Champagne vineyards in Mailly-Champagne near Reims, eastern France. Photograph: Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images

Champagne vineyards in Mailly-Champagne near Reims, eastern France. Photograph: Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images

This week, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee approved the vineyards of Burgundy and the Champagne region of France as World Heritage Sites. They noted the regions’ unique soil types and fermentation methods. France now boasts 41 sites on the Heritage list, including the Saint-Emilion vineyards in Bordeaux. We’ll toast to that!

Sources:

Corks fly as Champagne, Burgundy win UNESCO status / France24

Unesco grants champagne industry world heritage status / The Guardian

Have you heard about the Google Art Project? Google asked museums around to world to let them photograph their buildings and collections to put online for everyone to view. The museums chose which works to show (some are blurred for copyright protection) and Google did the rest. The absolutely amazing result is that people anywhere and everywhere can discover and view more than a thousand artworks online in extraordinary detail. See the 200-foot-long Hall of Mirrors online, no plane ticket or trip through TSA required.

versailles hall of mirrors

Versailles Hall of Mirrors

On a related note, our building (The Cox Market Plaza in Old Town Tustin) and boutique interior were recently photographed by Google for our place page. The Google photographer took lots of pictures of our shop, which should be online in a few weeks. I guess we got the same treatment as Versailles!

I Dream of France After Dark

I Dream of France After Dark

–Brett & Jean-Michel

Toile de jouy table linens are some of our bestsellers, but did you know the history of toile? According to Wikipedia, toile became an English word in the year 1561. In French, “toile” is a much older word meaning fabric. The famous toile de jouy style of fabric, depicting country scenes in one color on a white or off-white background, was created during the 18th century and is attributed to the town of Jouy-en-Josas (hence the name) near Versailles and just southwest of Paris. Toile decorating fabric has been in fashion ever since — a classic that never goes out of style!

Here are some toile de jouy table linens available for sale from I Dream of France!

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Celebrity Petanque

Supermodel Karolina Kurkova (second left) beside actors Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger during a game of boules at the Chanel party in St-Tropez in May. Photograph: MaxPPP/PacificCoastNews.com

“Forget the image of boules (or pétanque, as it is more properly known) as the game of old men in string vests. Suddenly, it’s becoming the height of cool – and not just in France.”

This is so funny and cool to me. The first time I ever heard of the game pétanque was on The Cosby Show! Cliff Huxtable had a set up in the backyard where he played with his dad one episode. The next time I thought about it was more than 15 years later, driving through a small village in France with Jean-Michel. We saw a public park in the middle of town with a few games set up in the middle of the day. The players were men who looked to be retirement age. I don’t remember string vests, but maybe they were wearing them! Leave it to young Hollywood to resurrect a half-forgotten pasttime and make it cool again. Pétanque looks a little like lawn bowling from a distance, but the balls are smaller and heavier. They don’t really roll. It’s played more like horseshoes.

“The principles of pétanque are as old as history. Archaeologists found two balls and a jack in the sarcophagus of an Egyptian prince buried in the 52nd century BC. The ancient Greeks and Romans liked playing with stone balls; medieval Europeans preferred wooden ones studded with nails. Boules became so popular in France that the game was banned for commoners for much of the 14th and 15th centuries. Here, successive English kings from the time of Edward III forbade their archers to play it, and an act not repealed until the 18th century formally outlawed the game for “artificers, labourers, apprentices and servants” at any time except Christmas.”

Read the full story at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/28/france-boules-petanques-got-cool

–Brett

Philippe Deshoulières Canapé Plates

This French city of Limoges would probably remain unknown to the world if it were not for the amazing porcelain it produces. Located in the central region of Limousin, the city of Limoges has a very rich history dating back to the Roman empire. Remains of a Roman amphitheater as well as many edifices from the middle ages and renaissance make Limoges an interesting destination for anybody interested in history.

However, what sets Limoges apart from other historical cities in France is its porcelain industry. A few decades before the French Revolution, supplies of kaolin clay were found near Limoges. The exact type of kaolin made it possible to produce fine porcelain to compete with the popular pieces made in China at the time. The Limoges porcelain was delicate and very white, almost translucent, making it extremely desirable.  First commissioned by the king Louis XVI, the manufacture of Limoges porcelain gave birth to various companies after the revolution. Names include Bernardaud, Raynaud, Haviland or Philippe Deshoulières.

The Deshoulières group (headquartered near my hometown of Poitiers) is one of the most renowned porcelain manufacturer since it opened in 1826 and is famous for its contemporary designs. We chose a beautiful, yet very affordable, line of canapé plates to carry in our collection. The canapé plates are six inches in diameter, perfect for dessert, salad or hors d’oeuvres served around the couch (canapé means couch in French). They come in a beautiful lavender gift box, are dishwasher safe and adorn the genuine “Porcelaine de Limoges” stamp. Each has a theme, French Castles, Wine and Cheese, Merchant Row, St Tropez Beaches, Herbs, and Walk in Provence. They make a very thoughtful gift and they are the perfect way to treat yourself to the real Limoges at a very affordable price.

Until the end of August, all our Deshoulières sets are 10% off! Use coupon code LIMOGES in the shopping cart or stop by our boutique in Tustin.

— Jean-Michel

P.S. Read about our trip to Limoges and the porcelain factory tour we took!

What is it with France and the rooster? So many French products have roosters on them that one of our customers once asked jokingly, “Do you carry anything that doesn’t have roosters or chickens on it?”

The Rooster is undeniably the national emblem of France. From coins to stamps to monuments, the Coq, as it is called in French, appears everywhere.

I Dream of France Bastille Day Rooster Special

I Dream of France Bastille Day Rooster Special

The origin of the rooster in French culture comes from the Roman empire. At that time France was called “Gaule” and its inhabitant the “Gallus”. The Latin word for rooster is also “gallus” and naturally the Romans were referring to the French as roosters!

In the middle ages, the rooster was used in France as a religious symbol representing faith and hope.  Many churches in France use a rooster on the roof as a weathervane, called a “girouette”.

During the French revolution, the rooster found its status as the national emblem, replacing the Fleur de Lys that had been the symbol of the Bourbon royal dynasty. During the two World Wars, the rooster was used to stand up to the German Eagle.

Today, the rooster still proudly assumes its role as the symbol of French sovereignty. It is on the official seal of the French Republic, and is used by many businesses, local governments and even private homes to show patriotism. French sports teams, including the national soccer team, use the rooster as their logo.

The crow of the rooster in French is “Cocorico,”and saying Cocorico! in conversation has the same meaning as “Vive la France!”

The rooster has been used for many years on many French country products as decoration with a hint of patriotism on fabrics and ceramics and even carved on furniture.

Rooster Toile Placemat by Karen Lee Ballard from I Dream of France

Rooster Toile Placemat by Karen Lee Ballard from I Dream of France

For the month of July and in celebration of Bastille Day, the French National Holiday (July 14th), all products featuring roosters (and chickens) will be 10% off. Enter coupon code COCORICO. (Go to our website and browse our Rooster Special section). In Southern California? Stop by our store and find even more products. Cocorico!

–Brett & Jean-Michel

Quimper Faience

If you are interested in the history and culture of France, you can subscribe to a very informative free e-mail newsletter called France Monthly.

This month the spotlight is on the Northern town of Quimper. For example, did you know that the local cathedral of St Corentin took over six centuries to build?  Those of you who appreciate the beautiful Quimper pottery will undoubtedly enjoy reading this piece. The faiencerie of HB Henriot is mentioned by name.

To read the newsletter or subscribe, follow this link: France Monthly – Quimper