Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Another Fine French Book Giveaway!

Down on the Côte d’Azur, my friend Lanie Goodman wears way more than her share of hats. In addition to teaching part time at the SKEMA Business School at Sophia-Antipolis, she writes about travel, food, film, books, art, architecture and design for a wide range of top publications including the Wall Street Journal, Elle Décor, Interior Design and Conde Nast Traveller. Plus, she does translation—and has translated four contemporary novels from French into English. 

Having lived in France for 24 years, Lanie has a very wide network, with personal and professional contacts in all the fields above. So when the UK-based publisher Cico Books was looking for someone to produce and write a book on romantic French home design, Lanie seemed a natural. 

True to form, my gal pal hit the road running. Her first assignment was to actually find the properties that would be profiled and photographed…not such an easy task given that French homeowners tend to be quite private. But slowly and diligently, Lanie was able to gather a group of wonderful houses, to convince the owners to share their compelling stories and then encourage them to open their doors once again, so their homes and beautiful possessions could be photographed. She toured roughly 30 homes and eventually selected 14. “I knew immediately which were right,” she says. “We didn’t want decorated or ‘done up’ homes--it was more about an artfully assembled mix of different styles and an atmosphere that reflects the ‘soul’ of the owners.  Often, the history of the walls were part of the story.” 

In publishing terms, the project was a rush—it took just seven months--and the book came out last week. Go Lanie! 

And, as I often do when I find a book I think you’ll love, I’ve asked the publisher for some copies for you to win. Graciously, Cico Books said yes to two copies. So if you’d like to win one, just leave a comment under “comments” at the end of this story. Meanwhile, here’s a bit more about the book…

The properties in Romantic French Homes are spread out across France, from the city streets of Paris to Megeve in the French Alps; from the windswept coast of Normandy to the heart of Provence and the sun-baked shores of the Riviera. There are classic country houses which have been in the same family for generations, tiny boltholes, city apartments, quirky seaside homes and more. Each home has its own very-individual character, reflecting the owners and their passions. 

In Paris we get a glimpse of a sophisticated pied-a-terre owned by an acclaimed musician. In the Alps, we’re invited into a chalet built with reclaimed wood from surrounding old farmhouses. Another property is a grand château owned by Alexis de Tocqueville, filled with antiques collected by generations of the de Tocqueville family. 

The book is divided into four chapters: Châteaux (castles, châteaux, grand country houses, and town houses); Bastides (old manors and farmhouses); Maisons Bohèmes (artist's, writer's and seaside homes); and Paysannes and Pavilions (small and simple, thrifty and humble town houses and country houses). Whether grand and imposing or humble and rustic, the authentic charm and history of these houses shines through. 

One of Lanie’s most serendiptous finds was in St. Tropez, while trying to locate Colette's home, La Treille Muscate. The writer had lived just outside the village for many years…before Bardot…before it was fashionable. ‘’I knew where it was on the map,’’ Lanie recalls, ‘’so I parked my car and began walking towards the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of what I remembered from the photos. Obviously, most of the villas in St. Tropez today are hidden by high walls replete with intercoms and cameras, but I  happened to stumble upon a very inviting property in passing--a little Provencal stone mas surrounded by an overgrown lush garden, a pool, and trees strung with paper lanterns. A gypsy caravan sat in one corner, a giant Indonesian day bed draped with beautiful fabrics by the pool. La bohème! The gate was wide open so I walked in. A lovely suntanned woman in bare feet and jeans came to greet me with a smile--I apologized for trespassing and asked if, by any chance, this was Colette's former home. She said 'It's just down the road. But this used to be Marcel Pagnol's house. Would you like to see it?’ You bet I did. And it’s one of my favorite homes in the book.” 

The 176-page hardcover has 150 or so color photos by English photographer Simon Brown and can be found in bookshops and boutiques. 

Ok! How to win a copy? Simply leave a comment below, by clicking the word ''comments,'' and you'll be entered into the giveaway. Please don’t forget to include your email address so we can reach you if you win; signing in with your Google account is not enough. 

You can also buy the book on Amazon here (US) or here (UK). 

If you’re in Nice on Thursday, March 28, be sure to pop by the Librairie Massena at #55, rue Gioffredo (tel 04 93 80 90 16). Lanie will be there from 6:30 pm onward, greeting friends, sharing stories and signing books.

To see all the current Cico Books titles, click here. To follow them on Twitter: @cicobooks 

Photos: 1. One of the 14 houses in the book is the 18th-century-style bastide “Les Confines,” near St. Remy de Provence. The exterior was rendered more elegant by limewashing the facade, realigning and enlarging the windows and repainting the shutters in a natural shade of green that would harmonize with the garden. “The five magnificent plane trees and the underground source were a real draw,” says owner Dominique Lafourcade, an artist and landscape architect whose passion for gardens is reflected in the design of the bastide’s interiors as well. To replace an unsightly metal shed in front of the house, the owners dug out an oval pond, filled with water lilies and connected it to a long central ribbon of water, which serves as the geometric “spinal column” of the garden. Dominique is married to well-known architect Bruno Lafourcade, who runs his high-profile firm with his architect son, Alexandre. 2. The cheery country kitchen is the central hub of activity since the owners are passionate cooks. The antique wooden farm table, found locally, was given a Verona marble tabletop. For added color, the simple chairs, from a brocante market, were painted blue. The walls are decorated with Salernes ceramic tiles from Alain Vagh. 3. The cozy winter living room is a fanciful mix of trompe l’oeil murals, lamps, mirror frames and faux animal-skin chairs. 4. The dining room is a patchwork of color and whimsy, filled with local animal-themed bric à brac and garden flowers. Dominique's trompe l’oeil murals depict the couple’s favorite landscapes from their travels. 5. A view from the bastide terrace. The 20-acre property includes two swimming pools bordered by greenery, a flower and vegetable garden, a fruit orchard and a fanciful African garden hemmed in by bamboo with rare exotic plants. The smaller southwest-facing dining terrace faces a garden of clipped ornamental round hedges. “It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the last rays of light before sunset,” says Dominique. 

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mama Shelter Opens Today in Lyon

The owners of the Mama Shelter hotel in Paris (opened late 2008) and Marseille (opened in 2012), have done it again: the 156-room Mama Shelter Lyon opens today. It comes right on the heels of the March 15th opening of Mama Shelter Istanbul, the first Mama Shelter outside France. 

In Lyon, the hotel has once again been designed by Philippe Starck, a partner in the company. And once again former Michelin starred superchef Alain Senderens is overseeing the food, along with Jérôme Banctel. The restaurant is French and ''Lyon inspired.''

Mama Shelter Lyon is at #13, Rue Domer, a stone's throw from the Place Jean Macé district.  I love what the press materials say about the location: ''the city’s urban epicentre exudes an energy that reflects the Brooklyn of our dreams.''

Amenities at Mama Shelter Lyon include free WiFi throughout, a huge bar, six meeting rooms (some with table soccer, bars, and darts), DJs, live music and cabaret on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and occasional lectures and forums.

Rates normally begin at 79€ but special 49€ rates on certain rooms are being offered until August 31st.  For more info or to reserve, click here. Meanwhile, look out for the next Mama Shelter, launching in Bordeaux, probably in October. 

Mama Shelter Lyon
13, rue Domer 
69007 Lyon, France
Tel 04 78 02 58 00

Photos: Mama Shelter logo; a room in the new Lyon hotel; the hotel company's founders: Benjamin Trigano, Serge Trigano, Philippe Starck, Cyril Aouizerate and Jeremie Trigano. 

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Friday, March 15, 2013

New Provence Maps for Cool Tourists

I loved the Cool Tourist map of Arles as soon as my friend Sébastien Lopez sent it to me; Seb co-owns the Arles-based company, Cool Tourist, that produces it. Yes, businesses pay to be included  (300€ or 500€ for half- or full-size ads) but I love the creative idea, the strong graphics and I love that the ads are personalized, with the name and photo of each business owner. Nice touch! The first print run on the Arles map was 50,000 and Seb thinks you may still find them (free) in some of the participating hotels, shops and restaurants. The plan is to reprint once a year and the 2013 Arles map will be available in early May. But the really fun news here is that Seb and his partner, Alexandre, got such a great response to the first Arles map that they're now working on a version for St. Remy...along with a map of the vineyards and olive oil domaines in the AOC Alpilles region; those maps come out in early May as well. (Those will have the cities on the front and the surrounding area on the back.) Then, maps for Uzes, Aigues-Morte and possibly the Southern Luberon will follow. For more info, the Cool Tourist website is here, their Twitter is here and their Facebook page is here. Or, email them: sebastien@thecooltourist.com or alexandre@thecooltourist.com

Photos: The Cool Tourist St. Remy Map 2013 will be out in early May. The inside front and back of the 2012 Arles map looks like this. Four examples of the many advertisers on the 2012 Arles map. The Wines and Olive Oil Map of the Alpilles will also be out in early May.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Shark Tank/Dragons Den for Tech Startups

I just got word that the deadline has been extended five days on this wonderful initiative for young tech businesses in Europe.  

On April 4th, Girls in Tech Paris will host the third annual European Lady Pitch Night, where five startups will be brought out to Paris (all expenses paid) to compete in a pitch competition. To qualify? You must have your HQ in Europe, have at least one female co-founder and have been in business for at least six months, but no more than three years. And finally, your company must have developed or be developing a tech product (Internet, mobile, software, video game, electronic, etc.). The deadline for applications is now March 15th and you can apply here.

Last year’s event drew 60 applications from startups in 11 countries. The five selected startups pitched to Gilles Babinet, Orange, LeWeb and other event sponsors. 

Girls in Tech and European Lady Pitch Night are both working to build and support the European tech startup scene. According to Liam Boogar of The Rude Baguette (which does the same thing, more specifically to France, and is a marvelous resource): 'There are a lot of great angel investors & VCs in France who only get deal flow in France because, well, no other startups come out here. This event is a great chance for European startups to get their name out there in the French market! While our company Rude Media won’t be pitching (despite our awesome female cofounder!), we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on some of the awesome female entrepreneurs coming out to the event.'' 

The public is welcome at the conference on April 4 and tickets will be available here. GIT Paris stresses that the event and the group are both open to both men and women.

For more info on Girls in Tech Paris, see their site here. They're also on Facebook and Twitter.

Meanwhile, if the French startup, tech and digital world interests you, make sure to subscribe to Rude Baguette here. They'll be hosting their own event, the Paris Pub Summit, at the DelaVille Café in Paris on March 22nd at 19:30; it's co-hosted by the Web Summit and it's designed for entrepreneurs, investors, press and the rest of the international startup community. All the info on the Paris Pub Summit is here.  

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

G Night Returns to Avignon March 10th

The Grenache gang is at it again! On Sunday night March 10th, you're invited to an evening celebrating Grenache wines (white, pink and red)...and the people who love them. Thirty winemakers from different appellations will be present and pouring at the party, where there will be live music and more. 

G Night grew out of the Grenache Symposium, a major meetup of 250 wine professionals from 23 countries who first gathered in 2010. The symposium was the brainchild of Steven Spurrier (a British wine author and expert), Nicole Rolet (of Chêne Bleu in Crestet) and Walter McKinlay (of the Domaine de Mourchon estate in Seguret). Educating the public about the grape and putting more marketing muscle behind the wines were of course high on the agenda. By all accounts, the winemakers are succeeding at both, through events like G Night and other initiatives.

G Night Avignon starts at 6:30 pm but the first part of the evening is for the trade only: buyers, importers, retailers, restaurateurs, sommeliers and other wine pros. From 9:30 pm onward, the party is open to everyone as long as space is available. Tickets are 12€ and reservations are recommended. To reserve: 06 61 60 95 96, marlene@grenachesymposium.com

G Night will be held at Delirium, at #1 rue Mignard in Avignon. 

If you miss G Night in Avignon, there will be one in Dusseldorf on March 24. 

For more info about Grenache grapes, wines and more:  

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