December 18, 2012
Some people love stationery. A lot. These are the people who browse stationery stores like others do cheese shops, picking up notebooks and greeting cards, smelling, weighing, pressing the pages between their fingers, thrilled by the possibilities within. These people are often diligent list makers, brainstormers, budgeters and recorders of funny expressions overheard in the subway.
I am one of those people. I carry around a total of four notebooks with me at all times: the day planner for appointments (never, ever trust your iphone to keep up with time-zone hopping), the list journal, the ideas journal, and the diary. I have slimmed down over the years, shedding the fuzzy-heart adorned secret-keepers of my youth in favor of lighter, more “mature“ versions. Ahem. I swear.
November 14, 2012
The Dordogne river (Doni Belau)
I’m often asked why we bought the house (in France) that we did, in this tiny town whose name we can barely pronounce and that’s even harder to find on a map. What about your first love, Paris? People ask.
Well, I was fortunate enough to have a deliciously beautiful apartment in Paris for six years from which one could hear the bells of St. Sulpice. We eventually had to sell it because the value had gone up considerably and we used what we made to help pay for our children’s college educations.
October 25, 2012
Beer, frites, comics. Blah, blah, blah. No disrespect to lovers of ambers and ales, salty, fried foods, or Tintin, but there’s so much more to Brussels, capital of Belgium—capital of all of Europe—than these perennially touted attractions. Here are three lesser-celebrated reasons to hop on a train and make the 80-minute trip from Paris.
Chocolate boutique in Brussels (flavijus)
September 24, 2012
Paris (Haven in Paris)
The idea seemed too good to pass up. I’d exchange my Paris flat for a place in San Francisco for two weeks to visit family. Two whole weeks! Rent-and-hotel bill free! And we’d do it in August when no one really wants to be in Paris, anyway. I’d heard stories about fabulous swaps that didn’t end in identity or home accessories theft. With a little luck and a few well-lit interior pics, I was sure it could work for us, too. And so my search was on.
After several near-commitments that folded at the eleventh hour (“I had no idea airfare would be that expensive…” and “Off to Rome instead. Sorry!”), we swapped for a sweet little house just over the Golden Gate Bridge. It sounded perfect: Three-bedrooms with a view of Mt. Tamalpais complete with a private dock on a small saltwater lagoon.
July 31, 2012
Coffee is still good. Coffee is still cheap.
June 25, 2012
I’m still in Italy. The coffee is still fast and the Italians are still ever so sweet. I’m still in Italy, but not for long.
I will soon be leaving the country of sunshine, smiles and scooters where everything is possible and everything is doable.
I will leave behind, gelato, pesto, focaccia, 1€20 cappuccinos and laundry hanging to dry in the street. I will be welcomed by flaky butter croissants, crispy baguettes, stinky cheese and laundry hanging to dry in my apartment. I will leave the sea, sun and heat for cold, rain and smog. Paris, here I come!
May 31, 2012
Brocante finds in action (Laurence Amélie)
At My French Country Home in Normandy, we love to go antiquing. We welcome guests from all over the world, from private shoppers looking to experience real French brocantes (flea markets) and hopefully bring back a special souvenir of their holiday in France, to professionals looking for hidden gems to add a little French je-ne-sais-quoi to their boutiques.
Here is how it went for a recent client, Jeni, who came to shop for her vintage rental company in California. She was only here for 24 hours, but thanks to careful planning and her ability to make quick decisions, she managed to purchase all kinds of amazing loot!
May 24, 2012
I’ve never been a particularly big fan of Monet’s paintings. Yes, they’re pretty—that much is undeniable. He certainly cornered the market on water lilies and haystacks. But I suppose I’ve developed a sense of indifference toward his work because it’s so ubiquitous. He’s one of the first artists I learned about (in a cursory 5th grade unit on art history) and whose work I learned to recognize with ease. But then suddenly it was everywhere: mouse pads, t-shirts, calendars, and the walls of countless dorm rooms I would encounter during my high school and college years. Before I knew it, I was Monet-ed out.
But once I moved to Paris, I kept hearing about Giverny, the quaint village where Monet famously made his home from 1883 until his death in 1926. It’s here that he cultivated the celebrated garden that many of his most famous works depict. Suddenly, unexpectedly, my long dormant interest in Monet was revitalized.
May 17, 2012
Our very own Erica Berman has just landed in Genoa for her yearly stint in Liguria, her favorite region of Italy. This still relatively untouched corner of Italy is one of our favorite spots for experiencing authentic Italian living in a gorgeous, seaside setting. Until the rest of us are able to make it there ourselves, we can live vicariously through Marisa’s gorgeous photography… -Geneviève
I’ll just put it right out there: I love Liguria, and centrally situated Genoa is the perfect home base from which to delve into and savor Liguria’s many enchanting qualities and seaside cities. A maritime marvel, La Superba (the proud or the haughty, as it was once known) rivaled Venice as a powerful city-state for over 500 years. And while the splendor of its storied past as a seafaring legend is evident in the magnificent UNESCO-protected Strade Nuove and Palazzi dei Rolli, Genoa’s real charm is its present-day incarnation as a working port city.
This is a city that doesn’t bend over backwards to market itself to tourists. The result is an authentic Italian metropolis, more accustomed to the visiting Milanese than Manhattanite. As a traveler who thrives on finding and experiencing those places that aren’t (yet) teeming with fellow Americans, Genoa is a joy for me. Plus, I’m a sucker for labyrinthine medieval lanes, which Genoa has in spades.
April 23, 2012
Is there anything more romantic than a wedding in a French chateau? For part 2 of her story, Paige Frost takes us through her last-minute preparations for the big day…- Geneviève
Most brides obsess over something. Will the flowers look right? Will my dress fit after the alterations? Will the DJ play YMCA (even though I begged him not to)? Will Uncle Bill get smashed and ruin the reception?
And then there’s the mother of all bridal worries — the one none of us can control and yet endlessly fret over: the weather.
We planned our wedding at a French chateau in May knowing full well that the weather could not be counted on – not in May or any other time of year. (This is France, after all). And so, with a million and one concerns filling my bride-addled brain, I focused on rain. Will it or won’t it? And what will we do if?
Despite my obsession, there was no time to lose: A hundred plus guests were descending on Paris from locales as far flung as San Francisco and Sarajevo. Everything had to be perfect and I had to oversee it all. I’d spent my first year here planning every last detail. If I could just get everyone from Paris down to the chateau in Burgundy, surely the festivities would all come off without a hitch?