About thoughtfulness

muguet-lily of the valley

I have never been superstitious, but I truly believe in the awesome power of thoughtfulness. And therefore, this one tradition I love!

On the French labor day (May 1st every year), you will see many people with little flower stands on the side of the roads, selling lilies of the valley… It is said to be a good luck charm and must be offered to all the ladies among your family and friends. They must have 13 bells and still be covered with dew to be considered truly lucky. It really is a subtle and light hearted way to show the ladies in your life that you love them and appreciate them. Although adults do partake in this, it is something little boys have always done for their moms and the whole thing has that charming air about it. I am just so fond of the memories this tradition has created for me. The idea of a little kid on his tippy-toes offering the delicate flower to a loving mom. I don’t know how to express this the way I intended to. So here you have it: lilies, charming little boys, happy moms. There! Everybody happy?

Sorry. I’m high as a kite. These flowers sure smell strong…

Charles IXmuguet-lily of the valleyH92A1702

It is indeed a very old French tradition (and Belgian too I think) dating back to the Renaissance: On May 1st, it was customary in the French country side to offer people a branch of something (anything really but mostly flowers) to chase the curse of winter. In 1560, King Charles IX visited the Drôme region where he was offered lilies of the valley. The gesture pleased him very much, and the following year, he gave lilies of the valley to all the ladies at Court as a good luck charm.


In the first part of the 20th century, it was a tradition amongst Paris designers to offer a branch of lilies of the valley to all their “petites mains” (seamstresses) and clients. The lily of the valley was the flower of the house of Dior. Dior’s 1954 collection was named after it.

dior muguet

And as paper or cotton represents a couple’s 1st year anniversary, in France, lilies of the valley represent their 13 year anniversary. Their good luck charm is supposed to overpower the “unlucky” number 13. I think in America 13 is lace…

muguet-lily of the valley

Today’s pictures were taken in my garden. It is raining cats and dogs, but the little white bells made me forget the gloomy weather for a few minutes. Giving some to mom just made my day. The is me and mom below… some 45 years ago…

Numériser 148 _Snapseedmuguet-lily of the valleyH92A5592muguet-lily of the valley

53 Comments Add yours

  1. lisa622014 says:

    So love your blog! Fashion food and fabulous places are my passion! Nice job!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much Lisa!!

      1. lisa622014 says:

        I’m glad you found me so I found your blog!

        1. My French Heaven says:

          Me too!!

  2. chef mimi says:

    why or why do i miss your posts? love all of the photos, but the one of your maman is so precious. Can’t wait to see her again!

  3. I know I’m very late, but since it’s Mother’s Day in the States, this is a suitable day to read your lovely post. Hope all’s well with you!


  4. Max says:

    We are planing to move into the Bordeaux area – come across your blog. Most wonderful. The editorial and the pictures are really great.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks! I hope we cross paths one day!

  5. Your mother is always the most charming French lady I know!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so sweet! How have you been??

      1. I am fine, thank you… but always so very bussy. Just sent Patrizia the link to your last post. She is still so in love with the idea of visiting you! 🙂

        1. My French Heaven says:

          I hope she does one day, and I hope you do too!!!!!!

  6. Marie Keates says:

    The lily of the valley has not yet come out in my garden but I’m looking forward to it. They are such beautifully uderstated flowers.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      They certainly are. Enjoy them. Mine are already gone…

  7. gypsygurl64 says:

    Thank you for the memories. Back home in Louisiana we have a similar flower called a summer snowflake! When I was a little girl, I used to pick those and daffodils and take them home to my mom! What a lovely memory. As always Stephane, I love your post! I look forward to visiting your paradise one day.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I really hope you do! I have such fond memories of New Orleans. I used to live on Royal Street…

  8. What a beautiful and magical post. Your pictures and this tradition look and sound magical. 🙂

  9. how fun. my lilies of the valley are a couple of weeks from flowering. Lovely little spears of green to let us know that the flowers will be up soon.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are lucky. Mine have already faded away. I wish they lasted longer!

      1. I have seen that they have bred them for size. Of coursen I cannot find the plant catalog I saw them in. Those are my next plant purchase. I have a very shady garden and luckily these “lilies” can take the shade.

        1. My French Heaven says:

          They are strong indeed. Half of mine are in the shade and they seem to be ok with it…

  10. juliabarrett says:

    May Day. It was our family tradition to give bouquets of lilies of the valley and violets to our family and friends. My grandmother grew both. I have violets growing in my yard. Now I must see if I can grow lilies of the valley. The smell is heavenly. Perhaps it comes from my French great-grandfather?

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Maybe it does. One of our most beloved and followed traditions. I have tons of violets in the yard too. At least those you can eat. Lillies are highly toxic…

  11. How truly lovely. Thank you for posting this bit of beauty.

  12. sara says:

    The flowers (my favourites!) and that photo of you and your mum…just beautiful.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Sara! Yes, lilies of the valley are so fragrant yet so delicate. Truly one of my favorites too 😉

  13. Farmgirl says:

    We could all use gestures to bid winter farewell. Lilies and flowering branches…just lovely! And that dress, my goodness, makes me want to get married again!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      The little Dior dress is indeed something else. So simple and fresh. Thanks for dropping by dear Katie!!

  14. What a beautiful tradition, Stephane! It makes me smile to know you were beaming from ear to ear over this! 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:


  15. Angeline M says:

    You have indeed made me happy. What a wonderful tradition. Your mom is beautiful!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I will tell her you said so. She will be so happy you said so. Thanks Angeline!

  16. ladyredspecs says:

    What a beautiful tradition! I’m always pleased to see your beautiful posts..

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you so much dear Sandra! It means so much to me!!

  17. Stephane – such a delightful post and a joy to read. Many thanks! And wonderful photos as always.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so kind! Glad you liked it!

  18. sabine says:

    What a lovely tradition – I´d happily join !

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Good! Welcome Sabine!

  19. Beautiful tradition and gorgeous photographs. Lovely to see your site today.

    1. My French Heaven says:


  20. Jennifer F says:

    What a beautiful post Stéphane. Just reading your prose pits a thoughtful smile on my face. You are so right, it is a lovely tradition. My clients were smiling today as I explained the holiday & we passed so many stands on the way to Arcachon. Sometimes I think thoughtfulness gets lost in the craziness of our daily lives, that’s why I so appreciate this holiday tradition as a reminder. Thanks for sharing so much of your heart! Your photos as usual stunning! Love the photos of your mother! Happy weekend!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks dearest Jen. I hope you have a great week-end too despite the weather. I will be in Cap Ferret over the next weekend. I hope wéll have some sun then… By the way, on Tuesday the 12th, i am meeting the owner of Cadio Badie in Pessac to take pics at his chocolate factory. Do you want to come along? Let me know.

  21. Patty says:

    Thank you for sharing Stephane, please say hello to your beautiful mother. Miss you.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I will dear friend! Say high to M!

  22. Jodi says:

    so sweet and special 🙂 As a mamma of boys – I have goosebumps and feel the love 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Special indeed. How ha you been my dear. I am so behind in my blog reading…

      1. Jodi says:

        Doing very well. Am always SOOO excited when I see one of your posts. Every one is so special – photos – words… Thanks for sharing!

        1. My French Heaven says:

          You are too kind! I am planning on writing more. I’ve been invited to take pictures of the best chocolate factory in Bordeaux. That should make for a delicious post…

          1. Jodi says:

            O M G – I’m drooling already!!!!!!!

  23. Dawn says:

    What a wonderful, wonderful post! It warms my heart to learn of this special French tradition. Such a special gift of love to share with your mom every year on May 1st! I’m running outside to see if the lilies of the valley are blooming in my Midwest garden today. It would be such fun to make a little bouquet for someone special! Sending sunshine! ♡

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks for the sunshine Dawn. We truly need it here today. Happy hunting!

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