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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

French Country Inspiration No. 1

Monday, July 26, 2021

The best source for French Country inspiration is from France. Obviously. What better way to discover authentic French Country decor, gardens, architecture, food, design... than from the French themselves? And, once you have traveled to France and fallen in love with French Country living, finding resources here at home for adding the French je ne sais quoi to your own life is the next best thing to traveling through France. 

French Country Inspiration
Je ne sais quoi literally means "I don't know what," but is a French expression for "a quality that is hard to put in words". While French Country style is sometimes hard to put in words, we can find examples of French Country je ne sais quoi from books, magazines, blogs, Instagram, movies, and television series. 

F r e n c h   C o u n t r y  

I n s p i r a t i o n   N o.  1  

To my delight, I have found several sources for true French Country style in the past 18 months while staying at home due to the pandemic. This post is the first in which I share those sources with you. 

I am "late to the party" with streaming television via the internet and only discovered subscription television after I cut the cord to satellite/cable television last fall. And, I have watched much more television than I ever did before the pandemic began. 

One of my favorite new-to-me international shows is set in France and is mostly non-offensive in subject matter, language, and violence. Plus, the series is an immersion into French culture. 

I am particular about what books I read and what films I watch. In this era, I do read sample selections of books before I buy them, and do research films before watching them. Still, I sometimes find myself watching a television show and choose to stop watching mid-episode due to coarse language, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, and/or gory forensic details. Any book or film I find offensive, I will not recommend to someone else. 

Coarse language seems to be one area that occurs in many main-stream film and television shows. The degree of the coarseness varies from an occasional word once deemed totally inappropriate to dialogue filled with even the most coarse terms. Sexual scenes and graphic violence also vary greatly. Readers should note the audience ratings/warnings found at the beginning of most television and film screenings to help make decisions about whether to watch or to allow children to watch. 

Candice Renoir - TV Series, 8 seasons

Description from Acorn TV 

After 10 years abroad, Candice Renoir is back in the south of France and back on the case as a police commandant. Newly divorced with four kids, Candice feels rusty at work, and her skeptical colleagues don't help. Determined to prove her so-called weaknesses are strengths, she solves complex cases with common sense, acute observations, and a practical nature honed by the life of a busy mom.  


Where to Watch 

ACORN TV, Seasons 1 and 2, in French 

Don't speak French? Watch with closed captions in English. Fun way to improve French. 

There are eight seasons of Candice Renoir, but Acorn TV only added seasons 1 and 2 this summer. Season 8 was released in France in 2020. 



Why I Watch Candice Renoir

No. 1

Seeing French cities, landscapes, and architecture are major reasons I love watching films set in France. I love seeing scenes with chateaux, cathedrals, historical ruins, and seasides, but also enjoy seeing everyday scenes on side streets, in open-air markets, and in residential areas. 

Candice Renoir is set in and around the Mediterranean seaside city of Montpelier. Château de la Mogère lies in the outskirts of Montpelier, but in Seasons 1 and 2, I haven't spotted any scenes there or at the Gothic cathedral in town that dates back to 1364. Montpelier has many beaches and marinas on an unspoilt coastline which appear in the series. 

Frenchmen on the Mediterranean seacoast in the south of France taken while visiting the Nice area 

No. 2 

Candice Renoir is filmed by a French production company with mostly French actors, and the television series allows us to see France as the French view their country. Not as American producers see France. The banter between characters in Candice Renoir is fun to watch. The show has light-hearted moments, unlike many current TV police programs with graphic violence, explicit forensics, and procedural dialogue only. 

No. 3 

I enjoy watching the main character, Candice, juggle a full-time job, four children, and age and gender prejudices from colleagues as she re-enters the job market after a 10-year absence. And, she has a handsome, charming next door Frenchman neighbor. Alert: There are a few scenes not suitable for all ages, but only a few. Here's where a great feature of streaming television comes in handy. Press that fast-forward button when needed. 

One main theme of the show is how a woman re-invents herself after a major life-changing event. And, seeing Candice's reactions to how her marriage faltered dispels a common misconception of how the French are often portrayed.  

Lunch at Château Chenonceau's L'Orangerie Restaurant 

Her young adolescent son loves cooking, prepares family meals, and wants to be a chef. Which is not a problem until he starts skipping school because he sees no reason to take classes that offer him nothing in becoming a chef, in his view. 

No. 4

Every scene in her French house is a chance to see a real French kitchen, living room, and surrounding areas. If you love French Country decor, this show provides authentic everyday decor. The set styling distracts me from the plot, but with streaming television, I can just "rewind". 

Antique wood carved French door at Round Top, Texas antique fair

Be sure you keep your eyes open in Season 2 for the purpose of the tall French cabinet in the kitchen just inside the back door. Never guessed what was behind the door until it was opened! 


Evidently, Candice Renoir is popular in France since there are eight seasons. And, if the French like the show, surely it must reflect genuine French Country living. I'm hoping ACORN TV will add all of the remaining seasons soon. 


Future posts will describe books, magazines, Instagram accounts, blogs, and/or television/films where I find French Country inspiration. If you have a new favorite French-inspired source, please share it in the comments section. I'm always looking for inspiration.  

See my Pinterest Board 
for more sources 

Sources for more French Inspiration

Moment in France - A list of 33 previous blog posts about my personal experiences visiting France. 

French Design on Friday - The first in over 20 previous posts that explore French Country design using photos taken in France and how that design can be translated into our own homes.