caillebotte – painter and gardener

painting of french village square

If you are coming to Normandy this summer and plan a stop at Giverny, then I urge you to step into the Impressionist museum to admire the exhibition of paintings by Gustave Caillebotte, painter and gardener



Sadly he died at a very young age, but during his short life he was close friends with Claude Monet, with whom he shared a love of gardening as well as a passion for painting.  There are records of their correspondence, where they discuss watering systems for their respective gardens, or the merits of a greenhouse.  Very practical details that illustrate their love of the garden.


In the exhibition I was beguiled by his beautiful flowers , mostly painted in his house at Petit Gennevilliers, but also by his surprisingly modern renderings of daily life in Paris.   He captured moments of ordinary life, often from an overhead point of view, such as the pavement scene no doubt observed from a balcony.



As well as his talent for art and for horticulture, he also had the reputation  of being a very kind and generous man, and his gentle colour palette seems to reflect that very well

As we visited Giverny this afternoon, it was pouring with rain, the vegetation all around was lush and green,  and this beautiful exhibition provided the perfect refuge, and seemed to fit seamlessly with the lush gardens outside.

white wisteria in garden

And you may be interested to know that the museum wishes to purchase one of Caillebotte’s unfinished works, ‘Parterre de Marguerites’.   This painting is actually four canvases, originally intended for the artist’s own dining room, and it would make a wonderful addition to the museum’s permanent collection.

detail of flower painting

If you think you would like to make a contribution to this purchase, you can read more about the project HERE

excited to announce my book tour

usa book tour announcement

I am excited to write this post!   The topic has been in its planning stage for a while now, but at last I can announce that I shall be coming to the States this June till early July on a book signing tour!!

 I am so looking forward to meeting as many of my readers as possible, I’m hoping that I’ll at last be able to put faces to many familiar names that regularly pop up in my comment box,  on the facebook page or on instagram.

panises in a vase

The tour is ambitious and will be pretty much a whirlwind, but I guess that’s just the way it has worked out, fitting in as many venues as I can as I move from the east coast over to the west.

Of course we had to make choices when designing the tour, and I am so lucky that several wonderful stores and venues reached out to me, and that the schedule has slotted together so neatly.

chateau kitchen with dining table

So, without more ado, the details of the events are as follows:

23rd June we kick off in Florida with an evening reception with Susie Busch-Transou and her team, at Hearth and Soul, which is so much more than a home decor store in Tallahassee.

 Friday 24th begins at the store The Bookshelf in historic Thomasville GA, where Annie Jones is dedicated to sharing the simple southern life. The day ends beside the white beaches of Seaside Florida, where I am invited by Laney Blanchard to sign books on the front porch of Sundog Books.

On Sunday 26th June I shall be in Marietta GA, at Market with a B, a sweet home decor store recently opened by Terri Hendricks on the town square.

The next day, Monday  will see a change of pace as I am invited by Charles Nevinson to an event at the very grand Architectural Accents in Atlanta; it will be fun for me to be surrounded by French antiques so far from home.

From Atlanta, I am headed to cooler mornings in Cashiers NC, where on Tuesday 28th I look forward to meeting Cheryl Stinnett and the members of the local gardening club, and even visit a couple of gardens, before speaking and arranging flowers at the High Hampton Inn and Country Club.

Wednesday 29th sees me at Kansas City MO, where I am excited to meet Mary Carol Garrity at her beautiful store Nell Hill’s.  I’m amazed by Mary Carol, who is not only a gifted interior designer but also committed to working closely with charities.

The next morning I’m off to Chateau Sonoma which is close to San Francisco.  It’s an honor to be invited by Sarah Anderson, I have heard so much about all that she does, not only at Chateau Sonoma but also at Ramekins and her event venue The General’s Daughter.

I finish the tour on Friday 1st July at Fullerton CA, where my friend Jeni Maus will have just opened her brand new store, The Found Shop.  I am so happy for Jeni, this is a new adventure for her and fans of her fantastic style are thrilled to be able to purchase the looks that they have loved in her rental company for so long.

Full contact details for each venue are below, and also at Eventbrite under the search Sharon Santoni.   Please feel free to share with friends and on line, merci beaucoup!

appetizers ready for a meal

June 23 – HEARTH & SOUL

1410 Market St., Tallahassee, FL 32312

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET  –  850.894.7685


126 S. Broad St., Thomasville, GA 31792

11:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m.  – 229.228.7767


89 Central Square,  Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. CT  –  850.231.5481

June 26  – MARKET WITH A  B.

113 Church St. NE,  Marietta, GA

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET a-B  –  678.426.8700


2711 Piedmont Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30305

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET – 404.266.8700


1525 NC-107, Cashiers, NC 28717

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET – 828.743.0263


4101 N. Mulberry Dr. – Kansas City, MO 64116

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. CT – 816.746.4320


23588 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, CA 95476

5:00 p.m.– 7:00 p.m. PT – 707.935.8553


122 N. Harbor Blvd., Suite 104 & 105, Fullerton, CA 92832

6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. PT – 714.888.5811

curtain blowing in a breeze in chateau bathroom

driving out of paris for the day – in style


With many of you planning to visit Paris over the summer, I thought you may like an idea for an easy day excursion, with something to please everyone in your group of family or friends.

Of course we all love Paris in the summer, the temperatures are pleasant without being too hot or humid, conditions are ideal for sitting outside a café or bistro and watching the world go by as you enjoy a long and lazy meal.  But now and again it’s good to leave the city and  search for a dose of culture in a more rural setting.

chateau de chantilly, photo florence de la boissiere

Last week, as part of my floral tour, we spent a day at the Château de Chantilly, it’s less than an hour from the center of Paris but I hadn’t been there for years, and frankly had forgotten just how wonderful it is.

The medieval château (that was rebuilt after the revolution by the Duc d’Aumale)  appears to float upon its own lake.  The park is huge and includes a fantastic classical French garden designed by André Le Nôtre; a beautiful park with century old trees;  stables that you and I would happily make our home, and a full sized racecourse, that hosts horse races through the spring and summer.


The Duc d’Aumale rebuilt the château to house his astounding collection of artwork and books, and as he died without an heir, left it open to the public as the Musée de Condé.

Today you can visit the living apartments in the château, the stables and the grounds, and if you  visit in May as we did, you even get a beautiful plant fair as a bonus!


And if you’d like to stay a little longer, maybe linger over dinner, or stay the night and explore more of the area then there is even a hotel that is part of the Château domaine, the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, with a fine restaurant and beautiful rooms.


And the best way to get here? …. well, I can help you here too.  When we travel it is good to have a little help from someone reliable, with local knowledge.   I am happy to recommend the services of Michel, who drives for all my tours and who as well as speaking good english, being incredibly thoughtful and a true gentleman, is also a pretty snazzy dresser!


If you are looking  for reliable chauffeur driven transport for you or your family on your next trip to France, then send Michel an email HERE, or check out his website HERE.   His prices are reasonable and his service faultless.   With Michel everything becomes easy to organise as he offers a conciergerie service as well as that of chauffeur.


Whether you want to visit a château in the Loire valley, buy champagne in Reims, tour Paris or come out to see me in Normandy, Michel is the man to turn to.  Happy planning!


Michel Feneux-Grehan

Berlines & Voyage