Category Archives: Vacation Rentals R’ Us

Nunavut, Bienvenue en Bourgogne!

Today I just received my first ever booking from Nunavut. Baker Lake, Nunavut, to be exact, which is located almost at Canada’s geographical centre.

My future guest, who has just booked a week in July at La Maison de la Vieille Vigne, wrote that today in Baker Lake it is -39 degrees outside and that the sun is rising at around 10:30am and set to go down at around 2:30 pm.

Franck, who like many French boys was reared on a steady diet of Jack London novels, was ready to jump on the next airplane and fly up North when I told him of this. Snow! Dogsleds! Aventure!

I have managed to restrain him, but I have to say – from Baker Lake to Burgundy…the Internet can be a very cool place indeed.

Un Travail Bien Fait

Franck arrived in Burgundy and at La Maison des Chaumes yesterday.

As with all of our other French vacation rental renovations, we had planned (on paper) to be finished with weeks to spare.

So of course, we finished about….ahhhhhhh…..5 seconds or so before speeding off to the Lyon airport to fly back to Canada.

However, like a belated Birthday gift, it is always a thrill to return to the properties and actually take a moment to soak in the end result of months (years in the case of La Maison des Chaumes) of hard work and effort.

Franck took some photos before settling in, so the house looks just like it would when new guests arrive. However, keep in mind that it WAS 11:00 pm when these were taken – the house is usually a LOT brighter.

Just for the record, Franck DID get a much better sleep than me when he was flying and has informed me he feels like a new man and isn’t quite sure how I haven’t collapsed from exhaustion yet. He also told me that he is going to his parents’ house for dinner tonight and eating a raclette, one of my favorite things in the Whole World.

Needless to say, I’m feeling a conflicting mix of pleasure at living vicariously through him and nauseating jealousy.

Here is the eating area in our newly renovated kitchen, with my beloved vintage “Air France” poster on the wall.

Franck must have laid on the floor for this one. Check out my Villeroy & Bosch apron sink. I still lurve it, although not as much as the photographer stretched out on the Portuguese tiles.

Eating area again, with the girls artwork to chew by. I also love my weighted ceramic farmhouse ceiling light. Like the sink, that was a splurge.

And here’s the very expensive hole we cut int the wall between the living room and the kitchen! Even though several large hairy French tradesmen tried to dissuade me, I remained adamant about doing it. Let me just take a moment to remind everyone how I WAS RIGHT. It’s what makes the whole place flow and work.

I also love our country pine coffee table and side tables that we picked up at local brocantes. I never expected to decorate this house with touches of red, but it just called out for it. The muse, French feng shui, call it what you will, but le rouge spoke to me.

More photos coming up soon…

Départ Imminent

The above is a close-up of a huge ancient globe that you can see in the Beaune library. I love how Vancouver Island is shown as attached to the continent, and just called “Nootka“. Do go and have a look at it when you are in Beaune.


Franck is leaving for his three weeks in Burgundy tomorrow. These ideas always seem so good on paper, n’estce pas?

He goes back to Burgundy for three weeks and does the necessary repairs, maintenance, and managing of our vacation rentals as well as squeezing in a few visits with friends and family. I hold down the fort here with the help of my friends and family. Fantastique.

Time for a Reality Check.

As of today, we have two girls out of three home with H1N1. I can’t in all fairness ask anyone to come and help with childcare as we are essentially in quarantine. I am still a bit shaken by my own trip to the ER this weekend. In all likelihood Franck and I harbouring the flu virus after being barfed, sneezed, and coughed on for going on two weeks now. I slept a grand total of 45 minutes last night.

And yet as of this morning we are still very much planning on Franck going. It seems impossible right now, but we could all be feeling better in a few days, right?

Besides, I’ve ordered myself the Complete Series of “Sex and The City” to watch in the evenings once I get the bevy to bed. I cannot tell you how much that little thing is keeping me going.

I always try to remind myself and others to look beyond the surface of things. In this case, our Trans-Atlantic lifestyle is not feeling very glamorous at the moment!

Authentic France Travel Tips #39: French Addresses (or Lack Thereof)

Speaking of addresses, things at #1 route des chaumes are actually coming together. I’ll post some photos in a few days, but the colour red is turning out to be a common thread throughout the decor of La Maison des Chaumes.

Like much of my decorating, it just sort of happened that way. I went along with the flow (maybe because I don’t have the energy to do much else these days). I figure red ensures not only good feng shui, but also provides a clin d’oeil to Burgundy’s wonderful wine.

Anyway, back to the issue of French addresses and the fact that they are not always very precise.

When we bought La Maison es Chaumes five years ago we were not at all flummoxed by the fact that all of the legal documents stated its address as #1 rue des chaumes, whereas the street sign at the bottom of the street clearly states the road as being called “route des chaumes“.

This was, in fact, a huge improvement compared to La Maison des Deux Clochers which boasts at last count, 5 different addresses:

Route de Ladoix

Place de l’Eglise
Passage Saint Martin
Place de la Mairie
and, last but not least, Route de Villers

None of these street names had a street number associated with it.

MagnylesVillers, like so many small villages and hamlets in France, dispensed with street numbers entirely. The mailman just knows where everybody lives.

With the advent of Google Earth I am increasingly getting guests ask me for the exact address for our properties so they can locate them on their computer. For La Maison des Deux Clochers I am at a loss.

My advice to people staying in one of the multitude of no-street-number villages throughout France is to ask for directions in relation to the village church. There almost always is one, the steeple can generally be seen from far away, and it is a landmark that, like the Roman-built church across from La Maison des Deux Clochers, isn’t going to be moving anytime soon.

You may imagine how stunned we were last week when we found an enamel street number (#2, just in case you were wondering) in our mailbox at MagnylesVillers. We followed the instructions and installed it just above our mailbox on the cellar door at La Maison des Deux Clochers.

So we are now #2, but we nevertheless just have one last question – we are #2 on what street exactly?

Nobody seems to know.

Le Caveau in Action

On Saturday night Franck finagled babysitting for the bevy and we went down to Beaune to meet several people for an apéritif at Le Caveau du Relais du Vieux Beaune.

Besides Franck and I, there were the Browns (who had just stayed at La Maison de la Vieille Vigne) and their friends who just so happened to be wine importers to the US, the Stones (who were staying at Le Relais du Vieux Beaune) and our friend Marjorie who runs the fabulous Cook’s Atelier and her lovely friend from Arizona.

Here Franck is explaining something, probably my wife was so gracious about me having to work nights and weekends sandblasting this cellar while she looked after our bevy (Not).

More likely, it was something about our fantastique cooling system which is being installed next week.

We served Claire’s wine (bien sûr) and everyone had a choice between a refined white and an elegant red. Marjorie claimed her spot for her and her daughter Kendall’s wine.

I think our Saint Vincent over at his post on the far wall was very pleased. We even got a photo of Franck and I, a rare occurrence as usually I am always the one behind the camera.

In Vino Veritas!

Une Peintre Modeste in the Family

My mother is not only the World’s Best Mother and Grandmother, but she also happens to have many other talents, such as painting.

However, as she is also one of the most modest people in the world, she doesn’t think her paintings are ever good enough to hang on the wall.

This strikes a chord with me, as I always feel as though my writing is never good enough for public consumption (I play a mental game with myself that nobody actually reads my blog except for my family).

Why are we always – especially women – so critical of our own creative output? Why is it so difficult to feel 100% proud of something awesome that we have produced, with the exception of our children?

Have a gander at the painting of the Abbaye de Sénanque that my Mom painted for me, and which we have now hung in the lavender bedroom of Le Relais du Vieux Beaune.

How could she think this isn’t good?

Just for the record, I would give my eyeteeth to be able to paint like my Mom, just like I would give one of my thumbs to be able to sing like my oldest sister or understand complex mathematics like my youngest sister.

Enough of this modesty, Mom. You are an AMAZING painter, and I will be hounding you to paint more from now on.

Vote : Gauche ou Droite?

The Beaune wine cellar project is rocketing its way towards completion. Right now Franck and his “gang” of friends / tradesmen-who-have-become-friends are working on moulding the stair railing.

A railing is a very necessary thing in a wine cellar. Trust me, after a true Burgundian winetasting going back up those stairs into the blinding sunlight can be confusing.

Now the line of our railing may look a little…well…wonky to you. However, the railing is not wavy because the metal worker was drunk, but so that future winetasters are forced to follow the line of the rail and consequently duck their heads so as not to bean themselves on the huge slabs of stone that make up the 13th Century ceiling.

But still, we have a dilemma.

I always just assumed the railing would go on the left hand side of the stairs going down into the cellar, to prevent people (okay, me) from plummeting off the side into the gravel after a few glasses of GevreyChambertin. Like this:

However, the railing gang say that the railing could also just as easily go on the right hand side closer to the wall. This way, right-handed people can grip it easily as they make there way down into Beaune’s wine-filled underworld. Like this:

Now I’m confused, and I don’t even have a winetasting to blame for it.

Au secours with your opinions please. Should the railing go on the right or left?