Sunday, 3 June 2012

Behind Those High Garden Walls

Dearest readers,
There is a meandering, narrow road in our village whose name lends itself to flights of fancy and is pretty difficult to pin down in English.  Does it refer to the picturesque glimpses of the Loire river which runs below through the lush foliage or to the radiant countenance of a mysterious face?  Who can tell.
 On our stroll along the rue de Beauregard this morning the air was vibrant with the shrill song of a band of crickets while countless birds seemed to be auditioning for their singing jobs.
 This lane, where dreams abound, has a timeless quality.  Tucked away behind those lofty stone walls are beautiful properties which most of us can indeed only dream of possessing. 
One cannot help peering through firmly closed gates to catch a glimpse of another world.
Many buildings on our north bank of the Loire river are partly constructed from a soft chalk rock called tuffeau which has been quarried since the eleventh century. Safe from past attack and insulated from extremes of hot or cold these troglodytes or caves, carved out of the hillside, represent a network of more than a thousand kilometres.  There were dwellings for peasants and also manor houses with extensive cellars where wines were stored.  If you look at a wall up close you will see nuggets of caramel-coloured stone, faint brown streaks and, perhaps, an oyster shell; a fossil left from the sea that once covered that part of France. On entering such a house there is usually a musty smell but, more importantly, a silence and introspection which give the impression of ancient things lying dormant.
Stone steps, high turret windows, and Pierre Ronsard roses - named after our local sixteenth-century poet - complete the picture.
Yesterday evening the ambiance here was quite different.  Our children's school had organised an exhibition of their artwork both inside the dim honeycombed tuffeau rooms and outside in the dazzling early evening light.  Children flitted about.  There was much merrymaking.  Vouvray sparkling wine flowed and tasty food had been lovingly prepared.  It was such a memorable occassion we simply had to return this morning just to have another look.
This time the gates were closed and this house, like others in the rue de Beauregard, was slumbering once again. Roses blooming like a meteor shower had rearranged their blankets of colour for the day.   
If lingering a while you would see rose petals falling in slow motion and soft as rain. They litter the pavements with bright paint flakes. 
Sleeping ancient dwellings
and thorny roses.
Perhaps one might find a spindle and spinning wheel with silken thread in this turret room?
I am getting a little carried away with the Sleeping Beauty analogy but the air is thick with stories here on a hot summer's day.  On the gates of 'Rochevigne', where we had spent our beautiful evening, I felt compelled to hang...
a shawl made of silk, alpaca, and merino.
A gift made for my mother and not for Sleeping Beauty!
For those who feel they are experiencing a little déjà vu this a replica of my Cosette Wrap knitted last winter this time knitted up with opulent Juno Pearl in Flight and French Grey colourways.
I wanted to give my mother a corner of blue sky with a silver lining.
Both the pictures above were taken at the Chaumont International Garden Festival last year.  There will be more on that soon.
Details are on Ravelry of course.

Thank you so much for your warmhearted comments on my previous post.  You are all wonderful and I am very grateful for the network of inspiring, clever, and kind people out there.  My next post will cover in part my embroidery workshop with Cécile Franconie at Loop in London.  Needless to say an amazing time was had by all.  I would also like to wish a very happy Jubilee to everyone in the UK. Today is Mother's Day in France!

A très bientôt,



  1. Oh what a lovely time I had meandering down your beautiful French lane. Thankyou for sharing a little of your surroundings i really enjoyed it. Love Linda x

  2. How beautiful - coiuld almost smell the perfume of all thos roses and feel the ambiance of the places you show. Thanks.

  3. I felt a lump come in my throat at such a beautiful, dreamy and wistful post. Thank you Stephanie for showing your world to us. Can't wait to hear about your time at Loop.

  4. Stephanie ma belle,

    You have taken me on a most lovely walk this morning as I sit here and hear the SHRILL of our sparrows outside my studio window. There is so much to comment on in this post. I love your part of France. Those old maisons are my dream and your shawl....oh dear, I need one of these!!!!!!!! SO LOVELY in blue and suspended in the air...ghostly and magical! THOSE PIERRE RONSARD ROSES.....my husband and I want to plant a climbing rose similar to that and specific to our climat zone. WILLIAM BAFFIN, for they are hardy in our treacherous winters. BUT my husband is concerned about how to prune them back. Do you know how to safely and effectively prune a rose vine that wants to GO CRAZY? I really love how this one in your photos is pruned back so tidy.

    Oh dearest, how is your early summer going? I have just NEXT WEEK to complete and teaching is done.

    I wish you a perfectly bright and beautiful day my dear! Anita

  5. Oh what a delight Stephanie, a fairytale wander & to see such divine freely growing roses. Aren't they lovely against the soft caramel hues of the old stone. I came across a recipe for rose elixir the other day..fragrant roses (unsprayed of course), honey & brandy in a jar..leave a week or two. I have made a very small jar as we are almost right out of roses just now! So funny seeing the valerian growing wild like that..a world away yet so familiar...we grow it in one of my gardens. Hope your mother loved her shawl..& it's silver lining. Have a lovely Mothers' Day dear heart. Much love Catherine x0x0x

  6. I shall be back later Stephanie to give your post my full attention! I'm just off out for the afternoon but I oculdn't resist a very quick peep:-)


  7. What a wonderful shawl...
    I would love to meander around that garden and house... lost in time.
    Much love and Happy Mother's Day to you.xxx

  8. Thank you for the Sunday morning wander. You weave a wonderful mood with your writing and photographs. I can imagine the old buildings took on a unfamiliar look with the children laughing the evening before, perhaps reminiscent of earlier days. I loved it all, including the "silver lining" shawl for your mother. Have a wonderful week, Stephanie.

  9. what a gift it is to read your words, this is absoultly stunning. i felt the quiet and at the same time heard the birdsong, i could smell the roses and the age of the buildings. stephanie you are a poet. and what a surprise to see that gorgeous shawl, bless your heart for making a silver lined cloud for your dear mother. if i were her it would be my favorite possession in all the world.
    happy mothers day dear, i hope it is wonderful for you and your mother!
    xxx lori

  10. wow-thank you for the trip :) having grown up in the area- i know these cave homes and area so well ...so beautiful~

    as is your wrap-great color too!

  11. What a great pleasure it has been to join you in wandering around a beautiful part of France. Your words add to the pleasure given by all the photographs.

    I think that I did hear birdsong, felt a breeze and saw some of those rose petal fall! A spell was cast.

    May I also say that the gift you've knitted for your mother is exquisite.

    Best wishes. xo

  12. Dear Stephanie,
    thank you for your sweet comment!:)
    You have a wonderful blog!;)
    greetings from Ukraine,
    Ira ♥

  13. What a charming and mysterious place this Rochvigne and I am intrigued by the tuffeau construction. Your photos and description of the soirée and children flitting about are just delightful. The roses are exquisite and I imagine that there is something special about every season here. I can imagine centuries of care taken in these gardens and the stories of those who spent their lives here.

    I love the shawl you knit for your mom and wish you both une joyeuse fête des mères!


  14. Happy mother's day Stephanie! I love the texture of the shawl, I want to reach out and touch it. :) Absolutely gorgeous pots of the old stone buildings, I love the contrast of the roses against stone. I have roses growing in my garden so all I need is a lovely stone house to go with them! ;)
    Jess xx

  15. Thank you so much Stephanie for the lovely glimpse of the French countryside and stunning roses, just beautiful! :)
    Your Mother's shawl is gorgeous, she will be delighted with it.
    Wishing you a very happy Mother's Day! :)
    Vivienne x

  16. oh stephanie, you are such a wonder with your magical and poetic desciptions. i would love it if you were to write long books that i can read on a summers lawn :)
    i think my imagination runs away with me here also. when i first came by, and before i read your words i saw this enchanted place and the beautiful blue/silver shawl and both took my breath away. i hope i don't sound too silly when i say that i imagined the shawl around the shoulders of a unicorn. you see, even before i read your words i felt the fairytale. your images have captured the atmosphere of rue to beauregard so explicitly. your photos have a lovely, gentle luminosity and your words bring the scent of rose petals to life.
    wishing you a lovely mother's day xx your mother will be so touched and delighted with her warm and elegant gift.

  17. I could just imagine Sleeping beauty being there, so beautiful.
    Sarah x

  18. Beautifully written piece, you do indeed take the reader on that walk with you, all us to gasp at the architecture, smell the sweetness of the roses and enjoy the tranquillity of French life! Hope you had a great Mothers day, we did!

  19. I am sat here on a very wet evening with a contented pussy cat curled up on my lap which is having the distinct advantage of keeping the chill off, when suddenly I am transported to a warm summers day in France, meandering along the lanes which are heady with the scent of rambling roses. It was a delightful interlude, the shawl looks beautiful, it looks lovely and soft. Hopefully I shall be able to write up loop by Wednesday.

  20. Your mother will be delighted with such a beautiful shawl, it is gorgeous Stephanie. Love those subtle colours. And I love those rosey photos too, I think I can smell them from here.
    Happy Mother's Day. x

  21. Aaah the romance of a French lane and beautiful mystery and history of those buildings. I just want to dive right into my laptop and be there. Thank you for sharing Stephanie. We love France a whole lot. Beautiful shawl for your mum,I love the silver lining meaning and thought, too lovely. I look forward to seeing your Loop post xox Penelope
    ps. I did email you and am anxious to send you your prize but haven't got your postal address yet. Just a quick reminder that my email is violetsandvelvet@gmail.com xox Happy week ahead x

  22. There is nothing quite as beautiful as the contrast of crumbling stone walls and exquisite fragile Pierre Ronsard roses, as you have depicted here so well, Stephanie. I especially noticed the last three images, the blue sky and the exquisite work in the shawl which you made for your Mother, and the fragile bubble glass, so much imagery to ponder. I am sure you had a memorable visit with her....I would give anything to have my Mom at my side! Wishing you a very special Mother's Day! Your quote, reminds me of one I like as well...Work is love made visible . N.xo

  23. Dear Stephanie,

    You have shared a beautiful post of your little French lane and I just want to walk down the road, amongst all the beauty. The charming old stone houses and walls juxtaposed with the pretty pink roses, you couldn't get anything more beautiful. The shawl you made your Mother is gorgeous and I love the sentiments of the blue sky and the silver lining, she will be thrilled.

    Happy Mother's day and wishing you a great new week

  24. I kept thinking of Beauty and the Beast and the rose the father picked for Beauty. It could of been one of the ones pictured, they are so stunning!
    IT just seems like an enchanted place there.

  25. What a lovely walk you must have had all those roses and gardens to look at.

  26. Thank you so much for taking us with you on a walk through the beautiful dreamy Rue de Beauregard. I enjoyed every corner of it. O those chalky walls with fossils hidden in them and those fragrant roses filling the air. A delight!

  27. Hello Stephanie!
    Ah, such enchantment here today...this talk of turrets, beautiful thorny roses and Sleeping Beauty...I love it! I think your exquisite shawl was made for such a lady...I can just imagine her gliding down those wonderful old stone steps with your pretty shawl draped around her shoulders! I'm sure your mum will be delighted with her treasure...You do live in a magical place Stephanie!
    Hope you have a happy Monday,
    Susan x

  28. What a pretty lane, I would love to sit there and smell the flowers in the sunshine :-)

    Love the shawl too, such a pretty colour

  29. An enchanting post as always Stephanie. And another beautiful shawl completed. You cast a spell with your words, your images and your knitting :D

  30. What a beautiful post (and a lovely piece of knitting). All of a sudden I was in Le Grand Meaulnes territory...


  31. Dearest Stephanie, What a gorgeous post sweet friend! You are a wonderful story teller and gifted photographer! I loved seeing the beautiful old homes and the amazingly beautiful roses! I can imagine their intoxicating fragrance! This is such a lovely place to walk and dream! The shawl you knitted for your dear mom is gorgeous! The colors are beautiful and you knit perfectly! She will love and enjoy it very much! I look forward to hearing more about the garden festival and your workshop! I hope you had a blessed Mother's Day dearest! Thank you for your visit and sweet and kind words! It is a joy to visit you! I agree, I wish ladies wore more hat and gloves these days too! They always looked so charming and feminine! I, too, wish you a beautiful week, dear, wonderful friend! Much love, Paula xo

  32. Thank you for the fantastic journey through the streets of you villiage Stephanie. I have a huge desire to see more of what lies behind those walls, the gardens must be truly magical!! I adore the Pierre Ronsard roses, one day I'd love to make some of those in miniature :)
    The shawl is beautiful, I really love the colour and the inspiration behind it. Your mother must love it!!
    As always it's a true delight to read your beautiful words and I can't wait to read about the workshop at loop.
    Many hugs
    vicky xxx

  33. As always your pictures and words have taken my breath away with their beauty.
    And giving your mother that corner of the blue sky- beautiful beyond words

  34. what a beautiful post....I do believe those meandering stone walls are my favorite; I have dozens of pictures I've taken over the years that look similar (although I don't believe I've ever been on your rue de beauregard); I always hoped to get a peak behind those walls....how lucky you were! Hope you had a glass of Vouvray for me, too! Your shawl looks lovely!! (and those roses! swoon!)

  35. You share the most beautiful words and photographs, Stephanie. I almost feel as if I were there with you! :)
    And the shawl for your mother? Gorgeous!!! I'm sure she will love it!
    Wishing you a lovely day,

  36. hello stephanie, ohhh as if the roses weren't enough, but then the beautifully hung shawl on the wrought iron, just lovely. i really really like that shawl!

  37. Dear Stephanie,

    Hope you had a lovely stay in the UK. You were very lucky with the weather I believe. Your mother must have been very pleased with the sky blue shawl you made for her. It is beautiful!

    Do you know when you will open your Etsy shop? I am looking forward to see what's inside.

    I enjoyed having a stroll through your village. It looks enchanting with the roses in full bloom! I believe you must have had a bit more sun in the Loire valley. There are fat buds in my roses, but no flowers yet. I find it difficult to wait :-)!

    Wish you a happy evening!

    Madelief x

  38. The scarf is very beautiful and oh so many lovely roses where you live. It seems like a magical place for sure.

  39. this post was like walking through a beautiful story book Stephanie. i love the way you write and engage your readers. I absolutely adore the cosette wrap, i hope your mum had a beautiful day :)
    nice to visit you again, i have been away for a bit :)
    xo sandra

  40. What a beautiful shawl Stephanie, lucky mum!

    Fleur xx

  41. What a wonderful walk, absolutely exquisite the sounds, sights and scents all there for us to enjoy too.....beautifully and poignantly described.

    The shawl is gorgeous, perfect colours, I bet your mum loved it.

  42. An absoloutely glorious post! I can just imagine wrapping myself up in that beautiful shawl! x

  43. Bonjour!~! Oh, what a beautiful spring you are having in France. Those roses are amazing, so beautiful they almost make my heart ache! I just love a pretty perfect pink rose. Thank you for taking me along on your garden tour! And that shawl is beautiful, I just love that color. Stunning!

  44. Precious Stephanie! I am barely getting to my comments now after a LONG and emotional LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!! Oh thank you dear one for your kind visit. I so love hearing from you and I totally understand the pressures of this time of the year. EVERYONE is so busy and I too am so busy that I am wondering HOW I WILL GET EVERYTHING DONE that I need to complete. Your request to post on Saturday is perfectly FINE. I SO UNDERSTAND! I am trying to get my post ready to load up on Midnight my time TOMORROW to let European friends get a head start. BUT NOT TO WORRY MY DEAR. You post on Saturday when you can. Your name on the link list appears sometime in the middle I believe, so it will give visitors TIME to get to you.

    I wish you the best of times as you celebrate all the memories of your children and their activities as they prepare to end a school year and begin their summer! SEE YOU OVER THE WEEKEND MY DEAR! Anita

  45. What a lovely, dreamy walk with you. My roses are very fragrant right now, so I can smell them as i look at the beautiful photos!

  46. This looks like a wonderful place to visit! And your shawl is just beautiful. It's all very romantic!

  47. Assurément La Belle Dormante habite dans la Rue de Beauregard! Entourée de ces belles roses parfumées! Et bien sûr, quand elle se réveillera elle portera une châle bleue et grise comme celle-ci! Enchantant, Stéphanie!

  48. Hi Stephanie! Wow...sheer gorgeousness. I could almost smell the fragrant flowers! The shawl is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for inspiring! I look forward to following your blog! Blessings, Tania ♥

  49. Welcome in Paris darling...nice to met you here....what a great party this is !!...love Anita.....she is such a great friend for all of us.....happy week enjoy your time here....xxxx..

  50. Such an enchanting post Stephanie, I can almost smell those roses from here! Your photos make me long for another visit to France but alas I don't think it will be this year.

    I'm glad you had a lovely time with your family in Kent. The shawl you made for your mother is exquisite.


  51. What a magical post!
    The roses are glorious, and the shawl you have made your Mother is beautiful - she will adore it I'm sure.
    Thanks for sharing such lovely photos
    Gill xx

  52. You have captured all that I love about France in one post. It is the roses and the views through the gates. You are making me dream.

  53. Oh my, the shawl you made for your m other is so beautiful!!! I love that one! And the roses in the walled gardens are beautiful beyond words! Yes, I do think a spindle and a girl who will prick her finger and fall asleep for 100 years is in that turret. :-)

  54. I enjoyed this walk with you so much. I've been through this post twice for double enjoyment. As you may remember, I love the Pierre de Ronsard rose. I love seeing it there among the gorgeous old stone walls and gates. It looks so romantic!


  55. Thank you for taking us to this romantic, dreamy, beautiful place. Your knitted scarf for your mother is absolutely lovely! xo Karen

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