I am a Francophile and a Marché-ophile. My life as a Francophile began when I was sixteen, living in Quimper, La Bretagne. My host family owned a produce stand in the indoor market (Les Halles). Everyday, my host sister and I would help her mother with the locals who came to buy their daily fruits and vegetables. A man who made and sold warm, fresh crêpes and gallettes was located just adjacent to our stand, while another vendor who sold beautiful French table linens was directly across from us. I had no idea that the conversations I had with these vendors and all of the customers would forever imprint themselves on me. It was then that I discovered my love of the French markets, or les marchés, and French tablecloths.
A few years later I found myself in Grenoble as an international student at the Université de Stendhal. Between classes and on weekends, I would lose myself as I wandered down some narrow rue (street). However, once I spotted a marché, I was literally found. Oftentimes, my breaks from school involved small trips to Provence, where, once again, I would find myself happy in the mazes of the marché.
At the completion of college, I became a French teacher and took advantage of any and all opportunities to travel to France. One of those opportunities involved a month in Provence with the Group Study Exchange through Rotary International, an exchange for young professionals. On this trip I explored the most beautiful places in the south of France. Of course, when I wasn’t visiting a salt marsh or admiring the wild horses of the Camargue, you could find me at a marché admiring the colors and fabrics of la Provence.
The direction of my life began to change after a family member’s serious illness in 2010. I had taught English and French at our local junior college, and I loved every minute of it. I had even created a successful online university transferable curriculum, but I had to give everything up due to the illness. It was then that I began thinking about doing something else with my French. With my wonderful husband and children’s blessing, I jumped on a 747 and flew to Nice in the spring of 2012. It was only mid-flight that I had a chance to think about what I was actually doing. While in the south of France, I stayed with my former French employer from 20 years ago, and shared my vision with her and her husband. The next day, I visited a French table linen manufacturer and made my first purchase. The following few days were full of visits to favorite markets for ideas on how to set up my stand once I got home. Since then, I’ve traveled back to France each year looking for the perfect “new” tablecloth for you, my clients.
My company, which I named Le Tournesol de Provence / The Sunflower of Provence, is my way of sharing my love of the French marché. You can find me during the summer months sharing my story and these products from France with clients at our local farmers’ markets. It was because of you, my clients, that I decided to open an online store. It is my hope that with each purchase, you, too, will be able to share in the color and the vibrance of Provence.