First, I wanted to call your attention to my new(ish) blog pages "Advertise on Provence Post," "Where to Stay" and "France Travel Experts." Click the tabs just above this post to open them. More pages will be coming soon but in the meantime, you might find helpful information there. Meanwhile, here are a few other fun things I wanted to share...
Provence Chef named Top Chef
Stéphanie Le Quellec, head chef at the Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche (in the Var), has won First Place in the second season of the French TV cooking competition Top Chef. Her prize? 100,000€.Stéphanie, 28, received an overwhelming 76% of the vote in the finals at the Trianon Palace in Paris on April 5th, with a seasonal three-course meal that wowed both judges and guests. Her dishes? A starter of asparagus and morels; an Asian-style bass, lightly spiced with raw and cooked fennel; and an olive oil ice cream with crushed raspberries. “This experience was very intense to say the least, and it forced me to go beyond my limits in particular in terms of creativity," she says. "I tried to give always my best and worked really hard and today, I am so happy to have won.” Stéphanie is now back in her kitchen at the gorgeous Four Seasons, where she launches a new menu today, to coincide with the re-opening of the restaurant Faventia after its winter break. Stephanie has been at the hotel since 2006 and was promoted to head chef in 2010; this is the first time the menu features only her dishes. At this time, the only Top Chef dish available is a gazpacho of smoked mozzarella (from the run-up to the finals) but dishes from the winning menu may follow.
New Book Club Forming
Tricia Harris, an Englishwoman living in Paradou since 2007, is organizing an English language book club. She tells me "It's principally for the social aspects of it. I don’t see it as being too serious, more an excuse to have a glass of wine and a chat with other English-speakers. It would be a nice way for us all to meet some new people." Tricia sees the club meeting once a month, drawing people from within a 10 or 15 minute radius of St Rémy and rotating the host each session. Interested? Email her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vernissage This Weekend
The St. Remy-based ceramic sculptor Catriona Manoury and the painter Nissim (who lives near Les Baux)will be showing their work at the L'Atelier Gaston de Luppe (5 rue de la Bastille, Arles) from April 16 to May 15. The vernissage is Sat April 16 at 6 p.m. and all are welcome. For info: 04-88-65-50-80, caitrionaplatts-manoury.com or click here. Pictured: Catriona's Spiky White.
Pilates in Provence
Carlos Stelmach and Olivier Coste Renoult have a few spots left in their weeklong Pilates-themed getaway to be held in St. Rémy June 25 to July 2. You'll stay in an eight-bedroom home with a large pool, nestled among olive groves and pine trees in the hills just outside town. Days begin with viennoiseries, juice, coffee, and tea, followed by a Pilates session. Then the group heads off in a mini-bus for the day, visiting sites such as L'Isle Sur la Sorgue for the Sunday market, Fontaine de Vaucluse, Les Baux, Eygalières, the ruins of a Roman town, the abbey where Vincent Van Gogh stayed and kayaking at the Pont du Gard. You return home for another Pilates session, followed by an apéritif and Provençal dinner at home (most evenings). Pilates sessions are in English. For more info, click here or go to coeurdeprovence.eu. You can also see videos of some of the destinations on Facebook. Mention Provence Post and get a 5% discount.
Artist Seeks Work Space
Cabinet-maker Lenny Heitov is looking for studio/work space in St. Remy, minimum space of 50 square meters, to rent or buy. He's willing to renovate/upgrade at his expense and prefers to be within centre ville. Contact him: 04 90 90 50 69 or 06 43 31 99 32 or email@example.com
New Culinary Tours in Paris and Provence
Diane Shaskin and Mark Craft introduced a generation of Canadians to organic food. Now the founders of Planet Organic Markets (thinkWhole Foods, but in Canada) are carrying on their love of food and cooking with their culinary tours of Paris and Provence, brand new this season. Diane gave me a taste: “We'll bake baguettes with a Parisian boulanger, take a private cooking class at the Ritz, make bouillabaisse with a chef in Avignon and enjoy a wine-tasting picnic in the Côtes-du-Rhône." The couple is offering four week-long Paris trips (beginning in late June) and two week-long Provence trips (both in September). For more info: paristoprovence.ca
Last Minute Rental Discount
Natalie Milani is offering some great prices on rental of her renovated 19th-century "maison de village" in Maillane, near St. Remy. Pick any week in May, 2011 and she'll knock 25% off the regular price: you pay €1,155 per week. The three-story house has four bedrooms (to sleep 8), a cozy living room, family room with plasma TV, gourmet kitchen, dining room, two washer/dryers, a pool with sunbeds, a BBQ and outdoor eating area. For pix and info, click hereor email: firstname.lastname@example.org
B&B for the Festival d'Avignon
Michelle Victor has a large bedroom with private bath to rent in her gracious home in Villeneuve-les-Avignon, just across the Rhone from Avignon, for July 1st to 14th, 2011, which coincides with the Festival d'Avignon, which runs from July 6 to 26. The price is 1,000€ total for two people, including breakfast daily. Michelle says that since the master bedroom and bath are upstairs, guests will have privacy on the main floor. Villeneuve is a small, historic village where the Pope's cardinals once lived. The house is in a quiet neighborhood, with a large garden and patio/terrace. It's about ten minutes by car to Avignon and 15 minutes to the TGV (high-speed train) station. Buses and small boats run back and forth to Avignon, Michelle says. For photos and info: email@example.com