Fall and all …

It does not sound real but it is October already and our hydrangeas have turned from blue to rusty reds !

We’ve been busy transforming the shop with all the new things we have been buying all summer long !

We were inspired by our last trip to the Pyrenees and the Basque region of France and Spain ….We loved the food in San Sebastian but we enjoyed the scenery in France much more ….this will have to a post on its own sometimes soon !

Bougies “La Francaise” tapper candles are drip less and come in rich colors perfect for the fall entertaining season ( also in oranges , reds , green , greys , gold ….)

Trendy eggplant and grey table setting ! Amethyst glasses from La Rochere and melamine plates that look so real you can use them indoor anytime !

A myriad of new woven kitchen towels to brighten your kitchen or bring as a hostess gift !

French people BBQ too ! The perfect book for a man who loves meat ….do it French style !

Garnier Thiebaut damask linens trunk show was a success ! We have been using these tablecloths ourselves for over 15 years and they all still look perfect ! Soon we’ll be delivering people’s special orders …being able to order anything out of the catalog is a wonderful thing and our clients took advantage of this opportunity …we ordered even some 144″ long tablecloths that will make a stunning table during the Holidays !

Just a little taste of what’s coming for Christmas ….

New Melamine dishes from Le Cadeaux

 

French toys are the cutest !

Moulin Roty has been our wheelehouse ever since we discovered the brand and were planning to open our shop …they have managed over the years to stay current and old fashioned at the same time ! The attention to details , the choice of materials and the creativity is most amazing !

Wooden toys , pull toys … a real old French tradition . They’re bright  and fun !

When I was a child , back to school also meant after school “gouter” …the best meal of the day …way better than the evening soup ! I loved starting baking at that time , making the most easy “gateau au yaourt ” witch you find in this fun book to enjoy with your kids or grand kids.

 

We had to make an exception with this line from Danemark …We just wanted to play with those circus mice so bad !!

Our Sheep skin flat bears are the softest most amazing toy a kid will grow old with …over the past 18 years that we have been selling these , we sure have made some happy kids !

Laguiole folding knives

Laguiole is a small village in central France and for the longest time , it had been a very isolated rural , harsh environment where they raised cattle , made cheese  and during the long winter months …some utilitarian pocket knifes .

Since then , this tiny village became world famous because of their cutlery , not their cheese ! Unfortunately they had trade marked the cheese and not the knife so many copies are being made all over the world using their decorative bee and name . Don’t be fooled…the price will be forgotten and  the quality will stay .

Before to start selling these  ( 22 years ago ) we decided to drive to Laguiole and get our education on the subject . It was an experience we have never forgotten . From Provence , it took us all day on tiny windy roads . Once we reached the plateau of Aubrac already frosted in November , it looked like landing on the moon !  We went on to visit the forge and meet the different craftsman and have been proud to sell only Authentic Laguiole knives in  our shop ever since ! Hand forged and put together by hand by one single craftsman , each knife is unique.  In a throwaway society, this is an object you will keep for the rest of your life, then leave to your grandchildren.

The carbon steel blade give these knives their edge …super sharp and vintage looking. Extra long solid horn , perfect for the table . His and hers steak knives ! Take them along when out to dinner at a nice restaurant …It’s the new French thing !

This is the Laguiole for the serious meat eater . The hunting knife is bold , rustic and fit perfectly in a man’s hand .

Raw blade keep an even more rustic look to this knife made of Ziricote wood

Elegant and polished in a rare very light and uniform color of horn

Plain handle knives look more like the old ones , no protection bolsters , vintage rivets , cross rivets on the handle in a polished buffalo horn

Carving details are on on the inside as well as on the top

One of a kind Fleur de Lys decoration took the place of the traditional bee . This is how people personalized their knife ; put a shamrock , a horse shoe , a heart…

Of course we also carry carving sets , cheese knives, sommeliers wine openers and steak knives

Traditional rustic wood knives , perfect for hiking and picnics.

Provence in June

Provence is home …the place where we grew  up and we love going back to visit in June when days seam to never end , nights are warm and everything is in bloom! Not even mentioning that after May-Gray , it is June Gloom in San Diego and we are done with it …we need summer !

We drove from Strasbourg through the Parc National du Vercors …very twisted roads , very very tiny even for our small VW beetle !

IMG_1690 (Large).JPG

IMG_1691 (Large).JPG

No AC , No radio , No wifi ….we are free and connected to nature surrounding us and enjoying each other !IMG_1687 (Large).JPG

IMG_1693 (Large).JPG

That was quiet a tunnel ! IMG_1695 (Large).JPG

Pitch black , one lane …that went on for ever ! IMG_1697 (Large).JPG

IMG_1700 (Large).JPG

IMG_1702 (Large).JPG

IMG_1719 (Large).JPG

IMG_1720 (Large).JPG

 

 

IMG_1725 (Large).JPG

As soon as you come down a bit , the landscape start to change . It is less green and the rolling hills are covered with wheat …IMG_1746 (Large).JPG

And lavender ! IMG_1741 (Large).JPG

It’s been an unusually hot beginning of June with temperatures soaring in the mid 90’s so by the 3rd week of June we could smell lavender everywhere as they had already started harvesting it . Normally the pick blooming season is July and the lavender Festival in Sault is not until August 15th when they celebrate the new harvest !

IMG_1736 (Large).JPG

IMG_1744 (Large).JPGPoppies are over already but sunflowers are still around …

IMG_6859 (Large).JPG

Villeudieu is one of those tiny village where all the businesses have closed except for the cafe restaurant and it is keeps the town center alive and well . We love going there for dinner as most of the locals …nothing fancy but a good steak tartare and a crepe ! What else ?!IMG_6713 (Large).JPG

IMG_6714 (Large).JPG

IMG_6710 (Large).JPG

IMG_6715 (Large).JPG

IMG_6702 (Large).JPG

At home with Mum now 87 …IMG_1924 (Large).JPG

My grand parents home is like suspended in time , untouched with lots of patinaIMG_6692 (Large).JPG

IMG_6686 (Large).JPG

Sainte Cecile Les Vignes , my home town !

Bustling on Saturday morning Farmer’s MarketIMG_0248 (Large).JPG

IMG_0244 (Large).JPG

IMG_0234 (Large).JPG

IMG_0245 (Large).JPG

IMG_0246 (Large).JPG

Do French people eat anything else than saussissons ?? Seriously 😉

Oh yes ..cheese of course !IMG_0243 (Large).JPG

IMG_0236 (Large).JPG

It’s funny how some things never change …I’ve seen elder folks wearing these back when I was a little girl but they seams to still be in “fashion” now ! I wonder if I will be considering wearing them in 35 years or so ?? IMG_0251 (Large).JPG

IMG_0239 (Large).JPG

IMG_0252 (Large).JPG

In case you did not get enough saussissons before …IMG_0253 (Large).JPG

My favorite stall : Monsieur Lafont for fresh sardines, crab , “brandade” or cod creamed with olive oil ….yum ! IMG_0250 (Large).JPG

And of course espadrilles …a must to go play Petanque on a dusty court !

IMG_0254 (Large).JPGI even found a pretty linen dress for my mum at the market and she loves it!

IMG_6822 (Large).JPG

Early morning drive …the road to Nyons village is just beautifulIMG_0286 (Large).JPG

Les Genets ( yellow flowers ) sent the whole country side IMG_0298 (Large).JPG

IMG_0300 (Large).JPG

Unexpected beautiful scene …just out of a Marcel Pagnol movie …IMG_0303 (Large).JPG

IMG_0304 (Large).JPG

IMG_0305 (Large).JPG

Breakfast time ! Oh yes we eat other things than saussissons …IMG_0306 (Large).JPG

Lots of bread and pastries !!!! Out the door gluten free/dairy free diet  IMG_0310 (Large).JPG

Today we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our little vintage car club with childhood friends who have not left . We used to organize a car show in our village that attracted over 100 cars every June …It was the most popular car event in the area . Looking back I am amazed still how great this show was : the formula  was different every year : picnic contest , gimmick rally , concours d’elegance , we even gave a car in raffle ! IMG_1872 (Large).JPG

Pascal and his childhood friend Michel in my dad’s old mechanic shop …lots of souvenir here for me too …IMG_1790 (Large).JPG

“UPS ” ( looks like any delivery truck ) did found our house and finally delivered our passports with new working visas at 2pm the day before we were leaving ….that was close ! Time to go home sweet home in San Diego 🙂 IMG_1934 (Large).JPG

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is a very walkable city and a wonderful stop for a day . The European Parliament having their meetings there for a week or 2  each month  make for really exceptional accommodations . You just have to be careful when you plan to go ….if the Parliament is in session that week , rooms are more expensive and harder to come by …the rest of the month you can stay in a special place for a more than reasonable price ….

IMG_0970 (Large).JPG

L’Hotel des Haras de Strasbourg is in an outstanding setting, in the heart of the city , on the banks of the “Petite France” historical district , a  prestige hotel with a contemporary flair. We stayed and highly recommend this place . It is a short walk from the cathedral but away enough to have a quiet stay AND they have parking witch is a very rare thing that close to the town center ( our little VW Beetle is here parked next to the big sedans … ) 

http://www.les-haras-hotel.com/?lng=en#header_top

IMG_0957 (Large).JPG

Built in the middle of the 18th century, Strasbourg’s former National Stud Farm represents an outstanding estate. Its fronts, roofs, monumental gate and the Royal Stables, all achieved according to tradition, are classified as historical monuments.IMG_0949 (Large).JPG

As the headquarters of the city’s horse riding academy from 1752, the site was occupied by the Royal Stud Farm in 1756, . In front of the Grand Stables, the esplanade of the open air riding arena stretches out, to provide sufficient space for cavalry horse riders.IMG_0951 (Large).JPG

The LobbyIMG_0956 (Large).JPG

The Brasserie in the back has an incredible wooden architecture and delicious menu . We did not eat there but friends who did praised the food just as much as the decor IMG_0950 (Large).JPG

IMG_0954 (Large).JPG

IMG_0952 (Large).JPG

IMG_0953 (Large).JPG

Cross over the “Ponts couverts” into the “Petite France “IMG_0958 (Large).JPG

IMG_0965 (Large).JPG

IMG_0960 (Large).JPG

All the bridges were covered with flower BoxesIMG_0971 (Large).JPG

IMG_0969 (Large).JPG

IMG_0967 (Large).JPG

IMG_0959 (Large).JPG

Improvised outdoor terrace IMG_0973 (Large).JPG

The whole town is getting ready for tonight “Fete de la Musique”  a celebration for music that is held every year on the longest day of the year June 21st IMG_0974 (Large).JPG

IMG_0976 (Large).JPG

IMG_0977 (Large).JPG

La Maison de la Choucroute !!! I’ve been dreaming of having choucroute here ever since we decided to stop for a day . It is the specialty of the area …a simple peasant German inspired dish of sauerkraut and potatoes upgraded by the French to a real feast with lots of cured smoked meats and sausages on top eaten with hot mustard. As much as I wanted to eat the real thing here , there is no way today …. a heat wave is soaring and temperatures are over 90F.IMG_0978 (Large).JPG

IMG_0981 (Large).JPG

All I want is to drink cold and have an ice cream …it is so hot !IMG_0991 (Large).JPG

IMG_0993 (Large).JPG

IMG_0982 (Large).JPG

Eating along the river banks sound ideal tonight IMG_0980 (Large).JPG

La Maison Bollinger is a landmark and a gift shop for all things  Alsacien IMG_0989 (Large).JPG

IMG_6730 (Large).JPG

IMG_6731 (Large).JPG

This was the most typical house near the cathedral with amazing details all around its facade IMG_0998 (Large).JPG

IMG_1000 (Large).JPG

IMG_1003 (Large).JPG

IMG_1002 (Large).JPG

IMG_1005 (Large).JPG

And then here she was …the Cathedral !IMG_0999 (Large).JPG

This shows the different stages of its construction starting in 1015 until its completion in 1439 IMG_1006 (Large).JPG

IMG_6732 (Large).JPG

IMG_6741 (Large).JPG

IMG_6742 (Large).JPG

IMG_6733 (Large).JPG

The Fete de la musique is not just a celebration with bands on large stages hosted by each city and even small villages in France  …anybody who wants to play is encourage to do so , dancing is all over town and music goes from folk to pop …each restaurant is having their own live band and when it all started … well , it kind of became this huge cacophony as each place was trying to cover the sound of the next door concert ! Still it was fun to see people enjoying this special day !IMG_1018 (Large).JPG

IMG_6747 (Large).JPG

IMG_6751 (Large).JPG

IMG_6752 (Large).JPG

IMG_1008 (Large).JPG

IMG_1010 (Large).JPG

IMG_1026 (Large).JPG

IMG_1024 (Large).JPG

We eat , drink , danced, listen to music and are making our way back to our hotel …it is past 10pm and the sun is still pretty high up ! IMG_1039 (Large).JPG

IMG_1027 (Large).JPG

IMG_1033 (Large).JPG

11pm …it is finally night…we love traveling trough Europe in June because of those long days …you can do so much more ; We miss  the warm nights in San Diego so there are all the more special  for us !IMG_1042 (Large).JPG

One last stroll along the canals early the next morning before to get on the road to Provence …the light is beautiful and the canal is very alive !IMG_6749 (Large).JPG

IMG_6759 (Large).JPG

IMG_6769 (Large).JPG

IMG_6762 (Large).JPG

IMG_6764 (Large).JPG

IMG_6770 (Large).JPG

IMG_6772 (Large).JPG

We are heading down to Provence in our slow little car …enjoying small country roads like in the past . No freeway just scenic way ! 

Planning a summer trip to France ?

                              It’s not too late to plan that summer trip to Europe  !!

Paris is always a great idea !IMG_1603 (Large).JPG

Strasbourg was a wonderful day stop IMG_0970 (Large).JPG

Provence is home …IMG_1736 (Large).JPG

San Diego has now some good non stop flights not only to London on British Airways but to Germany on Lufthansa as well . Avoiding LA nightmare or a connection is the way to go when you are not 25 years old anymore :  11 hours trip versus 25 hours …I’ll fly non stop !  My recommendation would be a night flight so you can rest and relax in the plane as you are already tired from your day , you arrive late afternoon in Europe and it is time to sleep again . Next morning you are ready to explore and enjoy your vacation . The opposite is flying during the day time from SD , witch mean you cannot even snooze for an hour . When you arrive in Europe , it’s morning  again and you have to go on for the second day in the row without sleep …the next day you are totally pooped !

We went last June and it was unusually warm for the season …they had already started harvesting  the lavender !! It is with July our favorite time to go because the days are super long and you can do so much more than in the fall season … like go out late for an ice cream on a balmy night …

Here are some photos to inspire you ! 

First stop breakfast …This is anywhere and everywhere in Paris !

IMG_0101 (Large).JPG

When you match your guidebook and you did not even plan it …this is Parisian chic  😉

IMG_0102 (Large).JPG

Morning walk from the Invalides IMG_0110 (Large).JPG

Pont Alexandre III , The most beautiful bridge in Paris

IMG_0119 (Large).JPG

Walking along the Seine IMG_0132 (Large).JPGWork out time

IMG_0141 (Large).JPG

A fleet of Bateaux Mouche is lining up the Seine …a great way to see the city .

IMG_0149 (Large).JPG

Le Jardin des Tuileries …perfect place to take a break

IMG_0155 (Large).JPG

The window display of La Duree pastry shop and their world renowned macarons

Its too early to start a sweet binge so we just pass…but the shop is already packed !

IMG_0169 (Large).JPG

Place Vendome …where the serious jewelry shops are …you can do some damage there ! Creativity is at its best and it is fun to just do some window shopping AKA in French  “lèche vitrine” witch translate literately as “licking windows”….we are drooling !IMG_0171 (Large).JPG

Place Vendome is also the home of the Ritz . Tell the majordome at the entrance that you want to go to the “galerie” , this is your way to sneak in …Behind these doors is a garden, a  world of peace and quiet like suspended in time . The “galerie” is just incredible : a very narrow hallway with small shops with the most fabulous fashion and jewelry of course …

IMG_0189 (Large).JPG

IMG_0187 (Large).JPG

IMG_0181 (Large).JPGThat morning we saw a couple seating quietly in one of the hall …they were in formal black tie, long evening gown , loaded with the type of jewelry we had seen in some of the fancy stores just minutes ago …like they were going to  “Oscar night” ….Only at the Ritz Hotel…

IMG_0190 (Large).JPG

You are then just a short walk away from the Opera Garnier …We have yet to go when they have a Ballet or Opera but I would highly recommend to book your stay around that …the right way to experience this incredible place .

IMG_0192 (Large).JPG

You can also just get in to visit the inside on days where there is no rehearsal …witch is not today so we go across the street to “Repetto” the authentic ballet store …the one where the ballerinas go to to buy theirs outfits and where we can get real ballet flats or the most comfortable dancing shoes to wear everyday …

IMG_0204 (Large).JPG

IMG_0196 (Large).JPG

IMG_0200 (Large).JPG

Rainbow ! I can’t decide ….IMG_0203 (Large).JPG

Time for lunch …

IMG_0210 (Large).JPG

With dessert of course !

IMG_0215 (Large).JPG

 A quick look at the Gare de Lyon train station …where you should get a coffee at “Le train Bleu” upstairs …this is how traveling must have been like before …

IMG_0233 (Large).JPGIt’s a restaurant, bar, lounge , a salon where to smoke …

IMG_0230 (Large).JPG

IMG_0232 (Large).JPG

Heading back to Saint Germain where we like to hang out , shop for Mariage Freres teas or traditional Petit Bateau t-shirts for example

IMG_1589 (Large).JPG

Lots of great food to buy and take for a picnic on The Champs de Mars near by with the view of the Eiffel Tower aka  ” La Grande Dame de Fer ” IMG_1593 (Large).JPG

Hotel du Champs de Mars …steps away from the Eiffel Tower ; the rooms are tiny but it is very Parisian anyway and the best deal in this neighborhood .

IMG_1586 (Large).JPG

Very close to so many great restaurants …like the famous” Fontaine de Mars” , but we are not looking ; we know we want to eat at “Les cocottes ” tonight …updated comfort food executed perfectly in a more contemporary setting …

IMG_1590 (Large).JPG

IMG_1591 (Large).JPG

At les Cocottes IMG_1595 (Large).JPG

We crave their simple desserts like ” mamia” a Basque type sheep milk “yogurt” that taste so sweet and is lighter than air …and there is always room for a rhum baba too …

IMG_1598 (Large).JPGIMG_1599 (Large).JPG

One last morning walk today before to head to the American Embassy for our Visa interview ( here we go again …gotta do it every 5 years …) Paris is such a walkable city …you do not need special shoes and you do not want to look like a tourist either 😉 Just wear flats to be comfortable all day , a light purse and off you go !

IMG_1606 (Large).JPG

Isn’t Paris the most romantic city in the world ! IMG_1604 (Large).JPG

IMG_0127 (Large).JPG

Le Grand Palais …they usually have temporary exhibits that are always worth going …specially to be able to check out the inside of this place built at the same period as the Eiffel tower .

IMG_1612 (Large).JPG

We are going to Angelina for a real Parisian breakfast in a real Parisian institution . We have had tea and deserts here but never experience their famous hot chocolate . Today is the day ! 

IMG_1624 (Large).JPGDelicious croissants, pain au chocolat with extra butter and jams , a St Honore just because we are not coming back for lunch and THE hot chocolate ! So thick and creamy , you probably won’t need the extra rich whipped cream on top …but after all why not !? We are walking this off on our way to the Embassy and doing some more shopping !

IMG_1622 (Large).JPG

IMG_0162 (Large).JPG

IMG_1662 (Large).JPG

French women do wear sneakers and a baseball hat …IMG_0166 (Large).JPG

IMG_1642 (Large).JPG

New Visas granted , we can now settle down for dinner with good appetite ! La maison de la truffe sound pretty good but we feel like meat from one of our favorite place in France . We are going to  “La maison de l’Aubrac” . Here they serve  beef from cows they raise in their own farm in the region  of Aubrac where famous Laguiole village is . It is flavorful beyond imagination .I never had ribs like this…dry aged and slow cooked to perfection , bone marrow with fleur de sel, rib eye and potatoes….no guilt …it is perfect for my paleo diet !

IMG_1647 (Large).JPG

IMG_1646 (Large).JPG

IMG_1650 (Large).JPGWith 2 desserts and a drink …88E service compris !

IMG_1652 (Large).JPGTomorrow we are driving south waiting for our passports to come back with our visas …

IMG_1679 (Large).JPG

Next stop Strasbourg !

La vie en rose …

We see  “La Vie en Rose ” Celebrating spring and all Mothers !

IMG_9428 (Large).JPG

IMG_9570 (Large).JPG

IMG_9573 (Large).JPG

IMG_9571 (Large).JPG

IMG_9431 (Large).JPG

IMG_9440 (Large).JPG

IMG_9576 (Large).JPG

5 (Large).jpg 

IMG_9456 (Large).JPG

IMG_9460 (Large).JPG

IMG_9430 (Large).JPG

IMG_9429 (Large).JPG

Just one of the many new scarves we just received from France  …

Very exciting new line !IMG_9708 (Large).JPG

This scarf is so gorgeous , it can be used as a throw tooIMG_9707 (Large).JPG

Perfect little token , hostess gift … scented wax medallions have been a hit !

IMG_2195 (2).JPG

Bright and colorful Garnier Thiebaut runner …loved it so much , we took it home !

18056691_1612678532078930_8337958398893926841_n.jpg