Joyeux Noel !

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Christmas 1995…we were about to embark on this amazing journey ; realize our dream to open this  “Little French Store” AKA Maison en Provence and make San Diego our home .
Every Holiday , it hits us, how incredibly enriching this has been…so much more than we could have ever imagine ! We LOVE what we do and you give it all back to us !

During the Holidays , we get to see everybody ..all the regulars , the one we have not seen for years  the one who only comes at Christmas ..but always come then …It warms our hearts and make this time so special to us . Thanks for being this wonderful big family of clients and friends; for all the joy and support you give us . This is way more than just running a small business …it has been a life changing experience and we look forward to the next years to come …
 
Merry Christmas !
Pascal and Marielle
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Joyeux Noel and thanks for the support this Holiday Season !
Marielle , Alice, Connie and Yvonne
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It’s the Holidays and our favorite time of the year !

It took a village but our little shop has transformed into a glitter wonderland for the Holidays !

These ornaments are US made with real glass glitter from Germany …the sparkle is amazing and they get better with a softer patina look with time  .

Transform a simple package into something special with one of these on top , give your tree a little glam or decorate the house with a unique wreath and deers .

 

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Cute felt ornaments are flying out the door ! IMG_2707 (Large)IMG_2667 (Large)IMG_2664 (Large)IMG_2666 (Large)IMG_2708 (Large)

We sell as well traditional nativity figurines made in Aix en Provence in the South of France . These clay figures and hand made and hand painted . Come check out our set up in person . Kids love this scene that include not only the Holly family but an entire village set in the mid 1800 . We love to share this tradition and the stories behind each figurine …this is our Christmas tradition !

 

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 !

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

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

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

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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 !

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

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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

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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

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Sainte Cecile Les Vignes , my home town !

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

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

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

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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

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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!

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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

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

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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 ….

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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

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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

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

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

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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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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