May 5, 2014

Fool for Foulards: Carré du Tarn


One day on the metro, 22 of the 25 people I see in my car -- men and women -- are wearing scarves.
Due to this exhaustive survey, I deduce that precisely 88% of all French adults are wearing scarves at any given time. Except that the other 3 of the 25 look like foreign tourists. Because they're not wearing scarves. So, I think I can safely conclude that 88% of the people you see in Paris and 100% of the French-people are going to be wearing scarves at any given moment. Especially when the weather is cold, and the scarves help keep your neck warm. And when the weather is cool or warm, and the scarf helps you regulate your temperature. However, even when it's blazing hot, the scarves still help you look fabulous. And French.

After a year and half here, I myself seem to have developed a scarf problem, much to Anthony's chagrin. Hello, my name is Kazz Regelman, and I am a scarfaholic. I'm an addict. I'm a fool for foulards.

I'm not just a fool for foulards (pronounced "foo-LAR"), but also écharpes, étoffes, carrés, châles, bandages, bandoulières, cache-col, cache-cou, cache-nez, and cagoules. Those pretty much mean "scarf" to you and me. Much like the Inuits supposedly have umpteen words meaning "snow", the French have a vocabulary that matches the flair they wear, though I have to tell you the terms you really hear most often are foulard, écharpe, and châle.

So is there a difference? Technically, yes:
 foulard = usually light fabric, long scarf
écharpe = heavier, often knit or wool or fleece, more wintery long scarf
foulard or écharpe capuchon = scarf with hood attached
châle = shawl, usually very wide rectangle that wraps around shoulders
pèlerine or cape = cape
étoffe = large square fabric, used shawl-style, often finer fabric or adorned
carré = square style, smaller like a hankerchief, might tie around the neck
bandage = white scarf, wrapped around bandage-style, and, yes, often in the case of injury
bandoulières = sash, may hold ammunition but could also be a sash on a king or on Miss France
cache-col or cache-cou = literally "neck-hider", a connected scarf to go around the neck
cache-nez = literally "nose-hider", a mask/scarf for the bottom half of the face in extreme cold
cagoule = a full face-mask/scarf worn in winter sports and bank robberies

For example, foulards:



Etoffes and carrés (the two shimmery étoffe son the left are about a meter or yard square, and the other three are about a foot or 35cm square):


It's impossible to access 50 or so scarves from a drawer (and this is Paris: who even has a drawer this big?). So I hang them on some wooden valets that came in our furnished apartment:

Probably the most common ways to wear a scarf (on both women and men) are the European Loop, the Turtleneck, the Toss, and the Basic Loop. What are these, and how does one wear a scarf without looking like a total goob? This is the best tutorial I've found. These aren't the only ways to wear a scarf, but it's most of them, frankly, and certainly if you master even a few, you'll be able to pass for a native in Paris.

My personal favorite way to wear a scarf is a modified version of the Modern One Loop (because I use Two Loops if the scarf is long enough).
You would think I wouldn't be tempted by any more scarves, but you would be wrong. Walking down the streets in Paris, I'm not envious of flashy jewelry, expensive purses, or name-brand shoes, but I regularly covet the beautiful scarves I see wrapped around other people's necks!
THE CHEESE: Carré du Tarn
Carré du Tarn, which means "Square of Tarn" is a lovely, oozy goat cheese that comes from Tarn, a department in the Midi-Pyrénées region that straddles the Tarn River, between Toulouse and Montpellier.
Carré du Tarn is made exclusively as a farmhouse cheese with raw milk from Alpine and Chamoisée goats. It's generally produced from February until the fall. The crust whitens as it ages, during which time it also gets some lovely bluish mold developing. The cheese is practically the texture of slightly melted butter, with a wonderful goat tang and hints of hazelnut.
Though this is indeed a lovely carré,  I wouldn't try wearing it draped around my shoulders. Draped over my plate is just fine. Ironically, this cheese is mostly available from the end of winter until the fall -- precisely the period when the French are (slightly) less likely to wear scarves.


  1. I too luff a scarf. You should check out Maitai's blog- her scarf scholarship is 11/10

  2. Great post--thank you for all this information!

  3. PS you, in your scarves are lovely! Got here from a post on patternreview.

  4. Loved this post. But where are the silk scarves?

    1. There are a few silk scarves in my collection, if you look carefully. But it's true that there are many more cotton foulards, and that's because the silk scarves make me way too hot! Since I'm more comfortable in cotton, I tend to buy them and wear them more.


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