Posts by Darlene

Bonjour, moi c'est Darlene. I'm a mom, writer, and Francophile based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm passionate about books, chocolate, French-inspired things, music, postcards, world cultures, and more. Welcome to my blog!

Wednesday Postcard: “La liseuse”

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features “La liseuse” (The Reader) by French painter, Jean-Jacques Henner (1829-1905).

Apart from the beautiful image of a woman reading in the nude, the model’s bright red hair caught my eye as I spotted the linen postcard at a local antique shop.

The caption on the back of the undated postcard seems to indicate that it was printed in 1981 or prior since the original painting was part of the Louvre’s collection from 1909-1981. Until 2016, the oil-on-canvas painting was at the Musée d’Orsay.

Speaking of Musée d’Orsay, its current director, Laurence des Cars was recently appointed as the new president-director of the Louvre beginning September 2021 — the first time it will be headed by a woman!

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to travel freely again, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the Musée d’Orsay and/or the Louvre, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care!

Wednesday Postcard: Montmartre in Paris

©️1997 The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features a Montmartre staircase photographed in 1924 by French artist, Eugène Atget (1857-1927). The original photograph was created using a printing process called albumen, which was invented by French inventor, Louis Blanquart-Evrard.

I bought the postcard during my visit to the Getty Center in Los Angeles in 1998. I recall having to board a tram for a short, but scenic ride up the hill to get to the entrance of the museum.

The black and white image on this postcard inspired me to explore the Montmartre area “next time” since I’d had limited time during my first visit to Paris.

When I finally returned to Paris, I spent nearly an entire day in Montmartre. It was my mission to climb the famous staircase shown on my postcard! But when I got there, I learned that there were actually several steep staircases in the area!

As I’d imagined, the staircases afforded incredible views, like the Parisian rooftops with their distinctive chimney pots, or flues made of clay!

Since I had a Navigo Découverte transit pass (which gave me unlimited rides on the Paris métro, as well as the funicular), I walked down the stairs and took the Montmartre funicular back up a few times just for fun!

Funiculaire de Montmartre (2018)

Come to think of it, it was like riding the tram up to the Getty Center!

Postcard: Detail of travertine in the Getty Center Courtyard | Photo by A. Vertikoff

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to travel freely again, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care!

Book Review: “Blooming Bare”

Cover illustration: Asher Berard

“Blooming Bare”

Author: Morgan Richard Olivier
Publisher: Concise Publishing (North Carolina, USA)
Publication Date: February 2021
Genre: Self-help, inspirational, poetry
Pages: 277

Written by Morgan Richard Olivier of New Iberia, Louisiana, this book is a collection of affirmations that you can read whenever you need a little reassurance or a big confidence boost. The book’s title, “Blooming Bare” is part acronym with “BARE” representing the four sections and themes of the book: Breaking; Assessing; Redirecting; and Embracing.

From the book’s introduction, the author states that she “so badly wanted to find my place in this world and in the hearts of the people who resonated in mind that I got lost along the way. I found burdens, bruising, and brokenness. Yet, in all of those, I found the awareness and meaning to push through my pain and see the bigger picture.”

I read the book in one sitting and found myself putting sticky notes on dozens of the author’s revelations (often written as poems) that struck a chord with me. For example:

An excerpt from Untitled, page 70:

We make time for people and things
that mean something to us.

If someone loves you,
they will give you their effort
-not their excuses.

An excerpt from Bigger, page 100:

Don't let small minds or small towns lead you to limit your dreams, make you feel stuck in their idea of you or cause you to believe that what you see is all that is out there.

An excerpt from Wait for It, page 139:

What's meant and aligned for you will come at the right time. It will come at a time that you are truly ready to handle, appreciate, and understand it.

An excerpt from Growing Pains, page 149:

If it doesn't help you grow, you need to let it go.
As difficult as it may be to release people, mindsets, and environments that are familiar to you-I promise the burden is much heavier whenever you try to carry them into a season where they don't belong.

An excerpt from I'm A Woman, page 244:

I'm not a princess looking to fit in glass slippers.
I'm a queen who is ready and able to shatter glass ceilings.

The following entry appears toward the end of the book (in the Embracing section), but it was my introduction to the author’s work when I first saw it on Instagram.

An excerpt from Unapologetic, page 264:

I'm no longer the “I'll always be there for you” type of person. It's not because I don't love you or because I think I'm too good now. It's because I know my worth and have to protect the person I'm becoming.

Without ever going into specifics, the author manages to relay the many relatable challenges she has experienced and how she came out stronger and wiser. It’s the kind of book I wish I’d had when I was desperately searching and shaping my own identity in my twenties! If I’d had this book then, I would’ve been a little less hard on myself. The author’s words remind you to keep the faith because everything works out eventually.

Overall, this book serves as a soothing reminder to take care of yourself, specifically your mental wellbeing. That’s great advice at any age!

About the Author

Morgan Richard Olivier is an American author, advocate, wife, and speaker. Her goal is to crush the image and pursuit of perfection by captivating the raw beauty of sincere progress.

You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you purchase her book through her website like I did, she will sign it for you (just let her know when you order the book that you want it signed).

Wednesday Postcard: Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral in France

©️ 2018 Caroline Tintinger

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features the Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand, which is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeast-central France.

Clermont-Ferrand used to be two separate towns. Montferrand was founded in the 12th century and was united with Clermont in 1630 by the edict of Troyes.

Construction on the cathedral began in 1248. It was built using volcanic stone from Volvic (same source as the mineral water)! It was completed in 1884 when its spires were installed.

The postcard is part of a set I purchased online. Each postcard features a photograph from the Clermont-Ferrand area taken by Caroline Tintinger. I’ve previously shared her postcard of Royat, France. (You can see more of Caroline’s postcards at her Etsy shop here.)

For more information:

Clermont Auvergne Tourisme

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay well!

Now Playing: Summer in Paris

View of the Eiffel Tower & Statue of Liberty from Voie Georges-Pompidou (2018)

Last weekend, I started re-watching “Emily in Paris” on Netflix. The first time I watched the series, I guess I was so focused on the classic Parisian sights, Emily’s chic attire, and her handsome suitors that I missed all the good music!

Thanks to a website called TuneFind (this is not an ad), I’ve learned the titles of the songs featured on the show.

Now I’ve got “Summer in Paris” by Bea Parks, Garo Nahoulakian, and Oliver Charles Horton on repeat. 🎶 It’s the song that plays about five minutes into the first episode showing Emily moving into her flat in Paris. The playful ditty is two minutes long and it’s helpful for anyone learning French, too – like Emily in Paris!

My favorite lyric is “a s’il vous plaît goes a long way.” So true!

Summer in Paris?

With the recent news of France easing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers starting in May, it sounds like there is a chance to spend “summer in Paris” this year!

On April 20, 2021, however, the U.S. Department of State issued a “Do Not Travel” travel advisory for France “due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in France due to terrorism and civil unrest.”

Humph! 😤 This feels like getting invited to the coolest party, but your parents won’t let you go! (If you spend summer in Paris, send me a postcard, s’il vous plaît!) 😉

Stay well and be safe, everyone… and listen to “Summer in Paris”:

🎶

Wednesday Postcard: The Exploratorium in San Francisco

©️1983 The Exploratorium

Hello! This week’s postcard features “Words and Colors” from the Illusions and Other Surprises Postcard Exhibit at The Exploratorium, San Francisco’s Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception.

Instructions:

“Read this card aloud — but rather than reading the words, say the color of ink that was used to write each word. It’s not easy; the written words have a surprisingly strong influence over the actual color. The Exploratorium’s Language exhibits let you explore some of the patterns of meaning you make with words, sounds, and symbols.”

San Francisco (2017)

I enjoy visiting museums and I’m glad to see many of them gradually reopening after being closed since the pandemic began.

From 1969 to 2012, the Exploratorium was located at the Palace of Fine Arts. In April 2013, it opened its doors at its new location: Fisherman’s Wharf at Piers 15 and 17.

The Exploratorium is a popular school field trip destination, too! I went as an elementary school student, and in recent years, my daughters have gone there with their classes. I was even a chaperone for one of their field trips to the interactive museum.

There are hundreds of educational, entertaining, and hands-on exhibits at the Exploratorium. My favorites include:

  • Sip of Conflict (video)

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay well!

Book Review: “Dear Paris: The Paris Letters Collection”

Cover: Janice MacLeod/Andrews McMeel Publishing

Dear Paris: The Paris Letters Collection

Author/Illustrator: Janice MacLeod

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Genre: Travel; Epistolary; Creative Non-fiction

Pages: 304

My Thoughts

Janice MacLeod is “the artist behind Paris Letters, a painted letter series sent out via snail mail to those who crave getting fun snail mail about Paris.” This book is a collection of those letters!

There are more than one hundred handwritten letters in the book and each one is accompanied by a typed version of the letter, as well as a beautiful illustration by the author.

Most of the letters in the book have an informal and friendly tone as she describes her observations of Paris (and other places she has visited.) But some of the letters sound expository, like a helpful travel guide.

I think the epistolary format could still work without having each of the letters addressed to a specific person (in this case, the author’s friend, Ainé). At times, it felt like I was reading someone else’s misdirected mail.

Overall, the “Dear Paris” book by Janice MacLeod would appeal to lovers of art, travel, and Paris, of course!

About the Author

You can find Janice MacLeod on her website, Instagram, and Twitter.

To buy the book, visit her Etsy shop or Amazon (this is not an affiliate link).

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.

My Post About Paris Booksellers is Featured on “Travel In Culture”

Les bouquinistes of Paris (May 2018)

The Denmark-based travel planning website, Travel In Culture, recently published “10 Views on Top Things to See & Do in Paris.” The article features new perspectives on some of Paris’ famed sights, written by ten authors – locals or visitors “with a true passion” for the French capital.

I’m honored and thrilled to announce that they’ve included a link to my post, “Visiting les Bouquinistes and Shakespeare and Company in Paris” in their article! (It’s #7 on the list: Les bouquinistes.)

You can read their entire article here: 10 Views on Top Things to See & Do in Paris | Travel In Culture

Wednesday Postcard: Alaska

Photo: M. Hage

Hello! This week’s carte postale arrived in my mailbox yesterday (April 6, 2021). It’s a promotional postcard from TravelAlaska.com (if you live in the United States, maybe you got one, too?)

It’s the third sign in recent weeks that appears to be telling me: visit Alaska!

The first sign was a couple of weeks ago when I was flipping through channels and a program caught my attention. It was a documentary about the subsistence lifestyle of Native Alaskans living near Kotzebue.

Currently, I’m enjoying season 14 of the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race,” which happens to be taking place in Alaska, where seven teams compete to see who can sell the most food. They do this against a natural backdrop of beautiful, snow capped mountains!

In addition to making their signature dishes, the teams complete challenges, like deep-sea fishing for giant salmon, panning for gold, and hunting for chaga mushrooms. (It’s down to two teams: Breakfast for Dinner and Tasty Balls. The champion will be named next week in Fairbanks and will win a cash prize.)

I’ve always wondered how certain destinations become THE top travel spot. A few years ago, it was all about Portugal. Then it seemed everyone was going to Iceland. Suddenly, Thailand was the place to be!

Is there someone in the travel industry who decides this stuff? If so, how do they choose? Do they spin the globe and point to a spot? Throw a dart on a world map?

Because if it were based on the number of visitors alone, then France would take the top spot every year. It’s the most visited country on the planet! According to the World Economic Forum, nearly 90 million people visited France in 2018. (I was one of them!)

But if we keep seeing Alaska on our screens and in our mailboxes, maybe we’ll be tempted to head to “The Last Frontier” when the pandemic is over and it’ll become a top travel spot!

Have you been to Alaska? What are your travel plans post-pandemic? Tell me in the comments below!

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay well!

Hate is a Virus. Mind Your Microaggressions

Hate is a virus

To say the worldwide health crisis is taking its toll on our collective mental health is a gross understatement!

But the added stress doesn’t give anyone the right to take out their anger and frustration on others.

Stop Asian Hate

It has taken me a long time to speak out and condemn the recent increase in violence, racially-motivated attacks, and discrimination against Asian Americans because, frankly, it hurts. As an American of Filipino descent, it hits too close to home.

The crimes are not only racist, they are ageist and misogynistic.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, there has been a surge in hate crimes against Asian people, many of whom are elderly, as well.

And, although it hasn’t officially been called a hate crime, the mass shootings at three spas/massage parlors on March 16, 2021 in Atlanta — where six of the eight people killed were Asian women — brought widespread attention to the increase in violent attacks against the Asian community.

It doesn’t help when you hear defense attorneys for suspected attackers claim that their clients have mental illness or did not know the race of their victim(s) or did not intend to kill! All of these statements only serve to minimize and undermine the severity of the crimes. We need to call it what it is: Asian hate.

Like many people, I was shocked to see the disturbing images on TV and social media, but I’m not surprised. There’s a long history of bigotry against Asians in the United States.

In my post where I share the results of my DNA test, I talk about the word “Oriental” that was used to describe people of Asian descent.

from my birth certificate issued in San Francisco (1973)

Although the word basically refers to something “from the East” (relative to Europe), it historically had pejorative, offensive, and derogatory connotations when used to describe people.

The term was replaced with “Asian American” in 2016 (yes, only five years ago!) when a bill was signed to eliminate the term “Oriental” from federal law.

Microaggressions

Many acts of hate and discrimination are often violent and physical, but not always. Most of the time, acts of hate and discrimination aren’t obvious or dramatic. In fact, these daily occurrences rarely make the nightly news.

The term, microaggression was coined in 1970 by Harvard professor, Chester M. Pierce, MD. Subtle and often unintentional, microaggressions communicate negative bias against marginalized groups.

For example, mispronouncing or misspelling someone’s name is a microaggression. It may not seem like a big deal, but doing so sends the message that you don’t respect the person enough to learn the correct pronunciation or spelling.

Growing up, my maiden name was butchered so often that I grew accustomed to knowing they meant me whenever they called out, “Darleeeene,” extending the vowel as a way to stall while figuring out how to say my maiden name. Before they could mangle its pronunciation, I’d let them off the hook by saying my own name to save us both the embarrassment. I’ve also endured getting teased for having a name that “sounds like a disease.”

Simply put, microaggressions are low-key acts of exclusion. They make you feel like you don’t belong.

my kindergarten picture

The first time I felt like I didn’t belong was in elementary school when I was placed in English as a Second Language (ESL) class separate from my friends. It was only after my college-educated and English-speaking parents told the school administrators that English was the primary language spoken at home that I was put back in the non-ESL class. At the time, I was happy just to be back with my friends! I can only guess why the school put me in ESL class.

Sometimes microaggressions make you feel special, but not in a good way. Instead, you feel like “other.”

While I was browsing eyeglass display stands for a new pair of frames, an optometrist suggested I try on a particular pair because it had a wider bridge. He said it was “Asian fit” then blurted out, “Oh, we don’t say that anymore.” (Was that comment supposed to be… an apology?!) The incident made me switch to wearing contact lenses.

How I wish I had been quicker to react and asked a simple question like, “What makes you say that?”

How I wish I could tell you that these things really didn’t happen. But I’d be lying because I experienced them all. I still do sometimes. I’ve also witnessed similar (and worse) things happen to other people.

So, whether you’ve been on the receiving end or you’ve unintentionally committed a microaggression, the good news is that we can heal, we can learn, and we can change!

Hate comes from fear of the unknown. We can overcome ignorance with education. There are hundreds of books and articles on how to be anti-racist.

A couple of resources I turn to again and again are tools compiled by UC Santa Cruz:

Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send

Interrupting Microaggressions

I encourage you to read these resources and share them with everyone you know. Let’s have the difficult conversations!

I’ll be doing the same as I always strive to keep learning.

Together we can stop the hate. ❤️

The Louvre Museum in Paris

[Updated March 2021]

I went to the Louvre in May 2018, the same month that Beyoncé and Jay-Z, performing together as The Carters, filmed their now-iconic “APESH*T” music video.

The Louvre is definitely on my list to visit again because one visit was not enough! The next time I go, I will start the day at the Louvre. When I went in 2018, I ended my day there and I felt rushed to see everything, especially the must-sees like Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Venus de Milo.

Next time, I’d like to visit the museum with my family, see water in the fountains, see the Mona Lisa with the midnight blue background (the wall was repainted in October 2019), and, of course, see more of the art collections!

It makes me happy to learn that the Louvre has put its whole art collection online to view for free!

On March 26, 2021, the Louvre announced that it has added over 480,000 works of art from its database to its website, including those on public display at the museum, as well as those in storage. It’s part of the museum’s mission to be more accessible.

Check it out: collections.louvre.fr

Originally posted June 2018:

I’m going apesh*t at the thought that I could have caught a glimpse of Beyoncé and Jay-Z in Paris. I was at the Louvre in May 2018, too!

Ignore the bone-dry fountain

Lately, it seems everyone’s talking about the Louvre, possibly the world’s most famous museum. According to its website, it’s currently the world’s most visited museum, too!

souvenir bag

It just so happens that two of its most recent visitors are world famous in their own right. Not only did Beyoncé and Jay-Z stop by the Louvre, they filmed a music video there. At the Louvre! People are quick to say that only a power couple, such as The Carters, could shut down the famous museum. It’s true – their influence is undeniable. But let’s be real – the museum isn’t open 24/7. Isn’t it possible they filmed the video after hours or on a Tuesday (when the museum is closed)?

I didn’t like “APESH*T” at first, but it’s growing on me. I don’t get most of the references on the song (skrrt, skrrt, skrrt), but some of the lyrics speak to me:

“Sipping my favorite alcohol (alcohol), got me so lit, I need Tylenol (Tylenol)”

Oh, that Beyoncé, so relatable!

People want to say they’re trying to make a political statement in the video, or that they’re talking about their marriage in the song. Well, I won’t get into any of that, because who really knows? It’s none of my business.

But like everyone else, I will gush about that video. Beyoncé and Jay-Z did what they did: they created a remarkable work of art!

Another artist who recently evoked Le Musée du Louvre is New Zealand singer-songwriter, Lorde, whose second album, Melodrama, features a song called, “The Louvre.” My favorite lyrics from it are so cheeky, I can’t help but love it:

“We’re the greatest, they’ll hang us in the Louvre, down the back but who cares, still the Louvre”

Watch Lorde perform “The Louvre” in Oakland, California here (March 2018).

When I went to the Louvre, it was mid-afternoon. The sun was high and I was sweaty from walking, so I took a little break before I entered the museum.

Orangina and me

I enjoyed the shade and light breeze while I admired the Pyramide.

This painting is one of my favorites. It reminded me of my own sweet daughters.

Self-portrait with Her Daughter by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun.

Could I take these home? Emerald is my birthstone, after all!

Necklace and earrings of Empress Marie-Louise

As I descended the staircase in front of Winged Victory of Samothrace, I stretched out my arms and imagined I was Audrey Hepburn in the movie, Funny Face. I felt like I was flying.

There she is, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, or Venus de Milo.

yeah, baby, she’s got it

From March 29, 2018 to July 23, 2018, there is a special exhibition at the Louvre celebrating artist, Eugène Delacroix. He’s the one who painted “July 30, 1830: Liberty Leading the People” (La Liberté guidant le peuple). It’s sometimes called the Marianne painting as she is the symbol of liberty.

Finally, I saw the actual Mona Lisa, behind a velvet rope, in a frame, underneath thick glass, never blinking, looking good at every angle. She’s looking at all of us probably wondering what the fuss is all about.

La Joconde by Leonardo da Vinci

I was only at the Louvre for a couple of hours and I know that is not enough time to see everything: the walls, the ceilings, the floors, the stairs – they were all works of art. I felt grateful just being there.

“I can’t believe we made it, this is what we’re thankful for…”

Same.

Oh, that Beyoncé, so relatable! 😉

[Originally posted June 2018]

Have you been to the Louvre? Tell me in the comments below!

Wednesday Postcard: Cannes, France

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features the city of Cannes, located in the South of France. My cousin went on a cruise in 2010 and she sent me this postcard during a port call in Cannes.

The postcard features the world famous boulevard called La Croisette that’s lined with palm trees, luxury shops, restaurants, and grand hotels.

The circular building is the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes, which is the venue for the Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes).

American director, screenwriter, and actor, Spike Lee will be the President of the Jury for the 74th edition of Festival de Cannes, which will be held July 6 – 17, 2021.

Over the years, I have accumulated about two hundred postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so again, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay well!

Vote Hérisson for Le Village Préféré des Français 2021

[Note: Voting has ended. The winner will be announced on the show on June 30, 2021!]

Congratulations to the French village of Hérisson, which has been named one of 14 finalists in the 2021 edition of Le Village Préféré des Français, the FRANCE 3 show hosted by historian, Stéphane Bern!

Since the program is called France’s Favorite Village, it sounds like only residents of France and France’s overseas territories are allowed to vote by phone.

But… there’s also a link to the ballot, so it appears everyone can vote! See below:

✅ Vote here: Le village préféré des Français (Note: voting ended on March 25, 2021.)

If everyone can vote, then I’d absolutely cast my vote from California for Hérisson, the charming medieval village in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It’s located in the heart of France, which is fitting because when you visit the tiny village, it will simply win your heart! ❤️

That’s what happened to me after I spent a month there while I participated in an international volunteer project, where we did light landscape work in the area, including the Châteloy lavoir!

Château d’Hérisson (1995)

Fun facts about Hérisson 🦔

  • About 600 people currently live in Hérisson
  • The feudal Château d’Hérisson (above) was built between the 11th – 13th centuries and restored by Louis II of Bourbon in 1380
  • The Aumance river calmly meanders through it
  • Hérisson is a popular summer vacation spot, especially among families, hikers, and bicyclists
  • The oak trees from nearby Tronçais Forest are used to make wine barrels

How to get there: Hérisson can be reached by car or by connecting bus from the Montluçon rail station.

The winning village will be announced during the broadcast of the show on June 30, 2021.

Bon chance, Hérisson!

Have you been to Hérisson? Tell me in the comments below!

Wednesday Postcard: Le Loiret, France

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features « Les merveilles des bords de Loire » or “the wonders of the Loire River banks.”

The Loire is the longest river in France. It’s about 625 miles/ 1006 km long.

This postcard specifically features the Loiret tributary (which is about 12 km/ 7 miles in length) and the castles and bridges in the cities of Beaugency, Meung-sur-Loire, Orléans, Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, Sully-sur-Loire, Gien, Briare, Châtillon-sur-Loire, Jargeau, and Montargis.

Joan of Arc led the French army to victory when the English lifted the siege of Orléans in 1429 during the Hundred Years’ War.

Postmarked 1979

On a personal note, during round trips between Paris and Montluçon, my train stopped in Orléans. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything as they were brief stops at night!

Over the years, I have accumulated about two hundred postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay well!

A Song and a Book: “In My Life”

[This post is not sponsored.]

“In My Life”

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Illustrated by: Genevieve Santos

Publisher: Little Simon, Simon & Schuster, New York

Publication Date: February 2021

Genre: Music; Children’s Literature

“In My Life” – the song

The song, “In My Life” by The Beatles was composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and appears on their 1965 album, Rubber Soul.

One of my favorite versions of “In My Life” is performed by Canadian singer-songwriter, Chantal Kreviazuk, whose version was used as the theme song for the American television series, Providence (1999-2002).

“In My Life” – the book

Art©️Genevieve Santos | Little Simon, Simon & Schuster

In the new children’s book of the same title, published in 2021, the song’s lyrics are turned into a touching story thanks to gorgeous illustrations by California artist, Genevieve Santos. She is “a self-described wandering nomad who has visited more than thirty countries (and counting). She uses her experiences and observances from her travels, mixed with her curiosity about the world, and pours them into her art. Her exuberance and joie de vivre come through in her illustrations” (by the publisher).

In addition to her book, she just launched new washi tapes, drinkware, stickers, and cards with the theme of “Mahal Kita.” It means “I love you” in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines.

Along with cute “Boba Girl” stickers (that I got for each of my daughters who love the bubble tea drink), I purchased the book from Genevieve Santos’ website, Le Petit Elefant. Get your copysigned by the illustrator — today!

Art©️Genevieve Santos | Little Simon, Simon & Schuster

If you love The Beatles, bicycles, lighthouses, and beautiful illustrations, this book is for you! I absolutely adore it. 🥰

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