Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rencontres Photo Fest Starts Mon July 6


The 45th annual Recontres d'Arles, the large international photo festival, will run July 6 to September 20, spread out over 35 different sites in Arles. As in years past there will be themed and stand-alone exhibits, panel discussions, lectures, book signings, open-air screenings, workshops for kids and adults, guided tours and more. Last year, almost 100,000 people attended.

Most but not all exhibits stay up until the end of the festival, on September 20.

The exhibits, sometimes co-produced with French and/or foreign museums and institutions, are staged in various galleries, museums and purpose-built sites around the city. Some sites (for example, a 12th-century chapel or 19th-century industrial buildings) are open to the public only during the festival.

This 2015 Rencontres is being staged in honor of Lucien Clergue, the Arles-based fine-art photographer who died last year.

Opening week (June 6 to 12) is always the busiest of the festival...and it’s the week that many industry professionals attend. As always, it features a number of special events, which you can see on the schedules here and here.

Highlights of opening week include:

*Photography Nights at the Théâtre Antique, July 7, 8, 10 and 11 at 10 pm. These evening screenings present the work of photographers or photography specialists to an audience of up to 2,500 people.  Each two-part evening beneath the stars begins with an award ceremony...and then moves on to a screening of photos or film designed specifically designed for the stunning, 2000-year-old amphitheater.  The schedule and details for these special evenings are here. Separate tickets are required and more info is here.

*The Night of the Year ("Nuit de L'Année") takes place on Thursday July 9, from 6 pm onwards at Papeteries Étienne in Trinquetaille. The format of this popular event has changed from previous years. Visitors are invited to walk across the Trinquetaille Bridge, from La Roquette to Trinquetaille, and on to the former paper mill, which will be open to the public for the first time. En route, you’ll see photos on the bridge and on screens. At the mill, images will be casually displayed by a group of photographers who’ve been invited to “BYOP” (Bring Your Own Paper).  There will be food, drink and a DJ on site; admission is free.

This year, the Night of the Year has been organized in collaboration with the Nuit de la Roquette, a large, annual neighborhood party organized by the folks who live and work in La Roquette. There you’ll find outdoor bars, food, music and more. Again, admission is free.

* During opening week of the Rencontres, many of photographers who have exhibits will be offering tours of their shows to festival-goers. From July 13 to September 20, Rencontres staffers will step in to offer daily guided tours through the exhibit sites.

As in years past, the major Recontres exhibits will grouped into loose themes.

One is “Rereading: The History of Photograph Revisited,” focusing on masters Walker Evans and Stephen Shore.

Another theme is “I am Writing to You From a Far Off Country” which spotlights particular parts of the world.

A third is “Platforms of the Visible: New Approaches to Documentary Photography.”

Yet another is “Odd Collectors.”

New this year is Arles Books, a satellite event which will take place at Le Parc des Ateliers SNCF. The 1000-square-meter space will be dedicated to the book, in every shape and form.

A list of all the 2015 Rencontres exhibitions is here. Start in the left hand column where they’re organized by theme and click the name of the show to see the specifics. Over on the right, you’ll see the venue, show dates, single ticket price and photographer’s bio.  A map of all the exhibitions is here.

Tickets to all events may be purchased online or at five ticket offices, which you can see here. Exhibit tickets may be purchased individually or in multi-day passes.  Single exhibit tickets start at 3.50€. A pass that gets you one entry into all exhibits, good for the entire festival starting July 6, is 37€.  A seven-day pass for opening week (July 6 to 12) is 49€. One-day passes are 29€. Info on all passes is here.

Groups of 10 or more get special rates as do students, jobseekers, large families and companions to the disabled.

Free entry is granted to anyone under age 18, all citizens of Arles and the disabled.

Please note that some shows/venues are not included in pass prices and must be paid for separately. Make sure to get a map to all exhibits when you stop by a ticket office. They should also have them at the Arles Tourist Office.

The Rencontres also presents summer and weekend workshops; info on those is here.

To see the Rencontres press kit in English, click here.

The full Rencontres website in English is here.

The festival office/headquarters is located at 34, rue du Docteur Fanton in Arles and remains open throughout the fest.  Help in English may be available by calling: +33 4-90-96-63-39 or +33 4 90 96 76 06.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Whale and Dolphin Cruise Season Has Begun


Did you guys know there were whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean? Me neither...until I learned that every Sunday, Decouverte du Vivant offers Naturalist Discovery Cruises aboard the boat La Croix du Sud V to get up close and personal with them. During the nine-hour voyage you're likely to see striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso's dolphins, pilot whales, sperm whales and the second largest animal on the planet, the fin whale. You can also expect seabirds, sunfish, loggerhead turtles, bluefin tuna, bonito and swordfish. Last Sunday, guests on the cruise saw eight whales. The season ends in October.

Cruises depart from Sanary sur Mer in the Var at 8:45 am and return at 6:30 pm. Prices are 55€ (under 13), 66€ (students and teens), 78€ (adult) and on demand for groups.  The same company also offers cruises from Canet-en-Roussillon (whales and dolphins, April to October, Saturdays only), Port Vendres (dolphins, July and August, Wednesdays only) and La Grande Motte (sea birds, September to May). 

Découverte du Vivant is an eco-responsible whale-watching operator, involved in the long- term preservation of the cetacean populations of the Mediterranean Sea. For more info or to reserve, click here, call +33 6 10 57 17 11 or email: info@decouverteduvivant.fr

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Grill of It All: Camargue Barbecue Fest!


Yee-ha! The 3rd Annual Camargue Barbecue Fest is coming up June 27 and 28, all around the Town Hall in Saintes Maries de la Mer. Look for country dancing, cooking demos, a grilling academy, a competition, a mechanical bull and of course, tons of great 'cue!

Roughly 300 people have entered the competition in five categories: pork, bull, lamb, chicken and fish. I'm told you can sample free...or order up sandwiches at 4.50€ each. Fries, drinks and other essentials will also be sold. The hours are 10 am to 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday...and since this is "low and slow" cooking, the grills will be fired up early. But if you plan to eat (and who doesn't?), festival director Jean-Francois Dupont says it's best to come between 11 am and 4 or 5 pm. 

The party continues at Tahiti Plage beach club on Saturday night, with a BBQ Moonlight Party from 8 pm to Midnight. 

All the details are on Facebook here and on the festival website: bbqfestival.fr

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gigondas Sur Table is Monday July 20


In the heart of the Southern Rhône wine region, the 4th annual Gigondas Sur Table will be Monday July 20. One of the most-popular summer wine events in Provence, it's expected to sell out so be sure to book early. This year, 42 local winemakers and domaines will be pouring, while five top Provencal chefs tempt the crowd with small plates of signature dishes, made from local ingredients reflecting the terroir. Who's cooking? Cyril Glémot (Coteaux & Fourchettes, Cairanne), Jean-Paul Lecroq (La Table de Sorgues, Sorgues), Michel Philibert (Le Gajulea, Le Barroux), Philippe Zemour (Bistro Du'o, Vaison-la-Romaine) and André Sube (Maison Sube Boulangerie, Camaret). The cheese course will come courtesy of beloved purveyor Josiane Déal--a Meilleure Fromagère de France--and kids will be welcomed with a special menu and artisan juices. It all happens on the village square (Place Gabrielle Andeol) in Gigondas, from 7 pm to around 11 pm. Tickets are 50€ per person, 12€ for kids under 12, and reservations are essential. To book, send an email to: promotion@gigondas-vin.com or call + 33 (0) 4 90 37 79 60. To see the press kit in French--it lists all the participating winemakers--click here. For general info on Gigondas and its wines, click here. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Contest: Send Your South of France Selfies!


Have you been poking around Provence, cavorting on the Côte d'Azur, luxuriating in the Languedoc? Then send us your very best South of France selfie* and you could win a great prize. 

I first ran this contest last year, in the dead of winter, which wasn't terribly smart. So I'm doing it again, now that the summer travel season has fully begun. If you entered the first time around, rest assured that you and your adorable selfie will be entered into this year's contest...there's no need to send it again.

When taking your selfie, we want to see glorious scenery in the background...a gorgeous beach or medieval village...a vast vineyard, bustling bistro, crowded market, remote mountaintop....you get the idea. Be creative and have fun...climb a tree, leap from a plane, fight a bull, go where no man has gone before. Just be sure that the photographer--and something recognizably South of France--is visible in the frame. This contest will go on for a while to allow for your upcoming travels...or you can send one from a previous trip. I'll publish my favorites, readers will vote and the winner will receive two nights at Le Mas de Lilou, a beautiful B&B in Tarascon, 15 minutes west of St. Remy. Plus, dinner one night for two.

So give it your best shot and send high-quality images (jpg, png or gif only) to me at: provenceblog@aol.com. Please put Provence Selfie in the subject line, tell me who's in the photo and tell me where and when it was taken. Can't wait to see you! 

*Note: The Oxford Dictionary celebrated the selfie as the International Word of the Year in 2013. More recently, selfies were blamed for an uptick (sorry!) in the spread of head lice among teenagers. And then we have this: scientists have been investigating the selfie phenomenon using "theoretic, artistic and quantitative" methods. They call it ''the vernacular of the 21st century'' and you can read their findings here.


Photos: A 
very nice selfie taken in Nice by Robert Schrader of the blog Leave Your Daily Hell, who thinks he very well may be the King of the Travel Selfie (agreed). Me with my friends Olivier and Denis, one hot summer day in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. (I'm much prettier in real life, BTW.) My Irish friends Niamh and Ellen Burns have selfied themselves all over France. Next, some selfies I found online: I love the"Polar Bear Reading a Book Partial-Duck Face Selfie" which I found here, as well as this French Waiter SelfieEiffel Tower SelfieSelfie in Les Baux and sweet Honeymoon Selfie Over Provence. Up in Paris, Rihanna and her fingernails got photobombed while posing ever-so-nonchalantly for a selfie. And finally, we have a new version of the selfie artform: video. This one, Selfies in France, is by Tristan Cooke

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Four Magical Evenings at the Pont du Gard



The 2,000-year-old aqueduct called the Pont du Gard is one of the most magnificent sites in Provence; I never get tired of tromping around on it, photographing it and splashing around in the water beneath it.  And my favorite Roman relic is even more spectacular when she’s all lit up with video, light, flame and fireworks as she is each summer during a popular evening sound-and-light show series called “Les Féeries du Pont’’ (Fairies of the Bridge). This year's show is called Mondes Magiques.

Mondes Magiques will be presented four times in June, on Friday and Saturday evenings: June 5, 6, 12 and 13. Showtime is 10:30 p.m or at dusk. But definitely arrive early as there are "animations" before the main event, starting around 8 p.m. 

Designed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Pont du Gard's listing as a World Heritage Site, Mondes Magiques takes inspiration from the world's legends and folklore...and sites such as Angkor Wat, Borobudur, Prambanan, the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Eiffel Tower. "The show is sort of a birthday party where the aqueduct welcomes into its home it's old friends--all listed monuments--into its home," the organizers tell me.


Once again, the producer is Groupe F, the internationally acclaimed pyrotechnicians known for shows at the Eiffel Tower, Versailles and the Olympics. If you want a smile, have a look at their website; their work is over-the-top wonderful. 

The Pont du Gard site will be open all day, as usual, but separate tickets are required for the show. Seating is on the right bank of the river so if you arrive on the left bank, you must be in by 9:30 pm in order to cross the bridge; the gates to the Pont du Gard park will close at 9:30. Bring cushions, chairs and blankets or you'll be sitting on the ground; the shops on site also sell seats if you forget. My best advice is sit as close to the bridge itself as possible.  ''And don't forget to bring also warm wears,'' my contact at the Pont du Gard sweetly tells me. 

Tickets for Mondes Magiques range from €15 to €25; kids under six are free. You can buy tickets at the Pont du Gard on the night of each show, as long as there are still places available. You can buy them online here (if you have a French credit or bank card) or at the Pont du Gard box office at any time. They're also available at FNAC, Carrefour, Géant, Magasins U, FranceBillet.com and Ticketnet.com. Group rates are available (for group rates call 04 66 37 51 10). If you have an annual pass to the Pont du Gard, you get a discount. Parking is free. 

So what about dinner? Casual food will be sold on site or you can bring a picnic in with you. There's also a restaurant called Les Terrasses that serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine (04 66 63 91 37). A special Féeries du Pont menu will be offered at Les Terrasses but the restaurant fills up very quickly so reserve early

If you can't go to the show but plan to visit the Pont du Gard another time, in summer (until September 13 this year), the site stays open until Midnight, illuminated beautifully. The museum and shops close at 7 or 8 pm. 

The Pont du Gard is located between Remoulins (RN 100) and Vers-Pont du Gard (D 81).  Its 40 km from St. Remy, 27 km from Nimes,  21 km from Avignon and 19 km from Uzes.  

For all the info on the show or on visiting at other times, click here. For historical info, click here. To contact the Pont du Gard directly: contact@pontdugard.fr or 04 66 37 50 99....and yes, they speak English. 

If you want to catch a Groupe F fireworks show at another time, go to their site here and check their 2015 schedule. In addition to their four nights at the Pont du Gard, they’ll be in Provence doing the Bastille Day fireworks in Salin de Giraud (in the Camargue) on July 13 and in Arles on July 14.

Finally, if you plan to be in Paris this summer,  you can get a taste of Groupe F  on Bastille Day, as they once again have been asked to create the fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower on July 14. You can also experience them at the Chateau de Versailles, where they're once again staging their musical fountain display called ''Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes.'' It's on every Saturday from June 20 to September 19, 2015...with the exception of July 4. And they'll be staging a new creation, "The Fire King," on July 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10. All the info is on the Versailles website here. 

Photos: This year's poster, stills from last year, video from last year.

Monday, May 18, 2015

June 5: Big Weekend in Aix for Design Lovers


Sponsored by the popular magazine Côté Sud, the 17th annual salon known as Vivre Côté Sud is coming up the weekend of June 5...a showcase of beautiful things for your home, garden and "lifestyle." 

As in years past, the Parc Jourdan in Aix (yes, the one with the lovely lime trees) will be all dressed and tented up for the occasion. More than 230 companies will be exhibiting, spread out over 10,000 square meters. The products on display will come from France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere...organized by themes such as Antiques, Decor, Savours, Creators, Talents and Home Improvement. You'll find furniture, fabric, clothing, decorative items, design services, food and wine, cooking demos, round-table discussions and much more. 
Last year's event attracted 21,403 visitors. 

The list of chefs doing cooking demos includes Anna Bini (Ecole de Cuisine à Florence), Arnaud de Grammont (Le Café des Epices, Marseille), Reine and Nadia Sammut (La Fenière, Lourmarin), Georgiana Viou (Chez Georgiana, Marseille), Daniel Hébet (Le Jardin du Quai, L’Isle sur la Sorgue), Edouard Loubet (Domaine de Capelongue, Bonnieux), Yvan Cadiou (TV chef and cooking teacher, St. Remy de Provence), Edouard Giribone (Le Bistrot d’Edouard, Marseille) and Pierre Gianetti (Le Grain de Sel, Marseille). To see the demo schedule, click here.

There will also be plenty of food products for purchase...and food trucks in a dedicated dining area. 

The salon also offers opportunities to work one-on-one with design pros. For interior projects, one-hour "Deco Coaching" appointments are available for 89€ (coachingdeco@cotemaison.fr or +33 1 75 55 16 88).  For garden projects, one-hour appointments are 59€ (+33 442 025 686, contact@thomasgentilini.com).

Hours for Vivre Côté Sud are Friday June 5 from 10 am to 11 pm (evening session), Saturday June 6 and Sunday June 7 from 10 am to 8 pm, and Monday June 8 from 10 am to 6 pm. For more info on exhibitors, special events, the various themes and more, click here. If you read French, you can see the press kit here. Tickets are 9€ (6€ for students and groups of ten or more) and can be bought at the gate.

This year, there's another reason to visit Aix the first weekend in June. On June 5, 6 and 7, design guru Samantha Mureau and her company Trendline Europe will host Discovering Designers, in the private 18th-century manor house known as the Hotel de GallifetThe event is designed to coincide with Vivre Côté Sud and the theme is "English Garden Party." The idea is to introduce a hand-picked group of 30 British and French designers to locals and to the larger design community. The show will feature interior design, wallpaper, soft furnishings, fabric, ceramics, housewares and perfume....and all of the designers will be present. The Discovering Designers event is free and open to the public. Hours are: Friday 9 am to 7 pm, Saturday 9 am to 10 pm and Sunday, 9 am to 7 pm. The Hotel de Gallifet is located at 52 rue Cardinale in the Mazarin quarter of Aix and their phone is 09 53 84 37 61. For questions about the event, contact: sam@trendlineeurope.com. 

Print and online journalists are invited to a special Discovering Designers bloggers' breakfast at 9 am on Friday 5th June. Email Samantha for details. 

For general info about Aix, the Tourist Office website is here

Photos: (1, 2) This year's Vivre Côté Sud poster...and the one for Discovering Designers, a new event in Aix for 2015. (3-8) Vignettes from past years at Vivre Côté Sud. (9) The Hotel de Gallifet, where Discovering Designers will be held. (10) The gorgeous floral fabric is from Royal College of Art-graduate Claire de Quénetain Brunse, who is launching her product range at the Discovering Designers event. (11) At Discovering Designers, London-based Anna Jacobs is showcasing her beautiful, eye-catching lampshades, lamp bases and cushions. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Transhumance in St. Remy is Monday May 25


Wool you be there? Monday May 25 is the annual Fête de la Transhumance in St. Remy, when local shepherds herd their flocks (roughly 3500 sheep and goats) three times around the village's circular "main drag" before taking them up to graze the green pastures of the Alpilles Mountains for the summer. They say the Transhumance in St. Remy is one of the "100 Prettiest Festivals in France" and even though I can't find that referenced anywhere, let's just go with it. If you haven't seen the Transhumance, it's great good fun...my friend Philippe calls it ''sheep cooking in the streets.'' An all-day flea market and goat-cheese fair starts at 9 am on the Place Republique and then the Transhumance starts around 10:30 am...but arrive by 9:30 to find parking. Other villages in Provence have Transhumance festivals but St. Remy's is one of the biggest and most popular. 

Afterwards, everyone flocks to the Plateau de la Crau for sheep-herding demos (starting at noon-ish) and a community lunch. Want to party like a shepherd? Here's your chance: The Repas des Bergers (Shepherds Lunch) begins at 1 pm and all are welcome. The feast includes grilled lamb chops and gigot, stewed beans, green salad, cheese, dessert and all the wine you care to drink (but don't forget: good shepherds don't let other shepherds drive drunk!) The lunch is popular and often sells out so reserve ahead if you can (call 06 16 78 61 55) or arrive early. Lunch is 25€ per person, 1/2 price for ages 5 to 12 and free for kids under 5.  To get there: leave St. Remy on the D571 direction Eyragues/Avignon; turn right on the D99 (direction Noves) which you'll find at the first rondpoint (roundabout) just outside town, then pass the BricoMarche and turn left at the next rondpoint. The street will be blocked so park at the soccer field or by the school and walk up the gentle hill about 10 or 15 minutes. Or, just walk from town, which takes about 20 minutes.


The night before the Transhumance (Sunday May 24) you can see the documentary L'Etoile des Bergeres at the Cine Palace in St. Remy at 6:30 pm. The film (in French) is just under an hour and the screening is free, compliments of Li Pastre de San Roumie and the Maison de la Transhumance. Schedules change so it's always best to pop into the theater beforehand, just to check.

For more info on Transhumance, call the St. Remy Tourist Office at +33 (0) 4 90 92 05 22.  And don't miss their fun Transhumance video here

Photos: (1) Courtesy of Philippe Donnart. (2-4) Photos courtesy of Guy Butters; see more of  his work here and here. (5) Photo courtesy of weloveprovence.fr

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Another Fine French Book Giveaway!


The new Monet's Palate Cookbook is being released this week and the publisher has offered me three copies to give away.  

Produced by filmmaker Aileen Bordman and garden writer Derek Fell, the book includes 60 recipes linked to Monet's two-acre kitchen garden near his home at Giverny, France. Between the covers are lots of luscious details about the vegetables he grew, along with gorgeous photos and descriptions of the house interiors, the gardens and the artist's extraordinary lifestyle. 

“Our goal was to bring Monet's kitchen garden back to life," Aileen tells me. "His desire for fresh garden produce extended beyond the flavor and health benefits that they could provide. His need to cultivate a kitchen garden, plant seeds and work the soil with his fingers allowed him to connect with nature in a spiritual way, feed his soul and see beauty oblivious to others.”

Immersed in the world of Claude Monet since 1980, Aileen has more than 35 years of experience at the property in Giverny. Her first visit there was in 1980, when the museum first opened. Her mother, Helen Rappel Bordman, was one of the handful of Americans responsible for the renaissance of the home and garden, which had fallen into complete ruin.

In 2005, Aileen wrote and produced of the documentary film Monet's Palate: A Gastronomic View from the Garden, which was broadcast in the US through American Public Television to all 350 PBS stations...and was re-released this year. It features Meryl Streep, legendary casino operator and art patron Steve Wynn, and chefs Alice Waters, Anne Willan, Roger Vergé, Daniel Boulud and Michel Richard. It screened in Cannes and New York and was featured during the six-month "Monet's Garden" exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden in New York in 2012. The 58-minute film is available on DVD here.

The book brings the farm-to-table tradition--lived passionately by Monet--into the 21st century, with recipes inspired by his cooking journals and the places he visited. And of course, by his garden's abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables: zucchini, cherry tomatoes, radishes, pearl onions, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, rosemary, mint and more.

Aileen's partner in the book project, Derek Fell, is the author of The Magic of Monet's Garden and Secret's of Monet's Garden. One of America's most widely published garden writers, his titles on gardening, travel and art have sold more than 2.5 million copies. He divides his time between Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Sanibel Island, Florida.

The book has been earning lovely reviews...along with praise from big names in the food and gardening worlds. "There's no thrill that compares to growing one’s own food," says journalist, cooking teacher and author Patricia Wells. "Planting, caring, harvesting and bringing the treasures to the table. Monet’s Palate Cookbook provides all the inspiration anyone needs to go out and dig, plant, absorb the joys that soil offers each of us. Whether a garden novice or seasoned expert, this book offers a wealth of advice and recipes destined to improve all of our lives.”

Meryl Streep wrote the foreword and the recipes were beautifully photographed by Steven Rothfeld. 

Published May 1st by Gibbs Smith, the hardcover has 176 pages in full color and 60-plus recipes. It lists for about $30 and you can buy it on Amazon here ...or direct from the author here

To enter to win a copy of the book, just leave a comment below. Tell us about your garden. your connection to Monet, your passion for the Impressionists or anything else you care to share. Be sure to leave your email so we can reach you if you win; signing in with your Google account is not enough. Winners will be chosen and alerted towards the end of May. 

For more info about the book, click here.

To reach Aileen directly: 
abordman@monetspalate.com

Claude Monet's Gardens at Giverny are open daily until November 1st, 2015. To visit, all the info is here.

Photos: (1) The new book comes out this week. How can you not want a copy? (2) Tulips, irises and water lilies in Monet's garden; today some 200,000 different flower varieties are rotated regularly by head gardener James Priest and his team, which numbers as many as 30 people working daily, year round. A
lways on the look-out for rare varieties, Monet bought young plants at great expense. "All my money goes into my garden," he said. But also: "I am in raptures." (3, 4) Two dishes from the book: moules marinière and chilled asparagus salad with olives. (5) Aileen shot this Bowl of Beauty peony at Giverny last year.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Networking Party April 30 in the Luberon
















Network Provence will hold their second meeting Thursday April 30 from 5 to 7 pm in the Luberon village of Maubec, about 15 minutes east of Cavaillon and an hour north of Aix.

This is a loose organization designed for business and social networking, with English-speaking members drawn from all over Provence. A 15€ fee for the event includes wine, soft drinks and nibbles provided by Sandra Nguyen of SandKitchen.

The group was the brainchild of Rebecca Ronane, who moved to Provence from London in the mid ‘90s. Professionally Rebecca wears a number of hats, including working as a tour director throughout Europe and, more recently, providing life and business coaching to women over 50. (She works with individual clients and also offers what she calls Cappuccino Group Coaching Sessions on a monthly basis.) Her husband Alain (half French and half Dutch) works in the travel industry as well, when he’s not busy with his pet project: reviving an olive grove abandoned in 1956.

“I was looking around for opportunities and events where I could meet other English speakers, with the goal of promoting my coaching business,” Rebecca tells me. “I looked at the various groups in the region and didn’t find one that seemed like what I wanted. So I thought, ‘why not start one myself’?” The first meeting drew 26 people--25 of them women--and a mix of nationalities including French women who speak just a bit of English. “It was a nice multi-cultural mix,” Rebecca says, “and some really interesting things have already developed from it. Sometimes a bridge between cultures can be difficult unless you’re put in the right circumstances.” 

For the time being, the get-togethers will be held in Rebecca and Alain’s home and are therefore limited to 30 people max but as interest grows, different venues could be used. “Our house is rather convivial which adds a nice dimension,” she says.

At each meeting, anyone who wants to present their business or activities to the group is welcome to do so, for a minute or two each. Everyone is also encouraged to bring flyers, business cards or other promo materials.

While men are welcome, the group is really designed to help English-speaking women of all nationalities make business contacts and new friendships. “I’m not eliminating men but my goal these days is about women power,” Rebecca says. “The idea is to enable networking focused on that. And the women come because they like that idea.”

If you’re interested in attending the April 30 event, being added to the mailing list for future events or receiving info on Rebecca’s coaching: rebecca@rebeccaronane.com or 06 41 80 21 72. Her website is RebeccaRonane.com and you can follow her on Twitter here. 

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