Archive for March, 2013

Dress Your Home in French!

March 29, 2013 @ 11:08 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French furnishings

French Bergere chair warms any room

My tastes run to all things French … well, and maybe a touch of Italian. I love all types of ceramics, molded from the rich red clay of the earth and painted by hand with Provençal colors. Bergère chairs are a favorite, as well – a comfortably warm accent in any room.

Santons remind of us the many working French folks and everyday family members, and the sweet scent of lavender soap brings those sprawling purple fields to mind.

I have a petite, brass Lampe Pigeon I found in a little shop along the back Loire Valley roads in Bracieux, and I was fortunate to find the unique round replacement wicks at a Paris flea market. Among my favorites also are lovely faience platters, elegant and colorful, that were wedding gifts from our Parisian friends; and a fabulous Tabac jar that serves as a delightful accent piece and occasional host to bouquets of flowers.

Pigeon Lampe, Bracieux France

Lamp from Bracieux

And French fabrics enthrall me! They cover our dining room chairs and dress the table, when we host friends for dinner. Lovely yellow, cream and blue toile accent our bedroom windows, and a simple cream and blue Pierre Frey print does the same in our guest room.

Thanks for bearing with me, as I gush about ‘all things French’. They simply add such color and charm to our life – a simple French napkin on a tray with a tiny Baccarat glass and flower turns a croissant and coffee breakfast into a trip abroad!

France products

Tabac pot – mais oui!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Mona Bismarck Cultural Center, Paris

March 27, 2013 @ 1:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Avenue de New York, Paris

Cultural center staircase in Paris

I’ve said it before, but please bear with my repetition.  I find it fascinating how one gets from ‘here to there’ in the thinking process.  We took our grandson for a delicious dessert at a French bakery near our home in Florida, and I told him they speak French at the bakery.  As we arrived at the door, he said, “You go first, so you can do the French thing.”

I loved that.  Obviously, he was intimidated that they might speak French to him.  Today, I was thinking how many Americans might feel that way about visiting France and might choose to skip the privilege rather than cope with another language.  So from there, I thought I would see how many American organizations are in Paris, beyond the very expansive United States Embassy right across the street from the renowned Hotel Crillon.

There you have it, an intriguing maze through which I traveled to come to this point; and now I choose to share about only one organization.  I’ll save the rest for another day, because The Mona Bismarck Foundation and the story of the Countess entirely captivate me!

Obviously I don’t move in ‘those’ circles, as I didn’t know who Monica Bismarck was.  When I saw photos of her elaborate, multi-storied townhouse right across the river from the Eiffel Tower, I wanted to know who had such good taste … and fortune.   

Paris France art galleries

Dining gallery for special events – © Metropolitan Design Paris. All Rights Reserved.

An article in The Guardian proved very informative; though the odd piece highlighted the sale of a Dali painting in which Madame Bismarck was depicted in grim black rags.  How strange that the woman, whose husband once was thought to be the richest in America, would be shown in such a way.  A Sotheby’s art expert theorized that Dali was having a bit of fun at the woman; who had townhouses in New York and Paris, a Long Island estate, a beach house in Palm Beach and a villa built on the runs of Emperor Tiberius’ palace in Capri. 

Indeed, Madame Bismarck was undoubtedly one of the most elegantly dressed women in the world and was often featured on the pages of Vogue.  The widow of multimillionaire Harrison Williams later married the grandson of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.  The painting she left behind was sold to raise money for the Mona Bismarck American Centre in Paris, an organization she founded to help strengthen Franco-American relations through art, culture and educational activities.

Through the philanthropy of the late Countess Bismarck, the Foundation’s Cultural Center has presented over 60 major exhibitions since 1986, primarily in the ground floor exhibition salons.  Her hôtel particulier (Parisian townhouse) dates to the end of the 19th century and was reconfigured in the late 1950’s.  Stunning features include magnificent woodwork from a dismantled château, ornate and colorful Chines wallpaper and opulent chandeliers.   The beautiful exhibition salons enjoy spectacular views of the Seine and Eiffel Tower, and the MONA Café overlooks an expansive terrace and private garden – just the sort of quiet retreat that is rare but welcome in lively Paris. 

The Center is a place we definitely want to add to ‘sights to see’ during our next trip to Paris.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

© Metropolitan Design Paris. All Rights Reserved.

April in Paris and Provence!

March 26, 2013 @ 11:09 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Provence France

Crillon le Brave overlooks Mount Ventoux

Just a little dream – April in Paris … and then a pleasant train ride with our friends to Avignon.  After wandering about and having a late lunch, we would be off for a couple of nights at Crillon Le Brave.  April, you see, is their time to offer special €150 rates.  I know, I know – that’s not exactly tightening the belt or wallet, but it is a definite bargain compared to their usual €280 to €520 rates!

Crillon Le Brave is a very special retreat, one that spreads over seven renovated village houses mystically connected by petite alleyways and courtyards.  Just 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Avignon, the spectacular views from the village sweep from valley vineyards to the crests of 6,000-foot high Mount Ventoux. 

Crillon le Brave France

Charming rooms, gorgeous views

Our friends are wonderful conversationalists, so we undoubtedly would have plenty to talk about; but they also are as keen for adventure as we are.   With picnic basket and chilled wine in hand, we would head out in the countryside to find a perfect spot along the Rhône River near Avignon.   Hunting for antiques and Provençal treasures would follow, perhaps across the river in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.

Beyond enjoying exceptional local cuisine and wines, the history and culture throughout the area reflects the Roman imprint and 14th-century Papacy in Avignon.   Roman ruins, cycling through vineyards, dining along the river, relaxing in the village – that sounds like an ideal April sojourn to me!  And basing ourselves in Crillon le Brave would afford the perfect window to all that is refreshing and spectacular in the Côtes du Rhône and Provence.

Rhone River France

Dinner by the river

We’d love to hear from you!

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A Weekend in Bormes-les-Mimosas

March 22, 2013 @ 1:24 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan


South France

Bormes-les-Mimosas overlooking the Mediterranean

Yesterday – a focus on upscale camping in France.  Today, we go to the same area but “the opposite direction”.  The weekend is here; our getaway wings need to be stretched.  We are longing for a comfortable, idyllic kind of place – charming, warm and quiet but within reach of interesting places to visit.

The old village of Bormes-les-Mimosas is the perfect place for such a retreat, a charming village just above the coast.  Years ago, my daughter and I wandered along the coast from Saint-Raphael, and it was in Le Lavandou that we stopped to stay, to explore.  March is just before the ‘shoulder season’, when you find far fewer tourists but fewer places, also, to stay shop or dine.  No problem.  Make your way along walled streets, along stony seaside paths or up narrow lanes overlooking the Mediterranean.  Everywhere you turn the sights are welcoming.

Cote d'Azur France

Mimosa-lined lanes

The Hostellerie du Cigalou will be our chosen auberge, just 20 rooms in a lovely village setting.  We would want the garden views from our private terrace and could easily wander through the floral lanes to discover a little café or crêperie for lunch. 

At the top of the hill above the village, we can visit the Romanesque Chapelle Notre Dame de Constance, set among oaks and overlooking the bold, blue sea and the Hyères Islands.  Can you imagine a more relaxing and enticing weekend? 

Bon Weekend to you!

We’d love to hear from you!

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