Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Whale and Dolphin Cruise Season Has Begun

Did you guys know there were whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean? Me neither...until I learned that every Sunday, Decouverte du Vivant offers Naturalist Discovery Cruises aboard the boat La Croix du Sud V to get up close and personal with them. During the nine-hour voyage you're likely to see striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso's dolphins, pilot whales, sperm whales and the second largest animal on the planet, the fin whale. You can also expect seabirds, sunfish, loggerhead turtles, bluefin tuna, bonito and swordfish. Last Sunday, guests on the cruise saw eight whales. The season ends in October.

Cruises depart from Sanary sur Mer in the Var at 8:45 am and return at 6:30 pm. Prices are 55€ (under 13), 66€ (students and teens), 78€ (adult) and on demand for groups.  The same company also offers cruises from Canet-en-Roussillon (whales and dolphins, April to October, Saturdays only), Port Vendres (dolphins, July and August, Wednesdays only) and La Grande Motte (sea birds, September to May). 

Découverte du Vivant is an eco-responsible whale-watching operator, involved in the long- term preservation of the cetacean populations of the Mediterranean Sea. For more info or to reserve, click here, call +33 6 10 57 17 11 or email: info@decouverteduvivant.fr

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Grill of It All: Camargue Barbecue Fest!

Yee-ha! The 3rd Annual Camargue Barbecue Fest is coming up June 27 and 28, all around the Town Hall in Saintes Maries de la Mer. Look for country dancing, cooking demos, a grilling academy, a competition, a mechanical bull and of course, tons of great 'cue!

Roughly 300 people have entered the competition in five categories: pork, bull, lamb, chicken and fish. I'm told you can sample free...or order up sandwiches at 4.50€ each. Fries, drinks and other essentials will also be sold. The hours are 10 am to 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday...and since this is "low and slow" cooking, the grills will be fired up early. But if you plan to eat (and who doesn't?), festival director Jean-Francois Dupont says it's best to come between 11 am and 4 or 5 pm. 

The party continues at Tahiti Plage beach club on Saturday night, with a BBQ Moonlight Party from 8 pm to Midnight. 

All the details are on Facebook here and on the festival website: bbqfestival.fr

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gigondas Sur Table is Monday July 20

In the heart of the Southern Rhône wine region, the 4th annual Gigondas Sur Table will be Monday July 20. One of the most-popular summer wine events in Provence, it's expected to sell out so be sure to book early. This year, 42 local winemakers and domaines will be pouring, while five top Provencal chefs tempt the crowd with small plates of signature dishes, made from local ingredients reflecting the terroir. Who's cooking? Cyril Glémot (Coteaux & Fourchettes, Cairanne), Jean-Paul Lecroq (La Table de Sorgues, Sorgues), Michel Philibert (Le Gajulea, Le Barroux), Philippe Zemour (Bistro Du'o, Vaison-la-Romaine) and André Sube (Maison Sube Boulangerie, Camaret). The cheese course will come courtesy of beloved purveyor Josiane Déal--a Meilleure Fromagère de France--and kids will be welcomed with a special menu and artisan juices. It all happens on the village square (Place Gabrielle Andeol) in Gigondas, from 7 pm to around 11 pm. Tickets are 50€ per person, 12€ for kids under 12, and reservations are essential. To book, send an email to: promotion@gigondas-vin.com or call + 33 (0) 4 90 37 79 60. To see the press kit in French--it lists all the participating winemakers--click here. For general info on Gigondas and its wines, click here. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Contest: Send Your South of France Selfies!

Have you been poking around Provence, cavorting on the Côte d'Azur, luxuriating in the Languedoc? Then send us your very best South of France selfie* and you could win a great prize. 

I first ran this contest last year, in the dead of winter, which wasn't terribly smart. So I'm doing it again, now that the summer travel season has fully begun. If you entered the first time around, rest assured that you and your adorable selfie will be entered into this year's contest...there's no need to send it again.

When taking your selfie, we want to see glorious scenery in the background...a gorgeous beach or medieval village...a vast vineyard, bustling bistro, crowded market, remote mountaintop....you get the idea. Be creative and have fun...climb a tree, leap from a plane, fight a bull, go where no man has gone before. Just be sure that the photographer--and something recognizably South of France--is visible in the frame. This contest will go on for a while to allow for your upcoming travels...or you can send one from a previous trip. I'll publish my favorites, readers will vote and the winner will receive two nights at Le Mas de Lilou, a beautiful B&B in Tarascon, 15 minutes west of St. Remy. Plus, dinner one night for two.

So give it your best shot and send high-quality images (jpg, png or gif only) to me at: provenceblog@aol.com. Please put Provence Selfie in the subject line, tell me who's in the photo and tell me where and when it was taken. Can't wait to see you! 

*Note: The Oxford Dictionary celebrated the selfie as the International Word of the Year in 2013. More recently, selfies were blamed for an uptick (sorry!) in the spread of head lice among teenagers. And then we have this: scientists have been investigating the selfie phenomenon using "theoretic, artistic and quantitative" methods. They call it ''the vernacular of the 21st century'' and you can read their findings here.

Photos: A 
very nice selfie taken in Nice by Robert Schrader of the blog Leave Your Daily Hell, who thinks he very well may be the King of the Travel Selfie (agreed). Me with my friends Olivier and Denis, one hot summer day in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. (I'm much prettier in real life, BTW.) My Irish friends Niamh and Ellen Burns have selfied themselves all over France. Next, some selfies I found online: I love the"Polar Bear Reading a Book Partial-Duck Face Selfie" which I found here, as well as this French Waiter SelfieEiffel Tower SelfieSelfie in Les Baux and sweet Honeymoon Selfie Over Provence. Up in Paris, Rihanna and her fingernails got photobombed while posing ever-so-nonchalantly for a selfie. And finally, we have a new version of the selfie artform: video. This one, Selfies in France, is by Tristan Cooke