Entre TOI ET MOI  Nicole Montgomery shares her stylish finds from local antique shops to French farmers’ markets. Translated “Between You and Me,” Nicole opens her heart and homes in Knoxville and in France.
 I developed a love for travel, history, and design at an early age. Whether it is a piece of furniture, art, jewelry, or a dress in an amazing fabric, I appreciate all things that are beautiful, unique, and tell a story. My husband and I have adventurous souls, so a few years ago, while on an extended vacation in the South of France, we did the most adventurous thing we’ve ever done. We bought a Maison de Maître (town or village house) in need of a major renovation. Since then, it’s been a magical ride of culture, language, renovation, travel and friendship. We have come to love France as our second home. What I love about the French country life is its simplicity. We spend our mornings at the open air market shopping for the evening meal. We visit the farm next door to purchase our poultry and eggs. We ride our bikes to our neighbor’s homes for candlelit dinners under the stars. It’s quiet. Sometimes, it seems like we’ve been transported back in time. A nice break from our usual hectic life. Speaking of food, I’ve never been much of a cook, but the fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood brought over from the Mediterranean have been a game changer for me. I enjoy cooking in France and so do the children. It’s a family event. We love preparing and eating together. The dinner parties in France are so fun and the children love being a part of them. Our friends and neighbors are from various European countries, so we have interesting conversations ranging from world politics to religion. Just like my father did with me, I take the children brochanting (antiquing) on Sunday afternoons. We give them a few euros and off they go to find their treasures while I shop for mine. I love searching for antique hand- embroidered napkins and tablecloths and I’m always on the lookout for pretty dishes and glassware. This month, I’ll be traveling to the Avignon and Beziers furniture markets to look for some pieces for the house. I’m very excited to see what I’ll find!
 We’ve been blessed to use our home in France as a means to travel to other parts of Europe. So far, we’ve explored the two northern coasts of Spain. Our family fell in love with the small towns along the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona, where we sat in small restaurants along the water, eat paella and drink sangrias, all while the water laps at our feet. Last summer, we explored the Basque country, restaurant hopping and eating pintxos along the way, a culinary event within itself. We also did a day of family surfing which was a lot of fun! This summer, our plan is to take the high speed train to Paris, Versailles, and Normandy. We are all so excited to take the train! While in Paris, I’m looking forward to perusing Les Puces (‘fleas’) de Saint Quen—the largest flea market in the world—along with some vintage clothing stores. There, I find inspiration. Actually, this year I’m delving into the process of clothing design. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Pieces inspired by unique fabrics and lazy southern afternoons. I love fashion, and always have, both the old and the new. Actually, I love to blend the two. For example, a vintage dress with a pair of modern boots. The blend is what I think makes things so interesting. This is a concept I use in my home decor as well. For instance, a contemporary piece of art hung over a beautiful antique console or a tablescape that blends antique china with contemporary stemware. For me, it’s all about the mix. As I sit and write these words, I am humbled by the wonderful experiences, people, and places that life has provided me since moving back to Knoxville. I am drawn to the moods and currents of a life in the South, whether it be in France or Tennessee. I suppose, I will always be a southern girl. I feel blessed to be a part of this new magazine and to share in the upcoming issues some of the unique experiences that I’ve had and continue to have while embracing these southern latitudes. Bisous, Nicole Nicole will be an ongoing contributor to Knoxville Style Magazine sharing life, travel and style from Tennessee to the South of France.

Just a few of Nicole's photos from her vacation home in France.

A few photos of Nicole's Knoxville Home give us a glimpse into her design style.