Posts Currently viewing the category: "Excursions"

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Planning a trip with kids is never easy and my two don’t get excited about much other than a sofa with easy access to an iPad or a friend – so a trip to the St Tropez area had to involve some serious kids fun…. Dreamy villages were off the agenda (kids truly have had enough of that) as were those three course set french brasserie lunches where the option was either steak hache or a slice of ham – any discussion around an alternative for them was always greeted with a pretty defiant NON….. ok ok fine!  Steak hache … Read More


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It takes only forty minutes from Aix en Provence to transport yourself to the soft and sandy beach of Cassis near the enchanting little port.  It’s a delight anytime of the year – winter with a warm blanket and a windbreaker and summer with well – not much apart from an ice-cream from Amorino.   This little gem, 20km from Marseilles, has been an important fishing village for centuries sitting snugly between the rugged beauty of Cap Canaille toward La Ciotat and the dramatic calangues towards Marseille.

A perfect present to give friends or family – a day or longer … Read More


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When you only have a limited time to enjoy Provence, authentic experiences are to be treasured.  This one came lovingly wrapped in the form of a friends’ invitation to join them for a special day.   Wrapped up cozily against the chill of a provencal winter, a lazy morning drive took us through the gentle hills and valleys of the Luberon to Opede; the dreamiest village of all!

The stillness and peace against an electric blue sky was deafening….. as we sat in the little square enjoying a cafe.  Not a soul around except for a bird or two and a … Read More


A recent trip to this dreamy part of France was wonderful.  This irrepressibly charming land lies south of the Dordogne and, for me at least, it is more beautiful and gentler dotted by sunflowers, medieval castles, vineyards and orchards.  I have spent many a summer here kitted out as a wench or a queen whilst attending a local medieval festival (Monflaquin) in baking 90 degree heat.  This land has a beauty that calms the spirit and is stuffed full of markets, foie gras, rivers, pigeonniers, charming villages and great wine.  A very good friend lives here and I’m so glass … Read More


It’s little streets sparkle and inspire. ‘One of the most beautiful villages in Provence’ is a mere 40 minutes drive from Aix en Provence. It lives up to it’s reputation.  The minute I found out that Peter Mayle had chosen it as his place to re-settle after a number of years in America,  I had to visit. I’m a fan to put it mildly! A year in Provence, Toujours Provence and Hotel Pastis are my favourite books in travel writing. He sums it up so simply and beautifully.

At the foot of the Luberon Massif surrounded by olive groves … Read More


It’s just too tempting….. I’ve tried to say no but life is short …… always!  Everyone needs to be naughty from time to time and I figure that an hour or two wandering the alleyways and picking my top spots for a sweet and sugary fix is allowed on the naughty list .   How can we know how good we are being if we are never naughty?     So here are my top three patisserie choices for you to indulge a little in Aix en Provence.

 

Sweet Patisseries of Aix

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My number one is Weibel in the historic heart near the Place Richelme.  … Read More


A favourite run by car in Provence is the twisty road sweeping through pine, oak and chestnut trees from the A8 (Aix to Cote D’azur highway) down the D558 to the sea. It’s a little heartstopping in places (if you don’t like heights) but the aroma of pine and the sound of Les Cigalles very soon takes your mind away from that worry. Passing by La Garde Freinet (definitely worth stopping at) I’m heading to my favourite village, Grimaud. Why do we give a place this accolade; beauty, family, where one falls in love? For me, it was a realisation … Read More


There’s an anticipation when you go to the beach, isn’t there?  There’s an image in your mind so it’s disappointing when the image is not fulfilled.  That’s what has happened to me, here in the South of France – a few times – searching for the beach in my head.  I’m a big beach lover….. any weather will do…… but sun is best for paddling in the shallows and occasionally mastering a half decent sea swim.  Provence is blessed with an endless coastline from the Calangues of Marseilles to the beaches of the Cote D’azur but some are better than … Read More


Nothing prepares you for the smell!  So familiar, intoxicating…..it’s a head rush!  The smell of Lavender!  I have spent years trying to create that smell in various forms in my home in London but it’s nothing like the real thing. A short trip up the A51 from Aix en Provence towards Manosque and a right turn to the Valensole Plateau and you are transported to this purple land.  The ever changing colours of Provence are quite something but I think this is the most impressive.  You can find it all over the region but a good source told me that … Read More


The little ferryboat slowly makes its way across the glittering bay toward the historic Saint Tropez, from Port Grimaud where I’m staying.  It’s my favourite way to arrive.  Past all manner of sleek motor boats, one aptly named ‘one more toy’… Say’s it all really about this place… doesn’t it?   Glitzy, cool, super-glossy, iconic, brash, myth of stars and glamour.   Saint Tropez still has the cache…….the Brigette Bardot film legends are long gone but the money remains seducing celebrities from all over the world..

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The whirr of helicopters drown out the sound of my little ferryboat – the rich … Read More


Feels like the start of summer here in Provence……… the light is incredible……. translucent…… and the blue sky is electrifying!  The region has started to warm up.  It started in early May – the chill of the early morning and evening has gone making way for a soft warm feeling.  Almond trees, cherry trees and soon the lavender.   The colours are vivid!   The mosquitoes are back!!  I’m feeling a little blue too; I can’t believe its getting closer to the time when I will return to England.  But first, the summer.  Aix en Provence is getting busy….. tourist buses are … Read More


It’s my passion – sourcing and advising friends on places to stay around the world. I’ve been at it for years and I probably should have made a career of it. So I’m delighted that somehow I found myself here with a blog I love to write and an opportunity to share special places with more people than just close friends. I use Alistair Sawday special places travel books every time I travel – he is the king!  One of his suggestions that was always booked was Le Mas des Gres…Of course the more you can’t have something the … Read More

A Provencal Work-out

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New Year rolls around again and I’m truly determined this time to add a different fitness regime to my life….

My previous New Year experiences have included the usual joining the gym, but oh what a yawn that is!  I’m simply not a gym girl – it’s truly dull in my world. I always end up working out for 30 minutes and then spend 1 hour in the restaurant sampling un-healthy choices on the menu.  The last few times I went to the gym in London I actually only went to the restaurant….?   Oh dear.  No, this year there will … Read More


Aix Market
Looking up……. I love it here as there is always an intriguing image to photograph
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The cafe table and chairs – almost more interesting without people.
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Festive windows in a winding back street of Aix
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Local treats made with almond and fruit icing. Yummy!
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One or perhaps two to buy for the table on Xmas Day.
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Gorgeous runny local honey from the market
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Quite simply the largest meringues I have ever seen
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The gorgeous Beatrice, the lavender lady
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The flower market in the town looking very festive
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A treat for my house
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Tiny Xmas flowers to buy
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Gold sprayed branches
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They never appreciated a luxury holiday but now my girls (the whirls as I call them – because they are always whirling around) have really started to enjoy a touch of 5 star……..  Ooooh!  they exclaimed as we were shown to our room at the stunning Villa Gallici Hotel in Aix en Provence.

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Surrounded by silk and velvet and gorgeous smelling hand cut roses, everything in this magical haven had been thought out carefully.  The whirls eyes sparkled!  No nagging from mum to wash, they were straight in the shower with lotions and potions smelling of rose and lavender.    Oh … Read More


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A pumpkin preparing for Halloween in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
The beautiful changing colours of the vines just outside the magical village of Oppede
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A visit to the ancient village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and a walk along the River Sorgue to the source; one of the most powerful natural springs in the world
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Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and the stunning autumnal colours
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Pumpkins ready to buy at the Sunday market in Coustellet
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The open shutters let in the autumn light in Oppede
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Hens in a shop in Isle-sur-la-Sourgue. I love them and my collection is growing
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Old lavender in the garden of the Bastide de la Volvonne,
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Cassis Harbour Provence

A quick hop, skip and a jump down the A8 and the A52 and we are in Cassis. Forty minutes to be exact. An exquisite town too small to cope with the thousands that visit. Mid October and its quieter……. Lovely.  Am I really here?   This is one of the local beach hangouts close to Aix en Provence and it’s picture postcard perfect.

Living in London for so many years’ I regularly yearned to pop down to the coast, but it never happened as it felt too far away or I was never organised enough.

Lunch in Cassis, Provence

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Cassis restaurant food ProvenceIt’s the second time in … Read More

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