For the love of Hydrangeas

It is no secret that our hydrangeas are the show stopper of Mission Hills …but this year they are going for the world record ! The height of our bush and size of the flowers that already came out predict that in a few days it will be a spectacle ! This mild winter , we didn’t trim them back as usual and they are loving all this gray and gloomy weather we are having here . Don’t miss it and come by before the summer’s heat fry them . Photo from May 19th and June 19th

Blooming explosion about to happen !
That “blue hydrangeas” feed from Mission Hills Nursery made for some really unique colors

July 1st

July 8th

See you soon !

Styling the best Provencal party !

Back when we first opened our shop, we had yet to learn about So Cal life style …and adapt to it which took us years . We had no concept of couch TV dinners , buckets of fried chicken take out , drive through lunches . No matter what day of the week , it would not even cross our mind not to set up a table for dinner …we wouldn’t put up grandma antique silver and fine gold trimmed Limoges china but it would definitely be sit down , with a tablecloth and napkins . Do I have to specify cloth napkins ? Yes cloth not paper napkins …yes every day and actually lunch and dinner !

When we entertained, then we actually made an effort to coordinate the linens , the flowers and the food, all with effortless refined style : it’s what Provence is all about , this country casual elegance and we wanted to share this with our clients by importing the nicest earthenware from Uzes ( not only hand made but dipped in the glaze by hand, giving it this rich thickness and uneven subtle tones ) , exceptional cutlery by master Laguiole craftsman and hand blown glasses from Biot . The latest trend was to use a “boutis ” a thin quilt as a tablecloth for a rustic look . We were hunting flea markets to bring back antique linen napkins which I was dyeing in colors to match our bubbled glasses or tablecloths . It looked romantic , chic yet country . Of course none of these dishes and glasses were dishwasher safe, the linen napkins had to be ironed and these were 2 concepts we realized quickly did not fit SoCal lifestyle too well …

Here , I had layered the quilt over an antique linen sheet and dyed the antique tablecloth in burgundy to match the plates and quilt
Antique linen napkins dyed in pale blue to coordinate with the Biot glasses
Here in mustard yellow just like our traditional Dieulefit plates and wood handle Laguiole cutlery
Sunday table on a beautiful quilted tablecloth from Souleiado topped with a sheer organdi patterned cloth from Blanc d’Ivoire

But to most people in San Diego this was way more formal than their most formal setting…until one day a client came in and just LOVED my table setting . She understood its casual elegance … and nobody had done this here before ! She asked me to style her party and I was ecstatic !

It was going to be a special dinner for special guests and Lynn wanted to give them an authentic Provencal experience . Not only we had to supply all the table setting pieces and style the table but she wanted me to consult with her team of lighting people from Hollywood , the florist and chef to make sure even the flowers and menu would be authentic . This was very intimidating and with my poor English I wasn’t sure I could communicate my ideas properly but nevertheless it happened . It was the most magical evening and I bet memorable for the lucky 12 guests .

Last briefing with master chef Andrew Spurgin , last touch up before guests arrived to the Fairbanks Ranch Country club by hot air balloons …

It was going to be a candle lit dinner; the chandelier was covered with fresh aromatic rosemary and flowers were simple lavender bundles.

It’s show time ! Lynn had asked me to welcome her guests … I guess I was part of the authenticity of the party , but mainly I realize she wanted them to understand how special this dinner was going to be without being over the top opulent in every way . While they were eating , we hung back in the outdoor kitchen tent set up for the occasion . The food was spectacular and this evening will forever be in our memories as our first big gig .

Bread baskets were pieces of art , hand woven earthenware decorated with tiny flowers ; the antique silverware was not as ornate as Lynn’s personal sterling, it just had a little motif on the back as we set them facing down in France . You would normally not display the cutlery on the plates as I did but we wanted to really showcase them , in particular the knives that were special ordered from Laguiole . The solid horn handles were a rare light color not the most common mixed marbled tones . It was more elegant and blended so well with the color palette of Celadon greys . I had hand written the menus scrolls and place cards .

The whole look was to mix : white and cream to show the scalloped edge plates, cream and celadon pieces to accent like the cicadas napkin rings and pitcher . Compared to American standard, everything was a scale down specially the glasses were true French size were you serve ice cold water without a tone of ice cubes.

The fun story behind this event is something personal I never shared before …In France we always were considered to be “Originaux ” original , uncommon, who never do what’s normal or expected, a bit odd in a weird or positive way ?! I guess we kind of are … For example when we moved to San Diego, we needed to buy a car but Pascal had left behind in France his beloved vintage car so instead of buying a regular car he spotted a 1954 Porsche 356 at a great price . He would need to restore it but that is also his passion . Next thing you know he shook hands and we owned it. Obviously the paint was so bad we could step on the roof no problem and the original 1954 interior was pretty shabby ! We nicknamed her “the tomato ” and did everything with her : transformed it into a jungle on nursery trips, bought a lawn mover and made it fit inside , groceries AND business meetings….

That’s when the 2 stories come together . I had to meet with Lynn and all those Hollywood professionals in Rancho Santa Fe . So I dressed for my business meeting and went …in my “Tomato”. Only problem was , she would never start again when it was time to leave and I had to ask the same Hollywood people to push me to jump start my funky car !

Before you knew it , it was July and we wanted to throw a Bastille day Party for all those new friends , neighbors , clients who had helped us during our first few months as San Diegans. I cooked for days : french pâtés, vegetable terrines , quiches, tarts… It was a Sunday afternoon ; we took all the chairs we had in the shop out in the front yard as well as small tables and picnic blankets.

Our friend Chris looking so French with our old bicycle !

What we had not expected was that anybody walking around that day would come inside our little back apartment , checking every room , eating all the food I had prepared thinking this was an other Sunday Open House !

I hope you enjoyed these never before told stories behind our very first year in San Diego ! If you do not follow our blog yet , please click on the follow button so you will be notified when I post a new story .

Scarves

Here is the Inoui scarves Fall/Winter selection ! Super soft non itchy wool that drapes and travel without wrinkling ; warm and light weight at the same time . Any of those will brighten your winter wardrobe !

 Please email ( or text your choices at 619 518 0401 ) We have narrow down the options to the very best patterns this season so we could have more of each and be able to accommodate most orders .

We will do PRE ORDER and Prepaid only with delivery in October . We can ship the scarves when they arrive or meet at my friend’s coffee shop in Mission Hills …an excuse to see each !

I’ve already made my pick , let me know what’s yours !

Inoui is known for their bold designs , beautiful materials and craftsmanship . Their creativity is beyond amazing and each collection is one to treasure ….Collect, frame, give away and certainly enjoy wearing them !

Soft price and smaller scale for this classic 100% wool scarf : Jouy burgundy $135 ( sold out )

Queen of heart $145 ( sold out )

New washable wool : Isabeau blue $170 ( sold out )

Fortune Cat Emerald

Wool and silk (8%) for added softness and sheen $170 ( sold out )

Barocco : a great scarf to wear with blacks : Saffron ( sold out )

Barroco Sage $188 ( sold out )

Roosters Saffron $195 ( sold out )

In my opinion THE scarf of the season. I got one in similar colors in very light wool a few seasons ago and it has been one of my favorite to spice up my denims : Volcan orange $210 ( sold out )

This is how I wear mine . These are great size , very versatile and never bulky !

Also comes in pink : Volcan Rose $210 ( sold out )

Reve bleu $230 ( sold out )

Robert the Rhino has been a best seller previously and it is coming back this season which is great news for those like me who missed it ! Unisex so you can share it with your sweet heart …occasionally !

Robert Black ( sold out )

Robert Indigo $230 (sold out )

I’ve picked mine …If you made your choice too , order soon …they always sell fast !

The beginning

It was 1996 …The year we opened Maison en Provence …The years of Maison Cote Sud , the magazine we were selling which was the biggest influence on our concept . Of course being from Provence we could not have it any other way . Everything had to represent the beautiful craftsmanship, the warm light , bright colors , and wonderful scents that make the South of France . We wanted to bring the best from home here for people to discover, enjoy and appreciate . More than just products it was about sharing the Art de Vivre a la Francaise and be authentic ! Going down memory lane with the following photos of us and some of our favorite displays !

Pottery from the finest ceramists from all over Provence were represented …even the more basic from the Languedoc as well as the striped thick linens from the Basque region . One of my favorite display we did with the knives from Laguiole, Nontron and Opinel was with big loaves of bread from Bread and Cie . I was already doing all my tags by hand to give an old fashion style.

The other side of the concept was about all things that dress up a Bastide ( a large bourgeois Mansion in comparison to a Farm House ) less country rustic and more elegant like these slip covered chairs , Souleiado tablecloths , painted furniture and hand stitched quilts from Blanc d’Ivoire .

During our months of preparation we had met Phyllis Van Doren the Editor of San Diego Home and Garden Magazine where we were going to advertise to get the word out We have been friends ever since . She understood and appreciated everything we were doing and there were nothing like it in San Diego ! This was the first editorial she did on us when we first opened . Merci Phyllis !

But the style wasn’t stopping there …we were living it at home too ! Home then was just at the back of the shop. Some of you may have known that we were living in the back but never actually stepped in our Doll House Apartment. The access door is now actually hidden by the kitchen towel display . It was very convenient specially to work with France early morning making phone calls and faxing orders ; remember the days before this thing called the Internet !? The previous owners of The Pet Shop had also been living in the back and we had planned to do the same . Here are the non staged or styled photos of our little home .

The kitchen is still now our break room …just behind the children section which was our living room

Our bedroom was all about antique embroidered linen sheets …a very romantic look . We were also working with someone local who was making wrought iron lamps and head boards we designed and refinish ourselves to look as old as the antique day beds we were importing from Provence .

My passion for antique linens is still here but I do not have the time anymore to sew aprons using vintage lace , monogrammed linen sheets or make pillows with antique quilts …

We were selling sets of antique monogrammed napkins , sheets and pillow cases that we were scouting at flea markets all over Provence during our trips back home .

I loved dyeing some of them specially the tablecloths that everyone feared to use if white. Dark burgundy here paired with a quilt draped over an antique sheet for what was the trendiest table setting at the time !

Red and Ocre yellow were not just colors we picked out of the blue ! Not only they are the colors of the Provencal flag but the earth colors found and used everywhere from “Tomettes” tiles to house’s facades and just as a good sign to us the Old Pet Shop had always been brick red , a perfect tone that worked with our mustard yellow logo ! With this strong identity we did our first Designer Showcase , introducing San Diegans to our custom made iron pieces , antique sheets transformed in one of a kind drapes …A whole lot of French Laundry and ironing was going on and SoCal laid back life style wasn’t all that ready for it !

At the shop , I was displaying an antique quilted skirt on my 1900 sewing mannequin which I still use today .

On the antique day bed are my pillows as well as lamp shades made from monogrammed antique napkins . This corner was very cozy and what nobody knows is that Pascal’s mum slept there when she was coming to visit us . We put up an antique screen to give her privacy at night and by 10 am everything had been aired up and put together just like this ! One night though , she experienced an earthquake …the daybed being on wheels was rocking back and forth and all the pottery on the shelves were singing . Nothing broke or fall but she had got more than she bargained for that year !

An other showcase house in Coronado done all in grays way beyond the trend .

A few more Editorials helped us put Maison en Provence San Diego on the map !

If you enjoy our stories , follow the blog so you will get a notification . Next I will share our very first Bastille Day and the most amazing private event design we have been involved with .

Love is all you need !

Valentine’s Day is by far our favorite Holiday ! A time to celebrate love and loved ones .

This year more than ever we should tell the ones we love how much they mean to us , how much we think about them despite not always being able to be with them…It’s been a long haul already so let’s show some LOVE !

Cards range from $5.50 to $7.95 , Little baskets $22 , Buckets with pompom, paper or plastic hand made flowers $18.95
Heart made of wine corks can be hung or lean against a wall $75 Hand made by Alice

Assorted gold foil and embossed cards are hand made by Yvonne $7.95

Soft cotton towels silk screened with natural dyes $22.50 , Mask $25 . French made with love in San Diego by our friend Valentine

Shea butter soap packaged like a fancy cake $11, Linen Heart sachets $22.50 , Hand creams $8.50

Lilipo Jewelry : Necklaces : Silver/Gold rings $ 59 ,Wire heart $50 , Briolettes necklace $89, Heart Necklaces $59 Bracelets $39-$49 range

Star necklaces :single $55 , 3 stars $59
Cards by Alice $5.50

One of a kind booklet card $25

Small basket $22 Card $5.50

Heart Soaps : Lavender , Camellia or Rose 7oz $12.50 , Soap dishes $13 , Ode Olive oil rose balm $22

Style book by iconic Ines de la Fressange ….her style and addresses in Paris

Rifle Card $5.50, “The sweet scent of Love ” candle by Bougie la Francaise $25

Baskets are always a great idea ! Here are a few that just came in . More classic in stock as well

Macarons just like Angelina’s

I discovered Angelina back in the days when I was modeling and use to spend my days just a couple of yards away from this landmark Parisian Patisserie . You may have heard of their hot chocolate …so creamy and delicious ; Alice and I were lucky to hold a hot cup of this deliciousness just last January (check past travel posts about Paris for all the yummy details ) but what I loved the best was their XL macarons : chocolate , coffee cream , pistachio crunch , caramel … unfortunately they have stopped making this XL size and only offer mini cute one bite macarons just like everybody else . https://angelina-paris.fr/en/

Not only the XL size is way more delicious “en bouche” , a better balance of flavors and texture , crunchiness and smoothness but it is way easier to make at home !!! Making perfect La Duree powdered colored macarons require some experience and a few trials even for a seasoned baker but this is my easy way to seriously delicious , melt in your mouth macarons !

( fun facts : Macarons are gluten free , pronounced mac-a-rohn not macaroon ….macaroons are coconut type of cookies , a totally different thing and not gluten free )

First trick : I only make them in one flavor , Chocolate . Yes because everybody loves chocolate but also because it is much more forgiving if your oven heat circulation color them brown a bit more in the back or sides …no matter what , they will be brown not pink with brownish sides ! I tried the pink , the white …even with my convection oven , I always got into troubles ! So chocolate it is !

For the macarons shells: 1 pound /450 gr of powdered sugar , 2 cups /200 gr of almond meal , 6 tbs /40 gr unsweetened cocoa powder , 3/4 cup / 200 ml egg whites ( about 6 larges ) Measure to be precise , a batter too liquid will not work .

Sift Powder sugar , cocoa and almond flour together to obtain a fine powder . You may have to do it a couple of times or blend in a food processor if you are using a more coarse almond meal . The finer the better . If you only do it once like I did …you will have a slightly less smooth shell but that won’t change the taste or result .

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff . Fold in the flour mix gently little by little making sure to have an even brown mixture . The batter should be pretty thick not to spread thin on the baking sheets . Spoon the batter into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate until ready to pipe .

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and draw 15 circles 2 1/2″ diameter . Cut a corner of the ziploc bag and pipe the batter onto each circles as evenly as possible .

Let rest 5-10 minutes before to put in the oven preheated to 400F

I can bake the 2 sheets at the same time , side by side , but if this do not fit in your oven then bake them one at a time . Do not stack them as this would not make then cook evenly .They should be firm to touch and dry and cracked on top . About 10 minutes in my convection oven . It goes fast and you may have to turn the sheets once to avoid over coloring on one side . Slide parchment on work surface to stop cooking and allow to cool down . Mine are far from picture perfect but once put together and in your mouth , you’ll forget all about that perfect round circle !

While the shells are cooking , prepare the ganache : 3/4 cup /200ml whole milk or half and half or cream , 5 Tbs /70 gr unsalted butter , 8 oz /235 gr semisweet chocolate ( not unsweetened) Using a good dark chocolate is key . I like dark Belgian chocolate from Trader Joes or Valrhona best . Chop the chocolate in small pieces . Bring the milk and butter to a simmer . Remove from the heat and ad the chocolate . Whisk until melted and smooth . Transfer to a small bowl and let cool . I keep mixing once in a while to check the texture . You want it firm enough not to spread on the baked cookies but not too firm and hard already . By the time your shells are cooked and cooled it should be the right texture for the ganache .

Now trick 2 : I spread a layer of jam on each side of the shells …sometimes I also ad some more in a nest at the center of the ganache . To make 2 flavors , I do some with seedless raspberry jam available in our shop ( seedless is important ) and orange which I flavor with some Grand Marnier …because …why not ! Spoon the chocolate ganache and press each side of the shells to allow the cream to spread all the way to the sides .

Trick 3 : That is the most important one ! DO NOT EAT the same day you make them . These would be too dry and crunchy . Allow them the rest and soak up some of the ganache moisture so they will be crunchy on the outside but moist and smooth in the center . Cover with aluminum foil and keep in a cool place but do not refrigerate ( that is too much moisture and will kill the shell ) Next day is heaven ! 3rd day is still good but the shell starts to soften . You can freeze these too . But it does not get better than home made XL second day macarons !

I serve them with fresh raspberries or with a couple of candied orange rind I had made with oranges from our yard

Gift ideas !

This year is a bit different to say the least … To help you check all those on your shopping list , we have put together some gift ideas which of course you can always modify . You are welcome to order any of these by email or text and we can prepare it for you to pick up or ship . This can also give you an idea of what we have right now before you come to shop and minimize your time inside the shop. If you cannot come in person , we offer Facetime video chats too !

Lavender pampering gift box : $124

Olive oil body care from my favorite brand Ode here in Citrus , can be made in rose and lavender as well $139.50

Men’s gift box with his Mistral favorites in Cedarwood marine . Also available in Black amber , bourbon vanilla $ 129.95

Our washable paper bags from Tuscany can be used as a bread basket , cache pot , fruit bowl and make a great gift basket ! from $22 to $32

Natural gift paper bag : Vetiver sage soy candle , citrus hand spray , Olive wood Marseille soap hand wash, set of 4 linen napkins $138.50

Aubergine and lavender paper bag gift : Cypress lavender candle and essential oil , lavender balm , set of 4 linen napkins $148

Pampering paper bag gift : Linen and silk relaxing lavender sachet, bath salts, shower gel , body brush and hand cream $138.50

Specialties from Provence Gift box : Lavender Honey , lavender honey nougat , calissons from Aix en Provence , orange blossom Flavigny candies , Bee kitchen towel , lavender/chamomile herbal tea and box of shortbread cookies $94

Masks from Valentine $25

Set of 4 perfumes soaps from Fragonard $27.50

Coated damask Apron from Garnier Thiebaut $74 and Cook book $37.50

IMG_1891(Edited) (Large)Poppies and coffee : Towel by our friend French artist Valentine , silk screened by hand using  natural dyes 100% cotton $22.50 ,  ” A coffee please ” mug $16.25 , Milk frother by Cookut ( no longer available )  All you need to know to bake your own delicious madeleines at home Book $19.95 , Butter cookies made in Brittany $5.95 each This gift $70 ( without the frother )

IMG_2468 (Large)Romantic picnic set : Make a chocolate fondue on a picnic or at home with a tea light candle $25 . Dip strawberries or marshmallows and have fun ! Melamine plates set of 4  $37.50 ( many patterns available )  . Colored through taper candles from Bougie la Francaise do not drip or smoke . Each candle burn 10 hours , pack of 4 $16 . Use this towel as a tablecloth , made by our friend French artist Valentine , silk screened by hand using  natural dyes 100% cotton $22.50 . Carry it all in one of our net bag made in France since 1860  $ 18.75. Total $119.75

IMG_2424 (Large)Switch for an other towel or bag if you’d like

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Vacances en France : A few things to make you feel like you were in Paris or on the French Riviera right now . Tissages de l’Ouest towels $20 and $18 ( let them soak in cold water over night and wash once before the first use to make sure they become soft and absorbent )  bag $24 , Sticky notes $15 , French Cafe music CD $18.75 , Paris tea ,a blend of black teas with floral and citrus flavors with a hit of vanilla $11 , Butter cookies with caramel $5.95 ,  Comptoir du cacao chocolate 72% dark $7.75 . Mug $16.25 . Total $136.75

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Balade a Paris Gift basket : Fill up a traditional net bag from Filt ( Made in France since 1860 ) $18.75 Towel from Tissage de l’Ouest $20 , set of 4 Bougies la Francaise $16 , St Michel butter cookies in Eiffel Tower tin $19.50 , The New Parisienne book $ 29.95 Ad a card for $5.75  Total this gift $109.95

Market baskets with leather handles : Short round handles $45.50 or long flat shoulder handles $42.50 . Pack them up with goodies for a special celebration . Pick a card from us and let me do the calligraphy note on your behalf making it more personal .

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Making baskets for any celebration and budget . This basket $280
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Flat shoulder straps basket $42.50
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Lavender for foodies : We carry lavender everything but our most special products must be the lavender honey rich in flavor , creamy and the soft nougat also made with lavender honey we both get from Provence ( 8.8 oz $ 17.55  and 3.5oz $10.95 ) I use the lavender honey to sweeten roasted apricots or drizzle over a nectarine tart in summer ( make a search in the recipe tab ) but it also very good with the Camomille /lavender herbal tea from Harney and Sons 20 tea bags in tin jar $11 , Apricot/lavender jam $12 , culinary lavender to sprinkle over cookie frosting  $10 , Lavender syrup $17.95 , Lavender towel $27.50 , Mini hand cream $8.50 , Dried lavender $18.95  This gift $134.00

French Towels  $20 

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Drink like the French ! the new book from David Lebovitz $ 28 , L’apero towel $20 , Bee flute glasses $12.50 each , Bird bottle opener $9.50 , Set of 6 assorted coasters . Gift $97.50

Drinks and appetizers come together …new ideas for a perfect apero or Happy Hours at home $19.99

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Sunday Dinner : Roast a chicken with herbs of Provence ( $16 bag ) . Rub the herbs over the chicken and infuse the inside using the insert you can fill with broth , lemon juice  making a moist chicken $25 , Fleur de sel from Camargue is the most wonderful finishing salt , crunchy but not very salty $14.95 , Melamine cheese platter $33.75  , set of 4 appetizer plates $37.50 , Fig and walnut confit $9.95 , Merlot jelly$9.95 to pair with cheeses , Branches knives spreaders $8 each , Book on cheeses with everything from cheese etiquette to recipes $37.50  ( this book no longer available but we have new great books that came in this season )   This Gift $199.00

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One of my new favorite book of the season ! French with a twist , easy everyday recipes $37.50

IMG_1848 (Large)Bleu Blanc Rouge : “I am missing Paris “ bag ( $18.75 ) filled with dark chocolate Crepes Gavottes $5.95 , Alibabette Journal $11.95 , New Fragonard scent of the year soap Magnolia $11.50 , Provence Hand Cream $8.50  This Filt Bag is $56.65

You can always ad more cookies ! All made in France and delicious $5.95 each

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Ad Cocktail napkins of your choice for $6.50

83852F93-ED34-4345-B1EC-C039AF5A3382IMG_1799 (Large)Gardener’s care gift :  Ode Olive oil Balm is great on dry feet, elbows , cuticle and hands who have been doing some gardening  $22 , pair with a hand brush from Andre Jardin , Ash wood ~ all natural fibers ~ Made in France  $16.25 , Sonoma Hand cream is rich but not oily , perfect day time treatment $ 22.50

IMG_1950 (Large)Lavender ( all natural essential oils ) : linen heart  lavender sachet $22.50 , Shower gel $24 , Hand cream $25 , Bath Salts $18 , Maison Louis Marie Candle $35   This Gift $124.50 IMG_1956 (Large)Natural and Earthy gift set with entirely natural fragrances made with pure essential oils in Vetiver/sage with notes of Bergamote : Room Spray $15 , Soy wax candle $27.50 , Our all time favorite natural liquid hand soap from Marseille in Olive wood scent $22 , Small embroidered pouch $15 , Set of 4 heavy linen napkins  $49  This Gift $128.50IMG_1806 (Large)Lavender Sachets : Linen and silk Pillow insert $33, Drawer liner $38, hanger sachet $22, set of 3 linen sachets $33 , set of 3 silk sachets $23.75 , Sachets by the yard roll $29.75

Mix and Match to your liking Soap dish $13 , Hard milled soaps , natural scent from Panier des sens $10.50 , Mistral $11.50

IMG_1813 (Large)Sets of 2 soaps $15 , glass soap dishes $13 , bird dishes $17.50 , purse size hand creams $8.50 , Tin Box set of 3 $27.50  IMG_1809 (Large)Embroidered lavender sachets $18.75, Heart sachet $22.50IMG_1797 (Large)Make your own Lavender gift ! Mistral lavender is more perfumy , Sonoma Lavender is straight forward lavender oil infused , same for Pre de Provence bath salts  $ 17 , Mistral Bath Salts $17 Shower gel $23 , Bubble bath $23 , Sonoma line  water $16.50 , Soy wax candle $12.50  IMG_1856 (2)Fragonard perfumed soaps come with matching soap dish and beautiful box $29.50  ; 6 fragrances available from light floral to citrusy or woodsy .

Match the soap with the eau de Parfum $59

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For the flower lover : my favorite cherry blossom flavored green tea $11  Steep 1 tea bag in 2,5 cups of cold water over night or at least 4 hours for a refreshing flowery drink . This cold brewing process eliminate any risk for bitterness . I always do my ice teas this way even for black tea . Violet syrup also makes for special drinks and cocktail , or just pour some over fruits and yogurt $17.95 , Rose and Violet candies from Flavigny , Made in France since 1591 $5.95 each , cocktail napkins $6.50 , cotton towel from Valentine ,silk screen by hand right here in San Diego $22.50             This package $69.85

IMG_2198 (Large)Lavender hanger sachet ( linen and silk ) $22, Heart shaped  soap $12.50 , Fragonard Eau de parfum Rose Lavender $59 , Purse size hand cream $8.50 , Natural lip balm $9.50 . This gift $111.00 IMG_1808 (Large)Linen and silk rose bud drawer liner  $38

IMG_1770Boxed set of 3 purse size hand creams from la Chatelaine $27.50 , Natural lip balm $9.50 , Alibabette Journal to draw, write and keep all these ideas together $8.50  Total $45.50 IMG_1772La chatelaine boxed set of 3 hand creams $27.50 and an other favorite to take everywhere and specially when traveling Ode Olive oil Body Balm $22

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Ice cream ready kit : All you need to make special ice cream desserts at home , starting with home made whipped cream . Use the jar and the included silicon balls to whip cream in less than a minute  $18.75 ( no longer available unfortunately )  Bee glass bowl $11.50 each , Chestnut spread is delicious with vanilla ice cream , top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate for a “coupe Mont Blanc ” a classic bistro dessert all over France (17.5 oz  $11) , serve with milk chocolate dipped Gavotte cookies ( the crispiest , lightest cookie ever ) Other option is Vanilla ice cream and Griottines Merlot Cherries in Brandy ( not syrup ) a little whipped cream , shaved chocolate and dark chocolate Gavotte and you are in heaven ! Griottines $28.50 , Chocolate 72% dark $7.75 , Rose syrup to mix with drinks or champagne  $17.95  . This gift  $110 ( without the whipped cream shaker )

IMG_1818 (Large)For those who have everything  , gourmet food and consumable are always best : Fill up a basket with our Herbes de Provence $16 , Any jam $12 ( apricot and lavender , sweet orange and orange blossom , also available wild blueberry, wild blackberry, blackcurrant , white fig, black fig , pear and dried apricot with honey ,seedless raspberry ) , lavender honey $17.55 or Orange blossom Honey $ 15.75  , Fleur de sel from Camargue our favorite finishing salt $ 14.95 , Liquid hand soap from Marseille glass pump 16.9floz $27 , Hand or dish towel $26 IMG_1598Garnier Thiebaut towels $26 , Mistral sets of 2 soaps $15

IMG_1803 (Large)We gift bag , we can gift box to ship and we can ship for you too ! Gifting made easy and unique !

It is the Holidays …

Worked around the clock to prepare the shop and make it festive … we sure need some glitter and sparkle right now !

Thank you for shopping small businesses this Holiday season …our communities need it more than ever and we are grateful for your continuous support ! Bonnes Fetes !

Still more lights to install , more gifts to prepare but we are getting there !

Oranments : box of glass balls $35 , Pine cones $21.95 , gold acorns $14 , Stockings $9.95

Our children corner is magical ( check the “kids’ tab for the entire selection )

Towel from our friend Valentine $22.50 , hand made cards from local artist , Rose scented hand cream and lip balm stocking stuffer $19.50 , Bay garland scented wax botanical sachets $24.50 /box , Tin candles $14.95

Stoking stuffers ready to grab and go : Set of hand cream and soap $17.50 ( rose or verbena ) , Travel soap in tin box and hand cream $18.50 ( verbena , lavender , gardenia and orange blossom ) , hand sanitizer and hand cream $18 ( lavender and lemon lime ) , hand sanitizer+soap+hand cream Citrus scent $23.50

Joyeux Noel !

A little bit of Japan

November 2019 , almost a year ago …this was our 3rd trip to Japan , the land of my grand parents , a place were I feel like I belong somehow but not quit fit in …literally ! $50 round trip tickets on JAL with our miles , last chance to take a break before the Holiday rush and we were off …Yes this was a time when we could travel freely …

Even the sleeves of my Yukata are way too short on me ! Thankfully because Japanese women have to fold up the kimono at the belt , they are always extra long for that purpose …long enough to cover my legs !

This post is about sharing with you the beautiful work that our friend Yukari makes but since nobody can travel right now , I will give you a little taste of Japan too ! Here in Tokyo on our last day together , Yukari was wearing one of our French scarf with a kimono jacket of her design and I was wearing the vintage Kimono blouse she had just given me … mixing western and Japanese look .

Japan is such a Country of contrast : Ancestral traditions and cutting edge technology , Zen beautiful gardens and organized chaos in the city .

We had been to Kyoto during cherry blossoms season , saw sunrise over Mont Fuji surrounded by red maple trees , visited the mind blowing museum of Itchiku kubota master kimono artist but there is much more to discover , so once again , we rented a car and left Tokyo megalopolis on a rainy late October morning . We just love road trips …the unexpected finds , the local food and with a GPS it really is no trouble at all . Also everybody travel by public transportation so finding parking for a car is super easy everywhere !

Nikko National park was gorgeous and peaceful in the rain

We spent the night in a small Ryokan or traditional Inn near Lake Chuzenji . Kegon Fall was just a short walk away

The next day we drove through the mountains through the most incredible scenery . The narrowest road winding around small lakes, all a wild but perfect Japanese garden .Visions of old traditional drawings were right before our eyes : bamboo forest in the early morning fog , misty waterfalls, autumn colors brightening the rocks . This has been by far our favorite and longest drive in Japan , an amazing 12 hour day . Despite not having photos ( we could not really stop in the middle of this one lane road ) it is the one most vivid in my memory.

Our plan was to drive along the coast of the Sea of Japan .We found similarities with the rugged coast of Oregon and Northern California, but for the food and rice paddies !

The little fishing town of Wajima is actually renowned for its lacquerware . We stroll the morning market to stock up on snacks to eat on the road ( Fuji apples, dried persimmons , roasted chestnuts , dried squid ? ) and go in every single lacquer shop . After looking everywhere in Tokyo , we were searching here for special large ramen bowls which we were lucky to find !

The coast is pounded by strong waves and wind making for a very scenic drive

We drove on the beach and kept going south to Amanohashidate ( I never thought I would remember that name ) a little coastal town just an hour north of Kyoto . In 2018 Amanohashidate bay became sister with Mont St Michel as one of the world’s most beautiful bay ! Amanohashidate ( now you start to remember that name ) roughly translates to “bridge to heaven” and it is said that the sandbar resembles a meandering pathway connecting heaven and earth when it is viewed from the mountains …or a dragon if looking at it upside down from in between your legs 😉

We walked the 3 kilometer sandbar , wrote a wish on the tiny fan , hung it and made a prayer at the temple…

Ine is a traditional fishing village with houses over the water where fisherman can store their boat . Not so many are still actively fishing and the houses are being transformed into inns where people can experience life like in the old days . We wished to have stayed there but this was a Holiday week end and all accommodations had been booked months in advance ( https://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/ryokan-search-results/Ine/ ) Nevertheless we could still experience a special 10 course dinner at Chitose Ryokan’s restaurant. Pascal’s childhood friend Arnaud is a wine broker in Provence and Mr Yamazaki one of his clients . As a lover of France and it’s great wines , Mr Yamazaki’s restaurant offers the best of Japanese local cuisine paired with the best imported French wines …the cuisine has a little fusion as well , mixing Kobe beef with perfect wine sauce , sashimi with olive oil and soy sauce dip …This was a real treat !

Back in Tokyo November 3rd is a public Holiday . It is recognized as a day to celebrate peace and freedom and promote culture. (Although prior to the establishment of this holiday in 1948, November 3 was also a national holiday called Meiji-Setsu commemorating the birthday of Emperor Meij . At the beautiful Meiji Shrine it is a special day to have a wedding and celebrate children age 3, 5 and 7 “Shichigosan” , dressing them up in Kimono ( https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2008/11/11/reference/its-fall-when-kids-in-kimono-fete-7-5-3-rituals/ )

Formal kimonos are black with family crest on each arm and worn for special occasions like weddings . It is so beautiful to see everybody dressed up and makes me want to wear a kimono one day too…but this is a serious big investment even for a Japanese family so I will enjoy looking at all the patterns, accessories and wear my western kimono blouse !

When girls turned 7, parents celebrated the “obitoki” rite, in which their daughters went from using straps to secure their kimono to wearing obi…

That reminded me that in my armoire back in Provence , I have my first kimono with Obi belt as well as books I found when I was cleaning up my teenage bedroom last year …a strange combination of Provence style and Japanese accents . Did I mention my Japanese name is Mariko ?

I had asked my friend Yukari to help me find a Yukata for my mum’s 90th birthday. Yukata are casual cotton kimonos worn during the hot summer months . My mother had wore my grand mother’s one to shreds , it was so special to her and i was determined to find one that she could wear now . But describing it to my friend made me realize it wasn’t going to be that easy , even being in Japan . They do not make that type of very light weight cotton with Shibori tying technique which gives the fabric airiness …we had to look in vintage kimono shops . Third shop , in a bin on the floor were some indigo yukatas. We asked the lady who said they were 80 years old but had never been worn ! This was exactly what my grand mother’s kimono must have looked like brand new … We buy the 2 and have one trimmed guessing the perfect length for her . The joy in my mom’s eyes when she saw her birthday gift was precious…she was over the moon happy ! She knew instantly what it was and what it meant (On the right is my grand mother’s yukata all faded , left the new one at the exact same length )

Shopping for vintage Obi belts with Yukari who makes the clutches we sell in our shop was fantastic ! I could see how difficult it was for her to find ones without defect , stains and she could understand what I was looking for that would appeal to our clients : traditional Japanese yet modern enough that they could use them just to go out to dinner . We picked some obi that she magically transformed into beautiful hand sewn clutches …

You too can have a little bit of Japan as we always have in stock Yukari’s special silk obi clutches. Here is our current selection

Makes a unique gift too !

They can be bright and modern !

Since the day Yukari gave me this beautiful blouse , I had been wanted to bring some in at the shop . I thought of a couple of clients who could be loving these just as much as myself ! Luckily her shipment of clutches and blouses came in just as we could re open our shop in June ! These tunics are made from vintage silk formal kimonos and have the family crest ( the little white sign on each arm ) Yukari undo each kimono and sew the fabric back to match the pattern in order to make the top . It is flattering , light , does not wrinkle ( perfect to travel , have something to dress up if needed ) and fits most body types since you can wear them with or without the belt .

These were the kimonos before the transformation . It is not always easy to imagine the result but you can trust Yukari’s talent and experience to design the outfit featuring the best features of the kimono pattern . Colors that suit you and your style are most important .

Each blouse came with a carefully chosen silk Obijime belt which allow you to wear the tunic with or without it depending on your style . And you do not need to be as tall as me either , you can see how pretty it looks on my friend Hiroko who got one for herself ! I am so happy we sold all 3 blouses already so now we are offering you to choose from Yukari’s kimono collection and have yours made to order !

Length of the tunics is about 29″ . Bust and high hip average size are 40 ” but it can be made up to about 47″ . Below the high hips , the blouse isn’t sewn to give plenty of room around the hips to seat and be comfortable . If you have any question do not hesitate to contact me by email maisonprovence@sbcglobal.net or text message at 619 518 0401 . I will have my own blouse at the shop so you can see how it is made and I am happy to advise and help before you make your decision .

Seeing the whole kimono gives a great idea of what it takes to make the blouse . The ones below do not have the belt option for a looser poncho unique size fit . Even the colorful ones are stunning !

Here are the options !