Friday, November 20, 2015

The Ultimate REDS Retreat

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My daughter told me over breakfast last week that Julia Child's house in 
Provence was up for sale--for a mere $880,00, from Sotheby's. We drooled over the photos. Here's the photo spread in Conde Nast.

Her kitchen is intact, except for the original stove, which Julia gave to food writer Patricia Wells. The counters were custom built to accommodate her 6' 2" height, and her husband Paul drew outlines for the utensils on the pegboard on the walls. The Childs called the house La Pitchoune, "the little thing." Built on a potato patch on Julia's collaborator Simca Beck's property, it was the place Julia and Paul dreamed of owning one day when they left France for
another diplomatic posting.

There are three bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, an open-plan living dining room, and a swimming pool. But who cares about that? It's all about the kitchen! Can you imagine cooking in Julia Child's kitchen?

So I thought, well, we're all foodies. Surely the REDS could chip in a mere 100K plus small change apiece. I'm sure we could find a way to sleep the seven of us in a three bedroom house. And there is a small cottage on the property, as well.

Imagine the food, and the wine, and the talk, and the plotting that could go on. And maybe even some writing. 

I might have to do my bit of the cooking at the kitchen island, however. I fear the extra-tall counter tops would defeat me...

Ah, well, it's nice to dream. And I think I must reread my copy of My Life in France, one of my favorite books of all time.

In the meantime, I hope whoever does buy Julia's house will live in it and love it with great gusto, as she'd have liked.

READERS, what about you? If funds were no obstacle, would you want to own Julia's house?

REDS ALERT: The winners of Deb Coonts's LUCKY BREAK are:

Elaine N
Mary Sutton
Karen in Ohio
Bonnie Anderson

Email me at deb at deborahcrombie dot com and I'll pass your info along to Deb Coonts. Enjoy! 


  1. I definitely think the Reds should buy this property, and once a year invite fans to visit for a meal cooked in Julia's kitchen. Maybe the ghost of Julia Child would hover, making it a meal of perfection. I clicked on the Conde Nast link, but then I needed to click onto the Sotheby's site to see more of the house, although not all of it. It's a very charming place.

    Even if funds were available, I can't say I'd like to own Julia Child's house. There are too many other places in which I'd like to buy houses, including England. Actually, the house that Duncan and Gemma live in sounds perfect.

  2. Cooking in Julia's kitchen? The ultimate pleasure!
    Would I like to own the house? Maybe; it certainly is charming. But I've discovered it's not necessarily the house, but where it is located [in my case, with reference to where the girls and their families live] that is the most important thing . . . .

  3. Kathy Reel - what a nice idea! I wonder if her pots and pans come with.
    Own another house? I can barely deal with the one I have.

  4. The counters wouldn't work for me either Debs:). I had a grade school friend who was very tall, as was her family. I remember the door knobs were placed higher than usual, like at my eye height:)

    Though I loved that book and the idea of the place is enchanting. And most of us are good cooks on this blog.

    Kathy, maybe go to Rhys's writing retreat in Italy instead??

    And Joan, that's such a lovely sentiment--it's not the place so much as the people!

  5. Of course I'd love to own her house! But I'll join Debs and Roberta at the kitchen table stirring and chopping.

    My tall aunt Jo, also a superb cook, had all of her kitchen counters in San Francisco raised, too.

  6. Yes, Rhys' retreat!

    ANd yes, it sounds lovely to think about, but probably a pain in real life. There, now we don't have to do it.

    Because exactly, Hallie, how do you say "Please come clean the gutters" in French?

    Hmm. It IS funny how we all cook!

  7. Yeah, those countertops won't work for me, either.

    I'm not sure. I think I'd rather have a place in England or Italy - or even just down in the Laurel Highlands outside Pittsburgh.

  8. Counters would be too tall for me, too! I'm all about renting, not buying -- that way, no responsibility for gutters and other such mundane tasks.... As always, I'd rather be in Scotland....

  9. As a former kitchen designer, I'd say all the Reds I've met would have difficulty with counters of that height, including Hank. Surely, even you wouldn't wear high heels to cook, darling Hank.

    But a house in Provence would be lovely, wouldn't it? Then you could set a joint book project there. Just saying...

    Maybe rent a place, instead!

    So happy to win a copy of Lucky Break! Thank you.

  10. I'd love a house in Provence in theory but then I think of the things that could go wrong when Im not there... Mice and damp and roof tiles blown off and difficult local contractors. Too practical, I know.
    And would I ever dare to cook in Julia's kitchen? I hear that voice " you are not making that chicken stock from s ratchet?"

  11. I must not reply from my iPad. It auto corrects to strange things. I meant to write from scratch..... Not ratchet!

  12. Just as soon as I sell the Clare and Russ series to HBO, I'm definitely in.

    By the way, Child was a graduate of Smith College, and every year on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, they celebrate Julia Child day: each of the 15 dining rooms serves a food made from her recipes. If you need another argument in favor of women's colleges...

  13. Julia, that's fabulous. Hooray for Smith.

    I fear the others are right about the house, however. Too much upkeep. We'll rent the villa in Tuscany instead:-)

    But it was such fun to SEE Julia Child's house, and get a sense of how she and Paul lived there.

    Susan, I'd go for Scotland, too.

    Karen, I didn't know you were a kitchen designer! We have the most interesting readers here on JRW!

  14. Having lost several inches in height in the past twenty years, I doubt I could reach her counters, but I sure wouldn't mind being a house GUEST at that house! Now, if I had lots and lots of money, I suppose I could buy the home AND hire a gourmet chef to do the cooking, as well as all the other staff members necessary to the upkeep of the house and grounds. With all of this in place, the Red Writers and Readers would be welcome guests at any time!

  15. I'd need a step stool for those counters, but I would love to just spend a day and absorb the atmosphere. As for a pied a terre, make mine either Cornwall or the Lake District - UK, here I come!In my dreams, of course.

  16. Debs, invite me along, and I'll cook at those tall counters for you. I always find kitchen counters too low for me. You can just sit and drink wine while I slave away in the kitchen. ;-)

  17. Debs, I have fond memories from the time when we lived a few doors down from Julia in Cambridge. Her house was like other houses in the neighborhood. She loved her yard. When she was out and about she picked up litter and carefully disposed of it. She walked to the grocery store down the road. She was charming, interesting, and dignified. And very tall. I miss Julia. I miss her presence. I might become too attached to her spirit in Provence. Who knows? Maybe her dedication infuses the atmosphere and would direct my attention to persevere. That is what she represented to me. She took hold of the opportunities that attracted her. She was in the moment while moving forward. I wish that I had said good-bye.

  18. Oh, Reine, how wonderful that you knew her! She is one of my heroes, not just for the cooking, but for her great sense of adventure and her joy in life. Julia was truly a one-of-a-kind, and I envy you that contact.

    And what a perfect way to describe her. "She was in the moment while moving forward."

    Love it.

    And, Linda, it's a deal:-)

  19. Sadly, I am 5'0" so Julia's custom kitchen wont' work for me. Mind you, that is the only reason I am not looking into it....:-)