Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Meet the Parents ... for Parents

Understanding Frenchman and I got our Meet the Parents moments out of the way a long time ago, and apart from my embarrassing tu/vous fiasco (which four years later I am finally just about over) and him using what he thought was the expression "take the piece out of me" (say it in a French accent) the first time he had dinner with my family, we both survived fairly unscathed.

Last weekend, my mum came over to France and it was our parents' turn to meet each other. I found it funny, talking to people about this historic event, how many of them asked me if Understanding Frenchman's parents spoke English, and never the other way round, and I was proud to defend my family's linguistic honour by answering, "No, but my mum speaks really good French," which they all seemed to find surprising. My mum learned French at school, and since I've been living in France, she's made a big effort to resurrect what she knew, so she goes to classes, reads books, and from time to time sends me emails with obscure questions about French grammar. She likes to make out that she isn't making any progress, but I've noticed plenty over the past few years.

Luckily, Understanding Frenchman's parents were also pleasantly surprised and impressed, and in return my mum was very complimentary about their beautiful garden, the house that Understanding Frenchman's dad more or less built himself, and their gorgeous four-year-old grandson who came round to visit on Sunday afternoon and showed off the fact that he had learned to count up to ten in English.

So everything went really well and fond farewells were said on Sunday evening when we caught the train back to Paris. The next step is to introduce my dad to everyone.

Unfortunately, he learned German at school :-(

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Trying On Wedding Dresses in Paris

... was an idea which I found absolutely terrifying. Bridal boutiques have the reputation of being scary places at the best of times, and most of my already-married friends, even in down-to-earth Scotland, had stories of being told by bitchy saleswomen that they were too fat, too skinny, or just not right for any of the outrageously expensive dresses on offer. What chance did I have of a positive experience in Paris, home of stick-insect shaped women and the world's most judgemental salespeople?

I was almost driven to Tati brides, but after scouring a few French wedding blogs for inspiration (I highly recommend Mademoiselle Dentelle to anyone looking for real-life advice about French weddings) I came across addresses and recommendations for a couple of dépôts-vente, took a deep breath and went to try on some dresses.

The first place I tried was Fortunée, in the 11th arrondissement. I turned up here on a Tuesday evening without an appointment, and the lady very kindly let me try on some dresses. She was very nice, not at all scary, and listened carefully to my description of what I was looking for before pointing me in the direction of a couple of dresses and leaving me to browse. I ended up trying on two dresses, both of which were among the lady's original suggestions. The downside of Fortunée was that, being a very small boutique, there wasn't a huge amount of choice, but I found one definite possibility. Many of the dresses had only been worn for shows or displayed in boutiques, so although they were technically not new, they were basically as good as. As as a result, the prices were quite high, but the lady explained to me that she would happily buy those dresses back to resell as truly second-hand, so in the end, they wouldn't break the bank.

At least 2 metres of dress are not visible in this photo!
The secod dépôt-vente I visited was Graine de Coton, in the 15th. This time, I had an appointment, and their organisation was a bit different: they have a large selection of dresses and you choose the ones you're interested in online so that they can have them ready for you to try on. I took advantage of this to pick out four dresses (you can choose up to nine) in very different styles, as even although I had an idea of what I liked, I wanted to be sure. Again, the saleswoman was friendly and not intimidating. I had gone with a friend this time, and she was very accommodating about helping me into the dresses and then leaving us alone to discuss and take pictures. She didn't even mind too much when my friend undid the enormous train on a dress I had already made it clear I was unlikely to buy because the skirt was too wide to fit through the doorway. Of the four I had selected online, there was one I would happily have bought, two definite "no"s and one that was a possibility. Of course, another advantage of the dépôts-vente is that they have new stock coming in all the time, so you never know what you might find!

In the end, I didn't actually buy either of the dresses I liked, and I almost regretted it just because the experiences in both shops was so much better than I expected. (Maybe this blog post will make up for that by giving them a little bit of good publicity!) In the end, though, I found one I absolutely loved online in the UK and had it delivered. So my next challenge is to find a non-terrifying Parisian seamstress to do the alterations...Wish me luck!