Friday, December 30, 2011

Relationships


In France, life is always all about relationships. We have special relationships with our butcher our baker and some of us even with our candlestick maker. I frequent a charming shop in the town near ours where I find the most exquisite heathery colored candles in a variety of unexpected hues.


Most women have those types of connections with their hair stylist, colorist (possibly), doctor, and maybe manicurist for some. My list of "friends who help" (FWH) includes all of the above plus, in no particular order: my pharmacist, medical pedicurist, dermatologist, dressmaker/seamstress, dry cleaner, vegetable man, cheese couple, wine shop owner, pastry shop, florist, chocolatier (also in the town near ours), special frozen food emporium -- Picard -- and one of my all time favorites, Françoise, who owns the perfumerie in Neuilly where My-Reason-For-Living-In-France and I keep our fragrance wardrobes au courant. When I say au courant, I don't mean to imply we change our signature perfumes for the latest creations. We never do. MRFLIF stays with Chanel Monsieur and I alternate -- depending upon my mood --  between Parfum Hermes and Clinique's Aromatics Elixir. In my case I also have all the attendant products to go with each.

Joelle and Jean-Jacques
Oh yes, I almost forgot. I also have a relationship with the husband and wife who own the librairie, i.e. book, newspaper, magazine store. They order my English language magazines and any other out of the ordinary requests I might have. For their French customers they have a reputation for fine recommendations on the latest books.

Our obscenely delicious Christmas dessert from Tendre Caprice where we have an extremely warm relationship with Clarisse whose husband is always backstage inventing new wonders.
Why am I mentioning this you might wonder, particularly on the day before the last day of the year? It's simple really, I was thinking recently about the reasons I love living in France and these FWH were at the top of my list. They make life rich, interesting, immensely personal and warm. We have a coterie of people who know what we like, know what we might like, take the time to please, take the time to chat, all in all they comfort us in the knowledge that maybe, just maybe the world is not spinning out of control in our simple day to day lives, that it's not all about shopping malls, fast food, Internet shopping, impersonal service.

Ca fait chaud au coeur. It warms the heart.

19 comments:

French Girl in Seattle said...

You have explained better than I could have done it, why I miss living in France, some days more than others: Personal relationships with the owners of specialty shops and businesses. This is one of France's greatest paradoxes: Foreigners often complain about the lack of customer service in my homeland, yet, as you explain here, you can also get special attention, care, and professionalism from shopkeepers -- with whom you have taken the time to develop a relationship. And this does not only happen in small towns either; it can also be found in your "quartier" (neighborhood) in any French city. Well done, Tish. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Sulky Kitten said...

I love independent book stores, but they are becoming a very rare thing indeed. You're so lucky to have a fine selection of specialist stores offering such a personal service.I have been using the same small corner shop for 5 years and I consider myself lucky if I manage to leave without bite marks from the grumpy assistant.

helen tilston said...

Hello Tish

We so agree with your choices in dealing with the experts and authentic masters in their specific fields. Wherever we live, we seek out specialty shops such as you suggest. They make life so much more interesting. It is always rewarding when one knows who our money supports.
A very Happy New Year to you and yours.
Helen xx

Lily Lemontree said...

It is these relationships that warm the soul and make life a touch more pleasureable, not found here in North America as often anymore. :(
Hope you enjoy a splendid evening tomorrow night (I am sure you will be up to something marvelous!), sending you all my very best for 2012!!
xo

SheilaLouise said...

Dear Tish you are so right on with this post. My husband and I have built and a small boutique hardware and plumbing store with the same desire. Designers and architects love that we know their tastes and we always look for products that enhance what they do. It's a dying art here in the states but we are determined to stay small and accommodate our clientele. Happy New Year and I look forward to your future posts!

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

ITs so funny...I was just thinking about this today. I complained about my hair and said it was hard to wait for my stylist to return from her family visit to Panama. A friend said...just go see someone else...but I absolutely could not...it would be like having an affair! I have seen the same stylist for years, she is family and I feel that way about several people I give business to. I think there are more in America who believe this way than maybe some of you know...or it could be a Texas loyalty!

déjà pseu said...

It sounds like a wonderful way to live. We have our one little French brasserie where the owners greet us with a French double cheek kiss, but alas it's mostly chain stores for other needs.

Lost in Provence said...

Tish, I love how you articulate what lots of us only think about. Today I had a big lunch, saying "goodbye" to friends that are like family that are leaving France. I went to my caviste, told him what was going on and what we were cooking. He put his heart into the selection of wines as he knew that was what I needed. I so appreciated that. There is actually someone here with a better selection of wines but I will always be loyal to him for exactly that kind of consideration.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year. Thank you for all of the happiness that you have brought to all of us this past year, may it boomerang to you mille fois!

BigLittleWolf said...

This is a lovely post, Tish, and a reminder that we can establish these relationships that make life cozier and more agreeable anywhere, if we make a point of it.

That said, it's a little more special (for some of us) when France is involved (*sourire*). Nonetheless, the bagger at the supermarket checkout, the man at the UPS store, the neighbor who walks and smiles kindly... even these moments can add to the quality of our everyday lives.

Merci, for reminding us to savor these relationships.

Je vous souhaite une bonne année !

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I think you've hit on why I love to shop at the local independent retail establishments. I like the personal touch, I also like to be greeted by my first name and there is much more going on than just a transaction.

These relationships enrich our every day round.
I want to take this time to thank you for sharing such wonderful thoughts and images here on your blog, you are one of the best!

Happy New Year Tish!

Tricia Rose said...

This is what I miss about living in our eccentric village in France: I would ask, someone would know how and what, lovely things would happen. It was a different way of life.

I love Aromatics too, though I'm faithful now to Eau du Sud and L'Ombre dans L'Eau. I have always though Aromatics has overtones of a rich Christmas pudding, spice and good things~

Anonymous said...

I know just what you mean. Each year when my daughter and I make Christmas cookies, in addition to taking them to the neighbors and gardienne in our building, we always deliver cookies to our favorite neighborhood businesses: the hair salon, the florist, La Poste, Nicholas (wine store), the pharmacie, the dry cleaners. They add so much to our quality of life here. Of course we also have a warm relationship with our boulanger, but it would be a little weird delivering baked goods to a bakery! :)
Bonnes fêtes !

Karen in Paris

kathy peck said...

Although we live in Los Angeles, we do live in a neighborhood with lots of local shops that we frequent.
We do have relationships with a lot of the owners/people who work there. The hairdresser relationship is always problematic, I find. I've been happy with the woman who colors my hair forever, but I find the people who cut it, are good for a year or two, and then not. I stay longer than I should, because of the "relationship". However in 2012, I'm breaking up with my bakery! I'll go for coffee only, and hope they still like me :-)

That's Not My Age said...

I love living in London for the culture - the galleries, museums, street markets - and the beautiful parks. But London is basically a series of small villages, and I like being able to stay local too. We have a favourite coffee shop, bakery & florist all within easy walking distance. It's the little things...

Happy New Year!

knitwit said...

Thank you for putting into words what I've been trying to work out in my head for days now. I've been thinking about the new year and my resolutions. What you've described is exactly where I want life to go for me in 2012.
Happy New Year!!

SewingLibrarian said...

This is similar to what I miss from Ohio. When we lived in a small suburb of Dayton (Oakwood, Ohio, population 9,000), I knew so many people, and I knew who to go to for what I needed. Every time I went to the grocery, I would run into someone I knew. It helped that many faculty members of the nearby university, where I worked, lived in Oakwood. I've never been able to recapture that situation here in southern California. Not that I'm comparing Ohio to France, you understand, but the feeling of friendship and comeraderie is what I'm getting at.

sharon said...

Lovely post Tish, so well put. I'm very happy to have a relationship with you too!! and I look forward to seeing our R grow in 2012

Sharon
xox

Fashion, Art and other fancies said...

I so agree - life is all about Relationships in France. One of the joys of being French.

Susan Tiner said...

Ah, I should have added to my comments on the luxury posts that warm, personal service is also a wonderful luxury. It's possible to find some of that here where I live, near San Francisco and San Francisco itself. It's always a pleasure.

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