A little interview / questionnaire that my dear friend Cathy Penton has put together to ask me some questions about my travels to France over the European summer this year. Words aren't usually my happy place, so my comfort zone was tested here! It's a relaxed & genuine tone of voice. Just like the conversations with each other always are. I hope you enjoy reading it.... (P.S. be gentle on my potential grammar mishaps!)
We all have bucket list places we want to travel to, was France on your list?
I’m a lover of anything romantic & rich in history Cathy, so France has been on top of the list for a very long time. Lucky for me, Christophe’s parents have retired there, (Brunet - 1 hour north of Aix) after their working life & raising family in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa. Christophe’s sister, Sandie still lives in Africa.
We hadn’t been back to France since 2014, for one reason & another. So, it was time to dust off the passport and take a good break.
How did you start your day in France? Did you have any rituals?
The best days were the ones unplanned.
Every day looked a little different, depending on the weather (it was an extreme heatwave for most of the trip!)
My favourite ways that we started the day was always the simple beautiful ways.
We’d hit the narrow roads and head off on the daily adventure to explore the neighbouring town to see what history we would find that day. Lots of walking and exploring the tiny streets in towns that are as old as you can imagine. Of course, not passing go without picking up a croissant from the local Boulangerie.
In the afternoon I would go to Gilbert’s vegetable garden, and collect the daily abundance of provincial tomatoes, and (literally) basket loads of figs.
We’d finish with an aperitif of choice (usually a glass of local wine, for me!) and a conversation about our adventures that day.
Our sweet neighbour, Antoinette - would usually pop over and join us. Always offering fresh “Herbs de Provence” fresh from her own garden. The slow, simple pleasures of life.
How many times have you visited?
This is my second visit. My first visit was in 2014. We spent most of the time in France then, but this time we ventured to more countries. Switzerland to see my best friend, then down through Italy, then reunited with more friends who live in & around the Cannes / Côte d’Azur area. We made a very swift road trip to Barcelona, Spain, then back over to France. Lots of driving…!!
What is your favourite type of store in France?
I would have to say that Aix-en-Provence is definitely my favourite place to visit to explore the shops in between the never-ending winding rues. You ever know what is going to be around the corner. I love that feeling. The weekly Aix Street market is huge, & always bustling with fashion stalls, vintage finds, & fresh seasonal producers.
I love that no matter what day of the week it is, you’ll always find a fresh produce market close by.
My favourite shops were visiting the antique & flea shops. Aka; The Brocante et Antiquités).
The adventure was actually in finding the vintage shops first as they weren’t usually in obvious places. The second-hand books stores were a highlight.
What are your favourite things about life en Provence?
Going to the markets, sitting & watching how people interact, and just being immersed in the day-to-day living experiences, was probably one my favourite things to do. I know it sounds maybe a bit boring to some people, but I really feel like you’re getting that authentic experience of what it’s like to live there, when you just stop, and watch the world go on around you.
Christophes parents live in a place that surrounded by olive groves, lavender fields & sunflower crops. So, driving from one place to another just feels like you’re living an absolute fairy tale. Not to mention the fragrance in the air from the lavender. The lavender crop behind the house was still in bloom & yet to be harvested, so seeing that every day was pretty spectacular.
A closing note from me:
Thank you, Cathy, for allowing the space for me to share my experiences and adventures of my time away in France. as always, the simple moments were the most beautiful and I couldn’t be more Grateful for the timing of the holiday, spending it with family and reuniting with friends along the way. It has left me with my heart feeling so incredibly full after a much-needed restorative time. I’ve come home, bursting with inspiration and so excited to pour all that out into the world over the coming months. It has given me the time to remind myself how important it is to prioritise the space and opportunity to reignite our Creative spirit, in any way we can. In all the ways we love.
As one of your favourite quotes (that is on one of my CPA etched pencils!) says;
“May we never lose our wonder”.