La vacance

croissant with butter

I hate to tell you this. But not everyone in France gets five weeks for les vacances. While it’s true that most people in France get a five weeks of vacation, I am not quite there yet. Nor am I at the point where I get 7 weeks of vacation, as a few of my friends do. (But that’s what I continue to aspire to*.) Take, for example, this summer my vacation time is less than twenty-four hours.

In French, les vacances is/are almost always plural. Perhaps it’s because everyone just does it en masse. So I’m not sure if I have to right to call my twenty-four hours vacation, in the plural. But who has time to quibble over grammar (French or English) when I am this close to collapsing.

passed out

Fortunately a neighbor who works with Les Étangs de Corot took pity on me sweltering in my office during the heatwave, staring at words on a computer screen for hours at a time while fusing to the plastic of my office chair, gulping ice water, and invited me to come to the hotel and spa for the night, knowing that even the hottest American – the one who is remaining in Paris (not necessarily the one with the hottest backside) – needs a break.

After being stuck in one of the traffic jams that plague Paris on Friday afternoons in the summer, when everyone is making a ligne d’abeille (bee-line) outta town, I arrived at the hotel. And once I checked in, and looked out over the calm étangs (ponds), I realized what a ball of stress I’d become – and I started the gradual process of unwinding.

étang de corot

In fact, I didn’t realize how tired I was until I could barely get out of bed the next day. It’s amazing what a night of restful sleep can do, especially when you’re not waking up to the sound of jackhammers on three sides of your apartment all day (yes, really), 90º (32ºC) heat, poring over 119,908 words – scanning, correcting, and tightening up each itty-bitty word on a computer screen, and aspiring to getting more than five hours of sleep a night. Although I’d like les vacances, I’ll take la for the time being.

Aside from awesome bed where I was wishing I could spend the rest of my life in, because it’s France, there are plusiers restaurants at this spa and hotel. After a great facial that left me never wanting to touch my face again, and let only the experts do it, we had dinner in Restaurant le Corot, the restaurant gastonomique on their nifty little terrace.

The young staff was super friendly and one of the servers, who could have been a model, was going about her job wearing these amazing shoes that looked like the kind my mother had, that I tried on when I was four years old, and realized I had no future as a cross-dresser. When I asked how she did it, she told me that taking them off was the best part of her day.

Les Hauts de Smith 2011first course nibbles

But she and her co-server could not have been nicer and we started with Cannelloni of crab in fresh, striped pasta with radishes from the gardens of Joël Thiébault, as well as Breton lobster served on a mound of nuts and pickled wild mushrooms that was lovely – although didn’t need the creamy egg sauce and quivering yolk alongside it. (Pass the drawn butter!)

lobster with rich sauce

Because the hotel is part of the Château Smith Haut Lafitte family, along with Caudalie spa (hence the kick-ass facial), there is a special focus on their wines.

2011 was a good yearlamb saddle
Thiebaut radishes and crab canolligarçons

I’m no expert on years, vintages, and so forth, but the 2011 Les Hauts de Smith white wine that the sommelier poured was ripe and fruity, with a delicate crispness, creating the perfect balance in the glass. I have a tendency to drink dry, minerally white wines, so it’s nice to step out of my routine – as long as I do the stepping in sensible shoes.

wild turbot with fresh shelling beans

Romain had Quercy saddle of lamb and shoulder confit with turnips and a truly high-test garlic sauce, which you wouldn’t find in a tame Parisian restaurant. So big points for that. Because I’ve been overeating a lot lately, and I’m becoming more and more upset about the skinny young French guys around here with microscopic waistlines, I had wild turbot with fresh shelling beans and cockles. The food was all made with great ingredients and well-prepared, although I would have liked a little more zing with the fish – some contrast added courtesy of some acidic ingredients and a few bold seasonings here and there – bring on the garlic sauce!

meringue shell

One dessert was a Limoncello Soufflé and the other was simply called “Lemon”, which was a whisper-thin meringue shell with cheesecake inside and lemon verbena sorbet. I’m not a fan of the lemony liqueur (although I suppose if I was vacationing on the Amalfi coast, and someone handed me a limoncello made with the local lemons, I could be persuaded), but we marveled at the brittle meringue shell encasing a bit of le cheesecake and icy sorbet.

lemoncello soufflé

The daylight had disappeared and the sky turned a vague violet color, and after the sommelier offered two glasses of a silky-smooth Jurançon, I barely made it back to the room – and slept like there was no tomorrow.

juracon

Fortunately there was. And breakfast the next morning was certainly worth waking up for!

room service breakfast in bed

I won’t go through everything that was on the tray because you will likely hate me and I don’t want to ruin the permanent blissful expression on my face from the masque de beauté I am still wearing, but with raw milk salted butter from Beillevaire and jams and honey from Alain Milliat, how could you stay in bed, no matter what the thread count of the sheets were?

I loved opening the little bags of croissants and pains au chocolat that came with everything, which was a nice touch. As was the fresh-pressed orange juice and crisp bacon they topped my scrambled eggs with. (Not shown, because I ate that right away.) I normally dislike room service which always makes me uneasy, but you can’t beat waking up to a tray like this and the only thing you need to do is slip on a bathrobe (preferably before you open the door for the person who delivers it, unless you have a French partner who doesn’t care), and pull up a chair on the balcony and sip coffee and butter croissants all morning. Which definitely beats listening to jackhammers on three sides of you, from 8am to 7 pm.

green pea Gazpacho with smoked lard mousse

The stress of deciding what to have for lunch was somewhat abated by taking a walk around the étang, or pond, which was where the artist Corot painted. I didn’t see any artists, but there were young men fishing, a few locals picnicking, and gaggles of ducks swimming around the lilypads, catching whatever it is that ducks catch in the water. (And that, my friends, was the biggest problem I had to unravel all day.) We split a platter of Pata Negra ham, which is one of the best things in the world, with slivers of Ossau Iraty cheese, from the Basque region.

(I just hit a button on my keyboard and this whole paragraph disappeared and I’m too hot to try to find where it went. But since the heat is already starting its full-on broil in Paris, I’ll just recap that the soup shown above was a chilled green pea gazpacho with smoked lard mousse. And if someone could deliver a bowl for lunch today, that’d be great.)

Our main courses were pretty good arguments for adopting a less-is-more philosophy when it comes to cooking – for summer, instead of a cooked tomato sauce with pine nuts, make a fresh cherry tomato salsa with basil or tarragon? Or a dice of avocado and pineapple with some basil seeds or crunchy little bits of pistachios, a squeeze of lime juice, and some curry powder?

fish, etc

For dessert, we stuck to a less-is-more philosophy and honed in on a trio of sorbets made by a local glacier, and some tasty French strawberries with a coy layer of ridiculously high-fat crème d’Isigny smeared underneath. But we managed to find it.

strawberries creme d'isignyfishing boys

After downing two cups of café express each, to gear up for the afternoon drive back, we hit the pond one last time, unrolling a blanket – where I promptly passed out again. And I think I dreamed about spending the rest of my life in baggy linen pants, the kind that make my butt look big, lying prone on the side of a pond in a shady spot, on a patch of grass.

étang de corot

Back down to earth, it was time to go. And you know your partner is a Frenchman when you tear the back of your favorite summer pants on his car door, and he says; “C’est pas grave…they were ugly.” But maybe he’s right, and who needs pants that make your derrière look big?

asleep

By the time we’d gotten back the city, we’d been gone nearly twenty-four hours. If we’d spent any longer there, I guess it might have qualified for les vacances. But I’m not complaining. (Although I would certainly not be complaining even less if I got seven weeks.) I’ve got a faceful of clear pores, I can tick 8 hours off the 364 hours of sleep I’m still missing, and I’ve almost made the decision of whether I should look for another pair of linen pants, or a less-honest traveling companion. Or a case of that 2011, to get me through the rest of the summer.


*I have to admit, I’m one of the growing number of locals who like Paris in the summer, especially in August, because most of the city has cleared out and it’s really calm. And now that I no longer live in a searing-hot, top-floor apartment, the clammy temperatures are a little more tolerable. The downside is that since most people flee the city, they choose to have construction done while they are away, so Paris turns into a zone de travaux for a few months.

**Note/Disclosure: I was a guest of Les Étangs des Corot.

94 comments

  • “A less honest traveling companion,” ha! I have thought of this, too, but what would we do without this kind of clarity?

    So glad you were able to have such a dreamy vacation. Hope you have more to come.

    Best wishes,

  • sleepy David, that`s so sweet :)
    hours of sleep and magnificent food, what else can one possibly dream of?))

  • Oh my, I would take the ‘la’ too! Looks fantastic!

  • Would it be ‘la’instead? Lol. That sounded LOVELY!!!

  • Why are you working so hard, David?? Are you coming out with another book??!!? ;)) I agree Paris is nice in summer, emptied out, with more of a ‘village’ feel – provided, of course, you avoid the touristy areas. And have you noticed there are more and more people staying behind? That said, i hope you get more rest!

    Is that you curled up asleep in the grass? So sweet! Like my neighbour’s cat;)

  • vacance without S means vacancy.

  • Interesting photograph of you in bed sleeping with white bath robe and white sheets — that would make a gorgeous painting

  • Glad you got out of the city and got some rest! I’d love to make the green pea gazpacho — would you have a recipe?

    • I’ve never made it, but would imagine it’s just pea (fresh or frozen would work) simmered in water (perhaps with a bit of stock, or not) and a chopped onion or some shallots, then blended until smooth. I would imagine it’d be good with just a dusting of red chile powder, or crisp bits of bacon!

  • Hey, David. It’s la vacance (feminine) ;-)

  • Sounds amazing, even if only for 24 hours! Your descriptions make it sound like a wonderful week’s worth of indulgence and pampering.

  • I may not be totally on board with all aspects of French culture, but I must admit they sure understand that relaxation is no joke. I thought I was perfectly content sitting at my desk basking in the air conditioning. It is only after reading this post that I realize I want to be basking in French air conditioning with trays of food around me. What a sad trajectory my level of happiness has just taken.

  • @David re. masculin/féminin
    The title of the article is still “Le”…

    I just started my current job in May so I have to wait until next year for my 5 weeks!

  • phanmo and sue: Thanks – I can’t see through the sweat pouring off my forehead – it just hit 36º (96ºF, I think, although someone is welcome to do the conversion on that.) @phanmo Hope you get that 5 weeks next year!

    Monique: Fortunately the hotel was air-conditioned nicely (not too much, but we ended up just keeping the door open and enjoying the breeze), but usually “French air-conditioning” is somewhat weak. But nothing is better than waking up to a breakfast like that…in the shade, of course ; )

  • I like Paris in the summer too. And having also been woken up every morning surrounded by multiple jackhammers, I can only assume (pray) everyone’s working furiously to finish up by Aug 1st and leave town. Sweaty fingers crossed that things will quiet down in a week or so.

    Thanks for the reminder about Beillevaire’s amazing salted butter. I bookmarked your post last year that featured their Belleville shop and promptly forgot about it. Now if I can just wait until they open tomorrow morning … (The Rocamadour is on my list too.)

  • David, great blog. I’m now deathly curious about those shoes of the waitress. Any chance you took a picture of them?

    • I don’t take pictures of women’s feet and post them online because – well, there’s a name for men who do that – and I’m not one of them!

      ; )

  • Oh I so wish I could do the same, looks beautiful

  • Reading this beautiful post gave me my own five minute vacation. I am going to share this with everyone I know. Take care, Byrd

  • Looks idyllic, and a lot cooler than a city. London is having the same kind of weather as Paris.

    Do you not count your trips to the Middle East and Scandinavia as a holiday?

    • The trip to Lebanon was a press trip and the Sweden trip was also work-related. Both were educational and fun, although they weren’t vacations, or vacances.

  • Thank you, David. Curled up on the grass, you look like a character in one of Corot’s paintings. Glad you enjoyed you dip into another century.

  • Wow! How amazing. If I got only 24 hours I would be happy to spend it there!

  • As an American living vicariously through your postings from Paris, I totally relate to your “American” work ethic!! We are a bit crazy about work, aren’t we! So glad you had a brief respite….
    Your fan,
    Jacklyn

    Ps every one of your recipes that I have attempted have been met with total success…you are my ” Julia ” !!!!

  • Reading about your vacance made me feel relaxed, myself. Ahh! I love the photo of you asleep in the grass with a little black pillow under your head. Who takes a pillow pond side? David L., that’s who!

  • That looks amazing David. You take the best photos!

    I might just book it for my next spring “vacance” in Paris. Thanks for sharing and good luck with the Paris heat…

    regards from New York
    Emily

  • So glad you got some rest! To let you know, if you want to recover something you lost when typing simply press Ctrl/Z and it will reappear; or Ctrl/Alt/Z if you happen to have hit several buttons trying to retrieve your text. Glad you got some rest and thanks for bringing us along on your adventures.

    • I was trying that, and whenever I went back, it was just cutting and pasting some block of html over and over (and over) again. Since it was so hot, I just let it have its way ~

  • My mouth is watering. Those croissants look amazing. I wished I could have at least one this very moment.

  • lovely post, David. I hope you get a little more rest soon. And less jackhammers.
    Sounds like Munich, where it seems like at least 50% of the city is under construction.

  • Many thanks to Les Etangs des Corots for allowing us all to enjoy an amazing vicarious vacance…

  • Ahhhhhh!
    So now I have to add 24 hours at Le Etangs de Corot to my bucket list….along with nearly all of the other beautiful places you take us. What a lovely mini vacance!!!! We are only supposed to get up to 92 today in San Antonio. With somewhere around 90 percent humidity. But, I have really cold air conditioning. Regardless I feel for you sweltering in your apartment! Maybe another lovely friend with another amazing connection will take pity on you!! As always, thanks for taking us along!!

    Best wishes from Texas!!!
    Sheri

  • Hmmmm….sounds lovely, but what are basil seeds?

    • Basil seeds are, well – seeds of basil! You can get them in Asian markets and if you soak them in cold water, they soften a bit yet remain crunchy. They add a nice texture to desserts and other dishes.

  • It all sounds amazing. I wonder how they made the meringue shell with cheesecake dessert. Any chance you have it and can share?

  • Ah ha….love the post and the English grammarian in me needs to mention the beginning of the paragraph right below the photo of the Smith wine…but SHE and her…
    sorry, as i know it the New York influence in your formative years! Hope you are not offended. My French is not as good as yours by a long shot!

  • The striped pasta looked amazing. What a grand vacation, if too brief.

  • Hi David — I was ready to book a couple of nights but then read some of the TripAdvisor reviews. Any comments on the negatives even though you were comped the room?
    Merrrci — I also love Paris in the summer but want a couple of days here and there…
    B

    • I just took a look and a majority of the reviews from the last few years were positive (75 ratings in the top 2 tiers, and 15 in the bottom). There was a recent one that said the rooms were dark, which is partially true. Our room had dark blue wallpaper and the trees outside blocked a percentage of the light. (I think each room has different decor and perhaps different color walls.) The air-conditioning was fine although if folks are expecting full-on American-style AC, that’s hard to find anywhere in France. The food was fine – and I mentioned some of the pluses and minuses, although I do think the grounds could use a good once-over by a gardening team to perk it up. The staff was excellent.

  • Shamefully I admit to not reading this fully YET, but scanning the amazing photographs that food looks sublime. Gastronomie at its best. So salivating as I read I shall slow the pace and read the words too. Such a short break such as that proves its benefit outweighs its brevity – so repeat all summer!

  • your post reminds me of the saying that contrasts French workers with those in America-

    Americans fight for money, while

    the French fight for time!

    Personally, I’d like both.

    Beautiful job chronicling you 24 hours of rest.

  • Oh that looks divine! And the butter! You didn’t have to tell me the name, I know the packaging! :( I would do anything for luke warm French a/c. I am at work, with 3 sweaters on and developed a cold/allergy attack to it 1h since coming to work. It was only a matter of time till it happened this summer. It’s my 1st one of many to come. I hate a/c! Hate it!
    I am glad you got to sleep & eat. That is what holidays are :)

  • coucou D — merci beaucoup for the deets on TripAdvisor. I’m ready to book and will be your faithful followup reporter as needs be.

  • Oh.. that food all looked beyond scrummydumptious but it always does on your lovely Log.. having lived in Paris 41 years ago and experienced a hotter than hades summer, I can just imagine the bliss you felt when you spent the night at the Spa.
    It is ‘pretty’ hot too here in London today.. 33.5 and my new cooking venture has just taken off like a rocket! Which is womderful.. except it means I am working in a hot kitchen and not lolling about in a paddling pool (which is all I am thinking about)!
    A cotton sheet draped over the seat and back of a plastic chair will make your life more pleasant.. thanks David.. stay cool.. ginger ale on ice with crushed fresh mint is a delicious drink.

  • Hoping most sincerely that when back in Paris you get yourself to Darty for an electric fan, the size that can be put on a table or a chair, silently and effectively cooling you as you work or sleep. Then order online plenty of your favorite mineral water (I prefer Salvetat nature, slightly bubbly) from your nearest supermarket and have it delivered to your door. Drink at least 1.5 litres daily. When getting out of bed put on a wet t-shirt and let it dry on you.
    Do not touch wine.
    Do marvel at the gorgeous full moon as if made for Paris.

  • Oh my, I miss the 6 (yes, SIX weeks) I got in Germany in the 80′s. I vacation vicariously with you now!

    I’d love to know what the green sauce being pored over the cannelloni was and what temperature it was, pretty please?

  • Keep the guy and get some new pants! Thanks again for a wonderful post that made me drool and laugh at the same time!

  • In the beginning of your post, you were speaking in the singular “I checked into my hotel…” When I saw the breakfast tray, I knew it was for deux. Glad you were able to enjoy your rest with your other half. I’d never want to leave that gorgeous bed.

  • sounds like a fantastic break from the city – thanks for sharing

  • I feel more relaxed just having read this…. what a wonderful (although brief) respite…. maybe you should make it a more frequent habit?… just sayin.

  • Another piquant post from you, David. Thanks. BTW, what is Juraçon?

  • It is toasty here, too.

  • How utterly divine!
    And that breakfast tray is to die for
    You look like right out of a John Singer Sargent oin the grass…
    http://www.wallcoo.net/paint/sargent_john_singer_01/wallcoo_sargent_john_singer_siesta.html
    Heavenly experience.

  • I’m trying that link again…a not to be missed Sargent why mainly painted peep on vacance…
    Hope this works

    http://www.wallcoo.net/paint/sargent_john_singer_01/%5Bwallcoo%5D_sargent_john_singer_siesta.html

  • I think you just took my vacation for me. I feel more relaxed.

  • Great Blog…..but I really would like that recipe of the Meringue Shell with Cheesecake filling… Is there any chance ?

    Joy

    • You could write the hotel restaurant, Restaurant le Corot, and perhaps they would send it to you. I would give it a try!

  • What a lovely getaway! And well-deserved. Dare I hope that you’re working on another delightful book?

    Vacation is always plural in Spanish, too (las vacaciones) — I wonder if it’s a Romance language quirk.

    My eye was caught by your reference to the Ossau Iraty cheese; my local cheesemonger just got some of that in and I had it last week for the first, but definitely not last, time. YUM, even without the Pata Negra ham that you enjoyed.

  • Hope your not working too hard especially in that heat. Feels very hot in London and thundery hot rain is falling like Java.

  • Great post. I feel my stress leaving me just reading about your little vacation. That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  • “Fusing to the plastic of my office chair.” Brilliant description — that’s just what it’s like when hot flesh meets plastic in a humid environment. That bed looks delicious — wish I had one here with the white duvet. Hmm — maybe I should change the sheets at least. I greet you from the relentless fog of a Bay Area summer, wearing fleece indoors.

  • What a gorgeous bed!

  • Living in SF, I rarely leave the city. But when I do, it always blows me away how relaxing the countryside can be and I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Maybe because just getting from the Mission to the Sunset is such a long trek, going outside the city seems like a impossibility. David, will you be visiting SF again anytime in the next year or so? If you do, or if you have an SF folks coming to visit you soon, you’ll want to check out a new Olive Oil boutique in Noe that carries an insane variety of flavored olive oils and vinegars. The vinegars are what really stand out. My favorite is their white balsamic which tastes a bit lighter and does not impart any color to your dressing. If you have anyone coming to visit you from SF, have them bring you a couple bottles of vinegar from this place! (No, I don’t work there or know the owners, I just love flavored vinegars.) http://www.olivethisolivethat.com/

  • So glad you got a vacation, although am tremendously glad you work so hard because I love, love, love your writing. Just bought your best desserts book this weekend, made the chocolate chip cookies (thought I’d start easy) and they’re the best ever. Thank you for working so hard to give us pleasure! Now, go get another facial…

  • I think you should ask the Cathiards’ to invite you to Bordeaux for another 24 hour break ;-). The chateau, vineyard and vinotherapie spa are impressive!

  • “this whole paragraph disappeared…”

    Such tragedy can usually be undone by holding down the “Control” button and then hitting the letter “z.” I write for a living too, and just learned this recently. It may save your mind another day. :)

    • I tried that and it just kept pasting a previous jumble of html code over and over (and over and over) again. So it was definitely lost – and I let it go to wherever descriptions of soup end up ; )

  • David, I love the reality of your writing; you say you you feel, joyous to cranky. It’s a combination of food and travel writing, even–for me 6,000 miles away–when you are writing about Paris. The photos of you are fun and the food photos, as always, excellent color and interest. They always make me want to eat the computer. But do you take the photos or does Romain?

    I think you should always plan food treks in cooler places like Sweden during your Parisian summers. Or come to San Francisco. You know the summer weather here–today the sun never came out of the fog–and we always have many new restaurants and other culinary establishments opening. The Mission is restaurant row now, and of course there is Dandelion chocolate on the way.

  • Loved this article/blog! Feeling as if my vacation was short, sweet and delicious, again THANKS for your brilliant writing and stories.

    What can I say, it is 1400 hours in Spain, I am preparing for lunch and a long siesta, having basically just awakened from NOT sleeping last night because of the heat in Cadiz. There is no noise except my cats moving around attempting to cool off My little Yorkie is flat out like a lizard taking on water! AND IT IS HOT as what is the pro normal for this area at this time of year.

    I can take the heat but not the noise. Take it easy, enjoy August in Paris, I’m probably going to CHAMONIX where one needs a sweater in the evening.

    Best to you David., keep up your fabulous writing.

  • bliss is evident in every pixel. Just reading your missive created an air of zen jollies!

  • Smoked lard mousse. Wow.

    Lovely post.

    Ditto on getting a fan, if you don’t already have one. Fans are amazing. That said, we had the fans going WITH the a/c in Toronto’s recent 95/35 heat wave. So glad that’s over!

  • David, your post about les vacances is superbly timed. I am cooking for a private French family and their guests and I pull many ideas about what they may or may not like directly from your blog. We have been having une canicule near the Chartreuse and the meringue citron sorbet dessert has inspired me for tomorrow’s after dinner treat. In times of misunderstanding or cultural intoxication I rely on your blog to lift my spirits and make me laugh! Thank you

  • the Auberge was going downhill when Etangs de Corot took over. I have lived nearby from their opening until 2006 and went several times.

    Now reading your post, I have immense regrets for not going more often !
    But it is an incentive to go back, get some fresh air outside of Paris downtown.

    Thanks for this one.

  • We stayed at this very hotel one year ago. It was fantastic. Glad you got to stay there too. Best,BER

  • Add me to the list of peeps who live the Parisian experiences through you, David. I feel more relaxed just after reading this! Not bad! The butter, meringue dessert and that breakfast sound so wonderful . . but the pain au chocolat, I have been pining for one for weeks. . . I hope your spirit and body are restored. :)

  • Oooh la la! I’m having breakfast tray envy! :)

  • I agree with all of the great posts above…

    Your blog posts are definitely a bright spot in my day!

    I do wish I could have seen those shoes, though…

    Keep writing, David!

  • I could easily kill just alone for that breakfast tray you show off…. (not you – kill, I mean!) – but the rest of the tale is equally terrifyingly great so I’ll go quietly back to my limonade aux citrons fraiches and maybe read all the (surely) wonderful comments made in my absence. Mind you, my choral stage in the Alpes Savoyardes was magic too – even though the ‘hotel’ standards were not to compare to yours, peu importe.
    Agree with you on enjoying Paris during the big summer break. You can even find the occasional parking space :)

  • Dear David
    From Tasmania, Australia, where we are shivering in the cold, your blog is a burst of warmth. I love your writing style as much as I enjoy reading about the food.
    I particularly enjoyed reading about the cold pea soup – although the mousse sounds a bit too rich and waist-enriching, a once-off try would be good. Hot pea and spinach soup is a Winter favourite in my kitchen. The intense green makes it seem very healthy.
    I will enjoy trying the avocado/pineapple suggestion when they come back into season.
    Ive never heard of basil seeds being used as you describe. I grow basil from fresh seed from a nursery each year, because it is the one of the few herbs Ive never been successful with when using seeds from my plants of the previous year. I presume I should now let some of my plants go to seed, gather them, dry them and store them (how are they sold? jar? paper bag?) for culinary use. Or is a specific prep required before they can be used?
    PS I think it is probably OK to keep the partner. He was rude about the pants and not your rear end.

    • Basil seeds are sold in Asian stores in little packets and are not expensive. I don’t know about eating other kinds of basil seeds – so always make sure the ones you plan to use are intended for consumption. Since I’m not a gardener, I can’t advise about yours but over at She Simmers, she wrote a good write-up of how to use basil seeds in desserts and cooking.

      PS: I think you’re right about the pants, and the comment!

  • it’s 6am in Seattle and I am laughing out loud by myself…what a beautiful way to start the day. Thank you!

  • My tongue was hanging out while reading your descriptions of the food–what loveliness! And I swear my eyelids are drooping reading of your delightful sleep. Carry on!

  • U made me smile throughout your whole post. Thank u!

  • That is so nice! it looks so luxurious, maybe one day I’ll spend the money for something like this, or better I’ll be invited ;-)

    about “I have to admit, I’m one of the growing number of locals who like Paris in the summer”, I used to be one of them, although now, having to walk the whole neighborhood for a decent baguette, finding art galleries closed and not being able to walk in the center of Paris because of the huge crowd of tourists is not really appealing to me.

  • David,
    A perma-smile accompanies my post-virtual-vacation glow. Thanks for taking me with you! Loved reading about your adventures:)

  • So lovely. Your photos are reminiscent of some of the paintings I studied in school.yes, by Corot.

  • I adore your writing David and I also love linen pants.

  • Hi,
    I’m a french girl, and I have to say that I’ve never met anybody that get a five weeks vacation ! In france we got four weeks of holidays spead on the year. But the normal people can’t take all their vacation in one time.
    I enjoy that you like france :)

  • Have you visited the farm of Joel Thiebault. His farm in Ile-de France should be worth a visit. I was able to buy a book in the Philippines about him, and I think his farm is fantastic. I’d love to read a post you might do about his produce business.

  • The breakfast in bed pic made me happy, beautiful.

  • I kinda wanted a picture of the shoes…

  • Somewhere (over the rainbow, maybe?), there exists a pair of tailored linen pants that will make your butt look amazing. You must not settle for baggy pants that hide your assets, my dear. Now go forth and shop. ;)

  • I’ve learned of you when my niece sent me your video at the Marche Bastille of where they went in 2011. I was fascinated and became an avid fan.

    This write up is so interesting that I have included Les Etangs de Corot in my Paris itinerary in October of this year. It wouldn’t be that warm but I suppose it would be enjoyable too.

    BTW, I just finished ” The Sweet Life in Paris” and thought it is a book well written. I love the anecdotes – they’re hilarious. I have recommended it to a lot of my family and friends.

  • I am now sitting in my cubicle, wistfully imagining and willing that i’ll receive an invite from a non-existent friend to invite me to treat like yours…….A lovely article…