Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fresh From the Flower Farm Near You...



There's no shortage of beautiful flowers in Provence...or places to buy them. Just about every outdoor market has a vendor selling brilliant blooms at reasonable prices. But there's something very special about buying them at the farm where they were grown...and meeting the people who grew them. And wholesale prices don’t hurt either!

Ferme Fleurie, located halfway between Tarascon and Graveson, is a large flower farm that exports 95 percent of its harvest to Holland. Yep, a big truck comes anywhere from two to seven times a week and carries away massive containers of flowers, all of them measured, clipped, bunched, refrigerated...and ready to be sold at auction. But a certain number of stems are always held back for local sale...and anyone who wants to can pop in to shop.  For export the flowers are cut "green," which means the buds have yet to open, but for local sale the flowers are ready to be enjoyed tout suite!

The flowers available each day are scribbled in chalk on a sign out on the road...just like the flavor of the day at your favorite ice cream stand. Many top hotels and restaurants in the region buy direct from the farm regularly.

Back in the day, you just pulled into the parking lot and if no one came out to greet you, you honked. But now that Marcel and Debbie van Eenennaam have opened their sweet new boutique on the property, there are convenient set hours...and a Facebook page where you can see what’s in season before you head over. The shop opened in early April.

So how is it that this charming Englishwoman and her Dutch husband came to be among the largest flower producers in Provence?

Born in a small town near Amsterdam, Marcel and his late wife Julie came down to Provence and established the farm in 1999. Julie lost her battle with cancer in 2013.

The following year, Debbie—who comes originally from Whitstable in Kent, England but was living in Istanbul at the time—arrived in Provence to visit friends. Among their guests at dinner one night was the charming flower farmer who lived just next door. And over that long, laughter-filled meal, Marcel and Debbie connected.  They stayed in touch and before too long, Debbie had chucked her life in Turkey, moved to France and moved in. The couple married on the farm in September 2015.

Ferme Fleurie operates year round. What can't be grown reliably in the ground is raised in one of 27 greenhouses, some of which are climate and humidity controlled.  To help get everything picked, packaged and shipped off on time, Debbie and Marcel have a fantastic team of Moroccan workers, a group that swells to 35 people in the height of the “short and intense” six-week peony season.

While anemones constitute a large part of their production, it’s the peonies for which the farm is best known: gorgeous fluffy blooms in colors including Bowl of Cream, Sara Bernhardt, Duchesse de Nemours, Pink Sunset and many more...in both “single” and “double” varieties. The farm’s 130,000 stabilized peony bushes will produce roughly one million pretty stems this year.  Normally available until the end of May, the peony harvest started two weeks early this year and the flowers are being picked, at a frantic pace, right now. So if you want ‘em, come and get ‘em...they’ll be gone, most likely, by mid May.

Debbie and Marcel also grow daffodils, lilies, roses (600 bushes), tulips (20 varieties), allium, glads, viburnum, sedum, lavender (6000 bushes) and more. 

“Marcel is Dutch and likes to plant things,” Debbie says with a laugh.

If you come for flowers, you’re welcome to stroll around the 14-hectare farm where you’re likely to be followed by two sweet, inseparable black dogs named Poppy and Zazoo.  Poppy likes to swim every day, year round, in a small pond out back, while Zazoo runs back and forth on the shore.

You’re also likely to see geese and chickens; on a recent visit I spied a funny looking chicken that Debbie explained was a bit of a breeding mistake.  “I wanted to buy Silkie chickens but they were €45 each!,” she says, “so I decided to make them myself.  But I bred a furry one with a regular one by mistake. He's ugly but we really love him." In the barn the day I visited, a huge pig named Adele was crashed out in the hay, snoring loudly. 

The Boutique at Ferme Fleurie is normally open from 10 am to 12:30 and 3 pm to 6 pm (weekdays) and from 9 am to 12:30 (Saturday).  

During peony (pivoine) season, the hours are extended, as shown in the photo above.

In summer, the boutique is likely to open just one morning and one afternoon a week...so check the Facebook page.

The farm is a bit tricky to find and you’re likely to miss it on your first try. You'll know you're on the right path when you see the large blackboard telling you the fleur du jour; turn right just before it or left just after. (If you’re coming from Graveson, you’ll turn left right after a small bridge; from Tarascon look for a cross on a pedestal on your left and then turn right immediately.) After the turn you’ll see a sign for the Mas d’Avieux...then just follow that road along the white fence, through three gentle curves, and you’re there. The farm and its GPS coordinates can also be found on Google Maps (as Ferme Fleurie SCEA Tarascon).

Ferme Fleurie, 4583 Route d'Avignon, 13150 Tarascon, France.

Photos: (1) Debbie and Marcel with just-picked peonies. The flowers are considered a symbol of good fortune and happy marriage..and they seem to have bunches of both. (2) The Boutique at Ferme Fleurie opened in early April and has been a huge hit. The prices are wholesale and the flowers are gorgeous. (3) Debbie and Marcel grow a wide range of varieties and colors, one more beautiful than the next. Peonies come in every color but blue...who knew?  (4, 5) The shop has been so busy Debbie has to re-stock multiple times throughout the day. (6) The daily-flower chalkboard is now a beloved local tradition. On this particular day, Marcel was rushing; he ran out of space for the 'e' in 'pivoine' and ran out of time to fix it! (7) In peony season, the farm employs 35 workers to get the flowers out of the fields and processed quickly for shipping to Holland. Marcel's brother receives them on the other end and does a final quality check before they go on to the Flora Holland Auction and world wide sales. (8) The Prince of Pivoines takes a much-needed break. Ok that's a lie, Marcel seems to never take a break. (9) A ready-to-be-harvested field; all but 5% of the flowers are picked "green," before the buds open, for export. The biggest crops are peonies and anemones but they grow lots of other flowers. Check their Facebook to see what's in season. (10) Beauty shot at sunset! (11) Another beauty shot! This field, one of many, shows the scope of the 14-hectare operation; the team will harvest roughly one million stems during the six-week peony season. (12) Marcel knows more about peonies than anyone. Many of his plants may very well outlive him...peonies can live to be 100 years old. (13-17) In an airplane-hangar-size building, the flowers are trimmed, bunched, wrapped, boxed and refrigerated. (18) Who wouldn't want to buy their flowers from this smiley farmer? (19) Hours are extended during peony season, which will mostly likely end in the next two to three weeks. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You're Invited! Garden Tour & Lunch April 25


Three photos above: To raise money for Busoga Trust, Lucy Bakr has organized an April 25th tour of this gorgeous private garden near Tarascon, to be followed by lunch. The photos show the garden in mid April, the front terrace in October and another garden view, looking south from the house, in October.  


Two photos above: Busoga Trust builds wells in Uganda and Lucy visits once a year.  She recently took these photos showing a new well...and the original water 
source at the same site.

My friend Lucy Bakr is a tireless supporter of the UK-based charity Busoga Trust, which builds and maintains wells in rural Uganda. 

Since 1983, the group has created more than 2000 sustainable sources for clean, safe water...which is used by villagers for drinking, cooking, sanitation and hygiene.

Here in Provence, Lucy organizes numerous fundraisers for Busoga throughout the year: casual lunches, gala dinners, yard sales, coffee mornings and more.  


Lucy also runs a garden-tour club, which, over the years, has allowed many of us to explore some of the region's most-gorgeous private gardens.

Next week, on Tuesday April 25, Lucy is pairing her two passions into one great event: a garden tour and luncheon to raise funds for Busoga Trust. The group will visit a fantastic eight-hectare country garden not far from Tarascon, with six hectares of olive trees (1,400 of them to be exact) and two hectares of formal gardens. There are ponds and fountains...and a tree house (actually more of a "Champagne-drinking platform," according to the owners)...and a kitchen garden (I've just sampled the homegrown asparagus...divine!)...and beds of white Iceberg and red Sevillana roses...and iris and peonies...and formal box parterre...and a handful of beautiful cats prowling and lounging in the sunshine...and peacocks! 

Overlooking it all is the family's elegant,  château-style home, built around 1700 as a hunting lodge. 

The garden has been a huge labor of love for its owner, who tells me: "The greatest pleasure of having a large garden? It keeps you impoverished and diminishes your children's inheritance, much to their disdain!" 

Even if you're not a garden aficionado, you'll love the scale and lush beauty of this amazing property, the warmth of the owners, the fun of meeting new people and the sumptuous homemade lunch to be served on the terrace after the tour. 

Everyone will meet in the parking lot of the Château de Tarascon at 11:15 and car pool or follow to the property. A welcome coffee/tea will be served before the tour and lunch with wine will follow. The day ends around 3 pm, tickets are 40€ and all proceeds go to Busoga Trust. Spots are limited and Lucy must have your check (in euros) or a bank transfer to hold your spot. For questions or reservations: lucydavid@bakr.fr.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Social Climbing: Envie Epicurieuse is June 4


Sunday June 4 is the 6th annual Envie Epicurieuse in Provence, a day of nature, hiking, food, wine and music. My friend Kelly McAuliffe, who'll be the sommelier for the day, was there last year and says: "It blew my mind...it was so much fun. I took clients and they absolutely loved it."

The day starts with a nature hike up Mont La Vautubiere, a 634-meter peak at the back of Cezanne's famous Mont St. Victoire. When you reach the top , you'll find everything set up for the apero: wine, snacks and live music. Then everyone heads down to a large tent where the luncheon with wine pairing begins. There will be five dishes from two top Aix chefs...and eight wines...and a world-champion boulanger on hand...and lots of hilarity, to be sure.

"Eventually the baker sings in traditional Provencal, with his stunning opera voice, to put the cherry on top," Kelly says.

For those who don't speak French, Kelly will be translating and animating, not that it sounds like this day needs any animation help at all. "I really don't know how anyone could have a better Sunday in Provence! " he says.

The day is 110€ per person for adults, 25€ for kids.

The winemakers will be: Peter Fischer of Château Revelette (Jouques), Christian Valensisi from La Chapelle Saint Bacchi (Jouques), Pierre Michelland from Domaine La Réaltière (Rians) and Bengt Sundstrom of Château Vignelaure (Rians).

The chefs/restaurants are: Nicolas Monribot from Le Millefeuille (Aix) and Ludovic and Laura Aillaud of L’Épicurien (Aix).


The start point/meeting place is in the town of Jouques; you'll see signs telling you where to go. Arrive by 9:30 if you plan to do the guided nature hike...or at 10:30 if you want to do it on your own, in which case you'll have a one-hour walk to the top, on a shorter steeper route indicated with an arrow. (Kelly suggests you arrive at the top by noon.) For those who don't want to do the walk up, rides in a 4 x 4 will be offered...but be sure to request this in advance. The day will end around 4:30 pm,  the max is 200 people and the event will definitely sell out. 

The deadline for registration is May 17th and all the details are at envie-epicurieuse.fr

To book, use the online form here. Or, call or email Isabelle: +33 (0)6 11 53 2 7 01, envie.epicurieuse20@gmail.com. And if you have questions and speak no French, Kelly will do what he can to help: kmcauliffe@hotmail.fr.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Big Châteauneuf Wine Fest April 8 & 9


The weekend wine festival called Printemps de Châteauneuf-du-Pape, now in its eighth year, is a festive rite of spring here in the South of France. This year it's Saturday and Sunday, April 8 and 9, with a special day for industry professionals only, on April 10.  Roughly 85 domaines and châteaux will be represented, making this a wonderful opportunity to meet local producers while tasting their latest releases and a few smashing older vintages. It’s also an easy way to buy the wines you love, some of them normally quite difficult to get.

Each year the Printemps festival invites special guests from other regions and this year wines and winemakers from Corsica will be featured.

As in years past, there will also be special tasting workshops (Les Ateliers Dégustation) for which additional fees are charged. The first focuses on the Millésime 2007; it will be offered Saturday at 11 am and 4:30 pm and you can sign up here. The second explores the pairing of Châteauneuf with chocolate; that one is Saturday at 2 pm and the sign up is here.  Both will be held at the Ecole Primaire Albert Camus and are expected to sell out soon.  The third is a light-hearted initiation into the discovery of Châteauneuf wines, offered Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 am and 3 pm, at the Chapel Saint Theodoric. It lasts an hour, costs 25€ and includes your 10€ entry into the show itself. For that one you can register here or on site.

Eighty-one years ago, Châteauneuf was designated as one of the very first AOCs (Appellations d'Origine Contrôlée) in France.  The AOC decree was first created by Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié (aka baron Le Roy), a winemaker at Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Château Fortia). The first year, there were five villages named: Châteauneuf, Monbazillac, Arbois, Cassis and Tavel.  And as the European designation AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) is slowly replacing the French AOC for agricultural products, you can expect to see more AOP on wine labels in the months to come.

Les Printemps is organized by by The Young Winemakers Association of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and takes place at the Salle Dufays on the Place de la Renaissance in Châteauneuf. Hours are 10 am to 7 pm on all three days.  Your 10€ ticket (pay at the door) gets you in all weekend and includes a tasting glass. There will be free parking...indoor and outdoor play areas for the kids...and food available on site.

A list of all participating domaines is on the festival website here.

For all the details click here and follow the festival on Facebook  and Twitter. If you have questions, you can email:  contact@lesprintempsdechateauneufdupape.fr.

For general info about the wines of Châteauneuf, the village and the region, click here and here.  Or, you can call the lovely folks at the Châteauneuf Tourist Office: 04 90 83 71 08.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Where to Stay: Moulin de la Roque in Noves


In 2002, Gaby Janney came to stay at Guy Fallon's Moulin de la Roque...and stayed. It's a very-beautiful, historic property--a hamlet of vacation homes--and I wanted to 
share the story with you.


A River Runs Through It: The Anguillon borders Moulin de la Roque. Until 1977, it powered the centuries-old mill, which remains on the property, fully intact.


Today the historic property offers nine vacation houses and apartments on 12 lush acres, a short walk from the village of Noves.


Entering the property. Welcome! We have tarte and rosé for you!

Guy (at right) bought the run-down property in 1994 and his first business was quince; he knew nothing about farming. In this photo from 25 years ago, he talks shop with a neighbor and his "five drunk workers" found at the local bar.


To make a few extra francs per kilo, Guy regularly drove this tractor 25 or 30 km, with three tons of fruit in the trailer...and no brakes. 


Eventually Guy decided to convert the property to welcome travelers. Here's the main courtyard, before renovation. Guy's mom took one look and said: "Guy! You bought so much roof!"



The same courtyard, today. They must adore Guy and Gaby 
at the local garden center!


The Manor House and mill, before renovation and today.


Grain grinders and a turbine in the mill. The grinders replaced earlier stone ones and boosted production four times over; the turbine replaced a water wheel in 1870.The turbine's cogs are wood; if one were to break it could be replaced quickly without 
having to shut down the mill for too long.


The three-story mill building is a dusty and evocative time capsule, with cool things to photograph everywhere. Guy knows all the history and will give interested guests a tour.


Milling remnants remain across the property.


All the original buildings served the mill in some way; there's been no new construction. The house called La Bergerie used to be a sheepfold; these photos show before and after.


The house called La Tuilerie, before and after.


Les Cigales, before and after.


In the house called Mas des Oliviers, high kitchen counters are topped with wood from an old barge. Gaby found it in a field and dragged it home.



 Terrace of the house called Maison de Meunier, in spring.



The magical property just after dusk, shot by a guest through a window. "Whether the sky is cloudy or clear and full of stars," Gaby says, "there's a curious and beautiful light 
that bounces off the cliff."  


Leaving the property, towards Châteaurenard and Avignon.  
"Arrive as a guest, leave as friends or don't leave at all," 
Gaby says.


For a couple years I had heard there was an American living in Noves, a small village roughly 15 minutes from my home in St. Remy. Not that there aren’t plenty of Americans around but most are on vacation or have second homes; not so many stick around all year.  “So who’s the American in Noves?” I asked my friends at lunch one day. “Oh, that’s Gaby!” they said. “You have to meet her!” I sent an email, Gaby said please come visit and we’ve been great friends ever since.

Gaby's partner Guy is the owner of Le Moulin de la Roque,  a beautiful and very-unique estate on the site of a former flour mill dating to the 15th century.  The property has a vast garden, a large Roman-style pool and several lovely historic homes for holiday rentals. They call their place “a little Provençal village” but that doesn’t really convey the “wow” I found when I first ambled up the tree-lined lane. I could see immediately why travelers come back here year after year…and knew immediately I wanted to write about it.

Le Moulin de la Roque sits deep in the countryside, a short walk from the village, in an area known as La Roque (meaning cliff, in Old French). Nine separate accommodations--all renovated from existing historic buildings which once served the mill in one way or another--range from a small studio apartment to an eight-bedroom home. There’s a pétanque court, badminton, volleyball, two large trampolines and plenty of safe space for kids to run around. The beautifully landscaped 12-acre estate nestles up to a rocky, forested cliff (with 750 acres of hiking trails) and is bordered by the pretty Anguillon River, which fed water to the mill for hundreds of years. It’s all very secluded but just a five minute walk from the closest boulangerie for your morning croissants. The old mill is still largely intact.  (For more about the property’s history, click here.)

For 400 years or so, this was one of the most prominent properties in the region. Twenty-five years or so years ago it was a total ruin.

And that’s where our story begins! That’s when Guy Fallon, his then-wife Christine and their three kids came down from Belgium, looking for a slower, sweeter life and a two-year sabbatical from Guy’s career as an oil trader for Petrofina.  

Trained as an engineer and passionate about the outdoors, hiking and adventure, Guy originally thought they’d spend their break in the Alps or near Lake Annecy. “But every time we went house hunting, it was pouring rain or snowing like crazy in either place,” he remembers. “And every-time we visited friends in Provence, the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was Christine who finally said ‘Why don’t we try Provence instead?’’’

The last thing the couple visualized was buying an abandoned 500-year-old mill and undertaking a massive restoration project. But when Guy laid eyes on the old property...well you know already how that went.  The land was very green and lush, home to a small vineyard and some 1500 quince trees, and Guy loved the idea of agriculture. The still-intact mill appealed to Guy’s engineering side...and the kids could attend good schools in nearby Avignon. Plus, the property seemed to have infinite potential.

Back in the day, at the peak of production, eight full time millers were producing seven tons of flour here per day,  as well as electricity for themselves and part of the village. The Roux family, which had bought the property in 1682, grew very wealthy from milling and when they rebuilt the manor house in 1910, they gilded the balconies with real gold. “They became a little bit fancy,” Guy says, “and called their home Château de la Roque. They were a bit showy but the property was definitely industrial.”

Flour production ceased in 1962 and the mill began producing electricity exclusively. That ended in 1977, when a stone dam on the river was destroyed to prevent flooding, leaving nothing to power the mill. As various Roux family members died or became estranged, the property fell into disrepair and they finally sold it in 1984.  There were two subsequent owners and when Guy bought it ten years later, all the rustic outbuildings were crumbling: a tuilerie or large stone kiln for making terracotta roof tiles (tuiles), a bergerie (sheep barn), a large building for storing grain, a miller’s cottage.  Along with the purchase Guy inherited an alcoholic caretaker, which somehow lent to the charm (until it didn’t).

When Guy signed the contract in 1994, his mom—having being raised in old Belgian châteaux with always-leaky roofs--proclaimed “Guy! Are you crazy? You bought too much roof!”  Today he says he’s in total agreement!

The first order of business was the orchard and Guy set out to learn everything he could about quince. “It’s very unusual in Provence to cover a field with quince trees,” he reports. “It’s a very old-fashioned tree and the market for the fruit is narrow. But since the trees were already there, I figured I might as well do something with them. I told myself, how hard can it be? Selling a barrel of oil or a ton of quince...same thing...it's just selling!"

Guy dove into quince farming with abandon, doubling production his first year. Which of course led to the next problem: what to do with 36,000 kilos of quince? "I had absolutely no idea who’d buy them," he remembers. "I now knew how to grow and treat them but had no idea how to pick or sell them."

So Guy’s caretaker asked around at the local cafe and “five drunk guys” came to help. Together they haphazardly harvested the fruit, Guy watching in horror as they tossed quince from one to the other, dropping most on the ground.  And then off Guy went off to the wholesale food market in nearby Châteaurenard, the biggest in the region, his ancient tractor and trailer overflowing with quince. Only then did it become apparent what a true outsider he was: a city slicker and gentleman farmer who—word had it—was actually a Baron back in Belgium (true).

"I was not of this world!" he says, laughing. "There were 5,000 trucks there...and just two of us on tractors: an old guy who looked like he would die any minute and one crazy Belgian."

Soon Guy hired a more-professional crew and the word spread that the crazy Belgian in Noves was producing lots of beautiful fruit.  That’s when he got a call from a wholesaler in Pernes la Fontaine, 30 minutes away by car. “He wanted three tons of quince in one go...quite tempting!” Guy remembers.  “I was picking two tons a day, more or less, and if you don’t sell them within two or three days, you have a warehouse full of quince.  He offered me an extra franc per kilo but only if I’d deliver. But all I had was my ancient tractor!  To go 25 or 30 km on a two-ton tractor, with three tons of fruit behind you and no brakes, is totally stupid but of course I did it: across the river...across the big bridge...down the big N900 towards Apt, one of the busiest roads around... then down a big hill...no way to stop...and all that fruit behind me. And then every day the same guy wanted the same tonnage, so I did it over and over again. It was really, really dangerous.”  

Guy eventually bought an old truck and quickly became the biggest quince-grower in Provence, producing 50,000 kilos each year. And then after seven or eight years of quince-shlepping, the royal Belgian farmer said basta...he was ready for a new challenge. 

Guy had already begun to think about renovating the property and as many other farmers in the area were renting farmhouses to summer travelers, he thought, “why not?” Christine, on the other hand, decided the “Green Acres” life with paying guests was definitely not for her. So she moved to Avignon, the kids stayed at the Moulin with Guy, and the couple divorced in 1998.

From that point on, Guy went full steam ahead, transforming the property for tourism. “I read A Year in Provence like everyone else,” he recalls, “and I knew how complicated a large project like this was going to be.” With a cranky local “builder” he renovated three houses over three years, repairing old broken stone walls and transforming the interiors into beautiful homes. Fairly rustic at the beginning, the houses got nicer and nicer as time went on. Guests came...and came back...and brought their friends. Traveling couples loved the relaxed atmosphere and authenticity of the “real Provence,” while families loved the space and the activities for kids. Painters found the property to be the perfect backdrop for art workshops.

In 2002, Gaby Janney showed up from Virginia, a guest in one of these workshops. Turns out Gaby was having her own mid-life crisis—similar to Guy’s ten years before--and she was hoping that some painting time in Provence would offer a nice reprieve. “I was in a big transition and I came to France to lighten up my life a bit,” she explains. So the pretty blonde American landed in Provence, all set for her restorative vacation, but her luggage never turned up. As Gaby had no transportation and spoke no French at the time, Guy the charming host jumped into action: taking her shopping, calling the airline, doing everything he could to help.

Gaby fell quickly in love: with the property, with the region and with Guy.

With a background in business and marketing, Gaby’s passions have now shifted to Provence and all that it offers: from fabrics, cuisine, antiques, decorating and art to the people, culture and history of rural France.  She loves to share her knowledge with guests; she herself is a painter and she enthusiastically welcomes artists and workshops on the estate.

A few weeks ago, Gaby and Guy invited me for dinner by the fire in the house they call Mas des Oliviers...and I mentioned that I loved the old wood they had used to top a high kitchen counter. “These planks were part of an old barge that I found in a field and dragged home,” Gaby told me. “The workers thought I was nuts when I told them what I wanted them to do with it!

“Everything here is historic and original,” she continued. “We’ve done no new construction at all. We use old materials wherever possible to keep the traditional Provencal charm and style.” 

The various layouts and sizes of the accommodations make Moulin de la Roque a terrific option for large family vacations and other gatherings that require lots of rooms. The largest house (eight bedrooms, seven baths) has a large atelier perfect for workshops, reunions, meetings and receptions.

Whereas guests stay in typical Provencal farmhouses or cottages, Gaby and Guy’s house –the one the Roux family and the villagers called a château—is more noble, the type of grand Bourgeois home commonly built by wealthy families in cities such as Avignon or Aix. Dating to 1910, it has soaring ceilings, Italian marble, mosaics and beautiful tile floors, all done in the Art Nouveau style which was very in vogue at the time.

In the area surrounding Moulin de la Roque, the late afternoon sun is dazzling as it bathes vineyards, orchards and olive groves in light; biking in the area is fabulous. In the early evening, guests love to hike up the hill to see the sunset, gathering wild rosemary and thyme.

Guy and Gaby welcome all guests personally, with a fresh seasonal tarte, a nice bottle of rosé, a tour of the property and a where-to-go guide filled with their favorite “secret” places. They often host weekly cocktail parties which allow guests from all over the world to mingle. A huge number of guests are repeats, including some who met here originally and now schedule their trips to coincide.  

When Guy’s daughter was married here two years ago, the Priest came from Belgium and brought a white dove to be released during the ceremony. But instead of flying off as he was supposed to, he decided to stick around. Given the name Bello, he's now a pet and the happy mascot of the Moulin.  Which is of course just perfect, given Gaby and Guy's motto of warm hospitality:  “Arrive as a guest, leave as friends or don’t leave at all!”

Moulin de la Roque is just a 20- to 30-minute drive from many of the most-interesting, most-popular sites in Provence: the Luberon,  Avignon and the Palace of the Popes; Châteaufneuf-du-Pape and the Southern Côtes du Rhône wine region; the Pont du Gard, Arles and Les Baux. It’s 45 minutes from Aix and just over an hour from the Camargue and charming seaside Cassis.

For more info, see the website here,  their TripAdvisor page here or email: moulinprovence@gmail.com.

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