One of the very best pieces of news we got recently is that France will begin receiving American visitors again on June 9th. There were a lot of whooo-hooos and oooh-la-la's going on around here - and then a mad dash to the computer to book flights (one of us is definitely on the first flight in on the morning of the 9th!)
We're beyond excited to be going back to France - and maybe a little nervous, too. We'll have to stay on top of COVID travel restrictions and requirements (like making sure we pack the vaccination card in a safe and sound spot; get that negative test three days before we land back home and confirm our Global Entry membership is up to date). I'm not sure I remember how to pack efficiently for a week-long trip and which bag should I take?
Can't wait to see this old girl again.
It's been so long since I booked any travel to France that it took me about three hours to get my ticket (I had to look at the seating chart to remember which seats I prefer for the long trip home), book trains (the schedules are completely different now) and rent a car (yes, expensive!)
I miss photogenic moments like this that seem to be around every corner in France.
What will life be like in France in a few weeks? What's open? Are there curfews? What will the antiques fairs be like (in normal times, there's a crush of bodies, all drinking espresso shots out of little plastic cups and smoking like crazy before the gates swing open.). We're hearing that indoor dining is opening, museums will have limits on visitors and the curfew will be moved to 11 p.m. (that part won't be a hardship for us - when we're on a buying trip, it's so fast and furious that we are usually conked out way before 11 p.m., unless the jet lag kicks in.)
Despite the butterflies, all I can think about is how much I've missed the early morning aromas of coffee and croissants wafting out from cafes. I can't wait for a light, leisurely and completely delicious lunch after a morning spent frantically buying and negotiating. I want to people watch in Paris and take iPhone pictures of all the cute French dogs. I want to wander by the incredible florist on rue Cler and pick up a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, all beautifully wrapped in old-fashioned brown paper and twine.
I hope I'll be able to sputter out a French phrase or two and that my accent hasn't completely disintegrated. I can't wait to see the gorgeous light that is everywhere in France and that literally takes your breath away. There might even be a hint of the lavender season in Provence. So exciting.
Our home base for the week will be Ann's gorgeous house in Provence and our schedule pretty much looks like this: pre-dawn wake up calls; a couple hours of driving to the fair; at least four hours running around and buying like crazy, followed by a quick lunch (usually a baguette sandwich - the best!) more driving to the next town. Then there's paperwork and accounting and by then, HH Atlanta is up and at 'em so we're busy working hard on two continents.
Lunch on the go at the fairs
But we wouldn't trade any of it for anything. We can't wait to see the familiar faces of vendors we've known for a decade or more and we can't wait to trot out our negotiating skills. It's so fun buying at the fairs - there's usually a little dance, some happy banter, a friendly barter and then we're writing up invoices and tagging our new treasures.
We love buying right off the truck.
What are we looking for? Always the unusual, the beautiful, the crusty and crunchy and the glow of 100-year old French fruitwood. We'll hardly ever pass up anything with white marble and we're a sucker for a Louis XV commode.
How we've missed those fairs! But, we were able to pull off the next best thing: we filled a container filled with goodies via What's App, FaceTime, Instagram, and texts. Phones were ringing and pinging at all hours for a couple weeks. And thank goodness Ann's French is completely perfect because she ended doing most of the heavy lifting on this one while I got to just say yay or nay!
(Drama alert: there has been some stress with this container: it arrived in record speed from France, breezed through customs and then....sat for days in the Port of Charleston. Finally, after dozens of calls, we found a driver and now the container is arriving this week. On the day it's supposed to pour. But yay anyway!)
This is what unpacking a container looks like! It's really so much fun.
Here's a little sneak peek of what's arriving this week:
19th century carved mirror. We loved the size: not too big, not too small.
Talk about crunch: an early 20th century etabli (work bench), complete with the original vise.)
19th century jardinieres (that patina!)
19th century Dutch commode
So, stay tuned! We'll be sending out pictures of the goodies as we unload them and then you'll be able to see them in all their glory on our floor.
And we'll keep you updated on our buying trip to France. We can't wait to be in our happy spot and using our bonjours, oui's and au revoir's!