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Matisse, France, Travel, Creativity, Adventure, Expatriates, Dreams, Reinvention


Chasing Matisse: The Book

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Matisse, France, Travel, Creativity, Adventure, Expatriates, Dreams, Reinvention

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December 20, 2002

Le Hole in the Wall and Le Head

We opened the door and walked into the bar, recognized the big guy immediately. Jerry is his name, and he is tall and burly with a leather belt and a knife in leather case attached to it, a long, white apron that flowed to his knees covering his jeans. He drives a flashy, red motorcycle and serves some of the best French home cooking that we've had. Not to mention this is our first French dive or roadhouse with yellowed, greasy walls. An homage to Jerry.

We'd found it through Michel Tessel, owner of French Home Rentals and our new friend. Michel is our first guest at our/his apartment, Perche, which we love. He climbed the stairs and walked in, tan and fit with blue jeans and black leather jacket, bold blue and white striped shirt in-between. He'd just flown in from St. Bart's that morning. He has an easy, big smile and contagious giggle. He'd come for a glass of wine and bite of cheese and gave us the low-down on good restaurants including Jerry's Le Felteu. It sounded so good we decided to go for dinner. We loved the dive ambience immediately, not to mention the good comfort food. In fact, I feel rather superior that I know a French roadhouse (on the rue). No tourists there. I did the cheek-kissing thing with Jerry when we left, which I think he found amusing. Then I asked him if I could include him in my Travel Notes, and he answered that I could as long as I didn't say Le Felteu was a hot spot or anything. Okay. I'm not going to mess around with Jerry.

Michel is a Renaissance man who started his career as a jeweler in his parents' business, began French Home Rentals and a language school in his hometown of Villeneuve sur Lot. He is also the Director of Experiment France, an international and educational exchange program. Who knows what else? He is a true entrepreneur who, when he has seen a niche or a need, has pursued it. We had great conversation and lots of laughs. We are also fortunate that Michel is a supporter of the arts and artists, believes in our project. It is so difficult for artists to find support, and Michel has provided this to musicians, painters, and writers. It's so refreshing to meet someone who does good work/s and has associated himself with others with great integrity as well. What we've chosen to do here, this change in our lives, is huge and we've taken great risk. It is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world for an artist to have someone understand his or her work, to "get" you. Michel and his terrific agent in the U.S., Randall Vemer, have and what that means to us cannot be expressed in words, but we are grateful. Weirdly enough, I think we were destined to meet, but I won't go into that story now.

After dinner, Jim and I went for a long walk, so I could see his atelier. We ran across a busy street, made a loop, and happened to come back round just down the street from where we first crossed. "Look at that poor little scarf out there," I said. It was lying in the wet street, being buffeted by the cars driving by. Jim suddenly noticed he didn't have his. I thought he'd left it at the restaurant. He ran out to the street's middle and picked it up. The poor little scarf was his and didn't want to be lost. Who could believe it? We laughed and laughed. How bizarre.

Another "Separated at Birth" sighting by Jim. Glenda Mahan, my long-time drapery maker. 2 for Jim, 1 for me.

The next morning, our favorite driver, Jacques, picked up Blair, Bret, and our friend Holly at the airport. "Have any new holes in your head, Bret?" Jim asked.

Heard on the Rue: "You made me sound like quite a whiner here."
------Jim Morgan, after reading my last diary installment.

posted by Beth on December 20, 2002 | View All Diary Entries

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