2 Nov 2015

Place des Vosges: In Conversation With Sharon Santoni


Place des Vosges, Paris. In Converstaion with Sharon Santoni, vickiarcher.com

Friday morning, Place des Vosges in Paris.

I am excited as I make my way towards the Place des Vosges.

I am in Paris, the sky is clearing with the promise of an extraordinary day and I am meeting a favourite girlfriend; girlfriends in the most beautiful city, in the most magnificent surroundings with hours to indulge in our own conversation. I can’t think of a better day.

Sharon Santoni is the author of the blog, My French Country Home and recently published My Stylish French Girlfriends. Sharon and I meet up whenever we can in Paris and regularly chat. We have become great friends through our love of France and our passion for our websites. I think we are kindred spirits in many ways.

Place des Vosges, Paris. In Converstaion with Sharon Santoni, vickiarcher.com

Sharon and I have so much to talk about.

One of those conversations where thoughts leapfrog between two, as there is so much to say; I am excited by her book, I want to know all and as many of you know by now, My Stylish French Girlfriends is a super success. Sharon is warm, she is bright but what I love most about her is her dry and cheeky sense of humour. She has lived in France longer than she hasn’t but there is still a strong sense of British about her. Expats are the most fascinating of characters; their sense of self and their origins are never lost and yet they build so many varied layers into their personalities. Sharon is one such woman.

The hours come and go at Carette, our place to meet, and the delicious thé au jasmin refilled as our morning turns into lunch. We talk much about our day-to-day lives in the digital world, what we create and how we can hopefully work together one day. We muse on ageing and how as women, as empty nesters we are blessed to be working each and every day in a world we love. Our energy is focussed into the future and the challenges and excitements we face. We talk about our grown up children because first and foremost we are mothers and mothers always have so much to say to each other. Across oceans, across continents much is the same when it comes to parenting.

That’s what I love about Sharon; she is positive, forward thinking and energising. Her ideas know no limits and her can-do nature makes everything possible.

We talked about her book, the making of it and the memorable experiences – I asked her a few “behind the scenes” questions.

I thought that’s what you would like to know :)

Place des Vosges, Paris. In Converstaion with Sharon Santoni, vickiarcher.com

In Conversation With Sharon Santoni

Did you ever imagine yourself being a published author?

Oh my goodness no! I already had a couple of children’s books published, and that was emotional enough, but to imagine that one day I’d be holding a big book full of beautiful photos of my friends!

How did you feel on that first day when you sat down to write?

Definitely a daunting moment! I had a big pile of notepads in front of me, and although I had written tons as I interviewed and spent quality time with each girlfriend before and during the book process, there was certainly a fleeting instant (or two) when I thought that I’d never manage to write well enough to do them all justice

What is your favourite time in the creative process? Was it the interviews with your girlfriends, the photography or putting your text together? 

It was hands down the travelling around France and staying with each of the girlfriends.  My photographer Franck Schmitt is excellent company, and we laughed a lot as we went, but most of all I was in awe of the way each girlfriend welcomed us into her home and her family life.   We were fed delicious meals, led down mountain paths to swim in deep torrents; taken to dinner in beach front restaurants; toured underground champagne cellars; we picnicked with Les Invalides as a backdrop; and walked through woods full of bluebells.  Each girl was totally different, and each photo shoot holds special memories.

Did you have any unexpected surprises while photographing the book?

The shoots were full of laughter and fun, and I have hours of video rushes that I filmed while Franck was taking the pictures, so there are many happy moments that I can revisit whenever I wish.  I particularly remember the husband of one of the girlfriends, a very good-looking man, very stylish.  I asked him if he’d pose with his wife for a portrait shot.  He replied “Non”, and proclaimed that it was impossible to take a decent picture of him.  I presumed that he was joking, or maybe fishing for compliments, and ignoring his protests, coaxed him into the shoot …….would you believe that  we tried for almost two hours to take his picture?!.  The results were hilarious, and he was right!  Not one single photo that we could use!   I have video of us all (including him!) literally bent over in two as we look at the pictures with tears streaming down our cheeks

Did you find the balance between home, family life and work a challenge with the addition of the book? 

I am very lucky to have a family that supports me in everything I do – I often say that my kids are pleased I have the blog and the book because it means I am not on their back!  My husband is a star, and while I was travelling for photo shoots, he took over the day-to-day running of the house without a hitch.  Without their encouragement, I don’t think the blog would exist.

Does, My Stylish French Girlfriends in print feel the way you imagined it would?

I knew it was going to be a big book, but I hadn’t expected it to feel as heavy and luxurious as it does.   I am thrilled with the way the Gibbs Smith team handled the page lay out and design, and very grateful that they let me help choose the pictures for each girl; definitely a specialized area of expertise.

I have to ask,

If I spent the day with you in Paris, where would be our first stop? 

Breakfast at Le Meurice, you cannot beat the kindness of their staff and the delicious feeling of being pampered in their luxurious décor – I don’t often hang out in palaces, but this one is definitely my favourite!

In Normandy? 

I’d swap your designer loafers for a pair of boots and take you for a walk in the forest with the dogs rushing ahead, and we’d walk and talk for a couple of hours, surrounded by beauty and fresh air.

Who is,

Your favourite interior designer?

May I have a garden designer instead? …. I often visit the Jardin des Agapanthes, not far from me in Normandy, because I am in awe of Alexandre Thomas’s eye for landscape design … I try to go each season and I’m actually going back there with a friend next week.

Your favourite floral creator?    

That’s easy, my girlfriend Clarisse Béraud at Atelier Vertumne in Paris, wonderful talent combined with the sweetest nature.

The latest interior design book you read? 

Brook Giannetti’s, Patina Style – just love the way she blends Californian living with antique European furniture.

If you haven’t already read Sharon’s, My Stylish French Girlfriends, you are in for a really wonderful treat. xv

Getting to Know Sharon
my stylish french girlfriends by sharon santoni



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In This Post:



Anita Rivera

Good morning Vicki! I have seen Sharon’s book in Barnes and Noble, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It is also wonderful to read your interview with her, and to learn about her former achievements as a children’s book writer! Then the surprise of her other publications. This gives ME hope that maybe, just maybe, I too can compile my dream book. Indeed, what a gift to meet up with good friends in a place like Paris, where the inspiration never stops. I must pick up her book soon! OH! And I finally got a poem published in the America magazine, Prairie Style magazine! I’m on my way to trying to get more published!

Enjoy your day, Anita


Congratulations, Anita… that is truly wonderful.
I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such a talented group of women… it really spurs me on and is such great encouragement..
Dreams do come true… :) :)


Sounds like a lovely book. I’ll pass it on to my husband as a suggestion for my Christmas prezzie list. What a lovely morning you had!
We love Carette too. It’s one of our hang-outs in Paris as it’s not so far from the apartment we always stay in. Last June our son and DIL and their girls were renting an apartment in the Place des Vosges itself so we always met at Carette for afternoon tea or dinner. Lovely! Afterwards the girls could play in the gardens. Also invited our Oz next door neighbours who were in Paris at the same time to meet us there for coffee and pastries (the best!) – they loved it too.
A wonderful start to your visit to Paris. Best wishes, Pamela


Carette is one of my favourites too, Pamela… Their Club sanwhiches are the best!! Not that I would know… ;)


They also do a great chicken salad! Other salads are fab – and healthy too! (We won’t mention the unbelievable pastries.) Pamela


Dear Vicki, Brilliant! Today found Sharon’s book at Costco – and only A$29.95! Lovely book! Best wishes, Pamela

Cathy C

Hello Vicki,
Oh, how I would have loved to have been your third wheel at tea with you and Sharon. Both of you inspire me nearly daily through your writing, your ideas and the photos you post. But what I get from your blogs isn’t just about fashion, interiors, and lifestyle; I read and follow both you and Sharon because I really admire women who have a passion for something and have the nerve to share it with the world.


Thank you for letting us spend the morning in Paris with you both! We sell Sharon’s book in our shop. It’s a wonderful book. All of our clients love it!



Such a lovely interview! I have enjoyed Sharon’s book and meeting(on paper) her inspiring French girlfriends! Both your books have a special place of honor in my home! How blessed you both are to meet in Paris for lunch! You both seem to mix the British life with the French life in such a lovely and beautiful way!


Thank you for allowing us to visit with you and Sharon. It is always a delight when friends get together to talk for hours, much more so when it’s in Paris. It’s a joy to encourage other women in both their personal lives as well as their business pursuits. Happy to hear of your inspiring time together, Vicki and Sharon! Bisons, Lidy


There is nothing better that girlfriends and sharing a good laugh and a good lunch… :)


Good morning!
I want to tell you that I love your blog. I have been spending a month (and occasionally two) in Paris in my fave little apartment on the Ile St. Louis. The Places des Vosges is my favorite park. I go there all the time to watch people, listen to the orchestras that sometimes play on the sidewalks under the second story, and get a felafel to take home. I consider myself blessed and lucky as a retired French teacher to be able to come home to Pris every year! Thanks, Vicki, for your help in remembering my top city in the world, Paris!


Ruth, the mention of fallafel brings back memories of my favorite shop, L’As du Fallafel on Rue des Rosiers. A cheery thought on a very rainy day! Thank you.


Dear Vicki, thank you so much for featuring Sharon, I love her book and adore her style and panache. Your are both two great ladies whom I hope to meet one day soon!!

The Arts by Karena
India Hicks Lifestyle!


Thank you Vicki! I was in Paris in August and we took our 10 and 8 yo to Places des Vosges. We had a blanket and snacks and they played and laughed. It is one of my favorite places to go in Paris. Thanks for breaking up my hectic morning with a wonderful memory…..❤️

Sharon Santoni

That was a lovely lunch Vicki, and a very welcome pause in an otherwise busy week. And for once, I didn’t even get a parking ticket – happy days.
Speak soon

Heather in Arles

This conversation just made me enormously happy to read. Two of my favorite online heroines and friends getting together in Paris for lunch and chatting endlessly – does it get better than that? No. :) Ok, unless I had been there too!
You know what a huge fan I am of all that Sharon does but most certainly of her book which is gorgeous, inspiring and smart. I have it out on my coffee table and look at it often as it truly is one of those books that there is always something new to discover about it, even after many views…a keeper.


Vicki, I said this to Sharon on her blog today – it’s a natural that you are friends. So easy for your readers to see the connection you have as women. I truly look forward to reading both your blogs every day and admire your work.
Love Sharon’s new book, it will be a gift for several of my girlfriends this holiday season.

La Contessa

Look what this BLOGGING thing has DONE!Makes me SO happy to know you STARS of the BLOG WORLD all meet up!I was able to meet TISH JETT yesterday………so I feel very lucky too!She spoke of a lunch with you two GALS and a few others…………how I would love to be a flower on THAT table when you all meet UP!XX


Just ordered Sharon’s book, and can’t wait until it arrives. I have your books, too, Vickie, and refer to them often for inspiration! I so enjoy your blog.


Mary-Jill Bellhouse

Vicki, I read Sharon’s blog and borrowed her book from the library – it was just gorgeous and I am going to buy it to add to my collection of ‘coffee table’ books that I love to flip through when my spirit needs a lift (I already have your two – another favourite is “The Artist’s Lunch” by Alice McCormick and Sarah Rhodes – conversations about food with famous Australian artists). My first book has finally gone live and it’s such a buzz – albeit quite surreal – to see your name in print on a bookseller’s shelf! Congratulations to Sharon. Lovely to have this group of supportive women sharing stories. xx


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