A gifted young customer

October 14, 2008

Rebecca and her mum Kara have been coming to my store, Peche Mignon, since I opened. It was actually 3 years ago exactly this day, October 14, 2005!

Rebecca’s 12 years old. She’s in 7th grade at Saint Thomas the Apostle in San Francisco. She came with Kara a few weeks ago and bought a prop I was using as a display for my necklaces. I wrapped it in tissue paper and handled it to her in a paper bag.

Rebecca came back last week to show me what she had done with it. She made a dress out of the tissue paper and wrapped it around the prop with a necklace she bought at the store to make it look like a doll. Isn’t that amazing? It’s actually much better than a doll when you realize that Rebecca drew her project first, and then created it. I don’t know many children whith such a creative gift for drawing and creating such a beautiful thing.

Rebecca’s dream is to come and work at my store. I told her that her talent belongs to fashion. This young woman deserves to become a stylist, don’t you think?

Bravo Rebecca!

Husbands for life

July 21, 2008
Larry and Steve claim their happiness to the world after the wedding.

I had a very moving day a few days ago on July 10th. My friends Steve and Larry got married at the San Francisco City Hall. Attending a gay wedding as my first wedding in the US was of course interesting and different, for the least. I live in San Francisco, after all…But it actually was way more than that. I witnessed the consecration of 19 years of love between two exceptional individuals who made the commitment to love and support each other for better and for worse, in health and in sickness, in wealth and in poverty, for no less than six times to this date!

 

The French in me – meaning the political animal – would say: come on people, why does it have to be this hard for two persons who love each other and don’t harm anyone to be allowed to officially claim their love? Why does it have to take so long for them to be granted some basic human rights to protect each of them in case the worst happens to one of them? Is it because of the Bible? Because if it is, I beg you to remember that Jesus loved all his children: the poor, the ugly, the sick, the prostitutes. Is loving someone when you are the same sex such an evil act? I don’t intend to shock or to be provocative. I am just a sensitive woman who thinks there are worst things happening in this world that deserve skepticism, moral disapproval and punishment. And many of them don’t.

First ceremony in 1989. They climbed a mountaintop in a red-rock box-canyon in Sedona and exchanged their vows and a ring at the top.

This being said, let’s go back to my friends. 19 years of love, it matters. It’s more time than my parents stayed married after all. And boy, do these guys love each other… When Steve and Larry met in 1989 they had their first commitment ceremony on a mountaintop in a red-rock box-canyon in Sedona, AZ. They exchanged their vows and a ring during a spiritual ceremony after hiking up with their friends. Larry and Steve, after exchanging their vows in Sedona in 1989.

1989. Larry and Steve have just met.

1989. Larry and Steve have just met.

Then they moved to San Francisco for Steve to pursue his studies. On Valentine’s Day 1991, they made their second commitment and registered as domestic partners. San Francisco was the first city and county in the US to give this right to same-sex couples in the name of equal rights. This small ceremony at the City Hall allowed Larry to take advantage of Steve’s insurance coverage, which was better than his.
In April 2003, the same right was also granted by the State of California, in an extended version. My friends made their third commitment and registered as domestic partners at the State level. They had a small ceremony at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. This new legislation granted them more rights regarding medical matters, taxes and inheritance but also specified their responsibilities as a couple in the eyes of the law. According to Steve, the thousand or more rights defined in this legislation “made a big difference.”

Then on Valentine’s Day of 2004, the Revolution started. Appalled by George Bush’s declaration saying he intended to change the Federal Constitution to put an end to gay marriage, San Francisco’s freshly elected mayor Gavin Newson decided to uphold the State Constitution. In the name of non discrimination against gay and lesbians he announced he would start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The world media turned their cameras this way and San Francisco became even more than it had ever been the symbol of tolerance for some, a new Sodom and Gomorra for others. But for same-sex couples from all over the country, the Far West had never been so close: they rushed to San Francisco’s City Hall from all four corners of the US.

Steve and Larry are getting married on July 10th, 2008.

Steve and Larry are getting married on July 10th, 2008.

Steve and Larry were living nearby. They decided to go down to get married. They both were moved by the incredible outpouring of support from everybody who was there. “We were making History. We had to stand for that, remembers Steve. It felt very personal and for the first time it put a new face of what a gay couple looked like and the normality of us showing our love. It was love first and foremost.” Five hours and a half later, they were married. That was the 4th time they officially committed to each other.
A few months later Steve and Larry attended the Glide Memorial Church wedding celebration acknowledging the 4 432 same-sex marriages that took place during those exhilarating times. It was their 5th official ceremony. Unfortunately, the Federal Supreme Court decided otherwise and declared these marriages invalid on the ground that Gavin Newson lacked the authority to issue same-sex marriage licenses. 
Four years later, this past May, the California Supreme Court rendered a decision saying that it is a fundamental Constitutional right to marry and that the gender is not a legitimate basis upon which to deny this legal right. San Francisco started celebrating same-sex marriages again. And Steve and Larry made their 6th official commitment, on Thursday, July 10th 2008, in front of their friends and family. “And this time it’s in every way legal because of the Supreme Court decision, smiles Steve. No one can take that away from us”.

Nothing else but love.

Nothing else but love.

Beyond the political aspect of this long struggle that will go on probably until next November, in my eyes Steve and Larry’s marriage on July 10th is the apotheosis of a unique love story. It is the conclusion of 19 years of patience against discrimination, 19 years of hope to be granted the same rights as other couples, 19 years of pure love that no legal institution will ever be competent to measure or comment upon. And from my point of view it deserves absolutely nothing else than respect.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A great Bastille Day at the store

July 17, 2008

We had a wonderful fun Bastille Day at the store last week-end. The French national holiday being a Monday this year we decided to celebrate during the whole week-end of July 12th and 13th. Ellen the accordeonist was back. She set the festive ambiance in front of the store. My friend Francine accompanied her singing the most famous songs of French Repertoire such as Piaf and even La Marseillaise, the French hymn.

60 blue, white and red balloons were decorating the store outside, remimbering the colors of the French flag. Speaking about flag, we hung a huge one inside the store too. It was really easy to understand that Peche Mignon is a French store!

People had fun inside the store too, tasting our delicious homemade crepes with jam and Nutella and enjoying great prices as we started the summer sale on Saturday. Almost the whole store was marked 20 to 70% down. Customers and friends visited us to take advantage of not-to-be-missed deals; some of them even started their Holiday shopping early. We had a great turn out, lots of fun and everybody left happy with a full stomach.

Thank you all for joining us on this special week-end. For those who couldn’t make it, the sale at Peche Mignon will go on at least until the end of July. It’s not too late to get good deals!

Come and celebrate Bastille Day at our store!

July 9, 2008

Péché Mignon is happy to invite you to celebrate Bastille Day at our store on

Saturday, July 12th and Sunday, July 13th.

 

We will start our traditional summer sale. 

Most of the store, including tableware, linens and home accents will be marked down 20 to 70%!

 

Don’t miss this opportunity to get amazing deals!

 

In addition, complimentary homemade crêpes and a traditional accordion player will set the festive mood at the store.

 

For this special occasion, Péché Mignon will have extended opening hours on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

We will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

 

We look forward to seeing you there! A bientot!

 

Bastille Day is the French national Holiday, celebrated on July 14th each year. In France it is called “Le 14 juillet” (“14th of July”). It commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July, 14th 1789.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Marie Daage plates

July 6, 2008

I had a crush several years ago on the creations of a Parisian designer, Marie Daage. Her precious hand-made porcelain dishes are delicately refine and unique.

Marie is an heiress of many generations’ porcelain painters. She seeks to incorporate life’s exuberant colors and joyful elaborate motives in her creations. Her patterns and colors are made to be mixed-matched as the subtle colors and motives are complementary of each other.

I decided with no hesitation to buy these plates to introduce the beauty of her designs to my American customers. These fine porcelain salad plates are manufactured in Limoges and then hand-painted. They are finished with a subtle golden edge. The delicate floral pattern is enhanced by the vibrant colors and the chocolate dinner plates underneath. That ensemble will give a unique French Touch to your table.

But be aware: no microwave or dishwasher for these exquisite dishes. It’s just a small sacrifice for all of you who, like me, have a passion for style and beauty.

Salad plates cost $35.00, dinner plates $40.00

 

 

 

 

Flore yellow/Flowers down  

Flore Yellow / Round Flowers

Flore fushsia

Flore fuchsia

We’re on for a new Tour de France

July 6, 2008

Although I am not crazy about sports there’s one race that has a special place in my heart: the Tour de France. My family had a house in the countryside where we were going every week-end when I was a child. As it was so close from Paris the race would pass every summer in front of the house on its last day as it was heading to the Champs Elysees. I was very impressed by the speed: they were riding so fast that it was impossible to identify anyone not even the ‘maillot jaune’ (yellow shirt). I remember the hero of these times was Bernard Hinault.  

 

In my country the Tour de France is as famous as base-ball and apple-pie are in the US. Millions of people gather along the roads to try to see the hero in yellow and to support the racers. But it’s even more special to me as I started my career as a journalist with the Tour de France. Not that I chose to, it happened by random. Just after the end of my Journalism studies I sent my resume out to Radio France and it was received the day the director in charge of Minitel – the ancestor of internet – was looking for someone to cover the race. I knew nothing about bicycle and even less about the race, apart from my childhood memories. I called my high school friend Pascal who was crazy about bicycle, bought tons of magazines and spent days at the library. A week later I knew everything about the race and all the favorites. I was only 22 years old. That was really exciting.   

 

Then the Tour de France entered into its dark age and the amazing show turned into a sad and sinister story about drugs. The heroes fell off their bikes, the race down the gutter. Every year since 1997 when the scandal started I try to get back into it with the eyes of the child I was, remembering the little girl who was shouting at the racers; trying also to feel again that kick of my years as a young journalist writing about each and every small event taking place every day during the Tour. But something is broken.

 

This year again it’s all about controlling drugs abuse. More than 200 tests will take place by random, including for the first time hair and nail samples which will allow to identify the doping history of a racer, if there is one. Samples will be kept for 8 years until some tests are being improved. That means we’re going to hear about doping for another very long time.

 

But the show must go on, at least in the name of all the young dudes who are not taking drugs. For them who are fighting hard against their own body with the power of their mind for only shield, I will go on watching the Tour. For them, I will go and have my coffee at Velo Rouge Cafe, a great small coffee shop near my home where a big flat screen covers the Tour all day long. The owner is a bicycle fan, as the name of her place tells.

 

So for all the pure at heart – and body – here are a few facts about the 95th Tour de France: the Tour started in Brest (Brittany) on July 5th and will end 3,559 km further in Paris on July 27th. There will be 21 days of race, 2 rest days, 2 individual time-trial stages, 5 mountain stages and 4 mountain finishes. The winner will make 450,000 euros.

As we say in French, “Que le meilleur gagne!” May the best racer win! And may he win clean.

 

Read more in English at www.letour.com

 

 

Ingrid Betancourt is finally free!

July 6, 2008

I  was deeply moved this week when I heard Ingrid Betancourt had finally been liberated by the Colombian army among 14 other persons including 3 Americans. I’ve always had the deepest respect for this woman who fought for her country risking her life for her convictions.  

When she was liberated on Wednesday, July 2nd, she had almost spent 6 years and a half in captivity in the jungle after being kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, in February 2002. She was then running as a candidate in the Colombian presidential election.  

Ingrid Betancourt is famous in France for several reasons. Born in Colombia she was raised in France and became a citizen through marriage. After her divorce she moved back to Colombia where she started later on a political carrier fighting against corruption in a very “Joan of Arc way”.  She received many death threats and had to send her two children away to protect their lives. When she was kidnapped, a committee for her liberation was organized in France and her portrait was applied on the front of Paris City Hall where it stayed until she brought it down herself on July 4th, just a few days ago. She was also made a Citizen of Honor by the City of Paris.  

Also, in 2001 she wrote a book about her convictions and her hopes for Colombia called ‘La rage au coeur’ later translated under the title ‘Until Death Do US Part: My Struggle to Reclaim Colombia’. The book was published in France as Colombian publishers refused it. It became a best seller and made her famous to the French audience.

Being a journalist and a feminist I already knew about her. She had such a passion for her country and was so convincing that I read her book in just a few days. Yes, she definitely was a modern Joan of Arc. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to know what this woman is made of: courage, strength, abnegation, sacrifice and endless convictions. In France, some use the words ‘hero’ and ‘icon’ about her.

Now that Ingrid is free and reunited with her children and family I wonder what her destiny will be. My feeling is that the media coverage she received during her captivity made her more famous than she was before being kidnapped. It seems like she was not very appreciated in her country where some people thought she was only trying to advertise herself. She was also considered as a foreigner because of the many years she had lived abroad. Therefore she achieved less than 1% of the votes in the election she ran for in 2002. It is maybe the paradox of this tragic story: it took her kidnapping to make her more appreciated in her own country.

Whatever her next step is, may life be sweet to her from now on.

PS: Her amazing story is already moving forward. The President of Chili just recently recommended her for the Nobel Peace Price. Also Ingrid said to the press she was thinking about writing a play about her experience.

Should you wish to read more about her, there is a Wikipedia page on Ingrid Betancourt: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingrid_Betancourt

Stacey treats herself to a beautiful drawing of Le Marais

June 29, 2008

Stacey is a regular customer of my store Peche Mignon. She came this week and bought this frame from my friend Paul Madonna. She was very happy to find out it was still here as she thought it had been sold.

More than just a beautiful frame, this drawing has a neat story. Paul is a cartoonist. He’s famous in the City by the Bay for it’s cartoon All Over Coffee published weekly by The San Francisco Chronicle and on SFGate.com. This image was created while he and his wife Joen were traveling to Paris in the summer of 2005. It is a limited edition of 75 prints.

At the time he drew this street located in Le Marais I was working in that same neighborhood, in a store called France ma Douce (My sweet France). It was a test for me to figure out if I enjoyed working in a store as I was a journalist then and being a store owner was quite a different ball game. My goal at the time was to move to San Francisco to open my own store selling French home accessories. This was only a 2 weeks experience. Paul and Joen walked in France ma Douce on my last day; and it was their last day in Paris too! This is how we met and we have been friends since then.

So when he showed me his drawing several years later as I finally had my store in San Francisco, I thought it would be fun to hang it on the walls and sell it for him. ‘La boucle est bouclee’, would we say in French, which I think translates in English to ‘what goes around comes around.’ Thank you Stacey! I am sure this special frame has found the perfect home!

If you are interested in getting this drawing in 14″x21″ signed & numbered, we sell it unframed for $175.00 or framed for $250.00. Please call the store at (415)221-6000. Thank you.

 

Our traditionnal Basque espadrilles have arrived!

June 24, 2008

Popularized by Brigitte Bardot in Saint-Tropez in the 1960’s espadrilles are a definite French tradition. Handmade in the South West of France by Artiga, these casual sandals are composed of a flexible rubber sole stitched to a 100% cotton upper. The traditional Basque stripes pattern comes in different bright colors to match your favourite outfits.

 

Basque linens are part of the Basque heritage. The uniqueness of these linens comes from their 7 stripes representing the 7 provinces of the Basque Region: 3 French provinces and 4 Spanish ones. The palette of colors is inspired from the strong regional tones which associate thin and wide stripes, the genuine signature of Basque fabrics. The patterns designed nowadays are a variation of the old mante à boeufs which was meant to protect working cattle from insects.

 

If you live in the Bay Area, feel free to come and visit us at Péché Mignon to try one pair on!  Our espadrilles are available in sizes 6 (36 French size), 6.5 (37), 7.5 (38), 8.5 (39), 9 (40) and 9.5 (41). We also take orders by the phone at (415) 221-6000 and ship anywhere in the US.

Péché Mignon is located in San Francisco, on 147 Clement Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Our opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.

 

Thank you!

American tourists complain even more than French ones!

June 16, 2008

The last posting (below) cited a study by Expedia France which found that the French are regarded as the worst tourists not only in Europe, but even within France itself (ouch!). But never fear, American tourists did manage to get gold medals in a couple of the individual events, so to speak. For example, take the category of “Complainers” in the opinion poll. The medal goes to American tourists: 33% of the survey respondents labeled them as never satisfied, showing a strong lead over both the Germans and French (both at 12%).

 

American tourists are also considered as the least trendy dressers (29%), way ahead of the Chinese and Russians (both 5%). Apparently personal comfort is considered more important than projecting an impressive image. And another “honor” shared with the French: North American hotel owners name American tourists as behaving the worst, in their own country. However–and this should be very reassuring–Americans apparently put on a better attitude when traveling to Europe, where they are classified the 3rd most appreciated tourists (behind Japanese and Germans). On a world-wide scale, unfortunately, Americans only rank 11th-best.

 

Americans are also the most adventurous in terms of culinary experiences, as their appetite and pleasure to discover new tastes make international cooks particularly happy. All over the world hotel owners are also fond of them because they usually spend the most.

 

And by the way, the best tourists in the world are the Japanese: they come before Germans and Canadians for their general attitude, their politeness and courtesy, the fact they never complain and their level of spending. Only downside: they don’t seem to like what they eat. Can somebody tell me if that also applies if they are given French food?