Friday, June 10, 2011

One Really Interesting Thing After Another...

The Photos Are Coming! The Rencontres Begins July 4 

I wanted to give you all the heads up on the annual international photo festival in Arles known as the Rencontres. This is one of the major events on the summer arts calendar in Provence. The Rencontres encompasses gallery exhibits, slideshows, seminars, workshops and more. I'll do a longer update soon but in the meantime, you can get all the info in English here.

Hotelier On the Loose in Provence

Lausanne-educated hotel director seeks hotel (or other exciting) position in Provence, preferably in or near St. Remy. 20-plus years experience managing four- and five-star properties. Fully bi-lingual in French and English. For more info, click here.

Cooking Class for Teens

Mas de Cornud in St. Remy has a few spaces left in their July 7 cooking class for young adults ages 12 to 18. Called "Les Jeunes dans la Cuisine,” the class starts at 9 a.m and will be taught in French by chef/owner Nito Carpita. (Nito, who is French/Egyptian, speaks excellent English but prefers for students in this class to have a reasonable grasp of French.) The menu will be based on fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, some of them harvested from the gorgeous Mas de Cornud gardens. The apero and lunch is at 12:30 and parents and friends are welcome. Students pay 150€ per person for class and lunch. Parents/friends pay 70€ for lunch with wine. I've taken classes with Nito and she's a terrific teacher. Plus, the kitchens (indoor and outdoor) at Mas du Cornud are divine. For more info:, 04 90 92 39 32 or

French Government Announces Palace Hotels

The French Government announced in May that eight five-star hotels have been awarded the distinction of "Palace" meaning “among the very best among the top hotels” in France.  In Paris, they are Le BristolLe Meuricele Parc Hyatt Vendome, and the Plaza-Athénée. Outside Paris, they are L l’Hotel du Palais in Biarritz, Les Airelles and Le Cheval Blanc in Courchevel and the Grand Hotel du cap Ferrat in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (photo above). The new Palace category was officially created in November 2010 to continue the development of the new hotel classification system established in 2009. The deciding jury, headed by Académie Française member Dominique Fernandez, was comprised of members of the media, architecture, and hotel groups, among others. The rating is valid for five years. 

Discounted Pilates Getaway in St. Remy 

Carlos Stelmach and Olivier Coste Renoult have a few spots left in their weeklong Pilates-themed getaway in St. Rémy (June 25 to July 2) and to fill them they're offering a 10% discount. 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 a Provençal dinner at home (most evenings). Pilates sessions are in English. For more info, click here or go to You can also see videos of some of the destinations on Facebook

London to Avignon in Under Six Hours
From July 9 to September 10,  Eurostar, the high-speed train service between the UK and mainland Europe, is offering direct weekly summer services from London St. Pancras to Avignon, in the heart of Provence. The Saturday-only service is direct and does not require a change; it leaves St. Pancras at 7:17 a.m. and arrives at Avignon Centre at 2:08 p.m. The return train leaves Avignon Centre at 4:24 p.m., arriving St. Pancras at 9:09 p.m. (Other days and times connect in Lille or Paris.) Eurostar says to book early "to avoid disappointment." Tickets start at £109 round trip. For more info, click here. If you plan to spend a night in London on either end, consider staying at this stunning just-reopened St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London, which I wrote about here.

Party Like an Expat in Paris

There's an Expat Boat Party happening in Paris and you're all invited! It's Friday June 24th at 8:30 p.m. and all the info is here.
Room to Rent for 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. It's available July 1st to 14th, 2011, which coincides somewhat with the Festival d'Avignon (July 6 to 26). The price is 1,050€ per week (7 nights), breakfast included, for two people. Michelle says that since the master bedroom and bath are upstairs, guests have privacy on the main floor. And she has a beautiful new pool for you to enjoy. 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. Email to for photos and info. 

Crillon le Brave Has a New Chef 
The lovely Hôtel Crillon le Brave has named John Ellis as its new Head Chef. Born in Ireland, John’s career has taken him all around France and also to America. In 2002, he returned to France with his wife Aurelie, who was born in nearby Bédoin. The couple now live with their two children in a nearby hamlet at the foot of Mont Ventoux. Until recently, John was the chef/owner of a small restaurant in Sainte-Colombe, a village on the road to the summit of Ventoux. John will be working closely with hotel director Christian Delteil, who is, interestingly, a Michelin-starred chef. So what's for dinner? The current (spring) menu offers duck liver foie gras with dried apricot jam and walnut bread; local Monteux asparagus with herbs and sabayon; and the best-selling gigot d’agneau, which is roasted in the large fireplace (top photo) and served with a Provençal ratatouille. A new summer menu will be out soon. In summer, the restaurant at Crillon le Brave is open to the public seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A two-course lunch averages 20-25€ per person. Dinner, with a starter, main course, cheese and dessert, averages is about 70€ per person. The Crillon le Brave site is here

Calling All Travelin' Wine Lovers
Do you buy wine when you travel? Then you know the "shlep or ship" dilemma well. Darrell Grant invented the inflatable Wine Bearer when, on a trip to Italy, his friend bought a case of Chianti for 150€ and then spent 350€ to ship it home. For more info and to order, click here

Major Summer Art Show is Coming!
Ellsworth Kelly, Yves Klein, Arman, Hans Hartung and Jean Dubuffet are just a few artists in the show “Contemporary Art and the Côte d’Azur,” featuring more than 1,000 pieces from 200 painters and sculptors working on the Riviera from 1951 to 2011. The exhibition begins June 25 and sprawls across 50 museums, galleries and schools from Cannes to Menton. See the New York Times story here. And for all the info, click here

Discounts on Fall Tours in Provence
September is a wonderful time to be in Provence.  The weather is beautiful, the vines are at the height of their green glory and the vendage is about to begin.  If this grabs you, grab one of the remaining spaces on this 7-Day Provence Culinary Adventure, offered the week of September 5-12 and the week of September 19-26.  For a limited time only, readers of Provence Post get a 100€ discount! For info, click here

Just Published for Little Travelers
Finally, I just received an email from Gill Baconnier, a Provence Post reader who lived in Aix for 15 years but now lives in Grenoble. Gill writes: "I think some of your readers may be interested in my just-published children's novel. It's a time-travel book set in Aix-en-Provence. It starts in 1902 but our hero gets a bit lost, as you do, and finds himself in all sorts of odd places. It's not a 'deep' book--it's more of an Enid-Blyton-meets-Doctor-Who adventure, aimed at children going on holiday to Aix with their parents, so they'll have something fun and informative to read. A sort of travel guide in disguise, if you like. Children will have fun searching for all the places mentioned in the book (I managed to get all the main monuments in!)"

Here's the blurb Gill wrote for the back cover: "Sometimes, twelve year-old Charlie Travers wishes he’d never been born a time traveller. He never goes anywhere exciting, his mum makes him eat horrible food she brings back from the Middle Ages - and he’s still rubbish at history. Then Charlie receives a mysterious plea for help from the past and when his parents take him back to Aix-en-Provence in 1902, he’s rather hoping he’ll find out who sent it. He has no idea he is about to embark on a breath-taking journey through Time, where kidnappers, dinosaurs and a stolen painting will be the least of his worries." 

The book is available from here and here.

Please note: If you try to leave a comment below and can't, please remember your brilliant bons mots and stop back later! Technical issues, not my fault.--Thanks!


  1. thanks for your tips Julie.

  2. On my bucket list is to actually walk a Transhumance. But in the meantime wish I was in St Remy for the festivities!
    Also clearly will need to try Crillon le Brave next time I'm in the neighborhood!

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. So many things to do! Just got back from the Transhumance, or sea of sheep. They looked a bit tired and thirsty on the second lap, but great fun comme toujours!

  4. So much infortmation, so much to do!
    Just got back from the transhumance, the sheep looked abit stressed and thirsty on the second lap, but great fun comme toujours, it must be hot in those sheepskin jackets! Will be posting photos on my site.



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