As days become warmer, it’s impossible to resist the urge to get out – attention turns to more exercise and a spring swim in the med. A short drive from Aix en Provence or Marseilles the magical Calanques are a special place to walk, breath deeply, practise yoga or simply sit and take in the amazing views………………….
I hadn’t heard about it before I moved to France; amazing to think that it could have been missed, being only focused on those sun-searching trips down to the med beach after long winters living in London, only to be sandwiched between the … Read More
A truly spectacular place to buy a property; as well as visit for a holiday! I’ve always dreamed of having a home here. Transforming a wooden house into a cozy, stylish home. I’ve met many people in Provence who have done just that.
I dream of preparing for Christmas by chopping and stacking wood for our alpine home and HUGE FUN tasks like digging ourselves out of freshly fallen snow drifts outside the front door. Trips to enchanting villages nearby for chocolate box treats. Exquisite! Fresh mountain air, dramatic scenery, HEAPS of opportunity for cheese fondue. The snow is still … Read More
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
A best friend’s birthday arrived and we agreed on a spring Alpine getaway. Our chosen destination, Megeve. A traditional Haute Savoie village in the mighty Mont Blanc where the French hip and cool come to play. With the village at 1,000ft and the highest skiing point at 2,350ft, it’s not the highest and the snow can be a little dicey; but if you want perfectly groomed pistes and a great choice of beginner/intermediate runs you will be satisfied. This is a place for food lovers and the little village sparkles with cozy interior-design shops, endless patisseries and horse-drawn carriages. Our … Read More
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 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
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
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
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