La Vie en Rose: Living in France
Suzanne Lowry & Tim Clinch
Bulfinch, 2003 (2003)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his stunning coffee table book will be of interest to any francophile, not only those intrigued by design. Its three sections - '
The Grand Style
' and '
Life in the Country
' - take us from Paris to Provence, Gascony to Languedoc, and show us a variety of people (both French and foreigners) embracing '
la vie Francaise
' in all its remarkable diversity. The author quotes Jefferson saying '
Everyone has two homelands, their own and
' and then shows us '
how individuals express their personalities in the homes they make
' with the help of gorgeous photos by Tim Clinch.
hese individuals range from members of the French aristocracy (I especially enjoyed the historical background on Veuve Cliquot heiress '
La Grande Duchess
', and the backstory to another property that involved both Field Marshall Montgomery and a Resistance hero) to expats from places like the United States, Turkey, South Africa and Russia. There are several designers, artists and chefs. We see lovely rooms in renovated chateaux and restored buildings - that include a gypsy caravan, a barn, a monastery, a factory depot, and a silkworm farm - in regions all across France.
liked reading about the different parts of the country and their lifestyles as much as about the people who made homes there, their motivations blending into vibrant results in a glorious mix of old and new, tradition and innovation. Not that I liked all of them - tastes certainly vary - but I gleaned quite a few ideas from images of cobbled courtyard and terrace settings (with an inviting bottle of wine, of course) and country bedrooms with crisp white bed coverings. I like the idea of '
clutter as composition
' (but suspect my own clutter might not measure up) and '
the paradox that luxury is simplicity.
f you enjoy exploring other people's homes, then this is the ultimate book for you. There's even a Visitor's Guide at the back, with information on those that can be visited, on designers, on rental, and on staying at a thermal spa. It made me want to book a trip to France, though I know I couldn't afford a chateau or even a renovated barn ... maybe that gypsy caravan?
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