Now this is Cute

• 31 July 2009

One morning, when racing off towards La Maisonnette to meet a contractor, I decided this cute li'l thing was worth stopping for...I was glad to have my camera handy that morning. Have you ever seen a cuter car? I am certain I have not. Talk about making me smile!

p.s. thank you so very much for your words of encouragement...you've buoyed me up tremendously!



For several minutes my little one didn't move an inch. Watching the "tile guy" install a few "new" antique tiles was apparently quite intriguing for a 2-year-old. I'm glad the camera was handy...her stance is amusing and to be honest, she rarely sits/stands this still!


Fleur Bleue

• 30 July 2009

When I can get away, I like to visit local vide greniers (local meaning within one hour) and seek out little antiques for the La Maisonnette. Sometimes though, I become sidetracked with other things I see, like this adorable little flower shop. It even has a light that clicks on and off! I'm completely enamored with it and thrilled to report it only cost me 5 euros.


Moving In to La Maisonnette

On Saturday we moved into La Maisonnette. This is what it looked like. A few weeks ago one of you mentioned "blood, sweat & tears" as being part of a renovation. Now I understand exactly what you mean. I cried on the tile floors that afternoon. It's one thing to be an adult and move into a mess like this--but it's another to move in 3 little kids. For the first time in almost one year, we expressed regret at undertaking a project of such magnitude. We know things will work out...it's just that we're at a difficult {and critical} stage in the renovation right now.

Right now a lot of things are happening at the cottage:

1. a portion of the stairs are being rebuilt
2. a custom window is being installed--the Husband uncovered the petite fenetre when jack hammering a wall up top. A fun find to be sure!
3. hardwood floors refinished.
4. beds ordered (in the meantime we sleep on mattresses on the floor
5. gardener trimmed up the grass and a few trees, which give me additional light in the kitchen
6. kitchen installed
7. shattered antique tiles replaced

Still to do:

1. install lighting already chosen; finish up ordering additional lighting
2. find couch, kitchen chairs, rugs, armoire
3. paint and install trim in bathroom
4. sand and stain beams
5. clean up antique furniture
6. refinish antique tile floors
7. add last coat of paint to most of the house
8. install upper bathroom
9. bathroom mirror, mini storage
10. clean, clean and more cleaning
11. all those last-minute projects that always creep up
12. regain sanity :)

p.s. thanks so much for all the tips yesterday...you guys are just what the doctor ordered!


I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

• 29 July 2009

For those of you that are parents, do you ever have moments when you feel like a total failure? I'm feeling a little like that these days...the stress and strain of an overseas renovation on a strict timetable is taking it's toll. It's probably time to re-read a few parenting books (Love & Logic is a favorite) but let's be honest, that is not going to happen in the next 30-60 days. Plan B seems to be in order!

Perchance I am not the only parent who ever felt this way, I'd like to make a request. If you have a great parenting tip (this is a broad request so broad comments are all welcome) please speak up and share it with us all. I/we would be much obliged :)

image taken in some nearby fields we pass just about everyday; thankfully we captured the moment when we did, as the next day a whopping storm pummeled through the valley and left the formerly happy sunflowers looking rather sad...


Local Delights

The Husband and I recently discussed how this pretty li'l town of Beynac-et-Cazenac increasingly amazes us with all it offers. There are a couple of excellent restaurants, scenic views, and a boulangerie that makes the best bread in France...no kidding! The simplicity of the French countryside is also alluring and very refreshing--particularly so if your lives at home are extremely hectic. I love feeling like it's a-okay to take it easy.

Our favorite boulangerie/patisserie in the area is run by Lucco Raoul--a man who apparently knew at the young age of 13 that he wanted to be a patissier. He spent his youth traveling the world discovering new flavors, techniques and styles of pastry-making. And now all the locals {and tourists} reap the benefits!


Tolix, I Love You

• 28 July 2009

In the States I've had limited exposure to Tolix--basically whatever is in Pottery Barn or Sundance. But, here in France you come across all sorts of Tolix goodness. And look at the array of colors! I'm dying. One of each please. Sadly the exchange rate from US dollars to Euros is so poor that Tolix products are not any cheaper here than they are in the States. Darn. But so pretty...


L'Ebouillante - Best Brunch in Paris

Picturesque, quiet street in Paris. Check.
Charming bells ringing in a nearby church as you eat. Check.
Fantastic people-watching opportunities. Check.
Delicious omelettes and fresh juices (you must try the "quatres epices"). Check.
Great prices. Check.

That pretty much sums up L'Ebouillante in Paris. Make sure you hop one street over to Papier + {Plus}--serious eye candy for the stationery lover but save your euros! Oh, and did I mention the Seine River is just one block away?


Persimmon & Pink GIVEAWAY

• 27 July 2009

Boy, all this up-to-my-ears-in-renovation muck is making me in the mood for a giveaway...how does that sound on this Monday morning? Let's start off the week right with a special gift from sponsor, Persimmon & Pink!

I know--based on comments, emails, etc.--that many of you are huge fans of Susan's colorful prints. They are simple, modern and all convey a refreshingly simple and spiritual message. Just imagine...you are in the midst of a busy day where everything seems chaotic...and then you look up and see a pretty cloud of aegean blue inscribed with the words, "peace, be still". Doesn't that sound like the perfect message to read often?

For this giveaway, Susan of Persimmon & Pink would like to offer two winners an opportunity to choose two 8x10 prints (or 3 5x7's) in any color scheme. Yes, TWO! You can start scheming which prints you'll choose here. Good luck!

Giveaway Guidelines:

- You have 5 days to enter this giveaway (closes Friday, July 31 at midnight).
- Make a comment on THIS POST to enter.
- One entry per person please.
- Anonymous comments will be ignored so make sure we know who you are!
- The winner will be chosen via random.org and then announced on Monday, August 3rd).
- Winners should respond by Friday August 7th to secure prize.


This is What I Did Today

• 23 July 2009

...how about you?

Suffice it to say I have a renewed appreciation for my high-powered dryer at home...this hanging-clothes-on-the-line-stuff takes forever! It's not quite as bad as the six years I spent hauling our family's laundry to the nearest laundromat but it's pretty darn close. I feel like I'm always doing laundry! I'm so thankful we went to great efforts to install a little dryer at La Maisonnette...our visitors will thank us :)


Refinished Floors

At least one room in the house is almost completed. I'm in denial that we are 3 days away from moving into La Maisonnette and there still isn't a toilet, a bathroom sink, or a spatula in the house. Veteren renovators, please tell me this is normal...:) Trying to keep the kids out of the mess is another story (the Husband is meeting with the community summer camp director as I write to try and see if our oldest two can be otherwise diverted with fun activities). That will leave my two-year-old and I to clean up La Maisonnette. I'm laughing to myself thinking about the logisitics of that situation...talk about keeping life interesting!


Roasted Tomato Soup No.2

The farmer who owns the little house we are staying in {temporarily} repeatedly offers us fresh produce from her garden and we repeatedly accept! A few days ago a large quantity of tomatoes found its way to our door so I decided to make this savory soup again. Seriously, you've got to try it! It seems like the type of soup that would freeze well so if you make a large batch, you can stock some away for a busy day. I serve mine with crusty bread (and not the parmesan crisps to keep it super simple) and a big salad.


Marqueyssac Gardens

• 22 July 2009

If you ever find yourself in the Dordogne, please do yourself a favor and visit the lovely gardens at Marqueyssac. While you're there enjoy a romatic stroll, or a cup of tea with a friend, and by all means, bring your camera! If possible, plan on visiting on a Thursday night during the summertime. They dress up the garden paths with candles and offer live music all over the gardens. It's absolutely splendid. In fact, bring the kiddies along too and make it a family affair. The little playground is precious and nearby picnic tables offer parents a place to sit down and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

p.s. Rachel and I decided this is the ideal wedding location in France. If you're engaged, check it out here...

images by Stephanie Brubaker


Salade au Noix (Walnut Salad)

Here in the Dordogne region one of the prominent crops is walnuts. They grow on big, beautiful trees and produce the yummiest walnuts I've ever tasted. When you visit a local market in these parts you not only find bags of raw walnuts (both shelled and unshelled) but a vast selection of walnut tarts, walnut oils, and walnut cakes. Delicious.

I recently attempted to create a simple salad that highlights the lovely flavor of fresh walnuts and since it's a salad that can be easily created anywhere really, I want to share it with you.

Salade au Noix (Walnut Salad)

head of butter lettuce (you can also mix butter lettuce with green leaf lettuce too)
handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
pinch of fleur de sel (or another good quality sea salt)
raw walnuts


3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (go for the Maille brand)
1 1/2 tablespoons Apple Cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Walnut Oil (often this is in the organic section)

Sprinkle the halved tomatoes with a pinch of fleur de sel. Wash and crisp lettuce. Mix vinaigrette ingredients with a whisk in a small bowl. Drizzle over salad. Add tomatoes and walnuts before serving.

Keep in mind that you can alter the measurements on this salad dressing depending on your own personal taste. Perhaps you may want to add less Dijon, or more walnut oil. Less vinegar perhaps? Or maybe you'd like to substitute White Wine vinegar instead. I'm guessing all these variations will taste good so find what works for you based on personal preference and what you have already in your pantry. Enjoy!


Comptoir des Cotonniers

• 21 July 2009

I am a huge fan of the ready-to-wear label Comptoir des Cotonniers, discovered just under a year ago here in France. It ties in so nicely all the elements I love to wear and I find myself gravitating towards its shop windows whenever I pass by. Thank heavens it's July (one of the two months of government-mandated sales here in France) and I can actually do more than window shop. I waited a few weeks until they slashed prices for the second time and then went in for the kill :) I highly recommend planning trips to France around these sales (typically in January + July) to curb the awful exchange rate. It's nice to feel like you can buy one thing before heading home!

P.S. I tried on those shoes (on super sale too) and while they were fabulous in every way, they killed my feet in just under one minute. So incredibly sad. I wish Aerosoles + Comptoir des Cotonniers hooked up for a season.


Best Macaroon in Paris

I know there is much debate about which patissier makes the best macaroon in Paris, but after sampling many a colorful delight, I’d have to say Gerard Mulot comes in first in my book. He had me at “Fraise Coquelicot” (strawberry poppy).

What’s your favorite?


White Room

• 20 July 2009

The Husband is almost finished painting two of the 3 bedrooms and we are now able to visualize the "end product". It's so wonderful to be at a point where you can {kind of} see the end. I'm sure those of you who've renovated know exactly what I'm talking about!


the Goddess

I recently shared some of my own images from my youngest sister's wedding last month, but I couldn't help sharing a few more taken by the professional photographer of the day, Courtney Brooke Hall. They are stunning photographs and definitely add to the magical nature of the event.


Merci, Merci

The lovely Miss Rachel flew out last week to help me furnish and decorate La Maisonnette...isn't she a dear? She's been such a help already as she helps me create the vision I've slowly pieced together over the past few months. While it's a lot of work putting my kids in the car for hours at a time, we are having a blast anyway (of course!) and trying to come up with creative ways to make it fun for the kids too. Any tips are welcome :)

When she arrived from the US, I trained up to Paris to pick her up and spend a day and a half scoping out places in Paris that might have a few things on my list. She mentioned that we had to stop by the acclaimed "merci" and see what the hype was all about. I cannot tell you how happy I am with this decision! "Merci" is most certainly being added to my list of “must-sees” in Paris. The fact that I found kitchen lighting and a Tolix stool for La Maisonette made it a particularly sweet experience.

p.s. If you’re a Tolix fan as I am, this is as close to heaven as you’ll get.

111 rue de Beaumarchais
75003 Paris
(Metro stop: Chemin Vert)

Some images I snapped:


Porte de Vanves Flea Market

• 17 July 2009

I experienced a Paris flea market for the first time last week, more specifically, the Portes de Vanves location. I’d read it was less overwhelming and over picked than Clignancourt...can anyone back this up? While there were some incredible wares—these two pictures depict some of the greater temptations—I found the prices way too high. I think I’ll stick to the vide-grenier/brocante scene…you find a lot of the same stuff but at less touristy prices.


Une Pique-Nique

• 16 July 2009

After searching for parking for 45 minutes, walking around a crowded market for an hour or so, and making our way back to La Maisonette for 25 minutes, we finally sat down to this. Again, I am loving how inexpensive it is to enjoy a picnic lunch like this! I’ve realized that picnics are not only fun for the kids, but they are easier to clean up as well. I think we’re on to something here…


Julia's Life in France

If you love food and you love France, you must read this book. I realize now that I need to get my hands on a copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. While I don’t intend on ever making my own terrine or anything else really complicated, I do see value in learning how to make a few basic French dishes.


Fire Engine Red

• 15 July 2009

I spotted these a few days ago and can’t get them off my mind. There’s got to be a supplier in the US…does anyone know where one can find something like this?


Strawberry Tart

I’m enamored with the wild strawberries offered at all the local markets right now. Those Mara du Bois can be quite addicting so I'd like to make a strawberry tart while I am here. Do you have a good recipe?


Current Status

• 14 July 2009

On the day I took this picture, this is what the current status of the renovation looked like:

1. Sheet rock completed throughout the cottage
2. Hardwood floor refinisher secured…starts Friday!
3. Bathroom on 2nd level painted in Restoration Hardware’s Butter Cream + Right White
4. Grass is bloomin’ out back and ain’t it pretty
5. Kitchen almost completed…plumbing goes in next week

We are so close, yet so far away still…sigh.


High on a Mountaintop

As I drive around the region trying to find the right “this” and the right “that”, I am further convinced we chose the right village to offer an enclave for vacationers (according to the Rick Steves France guide, he agrees with me too). On Monday we walked around the tiny market here in Beynac and I couldn’t help but stop and take in the picturesque surroundings. Pinch me.

Let me give you some bearings to give you a better feel for the town:

Image 1: See the church in the top left? The one with the cross? That’s the very church you see in image 2.

Image 2: I think I’ll entitle this one, “don’t get too close to the edge”…

Image 3: Okay, so head back to image 1…see the tower in the top left corner? That is the tower you see out of the second story of La Maisonette du Coteau, here in Image 3.


After the Honeymoon

• 13 July 2009

My quiet mornings have almost all but disappeared due to this project’s imminent needs. I enjoyed it while it lasted ☺ If only the home could decorate itself, I’d have my quiet mornings back! As therapy one evening after a particularly long day, I snapped some images around town. Since it isn’t completely dark here until 10 or 11 p.m., I have a lot of great evening light to work with…


Menu of the Week: Frenchy style

Even though I have fewer kitchen gadgets and limited counter space, I am really enjoying cooking over here. Taking advantage of readily-available and inexpensive ingredients like crème fraiche, pate brisee, Comte, Roquefort and blood orange juice is the name of the game. If I bought all of these ingredients at once in the US I’d have to drop $40-50; here, the total is more like $20 (and that's with the bad exchange rate!). It’s so awesome. I feel like we can eat well every night on a modest budget (we are keeping our weekly budget the same over here as at home), and this is a real treat in my book.

Herb & Leek Tart, Arugula Salad, fruit

Greek Salad with a crusty bread, fruit

Whole Wheat Pasta with Simple Tomato Sauce, Mache Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Sauteed Chicken with Balsamic Shallot Sauce, steamed Broccoli, baguette, artisan cheese

Roasted Beet Salad with Roquefort dressing, Herb Roasted Potatoes, "Charlotte" Strawberries

I think we'll throw in this meal from last year too--it's a family favorite amongst kids and adults alike.

image 1; image 2


Spotted on the Auto Route

• 09 July 2009

You never know what you’re going to see over here on the highway…in a good way. Deux Chevaux, Aston Martins, Smartcars and then fabulous antiques like this one...

While slowing to pay a toll on the auto route, I spotted this couple a few cars ahead. I tried to hurry and catch up to them, but this man’s lead foot outdid even mine. It took me a good ten minutes at least to get close enough to snap this shot. Not only is their car just about the coolest thing ever (a blue version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?) but the aviator caps, large sunglasses, and seemingly grab-life-by-the-reins attitude is also enviable. Apparently they ignored the memo that life wasn’t as fun or interesting after the gray hair set in. Good for them. May they be an inspiration to us all!


Caffarel Chocolates

I love these little Italian chocolates...particularly the toadstools. The few times I've visited Italy in my life I've stocked up on a few of these cuties. If you ever run across them either abroad or in the States, stock up. I know that Miette in San Francisco carries them, but you'll pay more for them there than you will in Europe.

I love the way this bride used them in her wedding. It's something out of the beautiful little book, the Root Children. How fun would it be to incorporate a similar theme into a children's birthday party?

image via Heavenly Lane


Destination: Northampton, MA

• 07 July 2009

When we lived in Boston, it never occurred to us to drive out to Western Massachusetts--about a week and a half ago we stayed in Northampton and wondered why. It is such a darling, little New England town. We even talked about flying out from the West at some point in the future for a getaway. Although we thought our Pricelined-motel was perfectly fine, it might be fun to try one of the quaint B&B’s next time.

In this little gem-of-a-town you’ll find refurbished brick buildings, locally made homemade ice cream, gourmet restaurants, reasonably-priced boutiques and the most beautiful Urban Outfitters you’ll ever see. The latter was kind of a surprise…I’d never seen one outside a major metropolitan area before.

If you visit Northampton, you must stop by the following:

Essentials…this is one of the best shops I’ve ever seen in my life because it combines so many things I love into one location. You’ll find Japanese goods, vintage French items, awesome publications by Chronicle Book, baby clothes from Tea, letterpress stationery, bold wrapping paper and a million other Etsy-esque offerings. Heaven. They do have a website and while it doesn’t do the shop justice, it does at least allow you to enjoy a slice of the retail experience.

Circa…inspired by Alice Waters & Chez Panisse, you will surely find something to love at this tiny restaurant just off the main drag. When locally procured ingredients are combined with excellent seafood, the results are simply superb. The Husband enjoyed the best salmon entrée of his life. I, on the other hand will never forget those scallops…yum.

Urban Outfitters…located in an old, perfectly restored bank, this UO is the most stunning you’ll ever see. Even if you don’t love Urban Outfitters, be sure to stop by and check out the extensive moldings and dentals up near the ceiling.

Herrells…one of the many reasons why Massachusetts residents consume more ice cream per capita than any other state in our nation. Do you blame them? There are so many creameries offering homemade ice cream, one can hardly resist. Herrells apparently inspired the popular chain Cold Stone (thankfully they credit Herrells), but after enjoying the real thing I’m wishing it were Herrells that made it big!


Ripping up the Bathroom Floor

• 06 July 2009

A short video of the Husband ripping up the nasty flooring in the second floor bathroom. We are going to allow the hardwood floors to shine :) Can't wait to see them. Also going up is new sheet rock so it's clean, clean, clean. It will be so pretty when it's done...


a Wedding in the Woods

Last week we attended my youngest sister’s beautiful wedding to long-time boyfriend Max. She planned her own wedding {budget style}, and created most of the simple decorations herself—including the lovely wedding invitations. I loved seeing it all come together and was particularly impressed with all the little details my sister Kristen attended to--she really made it special and unique to them as a couple. I am positive I will never attend anything remotely similar in my lifetime. The Husband and I thought it refreshingly simple.

The wedding was located in Western Massachusetts, just outside the Berkshires, in the D.A.R. State Forest. They walked down a path in the woods while a trio played the Beatles’ “Sun King” on guitar (our parents raised us on the good stuff). A close friend of wed the couple in a gazebo located next to a picturesque pond before the wedding party moved to another location to continue the celebration.

Each guest brought his/her own picnic lunch before enjoying a large buffet of homemade cookies & cupcakes, lemonade and farm fresh strawberries. Kristen admires the Art Nouveau movement and put forth great efforts to incorporate some of those elements into her wedding. I think the collaboration turned out beautifully. When the reception began she started playing her thoughtfully orchestrated 5-hour playlist and by the time we packed up the last car the final song played (Kris, I totally want copies!). Things couldn’t have turned out more perfectly!

1. Walking to the grove where the wedding took place
2. One of the many banners she made herself
3. Trail markers for wedding guests

1. Let's get this party started
2. Luscious strawberries
3. Guests enjoying their picnic lunches; one of Kristen's Art Nouveau additions

1. Centerpieces
2. Wedding favors

1. Warming up
2. The waiting game (J.Crew dress, antique belt from Etsy)
3. Her handmade bouquet of feathers and such

1. Antique-looking photograph of the couple framed in bark
2. Beautiful wreath, banner & lights...love the overall look here
3. The greatest temptation at the cookie/cupcake bar

1. The Husband :)
2. Place "cards" for each guest

1. My other sister and I
2. Serene waters

1. A silk banner Kristen made herself
2. A lively game of horseshoes after the wedding


Christmas in July

When it became apparent that more work needed to be done at La Maisonnette before it was ready for vacationers, we were faced with two options:

1. Send out the Husband again for a month and be apart as a family

2. Call it Christmas and send out the entire family

After much discussion amongst ourselves we decided to present the situation to our two oldest children and see what they had to say. We explained that we couldn’t afford to provide both Christmas presents and 5 airline tickets to France and then asked them if option 1 or 2 sounded best to them. Since E. recently returned home from being away an entire month she knew first hand how it would be to remain apart even longer...I held my breath. After as much mature thought as a 7-year-old could muster, she chose #2…but wanted to make sure she’d still receive presents from her grandparents ☺ My son wanted to do whatever his sister wanted to do so that made the decision unanimous!

So here we are…together as a family. This is really how it should always be—being apart is so taxing on a family unit and unless wholly necessary, I wouldn’t recommend it. Eating together tonight was such a joy and I am so grateful option 2 played out so nicely. There is nothing better than creating memories when all family members are present. Wouldn’t you say those are the best kind? Now I’m crossing my fingers again…but this time I am hoping they each remember something from this amazing experience. I know it will be a boon to them when they are older and {hopefully} wiser.


Q + A: Logistics Behind Buying a Home in France

• 03 July 2009

Many of you asked questions via comment or email about the logistics behind buying and renovating a home in France. I thought I'd answer those questions in the form of a post as they formulate an important part of the process as a whole. If this kind of information bores you, I apologize...skip to the next post :)

Before I venture on to answer those questions, I want to highlight this image above. My father-in-law discovered some old photos taken on a family trip in 1989 to guess where...Beynac-et-Cazenac. The very village where La Maisonnette lies.  This means that my husband's entire family passed through Beynac exactly 20 years before we purchased our cottage!  It's interesting how life comes full circle in different ways.

Without further adieu, here are the answers to your many questions:

1. Is it difficult to buy a home in France?

Yes and no.  Let me explain...if you speak French fluently and understand how to navigate the vast amounts of red tape and cultural issues, buying a property in France isn't difficult; but it can be a long, drawn-out process. Expect 4-6 months to close (four months being "quick") and be sure to have a French bank account. It takes the same period of time to acquire a loan, which you have to do via a bank in France (we found BNP International Buyers Division most helpful).  Obtaining a loan can be tricky if you are a foreign buyer, but don't give up even if the first time around you experience some road blocks.  Expect your down payment to be more around 20%, versus the typical 10 or 15% here in the US.  

2. Do you have to apply for citizenship to buy a home?

No.  That's a whole other process...

3. Do you need a visa to renovate a home in France?

Technically, yes.  If you stay in France for over 3 months you will need a visa. Keep in mind that ticket prices typically double when you stay more than 30 days, so you'll likely have to purchase two sets of tickets.  It's expensive, but there isn't a way around it that I'm aware of.  Just make your time there count!

4. How do you put your kids in school over there?

If you own a property or are renting long-term, your kids are allowed to attend the local schools.  

5. Do the teachers and children speak to her in English or always in French?

Classes are conducted in French so what your child gets out of the experience will be contingent on how much French he/she knows.  I'm not sure what the schooling situation is like in Paris, but in the remote countryside, English isn't spoken at all at school.  Kids are like sponges though...you'd be amazed at how quickly they can pick up a foreign language!

6. Where do you stay if your home is being sandblasted when you are in France?

The local campground, a farmhouse, the local hotel, or another rental in town. The choice is yours! This last time it was the campground, which is, for the record, a slight upgrade from your typical KOA here in the States.  It's also across from the school making the commute pretty snappy. 

7. Can you have dual citizenship?

From what I understand, you must be born in France or have a parent with French citizenship to acquire dual citizenship. Since it isn't anything we've ever considered though, I'm not very familiar with the process.  I do know though, based on my friend's attempts to obtain dual citizenship for her children, that it is also a long, drawn-out process.  

8. Do you have to be a citizen of France to buy property in a historical district?

No. But if you want to make any exterior changes to a property in a historical district, you must consult the office of the Chief Architect of France.  Basically what that means is that I am saying "au revoir" to my wish for a back door going out to the patio from the kitchen :)  Unless I'm keen on waiting ten years and willing to endure a lot of paperwork!  Ha! 

9. Do you have internet access in Beynac?

We've actually always had internet access when in France. All of the above mentioned choices of lodging (including the campground) offer free WiFi making it possible to work from abroad and stay connected.

10. When you were looking for appliances, did they vary much, or were you able to find similar US companies?

Appliances are quite different in France actually. Most people do not have dishwashers or dryers...just a washer.   The former are definitely considered luxuries--even more so than here in the US.  Whether you live in a home or an apartment, this seems to be the case. Apparently a dryer, something we consider to be a necessity, is considered a luxury in France. For anyone interested in renting our property in the future, let it be known we are installing both a dishwasher (although it had to be small!) and a dryer. We've gone to great lengths to make sure both conveniences are available to our guests. Like most things in France, appliances are a little more expensive in France and yes, there are variations in quality. The brands are also different, although there might be one or two you recognize (Bosch, LG, etc.)

12. Are the workers reliable?

I'd love to say "yes", but a reliable worker can be hard-to-come-by (I wonder if it's different in an urban environment like Paris?) Locals even admit it! Our experience has been that if we aren't here, they simply don't show up to work, despite instructions to continue with projects.  Their mentality is that you have all the time in the world; one of our artisans even suggested we change our tickets (a $5000 expense!), to work around their 20-hour work week.  We've had excellent luck, however, with our mason and plumber.  Both are outstanding workers and get the job done right and for that we are very, very grateful.

13. Is a venture like this possible with children?

It's a lot of work, but yes, it's possible. We have three little kiddos ourselves.


Quiet Mornings

• 02 July 2009

At home I love having somewhat of a schedule—a little bit of structure seems to bring me peace, a sense of purpose, and more room for productivity. But here, I love not having anywhere to go and mostly the quiet mornings (the lack of more than 5 or 10 minutes of internet daily helps too!). Our days are busy but the sereneness of our surroundings make me feel more balanced. The change of pace is most welcomed.

While we are in the process of making La Maisonnette habitable, we are renting a simple home in the countryside behind Beynac from a local farmer and his wife. While the interior is dated (think 80’s French), it is clean, simple and uncluttered. You can tell the couple takes pride in this property, which is likely their “nest egg”, and it’s enlightening to observe how little a family needs to have a good life. Here my children have no toys, games, or the possibility of watching a movie. It’s all about playing outside under the trees with some little chairs (when the weather permits) and making forts inside (when the weather doesn’t permit). I love it. I’m taking notes…

We will see what the rest of the day brings but so far it’s brought a welcomed breeze (yesterday it was 85/90 degrees), a morning shower, and a little mug of good, dark hot chocolate. The French certainly have it right when it comes to chocolate!


Les Vieilles Cles

It's been an adjustment getting used to a set of keys that look hundreds of years old. I took a step back the first time I had to lock up La Maisonette with these antiques. But, the real turning point was for me was pulling up to a modern mini-Home-Depot-type store and seeing the key maker's sizable wall of similar-looking keys. It was one of those "yes, I am truly in France" kind of moments. This is not anything like the little key-making kiosk I visit in the parking lot of my local Sears!

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