November 19 2023
To settle into life in France with good friends, who are like my family, is to relax into life in another country, surrounded by centuries old walls, hilltops, chateaus and vineyards. I get to share with them their daily life.
Flea market in the Uzes and my friend Sharon at Villenueve market with one of the dealers
We often take long walks around Bonnieux -- where Paul and Sharon live. It is a beautiful old, walled town. The century-old steps lead up to roads where we walk through woodlands and valleys and vineyards and farmlands.
My friend, Leslie Denniston, accompanied me during my first week in Provence. She later joined her husband for a romantic week in Paris. The breads and pastries were off the chart! And we enjoyed the most delicious cheeses from the local makers.
Paul and Sharon welcomed Leslie with open arms! They said "if you love her, we will" and they did. It was a great fit!
History abounds in the walled hilltop villages with their church steeples and bells. It is a life of simple breakfasts, on the road to the market towns to get the greens from the growers, the cheeses from the makers....to meet them and talk. Their kale and leeks are their passions and they share in the outdoor markets.
a beautiful lunch in Uzes
MORE DELICIOUS FOOD
It just tastes better in Provence!
more goat cheese and pastries
Each day in the week a different town has a market and the growers and makers are there with their trucks greeting their customers, who have become their friends. The African gentleman I met this morning in Coustellet with his fresh ginger juice elixir was beyond amazing. Sharon and Paul bought bottles of his juice for home, and he shared a warm cup of it with us at the market. We also got our goat cheese from one of their friends who is also a maker there,
You are greeted, as my friends always introduce me, with bonjour and kisses on both cheeks. To always be greeted and acknowledged in such a genuine fashion is special and it becomes part of your life when you are here for a long time.
We then went out to the outdoor market in Carpentras. Antique dealers are lined in rows in the center of town selling anything from old vinyl records to vintage copper pots, and faux bamboo mirrors, to crocks and old sterling flatware and more. I wish my van was parked on the side so I could pack things in...instead I have to look for things that fit in my suitcases or a box or two I will send home. Finding beautiful textiles, rugs and paintings, a few ceramic pieces and things I can bring back home easily. I love to antique, I love the hunt so the few days each week we go to the outdoor antique markets are so much fun. This week we plan on visiting some of the dealers' homes and discovering some more great finds.
I bought these indigo napkins from a shop in Lourmarin and the antique Suzani from Villenueve. Aren't they fabulous?
Painting and Turkish vintage rug I bought last Saturday at Villeneuve market
Today I found three paintings...and the surprise was when I got home, I realized one of them was a painting over 60 years old of a garden in Villeneuve...signed and dated. I happily gave it to Sharon and Paul as they have bought a new apartment for themselves in this beautiful town.
Sharon and Paul spend the months they live here collecting and then at the end of their time here, ship what they've found home. I love seeing what they find and collect. Their eye is so specific and discerning...they just find the best things, and because they have formed relationships with dealers they help Sharon and Paul find those "best things". That is why Marston House (visit their Instagram & website to learn how to rent their apartments in France) has such an amazing following. I have seen much of what is coming back to the states with them. Trust me, you must visit them at their Stone Ridge event, Trade Secrets and hopefully, another pop-up at Hammertown this spring.
So...I just got home from the most inspiring evening ever at an artist's home. Joanna Staniszkis, a friend of Sharon and Paul's, is a Polish textile artist and landscape designer, as well as a retired professor from Vancouver. We met her earlier in the week at a local restaurant featuring a local wine purveyor. She invited us then for dinner at her home...which was beyond anything I have experienced in my lifetime...I felt like I was actually in a "World of Interiors" home.
Joanna's studio...filled with gorgeous clothing and textiles
Our dinner with Joanna was so simple -- a homemade vegetable soup puree, with swirls of creme fraiche. Wonderful wine and simple samples of smoked salmon, herring, hummus, olives, fresh cheese and bread was our meal, with a delicious baked apple for dessert. It was a lovely dinner and evening and the perfect way to end another week of stimulation.
Since I have been here I have been to Villeneuve (known for having one of the best flea markets in Southern France) twice...they have the Saturday markets. This week we are going to Aix and St. Remy so more to come. I have the privilege of being part of a French couple who loves and adores me (as I do of them). My only regret is that my French is not great ...I just know the important phrases such as bonjour, c'est bien, merci, au revoir, etc.
SOME MORE OF WHAT I'M BRINGING HOME!
These will be coming home with me!
What a wonderful opportunity this has been...truly an experience of a lifetime. Visiting a place for a week or so is lovely but to be here for a month (I'm almost 2 weeks in), living life with my friends--who are part of the daily fiber, having lived in France for over 25 years--is beyond special. I am so grateful for my dear friends Paul and Sharon who are sharing their home, passions and “life” with me.
On this Thanksgiving Day (though it is not celebrated in France :) I give thanks for these loving, generous and extraordinary friends -- they are family to me!
HOW LUCKY AM I?
You can see many of these and more photographs on my Instagram page.