Saturday, May 29, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Tomorrow (Monday May 24th) is the annual Fête de la Transhumance in St. Remy, where 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 for the summer months. Transhumance is considered one of the 100 Prettiest Festivals in France and if you haven't seen it, it's great good fun. It starts officially at 10:30 a.m. but arrive earlier to find parking because the streets are closed off. There's also an all-day flea market on the Place Republique.
Thanks to Guy Butters for the great photos. Visit his blog here and see more of his wonderful photography here
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Last week Karl Lagerfeld did his latest show (Chanel's 2010-2011 cruise collection) on the main drag at the port in St. Tropez. Models included Mick Jagger's 18-year-old daughter Georgia, who showed up, the press reported, despite being grounded by her papa "after pictures emerged...that appeared to show her sniffing a substance during her birthday party at a pub near the family home." Anyway, according to Vogue.com, the new collection "evoked exactly that desirable easy luxury as Natasha, Abbey, Anya and Freya strolled down the harbour in front of Cafe Senequier, lipstick-pink sandals in their hands, their printed chiffon long dresses and undone hair gently blown by the evening breeze."
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
If you travel between the U.S. and Provence, you know it can be quite the shlep. But things might get a bit easier in the next couple years.
To promote the Marseille-Provence Capital of Culture events in 2013, The Mediterranean Anglo-American Business Network (MAABN) is helping the Marseille Provence Airport document demand for a direct airline link to New York. If this is an initiative you support, please take a moment to complete their questionnaire. Answers will be used for the Marseille airport’s proposal to potential airline partners. Take the survey or download a copy here.
The MAABN was founded in Marseille by company directors, consultants and economic development agencies and works to promote corporate exchange and networking in the Marseille-Provence region. The group has the support of both the US and British Consulates in Marseille and is the Marseille-Provence region’s representative of the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry and AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce in France).
Monday, May 10, 2010
But at Club Med Opio in Provence--which reopened three years ago after a $40 million renovation--it's possible to avoid every one of those height-of-the-season hassles. Within an hour of my arrival, I felt blessed rather than stressed. Call it the kinder, gentler Cote d'Azur.
Club Med Opio is a great base for exploring the famous hill towns of Grasse, St. Paul de Vence, Mougins and others.
The 435 rooms (which range from standard to balcony to suite) have cool stone floors, puffy white duvets and shiny red armoires. Bathrooms are fitted with creamy stone sinks and showers big enough for two. A plasma TV picks up a few English channels and the A/C blows stronger than the legendary mistral. My Club Room was small but filled with conveniences, such as twisty halogen spots for reading in bed, powerful hairdryers and plenty of electrical outlets (converters and adaptors are available but it’s best to bring your own).
Club Med Opio offers tennis, golf, archery, trapeze, 4x4 treks, guided hikes, painting classes and other activities, either free or for a small fee. There’s a lovely spa, a well-equipped gym and a few exercise classes each day. A smart shop sells sparkly cover-ups, sunglasses and other resort essentials.
At the legendary buffet, the chefs work to blend local Mediterranean specialties with “safer” international dishes, pleasing foodies and non-foodies alike. The choices were so extensive, in fact, it would be hard to imagine even the pickiest eater going hungry. Local wines are placed on every table; beer, coffee, juice and soda you serve yourself. A second restaurant, at the golf course, offers table service and an à la carte menu.
Club Med’s all-inclusive policy is a particular treat in summer when local restaurants are crowded and often very expensive. The savings can be substantial: in this part of
This is one of the Club Med properties that has comprehensive facilities and activities for babies (four months and up), toddlers and teens. There’s a children’s restaurant, a circus school for kids, a baby-food buffet and more. Opio beautifully illustrates the company’s ongoing commitment to the upscale family market.
If you’re thinking that a stay at Club Med Opio means giving up any of the pleasures of a French country vacation, that’s simply not the case. After a day of hiking, I felt totally pampered as I kicked back on a deep terrace couch, Pastis in hand, and watched the sun set over the valley. The scents of lavender, jasmine and pine perfumed the early evening breeze. A handsome GO (gentil organisateur or staff member) played soft Brazilian-style guitar while I eavesdropped on the conversations (in Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish and British English) around me. If there was anything less-than-perfect happening here, I wasn’t going to be the one to find it.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
A little less than two years ago, a group of ten friends, all of them living in or around Eygalières, decided to open a village bar. The idea was to create a comfortable locals’ hangout offering a friendly atmosphere, themed events, art, live music, good regional wine and tapas. Against all odds, it worked—but not without an immense amount of work.
Today the Café de la Place is a fun and happening bar serving superb tapas and some of the best wines of the region. It’s exactly what the owners visualized: a buzzing village meeting place, a bar that feels like it’s been there forever, a place where friends gather to share, celebrate, relax, eat, drink and enjoy a rotating selection of local art.
The Cafe sits right in the center of the village, near the Mairie and opposite the PMU (Bar du Progres), in an old building which had been empty for ages. When they first received their off license, the owners—a group that includes a sculptor, an antiques dealer and an orthodontist, among others--opened with a wood plank for a bar, propped up by a few cinder blocks. Since then the décor has evolved bit by bit, with all sorts of vintage knick knacks, many of them contributed by regulars. The atmosphere is cozy and a bit rustic, but it retains a level of unpretentious cool.
The owners have staged fantastic themed events which are always packed. Parties such as the Fête de la Printemps, with mojitos and grass skirts, are par for the course. This winter there was the Fête du Cholesterol, with charcuterie, and the Fête de la Truffes, with an amazing Brouillade de Truffes served tapas style. Now there’s something every Friday night: the 1st Friday of each month devoted to wine and tapas pairing; the second Friday for dancing and a DJ; the 3rd for viewing cult films such as Grease or Pulp Fiction.
The Café has no restaurant license but is able to serve one great dish per event or per day.
The new décor at Café de la Place retains all the original charm—and then some. Become a fan of theirs on Facebook and you’ll get all the news. Or call 04-90-26-93-60 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. The café is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. See you there!—Jane Satow