Tuesday, January 16, 2018

So...What's Happening?

Quoi de Neuf? This week I thought I'd share a couple short, newsy things that recently caught my eye: a vintage ice cream truck, a new place to store your luggage in Avignon, a farm for fresh flowers all winter, upcoming fundraisers, the starting lineup for Jazz à Juan and some other fun things to do. We're not gonna win any Pulitzers here but hopefully you'll find some things of interest...

Scoop! Vintage Ice Cream Truck Ready to Roll 

My friend Nicola Christinger-Grant and her daughter Victoria Moss are just about ready to unveil a vintage ice cream truck named Esta, after months of restoration. The classic 1976 Renault Estafette is still in Corsica finishing serious cosmetic surgery but she'll arrive in France  at the end of the month. "We thought Provence needed a good old fashioned classic ice cream van," Nic tells me. "Given the sensational weather I can’t believe they don’t really exist! When I first found Esta, she was a total rust bucket...but I knew immediately that I loved her!" As of February, Esta will be ready to rent for all types of events (she's booked for a number of weddings already) and will be rolling up at weekly markets including Eygalieres on Friday, Uzes on Saturday and the July/August Thursday evening night market in Nimes. Esta can travel roughly one hour from Nimes and will serve a range of ice creams (whole milk, vegan, fat-free, organic). The four pix up top show the ongoing restoration; the two below them are "befores." When the work is complete, I'll post more photos because you can be sure she'll be a beauty! The website (vintage.ice.fr ) is still under construction but email Nicola for info in the meantime: nicolachristinger@me.com.

Got Baggage?

Did you know...the folks behind La Consigne in Nice have opened a second location in Avignon? It's a luggage checkroom where you can store your stuff safely (they've got scanners, cameras and alarms) at super-reasonable prices. Located close to both the Avignon Centre (city) Train Station and the Avignon Tourist Office, La Consigne also rents baby strollers and wheelchairs, offers a bike-courrier baggage delivery service and will store oversized items if you book ahead. Plus, they have free and speedy WiFi which you're welcome to hang out and use. La Consigne Avignon is open May 1st to Aug 31st, at #1 ave Marechal de Lattre de Tassigny, 84000 Avignon, +33 (0)6 63 68 91 09. Lots more info on both locations is on the website here.

Brand-New St. Remy Home for Summer Rental

Ian and Lizzie Ferris are just putting final touches on their new home in St. Remy...but have learned they'll need to spend the summer back in the UK.  That means they want to rent the house out, for the whole summer if possible, or at least for a month at a time, starting in June. You can see it here on Homeaway and on AirBnB. Located less than ten minute's walk from the historic center of the village, it has three double bedrooms, an upstairs bathroom and downstairs shower room, off-street parking in a gated community, a south-facing garden with private pool, A/C, WiFi and a nice modern kitchen. Ian says his ideal would be one family for 12 weeks (mid June to mid September,  €17,000) but will happily consider monthly rentals for June (€6000), July (€7000) and August (€8000). For info: ianferris56@gmail.com.

Shmoozing for Social and Business 

Since I first wrote about it here almost three years ago,  the women's group Network Provence has grown tremendously, thanks to the hard work and creativity of director Rebecca Ronane and the giving spirit of its members. The group now holds regular meet-ups and activities in a variety of Provencal villages (Aix, St. Remy, Maubec, Orange, Eygalieres, etc.) and continues to expand. Pay 50€ to join for a year and attend all the events you want...or pay as you go (most events are 10 each). The group's Facebook page (sign up required) has become an extremely valuable resource for info sharing among English-speaking women of all nationalities in the region. Upcoming NP events include a a crash course in pairing wine with chocolate with Sophie Bergeron in Avignon (Jan 23rd at 2 pm), a talk on happiness by Trudi Bannister in Aix (Feb 13, 3 to 5 pm) and a presentation and light lunch with Nicky Ginsberg, at her new NG Art Creative Residency Program in Eygalieres (March 23, noon to 2:30). See these and other events  (and reserve...and become a member) on the Network Provence site. Questions? Email: rebecca.ronane@me.com.

Another Super Support Group for Expat Women

Another networking group that's really gathering steam is called LiANU. It's described as "An Anglophone support group of ex-pat ladies for ex-pat ladies living in, or with strong ties to, the Avignon-Nimes-Uzès region." According to Petra Van Der Wal, one of the group's five informal leader/organizers, the first "Ladies In..." group, Ladies in Languedoc, was created in 2013 and as it grew, a need was identified for other locally-focused ex-pat groups "where you can find a local tradesman or places to buy your halloumi cheese! Ladies In groups are now in Perpignan and Carcassone too...and they've all been likened to a big, chatty, online coffee morning!"  The next LiANU event is a New Year's Dinner, to be held Jan 24 in Nimes; see all the info here. I've not been to a LiANU event yet but a few friends of mine are active in the group and they give it a hearty thumbs up. To get involved, click join on their Facebook page here. If you'd like to start a Ladies In group in another region of France, contact Nicole Hammond by messenger through the LIL group here.  

Friday Morning: Coffee and Cake for a Great Cause
Lucy Bakr will hold a "coffee morning" fundraiser for Busoga Trust this Friday Jan 19 from 10 am to noon in St. Remy, with homemade Gâteau de Roi. Entry is 5€ pp, please. Lucy will also be selling her famous homemade marmalades (including a brand-new batch of orange marmalade & Bergamot lemon marmalade--woot woot!) plus new olive oils, books, DVDs and more. All proceeds go to build wells for clean water in Uganda. The address is: 1 Av Jean Baltus;  park inside the courtyard or on the street. For more info: lucydavid@bakr.fr.

Flowers All Winter, Fresh from the Farm

People often forget about their favorite farm markets in winter but the very-popular Boutique at Ferme Fleurie, between Tarascon and Graveson, sells their beautiful home-grown blooms all year long. The prices are wholesale and the flowers are gorgeous! (Read my recent story about them here.)  Debbie, who runs the farm with her husband Marcel, tells me: "All good down on the farm this winter! And full speed ahead for the season 2018!" Deb tells me they have anemones now until May, tulips from the end of February to April,  narcissi and daffodils in March and of course their star performer, peonies, at the end of April through May. For daily hours and what's available, check their Facebook page. The Boutique at Ferme Fleurie is at 4583 Route d'Avignon, 13150 Tarascon. 

This Friday in Avignon: Cabaret at Theatre Le 9

If you're up for some entertainment in English and like to mingle with other expats, this one's for you. This Friday Jan 19 at 8 pm, the Aix-Marseille and Avignon Chapters of Democrats Abroad will team up to take in a cabaret show in Avignon with Stefan Bednarczyk, a stage and screen actor, director, choirmaster, organist and composer.  (Stefan brought the works of Noel Coward, Flanders and Swann and Comden & Green to the stage...and has worked as musical director with the most prominent theaters in the U.K., including the National and the Barbican.) His latest cabaret adventure, "Beyond a Joke," explores in piano and song the works of three of the 20th-century’s greatest satirists: Allan Sherman, Tom Lehrer and Jake Thackray. The show takes place at the splendid Théâtre Le 9; I wrote about the theater and its charming owner Hilary when it opened here.  After the show, the group will mingle and meet Stefan over a glass of wine. The theater is tiny and there are seats set aside for the DA group so make sure to mention DA when you reserve. Plus, please bring something sweet or savory to share with 30 people. Tickets are 20 pp. To reserve, call +33 (0)4 84 14 27 28 or email: le9theatreavignon@gmail.com. Then, let kwildau@gmail.com know you're coming. For more info: theatrele9.com.

Calling All Wine-Industry Insiders

All wine pros  (winemakers, retailers, restaurateurs, hotel f&b staff, etc.) are invited to a two-day "Naked Wine Fair" sponsored by the Languedoc-based Vignerons de L'Irreel, a group of local winemakers, on Jan 28 and 29 in Montpellier. Both days, there will be 50 French, Italian and Spanish winemakers present and pouring, along with five artisan brewers. A Sunday evening party will have concerts and a DJ, with lots of Italian charcuterie, the Le Duke food truck and more. More than 200 people have signed up and many more will certainly join in.  The event will be at the Dieze Warehouse, at 188 ave. du Marche Gare. Admission is 10€ and all the details are on the group's Facebook page here.  

Lenny Kravitz to Open Jazz à Juan 2018
And finally, down on the Côte d'Azur, the International Jazz Festival Jazz à Juan (the oldest jazz fest in Europe), has just announced, following a well-established tradition, the names of the first three artists who will perform this year, the 58th edition of the festival. After the opening concert on July 12 with Lenny Kravitz and his “Raise Vibration Tour,” the festival welcomes Chick Corea (one of the most important and influential pianists of his generation), Youn Sun Nah (who has led a brilliant international career exploring in risky ways the infinite possibilities of her voice), and Marcus Miller ("promising an incredible performance!"). The full program will be announced in March. For all the info: jazzajuan.com, antibesjuanlespins.com