Memories of France

Yes, I realize it’s been a long, long time. I’ve been living in a nebulous world of possibly moving across the country, possibly not for about 6 months now and it all seemed to (happily?) culminate in a multi-generational two week trip to France last month. I still have no idea if I’m staying or going, but I’ll say this: France is the cure for what ails you. Even if nothing ails you. I’ve been about 5 times now and while travel to anywhere resets my psychic clock, travel to France puts me in a mindset that no other place yet has. I feel at home in Britain and Ireland. I feel content and full of life in Italy. I feel rootless and wild while an American road trip. But France does something different to me. It throws me out of my comfort zone just enough to keep me on my toes (and rooting through my mental list of French vocabulary) but surrounds me in so much beauty and elegance that in the end all I want to do is stay and walk slowly through every place and eat ridiculous amounts of cheese.

Many countries value and incorporate beauty into daily life, and almost everyone does it more often and better than Americans, but while Italy and Spain do it in a visceral, passionate way, the French do it in a way that to me is more refined, more subtle. And, yes, sometimes practically invisible if you take the French distance too personally. Although I’ve never been to Japan, it in no way surprises me that French and Japanese chefs have such a connection and sense of mutual respect. They are both doing the same thing without (seemingly) even trying: bringing pleasure in the most basic and yet refined way possible. Am I exaggerating? Quite possibly. But truth be told, I have yet to experience a place where I am so deeply satisfied by what I eat, drink, and see. I’ll be posting more specifics in the future, but here’s some visual memories of my most recent journey.

Sunrise from our bedroom in Paris as taken by my 8-year-old.

Notre Dame and the Seine.

The 900 year old Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims.

Best sardine sandwich in the universe at Le Bocal, Reims.

Eiffel Tower at night over rooftops.

House built into the tuffeau in Amboise, Loire Valley.

The rooftops below medieval Loches.

Medieval architecture in Honfleur, Normandy.

Nearly infinite gravestones at the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach in Normandy. Plus my thumb ūüė¶

Monet’s lily pond in the charming, if touristy, Giverny.

Alpine Ski Hotels

I am not, nor have I ever been a skier, snowboarder or snowshoer. I hear they are all very lovely ways to spend one’s free time and I imagine that that’s true. However, when I’m faced with the prospect of many hours spent on a snow-covered mountain the only thing that sounds fun to me is a roaring fire and a warm cocktail. Perhaps a deck of cards. Maybe you are like me and are often vacationing with snow-lovers who only come off the mountain to sleep. If you’re thinking of going to the Alps with that lot, don’t worry, there are plenty of hotels to make all of you happy and stylishly so.

L’Alpaga, Megeve, France

The Cambrian, Adelboden, Switzerland

Lagacio Mountain Residence, San Cassiano, Italy

Carlton Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland

Avenue Lodge, Val d’Isere, France

Arlberg Hospiz, St. Christoph, Austria

Les Granges D’en Haut, Chamonix, France

Beaujolais, France

Working in the wine business means that I often think of holidays in terms of what to drink. With Thanksgiving around the corner, my thoughts are focused on the perfect wine for the season: Beaujolais. Made from Gamay Noir the wines are delightful all year, but really resonate with roasted birds, cranberry sauces and stuffing. Located in the southern part of Burgundy the Beaujolais region is pretty but not the tourist destination that it’s more northern vineyard cousins are. There are fewer glitzy hotels but that’s best as the wines are less glitzy too. Below are a few places to call home base while touring the region.

Auberge du Paradis, Saint-Amour-Bellevue

Cour des Loges, Lyon

La Colline du Colombier, Iguerande

La Longere

La Longere

La Tour

Les Cadoles

Chateau de Bagnols, Bagnols

Shepherd’s Hut, France

I saw this on Remodelista recently and can’t stop looking at the pictures. It is located in the Auverne and was built 300 years ago by shepherds as a place to make cheese. It sleeps 4-6 and can be rented from May till October. When you book two nights they include a basket of food to feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner, all sourced locally. I’m picturing smoked meats, cheese ¬†and hopefully some wine. In case you’re wondering, the couches turn into beds.

Wanderlust: Paris

I have a friend who just wrapped up a trip to Paris and remarked that the city is her “spirit animal”. There is something about the City of Light that causes people, mainly creative and introspective types but not exclusively, to just melt in the presence of so much beauty. Paris has not cornered the market on beauty obviously, but there is something grand about the beauty of Paris. Walking through the streets, looking into shop windows, the clothes of Parisian women, the chairs out front of the cafe, even the graffiti has style unlike anywhere else. As Fall sets in here in my part of the country I have been spending more time than I should wishing I were meandering through the Marais or nibbling on gooey cheeses washed down with Champagne. As Hemingway famously said, “Paris is a moveable feast”.


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