Saturday, July 10, 2010

An Island in American summers

While finishing Business School in Boston, I met Luke. Luke was this incredibly handsome, free spirit daring young student visa having expired, I needed to go back to France to run the family business.
On Christmas Eve, Luke showed up in our family house's kitchen unannounced....three months later we were married both in Boston and in my village church in France.
 I happily return to Boston and started to meet Luke's very large family which had been in Boston since the days of the Mayflower. I buried myself in the family history books and through the story of the family's life learned a very personal fascinating part of American history, how enterprising, adventurous, cultured, well bred this old blue blood american society thrived financially but also contributed to their country through their generosity and political savvy.

On our first summer, Luke brought me to his cherished family Island in northern Maine in hope that I would be willing to trade summers in Saint Tropez for a completely isolated Island surrounded by frigid water.

It was love at first sight.....

Since then, we have spent the most memorable, happiest days in company of our friends, parents, relatives, our children took their first steps there...hiking, swimming ,riding, collecting moss, sailing, cooking. There are no distractions on the island, the houses have no televisions, no radios...only the farmers who live on the island all year around do have Tv, radio, wireless etc... the island is self sustaining, large vegetable garden,berries, chicken coop, lambs, cows, pigs...and off course fish, mussels, clams, lobsters.
When the children were little we would ride to the beach in beautiful horse drawn carriages dating to the early 1800's, we spent Christmas surrounded by iced sea, cross country skiing on the mile long beach or riding in horse drawn sleigh...
I hesitated in sharing this part of my life, but also felt compelled to express my gratitude for so much beauty that God had created, and as a new american (for only 4 years) feel extraordinary privileged to live during these precious summer days, what I would define as the ultimate american experience. Life lived in harmony with nature, away from the distractions and all the negativity of the world.

When Joseph Peabody first set foot on the archipelago in 1806, Indians lived on the main Island. To date we still find numerous Indian artifacts. Joseph Peabody thought the Island would be perfect to build his clipper ships to sail to China for trading purposes.He bought the main island and later on also purchased the 5 smaller surrounding islands  which creates very protected natural harbors,  Joseph Peabody built a few ships on the Island as well as gristmill and saw mill and went on to build more than 80 clipper ships in Salem, Massachuaetts using the lumber from the island. The island has remained ever since in the family, the farm house was built in the early 1800's, then two more houses were added  in the mid 1800's followed by a smaller guest house in the early 1900's.
The interiors are filled with beautiful english and american antiques and the bookshelves are filled with history books, sailing adventure books, books about genealogy, birds, goal is to read every single book in the large library.... For privacy reason, I will not show the interior of the houses, but will let you explore the beauty of this very special american place.

After a 10 hours grueling drive, we arrived to Roque Bluff where we garage the car, and take the boat to the main dock on the Island. this is truly a blessed moment when I first set eyes on the island

Our sons and friends thrilled to finally arrive, soon they will be sailing, riding, preparing for lobster and clambakes

Each year, we book time for one of the 3 houses.Only the farmer's house is lived in all year around.

The island is a working farm with stables,chicken coop, barns, boathouses etc..

We have working horses and horses for ridding or pulling carriages

The interior of the island is spectacular, it took me more than 10 hours of brisk hiking to go around the island. It is an extremely strenuous hike that is not for the fainthearted.

Amazing vistas such as  Great beach 

The island is blessed to have the longuest (more than a mile) sand beach in Maine. My daily exercise is to run the length of the beach and swim from one side to the other (more than 30 minutes in frigid water)

Another favorite place to swim where the water is slightly warmer.We access by speedboat, I jump in an swim to shore

The boys stay on board and rather not brave the cold water

Love to wake up for the sunrise

Love to read about the clipper ships being built here and their journeys

Suggested readings




  1. How beautiful and pristine. Thank you for sharing so wonderfully.

  2. What an amazing place...thanks for showing us this gorgeous piece of the world! Tracey xx

  3. I'm impressed you can go from the warm waters of St. Tropez to swim in frigid Maine waters! I have trouble with the cold water in Massachusetts!

  4. What an incredible place to spend the summers with your family. We were supposed to go to Maine this summer to visit a home that Steve just completed for a client. Unfortunately, we had to postpone our trip, but I look forward to the day when I can visit!
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful images with us.


  5. Two words that immediately come to mind!
    and breathtaking!!!

  6. So great Francine; and so well said! Your coastline and forests looks much like ours...I guess we are on the same longitude. Nice to see your look much to young to have children that age!!

    Hope you are having a wonderful summer!


  7. did I mean lattitude...hmmm...I have to google that.

  8. I'm really at a loss for words. What a magnificent place and cannot imagine having so many incredible, irreplaceable memories with my family and friends throughout the years. I suspect I'd never want to leave. Thank you for sharing Francine. I know you are a private person but it was so tremendous to read the story of your beginnings of being part of such an amazing family. So very intriguing.
    x deb

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this post of yours... I love the way you write. It's my first time here and I'm looking forward to to coming back often. Enjoy your beautiful summer in your piece of Maine paradise!

  10. Hi Francine!
    Thanks for sharing these beautiful images from Maine!!!!!!I have never been there, but my grandmother used to summer every year there during the month of August as she was the goveness of sorts for the Barrymores.......I never got to go. BUT now I think I was there too! Maryanne xo

  11. Just beautiful, Francine! This post made me smile -- I love when you share personal experiences, tied in with some interesting information, and great photos! What a stunning place to vacation -- it is no wonder you go visit often. The land, the water, the residences, are all stunning. Pared back and natural... Wishing you a wonderful start to the week!


  12. Absolutely stunning! We adore Maine, and try to visit at least once a month (York is about an hour from us). As our visits are day-drives we have only been as far north as Camden. We really need to take some days and keep driving. It is a spectacular state, and your photographs are so lovely. How lucky you are that you and your family are able to spend summers there! I am green with envy!! Thank you for sharing your Maine!

    So lovely to meet you Francine!

  13. Francine, this was such a lovely & informative post. What a family heritage! I will follow your links to read more about the island & the family.
    Do not know how you jump into that cold water...look at the boys with jackets on. xx's

  14. looks gorgeous - but hard to believe the boys are in JACKETS!!!! haha!!!! omg. must be wonderful. we're naked here. it's so hot. oy.

  15. Thanks for sharing your beautiful family island in Maine, Francine. What a gorgeous place with an amazing history! Maine is an amazing place. Love your blog.

  16. Oh my goodness ..... I don't think that I have seen a more idyllic place, is truly beautiful and I can see why you all love it so much. You are so lucky to have it and I wish you and your family many, many more happy times together there.
    Sorry that I have been AWOl lately but I have been away. I am trying to catch up on my commenting ! XXXX

  17. Wow - lovely. What a great place to spend some time.
    P.S. Wow - that's quite a workout (running and swimming)...but the view might ease the pain. :)

  18. Hello Francine, I have just discovered your blog via Vosges Paris and thoroughly enjoyed it..what a privilege for you to be able to have such a incredible place to visit. I joined your blog as follower since here I shall stop often! warm wishes Colette x

  19. Francine!
    What an amazin story and post, thank you for sharing all these privat memories and pictures with us. I really enjoyed every word of it!

    I also understand the feeling you have with this Island, you might have understand from my own posts that my children also spent all summers on the Italian island of Sardinia. So I understand how it touches you to think about all these years you came there with your children.
    Thanks for sharing
    hugs, desiree
    PS keep me updated about Paola ;)

  20. i can't believe you can swim for any length of time in the water.
    it IS freezing.
    i have summered in maine off an on most summers.

    i think maine is magnificent.
    i hope to retire there.

    lucky,lucky you!!
    ....and your family is beautiful.

  21. I am so happy you love Maine. There is no other place for me. I am not sure where that island is ..sounds like it is near Bar Harbor.

  22. Francine, thanks so much for sharing your photos. they are absolutely beautiful and i am so intrigued by this beautiful place.. I'll have to read up on it...



  23. Hi Francine
    pardon my late visit.. the move was exhausting and the internet in new place is a fair fickled friend indeed! ..

    so.. I just love this post!!! gorgeous imagery.. and love hearing a bit more about your own personal journey... so sweet and romantic.. straight out of a novel!!

    Just love the clipper ships too... and nautical maps.. have always been fascinated by the sea, ships et al.. inherited from my grandfather who was a seaman and cabin boy and migrated to Australia this way...

    Ok.. sorry again for missing your fab posts.. OH.. forgot to say.. just loved your last comment... childhood summers Eze Village!!! How wonderful.. I loved it there and wish I could have stayed!! Take care and see you soon. internet permitting!!! xxx Julie

  24. What a wonderful story Francine... thank you for sharing it. I too do not understand how you can tolerate the cold water! While living in Massachusetts I could never bring myself to partake in that recreational activity... I couldn't even tolerate the pacific water when we lived in California... ~Terri

  25. Francine, I for one can completely see the allure of this place over any other. How like going back or breaking free of the intensity of a city or 21st century communication frenzy. I so appreciate the link you added to this post to my own on Mrs. Jack. I was sweltering-but enjoying New York when this post came out-without my laptop. I am so glad it did not escape me for long-Gaye

  26. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your gorgeous photos. We love Maine and try to visit whenever given the chance. We hope to explore further north later this summer. Enjoy your time with your family in this beautiful place!

  27. Francine,
    I so appreciate your reverance for such a beautiful & historical place. I am so glad that Luke showed up at your family kitchen and that you are so proud to be an American. You truly are!

  28. What a fantastic island. I love these american landscapes .

  29. Hello Francine, It's Yvonne " La Petite Gallery"
    I have re-read this an still can't figure if you
    are near Desert Island? Up around Bar Harbor or Machias..? It really is an awesome beach, we don't have that.
    Your Husband sounds so nice the boys in the boat
    are so handsome. I'm going to collect some moss for my indoor plants,enjoyed this post.


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