Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You're Invited! Garden Tour & Lunch April 25

Three photos above: To raise money for Busoga Trust, Lucy Bakr has organized an April 25th tour of this gorgeous private garden near Tarascon, to be followed by lunch. The photos show the garden in mid April, the front terrace in October and another garden view, looking south from the house, in October.  

Two photos above: Busoga Trust builds wells in Uganda and Lucy visits once a year.  She recently took these photos showing a new well...and the original water 
source at the same site.

My friend Lucy Bakr is a tireless supporter of the UK-based charity Busoga Trust, which builds and maintains wells in rural Uganda. 

Since 1983, the group has created more than 2000 sustainable sources for clean, safe water...which is used by villagers for drinking, cooking, sanitation and hygiene.

Here in Provence, Lucy organizes numerous fundraisers for Busoga throughout the year: casual lunches, gala dinners, yard sales, coffee mornings and more.  

Lucy also runs a garden-tour club, which, over the years, has allowed many of us to explore some of the region's most-gorgeous private gardens.

Next week, on Tuesday April 25, Lucy is pairing her two passions into one great event: a garden tour and luncheon to raise funds for Busoga Trust. The group will visit a fantastic eight-hectare country garden not far from Tarascon, with six hectares of olive trees (1,400 of them to be exact) and two hectares of formal gardens. There are ponds and fountains...and a tree house (actually more of a "Champagne-drinking platform," according to the owners)...and a kitchen garden (I've just sampled the homegrown asparagus...divine!)...and beds of white Iceberg and red Sevillana roses...and iris and peonies...and formal box parterre...and a handful of beautiful cats prowling and lounging in the sunshine...and peacocks! 

Overlooking it all is the family's elegant,  château-style home, built around 1700 as a hunting lodge. 

The garden has been a huge labor of love for its owner, who tells me: "The greatest pleasure of having a large garden? It keeps you impoverished and diminishes your children's inheritance, much to their disdain!" 

Even if you're not a garden aficionado, you'll love the scale and lush beauty of this amazing property, the warmth of the owners, the fun of meeting new people and the sumptuous homemade lunch to be served on the terrace after the tour. 

Everyone will meet in the parking lot of the Château de Tarascon at 11:15 and car pool or follow to the property. A welcome coffee/tea will be served before the tour and lunch with wine will follow. The day ends around 3 pm, tickets are 40€ and all proceeds go to Busoga Trust. Spots are limited and Lucy must have your check (in euros) or a bank transfer to hold your spot. For questions or reservations:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Social Climbing: Envie Epicurieuse is June 4

Sunday June 4 is the 6th annual Envie Epicurieuse in Provence, a day of nature, hiking, food, wine and music. My friend Kelly McAuliffe, who'll be the sommelier for the day, was there last year and says: "It blew my was so much fun. I took clients and they absolutely loved it."

The day starts with a nature hike up Mont La Vautubiere, a 634-meter peak at the back of Cezanne's famous Mont St. Victoire. When you reach the top , you'll find everything set up for the apero: wine, snacks and live music. Then everyone heads down to a large tent where the luncheon with wine pairing begins. There will be five dishes from two top Aix chefs...and eight wines...and a world-champion boulanger on hand...and lots of hilarity, to be sure.

"Eventually the baker sings in traditional Provencal, with his stunning opera voice, to put the cherry on top," Kelly says.

For those who don't speak French, Kelly will be translating and animating, not that it sounds like this day needs any animation help at all. "I really don't know how anyone could have a better Sunday in Provence! " he says.

The day is 110€ per person for adults, 25€ for kids.

The winemakers will be: Peter Fischer of Château Revelette (Jouques), Christian Valensisi from La Chapelle Saint Bacchi (Jouques), Pierre Michelland from Domaine La Réaltière (Rians) and Bengt Sundstrom of Château Vignelaure (Rians).

The chefs/restaurants are: Nicolas Monribot from Le Millefeuille (Aix) and Ludovic and Laura Aillaud of L’Épicurien (Aix).

The start point/meeting place is in the town of Jouques; you'll see signs telling you where to go. Arrive by 9:30 if you plan to do the guided nature hike...or at 10:30 if you want to do it on your own, in which case you'll have a one-hour walk to the top, on a shorter steeper route indicated with an arrow. (Kelly suggests you arrive at the top by noon.) For those who don't want to do the walk up, rides in a 4 x 4 will be offered...but be sure to request this in advance. The day will end around 4:30 pm,  the max is 200 people and the event will definitely sell out. 

The deadline for registration is May 17th and all the details are at

To book, use the online form here. Or, call or email Isabelle: +33 (0)6 11 53 2 7 01, And if you have questions and speak no French, Kelly will do what he can to help:


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