8 Things I Learned On Vacation in France

This year, more than ever, I'm dying for a vacation. I've been working hard on projects that have really meant a lot to me and now I'd like some time off. My mind immediately wanders over to France and memories of my trip there last year flood through me. It was a trip that was so rich I'm still reaping the benefits of it now, but it makes me anxious to be able to revisit it for a little refresher course in vacation:1. Savor the moment. I spent a good portion of the day sitting at the dining table and watching the light change while catching up with family, doing some blogging and spending an inordinate amount of time eating. I didn't do much, didn't cross much off the list of things to do, but my days were rich and satisfying.

2. Keep things clean. The house I stayed in was kept in very clean condition. The kitchen floor was mopped at least every day and, at the end of each day, all the dishes were done, all the food was wrapped up and there weren't really odds and ends left out on the counters or the dining table. Having a large house like this stay so clean kept it feeling inviting and comfortable.

3. Don't be afraid to make a mess. Of course, meals were a big deal, and unlike at home where the dishes are whisked off the table as soon as we're done so that we can get on to the next thing, here we seemed to luxuriate in dishes strewn about the table. Not until the wee hours of the night did the table get cleared. Being able to sit and relax without jumping up to start washing up made time move more slowly and allowed conversations to meander (in a good way).

4. Classics are classics. My grandmother's Thonet bentwood chairs and Eames Wire chair were right at home in the classic Provincial house. Why? Because they're classics. She's had those chairs for 40 years and they're as relevant as ever.

5. The Mundane is beautiful. I picked up this vase at a Marche aux Puces and then we filled it with clippings from just outside the door. They might not be pretty peonies, but they do the trick and it reminded me how beautiful everyday things can be and that it's often best to do less in order to enjoy what's in front of me.

6. Embrace the seasons. In California, except for the extreme heat, it's easy to let seasons slip by unnoticed. I was in France in the Fall and the thunderstorms, heavy fog and bright sunny hot days reminded me that the weather was changing and to enjoy whatever was in store for the day. I can take the nice weather in LA for granted, but when I'm grateful and make use of going outside and enjoying it, life is sweeter.

7. Simple is Beautiful. I finally got a chance to check out le petit atelier de paris and their beautiful white porcelain work based on familiar shapes and meant to be used everyday. I loved the plain red and white dishcloth they'd set their display up on top of. It didn't need ot be fancy or ornate to be beautiful. This is something I try to practice at home.

8. Set the table. A small detail but one that I try to practice at home. I clear the table of whatever has accumulated and I set it for dinner. I use nice plates and napkins and I don't skimp on how many we dishes we use (because I loathe the idea of having to wash them). I also try not to do 12 other things while I eat. It's a small ritual, but one that makes meals and the evening time feel so much more satisfying.

Images: Laure Joliet

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