After taking women to France for the past five years, I have come to know a side of France that is all together different than what I used to know. I used to be intimidated by the French, worried that they saw me as a tourist...or worse...someone who was unable to communicate with them and therefor, they were not willing to communicate with me!
But now, after showing over 150 women the France I know, I have become very comfortable and see France as a second home. I love walking through the markets with women who have never been to a French farmer's market - seeing it through their eyes for the very first time. Exploring all of the spices, vegetables, fruit and cheeses...everything has a unique smell and a texture and everything is fresh.
The French market baskets are another favorite highlight of the market...everyone needs at least one in their life...but many seem to need a handful! All hand-made, these baskets are sold by the men and women that weave them and are a staple at every market.
Our trips would not be complete without the daily visits to the brocantes or vide greniers...the second hand shopping of France! Over the years, we have gotten to know many of the dealers and they now open up early for us or even pay a special visit to the chateau to sell their wares.
Some of my favorite finds are not the ones that are priced out of my budget, but the small forgotten pieces of the past...a porcelain tart dish, a well-worn straw covered flask, a hank of chanvre, a strand of hand-knotted mother of pearl beads, or a repaired grain bag from Paris....
When we returned this week from France, a couple of us actually thought we had lost weight...is that even possible!? I think it's from eating so well - everyday! All of our food is made fresh from local, organic ingredients - nothing processed or frozen....it really does make a difference!
Although I am always happy to return back home to California, I try to hold onto the simple life that I have enjoyed on our Chateau Getaway month. Planned a whole year in advance, we are already taking sign-ups for our 2014 summer trip....maybe you will join us one day!