Related Articles: Shopping, All

French Finds

Celebrating Bastille Day

Bastille Day, on July 14th, is a national public holiday in France but it is also celebrated by French expatriates and Francophiles in San Francisco, where revolution is the norm.

There are many ways to join the holiday festivities besides toasting with wine or champagne. Shopping for French finds is also an equally indulgent way to embrace the fun.

A magnificent starting place is the de Young Museum, where a collection of Impressionist masterpieces from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris is on exhibit through September 6th. Showcase some wearable art from Renoir’s “The Swing”, which depicts a young woman standing on a swing under dappling sunlight. The Swing Scarf, an oblong crepe de chine accessory ($70), captures some of those carefree details that give the scarf a swing of its own.

There are the standard screen-printed umbrellas ($30-$40), totes ($35) and mugs ($12), featuring art from great artists like Degas, Cezanne, and Monet. These products are typical commercial souvenirs. For something less obvious that still captures the French charm, consider a rectangle glass vase with vibrant yellow lilies painted on the side ($45).

Stretching not far from the park is Hayes Valley where plenty of French eats can be consumed. Find canneles at La Boulange de Hayes and macarons at Paulette Macarons. After you snack, make a landing at Flight 001 where one can find stylish travel accessories and resources. For the design-conscious traveler? Peruse the Wallpaper* Paris City Guide ($9.95), which tips off the hottest bars and architectural enticements that abound in the city.

Is your abode in need of something new? Try Ma Maison Home Accents, in SOMA. There you’ll find quality French linens and other household delights. A great resource for French kitchen accoutrements, Ma Maison also stocks children’s clothing and Parisian-themed jewelry.

If you’re in the market for ceramics, don’t miss the new imports from Provence at Emilia Ceramics. The weekend of July 16th, Emilia will be hosting a party to showcase pieces by French artisans Sylvie Duriez, Richard Esteban, and Patrice Voelkel.

For some sexy French boudoir intimates, make sure to stop by Les Cent Culottes in Russian Hill, which specializes in French lingerie from brands like Princesse Tam Tam, Lejaby, and Aubade. Bastille Day may not immediately strike one as the impetus to go lingerie shopping, but why not use it as an excuse to stock up on lacy nothings?

No celebration of Bastille Day would be complete without indulging in the French faire and libations of Belden Place. Café Claude and Café Bastille will start you off right.

Preparations for Bastille celebrations are well under way and although France is thousands of miles away, there is a lot of French to celebrate in San Francisco. What makes it so effortless (something the Parisians do so well) is that one does not have to speak French to get there — or rather here.