Category Archives: Snapshots of French Life

Happy New Year from a Snowy Villers-la-Faye

These photos were very kindly sent to me by Gary Schiro, a guest at La Maison de la Vieille Vigne just before Christmas.

Gary was very patient with the fact that the cold snap had knocked out the Internet hub at the cottage (and the fact that we had to deal with the dreaded France Telecom – and over the Holidays to boot – in order to get it repaired). He and his partner had no choice but to eschew technology for a while, and instead went for some nice long walks in the snow.

This is the Place de la Mairie where the school children were having an epic snowball fight to usher in the start of Christmas vacation.

And here is my favorite walk around the Mont Saint Victor in the snow. Merci for the photos Gary.

And in about two weeks time Villers-la-Faye will be welcoming five new “Fayavillois” (name for the inhabitants of Villers-la-Faye) when Lisa K. and her family move from Alberta to Burgundy for a 5 month sabbatical at La Maison des Chaumes.

Here’s wishing that 2010 is filled with adventures and fun-filled Frenchitude for all my Grape Journal readers. I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, do it sans vous!

Bises xo


This Is The Woman Behind L’Atelier

Attention anyone who is dreaming of Paris!

You know the wonderful vacation rental, L’Atelier des Beaux Arts, just steps away from the Jardins du Luxembourg that I often mention on this blog?

Here is my friend Joelle, going to work on her candy apple red scooter, and she is the genius behind it. She has a positively amazing sense of design, and the lucky guests of her L’Atelier can live in Joelle’s gorgeously styled universe for a few days or a few weeks (you’ll be wishing for a few weeks, trust me).

Here are just a few of the reasons why I love Joelle:

1. We have provided moral support for each other for years as our husbands (who went to the Sorbonne together) repeatedly attempt to relive their anarchist University days;

2. She doesn’t hold it against me that the night we first met she cooked Franck and I a lovely French dinner and I fell asleep before the main course was served (we’d come straight from the airport and a trans-Atlantic flight), with my head on the table…drooling;

3. She finds the absurd in just about everything, and her laugh is infectious;

4. She does all this amazing stuff (her Atelier, parenting her children, her full-time job) and never expects any acclaim;

5. She served us a Dom Perignon vintage rose once – still the best bubbles that have ever passed my lips;

6. She is one of the most spontaneously generous people I know. Case in point – she has offered to take my bevy for a bit this summer while Franck and I stay sans enfants in her amazing Atelier

Joelle is one of the friends I am thankful to have in my life, at this time of year and during the rest of it too.

Le Shrug

The other day Suzanne asked Clem to put back a Tupperware that she had pulled out of the cupboard.

Clem knew she was supposed to obey, but she also knew that she didn’t want to obey, so by way of response she gave a disdainful one shoulder shrug.

“Oh My God,” exclaimed Suzanne. “She shrugs exactly like Franck. Did you guys teach her to do that?”

I shook my head. “It’s in the DNA.”

Too Bad They Don’t Fit In A Suitcase

Here’s Martial, who is often to be found opening a bottle of wine for his many friends. Sometimes he opens the WRONG bottle of wine (like a 1991 Vougeot) and makes boeuf bourgignon with it and invites you over to share in his mistake.

I don’t think there is any point to me trying to make beouf bourgignons in the future. Nothing will match that one. Ever.

And here are my dear, dear copines Charlotte and Isabelle. Kinda like Carrie’s Miranda, Samatha, and Charlotte…except they’re French, of course. They’re also much better cooks, and don’t have as many (in fact any) Manholo Blahniks.

I would so love to be able to have one of our café‘s again. *gallic sigh*

And then here are two of my surrogate French sons – Gabin and Eloi.

And two of my surrogate French daughters – Capucine and Alix.

And Mauhault, Franck’s goddaughter, with the bluest eyes you have ever seen.

And there are more people I would like to cram in Franck’s suitcase although he didn’t take photos of everybody – members of his family, Arthur, Marc-Olivier, etc. etc. etc.

Somebody really has to get working on that Star Trek tele-transportation technology. I mean, we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we send someone instantly from France to Canada?

Fête du Cassis – 5&6th September, 2009


For all you cassis (blackcurrant) lovers out there, there is a big cassis festival going on in our neck of the Burgundian woods this weekend – September 5th and 6th. It all happens in the gorgeous little hamlet of Conceour just above Nuits-Saint-Georges, and minutes away from Magny-les-Villers and Villers-la-Faye.

For 4 Euros and 50 centimes you can buy an emblazoned kir tasting glass and join in the fun. Visits to the cassis fields, tastings, pressings, and of course wonderful local food will round out the festivities.

For more details (though because I am no longer there to translate tourist documents, not in English) just click here.

And just in case you’ve forgotten how to make a kir – THE most Burgundian of apéritifs and a drink I love so profoundly that my French friends had the cheek to suggest that it would be easier to simply hook me up and administer it to me intravenously – here’s the Germain recipe…

Laura’s Kir:

1/3 Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant) liquor – Vedrenne is a very good brand, and in the Hautes-Côtes around where we are do check out the local producers such as the Ferme Fruirouge in Concoeur itself and the Jouannet family in Meuilley.


2/3 Bourgogne Aligoté – We *heart* the aligoté from Domaine Naudin-Ferrand in Magny but in a pinch any dry white wine can suffice.

Step #1: Pour the cassis and then the aligoté into a short wine glass (NEVER pour in the wine first, then add the cassis, or stir for that matter).

Step #2: Sip

Step #3: Contemplate the wisdom of the following quote from Victor Hugo, “God made only water, but man made wine.”


I just cashed in some of our British Airways points to buy Franck’s ticket to Burgundy in November. He’s staying at La Maison des Chaumes from the 6th through to the 26th while I fend for myself here with the Bevy.

I have to say that while I am happy for him, and know the trip is necessary in order to look after the vacation rentals, I am still a bit choked that I’m not going.

Nevertheless, whenever I start feeling down I do two things. First, I reflect upon our most recent crossing of the River Styx (aka our recent trans-Atlantic plane flight with an 18 month old Clem). This goes quite a ways in assuaging my grief. Secondly, I mentally prepare my French shopping list for Franck, which includes (in no particular order):

1. some wine from Claire’s

2. Nestle dessert chocolate for baking

3. dark 72% chocolate from E.Leclerc (for eating with my afternoon coffee)

4. fleur du Sel

5. Amora Dijon mustard – mi-fort

6. the latest “Campagne Decoration” magazine

7. baby present from my incoming-any-day-now niece or nephew

8. huge thing of Herbes de Provence

9. sachets of bouquet garni

10. several jars of Bonne Maman’s Confiture du Lait

11. A Saint Vincent statue to set up a little Bacchanalian shrine at our our house here…

As you can tell, the list is going to be VERY long. Come to think of it, I may send him with a few extra suitcases.