My French Chronicles: May 2023

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It’s the beginning of May, and I already feel like I’m running out of time. I’m writing my French Chronicles on the eve of my departure for Cornwall and the Cotswolds, and I wish I’d had the opportunity to tell you about some very interesting exhibitions that I’d wanted to see before I left, but which I’ll tell you about in June.

Nature is very late this year. I was looking at photos of the garden this time last year, the peonies were already in bloom, and the tomatoes almost ready to be planted in the kitchen garden. We’ll have to wait a little longer, which gives us a little respite to finish the work in the garden between showers.

Before leaving for England, I stopped off at Le Bon Marché to discover their small summer selection, and I also made a quick trip to the Journée des Plantes in Chantilly. Not really convinced by either. I did, however, really enjoy a calligraphy workshop, which I’ll tell you about below. Having a passion for paper and writing, it made me want to devote even more time to it.
Join me in the streets of Paris and in the countryside for those May chronicles, punctuated by a few pretty discoveries but also a few disappointments…

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Les bons marchés de l'été Le Bon Marché-08

Les Bons Marchés de l'Été

The idea was excellent, but in the end this small exhibition focusing on a summer selection proved a little disappointing. One might have expected more stands (and they’re scattered across the floors, so you come across them by chance) and a more interesting range of products. The impression is that the subject is barely touched upon, and that the buyers have taken their inspiration from Liberty in London. We also don’t know which way to turn, with the Sézane brand being promoted at the same time, which makes the whole thing a bit confusing. I was also hoping that the tote bags in the exhibition would be more qualitative, as the design was perfect, but they don’t hold up at all, which is a real shame. I love Le Bon Marché, but I was left wanting more!

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First festivities of the season

The season of good things has begun! May is the month of festivities at home. The first birthdays (and a communion for the first time this year) begin, and it’s a time for family and friends to gather around a big table and fabulous desserts!
These come from Berthelot in Senlis. If you stop by, the Pavlova and Mon Rêve are a must… as are their chocolates!

Berthelot, 7 place de la Halle, Senlis

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The Plant and Flower Show at Chantilly was, again, a disappointment. Just after taking over the principle of the Fête des Plantes de Courson, criticism came from visitors and nurserymen alike. And neither the public nor the exhibitors were listened to at the time. It’s a shame, because Chantilly has the extraordinary potential and international renown to make the Journée des Plantes a prestigious and recognized event. But the estate undoubtedly relied too much on its prestige, and consequently proposed a high cost for exhibitors, not to mention parking (very poorly placed – efforts have been made this year, however). As a result, the very good nurserymen gave up and stopped coming, so what was the point of going? They could also have offered three different prices… Last year’s edition was a little better, and you can check it out below.
However, it seems that the estate is trying to offer more varied events, but they’d do well to get a grip on this large-scale yet charming event.

Preparing dahlias for summer

In order to grow beautiful dahlias and strengthen them, we plant them in pots with a mixture of soil and compost from the end of April.

It’s time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a greenhouse, but it’s worth it, as the flowers appear much earlier this way.

We use the same technique for cosmos and begonias.


When my mother and I walked into Smith & Son (formerly WH Smith) in Paris, it was a shock. Major renovations had been carried out. Gone was the beautiful, cosy bookshop with its distinctly British ambience. We felt as if we were in Ikea, among modern bookshelves in a sterile, minimalist atmosphere. We used to come here for this cosy, old-fashioned atmosphere, and it’s a shame to see that they’ve given in to this ambient conformism. And yet, there are still a few English touches (some of the walls are coloured or covered in tartan – but only a few!), too few in fact. That’s not England. Fortunately, bookshops such as Galignagni (on the same street) or Daunt Books and Hatchard’s in London still retain their soul and identity. Thankfully. 

A calligraphy workshop with Montblanc

I had a wonderful time at a workshop organized by Montblanc and dedicated to calligraphy, which allowed us to discover their many nibs in a creative way.

The workshop took place at Le Bon Marché (yes, I know) in the presence of a talented calligrapher, Édouard Dupont, whose work you can discover on his site internet.

There were around ten of us, and we had a great time with the charming Montblanc staff. The aim was to learn calligraphy and decorate an envelope using Mail Art techniques.

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It’s hard to set a table between two showers and without real flowers that haven’t yet bloomed in the garden (except for Geums). So here’s a chance to (re)discover an al fresco table that’s easy enough to reproduce, and will allow you to enjoy the sunny days (which are just around the corner!).


We love cooking at home, making jars and jams, baking cakes and experimenting with family recipes with a few personal touches.
I came up with this one because I needed a practical recipe book that would lie flat when open. It’s divided into two sections: one for short recipes, the other (marked by a thin colored border) for longer recipes. Each page is also numbered, so you can easily refer to another recipe!

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