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French la Vie
Provence, France
Recent Activity
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While scouting some new addresses for the next French la Vie group ... My friend Jennifer found something that I did not see even though it was literally right under my nose and if it were a snake it would have bit me. An amazing 18th-century pique. Jennifer said, "I am a fast learner! I have been watching you." I am going to blindfold her. Continue reading
Posted yesterday at French la Vie
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Walking around the countryside as Spring unfolds has allowed me to see nature's secrets. The barren branches, the buds bursting, the petals unfolding... I now know where the flowers bloom wildly, and where I can pick from the unattended fig and cherry trees. Yesterday I went to pick some lilacs for my home and the bedrooms where my guests will be staying. Then I gathered some long branches with tiny white roses. My home has never had as many bouquets! Darker lilacs grew further up the path so I gathered some of those too for the living room. On the way back I saw my neighbor, she asked if I was hopping fences to steal flowers. I knew she was teasing, but to be sure I shared my source. Today I saw an older neighbor, her arms overflowed with lilacs, she said, "Up the road, to the left, down the path and across the field there are wild lilacs bushes..." I guess I am not the only one to find the secrets unfolding in wild places. Tomorrow I will do the grocery shopping but today my nose is filled with nature's perfume. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at French la Vie
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Gloria and Barbara both who have been to France numerous times and whom I have come to know over the years, and Jennifer a friend from way back when I lived in the Bay area let me lead them around Provence on the French la Vie. Gloria and Barbara are textile artists so their focus was on such lace, ribbons, fabric, silks, embroidery, more lace, buttons... they managed to fill their suitcases, carry-ons, plus five big boxes between them. Jennifer loves rustic antiques, my mom would be so "jelly", I think Jennifer should be my mom's picker! At the end of June there is another place available for the French la Vie, the focus will be on visiting brocantes with highlights of the lavender fields and surrounding areas. If you are interested let me know. We celebrated Easter by having dinner in Cassis. A glorious day with a sweet ending. Tomorrow they leave and the next group arrives Thursday. It is a very good thing I LOVE antiquing as I will be doing it for two weeks straight though as you know I can never get enough of it, and even that is an understatement. Sacha is home visiting my mom and family, the photos he sent of Easter made me smile all the way down to my toes, HOME! The traditions my mother so amazingly recreates and elaborates each year are thoughtful, and well loved. There is something to be said about consistency, the carrying on of traditions, of a loving generous matriarch. My mother is a genius, firecracker, creative force and damn awesome. Thank you, Mom, for doing everything that you do. Sacha is soaking it in. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at French la Vie
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Seven months. All good, all happy, all baby. Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at French la Vie
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Along the back roads through Provence, I am lucky enough that friends I have met through the brocante over these last thirty years invite my groups to come and see their homes. To go beyond the facade by entering into the soulful homes offers such thoughtful generosity into the culture and life of the French. Even if you do not speak the language of the host the spirit moves. I love that I can show those who come and join me a personal one of a kind experience by visiting my friends, to witness the charm of France and be inspired by both. Such a treat to be welcomed into someone's home and allowed to go through all their collected brocante treasures. We had lunch made for us, then tea, and dessert, fresh strawberries served in lemon juice and rum. Friendship the true gift in this adventure. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at French la Vie
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The first of the season, French la Vie's latest group started out yesterday for a week, to be followed by a second group. Gloria, Barbara, Jennifer and I had such fun! Easter week is full of brocantes in villages throughout Provence, this first group wanted to focus on textiles as they are crafters and artists who teach classes on different techniques using textiles. Luck would have it that we have met the mother lode of textiles at every brocante we have encountered. So much so that my eyeballs are swimming in lace. Lace, ribbons, notions, fabric, quilts... a bonaza of joy. My longtime friend Jennifer from the Bay area has joined us and I am thrilled to spend these next two weeks together. She is a firecracker, a rock star a genuine teammate! Please follow me on Instagram where I post photos and videos of what we are seeing and doing. It is so easy to post to my stories on Instagram so if you want to "feel" like you are there, take a peek. Today we went to Barjac that has a Bi-annual brocante throughout the village. Baby bonnets everywhere I looked. Why is that? If you were to come on a French la Vie what would you like to see? What type of experience in Provence would you desire? I love what Myrna said when she came to France and went to the brocantes with us, she said, "Everyone should see a country through going to brocantes because you are able to see the countryside as you travel to out of the way antique markets, mingle with the locals, have guidance as to what things are and the history reveals the country's past." We also have the most fun getting to know one another, and sharing a part of our lives together which during the week is charged with dosages of beautiful inspiration. Each French la Vie is handcrafted to meet the dreams of each group that comes, no two French la Vie's are the same though each group meets my closest contacts and hopefully wants to explore the brocantes. In June my friend Francoise will lead a group in Bretagne as I cannot join them due to the arrival of a baby brocanteur that is due to come. I am so lucky to be able to show you Provence through the lens of the brocante. Happy trails... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2019 at French la Vie
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Yesterday I wanted to share about Yann's marathon which was on Sunday but the fire at Notre Dame consumed my every thought, and the marathon trailed far behind in what I wanted to post on my blog. Though today I saw a connection that seemed to bring a moment of stillness in the sadness of what has happened. Chelsea (seven months pregnant) and I followed Yann while he ran the marathon in Paris by mapping out his course, calculating where and at what time he would be along the 42 km trail so that we could cheer him on as he ran by. Yann was running faster than expected which meant we had to move faster between the meeting points if we wanted to see him. Our last meeting point before the finish line was in the Bois de Bologne at the 35 km point. When we arrived Chelsea noticed on the app that we were using that Yann had considerably slowed down, and we began to wonder if he was alright. We stood on stumps to see if we could see him. If you have never been to a marathon let me tell you it is hard to find a runner in a sea of runners but at last, we saw him his hand was on his head as he weaved back and forth mumbling, "I cannot do it, it is too much, I cannot feel my legs, I cannot do it." He looked terrible he had the face of defeat. I started to cry, and cheer him on with a mumble of words and emotions, at the same time as I was uttering my encouragement, I saw Chelsea leaped from the stump and run to her father. She joined him in the race, putting her hand on his back, "Papa you have this, breath, your legs are moving, they are taking you to the finish line, breath, let the pain go, you can do this, focus on your breathing you are going to make it." It was so beautiful to see Chelsea act without a moment of hesitation, without a moment of reflection to herself. She knew exactly what her father needed and she knew she could help him reach his goal. I stood in awe. And there it was in that moment, encouragement, an extension of oneself to another, love, faith and the promise of joy. _____... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2019 at French la Vie
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Utter sadness, beyond scope, a tragic loss. Notre Dame survived hundreds of year, touched millions, was a beckon of faith. More than any other monument Notre Dame is the one I had visited the most. Countless Masses and prayers, visits with nearly everyone I ever knew who came to Paris with me. I wish words were magic, and that this would simply be a bad dream. Words seem shallow in the depths of this moment. I took the above photo on a rare evening where I waited to be the last person to leave Notre Dame. And the grace and courage of the brave 400 hundred plus firefighters. Sad day. Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2019 at French la Vie
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He did it! 24 miles 42 KM. He said it felt great until it didn't, the last four miles he could not feel his legs. But he is ready to do it again. I posted videos of the day on my Instagram stories and on Facebook. Such a highly charged day! I will tell more, but we left the marathon and took a train back home as I have a Group coming for a French la Vie Journey. Life is never dull. xxx Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2019 at French la Vie
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Yann is running the marathon in Paris tomorrow (Sunday). If you would like to cheer him, on and follow his progress you can do so by downloading the app Schneider, then you will need to look up his name Yann Rolland-Benis. He starts at 9:00 in the morning (Midnight in California), Chelsea and I will go to different parts of the course to cheer him on. Last year Chelsea ran the marathon this year she is doing a marathon due in June. Things to know. The Course throughout Paris Last year's marathon runner. Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2019 at French la Vie
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Should he shave his mustache? His beard? I said no so loud I am sure he heard me in Seattle. Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2019 at French la Vie
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Today was the day my dad was born. Repost from 2008 ------------ My dad's shop was a milking barn but when I was fourteen he stopped dairy farming and went into motorcycles. He kept farming rice, and went riding on the weekends. My dad had many different motorcycles, his Harley was his favorite. Later the shop became a hang out for those who loved to eat, breath and sleep motorcycles. My brothers, cousins, and friends still gather there to shoot the bull, drink beer and occasionally work on their bikes. My dad's spirit is alive and kicking, as his heaven might was here as well. In the barn, or some call it the shop, the walls are covered with memorabilia... Racing tickets, photos, news articles, tags, motorcycles stickers... it is like a gigantic scrapbook dating back to the late sixties. The photos are fading on the walls. Though if you ask anyone gathered there on a Friday night they will relive the moment as if it were yesterday. Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is worth nothing. Every moment lives. The Shop is where I feel my dad. The pegboard holds some of his tools. There is something to be said for things that remain the same, used, borrowed, shared, but remain the same. It makes me want to keep things the same at my home so when my children come back it will be familiar, consistent, memorable... but our home changes every weekend with my buying and selling so I guess keeping anything the same would defeat the memory of how it is. Inside my dad's Harley's side packs were his jacket, vest, chaps. French Husband and I took them out admired them for a while, shared a story or two, shed a tear, then put them back where they belong. Treasure chest of memories. Open any drawer, Each are stacked, Haphazardly... Organized... Purposeful. Glorious old tools, to grab and use, or just hold like a magic wand to take you back. Those stools if they could talk. If only they could talk. I remember when they use to be in the house, by the bar that my cousin Doug made. Later my mom changed the look of the living room and the bar-stools went to The Shop When years of use rendered holes in the fabric my dad tape them with duck tape. 1972 and still standing strong. Every Friday... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2019 at French la Vie
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On top of the table at the brocante two dogs, not one, but two dogs sat on top of boxes of old postcards. The brocante dealer tried to reassure me, "They're not mean, just playful." "Lucky for me," I tried to smile, "I do not need any more postcards." Brocante with dogs. Is someone, somewhere trying to tell me something? What would I have done if those little critters were hopping about on a brocante table that had everything I ever had hoped to find? Good question, and so happy I did not have to confront that issue. Doggone it! Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2019 at French la Vie
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I am often asked about France, it makes sense given that I live here and write a blog about it. When I travel to a new place I like to have a few facts about the place in my pocket too. A good restaurant, a must see or do sort of thing, where to stay... a few starting bits so that I have a foot on the ground when I arrive. The main question I am asked (outside of brocantes and where to stay) is about the secret spots, the hidden places, the off the beaten track... the real "France". I have thought about that question for awhile. Imagining a secret spot, some hideaway, where few tourists have been, a place that captures the French essence. Somewhere were someone could go and feel France embracing them in one juicy double kiss to the cheeks. The hidden places in France... Behind the iron gate, inside the kitchen, on the other side of the garden wall, deep down in the wine cellar, inside the turret... When you are in France it does help to know that wherever you are is most likely knee deep with wonder and awe. With France being the most visited country in the world what secrets remain? In Paris alone, there are over fifty million tourists a year plus... "6,100 streets in Paris 13,260 crossroads 3,000 km of pavements 33.7 km of Boulevards des Maréchaux around Paris 4.4 km of Grands Boulevards (between Place de la Madeleine and Place de la Bastille) 9,884 benches, 107 clocks, and 1,856 bus shelters 109 Wallace drinking fountains 2,417 km of sewers..." Via Paris.FR Secret places in France... I like grocery stores. And non-cosmopolitan cafes, bakeries that are not famous and sitting at the counter sipping on something, usually orange presse. Over ten years ago I remember turning on the internet for the first time and instantly typing words such as: France, French, Brocante, Antiques, French Antiques, Undiscovered France, Touring France... and not one single thing popped up, instead, a blue screen starred back. Now anything, everything, whatever we are searching for is ours in seconds. Can there be a secret, a hidden place and off the beaten path? Who is Norman? Where can I learn to make Goat cheese in France? Hot air balloons, boat rides, and charms? Embracing your inner slowpoke. Islands in France? Have you ever been on a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2019 at French la Vie
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Tarte Tatin is one of my favorite French desserts, it is a classic down to earth recipe when it comes to the array of French desserts, it is not the Marie Antoinette of pastries, instead, it is a French Country type that I can imagine having at a long farm table by an open fire. The other day I had every intention to make a Tarte Tatin, but time was not on my side and guests where around the corner. So I had to improvise that is what I do since I usually have too many grand ideas and little time to put them in place. Or you can say I am scattered, or as my mother says, "... too many irons in the fire." Personally, I like working under pressure, I like the creative response it musters up in me. Hence, Mini Tarte Tatin was born. What you will need: Apples Sugar Vanilla Butter Puff pastry Cupcake tin. Peel, core, and chop four Golden Delicious apples. Sautee with a fourth of a cup of butter, a third of a cup of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla (more or less since I never measure and I am guess-estimating.) Sautee until the apples are golden and the sugar is caramelized. Cut rounds of puff pastry dough, large enough to cover each cupcake tin space. I made twelve. "As any grocery store has excellent puff pastry dough for under two dollars," as Annie use to say, "it is not worth making it from scratch." Which fits right into Corey Amaro's by the sit of the pants cooking style. When the apples are ready add them to the pre-buttered tin. Of course, you can add cinnamon, walnuts, raisins... but then that is not the classic Tarte Tatin recipe. Then cover them with the puff pastry rounds, tucking the ends in a bit. Bake at 350 degrees until the tops are golden. When they are ready, take them out of the oven and flip them over onto a large platter. Or gently scoop and flip each one over. For added delight and that wow effect, you can drizzle caramel sauce and serve with ice cream. Serve warm. Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2019 at French la Vie
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The TGV (high-speed train) from Marseille to Paris and visa versa takes three hours it is significantly faster than driving by car or by flying. I returned home tonight after spending a few days in Paris visiting my dear friend Laura from Colorado and then this weekend with Chelsea. Delightful. Happy. Even if too short. "The train station in Marseille opened on 8 January 1848, on the land of the Saint Charles Cemetery. The station is perched on top of a small hill and is linked to the city center by a monumental set of stairs. Since 2001 the TGV has dramatically reduced the travel time between Marseille and Northern France, traffic has increased from 7.1 million annual passengers in 2000 to 15 million in 2007 and the station is currently the 11th busiest in France." The Entrance to the train station in Marseille. "The station was once a key stage on the sea voyage to Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East, before the popularisation of flying. The station, originally isolated from the city, was equipped with a grand staircase, envisioned by Eugène Senès in 1911 and opened in 1926. It is bordered by statues inspired by all the distant locations to which people sailed from Marseille's port." A bit of the French countryside. If you take the TGV try to have a ticket for the upper deck, the views are spectacular. I love to see how each season changes the landscape. Steps leading down to the center of Marseille. Marseille train station. Beyond the mountains in this photo is Cassis, to the left, about thirty minutes away is our village, to the right about a fifteen-minute walk is the port entrance to the Mediterranean sea. Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2019 at French la Vie
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Paris is a wonderland this Spring as the pink blooming trees are wearing nature's crown jewel. Against the greyish white buildings, the pink is intensified. The light in Paris, mixed with the stark stone facades and the blooming trees is striking. Where to See The Cherry Blossoms Bloom in Paris Notre Dame Cherry Blossom Trees. Rue Monge Cherry Blossoms in Bloom. Eiffel tower covered in Cherry Blossoms. Parc Monceau in Bloom. Jardin des Plantes in Bloom. Jardin Anne Frank via the response Google gave me Palais Royal A detail of the impressive facade of the Louvre. The most beautiful person in Paris as I see it --- I can say that especially now. Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2019 at French la Vie
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“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” George Elliot Yesterday evening I came to Paris to see my friend Laura who was in Paris from Colorado with her daughter Lily, Ryan her son in law and granddaughter Camille. We met for dinner. The last time I saw Laura I was pregnant with Chelsea, Laura met Chelsea for the first time this evening and Chelsea is pregnant with her first child. I met Laura's daughter about eighteen years ago when she was doing a study abroad program in Spain. Lily came and stayed with us over Christmas break for several weeks. Such a delightful evening to meet everyone at once... well nearly everyone. Laura and I spent time with reminiscing snippets of memories yet most the time fully aware and happy while soaking in each other's company. A well full of understanding the extraordinary circumstances of our meeting one another at the monastery. As it is in friendship we picked up where we left off. How I wish I did not live so far away. We walked around Paris with her two-year-old grandchild Camille who was in a stroller. A doll baby who has a vocabulary of a four-year-old. Such fun seeing Paris through the eyes of a child. I love you Laura and will miss you very much xxx Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2019 at French la Vie
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Love as you know has no limits, and where takes us is on a journey to wholeness. I am on the train to Paris... it is such a beautiful day, and as the train whizzes through the countryside spring is there waving its hands. Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2019 at French la Vie
Tomorrow I am going to Paris to see a friend I have not seen since I was pregnant with Chelsea. Laura was one of my closest friends in the monastery. Laura left around the time that I did- she married, had children, a career, a beautiful life... and tomorrow we will remember and share our stories of then, in between and now. I can hardly wait to see her. Here is a story I posted about Laura last year: When I lived in a monastery, the Abbot asked who knew how to cut hair? I raised my hand, I had never cut anyone's hair in my life but being 19, in a monastery, I had to claim amusement where I could. But before I started my new job as the hairdresser, my friend Laura asked if she could cut Sweet Father Dominique's hair, he was the first guinea pig. She asked him what type of haircut he wanted, he said a light trim. Slowly, with a gleam in her eye, she buzzed every single hair off his head. Every single hair. He smiled. Then with the same look in her eye, she asked if she could trim his beard? He said yes. She shaved it off- his beautiful salt and pepper beard, gone! I was aghast, how could she. Shyly Father Dominique asked if she was having fun? Laura giggled, "Yes indeed." I did not understand Laura's humor nor Father Dominique's calmness. Then she asked him if she could trim his eyebrows! I could not believe my ears I shook my head no. But he agreed, she shaved them too. Father Dominique looked stark naked. Father Dominique looked in the mirror, then he looked at Laura holding the clippers. He smiled, stood up, shook the hair off, and said, "I need to go now, for I am certain you will ask me to trim my eyelashes, and I fear I would agree." Sometimes, the holiest thing we can say is no. Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2019 at French la Vie
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On April 1st the French give each other chocolate fish called: "Friture." The tradition has it that on the 1st of April children try to stick a homemade paper fish onto people’s backs without the person knowing it, then run away yelling, ‘Poisson d’Avril’ (April's Fish), which is like saying, "April Fools'!". The tagged person is meant to give the trickster fritures, small chocolate fishes. Since Easter is usually around April 1st, the chocolate fish "fritures" are also given at Easter as well. Back in the day, or I should say in the year 1900s give or take another thirty or so, the French mailed Poisson d'Avril cards to one another. When French Husband first told me about this April's Fool fish thing it was back in 1987. I had come to France to meet his family. During this time, which happened to be around the first of April he told me that April's Fool was about tricking someone by pinning or tapping a paper fish on someone's back. A few days later on April first. I made two small red fish. French Husband and my Belle Mere (Mother in Law) were going to a meeting. Before they left I sneakily taped one fish on French Husband's back and another on my Belle Mere's back without them being aware. I was tickled beyond belief at how "French" I felt as they walked out the door to their meeting. When they came back I asked if anyone had noticed the fish tapped to their backs? "What fish they asked?" Their eyes widen as it registered what I was talking about, they quickly looked at each other's backs. I told them I had taped the fish to their backs before they left for their meeting. Neither of them was amused. In fact they looked at me like I was some sort of alien fish. I could feel myself sinking, going downstream. I had made a faux pas on the day were faux pas are expected. Duh. French Husband questioned, "You put a fish on our backs as we went to an important meeting with our lawyer?" "Uh huh. I did. But in my defense, I didn't know the meeting was important." Needless to say, they didn't buy me any fritures chocolates. I felt such a fool. But it is SUCH a good memory! After dinner they started to see they humor in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2019 at French la Vie
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Glued on the stone columns along the arcade in Carpentras was the reproduction portraits from Louis Rama who earlier in the year had an exposition of portraits he created of WWI. Louis Rama called the exposition "Our Faces 1914" their memories. The exhibition was of portraits of soldiers curated from old photographs entrusted by families from Carpentras and the surrounding area. The families, inhabitants of Carpentras, had fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, who have been caught up in the agony of war. The project of this exhibition was to give them a face, to revive their memory in the face to face of drawings and paintings, and thus to make their presence appear amongst them, to make it evident in the walls of their town, as in their collective history that their stories, their lives are still amongst them. The other day after the brocante, Yann and I went to Lunch as we walked to our favorite bakery in the area (JOUVAUD) we saw these amazing eye-catching portraits, we read their descriptions, their stories. I instantly took photos of each of them and shared them to my stories on Instagram knowing later I would write about them here. Along each portrait is a hand-me-down memory, a tale, a snippet of each man's story from their families memory bank. The reflective memories not only tell a part of their lives in some way reflects our journey, our struggles, our dreams, our lives... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2019 at French la Vie
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All one needs is love, well actually to love and be loved. Thank you, Mom and Dad (even though you are not here physically) for the love, you showed me and for the love, I saw you share so freely with others. Love what a difference it makes. x Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2019 at French la Vie
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I look forward to checking in with u every day because life in France has the appearance of something more. I still can figure out if this is true. So my question is a request to have you add small ideas of change that you have learned in France and from your mom. France has a long rich deep history which weaves itself within time as it goes throughout the ages. Carried on with respect and sometimes upheaval the culture and history of France are present in everyday life. From the architecture, cuisine, the laws still intact from Napolean, an understanding and or acceptance of traditions mixed with change. I agree there is something more and I believe the history the roots make it this way. The small ideas of change and that is what they are small ideas that have influenced my life often without me even being aware of it. One thing I believe is that I made a conscious choice to understand the French culture and pass that on to my children. I wanted them to "fit in" not to stand out as the foreign kid, to be immersed in the lifestyle, the culture, the language, the history, the day to day life of France. Because of that desire, I worked hard integrating into life when I arrived over thirty years ago and tried to surround myself with French people and not just stay safe with people who spoke my language. and then pass that on to my children. Because of this, I love sharing the nuances, the beauty, the small things that make France such a lovely place to live and grow. what are your thoughts when you peruse your readers comments on your stories? When you share your stories with pictures but We are unable to provide you with as much background in our comments.. do you wonder about our lives and try to imagine us? One of the greatest gifts I have had is meeting so many readers from my blog. At last count several years ago we estimated that we probably have met over 700 people. Many of you have come to visit me, or I have met you in your homes, or you have sought me out in places I have been. I met Irina and "Alfredo" in Hong Kong, Merisi, Liesolette, and Dieter in Austria, Carri in Ireland, Joanna, Lynn, Mari,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2019 at French la Vie