London is brimming with stunning, iconic landmarks, immediately recognisable around the world; Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, St Paul's Cathedral, The Shard, Harrods..... it is an endless list of history, tradition and wonder. I maybe biased but every visit to London is a thrill, full of new insights and discoveries. [Read more...]
Across the sweeping, misty landscape, below a heather covered slope, flanked on one side by wind swept pine trees, next to the gently lapping shores of Loch Finlaggan, remain the ruins of the mystical island settlement of Finlaggan. Situated in the north east of Islay it dates back to the Iron Age. It was of great significance during the 14th and 15th centuries as the centre of the Lordship of the Isles, under the MacDonalds Lords of the Isles. It is a fascinating and integral part of the history of Islay, well worth visiting. [Read more...]
"Imagine liquifying the best campfire of the summer and bottling it as pure happiness."
"A dram in your hand, sand between your toes,
the world at your feet, embrace the passion, love life"
This and much more has been said about the golden, peaty liquid which is Laphroaig.
Nestled within small inlets along the mystical, low lying coastline of the small Scottish island of Islay, whose rhythm is dominated by the seasons and the sea, are a collection of single malt whisky distilleries. Each one producing their own unique, liquid gold, treasured by whisky connoisseurs the world over; Islay single malt whisky. [Read more...]
Sunflowers, lavender, rolling vineyards, [Read more...]
breathtaking scenery, and fascinating historical cities
are just some of the things I love about Provence.
And for as much as I yearn to be there,
I need to remind myself what I have much on my own back door,
where I live in Danville, California.
"Provence appeals to so many because the region offers something for everyone. [Read more...]
From sea to sky, from mountains to meadows,
from history to contemporary, it is an endless canvas."
Esteemed writer, Carolyne Kauser-Abbott's, perspectives about Provence.
Visit the stunning city of Aix-en-Provence with her here.....
Explore the pictoresque 'villages-perchés' of Provence's stunning Luberon Valley. [Read more...]
Starting in Lourmarin, join this video tour
through this breathtakingly beautiful countryside.
Meander through the vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards
and discover the charms of these captivating historical villages
(and these are just some of them!);
Bonnieux, Lacoste, Ménerbes, Oppède le Vieux, Gordes and Roussillon
Visit their medieval châteaux, wonderful wine domaines,
galleries, restaurants and fabulous markets.
Come here because it's special, utterly intoxicating,
you'll be entranced and leave longing to return........
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As you approach Roussillon, the earth around you changes to a rich, vibrant, blood orange, the colour of flame, immersing you in one of the largest natural ochre deposits in the world, no wonder Roussillon is high on the list for every Luberon tour. [Read more...]
Last time on our tour of the Luberon's perched villages we visited Lacoste and Ménerbes, maybe you missed our next two stops? The mystical ghost town, Oppède-le-Vieux and Gordes, perhaps the Luberon's most magnificent perched village. (Click on the village names to view). [Read more...]
From Gordes, the next stop has to be L'Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, photos of which dominate postcard displays all over Provence; stunning images normally taken in early summer when the abbey is surrounded by a carpet of fragrant lavender blooms.
As you drive from our last stop at Oppède-le-Vieux, winding your way towards Gordes, you'll follow the olive tree flanked hairpins and as the road begins to straighten will suddenly be greeted by a breathtakingly spectacular view of perhaps the most magnificent of the Luberon’s perched villages, Gordes. You would be forgiven for thinking that someone has grabbed a cluster of stone buildings and then scattered them like a roll of the dice to tumble dramatically down the hillside.... [Read more...]
After Ménerbes the next village on my tour is Oppède-le-Vieux, high on a rocky precipice over looking the Luberon valley. Explore its ruined ramparts and 12th century church, eerily quiet and deserted, it’s a strikingly haunting spot. [Read more...]
Continuing our tour of Provence's beautiful Luberon hillside villages; last time we took the D943 from Lourmarin, through the dramatic gorge to Bonnieux, Lacoste and Ménerbes now await. [Read more...]
Lacoste, a tiny, sometimes forgotten perched village has breathtaking views across the sweeping Luberon landscape, Mont Ventoux and Les Alpes. Nearby Ménerbes, is a Luberon treasure and 'plus beaux village de France', make sure you leave time to stop at it's two fabulous two wine domaines close by!
The magnificent city of Avignon only about 70km from Lourmarin. [Read more...]
Spend a day here and discover its rich and fascinating history.
Explore the ramparts of its incredibly well preserved city wall,
built in 1403, which like a ribbon round a cake, still circles the town today.
Home to the Popes for one hundred years, visit where they lived,
Les Palais des Papes.
Explore it's many other sites,
not forgetting to dance on its famous bridge,
Pont d'Avignon, over the mighty Rhône River,
magical and quite unforgettable!
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or have a blank screen, click on the image above to open the post in your browser.)
Click here for further information:
AVIGNON, WHAT TO SEE
AVIGNON, WHERE TO STAY
AVIGNON, WHERE TO EAT
When planning a trip, the key priorities are usually; [Read more...]
'what should we see?' 'where should we stay?' and of course 'where should we eat?'
With regards to dining in Bonnieux, there are many options to choose from.
I don't pretend to have tried them all but I'm working on it!
Here are my favourite restaurants in Bonnieux.
Booking is always advisable and do check their opening times, especially during off season.
I'd love to know what you discover in Bonnieux!
If driving from Lourmarin to explore the Luberon’s perched villages, the closet and first village is Bonnieux, 13.5km away. The D943 which takes you there, is a twisting, switchback through the steep rocks of the narrow gorge, Combe de Lourmarin, the foot of which is kissed with wild thyme, rosemary; ‘herbes des provence’ perfuming the air with their heady fragrance as you climb though the towering stone faces to the enchantment of 'les villages-perchés' [Read more...]
Discover the enchantment of this fairy tale village in Provence's Luberon. [Read more...]
Visit its medieval château and enjoy a musical soirée under its rafters.
Meander Lourmarin's chic boutiques, galleries and restaurants,
and fabulous Friday market.
Explore the stunningly beautiful Luberon region.
Its captivating perched villages, sprawling vineyards and olive groves
Stay here just because it's beautiful, breathtakingly so..........
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or have a blank screen, click on the image above to open the post in your browser)
Magical, medieval villages of Provence’s breathtaking Luberon Valley, [Read more...]
clustered round a château clinging precariously to the hillside,
above a landscape resplendent with vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards
and in the summer, carpets of lavender and dancing sunflowers.
Some you may just drive through others you might choose to linger longer.
If staying in Lourmarin, taking the D943, this would be a good route to see them all.
Easily reached on a day's excursion from Lourmarin is the magnificent city of Avignon and vibrant university town of Aix-en-Provence in Provence's beautiful Var region. [Read more...]
The Mediterranean coast is a short drive further; Marseilles, and the quaint fishing towns of Bandol and Cassis.
Not more than an hour from Lourmarin are the charms of Provence's Bouches-du-Rhône region; the bustling market town of St Remy-de-Provence and probably the most splendid of all of Provence's perched villages; Les Baux-de-Provence!
Uzès and the World UNESCO Heritage site, The Pont du Gard, are under two hours from Lourmarin, well worth a visit!
Lourmarin is a great base for exploring Provence's beautiful Luberon region of the Vaucluse and beyond. Drive through the vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards, stopping at the local wine château's as you make your way to explore the fairy tale castles of the Luberon's perched villages, quite magical! [Read more...]
Lourmarin, charming and captivating, come here and wander through the meandering streets, explore the chic boutiques and galleries and then sit and gaze upon life before a delicious lunch in the shade, there are many places to choose from. [Read more...]
People stay in Lourmarin to just ‘be', surrounded by beauty, relaxing on lazy, sun drenched days, maybe becoming lost in a good book. It’s an intoxicating, a place of artists and authors, a place to dream about and yearn for when you are far away.
What is it that consistently draws people to Provence and to the Luberon in particular, that special ‘je ne sais quoi’ which make this region so utterly captivating? Aside from its natural beauty, perhaps its enduring appeal is, that it remains one of the few places whose charms have not diminished with the passing of time. Simple pleasures of life, can still be found here and in abundance. [Read more...]
Meandering through the beautiful countryside of the Luberon Valley, [Read more...]
through endless vineyards, orchards, olive groves
and at certain times of year, a vibrant carpet of lavender and sunflowers,
to dine somewhere special.....
Our suggestions, within a 30 minutes drive from Lourmarin
Where are the best restaurants in and around Lourmarin? [Read more...]
Enjoy a paper thin pizza fresh straight from the wood smoke of a 'feu de bois' oven?
Sample fresh, beautifully presented local ingredients within the captivating ambience of a former olive mill?
Be pampered by award winning chefs at a Michelin star restaurant?
For a tiny village in the Luberon, Lourmarin has much to choose from ~ here are our favourites!
Visualise yourself sleeping beneath the rafters of a stunning converted olive mill [Read more...]
or being pampered in an exquisite guest room of a Provencal mansion.
Perhaps you’d like your own garden and pool,
there are many gorgeous properties to choose from ......
I told you last time about Lourmarin, but why should you go there too? [Read more...]
Quite simply, because it’s beautiful.
Twisting cobbled streets, limestone buildings the colour of honey,
faded shutters and clay tiled roof tops.
Chic boutiques, galleries, vibrant cafés and restaurants.
A fabulous Friday market,
linens, baskets, treasures from Provence.
A mystical 15th century château, lavish music concerts and soirées.
Local wineries, fairy tale perched villages of the surrounding Luberon.
The enchanting cities of Avignon and Aix-en-Provence less than an hour away.
The dazzling Mediterranean coast hardly any further.
But there's another reason to visit Lourmarin....
I have been wondering, what are the secret ingredients that make a place truly special? [Read more...]
Somewhere, when you arrive for the first time, makes your heart skip a beat and that when you return for the hundredth time, makes you shudder in delight as it welcomes you back.
The world is full of many beautiful locations. What is truly captivating to one person might be quite unremarkable to another. Of course there are world-renowned sights; The Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, The Great Wall of China, dazzling cities like Rome, Paris, Sydney, all of which can stun and amaze; but they’re not really the type of places I’m thinking about.
What I’m referring to are much simpler, less sophisticated places whose list of attributes include character and charm; places with a story, a history begging to be explored.
My list includes meandering, cobbled streets, crumbling stone buildings, clay tiled roof tops and faded shutters. A gently rolling landscape resplendent with vineyards and olive groves, where once a year gently wafting lavender and dancing sunflowers, like an artist’s paint brush, splash their brilliance.
Countless sites boast such criteria but there is something which makes the place I am thinking of particularly special, one, which no matter how hard I try, I am unable to completely explain. Maybe that isn’t important, maybe all that matters is that I have found a place whose magical ingredients and ambience have captured my heart, a place I want to become a part of, a place which when I return to I never want to leave.
If you’ve been there maybe it has the same effect on you too?
It's always heartwarming when someone I’ve never met contacts me from miles away because they’ve been reading what I write. Just recently someone with whom I share a great passion, asked me to write about what he does. The passion we share is a love of somewhere beautiful, the story of which has seeped deep into my soul. That place is of course Provence, where this person spends his time immersed in the terroir, with the vines and the vintners. Just chatting to him I could smell the warmth of the soil and the musty aroma of grapes working their magic inside aged oak barrels. I thought of balmy, summers days in Provence, where bustling street cafés and restaurants spill onto the cobbles, where it is impossible not to become beguiled by the heady atmosphere of carefree relaxation, too seductive to ignore and I was transported. [Read more...]
Discover the charm of this enchanting walled city, [Read more...]
unravel the secrets from its medieval past
when it was home to the Popes
and the most powerful city in Europe.
Explore its museums, cathedrals shops and restaurants,
walk over the mighty Rhône River
and dance on its famous bridge,
'Sur la pont d'Avignon',
Avignon offers many dining choices for the foodies among us! [Read more...]
From the gourmet sensations of
Christian Etienne and Les Cinq Sens,
to fabulous home cooked food from Fou de Fafa,
or delicious pizzas at Chez Mimmo.
They're all good so booking is advisable!
There are many more, let us know what you discover!
The stunning city of medieval city of Avignon, [Read more...]
nestled on the banks of the mighty Rhone River
home to the Popes in the 1300's for nearly a century
It is surrounded by the breathtakingly beautiful countryside
of the Vaucluse, Provence.
There are many accommodation options available nearby,
and within the city.
Here are some of our favourites,
both hotels and charming bed and breakfasts
The magnificent medieval city of Avignon is surrounded like a ribbon round a cake [Read more...]
by a beautifully preserved city wall built in 1403.
During the 14th century it was the center of one of the richest courts in Europe.
As home to the Catholic Church, it was one of the most powerful,
even today is still referred to as the ‘City of the Popes’.
Come and admire the Palais des Papes, home to 7 Popes from 1309 to 1376,
a World UNESCO site and the largest Gothic Palace in the world.
Walk across the mighty Rhône River on the famous Pont d'Avignon,
built in 1185 from the inspirations of a shepherd called Bénézet.
Hum the bridge’s famous song as you explore the streets of Avignon,
its museums, shops, restaurants and on Sunday its vibrant flea markets.
Magnificent Roman architecture, bullfights and concerts. [Read more...]
Sun drenched squares overlooked by stately shuttered mansions.
Meandering cobbles streets packed with shops and restaurants.
Stunning art museums, cathedrals gardens and treasures from the past.
This is the seductive Roman city of Nîmes whose ancient treasures wait to be explore
Standing beneath the golden arches of the Roman aqueduct, [Read more...]
Pont du Gard, just 6km from Uzès, Languedoc Roussillon, France,
it hardly seems possible that this magnificent structure has been here for over 2000 years.
Build from local limestone, for 600 years
it carried water from Uzès to the Roman city of Nimes, 30km away.
Spanning the beautiful River Gard
it is a breathtaking site,
one you won't regret including on your visit to
Languedoc Roussillon and Provence
To learn more about the Pont Du Gard and how to visit it click here
For a travel guide and downloadable PDF to Uzès and the surrounding region click here
Just 6 miles outside of Uzès, towards Avignon, [Read more...]
serenely merging into the surrounding landscape,
sits the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site
The Pont du Gard.
It has been here for well over 2000 years,
patiently waiting to be explored.
No matter how many times you have stood below its ancient arches
it will hold you spellbound,
as you stand and gaze up at in wonder.
Languedoc Roussillon has a steadily growing and well respected reputation for its wine [Read more...]
and there are some excellent wines produced in the Uzès area.
Predominantly they use the great Mediterranean varieties,
Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Combined with the natural limestone and gravel of the 'terroir',
long days of brilliant sunshine and the skill of the local vintners
the result is wines of great rigor and of the highest quality.
Reds, whites and the wine the South of France is so well known for, rosé!
And of course where there are vineyards there are often olive groves.
Here are a few of our local Uzès favourites.
Just a short drive from the city of Uzès, [Read more...]
amidst the rolling countryside,
abundant with vineyards and olive groves ,
you'll find a few special dining spots,
worth driving a little way out of town for!
It’s been four years since I started writing, when I was sharing my life in Provence. I’m still writing, mostly about travel and you’re still reading, thank you, but behind the scenes ‘blogging’ has evolved greatly. [Read more...]
Every day vast reams of content is shared across an ever growing social media world; Facebook Twitter Pinterest, Instagram, never mind Snapchat, Googleplus and a host of others!
Spinning through this immense, tangled web, are giant, mysterious spiders, mostly called 'Google'. These are greedy spiders, they want feeding daily, to search, rank and then like victorious hunters display the most prolific content on their opening pages!
But what about YOU, the reader, aren’t we all becoming overwhelmed by too much information? I don’t want to bombard you with more! So I have been trying to compromise; posting more often, becoming more information specific, mastering some audio visual and only telling you once in a while. I'm making progress, my Twitter 'friends' have grown from 197 to over 1000 in just four weeks, tweet tweet!
I have been focusing on areas of Provence I really know, the beautiful perched village of Les Baux-de-Provence the captivating video spectacle of Carrières de Lumières and as many travel tips as possible to make your visit to Uzès as magical as possible, after all, Uzès is where this all started!
So scroll back through the posts or ‘Read More’ where I have added all the links to the last month's posts for you to click on. Please let me know what you think and thank you all of you for staying with me on this journey!
Uzès has a vibrant, ancient history, did you know that:
Uzès was first settled over one thousand years ago?
During Roman Times it was an important commercial and cultural center?
Uzès is the home to the first duchy of France,
that it remains the oldest ducal peerage in France
and that the family still live in the ducal castle in Uzès today?
Every Wednesday and Saturday Uzès hosts it fabulous markets. [Read more...]
by the arches of its magnificent central square, Place-aux-Herbes.
On Wednesdays smiling locals offer mouthwatering, regional produce.
Cheeses, garlic, wine, flowers, lavender, olive oil, honey and soaps.
On Saturdays the stalls tumble out onto the streets of Uzès,
baskets, linens, jewelry and art, everything and more
that you would hope to discover in a marché-provencal!
Take a peek here, I think you'll see what I mean!
La Place-aux-Herbes, architecturally stunning, is the heart of this beautiful city. [Read more...]
A vast, cobbled square surrounded on three sides by golden, stone arches
whose domed canopy covers the patios of shops and restaurants.
Her central feature is a large stone fountain which sits quietly chuckling at all who pass her by.
She's overlooked by tall, shuttered buildings,
softly painted in gentle shades of blue grey and violet, so delightfully French,
Place-aux-Herbes is like a splendid setting for a party.
Whether hosting her twice weekly markets, festivals, brocantes or local artisanal sales,
Place-aux-Herbes is a place to gather, a place to meet friends,
a place you will want to be in this charming, medieval city of Uzès.
Rue du Portalet, 30700 Uzes Phone : +33 4 66 22 68 88 [Read more...]
Uzès' most famous landmark, adjacent to Saint-Théodorit Cathedral,
built at the end of the 11th century, this 'tower of windows'
is the only campanile tower in France.
A fairy-tale 'Rapunzel' tower
where can one imagine a handsome prince rescuing his beloved!
If all you did whilst staying in Uzès, was to meander around the town, [Read more...]
explore its shops, sample its many restaurants,
and buy wine and cheese from the local markets,
you would have a wonderful week becoming part of the magical charm of Uzès.
But, there are some wonderful sites you should try to see too!
The enchanting medieval bastide city of Uzès, [Read more...]
just outside of Provence, in Languedoc Roussillon.
Come and wander its cobbled streets,
admire its gently worn, shuttered buildings.
Discover the Ducal château, its Medieval Garden and iconic Fenestrelle tower.
Sit under one of the golden arches fringing its magnificent square,
host to its weekly markets and festivals.
Listen to the soft splutters of the fountain,
become immersed in the beguiling atmosphere of this special place.
Watch the 'video glimpse' next
and discover why people who visit Uzès always return...
Dining under the golden arches in Place aux Herbes, [Read more...]
shaded by the broad sycamore branches in the square.
Enjoying 'feu de bois' pizzas on a cobbled streets or a pretty terrace.
Savouring French cuisine at its best in an elegant dining room or exquisite garden;
just a few of the dining options in Uzès.
Here are some of our favorites, most require a reservation especially in the summer.
Let me know what you discover to add to the list!
Imagine falling asleep in a luxurious room, once part of grand Renaissance French mansion [Read more...]
or under soft linens in the bedroom a now historical, listed building.
Or staying in an exquisitely, charming bedroom filled with fresh flowers
where the warmth and charm of your hostess
make you feel as if you were staying in a beloved Aunts home.
Some of the many options to rest your head during your visit to Uzès,
would you like to find out more?
A man with hairy ears selling goats cheese, a nun blessing us with her wine! Smiling locals selling linens, ribbons, baskets, and flowers, cheese makers, olive growers, and an abundance of fresh produce. How can you not visit Uzès fabulous twice-weekly markets, the most vibrant in Provence! [Read more...]
Easter is only a few weeks away and Uzès is getting ready. [Read more...]
Previously closed shops and restaurants, are re opening.
The cobbled streets below the magnificent, golden arches surrounding Place aux Herbes,
its stunning central square and market place, are being washed and swept.
New leaves are gently uncurling, to form their natural canopy of shade across the square.
Everywhere is bursting into life ready for an influx of excited Easter visitors,
thrilled to be escaping for a few days,
to explore and discover this delightful little bastide town,
maybe you are going to be one of them?
Les Carrières de Lumières 2016 is open! [Read more...]
Located by the magical perched village of Les Baux-de-Provence,
Carrières de Lumières is an entrancing projected video art extravaganza.
Set deep within a disused bauxite cave
it profiles breathtaking works of art.
This year's Carrières de Lumières
features the artistic wonder of Marc Chagall.
Previous years have included Van Gogh, Gaugin, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
You can view a vignette of my previous visits to Carrières de Lumières below.
Carrières de Lumières is an unforgettable, part of anyone’s visit to Provence,
make sure it is part of yours!
Gazing out from the ramparts of Les Baux-de-Provence, high up on the Alpilles hills [Read more...]
visitors are treated to a vista of Provence that dreams are made of.
Acres of silvery, green olive groves splashed with sprawling vineyards,
interspersed with pines and scrub oaks
and in the early summer the occasional tuft of Provence’s most defining bloom, lavender.
If time is short, come for just the view, you won’t be disappointed
The Château des Baux [Read more...]
nestled on a craggy limestone escarpment high in the Alpilles hills
is one of Provence’s most famous fortresses.
Dating back to the tenth century, within the perched village from which it takes its name.
Although now in ruins you can learn its fascinating story
on a self guided audio tour exploring its tumbling ramparts,
guaranteed to take you on a magical journey back in time.
As you wander the meandering cobbled streets of Les Baux-de-Provence, [Read more...]
between the shadows of its medieval buildings, close your eyes.
You’ll hear the swish of long gowns and velvet cloaks hurrying passed you
and the distant clanking of armour by the chateau.
None of Provence’s perched villages are as atmospheric as Les Baux-de-Provence.
A magical place, where you’ll find yourself wishing ‘if only walls could talk’,
for to visit Les Baux is to journey back in time …….
Carrières de Lumières; imagine if your visit to Provence included standing deep within a disused bauxite cave surrounded by towering 100 foot high walls, upon which is projected a 360 degree, multi-media art show profiling the breathtaking work of Van Gogh, Michelangelo or Marc Chagall. This is the stage for Carrières de Lumières, a vast cavernous space, utterly breathtaking in its own right but when light up by the entrancing artistic extravaganza of some of the world’s Masters, it is an unforgettable, part of anyone’s visit to Provence, I hope it will be part of yours! [Read more...]
Travel tips for a visit to San Antonio, Texas! Visit The Alamo, The Missions, King William District, The River Walk and The Pearl!
Why visit San Antonio, Texas? [Read more...]
Nestled along its meandering tree lined River Walk, packed with restaurants and history San Antonio, Texas exudes a special charm.
San Antonio has the largest concentration of Spanish Colonial architecture in North America, discover the influences of its captivating past; from being a Spanish Colony, to becoming part of Mexico before gaining its independence in 1836.
Explore not only The Alamo, San Antonio’s most well-known treasure but don’t miss its string of other beautiful Missions, all within minutes of each other.
Stroll passed the stunning 19th century mansions of the historic King William District which offer an incredible insight into how San Antonio grew and prospered and its German Heritage.
A boat cruise and an amble along the River Walk is a must and a visit to San Antonio’s Pearl District will rival all your previous dining experiences! Set on the site of the beautifully restored Pearl Brewery this is a foodie’s heaven. A stay in the Pearl’s boutique, newly opened Emma Hotel would make your visit to San Antonio quite unforgettable!
Perfectly Provence recently interviewed me to ask for my top tips for visiting Provence. [Read more...]
My suggestions are by no means a fully comprehensive list, as I told Perfectly Provence's creator, Carolyne Kauser-Abbott, there is so much to see and do that my first thought is don't try to do it all it once!
So click here to read my ideas 'Provence Travel Tips from Caroline Longstaffe'
Skiing what's not to love?, [Read more...]
The fresh pine scented air, trees kissed with soft, white icing sugar powder.
Breathtaking mountain vistas above the clouds, which literally make your heart stop.
The mystical silence as you glide effortlessly down a snow covered slope.
Just you and nature connecting in a way that is only possible on a pair of skis (well possibly on a snowboard too)
A magical experience......
or is it?!
Christmas is about who we are with. [Read more...]
Celebrating together with the traditions that have become woven into our families' celebrations.
Do you, like me, think of the enchanted Christmases of your childhood,
pondering upon an a world wrapped in a mantle of white, bathed in candle light?
In each home, in every corner of the world, the scene is set on a different stage
the magic of another Christmas, where ever that may be.
Perfectly Provence is a highly recommended online resource, for those of us who want to learn more about Provence, its culture, its wine, its food, great places to stay and what not to miss when you are there. [Read more...]
It's creator, Carolyne Kauser-Abbott, gathers content collected from Provence's top regional writers and this month that includes Shutters and Sunflowers! What is it about this enchanting part of the world that is so captivating, that has an English girl living in California returning there again and again?
Click here to discover the answer and read the Perfectly Provence Article Shutters and Sunflowers, the Provencal Landscape
And don't forget to check out Perfectly Provence's fabulous digital magazine, all about Provence!
War; always tragic and horrific. [Read more...]
Creating desolation, carnage and destruction.
Causing immense suffering, misery and loss,
destroying and changing lives forever.
Singapore during World War II was thought to be an impregnable fortress.
When it fell to Japan on February 15th 1942 it was probably Britain’s most humiliating defeat.
What followed were three and half years of hardship and cruelty.
No more so than at Changi .....
Dubai, a large, vibrant, metropolis with ribbons of traffic clogging the roads in every direction. [Read more...]
Palm trees and mosques, peppered in amongst the towering skyscrapers.
Opulent shopping malls complete with indoor aquariums, ice rinks, ski runs and luxury hotels.
Throughout the day the wailing of the call to pray fills the air and it’s hot, very hot.
Istanbul, mystical and wondrous, nestled on the Bosphorus in the very centre of the world. [Read more...]
A vibrant, exciting city where the cultures of East and West, Asia and Europe, literally collide.
Wander its narrow, cobbled streets and let the treasures of the Grand Bazaar entice you; eastern spices, silks, lanterns, pottery, carpets and of course turkish delight!
Become entranced in the Hagia Sofia, opposite the beautiful Blue Mosque where their ancient walls tell their story, where Christianity and Islam merge, where you will be held spellbound.
Stand in the Roman Basilica Cistern and step into an ancient structure that will stun you, an incredible underground wonder held together by an assorted collection of pillaged greek columns.
Be captivated by the very many marvels of Istanbul!
Madrid, an alive and beguiling city, exciting and passionate. [Read more...]
A city of artists, beloved of Goya, Velázquez, Picasso, Dalí and Miró whose work adorns the magnificent walls of the Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
With probably more bars than any other city in the world, an evening in Madrid is full of sparkle and pidazz; from tapas to fine dining, eating in Madrid is a gastronomic delight but don't expect to eat early, reservations start at 9pm!
Madrid has a vibrant energy which bounces relentlessly off its city streets
It’s a city where music is part of the fabric of daily life,
Where people know how to live!
We veered the car off the main road to find ourselves bumping slowly along a dusty, track leading to seemingly nowhere. [Read more...]
Either side of us were an abundance of fig trees, their branches hung low, heavy with what looked like plump, black minature Santa’s sacks! Olive trees were scattered amongst them intermittently, truly the fruits of the Gods!
As we lurched forward and our trail narrowed we reached a small clearing, it was obvious we needed to continue on foot. Just a few steps to our right, over broken rocks and tall grasses our expectations were not high.
Ahead were what looked like the remnants of a few tumbled ruins, nothing at all spectacular, especially in this part of the world but as we reached them and glanced up to our left what we saw rendered us all speechless!
Before us was a spectacle that no-one could have prepared us for. Yes, Turkey is the museum of the world, the unexplored museum of the world!
Did these people really walk where I am standing? [Read more...]
Cleopatra, Marc Anthony, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, John the Apostle, Saint Paul?
Did they live here, on these same lush hillsides, amidst the olive groves and fig trees?
Did they feel the same warm breeze upon their face and gaze up at the same brilliant blue sky?
History ~ others’ interpretation of the past?
Faith ~ the cause of so much debate, so much pain, so much joy.
Archeology ~ proof?
Stand among the evidence, the tumbled down ruins of lost civilizations, the broken columns.
Listen, only the shrill twitter of bird song breaks the silence.
Listen again, hear the cheering, the applause.
Feel the brush of long robes as people hurry passed.
Sense the past
Decide for yourself
Beautiful, stylish villa set on 4 levels, set around a spacious, el fresco courtyard where the sunlight dapples upon the hand laid marble floors. [Read more...]
The stunning and dramatic vaulted entrance hall leads to a series of spacious receptions rooms artistically decorated with hand painted frescos and murals.
Boasting all modern conveniences, running hot and cold water and the latest in floor central heating!
Oozing character and charm, guaranteed to impress from the minute you step across the threshold, you will never want to leave!
Close your eyes, be quite still, concentrate hard and listen carefully……. [Read more...]
Then conjure up the sounds of Ephesus, the clattering rumble of chariot wheels passing along the marble paved street just inches from your toes. The occasional crack of a whip and startled whimper of a horse.
Snatched snippets of conversations peppered with laughter or exclamation.
Small, questioning children’s voices, complaining of the heat, pleading to go home.
The background hum of people, going about their business, some frantically rushing to appointments, others just out meeting friends or shopping. Pedlars trading their wares, the frenzy of commerce.
The symphony of a city then, really not so different from now……………..
As my stylish, little, Italian designed, rental car nipped along the twisting curves of Provence's Luberon Valley my heart skipped a beat in excited anticipation. Fields of lush vineyards flanked the narrow roadside, row after row of low lying bushes, their sun kissed leaves shading bunches of what looked like fat, black pearl earring clusters, drooping heavily to kiss the rich earth below them. The sky, although cloudless and bright had that feint hint of hazy pink and the air was perfumed with a musty, oaky, ‘wood barrel' aroma so typical of a warm autumn afternoon by the vineyards. The road ended in front of a golden, stone, clay tiled, winery where I turned right. I slipped passed the gently swaying olive trees, their silvery green boughs almost waving in welcome and then round the corner was that view, so well remembered, that I knew couldn’t fail to make me gasp, I was back in my special place, in Lourmarin. [Read more...]
Returning to a place that holds a treasured place in your heart is a bit like re-reading a well loved book. Even though you know what to expect, you can't quite believe that it's all just as you remembered it. Comfortingly unchanged, with the same power to draw you in although you still find yourself discovering things that you missed before. Last week I was back in Uzes, the enchanting bastide town just outside the far west corner of Provence, in Languedoc Roussillon. Special to me because it had been my home for 6 months and special to all who visit because of its magical ambience which quickly captivates all who become acquainted with this delightful town. Like turning the pages of a book, as I wandered through its well remembered cobbled streets, those carefully stored images were suddenly there before me, so many of the things that often spring to mind when one thinks of southern France. [Read more...]
England in September finds summer still lingering, the days maybe drawing in and autumn is just round the corner but the trees are still leafy green and although unpredictable the skies are frequently the colour of cornflowers. I went on a trip down memory lane with my mother, visiting places where I used to live but also where she lived as a little girl during World War II. As we explored the country lanes and villages together it hardly seemed possible that she had skipped along these very same pathways as a small child over 75 years ago, if only trees or walls or buildings could talk! [Read more...]
When I was a little girl and first travelled to London I remember feeling so excited to visit our country's capital city, London, the name I had seen so many times on road signs! It was a big family outing, we got dressed up and went out to lunch AND dinner. Our parents, full of enthusiasm eagerly toured us round, it all seemed so wondrous and unending; from Harrods, to Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch, round back to Buckingham Palace, up the Mall to Trafalgar Square then down Whitehall passing Downing Street where that important person, the Prime Minister lived, on to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the list was endless; the museums, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London, so many famous buildings and sights which I'd only seen in photographs or on the television. Red London buses, black London taxis, incredible museums, outstanding theatre and shops bigger and grander than I'd ever seen, bridge after bridge over the River Thames which seemed unrecognisable as the same river I was used to feeding the swans by in our home town! I remember feeling very tiny but I also remember thinking it was all so fabulous! So many years have now slipped by, so many beautiful cities now visited all across the globe but my capital city, London, still holds the most special place in my heart and I still think that it's pretty fabulous! [Read more...]
Greenfield Village, Dearborn Michigan, is part of the Henry Ford also the home to the Henry Ford Museum and Ford Factory. It was the brain child of Henry Ford who created it to preserve the legacy of many famous historical buildings where notable people from America's past lived and worked. Strolling through the village is a journey back in time. Visiting the homes and offices of people such as Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers or Ford himself, is a fascinating insight into how such people lived. Standing in the dining room of Orville and Wilbur Wright one can almost hear the chink of china as they pass the serving platters to each other around the table. So atmospheric and 'real' you feel like you are intruding on a close family meal! Every building has a special story to tell, each exudes its own unique ambience which embraces you the minute you cross the threshold. You come away feeling quite privileged to have had the opportunity to acquaint yourself with this country's rich heritage, an experience which I am sure is exactly what Henry Ford had in mind when he established this incredible village. There is so much to explore, one day simply isn't enough! [Read more...]
The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan is part of what has become know as 'The Henry Ford', a vast campus which includes the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village and the Ford factory, home to over 26 million artifacts. It was constructed from Henry Ford’s desire to preserve items of historical significance and portray the Industrial Revolution. Housing a vast array of famous homes, machinery and exhibits, including John F. Kennedy's presidential limousine, Thomas Edison's laboratory and the Wright Brothers' bicycle shop, the Henry Ford is the largest outdoor museum complex in America. It tells the story of American ideas and innovation, it is inspiring and utterly captivating! [Read more...]
Sometimes life take us to places that perhaps we wouldn't have thought of visiting, and sometimes that place turns out to be a pleasant surprise! Just an hour north west of Detroit we discovered the leafy suburbs of Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham, the charming nineteenth century historic towns of Franklin, Plymouth and Northville, farmers markets, cider mills and art festivals, the incredible mansion house gardens and educational center of Cranbrook, the vibrant university town of Ann Arbor; sumptuous waterfront properties fringing the many local lakes and the amazing Henry Ford Museum and its adjacent inspiring Greenfield Village where you can step back into bygone times in the house where Henry Ford was born and where the Wright brothers invented the very first aeroplane; utterly wondrous! And despite all we did see there was so much more we didn't; we shall just have to come back and urge you not to miss a visit to this beautiful state. [Read more...]
I have always wanted to cycle beside the shoreline at Lake Tahoe and take the bicycle trail along by the Truckee River. Last weekend we did both; what began as a leisurely bike ride by the lake to get a coffee became a 20 mile cycle from the West Shore to Squaw Valley! Once we'd started we couldn't help but keep going, it was just so beautiful! The following day we rested our somewhat sore behinds and cruised the lake; two wonderful ways to enjoy this incredibly special place! [Read more...]
There are some places which are breathtakingly beautiful and no matter how many times you visit, somehow, each time its natural wonder just seeps into your soul. Carmel, just 90 minutes drive south of San Francisco, on California's Monterey Peninsular is one such place. The dramatic coastline, the cypress trees, the stunning white sandy beach, the Mission, the quaint little town and even the fog......... simply put Carmel is enchanting; one on my favourite places, a truly special place, one that I love to return to again and again. [Read more...]
When hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail one is following in the footsteps of many; winding your way through the sequoia and pine trees to every so often catch glimpses of Lake Tahoe glistening in the distance. Walking beside Mother Nature like this restores the soul, every day trivia gets put into perspective, how splendid to have little else to think of apart from where your path might lead! [Read more...]
Early morning on the east shore of Lake Tahoe, California; the breathtaking beautiful vista is utterly beguiling, Mother Nature at her finest. Gazing out across the lake your toes sink into the soft, silvery sand which circles the shoreline like a diamond necklace. The crystal clear water sparkles, as tiny fishes twirl their way through brightly glinting gold flecks almost winking at you as they dance with delight. A haphazard collection of smoothly worn granite boulders protrude like large sleeping turtles. On the far horizon the majestic mountain tops of the Sierras soar into the azure skies, their steep foreboding faces guarding the lake from unwanted intruders. The air, perfumed with pines is fragrant and fresh; apart from the occasional bird song the world is silent, at peace; almost as if you are at the very dawn of creation. [Read more...]
Travel France Online has recently included my experience of returning to the magical bastide town of Uzès, 25 km west of Avignon. Having lived for several months Uzès had captivated my soul and visiting it a year later reminded me why! Uzès is the oldest duchy in France, it has a rich history and there is much to see; the Chateau, the Saint-Théodorit Cathedral and its Romanesque 11th century Tour Fenestrelle and just a 10 minute drive away, the incredible UNESCO world heritage site, Pont du Gard. Built in 50AD as part of the Roman aqueduct of Nimes, the arches of Pont du Gard are an ancient 2000 year old architectural marvel. Uzès itself is charmingly romantic, full of meandering, cobbled streets, flanked with golden limestone, shuttered buildings, many radiating off Place aux Herbes, the beautiful market place which rests at its center, home to a fabulous twice weekly market. Returning to this beloved place and re discovering its essence reminded me why Uzès is truly a special place. [Read more...]
I remember for my 9th birthday treat going to the cinema with my family and some friends from school who all came home for a birthday tea. In those days you actually got dressed up to go to the cinema, especially on your birthday! I felt very grown up as the film, although a musical, had serious 'tough guy' actors in it; Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood; that 1968 film was 'Paint your Wagon', re-telling the gritty story of the Californian Gold Rush. Of course I had no way of knowing then, that one day I would live in Northern California and on a regular basis chase up the freeway to Lake Tahoe, by-passing the small mining towns and trails from those early pioneer years. It's a journey we have probably done more than any other but this time we abandoned the four lanes of incessant traffic to follow historic Route 49. It twisted and turned its way through some stunning scenery, every hairpin a delight for my chauffeur, who gripped the wheel of his beloved German automobile in sheer delight! Set against a back drop of distant mountains, the narrow meandering route 49, lined with towering pines and sequoias followed the path of the bubbling, chuckling Yuba River; it reminded us of similar drives in France, Switzerland and Italy; maybe it was prophetic that the song I remember most from 'Paint Your Wagon' was the gravely tones of Lee Marvin singing 'I was born under a wandering star! Serendipitous perhaps that our journey took us through Downieville, the very heart of the Gold Rush and probably what the fictitious 'No Name city' was modeled on. [Read more...]
How does one feel on your only daughter's Wedding Day? It was hard not to be consumed with sentiment. Difficult not to think about my baby girl whose new born fingers had curled around mine; remembering the feel of her small hand trustingly holding mine as she took her first hesitant steps; that same little hand which timidly waved back at me when I left her on her first day of school; that hand which I have held through her joy, her pain, her laughter and her tears as she slowly blossomed to one day, this day, still holding my hand, she stood by her Daddy, adorned in white lace and silk looking more beautiful than words can define. [Read more...]
Every year on July 4th, thousands of Americans across this great continent adorn their homes in the stars and stripes, don their red, white and blue, attend local parades, and light up their BBQ's to celebrate America's independence from us, the Brits!!! Incredibly, 239 years later, we are each other's greatest friends and international allies and have been for decades. As Brits living in this amazing country we have always been warmly welcomed and have found life long friendships with the truly special people who have become part of our life here. Each year we have been moved by the patriotism and pride, resonating from every street corner, when the locals pulls out all the stops to celebrate their beloved country, during our little town of Danville's wonderful 4th July Parade. [Read more...]
Travel France Online has just added my visit to the ghost town of Oppede-le-Vieux to their portfolio. Situated in the Luberon Valley, in the department of the Vaucluse, Oppede-le-Vieux oozes atmosphere and ambience. Abandoned long ago it is a strikingly eerie spot and a stroll through its mystical, cobbled streets which lead to its 12th century ramparts should not be missed if you are in this region of Provence. Don't forgo the opportunity to become immersed into the spell binding shadows of Oppede-le-Vieux's beguiling ruins, the remnants of which remain a testament to a hauntingly by-gone era. [Read more...]
Travel France Online's just published my research on the charming architecture of Provence which beguiles the thousands of visitors that stay in this stunningly beautiful area of France each year. Despite the much admired golden stone walls, brightly painted shutters and low hung, clay tiled roofs these charming buildings were not build so much as to appeal to the eye but with more practical requirements in mind, the need to withstand the fierce gusts of the Mistral wind and the relentless summer heat. Regardless, the overall effect is entrancing and helps make Provence an idyllic spot. Its' dramatic landscape, abundant countryside of vineyards, fruit trees, olive groves, lavender and sunflowers together with its golden stone villages make it all utterly entrancing! [Read more...]
Travel France Online's latest addition to their portfolio is a visit I made to the charming, coastal village of Bandol in the department of Var, Provence. Nestled within the embrace of a sweeping Mediterranean bay, Bandol is renowned for its clear waters and sandy beaches. The surrounding vineyards are some of the oldest in France, its first vines were planted by the Romans over 2,500 years ago! Bandol's close proximity to the port of Marseille meant its wine was exported globally from very early times, Bandol wine bottles could be found in India or Brazil 2 centuries ago! Stroll its charming quay side, admire the neat moorings of cheery, brightly painted boats and stop for a while to sip the regions truly delicious wines, you won't be disappointed!! [Read more...]
A visit to any one of the spectacular outdoor museums, which are America’s breathtaking National Parks, always fills me with wonder. The grandeur and magnificence of nature laid out before you to stare and marvel at. Our recent trip to California’s Sequoia National Park, America's second oldest National Park, reminded me of just how miraculous nature is. Towering Sequoia trees, crisp, air fragrant with pine, mountainous views reaching into the sky and stretching far into the horizon. Imposing granite rock faces dominating all around them, challenging the most intrepid to conquer them. For over 125 years this incredible park system has worked tirelessly to preserve and maintain these natural phenomena for the millions who come annually from all across the globe, simply asking of them ‘to take only memories and leave only footprints’. [Read more...]
I am still here! As many of you know, life is a little busy with my daughter’s wedding just a month away! Undoubtedly the most exciting and biggest event I have planned. I love all the anticipation, organization and creativity; in some ways it's the best part, like preparing for Christmas. Pinterest and I have become very well acquainted, so many ideas to tempt and inspire, so much to think about. And all of this at such a beautiful time of year, when each morning the air is full of bird song, everything smells fresh, newly unfurled leaves have brushed the trees and plants in soft green flowers and an aura of fresh expectancy lingers throughout the day. [Read more...]
I love to entertain, it makes me happy and gives me such pleasure; preparing delicious food, choosing interesting wine, filling my house with flowers, setting a pretty table and creating an ambience with music, soft lighting and twinkling candles. I read many blogs about entertaining and decorating which are full of inspiring ideas, so am thrilled to share with you the beauty and creativity of a truly wonderful party I was invited to last weekend. It was my first ever bridal shower and what made it particularly special was that it was for my daughter, about to be married in June! As you will see from the photos it was magical, in an enchanted setting and overflowing with exquisitely arranged flowers, scrumptious food but more than anything the love of dear friends. [Read more...]
We all know how a plane journey can transport us to a different world in a matter of hours. I have spent the last three Saturdays, just three weeks apart, in three completely different places thanks to the miracle of flight. From the sophistication of a glamorous, world class, capital city; London, to the breathtaking beauty of the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe, to the sun drenched beaches and palm trees of Southern California. [Read more...]
There are some places you visit which speak to your heart and you leave wishing to return as soon as possible. Clifton, a quaint village within the city of Bristol, 70 miles, west of London, England, is one such place. I came to know and fall in love with it when our daughter lived there whilst studying at the University of Bristol. Charming, historic and packed with trendy shops and restaurants, Clifton’s avenues are lined with imposing, regency style properties where one expects Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett to appear from at any moment! [Read more...]
On our most recent visit to Lourmarin we stayed at Le Moulin de Lourmarin, a captivating, golden stone, former olive mill. In the heart of the village, Le Moulin is a charming little haven, maintaining the authenticity of its former life yet lacking nothing in modern conveniences in its delightful and cosy rooms. [Read more...]
You doubtless have heard of L'Occitane en Provence, a soap, creams and lotions company to be found on the high streets and shopping malls of most major cities in the world. Until recently, when I visited their factory in Provence, I had thought they were just another version of several other seemingly similar global brands only with a Provençale twist, using the charm of Provençale mimosa and lavender to allure! I knew L'Occitane products were made in Provence and on the few occasions when I had sniffed and sampled I had thought they were very pleasant but if I am honest I had rather dismissed them. I guess you should never judge a book by its cover, or a soap by is wrapping, even if it is very attractive! Having learned their remarkable story and spent some time familiarising myself with their products I was impressed and am excited to share a little of their story! [Read more...]
Gracious, golden, shuttered buildings, cobbled streets, cathedrals, museums, fountains, chic boutiques, restaurants and on a busy Saturday, market stalls tumbling out along the winding alleyways and gently shaded squares. Each proud vendor jostling for trade, offering a profusion of locally grown fruit, vegetables and flowers and a variety of temptation expected to be found in a Provencal marché; honey, herbs, soaps, tablecloths and a rainbow of brightly coloured baskets, This is Aix-en-Provence, the city jewel of the Var region of Provence. A charming, university city, vibrant and bustling, home of artists and writers, enthused over by a never ending stream of delighted visitors, whatever the time of year! [Read more...]
For centuries artists have flocked to Provence, in part for its beautiful setting and scenery but also because of its light. That transcendent quality like no where else, a clarity that sharply defines everything yet at the same time has the ability to create an almost translucent effect. The sun's rays stream illuminating orbs to dance across the golden, honeyed architecture, intensifying their colour and warmth, dappling the cobble stones and enhancing the natural ,mystical ambience of this captivating part of the world. Despite a biting February chill where the crisp, fresh air makes your cheeks glow, by early afternoon the sun has poured its warmth like a soft blanket over every unshaded corner. It allows you to bask outside in its glow, to sip a café crème and absorb the intoxicating atmosphere, and delight in the mere fact of being here. [Read more...]
We all know intellectually that a ten hour flight transports you to another world, yet no matter how many times you might make such a journey it never fails to surprise and amaze just how different that 'other place' is! On Monday I left my home in Danville, just 30 miles East of San Francisco. The violet blue skies and 70 degree temperatures had enticed new leaves to unfurl, fruit trees to become kissed with clouds of cotton wool blossoms and camellias and magnolias to burst into bloom. [Read more...]