Friday, November 9, 2018

You're Invited: Thanksgiving in France 2018



Because I totally live to please you, once again I've rounded up a great selection of American Thanksgiving celebrations here in the South of France and in Paris. Who attends these gala soirées? Local expats of course, but also hungry French folks and other Europeans, travelers, house guests...whomever! All nationalities wanted and welcome! 

Over the years, many of my French friends have told me they love the idea of celebrating this American holiday...to meet new people, to sample unusual foods, to learn the history and traditions. At a friend's Thanksgiving in Provence a few years back, the Frenchman to my left told me he loved how the various dishes were served all at once, all on one plate, rather than in courses. Another said he was looking forward to his first taste of cranberry sauce, which he called red fruits jam

While the literal translation is Action de Grâce, most French people just call it Thanksgiving...except for my friend Philippe who refers to it as Merci Donnant, which he says "means absolutely nothing at all." 

Some of these feasts listed below are hosted by groups and clubs, who love non-members to join in; others happen in restaurants or hotels.  If you plan to be in Paris for the holiday rather than down south, I've included a number of celebrations there as well...and two links to help you find others. 

I’ve only listed the Thanksgivings that still had space available, as of today. Book soon because most have limited capacity and fill up.

For those of you hosting your own Thanksgiving or sharing in the food prep, I've provided three sources for ingredients such as fresh cranberries and cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, stuffing mix and more. When it comes to the big juicy bird, the Paris shop called The Real McCoy sells them both fresh and already roasted; more info about that is below. Elsewhere in France, most butchers will be happy to order a delicious dinde, if given enough notice, and some might even roast it for you. Just remember that the turkeys here in France are smaller than in the US...and don't forget leftovers!

If you're hosting or know of a Thanksgiving celebration that's not listed here, email me the info (provenceblog@aol.com) and I'll happily add it. 

And finally, while we're on the subject, I'm sending a very heartfelt thank you to all of you: for reading and supporting my blog...for sharing it with your friends....for commenting on the stories you particularly enjoy. I wish you all the most joyous and delicious Merci Donnant, wherever you plan to spend it!

THANKSGIVING ON THE COTE D'AZUR

The American Club of the Riviera's Thanksgiving is a gala, annual affair...large, elegant and extremely popular. This year it's in the Salon Belle Epoque at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monte Carlo on Thursday Nov. 22, starting with a 12:30 Champagne reception, followed by a luncheon feast of butternut squash velouté, stuffed turkey, apple and pumpkin tart. Book quickly as this event always sells out; 150 people are expected and it's first come, first served with priority going to member families. Last call for reservation payments is November 13th so you’ll have to hustle. All the info is on the ACR website here

MonacoUSA will host its annual Thanksgiving dinner in a private room at StarsNBars (Monaco) on Thursday Nov. 22, with the bar opening at 6:00 pm and dinner service starting at 7 pm. Seating is family style at communal tables. The menu: Stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce, peas, creamed onions, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob and cornbread. Desserts will be apple tart, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and brownies. Also included: a glass of wine, beer or soft drink, bottled water and espresso. On the large screen, you can see the Macy’s Parade, American football and a special JFK tribute. Cost: 50€ members, 55€ non members, 25€ for kids under 12. Space is limited, you must reserve through MonacoUSA and payment in advance is required; no payment at the door and no walk-ins allowed, sorry! All details are on the website here.

The MonacoUSA party just above is open to everyone but for those who don’t want to join the group, the all-you can-eat Thanksgiving buffet will be available at StarsNBars starting at 7 pm. Pricing is 45€ for adults and 20€ for kids, excluding drinks. The restaurant will also be serving its regular menu that evening. And turkey will be available as the plat du jour at lunch, starting at noon, for 18€ including a drink and dessert. To book: + 377 9797 9595. Questions: info@starsnbars.com.

The Riviera Chapter of Democrats Abroad invites you to a festive Thanksgiving pot luck at Holy Trinity Church Hall, at 11 rue de la Buffa in Nice, on Nov. 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. It’s open to members, Americans in the region and accompanying guests. Due to the size of the hall they can welcome just 35 people so you must RSVP. DA will provide the turkey and asks all guests to bring a prepared salad, vegetable or dessert to be shared. (Sorry, no cooking facilities available on-site). The closest parking is Palais de la Méditerranée or Grimaldi and there are several bus stops in walking distance. For a map and details, click here. For more info, to RSVP or questions: dafrance.riviera@gmail.com.

THANKSGIVING IN PROVENCE

Once again my friend Jon Chiri, an American chef with 20+ years experience working in Provence, will offer a Thanksgiving lunch at Cuisine Centr'Halles, his cafe and cooking school at Les Halles, the wonderful indoor food market in Avignon. On Thursday Nov. 22, Jon invites you to join his family for a special holiday lunch from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. (The market officially closes at 1:30 pm so be sure to seated by 1 pm latest.) The Thanksgiving Plat du Jour (turkey with Jon's version of accoutrements) will be 24€ ...or 32€ with pumpkin pie. Wine and soft drinks are extra. To reserve: contact@jonathanchiri.com or +33 (0)6 46 89 85 33.

The Anglo-American Group of Provence welcomes the community to its annual family-oriented  Thanksgiving in Aix "with a spirit of appreciation for all that we share."  The party is Sunday, Nov. 25 at 4 pm (aperitif) and 5 pm (dinner) at Restaurant Le Verguetier, 7 chemin d'Eguilles in Celony (Aix), across from the Maison de Ste-Victoire. They'll have all the traditional foods: turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Cost: Members are 29€ adults, 10€ (age 6 to 12) and 6€ (under 5).  Non members are 37€ adults and 18€ kids under 12. To book: Please specify number of adults and kids (with ages) and send check payable to AAGP to: Mari-Luz Saboui, 25 Chemin de Masse, 13710 Fuveau. Checks must be received by Nov 19. Questions? Email to: bobkeltz@aol.com

Biocoop - La Coumpagnie in Aix will host two Thanksgivings on Thursday Nov. 22. The first is a lunch which owner Rick Harrison says is "mostly for our curious French clientele - and it's always our biggest lunch turnout of the year!" The lunch will be less than 20€ pp.  (To reserve, see below.) Then comes the main event: a dinner starting at 7:30 pm. "We have a wide diversity of Americans, French and English people excited to attend," Rick says. As they did last year, the Marseille Chapter of Democrats Abroad will have their own space at the event and 40 to 50 of their members are likely to attend.  The meal will be 100% organic, 0% GMOs and 100% homemade from American family recipes! The evening starts with spiced wine and appetizers (stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs), then moves on to turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole (with cream of mushroom soup...yes!), pumpkin and pecan pies and a classic cheesecake. Prices are 29€ adults and 19€ kids under 12; wine and beer are available for purchase. Reservations required for both lunch and dinner: +33 (0)6 81 34 85 74, rick@biocoop-lacoumpagnie.fr. 

Near Forcalquier, the restaurant Le Bistrot de Pierrerue in Pierrerue celebrates its annual Thanksgiving on Friday Nov. 23 at 8 pm. On the menu: an amuse bouche, brined and roasted turkey with dressing (made from bio sausage and chestnuts), homemade gravy and cranberry chutney, mashed potatoes, roasted local Brussels sprouts,  pumpkin pie and chocolate pumpkin-seed torte with vanilla ice cream. Price is 25€ per person, without drinks. To book: +33 (0)4 92 75 33 00, maryvonne.kutsch@orange.fr.

At the restaurant L'Epicerie de Cecile in Beaucaire, chef/owner Cécile Guillo is all fired up to host her annual Thanksgiving fête, Thursday Nov. 22 at 8 pm. Seating is communal at large tables for 12. The price isn’t quite confirmed but expect to pay 25 to 30€ for dinner (with a couple glasses of wine) and live music (a pianist and a singer performing American hits from the 70s and 80s). Cecile is also happy to offer her traditional Thanksgiving meal on another day for any group that wants to book it, for a minimum of 15 people. To reserve: +33 (0)7 85 40 38 20.

THANKSGIVING IN PARIS

There seem to be more and more Thanksgiving celebrations in Paris restaurants each year, ranging from the very-casual one at the Hard Rock Cafe (11:30 am to 11:30 pm on Nov. 22, 36€ pp, click here to book) to the very-posh one at Ralph's in Ralph Lauren's elaborately appointed store on the Blvd. St.-Germain (dinner Nov 22, with a set menu at 135€, reservations +33 (0)1 44 77 76 00). 

This year, the restaurant Sunday in Soho (at 7 rue Saint Marc in the 2nd arrondissement) will offer Thanksgiving for three nights (Nov. 22, 23, 24), with seatings at 7 pm and 9 pm. The 45€ price includes a glass of Champagne or the house cocktail. Reservations are online only and the owners say “Make sure to bring your appetite (and maybe some stretch pants) because our Thanksgiving feast is no joke!!”

For a few more Paris restaurants, hotels and wine bars serving Thanksgiving, click here and here.

If you want to join a group rather than do your own thing in a Parisian restaurant, sign up for Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday Nov. 20 with the American University Clubs of France. For the 3rd (and probably last) year, they're partnering with the famous Ladurée, known for elegant sweets since 1862, and will be dining in one of Maison Ladurée’s private salons with views on the Champs Elysées. You can have a drink there before, and the dinner officially starts at 7:30 in the restaurant, which is privatized for the occasion. Everyone gets a small gift to take home. Prices range from €72 to €94 pp and all the info is on the website here. Questions? contact@aucfrance.com.

Another club,  The American Club of Paris will hold its annual Thanksgiving at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Paris 3ème) on Thursday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 pmThe evening includes pre-dinner Champagne, an elegant Thanksgiving dinner, a private visit to the Museum's collections and temporary exhibit (including Country Life: Masterpieces from the Mellon Collection) and after-dinner drinks in the Club Room. The dress code is evening attire/black tie optional and roughly 50 people are expected. Members 150€; non-members and guests 175€. All the info is hereQuestions? contact@americanclubparis.org.

The popular Thanksgiving cooking classes at the cooking school La Cuisine Paris have already sold out...but they have another option for foodie fun that day. Called a Festive Food Tour this “class” explores not American but rather French holiday classics with a guided walk and tastings of wine, cheese and foie gras. All the info is here. The timing is 3 to 5:30 pm Thursday Nov. 22 (leaving you time for Thanksgiving dinner elsewhere) and the price is 110€ pp. For more info or to reserve: +33 (0)1 40 51 78 18, contact@lacuisineparis.com.

WHERE TO BUY SUPPLIES

MyAmericanMarket.com sells lots of things you’ll likely need to prepare your holiday feast: cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, cornbread mix, stuffing, gravy, corn syrup and more. They also have ingredients and treats for other holidays, too, such as eggnog and candy canes. They are 100% online and will deliver anywhere in Europe. The company uses various couriers but plan to order by Nov. 14 to get your goodies in time. Specific Thanksgiving foods are on a special page here. For info: contact@myamericanmarket.com.

The Franco-American owners of My Little America, Todd and Anthony, hail from Ohio and Brittany and launched their mail-order business “to make it possible for Americans and French people who have lived in the US to find their favorite foods easily, wherever they might live....and to help French people discover these ‘new’ and ‘exotic’ products." Today they import a wide range of American foods and ship them throughout Europe; mailing is free within metropolitan France for orders over 99€ and under 10 kilos. For Thanksgiving they sell cranberry sauce (whole berry and jellied), stuffing mix, turkey gravy, corn muffin mix, corn syrup (light and dark), graham crackers, canned pumpkin, cut sweet potatoes and more. See their Thanksgiving selection here. They also sell classics such as Kraft Mac & Cheese, Toll-House Chocolate Chips, A-1 Steak Sauce, Jif Peanut Butter, A&W Root Beer and much more. Questions: contact@mylittleamerica.com.

In Paris, The Real McCoy is the Parisian go-to for American foods, particularly at holiday time.  In their shop (no mail order) they’re selling fresh farm-bred turkeys...or they’ll even roast and package it for you with stuffing and roasting juices. (Be sure to order at least a few days ahead.) Their roast turkeys average 5 kilos each; they request a 30€ deposit and then charge 11.50€ per kilo, bringing the total to around 80€. The Real McCoy also sells pecan and pumpkin pies, carrot cakes and cheesecakes...plus a wide selection of Thanksgiving products such as fresh cranberries and canned cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, pie fillings, yams, turkey bags, basters and more. They’re located at:  194 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, +33 (0)1 45 56 00, us.food@wanadoo.fr. No website but find them on Facebook here

Above: The much-loved, often-parodied painting is Norman Rockwell's "Freedom from Want" from 1942. Everyone in it was a Rockwell family member or friend; they were photographed individually and painted into the scene. Learn more about the painting and artist here

Monday, October 29, 2018

What's Happening at Château La Coste?


For anyone interested in wine, design, sculpture or architecture--or simply experiencing very unusual and beautiful places--a visit to Château La Coste is a must.
On the 600-acre property you’ll find organic grapevines spread out in lush sun-baked rows and a shimmering olive grove, a gorgeous hotel and spa, restaurants (from casual to Michelin starred), a state-of-the-art winery, a wine shop, a book shop and a world-class Art & Architecture Park.  You need at least three hours to do it justice but you could easily spend a whole day.

If you haven't been to La Coste in a few years, there are plenty of new things to discover. It's definitely a work in progress!
While the newest incarnation of Chateau La Coste is roughly 20 years old, there's been agriculture and winemaking here as far back as Roman times. On the property are cobbled Gallo-Roman pathways, dry stone walls, bridges, underground wells...and the vestiges of an intricate watering system currently undergoing restoration. A lovely Venetian-style villa in a rosy pink hue has stood here since 1682.
It was in 2002 that the current owner (the Irish art collector, real-estate developer and hotel investor Patrick “Paddy” McKillen) bought the property and decided to transform what was a fairly nondescript wine domaine into a world-class destination where art, architecture and agriculture would blend seamlessly. The idea had already been successful in the Basque city of Álava, headquarters of Vinos del Marqués de Riscal, where Frank Gehry had been commissioned to build a hotel. Here in France, McKillen and his family expanded on that idea, inviting artists and architects from all over the world to “visit, explore and find a place...that inspired them to create.” 
Today this "starchitect winery," roughly 20 minutes north of Aix, has a large visitors' center designed by world-famous architect Tadao Ando, plus numerous installations and buildings crafted by other luminaries such as Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry. Viewed from the country road that winds into the agricultural village of Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, the rounded aluminum Jean Nouvel winery glints silver in the distance and is joined by a Frank Gehry-designed music pavilion, two more buildings by Ando and sculptures by Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois and many others.
The list of artists with work on view here grows every year and currently includes sought-after names such as Alexander Calder, Michael Stipe, Andy Goldsworthy, Paul Matisse, Tracy Emin, Ai Weiwei and many others.  A Renzo Piano-designed gallery opened in 2017; 2018 welcomed a permanent piece (“Dead End”) by Sophie Calle and a permanent installation (“Komorebi”) by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. See the full list of current artists and architects here.
Ongoing and future projects include a piece by Tony Berlant and Frank Gehry, a sculpture by Per Kirkeby and a “massive” project by Louise Bourgeois and Jean Nouvel.  A Richard Rogers pavilion is also being planned.
To see the major features of the Art & Architecture Park, plan for a two-hour stroll with some gravel and gentle hills. To do it on your own, you'll be given a map of the 30-some installations. Guided tours are also available and can be public or private; more info on that is below.
A gorgeous five-star hotel called Villa La Coste was completed in 2017 by the Marseille architecture firm Tangram. It has 28 "villa suites," spectacular views, an elegant spa, art by Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol (among others), a tapestry by Fernand Léger… and not one but two restaurants from Michelin three-star chefs. An ornate 19th-century tea pavilion was shipped over from Vietnam.
If the timing is right, you should definitely start or cap your visit to Château La Coste with a meal. Be sure to check the website or phone ahead for winter hours and reservations.
The one-star restaurant Louison from Marseille-based chef Gérald Passedat currently serves lunch (during the weekends) and dinner (every day); expect to pay 100€ or more for lunch or dinner, beverages excluded.
The second restaurant is the Salon, which they describe as "bistronomic" (blending gastronomic and bistro). The Salon is open every day for lunch and dinner; expect to pay from 38€ per person for lunch and from 50€ for dinner, without wine.
In 2017, Château La Coste also opened the first Francis Mallmann restaurant in Europe. Serving  "New Argentinian" cuisine, it's open for lunch (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and dinner (every day); expect to pay roughly 80€ per person for lunch or dinner, beverages excluded.
For more dining options, Le Restaurant de Tadao Ando in the main reception center is open every day for lunch (but again, check the site for seasonal hours). Menus start at 34€; seating is indoors and out.  My friends and I loved everything about our lunch here last November: the sunshine on the terrace, the soothing calm of the reflecting pool, the excellent food and wine and the gracious warmth of our server.  
La Terrace, open from 10 am to 9:30 pm every day in summer and on weekends in winter, serves a lighter menu of fresh salads, chilled soups, home-made tarts, farmers cheeses and organic charcuterie, accompanied of course by Château La Coste wines. The Terrace often has live music.
When you plan your visit, make sure to also leave time for wine tasting in the pretty wine shop...or a tour of the winery ("chai"), available by appointment only. And definitely save time for perusing all the art and architecture titles in the bookshop.
And what about those wines after all? Château La Coste makes wine using biodynamic principals which strive to preserve the fertility of the soil and the terroir in general. The first harvest was in 2008 and the wines earned the organic "AB" distinction the following year. Today they make a wide range of extremely popular reds, roses and whites (from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cinsault grapes) which range in price from roughly 11€ to 120€. Learn about the wines here and see the wine tasting schedule here.
Château La Coste hosts a number of open-to-the-public events each year including outdoor movie screenings, art exhibits, workshops and classes for kids and adults, concerts, evening visits, wine workshops and more. For the schedule, click here and see the current art exhibits here. You can also sign up to receive a newsletter with alerts about upcoming events.
The Art & Architecture Park is open for self-guided visits year round (you'll be provided with a map; current entry price is 15€ full price and 12€ for students, job seekers, seniors and groups, free for kids under 10 years old).
Guided visits are available in French and English, on a set schedule, seven days a week. In Winter, tours are offered in both French and English at 10:30 and 2:30. In July and August, tours are offered in both French and English at 10:30 and 4:30. Private tours are also available by reservation and groups are welcomed. Seasonal opening times, admission prices, directions and more can all be found on the bi-lingual website.
Chateau La Coste
2750 Route de la Cride
13610 Le Puy Sainte Reparade
France
chateau-la-coste.com
contact@chateau-la-coste.com
+33 (0)4 42 61 89 98

Photos: (1) You've arrived! The entry gate by architect Tadao Ando. (2) Working the vines. (3) The restaurant Louison, from chef Gérald Passedat, who has held three Michelin stars at his restaurant Le Petit Nice in Marseille since 2008.  (4) Restaurant Francis Mallmann. The Michelin-three-star Argentinian chef has restaurants around the world and is known for cooking over live flame.  (5) The hotel surrounded by grape vines. (6) A dish from the restaurant called The Salon. (7) In the hotel, a Pavillon Suite with views of the Luberon Mountains. (8) The hotel spa. (9) Jean Nouvel designed the corrugated-aluminum winery buildings, each 10 meters high. Together they're known as the Cuverie or Chai. (10) New this year: a sculpture called ''Komorebi” by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. (11) The Music Pavillon by Frank Gehry. (12) An installation by Liam Gillick. (13) The sculpture "Drop" by Tom Shannon. (14) An art gallery called Bastide opened this year.  (15) A section of Ai Weiwei's ''Ruyi Path.'' (16, 17). Sculptures by Hiroshi Sugimoto and Louise Bourgeois have become iconic images of Chateau La Coste.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Brand New in Arles: A Hotel for Art Lovers


Maja Hoffmann and her company Les Maisons d’Arles opened their newest property in Arles today, a 35-room, four-story hotel called L’Arlatan

Born in Switzerland and raised in the Camargue, not far from Arles, Hoffmann is a philanthropist, arts patron and founder of the LUMA Foundation and LUMA Arles. They’re the ones building the 56-meter (183-foot) Frank Gehry-designed tower in Arles, set for completion in 2020. The tower is the centerpiece of the Parc des Ateliers, a 20-acre experimental cultural center hosting a wide range of art exhibits and events on the site of a former train maintenance depot, a short walk from the city center. Among the shows currently on view (until January 6): Gilbert & George: The Great Exhibition (1971-2016). For other current and upcoming shows, click here

In addition to the Arles hotel Le Cloître and the cafe next door called L’Epicerie, Hoffman owns the Michelin one-star restaurant La Chassagnette in the Camargue. 

Hoffmann’s newest project blends ultra-contemporary, original art with traditional materials and ancient architecture. Parts of the new hotel date to the 12th century and are listed as a Monument Historique. At one time, this was considered the city’s most lavish hôtel particulier (grand townhouse) and it’s built on an ancient Roman basilica, the remains of which are still visible.

Nestled in the historic center of Arles, L’Arlatan is just a few minutes from the Place du Forum, the Church of Saint Trophime and the UNESCO-listed Roman amphitheatre (Les Arènes) and Baths of Constantine.  It’s five minutes from the Rhône River and a 12-minute walk to the Gare d'Arles train station.

Rooms and suites all have antique furniture, satellite TV and free WiFi. Some feature wood-beamed ceilings, exposed stone walls and/or private terraces.
The hotel owes its striking visual appeal to the vision of Cuban-born American artist Jorge Pardo, who turned walls, doors and guestrooms into unique works of art. The almost two million glazed mosaic tiles used for the renovation (in 11 shapes and 18 colors) were all handmade in the Yucatan.  Pardo’s paintings appear on the hotel’s 100-plus doors. For more about the hotel’s art, design and history, see the recent stories in Wallpaper Magazine and the New York Times.
The hotel restaurant, also called L’Arlatan, features “simple and seasonal” Provençal and Mediterranean cuisine. The menu is being created in conjunction with the team at La Chassagnette. 

L’Arlatan has a bar, a terrace and an outdoor pool. Breakfast and parking are available.

Hotel L’Arlatan
26, rue du Sauvage
13200 Arles
France

Photos: The design and decor of Hotel L'Arlatan was inspired by Provence, the Camargue, Mexico and even Japan. Owner Maja Hoffmann says she hopes the hotel will attract artists of all types...and the travelers who love them. At the bottom, the Frank Gehry-designed tower currently rising in Arles...centerpiece of the Parc des Ateliers, a vast "experimental cultural center" celebrating all types of art including photography, publishing and multi-media.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Two-for-One Meal Deals Oct 1 to 14

From October 1st to 14th, restaurants all over France will be offering special "buy one, get one free" three-course menus in the 9th annual Tous au Restaurant promotion.

Launched in 2010 by superstar chef Alain Ducasse, it's meant to encourage people to eat out: in mom-and-pop bistros, in top Michelin-starred restaurants and everything in between.


So what's the deal? Book online and order the special Tous au Restaurant menu and a second person at the table enjoys the same menu free. (Pas mal!, as the French would say, when something is very good indeed.) Participating restaurants can choose whether to offer the menus at lunch or dinner or both...and on which days at what times. In some cases there's no choice; you eat what the chef is serving. In many cases however, you have multiple choices for each course.  


Last year more than 200,000 people reserved tables to enjoy the promotion in 1500 restaurants. This year, an estimated 2000 restaurants are expected to take part. The booking site went live this morning and restaurants are still being added so if you don't see one you like, check back...but be aware that the most-popular places sell out quickly.

To get started, click here and choose your region or city from the drop down menu. (You might need to play around with it a bit. For example, for Provence you can choose Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur where you'll find all the listings...or choose one of the specific cities that comes up. For Paris you can choose "Paris" or a specific arrondissement.)  Then, click the links to view the restaurants' special menu and prices.  You'll see that most restaurants also publish selections from their regular menu as a convenience...but the two-for-one Tous au Restaurant menu is clearly noted. Then, to see the available dates and times, click the green bar that says Reservez une Table. You'll be asked to choose your day, time and party size...and then be taken to another page to input your name, email, phone and any special requests. I assume they follow up with a confirmation of your booking by email. The site is only in French this year but it's fairly easy to figure out.


If you book and then need to cancel, you can do that through the site as well. If you reserve but don't show, you'll be blocked from making future bookings.

Organizers say the two-week festival is not designed to be a money-maker—many restaurants just break even--but rather to get people out discovering and enjoying. It’s a great opportunity to sample a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try...or to act like a big shot and treat your friends to a fancy meal. Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fall in Provence: Cruising the Rhône



The weather is wonderful in Provence right now: sunny days and cool evenings. In Avignon, a nice thing to do on a warm afternoon is a 60-minute site-seeing cruise on the Rhône that's only 12€ for adults and 2 € for kids age 2-8. When I travel I love to get out on the water, if possible, and there aren't so many ways to do that in my part of Provence. This is a good one: easy to book last minute, super relaxing and cheap!

The 60-minute tour on La Saône sails upstream along the town walls, so you can see the Rocher des Doms and the Pont St Bénezet, the famous Avignon  bridge. Then it heads over so you can discover the Philippe Le Bel Tower of Villeneuve Les Avignon and its historic Fort St André.  

In September, the one-hour cruises are offered at 3 pm and 4:15 pm. Reservations aren't required and tickets can be purchased 15 minutes prior to departure. Cruises run every day, until the end of the month.

A slightly longer "Popes Cruise" leaves at 12:30 and returns at 2:30; it's offered September 28, October 2, October 30, November 8 and December 8.

Full-day luncheon cruises are offered in autumn as well. These include one to Arles (leave at 11:30 am, return at 6:45 pm), one to Tarascon (11:30 to 6:15 pm) and a "Winemakers Cruise" (12/12:30 to 4 pm). There's an afternoon Disco Cruise (with music from the '80s and dancing) and a number of dinner cruises as well. Details about all of them are here. The company operates year round, with a schedule that changes each month. 

To see what's offered each day, see monthly schedules here but be sure to choose your preferred month from the drop-down menu.

Where to park? If you know where the Ferris Wheel is in Avignon, that's a great lot to park in; it's called the Le Parking des Allées de L’Oulle (good luck pronouncing that!). But the Ferris Wheel comes down for the season on September 23 so best to just GPS the parking lot, which is directly in front of the tour boats. Or leave your car wherever it is in town and walk over...the dock is just outside the city walls.


Mireio Croisieres
Le Chardonnay, Le Mireio & La Saône
Allée de l'Oulle 
84000 AVIGNON
Tel +33(0)4 90 85 62 25
Fax +33(0)4 90 85 61 14
mireio.net
contact@mireio.net


Note from Julie: Sometimes people ask if they can pay me to write about them but the answer is no, there's no pay for play on Provence Post! I write about the things I think my readers would most enjoy learning about...that's it.  And I make it a point to not to write about my advertisers, for obvious reasons. But no sooner had I posted this story than Google put an ad on my blog for the very same company, Mireio. Those of you who know about Google Adwords know how it works...they place ads on your site that specifically target who they think your readers are and what they think interests them. So if you see that ad like I do (and you may not), well that's how it got there...twasn't my doing and I'm not promoting an advertiser here. I just enjoy these cruises and thought you might too!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Journées du Patrimoine is This Weekend

It's that time again: The wonderful annual Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) takes place tomorrow and Sunday, September 15 and 16, in cities and villages all over France; a few have activities today as well. The program was started by the French Ministry of Culture in 1984 and has since spread all over Europe (where it's called European Heritage Days). This is the 35th year, the theme is "The Art of Sharing" and roughly 17,000 sites are participating. It's one of my favorite weekends of the year.

The idea is that a wide range of historic monuments, buildings, estates, gardens and domaines are open for special visits...along with many sites that are normally closed to the public. Most sites have a guide on hand to enhance your enjoyment of the visit (most tours and talks are in French) and most offer free entry. Some may require you to sign up in advance...but for the most part, you just show up. 

The website with all the participating venues is here (or in English herebut you'll do much better checking in with the Tourist Office or the tourism website of the village or city you want to visit. For example, the region-by-region Patrimoine page here lists just two participating sites in my village of St. Remy. But as in years past, the village has published its own terrific guide and this year there are 24 participating sites. You can see them all, with the map, hereYou can also pick up a printed copy at the Tourist Office or at most of the participating sites.

The best idea is to choose the village you wish to explore, pick up or download their schedule as early as possible and map your route, because some events happen only at certain times.

Here are some listings for various Provence departments, to get you started: Alpes-de-Haute-ProvenceAlpes-MaritimesBouches du Rhone, the Gard (not really Provence but never mind), the Hautes-Alpes, the Var and the Vaucluse

And here's a list of most of the Tourist Offices in Provence and they should be able to help. Enjoy!

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