Friday, December 2, 2016

A Holiday Conversation with Susan Hays

December 2, 2016

I'm so pleased to feature a special holiday conversation with Susan Hays, the creator of the beautiful blog: "Our French Oasis." Susan lives in a small French village with her husband,
five children, two dogs, two cats and lots of chickens.


How is Christmas in France different than the UK?
The biggest difference is in France the main meal, usually with seafood and/or oysters as an appetiser, is on Christmas Eve, continuing until well after midnight, whereas in the UK the main meal is on Christmas Day and centres around our traditional turkey. Christmas in France tends to be relatively quiet, at least it is here in the Charente Maritime. It is centered far more around family. New Year is the time to party!


How do you decorate (inside and out) for Christmas?
I absolutely love decorating for Christmas and am itching to get started! However, we never begin until after the 1st of December as is far more traditional in France. Our village and town lights will be turned on the first Friday in December and that's when things start to get festive. We start with some twinkling white lights outside around the front entrance and along the driveway gates. Every year, I make a big natural wreath which we hang on the front door. With the cooler winter weather it lasts happily until the beginning of January and is a great welcome for friends and family. Inside we decorate all the rooms we use. I love getting the children involved as much as possible. It gets everyone in a great frame of mind and it becomes very much a family affair.


What is your holiday decorating style?
We tend to be fairly traditional. There is something quite magical about bringing out the same decorations year in year out, things go in the same place and the mantel in the sitting room is always the first to be decorated, a long evergreen garland dotted with small white lights. We always go and choose the tree en famille. It's never a simple job, getting seven people to agree on which tree to choose. We all decorate it with Christmas music playing, a glass of champagne for the adults and sparkling apple juice for the children. We have ornaments that the children have had since they were babies, they each have their own special ones.


Do you have any advice on how to decorate your home in an authentic French Country style?
There are so many different takes on French Country Style and each person has their own personal favourite. For me, it is all about comfort and atmosphere. My home should be a place where friends and guests want to linger a while, where they feel at ease. I like a fairly simple colour scheme with rich textured cushions and fairly bold pieces of traditional furniture. In addition, for me, there should be plenty of candles and a couple of vintage chandeliers, with rugs on the floor and fresh flowers. Plus I have to admit I have a love of French Louis XIV style antique chairs; I love their shape and style!


What is the favorite part of your house?
The favourite part of my house has to be the kitchen. It is very much the heart of our home and is dominated by a large walnut table which we had made for us several years ago. We handpicked the wood in a yacht builder's yard! I always have a vase of flowers in the middle, even in the depths of winter, there is always something I can pick from the garden if I am a little inventive! We also have a collection of antique silver candlesticks and they too live on the table. We light them every evening for our family supper, even if it's a simple bowl of soup and a crusty baguette, candles set the scene and make every meal special. We have a highly efficient wood burning stove in the corner and in the winter it is permanently alight. It's always warm and cozy and welcoming. In the summer the French doors are opened wide to the terrace and it becomes an extension of the room.


Thanks so much Susan! You can read more about Susan's life in France on her blog at ourfrenchoasis.com

Happy Holidays from our house to yours!

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13 comments:

  1. Thank you so much Pat, it was such a pleasure to chat with you. Hope you have a lovely weekend x

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    1. Thank you Susan! It was fun collaborating with you on this post.

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  2. Hi Sis, This was an interesting piece. Her living room resembles yours. The color scheme is fantastic. I like the two dog statues, the silver candlestick holders and the fact that she finds something to put in the center of the table even in the winter.

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    1. Thanks Jan! I'm so glad you think my living room resembles hers. I'll take that as a great compliment!

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  3. Susan you have a lovely home and I adore your Christmas decor. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party.

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    1. Thanks for joining the "French" conversation Vanessa!

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  4. Such a wonderful home, so cozy and lovely. Your tree is so pretty. I think it's so great to see how people in other countries live, thanks to internet we can see and communicate with each other. Can't go there but can get somewhat of an idea what it's like, love that.
    Your Christmas decorations are so nicely done. Love candle sticks and flowers ob your table.
    sure enjoyed hearing little about your life. Happy Christmas

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    1. Thank you for visiting! It's amazing how things have changed with the Internet isn't it? I love to see how people live in other countries too. I hope you have a lovely Christmas. Pat

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  5. Thank you for sharing your interview with Our French Oasis with the Monday Social readers. I love seeing all the different styles for Christmas.

    Judith

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  6. Thank you for introducing me to Susan, Pat. It was fascinating to hear about her experiences in both the UK and France. So glad you linked up your post with us at Vintage Charm :)

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  7. We are huge fans of Susan and her family and the life they have created in France. This post and interview was a lovely continuation of her blog that I adore. And I'll be clearly poking around your lovely site some more! Joyeux Noël!

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