When we first happened upon Saint Emilion, we were at the beginning of a summer-long trek through France – oui, the dream of a lifetime! Since we were new at this business of being footloose in France, complete with car and assorted maps; we wanted to secure a base from which to roam for our first couple of nights. Turns out that our charming B&B was over 30 miles north of Bordeaux in a serene setting but fairly far removed from towns and villages. Somehow when you are wandering the countryside of a foreign country in an unfamiliar car with maps of all scales, everything seems further than it is in reality. C’est la vie!
Nonetheless, we took off in our trusted Peugeot and roamed westerly to Blaye (but missed the ferry over the Gironde to the Medoc area). In our wandering spirit, we then discovered a lovely wine cave to the East – Château Vieux Mougnac. After a purely delightful visit and tasting with the personable owner, we ventured less than ten miles south to discover Saint Emilion. Voilà– Shangri-La awaited, and we now are determined to return for a few days.
Some places lend themselves well to multiple day trips for a sampling of adjacent villages; but, as we soon discovered, Saint Emilion offers a commanding variety of sights, shops, scents and dining. While charming choices in vineyard settings are within a short distance, we want to wander at will in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage medieval city.
Though a lavish option beyond some of the very habitable 2- and 3-star options, one lodging choice erases budget thoughts with overwhelming charm. As you carefully work your way down a steep, cobblestone lane, the Logis de la Cadène whispers an enchanted welcome. The wisteria-covered arbor of the outdoor dining terrace suggests the relaxed elegance that welcomes guests.
Originally founded (in 1848) as a restaurant, Logis de la Cadène was purchased in 2013 by the Boüard de Laforest family of the nearby Château Angélus Domaine. Located on a tiny square in the center of medieval Saint Emilion, the exceptional family-run restaurant and boutique hotel offer private, residential comfort with memorable gourmet offerings and attractively appointed rooms. Within the year, the Maison du Logis de la Cadène annex will add five new rooms.
I can’t imagine a more inviting center from which to indulge every curiosity about shopping, dining and historic sights. I think we will start with the beautiful little artisan shops nearby and work our way … and our appetite … to a cozy crêperie for lunch and a lovely glass of Saint-Emilion wine – bien sur!
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Mais oui! Of course I could not complete my book – Fired Up for France: The Promise of Paris – without a page or so about the world of flowers in Paris! During my first trip to Paris, the buds began to peek from the soil in a promise that would soon be fulfilled. Along the Champ de Mars … in Les Tuileries … in the gardens of Luxembourg and along the Seine, flowers signaled the end of winter with unabashed pride and beauty.
Naturally the florist shops and lively open-air markets followed suit, offering up stunning arrays of color, size and shape. As always French artisans … to include, bien sur, fleuristes … offer creative touches that turn a beautiful bouquet into living, artistic masterpiece. With a turn of dried reed or the addition of a whimsical frond, the floral arranger delivers a very personal message. Naturally you couldn’t chose a more appropriate gift for an arriving friend or luncheon host!
While nothing surpasses the floral views from a bench near the Eiffel Tower, my favorite shop – and that of many Parisians – is that of Patrick Alain on Ile Saint-Louis. Imagine the pleasure of working with flowers each and every day!
I love languages, and I have a gift for them – an ear that grasps accents and allows me to reproduce the sounds. Ironically, I majored in Spanish and Latin American Area Studies in college. Had I only known how deep my love of France and French would develop!
Today, I’m thinking of “time” – as in le bon temps (the good times) and mille fois (thousand times) in French. And we ask for the time of day or wish others a good time. I think of our precious times in France, of exploring the marvelous cities, villages and countryside. Little moments slide into the mind, like the time we saw children under the summer sun sailing their boats in the fountains of the Tuileries.
Time is such a fickle thing, one day rushing like a river swollen with melting mountain snow and another limping along ever so slowly. We realized that France Daily Photo reached its’ four-year anniversary last month, and – heaven forbid – we neither popped the champagne nor created a drum roll. It has been our pleasure to share so many wonderful stories and vignettes about our beloved France, to gather a community of Francophiles who revel in all things French. And we always welcome your comments and suggestions, and we thank you for your interest and friendship.
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A couple of months ago, I extolled the virtues of Reims; where the massive destruction during World War I yielded reconstruction that transformed the city into the Art Deco capital of today. If Reims is the capital, Nancy – to the East – is close behind and with a decidedly ironic art history. Louis XV bequeathed to the deposed King of Poland (his father-in-law) the Lorraine region, and the “king without a kingdom” set out to link the old and new cities of Nancy in a move that brought about significant Art Nouveau style.
Moving forward a few hundred years, we in Central Florida are fortunate to access a special exhibition – Lifelines—Forms and Themes of Art Nouveau – at the renowned Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. No, don’t be put off by that title, because the museum not only showcases the most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany but the work of numerous French artists
As a sophomore at Rollins College, I was privileged to work for the college President – Hugh McKean – who had studied art at Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall in Long Island. Mr. McKean and his wife, artist Jeanette Genius McKean, were singularly responsible for gathering the magnificent Tiffany collection we enjoy in Winter Park today.
With all of that history aside, the phenomenal Art Noveau exhibition runs through September of 2016 and includes the works of two outstanding French artists – Emile Gallé of Nancy and Clément Massier of Golfe-Juan. Accomplished in glass and wood creations, Gallé looked to nature and literature for inspiration and often carved or sealed a poetic sentence in his vases. His works dating to the late 1800’s included fern, orchid and insect motifs. His work is quite at home with that of Tiffany in his creative visual treatment of glass.
Clément Massier was born into a ceramist family and ultimately relocated his portion of the family business to Golfe-Juan, France, where his pottery evoked a Hispano-Moresque influence with iridescent silver and copper oxide glazes. Without fail, he attracted an international clientele in his Mediterranean showroom.
Both artists contributed that wonderful “French touch” in an era of redefined design and rich natural images. Hopefully readers from the Central Florida area will be able to attend the exhibit. The rest, I’m afraid, will have to go to France for a first-hand look!
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