For those wishing to travel to France and to be guided by a most endearing host, I share with you first a message from my friend Tessa Baker, of Paint Provence with Tess:
With my May and June trips now full I thought I might remind you that I still have three places on my July 6th - 13th trip in the Charente. A perfect place to visit and paint in early July with chateaux, lakes, rolling hills, beautiful villages and one of the best markets in Angouleme with its huge river flowing through the centre of town. Click here for more info.
Today's Expression: grand soin
: great care
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE, by Kristi Espinasse
A little while back, in the garden, Mom and I were sitting in mismatched chairs, wearing mismatched pajamas, and speaking (in mismatched languages) about a dear friend in Paris.
Andalé, Mom said, sending Smokey (our Velcro dog) off so that we could sip our tea in peace (or be drenched every time Smokey sidled up to us, ever ready to cuddle).
Allez, sort de là! I added, and when our dog finally settled for a nap under the fig tree, Mom and I resumed our dreaming...in English this time:
If there is one person we wanted to see in Paris it would be Arnaud Chevalier! I'm not sure who met Arnaud first, Mom or me...(OK! So it was Mom!) but over the years we have enjoyed following the jewelry designer on Facebook and then on Instagram, where he shares his view of Paris, his fascinating French heritage, his dear Cocker spaniel, Nemo, and his positive thoughts (Arnaud's...and maybe Nemo's?). I think you will agree, Arnaud is a deeply endearing personnage. Here is a screenshot from one of his Instagram posts:
Arnaud is also a writer, a poet, a designer--a continuous creator who suffered a great loss of a great love. Continually pouring his soul into his work, his heart marches on and we, his friends, followers, and fans are moved by his message--whether in words or wrought bronze. And speaking of bronze...
Returning home from that outing in the little fishing boat, I was halted by a package in my mailbox. Carefully turning it over, I saw it was from Arnaud. I had been looking forward to this parcel, and now it had arrived!
First, a little background...
I had been following Arnaud's creative path--working for high-end jewelry brands to, recently, setting out to create his own line. Previously, with the high-end brands, he used the precious metals and gems at his fingertips. In Arnaud's own words:
For years I've been working as a jewelry designer for various brands, but I've always desired to develop a collection of my own. I wanted a high quality one, but it was a far too big investment for me to create the high-end jewels I was used to work with. It is then that I've decided to take an interest in the methods used by our distant ancestors -the Middle Ages craftsmen- whose jewels are still to be seen intact in museums. By using the same material and by following their gestures, it is a whole heritage that comes back to life.
Back to that parcel in the mail... Have you ever received a package that you were too excited to open? Well, after a few hours, my Mom put a stop to this nonsense. 'Come over here and open Arnaud's package!'
I sat on Jules's bed, beside our dear Smokey, and opened the bubble envelope, which revealed an elegant black box in gold trim....
Do you see Smokey's eyes, dear reader? You should have seen the look on my face as I discovered Toby The White Elephant. Toby was inspired by Arnaud's love of animals and his involvement in animal welfare (he adopted an elephant). There dangling on a bronze choker, was Toby, handmade in France--avec le plus grand soin--using the medieval techniques of lost-wax casting bronze and enamel 'grand feu'...
'The bronze may change color,' its creator informed me, 'only to take on a natural patina.'
Well, Arnaud, patina is one of my favorite things, donc pas de soucis!
I leave you, dear reader, with a picture of a weatherworn sailor (having just gotten off the little fishing boat, before a storm set it), wearing for the first time this beautiful piece by our friend Arnaud Chevalier. It is a gift I am honored to receive and a piece I will treasure forever. Mom suggests I go out and get a crisp white dress shirt to really show it off. What do you think? What would you wear with the magnifique Toby?
Visit Arnaud's website here (he also makes jewelry for men, handmade with care in France).
Now back to my dear friend Tessa, for one more word about her Artist escapes in France. Tessa writes:
I also have places left on my September Roussillon trips when of course as part of our trip we visit https://www.carrieres-lumieres.com/ where we will see Van Gogh paintings projected onto the massive quarry walls along with fabulous music. The weather is still fabulous and the vines are turning gold. Please visit my site www.paintprovencewithtess.com to see the dates and destinations for the Charente trip and the Roussillon trips in September.
That's it, dear reader...except for one more thing. Stay tuned for some exciting news in the next post. After almost 25 years of partnering in marriage--Jean-Marc and I are committing to something equally as meaningful, exciting, soul-searching, scary, nerve-racking, uncertain, gripping, risky, exhausting and well it's not what you think it is (just what do you think it is?***).... Just please be here for the next post--and thanks as ever for reading!
***No, it's not the tours. We're putting them on hold... for this.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety