Awaken to Provence Cheese.

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Travel, South of France with tags , , , on March 28, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour!

When I think of my experiences in Provence I think of earthly delights and the lines from ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Kyam’ offer no more perfect description…

“Here, with a loaf of bread beneath the bough

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A flask of wine

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A Book of verse

And Thou beside me singing in the wilderness

And wilderness is Paradis enow.”

I’m certain that Omar would have included cheese in his poem had he visited the Luberon, the beautiful blue circle of  Provence which boasts an extraordinary selection of cheeses such as these…Saint Paulin, Roquefort, creamy bries and camembert, goat cheeses, Banon a la feuille, Picadon and many more.

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What better accompaniment with Provence cheeses but locally grown, plump strawberries, I will never know.

And neither will Omar Kyam.

 

Best wishes, Therese

copyright@2014 Therese Waddell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awaken to Provence Food

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, South of France with tags , , , , , on March 24, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour fellow foodies,

The perfect setting- Provence, south of France. The perfect scenario- lunchtime. Think dappled shade, fresh, local produce, oozy cheeses, plump strawberries, braised herby abundance, fruity wines, friends, laughter, love. It doesn’t get any better than this…

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P.S I’m now on the lookout for a stone cottage my friends… blue shutters, garden. You know what I mean.

I’d love to hear from you if you know anyone selling a piece of heaven! xx

Best Wishes,

Therese Waddell

copyright@2014 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Aigues Mortes

Posted in French Travel, South of France with tags , , , on March 16, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour fellow francophiles,

Aigues Mortes, France.

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Strange name for a place. It means dead water. That can’t be good I hear you saying but beyond the Riviera and this close to Spain, you will find a very different France which is very much alive!

Aigues Mortes is an hour from Nimes by train and it will cost you 1 single euro or travel by car for 41km.

It’s home to the Camargue horsemen and real life cowboys who rule her salty shores and its marshlands stretching  across its 900 square kilometre expanse. This territory with its nature parks and abundant wildlife is the breeding ground for bulls (destined to fight toredors in Spain and the Camargue), wild horses and hot pink flamingoes.

You can ride on the back of a Camargue horse, join in the fun at the horse festivals, listen to the stories of cow herders at the local markets, practise your photography with some bird spotting, walk the ramparts and tower built in the thirteenth century

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and even have a pedicure sitting in a fish tank while the Garra Rufa nibble away!

My french awakening to Camargue restaurants did not disappoint. The Michelin Star, ‘Le Atelier de Nicolas’  is extra special but there are so many cheap, simpler ones where you too can tuck into a bubbling good bouillabaisse or other fishy local specialty…

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and tap your fork to the rhythm of gypsy songs and lyrical guitar.

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Aigues Mortes colours are bright- in cuisine…

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and decor…

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Even the ice cream screams passion here…

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Aigues Mortes- you’re nothing but gusto!

For more information on hotels and activities in Aigues Mortes, go to http://www.ot-aiguesmortes.fr/en/

Happy travels,

Therese Waddell

copyright@2014 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Seine River Cruises

Posted in French Books, French Travel, French Women, Paris with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

Can you picture yourself floating along here…

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aboard a boat on the glassy waters of the Seine? A twilight cruise with other tourists, although cliched, can be one of the best ways to see Paris transform into two worlds; the glittering city of Paris by night comes to life at twilight as it glides by on its glorious, mirrored world of reflections.

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Go with a friend. Go without. It makes no difference here. Feel the breeze and relax on board any one of the boats referred to by the French as ‘ les bateau mouche”. Buy your ticket at the dock. Most boats dock at Pont d’Alba near the Eiffel Tower which you’ll see from here…

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and it will cost you about 12.50 euros. You may want to pick up a bottle of bubbly from here…

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as well. I do recommend you go a little earlier to get your tickets and be top of the queue to secure your choice seats- undercover or at the bow if you feel like doing a ‘Titanic’ with arms outstretched.

You can reserve tickets online at the official site here: http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en

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To capture the experience, my french awakening insists you give a thought to employ the lovely and creative Australian- come- Paris- resident, photographer  Carla Coulson who offers a four hour photo shoot anywhere in Paris. Her unique forte lies in photographing women in Paris. She not only highlights Paris glamour and sheer femininity but manages to intensify inner beauty so well that it makes not only for an unforgettable momento of portrait shots but an altogether uplifting experience in itself. You can see her gorgeous work at  her website gallery in ‘Carla Loves Photography’ at  http://carlacoulson.com or her many published books.

Imagine yourself under Paris light. It’s not too difficult is it?

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Best Wishes, Therese

Copyright@2014 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Five French Men for dinner.

Posted in French Affair with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour friends,

My curious female friend asked me the other day, “If I could invite five French men (from any era) to dinner, who would they be?” I really had to think hard. There were so many to choose from. I had to base my decisions on some very important criteria.

I wouldn’t invite anyone who would not appreciate my cooking nor did I want someone who would dominate the conversation across the dinner table. It was then that the delightful Marcel Marceau sprang to mind who I knew would be duly appreciative, behave himself impeccably, sit non prejudicial of other guests, remain a decorative chap in harmony with his surroundings. What you see is what you get with Marceau as the sublime French mime artist. He’d wear a broad red grin when happy, frown when sad, be an undeniably good listener not to mention very hygienic wearing his trademark white gloves so he could help with the dishes.

Then I gave a thought to sitting at the table with Francois Hollande, France’s current Prime Minister. Without his wife of course. Though his powers of seduction may intrigue, I doubt he would stay long in the company of predominately male guests and he would consequently be preoccupied with affairs on his mobile to be of any real interest. Well, perhaps he can stay for a while and talk Socialism and equality for women but let’s not mention marriage and film stars in the one sentence.

Now let me think …Perhaps Johnnie Depp would be by next guest and yes I know he’s not officially a Frenchman, he does act like one and has a house outside the little French village of Plan de la Tour with its little French vineyard. Besides, he was very nice on our first encounter, stopping at the roadside crossing for me in Saint Paul de Vence, remember (http://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/awaken-to-saint-paul-de-vence-france/)

According to People’s Magazine, Depp has been voted the “Sexiest Man Alive” so naturally he’d be instantly forgiven if he arrives a little disheveled. I know he’d appreciate good wine and my chocolate for sure, though I read his taken to devouring scorpions which are currently not on my menu. I’m certain though a tad shy and hibernating, Johnnie would no doubt feel freer as the night went on and conversations of a bohemian life and his music would be easy listening especially with a guitar at hand. He’d do party tricks and make his tattoos dance and trying to focus on them after much wine appreciation would make for a jolly evening. Yes, Johnnie’s good value at dinner. Let’s not put him too close to Marcel though as I believe he has a fear of clowns.

My fourth guest has to be Napoleon. Now given he’d have a strong competitive streak and so the wine that Johnnie brings would be depleted in no time but he has been known for Plan B assertiveness and will no doubt have his hip flask of favourite cognac inside his top coat. Some people don’t realise that’s why he’s given to losing one arm underneath. Napoleon will relish my beef bourguignon (my recipe can be yours at: http://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/awakening-to-french-recipes/

And it’s a loyal act when Napoleon would tackle any man to the floor who doesn’t eat. Dear Napoleon with his feisty thirst for adventure and beautiful spirit may add be a touch of rivalry among the ranks but he’d have a lot in common with Francois Hollande and I’m certain that Deppe could lull him with a song or Marcel would place an invisible box over him if that fails. One can’t deny Napoleon would make great conversation with sordid tales of war and frenzy,  socialism and political dramas in his redefining France. He does well generally under pressure, though I think I stand for the whole party when I say that I hope he doesn’t bring up the whole, boring “construction of roads through France”contribution but mention the part he played in his renewal of the Catholic Church in France instead. That could certainly encourage debate.

Lastly, it would be a toss between Jacques Cousteau, the Marine Conservationist with the lovely tan, (who on second thoughts, wouldn’t enjoy my St Jacques scallops nor appreciate sucking claw meat from our deep sea lobster as much as the others) and either the existentialist thinker Jean Paul Sartre or maybe Voltaire the poet and philosopher would come instead.

I have an overriding sense that if Jean Paul will not acknowledge he’s actually present at the table it leaves me with no other choice but to invite Voltaire. After all, Voltaire with his ill health needs a good feed and wouldn’t waste any morsel of food. Besides, he also understands spirited liaisons (just ask Emilie du Chalelet) and with his sharp wit and hilarious verses, we’d all be enlightened by his truthfulness and candour. He’s sure to remind us at the table that, “Anything too stupid to be said is sung”.

So there you have it- my list of five for dinner. Have I left anyone out? Who would you invite?

Bon Appetit!

Therese

copyright@2014Therese Waddell

Awaken to the Guillotine!

Posted in French Travel, Paris with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

Many people including Parisians, are not aware that here at ‘Place de la Concorde’ was the site of the Guillotine during the French Revolution.

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In the shadow of today’s Hotel de Crillon – one of the most expensive and most luxurious hotels in Paris, was once the site that locals referred to as ‘Place de la Revolution’.

Set in a blood stained field and now dark cobblestones, it was around 1794 during the ‘Reign of Terror’ that Paris mobs, thirsty for execution and bloodshed, stood in anticipation; For when the bell was rung, (a signal to release the guillotine’s handle) and the drums would stop beating, crowds stood motionless to witness the drop of a large single angled blade which lopped off the heads of Royalty and commoner alike. It’s been recorded that over 2500 people died by the dreaded guillotine just in Paris alone, including Louis XVI, his wife Maria Antoinette, Madame du Barry-mistress of Louis XV and many more, not to mention 92 year old Mary Anne Duay and the youngest victim who was merely 14.

The sound of the blade piercing soft flesh and hitting the bloody splintered wood underneath bought momentary silence (no doubt in the case of their King), then cries of “Vive la Republique!” And the crowds  would burst forward to the dripping head held high on a pole, to dip their wiry fingers and handkerchiefs into the gushing blood of a warm, decapitated head, particularly one which was blue blooded. Sometimes the mouth and eyes gave into opening and closing while the next cage of quivering victims rattled down Rue St Honore (today, the site of luxury chocolate shops) -prized victims like white circus tigers nearing extinction, from the Conciergerie Prison.

My french awakening to guillotines went haywire when I learnt that the last death by guillotine was in 1977!  The same year that Apple released its first computer with keyboard, the same year that Elvis Presley died, the same year that Barbie Road Trip with Motor Home goes into toyshops.

Paris….always raw.

AuRevoir,

Therese Waddell

copyright@2014 Therese Waddell

 

Awaken to L’Orangerie, Paris.

Posted in French Gardens, French Painters, French Travel, Paris, Paris gardens and all things green with tags , , on February 19, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

People often asked me, “If I had limited time in Paris, what would be a MUST to see?” Apart from the obvious icons, I tell them this:

“Head straight to L’Orangerie Museum on the western corner of the Tuileries garden”. You’ll need to enter through the main gates off the Place de la Concorde, pass the library…

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and a two minute walk upwards…

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to the lawn of statues outside the Museum.

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Be an early bird and beat the crowds as I do. (This pic was taken after my visit not long after opening time.)

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Go straight ahead to the white rooms at the back of this small museum – the dedicated space of Monet’s “Nympheas.” Sit down on the leather bench dead centre of the room wrapped by enormous panels of French Impressionism and the gardens of Giverny (remember, http://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/awakening-to-monets-garden/ ) in all its serene colour.“Nympheas” It’s nothing like you’ve ever imagined.

For a small virtual of what to expect go to the museum’s own website at:  http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/homes/home_id24799_u1l2.htm (Click onto Salle One and Salle Two to see the two rooms dedicated to Monet) . This doesn’t however, impart how you feel when you’re actually in there. Trust me. I have the same reaction every time I visit. And I watch others’ reactions and wait for them to simply exhale.

It’s  as if the very breath of Paris  essence has smacked each of us in the face.

If you do have more time, wander downstairs and see amateur artists copying the real thing in the Paul Guillaume Collection. There’s a saying here that “if the imitation is too good, the gallery will keep it” and you’ll find very friendly student artists such as Frank who will allow you to chat with him as he changes a small area of his work in order to take it home.

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Because that’s really what it’s all about here at L’Orangerie….

Everyone takes a piece of Paris home.

Happy travels and Best Wishes,

Therese

Copyright@Therese Waddell 2014

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