I've visited my fair share of local farmstands and independent grocers. Why, there are at least four produce stands within a few miles of my home that I frequent on a weekly basis. But this small, organic French grocery, Les Jardins de Vaissieres, has to be the absolute most charming one I've ever seen. When you step through the door, it feels as if you're taking a journey back in time or walking through a scene from a movie. Their gorgeous displays are overflowing with baskets of vibrant produce, cupboards filled with jars of homemade terrines and pâté, and crates of organic eggs - all under the "watchful" eye of a sleeping shop kitty....
I've just returned from spending the month of May in France. My time there was divided between hosting The Academy, visiting friends, and taking a solo French road trip to see new places and have a little creative down time. What I'm always struck by, no matter where I may be in the country, is how authentic the French live. You won't see homes filled with shiny new items from a big box store or mass produced wares delivered to their doorstep. Homes are collected, well lived in, and speak purely to those who inhabit them. They are unique and imperfect. They are nurturing to the senses and welcoming to all who enter their doors. I had the privilege of photographing one such home belonging to my friend, antique dealer Lou O'Leary. His home encourages me to approach my own decor with a sense of authenticity and meaning. My hope is that it does the same for you.
After our successful day gathering props at the brocante, we were ready to begin utilizing those finds in our styling sessions. In addition to what everyone found for their own prop collections, I set up a table with an assortment of small dishes, linens, fresh produce, herbs and spices, and beautiful artisanal bread.
Our first few mornings at The Academy begin with lectures on the proper techniques and aspects of styling. Starting with the fundamentals, the attendees are able to understand the how & why behind creating stunning that resonate meaning and convey the vision they wish to express. They are then able to implement those concepts and skills as they continue to practice throughout the week. But more importantly, upon returning home, they will have an arsenal of techniques to apply in their own body of work and creative pursuits.
Bonjour, mes amies! Currently I'm home and settled back into daily life, after a nearly month long visit to France to prepare for, teach, and host - The Academy. At the moment, I'm finding it somewhat difficult to express how I feel about my experience without using words that make me sound like a simpleton - amazing, memorable, and truly inspiring come to mind. But then, they do accurately describe the time I spent with those who attended, as well as my friends and team that help me pull off such an enormous event. Something remarkable happens when you bring a diverse group of creative women together. Friendships are born, creativity sparked, dreams and goals revealed, and authentic encouragement envelopes the group as a whole.
After we settled into our apartment the first thing we did was head to the market for provisions and fresh flowers to make our nest cozy. We had our priorities straight, non? But I must confess...I took an obscene amount of flower images during our stay. So many that my daughter would automatically stop before me at any flower shop because she knew I was going to take more.
How can one resist such loveliness?
If you're looking for a shop filled to the brim with choices (and great photo ops) my pick would be Cler Fleurs located on Rue Cler in the 7th. They also have a fantastic Sunday market on Rue Cler which I'll post about later!
But if I were looking to experience a true Parisian fleuriste or something more unique, my choice would be Les Fleurs Des Georges Gay. This tiny shop is located a few streets behind the Louvre and was the most charming one I had ever seen. They had wonderful autumnal displays, gorgeous flowers, overflowing urns filled with beautiful plants and a nice mix of antiques and garden elements.
Plus it smelled divine. Like the earth and fresh cut roses.
With Paris being known as the city of romance, it comes as no surprise that lovers from around the world would want to secure their love pact while visiting. They have done so by the thousands with their locks of love strewn across the bridges of the Seine River.
We witnessed many couples writing their names or initials and special date on a padlock, sealing their love with a kiss and throwing the key into the water. Swoon. Sooo romantic. I quickly volunteered to take photos for many of the lovestruck couples. Just couldn't help myself. I'm a sucker for romance.
If you go to Paris, please make sure you stop and see them. It's absolutely wonderful to witness for yourself all the love and goodness in the world.
The bridges we saw them on were the Pont du Carrousel and the Passerelle de Arts. These two bridges connect the Louvre and the Left Bank. Easy to find on any Paris map. Long live love! xo, H