Dreaming of Provence

Gray, rainy days are sometimes nice. I love to curl up by the fire with a cup of tea and thumb through design books or shelter magazines when its dreary outside.  They are also good days to work on designs.  There is something about bad weather that fuels my creativity.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I was working on a client's kitchen design.  Not a complete redo.  More of a tweek to take it from very nice to "wow".  Here is what I came up with:

With the blue and white tile and the dark cabinetry, it reminded me of some beautiful kitchens I'd seen in the French countryside of Provence.  When my girls were small, escaping the heat during the summers in Manhattan was a necessity.  The sidewalks got so hot there that even walking on them was painful.  You could literally fry an egg on them!  So, we rented a house in the ancient hill town of Ménèrbes, France and enjoyed visiting the markets and sight seeing in the morning, lunching in town, and afternoons swimming and napping at the pool.  Speaking french was a priority as my daughters were starting at a new school in September where French was taught beginning in kindergarten.  My french came back quickly as I had majored in French in college (Who does that?  Does anyone even study french anymore?!!!) so I was able to communicate with the shopkeepers and order easily in the tiny off the beaten path cafes and restaurants.  

Typical stone Provencal Mas (Farmhouse) with lavender and cypress trees.

Typical stone Provencal Mas (Farmhouse) with lavender and cypress trees.

Hilary, Emmy and Charlotte enjoying the pool on a hot afternoon.

Hilary, Emmy and Charlotte enjoying the pool on a hot afternoon.

We loved every minute and came back with many funny stories about our adventures. Similar to Peter Mayle's stories from his best selling book , A Year in Provence, I had a "run-in" with one of the local characters in the village.  Obtaining bread for the family was a daily obsession. I would arise early (you know how I love the peace and quiet before the rest of the household is up) and walk from our Mas into the village about 20 minutes away.  Getting there early was a necessity as once the bakery ran out, that was it.  The first morning, I didn't arrive early enough. Madame the Baker's wife manned the counter like a drill sergeant. Dressed in black from head to toe, barely tall enough to see over the counter and missing a few teeth, she shook her head and tut tutted "Il n'y a plus" (there is no more) when it was my turn. I couldn't believe it because there had been dozens of baguettes in the case when I arrived at the shop and there couldn't have been more that 10 people in line ahead of me.

The scene of the crime

The scene of the crime

The children were very disappointed when I arrived home without the bread so the next morning, I arose even earlier and set out on my mission.  But the same thing happened again! Only this time I watched the other customers to see how many baguettes they bought.  And I also noted that it was mostly men who were coming in to buy the bread.  In fact it was only elderly women and men! Again Madame tut tutted at me, her tongue jutting between the gap, "Non, Madame. Il n'y a plus du pain".   She even smiled as she said it today!  I was outraged.  I had a feeling I was being discriminated against because I was a young American woman and had all of my teeth!  So, I hatched a plan for the next day.  I asked my husband to come with me into town the next morning.  I had him wait outside while I went in.  The same thing happened again.  The case, while full when I entered, was miraculously empty by the time I got to the counter.  I went outside and sent the man in.  Two minutes later he came outside smiling and whistling with 3 baguettes tucked under his arm!  I rest my case.

Pea gravel, rustic fountains and sunshine.  Heavenly.

Pea gravel, rustic fountains and sunshine.  Heavenly.

Cool evenings and dinner by the fire.  How nice is that?

Cool evenings and dinner by the fire.  How nice is that?

Real french doors opening to the pool and terrace. Love the rough stone walls and the matelasse coverlet.   

Real french doors opening to the pool and terrace. Love the rough stone walls and the matelasse coverlet. 

 

As the rain pelts against my office window and the wind howls, I dream of sunny hot blue sky days in Provence and outsmarting the baker's wife.