Tuesday, October 28, 2008


British author Peter Mayle spent 15 years in advertising before leaving the business, in 1975, to write children's books. In 1990, he published A Year in Provence, which became an international bestseller; his books have since been translated into 20-plus languages. Mayle’s novel A Good Year was the basis for a 2006 film of the same name...directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe, it was filmed almost entirely in the Luberon. Peter has just finished his 25th book, a novel called The Vintage Caper, to be published by Knopf next year. He and his wife, Jennie, live in Lourmarin. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Peter for Conde Nast Traveller UK and Wine Spectator and so I grabbed the chance to ask him to name some of his favorite local spots.

"The crew of the film (A Good Year) liked the Michelin two-star Bastide de Capelongue, just outside Bonnieux, and so do I. Chef/owner Edouard Loubet has two Michelin stars. It’s where you go for a special meal, a celebration. 04-90-75-89-78.

I love Le Fournil, in the lower part of the village of Bonnieux. The restaurant is cut out of the rocks and you can sit outside by the fountain in summer. 04-90-75-83-62.

Auberge de la Loube, at Buoux, outside Bonnieux, has a rustic menu, wonderful views and horses tethered in the car park. 04-90-74-19-58.

Auberge de L’Aiguebrun, outside Bonnieux, is in a marvelous setting in a secluded valley with an elegant country menu. 04-90-04-47-00.

In Lourmarin there’s a tremendous place which does just steak and crêpes, called Crêperie la Louche à Beurre. It’s very simple but has a wonderful atmosphere. It’s run by a delightful lady named Babette, who was partly my inspiration for the character Fanny in A Good Year. 04-90-68-00-33.

Ansouis is very pretty town and there’s a charming place just down the street from the Mairie called La Closerie. Excellent food and very good value for money. 04-90-09-90-54.

In St. Martin de la Brasque, 12 km north of Pertuis, I like Restaurant de La Fontaine, for very good simple food in a nice setting. The stuffed fleurs de courgettes are worth the trip on their own. 04-90-07-72-16.

L'Ardoise in Cadenet is simple, friendly, very good food and not going to break the bank. 04-90-68-35-35.

And for anyone who loves wine, there’s a wonderful wine store in Apt, La Cave du Septier. They have an extraordinary selection of labels from south and southwest France, run by a very nice couple. And they ship. It’s one of the best wine shops I’ve seen outside Paris. 04-90-04-77-38. There's also the Cave du Château in Lourmarin. They have terrific selection of local wines and olive oils."

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I returned to St. Remy last week to find that my Internet modem was kaput. So I called Frederic Clot, who was recommended to me by friends. He arrived when he said he would and speaks lovely English. He quickly diagnosed the problem and put in a work order for me at AOL and France Telecom. They said it would take four days and it did. When Frederic returned to make sure it was all sorted out, he was also able to fix a problem with my Sky Box and video sender--it turns out he does TV (French and UK systems) as well. Next week he'll come back and install my new WiFi Neuf box and explain to me how it works. I can't recommend him highly enough; please tell him I sent you. His phone: 06-68-82-81-38.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


The French soap maker L’Occitane (and two investors) have opened the 46-room Couvent des Minimes Hotel & Spa in a restored 400-year-old stone convent outside Mane, in the Luberon. (It's about an hour from Avignon.) I haven't been there yet but I hear, from well-traveled friends, that it's amazing. The four-star hotel is home to the first L’Occitane Spa in France. Chef Philippe Guerin, 38, trained with top chefs such as Alain Chapel and the Pourcel brothers in Montpellier; he also worked at the Negresco (Nice) and the Château le Domaine Saint Martin, a Relais & Châteaux in Vence. General manager Pierre‐Alexandre Francin moved over from Villa Gallici in Aix--and was at the Meurice in Paris for more than a decade--so you can be sure the service is every bit as great as the setting. In November, doubles begin at 205 euros and special fall/winter packages are available. For readers of my blog, Pierre-Alexandre is offering an elegant L'Occitane Gift Set as a welcome treat. www.couventdesminimes-hotelspa.com/; reservations@couventdesminimes-hotelspa.com

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I just happened on a wonderful new program called MeGlobe. (Register free at MeGlobe.com and choose a username and password.) It's basically a real time translator for instant messaging, which allows you to "chat" with people all over the world, in their own language. As you type, you'll see your original message as well as the translation of it, into the language of your choice. (There are many, including Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, etc.) For anyone who needs to communicate with non-English speakers on a regular basis, this could be incredibly helpful. An English to French test run just showed fairly good and accurate translation...as long as you keep your original message somewhat simple. MeGlobe is still in Beta but try it...it's fun and easy to use. Just remember that the person you're trying to reach needs to sign up as well. If you'd like to try it with me, my screename is juliemautner.