Sheep crossing

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

    This Monday May 16, 2006 at 11 am over 4000 sheep will be herded through the town of St. Rémy de Provence and taken to higher ground to graze during the summer months. This seasonal move of livestock, up to the slopes in spring and down to the valley in the fall, is known as the transhumance, from the Latin trans (over) and humus (ground).

    St. Rémy is one of towns of Provence that keeps this tradition alive and it is well worth attending - for the photo opportunity alone. The villages of Eguilles and Vinon-sur-Verdon will host a transhumance later in May.  

 

 

 

 

 

Chagall in Les Baux

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

    

     From March 4, 2016 to January 8, 2017 the Carrières de Lumières, a former stone quarry in Les Baux de Provence, will host a new multi-media show titled: Chagall, Midsummer Nights' Dream.  This immensely popular venue, located very close to St. Remy de Provence, hosted over 513 000 visitors during a previous exhibition. 

   Set inside 5000 square metres of a cool abandoned quarry – these light shows meet music shows prepared by Culturespace, long time managers of cultural venues like the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris and the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Nice,  are unexpectedly magical. Read more here: Chagall

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco-friendly tours of Arles

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

     There are over 100 historical monuments in Arles built successively during the Roman era, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Arles is also home to the most impressive museum of antiquity in France www.arles-antique.cg13.fr.  It is without a doubt a city that must be visited during any trip to Provence to view the immensely rich and diverse architecture that has been exquisitely preserved. 

     And if you don’t have time to walk everywhere try an eco-friendly approach with Taco & Co. They offers a selection of 1 hour tours for 45€ for 2 – 3 people in their vélo-taco or taxi bikes.  Choose from the Roman Tour, the UNESCO Heritage Tour, the Van Gogh Tour or their own Taco & Co Tour that will take you along the quays of the Rhone.  www.tacoandco.fr

 

Gift Giving Season Part 2

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

 

Top 3 Provence Gift ideas for him:

Classic Motorcycle Tour of Provence.  Great selection of one day or several day tours (Luberon hills/coast to Cassis/ Gorges du Verdon/ Camargue wetlands) on your choice of bike from Norton, Enfield or Triumph (to list but a few classics).  Guided tours including motorcycle start at 180 euros. www.classicbikeprovence.com

Hot Air Ballon Tour of Provence.  Discover the treasures of the Luberon mountains. Leaving from the village of Roussillon the balloon will fly over the ocre cliffs, the villages of Gordes, Bonnieux and Lacoste. 230 euros www.bapteme-montgolfiere.com

Truffles.  Staight from the truffle orchard in les Alpes de Hautes Provence. Vacuum packed and shipped by courier anywhere in the world. www.truffe-noire.fr

Open House at Domaine de Rayol

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

To celebrate the changing of the seasons the Domaine de Rayol, which is classified as a “Remarkable Garden” by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, will have free admission on December 5-6th. Guided tours will be available between 10:30 am until 2:30 pm on both days.  Le Café des Jardiners opens daily at 12:15 for lunch overlooking the Mediterranean. 

The Domaine - located in Rayol Canadel sur Mer (Var) near Bormes-les-Mimosas – is a truly stunning garden with views of the pristine coastline of the Var region. The garden features varieties from all over the Mediterranean basin as well as regions that have similar climates. You’ll see plants and flowers from the Canary Islands, California, Australia, South Africa and Chile that thrive in this location.  

Domaine de Rayol
Avenue des Belges
83820 Rayol sur Mer
Tel : 04 98 04 44 00, www.domainedurayol.org

 

Chestnuts galore

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

The Var is one of the leading producers of sweet chestnuts in France as is Corsica and the Ardêche. Historically not all regions had access to wheat so chestnuts were ground into flour and served as one of the only sources of carbohydrates. There are innumerable recipes using chestnuts and chestnut flour. And there are also chestnut based beers like La Marrouge from the Var, Pietra from Corsica and Bourganel from the Ardeche. Vendors selling individual portions of roasted chestnuts can be seen in many Provencal towns during the fall and winter months.

The bucolic village of Collobrières nestled in the forest of the Maures mountains has been hosting La Fête de la Châtaigne for 33 years.  It is such a popular event that it runs for the the last 3 Sundays of October. Known for not only its chestnuts but the harvest of cork from the cork oak trees, the windy mountainous ascent to the village is one of the most beautiful drives in all of France. 

Foraging in Provence

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

The recent rains have provided the perfect conditions needed for mushrooms to grow. You can play it safe and buy them on any market stall or you can take to the woods with other foragers.

The good news is you can have your harvest inspected by local pharmacist who has been trained in mycology (the study of fungi) who will let you know what you can eat and what you MUST not eat.

Or why not hire a guide at  www.provenceoutdoors.com who will provide you with knives and baskets and tell you all about the 10 local varieties you can find in the Luberon hills.

Squash Festivals of Provence

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

The villages of Rians, Lauris and Rognes all honour the pumpkin and other squash in the autumn. Festivities kick off in Rians on October 10-11th. Several varieties can be purchased in wedges by the kilo to make sweet and creamy soups and gratins at home. There are colourful and oddly shaped ones for sale as fall decorations.

Pumpkin carving contest, best tasting soup contest and most oddly shaped contest await. Great family outing and photo op. If you miss the event this weekend you can go to Rognes on November 8, 2015.

Cutters and Schooners in St. Tropez

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

On Saturday September 26th the 17th edition of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez kicks off with a selection of the finest traditional and modern yachts in the world. Over 300 sailboats will gather in this exceptional setting to race in the same zone for a week. Among the best known skippers and racers that will be competing in Saint Tropez are Marc Pajot, Bruno Peyron, and Marie Tabarly. This is an opportunity to witness the traditional yachts that are majestical “works of art” as well as new generation boats using cutting edge technology. www.lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr

 

European Heritage Days

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

Over 17000 monuments in France will be open to the public in the 32nd edition of European Heritage Day know in French as Les Journées du Patrimoine on Sept 19-20th.  Museums and churches will provide guided tours (in French) but private estates, remarkable gardens and private chateaux will also open exceptionally on these two days - for a small fee.

The complete programme is available on the Ministry of Culture and Culture website HERE. There are 6 pdf files for each of the 6 departments of the Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur (PACA) region (Alpes de Hautes Provence, Alpes Maritimes, Bouches du Rhone, Hautes Alpes, Var, Vaucluse) that you can download to select your destinations ahead of time.

My top 2 recommendations are for garden lovers:

Bastide de Romegas – located just outside of Aix-en-Provence (Bouches du Rhone) is set in a pine forest with beautiful bassins and fountains all framed by boxwood and roses. Lovely wells and a tiny chapel are also on the pristine grounds. Bastide de Romegas, 3992 Chemin St. Donnat, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, Open 10am-1pm and 3pm-6pm, 4 euros per person.

Domaine de Rayol – located in Rayol Canadel sur Mer (Var) – is a stunning garden overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The garden features varieties from all over the Mediterraen bassin as well as regions that have similar climates. You’ll see plants and flowers from the Canary Islands, California, Australia, South Africa and Chile that thrive in this location.  Domaine de Rayol, Avenue des Belges, 83820 Rayol sur Mer, Tel : 04 98 04 44 00, www.domainedurayol.org 1 euro per person.

 

 

Fairways and Greens in Provence

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

The fall in the South of France is the ideal season for golf. There are over 40 golf courses to select from so I decided to help narrow the search by visiting and selecting three of the finest courses on offer that also provided accommodations and cuisine true to Provence. 

The Domaine de Manville, set in Les Baux de Provence, is an exquiste country estate with 30 rooms and 9 villas.  This eco-responsible 18-Hole course was designed to blend in with the landscape of olive groves, wild oak and majestical Cyprus trees. The Domaine also offers 5 star luxury hotel accommodations in the beautifully refurbished farm conversion with exceptional landscaping and the best of Provencal tradition.  domainedemanville.

Les Domaines de St. Endreol,  located half way between Aix-en-Provence and Monaco, has a spectacular sun-drenched 18-hole course of international renown. It has splendid views and varied landscapes that is perfect for all levels of play. The Domaine also offers a large choice of accommodation for 1 night or longer in this hidden oasis. st-endreol

The Dolce Fregate Golf Club overlooks the Mediterranean Sea in Saint Cyr sur Mer, between Marseille and Toulon. The resort offers a selection of accommodations from hotel rooms and suites to entire residences. The restaurants onsite offer great Provencal cuisine and exceptional regional wines from Bandol. dolcefregate

 

 

 

Musée d'Orsay and Paris in the 19th Century

Written by Laurence Bry. Posted in Tours & things to do

After my invitation to review the Cezanne tour in Aix, I was offered yet another brillant tour by Context Travel. There were 3 of us on the tour. It is such a luxury to have small groups. We met our docent, Lorraine, a former student of The Louvre School who completed her Masters at Columbia University before working at the Guggenheim, across the street from the Musée D’Orsay. 

It was from this vantage point that our docent began the visit by giving us the history behind this train station built at the same time as the Eiffel Tour, using similar materials,  for the World’s Fair in 1900. The station provided rail service to Orléans for 39 years, stayed vacant for almost as many and became a musuem in  1986 with 19th and early 20th century collections.  The Gare d'Orsay also provided hotel accommodations and a restaurant for travellers. Luckily the restaurant located just behind one of the clocks is still open to the public as is a smaller cafeteria for those in more of a hurry. There is a spectacular view of the Right Bank if you look out from the clock.

Once inside we were introduced chronologically to the major art movements by showing us examples of both paintings and sculptures. We learned what the academics declared to be acceptable in the art world and the evolution of the various movements.

On our 3 hour tour we received in depth background into the Barbizon School and Realism to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. We learned about the new techniques and subjects that strayed from what academics had previously decreed. We were given explanations and viewed works on Neo-impressionism, Fauvism, Pointillism and Cubism by painters who were influenced by earlier movements. This is the perfect tour to understand the major art movements in the evolution of French art. And of course for lovers of Provence the Musée D’Osray is home to some exquisite works by Cezanne.  

I'm not sure I can visit another city without taking a Context Travel tour - as the name implies the tour gives you the added details that make the difference between simply seeing and understanding and admiring even more.  www.contexttravel.com?ref=provenceconfidential