La Louve

La Louve
La Louve...Garden of the She-Wolf, Bonnieux, France. La Louve is a private French contemporary garden, open to the public, in the town of Bonnieux in the Vaucluse Department of France. It was created beginning in 1986 by Nicole de Vésian, textile designer for the Paris fashion house of Hermès. It is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France.


Getting ready for Fall

Well, the slipcovers are coming off the sofa next week, exposing the original, warm gold color once more. I've taken the antique French white linen tablecloth off the round table and replaced it with a silk stripe in sage-green, cream and coffee (my favorite trio of colors) and it looks richer, more interesting, somehow.

The pots of white orchids on the table have been replaced with a green vase filled with grasses from a field beyond the house, and I've moved the ethnic art back from their summer vacation in my husband's office. I think they're glad to be in the thick of things again.

I know, I know...too early for bringing out fall-inspired design, but the September issue of "House Beautiful" in the mail the other day prompted me to make a head-start. BTW, check out their feature about the contemporary house filled!

A corner of our small living room with black and white prints above an early 19th century Chinese table of rosewood and ebony. The Chinese table/bench holds two of my Vicente Wolfe books, which I always enjoy looking through time and time again. Mask on the stand is Mossi from Africa, the seated figure is Oceanic from the Sepik River region (both purchased from Tribal Links several years ago, and the 18th century bronze bowl is Chinese. 

The wingback armchair is from Ethan Allen covered in a French linen, the lamp was purchased years ago from Crate and Barrel, the white bowls are Song from China, and the wood figure is Songye from Africa. The pillow was made from yardage I had been hoarding from a previous house.

People who know I deal mostly in French and English furnishings are always surprised to see so much Chinese furniture, ethnic items and contemporary art in my home. But, that's one of the joys (and, occasionally perils!) of being in the trade: one has the opportunity to see so many beautiful things from around the world. How can one choose between a beautiful 19th century French walnut table from Provence and an early 19th century Chinese rosewood table from China? Well...if  possible, have both!

19th century French walnut side table from Provence, English shield-back chair painted green with gilded highlights, vintage pier mirror, and 19th century English country child's chair.

Five years ago, my husband retired, and we downsized to a cottage which forced us to be very selective about what we chose to part with and what we chose to bring with us. I've recommended to friends who complain about clutter that they pretend they're about to retire. It really forces one to think about things that have come into our homes and just kind of overstayed their welcome - and things that we brought in because we loved them. Being an antiques dealer, it's always hard to leave something beautiful behind. But, I remind myself that somewhere there's someone else who will love it enough to buy it and keep it forever.

I would love to hear some of your stories. What do you have that, if possible, you would take with you if you were stranded on a Pacific island?

And I really need to hold my camera straight! Sorry about the tilted photos. Skipped Picasa's editing features...

Bonnieux, France

While the fabulous garden, La Louve, is a great draw, the little village of Bonnieux has a charm all its own and well worth the visit. In fact, the Russell Crowe film "A Good Year" was filmed in and around the village.

Below, a few pictures of this lovely town high in the Provence-Alpes Cote d'Azur.

12 century Roman/Gothic church at the entrance to the village

Roman columns and arches

Typical 17th century shop fronts and residences.

Private residences. The rich ochre lime wash on the buildings is breathtaking at sunset!
Entrance to a private residence. Note the little black cat doorbell!

Street of antique shops

Private residences
I always wondered how the interiors were decorated. Old fashion Provencal fabrics, perhaps, with cherry wood side tables, armoires filled with regional quilts, brass candlesticks on tables beside an old carved walnut bed piled high with white linen shams and a down-filled comforter. Or... was the interior filled with clean-lined, ultra modern furniture from Paris? If only the shutters had been opened just a tiny bit. Hmmm...wonder if there's a law against curious, peeking Americans???

Boutique hotel in the heart of Bonnieux. Expedia has a list of more than a dozen hotels in and around Bonnieux

Leaving Bonnieux and on to Menerbes and Lacoste
Hmm...wonder if the owners would sell?

In closing - the very, very discreet entrance to the gardens of La Louve. If possible, plan your visit to Provence  when the garden is open to the public. You won't regret it.  Check online via the French Ministry of Culture or go directly to the La Louve website.


Fall anyone?

Am I the only one ready for Fall to arrive? The flower beds are scraggly, the white slipcovers are looking drab and wrinkled, and after so much paleness, my psyche badly needs some color. So...

Get ready... removing the white slipcovers from the chairs.... opening a nice bottle of Macon-Villages 2008
..and having a few friends over for supper!
Okay, there are still a few summery days before us, but after the hottest season on record, I'm seriously thinking of....pumpkins and gourds, rusty-orange mums, pale dried hydrangeas, candlelight everywhere in the house, mellow, earthy Burgundy instead of sangria....and is it too much to ask for a really nice roast leg of lamb with rosemary!


La Louve: Garden of the She-Wolf

Since so many people enjoyed the earlier pictures I posted of La Louve, I have decided to show more of this remarkable private garden. Created in 1986 by Nicole de Vesian, a textile designer with the fashion house of Hermes, La Louve was declared one of the "Notable Gardens of France" by the French ministry.

Open to the public twice a year by appointment only, I was privileged to be part of a small group given a personal tour by the present owner, American Judith Pillsbury. Ms. Pillsbury has lovingly added to and maintained the garden since Ms. Vesian sold it. At the ripe age of 84, the latter went on to create another, smaller garden in the village.

Located in the small village of Bonnieux, which is in the Vaucluse region in Southern France, the garden is a series of outdoor 'rooms' many of which are in the Asian style. Enjoy the tour while being aware this incredible garden is clinging to a steep mountainside hundreds of feet above the valley!

Cypress clipped into topiaries. The smaller bushes are clipped rosemary and santolina

Santolina and rosemary
Small grotto built into the mountainside
Path leading from lower gardens to upper terrace

Clipped boxwood

Small pool fed by a mountain stream

Mixed bed utilizing native plants

Thousands of stones from the surrounding mountains were brought to the garden to create terraces, recesses and buttresses