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Viens Voir Homewares

A Little History Part 2

Viens Voir Homewares - Wednesday, September 02, 2015

There was a knock at the door as I came downstairs the following morning. It was grey and I could see the fog was still thick although it was nearly nine o'clock.  Pierre had set off early for the town of Cahors to wait for the insurance company's office to open.

On opening the door I was greeted by two men neither of whom I knew. Initially I thought they were from our insurance company and I could only think that news travelled quickly and they were there to help.  Another knock at the door and then there were three and Ann and myself in her kitchen.  They presented themselves one at a time and each had a spiel to say.  I could only understand a limited amount of what they were saying, it was a vocabulary set I had never had any need of.  It was obvious each was out to impress and they weren't colleagues.  I took their cards to show to Pierre.

News had travelled fast.  Each of the men was from a company that wanted to represent us in our dealings with our insurance company.  This apparently was standard practice if we wanted the best possible outcome.  A visit to the Gendarmerie (police station) to give further details of the fire and a trip to the shops to purchase a few essentials were the order of the afternoon. Many phone calls and the organization of meetings filled the rest of the day.

We were touched by the kindness shown to us and wherever we walked and chatted with people in the village the conversation always ended with "bon courage".  The next week was filled with meetings and finding a builder.  We never thought of not rebuilding but as the week progressed we could see the process with the insurance company was going to be difficult, even after having chosen our representative.

We often walked along here in these tranquil surrounds after one of our many meetings.

Back to Paris for new passports and then home to Perth to start the documentation of every item we had lost in the fire.  It was tedious but extremely important that we listed everything.  Months of communication with all involved in France.  It would have been an impossible task if Pierre wasn't a native French speaker.

At the end of April this year we were back in the village.  We had funded the start of the rebuild as we couldn't come to an agreement with the insurance company. Fortunately this was sorted when we returned.  It was so much easier to discuss things face to face.  They were busy times driving to other towns and cities choosing the fittings for the house. 

We are off to France next week with the aim of having the house completely finished by the time we return home in October.  I am a little worried but excited about how the house will look and if Laurent, our builder, really did understand my French.  When explaining how I wanted some things done and the look I wanted to achieve Pierre kept out of the discussion.  I had felt he wasn't expressing my opinion accurately at one point so I was on my own! (I'm exaggerating a little) 

Our builder has sent photos along the way.  Hopefully I will get to sit in my one hundred year old cast iron bath, champagne in hand!

Finding a piece of furniture to place our vanity basin in was no small task. Units were either too high, too low or a size that wasn't compatible. Can't wait to see this all finished.

the new ceiling

I look forward to sharing the progress of Villa Petite Chapelle with you in the next six weeks.  I hope you'll join me on the next part of this adventure.  

A Little History Part 1

Viens Voir Homewares - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bonjour mes amis.  For those of you who have recently started to follow Viens Voir Homewares I thought I would give some background information. Looking at my Facebook page you will see photos of Paris, images of our beautiful French village of Saint-Cirq-La Popie and photos of products from my online store.   If it has anything to do with France you may see something about it on my page!  To say I love French culture, style, food, wine, the language, in fact everything to do with France is only stating the obvious.

I live in Perth, Western Australia in a suburb about three hundred metres from the beach.  I am fortunate to be able to walk down a small hill and see the Indian Ocean every morning.  It never disappoints whether the day is stormy, as it was this morning, or clear, with a brilliant blue, cloudless sky meeting a sheet of watery stillness.

My husband is French but has lived more of his life in Australia than in France.  In recent years we have travelled to France many times.  A week in Paris, (yes please) time in the country, I'll travel anywhere in France. 

In 2010 on holiday in France we saw a little house that was to become ours. If you would like to read how we found Villa Petite Chapelle, the story is here on my website. The story was published in French Provincial magazine in the Summer Edition of 2012.  This was also the year that our village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie won the title of "The Most Beautiful Village In France." There are at present one hundred and fifty five villages that have won this title.  This list could keep us exploring France for a long time!  In June 2012 I opened my online store Viens Voir (Come and See) Homewares.  Shopping for homewares in France and being able to bring beautiful things to others who appreciate European quality and style is a dream job.  (I will not go into any detail about self-doubt or learning overload when setting up my website!) 

Villa Petite Chapelle

The View From Our Terrace Down to the Lot River

A Shady Passage Way in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

The Lower End of the Village Entering From the Porte de Rocamadour

St Cirq is Perched on Limestone Cliffs

For the last few years we have enjoyed yearly, sometimes twice yearly stays at our house and have loved being tour guides to friends who have visited.  I have a dear friend who has stayed at Villa Petite Chapelle twice and refers to it and the surrounds as her "heart home."  It has been fascinating communicating with people from throughout the world (and Australians) who have rented our home.  It is amazing how you can "click" with someone without having met. I'm sure a big part of it is the excitement about travelling and staying in France.

We have made friends in the village and have found our French friends very hospitable to us and a group of other foreigners who have purchased homes and invade their village at least once a year. Our non French home owner friends are abundantly generous in sharing their knowledge of what has worked for them. Owning a rental property so far away has brought a few challenges but it is just about guaranteed that someone has experienced a similar situation.

The ninth of October was to be our last day in our house in the village in 2014 before we journeyed south to visit some of my suppliers for VVH. After a very pleasant dinner at one of the village's many restaurants and a final goodbye to our wonderful friend Ann, my husband Pierre and I started to leisurely walk up the hill to our home.  The evening was not cold although one could feel the change of seasons.  We had sat outside on the terrace at the restaurant and on our ascent, after smelling smoke, I remarked to Pierre that it seemed far too early for people to be lighting their fires. 

As we rounded a bend it became obvious where the smoke was coming from.  There were flames twenty metres high soaring towards the dark sky. The fire brigade had been called and a local fellow had connected a hose to the mains' water supply and was working hard at directing the flow onto the flames.  People were trying to assist. Pierre ran towards the house thinking he may have been able to save something - his very expensive hearing aids which he hadn't worn that night, passports, an I Pad.  He was able to turn off the gas bottle outside.  I couldn't help but think of the armoire we'd had delivered that afternoon and the antique linen sheets I had arranged in it a few hours earlier. 

Five vehicles and twenty five firemen were eventually crammed into the narrow, winding road where our house sits.  They had taken about forty minutes to arrive coming from four different towns.  It took several hours before the fire was completely extinguished.  There was concern that the fire would destroy the tiny chapel (owned by the village) next to us or ignite the dense forest behind us. 

We were left with a shell of a house. The thick stone walls survived the intense heat.  We lost everything in the house.  I don't think too much about what could have happened.  Family, friends or guests sleeping - it could have been a story with a tragic outcome.

How lucky are we to have a friend like Ann.  In the early hours of the morning we were drinking cups of tea around her kitchen table.  Little sleep was had and Pierre was just waiting for the sun to rise so he could in his own words "get things happening."  I wasn't feeling like getting anything happening but happen they did, mid morning.

To Be Continued

Madeleine Monday

Viens Voir Homewares - Monday, July 14, 2014

It's been wet and cold today here in the west. A freezing wind has been blowing all day and to keep warm it was either jump on the treadmill or bake.

Guess what I chose? I couldn't do a little of each could I, I'm a bit of an "all or nothing" kind of girl no matter how hard I try not to be.

Madeleines, so many different flavours to choose from but it seemed a chocolate sort of day (what day isn't!). This recipe is from "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guiliano. Of course if you only eat one Madeleine, Madame Guiliano's book title is very appropriate. They are delicious and were/are just the thing to have with cup of tea or coffee.

Madeleines au Chocolat


100g dark chocolate (Lindt 70% cacao)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

55g plus 3 tablespoons plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

110g sugar


Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water and mely, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.

In a stand mixer beat the eggs until frothy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating intil the mixture has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cooled chocolate mixture folding in gently until well combined. Carefully fold in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Cover the batter and refrigerate for 3 hours. 1 hour will also be sufficient.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Spoon the chilled mixture into greased madeleine trays, filling three quarters full. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes until they are puffed and spring back to touch.


Enjoy, mes amis.


A Gateau or Two in Paris

Viens Voir Homewares - Tuesday, July 01, 2014

We had been in Paris for several days and I was keen to visit several pâtisseries and boulangeries that I had missed on previous visits. I wanted to investigate and broaden my cakey experiences, all in the name of taking photos of course.

You wouldn't know it, due to the number of cream filled  pastries and cakes that grace my Facebook page but my taste in sweet temptations is actually more of the fruit and nuts type. Although in saying this I can devour a profiterole faster than one can say crème pâtissière.

I do love a beautifully cooked canelé from time to time and then there's the ubiquitous macaron. As we know there are macaron and there are macaron. Hmm.. not too many fruits and nuts here, I know! 

The first stop for MM and I was Eric Kayser in rue Monge not far from where we were staying in the Latin Quarter. Maison Kayser is famous for its baguette and delicious pastries and has stores in Japan and the US. This boulangerie was bustling mainly with people buying bread and it took us some time to be served.



I purchased several different small (not that small) tarts and cakes and we walked out with our cake box tied with string. MM was keen to taste but I was keen to photograph these luscious morsels. I had not planned our outing that well. In fact there was a definite lack of thought.

How was I going to visit other patisseries, purchase something and take photos of my purchases still intact after they had been swinging from a length of string?

It was also quite warm. MM and I walked for a while and then sat to study our map in search of the location of our next cake stop. I untied the string and opened the lovely box of gâteaux. They were not looking photogenic. There really wasn't much else that we could do but enjoy our cake fest. 

Next stop was Georges Larnicol in the sixth. Maison Larnicol is well known for its amazing sculptures au chocolat and its specialty, Kouignettes. These pastries originated in Brittany. Think lots of sugar and buttery pastry enveloping an almond, chocolate, pistachio or salted caramel filling. After our cake fest "en plein air" I could not be tempted to even try a Kouignette.



On to Pâtisserie des Reves. So very different than the traditional pâtisseries, this modern fit out with its wonderful rising cake domes was worth a visit.

Choose your cake and the dome would be lifted and your choice put into a gorgeous pink and white box. Full of young people admiring some of the different takes on classic gâteaux this was a place with a fun, quirky atmosphere. 



A stroll past Ladurée satisfied any remaining cake desire.

A little lèche vitrines (window shopping) was enough. Their display with its animal prints looked enticing but I decided to keep Ladureé for another day.



Love in Paris

Viens Voir Homewares - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

If ever there was a city to fall in love with or a city which encourages love it has to be Paris. It's impossible to talk or write about Paris without lapsing into clichés. Our few days there went way too quickly but if I close my eyes it's not hard to recall an image or a feeling. Paris truly makes the senses come alive.

The weather was stunning and Parisians were out and about enjoying the last of the sunny, late afternoons. Strolling in parks, sitting on a bench chatting or having a drink in a café, no-one seemed to be in a hurry.   

This last couple were Americans who were working in Paris. They put their work bags on the pavement and started to dance to the band which was playing just out of sight in the photo. They weren't the best dancers but drew a crowd who appreciated the fun they were having. Perhaps it was just the magic of Paris.



Stormy Weather

Viens Voir Homewares - Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I hope everyone is safe after the wild weather we had here in the West yesterday and last night. I spent most of my day at home on the computer and drinking copious cups of tea. 

After dinner I was feeling restless so went outside with my camera. The rain had stopped but the wind was howling. 







A brisk walk down to the ocean was what I needed. My family stared at me and MM said to MF "ta mère est completement folle!" (Your Mother is totally mad!) Wonderful man that he is, he volunteered to walk the three hundred metres down to the beach with me. We had only taken a few steps outside the front gate when it started to rain so we drove to the deserted carpark at the beach. 

It was impossible to hold the camera still but it was so exhilarating. The spray from the waves rose high over the rocks and I could taste the salt spray on my lips. I took a few not very good shots and was blown back to the car.




 The white mass in the last photo is not the waves but the spray which rose after a wave hit the rocks. This was so much more fun than watching TV although I was home in time to watch Le Tour.






Pop Up Shop

Viens Voir Homewares - Sunday, June 09, 2013

Viens Voir Homewares has had a great week at Ginger House Pop Up shop. This is what I've learnt so far:

Pop up shops don't just pop up. They take many hours of unpacking, sorting and setting up. It may appear as though the shop has just popped up over a day or so but this isn't the case! Karen, the owner of Ginger House is an expert at doing pop ups and all things retail so it was wonderful to work along side a pro last weekend. She has wonderful style and the look and vibe of the shop are fantastic. 

I enjoy interacting with the people who come into the store. I've just re read that sentence and I know it would be a worry if I didn't but I'm comparing it to the online world of sitting at the computer. How I love it when I get to chat to a fellow Francophile.

How hard can it be to use an Eftpos machine? Hmmm. My swiping skills need some work!

Tissue paper is just that. Flimsy paper that I can put my fingernails through. I considered myself a reasonable wrapper but the last few days I have been all thumbs. Apologies to any customers who may have found a small hole in their paper. I'll get better, I promise. 

I will be in the shop every Thursday and will pop in at other times. Come and visit Karen and I. We'd love to see you at 183 Rokeby Rd close to the corner of Bagot Rd.










Perth Garden Week

Viens Voir Homewares - Monday, April 22, 2013

I enjoyed wandering around the last day of Garden Week displays at Perry Lakes this morning. The weather was pleasant and there were lots of Mums with young children on the first of their school holiday outings. It would have been easy to buy a bootload of plants but I showed great restraint. I need to look after the pots I already have and do some maintenance in the yard. One thing I did purchase though was a glass vase in which you place a bulb in the neck and fill with water. If I end up with a beautiful, blue Hyacinth as intended I'll post a photo. Did anyone else go to Garden Week or do some planting in their own garden?


I was lucky with the weather, dark skies but didn't get rained on.


Very impressed with Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden work in schools.


How clever is this display by John Colwell for Stephanie Alexander, so creative!


It was so hard not to buy.


I'm not a bike rider but I loved this vintage bicycle.


Pilates, The French and Me

Viens Voir Homewares - Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I've just returned from my Pilates session. I seem to be like a lot of my friends this year in that I didn't make any New Year's resolutions. Gone are the years of setting myself unachievable goals. This New Year was a time of reflection, what worked in the previous year, what didn't and what to focus on for the coming year. Of course Viens Voir Homewares is a major area of focus and I know family members could've probably volunteered a few things they would like me to do. ( Non, mon mari. I do not want to go to Bunnings just for a drive. Non, ma fille you cannot convince me that watching Neighbours and Home and Away is something I need to do.)

"Well being", I love those words. At times elusive I think. I have been going to Pilates sessions for several years and this year decided I would do an extra session each week. Our French sisters love Pilates. They are not particularly fond of working up a sweat at the gym and see Pilates as a way of lengthening muscles, developing core strength and improving posture. I said "oui, merci " to all of those when I started. But we all know "yes, thanks" or "yes, please" doesn't mean "yes, achieved".

The Pilates path has been an interesting one. Who would have thought it would have taken so long to learn to do a squat the correct way. For the first year I often felt that Pilates and I weren't compatible. I knew I had gluteal muscles, I knew where they were but I had no idea how to get them "firing" which is what they were supposed to be doing. For a long time I was a failed firer of my glutes. How happy was I when my glutes started to do some work!

I have worked with some wonderful instructors. My last instructor was two things I'm not, young and strong. Chest lifts, not so easy and my chest would be the least heaviest part of my body! Control and more control and as my instructor said, "less thrashing". 

I am getting stronger. I loved this morning's session and came away feeling so good.

Now I need to adopt some more of the Frenchwoman's good habits, only one small piece of Brie, no seconds ...hmm 

Do you do Pilates or yoga? Are you enjoying it?

I know I need new Pilates gear.


A Salad Weekend

Viens Voir Homewares - Friday, February 01, 2013

We are in for another very hot weekend in Perth. No roast chicken this weekend.

It's going to be a salad weekend more than usual. (if that's possible) I've been looking for some inspiration and have turned to Yotam Ottolenghi's book "Plenty". A Christmas gift from my friend Lynne, it has become a favourite. Recipes are simple and delicious.

I made this salad a fortnight ago and we enjoyed it with some grilled fish. Yes, you do have to turn the oven on to roast the capsicums but if you do this early morning or in the evening your kitchen won't stay hot for too long. I love the herbs. I have been growing my herbs in pots this summer so I can shift them out of the sun when it's forty degrees. Last summer I planted them in beds and they didn't do well in the scorching temperatures.

Salad looking oh so delicious on our beautiful Limoges serving platter.




Please scroll down to see the close up image and recipe.




Marinated Pepper (Capsicum) Salad with Pecorino

Serves 2 as a starter - I roasted 6 capsicum and doubled the other ingredients to serve as an accompaniment to a meal

1 red and 1 yellow capsicum, quartered

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tabsp balsamic vinegar

1tbsp water

1 tbsp water

2 thyme sprigs

1 garlic clove thinly sliced

good handful of Italian parsley, leaves picked

as much basil as you would like

as much watercress as you would like

50g mature pecorino shaved

1tbsp capers drained

salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 210º. Toss the capsicum with 1 tablespoon of oil and roast until soft and take on some colour. Remove to a bowl and cover with a plate. When cool, peel the capsicum and cut into thick strips.

Whisk together the marinade ingredients; 2 tablespoons oil, the balsamic vinegar,water, sugar, thyme, garlic and some salt and pepper. Pour over the capsicums and leave to marinate for an hour or overnight in the fridge.

To assemble the salad toss together the herbs, watercress, drained capsicum. pecorino and capers. Add the remaining oil and some of the marinade. Adjust the seasoning.

I'm keen to purchase Yotam Ottolenghi's latest book, "Jerusalem". MM  feels that once my new book shelves are full, which will be sooner rather than later, I will have to stop purchasing cookbooks. (Read about this on an earlier blog, What Makes a Happy Woman?) He didn't see me with the measuring tape last week measuring up a small wasted space which I feel would look so much better with some shelving.