Nearly everyone has a secret dream they harbour and mine is purchasing an old French farmhouse to do up so beautifully in one of France’s quaint villages. In my dream when the sun comes up each morning I stroll down a country laneway with tall sunflowers and lavender by the side of the road leading to a village to buy freshly made bread and ingredients to take back home and enjoy for breakfast. This is accompanied by fresh eggs I have gathered from the chooks at the back of the farmhouse.

In my dream I do not live there permanantly as my home is where my family is in Australia, however, I could very easily escape for a month or two each European summer and for the remainder of each year rent my farmhouse so that others could experience too my love of all things French….

 I am not quite sure how this grand love of all things french came to be actually, but I think its long rooted. Even memories of my childhood bring to mind me pouring over the pages of the beautiful french children’s books written and illustrated in the 1950’s by Francoise Seignobosc which I used to borrow from the local library.  Perhaps it was the close resemblance to her character’s named Jeanne – Marie which began my love affair of all things French. I used to read these books over and over as a young girl convinced I was a young Jeanne – Marie having a french adventure.

 The Adventures of Jeanne-Marie

Coincidently my married name also has some ancestory links dating back to France in the 1800’s I believe. For me, I find the french style calming, stylish and beautiful. The colours of charcoal, beige, cream and that beautiful ‘french blue’ is what I am planning to decorate my beach retreat in. I love everything about France particularly the buildings, clothes, food & wines, but most of all the homestyles, antiques and french provincial styles.

The area I have left on the northern side of Melbourne has a couple of my favourite haunts, reminicent of this amazing part of the world. Eltham and Heidleberg house some of the most beautiful french inspired buildings which we were fortunate to spend some time in.  ‘Montsalvat is an artist colony in Eltham, Victoria, Australia, established by Justus Jörgensen in 1934.  You could spend all day walking through the grounds admiring the mudbrick walls and churches in the most magnificent grounds. Another  place we used to frequent often in Eltham was definately my favourite haunt, Lilies on Brougham a french inspired cafe/nursery stocking delightful supplies, books and clothing from France and well worth the visit.

The one thing I will miss with moving from that side of town were the wonderful afternoons I shared with friends and family where I could escape to my little piece of France just for a while…

Monsalvat, Eltham
 Bill’s eyes

I intend for my beach retreat to be a reflective haven of my love of all things french. I have learned in life that its important to surround yourself with all things you love and you will never feel without. I do plan to go back to this amazing country, in a few years after we have settled into our new house. Our plan is to wait until I have Long Service Leave (3 months paid leave), then I, along with my husband and two of our closest friends are designing an amazing tour of France, Italy and Scotland to visit our friend’s family. The fact that my husband is stepping outside of his country for the first time will be the absolute highlight for me.

As I write this post, our beautiful Bre is travelling in Paris living her dream which is inspiring me and making me wonder what our trip will be like as I begin the fun part of planning where we will visit. To be honest I am not sure what I am most excited about…moving into my beach retreat or embarking on our amazing trip in 2016!

My beach retreat is going to have many flavours of France flitted throughout, in the hues of lavender blue and charcoal, appeased with whites of all colours, white on white if you like.  I often dream of my lavender plants in the garden, clippings inside with the aroma floating throughout the house. The style will be reflective of comfort and home, a place to sink into when staying a while or just visiting and for us I plan for it to be our sanctuary. I hope to find on my travels, beautiful frames, pictures and linen which I can scatter thoughout. The outside of the house we eventually plan to paint a charcoal grey with white trim, very French indeed, dont you think?