Of castles, roses and a laughing donkey

Please excuse the grammar in this post. I’m very tired this evening…

sheeps and roses

The National Front is the equivalent in France of the Tea Party in the US. It’s actually the Tea Party on steroids. A bunch of scared bigots playing to peoples’ fears and basic animal instincts.

Yesterday, every country in the union voted for their new representatives to the European Parliament. Because of high unemployment, a sluggish economy and out of control immigration flows coming from the Middle East and Africa, the National Front won the elections by a land slide. It’s history repeating itself I’m afraid…

This all makes me so very sad. And it’s not just in France. Did you see the other day on TV the group of young Iranians who were arrested and jailed because they had been caught dancing on Pharrell’s “Happy”? We all need to stop watching the news, really. We need to read more and cook more and eat more and do the hanky panky (a lot!). That’s what we need to do! I unplugged my TV over a year ago. All the news I get now, I get through the internet. At least this way I can control the flow of garbage coming my way… This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be politically conscious and try to make things better where we are, but there is a limit to the amount of negative energy one should let oneself be exposed to on a daily basis.

Donkey Artichokes

When I feel overwhelmed by all the crap going on in the world, and you guys already know this, I go for a long walk in the countryside. One of my very favorite spots to walk is in the fields around a medieval castle near my house. There I can fill my lungs with clean air and my head with cleaner thoughts… It is such a lovely spot. Picture “Game of Thrones” without the dragons or the Lanisters. Heaven!

I always felt safe and at peace around castles and meadows. I probably told you this story before, but here I go again: when I was about 5 years old, I was driving down from Paris to Bordeaux with my dad one day. As we drove through the Loire Valley, I spotted a grand castle and declared:

“when I’m older, I will live in a castle”

My dad smiled and asked: “Do you know who lives in castles?”

“no” I replied

“Kings do”


“Do you know what we did to the last king of France? We chopped his head off!”

“Never mind” I replied, “I will hang a sign on the gates. It will read: Leave me alone, I’m not the king!”

Picture62 13-56-08

All this to tell you that I’ve always been fascinated by castles. Maybe I was a Louis the something in a previous life. But in this life I am Stephane the foodie. So I saw my castle, smelled my roses, got laughed at by a donkey, went home and had some duck pâté over warm baguette.


Everything is once again for the best in the best of all worlds as Pangloss would say.

Donkey castle

We have got to do something about those Nazzi bastards popping up everywhere though…



71 Comments Add yours

  1. judilyn says:

    STEPHANE!!!! How am I to get out of this chair and go back to getting things done in my own “castle”? Your entries are so compelling, it may be my lust for food that finally propels me back into the kitchen. Fortunately I have a good excuse to linger a while longer with my iPad on my lap, and marveling over your many beautiful photos and foods . . . My husband has kindly just washed and waxed the kitchen floor, and I am banned for another quarter hour!

    I see my friend, Rebecca (Clanmother), in your comments section. It is like finding a known face at a party, and feeling instantly at home! I am so looking forward to spending more and more time at your blog site!

    Virtual hugs,


    1. My French Heaven says:

      What a lovely lovely comment dear Jodie! You make me feel very special indeed 🙂 🙂

    2. My French Heaven says:

      And by the way, the husband is waxing the floor?! Dear god, don’t let that one go!! Ever!! 😉

      1. judilyn says:

        Certainly not! By the way, he is French, but many generations ago from France. Last name is Villere.

  2. elmediat says:

    Excellent post. 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much!

  3. Such a beautiful post. Love the donkey. So happy to have found your blog. Stunning photographs. Very jealous. Emma xx

  4. terrepruitt says:

    Oh my word! That donkey IS laughing. Fun!

  5. You are so right. We need to enjoy the world — its sights, tastes, sounds and smells — and let these put the nasty stuff in perspective, giving us strength to deal with it.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Well said Dorothy! One needs all the help one can get these days 😉

  6. Great post! I love the laughing donkey 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:


  7. saucygander says:

    Wonderful post, Stephane! Though I wouldn’t mind a castle with dragons, I heartily agree about the Lannisters. The donkey may not like the Dragon though. Ps, your head would be safe with me, if you shared the duck pate. 😉

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I need to experiment more with patés. It’s just that the butchers here do such a great job that I never felt the need to try my own recipes… I am catering a small function soon and paté is on the menu. If it is a success, I will share the recipe! 😉

  8. Dina says:

    Bravo, Stephane! It has all been said already, this is excellent reading giving us hope, strength and joy. And some food. 🙂 Thank you for sharing! ❤️

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My pleasure dear Dina!

  9. americanmominbordeaux says:

    Stephane – You are so right – we need to create our own peace. I love this post! (Well, yes – I adore most of your posts- but this one touches me.). I understand your frustration – about government and people’s fears. Unfortunately, I too see a lot of fear out there – and not just in France & not just in government- What are they really so scared of? I too don’t watch much TV or listen to too much news – yes sometimes, I think we may choose to live in a bubble – but that peace, that inner sanctum is what provides energy for when we have to deal with life outside and all the crazies! That’s another reason why I love your blog – it gives peace to people – both visually and poetically. Beautiful – Enjoy your holiday today!

  10. janina says:

    My fortress is a castle in the air, or, as I like to call it, the internet! But, really, it is my home! Peace reigns there… ❤

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I agree Janina. I feel the same about the internet. Good people are a joy in my life though…

  11. Ceci n’est pas une pipe…
    This post is not simply beauty, but much more than this, Stéphane! And this time, my favourite photo is the only one not taken by you…where we see that happy child, surely a Prince (if not a King) in the arms of his father…His love made of you a King, actually. The Castle is not relevant.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I still dream of castles though 😉

  12. A scary thought that there is a political party worse than the tea party. Extremes in either direction are not good but people don’t want to seem to learn from history.

  13. mariekeates says:

    Lovely photos and I agree with the sentiments too. We have the National Front here in the UK although I think they’re called the British National Party nowadays. It seems half our politicians are so right wing they’re one step away from Nazis and I too can’t bear to watch the news. It seems we will never learn.

  14. Dipti says:

    Such a wonderful post and so heartfelt. I’ve been one of your ‘silent’ readers but had to comment on this one!
    And here’s to a more peaceful world whenever that happens, chin chin 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Chin chin! 😉

  15. I wish more people would think as you do. You are any inspiration!

  16. Amanda says:

    Stunning photos. At least a walk in the country is cathartic for you. Is that an old pic of you and your dad? It’s so beautiful! I really love it.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Amanda! Yes, my dad and I :°

  17. juliabarrett says:

    Ah castles. Me too. If you look at the elections as an analogy, people feel unsafe so they are voting to live in a castle. Can’t say I much blame them. The world is in flux right now. It is very unsafe. But… this too shall pass.

  18. Jessie says:

    Your pictures are all warm and beautiful. Your and your father’s smile and the donkey’s made me so happy today. Thank you so much!!!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I am so glad Jessie!

  19. Clanmother says:

    A few days ago, my computer had a meltdown so I have been computerless until now. Great to be back and to catch up on your posts! Thank goodness you introduced me to Instagram!

    We live in a complex, volatile world that demands our greatest participation. You, my dear friend, show us a different way – kindness, joy, hope and love. I feel these wonderful feelings come through in every one of your posts.

    “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Martin Luther King Jr.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Oh my dear friend, reading your comment this morning makes me feel so strong and ready to tackle the day. I didn’t feel like cooking, but your kind words + the lovely sun outside make me want to make a strawberry pie… and eat it too 🙂 thank you. You are very dear to me

  20. elsonsequeira says:

    Really lovely post my friend!!!! and i loved the piccture of you and your dad… I had written a post earlier detailing out my favorite food bloggers… do give it a look please…


    1. My French Heaven says:

      I am so sorry! I hadn’t seen your lovely post… You are such a dear friend. Thank you! Curry shrimp tonight!!

      1. elsonsequeira says:

        Ha haa… Sure… enjoy the curry shrimp.. and please do keep warming my soul with the lovely flavours of France..

  21. Angeline M says:

    Forget the cookbook…run for king of France at the next elections.

  22. pinkagendist says:

    Superb. I had a similar scene with my mamie. She informed me I could technically not be a prince or a king- so I thought for a second and informed her I was going to be a dictator 😀
    You just wait; Any day now I’ll do like the Ukrainians and declare independence!

  23. Francesca says:

    Great donkey photo and lovely story

  24. Lizzie says:

    You are beautiful! X

  25. Rosa de los Vientos says:

    Great post dear Stéphane! And what a lovely photo of you and your dad. I don’t have television either, I also get the news through the internet and I’m very worried about how ‘history’ (the bad part) seems the awake again. Today I went to the sea, at the end of the day, without tourists frying in the sun, just to sit there alone and think about all those things you are writing about today. Bises!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      That’s wonderful! I wish the beach was closer to me. I’ be there every day… It’s at least an hour away… Bises!!!

  26. You may be a foodie at heart, but you are also a writer at heart, Stephane. Now get to work on that beautifully photographed cookbook of yours. I’m not getting any younger, you know 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I was watching a video on youtube yesterday about wedding photography. He was a pretty interested fellow and really seemed to know what he was talking about. He said that one should not listen to one’s friends or family’ positive comments about one’s art work; not to believe in one’s own hype. That reaaly made sense to me but it also conforted me in the feeling that I am nowhere near talented enough to start my own book… But then I went to see his work and Tamara, it was so bad? I even put his web site in my list of favorites so I can go backk and look at it when I start doubting my own abilities… The thing is, I see so many untalented people becoming so successful. I’m not saying I’m talented, but why am I feeling so scared to even try!? Ig they can make it, why oh why can’t I ?! Anyway, a long reply just to tell you that you are right and that I should just bite the bullet?…

      1. Bite it, Stephane! And no nibbling, hmm? In this, you must allow yourself to be a bit uncouth because you are, indeed, wonderfully talented. I’m sure you’ve heard this Chinese proverb, but please take it to heart: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Now–N.O.W. And that’s also my cue to get back to Bayard and Elianor, my hero and heroine whose story is 14 years in the making. Can’t blame them for being a bit impatient 🙂

        1. My French Heaven says:


  27. I don’t watch the news, it’s much too biased and negative and sensationalized. Your post made me laugh, especially that donkey’s face. I think that castle is amazing and would love to visit it in person.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I hope I’ll get a chance to take you there some day 🙂

  28. Lovely post! “Leave me alone. I’m not the King.” Love this. 😀

    1. My French Heaven says:


  29. Now I know we are related. I put myself in the “NEWS BUBBLE” in 2009 when the US economy tanked. It was all doom and gloom. The world was coming to an end! Well it didn’t! Amazingly even when you don’t watch the news or listen to it you find the information you need that is important and relevant but without all the fear mongering that goes with it. Can I tell you I am a much happier person now than I was before!

    I will tour the castle with you! How wonderful you have one near by.

    Is that adorable little boy you, with your father? What a great photo!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Yep! Dad and me 🙂 i’ll take you to the castle…

  30. Mary says:

    I haven’t watched the television news in a very long. Too much negativity coming at you 24 hours a day.
    I think I would love to live in a castle too.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You can buy them cheap, but they are very expensive to maintain. Otherwise, I would already have one 🙂

  31. Michael Latimer says:

    thanks for the post I think you would make a splendid King

    1. My French Heaven says:


      1. Linda Duffin says:

        Yes, I’m not sure you vote for kings, but if I could, I’d vote for you. Vive le roi!

        1. My French Heaven says:

          Vive le roi! 😉 🙂

  32. I think I’ll turn off the TV, go outside and stay in my garden. Unfortunately, no laughing donkey. 🙂 But I have birds. And the hanky panky is easy to follow. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are most welcome! I’ll send you the donkey:0)

  33. chef mimi says:

    Ah, Stephane, you make me laugh! We certainly laughed a lot when I was visiting. I miss that.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You know the place too. I met the lady who owns the castle this past week and she offered to give me a tour inside. Haveńt done it yet, but I cańt wait!

  34. Hello Stephane,

    Sadly, very sadly, the move to the extreme right is in evidence everywhere in Europe. And, as lethargy amongst the voters creeps in so these militant wings make their moves. It is very much the same here in Budapest where the far right Jobbik party has once again gained strength in the recent European elections. What is so very galling is that all these groups are the very people who wish to see the end of the very European Parliament in which they will ‘represent’ their respective countries.

    Your solution seems to us to be a fine one, particularly the hanky panky part! Make love not war……

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Simple but effective! 😉

  35. agnesashe says:

    Ah yes – we seem to have the same problems here in the UK. Contrary to the reporting in the British press there are some of us, English, that appreciate the ideals of Europe. Turning off the telly and donkey watching sounds like the perfect solution to me.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Hear hear!

      1. Duck pâté + warm baguette is always a good idea. No need to be King; walks with fresh air filling the lungs, donkeys and clear thoughts are much better. Beautiful post.

  36. King Stephane – that has a nice ring to it 😛

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I think so too! 😉

  37. Julie says:

    This is such a wonderful post, Stephane. 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks dear Julie!

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