Monday, February 23, 2009

Fantasy French Kitchens

Like many of you my first experience with a French kitchen came from watching Julia Child.

Her TV kitchen was fascinating. I loved all the stuff! Pots hanging on the wall, knives everywhere, pottery, platters, dishes - it certainly didn't kook like my mother's kitchen!

Her first kitchen as a newlywed in Paris was very primitive. If you haven't read this book, please do read it sooner than later. Get it HERE.

Julia Child's home kitchen is now under glass ensconced at The Smithsonian Museum.

I studied her kitchen and knew I had to have hanging pots, copper if possible, or at least a peg board.

I travelled to France too, and would devour with my eyes the real kitchens I saw there.

It didn't have to be a country kitchen. Even the small kitchens in Paris apartments held so much charm and inspiration.

Beamed ceilings and rustic plaster walls were other things to emulate.

Stone and brick floors also fascinated me.

Not to mention vaulted ceilings with brick work or stone

I visited the chateaux, and their kitchens.

Now there are so many great images to inspire. Joni from Cote de Texas, Brooke from Velvet and Linen, Willow Decor, Shawn from Country French, Things That Inspire, Vicki Archer of French Essence, Sylvie of So Sylive, Corine from Hidden In France - are all blogs with huge archives to look at. Please go to my blog roll for their links.

While in the kitchens of France I saw metal furniture, rattan chairs, pine furniture, armoires and dressers, clocks, tall pot racks, bakers racks, etc. I saw kitchen tables and rough butcher blocks, but I didn't see islands or chandeliers back then. Now of course design is global, so even the French have these things.

The one predominant theme in all versions of French inspired (or Belgian or Italian or Spanish or Portuguese) kitchens is a touch of romance. We want to feel sensual and romantic in our kitchens.

Even though many of the images might be show house kitchens, or maybe kitchens that don't see much cooking, they still manage to convey the feeling of a great meal prepared and shared with loved ones is about to happen.

Chandeliers in a kitchen are now expected, as are large oversize lanterns.

The vaulted brick ceiling is even reproduced in a modern interpretation.

Accessories and accents are fun to add.

White is a popular color way in many French fantasy kitchens.

And always some kind of stone counter top seems to rule the day.

Homey touches like sink skirts pay homage to the rustic kitchens of the past.

But how would you like to go and visit a real French kitchen, to cook in it? Here's one for you with all the things we've come to love about a French kitchen: pots hanging, knives, rustic butcher block, and even an Aga cooker, a stove that is mysterious and fascinating to me, something I've always wanted to learn to use.

In this house in Normandy lives a woman named Susan.
Susan lives year round in the lovingly-restored convent in the center of Louviers and across the street from the Gothic Church of Notre Dame de Louviers.

As an internationally-recognized expert on food, Susan takes a unique approach to her craft; combining training in journalism with a love for food and the people who produce it.

Extensive travel throughout the United States, France, and Italy has given Susan a depth of knowledge and an appreciation for the rich traditions around food—how it is grown, harvested, and prepared. Susan believes that learning about cooking and food should involve much more than recipes and techniques. She delights in meeting and introducing the personalities and customs behind the great cuisines of France.

She runs a cooking school in her home. And yes, you can take classes there.

Her immense and awe inspiring home provides ambiance and inspiration for meals served in the dining room and in the courtyard al fresco.

The cathedral is right next door, and the chiming bells in the bell tower is the clock of Susan's house.

Of course there is a wine cellar.

These are a couple of the bedrooms of the many in the large house. Though Susan does not offer accommodations in her home, she has some suggestions of charming places to stay near her home.

I love the roof line of her home. It looks this way because of the various additions to the house over the centuries.

To learn more about Susan and her house and cooking school go HERE.
Why not take a fantasy trip to France and cook in a real French kitchen?


Things That Inspire said...

What a post! I don't even know where to start. So many beautiful images (many of which I had never seen before). I admire the look of a chandelier in a kitchen, but for me I adore a large lantern over the kitchen table. And I always love a neutral or white kitchen no matter what style.

I am not a fan of pot racks over an island, but it does give one the impression that a very serious cook lives in the house.

The first image on this post is divine.

vicki archer said...

Fantastic post - I adored Julia Child's book too, xv.

Erin {House of Turquoise} said...

What a fantastic post! It would be amazing to take a cooking class from Susan. I love her home and I bet the food would be divine!

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

And your blog provides ambiance and inspiration! As does this lady's home. Thank you for doing this!!! It's joy to come here.

Aunt Amelia

alice said...

Excellent Post! French Kitchens are so enchanting... they are so full of functional details and look so effortlessly beautiful too. Love all the hanging pots!

Anonymous said...

* What a wonderful ambiance to each & every kitchen space you've shared~~~ if it's old, w/ stone walls & looks likes it's been used "forever", I love it! (It probably STILL wouldn't make me "COOK" more, but I would probably be ENCOURAGED to at least TRY preparing some "new things"!)... This was DELIGHTFUL & SUCH a GREAT FEAST for the eye!!! ~ MANY THANKS! Linda

pve design said...

My in-laws live in France and one thing she always says, is having a bigger kitchen will never change the flavor of her food. She is an incredible cook with a small kitchen compared to these, most kitchens in france are tiny, small oven, tiny sink which you might find on an air-plane, pipes always bursting since the plumbing is way older than you and I combined.

Each time she travels to America - she is amazed at how large and grand some kitchens are and that so many never make or serve 3 meals a day.

My husband's Uncle has a home on Le Luberon and the sink is tiny - but has been home to their daughters weddings and many a fine meal.

Koekkener said...

I like your article its really beautiful blog. Thank you for posting.

Lori said...

Do you know where I can get a print of the picture of Julia in her Paris kitchen (the black and white one where she's backlit) I fell in love with the book and the picture.

Anonymous said...

I have just finished reading two of Susan Loomis' books and was fascinated to find these photographs of her house in Looviers.
Thank you.