After the private brocante for the French Muse Experience, at the home of a 18th century textile dealer, they served us lunch in the garden.
In a garden where irises, roses, and an 150 year old linden tree stood, we went to a private brocante set up just for us.
Table after table of French antique textiles.
Altar silk cloth....
Layers upon layers of textured history.
In French the word ice cream "scoops" is "boules" which means
In France when one is ordering ice cream from a man, one should not say:
"Are your boules big?"
Otherwise you might be as red as strawberry ice cream.
Glacier Arelatis 8 place du Forum, 13200 Arles, France
The French Muse Experience starts tomorrow. Though the dream of doing such started long long time ago. Ruth and I have rented a van, also a large country home, contacted the artists and private homes we will visit, made a plan, re made a plan, and did so over and over again. It was hard for us to select one week's worth of places to see and things to do when we have hundreds of weeks worth of places and people to see. We are in Provence! The land of wonder and awe. Plus we are gourmand for everything around us. Luckily we have a group coming that love what we love, we have had fun tailoring an experience for the group coming according to their desires, which was what we love: The brocante, textiles, markets, creative artists who use old things in a new way... plus the countryside and food!
We found a lovely old home, Each person will have their own room and shared bath. The rooms are large and full of antiques. I might never leave. Seriously. It is so charming!
So many brocantes that we are giving the group a choice.
I bet they will be overwhelmed.
I bet they might just want to sleep in. Not.
We have surprises throughout the house.
The house is made of stone. It has a pool, vineyards, private trails nearby the Chateau in Lacoste, and a truffle orchard.
I am not going to go home, so please come and join us so I can stay.
Ruth is the chauffeur and I am the cook.
On the eve of a dream...
Old paintings throughout the house.
I have a game planned, a list of old things throughout the house that have to be found. The paintings are in the kitchen.
The bedrooms are each unique.
Antique monogrammed linens too!
Tons of books and music.
The dining room.
See you soon,
Niki, Charland, Lorraine and Julie!
Countdowns excite me. The last minute rush, the beginning, three, two, one... months of preparing, planning, conversing, setting the stage and then it boils down to the few moments before...
Ruth and I are at the countdown to our first French Muse Experience, one week journey with four women, plus Ruth and I, through Provence we love and long to share.
The French Muse Experience is a one week tailor made journey, everything from lodging, transport, meals and activities planned to meeting artists, luncheons in French homes, visiting one of a kind places in off the beaten path.
When Ruth and I thought about what we wanted to offer in the French Muse Experience we soon saw we had more up our sleeves then what could possibly fit into one week.
No two French Muse Experiences will be the same.
The countdown to May 5th the first day to our new adventure.
Ruth will be the driver, I will be the cook, we both will share our favorite places. Of course the old Bastide (French Provencal Country House) that we will be staying in tempts me to sit outside, swim remain put and gaze at the view... plus visit a brocante or two. Ruth assures me we will want to move, but I think the temptation will be to soak in every detail. It will be hard to say good bye to one thing and move on to the next.
the wonder and awe
on your mark, get set, we are ready.
Are you ready to join us?
With bags of groceries in the car,
I sat talking to Sacha on the phone,
while it rained.
Later after I we hung up, it continued to rain steadily giving me way to the desire to sit it out inside my car.
Using the rain as a filter I took photos while waiting cozy dry inside.
My neighborhood parking lot by the church.
The bells rang vespers.
The trees leaves seemed to have bloomed all at once.
Two weeks ago green was nowhere to be seen. Soon the shutters will be hidden from view. The leaves glistens as if jewels.
An impromptu meditation leaning on the steering wheel altar, rain as background music, groceries scenting the air... no hurry, I was thankful I didn't have ice cream melting to worry about in the backseat.
If any of my neighbors happened to see me twisting and turning around and around in my car while taking photos as it rained--
I am sure they shook their heads, as they thought, "What is she doing?" Most likely they labelled me nuts.
The rain magnified the facades: A Provencal rainbow.
various shades of the two,
A speck of brown
Zinc gutters, bark, orange, red tiles.
Sitting there in the sanctuary of my car, the parking lot by the church never looked so pretty.
Rain brings miracles. Holy water. Baptism. Glistening leaves. Puddles to race through. Bird's bath. Instantly washed car.
The yellow house on the corner pretending to be the sun. The pigeon told me the rain had stopped.
The pink chapel that has never been opened since I have lived here.
Though I have peered through the key hole.
The rain stopped but the trees dripped, I walked home, carrying the groceries, while thinking about what I was going to make for dinner.
Tomorrow promises sunshine.
Walking around the countryside as Spring unfolds has allowed me to see nature's secrets. The barren branches, the buds bursting, the petals unfolding... I now know where the flowers bloom wildly, and where I can pick from the unattended fig and cherry trees.
Yesterday I went to pick some lilacs.
Then I gathered some long branches with tiny white roses.
My home has never had as many bouquets!
Darker lilacs grew further up the path so I gathered some of those too for the living room.
On the way back I saw my neighbor, she asked if I was hopping fences to steal flowers. I knew she was teasing, but to be sure I shared my source.
Today I saw an older neighbor, her arms overflowed with lilacs, she said, "Up the road, to the left, down the path and across the field there are wild lilacs bushes..."
I guess I am not the only one to find the secrets unfolding in wild places.
April in Paris
Spring welcomed us,
hand in hand
Two sweet blossoms,
a skip in our step
this is April in Paris:
shoes in hand
running down the street
Going home after work
Two baguettes tucked under arm
Two blocks from our apartment
a cobbled street
no cars allowed
Wisteria grows from one side of the street to the other.
A scented paradise.
April in Paris:
"I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise
I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart."
Overnight we head out tomorrow.
Chelsea and Sacha came for dinner, asparagus tarts, strawberries, cucumbers, raspberries, vegetable terrine, salad, carrot ginger soup and Irish shortbread cookies with Irish cream liquor.
Stories flowed, one after another:
Sacha's girlfriend came back from South Africa, Chelsea had been in Berlin for work, Sacha hiked Mount Ventoux and took a photo of sunbathing in the snow for an art project. Yann had a friend of Carrie's, who practices Chinese medicine work on his back...
Silence was not at hand.
Birds seemed to chirp non stop indoors.
I wish I could hold this moment in a time capsule, then hide with it under the wisteria that grows around the corner, listening as the seasons unfold one after another all eternity.
I suppose that is the same as planting the seeds of such in ones heart.
When the sun is out or not the day is meant to be enjoyed. The day, the beautiful day that is ours.
The Irish do just that: Rain, wind, cold... sunshine they are out and about enjoying the day.
I guess for a person like myself growing up where if the sky isn't blue and the sun doesn't shine it is considered a bad day... oh how spoiled I am, and unfair to call a day bad just because there isn't any sunshine.
Warmth isn't just the sunshine.
Sunshine on the corner.
Lace curtains on a blue piece of sky.
Levi's a record shop/pub/hangout/cool.
Vinyls are sold.
Tons of them.
The DJ played the CURE.
The first memory I have dancing with Yann was to the Cure.
I felt like dancing right there.
But there was little room to do so.
If you go to my Facebook account you can see a video of Levi's.
I thought of my brothers Marty, Mathew, Mark and Zane
when I saw the various beers.
"McCarthy or MacCarthy (Mac Cárthaigh in Irish), meaning "son of Cárthach" (whose name meant "loving"), is a common surname that originated in Ireland. 60% of people with the surname in Ireland still live in County Cork." Via wiki
Lovely Day exploring this Land.
Found at the brocante:
A 1930s scrapbook, fifty pages worth plus corresponding letters. Ticket stubs from the famous sites, menus, photos, postcards from the Arch, Pigalle, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame... memories collected, glued on pages, notes to recall the date and place, then after the days turn into weeks and weeks bloom into years the season of winter the scrapbooks are left aside. An entire collection, a boxful of scrapbooks from all over the world: Japan, England, Africa, Thailand, Spain... someone's attic cleared out, someone's family forgotten, the brocante is a collection of life memories given away as so many things are. It is sad in away to see.
I bought the scrapbook about Paris.
And one day hopefully far from this moment our things will be set aside at some brocante. Like seeds things will scatter right, left, far wide, maybe kept.
A guardian I am, and hopefully someone will be.
Nearly everyday someone asks me about France and the brocantes or both to the tune of:
Can you tell me what to do in France?
Since my natural tendency leans more towards spontaneous and less on structured details I thought I would take a leap to creating a once and for all blog post with links about things I am often asked about. Then when I hear, "Can you tell me what to do in France?" I can refer them this blog post, instead of writing a long email.
"Duh," I can hear myself say, "Should have done this years ago ding dong."
Click on the highlighted words below which will lead to other links.
And please if you have any secrets, suggestions, hints or favorites about France add them to the comment section.
Just in case you want to see more of my photos, or want to know how to rent our apartment, or want to lick your computer screen, or encourage me to keep doing what I do, or want to know what to do when you are in France...
If you want you can follow me on
A bookshop in the Passage Jouffroy, Paris
If you love photos, I post daily to my instagram of everything around me.
Or if you want you can see the photos rolling on the side of my blog.
Our apartment in Paris
Where to stay in Paris
If you or someone you know is looking for a place to stay in Paris, check out our apartment:
Paris twilight last year.
One of my favorite blogs, that has incredible information and tidbits, and history about Paris and more is
Where are the brocantes?
Oh man. I could write a book about that, but do not want to.
Instead let me take you.
Porte Vanves in Paris, every weekend ten minutes from our apartment in Paris.
Where everyone goes, every one.
None of the above are secret, they are constant, well known, sought after and very good. Everyone who loves the brocante knows these and goes.
Where are the "secret" ones? the best ones? the ones only the insider's know? Well those are the ones that come with living here and being here, and having the luxury of not having to go if you do no want to go because there are literally hundreds of them every weekend.
A sign I love in the Marais.
Lavender fields in Provence?
Lavender in Valensole.
Must stop into every bakery. I am not joking.
Restaurant in Cotignac on the Square.
Chez Gilbert in Cassis.
15 minutes from where I live.
My happy place.
Drink a Pastis when in Provence.
Our dear friend's Patrice's Restaurant in Marseille, where the locals go for lunch
Provence my backyard.
My friend Denise and I created a mini list of things to do...
Cassis on the Route de Crete
Just go without a map.
Open the door.
Let your desire lead you.
Ten minutes from my home.
I cannot visit her without wanting to buy something.
Ruth's photo of some wallpaper I found for her...
My friend Ruth and I have created The French Muse Experience where we offer week long, all included retreats in Provence.
If you are interested in the brocante, history, food, lifestyle, art, hanging out with us, staying in an old Provencal country house... and more. Tailored made experiences for you or your group.
Before Sacha headed back to school, he challenged, "Let's ride up to Saint Baume tomorrow morning!"
Ride, as in an Honda 600, 1990-something, a very uncomfortable motorcycle especially if you are the passenger (Which I know from experience to be very true.). Nevertheless, when your twenty-two year old son asks you to do something together most mothers know not to say no.
I grabbed my helmet, put on my gloves and held on tight.
Oh by the way, it was Sacha's first time to have someone on back. Of course I did not know that until midway into the ride.
That was why Yann was a nervous wreck.
Sacha and I...
well we are Amaro's, George Amaro blood races in our genes.
We rode behind our house, behind our small town in the Provencal countryside: Saint Baume. We rode up and down several of the roads we know by heart. Sacha is an excellent rider. I wasn't afraid, even when a truck stopped dead in its tracks in front of us and we squeezed without using the brakes between it and an another truck. Fast thinking with calm nerve.
I loved it.
The roads to Saint Baume are narrow and "twisty-son-of-a-guns" as my dad would say.
We road on a dirt trail too. Cross country on a clear day.
We hiked a bit to take in the beauty and breath in the silence. Sacha says he will send me some photos of our morning, I hope so.
What daring thing have you done recently?
Easter Monday in France is as big as Easter day. We had lunch which was breakfast and sat outside and soaked in the big blue sky and sun. As Chelsea and Sacha live in Paris, where there are more grey days than London, soaking in the sun in Provence was their "Golden Egg" desire!
Chels and Sach, as I call them, got sunburned. Well sun-kissed on their noses.
Late afternoon nap.
This was my "golden egg",
to have my family simply together enjoying the day, nothing planned except breakfast at lunch and soaking in the sun.
Yann and Sacha... men enough to cuddle. Father being a Papa and Son being a child. We all long to be a child in our parent's arms don't we?
So sweet: Napping.
Reality check of Easter weekend of being together.
Dishes, constant dishes. Food. Cooking. Dishes.
And calories consumed.
The gift we give to one another is in the breaking of the bread,
when our paths cross, we share of ourselves.
Giving from the source of who we are,
the essence of our being.
Cherishing the sacred moment of connection with another.
Sensing the spiritual seed of exchange taken root.
Watering the exchange with an open heart.
There is no greater gift than to be communion for one another.
To see with our hearts,
To listen with our eyes,
To speak with our actions,
And to love for no other reason.
Why would I?
Because I have to stop being a fool and start accepting photos of myself. It is foolish to be so stubborn about having my photo taken.
I often find fault in the photos taken of myself. And that has to stop. I have to accept myself as I am.
Sometimes a fool, sometimes not.
What foolish habit do you need to take control over?
Last September Chelsea encouraged three friends and myself to run a 10KM race in Paris. Today was the day. The three friends, Chelsea and myself never ran before. The three friends all started running and love it. Chelsea started running, and I started walking.
Today Chelsea and her friend Alice ran the race in the pouring rain. The other two friends had previous commitments that they could not change. As for myself I opted not to walk the 8KM simply because I wanted to see Chelsea cross the finish line. With that said, I feel I have met the goal, I have been walking five miles a day and love it.
Thank you Chelsea for sparking our interest and making us run/walk!
Chelsea (in a green jacket) and her friend Alice (in an orange jacket) at the starting line.
The race was in the park of Bois de Boulogne, which borders Paris on the west side is 2100 acres, or two and a half times the size of Central Park in New York. The Bois de Boulogne is consider the lungs of Paris.
We took the metro, then walked about two miles to the race.
In the rain.
With thousands of other crazy runners and their peeps.
It gave the word commitment to exercise a ribbon of honor to all of the 4000 plus runners and walkers that showed up.
Yann, Sacha, Mr. Espresso and myself stood in the rain, drank hot chocolate, felt our shoes become puddles as we waited to cheer our girl.
Sacha bought Chelsea running shoe at Christmas. Purple ones.
She wore them for the race.
Chelsea's friend Alice finished the race before Chelsea.
Then ran back and cheered her friend onward.
Clapping and chanting with glee, "Go Chelsea!"
It was so sweet to see.
Chelsea's friend is in the orange jacket.
Yann can be seen in an overcoat standing by the tree.
Chelsea towards the finish line.
Chelsea finished in one hour and five minutes.
The first runner to cross the finish line did it in thirty two minutes.
Those runners who crossed in the first forty five minutes were serious duds! They looked like they were running for their lives, their face contorted, saliva pouring from their mouths, a determination to beat their own personal clock, an overwhelming emotion and I was moved by such a display of evident passion, and content to be a cheerleader on the sidelines.
Alice clapping and cheering on Chelsea.
Mr. Espresso (in the blue jacket) running towards the finish line, after watching Chelsea from the sidelines, to hug his girl.
Chelsea at the finish line!
After the race we went out to lunch to celebrate.
Sacha hugging me.
I am little next to him.
I noticed more than how short I am in this photo, Sacha is wearing my Father's watch. Ah! I love that!
A collection of snapshots gathered for those of you who asked...
Gary and Francine does this remind you of something?
I think it is a twin to yours.
Paris late afternoon.
Over bridges, peeking into shops, licking windows, strolling through parks, climbing steeples, dreaming in studios, laughing with friends, running after buses... enjoying the city.
Ice cream deserved at Berthillion
I had orange sorbet, Yann had a triple layered vacherin with melted chocolate.
(A French dessert: a meringue crust filled with crème chantilly, ice cream, usually raspberries... Yann added my little pitcher of melted chocolate on his.
Rainy days do not bring out the Marionettes.
I hope a sign will do.
A peek at a brocante table of goodies.
A favorite hotel in the Marais.
A shop's display in the Marais.
Two women in there 80s meeting for lunch.
Th hot pink coat was beautiful.
A childhood friend Tracy and her husband Casey.
We spent the day at the brocante in Porte de Vanves.
So much fun to be with someone from back home!
Yann's favorite thing to admire at the brocantes...
old stuffed animals.
A Chanel wannabee.
Elliot will this do?
Who wanted to see the top of a brocante table.
St Ouen in Paris is the largest antique market in the world. It is opened Saturday and Sunday.
The rose glass window at Notre Dame.
More to come I haven't forgotten your requests.
The first time you come to Paris and even the second and third time you must see the sights. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs Elysees, the Louvre, Montmarte, The Arc de Triomphe...
How could you not want to see that which makes Paris Paris?
Though Paris, oh Paris has so much more,
so much more that I have never seen nor experienced, and cannot imagine that I ever will.
And that is why Paris is Paris.
Carousel at Montmarte.
Store Fronts that are not large companies allowing Paris not to feel like a big impersonal city.
French antique postcards.
I collect postcards with children and their pets.
Plein air artists.
That counts right?
"Monet?" I thought. But I received an email from a Mike, a blog reader of mine that thankfully corrected me:
"Ummmmmmm... not Monet, Corey. He was good but he wasn't Van Gogh. That's a detail shot from, Dr. Gachet's backyard, with
Marguerite Gachet. 1890 Auyers-sur-Oise."
Artist Plein air.
French store front.
Looking out of the Picasso Museum.
Picasso signed most of his art work on the backside, and only the pieces he sold on front. In the Picasso museum there are only three or four pieces that are signed on front.
I found one.
Flower chalk board signs.
Check my FACEBOOK page for videos.
Chalkboard flower signs.
Where you not are rushed.
When in Paris savor
for it is a feast for the senses.
Photo via link below.
Paris before to see more look here
More to come, I am trying to include all the images you have requested. Some of them are tough to find without cheating.