Who stole my croissant

Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg

The Art of Simplicity – Japan with a dash of Paris


Mad about meringues: the windows of Aux Merveilleux de Fred in Clapham, south London

London feels a little empty this August. The French ghettos – areas like South Ken and Clapham – have lost their uniquely Parisian atmosphere. I’m also missing all those sartorial signs of BCBG manhood – the polo shirts in flamingo pink and vivid green, the Ray-Bans worn on the top of the head, the deck shoes.

I’m missing, too, the French schoolgirls on the buses and Tubes who switch effortlessly between French and English and all, without exception, wear Converse trainers, generally without socks.

Can all the French really be away? I dare not step into South Ken as I’m sure it must be a desert with Camemberts quietly decomposing in shop windows and Harleys Pharmacy, where the French buy their shampoo and moisturiser, as silent as Mount Athos. How triste!

A few days ago I received an email from Tomo, a Japanese friend who runs a tea school in Tokyo. Tomo follows my blog and – like legions of Japanese people – is something of a Francophile. Her email was short and to the point. Did I know about Dominique Loreau, a French writer who lives in Japan and writes about the art of simplicity? ‘I cannot find her books in English,’ says Tomo. ‘But I love her writings and her thoughts.’

Tomo tends to have good ideas so I instantly ordered the French edition of one of Dominique Loreau’s books on Amazon, then did a quick skim-read of French Wikipedia. It turns out her books are inspired from observing how the Japanese live. After falling in love with a Japanese zen garden outside San Francisco, Dominique had a light bulb moment and moved to Japan.

L’Art de la Simplicité arrived in the post this morning. It has a pale, arum lily themed cover, is published on cheap paper, and has a pious self-helpy air about it.

Abandonnez vos achats compulsifs! Apprenez a manger plus frugal! Says the blurb on the back.

Aargh! What would life be without impulse buys and feasting?

But because I trust Tomo I forced myself to look inside and, would you believe it, I absolutely love this book! As it’s written by a French person it’s not all miso soup and tatami mats. There is lots of advice on how to handle your hairdresser and some tips on reducing cellulite.

There’s a section called L’Art du Ménage that’s particularly satisfying. As of today I’m going to be Hoovering the inside of my fridge just like Dominique does.

Here are ten of Dominique’s household tips:

*Store sheet sets inside pillowcases

*Put damp kitchen paper inside Tupperware boxes to keep veg fresh

*Hoover the inside of the fridge (why did I never think of that?)

*Put a ball of cotton soaked in essential oils in the Hoover’s filter (divine!)

*Avoid small leafed plants in the home (more work than big leafed plants)

*Remove bobbles of wool with a Scotch Brite pad

*Store cotton wool balls, toothbrushes and other bits and pieces inside glass jars

*Wind electric cords and loose bits of string in a figure of eight around the little finger and thumb before putting them away

*Always have a set of stackable baskets ready to store your clean laundry by category

*Clean the ceiling with a sponge fixed with elastic to a broom


Bonne chance! Decluttering tips from la belle Dominique coming next …





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This entry was posted on August 20, 2014 by in Everything Else and tagged , , .
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