Chocolate Creations 2 comments

November 6, 2015, posted by Michelle -I finally made it to chocolate heaven after missing it for three years in a row. Every November The Salon du Chocolat, an annual event that showcases French chocolatiers, is held in the convention center just a stone’s throw from our apartment. Today was a beautiful, sunny 72° Indian summer day and the 10 minute stroll to all the chocolate anyone could ever want was delightful. Behold…

French Chocolate Collage

From top left: Chocolate evening gown, chocolate display, sassy chocolate houndstooth dress, decorated chocolates from L’Art Chocolatier, chocolate dog, chocolate “lipsticks” at Bouillet, chocolate dresses, chocolate bars and chocolate female form at Saladino

Mais oui…those dresses are made out of chocolate or have chocolate detailing. And they’re not just for show – there are two fashion shows each day but I was hours early for the first one so I didn’t get to see girls actually modeling them. One designer even made a chocolate dog to sit next to his dress. And those “lipsticks” are also made of chocolate! Most of the very well known Lyonnais chocolatiers were set up there; Bernachon, Voisin, Bouillet, Saladino (provided links for the curious). But I bought a small box of 14 different beautifully decorated chocolates from a chocolatier called L’Art Chocolatier from the South of France. Some of the flavors included violet, lavender honey, red wine, Sichuan pepper and lemon meringue. Oh la la!

There were also a few chocolate making workshops, demonstrations and of course, all the chocolatiers were handing out samples. I almost overdosed… there are worse ways to spend a Friday afternoon!

Are you a chocolate lover? Do you have a favorite local or regional chocolate shop? Let us know about it by clicking on the title of this post to open the comment form which will appear at the bottom of the page.

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Knife Makers in France 2 comments

Thiers, France

October 22, 2015, posted by Michelle – Le Monsieur and I visited the small town of Thiers today. It’s an hour and a half drive west of Lyon, so it’s an easy day trip. Thiers has been the knife making capital of France since the 14th century. Knife shops are everywhere in the old city which also features centuries old half-timbered houses. I visited the knife museum there which included a knife making demonstration. Photos from top left: Hôtel du Pirou (15th century), hand painted knife catalog, knife collection in the museum, pictureseque knife shop, knives displayed in shop window, wooden fork and spoon displayed in the museum, Laguiole pocket knife.

Photos below: demonstration of the old grinding stone method of grinding the blade’s cutting edge. The grinders used to lay down on a plank which gave them extra strength and enabled them to work longer and faster. These men worked 12 hours a day like this! See that little stuffed dog? I can explain what he represents. The water from the grinding stone came directly from the Durolle river, so it was freezing cold. The men’s hands were constantly wet and cold plus water, as well as dust, would splash up in their faces. Dogs were trained to lie down on the worker’s backs and legs to keep them warmer – they were kind of like fuzzy hot water bottles. See it for yourself, I don’t make this stuff up. Continuing on with the photos, I was happy with my purchases: two cheese knives and a Laguiole pocket knife; a multicolored knife display; and Le Coin des Hasards half-timbered house spans the street and links two other buildings.

Thiers, France Knife Making City
Do you like to buy special hand made items? Will you go out of your way for artisanal goods? We’d like to hear from you. Click on the title of this post and the comment form will expand at the bottom of the page.

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Pumpkin Season

October 19, 2015, posted by Michelle – Sharing a photo collage from this past weekend’s Pumpkin Festival in Lyon. There was a huge cornucopia display and all the gourds and pumpkins spilling out of it were so pretty. I don’t know who ended up winning the biggest pumpkin contest but the orange and white ones below both weighed over 400 pounds. Pumpkin Festival Collage

There’s a pumpkin exhibition every fall at a farm in Switzerland called Juckerfarm. I found some great photos online of some of the scenes made entirely out of pumpkins.  So, if you’d like to see a tiger jumping through a ring of fire, a rabbit coming out of a top hat, a knife thrower and his assistant, etc… have a look and get ready to be impressed…. PHOTOS from JUCKERFARM.  And proving that he’s still King, there was even an Elvis made of hundreds of pumpkins.

Are there any farm related fall events in your area? Have you been to any fairs yet? Have you set out pumpkins, mums, hay bales etc. in your yard? Let us know how you celebrate fall. Click on the title of this blog post and the comment form will open at the bottom of the page.

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Salmon with Basil Mustard Cream Sauce

MoutardeOctober 8, 2015, posted by Michelle – Le Monsieur went to Dijon, located in the Burgundy region of France, on a one day business trip this week and I had planned on going with him but something came up at the last minute and I was not able to go. I have been through this beautiful region in east-central France but stopped only in the towns of Meursault and Beaune; Beaune is well worth a visit as it is the capital of Burgundy wines. The Burgundian towns of Dijon and Beaune lie within Côte d’Or county which is famous for two things: wine (pinot noir, chardonnay) and mustard. “Dijon mustard”,I discovered, can be made anywhere and means only that certain ingredients are used, so it doesn’t necessarily mean it comes from the town of Dijon or even from Burgundy. Le Monsieur took pity on me, having been stranded, as it were, in Lyon all day and appeared back at La Maison with almost every kind of mustard from the Fallot mustard company located in Beaune. Fallot is the only independent, family run mustard mill left in Burgundy.  They traditionally used mustard seeds grown in the region, then had to start importing seeds from Canada and the U.S. but have recently begun cultivating mustard seeds in Burgundy once again. And of course, they use white wine from the region. Since I am now the proud owner of 10 different flavors of mustard (Burgundy, saffron, truffle, blackcurrant, pinot noir, walnut, piment d’espelette, basil, tarragon and provençal) I thought I should pop one open and start trying out some new recipes. I found this recipe on the Fallot website, but I tweaked it a bit and was happy with the result. You can buy Fallot mustards online at French Selections, Le Village and Saveur du Jour.

Salmon with Basil Mustard Cream Sauce

4 salmon fillets

4 shallots, minced

1 tbsp Fallot Basil Mustard (Moutarde Basilic)

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tbsp dry white wine

Salt & Pepper

Mix the mustard and cream together. Salt and pepper the salmon and sauté the fillets in a sauté pan for about 6 minutes. Set aside. Add the shallots and white wine to the pan. As soon as the wine cooks down, add the mustard/cream mixture and stir for a couple of minutes on low heat. Serve immediately with a side of rice.

Salmon Basil Mustard

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French Garage Sales (without the garage) 2 comments

September 27, 2015, posted by Michelle – September is a big month for vide-greniers (attic sales) in France, or what we’d call garage sales. But in lieu of actually being in garages, the sidewalks of a main street become packed with tables of household items and clothes being sold by residents of the neighborhood. It was a sunny, crisp fall day today so I took advantage of it by visiting several vide-greniers. You never know what you’ll find but I always find some wonderful things and today was no exception as I picked up some beautiful vintage linens and a few other items. Enjoy the photos(click on any individual photo to enlarge it):

Let us hear about your garage sale or estate sale experiences. To leave a comment, click on the title of the post and the comment form will appear at the bottom of the post.

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French Shopping Excursion 1 comment

September 10, 2015, posted by Michelle – September is a big month for us as there are several big braderies (sidewalk sales), brocantes (flea markets) and vide-greniers (garage sales) in and around Lyon. We’ve mapped out a few and plan on showing up early and finding some beautiful French linens for our shop. In the meantime we visited our favorite garden center/home décor shop where we found these great iron house numbers with fleur de lys details and the cutest snail candle holder:

Numbers and snail

But we were really excited to discover that they carry one of our favorite planters, the Goicoechea.

Goi PotteryGoicoechea is a family owned pottery in the town of Ossès in the Basque region of France that’s been making their planters and pots by hand for three generations. Their trademark technique is throwing clay onto a form covered with thick rope. The rope is carefully removed when the clay is only half set and the resulting rope imprint in the clay is so striking. This shop didn’t sell that particular planter but had a large selection of other Goicoechea creations.

Fait Main potteryThis is a very beautiful video in which the family members and workers in the Goicoechea pottery explain their creative process and the importance of transferring know-how from one generation to the next. You can see their pottery, including the rope pieces, and some quick shots of how they actually make it…it’s in French but the images speak for themselves. Enjoy!

Visit the Goicoechea Website

Have any comments for us? We’d love to hear from you! To get to the comment form, just click on the title of this post and the form will appear at the bottom of the post.



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A French Garden in Late August 2 comments

August 24, 2015, posted by Michelle – I went on a walk in the big park by my apartment here in Lyon and wanted to share some photos of the beautiful late summer flowers and plants. The weather is slowly changing here and I am starting to feel Fall approaching as the nights and early mornings have become cool enough to wear light sweaters. We’re getting excited by the change of seasons and you’ll soon see Fall colors and new arrangements reflected on the site. (Clicking on a photo in the gallery will enlarge it.)

Are you looking forward to Fall? What’s your favorite season? Do you bring different colors into your home (i.e. new  door arrangements, flower arrangements, accessories, etc.) with the changing seasons? Let us hear from you! Click on the title of this blog post to expand the comment form at the bottom of the post.

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French Inspiration: Antiquing 1 comment

June 22, 2015, posted by Michelle – On a recent excursion around some of the antique shops and brocantes (second hand shops) in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon I spotted heaps of silverware, some vintage monogrammed linens in blues and greens, a pinkish-purple side table, a never ending jumble of trinkets and a gorgeous French commode table. In an effort to take a short cut from one street to another I stumbled into a courtyard where I found a beautiful old disused fountain? pedestal? surrounded by plants and climbing vines. The small statue on top is Mary, who is found in niches on buildings all over downtown. I never know what interesting things I’ll find but I’m always inspired by the beauty of this neighborhood and all its antique shops.
silverwaretorchonscourtyardside tabletrinketstable

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Roses, Roses Everywhere 1 comment


Chocolate Roses (!) on display at the Lyonnais chocolatier Bernachon

May 29, 2015, posted by Michelle – This weekend Lyon is hosting the annual Festival of Roses and roses are literally everywhere! At City Hall there was an exhibition of floral arrangements created by the top 50 floral designers; some were architectural, some whimsical, some classical but all were creative and beautiful. Then I wandered out into the city where rose compositions and displays were set up in various squares and gardens. I have so many photos I’d like to share that I created a few galleries so you can see everything at a glance. Click on any individual photo to enlarge it. Enjoy!

Rose Arrangements and Garden Gallery

Rose Cake Gallery

Perfume and Dress Gallery

Roses in the City Gallery

Have you been to a rose show that really impressed you? Do you grow roses or, like me, do you just dream of them? We’d like to hear from you so if you have a comment please click on the title of this post and the comment form will appear at the end.

Festival de roses 046

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Lunch in Lyon 2 comments

May 27, 2015, posted by Michelle – Last week I hosted a lunch at my apartment for a few ladies. I wanted the table to be very colorful and fresh so I bought some hot pink place mats, an Emile Henry yellow-green table runner with an orange stripe and some super thick lime green paper napkins. I folded the napkins into flowers and every time I’ve done this people want me to show them how. Well, I learned from this guy’s video. For the centerpiece, I put some gorgeous pink peonies in a vase which I placed on a white tray with a few tangerines and … voilà… a simple, colorful table:spring table
The menu was onion tart, chicken piccata and fresh green peas sauteed with bacon. It’s the custom here to serve cheese before the dessert so I served an Etorki Basque cheese which everyone loved. I’ve never been a great dessert maker which is just as well since, this being France, you can’t walk a block without stumbling upon a pâtisserie full of luscious tarts and cakes. I happily stumbled into one and came out with this delicious and pretty lemon and white chocolate cake:
Lemon and white chocolate cake

Do you add special touches to your table? Do you like using bright colors or do you prefer more subtle tones? We’d like to hear your thoughts so please leave any comments you may have by clicking on the title of this post and a comment form will appear at the end of the post.

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