Saturday, May 19, 2018

Party Like a Shepherd on Monday

Wool you be there? Monday May 21 is the 35th 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. It's always the Monday of Pentecost and if you haven't seen it, it's great good fun. An all-day flea market and goat-cheese fair starts at 9 am on the Place Republique; the Transhumance starts around 11 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 12:30-ish) and the Repas des Bergers (Shepherds' Lunch). The event has become super popular and it sold out weeks ago but--lucky you!--my friend William in St. Remy has six tickets to sell at face value (30€ each, cash only please). If you want them, call him quickly +33 (0)6 07 82 66 63 so you can set a time and place to meet. The feast will include 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!

To get to the Plateau de la Crau: 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.

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

Photos: (1) Courtesy of Philippe Donnart. (2-4) Photos courtesy of Guy Butterssee more of  his work here and here. (5) Photo courtesy of Shepherds' Lunch under the trees, courtesy of St. Remy Tourist Office. (7) This year's poster.

Monday, May 7, 2018

You're Invited: A Day for Food, Wine & Fun

Image result for envie Epicurieuse 2018

The 7th annual Envie Epicurieuse happens Sunday May 20...a day devoted to nature, hiking, food, wine and music. I went with friends last year and it reminded me of one of those weddings where everyone's all pretty and proper at first, sticking with their family and friends, and next thing you know no one's in his original seat, dogs are sneaking cake off tables, people are napping under trees and Grama's dancing with God knows who. Loved it!

This year there's a new venue, the Domaine La Réaltière in Rians, an historic village in the northwestern Var, not far from Mont Ste. Victoire. 

Just like in previous years, the day starts with a guided group hike for those who want it; my contact Aurelie says it's a fairly easy hike that should be do-able for just about everyone. If you want to hike, meet at Domaine La Réaltière at 10.30 am. If you don't, arriving at 11:30 or 12 should be fine.

Following a post-hike apero, everyone will settle in at long communal tables for a fantastic afternoon celebrating local food and wine: five courses paired with eight wines. The day should wind down around 5 pm but if last year was any indication, it won't.

Wines this year will be poured by four of the best winemakers in the area: Peter Fischer (of Château Revelette in Jouques), Christian Valensisi (La Chapelle Saint Bacchi in Jouques), Bengt Sundstrom (Château Vignelaure in Rians) and your host Pierre Michelland of Domaine La Réaltière.

Lunch will be prepared by top chefs Nicolas Monribot from Le Millefeuille and Ludovic and Laura Aillaud of L’Épicurien, both of them restaurants in Aix.

And once again, award-winning boulanger Manu Barthélemy will be on hand bearing baskets of his superb breads. And once again he'll serenade the crowd, singing traditional Provencal songs in his magnificent operatic voice.

The master of ceremonies this year is sommelier Hakob Yessayan, who has worked with some of the top chefs in France including Alain Ducasse, Michel Trama and Georges Blanc. Today Yessayan runs the wine program at chef Gilles Goujon's Auberge du Vieux Puits, the Michelin three-star in Fontjoncouse, over in the Aude.

Kids are welcome from age 6 or 7. There will be babysitters and a special lunch for them.

Tickets are 110€ per person and 25€ for kids, the max is 180 people and the event will sell out so book right away if you plan to. It's best if you book through the website here but you can also call or email: +33 (0)6 11 53 27 01, Dress is extremely casual, particularly if you plan to hike. Hotel suggestions and lots more info are on the website. Hope to see you there! 

Photos: Scenes from last year's event. All photos by Sophie Bourgeix except the last two.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A New Foodie Hangout in Avignon

This winter, my chef friend Jon Chiri realized a dream he's had most of his adult life: he was finally able to open his own place. Called Cuisine Centr'Halles, it combines a cafe, a cooking school and a catering kitchen...smack in the heart of the bustling indoor Les Halles food market in Avignon.

Jon is a native Californian who worked in Napa Valley, Seattle, New Orleans, Berlin, Barcelona and the Black Forest before landing in Provence more than 20 years ago. Since then, he's run some of the top restaurant and hotel kitchens in the region including the Chateau de Massillan (in Uchaux) and the luxurious wine estate Domaine de la Verriere (in Crestet).

Jon also oversaw the highly regarded cooking school at the five-star Hotel La Mirande (in Avignon) for a number of years and still steps in as a guest instructor there from time to time.

With the opening of Cuisine Centr'Halles, Jon is thrilled to have a home base for his various culinary activities which include private and group cooking classes, market tours, daily market-fresh lunches, unique culinary events and chef-at-home services. Jon also leads week-long bike tours for Gourmet Cycling Travel, the company he co-founded in 2010, and day-long bike tours whenever he gets the chance. (Together, Jon and I offer a half- and full-day Foodie Bike Tours in Provence; contact me at for details).

For the time being, however, Jon's focus is Cuisine Centr'Halles, which has pretty much been packed since it opened. Here's what Jon's offering now:

* Cooking Demo with Market Visit available Wednesday to Sunday, from 9 to 11:15 am. Begin with a tour around the market with tastings, then return to the kitchen for a demo of three items: two of Jon's unique tapenade preparations and a third dish which changes daily. This is followed by a tasting of all three, with wine, for 40€ per person. Lunch is available afterwards at an additional cost (see below) and demo guests get priority reservations.

* Cooking Class with Market Visit available Tuesday mornings (except in July) and on demand. Class begins at 8:45 am, includes market shopping to buy the ingredients for lunch (with tasting, of course!),  a cooking class and a seated lunch with wine. Price is 85€ per person.

* Every day except Monday and Tuesday, Jon offers a market-fresh plat du jour lunch at roughly 20€ person, with a homemade dessert, coffee and water. Wine is available at an extra charge. Lunch is served from 11:30 to 1 pm Wednesday through Friday, until 1:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. (Les Halles is closed in the afternoon and evening.) The dish of the day is on the blackboard.

* Jon also offers special themed menus and holiday meals. So far these have included  a Mardi Gras party, a truffle festival and a special asparagus menu...all of which he tells me were "totally rocking." To get on the mailing list, email Jon at the address below.

* The space is also open for private parties and cooking events. Last week, for example, Jon (and our sommelier friend Kelly McAuliffe) welcomed 20 members of my ladies club for a private market tour, wine tasting and lunch.

"As a chef, I can't think of many things better than this," Jon says. "I work in the heart of a fantastic food market, where I have a never-ending supply of the best, freshest, most-local ingredients. I get to meet the coolest people--locals and travelers--while we cook, learn and laugh together. And then we share a meal, connecting all the dots. The bonus is I get to see my chef friends regularly, because everyone shops at Les Halles, and get to spend evenings with my family. Seriously, I couldn't have dreamed it any better." 

While Jon's website is still under construction, you can find him on Facebook here. To book meals, classes or special events, email: And to see what else is happening at Les Halles, click here.

Cuisine Centr'Halles
Marché Les Halles
18 Place Pie
Avignon, France
+33 (0)6 46 89 85 33

Photos: (1) It took many months, many euros and mountains of paperwork for Jon to get his new space in the Les Halles market...and he's been pretty much packed since he opened. (2) Market stalls overflow with prepared foods and ingredients of all types. (3) Jon makes lunch. (4) Friends relax after lunch at Jon's place. But don't get too relaxed...the market closes at 1:30 on weekdays and 2 pm on weekends. (5) Jon serving lunch on Thanksgiving day. (6) A cute charcuterie! (7)  Jon sharing lunch at the market with his daughter Milena, who just turned 2. "I love how she's telling me what to do with the food!" he says. (8, 9) The market as it looked in 1900...and today, with it's "hanging garden" on the north facade. The garden was the work of botanist Patrick Blanc, who used a metal frame, PVC films, an irrigation mat and 20 plants per square meter (including flowers) to bring nature to the heart of the city. (10) Jon with his wife Katrina, when Milena was about a year old. The couple met on the Paris metro, when Jon stood to offer Katrina a seat.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Big Châteauneuf Wine Fest April 7 & 8

The weekend wine festival called Printemps de Châteauneuf-du-Pape, now in its ninth year, is a festive rite of spring here in the South of France. This year (April 7 and 8), more than 85 domaines and châteaux will be represented...a great 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. I'm told roughly 300 wines will be featured.

Each year the Printemps festival invites special guests from other regions and this time it's a group of winemakers from 

As in years past, there will also be special tasting workshops (called Master Classes or Les Ateliers Dé
gustation). These require an additional fee and need to be booked in advance. You can see this year's offerings to the right on the website here but sign up early as they always sell out quickly. Note some are in different locations that the festival itself. 

Eighty-two 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 (Saturday) and 10 am to 6 pm (Sunday). Entry is 10€ per person per day; you can pay at the door. 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 here.

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

For nearby hotels and other lodging options, click here

For general info about the wines of Châteauneuf, the village and the region, click here. Or, reach out to the lovely folks at the Châteauneuf Tourist Office: +33 (0)4 90 83 71 08.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Fundraiser for Camargue Cowboys March 18

Let's give it up for the Gardians! On Sunday March 18, 2018 at Domaine Paul Ricard de Méjanes in the Camargue, the Rotary Club des Baux de Provence is hosting a full-day event to raise funds for the Mutuelle des Gardians, which supports the men and women who work the manades (ranches) of this legendary "Wild West" region of Provence. The mutuelle is a supplement,  not unlike the one used for mountain guides, which helps families with expenses following a serious work accident or a death.

"This 'day in the country' will help all of us to better appreciate these amazingly passionate and devoted people," says Larry Ware, vice president of the Rotary.  "It will also help visitors discover the Camargue 'profonde' and hopefully create a closer bond with this remarkable and authentic region and its people.

"We're hoping it finds a place on the Camargue calendar every year," Larry continues. "Two years ago, on a rainy day, we were still able to raise 3000€. This year the weather promises to be wonderful and we hope to do even better."

Larry advises turning up at Méjanes before 10 am. The program begins in the Arena (plaza) at 10:30 with a demo of the "Course Camarguaise," the traditional bull games. This will be followed by a demo by a traditional Camargue bullfighter; neither bulls nor men will be hurt! Then there will be a display on horseback of how the Gardians work with cattle...cows not bulls this time. 

An apéritif and lunch will be served in the restaurant at 12:45. 

After lunch, everyone is welcome to join a roundtable discussion with Camargue residents, dignitaries, ranch owners and Gardians. "This is an important opportunity for the Camarguais to voice their concerns and for participants to ask questions," Larry says. "The roundtable will be in French but I'll be on hand to translate if needed." There will also be activities for kids such as rides on the train to see bulls, horses and birds and a tombola (raffle) for the adults. And all this will be set to the wonderful music of gypsy musicians...signature sound of the Camargue.

"The Gardians are very hardworking, passionate about where they live and work and uniquely authentic." Larry says, "They're truly the soul of the region. This  is such a worthy cause and a gesture of recognition. My club, the Gardians and I  really hope we'll have the pleasure of seeing a number of your readers on March 18th!"

Tickets are 30
€ adults and 15€ kids, which includes all events plus lunch with wine and coffee. All entrance fees and raffle earnings go directly to the Mutuelle.

For questions and reservations:, +33 (0)6 19 05 31 90. Or, send a check directly to Etienne Pirot, 89, Chemin des Oliviers, 13750, Plan D’Orgon, France.

Larry asked me to mention that the Rotary Club Des Baux de Provence is always looking for new international members, both expats and part-timers, both men and women.  "We have a number of English speaking French, German and Belgian members, so language won't be too much of a problem."

Photos: A few of my favorite Gardian shots (courtesy of the Manades Jacques Bon and Hotel Mas de Peint).  The map shows where in the Camargue the March 18 fundraiser will be held. The poster is easier to read if you click on it. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Picasso Opens March 2 in Les Baux...and Paris News

The Carrières de Lumières (Quarries of Light) is a magical space in a vast cave-like quarry at the base of the hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence. There in the cool darkness, close to 100 video projectors and 27 speakers generate the choreographed movement of 2,000 images over an area of more than 75,000 square feet, onto walls as high as 45 feet, onto the ceilings and even the floor. The sound-and-light show changes once a year and has become one of the most-popular sites in Provence. Since its opening in 2012, Les Carrières de Lumières has attracted roughly 2.5 million visitors.

The last show, called Bosch, Brueghel, Arcimboldo: Fantastique et Merveilleux, (March 2017 to January 2018) drew 554,000 people. If you missed it, you'll have another chance as it will be reprised this summer as part of a program called Les Intégrales des Carrières; more on that appears below. 

The quarry is now closed, awaiting the March 2 opening of the next show, called Picasso et les Maitres Espagnols (Picasso and the Spanish Masters). It runs through January 6, 2019.

The Picasso show lasts 32 minutes and plays on a continuous loop, tracing a century of modern Spanish painting. Part #1 highlights portraits and scenes of daily life painted by Goya, Rusiñol, Zuloaga, and Sorolla; part #2 focuses on Picasso. This year's soundtrack--providing the perfect emotion and rhythm as the images dance from sequence to sequence--blends Beethoven, Bizet and Debussy with Glenn Miller, Keith Jarrett, Otis Redding and many others.

Picasso and the Spanish Masters is part a major international initiative called Picasso-Méditerranée, initiated by the Musée National Picasso-Paris. Between spring 2017 and spring 2019, more than 60 cultural institutions are staging programs or exhibits based upon the artist's Mediterranean work.

Following the Picasso show at the Carrières there's a short (nine-minute) program called Flower Power, celebrating the  pop culture of the 1960s and "the idealistic generation that changed the world." Music comes from Jimmy Hendrix, the Stones, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and more. The Flower Power show was created by Danny Rose, an art and design studio known for immersive audiovisual works.

Once again, this summer the Carrières will reprise the last three shows on ten special evenings in July, August and September. Called "Les Intégrales des Carrières," these special 8:30 pm projections will allow visitors the chance to experience ), Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael: Giants of the Renaissance (2015), Chagall: Midsummer Night's Dreams (2016) and Bosch, Brueghel, Arcimboldo: Fantastique et Merveilleux (2017). On each of these ten nights, you'll get to see all three shows. The dates are July 23, 24 and 25; August 6, 7, 8; and September 14, 15, 21 and 22.  Tickets for these special reprise showings are 24 and can be purchased here.

The Carrières de Lumières are located in the Val d’Enfer, a stone's throw from the hilltop village of Les Baux. The quarries here first produced white limestone, used in the construction of the village and its château. In 1821, aluminum ore bauxite was discovered here by geologist Pierre Berthier, who named it after the village. In 1935, economic competition from modern materials led to the quarries' closure. Dramatic and otherworldly looking, the area has inspired artists of all sorts; it provided the setting for Dante’s Divine Comedy and Gounod created his opera Mireille here. Later, Cocteau came to film The Testament of Orpheus in these very quarries. The Carrières du Val d’Enfer have been awarded Natural Monument status in France. 

Formerly known as the Cathedrale des Images, this particular quarry was closed in 2011 and re-opened (after a €2 million re-do) as the Carrières de Lumières the following year, under the management of Culturespaces, the leading private organization managing French monuments and museums.

Based on the success of the digital exhibits at the Carrières de Lumières,  Culturespaces will launch the new Atelier des Lumières in Paris on April 13. Located in a former foundry in the 11th arrondissement, the Atelier will offer three exhibits in two areas. The opening "long program" will focus on Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele while a shorter program looks at the work of Friedensreich Hundertwasseranother artist who symbolised Viennese creativity. To see a very nice teaser for the new venue, click here.

Back in Les Baux, adult tickets to the Picasso show are €12.50, kids under 7 are free. There are also family rates and combined-visit prices (Carrières + Chateau des Baux +Musee Brayer) on the website, along with opening hours, directions and much more. 

Route de Maillane  
13520 Les Baux de Provence 
Tel: +33 4 90 54 47 37

Photos: (1) You can be sure everyone is tres busy at the moment in the chilly caves at Les Baux, putting finishing touches on the upcoming show at the Carrières de Lumières. (2, 3) Two of the many images you'll see in the show: Picasso's 1922 "Deux Femmes Courant Sur La Plage" and "Just Out of the Sea" by Joaquin Sorolla, 1915. (4) This looks like fun: after the 32-minute Picasso sound-and-light show, you'll see a nine-minute projection called Flower Power, celebrating the 1960s. (5) The old bauxite quarry, now the Carrières de Lumières, in daylight. The geologist who first discovered aluminum ore here named it after the village. (6) One section of the vast space is often lit beautifully for private parties and other events. (7) One of my favorite photos of the village of Les Baux, taken by Philippe Clairo. (8) I went looking to see if Picasso was ever photographed in Les Baux and found a number of great shots taken by the late Arles-based photographer Lucien Clergue, on the set of "The Testament of Orpheus," in 1959. To the left of the artist are Jacqueline Picasso and Luis Miguel Dominguin. On the right, Jean Cocteau, actress Lucia Bose and choreographer Serge Lifar. (9, 10) Based on the success of the Carrières de Lumières, Culturespaces will open the Atelier des Lumieres in Paris on April 13. The new digital art center will host three shows at once, in a former foundry in the 11th arrondissement.

For general information including upcoming activities in Les Baux, click here.

Want to spend the night in a quarry? Sure you do! All the details on one very cool Luberon rental are here

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

So...What's Happening?

Quoi de Neuf? This week I thought I'd share a couple short, newsy things that recently caught my eye: a vintage ice cream truck, a new place to store your luggage in Avignon, a farm for fresh flowers all winter, upcoming fundraisers, the starting lineup for Jazz à Juan and some other fun things to do. We're not gonna win any Pulitzers here but hopefully you'll find some things of interest...

Scoop! Vintage Ice Cream Truck Ready to Roll 

My friend Nicola Christinger-Grant and her daughter Victoria Moss are just about ready to unveil a vintage ice cream truck named Esta, after months of restoration. The classic 1976 Renault Estafette is still in Corsica finishing serious cosmetic surgery but she'll arrive in France  at the end of the month. "We thought Provence needed a good old fashioned classic ice cream van," Nic tells me. "Given the sensational weather I can’t believe they don’t really exist! When I first found Esta, she was a total rust bucket...but I knew immediately that I loved her!" As of February, Esta will be ready to rent for all types of events (she's booked for a number of weddings already) and will be rolling up at weekly markets including Eygalieres on Friday, Uzes on Saturday and the July/August Thursday evening night market in Nimes. Esta can travel roughly one hour from Nimes and will serve a range of ice creams (whole milk, vegan, fat-free, organic). The four pix up top show the ongoing restoration; the two below them are "befores." When the work is complete, I'll post more photos because you can be sure she'll be a beauty! The website ( ) is still under construction but email Nicola for info in the meantime:

Got Baggage?

Did you know...the folks behind La Consigne in Nice have opened a second location in Avignon? It's a luggage checkroom where you can store your stuff safely (they've got scanners, cameras and alarms) at super-reasonable prices. Located close to both the Avignon Centre (city) Train Station and the Avignon Tourist Office, La Consigne also rents baby strollers and wheelchairs, offers a bike-courrier baggage delivery service and will store oversized items if you book ahead. Plus, they have free and speedy WiFi which you're welcome to hang out and use. La Consigne Avignon is open May 1st to Aug 31st, at #1 ave Marechal de Lattre de Tassigny, 84000 Avignon, +33 (0)6 63 68 91 09. Lots more info on both locations is on the website here.

Brand-New St. Remy Home for Summer Rental

Ian and Lizzie Ferris are just putting final touches on their new home in St. Remy...but have learned they'll need to spend the summer back in the UK.  That means they want to rent the house out, for the whole summer if possible, or at least for a month at a time, starting in June. You can see it here on Homeaway and on AirBnB. Located less than ten minute's walk from the historic center of the village, it has three double bedrooms, an upstairs bathroom and downstairs shower room, off-street parking in a gated community, a south-facing garden with private pool, A/C, WiFi and a nice modern kitchen. Ian says his ideal would be one family for 12 weeks (mid June to mid September,  €17,000) but will happily consider monthly rentals for June (€6000), July (€7000) and August (€8000). For info:

Shmoozing for Social and Business 

Since I first wrote about it here almost three years ago,  the women's group Network Provence has grown tremendously, thanks to the hard work and creativity of director Rebecca Ronane and the giving spirit of its members. The group now holds regular meet-ups and activities in a variety of Provencal villages (Aix, St. Remy, Maubec, Orange, Eygalieres, etc.) and continues to expand. Pay 50€ to join for a year and attend all the events you want...or pay as you go (most events are 10 each). The group's Facebook page (sign up required) has become an extremely valuable resource for info sharing among English-speaking women of all nationalities in the region. Upcoming NP events include a a crash course in pairing wine with chocolate with Sophie Bergeron in Avignon (Jan 23rd at 2 pm), a talk on happiness by Trudi Bannister in Aix (Feb 13, 3 to 5 pm) and a presentation and light lunch with Nicky Ginsberg, at her new NG Art Creative Residency Program in Eygalieres (March 23, noon to 2:30). See these and other events  (and reserve...and become a member) on the Network Provence site. Questions? Email:

Another Super Support Group for Expat Women

Another networking group that's really gathering steam is called LiANU. It's described as "An Anglophone support group of ex-pat ladies for ex-pat ladies living in, or with strong ties to, the Avignon-Nimes-Uzès region." According to Petra Van Der Wal, one of the group's five informal leader/organizers, the first "Ladies In..." group, Ladies in Languedoc, was created in 2013 and as it grew, a need was identified for other locally-focused ex-pat groups "where you can find a local tradesman or places to buy your halloumi cheese! Ladies In groups are now in Perpignan and Carcassone too...and they've all been likened to a big, chatty, online coffee morning!"  The next LiANU event is a New Year's Dinner, to be held Jan 24 in Nimes; see all the info here. I've not been to a LiANU event yet but a few friends of mine are active in the group and they give it a hearty thumbs up. To get involved, click join on their Facebook page here. If you'd like to start a Ladies In group in another region of France, contact Nicole Hammond by messenger through the LIL group here.  

Friday Morning: Coffee and Cake for a Great Cause
Lucy Bakr will hold a "coffee morning" fundraiser for Busoga Trust this Friday Jan 19 from 10 am to noon in St. Remy, with homemade Gâteau de Roi. Entry is 5€ pp, please. Lucy will also be selling her famous homemade marmalades (including a brand-new batch of orange marmalade & Bergamot lemon marmalade--woot woot!) plus new olive oils, books, DVDs and more. All proceeds go to build wells for clean water in Uganda. The address is: 1 Av Jean Baltus;  park inside the courtyard or on the street. For more info:

Flowers All Winter, Fresh from the Farm

People often forget about their favorite farm markets in winter but the very-popular Boutique at Ferme Fleurie, between Tarascon and Graveson, sells their beautiful home-grown blooms all year long. The prices are wholesale and the flowers are gorgeous! (Read my recent story about them here.)  Debbie, who runs the farm with her husband Marcel, tells me: "All good down on the farm this winter! And full speed ahead for the season 2018!" Deb tells me they have anemones now until May, tulips from the end of February to April,  narcissi and daffodils in March and of course their star performer, peonies, at the end of April through May. For daily hours and what's available, check their Facebook page. The Boutique at Ferme Fleurie is at 4583 Route d'Avignon, 13150 Tarascon. 

This Friday in Avignon: Cabaret at Theatre Le 9

If you're up for some entertainment in English and like to mingle with other expats, this one's for you. This Friday Jan 19 at 8 pm, the Aix-Marseille and Avignon Chapters of Democrats Abroad will team up to take in a cabaret show in Avignon with Stefan Bednarczyk, a stage and screen actor, director, choirmaster, organist and composer.  (Stefan brought the works of Noel Coward, Flanders and Swann and Comden & Green to the stage...and has worked as musical director with the most prominent theaters in the U.K., including the National and the Barbican.) His latest cabaret adventure, "Beyond a Joke," explores in piano and song the works of three of the 20th-century’s greatest satirists: Allan Sherman, Tom Lehrer and Jake Thackray. The show takes place at the splendid Théâtre Le 9; I wrote about the theater and its charming owner Hilary when it opened here.  After the show, the group will mingle and meet Stefan over a glass of wine. The theater is tiny and there are seats set aside for the DA group so make sure to mention DA when you reserve. Plus, please bring something sweet or savory to share with 30 people. Tickets are 20 pp. To reserve, call +33 (0)4 84 14 27 28 or email: Then, let know you're coming. For more info:

Calling All Wine-Industry Insiders

All wine pros  (winemakers, retailers, restaurateurs, hotel f&b staff, etc.) are invited to a two-day "Naked Wine Fair" sponsored by the Languedoc-based Vignerons de L'Irreel, a group of local winemakers, on Jan 28 and 29 in Montpellier. Both days, there will be 50 French, Italian and Spanish winemakers present and pouring, along with five artisan brewers. A Sunday evening party will have concerts and a DJ, with lots of Italian charcuterie, the Le Duke food truck and more. More than 200 people have signed up and many more will certainly join in.  The event will be at the Dieze Warehouse, at 188 ave. du Marche Gare. Admission is 10€ and all the details are on the group's Facebook page here.  

Lenny Kravitz to Open Jazz à Juan 2018
And finally, down on the Côte d'Azur, the International Jazz Festival Jazz à Juan (the oldest jazz fest in Europe), has just announced, following a well-established tradition, the names of the first three artists who will perform this year, the 58th edition of the festival. After the opening concert on July 12 with Lenny Kravitz and his “Raise Vibration Tour,” the festival welcomes Chick Corea (one of the most important and influential pianists of his generation), Youn Sun Nah (who has led a brilliant international career exploring in risky ways the infinite possibilities of her voice), and Marcus Miller ("promising an incredible performance!"). The full program will be announced in March. For all the info:,


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