Saturday, July 28, 2012

Architectural Delights of Dijon

Dijon, known throughout the world for it's famous mustard and wines, is also a city full of many medieval architectural treasures. During the 11th to 15th century, it was a city of great wealth and a centre for art, learning and science. Many of these buildings and works of art have survived and are still in use today.

The "chouette", (or owl), is considered to be a good luck charm in Dijon and the symbol can be found scattered throughout the city, sometimes in unexpected places.  Here it has been set into the sidewalks.
An architectural peculiarity of Burgundy are the polychrome glazed roof tiles in terracotta, green, yellow and black, arranged in geometric patterns.  (I see a pieced quilt coming from this tour of Burgundy!)
One of the many intricately carved doors found throughout the historic centre of town. (Inspiration for a free-motion quilting design?)
These half timbered houses, some dating as far back as the 12th century, are still in full use as commercial spaces or as apartments. It's not unusual to see a satellite dish peeking out of a window.
The Church of Notre Dame (13th C), although one of the smaller churches in the town, is known for it's art and architecture. The vibrantly coloured stained glass windows date back to the 13th century. (Surely inspiration for some applique!)
There were also some spectacular tapestries in the church, unfortunately the light was too dark for a photo.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Bonheur" on the "Bonheur"

"Bonheur", the French word for happiness, is the appropriately named hotel barge that gently carries it's passengers down the Canal du Bourgogne through the idyllic French countryside of Burgundy.

"The Lady Bonheur" moored for the day.
We floated along scenic, tree-lined canals.
Along the way, we passed by postcard perfect country villages.
Pretty little gatehouses stand watch at each lock.

Annie and Paul Roberts, the owners and hosts of the Bonheur, add special touches to the day to make it memorable. While Captain Paul skillfully pilots the boat down the waterways, Annie works her magic in the kitchen.

Special touches.
Paul outlining the days schedule.
Annie in the process of creating yet another delicious meal.
Using fresh, local ingredients,  Annie whips up one fantastic meal after another. Here we sample some local cheeses and charcuterie.
Served alongside peppers stuffed with oven dried tomatoes, onion confit, and a parsleyed ham terrine.
A ham, leek and tomato terrine round off this Burgundian lunch on board the Bonheur.
After a day of cruising the canal or visiting local historical sights, it's nice just to relax on deck and watch the day become evening.

More next time about some of the interesting places we visited with Paul.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Boutis of Provence with Madame Francine Born

This summer, I am very fortunate to be taking some classes in "boutis" with Madame Francine Born. Madame Born is one of the "Grandes Dames du Boutis" in southern France, and as such, has a vast amount of knowledge related to the history and the traditional techniques of the craft. Along with the many samples of her own work that she brings to the class for her students to study, she also has many stories to share about the history and the tradition of boutis. And of course, through out the class, priceless gems of technique are taught.

She showcases her work on her own website: or (Google will translate).

"Le Mireille" is one of Madame Born's designs, using traditional motifs and symbols for the design. In the design on the left, she uses coloured cording in the channels. The same design on the right uses white cording.
"Les papillons" (butterflies), combines boutis with "matelasse" ( hand quilting with batting).
My work in progress for the next class at the end of July. These are some of the sewing notions required for boutis.

Her kits, as well as some of the materials, are available on her website.