Gift Giving Season Part 1

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Miscellanous

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You can keep the Provencal spirit all year by buying gifts online this holiday season. There are dozens of websites offering locally made products that can be shipped anywhere in the world just in time for the holidays.

Here are 5 of my top picks:

Olive wood platters, bowls and serving cutlery www.boisolivier.com

Fleur de Sel and aromatic salts from the Camargue www.laboutiquedusel.com

Bags and accessories made from recycled sails www.lestoilesdularge.com

Pottery, a various assortment in brilliant Provencal colors www.romain-bernex.com

Lavender wands made from locally grown lavender www.fuseauxdelavande.com

 

 

Marseille Olympic contender 2024

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Miscellanous

France lost the bid for the 2012 Summer Games in Paris to London and the 2018 Winter Games in Annecy to Pyeongchang South Korea.  But France is intent on hosting them – perhaps in 2024.

Some of the applicant cities still in the race include: Rome, Hamburg, Paris, Budapest, Boston and Doha. If France does win the bid plans for the nautical portion of the games are to be hosted in Marseille the city that had previously been a contender for America’s Cup in 2007 but lost the bid to Valencia Spain. 

The climatic conditions of Marseille are ideal for sailing with over 200 days of sunshine a year and guaranteed wind – sometimes too much of it when the Mistral blows. Each year the port city already hosts dozens of sailing races including the Juris Cup and the Massila Cup. It’s also on the route for the annual Tour de France Sailing race that started in 1978. Couldn’t be a more perfect venue. 

 

Train Travel Tips

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Miscellanous

You have probably already heard of IDTGV, the website where you can purchase discounted train tickets. www.idtgv.com/en In case this is all new information, SNCF the company that runs French rail transport, attaches a second train onto some regular routes like Paris-Marseille with stops in Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, and sells the seats at discounted rates. 

These seats go fast so SNCF launched OUIGO offering trips from Marne la Vallée (Eurodisney) to Lyon, Valence, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Nîmes and Montpellier. The low cost trains run less often and you have to take the RER (Paris computer rail system) to get to Marne la Vallée but the low cost might be worth the extra travel time.  Have a look at the website and compare. www.ventes.ouigo.com/search.aspx?culture=en-GB

Most recently the SNCF launched #TGVpop www.tgvpop.com/tutorial Sadly the website is only in French for now. The concept is a bit different. The tag line reads THE TGV THAT LEAVES THANKS TO YOUR FRIENDS. As an example TGVpop offers a train between Paris and Marseille and people can show their interest in taking that train 14 days before departure. Travellers are encouraged to share their travel plans using social media in order for more travellers to sign on. The train will not leave if it has not reached a certain number of confirmed bookings. Four days before the train is scheduled to leave each person receives an email confirming whether or not the train will be travelling and the final departure time. Tickets on confirmed trains can be purchased up until the last day at very reasonable rates. A one way Paris-Marseille costs between 25 and 35 euros.

 

Superfine

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Miscellanous

Superfine

Carding or cardage in French is the process of brushing fibers to prepare them as textiles. It’s no surprise therefore that many towns in Provence, which has been sheep ridden since the Romans, have a street called rue des cardeurs or place des cardeurs.

Red Coral

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Miscellanous

Red Coral

Red coral or precious coral is still harvested throughout the Mediterranean Sea at depth of 30 metres or below.  Jewellery of all shapes and sizes has been made using coral since antiquity.

Operation Anvil

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Miscellanous

Operation Anvil

Just in time to commemorate the allied invasion of Provence, the U.S.S. Annapolis has arrived in the Port of Toulon. Operation Dragoon originally called Anvil (the southern counterpart to Operation Overlord) www.operationdragoon.com took place on August 15, 1944 with allied landings on beaches all along the coast between Toulon and Cannes.

It's Christmas Time all Over the World

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Miscellanous

It's Christmas Time all Over the World

It's that festive time of year again and the streets of many European cities from Paris to  St. Petersburg are all equipped with lights manufactured right here in Provence. If you have seen how remarkable the Champs Elysées looks before Christmas it's all thanks to the designers at Blachere Illumination in Apt.

Galette des Rois

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Miscellanous

Galette des Rois

The Fête des Rois (or Festival of Kings) takes place on the 12th day after Christmas and is known as the Epiphany. In France the tradition is marked by a dessert known as the Galette des Rois or King's Cake which is sold with a paper crown.

Cool House

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Miscellanous

Cool House

Provence was dotted with ice houses that produced and stored giant cubes of ice needed in city centers to store perishable goods.The Glacière de Pivaut located in Mazauges at the foot of the Sainte Baume mountain pictured above was fully functional until the late 1780s and recently restored. Like it’s counterparts it was built on an incline so as to be able to load on one end while taking ice out from another.

Coeur de Lavandes

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Miscellanous

Coeur de Lavandes

You can spot these lovely lavender wands for sale on a few markets in Provence and in the Alpes de Hautes Provence. By weaving different colour ribbons through freshly cut lavender that remains malleable these hand-made objects are both beautiful and useful.