Archive for the French Affair Category

Awaken to Carrières de Lumières- the best thing to see in Provence!

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, South of France with tags , , , , , on May 5, 2015 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour fellow travellers,

Come to Provence quarries at Les Baux de Provence and if your heart doesn’t sing, your eyes will water.

Located in the south of France on the road to Saint Remy,

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6000 square metres of limestone walls are carved from the rock of Val d’Enfer making huge walled galleries. (The limestone and bauxite retrieved was used to build the Castle outside and the city beyond.)

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Once you’ve bought your ticket at the entrance, you’ll escape into an extraordinary world of illuminations like nothing you’ve ever seen before- mesmerising art collections dissected and illuminated onto walls, floors and ceilings.

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I was lucky enough to be a witness to this month’s giants of the Renaissance Collection, showing Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Raphael’s masterpieces accompanied by heart thawing music and loads of dramatic colour. One minute you’re tormented with demons and the firey hell of Michelangelo’s “Judgment Day” and the next moment, you’re happy and gliding upwards towards the cloudy heavens escorted by plump cherubs.

With precision timing, you’re then plunged into the 3D watery depths of Jules Verne’s imaginary voyage, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” Some point and gasp when an enormous ship’s keel lunges towards us

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and others are more than content to explore the exquisite details of a watery world with germinating sea mushrooms popping left, right and centre.

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Past exhibitions include Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Venice, Klimt and Vienna and even Aboriginal art from Australia. We learn that the possibilities are endless in L’Carriers de Lumieres. Spend hours in there and you’ll freeze to death. Get out in time and you’ll be inspired for life.

Go! Immerse yourself in one of the best travel discoveries in Provence…and let us know what you think.

Best wishes and have fun,

Therese

copyright@ 2015 Therese Waddell

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Awaken to Uzes Markets!

Posted in French Affair, South of France with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2015 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

We are smack bang in the middle of Uzes and it’s a Saturday under a glorious South of France sun. If we had been here in this very same spot at the Place aux Herbes last January, we would have been among a buzzing throng of truffle loving fans arriving to witness the deluge of soil dropped from on high and jammed with a thousand truffles to be snorted out by local pigs and then cooked up into a massive communal omelette.

As a natural foodie, I’ll admit that it would have been an exquisite adventure into gastronomy. Curiosity set aside though for today we are very content surrounded by the vibrant warm colours of local artisans- ceramists, sculptors and painters and we listen to the wise whisperings of ham preservers and nougat makers, bee keepers and Monastery winemakers. We smell roasting chickens as they swirl in synchronised precision over hot coals and the aroma of paella and fresh, warm nuts cut through the morning light.

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Well, we missed the truffle weekend but  I can do without the truffles today.

Make sure you visit Uzes markets when you’re in the south of France. Put it on your list for either Wednesday or Saturday. It’s a great place to be when you’re not truffle hunting!

Best wishes, Therese

Copyright@2015Therese 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 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 (https://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: https://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 Saint Paul de Vence, France.

Posted in French Affair, French Cafes, French Painters, French Travel, South East France with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2013 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends, If you fancy being somewhere else from where you are right now, an inspirational change of pace will welcome you in a village in Provence beyond the French Riviera. This place has always been a throbbing hub and perfect hideaway for great artists and imaginative creatures. Like bees to the honey pot, artists such as Matisse, Braque, Miro, Picasso, Mogdigliani and my favourite painter Chagall, as well as writers, (Aldous Huxley), beautifull bohemians (Johnnie Depp) and even an ex Rolling Stoner, all seem to have grown like spicy radishes in gloriously warm weather and a good watering hole. The village you ask? It’s  Saint Paul de Vence. DSC_0880 Saint Paul de Vence is securely nestled between the villages of La Colle sur Loup and Vence and it’s seven kilometres inland from the Mediterranean which you can see from the cemetery at its peak. DSC_0903 Being relatively close to the sea, Saint Paul de Vence has long been easily accessed since the year 1000 but these days the No 400 bus will do nicely. Or, if you’re going by car, you’re looking at about 45 minutes depending on today’s traffic from Nice.

Take a look at what lies ahead. You’ll get your first inkling that this village is going to be really good and colourful when standing right here beholding Chagall’s work with his Saint Paul de Vence in the background. DSC_0879 Keep walking closer and you’ll reach the boules area (Place de Joue de Boules). It’s easy to escape here with friendly locals where you can spend hours swinging low on crunchy gravel outside the rampart walls.  Or maybe boules is not your thing and if you haven’t yet shaken that competitive spirit off you from home, you may fancy a game of chess instead under these ancient plane trees… IMG_3218 DSC_0883 However, there’s a strong possibility that the warmth of the place simply lulls you and your tongue becomes a divining rod looking for a water hole. I know the perfect cafe and bar to have a cold beer and watch the game as Picasso did- it’s  just the thing… DSC_0921

From your table you’re likely to spot a celebrity outside the famous La Colombe D’Or across the road, who have come for the very reason as you. It happens. Bono, Richard Attenborough, Michael Caine, Roger Moore, X Stones rock artist Bill Wyman (who has a house nearby) and many more, have all eaten here.

Artists use to pay their drink and board bills to the entrepreneurial Roux family owners with paintings, sculptures  and drawings and so over time, La Colombe D’Or has built up an outstanding collection of  twentieth century art which now decorate the dining rooms and back garden courtyard. My french awakening to La Colombe D’Or and her history came about by reading Martine’s Buchet’s book. In fact, it made me pay a visit. Being an art museum, guesthouse and restaurant all in one, the glamorous and the beautiful-on-the-insiders fill its space in a palette of colour and expectation.

I read that the guestbook reveals the presence of Edward VIII (then the Prince of Wales) and Wallace Simpson, David Niven, Orson Welles, Cary Grant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Charlie Chaplin.  Zelda and F.Scott Fitzgerald and many more- which makes me wonder who warmed my chair as I lunch with Matisse.

The ambience inside its walls is exactly what I like-disarmingly simple and very relaxed- serving regional foods like sardines, saucisson, hams, cheeses, figs, couscous, red cabbage, fruit tarts and aubergines etc. I can taste why it’s so popular. After lunch, you can take a dip in the pool and degrease yourself of south-of-France sleepiness while swimming with Calder- if you’re a guest of course. The perfect setting for a french affair! Sleeping with Bonnieu as a guest proves me right.

What to do next? Explore of course. Walk upwards along any of the meandering cobblestone lanes… DSC_0888

and listen to the sound in the artistry of a local’s world…

 

 

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Let it be said that there must be something in the clean, clear air here and the high altitude breeze brings with it inspiration. The light from a provincial sun soothes and warms and makes colours sparkle with poetry. You can see it in Chagall’s paintings and mosaics when he lived right here with a new found feeling of hope and freedom. DSC_0914 - Version 2

His canvases fill with swooping lovers and circus performers and a passion for living. I like that. Smiling goats and joy oozing from canvases- it doesn’t get better than that. He lived until he was 97 in his beloved Saint Paul. DSC_0906 - Version 2 Perhaps Chagall drank from this fountain of youth here… DSC_0896   and always found respite among the shadows, DSC_0897   and a growing clarity of thought and peace. DSC_0911

As for me, as I dawdled across the road here in the early morning, I turned around to give a wave of thanks to the kind driver who had stopped  DSC_0926

so abruptly to let me cross. It was at that instant that I too became like Chagall and all the others mesmerized by Saint Paul de Vence, those who never want to leave this place- for the driver behind the wheel …was Johnnie Depp.

AuRevoir and Best wishes (and thankyou Johnnie for stopping)

Therese Waddell

copyright@ 2013Therese Waddell

Awaken to Cassis, France

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Cafes, French Travel, South East France with tags , , , , , , on August 22, 2013 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

Head to the south of France to Cassis and yes, you’re still in Provence, but gone is your mindset of hills in rolling green pastures and fruit orchards, now replaced with a glassy canvas and the prettiest fishing port you will ever see… Image

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Cassis and its sun kissed fishing cove at the base of a medieval castle, is lined with old stone homes but there’s a fresh new look in pastel shades of pink, apricot and blue which adds to the casualness and a much less pretentious atmosphere compared to its glamorous St Tropez neighbour.

Cassis is a mecca for seafood restaurants lining a fishing port and it’s no luck that they are thriving with crawling tourists from all over France and abroad. Indeed, many a French traveller are drawn to the sunshine and great food here as well.

Tourists arrive (even Aussie ones) in miniature open train carriages from the mountain above (as cars cannot descend down its narrow road) packed like sardines wearing hats and goggled in cool black.

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This is a small French town with a big appetite. My french awakening to Cassis came about over a lazy lunch in the sun, rubbing shoulders with ordinary folks while tucking into the worlds best seafood. I look around and there are numerous platters of coral pink prawn tails, radiant lobsters and piles of muscle shells shimmering iridescent blue in pots under their own watery soup of hot bouillabaisse. Steam from a large bowl of Moules frites (muscles and chips- a local dish) reaches my nose in seconds. This is fresh seafood heaven with sea life jumping out of the water and onto the plate!

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Sweating Cassis chefs like most of those through Provence, respect quality of produce and carefully select the best to go into mouths gaping like the wheeling seagulls above with the same anticipation. There is strong local competition that only makes it better for customers like you and I. Market days are Wednesday and Friday and expect fabulous produce like homemade tapenades, tomatoes, olives and other salad ingredients.Image

You will be well fed in Cassis no doubt and life is good and unhurried here. You can’t help but relax under a Provencal sun on the water’s edge.

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There are also no nasty pirates here in this sailor’s landmark and only jovial ones remain, all seemingly related by paradise and its crosshatch of ropes and tangled coils of nautical paraphernalia. The entire port seems to interconnect with reflections and it’s easy to wander off mesmerized by everything in such strong light, if it weren’t for the sound of the crack of rope every now and again and the rubbing squeal of boat hulls sliding against their moorings.

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Hop on board any of the tour boats strung together at the port of Cassis like I did.Image

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A ticket of about 15 euros will do the trick for a beautiful 45 minute cruise out into the salty Mediterranean…

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towards the inner world of watery inlets of the limestone Calanques…

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These famous Calanques are about 120million years old and hold a treasure trove of beautiful nooks and crannies to investigate…

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photograph or climb…

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As the mood allows, you may be taken to any number of hidden gems such as local beaches…Image

or water caves or even sometimes given the opportunity to dive from the back of the boat into sea green splendour. It happens.

The area around Cassis is magnificent and unspoilt.  Any number of water sports like yachting…

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kyaking…Image

and diving in underwater caves…Imagecould keep you entertained all day. All week perhaps. Activities are happily arranged at the Office de Tourism on the pier, even for camping and climbing…

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or hiking the trails of Cape Canaille or the National Park all in the search for spectacular panoramic views of the Mediterranean. You don’t have to go far. For a full panorama of the Port of Cassis, check out this:-

http://www.ot-cassis.com/en/le-port.html

Cassis is only a half an hour from Marseille airport. No time at all to get to Paradise.

AuRevoir,

Best wishes, Therese

copyright@2013 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Tourettes sur Loup, France.

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Cafes, French Painters, French Patisserie, French Travel, South East France with tags , , , , on August 18, 2013 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

I remember an old lady in a film who dreamt of wading in a swimming pool of spaghetti. She didn’t have a real reason for her longed for indulgence. No rhyme  nor reason. She was just convinced that swimming around in sublime squelchyness would make her feel wonderful. It’s funny what we all wish for and it’s the unexpected which sometimes make us the happiest. Places can do that sometimes and  the little village of Tourettes sur Loup nestled in Provence, proved that this is true.

The first glimpse of Tourettes sur Loup in south eastern France is…well, interesting..

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Then in the rocky chaos of life  there appears a single pop of colour and expectation…

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and the medieval cobblestones of Tourette sur Loup’s intimate alleyways slowly presents itself in all its glory…

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with quiet ecstatic moments  browsing between the fabulous galleries of paintings, ceramics, pottery and jewellery of Tourette’s well known artisans.

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and later, buy the most fragrant ice cream you’ve ever tasted from a guy with the biggest smile in the world…

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to finally lunch in one of Tourette’s cosy restaurants and find yourself perhaps swimming in pasta…

Provincial style.

Tourettes sur Loup..deceptively good.

AuRevoir, best wishes, Therese

copyright@2013 Therese Waddell