Lessons in Living a French Life

Bringing a touch of French culture to everyday life

Your Weekly Voilà: Everyone Needs To Indulge in a Petit Plaisir 😊💕✨🇫🇷

Luxury is a life surrounded by that which you love
The concept of luxury is much broader than one might think. Traditionally, the definition includes notions of indulgence, excess, monetary wealth. But the term has been redefined to include more than just tangible things. We enjoy experiences that provide comfort and make us happy. Traveling, creative endeavors, or the luxury of sitting and doing nothing at all can feel luxurious. There's also a cultural perspective to take into account. One might see lingering over a 4-course meal as a luxury. For the French, it's just "lunch."

Why don't we call it petit plaisir - "little pleasure." Something that makes you feel special. A simple indulgence. A treat to brighten your day. I have found that my list of daily little luxuries has changed over the years. More French things are taking the place of Hawaiian island desires. The deliciousness of yellow dragonfruit has been substituted with the luxury of eating a homegrown tomato straight from the garden. A refreshing swim in Kealakekua Bay has become an inspirational stroll through the medieval village of Vézelay. The comfort of wearing a hand dyed silk sarong . . . well . . . that luxury continues given the appropriate weather.
One of my favorite indulgences is a piece of homemade Rose Turkish Delight that I purchase at a local Turkish farmers market. Sweet and with a delicate hint of rose, it always brings a smile to my face, especially when paired with a small vintage dessert plate. It is definitely a "sometimes" food and needs to be consumed slowly. Anything with rose always feels like a petit plaisir to me.
I think our lives are woven with petits plaisirs. The key is that you have to notice them. You need to recognize the comfort and joy they bring to your daily life. This weekend, make a list of 10 things that you rediscover and feel lucky to have or you enjoy to do. I did this same exercise this week and found that my list of petits plaisirs includes several new things reflecting my love of French culture.

Cashmere anything. Fiber. Sweater. Throw. I love how warm and soft and light it is. My favorite cashmere shawl accompanies me on every trip and is my go-to item for cooler evenings anywhere.

Japanese craft books. I have had this indulgence for a long time now. I don't read Japanese but I can usually figure out the pattern or use the templates for most projects. If nothing else, they inspire me in terms of design and color. They are currently packed and ready for the move to France this summer. I miss them terribly.

Homemade rose water. The love of rosewater is intimately connected to my husband and I starting a small natural skin care company in Hawaii. The business continues with a wonderful woman still making everything by hand with pure ingredients. I can't start my day without her rose water giving me a comforting and refreshing lift each morning.

Le croûton or the end of a freshly baked and still warm French baguette. Add a bit of sel de mer (salty) butter and I am in heaven. I don't need to say more. We are all imagining the moment.

Lavender infused honey with my morning cup of tea. It plays so well with my favorite French tea - Kusmi's St. Petersburg - a French twist on Earl Grey. Sipped from my vintage French café au lait bowl, I feel totally pampered. Technically those are three little pleasures wrapped into one. My daily experience of drinking a delicious cup of tea is never take for granted.

Probably the most luxurious thing I own is a beautifully crafted vintage Hermès bag. Believe it or not, I found it in a wonderful consignment shop on the Big Island of Hawaii. My bestie and I loved to make a day of it. We'd start on one side of the island and work our way around, visiting all our favorite spots for thrift shopping and eating. That is a luxury that I truly miss. On one of our excursions, I spotted this purse from afar and immediately fell in love. I whispered to it, "I'm taking you home." Since I was selling many of my processions for the upcoming move to France, I used the proceeds from a few yard sales, Craigslist, and Ebay . . .  and phew . . . she was finally mine.

Chanel No. 5. J'adore. It's not for everyone, but ylang ylang is one of my favorite scents. Coco said that you should spend the first 30 years of your life trying on different perfumes. The last 30 years, you should only wear your signature scent. I still bounce around a bit with perfumes I make myself with pure essential oils. But I do feel pretty every time I dab a bit of Chanel behind my ear. 

Speaking of feeling pretty. . . 

Beautiful lingerie. This might be too much information but when my bra and panties match, I feel like superwoman. Confident and ready to take on the world. Lingerie is meant to be worn and enjoyed by the wearer. I emphasis the wearer. Comfort is key but it can be pretty too. And if it happens to be found on the end of season clearance rack, well, I enjoy it that much more.

Frankincense. I love to combine essential oils and apply them to lift my mood and spirit. They help to ground me, or provide clarity, or to relax and calm. Frankincense is not an oil. Rather, it comes from the resin of the tree, Boswellia. It has been used for thousands of years and I find it to be a little luxury when a drop or two is added to my rosewater.

Fresh flowers. I love to pick them from my balcony garden and make small arrangements. Nothing fancy or time consuming. I set a tiny bouquet on the shelf above my bathroom sink and it provides a sweet beginning to my day. I think everyone needs some fresh flowers in their home. It's one of those simple little luxuries that can make anyone's day feel more special.
HANRO is a Swiss company that makes the most wonderful underwear and sleepwear. Since its beginning in 1884 in the town of Liestal, the company has stood for luxurious quality and timeless style. It is definitely a petit plaisir. Given a budget, I am happy to scout the "end-of-season" rack at our local department store.
These three little luxuries go with me whenever I travel: A favorite cashmere shawl, my tea bottle, and our beautifully handmade Rosewater from Luana Naturals. 
Hermès has come a long way from its early days as a harness workshop in Paris in 1837. This is their Bolide bag. In the early 20th century, the French called the new fast cars bolides which translates to "meteor." Emile Hermès created this bag for a friend who was passionate about the automobile in 1923. He found just the right zipper in America and the Bolide was born. I love its simple and classic design. And given that it's a vintage piece, it has a beautifully worn feel that just fits my hand.
I think we all need to indulge in daily little luxuries. Whether you wake up and celebrate with a petit plaisir of your favorite tea or coffee, or find pleasure in shopping in a favorite used book store with a friend, or just want to rest under the shade of an old tree out of the summer sun, little luxuries make a life more special. You might find that you want to infuse a bit of French style and elegance into your daily experiences. Perhaps a new French restaurant has opened up nearby that you can visit. Maybe it's time to treat yourself to a new French copper sauté pan. Or you might decide to set some precious time aside and learn French. Don't wait. Enjoy a bit of sweetness and luxury in every one of your precious days.
With a sense of gratitude for mes amies,

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French vintage finds do feel like a special indulgence. Everything in Le Shop is hand selected by me and lovingly prepared to be shipped from my home to yours. I look for things that are both beautiful and useful because I want them to add something special to your daily lives. We don't need to surround ourselves with a lot of things; we just need to add those things that bring a petit plaisir.