I first heard about Passports with Purpose at a travel blogging conference a few months ago in Spain. I was so inspired by co-founder Beth Whitman’s talk that I signed on immediately to help. My contribution to the fundraising effort is an irresistible Week in Provence, a package that includes a week in a lovely villa, great restaurant meals, private guided tours and more. And to enter to win it, all you have to do is donate $10 to a great cause. I’ve been able to pull this together thanks to the generosity of a large group of people here in Provence. Not one arm was twisted...no one I asked said no!
All the details are below but first let me tell you just a bit about Passports with Purpose.
It’s a grass-roots charity initiative supported by the travel blogging community worldwide. Major sponsors include Expedia, TripIt, HomeAway and TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange), among others.
Passports With Purpose was founded in 2008 by four very cool women as a way to build community among travel bloggers and make a real difference for people in need. To see a short video about the program, click here.
Each year, Beth and her partners look closely at scores of different charities and after doing all the necessary diligence, choose one to support. Then they set out a specific goal and call upon travel bloggers for help.
In their first year, they raised $7,400 for Heifer International. In 2009, they blew past their initial goal (which was to raise $14,000) to build a school in Cambodia. (They raised nearly $30,000 and the school, built through partnership with American Assistance for Cambodia, is now complete.) In 2010, they raised $64,128 to build an entire village in India...construction is now underway. In 2011, they raised $90,000 for Room to Read, to build two libraries in Zambia.
This year, the beneficiary is Water.org (co-founded by actor Matt Damon) and we’re trying to raise $100,000 to build five wells for two communities in Haiti.
Here’s how it works. Participating travel bloggers (like me) round up prizes--items or experiences--and promote the program through their blogs. (At the same time you’re reading this, people all over the world are reading about other prizes on their favorite travel blogs.)
Anyone who donates $10 gets a shot at the prize of their choice. You can ‘’enter’’ (donate) as many times as you wish, for as many prizes as you wish—but always in $10 increments.
For my prize donation, I’ve put together a fabulous Week in Provence....for you, or your family, or your friends. Read on!
You’ll stay for a week in a wonderfully historic, completely renovated villa in St. Remy de Provence, anytime between mid February and mid June, 2013. Your house is at Provence Paradise, a charming and historic ‘’hameau’’ (hamlet) of fully renovated houses dating back to the 17th century. Owner William Moore, who has offered us this great donation, says: ‘’Whenever you want to come, we’ll be delighted to share our paradise with you! When choosing your week, don’t shy away from the winter months. These houses are lovely when the weather cools; each has at least two working fireplaces and a full supply of red wine! Winter in Provence you avoid the crowds, lines are shorter to get into museums, etc.’’ William will also throw in some wonderful goodies, such as free admission to the Pont du Gard (a 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct), passes for horseback riding and more. Your comfy home (depending on which is available) will be one of William’s three most-popular properties: L'Orangerie, Le Moulin Vieil or La Bastide des Micocouliers. The houses can accommodate one couple or a small family...four people max. You can read all about Provence Paradise in my recent story here.
But man does not live by bed alone! So even though your villa has a full kitchen, you’ll want to try the famous sun-drenched cuisine for which the region is known. And since I only want you to have the very best— naturellement!--I’ve asked a handful of my favorite restaurants to donate meals and gift certificates. That’s four spectacular restaurant meals—and one elegant afternoon tea—ready and waiting for you. Here they are:
*The Michelin-two star restaurant L’Oustau de Baumaniere, nestled in the valley at the foot of Les Baux de Provence, has donated a three-course lunch for two, which usually costs 99€ per person. Baumanière is a mecca for foodies and this is a meal you’ll long remember.
*For a very special afternoon or evening out, the gorgeous Hotel Crillon le Brave, up near Mont Ventoux in the heart of the Southern Côtes du Rhône Wine Country, will welcome you with 100€ worth of food and drink. Winter or summer, indoors or out...a meal at Crillon le Brave is on the bucket list of every foodie in Provence.
*The Michelin one-star restaurant Le Vivier, in the village of Isle sur la Sorgue, has contributed 140€ to spend at lunch or dinner. L’Isle sur la Sorgue is a beautifully historic town, an antiques center for all of Europe...with a divine Sunday morning market that’s a must. I love this restaurant and I know you will too. (For more info, see my story about Le Vivier here.)
*Masdu Capoun, 15 minutes from St. Remy, is a wildly popular restaurant known for its fresh, imaginative cuisine, beautiful room, warm welcome and fair prices. Mas du Capoun is so popular it’s almost always full...but I got you a prime table...and 100€ to spend as you wish.
*The historic, art-and-antique filled Hotel La Mirande in Avignon will host you for an elegant afternoon tea for two, with delicious homemade pastries. La Mirande began life as a cardinal's palace well over 700 years ago and it sits in the shadow of the famous Palais des Papes. It's really one of a kind.
Okay, that’s your restaurants and tea sorted out. Now, how to make the most of your precious days in Provence?
*To get the lay of the land, you’ll get a one-day, private guided tour with one of my all-time favorite guides, the charming and talented Philippe Goninet. Philippe will work with you to plan a dream day out...whether you’re interested in art, history, food, culture, architecture or all of the above. As President of the Tourist Office in St. Remy, Philippe knows all the history, all the mystery...and all the hidden corners that tourists often miss.
*No visit to Provence is complete without some serious sampling of our world-famous wines. So I’ve arranged a splendid half-day of vineyard touring and tasting around the legendary Châteauneuf-du-Pape for you. Your host will be the American sommelier and Rhône wine expert Kelly McAuliffe, one of the area’s best-loved guides. Even if you’re a total beginner, you’ll love your day out with Kelly...you’ll see some gorgeous scenery...and you’ll learn a ton. And since you're not driving, you can sip to your heart's content.
*Another day you’ll be off to historic Arles, the gorgeous city on the Rhône that’s dripping with Roman ruins, monuments, museums, cafes, shops and galleries. Here’s you’ll have a private, ½ day walking tour with charming and knowledgeable American expat Heather Robinson. My girl Heather knows her town better than many natives!
*Of course you’ll want to visit the vibrant, sophisticated city of Aix en Provence, an hour from St. Remy. There, another one of my favourite guides, the super-foodie Jen Dugdale, will lead you on a three-hour gourmet walking tour, leaving the rest of your day free for exploring on your own.
But wait, there’s more!
After all this touring, you’ll need some pampering of course...so I’ve lined up two one-hour massages in St. Remy with my favorite massage therapist, Daniela Loretz. An hour on Daniela’s table is a majorly relaxing treat.
And since no one leaves Provence without souvenirs...I’ve got that covered as well. You’ll receive two boxes of four beautifully engraved, elegantly packaged soaps, from Comme un Murmure. They’re made near St. Remy and customized with your choice of monogram, initials or name. The scents are delicious and the soaps are so pretty you’ll find it hard to actually use them.
And because Provence is famous for art and artists, I’ve rounded up three beautiful pieces to help you commemorate your trip:
*A signed and numbered limited-edition print, ''Magnolia Provence,'' by Canadian artist Claude A. Simard, shipped to your home before or after your trip. Claude will generously include 40€ for framing.
*A small, original oil painting of Provence by Irish artist Margaret Clayton. Margaret will frame your painting and ship it to your home, before or after your trip.
*One small photographic print (winner's choice, a 350€ value) from the fine-art photo collection of Arles-based National Geographic photographer Remi Benali.
Finally, a gift from me. Wearing my Provence Post Travel chapeau, I’ll help you pull your trip together and answer any questions you may have. That’s what I do for my travel-planning clients and it'll be great fun to do it for you as well.
Sounds pretty awesome, right?
Ok so here’s all you have to do win the whole shebang: just click HERE...and scroll down to the category OTHER and find the Week in Provence. Then put the amount you'd like to donate, in $10 increments, into the little box to the right. The more you donate, the more chances you have to win. And make sure to peruse all the other great prizes rounded up by other travel bloggers....and donate towards those as well! Then plug in your email address at the bottom of the donation page and click DONATE. Et voila! Entries will be accepted only until December 11th so it’s best if you do it soon. Anyone can enter, anywhere in the world.
I know y'all are amazingly generous folks. And I know you’re going to do me proud and help me raise a huge chunk of change for this important charity! All you have to do is click here and donate $10 towards this prize.
A quick note to my friends in France. Even if you live here...or have a vacation home here...you should enter to win as well. You can give the prize to your family or friends or use it yourself for a great getaway!
Finally, I’d like to say a major merci to everyone who donated the items above. Thanks to you, someone is going to have an amazing vacation in Provence and, more importantly, two communities in Haiti will soon have access to pure, clean water for drinking, cooking, washing and more. I can’t thank you enough for stepping up to help.
To keep up with Passports with Purpose on social media, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. On Pinterest, you can see all the prizes on one easy-to-read page.
I'm just now starting to read the other bloggers' posts. There's a particularly touching one about the program...and the need for help in Haiti...on the blog called 200 Rooms...
Ok everybody, start clicking! And Bonne Chance!!
[Photo courtesy of Git Golson at Chic Provence]
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