I Find the Coolest Stuff in France
I was not born with a long list of talents. I'm not an athlete - I can't sing - I'm not a whiz in the kitchen - nor am I mechanically inclined. (Watch me try to set the DVR!) . Basically, I can talk. I managed to learn French, so that's a bonus, but still - ONE skill.
Perhaps the universe took pity on my short list of aptitudes, because somehow I have this knack for finding the coolest stuff in France.
For example, did you know that you can sleep in a wine barrel?? I happened upon a small article in a magazine and I immediately reserved our spot! Chateau de Bonhoste is in Saint-Jean-de-Blaignac, near the famous wine town of Saint Emilion. (Just a tip, as it is just outside of this famous appellation, the wines are comparable in taste, but much cheaper!) . After a tour of the vineyard, which was much more in-depth and personal than you find in larger wineries, we snuggled up into our very own barrel. With a bottle of wine, bien sur! In the morning we received a picnic basket filled with a huge artisanal breakfast spread!
Apparently I am not the only one who thinks spending the night in a wine barrel is cool. A few weeks later the French TV show Echappees Belles featured these unique accommodations!
How do I find these places?
No idea! I guess I am in the right place at the right time. I am always on the hunt at home. Sometimes I stumble upon an article or a video clip, or a rogue internet search lands on something cool. When I am in France I am often lost and accidentally drive right to something amazing! Many times I will start a conversation with a local who shares their hidden favorites. Over the years I have made so many friends in France who are always guiding me to the best of each region as well.
Also recently featured on the French TV show Echappees Belles was the first bakery I had found in the spring of 2018. This idea of sharing the regional specialties of France with others had been brewing for a while. I felt a tug pulling me to Normandie, and I found a list of artisans on a website that I can't seem to relocate now! Jean-Francois Otter was the first to reply to my inquiry, and the first video I did! It was an absolute blast and I am so glad I didn't have to wait in the increasing long lines to taste these delicious cookies! (They won the People's Choice award in Normandie in 2019 so expect these lines to keep growing!)
I love to shop and have an appreciation for high quality products. I no longer remember how I found the olive oils of Moulin Castelas in 2010, but I used them exclusively ever since. My family and friends as well! I have been back to their mill in Les Baux-de-Provence many times, and am glad to count them among our friends in France. Their award-winning oils have been featured in so many articles and shows I can't even keep up! (Tip, if you are looking for the perfect gift for the foodie on your list, shop our boutique!) . The olive harvest is in full-swing right now. To see what that entails, be sure to check out our video!
A FRIEND OF A FRIEND ...
It was thanks to Catherine and Jean-Beloit Hugues of Moulin Castelas that I met Elsa Lenthal of Fuseaux de Lavande. I can't wait to weave my own lavender wand at one of her workshops! Her lavender fields are in the most tranquil setting. Truly paradise. Her savoir-faire was also featured on a French TV show called La Maison France 5. I am honored that she shares her expertise and beautiful hand-crafted products in our boutique.
IS IT JUST ME?
When I find something that I adore, I do often wonder if it's just me or if others will find it amazing as well. The French have their local favorites, but is it just a community appreciation? Apparently NOT!
The city of Aix-en-Provence has had its signature treat for centuries - Le Calisson. Unlike any candy we have in the US, I thought it might be an acquired taste. Of course supermarket replicas are often too sugary, but when I got to try the real, authentic artisanal recipe - it was delicious! What a special treat it was to see how Leonard Parli has mastered this confection and carried on the tradition.
I learned just a few weeks ago that a portion of our video will be shown in Japan on November 11th on their station NHK. Word is out. French regional specialties do not just appeal to those living in that region!
CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?
Neither can I! I am on a quest to find the best of France, AND I want you to know about it! Subscribe to the website or follow me on Instagram or Facebook so you can have amazing experiences in France, or buy yourself exceptional artisanal products. And please share with your family and friends!