Archive for December, 2016

A New Friend From Vinassan

December 31, 2016 @ 10:59 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
The icehouse (Glacière) tucked among pines, Vinassan

The icehouse (Glacière) tucked among pines, Vinassan

New Year … new friends.  That brings to mind just one of the pleasures of connecting in cyberspace – making real connections with others.

One day I received such a nice note about our French articles from a gentleman in Vinassan.  In part, he said, “Far from being mere descriptions, your articles bring places to life in front of the reader, hooking them from the first sentence with the sure bait of your clear love of the country.”

No writer in the world would fail to appreciate that kind of praise, and I am always pleased when others recognize my passion for France.  Naturally I offered my thanks for his positive feedback, and we continued to correspond about his ‘commune’ of Vinassan near Narbonne in southern France.  He even sent photos, allowing me (and now you) a small glimpse into life in his region of the world.

Vinassan originally clustered around the castle lord, basically a plain of marshes and wild brush with a few slopes of decent soil.  Over time, the people transformed the wetlands into prosperous vineyards, and a pleasant village evolved at the foot of hills covered with vineyards, almond and olive trees.  The enchanting town enjoys panoramic views of the Pyrenees in the distance.

Our correspondent wrote of the icehouse (Glacière) located among pines above the village, originally built to store ice brought down during winter from the Montagne Noir hills to the north west. Though the vault enjoyed 300 years of use, it fell into disrepair and has been reconstructed as a site of interest.  He indicated that one can hardly consider the village without mention of their unusual and very popular restaurant called La Pierrot.   Though it has indoor seating, the most popular seating is a huge outdoor area tucked beneath trees with lots of play facilities for children.  Excellent service, wine and prices keep queues of customers lined up for a pleasant meal with plenty of company.

Vinassan Church tower and Mairie

Vinassan Church Tower and Mairie (click to see political posters still in place from the recent presidential election)

Vinassan has an esteemed native son for whom an Avenue was named and monument dedicated – Doctor Etienne Montestruc (1900-1970).  A French doctor and biologist, he was born in Vinassan to a family of winemakers.  In addition to working a mission on sleeping sickness, Doctor Montestruc headed the Pasteur Institute of Martinique and later created a private clinic.  He spent most of his professional career as a very important contributor to the research, treatment and control of leprosy that was a real cause of concern throughout the French Colonial Empire.

French New Year greeting

Wishing each of you the best year ever in 2017!!!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved

Joyeux Nöel!

December 23, 2016 @ 12:02 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Bordeaux France

Christmas greetings from Chateau Vieux Mougnac in Bordeaux

Added a few notes to a previous post, but our message is the same – to convey our heartfelt wishes for a tender and joyful holiday!

We were so fortunate to spend our very first Christmas (as a married couple) in Paris.  Away from family and friends and on our lune de miel, we wrapped the city around us and bid “Joyeux Nöel” to strangers on street corners.  That is the wonder and warmth of the season – so many differences disappear, and kind greetings are shared.

Today, we spoke with our dear friends in Paris, who will be enjoying a toast with new visitors to their charming vacation rental.  We know, as do they, that miles and a rather large ocean may separate us this season; but we all are one in remembering special times and embracing the hope of so many more in the future (bises a Sandy & Philippe!).  Those thoughts are precisely the ones that drive all of us to laughter and tears during the holidays – all of those precious friends and family with whom we have shared up-down-and-all-around times!  History seems not only resurrected but redefined during these annual celebrations.

This year, we have been pretty organized without a mad rush toward the big gift-giving day.  Yet, don’t we always ‘manufacture’ some last minute things to do?  One more stocking stuffer.  A candy cane. A treasure that jumps to the front of your consciousness with a bold prod – “You MUST get this for ‘x’!”  I suppose if I went out in search of a Bûche de Noël at this late moment, I would be denied my wish.  C’est  la vie.  [Covered that wish this year – we are making our own!]

Paris Christmas

Honeymooning in Paris!

We will gather with family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, enjoy the innocence of children at church, the delight of family gathered for brunch and two hearty grandsons tearing through gifts with a ton of joy and excitement!

We sincerely wish you the warmest thoughts of the season.  Whatever joys and sorrows, victories or defeats you may have encountered during this past year; we imagine a cloak of warmth and peace wraps around you and yours during your holiday celebrations and throughout the coming year.

Joyeux Nöel!

Bernardaud – Fine Holiday Gifts

December 1, 2016 @ 9:50 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Votivelight - delicate porcelain from Bernardaud

Scenes of the Seine in Paris, Bernardaud

Oui – the season has arrived, and naturally I gravitate to French gifts.  Here, I ‘dust off” my thoughts on a delightful selection of gifts for any age, gender or interest.

One of my favorite wedding gifts came from my Matron of Honor.  Understanding our profound love of France and in keeping with our French-themed wedding, she presented us with an incredibly delicate Bernardaud Votivelight candle themed with scenes of the Seine in Paris.

The Bernardaud mystique extends back to the birth of French porcelain in 1768.  A villager from  Saint-Yrieix La Perche near Limoges discovered a soft, white clay that later would be identified as kaolin.  This magnificent substance is critical to fine china for its resiliency, durability and flawless iridescent translucency.  Voila!  Her discovery gave birth to the French – particularly Limoges – porcelain.

Toward the end of the 19th century, a workshop apprentice, Léonard Bernardaud, so distinguished himself among fellow porcelain workers, that he would become a partner in the company, as would his sons.  Today we owe the exceptional beauty and craftsmanship of their products to the tenacious resolve and creativity of the Bernardauds.

Bernardaud porcelain

Bernardaud – stunning craftsmanship and color

Our beautiful votivelight is but one of an appealing collection produced by Bernardaud and available in fine department stores and Bernardaud boutiques.

So there you have a delightful idea for gift-giving this season.  Head for Neiman-Marcus or Bloomingdale’s or take a look on line to discover where you might purchase that special gift for a friend or family member.
We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved