A Touch of France in Yountville, California

The town of Yountville is located along California Highway 29 about 56 miles/ 90 km north of San Francisco. With Calistoga to the north and Napa to the south, Yountville is truly in the heart of Wine Country.

The town was named after George Calvert Yount in 1867, two years after his death. In the 1830s, Yount was considered one of the first settlers in the area to plant wine grapes in Napa Valley.

Public Art Walk Along Washington Street

“Chaos Pamplona” by Jedd Novatt

“48” Orange Sphere” by Ivan McLean

“Rock Mushroom Garden” by Rich Botto

“Marigold” by Troy Pillow

“Phoenix” by Andrew Carson

Award-winning Restaurants

Chef Philippe Jeanty of Epernay, France opened Bistro Jeanty in 1998:

Signs on the windows indicate they serve cassoulet, saumon fumé, bouillabaisse, paté de lapin…

soupe de poissons, crème brûlée, steak frites, moules au pastis!

Chef Thomas Keller opened The French Laundry in 1994. Since 2007, it has been a Michelin 3-star restaurant:

Can you see the restaurant sign? I can’t, so let’s zoom in:

Its unassuming exterior means that you could miss the award-winning restaurant if you blink or drive past it too quickly. Which is exactly what we did…

That’s The French Laundry to the right:

Chef Thomas Keller opened Bouchon Bistro in 1998:

V Marketplace

The Groezinger Winery was built in 1870 and operated as a winery through 1955. In 1968, it was converted into an upscale retail location. There are tasting rooms, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques surrounded by a picnic garden. A popular hot air balloon company launches from an adjacent lot near V Marketplace.

Two restaurants owned by Chef Michael Chiarello, Bottega and Ottimo:

Keep walking through the courtyard (above) and you’ll arrive at the beautiful picnic garden. Here’s my favorite flower, the white rose:

Pioneer Yount School Bell

This bell hung from Pioneer Yount School from 1890 to 1947. Today, it is in front of Yountville’s City Hall.

If you need to send someone a postcard, you can drop it off here:

For more information:

Yountville Welcome Center

These photos were taken by my older daughter and me during our family’s day trip to Napa Valley on New Year’s Day 2017. 🍇

Louise Bourgeois Spiders Exhibition at SFMOMA

Did you know that arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders, is one of the most common phobias? Because I suffer from it, I admire those who aren’t afraid of spiders. For example:

  • People who eat them, like Angelina Jolie did while she was visiting Cambodia, where fried spiders are a delicacy
  • Singer Billie Eilish, who had a tarantula crawl out of her mouth in her music video
  • Wilbur the Pig, whose best buddy was a sweet barn spider named Charlotte
  • French-American artist, Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), who created large-scale spider sculptures, some of which I got to see at the Louise Bourgeois Spiders exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) recently

Oculus Bridge inside SFMOMA

I call this the “Face Your Fears” floor of the museum. In addition to spiders, I’m also afraid of heights. Talk about exposure therapy to get rid of my phobias!

Walking across the short bridge was not a problem for me. But when I looked down through the thin grate floor and I could actually see four floors below me – that was not so easy! Then at the end of the bridge I saw the massive spiders!

According to the SFMOMA website (no pun intended):

“Louise Bourgeois created the first of her darkly compelling spider sculptures in the mid-1990s, when she was in her eighties. The artist saw spiders as both fierce and fragile, capable of being protectors as well as predators… Partly a reference to her mother, partly to herself, spiders for her represented cleverness, industriousness, and protectiveness.”

As the security guard welcomed guests to the gallery, she gently reminded us “to stay 18 inches away” from the sculptures.

Will do! Don’t have to tell me twice!

OK, to be fair, not all spiders make my skin crawl. For example, the animated character, Lucas the Spider, is absolutely adorable and he makes me forget my fears. Check out this short episode: Lucas the Spider – “I’m Starving”

Then just when I thought I was getting over my fear, I come across this article about a tarantula the size of a dinner plate dragging an opposum!