Thursday, July 30, 2009

Picturing France

BudgetTravel.com asked readers to submit their best photos of France. The winners are posted on the site, in a nice little slideshow format. Click here.
Photo by Kimberley Lovato (http://www.abroadinbelgium.com/).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Get Outta Town!

Do you live in the U.K. but dream of moving abroad? Freeform Productions, the company that produced the TV series A Place in the Sun and its various spinoffs, is developing a new show featuring folks who want to move to a foreign country, buy a business and live there full time. Any foreign country is fine...it need not be France. (Then again, why anyone would want to move somewhere that isn't France is beyond me but whatever.)
"No stone will be left unturned as we try and find people the businesses to suit their needs," says Ross Proudfoot, Freeform's researcher. "We're particularly interested in people who've already begun the process and may have even have found a business they're interested in. We want enthusiastic and driven people with the funds in place who are looking to relocate by the end of September." For info: rossp@fftv.co.uk, +44(0)161-235-6591.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Caring for Calcutta

On Monday July 27th, AngloInfo will host an informal Q&A with Dr. Gazi Rahaman, the newly elected CEO of Calcutta Rescue, an Indian NGO providing medical, social and educational services to the desperately poor in the slums of Calcutta and rural West Bengal.
The event will be held in the first-floor parlor of the Brasserie des Deux Garçons (53 Cours Mirabeau) in Aix, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A 5€ per person charge includes a drink. A table has been reserved for those who wish to talk further with Dr. Rahaman over dinner.

The following day, Tuesday July 28, there will be a show and sale of 30 watercolors painted by Calcutta street children to benefit Calcutta Rescue. The paining above, Man Fishing by 12-year-old Madha Singh, is part of the show. Also on view will be photos of the children and the city by Belgian photographer Dominique David. The free exhibit, Expression of Hope, is at the Presbytère of the church in Grambois, about 45 minutes north of Aix. The show opens at 5 p.m., with a apertif at 7 p.m.

For more info on the Monday evening event event in Aix, call Peter Gillespie: 04-42-27-51-48.

For info or directions to the Tuesday evening exhibit in Grambois, contact Glen Kendall: 04-90-77-94-72 or glenkendall@btinternet.com.

For info on Calcutta Rescue: calcuttarescue.org.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Five Restaurants for Wine Lovers


Linda Field spent 18 years working for JP Morgan in London by day, while, by night, she studied for her WSET Wine Diploma and taught wine appreciation to City bankers. In a fortuitous act of timing, she left London in July 2008--before the global banking crisis--to realize her dream of running a wine school from her Provençal farmhouse near Carpentras. Today, her Auberge du Vin offers rooms, courses (such as “Le Wine Weekend” and the “Rhone Ranger Adventure") and private guided tasting visits to top Rhone Valley châteaux. I asked Linda to suggest a few restaurants for wine lovers and she was delighted to share five of her favorites. Linda made her selections based not on who has the largest or most-expensive wine list but focused instead on "small, welcoming places where the wine enhances the experience of the food and ambiance." All the restaurants mentioned here serve three courses for less than 39€ at both lunch and dinner. Linda says: "At any of these places, do ring ahead, check opening times and make a reservation. Bon appetit et Salut!"

Domaine de la Camarette , a vineyard and farm just outside of Perne les Fontaines (04 90 61 60 78, domaine-camarette.com), is my insiders tip for a real local experience. Their set-price menu of 30€ includes a feast of their own organic-farm produce, paired with unlimited glasses of their locally grown wines. Nancy Gontier is the family's welcoming front of house, while her partner Hugo Maurrec is in the kitchen.
For a more stylish occasion, Dolium ( 04 90 12 80 00, dolium-restaurant.com), next door to the Beaumes de Venise wine co-op, offers modern French cuisine and the opportunity to try both the Cave's sweet muscats as an aperitif and their powerful reds with seasonal fare of venison, lamb or truffles. Chef Pascal Poulain has already been recognised with a fourchette from the Michelin guide, and his Monday night cookery courses in winter are de rigeur for local residents looking to recreate his brilliance in their own kitchens.
Two restaurants with great terraces for sipping wine on a summer's day: Le Vergers des Papes (04 90 83 50 40, vergerdespapes.com) in Chateauneuf du Pape and L'Auberge du Beaucet (04 90 66 10 82, aubergedubeaucet.fr) in the eponymous village. Robert Parker, the US wine critic, has been spotted at Le Verger des Papes, enjoying some of Chateauneuf du Pape's older vintages. Every month, they select a different house white and red wine from the appellation (at 5€ a glass/38€ a bottle) to be savoured underneath the olive trees whilst overlooking the panorama of the Rhone Valley. The terrace at L'Auberge du Beaucet is perched on a sheer rock, overlooking wooded hills and forests. Beautifully presented food and the best cheeseboard in the region. I have wonderful romantic memories of sitting here on my wedding day drinking Persia by Domaine de Fondreche, for me (and for Robert Parker!), one of the best wines in the AC Ventoux appellation.
The daddy of all restaurants for wine lovers has to be Chez Serge in Carpentras (04 90 63 21 24, chez-serge.com). You could not wish for a better introduction to the wines of AC Ventoux and the Rhone Valley than from Serge Ghoukassian, Gault Millau's Sommelier of the Year 2008. Serge loves matching his 300+ wines with both the winter and summer truffle (the latter redolent of hazelnuts and coconut), offered on pizzas, scallops or in seasonal dishes. Wine tasting dinners once a month allow an individual local vigneron an opportunity to showcase his/her wines and their passion with Serge's clientele.

For info about the Auberge du Vin or to contact Linda Field: aubergeduvin.com, info@aubergeduvin.com, 04 90 61 62 84.
Photo: Chez Serge, Carpentras

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rare Photos for Sale

An exhibition and sale of exceptionally rare and beautiful photographs taken by the Lumière brothers and a signed collection of photographs by Robert Doisneau is on view at Mondrian's Room Gallery in Avignon until Friday July 24th. The gallery is owned by Aebhric Coleman and Fiona Bailey, who have a gallery of the same name in Dublin. Born in Besançon, France and raised there and in Lyon, the Lumières invented the first process for color photography and launched it in Paris, to incredible acclaim, in 1907. This show features images they took in 1910-11. The brothers had also invented cinema, in 1895.
On view and available for sale with the photos are the Lumières' original glass screen plates; each "autochrome" plate is sold with a unique print, framed and mounted to museum standards. Bailey likens them to "precious pieces of stained glass" and says seeing one first-hand is a wonderful experience. "As they're glass plate negatives," she explains, "there were no multiples made from the images, and at the time, printing from autochromes was not a common practice. So they're absolutely unique images, and very remarkable collectors' items."
The show also includes ten signed photographs by Robert Doisneau from 1945-58. "They're some of his most iconic images," Bailey says, "which capture the joy of the transient moment and really represent his idea of capturing 'three seconds of eternity' in his compassionate and tender images of everyday life."
An exhibit of Doisneau's portraits of artists is currently running at the Musee Angladon in Avignon, just a few minutes walk from Mondrian's Room. "Doisneau had the eye of an artist, the soul of a poet, and a passion for the humor and poignancy in ordinary moments," Bailey adds. "His iconic black and white photos of Paris combine flawless aesthetic charm with sensitivity, nostalgia and joyful modernity." Mondrian's Room is at 17 Rue Etudes, directly opposite the Theatre de l’Entincelle, around the corner from the Place St. Didier. It's open Monday to Saturday from 11 to 7. All of the images can also be seen at: www.mondriansroom.com. For more info on the images or the show: 06-16-36-71-66 or info@mondriansroom.com.
Above: Le Dame Indignee (1948) by Robert Doisneau; Un Petit Repos (1910-1911), by August and Louis Lumière

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Joy of Aix (Sorry!)

The New York Times seems to be writing a lot about France these days, particularly Provence. Here's the latest, a "36 Hours In..." feature about Aix. It appears online today and will be in print tomorrow. Read it by clicking here. And don't miss the slideshow.
Above: The morning market at Place Richelme in Aix. Photo by Christophe Margot for The New York Times.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where to Stay in Avignon

My dear friend Kate Schertz, an American living in Avignon, just toured this new apartment hotel" and thought we'd all like to know about it. She writes: "Today I went to visit Autour du Petit Paradis, located inside the city walls just two minutes from Les Halles. The renovation of the 17th-century, three-story building had been blocking the street for months so I was curious to see what all they had been doing. It's LOVELY! The original shape of the rooms and the forged iron staircase rails are still there, but everything else is beautifully redone in neutral shades of beige, grey and cream...with gorgeous bathrooms. The inner courtyard has lovely modern patio furniture, a beautiful fountain and gorgeous plantings. The eleven rooms are all equipped with little kitchens, each with a two-burner hot plate, microwave and small fridge. It's not really meant to cook in but just so you can buy things at Les Halles, reheat them or eat them cold. There are three handicapped rooms on the ground floor and three different layout configurations ranging from studio to two rooms. Prices are extremely reasonable and the owners speak fluent English and German in addition to French. Check it all out at autourdupetitparadis.com. This is a real welcome addition to the accommodations intra-muros in Avignon. Champagne taste at vin du table prices!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Perfect Parisian Bistro?

Mark Bittman suggests some he likes in today's New York Times. To read the article, click here. Photo by Julien Goldstein for the NY Times.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Arles Photo Workshops

I've been asked to pass along the word that there are still spaces open in the one- to six-day photo workshops sponsored by the international photo festival known as the Rencontres d'Arles. Most of the workshops are six days long but one is three days and one is four days; there are also three "one day with..." workshops led by heavyweights Duane Michals, Peter Lindbergh and Paolo Roversi. The first workshops begin next week but other start dates are scattered throughout this month and next. You can see the full schedule in English by going to stagephoto-arles.com and clicking "2009 Summer Programme." The Rencontres itself begins July 7 and runs through August 15th. For more info on all of this: rencontres-arles.com, stagephoto-arles.com, 04-90-96-76-06, stage@rencontres-arles.com

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