Tag: About Uzes

An Insider’s Guide to Shopping in Nimes

Last week the Barefoot Blogger took a shopping trip into Nimes, the closest “big city” near Uzes. I had curtains on my mind.

As much as I try, there’s always something I think will make my apartment in Uzes even better. This time I’m looking for some simple curtains for my “utility” room. To be honest, the room didn’t need curtains until I bought the precious daybed in San Quentin de la Poterie. Remember it from this blog? It’s now in my “utility” room, soon to be “reading room.”

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After a few times driving to shopping areas in Nimes, I’m beginning to know my way around. There’s the downtown area with it’s trendy shops and promenades. Then there’s the megastores on the outskirts of town. Carrefour is one of the biggest stores and it’s much like a Walmart or Target. The big difference is that there are a number of smaller stores under the same roof, so it’s like a shopping center with an anchor store — except the whole center has the name of the anchor store — “Carrefour.”

Then there are a multitude of huge, sprawling stores along the same highway as Carrefour. Most are named “rama“-something.

IMG_2781 My destination for the day was Castorama. 

Castorama reminds me of Home Depot in the states, complete with huge lighting displays, appliances and garden decor. (How ’bout those crazy floor lamps?!)

Wandering through the store, I couldn’t help but wish I could use a chartreuse toilet seat!

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If the wall sign “J’dore” had been in red, not hot pink, it would have gone home with me!

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Outdoor furniture was really impressive. I’m not certain I’ve seen anything quite this stylish in the Home Depots I visit. Not a bad price either!

But back to my reason for the shopping trip — curtains. There was a big selection, including Hello Kitty.

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After filling my tiny shopping cart (large carts are available) with my selection of curtains, rods and curtain hardware, I went to the checkout where I was welcomed by the friendly, English-speaking cashier. Who, by the way, loves the USA. Her cousin lives in California.

 

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Oh! One thing that I failed to mention is how you get from Uzes to Nimes by car.

You drive along a two-lane, winding road that requires a lot of concentration and courage. If you have a few minutes to watch the video, you can imagine the ride. Areas along the narrow roadway are lined with blanc trees that are so close together you don’t want to blink when a car is approaching. The mountainous curves remind you of road races you see televised from France. In fact, the route between Nimes and Uzes is often on the Tour de France course because of it’s difficulty.

(OK, so I sped up the video a bit … but you get the idea!)

Later, Dinner in Uzes

The drive to Nimes and shopping trip took less than two hours. Then it was back to Uzes for dinner with two new friends — readers of the Barefoot Blogger from Pittsburgh!

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It’s not often that I rave about a restaurant; however, this night was special. I hardly recommend Comptoir du 7 in Uzes. Our dinner in the garden was devine.

First course, salads (anytime a salad is served with a puffed pastry, it’s a winner!)

Main course

Beef course served by Cyriel

Beef course served by Cyriel

 

… and a very special dessert — an assortment of sorbets with spun sugar and chocolate lace on a cookie crumble

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A very fine day, indeed!

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Hello Summer. It’s Music Time in Uzes!

What better way to welcome in summer in Uzes than with music all around town?

It’s Fête de la musique à Uzès with music ranging from flamenco guitar to folk music, to rock. Stages were set up on street corner and plazas throughout the historic area with hundreds of spectators taking in every precious moment.

My venue of choice was flamenco. My new friends from Pittsburgh — fans of Barefoot Blogger! — invited me to join them for dinner at Ma Cantine, directly in front of the street stage.

The friendly owner of Ma Cantine, Terry, welcomed all to join that could squeeze around the tiny tables. Menu selections for the night were limited and reasonably priced. Along with his wife and the Liv Tyler-lookalike server, Terry kept busy serving drinks to seated customers, as well as people standing in the crowd.

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Down the street a bit and around the corner, more music in the Place aux Herbes, more bands.

 

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Of course, I should have known it would be a perfect night when I headed out the door wearing

a blue polka-dot dress, a petticoat

and red shoes with bows …

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… and it all ended with a perfect summer sky.

Uzes sky welcoming summer

Uzes sky welcoming summer

 

 

Going, Going to France

Today started out early for me … like 5:30am to put together the last bit of packing. 

Admittedly, I’m not the best at packing light. Visits back and forth to France include shipping a few boxes by Fedex. It’s down to three 16″x20″ cartons each way. 

  
My travel luggage is pretty reasonably sized. Except for the fact I chose a large handbag as a carry-on instead of a small suitcase and purse. Of course, by the time I lugged it on my shoulder it through check-in, I realized it was too heavy. So now I have a new traveling companion: a wheeled cart from Brookstone. 

  

No cost savings here, but it is light, easy to roll, and it folds down easily. So far so good. 

 While putting the buldging boxes together last night with packing tape, my son commented I had bought the wrong boxes. “Heavyweight,” he said. 

“Just wrap them with extra plastic wrap,” I said, undaunted. “If they’re dropped, they’ll bounce.  

  

On the ride to the airport this morning, in the backseat with my fourteen month old grandson who was strapped into the car seat, we held hands all the way . 

Those little hands will be a bit larger the next time we meet.

There were sad goodbyes to Bentley and Maddy, too. I’ll miss our walks along the wooded trails in the neighborhood. 

  

Cutting up with seat mates

Judging from the travelers who I sat beside on the two legs of the U.S. Journey, this is going to be an interesting trip: a master craftsman of knives, and a nanny for a high-powered family in DC. 

The blade smith, Wally Hayes, sells “folders,” swords and the like to Saudi kings and American rock stars. After mentioning “folder” several times, I finally asked what he meant. A folder is a folding knife, not a marketing brochure as I thought. Duh…

The nanny told me of her glamourous life in DC, meeting Presidents and dignitaries. Vacations with the family are to exotic places all over the world. 

I may have stumbled upon a new career!

Now, so that I can post this before leaving the States, I’ll say: stay tuned. Iceland and landing in Paris next! 

  

France Bound At Last! Returning the Economy Way

After six months away from my home in France, I’m on the way back to Uzes!

I’ve had a wonderful time in the U.S. with family and friends; and now it is time to continue my life-changing adventure in the south of France.

My dear friend, Geoffrey, is picking me up at the TGV station In Avignon on Tuesday.

2014-04-30 13.12.03When I called to let him know my plans I joked:  “Are you ready to play?”

“Why, of course!” he replied in his usual jovial tone.

Good thing he didn’t ask me about my French proficiency. 

Try as I might, I continue to find that studying French is not my favorite pastime. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important for me to speak the language of my new home. It’s just that is such a labor to learn it. Perhaps when I’m back among all French-speakers, I will have picked up more than I know. We’ll all find out soon!

Budget Travel Hints

My oldest son is a genius at traveling light and traveling cheap. He should write a book. For my return home trip he shared one of his economy flight-scheduling tips.

He uses the flight search engine Skyscanner. It enables you to put in a country as the origination, instead of designating your closest airport, then enter your destination city.  For example, origination= USA, destination = Paris.  When the scan is finished, you can see the city in the US that has the lowest fare to Paris. (It’s usually JFK, BWI, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, or Boston.) Then search for the lowest fare from that place to you nearest major airport.

When I was searching for my flight, it happened that BWI (Baltimore/Washington) had a fare to Paris that was practically 1/3 the cost of flying from my closest airport, Atlanta to Paris. When I added the cost of a flight to BWI from Atlanta, the total was half the cost of a trip straight from Atlanta — including paying for luggage and extra legroom at my seat.

Mind you, on the day of travel, I fly from Atlanta to BWI, to Iceland, to Paris. It’s going to take awhile, but I’m saving $500-$600!

From Paris, I’ll take the TGV high-speed train to Avignon.

This is all going down on Monday. On Tuesday evening, I’ll be back home in my sweet tower apartment in Uzes!

Stay tuned!

Duche in Uzes

Duche in Uzes

 

 Last Trek Through the Carolinas

It’s been a very long time since the Barefoot Blogger packed her bags to leave Uzes for Lyon, Istanbul, Nepal, and then to the States for the holidays.

The extended stay is due to a full health overhaul–greatly needed with “advancing age”– which disclosed my need for a dental implant. These things take months to complete! Soon it will all be history and I’ll return to my beloved new home in France.

Meanwhile the “friends and family” tour through the Carolinas continues. Here are some of my favorite sights!

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Sweetgrass baskets

Party boat!

Marsh birds

Goat Island


Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina (outside Charleston)

  


  “Camp Rosie” outside Southern Pines in rural North Carolina

“Time for dinner?”

Lake at Camp Rosie

Lake at Camp Rosie

“Big’un” taking in the beauty of Camp Rosie while Brenda swims laps

Camp Rosie

Camp Rosie

Camp Rosie

Camp Rosie

For those of you who don’t know rural North Carolina, these are common scenes. Land of tobacco barns, golden fields, and trailer homes. 

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La Grande-Motte: A Thoroughly Modern French Holiday

Just an hour down the road from Uzes, near Montpelier, is the beach resort, La Grande-Motte. At first glance, it’s a bit like seeing a piece of contemporary furniture among French antiques.

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By all descriptions, La Grande-Motte is a modern, planned, vacation home community. I wasn’t expecting to see such a place in this part of France. Perhaps around Nice. But not so close to Montpelier, a city that is so splendid and classically elegant.   Nevertheless, the manicured walkways, golf courses and harbor at the holiday site are very appealing.

Le Grande-Motte

Le Grande-Motte

 

 

 

 

A sailing regatta was underway the day I was visiting. Many of the famous boaters of France were participating.

Sailing regatta at La Grande-Motte

Sailing regatta at La Grande-Motte

 

A walk around the property leads to the promenade with shops and restaurants.

Promenade at La Grande-Motte

Promenade at La Grande-Motte

 

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Dejeuner offers a wide selection of local fare.

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La Grande-Motte, which boasts seven miles of sandy beach, offers a wide choice of accommodations. In season, I understand the resort is filled to near-capacity.

Accommodations and parking at La Grande-Motte

Accommodations and parking at La Grande-Motte

 

I mean, who can resist a walk or bike ride along this beautiful shoreline?

 

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Biking at La Grande-Motte

Biking at La Grande-Motte

 

One of the best features to  me is the proximity to one of my favorite places — the Camargue. Catamaran tours and 4×4 “safaris” into the marshlands of the Camargue are once-in-a-lifetime adventures that make La Grande-Motte a stop on my tour list.

 

 

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Please “Do Not Return”

Please “Do Not Return”
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The Barefoot Blogger has an apology to make. When I was giving hints about moving to France and getting rid of stuff, the rest of the story hadn’t played out.

(Why did you move to France?)

Now that I’ve been back in the States visiting, there’s another lesson:

Don’t stay so long on your return that your kids start giving your stuff back!

Returned "stuff"

Returned “stuff”

 

Longeberger Baskets, anyone?

Longeberger Baskets, anyone?

 

Now, where does it all go? Here’s the last view of my warehouse storage.

I’m keeping this because ????

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French Artists and Friends

French artists and friends

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By now you know that some of the Barefoot Blogger’s favorite people in France are artists.

Let me tell you about one that I’ve just met — Andy Newman.

It’s really an interesting story of how Andy and I got to know each other. Over the internet. You see, Andy has been visiting my blog at the suggestion of another artist I met in Uzes, Jean Marie Memin.  (Here’s a link to the story about Memin.) After I published the story about Roussillon, Andy sent me an email saying: “Your Roussillon town photo brings to mind any number of the paintings that will be included in my exhibition next month.

An image was attached to the email that looked like it could have been drawn from one of my photos. 

Ochre-Tinted houses in Roussillon

Ochre-Tinted houses in Roussillon

 

 

 

Andy Newman painting

Andy Newman painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I emailed Andy back, he sent even more examples of his work.

Now I’m hooked. Andy’s work is so representative of the red hills, valleys and ochre-colored houses of the Luberon that it’s almost like being there. 

Who is Andy Newman?

Andy hasn’t always been an artist. He was a Washington, DC lawyer. It wasn’t until 1994 that he gave up his law career and started painting full time.

I love people with “new beginnings.”

Andy grew up in France, England and Italy. His father was a Foreign Service officer. He attended French schools as a child, completing high school and university in England. He returned to the United States to attend law school, then practiced law for fifteen years in Washington. Andy realized in the late 80’s that he had a passion for art and that it was becoming more than a hobby. He had studied Edward Hopper, Derain, Vlaminck, Lucian Freud and Mark Rothko. He was developing a voice of his own. So when he left the law firm in the 90’s, he was already entrenched in his new career. 

The subject matter is no accident.

Andy returned to visit France in the summer of 1974 — to the region around Bagnols-sur-Cèze. In 2005 he bought a village house in Cavillargues where he and his family spend their summers.

The artist’s work has been exhibited at galleries in Nîmes, Montpellier and Le Grau du Roi. The exhibition at the Centre St Maur in Bagnols is his first to be put on in partnership with a municipality. If you’re nearby,  be certain to put a visit to the show on your “to do” list.

 

ANDY NEWMAN: EXPOSITION “RENCONTRE”
avec FLORENCE CORBI et PIERRE AMIEL
Centre d’Art Rhodanien Saint-Maur, Bagnols-sur-Cèze
du 13 au 26 avril, 2015

For more information on Andy Newman and his art, click here

I’m Learning French!

The Barefoot Blogger is learning French!
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For all those ‘doubters’ out there who think the Barefoot Blogger will never learn French, here’s news.

After two years living in France, and during a short visit to family in the States, I’m taking French lessons seriously. Seriously.

The Rosetta Stone CDs, levels 1-5, are loaded in the computer and the headphone is out of the storage box. What’s more, every night before I go to sleep, I play games in French on my iPhone. The phone app’s called “Mindsnaps” and it’s really cool.

Mindsnaps French

Mindsnaps French

 

“With 1000+ words to master and up to 40 hours of engaging gameplay, shooting the breeze in French will soon be as easy as enjoying the view from atop the Eiffel Tower. As for that difficult French accent, each word in the app features a matching audio clip provided by a native French speaker to help with pronunciation.

 

 

2tAs infantile as it looks, this silly game seems to be teaching me something. I’m already to level 10!  Perhaps ‘infantile’ is exactly what I needed to inspire me!

If you recall, my French tutor in Uzes gave me a good start. She’s a speech therapist, so making the right sounds is important to her. Now if I can just build on what I learned during that brief time, hopefully, I’ll make some progress.

I’ll keep you posted. Wish me luck!

 

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“Why Did You Move to France?”

“Why Did the Barefoot Blogger Move to France?”
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It’s time to answer a most-frequently-asked question: “Why did you move to France?”

“Because I could” 

That might sound like a smug answer, and I don’t mean it to be taken that way. Yet it’s true. I’m healthy, my children are in good places in their lives, and I figured out how I could afford to live in France.

Let’s set the record straight. I’m not wealthy. A farmhouse to remodel in Provence is not in the plan. I “finagle” and try to stretch my retirement funds, just like most everyone else.

What I did was add up how much it would cost me to live in France — which is less than you’d think– then I minimized my monthly costs in the US.

Getting rid of “stuff” for a move to France
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By “minimize”, I mean I got rid of my “stuff.” Some things went to my children, some were sold at an estate sale. Charities got boxes full of clothes and household items and the few remaining “treasures are stored in a mini-warehouse.

 

“Minimize” also says to me, for the time I’m in the States over the holidays, I “mooch“. (There are a few friends who actually love for me to visit with them for weeks at a time.) My first year back to the US from France, I put over 5000 miles on a “borrowed” car to see friends. I drove to South Carolina, North Carolina and through Georgia to stay for one to two weeks each with various good buddies. Most of them have guest “suites” which works out great for us all. Happily, all my hosts have homes with beautiful views. I’m blessed.

Camp Rosie

Camp Rosie

P.S. They all know they have a “vacation home” to visit in France, anytime they’d like. Some have already taken my offer.

This year I really lucked up. I moved in with my son and family during my time state-side.

50196353Throughout my youngest son’s childhood he often said: “Mom, when I’m married, I’m going to build a house in my backyard for you.”

I took him up on it.

He’s finished the walk-out basement of his home into a guest apartment.

It pays to teach your children to keep promises.

P.S. The “rent” I pay while I’m in the guest quarters helps him with the cost of the house addition — which adds to the re-sell value of his home. A “win-win” for us both.

Costs in France

Apartment rental is less than you’d think in small villages in France. Problem is, if you want a furnished apartment, usually, you can only get a one-year lease. The “tower” apartment I fell in love with was unfurnished. It has a three-year lease.

As you’ll remember through various early posts, I furnished the apartment in Uzes with pieces mostly from brochante stores. I shopped around for good values on other new items. The best part about this is that when/if I leave, everything can be sold back to tDSC_0087he brocantes or through a house sale.

Some things I “bartered” from my friend Geoffrey who was “downsizing” his massive collection of “stuff.” As for the cost of utilities, food and “miscellaneous”, everything’s about the same as in the US.

 

Cars and more cars

Just like iPhones, I have a car for France and a car for the US. Both compact vehicles were purchased “used” with 100,000+ miles on each odometer — for less than the price of one “new” car. Yes, I pay to store the car in France, but it’s not exorbitant, and I know it’s safely put away from weather and vandals.

"Minnie" - my stateside car

“Minnie” – my stateside car

“Minnie” is stateside, “Lucy” is in France.  If I ever leave France, “Lucy” will find a new “cash ‘n carry” home.

 

 

 

Why not move to France?

Now when anyone asks why I moved to France, I turn the tables and reply: ask “Why not?”

Believe me, if you want something badly enough, you can figure out how to get it.

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The French “Ninth Art”: Bandes Dessinées

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The French love bandes dessinées — drawn cartoons.  We may call them  “funnies”  in the States  but here they take the art form quite seriously. 

The graphic style is recognized and debated by art historians in France as the “Ninth Art”  —  a category that ranks comic drawings along with poetry, architecture, painting and sculpture.

My first exposure to bandes dessinées (drawn strips) was at an exhibition in the Place De Herbes.

Art in UzesThinking it was a book signing that was drawing the crowd of people, young and old, I walked up to the tent set up in the plaza to get a closer look.

Strips of cartoons on single sheets of paper; comic books in soft and hard covers; and colorful posters were stacked in piles on the tables. Hard-bound books with CDs of George Brassens, Jacques Brel, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and other music icons were arranged in neat rows.

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Artists were busy selling and signing the books and comic strips to the enthusiastic shoppers.

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The artist that got my attention was Jose Correa.

Jose Correa

Jose Correa

He was seated at the end of one of the long tables, busy signing his work — with gusto. It was his art that was featured on the poster for the event, I learned.

“Ok,” says me to me as I walked to get in line to meet Correa. “I’ll get a poster and have it signed.” “Better, yet, ” says me, “I’ll  ask him to sign one of his CD books.”

Jose Correa

The CD set has music of Jacques Brel, the French singer who became famous during the time of Frank Sinatra. Brel is still a legend in France. The CD book has pages and pages of  cartoon drawings by Correa, along with his dialogue on the music.

Jacques Brel CD book

Jacques Brel CD book

 

Inside bande dessinee graphics, poetry and CDs

Inside bande dessinee graphics, poetry and CDs

Owning a CD with a personal message from the artist sparked my curiosity about bandes dessinées.  Here’s what I’ve learned.

“Bandes dessinée” is a type of art made popular in France and Belgian in the 19th century. Unlike “comic books”, the subject matter for bandes dessinées was not humorous. The “strips of paper” were more like graphic novels, occasionally penned by famous French artists. The drawings often raised public debate, similar to political cartoons. (See below for reference and more details.)

 "A family supper" from Caran d'Ache in le Figaro on February 14, 1898. The drawing depicts the divisions of French society during the Dreyfus Affair. At the top, somebody says "above all, let us not discuss the Dreyfus Affair!". At the bottom, the whole family is fighting, and the caption says "they have discussed it".

“A family supper” from Caran d’Ache in le Figaro on February 14, 1898. The drawing depicts the divisions of French society during the Dreyfus Affair. At the top, somebody says “above all, let us not discuss the Dreyfus Affair!”. At the bottom, the whole family is fighting, and the caption says “they have discussed it”. Wikipedia

In the 20th century the popularity of bandes dessinées grew rapidly as the drawings appeared in national papers and magazines. Themes were both serious and humorous. Cartoon characters and comic books from America flooded into Europe.

Le Journal de Mickey, based on Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, was published in France in 1934.

Le Journal de Mickey

Le Journal de Mickey

When War started, the Nazis occupying this part of Europe banned comics that came in from the US. Bandes dessinées artists in France and Belgium picked up the slack and finished many of the adventures of Superman and Flash Gordon. Since then, comics from the US have never been as popular with the French — replaced by the work of famous comic artists from around the world.

Some of the cartoon characters known in the US today originated in France.

Recognize this?

The Smurf characters originated in France.

The Smurf characters originated in France.

References: Thanks to Wikipedia for providing just enough information to make me dangerous!

Caran d’Ache the artist 

The Dreyfus Affair

‘Til next time 10247353_712774975446317_5694589719174608707_n

Stacey Kent Concert in Uzes

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There are a few musical events in my life that the Barefoot Blogger will always remember. The concert with Stacey Kent in the Cour du Duche high on the list.

A magnificent azure sky against the yellow haze of the Chateau du Duche and a soft summer breeze made the evening in Uzes seem heaven-sent. Add to that the clear, innocent voice of Stacey Kent, singing my favorite type of music — Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, aka Diana Krall and Melody Gardot. It was an experience that made me pinch myself several times during the performance to make certain I was not dreaming.

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Although I live only a few feet away from the Chateau du Duche, I had never been inside the courtyard. Guests are invited for special events and occasional tours.

 

Inside the Cour des Duche

Inside the Cour des Duche

 

The Cour des Duche

The Cour du Duche

 

The private Chapel

The private Chapel

 

 

Stain glass windows to the Chapel des Duche upclose.

Stain glass windows to the Chapel du Duche up close.

 

The stage set up inside the Cours des Duche

The stage set up inside the Cours du Duche

 

There was even a glimpse of the Duke and the family who were entertained from the balcony onto the Cour du Duche.

 

The family and the Duke

The family and the Duke

 

Isn’t it fun to see royalty up close and personal?

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Stacey Kent and her ensemble were casual and at ease with the mostly French audience. Stacey Kent is an American and conversed easily in French, telling the crowd about the music and her fellow musicians — especially her husband, the lead brass and wind artist.

 

 

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Stacey Kent in concert in Uzes

 

Stacey Kent

Stacey Kent

 

 

Jim Tomlinson, Stacey's husband and saxophonist extraordinaire.

Jim Tomlinson, Stacey’s husband and saxophonist extraordinaire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now sit back and enjoy the music of Stacey Kent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Night in Uzes: Carmen at the Met

Movie Night in Uzes: Carmen at the Met

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Somehow it seems strange to see a French opera, performed live in New York, broadcast live at a cinema in Uzes — with French subtitles.

It was truly a memorable event. Carmen and more. Not only was it the first time The Barefoot Blogger has seen the opera “Carmen” in full;  and the first time I’ve seen an HD performance by the Metropolitan femk14_15_900x900carmen_500x500Opera; but also, the first time I’ve attended a night-time cinema in Uzes.

 

The opera and cast

When last I heard music from “Carmen” I was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The Carolina Master Choral of the Grand Strand, as a fund-raiser, hosted a professional opera singer who performed a few of the most famous arias.

This “live” version of “Carmen,”  in HD from the Met,  was broadcast in the only cinema in Uzes. As I watched the performance, I was remembering Myrtle Beach and other times in my life when I’ve heard the music from “Carmen.” I also thought of the millions of people all over the world who were attending the HD event along with me at their local theaters. Isn’t technology amazing!??

People who have seen an HD version of the Met operas have said how wonderful it is. Now that I’ve been to one myself, I have to agree. It’s the next best thing to sitting in Lincoln Center.

 

The Cinema in Uzes

The only theater in Uzes is on a narrow street that runs into the main “rue” of town. From the outside the building looks like a theater straight out of a Woody Allen film.

Cinema in Uzes, France

Cinema in Uzes, France

 

The inside isn’t much different.

 Except at this cinema, there are “do-it-yourself” popcorn machines and bizarre candy machine.

Popcorn maker for "vanilla" flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for "salted" popcorn.

Popcorn maker for “vanilla” flavored popcorn, as well as another machine for “salted” popcorn.

 

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

Candy machine at Cinema in Uzes

 

Most interesting is that you can order a meal that is served during intermission.

 

Cinema - goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

Cinema – goers enjoying a meal at intermission of Carmen

 

The menu

 

Cheese and fruit plate

Cheese and fruit plate

 

Serving up soup and salad

Serving up soup and salad

 

Wine, beer, champagne and other drinks of your liking, of course.

 

The cinema bar

The cinema bar

 

The Met performance of “Carmen” was a unique experience. Now that I know that meals and drink are available for most nightly theater shows, I know I’ll be back! If you’re in Uzes, the Cinema is definitely a place you should check out. There are several films with English subtitles each week. Or if you’re trying to learn French, going to a show with French subtitles is an interesting way to practice reading the language.

Love Carmen! Love the Cinema!

 

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Oyster Roasts, Magnolias and Pat Conroy

Oyster roasts, magnolias and Pat Conroy

This must be the “South”… USA, that is.

While away from my beloved France, I thought, perhaps, friends there and beyond might like to know how we spend time in the winter months in the southern states along the east coast.

In Beaufort, South Carolina — where I used to live– the Historic Society throws a party in January as a fund raiser for the organization. An oyster roast is held “down by the riverside” in front of one of the town’s most beautiful and historic properties — Marshlands.

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This year the weather was very agreeable with temperatures in the 50’s. (I’ve been to some when the temps were barely above freezing.) Unless there’s torrential rain, folks gather around each year, ready to put down bushels of steamy hot oysters, served by the bucketfuls.

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Oyster roasts, southern style, are accompanied by a spread of pork barbecue, baked beans, coleslaw and cornbread. For most of us, the main attraction is the plump oysters that are plucked out of the marsh-water beds that surround the town.

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Nothing like their oyster cousins in the south of France that are single-shelled and huge, the low country variety are small but, oh…so tasty. Short knives with wooden handles are put to action slipping into the crevices of the shell clusters. You know it’s worth the trouble when you take your first bite, with lemon slices, saltine crackers and hot sauce on the side.

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The tradition of serving steaming oysters on long tables by the waterway goes back to the earliest times of southern living.

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Truly, in Beaufort, old customs are very fitting. Here Spanish moss and ancient oaks have graced the landscape for centuries.

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Stately mansions have survived revolutionary and civil wars.

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The flags of five nations have flown over this town– Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and American.

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Novelist Pat Conroy calls this “home” and many of his books and movies have been rooted right here, including “The Prince of Tides”, and “The Great Santini.”

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“Forrest Gump” and the “Big Chill” were filmed in Beaufort, and at least a dozen more.

In Beaufort front porches, magnolia trees and quaint gardens are common along historic district streets.

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Breakfast patrons at Blackstones stand to pledge allegiance to the flag mornings at eight (see #3).

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Not far away are beaches and scrub grass and places to play.

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Yes, if there are beautiful destinations you want to see, head to one of the best on earth — Beaufort, S.C.

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Travel Diary for Foodies

Travel Diary for Foodies
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There’s no better way for a “foodie” to recap a year’s travel than to revisit meals and favorite foods devoured along the way.

Enjoy the journey!

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Macaroons from Christmas Market, Uzes

Christmas Market, Uzes

Chicken Stewing at Christmas Market, Uzes

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Appetizers in Turkey: Calamari and Mixed Seafoods

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Salmon Salad, San Quentin La Poterie, France

Meat Pies, London, England

Meat Pies, London, England

Fruit Tray for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fruit Tray for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Fresh Greens and Homegrown Tomatoes, Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Cappuchino, Port Vendres, France

Wine! France!

Wine! France!

Garlic! L'Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Garlic! L’Isle sur la Sorgue, France

Ham Biscuits for "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Ham Biscuits for “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Coffee at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Lobster with Penne Pasta in Nice, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Shrimp, Oysters and Mussels in Sete, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Fresh Greens with Lardon and Goat Cheese in Uzes, France

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Bruschetta in Florence, Italy

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Street Vendor Paella in Arles, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Seafood Starter in Lacoste, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Greens and Chicken Salad, Roussillon, France

Punch with Fruit Ring, "Southern" Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Punch with Fruit Ring, “Southern” Baby Shower, Douglasville, Georgia, USA

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Fish and Chips, London, UK

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

Gnocchis au Chèvre et Aubergine in Nice, France

"Four Seasons" Pizza in Uzes, France

“Four Seasons” Pizza in Uzes, France

"Bouchon de Lyonaisse" Salad in Lyon, France

“Bouchon de Lyonaisse” Salad in Lyon, France

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Everest Beer, Kathmandu, Nepal

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists' Fete in Uzes, France

Oysters, Shrimp, Tapenades at Artists’ Fete in Uzes, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Entrecote and Frites in Avignon, France

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Sherpa Biscuits in Pokara, Nepal

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Saucisson in Uzes, France

Brioche with Caramel Glace

Brioche with Caramel Glace in Lyon, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Tuna Steak in Collioure, France

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Grilled Octopus, Nova Siri, Italy

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Pork Medallion, Uzes, France

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

Fresh Fruit, Brie and Lavender Honey on Crusty French Bread for Lunch!

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O, Come Let Us Adorn Thee

The Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques 

Over the past few years I’ve had the blessing to travel to some of the most religious places in the world. One of the most impressive things I’ve learned is that, regardless of the religion, followers adorn their places of worship in much the same way. Enjoy some of the brilliant churches, temples and mosques of France, Scotland, Turkey and Nepal and embrace the similarities they share.

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Istanbul, Turkey

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Uzes, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Istanbul, Turkey

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Pisa, Italy

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Nepal

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Istanbul, Turkey

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Avignon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Kathmandu, Nepal

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Lyon, France

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Rome, Italy

 

 

Brilliant Churches, Temples and Mosques

Strasbourg, France

 

 

 

Christmas in Paris

Christmas in Paris
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This time last year I was in Paris. Just thinking about again is a thrill.

Only three months after I moved to France I was home bound to spend the holidays with my family in Atlanta, Georgia. I left France with mixed emotions since I hated to leave my new apartment and friends in Uzes. So the stop over in Paris for a few days was a perfect way to get into the holiday mood.

Now that I look back, these photos bring back memories of just how much I love Paris — especially at this magical time of year.

Christmas in Paris 2013

If, by any chance, you are in Paris this season, I’d love to know how much of the decorations are the same. A Santa’s Village on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées? Blue and white color theme?

Maybe next year I’ll come back through Paris to see for myself!

Christmas in Paris 2013

 

Christmas in Paris 2013

 

Christmas in Paris 2013

 

 

Christmas in Paris 2013

 

Christmas in Paris 2013

 

 

Christmas in Paris 2013

 

 

 

A carriage ride on a chilly December night

A carriage ride on a chilly December night

 

Followed by a view of Paris from the "Loop"

Followed by a view of Paris from the “Loop”

 

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I Love Paris!

I Love Paris!

 

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Uzes at Christmas: Revisited

Uzes at Christmas: Revisited
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As much as I like to travel to new places and visit again with family I love, I miss my new home in France over the holidays.

Revisit these memorable moments with me from Christmas in the beautiful village of Uzes, France.

 

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Just one of the narrow streets filled with shops and cafes that are decorated to celebrate Christmas in the beautiful village of Uzes, France.

 

Bobo French fashions at Atelier des Ours are extra-special at Christmas

Bobo French fashions at Atelier des Ours are extra-special at Christmas

 

Love the gifts of Provence from this local shop

Love the gifts of Provence from this local shop

 

Macaroons at Christmas Market Uzes. Need I say more?!

Macaroons at Christmas Market Uzes. Need I say more?!

 

Musicians caroling on the sidewalks help create a oldtime holiday mood

Musicians caroling on the sidewalks help create a old time holiday mood

 

The neighborhood wine store and flower shop is decked for all holiday occasions

The neighborhood wine store and flower shop is decked for all holiday occasions

 

Table toppers and other festive decorations fill store windows at Atzana

Table toppers and other festive decorations fill store windows at Atzana

 

Gifts for the season -- galore!

Gifts for the season — galore!

 

Potter at San Quentin La Poterie during Holiday Exhibit

Potter at San Quentin La Poterie during Holiday Exhibit

 

Favorite dress shops are decked with their finest

Favorite dress shops are decked with their finest

 

At wine tastings there's a party going on!

At wine tastings there’s a party going on!

 

Chestnuts roasting at holiday markets

Chestnuts roasting at holiday markets

 

All wait for the Holiday Parade

All wait for the Holiday Parade

 

Saint Nicolas makes his appearance wishing all a 'Joyeux Noël'

Saint Nicolas makes his appearance wishing all a ‘Joyeux Noël’

 

‘Joyeux Noël’ to my friends in France!

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Istanbul: A Turkish Bath

Istanbul. A Turkish Bath

For the last few weeks, Mon Fils and I have been walking in the footsteps of the ancient Romans: touring Ponte Gard, Carcassone and the amphitheaters in Nimes, Arles, Orange, and more. So it’s only fitting that we would give ourselves a Roman treat while in Istanbul.

A Turkish Bath
There are almost as many Turkish baths in Istanbul as rug dealers. Choosing which “hamami” is the “best” is hard to do. One that was highly recommended is Çemberlitaş Hamamı. Built in 1584, it is one of the oldest baths still in operation today.

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My first
Having never experienced a Turkish Bath, I didn’t know what to expect. First of all, I didn’t have to take the swimsuit I’d carried along in my suitcase. When I checked in, these are all the “supplies” I was given.

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From the front desk I was told to walk upstairs into the “women only” side to claim a locker for my belongings.

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There I changed into only in the contents of the small bag; I wrapped the checkered towel around me; and I braved it back downstairs. A few of the lineup of similarly clad ladies sitting around on benches in a damp room motioned me to go through the big wooden door into the hamam. There I was not-so-gently grabbed by the arm by a little lady half my size. She pointed me to the huge, circular, heated stone.

Already there were a dozen or so mostly nude women stretched out on the stone. Most were positioned so they created a circle around the outside edge. Some were laying and some were sitting up towards the middle of the circle. Quickly I realized the women inside the circle were “resting” after their baths. The outside circle was in the “work zone.”

I lay flat on my back on my towel on the warm, wet stone for a few moments . Then I felt warm water being poured on my belly. My “attendant” was finishing up with another client and didn’t want me to feel abandoned.

While in this position for awhile, I marveled at all I heard around me in the mist-filled room: water splashing; tin pans clanging on stones and fountains; and the happy voices of women talking among themselves in many different languages.

I almost forgot I was waiting when a huge splash of water poured over my head. The little lady attendant was ready for me next.

The scrub
You’ve surely guessed the little lady with the strong arm gave me quite a workout. Not exactly a “massage, ” the treatment was about as rugged as I would like. The Turkish towel in her hand felt almost like Brillo. But then, it did as advertised and took all the dead skin away… almost to the bone.

Just kidding.

The Turkish bath was better than any facial, any massage I’ve ever had. And another reason to return to Istanbul.

In Awe of the French: History Preserved

In awe of the French

Anytime I take a trip in France and walk among ancient Roman ruins, I am thankful to the French.

In French towns and villages where the Romans used to roam, you can actually see, feel, touch and experience the places of the past. There are arenas, forums and amphitheaters in the center of towns that are as active today as they were 2000 years ago.

Maison Carree in Nimes

Maison Carree in Nimes

 

 

 

Arena in Arles

Arena in Arles

 

Arena in Nimes

Arena in Nimes

You can climb on and over the walls, paths and steps where Caesar’s men walked.

Pont du Gard Aqueduct

Pont du Gard Aqueduct

 

You can tread the same routes where early villagers pushed their carts and lead their horses.

 

Ruins of Maison au Dauphin in Vaison-la-Romaine

Ruins of Maison au Dauphin in Vaison-la-Romaine

 

l'Arc de Triomphe in Orange

l’Arc de Triomphe in Orange

 

Thank you, France, for preserving these sites; for leaving these places open and

available to the public.

Roman Baths in Arles

Roman Baths in Arles

 

Théâtre antique d'Orange

Théâtre antique d’Orange

 

Thank you for enabling us to re-live, revere and learn from those before us. 

Jardins de la Fontaine in Nimes

Jardins de la Fontaine in Nimes

 

 

Amphitheatre in Arles

Amphitheatre in Arles

 

Tour Magne in Nimes

Tour Magne in Nimes

 

Source of the Pont du Gard in Vallée de l'eure, Uzes

Source of the Pont du Gard in Vallée de l’eure, Uzes

 

Amphitheater in Arles

Amphitheater in Arles

 

Remnants of the aqueduct at Pont du Gard

Remnants of the aqueduct at Pont du Gard

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks to Pete Bine for contributing photos for this post!

For more information on the sights, visit these “sites”

In Nimes:

Arena

Jardins de la Fontaine

Maison Carree

Tour Magne

 

Pont du Gard

 

In Arles:

Arena

Amphitheatre

Roman Baths

 

In Orange

Théâtre antique d’Orange

l’Arc de Triomphe

 

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