A Stolen Lady, handmade parapluies, art history & jam!

A Stolen Lady, handmade parapluies, art history & jam!

Loulabelle's FrancoFiles episode 50

Guest: Laura Morelli

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I loved chatting to Laura Morelli as she had numerous fabulous stories to tell, both French and otherwise!  Laura is an Art Historian with a PhD from Yale. She is a best selling and award winning historical novelist, in addition to authoring numerous guidebooks for travellers having lived in 5 countries! She often highlights Venice in her work and even though this is a blog for devotees to France, I don’t know any FrancoFilers who don’t love Venice! Laura and I shared our experience and love of Murano glass! She also has some wonderfully inspiring French connections.

So Laura first visited France as a pre-teen and then returned many times, eventually to study and lived there as an adult for 4 years. I was carried away by the story of an old couple Laura stayed with during one period in France. They were in the French Resistance during the war and their story has stayed with her and assisted with her connections to characters in her books at times too.

So most French obsessed people I know speak about their love of museums and art when they talk of what they like to see when they visit Paris (and sometimes also broader France). Hearing Laura speak about various museums and artists just made me more determined to get back to France as soon as we can!

I’m fascinated by the concept of Laura’s latest book, The Stolen Lady. It’s a story of two women being separated by five hundred years, but both being connected to the infamous artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci, the Mona Lisa.

I had a podcast chat with Claudine Hemingway a few months ago, also an historian and she often has a focus on women and their role in art. She and I talked about Rose Valland who saved much art in the Louvre in WW2 enabling it to be found after the war. I’m fascinated by those real life stories that are sometimes more interesting than fiction. Laura’s novels being based on real life stories like this, stories that have occurred through history with relation to art, enrich the connection to art and the people involved through history to me. Having the art as the thread that pulls the characters together works wonderfully.

Laura has an online art academy which makes her accessible for people all over the world during this COVID period. But when she returns to France Laura spoke of a wonderful gallery in Lyon which will be on her list of places to visit. After my last blogpost about Lyon, it seems the world is telling me to get over there to experience all Lyon has to offer!

Laura also mentioned that she would love to do a Gothic architectural tour of the north of France and visit buildings such as cathedrals in Amiens and other cities like Rouen, Reims, Strasbourg. It’s astonishing to me what was built in centuries gone by without the technology we have today! The architecture is art in itself to me.

Laura has written a number of shoppers’ guides including one for France that lists all of my favourite artisans traditions including perfume, Limoges porcelain, pottery, handmade Parisian umbrellas, baccarat crystal, chocolate and much more. It’s organised into regions which for an obsessive traveller like myself is brilliant. Laura and I talked about how to pack in preparation for bringing back these precious memories from artisans after a holiday.

Now just to get back there…



Confiture de fraise

Laura’s favourite food to have as soon as she returns to France is French bread or croissant with jam! The link just above here is a recipe to make your own strawberry jam, alternatively order some French jam or confiture from France at Home!

I have just ordered a wonderful advent calendar from this French online product specialist France at Home and each day there’s a little window in the calendar to open with a jar of BonneMaman confiture or jam with wonderfully quirky flavours that I’ve only ever seen in France.


Baby et Lulu – Cette Nuit

In honour of the fact that we spoke in this episode about women in French art with Rose Valland and obviously also the infamous Mona Lisa, I’m sharing music by 2 Australian women Abby Dobson and Lara Goodridge, who have wonderful music careers going back sometime but for the best part of the last decade make up this fabuleux duo Baby et Lulu singing the most très beaux French songs!

Galleries from our chat

Musée du Quai Branly

Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon

Musée du Louvre

Laura Morelli’s links

Laura’s book The Stolen Lady

Laura’s website

Laura on BookBub

Laura on Instagram

Laura on Facebook

Laura’s Tweets

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