How To Do French Style: Homes, Gardens, Living, Beautifully (Cont'd.)

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The French have a way of doing things that is just about perfect and is seldom pretentious.

France is a tradition, a romance,  a style. Some more formal and others less so, but style is always present. Let me dish on how France celebrates this abundance.

As shown at left, even today on the streets of Paris, one still observes the prototypical Frenchmen wearing their berets, bicycling along and carrying baguettes under their arms.

And even today the Frenchwomen go about their business - wearing their everyday scarves - tied ever-so chic.  (Serious style tip.)

These small things are part of the art of daily living, in France.

French Jardins (Gardens) Formal And Informal.

France is a country of plentiful gardens.

The Formal Gardens Of France - A Pride Of The Country

The Jardin de Bagatelle Paris's Bois de Boulogne is an excellant example of a French regal, formal garden. Click here to see more about these creations.  They are rigorously designed and meant to be promenaded - they're a pride of the country and open to the public.

The Village At Versailles also contains a 'French Jardin'.  

Marie Antoinette had a need to get away from the etiquette ruled, ceremonial life of Versailles.

In a corner of the Versailles's vast acreage, Antoinette ordered the construction of Le Hameau  (The Hamlet), a fairy-tale version of a country village.

It is said she was bored and looking for amusement, wanting a retreat from the rigors of court life. But Antoinette was also responding to the changing tastes in landscape design as well and the desire to also enjoy more informal gardens was a driving force behind the Village at Versailles.

Marie Antoinette is the only queen to have
" . . . imposed her personal taste on Versailles.
Sweeping away the old court and its traditions,
she insisted on living as she wished."

Read more about this Queen and the Le Hameau, The Hamlet, by Clicking here.  (France obviously had a love hate relationship with this still popular cultural icon, but her Hamlet stands today as absolutely one of the most beautiful places in the world.)

Informal Greenery, Glimpses In The French Villages, The Everyday People

In the villages, the people's gardens are simply, modestly perfect. Over time a very caring gardener or two (or more) have tended these vines and espaliers (the word espalier itself is French).

Tending to gardens is a celebration of life in France.

Flower Shops

No village is without one, nor any Paris street - the flower shop on the corner where a bouquet is as easy to find as a loaf of bread. France is a land of flowers. They are inexpensive enough to be given to almost anyone for almost anything or to buy for yourself by the armful without it being any special occasion at all. 

Les fleurs are a piece of the fiber of French life.

France, A' La Maison (French Transl., In The Home)

A stately, French grand chateau is exactly decorated - not overly so - and filled with light and serenity. Below left, the two matching topiaries demand attention, but they matter much to this French homeowner. This is one of the ways of the French, attention to small detail, details that are exceptional to this homeowner.

Chateau or cottage, French homes are personal expressions of style. The editors of Victoria Magazine published a book a few years back entitled, The Heart of France and it beautifully shares much about this gracious country, including how the French people view their homes. From that book, "A home for the French is as personal an expression as a signature - and just as refined. These are not houses to which there is easy access. An invitation to someone's home is a true mark of intimacy; even entertaining friends often takes place in a restaurant. Such houses, grand or ordinary, large or small, are treasuries, holding fast family memories, illuminating family life, and done up in individual style."

I acknowledge it takes effort to develop the taste and exquisite style. As we develop beautiful interiors we're developing beauty that appeals to us, to our senses, it should speak to those who live in the home. A final tip, in France, personal taste and expression are paramount.

Don't be afraid to show off your style and taste; and as the French do, make this part of your daily art of living. 

Chicken Fricassee With Tarragon Bonus Recipe (Cooking

Fricassee is a classic French stew of chicken and vegetables, cooked in white wine and finished with a touch of cream. The light tarragon-infused sauce begs to be sopped up with crusty bread.

Serves:  4
Total Time:  50 Minutes

  • 2-1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken pieces, skin removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1-1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms, wiped clean, halved or quartered
  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon, plus 4 teaspoons chopped (see Substitution Note)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven.  Add chicken, cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, atop a napkin.
  2. Add shallots to the pan; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits. Simmer until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth; bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan; add carrot, mushrooms and tarragon sprigs. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until the chicken is tender and no longer pink in the center, about 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm. Discard tarragon sprigs. Increase heat to medium-high. Simmer the cooking liquid for 2 to 3 minutes to intensify flavor. Add cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in sour cream, mustard and chopped tarragon. Serve immediately.

Tips & Techniques
Substitution Note:  You can use 1-1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon instead of fresh. Add it all at once in Step 3.

Recipe from


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