French Country

My life in France is not what I expected.


20 Comments

Embrace the wrinkle

2016-01-29-19.07.16.jpg.jpegNo, no worries. This tubby, late middle-aged old fart — is there such a thing as a middle fart? — is not going to start handing out anti-beauty tips. One day, maybe one April Fool’s Day, I’ll do a post on Lava soap as the world’s greatest exfoliator or exhort you to throw out all those nasty, germ-laden face creams and go truly natural, let the world see you as the wrinkly old rhino you really are, but not today.

No, today I’m going to write about how I seem to have fallen down the linen-lined rabbit hole.

It started when my friend Jennifer convinced me that what I really needed were some of her cotton-linen towels. Jennifer Gaudet, for those of you that I have not yet bored to tears with all this, is on a mission to revive the handlooms of Turkey. You see, there is a mass migration from the countryside to Istanbul, something to do with the perception that the jobs are in Istanbul. They aren’t really, not in any great quantity anyway. The result is that Istanbul is growing by leaps and bounds. It is filthy in places, has serious pollution problems and folks are living crammed right next to one another, with not so much as a balcony to grow herbs on. It’s a bad situation. So, Jen and her looms are keeping hundreds of people out in the countryside, able to earn a good living and have a kitchen garden, to boot. She then markets the resulting products as the luxury goods they are. Did I mention the organic cotton? Good for the planet, good for society and good for us, too.

So, the towels. They are incredible and, as you can see above, it’s a whole different aesthetic from the Charisma/Frette/Merona usual. To get back to the point, the bath towels are just like bath towels, albeit very nice ones. The linen makes them more absorbant, not wrinkly. The cotton pestamels, though — that’s the blue one — they wrinkle. I for one am not going to spend time ironing my towels, nor do I want to give up the best summer towel ever. So, the creased camel’s nose appears under the tent.

2016-01-27-09.50.59.jpg.jpeg

Next came a summer sale at Bon Marché. On sale were these incredible Italian, hand-stamped, heavy linen Bertozzi whatever — sheets, tablecloths, aprons, you name it, there have been enough sales now that I’ve got it. The fabric really is very heavy, so it doesn’t exactly wrinkle, but it doesn’t exactly lay flat, either. I guess you would say that it’s pleasantly rumpled. But oh, those sheets, nothing better when it’s crazy hot outside, even at night. Rumpled or wrinkled, I’m keeping them and I think they are great.

2016-01-26-16.33.47.jpg.jpeg

Finally came my personal anti-Louis-Louis campaign. I outgrew damask a long time ago, I guess when I dumped the boyfriend that had a house full of it. Then one day I bought a house that might actually like a little damask, in the right place. But no, thar be bad juju. I kept looking for an alternative. Finally I stumbled down the rue Jacob, land of stunning antiques and designer shops, onto Caravane. The photo above is in the Caravane showroom. They do iron their linen, so their stuff looks a lot better than my stuff will. It’s real linen. It doesn’t rumple, it wrinkles. If you should visit some day, check out the sofa, the coordinating chair and the guest room bedsteads. You’ll see what I mean.

I love the stuff anyway.


17 Comments

The dining room has floors!

  
Seriously, there is so little going on that when I see any change, it’s thrilling. To take this photo I stood in the kitchen and aimed at the dining area. You will see that there is no window, so we won’t be turning on the heat any time soon. But those crates of stone out in front of the house are slowly becoming flooring. There is a good chance that the flooring will be complete before the windows go in and the heat goes on. This will be great. It is genuinely freezing now, so if we can heat that stone slowly, allowing it to expand slowly, it can only be to the good.

This is Pierre de Bourgogne, different colors because it has been rained on and, to various degrees, is wet. It will dry to the lightest color you see. Then it will be sealed, which will darken it again and maybe slightly yellow it. Then we’ll cover this whole area up with an oriental rug and some furniture. You will never again see as much of this floor as you see right now, so enjoy.


2 Comments

La gelée blanche

  
I have been told on good authority that the frost you see on the ground is called la gelée blanche. Anyone trying to teach me French had better make sure the words are relayed in triplicate in both written and verbal form and not waylaid by my spell check, which tries to turn that into two proper names. Though this was not done, I think I may have gotten it right.

Winter is finally here. It was kind enough to delay its return, in hopes that my glorious heat exchangers might be put into action but no, not yet, and you can only wait so long, after all. I am enjoying the view, if not the feel, of all that cold, so I thought I’d share it with you.


7 Comments

The stencil phase

image

As if the house were not going slowly enough, I have been giving more thought than may be healthy to this stencil pattern, which I saw in a church in Budapest not long ago. They put it in a relatively small area and I have for some reason been wanting to tart up the WC. On the down side, well, let’s face it, stencils, no sane person does that any more. Is there an up side? Even if I scale back the colors?