my stylish french girlfriend – Danièle

by Sharon Santoni

I haven’t featured any of my French girlfriends for a long while, so for those readers who never saw the original series here is the principal explained …..

I am blessed to know some wonderful women here in France, and I love to share them with you and to give you an insight into real people’s lives here.  A behind-the-scenes view;  stuff that visitors never normally get to discover.


My criteria for choosing the friends are simple – they must be interesting, creative, fun, and have something wonderful to share with us.  Of course this is a blog, so it helps if they are extremely attractive and live in houses that are quintessentially French and elegant, but it is amazing just how many French women tick all the boxes.

Today I am introducing you to Danièle.  She spent her life teaching, and there are many youngsters in Normandy with happy memories of her history and English lessons.  Today, retired, she and her husband are passionate about gardens and living a full and rich life.

They are fully involved in local cultural and charity events.  They tend their garden and are vigilant about the quality of the food they eat.  Danièle’s husband, also called Daniel, maintains a fantastic potager where, alongside the tomatoes, beans and salads, he  cultivates a collection of  rare varieties of potatoes.

When I stopped by to take pictures, early one morning, I was welcomed to their elegant home with croissant and coffee.


The garden is full of roses, many of them climbing their way through old apple and cherry trees.   Their perfume fills the air, and their gentle colours are restful to the eye.

Inside the house Danièle is a collector … a woman after my own heart ….

Many of their pieces have come from her family, but she also loves to find pieces and bring them to add to the tableau.

Many of her finds are functional, but she also loves to curate small vignettes, particularly on botanical themes.

Besides maintaining her garden, Danièle is also a volunteer guide for the nearby medieval abbey at St Georges de Boscherville.  She welcomes guests and gives them a wonderful, and if needs be bilingual, tour of the abbey and gardens.  I speak for this first-hand, as she recently led a visit for my brocante tour guests.



If you are close to Rouen on the last weekend of June, and you would like to visit Danièle’s gardens, she is opening them exceptionally to the public, in aid of a charity that helps those suffering from Alzheimers.  Just drop me a line I’ll be happy to give you the details.


Lynne June 11, 2014 - 11:16 am

You know how I love meeting your girlfriends!
Danièle is a beautiful treasure.
Her home and garden, a gift for the eyes and the soul!
Thank you for sharing.

Mary Ann Falciani June 11, 2014 - 11:48 am


I loved meeting your girlfriend. Her garden is just beautiful. I wish I could be
there for the tour. Would love to see more of the architecture of her lovely

Jane June 11, 2014 - 12:03 pm

Lovely post!

Jane Cammann June 11, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Lovely post!

Heather in Arles June 11, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Very inspiring in many ways, Sharon. Thank you for introducing us to Danièle.

Jeannine June 11, 2014 - 12:57 pm

Merci Sharon and to your lovely girlfriend Daniele! Such beautiful gardens and her house is stunning. I too would love to take in the perfume of the flowers. It looks so peaceful. I so enjoy reading your blog taking me to the wonderful country of France!

Katherine June 11, 2014 - 1:06 pm

How lovely! Daniele and her husband know the delicate balance of blending the outdoors with the inside of a home. Of course, the gorgeous landscape of France is a natural place to begin – but it’s easy to see that Daniele is a gracious host to all who visit.

I love the image of the house with the garden in the foreground.
Thanks for sharing.

stacey snacks June 11, 2014 - 1:11 pm

I agree that French women tick all the boxes!
Henry will love her garden, and I so enjoy meeting your stylish friends.


Linda June 11, 2014 - 1:21 pm

Lovely article!

Cindy Vetrano June 11, 2014 - 1:24 pm

Sharon, How wonderful to see you having your coffee and croissant on my grandmother’s dishes–Rose Chintz by Johnson Brothers–they are on display in my kitchen cupboard–I love them even more seeing them in Daniele’s home!
I spied an old delft (I think) garniture piece being used to hold the bird nests also–how sweet. If I ever make it to Normandy to shop with you, I will definitely have to visit Daniele! Have a wonderful day–Cindy

Jeanne McKay Hartmann June 11, 2014 - 2:16 pm

Sharon, I love this series. Thank you so much for inviting us to meet your circle of very stylish girlfriends. Daniele’s gardens are just lovely and I love to see the vignettes she has created in her home. So inspiring! XO

Deborah June 11, 2014 - 2:32 pm

Thank you so much for this post. I loved the tour of your friends home. How do they keep weeds out? My dream is to come to Normandy one day & I will make it. Deborah

Debbie Spence June 11, 2014 - 2:47 pm

Love your friends and you too. Every photo inspires me. Oh how I love the roses, too bad Indiana winters don’t love them also. I love when people have vignettes and collections of special and meaningful items. I’ve used the word, “love” quite a bit here. I guess I just love your blog. Thanks!

La Contessa June 11, 2014 - 3:21 pm

Lucky YOU!What a treasure to find someone who is passionate about the garden and collecting as you are!Plus, she speaks English!Not that you need any help in that department……….I would love to see her garden but will be stuck here in California the end of JUNE!

Colleen Taylor June 11, 2014 - 4:02 pm

I love your girlfriends & this woman looks like someone I’d love to get to know. I wish I had girlfriends this interesting. She’s a national treasure!

Rita C at Panoply June 11, 2014 - 4:29 pm

I love every little personal glimpse into France, especially its countryside, whenever possible. Thank you taking us on this visit to Daniele’s. Her home, gardens & collections are wonderful.

My Grama's Soul June 11, 2014 - 4:59 pm

Oh Sharon…….French women are so very beautiful…..that skin!!! I fondly remember Rouen when we were in France…such an incredible spot.



Curtains In My Tree June 11, 2014 - 6:09 pm

Oh her house and garden are just beautiful

I like her hair color very much and wanted mine to turn a beautiful white , but i’m grey

thanks for sharing her with us

Judy Jensen June 11, 2014 - 6:43 pm

I want more of Danielle’s home please! All my friends here in Southern California are going with the “hotel” look. Not a thing on the counters or tables. Very few pictures on the walls. Maybe an orchid for a touch of greenery. Minimal furniture in the rooms. The houses have the latest kitchens, flooring and paint and are very well done but no personality. They look like hotel rooms! I love Danielle’s style and what she has done to her home!

Justine June 11, 2014 - 7:29 pm

Your friend has a beaautiful garden and she seems to be a very interesting and lovely woman:)

Christine Hooker June 11, 2014 - 9:49 pm

What an exquisite treat to meet your friends and their beautiful environs!
Thank you!

Esther George June 11, 2014 - 10:33 pm

Good Morning Sharon I made my coffee sat down turned on my IPad and the first blog I visit this morning is yours and I am taking in the beauty of Danieles garden and the beautiful way you have photographed everything, I can literally smell the roses. Thank you for sharing beauty. Regards Esther from Sydney. PS one of those croissants would go well with my coffee.

Sue Malizia June 12, 2014 - 2:37 am

Sharon, thank you for introducing your friend, Daniele and giving us a tour of her lovely home both inside and out. I loved seeing her Rose Chintz, the dishes my mother started for me when I turned 16 (many years ago)…’s still my favorite pattern. It’s nice to think some where in France someone else is enjoying and using them as well as me here, in Northern California. 🙂

Lorrie June 12, 2014 - 3:02 am

Danièle epitomizes the elegance of French women. The garden she and her husband tend is a beautiful place. I love the look of the French potager, each section delineated with boxwood. Merci.

Emm June 12, 2014 - 4:36 am

Lovely pictures, and oh what a gorgeous garden. I am smitten by that beautiful chest and the way Danièle has displayed it and the objets.

But I’d love to know more about Daniel’s heirloom potatoes — Blue Congo? Good for him for helping to keep the rare ones going.

Julia June 12, 2014 - 9:05 am

What a wonderful, inspiring lady
You are blessed to count her among your friends Sharon
And thank you both for our visit which added a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to my day:)

Nancy June 12, 2014 - 3:30 pm

Oh!!! What beautifully stunning gardens! What great friends to share…thank them for letting us visit this morning! Your pictures are a feast for the eyes….and the croissants with lace doily….
Interesting and exciting….thank you so much!

bethfrancis June 13, 2014 - 11:46 am

I so love your posts of your stylish friends am glad you are continuing with it. May I say the coffee & croissants looks devine.

bethfrancis June 13, 2014 - 11:47 am

Apologies my correct address

Yvonne @ StoneGable June 14, 2014 - 2:15 pm

What a beautiful post!!!

ann hodgkins June 16, 2014 - 10:43 pm

So enjoyed this article. Sharing this beauty is a special treat for all your readers.
Please let Daniele how much women from around the world loved her garden and home. I have been to Rouen and throughly enjoyed the area.I hope to visit again one day and spend more time.Normandy is such a treat.

Susan Krsnich July 22, 2014 - 1:50 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your lovely pictures. I don’t know if I will ever get to visit your beautiful country but you help me keep that wish open in my heart! Have a wonderful day!


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