A icy 2002 winter in France


This gallery contains 21 photos.


Photos from Corse Passion on FB


This gallery contains 6 photos.

My favorite Corsican website is CORSE PASSION, which features spectacular photos of Corsica that convey not only its stunning beauty but its mystery and culture. I gleaned photos for my cover for MOTHER TONGUE (gratitude to Fabie Centulle) and others … Continue reading

Beautiful bits of flotsam and jetsam


Very often it’s not the grand vistas but the intricate details that are most remembered from our travels. Enjoy this array of exquisite bits of flotsam and jetsam from my travels in England and France.


A swan at Versailles


The “Thinker” gargoyle at Notre Dame


Two gargoyles’ view of Paris


Chenonceau through a window


The kitchen at Chenonceau


Drain pipe at Chambord


Opera costumes at Chambord


Egyptian cats at the Louvre


MIniatures of Paris in shop on Ile St. Louis


Pont D’Alexandre Paris


Buckingham Palace


Near Buckingham Palace


And ending on a yummy note…the Albert Pub in London. See you there!

Memories That Make Me Feel Better

IMG_1313Having spent the last week lying low and fighting off winter germs, I decided I would find some of my favorite photos from last summer to perk me up. And what better than some of the fabulous meal we had a the restaurant of Logis du Guetteur in Les Arcs, especially the foie gras which is now a forbidden delicacy in California.

IMG_1318And this is why I have returned to France so many times. Because lamb chops are my favorite food group.

IMG_1320And does anyone here bring me an extra little sweet at the end of the meal? The folks at Logis du Guetteur do…and they throw in a fabulous view to boot. IMG_1310

Gosh, I feel better already. I think I’ll go heat up my canned chicken soup…and dream of France.

Bring Paris and Provence Home in Miniature

A must purchase every time I visit France is a few of the J Carlton miniatures of Paris and Provence. On each trip, a few of the charming and very accurately detailed buildings and figures have found their way home in my suitcase.


The majority were purchased at a favorite shop on Île Saint-Louis but I found a lovely shop near the Opera Garnier as well. You can see me in this picture bending over examining my next purchase with the store clerk. I have to take a list with me to ensure I don’t buy the same ones twice.

Enjoy this video of my entire collection. Now if I could just shrink myself down to about an 1/8th of an inch high, I could visit Paris or Provence as my pleasure. 

A gloomy day in Paris is better than a sunny day anywhere else in the world


A December day, Nearly Christmas. I was traveling with a friend and her seniors group. The weather casters on the news said it was the coldest December in forty years. Two inches of snow had fallen in Marseille! We had done the Riviera wrapped in layers and with newly purchased hats and scarfs and gloves. The night before we had almost frozen our toes off walking in open toed heels back from the Metro to our hotel near La Defense after seeing the ballet at the Opera Garnier. In the morning, everyone else was still snuggled in bed, but I hadn’t had my Tour Eiffel fix. So I walked there by myself. I was surprised to find no one in the ticket line. Even more surprised to find no wait at the elevators and only a patron or two on the ride up. As I slowly circled the top, identifying each Paris landmark below, I suddenly discovered why I was almost alone. The iconic landmark shuddered under my feet and began to perceptibly sway in the winter gale. I reminded myself of all the years it had stood strong while chicken-heartedly beating a path back to the elevators. Sometimes the only thing you really need to bring back from France is a memory.

Provence and Quimper on a Table

P1020647My collection of Quimper china comes from the Quimper factory, from Paris flea markets, from eBay, and even matching petite dejeuner platters from my ancestral home in Maine, a gift from my beloved Aunt Midge. I loved seeing the artists at work in the Quimper factory. Amazing how each of their marvelous patterns is created with only single brush strokes.

Adding just the right ambiance to my table setting is the delightful musical petite poupée I bought at my favorite boutique on Île SaintLouis.

And speaking of La Vie en Rose, here is my daughter’s recording of the Edith Piaf classic which was played to her guests’ delight for the last dance at her wedding (click below to play).

Jean-François Brahin ~ Favorite French Artist

artguy2In 2004 I was visiting France with my best friend from childhood. We were exploring the ruins at Le-Baux-de-Provence and by pure chance discovered the atelier of Jean-François Brahin. To our delight he was in residence at the time. His paintings of women captured the essence of femininity and were stunning in their honesty, simplicity, and Mediterranean hues. We each took home two of his prints. He told us he would be making a special invited appearance the next fall at the prestigious Sausalito Art Festival. Original Oil FeminiteAnd sure enough, he was there and thrilled to pose with us, plopping his hat on my head with that touch of French je ne sais quoi. We visited him at the Festival again the following year. In all I have six of his prints in addition to my most treasured possession, this original oil.

Please go to my Pinterest site for photos of the rest of his prints that grace the walls of my San Francisco Bay Area apartment. 2014-02-03 15.51.25And please note the pièce de résistance, Mediterranee Dejeuner en Carmarque. This is actually a representation of his own wedding celebration, printed on a pure silk Hermes scarf, his gift to me for being a patron of his work. Someday I will frame it for my living room.

Easy French entrée at home

crab stuffed avocadosThe first year that my daughter lived in France, just after graduating from college, she became an English-speaking au pair for a French family and took on mastering French cooking for the children in her care. On my first visit to her Paris apartment, she fixed this easy-as-pie but delicious entrée. Remembering, of course, that Americans call this course an appetizer. It always followed our favorite apéritif (pre-dinner drink) called a Kir Royal made with champagne kir royal(or if your like, non-alcoholic sparkling cider) and a dash of crème de cassis (blackcurrent liqueur) and accompanied, in the French manner, by small dishes of olives and peanuts. That apéritif became our must-have throughout all of our travels in France and even at Paris Las Vegas!

Halve the avocados and leave in shell
Mix imitation crab meat (NOT the real thing), preferably cold, with your favorite mayonnaise, adding salt & pepper only.
Ladle heaping sco0p of crab mixture into each avocado shell
Bon Appétit

NEXT WEEK: Sweet and savory crepes

Your guide to BLOG ♥ FRANCE

love franceKaren Stephen’s BLOG about her own experiences in France over the past 15 years with an emphasis on favorite places, restaurants, and activities. With one blog a week devoted to French travel with three generations and another to her writing.

IF IT’S:                IT MUST BE:
MONDAY            MOMMY, MIMI & THE MUFFINS – 3 Generations See France
WEDNESDAY    BEST OF FRANCE – Favorite Activities, Places & Restaurants  
FRIDAY               ON WRITING – A Novel in Progress
SATURDAY         BRINGING FRANCE HOME – French Home Decor & Cooking
SUNDAY             GUEST BLOGS – By My Writing Friends

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