Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sweet!

Have you seen these new stamps yet? Aren't they great? They're .56€ each or 5.60€ for a sheet of ten and--wait for it--they're chocolate scented. If you're in France, you can get 'em at La Poste or you can order them here.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Want to Help Make the 2010 Vintage?


Vignerons usually shut their doors to visitors once the heat is on with the annual vendange (grape harvest). But La Madelene Rhone Wine Holidays, based 45 minutes from Avignon in Malaucene, has teamed up with the Northern Wine Academy in York, UK and persuaded two top vineyards to let guests roll up their sleeves and help with the harvest. This unique "study tour" runs October 7th to 11th and there are still some places left.

At the bio-dynamic Domaine Roche-Audran in Buisson (pictured above) and Domaine des Anges in Mormoiron, participants will pick grapes, practice grape sorting ("triage"), pumping down ("pigeage") and preparing and "activating" bio-dynamic preparations for the vines. But it won't be all toil and sweat, of course: picnic lunches in the vineyards will be accompanied by copious "degustations" to keep spirits up, while, in the evening, guests will relax over Provencal dinners at La Madelene, a renovated 12th c. priory.

The full itinerary can be obtained from Philip Reddaway, La Madelene's owner and a qualified WSET wine educator. For the readers of Provence Post, Philip is offering a special rate of €750, which includes four night's accommodation at La Madelene (www.bighouseinprovence.com) and all meals. For more info: rhonewineholidays@googlemail.com or call 04-90-62-19-33.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You've Got a (Foodie) Friend

Drawing on her extensive contacts in the French food and wine world, Wendy Lyn helps foodies and other travelers maximize their time in Paris by organizing custom itineraries and experiences.
Want to rent the perfect apartment, visit the coolest wine bars or shop where the chefs do? Searching for the hottest new bistros, the flea markets with the best prices, the most serious cooking classes or the perfect place to propose? Maybe you just love cheese or chocolate or pastry or wine and want to taste the finest Paris has to offer?
Call Wendy. Talk it out. She’ll quote you a price, do all the research, set everything up and, if you want, even accompany you, making your precious travel days as productive as possible. She’s like a human address book, GPS, Guide Rouge and translator rolled into one pretty package....with an honey-oozin' Southern drawl to boot.
Originally from Panama City, Florida, Wendy has lived in Paris on and off for 17 years. Just prior to this she spent three years traveling the globe, arranging high-end food-and-wine experiences for the wealthy members of a luxury destination club. As a result, she has a network of industry contacts that make her the foodie friend in Paris every traveler wishes they had.
“Some travelers are independent and just want a fabulous list of ideas, to get out and discover Paris on their own,” she says. “Others ask me to organize everything, from hotel and dinner reservations to foodie walkabouts and wine tastings.”
Last year I was in Paris for work but tacked on an extra day for fun. I had a zillion things I wanted to do but no idea how to make it all happen. Wendy helped me narrow my list, knowing exactly what was open, what was good, and how best to get there. She sent me to see a great show at the Pompidou Center and then on to the Musee d’Orsay, which I had never seen. When I told her I wanted to eat falafel for lunch and stroll around the Marais, she told me which restaurant she liked best: Chez Marianne. Then she helped me plan an amazing afternoon, with visits to the famous kitchenware shop Dehillerin and the food halls at Bon Marche, followed by a walking tour of St. Germain and dinner at a neighborhood seafood place called Fish. I’m a pretty experienced traveler but I could never have accomplished what I did—or had such a rewarding, relaxing day—without Wendy’s advice.
So how much? Prices vary, of course. Right now, Wendy is offering what she calls her summer special. “Travelers are short on time and expect value for money,” she says. For €150 she’ll create a personalized two-day “suggestion list” of places to go based on your wishes and budget…or you can join her on an all-day foodie walkabout for shopping and tastings.
While she can’t guarantee that what you want will always be available, Wendy does promise an experience that’s rich and tailor-made. And if you don’t know exactly what you’re after, she’ll happily offer suggestions. “Some clients have a wish list,” she says, “and others want surprises. Some order the full menu while others prefer à la carte.”
For more info: www.wendy-lyn.com, contact@wendy-lyn.com, US number 850-303-0697, Paris number 06-77-29-60-56.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Provence from the Slow Lane

Five different friends emailed today to make sure I saw the nice big piece in the Sunday NY Times...front page of the Travel Section...about the pleasures of a self-guided bike tour through Provence. It's a good read, particularly the bits where things go really wrong. Read it here.
Photo by Christophe Margot via NYTimes.com

Friday, June 12, 2009

Last Minute Rental?

Caroline, an attorney in Belgium, is looking to rent rent a villa or mas in Provence, for three weeks, beginning around June 20th. She and her husband--also an attorney--will be traveling with their two-year-old daughter and Caroline’s mother. Caroline writes: “We’d like air conditioning, a pool and a garden for our daughter to run around in. I'm not particularly fussy about where in Provence, as long as it's relatively interesting and not too overrun. Indeed somewhere around St. Remy would be idyllic. We’re looking for something quiet, but perhaps near enough to a village. We’ll have a car. We are careful and quiet holidaymakers!” If you have or know of something to rent, please email: mantl@mac.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Major Orchestra Event Tomorrow

Sorry for the late notice on this but I just got word: Jonathan Schiffman, the acclaimed American director and conductor of OLRAP, the Avignon Orchestra, has planned an extraordinary concert for tomorrow, Thursday June 11, at 8:30 p.m. in the Opera-Theatre in Avignon.  It will include a huge choral group with the orchestra, presenting Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. This is the final concert of the season, and Jonathan is hoping for a great turnout of fellow Americans--along with friends and spouses of course. For reservations and ticket purchase: 04-90-82-81-40. For more info on the Orchestra: www.olrap.com. For more info on Jonathan: www.jonathanschiffman.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Rentals: Swell or Hell?

Have you ever rented a summer house only to find out it was not as advertised? That it was, in fact, a horror? The Home section of The New York Times is doing a story about summer house rentals from hell. And the writer would love to hear from you. Email to: jowadl@nytimes.com and please include your phone number (with country code, as dialed from New York). Deadline is Monday, June 15th. Thanks! Photo by Brett Rogers (www.beatcanvas.com)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Just One Minute Please

Can you capture the spirit of Europe in just one minute? To encourage young people to take an interest in the European Union, the EPP Group of the Committee of the Regions (don't ask me, just keep reading) is inviting all "young Europeans" to create a one-minute short. The theme should be "how to create a better environment." The top three filmmakers will win cash prizes and a trip to Brussels to see their films screened in the European Parliament in October. How cool is that? But hurry hurry: the deadline is June 15, 2009. Go to www.eppcompetition.eu for details and examples. Below you can watch one that I liked: sweet, simple and to the point.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Starry Nights

If you've ever been confused by the French hotel rating system, you're not alone. In yesterday's Telegraph, Nick Trend tells of booking three Provence hotels on a four-night trip to examine the star system firsthand. What he found? A system that's "opaque and unhelpful" with stars awarded based on requirements often "arbitrary and probably irrelevant." The bottom line: stars don't tell you much. When it comes to what should be done, however, Trend doesn't offer too many suggestions, other than point to the Britain's rating system as one that might be emulated. "After decades of a highly-confusing system," he says, "we [Britain] now have one which works relatively intuitively in the way it assigns stars to reflect the facilities on offer, but also has gold and silver awards which can be made to flag the quality of an establishment. This gives a boost to hotels which make an extra effort to make guests feel both comfortable and welcome." Read the full article here.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images via Telegraph.co.uk

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