The monthly scoop on good living and good reads from author Angela M. Sanders
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Angela M. Sanders
The Paris Edition
That's right, I'm in Paris! As I write, the occasional bus rumbles on the boulevard a block away, past the florist shop on the corner. The propped-open French window lets in cool air from a morning's summer rain, mixing with the fragrance of my morning coffee. And the racket from the chantier down the street will make my all-important vacation nap a challenge. Ah, August in Paris. But I sure can't complain. I just turned in alter ego Clover Tate's second mystery to Berkley Prime Crime, and I'm starting on the Booster Club sequel. It's cracking me up, which is a good sign. As always, you can find me on Facebook here. Keep in touch at, subscribe to my newsletter here
Travel wear
 Vintage Dress of the Month
Sorry for the lame photo! It's only because I want to alert you to the possibilities of the vintage French nightgown, handily worn as a dress, sold for a song at brocantes, and creeping into vintage clothing boutiques stateside. This one is heavy linen, hand-embroidered along the neck and monogrammed, with tiny mother-of-pearl buttons at the shoulder. It fits loose and is cut on an A-line to swing. No sucking in of the belly involved to wear it. Imagine it with a chocolate brown alpaca cardigan, a heavy pendant, and boots. Or simply a pair of worn espadrilles. 
Didier Ludot Vintage Couture
I'd passed by the Didier Ludot boutique in the Palais Royal for a good 20 years, but I'd always been too afraid to go in. A store that sold vintage couture? For prices that rivaled my mortgage payments? They'd laugh in my face!

Yet, how I ached to touch a vintage Hermes bag and examine the inside of a real Chanel suit. When I told this to my friend Camille, her eyes narrowed. (Everyone should have a smart, worldly, kind friend like her.) She insisted we visit. She knew the Hollywood-handsome salesman, Alexandre, and, after a quick peek in, informed me that they would be selling off their stock of little black dresses at 75% off starting the next day.

I was there just after opening. Camille and another friend (with a style I think of as "joyous chic") were waiting. Didier Ludot is surprisingly small. It only consists of two shop spaces, both smaller than the size of the average American living room. The little black dresses were replicas that Didier Ludot had made for a now-closed store just across the Palais Royal. I quickly found one that will (with appropriate shape wear) do me proud. 

And the boutique? Of course, it was terrific. I fondled a Yves Saint Laurent Ballet Russe dress and Lanvin dolman-sleeved coat and two Christian Lacroix suit jackets--all going for stiff prices. But it wasn't that scary. And the goods? Seriously, if you have a decent eye for quality, you can find stuff nearly as wonderful stateside. I can't wait to get back home and try.
Two of Elsa Schiaparelli's 12 Commandments for Women

5. Ninety per cent are afraid of being conspicuous and of what people will say. So they buy a grey suit. They should dare to be different.

9. They should buy little, and only of the best or the cheapest.
The Latest: I'll be giving a talk the second Sunday in October at Vintage Books in Vancouver called "Writing a Series: Five Things I Wished I'd Known." Come join us! Details to follow.... My column "Edible Traditions" in the new Edible Portland launches in September....As always, for more information about my books or to sign up for this newsletter, visit my website. Find my perfume writing at Now Smell This.
Bee's Knees cocktail
Vintage Cocktail: Vin de Magnolia
The French have a civilized tradition called the "apéro," a time to relax after a long day, chat, and enjoy a drink before dinner. Rather than the tastebud-obliterating cocktail, they prefer something softer, such as a modest glass of fortified wine on ice. You might have heard of vin d'orange and vin de noix, but what about vin de magnolia?

I bought a bottle of homemade vin de magnolia at the annual vide grenier (basically, a huge yard sale) in a tiny town in Burgundy. The woman who made it said she gathers the magnolia blossoms in the morning before they open and pointed up the street to the tree she collects them from. The apéritif has a vanilla-spicy-herbal flavor. Here's how you make it:

Pluck two magnolia flowers from the tree early in the morning before they open. Put them in a gallon-sized jar with a bottle of a light red wine; a cup and a half of a grape-based eau de vie--or, let's face it, a good clean vodka would do just fine; half a cup of sugar; and a split vanilla bean. 

Stir the mixture twice a day for two weeks. Then, strain and bottle. Serve over ice. 
Delano Ames
My Paris Tips
You've read the guide books. You know the regular blah-blah-blah. Now for tips you won't find anywhere else:

After you've visited Paris's fanciest department store, Le Bon Marché, go around to the rue de Babylone side of the building to see hordes of salespeople smoking cigarettes and chatting on their break as they slouch on the loading dock. Not so intimidating now, are they?

The café at the Palais de Tokyo is cheap and fabulous and just across the street from the Palais Galliéra, the Paris fashion museum. Don't miss it. 

Homeopathic remedies are a bargain and available at many French pharmacies. Just blunder in and state your ailment, and for usually less than $5 you've got a remedy. 

At a café, it's perfectly legitimate to order an "allongé," which is basically an Americano.

Graffiti is a sanctioned art form in Paris. Look up! There's great stuff on the street corners. 

Avoid the Chatelet metro station if at all possible, especially now with all the work going on there.

Paris is a fabulous source of good table knives. Check out a knife store--there's one in every neighborhood--and you'll never cut a steak with stamped steel again.

If you're at a café, try to use the bathroom. They can be a real trip, from their down-the-tight-staircase locations to their art. Plus, public restrooms are beasts to find.
Copyright © 2016 Angela M. Sanders, All rights reserved.

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