Monday, September 22, 2014

Comment Bien Recevoir

I started writing this post when our first guests arrived this summer, just the start of a stream of friends new and old coming to experience the beautiful town of Beaune, Burgundy’s wine & food, and a little bit of French hospitality.  Getting the house in shape for guests is some work, but mostly requires me to plan and anticipate every guest’s needs.  But in the balmy summer weather, I can open all the doors, windows and volets or shutters, and get the house in summer shape.  So let me take you on a short tour of parts of the house, and share a little bit of how I have prepared for guests. A visit starts at the entry, and there is always something seasonal to mark the door, in summer, fresh herbs and lavender.  It’s easy for guests to find your house if you have some kind of welcome marker, though this summer it seems some tourist took a fancy to my door dressing and one day the lavender ribbon and ivy and lavender sprigs were stolen!  I take it as a compliment…  Once through the front door you enter a marble corridor and see the terrace straight ahead.  Enlargements of vintage postcards of Beaune are waiting to be hung here.  The walls are solid stone and we must hang the frames carefully from the ceiling above.


First though the door though, you pass the heating room as well as the bouanderie.  This is the laundry room + powder room.  I had an armoire split in half and the sides flipped; so that inside that door on the right is a stacked washer and dryer.  I have never seen this done before, I was just thinking of what to use for on-hand cabinetry.  But I have yet to have a visitor not exclaim that this is totally clever.  A collection of old dames-Jeannes or demijohns on top on both sides.  The light fixture is from a vide-grenier.  It’s great to see each piece in the house and know when and where we bought it.  The cave or wine cellar is adjacent.  Maybe I’ll do another post just on this room; it deserves its own post.


A guestroom is on this floor too.  This is a former coatroom.  The walls are done in faux seagrass. with pretty silk drapes tiered and pleated at the bottom by my local seamstress.


The bed is dressed in vintage French linens from my collection, today with a heavy crocheted border sheet and Matteo blankets.  White linens only for me.


The windows on your room looks out onto the terrace.  There is a WC and shower also in this room, which is occupied during these pics and so a little rumpled….but that means bien comfortable!


The terrace is cool and inviting in summer, and great when the heat ramps up in July.  I painted a set of six chairs from the brocante with the Farrow and Ball paint bought in town, and brought the quilted runner and tricolore pillow from California with me.  And of course now my bike Mathilde is also sharing this space, waiting for her next run.


Most of the time, men don’t understand this kind of stuff, and I’m sure if I weren’t here this kind of fluff wouldn’t make it out onto the table.  And maybe even the table wouldn’t make it outside.  But there are candles lit, day and night, and roses or other flowers, always.  If you have been traveling from near or far, this is a nice place to start your visit.  Very chilled wine would soon fill these glasses…


The terrace is small, but perfect in summer.  Lots of blue sky above, dappled light in the later afternoon, cool and calm…next summer, I’ll have window boxes on each of the floors.


Inside, in the kitchen, I have a small “bar” area with various waters, teas and glasses.  The tea cups are white porcelain, from the thrift store.  I’ve gotten tired of drinking coffee from a bowl, not to mention it’s a horrible way to drink tea.  Love my tea cups!


Sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon are all on hand but in English silver sugar shakers.  The British know how to do tea right!!


Various French silver tea pots and copper kettles are ready for service, and in the morning you will find these steaming on the stove.  R isn’t sure why I need more than one copper kettle.  Well, that’s because this one is three litres, and this one is four litres….and a few weeks later I added a little personal-sized kettle as well as one more even more enormous from Guy.  I know, a little addicted!!


Also in the kitchen you’ll see a stack of vintage cutting boards in various sizes.  The largest one is used to make pasta; the others are for bread and for putting guests to work chopping vegetables or herbs.  This is where we will cook a large dinner together with our guests on Saturday night.


Over the last few days I have had the time to clean and rearrange.  The storage jars for flour and sugar, salt and lavender are in a new corner now, along with 19thC trays and lots of sterling candlesticks.


The kitchen is also stocked with all kinds of fruits for you to come nibble on, as well as herbs and a few standard provisions.  Each week after the market on Saturday I rearrange this bowl with the fresh produce and herbs for the week.


Just outside the kitchen door you will find several stacks of baskets, some vintage and some slightly newer; all different shapes and sizes depending on who you are and where you are going.  Don’t leave home without a basket in hand!


Now just around the corner you will be in the petit salon.  This is where we will eat our Saturday dinner, but for now it is set up with a little vignette and fresh roses; ready for a glass of wine.


On  the tables and in the large cabinet, I have arranged my collections of white porcelain and copper.  This large pot is called a daubiere, for the stew called daube.  It weighs a good ten pounds empty, and has the dove tail joinery of the very old copper.  Maybe sometime if I have 20 people for dinner we can use this one!


After a large meal, especially in winter, guests fight to lay claim to the daybed in the grand salon.  Filled with soft pillows and a foxy throw, it gets a little afternoon light and is a welcome spot for a nap, if you aren’t going to the parc for a walk or a three hour hike.


The linens on the daybed are either vintage or made by an expert local seamstress.  Best best best….


In summer, the house is full of locally-cut lavender.  Not a French summer without lavender!  The cut lavender you find in the US may come from France but if it does it’s usually treated with chemicals, and it smells not of lavender but of some odd spray…better to find a good local source if you can.

IMG_3036 - Copy

So there are just a few pics for those of you who keep asking me for more images!  I am getting ready to plan dates for next summer in Beaune, and already a lot of friends new and old who will plan to come stay with us and perhaps also spend a few days in the South or in Paris.  I’ll have dates soon if any of you want to come joint me.  In the meantime, I think back to just a few weeks ago and summer days in Beaune.  The place that inspires me and feeds my soul!!


  1. Thanks for the tour. What a delightful place that you have so beautifully decorated. So happy you have not given up on your blog...

    Sheila in SF

  2. All your searching & choosing those lovely pieces to make such a charming place for your friends & guests to so beautiful. This house will be full of happy times spent remembering each & every little item found at a brocante or specially made to suite the room. Well done and enjoy your hard work.

  3. Am I awake? Lynne, you are still dreaming.
    Andrea! What you have created here is magnificent! You have been my greatest and most kindred influence in my desire to add a sweet measure of French influence to our home.
    I so agree with you about linens. Our linen closet only holds fresh white!
    If only my shakers for cinnamon, sugar and cocoa, could be so exquisite!
    I store the herbs that I won from you in Bonne Maman jars with your name on them.
    They make me special!
    Every detail of this post is beautiful.
    I am of to make morning coffee and pack Mr D's lunch...
    ...I'll be back soon for some pinning!

  4. Dear Andrea, my heart is aflutter with all of these wonderful images. I already knew that it is only the best for your guests...seeing your home in Beaune makes it all come to life! Thank you, thank you so very much for sending me a get well package, it means the world to me.

    The Arts by Karena

  5. Oh my dear … how utterly transporting is this post! Intoxicating indeed! Can't wait to hear more about your dates!!


  6. This is so dreamy. I love your writing, too.

  7. The long entry...takes me right back to the home I stayed at in Avignon a million years ago (well, in the 80's) with those beautiful marble floors. Our little room was right off the garage and may also have been a coatroom previously? Although it had a nice big window out to the front, and we walked past a cute wine storage under the stairs and turned to go up. Thank you for the tour, I can see why you have so many visitors during your visits :-)

  8. Oh my! Pardon me while I dream!! So gorgeous it is not to be believed!! Only white linens in our home as well. Your gracious treatment of your house guests must have them begging to return. I would. Such an ingenious way to house the washer and dryer!! Inspiring...all of this. I agree about tea cups. There's nothing quite like them. Thank you for this amazing tour. I felt right at home.
    xo ~Jennifer

  9. Is there anything you don't do to perfection!!
    Honestly... that place is quintessentially French and so inviting with your thoughtful touches.
    To be a guest in your hands is an absolute luxury and such a gift of your love!
    I love it when you take us inside your world like this. Please do it more!!!!!!!