Champagne party & Kristi's book signing in Paris + mystery man
bibliotheque + American Library in Paris & Ann Mah and Patricia Wells!

Our former vineyard now also a B&B

sunflowers in Saint Cecile-les-Vignes France
Our former vineyard is now a B&B. Would you like a room with a view? Read on!

chambre d'hôte (shahmbrh-dote)

    : B&B

Audio File - (includes an extra term for you: "à titre onéreux"). Listen to the following sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Les chambres d'hôtes sont des chambres meublées situées chez l'habitant en vue d'accueillir des touristes, à titre onéreux, pour une ou plusieurs nuitées, assorties de prestations.

B&Bs are furnished rooms situated at the homeowner's with the aim of welcoming tourists, for a fee, for one or more nights, and various services.

A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

If you have been reading this blog for more than a year, then you were there when we moved from the Rhône to "appellation Bandol" (my sneaky way of not telling you which village we actually live in!). 

I wasn't always this secretive; once upon a time we opened up our vineyard to thousands of guests. The lieu, or place, was perfect for receiving groups and it was a lot of fun hosting those weekly wine-tastings, where we had the chance to meet so many people. Though we welcomed visitors into our home, one thing we never did at Domaine Rouge-Bleu was offer lodging.

Now all that has changed--ever since the new owners moved in! I've written about Caroline and Thomas before, but I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce this charming couple from Australia (she's from Perth) and France (he's from the Vosges).

Caroline and Thomas
Here they are toasting to our new vineyard, in the appellation Bandol area...

When we put our vineyard on the market, in 2012, it was not easy finding the right people to take up where Jean-Marc had left off. His vines, remember, are his babies. Selling our home meant giving up our vines for adoption. Who would be the most loving, caring parents? Would they remember to sing lullabies and would they race out to protect little Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan in the middle of the night? 

Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse
That first harvest Jean-Marc exhausted himself caring for his vines. Whoever took over his vines would have to be willing to sweat.

Before Caroline and Thomas miraculously appeared, we had a few dubious candidates. One man (looking like a Scandinavian Mick Jagger) showed up in his Rolls Royce. After touring the house he tiptoed anxiously across the muddy driveway to have a peek into the wine cellar.

"Is it very complicated to make wine?" he asked.

At a loss for words, I guessed he could expand the domain into a recording studio--as the former owner of Brangelina's vineyard did--but I knew Jean-Marc wouldn't go for this--not unless the buyer was Bono. Only then would Jean-Marc reconsider! But then he'd have me to contend with--and I'd rather open a seed-saving factory for Heirloom varietals!)

Sorry for getting off-topic. Moving on, another couple arrived for a look-see but were quickly factored out when the woman giggled, "This could be fun! We weren't actually looking for a vineyard but why not?" 

While "fun" certainly tempers the grueling work day of a wine-maker--there are just as many days when a farmer loses all hope. These mettle-testing moments define a true vigneron. To find the perfect parents--or proprietaires--Jean-Marc wasted no more time with the real-estate ads. He went headhunting for Caroline and Thomas!

We knew the couple (and friends of ours) were sincere about winemaking when they overlooked the extraneous details: like our inelegant storage rooms (old maritime shipping containers) and our homely company car (certainly no Rolls Royce--would Scandinavian Mick have driven it?)

"That'll work!" Caroline said, overlooking the clunker's appearance, appreciating, instead, its utility. 

"You can get a lot of buckets in the back! Lots of grapes!" I chirped. But there was no need to sell her on our family van-turned-vineyard vehicle. Caroline was happy to adopt the car--along with the vines.

Photo of Caroline and me taken last weekend. Sorry for the blurry picture, you can wag your finger at the photographer, Martha Melvin.

I had always admired Caroline's no-nonsense personality, and beyond her beautiful exterior a creative, intelligent, and hardworking farmer was longing to make wine. It was sad we were moving because I would miss spending more time with Caroline--having shared a love of plants, "repurposing" objects, and slow food. 

Her partner, Thomas, equally charming and hardworking, has extensive experience in wine retailing. He managed a wine/beverage company in London before he and Caroline bought our Domaine Rouge-Bleu vineyard. Thomas enjoys speaking about and sharing his knowledge of wine.

And together the couple now runs a B&B at Domaine Rouge-Bleu--in the 17th century mas that came with the vineyard!!!

You can see all the photos of the wonderful improvements they have made (last year they added beautiful blue shutters to the old farmhouse!). And be sure to like their Facebook page, which they regularly update with news of their Domaine Rouge-Bleu vineyard's progress.

Also check out their website--where you will see pictures of the beautiful B&B rooms they have available (they've transformed my writer's nook into a bedroom with ensuite bath overlooking the vines! Or, if you prefer, you can stay in Jean-Marc's former office-come-cozy chambre.

Don't hesitate to reserve your room in this beautiful vineyard. And please tell them Kristi sent you!

Bye bye vineyard dogs, Domaine Rouge-Bleu now has a vineyard cat. Say bonjour to Mirabelle!

I leave you now with some of my favorite things to do in the area of Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes, where Domaine Rouge-Bleu is located. When you book a room at Caroline and Thomas's vineyard,  you'll be located right in the middle of dozens of postcard-pretty villages!


Grignan, only a 25-minute drive north, is brimming with roses in May--and it's a fun place to have a coffee and maybe swipe some sugar.


Buis-les-Baronnies--where lovely characters appear around every photogenic corner


Not far from Orange, Roquemaure is a fun stroll. And the villagers are chatty and warm.


And Caromb is so poetic you might find yourself talking to the windows..... Out of room now, or I might've posted photos of Sablet--speaking of which....


Mas de la Perdrix-002

So as not to confuse anyone, our new vineyard--in appellation Bandol--is not a B&B (in case you were looking for comfortable digs in France...).

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Suzanne Dunaway

How lovely to have your first dream segue into yet another!! And the pool! Wow.

Loulou will mention it in her blog, especially if there are kitties around the Rouge Bleu property...and there always are, no?

You were right not to have overnight me.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

It must feel a bit bizarre, Kristi, to see your writer's nook, the setting of so much creativity, turned into a bedroom, non? The B&B is charming and I am not only spreading the word, I am booking a short stay this summer! J'adore les photos!

Chris Allin

How gratifying it must be to know the home and vineyard that you and Jean-Marc put so much into are thriving under the care of Caroline and Thomas. It seems you have developed a wonderful friendship through Domaine Rouge-Bleu...a connection through the earth, the vines and the changing seasons that continues the legacy. And now another endeavor, which your readers can patiently watch come together and cheer you on! Looking forward to seeing the fruits of your labor this spring~

vicki ford

In June of 2012 we came to one of the beautiful afternoons under the big tree at Rouge Blue. As we drove up, the first person I saw was Caroline and then Jean-Marc who had both been hard at work. I immediately knew that she cared because she got stuck outside talking to us as Jean-Marc got ready for the group that was coming.
That day continues to be a beautiful memory in large part because of your warm smile and hospitality. May all good things continue at the B & B.
Blessings to your family, Vicki


Our dear Kristi,
How wonderful to see such a beautiful and meaningful part of your life merge into more steps on the journey to happiness!Thank you for sharing this--and such gorgeous pictures!-with us!
Natalia. xo

Lee Isbell

I so want to stay there some time. I considered it for the short time I will have between tours with Lisa and Beth next summer, but decided I didn't want to rent a car so will be staying a little more "urban" in a hotel with a ton of restaurants around. We missed seeing you last summer, but Thomas and Caroline were wonderful.

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

A lovely life transition. Having the dream, nurturing the dream, working for the dream and then releasing it when appropriate. Representing so much of life - known as one transition after another.

Thank you for continuing to share your life with us.

Anne Hamada

Dear Kristin,
What a lovely story accompanied by those (usual) beautiful photos. Having read all about the new B&B I feel very fortunate to have been (with Linda and Abigail and le chien, Robin) at one of your wine tastings in the summer of 2012... We had such a good time made all the better by Jean Marc's delicious vins that he labored over. I think it's brilliant that your lovely farmhouse has been turned into a B&B... What a delight it must be for those fortunate enough to know about it and be a guest there! I know Smokey and Braise must miss it, but as you've said, they've adapted to their new surroundings, storms and all. Welcome to the new pussycat! Thank you for today's story... It brought back very fond memories.
Warmest regards, Annie (in Chicago)


You are the very definition of graciousness, Kristin. It must have been wrenching to sell the home and land that you and J-M had put your hearts and souls into for so many years. And to see changes being made there. Yet you put all that behind you and are reaching out to help your friends, the new owners, make a go of it by renting rooms. Not everyone could do this. Is your middle name Grace?

God bless you, Kristin.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for these wonderfully kind comments and for visiting the Domaine Rouge-Bleu site. I know Caroline and Thomas appreciate your support, and I am very touched by your warm and encouraging words too.

Nancy, love what you said about "Having the dream, nurturing the dream, working for the dream and then releasing it when appropriate. Representing so much of life - known as one transition after another."

Karen from Phoenix

Beautiful pictures. I went on the website as well. Love the B&B. Looks so peaceful. Maybe one day!!!

I can imagine how hard it was for you and Jean-Marc to sell but how great that you found such wonderful people to love it as much as you did.

Vance Anderson-Inks

What a great post, as I sit here with a broken arm in three places since before Christmas. Was hoping to
catch up with Jules in P.V. soon, and then head for Bandol(?). Start therapy tomorrow, so hope still waits around the corner. They seem to be lovely people that will love the land you left in their care. She's got to be good. Spent many years in Auz. Married one.
Still want one of those wagons with a Gypsy Varner to haul Jules and I around.

Marianne Rankin

I may not get to France for several more years, but am wondering how far Domaine Rouge-Bleu is from Bandol. If I go to France again, I would like to visit both locations, and especially to meet everyone in person.

I'm a bit vague on exactly what Jean-Marc does now (as a job, vs. wine-growing and other activities on the side). Does he anticipate coming to the States this year?


In answer to Marianne's question about Jean-Marc, check out his blog-site: :) The Espinasse's are a very busy family! And so gracious to share their lives with us... Thank you Kristin, Jean-Marc et al!

Diane Young

Lovely photos and so enticing. Jean-Marc was wise to search for the right people to take over his beloved vineyards. And your new home seems beautiful with its nearby Mer to enjoy. You have chosen well, cherie.



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