Back and forth, hither and yon – whether on my habitual trajectory between Touraine and Paris or further afield… destinations, encounters, events and observations I can’t resist sharing.


December 1, 2010

When I moved to NYC after college, the impossible dream was to take over the lease on a rent-controlled apartment. Rent control symbolized mythic, affordable Manhattan before housing ate up half a paycheck – the stuff of urban legend.  I never got lucky.

Well, every dog has its day, and I can finally gloat in my rural backwater that I’m grandfathered into EJP, a bargain electricity option which EDF (formerly known as Electricité de France) no longer offers because it’s far too good a deal for the consumer.  I’m tempted to be smug, except EJP is a blessing disguised as a curse, and it was more fun when you could bitch about it.  Now complaining you can’t do laundry or use your electric oven because it’s an EJP day is considered obnoxious.

EDF created the EJP (Effacement des Jours de Pointe) option for secondary residences, where cold weather consumption occurs (if at all) on weekends and holidays.  They offered a very low annual rate, excluding the 22 coldest weekdays of the year, when national consumption peaks and the EJP rate correspondingly spiked.  Where EDF miscalculated, was promising not to include weekends, school holidays and the wee hours between 1am and 7am. Read More »

Quercy Blanc

September 15, 2010

Visiting old friends in Tarn et Garonne, a southern department  even the French have difficulty locating. Quercy Blanc is the historic name for this midsection of the Midi-Pyrénées between Cahors and  Toulouse.  It’s the Tuscany of France, with an undulating landscape of sheep and cattle pasture, sunflower fields, chasselas vineyards and tidy industrial orchards of apricots, plum, cherry and walnut trees.  A succession of  gorgeous views are revealed at every twist along the sinuous road.  The round, green-gold chasselas grape, which is eaten rather than fermented for wine, is the principal crop.

After honing country French renovation skills on a home in the Loire valley, our Australian friends were ready to tackle a seriously daunting project.  They fell for an ancient fortified chateau on the plateau of a hill, whose stocky central tower was first ransacked in the 13th century.  Successive building campaigns in the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries failed to sustain momentum, and it had declined to a forlorn state  of decrepitude.  A tailor made challenge for two artists with vision and a history of savvy real estate investments in Sydney, London and Paris to bolster their courage. Read More »

Manoir de la Pagerie

August 19, 2010

Manoir de la Pagerie in Ternay, a Rhone Valley town of 4000, 15 minutes from Lyon and 10 from Gallo Roman Vienne, is more suburban oasis than “Country Hideaway”  – a cool respite from the encroaching metropole and convenient base for sampling the cultural and culinary attractions of the region.

Once through the entry gate, you’re swept into an improbably lush park shaded by centennial trees, with a pool discreetly nestled behind a tall hedge. Don’t be put off by the impression created from the street, where the house appears to be row of homes. The owners have resisted renovating the street facing facade to discourage unwanted attention.

Read More »

Mid-May in the Potager

June 25, 2010

May is when things get going in the potager. The first radishes plump up, baby lettuce, arugula and spinach are lustrous and strawberries begin to ripen.

Our potager is a bit of a laggard because of a predominantly northern orientation (along the fence line), with southern light filtered by an ancient hawthorn hedge that developed into a row of trees. Read More »


Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!