Archive for the East of France Category

Awaken to Ornans, France

Posted in East of France, French Affair, French Painters, French Travel with tags , , , , on July 4, 2012 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

There’s a little village nestled not far from the German border in the Franche Compte region of France known as “the Little Venice of France”. It’s ‘Ornans’- home of the artist Gustave Courbet. When I stand on its footbridge over the River Loue which snakes through this very pretty village which Courbet celebrated, I can’t help but think that her inhabitants remind me of the river dwellers in Kenneth Graham’s children’s book  ‘ The Wind in The Willows’ living on or near the river and deriving so much pleasure from it.

 

But then again this could be YOU on your journey through blessed France, soaking up the sun in Ornans beside the river as you catch a drip of escaping ice cream with your tongue or maybe watch a babbling procession of the best stories in the world with locals fishing for trout further upstream lashing their lines to a rhythm of life second to none.

‘The Wind in the Willows’ reads:

…”He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before–this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver–glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated….”

My French Awakening was and you will be too.

Go. Experience Ornans.

AuRevoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@ 2012 Therese Waddell

As

Awaken to a New Year in France

Posted in East of France, French Affair, French Travel, Paris, South West of France with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour lovelies,

Well, well,… Christmas has come and gone and look at us, smack bang in the middle of a new year! Bonne Annee mon amis! We have a new beginning to continue the same life as last year or introduce something new. I know it’s difficult for some of you to get out of the routine for many reasons but I’m asking you to just contemplate an alternate road or patch of grass or another window of opportunity and HOLD that thought.

Can you imagine yourself here on french grass in Flavigny perhaps, in the heart of Burgundy?

(You do remember my escapades on the trek for more than chocolate? go to https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/tag/flavigney-sur-ozerain/ )

or take a peep down any one of the country roads you could be driving through on your next France adventure…

or look out from some other window- a french window. Come on! My french awakening sees no harm in discovering a new view which is very different from the one you’re seeing now perhaps?

Life is sometimes greener on the other side particularly if you’re travelling through the south of France…

or the north east corner…  (remember Colmar? https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/awaken-to-a-new-year-in-colmar/ )

or from this window in the east, at Quemigny-sur-Seine, France…

and more views from country France from modern frames…

and ancient ones in eighth century stone as at Mont St Michel (remember Awaken to Mont St Michel? See https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/tag/mont-st-michel/ )

And if you fancy yourself as more of a city mouse than a country mouse, you might appreciate looking out from the windows behind wrought iron balconies in Paris…

Or from that very special window in a beautiful french village in between.

The view’s not bad from here.

Just imagine.

Give France a thought this year. It won’t disappoint.

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@Therese Waddell 2012

Awaken to Evenings in Cult (70150), France

Posted in East of France, French Affair, French Gardens, French Travel with tags , , , , , , , on July 1, 2011 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

How are we? It’s Friday here and the beginning of school holidays. It’s that fabulous evening when you breathe out real slowly and stop running on work time and kiss goodbye our “Groundhog Days” of  routine and minute snatching. For one solid evening we choose to run on empty-a sublime emptiness where new dreams are given enough room to unveil themselves and curl open in the back crevice of your brain. Ever feel like that yourself?

I start to imagine things I want to do and things which bring me great inspiration on these evenings. Strangely enough there springs to mind one beautiful evening in the miniscule French village of Cult, (with a grand total of 218 inhabitants), where I felt the same thing as this one- thinking about the possibilities. Thinking BIG.

Let me show you. I thought you might appreciate some snaps of my french awakening that particular evening when the earth stood still- as it should from time to time.

Perhaps they might trigger a few pulses of good intentions. As for me this evening, a new quilting project is brewing away to celebrate the holidays. (Good enough reason for now anyway). For you, if you’re maybe sitting miles across the planet and who are not on holidays, I hope you manage to snatch a few inspirational moments over the weekend.

Have a good one.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese

 

Awaken to French Chocolate in the Search for Johnnie Depp.

Posted in East of France, Food and Recipes, French Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Apologies for being away for what seemed like forever, but I’ve been to beautiful Melbourne, Victoria- home of the wonderful Belgian chocolate cafe chain called Koko Black, who have absolutely no qualms in serving you the most deliciously dark Belgian molten chocolate- literally the best I’ve ever tasted.

It was all too hard to surpass (and why should I?) I think I stayed beyond what reality deemed as reasonable. but who cares? On that same sinful occasion, I chose one single handmade chocolate to accompany my hot chcolate. The lower half of it was a replica of a shelled walnut, filled with a creamy hazelnut praline and crowned with a hand cracked  fresh walnut, reminding me of France in an instant…. and there you have it! My absence.

To get an inkling of these hand made indulgences, take a wee peep at:

http://www.kokoblack.com.au/

The ‘Koko Black’ my friend Mary and I visited, is located half way through Melbourne’s  grand  Royal Arcade, between a hive of gorgeous hat and knitware shops and galleries boosting with new season colour and pizzazz and not to mention near the fabulous SUGA store (co-owned by Koko’s Shane Hills) with its rolling ribbons of striped rock candy under your very eyes!

To top off the whole chocoholic Koko seduction, chocolate is served by equally warm and attentive staff who, like fine nurses dispensing to the sick and infirmed, encourage and nurture in the best way possible. I like that. Shane Hills seems to be doing things right and it’s a quality establishment in which he should be very proud.

The black and white checquered tiled flooring of the Royal Arcade and the gorgeous glass roofing has a definate Paris ‘Awaken to the Glass Passageways of Paris’ feel to it, but it was that little walnut chocolate which tasted so much like those which I had in France which sent my French awakening into a deluge of French chocolate memories reeling about in my head. So let me tell you…

It all began in the eastern region of Burgandy, in the fortress town of  Semur en Auxois.

Under it’s fifteenth century Porte Guillier (or medieval gateway), the inscription in stone of 1552 reads,“ les semurois se plaisent fort en L’Acointance des estrangers”, translated as, “the people of Semur take great pleasure in meeting strangers”. That was good enough for me.

Our welcome at the café brasserie, “Le Mont Drejet” a few metres from the arch in Rue Buffon, proved that this inscription was so accurate today.

But Semur was famous for something else…chocolate.

Just a few steps away was the famous but solidly closed ‘Les Semurettes’ chocolatier and patisserie. The locals had told me that the owner and chef chocolatier, Bruno Coeur (in the family business) is famous for providing his chocolate knowledge and chocolate making tools  for the film ‘Chocolate’. We took its closure as a sign to go right to the heart of the ‘Chocolate Film’ itself-to Flavigny Sur Ozerain.

Twenty two kilometres from Semur en Auxois, we pulled into Flavigny Sur Ozerain, a medieval fortified town and  home to many of the scenes of one of my favourite films, ‘Chocolate’ starring Juliette Binoche, Leslie Caron, Dame Judy Dench and my personal legendary heart throb, Johnny Depp.

I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough, gobbling signs in all directions and ready to pounce. I could only remember a few times when I have felt like this. Could it have been at the door of David Jones for the post Christmas sales or when I won two tickets to the Elton John concert?

Our Mission was to find the actual site where Juliette Binoche had her chocolate shop in the film, ‘Chocolate’. We obsessively perused the narrow winding maze of streets and alleyways, piecing together size and location of buildings, slope of streets and shapes of windows.

I had remembered that the shop in the film had an arched window showcasing amazing chocolate statues and temples and other Easter treats, with a large door on its left, (the same door that Johnny Depp had offered to fix in the film.) Possibilities narrowed as the only arched window we could find was the one directly in front of us. We both looked at one another.

Peering through the window, the elaborate chocolate display had long since disappeared and thick dust had settled inside and out. The counter top where Juliette Binoche’s would offer customers their favourite type of chocolate was also gone and a single table and chair stood alone in a darkened room.

Time had passed since the filming. We noticed however, fine lettering across the window pane with the name ‘chocolate’ in a calligraphic scroll not unlike the name ‘Eternity’ I saw under the Harbour Bridge one New Years Eve evening. It wasn’t large or in lights but it was a clue.

I turned around to my dear friend The’re’se and there was a local woman behind her by this time. My hesitations about the shops authenticity completely disappeared as I caught her eye. She nodded and smiled to me approvingly. The locals knew the secret and we had found it. There was only one thing I could do. I walked over to the large wooden dusty old door and kissed it. Yes I kissed the door that Johnny Depp had stroked and breathed a long sigh of contentment…

The search for chocolate can bring amazing results…

A chocolate obsession can take you anywhere. Blame any welcoming signs.

P.S I have to go to Melbourne again next week. Oh well…

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Hirsinger’s French Chocolate in Arbois

Posted in East of France, Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Let me take you to another fabulous chocolate shop in France today. It’s raining here and my french awakening is in the mood for some chocolate! Arbois is the home to the famous  ‘Hirsinger’s’ and its world of luxury, hand made chocolates and that’s where we’re going!

Now a little history before we arrive…

Historically, the Hirsinger family have been producing these luxury chocolates for over a century. Currently, Edouard Hirsinger, fourth generation chocolatier, has carried on the time honoured tradition of his grandfathers. It all started with Auguste Hirsinger a pastry chef, who gave birth to the Arbois business in early 1900’s and passed on his pastry knowledge and secrets which have remained in the family ever since. Edouard has introduced new contemporary tastes like lime, almond and coriander or even the unusual combination of curry and white wine to his fine repertoire!

Now that we have arrived, the exterior of Hirsinger’s at the corner of Place de la Liberte, Arbois, is deceptively small but very impressive. Under the arches of an 18th century arcade, you will notice that the front façade and window architraves are painted black.

Four or five small café tables and chairs adorned with long black and lemon tablecloths, are occupied by those devouring hot chocolate and coffee with small wedges of chocolate tastings. But it’s the warm chocolatey, coffee aroma wafting through your nostrils that will make your mouth water and stir your feet in the direction of the door.

These heavy doors will spread open for us with astoundingly little effort (miracle non?)

Now, I’m going to lay out a few steps (that’s the teacher in me!) that I’d like you to reinforce ON ENTRY.

Step One: You should  remain committed to taste any heavenly sweets, especially if it comes from the “gratuite” sample plate on the counter.

Step Two: Unfasten your belts and get ready for heaven.

Hersinger’s is  almost too inviting inside, with chandeliers glowing warm on our faces and the walls screaming vibrant blood red. (This red colour must be an obvious marketing ploy, as advertisements about communication and passion use red and orange non?)

Step Three:  Be prepared for seduction.

An extensive range of chocolate creams and pralines and chocolate gateaux, nougats, jellies and caramels of exquisite artistry, lay bare on glass shelving and glisten under intense light and welcomed scrutiny. I was told by a local customer, that in season, glazed candied chestnuts are also highly popular.

Step Four: Try not to collapse on the glass fronts in the process of decision making. This can be embarrassing for the rest of us.

And Lastly, Step Five: Don’t attempt to carry these chocolates around with you across France. We made the mistake of trying to bring home some sugar candied and ganache filled chocolate eggs at Easter time which were gushing with gold coloured wrappings at the time. We carried them  around the rest of France until one day they melted in the car, having been left unattended on some impromptu excursion.  Just like that! What was a girl to do when their gooey loveliness spreads flat across its foiled wrappers…?

Perhaps let Hirsinger’s take the trauma out of delivery. Check out their website at http://www.chocolat-hirsinger.com

Hirsinger’s, Arbois has got to go on your  “must see and experience” list next time you’re in France. When I first found myself peering into Hirsinger’s, it was no short of a miracle and the same experience is waiting for you!

WARNING: This is an intense chocoholic experience. Remission is not guaranteed.

Enjoy my darlings!

For more wonderful places to see, feel, touch and taste while in France, why not subscribe above?

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening To French Spas in Salins des Bains.

Posted in East of France, Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Travel with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Feeling like you need a rest and be totally spoilt? Then we’re off to Salins des Bains today in the pursuit of total French luxury.

Salins des Bains is a village owing its name to its surrounding saline waters and boasting an ancient 8th century saltworks buried many metres below the earth’s surface. It is approximately two hours by train from Paris, on the branch of the Paris-Lyon train line, in the Franche Comte region of North Eastern france.

Les Anciennes Salins (or saltworks) has been processing salt for over a thousand years and no doubt was a boon to food preservation in the past. It closed in 1962 but ever since its closure, buses bring thousands of tourists to join guides into the underground chambers and view galleries filled with historical memorabilia and of course, the hydraulic pump.

Needless to say that this wasn’t for us, but the thought of luxuriating in  an actual French spa with the locals ranked much higher and we headed straight for the salt pools- an oasis away from all these tourists! My french awakening could not be contained and I tore open my luggage and grabbed my swimming cossie before you could say, “Shark”!

I’ve dreamt about wading in a French salt spa for as long as I can remember. I have read that their lies a difference in each of the salt spas across France, depending on which region and the concentration of specific minerals present in the salt.

The details you won’t need either, so just go and enjoy every minute. You’ll be feeling gorgeous for ever so long!

Spa therapy is no doubt perceived as a very serious matter in France and we’re all so glad! We understand why and we also have to recognise that food is too, so combine the two and you have the perfect afternoon in France on your next trip!

Twenty metres from the ‘Thermes’, at number 1, Place des Allies, a row of topiary standards in deep grey boxes partition an area of tables and chairs outside the quaint Restaurant Brasserie des Bains.

There are other great restaurants in Salins des Bains yet Chef Maurice Marchand we were told proposes a light and delicate cuisine perfect for after-spa jaunting for my French awakening.

Take a peep at my simple yet sublime seafood meal of Normandy Salmon in a delicate orange sauce dotted with prawns and scallops, delicious served with Basmati rice fragrant with a hint of cardamon. Yes, I devoured the entire dish after a morning of spa therapy. Tres bien!

(The hand blown glasses aren’t bad either!)

So there you have it! For more information, go to:

http://www.salins-les-bains.com/version-anglaise.htm

or http://www.salinesdesalins.com/index.php?langue=7

Visit Salins des Bains, the” city of sparkling waters” on your next trip to France and you will no doubt drift home.

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening To French Fabrics in Montmartre

Posted in East of France, French Affair, French Quilts, French Travel, Paris, Paris Shopping with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I have another quilting secret from Paris. If, like me, you are on the hunt for more French fabrics while in Paris, a trip to Montmartre is always worth a visit. It has fabric shops galore snaking in and out of the Montmartre maze of streets (or rues) and is loads of fun as you join the treasure hunt for all sorts of quilting fabric!

I consider Montmartre “fabric heaven” and bargains are to be had here but be on the ready to bargain at times, particularly if you are buying metres and also check for seconds thoroughly while you’re at it.

To start, begin your hunt from the bottom of Sacre Coeur steps. I wish I could take you with me next time but for now I’d like to show you what I bought last time I was poking around in Montmartre. My french awakening grew costly with all my purchases, but I have used many of the fabrics I’ve bought since then and that’s actually a bonus in some quilting circles!

All you non quilters ( and I do appreciate there must be a few of you) MUST NEVER EVER under estimate the process of quilt construction.

Step 1: Acknowlegde that fabric choice is a long but never painful process for the quilter.

Step 2: Acknowlegde that fabric once chosen, can be rechosen after choosing countless other alternatives in between.

Step 3: Acklowledge that many quilts may spring to mind when choosing fabric for a single quilt but the quilt intended will always be acknowledged eventually.

Step 4: Acknowlegde that a pattern should be adhered to for the sake of complete dilemmas in the fabric shop.

Step 5: Take a friend, but realise that a quilting minded pal will stick to the golden rule  in the shop which is:- Be there, nod a great deal and take with you plenty of tissues when the last of the fabric bolt is empty.

Step 6: Acknowledge that colour choice was wise and make note of the shop’s opening hours for the rest of the fabric you decide to go back for in the morning!

Having done all this, take a peep at some of my Montmartre french fabric discoveries.

Here are some of the silks and woven cottons  of many colours which I made into a quilt for the wall.

And look at this beautiful cherry red toile which I have used many times (I bought so much of this gorgeous fabric) where every scene depicts a story. French fabric can say so much about…

Romance…

Contentment…

Passion…

And dreaming…

And if you like this, you may like my other purchase of divine little French motifs which I have used in my ‘French Country Quilt’. My website at http://www.quiltingthejourney.com

will have all my patterns including this one very shortly.

If you love blue, as many of you do, you will like these.

Or take a look at the Louis XIV prancing horses on fabric…

And the other circus menagerie which would look fabulous on any quilt.

Then, there are these pieces to inspire a medallion quilt of all sorts…

So, my dear quilting friends the treasure hunt begins in Montmartre! Don’t miss it next time you’re in Paris. Remember though that great things take time and fabric hunting is a work in progress!

Have fun!

Au revoir,

Best wishes, Therese Waddell