Once upon a time, a French man took a quill in hand and became the father of the fairy tale. Charles Perrault, inspired by the magical towers and pinnacles of Chateau de Usse wrote, La Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty) in 1697.
While visiting the Loire valley, home to endless chateau, I was stunned with an “Ah Ha” moment and can clearly see how he could create not only Sleeping Beauty but also Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Blackbeard and Puss in Boots.
Charles was born into a home with royal connections in Louis XIV’s court. Roaming the halls of any of the French chateau in France, I can easily imagine a wicked step mother, a small child in a red cloak or a cat in a snazzy pair of boots.
Traveling in a foreign country or distant land can truly be the spark that ignites an artist’s imagination. For generations, France has been the muse for countless artists, writers and food lovers.
The gardens that Monet created in Giverny just north of Paris, inspired his greatest works. I was awed by the massive Water Lily painting by Monet in Kansas City’s, Nelson Atkins Museum, but it was his garden that overwhelmed me. Oh, to spend a day strolling the garden paths and staring at the water lily pond without the distractions of tourists. I know I could create a masterpiece if only I could spend one day in Claude’s studio staring out the wall of windows.
His kitchen could easily inspire a gourmet French meal and I would delight in cooking with all his copper pots. The conversation around his table would be cheery, how could it not, surrounded by such happy yellow walls.
Julia Child fell in love with France at the first bite of Sole Meuniere, a magical, buttery fish meal. That first French dinner changed the course of her life. “The whole experience was an opening up of the soul and spirit for me,” Julia remarked about that first meal. French cuisine became her passion and her life’s direction.
After searching for a French cookbook written in English, with no success, she was moved to create her own. Julia said, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” She lived this philosophy, as it took her years before her hard work paid off and the world was blessed with, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
As an American who is guilty of preparing quick meals and slapping them on a paper plate, my eyes have been opened. Julia was right, French cuisine is like an angel chorus singing with each bite. I’m ashamed at the tasteless meals I am guilty of preparing. I will never be a French chef, but I am inspired to crack open Julia’s book and give my family’s taste buds a little dance.
The joy of French food does not end with the palate. I’ve lost count of the cafes that have kept our taste buds delighted, but before even a morsel is set on the table, the art of dining begins. At each and every café, the silverware is set, piece by piece, purposely for each guest. You won’t find a napkin rolled set of cutlery here in France. Dining is a delight and it too has inspired me to return home and be creative at mealtime.
The list of well-known people who found their inspiration in France is endless. Writers have flocked to this country for generations and some of the greatest names in art were so inspired they created new ways to paint and portray the countryside.
The French are known for their cuisine and they have exalted cooking to an artform.
Our worlds can be very small. My hometown only boasts 50,000 Midwestern souls. It’s a comfortable and pleasant place to call home, but the world is vast. There is so much to see outside of our own little worlds. There is so much to taste, experience and be inspired by.
Not all of us have the opportunity to travel to foreign places, but I do encourage you to find somewhere new that can inspire you. Find that thing that can create passion in you and that will enable you to keep tremendously interested in it.
If traveling is not an option for you remember, Charles Perrault, wrote in the region he lived in. Monet spent years creating his magnificent gardens before he painted them, and Julia just looked for something to do while her husband was at the office. You too can be inspired by traveling to a faraway place or by dreaming of one, or by opening your eyes to the life and world that is around you every day.
I’m thankful that I’ve been able to travel to France, but I’m excited to return home and look at my world with new eyes and be inspired.
I’d love to hear about what inspires you. Where have you traveled that changed your life? What about your home is your muse? Inspire us with your comment.
REMEMBER – Comments are your way to enter to win “The Most Beautiful Villages in France.” Be a subscriber to this blog and leave a comment until mid September and you will be entered to win this delightful book.
If you are enjoying our trip through Europe, please share my blog with a friend. If you share this post on social media, just leave a comment that you have done so and you will receive an additional entry. There will be more prizes too. I recently found a special treat in Provence, so be sure to enter and I will share more about that in future posts.
My twin 18 year-old daughters are blogging too. You won’t want to miss their adorable and often humorous perspective of this journey.
Just click this link to The Traveling Twins blog.
For more photos, follow me on Facebook.