St Remy de Provence is one of the oldest towns in France. Dreamy it certainly is………..and it is everything that one would expect from a Provencal town. It’s a good size too …..perfect for an easy meander around in a morning or afternoon. Little squares, cooling fountains, creamy white and pink shuttered houses and a fabulous sprinkling of cozy bistros. (It reminds me a little of a Provencal cotswold town in England). It’s a perfect place to stay and relax! I’d visited before with kids in tow……. so it was only a quick spin around the town then; but this … 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
A little while ago I enjoyed a glass or two of local wine with Sarah Pernot, a fellow Brit and founder of Discover Provence; a tour company offering authentic trips around the region. Sarah suggested I come on one of her newer trips, a Provencal cooking experience, to the home of Marie-Hélène tucked away in a pine forest just outside Aix en Provence.
A few days later I was picked up and driven to her home with two visiting Americans. It was an unusually cool, rainy day so we were all happy to be indoors away from the cold … Read More
Ten minutes drive from the centre of Aix and we are in the countryside. All around this town there are little villages where daily life seems a whole lot slower and simpler than its larger neighbour. The stunning ‘travel book’ villages are further away and if you need a slice of postcard Provence you need to travel 45 minutes towards the Luberon to the villages of Loumarin, Bonnieux and further afield to St Remy de Provence.
For a closer village fix head to Eguilles, Rognes or St Cannat or my absolute favourite, Puyricard. It’s home to the French artisan chocolate … Read More
Aix en Provence is in a fabulous location. It’s accessible to many places. Avignon, Paris, Nimes, Montpellier, St Tropez and Nice are so easy to get to and are all interesting in their own right. But sometimes its tempting to search further a field into Spain or Italy.
Barcelona is only four hours away by car and it’s a place I have certainly wanted to explore for a long time now. Oh so tempting to go as it’s so close……. and it doesn’t disappoint. What a city! Hot, cool, passionate, wild and edgy, it has a beat all of its … Read More
We have all been there. I’ve been there a thousand times. After school activities and the quest for something that they want to stick at. Crowded swimming pool waiting rooms, windy athletic tracks – the same conversation over and over ‘you can’t give up yet you’ve just started’. The joy when finally it works – well for a while anyway!
Day three of our arrival in Provence we were directed to a fabulous event in Aix showcasing hundreds of after school activities – all the usuals from home plus mountain biking, hiking, skiing. Wednesday afternoon is when this all takes … 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
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
After my regular attempts at the French detox (vegetable soup for a day or two a week; see my previous post) and I’m so ready for a sugar fix. Look no further than the beautiful Aix. We all know and love the French patisserie back home…..but what’s missing? the size of the tart, a particular ingredient or an outstandingly un-French server! Maybe patisseries just taste better in their rightful homes…..or maybe I haven’t yet discovered my perfect patisserie in London. Ideas please as I’m coming back for a visit soon.
There are tarts a plenty here, big and delicious … Read More
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.
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
Ok, I’m dreaming about Starbucks. I know I know…… I should never say such a thing like that when I’m in France surrounded by the highly sophisticated coffee drinking society of Aix.
It starts early with a small black (ordered as un cafe, mainly served in a cup but sometimes in a glass) and croissant (no butter or jam) or if you are English then it’s probably ‘a grand creme’ which is as close as you get to an americano although it’s not the same. The coffee drinking goes on all day and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. … Read More
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.
It’s the second time in … Read More
Aix en Provence , city commune in Southern France, 30kms North of Marseilles. Famous visitors and residents include Paul Cezanne and Ernest Hemingway. Originally the capital of Provence it is often referred to as the city of 1,000 fountains and it has a beautiful medieval quarter partially surrounded by an old city wall. It is home to 143,000 people and now ME…….. Walking along the Cours Mirabeau (elegant main boulevard in Aix) I am seriously on my mettle as I quickly conclude that many ladies here are beautiful and stylish. How hard do they have to work at this? How … Read More
Our first day at the little CIPEC International School located just ten minutes outside Aix on a peaceful road surrounded by beautiful sunflowers. The house we are renting is four minutes away and I’m in heaven as it’s so much quicker than my school run back home. When we first ventured to the school in June for a visit it was quiet, apart from the children that is…… Fast forward to the first day of Autumn term and the quiet road is jammed with international looking cars (i.e. big ones like ours) and the sunflower field has turned into a … Read More