Posted on 07/18/2011 at 2:20pm

A stranger and her daughter arrive in the French village on a windy day, their bright, red, hooded cloaks billowing in the strong winds. Vianne (Juliette Binoche- English Patient) has come to this place to begin again. She knows what she is looking for and on finding it, a dusty old building in the center of the village, a friendship with the owner (Judy Dench-Shakespeare in Love)begins. The villagers are steeped in tradition, ruled by the church, and the local priest warns everyone to stay away from the new chocolate shop. Vianne brought a few precious objects from her past in a large, old, brown suitcase. The day she opened her chocolate shop she brought out an interesting object and sat it on the counter and spun it, “What do you see in it?” she asked her first customer.  The response was her clue, an aid to give her insight into the small village and its people.

France Circa 1990 Oil on Canvas Sharon Rusch Shaver Copyright 2011

Handsome Roux (Johnny Depp-Pirates of the Carribean) arrives on the river that flows close to the town. Traveling from place to place on river barges is a way of life for him, and he takes his time when he encounters Vianne. The desires of young and old in this movie are such fun to watch, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. Suggestion: Take your  TV or monitor outside on a warm summer evening, put in the DVD of the movie, have some popcorn, with those wonderful things called Sno Caps, my favorite movie candy.

The village where this movie was filmed is called Beynac, France. It is only few miles from where the next Artists, Writers and Explorer Excursions are going next June. One of the best ways to view this and many of the other villages is by boat, and they have a rental close by for drifting down the Dordogne river so that you can glide gently past towns like Beynac (one of Frances most beautiful villages) and La- Roque-Gageac- a village that has a most dramatic setting situated right beside the river built into a cliff face.

This past weekend we took our boat, a type of canoe on the Piney Creek in Tennessee. It is amazing to me how much getting into a boat and viewing the world from the water changes your perception. Gliding silently along, you hear and see birds, snakes, fish and other wildlife that you would never encounter except on these narrow waterways winding through rural areas. Throughout the world people have always traveled from place to place this way. When the world around is reflected in the water, the golden sunlight glistens and dances on everything. Summertime, what a wonderful time of the year!

Piney Creek Copyright 2011

For a preview of the Excursion, click on France 2012 link at the top of this blog. If you are interested in joining us on this incredible journey to France, send your email address and you will receive the complete itinerary. If you know someone who may want to join us, click on one of the share tabs on the bottom of the preview. It is going to be an amazing journey of adventure, with a bit of luxury.

Filed Under: Artist Travel


  1. Thanks for the blog update Sharon – lovely painting and thanks for the reminder – I’ve not had sno caps in years…

  2. Kim Weiss says:

    The only thing missing from this beautiful post is a picture of Johnny Depp in Chocolat… Sounds like a wonderful excursion. Enjoy! And thank you for stopping by our blog earlier: Travel For

Artist, Writer, and Explorers Newsletter