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Emilio Robba – Art de Vivre!

March 31, 2017 @ 1:43 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French artisan

Stunning Emilio Robba Collection

The colors and shapes of nature never fail to captivate my spirit, heart and imagination. Just recently, we spirited off to Orlando’s signature downtown attraction – Lake Eola – for a brief respite from deadlines and drudgery!

Not surprisingly we immersed ourselves in a feast of natural sights – of bold blue skies and gentle breezes. Of elegant swans and preening ibis. Two guests came to join our little picnic area, and they were the most handsome sights of all – a pair of geese outfitted in soft taupe and brown shades.

That is precisely what made me think of the renowned International designer of “Art de Vivre” – Emilio Robba – Paris. Driven to recreate his natural surroundings, he applies his artistic talents to the creation of permanent botanicals and landscaping environments.  Galerie Vivienne and other Parisian Department stores feature Robba’s photography, sculptural floral arrangements and glass creations; and he now even has a gallery in Miami.

Paris artisan

Emilio luxury creations

The Emilio Robba Spring Collection features some of my favorites, among them the stunning purple hydrangea. With Spring in the air and Easter around the corner, what better time to add an elegant floral touch to your home!

Wishing you joyous spring days and pleasant shopping!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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‘Les Calades Provençales’

March 8, 2017 @ 3:10 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
France artisans

Hand-painted scarves in Aix-en-Provence

Renowned for its extraordinary fountains and talented favorite son, Cezanne; Aix-en-Provence manages a lovely blend of enchanting culture, vibrant youth and stimulating history.  But wait – the marketplace alone adds a huge dimension to the city, and the restaurants entice you at every bend in the road!  We arrived in Aix during the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales” and were able to meander along the stunning, tree-lined Cours Mirabeau to take in the original works of dozens and dozens of craftsmen and women.   

A quiet, personable potter demonstrated ease with his wheel.  Bright, hand-painted scarves drifted from canvas awnings.  With every turn of the head, we immersed ourselves in this treasury of talent – exotic jewelry, perfumes and ceramics, intricate wood creations and handsome textiles.

We stopped to chat – yes, in halting French but quite adequate – with a lovely young woman with a trés chic array of hand-crafted shoes and sandals.  The talented designer, Veronique Baron, epitomized the charming, soft-spoken French woman.

artisan fairs in france

The talented potter in Aixx

Born in la Drome, Veronique carries on the proud traditions of her father and grandfather.  Early on, she designed shoes in her father’s workshop.  After earning her degree in shoe design and practicing her talent with freelance work, Veronique realized her dream with the birth of  “Dans la garrigue”.  In the heart of a sunny pine forest, she creates each shoe and purse, piece by piece in her atelier (workshop).

Isn’t that kind of chance encounter one of the priceless rewards of travel?  In the midst of one of the most beautiful cities of France, we made this small connection that added immeasurably to our enjoyment of the artisan fair and the city itself.

Naturally, we needed some time to absorb our experiences and stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes.  We capped our lovely adventure with delicious ham and cheese gallettes, salad and pichet of wine with a strolling guitarist to perfect our Aixoise moment.

Aix en Provence

Veronique’s hand-crafted shoes

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Italy, France – Travel Early and Often!

March 2, 2017 @ 12:09 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Duomo, Florence Italy

Charming cafes overlooking the magnificent Duomo

“Travel changes people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life.”  Rick Steves

Florence, Italy.  The Duomo bells ring, at 7:45 a.m. –an unusual alarm clock that follows a warm evening with family in a room filled with vibrant students.  Through Jacksonville University in Florida, Leo’s sister and brother-in-law offer summer programs of art history, photography and painting in France and Italy.  We were fortunate to be included in the farewell dinner celebration for the end of their studies.

The student group of 15 young people, aglow with new experiences and the kind of relationships forged through sharing all things new, trade group photos and insider memories.  They may have an ever-so-small idea of the imprint they will carry with them from their sojourn in Italy.  The molecules of imagination have been stimulated.

The students gathered from Maine and Ohio, West Virginia and Florida.  They seem to recognize the unique privilege of participating in a life-changing program and summer.  Their families and friends will welcome home students who are different, who are better equipped and more motivated to dive off the board into the pool of possibilities life offers.

Florence Italy

“David” watches over the bustling Piazza della Signoria – the original David is in the Galleria dell’Accademia

We-are well beyond the clear-eyed face of youth but our ventures have been similar.  It IS never too late to learn, to set aside old fears and needs for security to pursue new roads of travel, learning, and culture.

Our mature eyes absorb the naked truth of Alpine ridges against the sky and the fickle faces of sunflowers turned away from the sun.  We exchange bonjours and ciaos with kind and interesting people. We see the pride enmeshed in each fine craft that has evolved from generations of artisan development.  Each adventure renews our feeling that we’ve just begun.

All of us feel the tumult in the world these days with so much suffering and displacement, adversarial politics, economic fears and ongoing security threats.  How easy it is to focus on the negative and even to let your fears guide your decisions about travel.

Annecy, France

Mountainous peaks hover over Lake Annecy

We can attest that travel so broadens your horizons that you re-gain your perspective and refresh your spirit to address challenges that lie ahead.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Villa Mauresque – Boutique Riviera Hotel

February 15, 2017 @ 9:00 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
France Travel

Villa Mauresque, Saint Raphael

Words and music for “I Went to a Marvellous Party” were written by Noël Coward in 1938.  The song offered a first-person ‘exposé’ of five parties the playwright-composer-singer attended on the French Riviera in the frantic era of amusement of the Train Bleu society of the 1920s and 1930s. While that particular vignette sparks your curiosity, you need only drive along the jeweled coastline of the Cote d’Azur to imagine the haute lifestyle of that era.

These touches of history merely pave the way to introduce an enchanting hotel on the Mediterranean near Saint-Raphael.  No less than renowned author Somerset Maugham initiated the incubator for the hotel, when he purchased the 9-acre estate of Villa Mauresque.  Prior to transforming to today’s elegant hotel residence, the villa hosted great literary and society guests in one of the Riviera’s most tantalizing social salons and was Maugham’s secluded home, until his death in 1965.

France Travel cote d'azur

Author and artist named suites

Around 2005, discretion and good taste led the way in converting the Moorish-inspired mansion into an extremely welcoming hotel.  The walled property keeps the world at bay, while you take breakfast on the terrace at the edge of the Mediterranean.  Or from your private port, you might tackle windsurfing or a quieter canoe ride.

The Villa was designed by Chapoulard in 1860, one of many of his neo-Moorish imprints along the fabled coast.   The boutique hotel has been carefully curated to offset serene ivory walls with bold tapestries and painted doors; and only 11 luxurious suites and bedrooms welcome guests to refined comfort.  Two on-site small villas also are a part of the property, available for rental and even engaging a chef-prepared meal en suite.

France Travel

Overlooking the Gulf of Saint Tropez

Speaking of dining, a Michelin-star Chef provides inviting cuisine in “Le Bougainvillier” restaurant with elegant indoor or terrace dining with unparalleled views of the Gulf of Saint Tropez.  Atypical of many Riviera resorts, the restaurant open throughout the year to offer … fillet of John Dory from our sea, roasted green asparagus in Provencal style or perhaps roasted lamb chops from the Quercy region

Enough.  You must browse the Villa’s site for more information to choose from artist- and writer-named rooms and suites that range from Monet’s 225-Euro room to Baudelaire’s Suite Prestige with sea view at 1,300 Euros per night.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Dining French Style- Oui!

February 12, 2017 @ 6:40 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French pastries

Elegant pear tarte – delicieux!

You discover everything appetizing with French dining.  Like this lovely pear tarte, so appealingly beautiful, with sweet aromas and a golden crust….and we haven’t even tasted it yet, but the promise is so alluring.

Last year … and the year before … we couldn’t be in Paris for Valentine’s Day; so we did the next best thing.  We stopped in for breakfast at our favorite local ‘patisserie’.  The atmosphere was so pleasant, complete with quiet “bonjours” and customers gazing over the expansive pastry choices to selects their croissants or quiche.

In that natural French way,  we lingered over our coffees and heard the simple bits of conversation that drifted our way.  One couple shared quite a delicious looking ‘breakfast croissant’ complete with egg, ham and cheese; while two ‘rowdy’ garcons spread Nutella over their pastries, the evidence peeking at us from the corners of their mouths.

To expand our enjoyable petite dejeuner, we went a step further.  A lovely pear tarte caught my eye … and imagination!  Alas, we would be able to share this elegant dessert at home with our Valentine’s meal.  We still would have preferred to be in Paris for the day, but we were able to bring a touch of Paris to us.  And on another day, we even made our own pear tarte at home – perhaps not as delicate looking but every bit as enchanting in taste.

Life lesson?  Even if you can’t travel when or where you want, you can create your own atmosphere and experience to enjoy.  A tip of the hat to France from us.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Artisans in Aix-en-Provence

November 10, 2016 @ 12:22 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
France artisans

Hand-painted scarves in Aix-en-Provence

During a delightful 3-day visit to Aix-en-Provence, we enjoyed the added benefit of the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales.” Aix is famous for its many fountains and talented favorite son Cezanne, so it’s not surprising that artisans are celebrated here.

At any moment Cours Mirabeau offers an enchanting, tree-lined boulevard; but the fair magnified the magic. Elegant hand-painted scarves danced in the breeze, while artisans warmly greeted visitors explaining their crafts, demonstrating the potter’s wheel and generally serving as welcoming ambassadors in this dynamic city.

Hand-crafted shoes and sandals, exotic jewelry, perfumes and pottery spread all along the boulevard. The cobbler followed generations of the art of shoemaking; the silk scarves were painted by hand.

French dining

Greoux-les-Bains

After a pleasant stroll to examine the many gorgeous crafts, we stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes.  Ummm – delicious ham and cheese galette, a pichet of wine and a strolling guitarist made for a relaxing Aixoise experience.

We would offer a hearty thumbs up to any planning a trip to this lovely area. An easy drive from Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding area immerse you in an enchanting landscape, exceptional architecture and abundant dining choices.

You might wander through Cezanne’s landscape and stop for dinner in Greoux-les-Bains or take in the grand Pont du Gard aqueduct; but parking yourself at a café along the boulevard provides plenty of enjoyment!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Holiday Gifts a la France!

October 29, 2016 @ 1:45 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris watercolors

Ile Saint-Louis, Paris (sold unframed)

Now is the time to don your French gift-giving hat to select just the right holiday gift for friends and loved ones.  I take so much pleasure in finding handsome knives or savory mustards for the men and women on my list … or home accents and feminine scarves.  Time to get in the spirit, so just a few of your many options follow.

I’ll be self serving and begin with value and charm – original French-inspired watercolors at 20% off for holiday shoppers.  For my newest burst of energy about “all things French”, I have taken brush to paper and poured my passion into original watercolors.  The wide range of hues and subjects guarantee a touch of color and French charm and a personable holiday gift for that special friend or family member. (All are unframed and ready for your unique touch!)   I invite you to browse French-themed watercolors – available here.

French silk scarves

Elegant Anne Touraine-Paris scarves

Next – one of my favorites – silk scarves.  Anne Touraine – Paris delivers a touch of magic – special and authentic French silk, hand-rolled scarves that your friend or family member will cherish and care tenderly for in  years to come. The variety of colors, designs and sizes will make your choices easy, and the handsome packaging simply adds to the pleasure of discovering what’s inside!

French gifts, Paris

Emilio Robba Purple Vanda

Emilio Robba of Paris invites you to imagine a home radiant with flowers all the time. The stunning and talented designer takes his inspiration from nature to create floral pieces of art that are as subtle as they are spectacular. Whether for the hallway console or the holiday table, an Emilio Robba creation makes a lasting gift that will be appreciated over and over again.

Locally (Central Florida) and to our internet friends, we are always happy to recommend a visit to My French Neighbor. It is our delightful, go-to source for gourmet mustards and jams, olive oils, charming purses and home décor accessories.

And don’t forget museum shopping with so many gift options for every age and interest! Have a special weekend, as you build your list and find your treasured gifts.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc

October 13, 2016 @ 10:25 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Cote d'Azur

Seaside pool of the Hotel Cap du-Eden-Roc

For a royal experience, one might expect a royal price tag; and Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc  does not disappoint in either category.  A luxurious and lavish resort delightfully positioned on the tip of Cap d’Antibes, the hotel has long been the chosen mecca for celebrities and privileged guests through the ages.  No doubt they have left a trail of interesting tales in their wake.

Words simply cannot capture the legendary hotel.  From 1870, the “Villa Soleil” welcomed writers looking for inspiration, but in 1885 a Piedmontese hotelier set his vision in motion and transformed the Napoleon III-style villa into the unparalleled Hôtel du Cap.  One of the most interesting hotel embellishments is the seawater swimming pool carved into the rock, though the seaside “cabins” (33 cabanas, in all) and Eden-Roc Pavilion are equally alluring.

Now celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the hotel was recently refreshed with a €45million refurbishment that preserved and enhanced the resort’s stunning, authentic quality; while adding every contemporary convenience and several new amenities.  Imagine refined, spacious rooms and luxury appointments, the sumptuous Bellini Bar, gourmet restaurant and assorted intimate bars and grills. There’s even a fresh Juice and Ice Cream Bar in the shade of the Alep pines – parfait for the children!

Eden Roc, France

Love the ‘scanty’ suits of 1932

Open only from mid-April to mid-October, the five-star hotel rates are equally ‘handsome’ for accommodations ranging from standard, classique and Supérieure rooms to a private villa complete with your own butler.  Gala events planned for the celebratory year include a magnificent gourmet evening with some of the world’s best sommeliers and Michelin-starred chefs.

But I have a humorous twist to this story.  The postcard shown was sent to my father in Paris from a lady friend staying at the hotel in 1932.  In part, her message reads, “Here I am at this wonderful place – $6.00 a day for room, bath and meals (in between seasons) … You ought to see the scanty one-piece bathing suits.  Oh, I don’t know where I’ll end – the temptations are lovely and many.”

The prices surely have changed, but I rather imagine the temptations to still be … lovely and many.

I invite you to browse French-themed watercolors that are available here.

We’d love to hear from you!

Paris watercolor

Bertie’s Cupcakes, Paris

Paris watercolor painting

Paris collage watercolor

France watercolors

French-themed art

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Île Saint-Louis Magic!

October 10, 2016 @ 10:18 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Favorite places in Paris – how does one choose!  We always seem to return … again and again … to that charming petite island in the center of the Seine –  Île Saint-Louis.  It seems we have wandered about every square inch of the island, along the quays, through galleries and boutiques, in every sort of restaurant and café.

Our flood of memories includes our charming vacation rental overlooking the school yard, where children played happily and lined up ever so politely for snacks.  Stopping for lunch at our favorite crêperie – Au Lys d’Argent, we enjoy delicious quiche and crepes with a pichet of wine, before heading across the street to the little shop that always includes a lacy leaf or other such decorative item on our purchase.  Down the street, the chocolate shop whispers “visit now”, so of course we do!  Again, our purchase is carefully tucked into an elegant bag.

Stepping inside of the historic and charming Saint-Louis-en-l’Île Church (dating to 1675!) offers quiet moments of reflection among the quaint rush-seated chairs under soaring ceilings. We even stopped by the church on a crisp March evening to leave a raincoat and some sweaters with the priest in the hope they would be shared with someone in need.

Paris watercolor

Along the Seine in Paris

Walking along the river, stopping at sunset to watch the golden light fall across Paris, the island offers us such special moments and so much gratitude for the privilege of enjoying The City of Light!

I invite you to browse French-themed watercolors that are available here.

We’d love to hear from you!

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Wandering the Loire Valley

September 20, 2016 @ 7:42 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Travel the Loire Valley

Sunset over the Loire River

I suppose everyone has a different approach to travel, some probing the history and points of interest of a given area and others taking a more laissez-faire, let-it-unfold approach.  Whichever method appeals to you, discovering different areas of France offers abundant delights!  We have found it quite interesting to go back and research about an area you have experienced first hand.

I came across a nicely written and very thorough article that profiled the city of Bourges in the Loire Valley.  While reading of historic churches and age-old customs, my mind whisked backward to a remarkably hospitable weekend in the area.

A former Parisian invited our friends and us to visit with him in a tiny hamlet about 30 minutes from Bourges.  We managed to pack a ton of discoveries into that one weekend.

En route from our host’s country home to Bourges, we stopped in the quaint artist hamlet – La Borne – for a delightful slice of culture in a petite community.  We walked the streets of Bourges at night during the Lumiere extravaganza, when mystical lights cast their glow upon church courtyards and centuries-old, timbered houses.  On the steps of the renowned St. Stephan’s Cathedral, I picked up a couple of tiny red and pink tissue hearts, the sweet mementos of a wedding held earlier in the day.  We have the deepest respect for the city and its’ storied past.

Loire Valley

La Borne artist hamlet

But now I move on past the sophisticated travel to our deepest memories –

…. Of golden wheat fields stretching, stretching for miles up soft hills capped here and there with a couple of trees, standing as sentries, it seemed, overlooking this ‘bread basket’ of France.

…. Of steaming bowls of coffee enjoyed in the morning in the front yard, as we heard the plans for the day

…. Of an enormous, rhinestone blanket of stars setting the blackest of black nights ablaze with light

…. Of a whimsical house with all sorts of glass art – now, I see, named La Cathédrale de Jean Linard

…. Of narrow country lanes winding through the country, and shuttered homes built inches from the road – they always, always cloak their windows in delicate French lace

…. Of our little trek to La Borne, where 88 village artists give birth to imaginative ceramic  works of art

Loire Valley

The wheat fields, cows – the bread basket of France

And so we traveled in the footsteps of the Gaulouis and years from now will still enjoy this warm quilt of Loire countryside memories.

I invite you to browse French-themed watercolors that are available here.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2016, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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