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Armchair Uzès

la Vie Quotidienne

janvier 2004

Look out for Starbucks
Attention! Starbucks arrive à l’Hexagone
One of the many adjustments in a long (or short) term stay in France, particularly outside of Paris,can be that fact that you can’t get a decent sized cup of coffee to go. If you want a cup of coffee, you go to a café, stand at the comptoire, order your café un express, un café au lait or un allongé, depending on your taste and the time of day. And you either chug it and run, or nurse it while you chat, read or just watch the world go by. Coffee-to-go really doesn’t exist, except at some drive-through McDo’s or in Paris at one of a small handful of Cafés Columbus where café à emporter à l’américain has made oh-so-slight inroads in Parisian consumption styles. More than that, the French sneer at the thought of drinking coffee from a paper cup.
     All that could change with the arrival of Starbucks in France in mid January of 2004. Starbucks burgeoned in the US in the last decade; it has taken hold fairly well in Europe in the past several years – except in Italy – and now the company plans to make its mark in France this year. The first Starbucks has officially opened at the Place de l’Opéra in the heart of Paris, and another eight or so will open in the city by year’s end.


starbucks-out-France.jpg (22535 bytes)
Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks in hand...
along the Avenue de l'Opéra in Paris!
Does this spell the demise of café society?

"Why would I possibly want to go to Starbucks
and drink weak coffee from a paper cup?"


 

     What say the French to this most recent American invasion? They are horrified, amused, disdainful, curious, or some combination of all. Many fear the continued “americanization” of France; others see Starbucks as the eventual cause of the demise of cafe lounging, a longstanding tradition for the French; some moan the effect on small café owners who already struggle to maintain market share.
     Café? Pfff! Ca fait des siècles qu’on buvait du café sans ses américains sachent-tout. Aux armes, citoyens! (
Café?! Pfff! We’ve been drinking it for centuries longer than the Americans. They think they can tell us about coffee? Ha!! Bring them on!)
    Then there's the quote from a French writer (compliments of CNN Moneyline):
"Why would I possibly want to go to Starbucks and drink weak coffee from a paper cup?"
     Regardless, the proof will be in the pouring. Stay tuned, and if you’re in Paris and want to see for yourself, stroll on over to Place de l’Opéra and see if there’s a line…or see if you spot any of those ubiquitous green and black logo'd cups in the hands of chics parisiens strolling along the avenues nearby.

 


Winter is a time to dream
On rêve pendant l’hiver
Cold, blustery winter days and nights make for lots of reading, cooking, wine-sipping and web surfing in spare moments. In our virtual travels we’ve come across many sites about France, but we’ve found a couple that might be of particular interest to friends and/or francophiles.
     Le bon mot, le mot juste reigns in our families. At the top of my mother’s “wish list” each Christmas is the Word-A-Day calendar, and she shares delectable finds with us from time to time, especially those of French origin. Now if you'd like a French version for 2004, Living Language offers French Daily Phrase and Culture Calendar 2004, with an attractive cover and lots of goodies within.
     But better than that, imagine my excitement when I heard about a website called French-Word-A-Day, which promises to deliver to your in-box a new French word every weekday, at no charge! I just signed up and haven’t been disappointed with the first round. Besides the email feed, the website itself provides some great travel bits from its founder, Kristin Espinasse, an American who found France and a Frenchman irresistible. She now lives there full time with the Frenchman and their two children. Picture perfect.
     Over a glass of wine (unfortunately not a French wine), a friend steered me in the direction of another interesting site, l’Atelier Vert. What a lovely site! Gardeners and cooks alike, whether francophiles or not, will go wild over what they find here, including tips and treasures about flowers, plants, seeds, French gardens, cooking, Paris, and more. Worth a browse for its gorgeous photos, a collection of interesting essays, and great recipes. This site too has been created by an American woman who has fallen in love with France. Hmmm…is it catching? C’est transmittible? Dream on…

 

 

 



«Mais l'odeur de l'eau de Cologne
Mêlée au tabac à priser
Quand je l'aspire, elle m'empoigne
Je sens Napoléon Ier
de Paul Fort

 


A whiff of glory…
La gloire tient l’odeur de…
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like…victory!” Remember Robert Duval on the beach in Apocalypse Now? Original, yes? Well, how about this? “The scent of eau de cologne mixed with tobacco, it pierces my heart each time I catch a whiff. It smells like…Napoleon.” (see left for the original in French  by poet Paul Fort). Put that one up your nose! 
     You may now have the chance. Marc-Antoine Corticchiato, a French chemist of Corsican origin, has borrowed from a French poet’s accolade to the Emperor to create a new men’s cologne, Eau de Gloire from Parfum d'Empire. Who else but the French would come up with this? “A contemporary scent that transcends and transcribes the olfactory universe of Napoleon and the time of his empire…a blend of citrus, bergamot, lavender, licorice and tea will create in the wearer a wake of tobacco, leather and Corsican heather.” Wait! Wait! Who writes this stuff? Worse, who would wear this stuff? Napoleon wanna-be’s? Short, emphatic, controlling men? Philanderers? Men in tights with one hand in their waistcoat? We give up. At $20 an ounce, we probably should give up.
     The scent itself actually sounds appealing…and we hear that as many women as men are expected to try it out. Introduced at the Printemps Haussman store before Christmas, the cologne (56 euros/100 ml; $70 for 3.5 fl oz) will be available in parfumeries across France in early February 2004.

 

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