I love the simple elegance of beeswax candles and have had my eye on these beauties since last year when I discovered this French brand, Apis Cera, via Jamie Beck of Ann Street Studio. It was a pleasure to befriend the owner and I was so pleased to receive two boxes of the Lucienne tapers which come as a set of 9 this past month, just in time for the holiday season (and our Thanksgiving table, see below). The packaging is exquisite but more importantly, the candles are light and lovely, burn beautifully and free of all the pollutants and additives which make up many taper candles. I love that each is rolled by hand with natural ingredients and think that they would make the most wonderful hostess or holiday present this season.
They look beautiful in these crystal candlestick holders and also in silver, and I love the idea of burning this oneon a cold gray morning while you’re working at your desk, and would use these for bath time — the epitome of simple luxury! Below is a picture of the box and tissue, a beautiful presentation.
Will and I have been determined to travel with our son (and hopefully future children) as much as we can but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t intimidating, especially the days leading up to a big trip. Our son has traveled with us a lot, he has gone to the West coast a handful of times, Europe twice and up and down the East coast often. I actually find that the more we do it, the easier it is. The most nervous I have been to travel is when we are entirely out of practice. There was one six week period early (maybe 7 or 8 months old) on where we traveled four times (including one of our West coast trips) and it became quite breezy because it was a set part of our routine. This time before we left for France for our extended stay, we spent more time at home in Charleston than we have in years, and so I was feeling a bit panicked. Regardless, I could easily remember how worth it it all is as last year’s memory was fresh in my mind.
Flying to Europe
A redeye is great if you have a decent sleeper. If you can, do an extra seat. We never did it and we made it through just fine, back of the plane, hopefully not in the middle. I do recommend booking flights on the phone and talking to an emphatic operator. On more than one occasion, booking on the phone on JetBlue (local flights) and Delta has helped us get better seats — either the very front of the plane, which is desirable with a baby for so many reasons, or on a longer flight, in a two seat set rather than a middle row of four, which is far more comfortable. Even if it is miserable, remember that it’s just a blip in time. If there’s a meltdown, so be it. Most people on the flight have either had children and wish to relate to you about one excruciating flight experience or they have noise-canceling headphones and are just thrilled its not them.
I try to remind myself to just relax, go with the flow, bring baby carrier and lots of new toys. Sticker books, a white board, and big legos were our go-to’s this time around. My best friend traveled from San Diego to France to join us this year with her six month old and told me that she asked the hostesses to tell her all the worst things they had seen over a glass of wine — fantastic idea!
I forgo a handbag and just use a diaper bag packed to the brim with new toys, snacks, water bottles, extra pacifiers (because our guy still uses his), diapers, wipes, sanitizer, milk etc. I also dress comfortably, and this time I switched from jeans into something more comfortable on the flight which was life-changing. Growing up, my mother always taught me to dress up for flights, and I try maintain this as best I can while also being realistic. Bring spare clothes for the whole family if possible!
Make yourself at home.
An extended stay is designed to help you create a second way of life, a second home. Put your baby on a schedule, settle into a new routine. It’s not about a hotel mentality, it’s about a home mentality in a totally new place and it is such a pleasure! I really recommend trying to find a rental so that you can get into a rhythm.
We try to get on the local time zone right away. We’re zombies after the redeye but the excitement of arriving, and the endless espressos help. If our little one sleeps in the car, we usually arrive mid-morning so try to skip a nap for the rest of the day to get on a regular bedtime. The first year was tough with lots of nightly wake ups, this year was a dream. Both trips were great, so we just did the best we could.
What to pack
As little as possible while still also bringing the essentials that help with the transition: a handful of cuddly toys, a favorite blanket, some familiar books and toys. We find that our son is so fascinated by his new surroundings that he doesn’t need as many toys in the beginning, and then we pick up cheap and cheerful items as needed: a plastic truck, a noodle for the pool, some new books, etc.
In our case, all the toiletries that we use in the U.S. are readily available in the French pharmacies, so we can leave those heavy items at home and pick them up locally. Same goes for diapers, formula, etc, no need to bring them for an extended stay.
I know that we have a laundry machine so don’t need to overpack on clothes, and if he outgrows anything on the trip, we leave it behind (give it away).
Other thoughts, in no particular order:
Don’t forget that you need a baby passport!!
Use the local currency, even when prompted on the card machines.
Rather than renting a hotel, I recommend renting an apartment or house for the extended stay so that you can have a kitchen and get into a routine without worrying
Go early in the summer. Everybody in Europe takes their holiday in August, so go May and June. August is the most expensive and most crowded.
Transition into village life, local life, as quickly as possible by finding out what the heartbeat of the town is, pottery, rug making, etc. and also where the best bakers and artisans are.
Eat where the locals eat (hint: places that are full at lunchtime and evenings.
Buy local buy local buy local!!!! As in America, look for local markets. Cook at home 🙂 Particularly places like France, people don’t do big shopping they go every day to buy fresh bread, vegetables. They buy what is ripe that day and they eat it that night, it’s a very different way of shopping and eating.
Pimsleur programs are a great way to learn the language, just enough to get by at least!
REALX AND ENJOY you extended stay, it’s all a part of life’s rich tapestry. XX
As promised here is our St Tropez guide. We have been spending summers in France (St. Tropez) since I was very little. My earliest memories are of the crowded, hot market, weaving my way through the crowds hand in hand with my older cousin. We still love to visit the market and I find that in May/June when we visit, it’s far less crowded than it is in mid-August. Still, I recommend going early if you can, everything is just a bit easier that way. It is on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7:30-1:30 and is full of lots of delicious food, spices, linens, lavender, soaps, jewelry, clothes, homewares and linens — jackpot! Here is a little glimpse into what it looks like:
Market days also make the village very busy, so if I am going to run errands or spend a day in St. Tropez, I tend to avoid those days if I can. A lot of shops close after lunch, say from 1-4, but they stay open very late which can make for a fun early evening activity. My favorite clothing shops are: Des Petite Hauts, LULU, Baar & Bass,Gas Bijoux, By Marie, Zimmermann, BLABLA & Sunday. There’s also a little shop which says Dupuis 1903 which has great presents (both men & women) and staples for the wardrobe and home.
Inside Baar & Bass (above & below):
Shop window of Dupuis 1903:
Inside Petite Hauts, below:
A great candle shop on one of my favorite quiet streets in the village above and BLABLA’s storefront below:
LULU above which sits close to the Dior house & the new Zimmerman St. Tropez HQ!
Besides that, we spend a lot of time wandering through the flowery cobblestone streets, eating tomato sandwiches from street vendors, and ice cream from Barbarac in the port — a must, and it melts quickly!!! Honestly we eat at the house most of the time so don’t do long dinners in town, but when I was younger we used to go to the Les Caves nightclub — not sure if it’s cool or not anymore but I love a good night of dancing so might be fun regardless!
Here I am in the port which is always full of fun boats to look at, I love it when giant wooden sailboats come in! MORE TRAVEL TIPS COMING! XXX
I’m not going to lie, I brought a lot of clothes to France this year. Partly because it was a long trip, but also because I knew that there would be so many events and occasions on which I would wish to wear x or y. It might have been a bit overkill, and I actually prefer to pack in a more efficient way (lesson learned) because no matter how much I bring with me, I tend to slip into a routine of rotating only a few items most of the time – my summer staples. For me, this year, it was a handful of one piece bathing suits, my linen trousers, two pairs of shoes, and kaftans.
This soft pink Solid & Striped suit was my most worn (sadly from last season but I found some similar fits below) even though it is old and had previously gone untouched it became one of my summer staples. Maybe my figure has changed from when I bought it, but I definitely felt my best in it this year and found that I reached for it a lot. It helped that it went well with my favorite sarong — I have had so many questions about this one; it is from the 55 store and I am looking for similar ones to stock for this site as I can’t find elsewhere!
Next, my high-waisted linen trousers were my go-to bottoms. I wore them with everything from a white button town (men’s, women’s, you name it), to a white tee shirt, nude top for evening, and of course over all my suits. I absolutely love these and anything linen for the heat.
I wore this particular dress about ten thousand times when I was in France, perhaps more than anything. It was the perfect throw over for any time of day from the market to the beach to a long lunch. I had to stop myself from wearing it even more than I already had!
Last, these two pairs of shoes, these sandals and these loafers, along with a handful of espadrilles that I picked up from the market in France, were the only shoes I wore really. I found that the white loafers were so versatile and a really great purchase for the trip!! A nice way to upgrade from my normal white sneaker style… XX
I just realized how much I have been talking about romance these days!! Chalk it up to putting our feet up for a bit in France and letting some of our daily stresses form home melt away. It’s also really hard not to feel that dreamy, relaxed loving way when you sink into such a beautiful, serene environment. And for me, spending less time on my phone is such a delicious way to reconnect with the people right in front of me! But I do promise that I will get on to other topics soon enough – right after this lovely romantic dinner.
This was one of our final evenings, and one of our rare few just us. After we settled our son to sleep, we lit the candles per usual and had a lovely sunset dinner on my grandmother’s terrace. I’m sure it’s not hard to see why this is one of my favorite places in the world.
These etched candle shades are one of my favorite things of hers and are so lovely and romantic, I let them be at the center of our table so that we can enjoy them. On this particular evening, I used simple woven placemats and one of our new plate sets from the Jas des Roberts. A simple linen napkin, fresh market peonies and etched glasses completed the easy set up.
I love that last moment of glowing daylight, after which the candles really start to twinkle – its the most romantic dinner moment of all. There is no light outside so we have to light up the wall and other tables around — I think it was over one of these dinners when I was so swept up that I suggested to Will that we live by candlelight after dark for a year. He quickly dismissed that idea!
One of the best suggestions for a romantic night is keeping the food so simple. In this case, we had a flaky spinach pie from the patisserie and a salad with lentils followed by ice cream and berries — hard to beat! XX
One of our favorite parts of being in France is the food. The produce is out of this world delicious. The melon is the best I have ever had, it’s no wonder my grandmother had one every morning for breakfast. The cheeses, fresh fish, sausages, croissants and pastries are also a highlight for us. While we didn’t miss a single morning for croissants — they were always on the table, usually still warm — doing the (pastry) patisserie run was a less regular habit and more of a treat.
And what a treat it is! Perhaps it was also more rare be it’s so difficult to decide which to settle on: peach, apple, strawberry or my all time favorite, the tarte tropezienne. We often ended up picking a savory pie for dinner, too: spinach and cheese or a quiche. On this particular visit, our boxes were very heavy because we grabbed them all…
One of my favorite memories from the trip was going to an annual goods market in Aix-en-Provence. I bring it up only because after sifting through hundreds of stalls, we stumbled upon a pastry booth and ate three types standing up, it was the perfect blood-sugar reset. The crust is so flaky and delicious, and the fruit so ripe. I also love to think that the French approach these treats as celebratory pleasures rather than guilt-inducing indulgences. That was definitely my mindset in France and I’m trying to keep it up at home.
Last, this might have been my favorite outfit from the trip. I have said it before and I will say it again, these pants have been one of my favorite purchases of the summer — they are so comfortable, versatile and breathe beautifully. And, these shoes were an absolute staple and still are my everyday shoe!!
Thanks for joining in on the patisserie run, looking forward to sharing some longer articles this week, we got a wee bit carried away with birthday celebrations this weekend ;)! XX