The only way that I can truly relax is to leave the country, no car pools, no to-do list, no early bird dinner preparation. And, most important, limited ability to social mediate (international service is too cost-prohibitive). This summer, I wanted to feel lost in paradise. Translation? High style. No crowds. The anti-Hamptons. Faraway-feeling fabulosity. Prerequisites: a laid-back luxe ambiance (read: no sweats/yoga pants or sneakers) and easy access to adventure. Oh, and toss in a side of glorious weather.
For a fashion-wine-food-loving gal like me, this type of paradise can be found in Provence. So, for three glorious weeks, I ate, drank, and flea-marketed my way through southern France.
French living has always impressed me. Food is revered. Setting a beautiful table is de rigueur, a veritable art form. Meals are not details, but experiences to be savored. Casual dressing is stylish, not slovenly. And, strategic beauty regimens allow women to age gracefully. For three weeks, I was able to live and absorb this well-cultivated lifestyle. Inspired, I put my favorite elements of Francophile culture under a microscope. The result? A bevy of five-minute fixes that show you how to effortlessly Frenchify your style.
Choose La Vie en Villa
City vacations cry out for a luxury hotel, but longer-term escapes in the country are better suited to renting a private home. This allows you to experiment with daily finds from the market and create the sort of meals that often live in our imaginations, but perhaps don’t make it to the table as often as we’d like.
Villas give a more authentic glimpse into life in the villages, offer more opportunities for spontaneity, and are well-suited for multigenerational travel. Not sure where to start? Don’t go it alone. Enlist the services of a travel professional who is experienced in the region and has great knowledge of villa-style vacays.
Abercrombie & Kent Villas and Chalets, a division of the luxury travel company, is a wonderful resource for restored farmhouses to pretty cottages set in perfectly picturesque villages.
Frenchify Your Morning Coffee Routine
My morning coffee in Provence was not a minor detail of the day. It was a highlight. Why? A Provençal petit déjeuner is epic. Presentation is everything. Details as minute as the placement of a teaspoon (leaning upon a mini pot of local honey) require serious consideration. Great care is taken to transform a breakfast table into a multisensory tableau that beckons with the promise of excellence. Wicker tables are dressed to impress in a laid-back luxe kind of way: crisp white linens blanketed with local lavender, sparkling silver, pitchers of juice, a porcelain tabletop, and artisanal confitures. The scene is electrified with a postcard-perfect view of verdant vineyards and the heady scent of just-baked croissants. Sipping a café crème, I am absolutely present. I don’t want to tweet. I don’t want to check email. I don’t even want to read. I just want to sit and savor the pleasure of this moment in time.
Inspiration: A Chic Coffee Served in Provence
So, how can a frazzled mom recreate this type of experience at home? Well, let’s be real. It is not going to happen on school days or days when three kids need to be at three different camps.
But, on weekends, you can absolutely Frenchify your morning and luxe up your coffee routine. All it takes is a fresh presentation. Here’s how:
- Fancify the table with a crisp white tablecloth.
- Upgrade paper napkins to cloth. This has major visual impact.
- Add a pop of color with freshly cut flowers.
- Place bagels, toast, and/or croissants in a wicker basket covered with a napkin. Super chic!
- Use white ceramic or porcelain coffee cups and saucers.
- No plastic containers on the table. Ever.
- Place jams and butter on a small platter. Have individual spoons for each condiment.
- Pour juice into a glass pitcher. Milk should be in a small white pitcher.
Et voilà, French style at home or abroad.
Learn more about Abercrombie & Kent Villas and Chalets at akvillas.com, or call 800-652-8413. For more tips on style at home and while traveling, visit amytarakoch.com.
-Amy Tara Koch