Glaner: In Memory of Agnes Varda (30 May 1928 – 29 March 2019)
The Lost Gardens by Jean-Marc and Kristi Espinasse

Avec le plus grand soin: Meet Arnaud Chevalier

Rochefoucauld Charente

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

Example Sentence: Click here to listen
Cette piece a été réalisée avec le plus grand soin. --Arnaud Chevalier
The piece was made with utmost 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 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).

Montemboeuf Charente

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 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 to see the dates and destinations for the Charente trip and the Roussillon trips in September.

Wedding photo
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


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Oh that piece is exquisite! What a wonderful artist and friend! Of course, you look stunning wearing Toby! I was hoping for an announcement of some more tour planning, but now excited to see what else you two have up your sleeves. It’s great to hear you so excited! Write soon!!

Suzanne Dunaway

Beautiful work. Now one or both of your kids has told you some news or you are en ceinte...

Leslie NYC

Yes, I agree with your mother: a crisp white shirt. It will bring out the turquoise color. You are both Southwest women and it's a good look!


Tony is beautiful. Yes, white shirt or black scoop neck dress or shirt.
Love the teaser.. Exciting .

Sue Lathrop

Maybe you and Jean Marc are moving to Colorado?!?! :-)

Patricia Sands

Oh the suspense!!! Kristi, you are full of surprises these days ... and the joie de vivre you and J-M are sending out to all of us is exciting, to say the least. What next? Thank you also for the introduction to Arnaud, Your necklace is exquisite! Bisous

Norma Plowman

Lovely necklace but the real gem is Smokey!

Kathleen from Connecticut

Hi Kristi,

A crisp white shirt or a scoop neck white tee shirt would definitely set Tony off.
Can’t wait for the announcement, but maybe it is your tours. If moving to the US, that would mean another move for your mother, oui?
Anyways, awaiting to hear the news.


Meiling Newman

I agree with the white shirt but a scoopy neck white t-shirt would be great for showing off the beautiful elephant. I look forward to y’all’s news!

Gwyn Ganjeau

You are already wearing the thing that most beautifully compliments and shows off Toby -- that radiant smile.

Linda R

In your Instagram post you ask, "Do you follow @arnaudchevalier?"
Now I do; beautiful photos, those of Nemo are my favorite.
Des nouvelles - moving to Oregon to continue expanding your wine adventure? : )


You both are going to get matching tattoos?


When you are moved to wear Toby, anything goes!!!! It's art, and means something to you, that is all that matters. Thank you for sharing your gift.


Bonjour, Kristin,
Suivez le conseil de Jules; une chemisier blanche vous convient parfaitement autant que mettre en valeur l’ éléphant.
Vous pouvez adjouter une jupe noir, mais faites comme vous voudrez—à chacun son goût.
Ne me dites pas que vous allez emménager dans une nouvelle maison! Si c’est çà, je souhaite beaucoup de bonne chance.

Carolyn Chase

What a magnificent piece, especially with its connections to M. Chevalier. I suspect it will look spectacular with any color dress, though I'd not use a patterned fabric as that would draw attention away from it. It can be casual as pictured or more formal. I personally seem inclined to a dark red to go with the red in the piece. I hope you'll post pictures of what you choose. You'll look amazing.


Look at you, Kristi--beautiful, vibrant, and youthful-looking as ever after your jolting sea voyage. Your face says it all--you are not fazed, but open and eager for the next uncertain phase of your journey.

Do you know the old Led Zeppelin song "Moving Through Kashmir":
Oh, father of the four winds, fill my sails, across the sea of years
With no provisions but an open face, along the straits of fear

That's you, Kristi. And your faith and goodness will lead you to a peaceful shore once again.

Also, thank you for passing on Arnaud's quote, "If you're not kind to unkind people, you're one of them." I really, really needed to hear that today! I'm in the midst of a situation where I need to do just that. It was karma that you posted the words and I read them today.

Many thanks for this post and for all your wonderful posts, Kristi. And bon voyage on your next journey, wherever it may lead you.

Allison (Ali) HERRON

Beautiful posts from your beautiful readers! I too love your friend's wisdom about animals. What a fabulous gift he offered to YOU!


Our dear Kristi,
What a gorgeous gift for a gorgeous woman!I especially like that Toby's trunk is pointing up!!(for good luck,I was always told!)
I think that you should wear it anyway you'd like,with any outfit,just to treasure the specialness,and to make you feel (even more!) beautiful.
Will be so excited to discover what your surprise is!
Please don't keep us waiting!!!
Natalia xo

Lisa Rogers

Une chemise rouge avec le pendentif, je pense.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Such a lovely, meaningful gift!
I learned a long time ago not to try to second guess you. Waiting with anticipation...


Hi Kristi,

What a lovely gift and I think a white shirtdress would be lovely and show the necklace off! Wishing you and JM all the best for your next adventure!

Can you believe it is 80 degrees (26 celsius) here in Charlottesville today??!! I've been out planting!

Can't wait for the big reveal of your next adventure!

Karen Cafarella

I love elephants, that piece is gorgeous. Can't wait to hear about your new adventures.



Ok, I give up. The suspense is killing me! I have to guess (although I have never done so correctly)...your own wine shop perhaps??

Mary Liz

Ok ... what is it? What are you two going to be doing? You would be a great mystery writer really. I’m really curious to find out what your plan is.
The jewelry piece looks beautiful on you.
Mary Liz

Cynthia Lewis

My very best wishes go with you whatever this new adventure might be! Your exotic new necklace is lovely on you.


You are beautiful inside and out!!!


I agree with Gwyn G, keep smiling. That is the only accessory the necklace needs. You wear it well!

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