Archive for the South East France Category

Awaken to Saint Remy Market Day, Provence

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Travel, South East France with tags , , , , on December 4, 2013 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

The market day in Saint Remy de Provence needs little introduction. My french awakening to Saint Remy is celebrated with photos for you- filled with touchy, tasty and aromatic goodness. Just imagine another sunny day in Provence, music in the air and the aromas of fresh bountiful produce right in front of you.

Do you think you can suffer a day at Saint Remy?

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Au Revoir and Best Wishes,

Therese Waddell

copyright@2013 Therese waddell

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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

Awaken to Gourdon in Provence.

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Cafes, French Gardens, French Travel, South East France with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2013 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

Today you’re going to a little village in the south of France  but first of all, I’d like to make it quite clear from the start that there are two villages by the name of ‘Gourdon’ in France and I’m writing about Gourdon located in the Alps-Maritime region of Provincial France (not the town of Gourdon in the southwestern Lot.) Secondly my friends, I want to make it just as clear that YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT when you get here!

If there was ever a place that belonged in a book of classic European fairytales, it would be this tiny village of Gourdon. Nestled precariously like a hawk’s nest on a cliff face high overhead…

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Gourdon is custodian to the Vallee du Loup-with its gorges and canyons, forests and Loup River that snakes its way to the Mediterranean while the birds soar in circles over farmsteads in the greenest valley I could ever imagine.

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To get to Gourdon is an adventure in itself. Choose your driver and your means of transport well, for if you take the road, be aware that it zig zags sharply without relief for quite some time and for some part of the journey you may well trigger a small rock avalanche which begins collapsing beneath your vehicle and propelling debris into the airy depths below. This way will bring you to the Northern entry of the castle.

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The alternative is to hike along the skinny spaghetti trail winding up and around the mountain to the castle from almost a thousand meters below. The old mule track, ‘Chemin du Paradis’ is steep and stony and was the only way of hard core artisan and construction workers centuries earlier lugging stone to build the castle in the eleventh century. This way is not for the faint hearted.

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Your choice maybe raises a question as to how you approach life itself.

If Pinocchio were French, he would drunkenly tumble over Gourdon’s cobblestones and vaulted lanes, pass inner courtyards of provincial stone houses with their fountains…

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sun dials and gargoyles and other eccentricities…

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and then perhaps he would hop-step his loose way toward the warm aroma of bread ovens and medicinal herb shops reeling lavender, hyssop and comfrey. Copper distillation equipment of some Medieval alchemist making perfume breathes fragrant history into shopfronts…

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Pinocchio would gaze upon the infinite antique bottles and drooping chandeliers of philosophers come glassmakers…DSC_0222

and once inside, he would be mesmerised by glittering crystal glassware in electric colours as the afternoon sun works its magic.

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Pinocchio would be smiling no doubt. Just like Le Notre, the landscape gardener of the Palace of Versaille, when he completed his new  project in Gourdon and thoughtfully created its magnificent Chateau gardens.

Gourdon is exactly what you want in a fairytale. Hot pink shots of mountain rhododendrons and teeny erigeron daisies popping out everywhere…

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and very friendly locals and a close knit community spirit of shopkeepers selling joy in Florentines, soaps, perfumery and art. (When the baker asked me to marry him, I told him I had five children. He cheekily replied, ” De rien. J’ai six.” (no matter, I have six!).

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Breathing in Gourdon’s air is cool and fresh, as you would expect from such a dizzy altitude…

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but the sunlight is strong here and paints Gourdon with a warmth overlooking a sweeping panoramic view of the Cote D’zure from Beaulieu to Cannes.

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If you bother to look hard enough across the horizon, pass today’s hang gliders at eye level, you may even see Corsica on a really clear day but you’ll be forgiven if you don’t even try, as by now you will have decided to join the others dabbling in hand made ice creams or at The Salon de The’

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on a rocky outcrop. Or, more casually,  decide to have a cold beer on the very popular terrace in front of the old church… A splendid idea as you watch the sun go down.

Truth be known- Fairytales have a very happy ending in Gourdon.

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Getting there: Gourdon is about 37km from Nice Airport by car and 14km from Grasse. Local tour companies will get you there very inexpensively. Enjoy and tell us of your experiences here.

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2013 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Provence and French Wineries

Posted in French Affair, French Books, French Travel, French wineries, South East France with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour everyone,

I couldn’t let this Year disintegrate into the fizz of celebration without making a mad dash to the laptop and pronounce to all and sundry that for me 2013 will indeed be even brighter than its rivalled past. Why? Well you may remember my experiences at The Paris International Cooking School which fostered my love of French cuisine after which, I decided to take the plunge and dissolve into the kitchen world of stainless steel to become a chef. Hence, my absence from myfrenchawakening blogs and France herself. And oh how I have missed it all!

So I know its going to be even better before the New Year rings true as I’m off to Provence in May with cooking lessons and fabulous excursions which make my heart jump already. Can you hear it?

I’ll be seeing and doing much more from my provincial bucket list, like spending time slowly with a glass of very good wine in hand on this balcony…

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at  Chateau La Canorgue between Avignon and Aix en Provence, made famous in the magical film called ‘A Good Year’ with Russell Crowe and Marion Cottilard…

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and based on a superb little book by Peter Mayle  who obviously loved this part of France so much he chose to call the Luberon home and it inspired him to write the book in the first place. His book is filled with humour which comes about through acute personal observation and a healthy dose of affection with moving tales of great people in such a great place. Just like the Margens for instance.

They’re the real life owners of Chateau La Canorgue and behind peeling burnt umber stone walls of a home slumbering under the shade of aged trees, Nathalie and her father Jean- Pierre together make a formidable team with their hard work and wine knowledge recognised in the carefully selected title of ‘Wine Growers of the Year.’ The Margens’ natural and organic beautiful wines from hand picked grapes reign supreme. It’s quality over quantity here in Provence. Isn’t that what we all want really?

In fact,  this entire area- unspoilt and gorgeous in the extreme, will make you fall in love with France again and again.

Why don’t you come over sometime?

Yes, it’s going to be ‘A Good Year’ alright.Happy New Year to you and your families. May it be your best yet. xx

Au Revoir and Best Wishes for an unbeatable 2013.

Therese Waddell

Copyright @ 2012 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Holidays in France

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, South East France, Therese Waddell's Quilts with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2011 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends,

What are we doing wrong to have allowed August to creep up upon us so quickly? Everything is flying passed at a phenomenal rate and the world makes you crazy, unless of course we are on holidays.

The French awaken to summer holidays in August and flee Paris for the south- to “escape to the country” (as my dear friend Kerry would exclaim in a full bodied British accent) and soak up the warmth and magnificent colour of her landscapes.

You too could head for something like this…

on the way to Castres in the Midi Pyrenees region in south western France for instance. No wonder the French head south. This was where for my french awakening, the true colours of France came shining through.

My “Road To Provence Quilt” commemorates the supreme colours of the South of France.

The pattern is available at www.quiltingthejourney.com for anyone interested in either buying the pattern or have me make a quilt for you or a friend.

Go on. Experience France in all its summery glory in August and in the meantime, let YOUR colours shine through this week.

In the word’s of Cyndi Lauper,

“I see your true colours and that’s why I love you

So don’t be afraid to let them show,

You’re true colours

True colours

Are beautiful like a rainbow.”

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

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copyright@2011 Therese Waddell