Bonjour! I’m back at my desk, jet-lagged since returning Sunday night from from our France workshop.
After my husband and I flew to Paris (and I got about two hours’ sleep on the plane), I drove our rental Peugeot to Chinon, a cobbled village in the Loire Valley. Apparently I got a speeding ticket, which has happened to several colleagues. I await the exorbitant bill in the mail, which charges late fees.
My co-teacher, food writer Jamie Schler, owns a gorgeous 15th century hotel in Chinon with her French husband Jean-Pierre. We held our food writing workshop, Writing Around the Kitchen Table, there, which turned out to be a convienence and a pleasure.
Jamie and I welcomed a group of accomplished women. They were mostly Americans — p.r. and social media experts, food industry professionals, and cooking teachers. There was also a Canadian, a Brit and a Turk living in Italy. Two students teach at an English-language program at the Cordon Blu in Paris. One was a full-time travel writer and several are published authors.
Of Truffles, Wine and Chateaux
In addition to instruction about food writing and writing assignments, students went on a truffle hunt, strolled the local market in the town square, enjoyed a 3-course dinner at a fancy restaurant, and had lunch and a tasting at a winery’s chateau. Jamie and I taught and consulted, either in the hotel’s breakfast room, bar, or in her private apartment on the first floor. Katya Willems of Katya’s Cake Hole blog covered the workshop in this humorous post.
At the workshop’s end, my husband Owen and I drove back to Paris — under the speed limit the entire way — and returned the car. We spent six days in an apartment in the Marais, walking for miles and eating way too much. What I loved most was observing how the French tie scarves. There’s no nonchalance at all. It’s a deliberate act, probably performed in front of a mirror.
While in Paris, a highlight was meeting food writer Clotilde Dusouliers, whom I have known forever online but whom I have never met in person. She was lovely, arriving on bicycle at a coffee place, and making a lunch reservation for us at a nearby restaurant. She doesn’t seem to age since starting her highly-successful food blog in 2003. And I found out on Facebook that David Leite was there on a brief vacation, so we met for coffee right in our neighborhood, where we were staying just a few blocks from each other.
Here are a few more photos of our workshop events:
This was just the best weekend! I was blown away by the women – talented, smart, loads of fun, and it was such a pleasure working with them. Both the truffle hunt and the wine tasting and lunch were such fun as well as fascinating. Working with you was wonderful and great fun (as was getting to know Owen). A successful first and most definitely not the last!
Yes I agree, we had a marvellous time with our students and your gorgeous hotel. I can’t wait to do it again, Jamie! We have to figure that out.
Yes we do!
Katya Willems says
I’m still really missing being on the workshop, it was such a lovely experience. And I’m so jealous you got to meet Clothilde – I love her blog. x
Me too. I could have hung out there much longer. I loved the piece you wrote — such a strong example of voice.
Clotilde is an exceptionally wonderful person — so upbeat, professional and charming. I was so happy to finally meet her.
I wish the workshop could have gone on for another week! I loved listening to you all read your work…
Catherine Walthers says
My friend was able to warn us about the tickets in France and point out the cameras on the highways. But she would say pay it, otherwise the fees accrue and they have ways to track you down, like through you tental cars etc
Yes, I couldn’t believe how many people I knew got tickets. The rental car company charged me 19 euros just to tell me that I had a ticket and I thnk they forwarded my contact info to the government. I can’t remember how much one person said, but she got a letter about late fees and a few hundred euro fine.
dot cahill says
hertz charged us even more to give the info to the police..for the 100 Euro plus ticket,,,, 5 km over and =100E gotta love those big brother socialist countries always watching over you!!
Kitty Morse says
Sympa, Diane. Sujet et lieux delicieux.
PS: Mon mari se nomme aussi Owen! Pas banal comme nom.
Thank you Kitty. I didn’t realize that you speak French, but of course, being a Morocco expert, it makes sense. Dit “bonjour” a su marie.
Amanda (@lambsearshoney) says
It sounds like a wonderful time was had by all – with the exception of the speeding ticket.
I’ve been to France a couple of times, but have yet to make it to Jamie’s at Chinon. But one day we’ll get there!
Yes true. Jamie’s husband estimated the amount, but it could take months to get it in the mail and who knows what it will cost?
It really is quite fabulous, to be in their hotel. It has tremendous atmosphere and coziness, and the rooms are lovely. The whole town is lovely, with its narrow cobbled streets and pretty shops and restaurants. You would love it!
David Leite says
It was a delight to see you and Owen in Paris, Dianne. The One and I loved our tete-a-tete at Comme a Lisbonne!
Us too! Last time I saw you it was in a lodge outside Toronto. We do get around, eh? And those Portuguese tarts were sublime.
Halona Black says
I truly envy the life you have created for yourself from a deep interest in food and writing! Everyone deserves to have a creative life.
Oh thank you Halona. I am indeed grateful for these opportunities. It is the pleasure of self-employment to come up with this self-defined kind of career.
Sounds like a fabulous time and enriching for all who attended the workshop. I’m in Clotilde’s facebook group and I would love to have her meet me riding a bicycle. Thank you for sharing.
Hah! It sounds so French, doesn’t it? I didn’t mention that Jamie Schler, although a nice Jewish girl from Florida, is also very French after 30 years in Europe: Slender, lover of big belts and skinny jeans, sometimes with a chignon and bang draped over one eye. Tres chic in a careless kind of way that makes her look so terrific.
Amanda Niode says
You always teach in wonderful workshops Dianne. Please keep me posted for future classes in nice places around the world.
Oh thank you, Amanda. I am truly very fortunate. As long as you read my blog or get my newsletter, you will know what I have coming up. Hope to see you this year, somewhere.