectrice des Animaux bookmarked and, at moments when I was feeling particularly dog deprived and courageous at the same time, I’d pop in and see if they had my dog yet.

Last Monday, he was there.


But I hesitated too long and found out today that other people got him. I was going back tomorrow to get him! I’m happy he has people, but I’m totally kicking myself right now. Vincent says the French are notorious for abandoning their pets during the summer vacations (bad, bad Froggies), and that I’ll have lots more dogs to choose from in the fall…

This little guy, Basile they called him, was a basset fauve de Bretagne, a French hound breed I’d never heard of. And I am a sucker for a hound, even though I grew up with poodles. The last dog I found online, fell in love with instantly, and subsequently rescued from a shelter was Virgil, a big, red hound dog (below, five years ago).

Obviously I also have a thing for redheaded dogs. My son’s a redhead; do you think I’m unconsciously trying to fill my empty nest with red dogs? Hmmm…


Anyway, last Monday I called the shelter to find out what the visiting hours were, and Tuesday morning I was there when the place opened. Was Basile a Virgil Mini Me? Well, in some ways, maybe. He’s a scent hound, like Virgil. Coonhounds traditionally hunt everything from raccoons to mountain lions, and bassets fauves hunt hares to wild boar… These are real dawgs.

(Biliana, the woman I spoke to at the shelter who is also a hound lover and has adopted four from the shelter herself, said “So you like difficult dogs?” and I answered “And men,” which made her laugh. Of course later, when I told Vincent about the exchange, he said indignantly “I’m not difficult!” which made me laugh.)


I took pics of Basile the day I went to meet him in the shelter. He wasn’t a run-up-and-lick-your-face dog, which worked for me in a big Anglo-Saxon way — I’m still not real comfy with the way the French run up and lick your face…

Oh well.

Where is Vincent in all this, you ask? Well, he’s conflicted. When we get a dog it’ll mean changes, expenses, the stresses of additional responsibility. All the practical things you might expect someone to worry about. He’s concerned about the potential for psychological damage in a shelter dog. But he is also a big-hearted guy who is as susceptible to the charm of a little creature in need as you could want him to be. So he is letting me make the dog call. My thinking is a dog is cheaper and easier than a teenager. And who isn’t damaged, I’d like to know?

refuges.jpg If you’ve been searching the web for a shelter animal to rescue in France, you’ve probably noticed an abominable lack of coordination among shelters and agencies, logic-defying website organization, inadequate information, and general incoherence.

(I hate to say it, but quelle surprise…)

However, I did find one site, Seconde chance, from which you can access 367 shelters in France, large and small, private and public.

On the home page, left column, you can enter info about your location and the kind of animal you want (optional), and you’ll get a list of shelters meeting your criteria. From there, you have address/contact info and a link to the animals you can adopt from a given shelter. You can also save a search (small dog in Paris) and receive e-mail alerts when new animals matching your search show up.

The shelters here are bursting at the seams. In this day and age it should be clear that buying a pedigreed puppy is unethical and environmentally incorrect. And besides, it’s ridiculously expensive. So if you are seriously thinking of getting a dog, get yourself, to quote my French step-daughter, “a used dog.” And if you have a coup de foudre, don’t hesitate. The little ones go fast.

Bonus: a good article for potential pooch parents by Paris-based dog mom and travel writer, Heather Stimmler-Hall.

Save the date ! This month we’ll be having the first Francophilia Rendez-vous in Paris at ô chateau with our charming host Olivier Magny, who also happens to be the author of the blog Stuff Parisians Like.

  • What: A wine tasting with munchies provided by Paris Property Finders
  • When: Thursday, June 25th from 6:30-8:30 pm
  • Where: ô chateau – 52, rue de l’Arbre Sec, 75001 Paris. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli
  • Price: 21 € per ticket. Purchase in advance through PayPal (paypal at francophilia dot com). Be sure to put your name in the message area! Space is limited, so don’t wait!

Join us and you could win…

An art print donated by Paris-based artist Matthew Rose of his collage Wahsoh. It’s a signed, dated and numbered, limited edition (50) full-color print. A2-sized (18″ x 25″) printed on fine, acid-free paper. Sold exclusively by the Keep Calm Gallery in London for 55£.

A picnic-themed gift basket with champagne and other goodies, courtesy of Parisian Events.

Francophilia members and non-members are welcome. You will be able to purchase wine by the glass or bottle in addition to the tasting.

Un énorme merci à nos partenaires !


Would you like to be a sponsor for this event?

Despite my lifelong francophilia, I haven’t traveled widely in France, and I don’t know its regions nearly as well as I would like. Travel is just a luxury I can’t afford. But I’ve found a site that allows you to plan real or fantasy road trips anywhere in France, without having to know anything more than the general area you want to “visit.”

This is the deal. You enter a region from a drop-down list, choose a linear trip with starting and ending cities, or a circular trip within a region. You pick dates. You click a button. And YourTour presents you with a mapped route that includes sites of interest, a daily itinerary, places to stay, and the total estimated cost. Too cool for words! And you can customize it too. And they’ll be adding other European countries soon. (I can’t wait for Italy. My mom has gotten it into her head that she needs to do a multi-city tour of Italy in 2011…)

This is part of the first day of my two-week fantasy trip to Poitou-Charentes (Ségolène Royal’s region):


This app has great potential: teachers can use it in the classroom and have their students prepare and present reports based on their trips. Travel pros can use it as a guideline for tours they might want to offer. Regular people like you and me can fantasize to our hearts’ content and learn while we’re at it. I will be playing with this a lot.

Now go and visit France!

I had coffee with an artist named Matthew Rose on Sunday (actually I had an Orangina—it was really hot). It was the first time we’d met, and it came about because I tweeted a link to an exhibit poster that Matthew had made available for free download. Which I discovered because I’ve subscribed to one of his blogs for a few years. Which I found googling business card designers in Paris.

I love the Internet. Have I mentioned that?

Anyway, I figured the francophiles who follow Francophilia on Twitter would like it. And I liked it and wanted to share. The poster shows a number of his collages from the exhibit, many of which have a decidedly French flavor.

So one of the things we talked about was how it benefits all concerned when artists give the masses, who can’t necessarily afford original works, access to their art. Matthew is a big champion of this approach, one that appeals to my SoCal hippie – Civilization 2.0 – share the love mentality (and one shared by Vincent, who makes his music available to stream on his blog and to download all over the Web, not to mention his Geeks In Love).

Our discussion covered a lot of ground, and one thing Matthew mentioned really intrigued me: the One Page Book concept (les petits papiers in French). He said it’s something kids do in school, but I never did… I don’t know who started it, but it seems to have caught on, and artists from all over have participated, creating free artwork that can be downloaded and turned into little books.

roseverybadyear.jpgAnd you can do the same. All you need is one piece of paper and some inspiration.

Click the image to get to Matthew’s It Was a Very Bad Year, the shortest—and sexiest—user manual I’ve ever seen. And it also happens to be a work of art.

So of course the next day, I decided to create my own One Page Book, with one of my favorite poems of those I’ve written in recent years.

<RANT> I got an e-mail from Lulu today congratulating me because my poetry book was “selected” to be sold on Amazon Marketplace. Which is, of course, a bunch of bullshit. It’s just a business move on the part of Lulu, and my book will be as much of a needle in a haystack there as it is on Lulu, more probably, even though they tell me now I’ll have more search engine visibility. But it doesn’t matter anyway. The only reason I made it in the first place was to give it to my mom for Christmas. Plus Amazon will be charging 30% more for the book than Lulu, and I don’t get a penny of that. What a racket. Boo. Hiss. So if, by chance, you want a copy, get it from Lulu. It’s selected poems and photos from the turbulent year or so after my divorce, full of despair, flowers, sex and, finally, love. The usual. </RANT>

[Lulu changed their mind. Got this mass e-mail on June 5th: "Based on your feedback and after reading the policies of several marketplaces, we've decided to match your titles listing price on Lulu with the listing price on Amazon by removing the 30% markup. ]

So here, ladies and gentlemen, is my first attempt at a One Page Book using a poem from the Love section of the aforementioned book:


Click the image for the full size PDF (without the lines). It’s in A4 format, so it won’t exactly work on 8.5 x 11. Folding and cutting tutorial here. You can see what a number of artists have done with their One Page Books here and here.

Use it as an art medium. Make a party invitation or a get well card. A great rainy day project with the kids. Use crayons or Photoshop. Print it on inkjet fabric, quilt it, sew the edges together with embroidery thread or ribbon, and make a cloth keepsake gift for baby or grandma. I was thinking of maybe making some shabby chic Francophilia brochures. Unlimited potential for fun, creativity, and therapy.

If you make a One Page Book, upload the PDF and send me the link and I’ll link to it from this post!


The French government wants the world not to be intimidated by French food and dining. So they thought it would be a nice idea to treat the world (19 countries) to wine and cheese parties on June 4th, 2009. They’re forking over 2.1 million bucks to do it, too.

Is that not the wildest thing you have ever heard? And the coolest?

Of course, it could also be seen as a passive aggressive move in response to Bush’s 300% increase on the import tariffs for Roquefort which, by the way, Obama still hasn’t lifted. Come on. A guy who gets his arugula at Whole Foods must appreciate Roquefort…

But who cares? What are you waiting for? Apply now! It won’t cost you a thing.

And not only that, you could win a trip to France!