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Bonjour! I’m Erin.
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Category Archives: My Inner French Girl
Years ago, I did one of these posts for a summer vacation in La Ciotat that takes place early on in my book. My inner French girl takes the train from Gare de Lyon to Marseille, spending the three hour train ride reading. Well, how’s this for life imitating art: I’ll be making the same trip in real life in just a few months. I booked my train tickets (€44 round trip!) and hotel, and am already mentally packing my suitcase. Doubtful I’ll look this chic, but a girl can dream. I’m already excited about the uninterrupted reading time.
This one started with a bag. This gorgeous, plaid bag.
I wrote a lot this weekend (added another 1700 words to my current total, not that we’re counting, because apparently it’s National Novel Writing Month, where writers commit to writing 50k words in the month of November. That’s more than I’ve written in over a year, pardon me while I go ahead and feel horrible about myself) and couldn’t help but to design this outfit for my girl, my gallerina. It’s the perfect outfit for a November day, right down to the loafers (waaaant) and her copy of Artforum magazine. Did I mention book research is fun?
She’s back! And she’s as fashionable as ever.
The problem with my Inner French girl is that she makes me want to spend all my money. Not that I could really pull off such a skimpy camisole (she can, because she’s French and works in an art gallery), but those trousers and leopard flats? I think I could make those work. She’s actually taking a page out of my book, seeing as I have that Astier de Vilatte notebook, that lip balm, the Caudalie beauty elixir, and that book (the French translation of “Seven Days in the Art World,” which by the way I’m almost finished and am enjoying every second of). Maybe I’m more chic than I thought.
It’s too early in the year to already have a Friday Five; I’ve been too concerned with remembering to write “13” instead of “12” on everything I save at work to have had my eye on five other things. Unfortunately, thanks to back to back holidays (and holiday weekends of laziness and time spent with friends) I haven’t had time to write, either. I’m at a standstill, but I plan on getting back to business this weekend. In a big way. I’m close to hitting 20k words, which means I might get to finally pop open the bottle of Rosé I bought for New Year’s Eve but never drank because I’m an old lady. If this little landmark isn’t cause for celebration, I don’t know what is. I’m getting ahead of myself.
But to really set the mood, I wanted to do another My Inner French Girl post. I’ve shown you Sylvie and Andrés, but today we’re back to Mirette (though I do have one in the works for her best friend, Sophie). It’s after Christmas, and Mirette is taking advantage of the the gallery’s winter hours to spend her morning at the Ladurée Rue Royal (the prettiest one) having thé et macarons. She has “merci” cards to write (they might look familiar) for generous Christmas gifts, but she mostly just wants some quiet time to herself to read and be annoyingly chic.
The possibility of being able to wear cropped pants and open ballet flats in the beginning of January is a stretch, I admit. And I’m running of stereotypes anyway, but the whole outfit is just so classically “Parisian” I couldn’t help myself. I just ordered that book, “Haussmann, Or the Distinction,” an historical fiction of Baron Haussmann’s renovation of Paris to what we know today (pale stone buildings, zinc roofs, giant wooden doors) in the mid 1800s and a scandalous affair. Imagine my delight when I said, “You know, I’d really love to read an historical fiction account of the transformation of Paris,” (not even shy about my dork-dom) and then viola, there just so happens to be one. The list of books I have to read is growing massively; Boyfriend bought me all of these for Christmas, too.
With this post, I’ve officially blogged for an entire week about Paris related things. Grande victoire. What are you up to this weekend, kiddos? Tea at Ladurée, perhaps?
For those who follow me on Instagram (seriously, are you following me on Instagram?), you’ll know that over the weekend I crossed a significant milestone in the writing process: 15,000 words. I thought there would be fanfare and fireworks and that I’d feel a deep sense of accomplishment, but I can barely pull my head above water right now, so deeply entrenched am I in this story. The time for celebrations and back-patting can wait; even though that number sounds so impressive, it represents maybe a small fraction of what I still need to do. I’m excited about having written 15,192 words, don’t get me wrong, but I’m more excited about the next 85,000 words that still have to make an appearance.
Last week, I introduced you to Sylvie, and made mention of her older Spanish painter husband, Andrés. I haven’t flushed him out yet completely, or really figured out his role in everything, but I kind of adore him. Is that weird? I’ll stop asking that question. I don’t care. I love my fictional characters.
So, about halfway through I realized I was designing this with my dad in mind, HA. Art imitates life or life imitates art, or whatever. That’s why I like these posts so much. I end up learning more about the characters than I knew when I started, despite having written about them every chance I get for a few months now. The glasses are the only part of the outfit that doesn’t ring true to the vision I had in my head of Andrés. But maybe he only wears them when he’s reading? Which he does, voraciously. He’s also an abstract painter, a pipe smoker, and a true romantic. He adores Sylvie, loves her more than anything else in the world, and has from the moment he met her. He’s got a big beard, a bigger belly, and the biggest heart. He is loyal to a fault. Andrés will sit on the small balcony in their apartment and paint for hours (he’s had exhibits in New York and his hometown of Barcelona, and is represented at Sylvie’s gallery), until Sylvie comes home and reminds him he needs to eat. He is the chef in the relationship, though, so he ends up cooking most nights. They have a house on the Côte d’Azur where he spends a few weeks out of the year, quietly painting and pondering life.
I love him, and I love his devotion to Sylvie. I have to think of who to profile next. Maybe I’ll get another 1,000 words done this weekend and have a better idea.
As promised, today I have a new My Inner French Girl Post, only it’s not about Mirette. So far, we’ve seen how she spends her mornings (lazily), how she spends her afternoons (lazily, in the park), where she lives, what she wears to brunch, how she spends her vacation (lazily, by the beach), what she does for work (thankfully un-lazily, as it’s her source of income), and even what her name is. But there are other people in her life that need a little attention, too. Take Sylvie, for example. Her boss.
Sylvie owns Gallery Victor in Saint-Germain, a surrealist and late impressionist gallery that often exhibits her own husband’s work. She is married to Andrés, a Spanish painter 15 years her senior. She is in her mid-40s, and is one of those annoyingly perfect French women we always hear about: impossibly chic, stunning, elegant, only she curses like a sailor. She is independent to a fault, but has to come to rely on Mirette during the three years Mirette has been her assistant. They both fulfill something in each other, as Sylvie never had children of her own, and Mirette has absent mother issues that are taking me forever to figure out. Sylvie is quickly become one of my favorite characters to write, her caustic wit matched in ferocity only by her maternal streak. And I admire any woman (real or fictional) who dresses like this and makes it look effortless. Trust me, Sylvie does. She even walks from her apartment in the 3eme to the gallery in the 6eme in heels (and not just any heels, but Louboutins, of course). Oh, and she wears clear-framed glasses. I might have borrowed that from real life, who knows. ;)
In case you’re wondering how the writing is going, I now have 9 whole pages, only 1 and a half of them are the outline. I keep getting worried I’m not writing it all down fast enough, that I’m going to lose something along the way but every time I sit down and open up the Word document, everything is still there, all in one piece. It’s been rewarding and frustrating at the same time, and despite paging through writer’s self-help books, I’m still struggling with translating all the little scenes and vignettes and details in my head into written words. I’m off from work today for Columbus Day (horray, celebrating the genocide of Native Americans; side-note, did you know Hawaii, Alaska, and South Dakota don’t observe the holiday, but rather replace with it some form of Native American observance day?) so hopefully I can bang out a few more pages uninterrupted. There’s a serious Gossip Girl marathon on tv though, so we’ll see how much I actually get done. Theresa, don’t forget, season 6 starts tonight!
The working title is simply “Mirette” and all the time I’ve spent thinking about her prompted a new Inner French Girl post. The weather has turned colder and she’s put away her light cardigans and sandals.
Proving that she’s not a total priss who only wears skirts and red lipstick, here’s her normal fall weather outfit. Sylvie has her scouting new and emerging artists to exhibit at the gallery this winter, so she’s hopping on and off the metro and walking up multiple flights of stairs in lofts. She makes sure to have something to read and comfortable boots. And yes, I gave her the same glasses I have.
I’ve been writing. Furiously, frequently, and often snippets in my notebook or in an email draft on my phone if I’m not near a pen. This will please my mom to no end, as she’s been encouraging me to get back to writing for years. And Boyfriend, too, who is convinced that I will write a bestseller and my millions will float us around the world on lavish vacations. Or maybe that’s me.
Either way, this whole My Inner French Girl series has sparked something inside of me and I’m feeling really inspired to delve into it further and flush it out. Unfortunately for you, that means the details I’ll be sharing in each post will be more limited going forward, so I’m not giving everything away up front, and saving some story lines for off-line. That being said…
Sylvie closes the gallery for the last 3 weeks in August to take her annual vacation (all of the prominent art dealers and buyers are gone from Paris at the end of the summer), and for the first week Mirette sat around her apartment feeling sorry for herself and avoiding the back windows, lest she catch a glimpse of Matthieu practicing in his apartment across the alley. Seemingly, all of her girlfriends are away on their own vacations, so when her mobile rang and Sylvie’s number flashed across the screen, Mirette accepted the invitation to spend a week with her boss and her husband at their summer home in La Ciotat without hesitation.
She packed quickly and lightly, planning for the coastal heat, before heading to the train station. She stops at a flower shop to pick up a bouquet for her hosts, so as not to show up empty handed. Sylvie’s offer is kind and much-needed. It’s about a three hour train ride from Paris to Marseille, where Sylvie and Andrés (her Spanish husband and her gallery’s most exhibited artist) will meet her in their vintage red convertible. They’ll ride with the top down, Sylvie curling around her seat to talk to Mirette over the noise of the wind and the highway. Sylvie doesn’t want to bring it up, but Mirette can tell from the crease of her eyebrows that all of her questions as to the state of Mirette’s well-being revolve around Matthieu. Mirette doesn’t want to talk about it, she just wants to patter around their house, feel the cool stone tile against her feet and the hear ocean out the windows. And enjoy the company of Antoine, a close friend of Andrès and Sylvie’s and the best man at their wedding, who is staying at their summer home indefinitely, and who is seemingly fascinated by Mirette.
(I’m actually reading Irène Némirovsky’s “Dimanche” now and can’t recommend it enough. Though if you haven’t read “Suite Francaise” pick up that one first. Her writing is incredible, and so is her story. She was born in Kiev and fled with her family to Paris to escape the Russian Revolution, only to get swept up in WWII and, because she was Jewish and married to a Jew, ended up dying in Auschwitz. “Suite Francaise” wasn’t published until the early 2000s after the manuscript was discovered by her daughter. “Dimanche” is a collection of short stories. It’s beautiful.)
What are you guys up to this weekend? I’m not doing a damn thing other than laundry and napping. Just the way nature intended it. Also, I’m beyond relieved those shorts are sold out, because I was so close to buying 10 pairs of them. Trés adorable.
Thank you for your name suggestions on the last My Inner French Girl post. It took me a while (in fact, four previous posts about this mystery Parisienne), but my girl has a name. And yes, I realize the fanfare surrounding this is a bit on the loony side given that she isn’t even real but rather a figment of my overly active, Francophile brain. But her name is very important. Are you ready? Oui?
Je vous présente…Linnea ou Mirette!
That’s right, I can’t pick. Now, before you thumb your nose at both suggestions, I picked them from two of my favorite books from childhood. My dad read these to me a million times and both names represent the adorable, strong, smart French girls from the stories, each who had a proclivity for art.
Linnea, a precocious girl, takes us on a journey through Monet’s most famous works and on a tour of his life and garden in Giverny. There was even a movie, which we also had. Mirette lives with her mother in the boarding house they run, surrounded by performers and artists. She learns to tight rope from the famous Bellini. The artwork is heavily French Impressionist, just like Monet (my dad was an artist, after all, and would have been dissatisfied only reading typical children’s books with me). Both books take us back to the turn of the 20th century in Paris. You could say my love of all things Parisian is genetic, but it was also nurtured with books like these. I love both names so much, either would do My Inner French Girl justice and be wonderfully fitting.
I’m going to let you weigh in and then make a decision.
Linnea/Mirette works as an art assistant for a gallery in the 6th. I briefly considered having her work at Vogue Paris but I want to still like her, not envy her to the point of hatred. On her way to lunch one afternoon with her boss, Sylvie, she bumps (literally) into Matthieu coming out of a neighboring performance gallery. They give awkward, flushed hellos, and Sylvie’s eyebrows raise as she smirks at the exchange. My Inner French Girl’s cheeks turn the color of her blazer as Sylive extends a hand and says she has heard beaucoup about him. Matthieu explains he is playing with a friend who is a violinist that night, that they’ll be performing selected Antione Bohrer movements. She nods as if she understands. There’s a long pause, Matthieu stuffs his hands in his jacket pockets awkwardly before it dawns on him to invite her. She accepts, trying not to seem overly enthusiastic. Matthieu says goodbye, tells Sylvie it was nice to meet her, and leaves. As they continue on their way to lunch, Sylvie links arms with Linnea/Mirette and tries not to giggle.
My Inner French Girl realizes the concert starts too early for her to leave work to go home and change, so she’ll have to go in her work outfit. Sylvie finds her in the bathroom reapplying her makeup, gives an amused sigh, and pulls her a scarf out of her bag. She ties it around My Inner French Girl’s neck and wishes her good luck before leaving for the night. Linnea/Mirette makes her way down the block to the gallery, trying to stop worrying about how she looks. It doesn’t matter how she looks anyway, because as she walks into room and looks for a seat, the first person she spots is Matthieu, who’s changed into a dark, casual suit…and who is standing with his tall, impossibly thin, blonde girlfriend.
I gave the whole “I’m not going to write about stuff that I want to buy the entire time Boyfriend is away” a valiant effort and lasted all of 4 days. Not bad all things considered, but today I really wanted to bring back My Inner French Girl. She’s a wonderful distraction and I’m having a lot of fun daydreaming about her life. Who doesn’t love a little escapism now and then? Especially when you’ve been sleeping terribly, watching too much television, and eating nothing but Oreos.
Tomorrow is Saturday, and there is nothing more sacred to either her or me than weekend brunch. It just so happens that my Inner French Girl will (she really needs a name, mails oui?) be attending a brunch at her darling friend’s apartment in Montmartre tomorrow morning, with about five of their amies.
My Inner French Girl ties a scarf around her hair and picks a cozy sweater that she stole from her father from the back of her closet to wear over a dress that reminds her of the Degas sculpture of the young ballerina. She chooses a delicate, beautiful ring and a pair of comfortable heels since, like her own building, her friend’s apartment has no lift. She’ll pack her camera to capture some of the morning, and on the way she stops for a bottle of bubbly. The girls will sit around and smoke and drink champagne and all her friends will press her about Matthieu. She’ll blush and deny she even knows what they’re talking about. They’ll chat and they’ll mangent well into the afternoon.
In real-life, my weekend looks nowhere near as wonderfully exciting. Though my plan today includes buying both that gorgeous rose lip balm and that candle, which smells like fresh baking bread (come ON). And in other real-life news: I’m guest-posting today over at my dreamboat Annie’s blog, Insideology. The lucky duck is in Tuscany and gave me the honor of posting in her absence. Have a wonderful, French-y weekend, kiddos!