Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Non French Life

While so many of you are going to the beach, or travelling elsewhere for your Summer vacation, we are staying at home. We travel most of the year for our work as traveling tango teachers, and though it's not exactly a vacation, it certainly fulfills the travel quota for wanderlust. We also live in a warm place, where Summer comes early and stays long, which kind of dulls the urge to run off somewhere else warm.
Ever since childhood, my vacation consisted of reading good books. Summer vacation, when school was out, was my favorite time of year to go to the library, choose my books, and then curl up inside or outside and read the Summer away.
"My French Life" by Vicki Archer (and photographs by Carla Coulson) was the darling book of all the girly lifestyle and decor bloggers last Summer. I picked it up again, and read it again, and really enjoyed it again. It's part coffee table book and part story telling book. I love the feel of it - when you remove the dust jacket you see a reproduction of an old quilt, and the book cover and back is actually quilted, and feels soft and squishy. It's a nice little detail.
Vicki Archer and her family are Australian, but now live full time in France and England (London). She is a traveler, and along the way she found her dream French farm house, and convinced her family to buy it and fix it up. Of course it was a ruin, and of course she found all the perfect work men and women to help her make it the picture of charm and perfection she shares with us in the book.
The stories are charming and the photos are pretty. Vicky takes us from Paris to the French country side. She shares her shopping haunts, as she looks for furnishings for her home.
She shares her family's love for the French lifestyle, very much involved with enjoying nature, enjoying food and markets, enjoying small town and big city life, and most of all enjoying each other.
I have been to France a few times, and I love Paris, and I love the French - they truly put style into life in every way. It is every girl's dream to own a farm house like Vicki's. While it may not become a reality for most of us, it is so pleasant to look through the pages of this book, into the perfect French farm house lifestyle as realized by ex-pats who can afford it.

Lavender and olive trees on the property
How perfect!

Window boxes in Paris
I know exactly where this is!

One of my favorite stories has to do with Vicki and her Hermes bag (purse) going through security at the Paris airport. Like many non native speakers, she gets flustered with the language when she's under pressure. A stern looking security guard demanded to know whose bag (the Hermes) was coming down the conveyor belt, and at first Vicki didn't understand, and when she did, she felt panic, as if she had done something wrong. The guard ended up flashing a smile, and complimenting her on her beautiful Hermes bag. You have to love a man who loves a Kelly Birkin!
So, here I am, an arm chair traveller this Summer. Plane tickets cost too much. On time flights vanish as Summer thunderstorms erupt. Gas for the car costs too much. Food costs too much.
So we hunker down in our pretty New Orleans house, and I cook my favorite French woman's lunches, and if it's nice I'll set a pretty table outside in the yard, and we'll sip an aperitif of Kir or Lillet, and toast the wonderful Summer.
I've posted alot of photos from the book for you. You can also go to Vicki's web site There's not much there, just a few photos from the book, but it's still worth looking at. I wish she had a blog! If you don't have this book, treat yourself and get it HERE

The dining room....

...where meals are shared and savored.

Vicki's living room - stone floors, stone mantle,
perfect comfort and symmetry

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HellOOOOOooooo. . . anyone there? Am I the first? Le premier? So glad you referred us back to this posting since it was before my time with you. Love the post and want the book. And I shall have it.