Stacey Bewkes, the voice and style expert behind her lifestyle blog, Quintessence, brings you the best from interiors and fashion to art, architecture and more. With fresh original content and photos, Quintessence is a destination for those who want the story behind the style.
During the January shows in Paris, I had the opportunity to sneak out for a couple special field trips. A private tour with Jacques Garcia of his Normandy château, Champ-de-Bataille, revealed impressive museum quality collections. And then two nights at Tim Corrigan’s gorgeous Loire valley home, Chateau du Grand-Lucé, showed a completely different side of chateau life, where California comfort and grand country house unite. Ever since then, the fantasy of chateau life has been in the back of my mind. I include several picks that could help indulge the fantasy at home.
The round shape and elegant edging of these cocktail napkins and placemats lend a certain elegant formality to a pacesetting befitting a chateau inspired meal. And yet they’re not too dressy for a wine and cheese terrace luncheon.
Chateau life wouldn’t be complete without wine. This 4 bottle sampler from French estates will literally give you a taste.
And of course, where there is wine, there must be cheese. This French cheese collection will lend your dinner starter the perfect je ne sais quoi.
Everything sounds better in French. And it is certainly true for my favorite condiment, moutarde, here available in a choice of five delicious varieties, straight from Beaune to your charcuterie.
A must have for every francophile with a gastronomic bent (is there one without?). While I may take some shortcuts now, I learned the proper way to cook a coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon straight from these volumes of Julia Child cookbooks.
And for Julia’s backstory, you won’t be able to put down this charming memoir of her life in France starting in 1948. You may have seen snippets from this in the movie Julia & Julia, but the book is infinitely more riveting.
To get a handle on French style, this chic read from Assouline will have you up to date on toutes les chose francaises, from Sartre and existentialism, to Bardot and the Nouvelle Vague to Yves Saint Laurent and haute couture. You’ll be pouting just right.
And for a dog’s eye view, Poodlestan offers a humorous yet informative take on French history. The perfect gift for a canine loving madame or monsieur.
Chateau chic encompasses a wide range of styles but nothing epitomizes classic French decor more than the refined lines of a Louis XIVth’s very Chateau de Versailles chair. This 19th century chair set with the original paint would add an authentic French patina to any dining room or kitchen.
For centuries, gilt mirrors have been adding reflective light to dark chateau interiors. This petite but elegant version would be the perfect mirror for powder room or small niche.
While armoires take the place of closets in chateaux, this beautiful antique armoire example could fulfill a variety of needs – from elegant linen storage to living room bar. The painted finish adds another layer of texture and patina.
Now that spring is finally here and we can think about outdoor living, this charming 19th century bench would be the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of rosé on any terrace or patio.
Scent is an essential element to whisk away any remnants of centuries old chateau mustiness. Cire Trudon has been enhancing French homes since the 17th century. Get the authentic aroma of old wood, waxed floors and ancient timbers with their Roi Soleil candle, “meant to conjure Louis X!Vth’s very Chateau de Versailles.”
To evoke a summer walk through the chateau grounds, try Diptyque’s Figuier Vert. The fresh fragrance is perfect for the season.
For a contemporary touch, florist Christian Tortu’s Room Spray is a sophisticated and modern french fragrance.
For two centuries, Roger & Gallet has been perfuming life, in chateaux and out. Using natural essential oils, their lavender soaps will transport you to Provence. And their classic packaging is a beautiful addition to any decorative bathroom vignette.
I would imagine many chateaux jewelry boxes over the years have included pieces from the inimitable Van Cleef & Arpels. For a very special occasion, this exquisite emerald and diamond “Dogwood” brooch would elicit more than a few ooo la las.
Let the man in your life share in chateau style with the elegant understated hand printed silk fleur de lis tie – a french twist on the classic rep tie.
Every member of the family should be allowed to exude their French essence. Let your baby join the fun with this adorable organic cotton Eiffel Tower onesie.
Of course nothing beats the real life experience of a chateau visit. April may be the time to enjoy the romance of Paris, but September is beautiful in Bordeaux. This week long visit includes chateaux visits, spa time, cooking classes and of course wine tastings and dinners. Start planning now!
PLUS: Join Quintessence for a weekend visit to designer Timothy Corrigan’s exquisitely renovated 18th century French chateau in the Loire Valley for her first episode of International House Guest. Click the link to check out the video.