Going to France is always a revelation. I have been traveling to France most of my life and always come back with some sort of inspiration. The days of aping French Style with the artful scarf and extra high heels are long behind me. These days I find my coup de foudres in different places.
Let’s start with the World of Water Bottles. Used to be, one would order a Badoit or Evian and be done with it. These days, you can have plain water with or without gas. In a bottle with no labels. Now we all know that they are using their now-potable tap water and charging a Badoit price but never mind that. I liked the simplicity of the chilled bottle on the table without the nuisance of the waiter endlessly filling my glass. When I returned, I bought some quart bottles, chilled them with tap water and put them on the dinner table along with the wine. Works nicely.
So do French Knives. French knife shops are super. Knives make wonderful gifts, easy to pack (as long as they are in your suitcase, not carry-on).
Never underestimate the power of the Good Handbag. French are terrible snobs. You will always get a better table with Goyard than with a Michael Kors. Even if the Goyard is a Chinese knockoff. Get one in an oddball color (mine is orange) and you are set.
No matter how good the table at a restaurant in France, pass on the dessert at dinner. Calories and money saved.
And finally, another small effort to reduce the caloric damage of eating three French squares daily: Download one of the excellent iPhone pedometer apps, set it for 10,000 steps a day, and go shopping. You will feel much better, and the moment of truth on the scale upon returning will be less scary. – DIANE BERGER STONER