⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

September 24, 2017

Provence Summer



Summer...white dresses on girls who smell like sun. Sun sheets too. Pure luxury. Day after day summer blinked by and I was in a trance. Didn't take a moment to sit and write or reflect. Just soaked it in and took some pictures.

The beginning of September was ‘La Rentrée’ - the famous moment in France everyone references all summer…not just back to school, but back to life (in a country where everyone takes a proper, often full-month break). Leading up to la rentrée the summer was full of guests with a stint in the USA.



House totally full…we even farmed Colette out at some point for a sleepover so her bed could be occupied. To the gills. We had a few famous members of the extended Joly family to stay - with their flair for story-telling and holding the spotlight around a table. Xavier’s Aunt Gaby came, belly full of laughter and stories from her wild house in the Alpes-de-Haute Provence above Nice. She lives feral…currently fighting off a family of boars who have taken a liking to her hilltop property. A mama boar and baby, dangerous stuff. Uncle Rémi, who came with courgettes from his garden, sautéed them perfectly with garlic, olive oil and pepper. I still have the sweetness in my mouth when I think of them. Xavier’s sister Marie and her family…endless art projects and handling nature, observing the sky, the moon, the stars with the girls. Outings around Provence and summer baths in the pool. Cooking, cooking, cooking - every meal enjoyed outside, long affairs. And good friends from New York and past lives. Such a treat to reunite with beloved people. Chris, my favorite travel companion and inimitable friend. Meredith, Jordan and little tow-headed Lars, finest friends from New York and beyond.


Marie and Louise


Pinecone mobile project with Aunt Marie




Outdoor painting on oversize canvases


Louise with a good book always in hand


Olives getting plump


Laurier in full bloom


Colette by the pool


Family poker with the ultimate bluffer: Mr. X


Cousin games


With Chris at a long, drawn-out Provence lunch in the shade


Jordan, enchanting all the children


Meredith, making me howl with laughter. Here, we were on a special tour of a near-by château and I had to contain it to a giggle-whisper laugh.


Lars-y boy, charm charm charm


Sister training


Taking a break

I’ve learned a lot about food in France, of course. Goes without saying. I always come back to the notion of “profiter.” The skill of, the ability to be, still and enjoy. Seems simple, but it is not. To sit properly with everyone involved and use all five senses to focus on what is there in front of you - together. And not start or finish out of synch. It is highly cultural. These small rituals - obvious things like never filling one’s own glass before everyone else is considered; ceremoniously composing plates and sitting to chat for just a bit longer before anyone picks up a fork or knife; locking eyes to the clang of a glass - and never crossing; and the famous Joly ‘banc’ - a congratulatory clapping ritual - everyone at the table knows the cadence and performs together to thank the chef or to congratulate a child on an accomplishment or to celebrate the host. All of this starts so early. At the girls' school cantine, the children are served and then they wait until every other child has been served to begin.





School! Marguerite has a big year - she has begun ‘Collège’ (middle school) - sixième. She is so tall, she fits the part. Doesn’t look like a primary school kid any longer. She is Paris chic, she can’t help herself. She got a lot of her dad, it keeps unfolding every weekend she is here with us. The time is unflagging. A terrifying and beautiful thing to witness.




This summer Marguerite attended a local circus school...you can guess the rest

Colette, in grande section à la maternelle, waltzed into her classroom and took control. She knew the kids; the teacher already knew her. No surprises there. She is a force of nature.



Romy began ‘real school!’ Petite section à maternelle. She kept saying, “Do I get to go to Colette’s school?” Now we insist it is her school too. She proudly walked into her classroom and sat down where a piece of paper and some crayons were displayed. Began drawing, looked up at us and said goodbye. All around was carnage. Most three year olds were sobbing and begging their parents not to leave them. Her teacher came over and said that they would find Colette if Romy got sad during the day (Colette is famous at that little school). The charm of a small town.





Apparently, Colette protects Romy outside in the play area.(?!) Some kid walked up to Romy the first day and took a bunch of her hair in his hands and started pulling. Colette stomped over and grabbed his wrist and instructed “Laches!!!!” She imitated the face she was making when it happened for me later when she told me about it; it was really intense. Big Colette eyeballs. Romy nodded in grateful recognition as Colette told the tale.








A lavender harvest! Romy was delighted to pitch in and carry the baskets. Sachets sachets sachets - lavender in every room and closet




Gathering the olives (a bit too early), but in beautiful light


Constantly gathering


Morning ritual - feeding Mr. and Mrs. Cat


Every day is a tea party - gravel is the main course. The petals soften it though


Morning thoughts - avec doudou


Romy face, Romy hair


My jasmine is at the halfway mark


Poor baby bird


Summer play dates with amoureux Esteban - the love continues


Local abbey exploration. Little girls in big places


Flower child Colette


Funeral for a big bird. The girls were so thoughtful - placing him on a nice pillow, with a kitchen dish cloth for a final blanket (!)

July 26, 2017

Summer concert and a vineyard picnic



Château La Coste, a place where exceptional art is set amidst vineyards/beautiful vistas & restaurants, does a series of summer concerts and outdoor film screenings. The sun casts rich champagne light at the end of Provence summer days. That place absorbs it perfectly. Xavier and I went to see a jazz concert in the Frank Gehry piece there. The art is positioned to respond to the light and the trees and the grass around it. It is like Storm King in New York, but here in Provence. Just magical.







We packed a picnic (in a classic picnic basket given to us recently by a good friend). I am sure picnics are not generally allowed here, but we found a path on the far side of the vineyards and arranged ourselves in the grass, among the escargot-lined blades and the horizon, in its end-of-day flush.











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