Dreamy places in France wish list
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Any trip starts with a plan. At least some kind of plan, even if you're a free-flow, no bookings kind of traveller. You still decide that you're going somewhere, right? I love the planning and for me, that includes research, research and more research. I read, I think, I dream and then I make decisions. Not always perfectly ordered and not entirely in the hope of getting it somehow "right", but part of enjoying trips is the preparation and anticipation. I find that thinking it through helps me to imagine being there.
How about you - do you prefer to plan and research? Or do you prefer to book the transport and then freewheel from there? Perhaps you have a camper van and it's freeform travel all the way (sounds fabulous!)
Well, today, we looking at the first of the Dreamy places in France - places to visit, to stay and to enjoy.
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One thing I love about looking into areas and the interesting quirky places around them is uncovering the hidden gems you can find by accident. I love that. It's like happening upon an event and finding it is so exactly what you were looking for but you didn't know it. I remember turning up in St Jean Cap Ferrat on the Côte d'Azur and discovering a whole weekend dedicated to cars and I was very fortunate to get an up-close look at some vintage beauties.
I even sat in one and for that moment or two I could imagine being a riviera resident with a classic 1960s sports car, a view of the sea and the clear roads of the moyenne corniche (the reality is I hate being stuck in traffic, would drive an electric car and I don't live there but a girl can dream...)
Anyhow, I am digressing. This is meandering in the direction of telling you how I came across the home of a dreamy place to stay.
It has inspired this edition of a new series on the blog - Dreamy places in France.
At time of writing, I cannot travel due to Covid-19 so the planning, reading and researching is enjoyable and slightly bittersweet. I am a planner though, so this is also good for me. To imagine being back there in the sports car, or sitting on the beach, standing on the coastal path looking out to sea is a beautiful moment.
So while I can't travel, I can build my list of dreamy places to stay. Some luxurious, some with artistic connections, many with kind hearted people and spirit, and some with interesting historical connections.
What is on your list of places to stay in France? Do you have specific hotels or places to stay in mind?
In this first edition of the series, I'm adding the French holiday home of Julia Child in Provence.
Yes, really. Did you know you could stay there? I have to admit I remember a vague inkling of the idea back in 2019 when I read the August copy of Living France magazine and there was an article about an American woman who had decided to buy the house at auction and start a cookery school without recipes. I suspect I filed away that nugget of information and then turned the page to other Francophile matters of importance like how to move to France and doing a crossword. ☺️
Anyway I love Living France magazine and have been a subscriber for a while, so I managed to dig out this particular edition from my "archive" and am happy to say that this memory and a little rabbit hole of the internet have led me here.
I have been adding to my Pinterest boards and I love to share recipes, chefs, cooks and foodies who love France and French food too and so of course I was thinking a little of Julia Child. Reading her accounts of being in France are such a fascinating snapshot into many aspects of French culture, life and fashion of the time. Travelling along singing "sur le post d'Avignon"... I love that kind of detail - and once I'd put the idea of the Château d'Yquem 1929 quite out of my mind until I have a spare £3,000 for a bottle, I thought about some of the recipes and delights of her writing. While pondering this, I came across some images and suddenly a Vogue article led me to Airbnb and then boum ! here we are.
So to our first dreamy place in France... La Pitchoune!
I love that Makenna, the owner has kept so much of the house as it was. I suspect we might be of a similar mind - I too find the idea of ripping things out and making things new and fresh is sometimes heartbreaking when you consider the history of a place. I have a soft spot for the vintage, the patina, the antique and the well-worn. But I'm reliably informed that it's got plenty of modern conveniences too and sounds very comfortable indeed.
So this is making it on to my dreamy wish list ! This little corner of Provençal Riviera loveliness looks absolutely delightful. I'd be able to go food shopping at the markets, wine buying at the vineyards or the caviste and sit outside under the wisteria-strewn pergola having prepared a delicious three-course meal in Julia Child's kitchen. Heaven. Now if I could just get hold of a bottle of Château d'Yquem for the Grand Marnier soufflé...
The house is called "La Pitchoune", or "La Peetch", just as it was by Julia and Paul Child and in many ways I feel that this is part of the attraction - it has the same name, the same essentials, kitchen pegboard style and a sense of place and time. Whether I went for the cookery school or a stay off-season, I feel like I'd be very happy in the simplicity and cheerfulness of the place.
If you'd like to stay at Julia Child's house in France, here's a little fact file of links to help you to make your Dreamy places in France wish list. To find out more about it direct from the owners, please find the links below.
Enjoy your planning !
Châteauneuf - Grasse, Alpes-Maritimes, France
The village/commune: Châteauneuf - Grasse (or just Châteauneuf) is a small village around 5km from Grasse, the perfume capital of France. It is close to both Provence to the north and the Riviera/Côte d'Azur at Cannes (18km) to the south.
Nearest International airport: Nice Côte d'Azur 25km (around 35 minutes)
Nearest rail station: Grasse
Nearest TGV station (high speed): Cannes
Car hire: available from railway stations and airports. Example https://www.thrifty.fr/en-fr
Places to note:
Close to the tiny perched village of Opio (2km), where beautiful roses and jasmine are grown in a heady micro-climate, predominantly for the perfume industry, there are many lovely towns and villages to explore.
Gourdon is approximately 9km away and is one of France's Plus Beaux Villages.
Grasse, Valbonne (wine seller or caviste here is @cavegourmandinevalbonne), Mougins and Mouans Sartoux are all close by as is the coast including Antibes (great market and old town) and Cannes.
There are museums, galleries, wineries, natural sites of beauty and so much more. Of course you can also make your own fragrance at one of the large perfumery houses based near Grasse, go horse riding, play tennis, wine-tasting or lazing by the pool and doing yoga.
Offices du tourisme: Mougins-tourisme.com; grasse.fr; cannes-destination.fr
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