Lessons learned: A year in My French Heaven

These days, you just need to press enter on your keyboard and Facebook will compile all of your pictures to create a little presentation of the past year in your life. While I think that’s quite a practical little trick, I will try to do it the old fashion way, praying that the result won’t bore you to death. Here is a year in My French Heaven and some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way:

FEBRUARY: Melanie J. had hired me for 12 Foodie Days in June of 2013. She wanted to come back to Bordeaux that fall to spend more time with me but couldn’t make the trip. So she invited me to spend two weeks with her in Miami instead. I hadn’t been back in the States for almost a decade and had been dreaming of a proper rack of baby back ribs since January 2005. We had some fabulous dinner parties for Melanie’s friends and I cooked what I still believe was the finest coq au vin I had ever made… Lessons learned: my guests tend to become dear friends and then I feel bad about charging them when they come to Bordeaux. Not a good business strategy! From now on, I will treat my guests as poorly as possible. (just joking of course! Please come visit me!!) Another important thing I was reminded of: life without ribs isn’t worth living! Oh, and Art Deco rules!

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APRIL: another one I couldn’t resist becoming friends with is Mimi (Chef Mimi’s Blog) who purchased several Foodie Days for herself and her lovely daughter Emma. We had the best of times. All we did was sight seeing and eat for 5 days. Emma doesn’t eat meat, so it was a great opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and come up with new seafood recipes. Mimi is a great epicurean. Watching her eat cheese on warm baguette with her eyes closed was one of the highlights of my year! I’m being serious! Lessons learned: ladies who eat cheese and real bread with their eyes closed are special!

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MAY, JUNE, JULY, AUGUST and SEPTEMBER: I had so many guests over the Summer that I even “had to” stop blogging. Yes, I know, I’m making excuses… Anyhow, from fellow bloggers like Conor and his lovely wife to Jennifer to hard core Foodies like Carl J. and Gregg M. to my dear friends Diane, Caroline, Elizabeth, Patty and their respective Michaels and of course Dany (who had to drive all the way from Barcelona just to show off his new Porsche) it has been a never ending farandole of the most fantastic people you could ever meet. Lessons learned: in business, people say you should find your niche. In life, I say you should find your tribe! I have finally found mine and they all love to eat and drink and be merry 🙂

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OCTOBER, NOVEMBER: I took some time to travel and reconnect with loved ones. First I went to Brittany to visit my nephew François. I had never been to that part of France before. What a mistake! I first visited Mont Saint-Michel in the lower part of Normandy then drove down to the Quimper area where François lives. I ate crêpes and galettes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and came home with an extra 5 pounds… The second trip was to Japan to visit François’ sister Alice, her husband and my two adorable grand-nieces. The trip to Japan was my birthday present this year. It was a life changing experience for me. First time in Asia. Tokyo, Fuji, Nagano, Kyoto… Absolutely breathtaking in every way. I will soon post about these two trips in more detail! You see, I was living in the states for the whole decade when François and Alice were teenagers. When I moved back to France, it was their turn to move away to college, so we never had a chance to really get to know each other. Now it’s done and these “new” relationships are what I am most thankful for this year! Lessons learned: don’t wait for people to come to you. Go to them. It is never too late to get to know someone you love and show that you really really care about them. Note: I will let you guess which of the following pictures below are of Brittany and which are of Japan 🙂

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DECEMBER: a new website for my Foodie Days that I hope you’ll enjoy (will be up and linked on Monday) and of course Christmas. I have spent quite a bit of money this year. Mostly on Charlotte who begged me for a new clutch, but also on a computer and the camera of my dreams. Travel isn’t cheap either and my philosophy is that cheap travel is OK, but great travel isn’t cheap… So, come Christmas, I must say that I didn’t have much money left for presents. The “problem” is that I am a Christmas freak and I HAVE TO give a present to each and every family member. So I decided to frame some of the family pictures I had taken this year and use that. It was a big success. Lessons learned: never run out of empty wooden frames 🙂

That’s it for now. I wish you all (all y’all, as they say in the South) the very best for 2015 and I thank you so much for your continued support and friendship. I love you guys very much. Very much indeed!

107 Comments Add yours

  1. hollykaann says:

    Each and every post of yours inspires me. Most usually it is in the way of food but this time Japan has inspired me. While my dad was a Marine he was stationed in Japan. Being an budding photographer he has several albums from his time there. I don’t think my children have ever seen those photos. Shame on me, time to visit my parents and pull those albums out!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’d love to see some of your dad’s all photos! You should write a post about it!!!

  2. terrepruitt says:

    Beautiful. Awesome. And I am happy the “like” button is back!!!

  3. As always, beautiful photos of food, friends, family…your tribe. Wishing you continued happiness and success in the New Year!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Same to you dear Lesley!!!

  4. Great photos! Isn’t it amazing to reflect back and see just how much was accomplished over the past year? Fun, family, food, and friends…ahhh!!!!!!!!! That’s the life, eh?

    1. My French Heaven says:

      It really is Susan. I hope 2015 is at least half as fun and delicious 😉

  5. platedujour says:

    Beautiful family on beautiful pictures, and I couldn’t live without ribs either 😊Happy New Year!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      😉 🙂

  6. londoncab53 says:

    Happy New Year Stephan! Done with your usual aplomb=extraordinary!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      So glad you liked it! One of my resolutions this year is to post mord regjlarly. I hope you’ll enjoy what’s coming next… All the very best to you and your family in 2015!

      1. londoncab53 says:

        Thank you Stephan. Looking forward to your posts. I seem to remember that you have a big project you’re working on. I wish you great luck and success!

        1. My French Heaven says:

          Thank you so much friend! There are so many projects I’m working on. I never seem to see the end of them… There is fun in the process though 😉 I wish you all the best for 2015!!!

  7. To the most incredible blogger, my most sincere and warm wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!
    I hope we will proudly make part from your tribe soon!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are already part of the tribe my dear friend!! I hope we finally get to meet this year 🙂

  8. Zelda says:

    I love your photos, especially the Japan series, they are beautiful!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks a lot! The first post on Japan should come this week… 😉

  9. Jessie says:

    Beautiful memories and wonderful pictures! Happy New Year!!!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      😉

  10. angelinahue says:

    Bonne année! What beautiful moments and memories from 2014 with lovely pictures to accompany them. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos from Japan. And Art Deco rules!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Hi Angelina. Yes, I will post about Japan very soon. I think it will be over at least 3 posts as I have way too many pictures and comments to share… Bonne année mon amie!

  11. Alya says:

    Stéphane, thank you for your lessons! I might learn from them a few things as well 🙂 your blog is fantastic and such a joy to read! Happy New Year to you and your family! Wishing you health and happiness and please post more 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I will post more for sure 😉 Happy New Year!!

  12. What a rich and wonderful year – thank you for sharing it with us! Wish you all the best for 2015 – looking forward a lot to new recipes, places, travels and your gorgeous photography capturing all of this.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you dear Claudia!! I hope 2015 is kind to you!

  13. Marie Keates says:

    Far better than those facebook yearly reviews 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      😉 Happy New Tear dear Marie!

      1. Marie Keates says:

        Happy New Year to you too 🙂

  14. Very, very nice year in review. As always, love the French Heaven! Have a great 2015!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks a lot Darren! It’s been a fantastic year. I hope this one will be at least as good… All the best for 2015!

  15. Barbie Beaton says:

    So beautifully written and photographed. Lovely Indeed.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my dear Barbie!

  16. Joyce says:

    Happy new year to you! I could comment on each and every photo, but suffice to say, they are exquisite as always. You have a very photogenic family. And, I never realized that Japan was quite so stunning!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you dear Joyce. Yes I could easily write a second blog called My Japanese Heaven 😉 I will post about my Japanese adventures very soon 🙂

  17. What a lovely post and such beautiful photos. Looking forward to reading more in 2015, and Bonne Année!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you! Bonne année!!

  18. We love you too and we’re so glad you’re back! Missed you!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my dear friend! I loved your latest portraits of the girls! They’re going to become models for sure!

  19. Lynda says:

    Warmth and love shine brightly in all of your photos – they are so beautiful and inspiring. Happy New Year!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Happy New Year dear Lynda!!!

  20. Fantastic photographs that evoke so much about your life. Look forward to reading your take on Japan.

    Hope 2015 is kind to you.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much dear Dorothy! I will post about Japan soon 😉 Happy 2015!

  21. Stéphane, je suis bluffée par ces images! So much incredible beauty and the warmth of friendships and family. I love it all. Thank you for all that you do and I am wishing you much Health, Happiness and Discoveries for 2015…
    xo
    Heather

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My dear Heather, thank you so much for your heart warming message. I too wish you all the best for 2015! Lots of love and beautiful adventures 😉

  22. What a lovely post to start the New Year Stéphane! As always your words and photography are full warmth of humanity, glad to see you back! Je vous souhaite une très Bonne Année 2015 – Meilleurs Voeux ! Jane

    1. My French Heaven says:

      What a lovely comment my dear Jane! I hope we get a chance to meet in 2015! Maybe in Angouleme for the car show… I will be there for sure😉

      1. I shall certainly try to be there this year Stéphane! 🙂 BTW I would love to know what camera you use – the results would be super whatever as you have such a good eye but I can’t help being curious if you don’t mind telling! 😉

        1. My French Heaven says:

          No, of course. I use a Canon 5D Mark III with either a 50mm Sigma Art lens or a Canon 135L. The Sigma is extremely sharp and the 135 just creates art on its own…

          1. I can only say WOW to that ! Like I said though, if you didin’t have a great eye it wouldn’t matter what you used! 🙂

  23. Beautiful to see your year in photos Stephane and to read a little of what you’ve been up to over the past few months! Wishing you a very Happy New Year and wonderful things to come in 2015. Cheers, Margot

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My dear Margot, thank you so very much!! I hope you have a blessed year, filled with love, creative success and many many adventures in all areas of your life. I have a great feeling about 2015…

  24. Happy New Year et Bonne Année! What a splendid post; I just wanted to jump into so many of those photographs. I’m going to go find you on Instagram right now!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Merci ma chère Marlene! I blame Instagram for my lack of blogging. It is so much easier and faster. Blogging’s much more fun though. I wish you all the best for 2015. May it bring you all the joy and happiness you so deserve! I need to catch up on your blog posts though. I’ve been a bad friend I fear…

      1. Pas du tout! It’s such a challenge to read all the blogs we love to follow. I seem to be constantly trying to ‘catch up.’ I just joined Instagram in September, and I’m enjoying it so much. It’s fun to focus on the images there, and then bring them together with words and stories in the blog. Looking forward to continuing to visit My French Heaven in the year ahead!

  25. Vinny Grette says:

    Who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive one of your spectacular photos! I hope one day I can visit you in person and see for myself some of the places you’ve recorded on your blog. Happy New Year to you and yours 🙂 – Vinny AND Sharon

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Dear Vinny, nothing would make me happier than finally meeting you in person! 🙂 I wish you all the very best for the year to come. Let’s make it a masterpiece! 😉

  26. Jodi says:

    Oh how I’ve missed you and your posts Stephane! So great to see you show up again. What a wonderful time and full life you have been having/living. So nice to “catch up” Cheers and Hugs!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Big hugs to you too my dear Jodi! I have the feeling that 2015 will be even better! 😉 I need to catch up on your blog now 😉

  27. Can you see my smile from there? Wonderful post.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I can dear Barbara and it fils my heart with joy! 😉

  28. The photo’s are wonderful Stephane, what a fantastic year. It’ seems like a very long time since I have seen you post anything. Happy New Year and best wishes for a wonderful 2015.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my dear friend! Hopefully it is the year I will make it to NYC. I miss it so very much. I can’t believe it’s been more than a decade since I visited. The great thing about New York is that it never really changes… I wish you the very best in 2015!!!

  29. Angeline M says:

    What a wonderful year! And may 2015 be everything beautiful and delicious.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’m sure it will be dear Angeline! Happy New Year to you with lots of love and fun adventures!!

  30. I was so happy to find an email in my box, announcing a new post. I completely understand why you’ve been absent (having a marvelous time), but it’s great to have you back. I loved your year in review and hope one day to perhaps show up in a photo. But in the meantime, welcome back and a blessed 2015 to you. BTW, one of your framed photos would NOT be a second-rate gift, but a wonderful gift from the heart.

    janet

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Well it’s a date dear Janet! You show up, I take the picture, we frame it and VOILA! 😉 Have a lovely year!!

  31. What a delight for the senses this post is, and what a wonderful year you have had. It makes we wish to visit you!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You can come fabric the madness here anytime! 😉

  32. Helen Ruston says:

    As the others have said, we are just overwhelmed with the great photography and your ending comments
    on ‘lessons learned.’ I can’t help but think if the French Impressionists were alive today, there is much
    material for their art in your work! Those beautiful women and children! The way the food is presented!
    The CLOUDS!!! You have even managed to set Miami back into the 1930s .. such a magician you are!!!
    In a way, it is a good thing that you ration your blogging.. like fine wine, to be enjoyed on special occasions!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      What a lovely lovely comment dear Helen! I didn’t expect to like Miami one bit and then I went and absolutely fell in love with it. From Cocunot Grove all the way up to Palm Beach… an gem of a city!

  33. I too have missed seeing your fabulous photography, but the wait was sure worth it. It looks like you surrounded yourself with beautiful friends, family, and food throughout the year, which is as it should be. Cheers!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks a lot! I certainly feel blessed. Happy New Year!!

  34. sara says:

    How wonderful to see you in my blog feed. happy new year – and i can’t wait to read your posts on Japan xo

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Sara! I’ll try to post on Japan soon. Stay posted 😉 And happy New Year to you too my friend!

  35. Stephane, I’m not a foodie, but I love reading your blog posts and seeing your lovely photos. You have quite a wonderful .tribe.” Happiness in 2015. Christine

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You may not be a Foodie, but you’re part of my tribe Christine. Anyone who has a passion for life is 😉

  36. ladyredspecs says:

    I feel I’ve watched your year unfold on instagram, but the blogging platform provides your lush photography with a more complementary format Stephane. I hope 2015 brings you as much joy and beautiful images to capture

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so very much my dear! I shall blog more this year, I promise! I wish you all the best for 2015! ☺️

  37. Encantador como siempre, unas fotos preciosas…me quedo con la boca abierta viéndolas…unas historias de amistad, comida y amor deliciosas…felicidades y un próspero año nuevo.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Gracias! y un feliz año nuevo a usted mi amigo!

  38. What a lovely year. 🙂 I’ve been missing your posts but I can see why they were few and far between! Well worth it, I think. Happy New Year!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I shall post more in 2015. Happy New Year!!!

  39. Thank you for sharing…what a wonderful time capsule of your year! Best wishes for 2015! May all your dreams & wishes come true!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You too!!

  40. Sarah Jane says:

    Thank you for sharing your year with us. Your pictures are always so amazing! I had been wondering about you lately because I hadn’t seen a post in quite awhile. Now, I know why! …and those ribs look delicious!!! 😉

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I love many things about America, but ribs are near the very top of the list 😉 I hope you have a wonderful 2015 my dear Sarah Jane! 🙂

  41. A wonderful post Stephane and what a wonderful year you’ve had! Love your ‘lessons’. May the new year bring you much happiness and lots more blogging so we can all enjoy reading more about your food adventures!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so very much! Yes, lots of great food adventures to look forward to this year 🙂 I wish you all the very best!!

  42. grumpytyke says:

    What a year Stephanie. Mine was a little different but I’m glad to be back – still making some of your recipes! Prawns flambeed in Pernod yet again as a starter for Christmas dinner – we’ll never tire of it. Happy New Year!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      That makes me so happy! Happy new year my friend!

  43. Francine Guimont says:

    Quelle magnifique idée cette rétrospective de votre année; nous sommes fiers d’avoir partagé 2 petites journées avec vous. Votre blog nous a permis d’en découvrir davantage sur vous,entre autre votre beau talent de cuisinier qu’on voit par les yeux du prodigieux photographe que vous êtes.
    Une merveilleuse année 2015 pour vous ainsi qu’à vos parents.
    Si un jour vous venez à Québec, il nous fera plaisir de vous revoir.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Merci chère Francine!! Trés bonne année à vous! Il doit commencer à faire froid à Qhébec ☺️

  44. judilyn says:

    As always when I read your blog, I want to crawl into your brain to enjoy the many pleasures that you entice your readers with – and, in no small part – to grok the fabulous way you have with casual portraiture. Your subjects look like the happiest people in the world! My heart sings with joy for you! ;->

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so sweet dear Judie! I wish you all the very best for 2015. Health, love and lots of fun adventures!

  45. Love seeing all the pics of your beautiful 2014, Stephane! Wishing you an even more fulfilling 2015.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks my dear friend! Have a wonderful year!!!

  46. Just love the photos you take…breathtaking! All the best in 2015!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much! I wish you all the best for the year to come!! Mostly lots of great dinner parties 🙂

  47. americanmominbordeaux says:

    Wow – what a stunning year in review!! (I’m still working on mine…getting side tracked by too many other things…). I am always so moved by your photos! The warmth, and emotions that I can see in each and every one of them, leaves me wanting to keep looking and re-looking at every photo!! What a marvelous year you had – That is living life my friend!! Just think what you can look back and say! The people, the places, the cultures…you did you it all this year and you certainly captured it so beautifully. What stunning memories you now have. I’m waiting for you to publish that book of all your pictures – it would be a best seller for anyone who is passionate about life and loves to be moved by emotion, connection and the beauty of everything around them!!! Bonne Annee, my dear friend and I hope 2015 brings even more special experiences!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you my darling! I am very touched by your kind words. See you soon!

  48. Great photos, Stéphane! My favorite is the one of Conor and ‘the wife’. Glad you are back in the blogosphere. Happy new year! May 2015 be as good for you in terms of travelling and meeting people as 2014. One of these days I’ll have to come visit, too. And of course you are welcome to come visit here.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Happy new year to you too Stefan! with lots of great food and extravagant parties…

  49. Steve says:

    Next time, Delia and I will sign up for a foodie week! A very nice year-end summary filled with the usual wonderful photography. I am with you on the spending…..and look forward to emulating the sentiment of that great bumper sticker: Retired and spending my kids’ inheritance! We’re looking forward to more from you in 2015. What’s with the new foodie blog?

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My favorite bumper sticker ever I saw on the back of an old Chevy once: My boss is a jewish carpenter. Two nuns were driving 🙂 It’s not a new blog, but a better version of the website to sell my Foodie Days. I count on your feedback. It should be up by Tuesday.

  50. Sandra says:

    Fantastic photos, what a great year you had. I hope 2015 is just as special. Happy New Year.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Sandra! Happy new year to you too my dear friend!

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