Archive for the ‘A Touch of France’ Category

FACES OF FRANCE

I cannot tell you how many times people ask this question, “Are the French people friendly, are they nice, do they like Americans?”  I am always reminded of a poem that I was forced to memorize when I was in the sixth grade.  I cannot remember the title or the author, but the jest of the poem is that a stranger asks a man “What are the people like in your city?”  The wise man replies, “What are the people like where you come from?”  After the stranger replies, the wise man states that “you’ll find the same type of people here.”

So with that said (and very poorly memorized), you’ll find the same type of people in France as where you come from.

Sharon and I love the French people.  Here are some of our favorites!

Jean-Pierre and Sharon

So many of the warm people we met bring back great memories, but alas, I cannot remember all of their names.

Loved this lady, she was so helpful and extremely nice.

Here is one of the great characters in Paris.  Sharon wanted his scarf, but settled for his very old ironstone plates with birds.

Marie and Luc are fabulous helpers are the hotel where we stay.  They are NOT a couple, but probably should be!

We rarely get a picture of just the two of us.  Here we are standing in front of one of beautiful garden parks in Paris.

At Domaine de Rhodes, our hosts were Francoise and Paco.  What can you say, but SWEETHEARTS!

We ate at this man’s patisserie twice!  He was so nice and his breads and pastries divine.

Julia and Sharon at the brocante.  Turns out that Julia has a friend in the United States and Sharon knows the friend too!  What a small world!

This is Anita and her son, Marc Antoine.  Anita is perhaps the friendliest person in all of Paris.  Once, when it was raining extremely hard, Anita went to her brocante neighbors and found an umbrella that we could borrow for the day!  Talk about NICE.  Anita remembers us each and every time we go to Paris.  I asked her how she could possibly remember us after seven years.  Her response was that I was the only person who asked if I could take her picture in 25 years of selling at this brocante.  Sharon liked teasing Marc Antoine, especially when she asked where was his Cleopatra?  Marc Antoine = Mark Anthony or did you already figure that out?

This is Corina.  She lives in France, but comes from Italy.  She has the best and most amazing Ex Votos available, they are pricey but worth every Euro, because her quality of items is so outstanding.

I cannot remember this gal’s name.  She thought we were very entertaining as we went crazy in the candy and biscuit shop where she worked.

We met up with our friends, Bob and Marlene after we arrived in Paris.  Same candy shop, but they talked endlessly with the other employee…sorry, I cannot remember his name either.

This is Omar.  My friend, Bob and Omar hit it off big time, as both are into martial arts!

This lovely lady owns a shop in Provence, where she sews beautiful children’s dresses and so much more.  We bought our little granddaughter one of her handmade dresses.  I must say that our little one looks so French and darling as can be in that dress.  I am teaching her to say MERCI.

I know that this is not a very good photo of the charming couple.  I snapped it in the chocolate shop where they work.  They were as sweet as the candy that they sell.  They were so good to us, giving us samples after samples.  YES, we did buy a nice selection of their candy…but NO I did not bring any home…as it was so good, I had to eat it immediately.

There are so many pretty parks in France.  It is fun to watch and listen to the men as they play bolle.

Sharon loved this lady named Sylvia.  Sharon went back and bought from her three times.  Three times was not enough!  She bought wonderful items from this gracious woman from Avignon.

Jean Paul is a really friendly guy!  Sharon bought several items from him and his pretty wife (no picture of her unfortunately).  He was so nice that he gave Sharon a gift, a brass egg from the Napoleon III time period.  The original use of the egg would be to hold a gift of candy.  You know for  those “fancy pants” kids.

How great is this?  Walking down the street in this town, two men starting playing their accordions.  France just doesn’t get any better than this!

We sat next to this mime at a great little restaurant in Paris.  He was having a galette, just like Sharon.  The restaurant owner’s little daughter was mesmerized by this gent and so were we!  Before he left, of course, never saying a word, he tipped his hat to us and away he went.  He forgot his coat however.  My friend, Bob, called out to him and the mime was so grateful that he gave us a short performance!  Only in Paris, right?

This father and son did not have much luck in fishing on that rainy day in Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue, but they did have a great time together….talking and just being buddies on a very wet day.  They were very happy to have their picture taken.

We had great table service in every restaurant and bistro.  None were better than the service we received from this extremely friendly and helpful young lady.  We ate in this bistro 3 times and twice, we had her as our server.

We met some very friendly Americans too!  Here we are with our friends, Bob and Marlene.  We met the other couple, Howard and Carol, at our B&B, Domaine de Rhodes in Avignon.  Howard and Carol were just as wonderful as all of the French people we met.  If you get to the “Getty” in Los Angeles, please say HI to Carol, who is a docent there.

My final picture is of this darling little girl in Cassis.  The French children are very well behaved.  I wish I had photos of all of the children we saw in France, but this is the only one.

In addition, there were so many more people that made our trip to France so special.  I have no photo of the two great young families that we met at Pont du Gard.  They had just returned from a trip to California and had stayed in the SF Bay Area only a few miles from us.  It was a joy to hear of their experiences in the USA and how they thought that the Americans were so friendly and nice.

So what type of people do you expect to find in France?  I hope that your travels will take you to the many happy and friendly faces of France that we found in all of our times there.

PS….if you know the name of the poem and the author of that poem, please let me know.  It might be something like the Stranger at the City Gate, but I’m only guessing now!

 

 

 

 

French Food and Drink

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “FRANCE”?  Do you think of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Seine River, Paris, Provence…perhaps you think of the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea?  Many of us think of food.  Yes, FOOD.

French fries in France….oh yeah….doesn’t get any better than that!

Salmon, potatos and vegetables….all really fresh and tastey.  Note the bread to the left.  There are no words to describe the bread in France….excellent, perfect…these words just cannot describe how good bread can be!

And the desserts….ooh la la.  Rodger is not a coffee drinker, but cafe au lait is very tempting in Paris.

We did not order this platter of raw meat, but the people at the table next to us did!  A small habitchi was brought to their table and the diners cooked the meat themselves.  (I did ask for permission to take this picture….they cracked up at us silly Americans.)

Breakfast at Domain de Rhodes was very special each morning.  Francoise set a very pretty and different table each day.  The food was fresh from local farmers.

Francoise presented sliced fresh fruit each morning.   This is pears with local honey drizzled on top with fresh berries.

The side table was even set perfectly at Domain de Rhodes.

Sharon will not like this picture!  My friend and I decided to drink some Absente.  I think this was the stuff that made Van Gogh go crazy!  Of course, it is not nearly as potent today, but still packed a wallop.  I only took a sip, as it tasted like NiteQuil….and not in a good way.  My friend drank the rest!!!!  He slept very soundly.

So what did we drink if not Absente?  Well, mostly wine!!!  We are not big rose wine drinkers, however the rose in France was excellent.

We saw lots of macrons and meringues in Paris.  These were the biggest meringues I’d ever seen.

Great salads with seafood.  They taste even better than they look and they look fabulous.

This was a little side salad made with slices of vegetables.

Sharon loves seafood.  So when she ordered jumbo prawns one night, little did she know that they would be served whole.  Little black eyes stared at her from the plate.  I had to take the heads off and the shells off for her.  They were scrumptious.  (That is the prawns were scrumptious, not the heads, eyes and shells.)

Another incredible dessert.  Did we eat dessert with every meal?  NO.  Boy are we upset with ourselves now!

I ate this type of salad whenever it was on the menu.  It is a Norwegian style salad with smoke salmon.  Yes, I am of Norwegian descent.  Just as wonderful to the taste buds as to the eyes.  Sharon thought it was pretty too, but was having nothing to do with what she called “raw fish”.

Sharon could not get enough of these galettes.  We even went back to this restaurant once for dinner and then the next day for lunch.   It WAS that good.

Finally, this is a picture taken a few years ago while we were in Paris.  This is a great Chicken Caesar salad.  In the USA, we do not make a Caesar salad like this, but I wish we did.  We ordered this one at the Cafe du Marche in Paris on Rue Cler.  It is a great cafe for food, wine and people watching.

Bon Appetit.

 

 

 

 

 

DISNEYLAND PARIS

This year Disney is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris (fka Euro Disney).  Sharon and I had the great pleasure of visiting Disneyland Paris this past May.  How do you compare Disneyland Paris to the original Disneyland in Anaheim?  We always say the same thing, “Familiar yet different.”

The entrance to Disneyland Paris (I’m going to abbreviate that to DP) is spectacular.  You do not see turnstiles, but an awesome chateau that is the Disneyland Hotel.  You enter the park underneath the hotel.  Photo ops are endless before you actually get into the park!

Tinkerbell greeted us upon entering the park with the magical 20th anniversary sign.  In France, Tinkerbell is called_____________?  Can you fill in the blank?

Main Street U.S.A. is familiar yet different.  You can catch the Paddy Wagon for a short trip down Main Street to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Looking down Main Street to the castle.  Our excitement was mounting!!!!

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is built into a hillside as you look to the left in the picture.  Walking up to the castle is breathtaking.  There is a slight curve in the walkway (not evident in this picture) instead of just a straight shot as is the case at Disneyland in CA.  Our excitement was growing with each step.

To the left of the castle is the entrance to AdventureLand.  It looks like Aladdin could swoop down on the magic carpet any second now. To the left of Adventure Land is FrontierLand.

Here is the entrance to FrontierLand.  Yes, you can walk into the fort and go up on the walkways.  I remember Disneyland in CA (I will abbreviate as DR for Disneyland Resort) originally the fort allowed us kids to go up on the walkways.

Phantom Manor is a great ride.  Very familiar to the Haunted Mansion in DR, but somewhat different.  We loved it.  The grounds surrounding the Phantom Manor were really beautiful.

In TomorrowLand we saw the “X Wing Fighter”.  This was just one of the many attractions in this land.

Here is a grand view of the Thunder Mountain Railroad ride.  We really like this ride in DR, but this ride in DP is fabulous.  Someway or another the ride gets out to the island….I’m not even certain how it happened, but it was GREAT.   LOVE, LOVE this ride in DP.

This was a walk-through “ride”.  It was a maze or Labyrinth.  Very cute.  Can you see the “spitting” water that you walked under?

In DR all of the horses are painted white, but in DP each horse is painted in different colors.  This is an awesome carousel.  Do you know the story of why every horse in DR is painted white?

Skull Rock greets you as you approach Pirates of the Caribbean.  This is another area of DP that I thought was outstanding.  The ride itself is really good and again it is familiar yet different from DR.

The Sleeping Beauty Castle has the most incredible stained glass windows.  There are a lot of them and they tell the story of Sleeping Beauty.  Each window is remarkable.  I really liked how the sun shone through the windows and the stained glass colors decorated the castle floor.  In addition, to these great windows, there were fantastic tapestries that told the story too.  But the best part of this great castle was…….

Yep, the dragon in the dungeon.

The dark dungeon housed the dragon.  I must have stood watching this  fabulous creature for 45 minutes and never saw it repeat a movement or roar.  I was like a little kid in a candy store!

As we waited for night to fall and stood in front of the castle,  so that we could watch the most incredible fireworks, water and light show on earth, the castle and nature put on its own show!

Goodnight Disneyland Paris….I miss you already.

So should you go to Disneyland Paris?  France is filled with wonderful historical museums, fabulous paintings and the countryside is terrific too….but again …should you go to Disneyland Paris?  OUI, OUI, OUI, OUI, OUI, OUI, OUI.

 

 

FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE

While driving in Provence area of France in May, we got lost several times.  These were perhaps some of our best adventures in France.  We saw the Provencal countryside that many tourists would miss.  It was great fun and gave us countless photo ops.  Here are just a small handful of pictures from the south of France while we were lost!

This one was taken while driving to L’Isle Sur La Sorgue.

I pulled over to take this picture of a small vineyard.  Where was I?  I didn’t know then and I still don’t know!

Just around each bend is another photo op!

We saw this small castle as we drove by on our way to Les Baux de Provence….yes, we were lost and grateful to have seen this beauty!

Incredible Plane trees lined our thoroughfare.

Then, we turned to the left and VOILA! a field of red poppies greeted us.

Finally, we parked the car in front of this magnificent view….where were we?  At the brocante in Avignon?  MAIS NON!!!

Were we in Uzes, Carpentras,  Pont du Gard, Cassis, St. Remy?   Still not sure, but I think St. Remy.  If you know where this last picture was taken, please let me know!  Merci!!!!

 

 

 

DOMAINE DE RHODES – AVIGNON, FRANCE

Sharon and I had a fabulous stay on the Barthelasse’s Island just across the bridge from Avignon.  Domaine de Rhodes is a “must stay” bed and breakfast if you are visiting Avignon, France.  Our hosts were Francoise and Paco.  They are a wonderful couple, who make you feel right at home immediately.  My pictures do not do justice to this great B & B.  You will need to click on my link to their website for details.   Domaine de Rhodes.

This awesome 16th century hunting lodge is Domaine de Rhodes Bed and Breakfast.

There are beautiful photo opportunities in all directions.

Upon entering Domaine de Rhodes, you are greeted with this great, old staircase that leads up to the rooms.

The lush grounds are filled with antiques.

In addition to the rooms in the main house, there are three cottages that can be rented.

Each cottage is decorated beautifully.

There is a nice patio and outside kitchen.  We relaxed here….looking out to the vast gardens.

Francoise and Paco must have “green thumbs”, as there were pots of flowers everywhere.

The grounds were stunning and the architecture incredible.

Francoise and Paco, our hosts!

We even loved the window in our room.

This was the terrific view from our bedroom window.  What a great way to wake up in the morning.

Another perfect view of the beautiful grounds at Domaine de Rhodes.

Francoise even brought in fresh cut flowers for our room.  Yes, the flowers were from her yard.

Another view of the hunting lodge.

I hope that this picture gives you a sense how large the grounds are.

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Here we are with Uska, the friendly greeter at Domaine de Rhodes.

Sharon would be upset with me if I did not mention that each morning we were treated to a new, beautiful table setting.  The delicious breakfast was always served with fresh fruits and juices, bread and croissants, and cheeses from local farmers and bakeries.  Please visit their website for more pictures of each room and details to help you plan a trip to Domaine de Rhodes on the Barthelasse’s Island across the Rhone River from Avignon.

 

PARIS 2012 – TOUR EIFFEL

Rodger and I always head over to the Eiffel Tower when we arrive in Paris.  Viewing this magnificent structure is always special to us and we never tire of her beauty.  I cannot tell you how many pictures we have taken of the Eiffel Tower….in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening.  My favorite time to visit the Iron Lady is  dusk.  I am sorry to say, we only saw her in the afternoon this time.  Please click on this link to learn more about the Eiffel Tower.

This year, we met up with our longtime friends, Bob and Marlene.

Every angle gives a new photo opportunity.

There were several artists out on this day.  All were painting from this view.

Rodger took this photo five years ago.  Today, the lawns have been fenced and you are unable to sit on the grass.  It was wonderful to watch the French families and tourists alike, as we were all mesmerized with the Eiffel Tower’s beauty.

The detail in the Tower is incredible.  The expanse between each corner is awesome.

You have heard that Paris is the most romantic city in the world, haven’t you?  Must be why so many couples have their wedding pictures taken in front of the Eiffel Tower.  This lovely couple and their large wedding party captured “their day” …I bet their wedding pictures are fabulous.

And how awesome was their ride?  I love Paris, the Eiffel Tower and of course PINK.

Please check back often for more pictures and stories of our latest trip to France.

AMERICAN HARVEST…CELEBRATING 15 YEARS

American Harvest will be celebrating our 15th year anniversary on Saturday, March 10th from 10am-5pm.  Nicol Sayre will be our featured artist and will be signing her original dolls from 10am-1pm.  In addition to Nicol’s dolls, there will be wonderful original creations for Springtime and Easter by Wendy Addison and  Susan Arnot.   Debbee Thibault just sent us her newest Spring collection for 2012.  These are some of her best characters that you will absolutely love!  We have a great collection of Summer Teal’s baby accessories, hair adornments, bags and coin purses.

We are styled in a Paris theme for our event.  If you haven’t heard….we now have licensed baby clothes for Cal Berkeley and Stanford!  We hope to see you this next Saturday, March 10th for our anniversary party and Spring Open House!

Vintage camera and Paris themed picture set on an antique chair.

We have many Eiffel Towers (new and vintage souvenirs).  This large Eiffel Tower’s shadow is cast across a large Angel print.  To the left is an array of vintage clocks on an antique dressing table.

An antique child’s chair plays host to three French inspired jars.

We have a very extensive collection of French antique religious items in stock.  Most of the leather bound Missels and Bibles are from France or Germany and were printed in the late 1800’s.  Rosaries, Holy Water fonts and statues are just a few of the highly collectible religious items that are featured at American Harvest.

Our French inspired theme is evident throughout the shop.  Can you say….”Ooh La La” ?

Our baby selection continues to receive rave reviews by Grandmas, Aunties and Moms.

Here is a licensed Stanford Cheerleaders uniform for the young ones.  It is also available for Cal.  There are onesies, rompers, hats, fleece hoodies and booties with these Universities name and logo’s.

Sharon has been very busy finding the latest and best in beautiful jewelry for our anniversary party.  This is a small sampling of her finds.

We always carry Tokyo Milk and Tokyo Milk Dark products, as we are the Tri-Valley area top retailer for these parfumes, soaps, lip balms and handcremes.  We have the most extensive selection in town!

These vintage bow ties have been a huge hit at American Harvest.  Use your imagination in making these items a great accessory to your wardrobe.  One of our favorite customers bought three different vintage bow ties and used them as clasps on her sweater.  She is stopped constantly and asked, “Where did you get that fabulous sweater?”  Her answer…”I simply added these vintage bow ties that I found at American Harvest!”  Thanks, Jana!

Again, we hope to see you this Saturday, March 10th at American Harvest, as we celebrate our 15 year anniversary!

 

 

 

MORE CHRISTMAS PICTURES FROM AMERICAN HARVEST

Many of you asked for more pictures of the shop at Christmas time…so here they are!!!

Sharon with Nicol Sayre

All of “les jeunes filles” wore hats or musical antlers on Open House day.  Pictured are

Monique, Sharon, Jan, Laura and Marian.   Ooh La La!!

A Nicol Sayre original Snow Lady Doll

Suan Arnot created this Christmas doll using all vintage materials.

This a great bird cage and stand.  notice the Wendy Addison glittered birds flying by.

Sharon made this incredible wreath with mostly vintage Christmas items and a couple of glittered new items.

Pictured above is a Dee Foust original.  The delightful snowman is carrying a crescent moon.

You cannot have a Christmas in Paris theme without antique Mother of Pearl Opera Glasses and vintage jewelry boxes.

A nice selection of glittered banners greeted our customers as they entered the shop.

Nicol Sayre’s designs have been recreated for us by ESC.  The Angel For All Seasons has six different little trinkets that can hang from her waist.  They come inside the Celebrate box.

A trio of Pastel Snowmen graced our center table.  These whimsical characters brought smiles to the many “children” who attended our Christmas Open House.

It appears that Pere Noel (Santa Claus) brought many vintage toys for the little girls and boys.  There were tonka trucks, snow shoes, a wicker rocking chair, 1930’s tricycle, vintage children’s books, baseball items including a wonderful vintage catchers chest protector, catcher’s masks and gloves ( in honor of the SF Giants, no doubt), ice skates and more.

Pere Noel also brought for Mama these excellent clay French inspired pictures from the 1940’s.

Our Paris theme was carried throughout the store including our office area.  The office became our sidewalk cafe.

Cody Foster designed these magical pastel houses and churches.  You can just imagine them in the French Alps.

I will continue to post pictures of the store displays.  So please check back often.  But for now…Merci and au revoir.

CHRISTMAS IN PARIS

American Harvest is presenting “Christmas in Paris” for our 14th Annual Christmas Open House on Saturday and Sunday, November 6 and 7, 2010.  We have been busy making and gathering fabulous French related Christmas items for you.  There will be wonderful Santas and Pere Noel, snowmen, angels, vintage Christmas decorations and antiques.  Our award winning window displays are always a special treat for our customers.  This year the window will be decorated as a Paris apartment at Christmas time.  Other featured areas of the shop will include a sparkling Winter Wonderland, a traditional Christmas section complete with little elves in a woodland setting and a Snowman’s Folly.   Our family of American Artists have been creating exciting Christmas items just for you.

Open House hours will be:

Saturday, Nov. 6   10am-5pm

Sunday, Nov. 7th  12-4pm

We will be closed from October 31-November 5th to transform the store to Christmas!

Future events:

Magical Holiday Evening with Debbee Thibault on Friday, November 19th 6-9pm and

Saturday, November 20th, 10am-5pm.

Debbee will be bringing many one-of-a-kind Christmas creations.

We hope to see you this Holiday Season at American Harvest!

MONTMARTRE WALK, PARIS

Every day in Paris was great.  The day that we went to Montmartre was superb.  We began our day by taking the metro to Montmartre, using the Abbesses stop.  I insisted that the flight of stairs would be faster than waiting for the elevator to get up to ground level.  Several flights of stairs later, Sharon questioned my decision.  We were about half way up.  At the top we found ourselves in front of a beautiful Metro entrance.  Sharon asked me to take a picture.  She then said, "Wouldn’t it be great if a couple kissed as you take the picture?"  Yeah right, like that ever happens in Paris!

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Our first stop was Sacre-Coeur Basilica.  To get to the top of this steep hill, you take the Funicular!  Oops, it was not running that day.  There was a long line of people waiting for a shuttle bus (Matterns don’t do lines… not in Disneyland…  not in Paris).  "We’ll just use the stairs!"  (Sharon was NOT pleased.)  There are two sets of stairs, I chose the steeper ones under shade trees!  There were only 25 steps in each of the 8 levels.  (That’s right, do the math.)   The walk up was terrific with wonderful views of Paris.  At the top stands the beautiful Sacre-Coeur Basilica (Sacred Heart).  It was worth the climb!

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After visiting the church and gasping at the breath-taking views of the city, we proceeded UP the street to Place du Tertre, Bohemian Montmartre.  Lined with cafes and shade trees, Place du Tertre has been the town square of Montmartre since Medieval times.  Artists fill the square hoping to be the next Renoir, van Gogh, or Monet.

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In this area, you can leave the tourists behind and wander back streets to find one of Renoir’s homes, Picasso’s Studio, Toulouse-Lautrec’s house, and finally going down hill see van Gogh’s home (actually his brother’s home, but Vincent lived there for two years).  You can imagine these great Impressionist painters while you are in Montmatre.  My favorite painting is by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, it is called "Bal du Moulin de la Galette".  It depicts Montmartre on a sunny afternoon in the shade tree garden, people are laughing, dancing, drinking and eating…basically having a good time.

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The last stop on our walking tour of Montmartre was the famous Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill).  According to Rick Steves’ Paris 2007 book, amateur night was the highlight for the nightclub.  The "CanCan" was first danced here.  Toulouse-Lautrec sketched the various acts including Jane Avril.

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As an after thought, I convinced Sharon that a short two or three block walk on boulevard de Clichy to the Pigalle Metro station would be fun.  The Pigalle Metro station is known for its Art Nouveau style.   Oops!  I forgot that Pigalle was also nicknamed "Pig Alley" by American GI’s in WWII, because of all of the sex shops, peep shows, etc that line boulevard de Clichy.  She was not amused! 

(OK, so I took some liberties in writing this blog….Sharon never complained about all of the stairs in the metro station, never batted an eye about the steps going uphill to the Sacre-Coeur, and actually thought that all of the sex shops were very, very French!  OOH LA LA!!!)