Tag: travel france

Marseille, Resilient After All

Admittedly, my old view of Marseille came from mob and war stories in books, on TV and movies.

Now after visiting the city, I’m impressed. To me Marseille’s story is one of resilience. It shows how perseverance conquers adversity.

Marseille’s Story: Prehistory and Ancient Massalia

Marseille’s StoryThe earliest settlements in the area, now know as Marseille, date back to the Paleolithic period (60,000 BC). Residents lived along the Marseille basin which was about the size of the current city. The location was ideal for all types of sea activities. It was protected on the opposite side from the strong northerly wind, Les Mistral, by a range of tall mountains.

Around 600 BC the Phocaeans, Greeks from Asia Minor, arrived in the area to be close to their trading partner, Gaul. They named the city “Massalia.”

Marseille’s Story

Remains of Greek temple

A popular legend is that Massalia was a wedding gift from the Gallic king, Nannos, to his daughter upon her marriage to a Greek sailor. The story supports the belief that the nations were peaceful at that time. We do know the blending of the two cultures resulted in the introduction of olive oil, wine, ceramics and Grecian gods into the Gaelic world.

Marseille’s Story

From 600 BC to 49 BC the independent Greek city of Massalia grew into a prestigious seaport. Its sea trade, its infrastructure and its political system dominated the trade routes. They distributed goods along the coasts of Gaul to Iberia.

Marseille’s Story

Model of early Massalia

Marseille’s Story: The Roman City

Caesar captured Massalia in 49 BC. Artifacts unearthed at a site where the History Museum now stands attest to the Roman influence on the town. Massalia’s habits and customs, however, remained strongly Greek. Even the language.

Marseille’s Story

Marseille’s Story: Sacked, Ravaged, Back on Track

From the Roman age through medieval times, the city that became Marseille saw great prosperity and near-total destruction. The Visigoths captured Marseille and the Franks sacked it. In the early 10th century, Marseille experienced a revival as part of a Provençal territory which was divided in two. Arles and Marseille were the capitals.

During the twelfth century, Marseille was an independent republic with strong trade relations and naval prowess. A currency of its own boosted the city’s stature as well.

Marseille’s Story: A French Center of Commerce

Marseille’s StoryMarseille maintained political autonomy until it was absorbed into the Kingdom of France in 1481 along with Provence. Through years of religious wars and changes in French rulers, Marseille maintained its role as a major center of commerce and a vital port for defense. The city had an arsenal and fleets of warships.

Marseille’s Story

Fort Saint John

Under Louis XIV, Marseille was given “free port” status. To affirm his political power, the king ordered a new urban plan for the city. The size of Marseille went from 65 hectares to 195. Straight streets lined with mansions appeared, including the Canebière that leads to the Old Port. The new city had a fort and a new town hall.

The Great Plague

Thought to be carried from Central Asia through ship crews, the Great Plague of 1720 devastated Marseille. Over 30,000 out of the city’s population of 90,000 died from the outbreak.

Marseille’s Story

Marseille’s Story: The Revolution

The people of Marseille supported the Revolution sending hundreds of men north to Paris to fight. Along the way the rebellious marchers sang a song that is now the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.

Marseille’s Story

Troops from Marseille as depicted on the Arch de Triomphe in Paris

Marseille’s Story: Boom Time and Gangs

The middle of the nineteenth century was a “boom” time for Marseille. The port became a maritime hub for the rest of the world. Trade with the Far East and major shipping lines boosted the creation of a modern culture. At the same time, prosperity cut a deep wedge between the already divided city. The rich against the working class.

Marseille’s Story

Refugees, expelled or fleeing from their countries after WWI, brought droves of Italians, Corsicans, Germans, Armenians and Spaniards to Marseille in search of work. The world of gangsters and the underground grew under leaders such as Carbone and Spirito.

Marseille’s Story

Paul Carbone (top) and François Spirito

Marseille’s Story: Modern War and Destruction

The image of Marseille as a den of violence, drugs and crime is persistent in the eyes of many. Big screen movies and TV series, still today, such as “Marseille” help perpetuate the city’s reputation. Marseille is the second largest city in France today, so an element of such activity can be expected.

It’s how Marseille survived the apocalypse during World War II that is nearly incomprehensible.

Marseilles’ Story

German troops seal off the Old Port quarter of Marseille, the harbour side community.

The Old Port and surrounding districts were bombed and destroyed. The Germans, the Vichy government, the Militia and the French Popular Party actively suppressed the people. In January, 1943, more than 2,000 Marseillais were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. 

Like a phoenix, Marseille thrives. 

Marseille has an enduring charm. The metropolitan area of 1.5 million people consists of a melange of people of all races, creeds and nationalities. It is a place of huge economic, social and cultural significance to France. Marseille is proud and it shows.

Marseille’s Story

For more about Marseille:

The Doors and Windows of Marseille

Marseille is for Foodies

Marseille: A Stormy Past. A Brilliant Future.

A Holiday Gift With Meaning: A Blind Girl’s Dream

You who follow the adventures of the Barefoot Blogger know I had a fall in the Fall (pun intended), a trip on a Trip, and I’m still recovering.

After ten weeks cooped up in a hospital and rehab, I’m back home in Uzés, remembering it all. In retrospect, it was very traumatic. The fall, the ambulance ride and emergency room experience — all were very sudden and all in French.

I know I’ll get to the “other side” soon. I’ll walk without a limp; I’ll have full range of motion with my arm and shoulder. It’ll just takes time.

It seems a coincidence that during my confinement I learned about a friend’s bad luck that makes my “inconvenience” seem minor. The amazing Verity Smith, the blind equestrian I’ve written about, has lost the horse that was to take her gallantly into the Olympics.

This setback isn’t Verity’s first. She’s faced more than most of us could bare, including a childhood disease that left her blind.

After each setback, Verity gets up again. She finds a way to the “other side.”

Verity Smith inspires me and thousands of others. She gives meaning to so many lives. She needs our help. Please read on…republished from ¨France Today Magazine.

Verity Smith and A Blind Girl’s Dream: Olympic Gold for France

By Deborah Bine

A couple of years ago I met and wrote about a most incredible woman, Verity Smith. Based in Nîmes, she is an equestrian of dual British-French citizenship who hopes to be the first blind rider in the world to win both a Paralympics and an Olympic medal.

Verity’s life story is an inspiration. It’s a tale of grace and courage, hopes and disappointments, promises and tears. (Continue reading … click here..….)

Blind girl’s dream

A Holiday Gift with Meaning: A Blind Girl’s Dream

To learn more about a “gift with meaning” for Verity Smith, go directly to the GoFundMe site. Click here

Wish for France

Easy Day Trips from Uzès: UNESCO Pre-Historic Caves and Ardeche River Gorges

For visitors to Uzès there’s always something to keep you busy. If you’re not shopping on market day or wandering through the ancient town and discovering its charming streets and alleyways, you’re walking beside the stream in the Valle du l’Eure.

Perhaps you would like to venture out a bit more? See a totally different part of France, but travel only an hour or so away? Taking easy day trips to scenic and historic spots is another thing that makes Uzès so appealing.

Easy day trips from Uzés

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

Gorges de l’Ardèche

The Ardeche River runs through southeast France from the Massif Central to the Rhône River at Pont-Saint-Esprit near Orange. Along the way the Ardeche tumbles into a gorge that’s surrounded in some places by limestone river walls over nine hundred feet high. Known as the “European Grand Canyon,” the area draws over a million tourists each year.

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

In summer folks head to the Pont d’Arc at the entrance to the Ardeche canyon for canoeing, kayaking, swimming and picnicking.

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

As you can imagine, in autumn the drive along the river and through the multicolored hillside is spectacular. Add a stop for lunch in the town of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc.

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

Whether pre-history or cave drawings interest you or not, the UNESCO park and Cavern du Pont-d-Arc is a must-see if you’re in this part of France.

You can spend hours exploring the nature trails in the stunning park.

Easy day trips from Uzés

Friend Paula is leading the way. Or not.

Or head straight to the ultra-modern, twenty-first century exhibition center, the Cavern du Pont d’Arc, that houses a replica of one of the most important prehistoric finds in the world. The Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave.

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The Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave was discovered in 1994 by three amateur cave explorers. The cave’s interior is approximately 1300 feet (400 meters) with numerous chambers and galleries. Displayed on the walls, crooks and crannies of the cave are more than 1000 drawings dated from 32,000 to 36,000 years ago.

Cavern du Pont d’Arc

Caverne du Pont-d’Arc is a near-exact copy of the Chauvet cave which is the oldest known and the best preserved cave decorated by man. The modern-day designers of the Cavern were scientists and computer geniuses who mimicked every aspect of the original cave with the help of 3D graphics and highly advanced computer imaging techniques.

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On entering the exhibition area of the Cavern Du Pont d’Arc, you are immediately enveloped with the sights, the sounds, and, yes, even the smell of a 30,000 year old, Paleolithic shrine.

Easy day trips from Uzés

You transcend time to a place where Stone Age artists visited and left behind drawings to depict their everyday lives, images of themselves, their animals and their imaginings. Disney could not have done it better.

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

 

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

“This is a scientific and cultural site with touristic potential,” says Sébastien Mathon, a scientist and one of the 500 artists, engineers and special effects designers who worked on the Pont d’Arc project.This is a place to give a sense of the origin of us all.”

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

If you’re wondering why you must visit a replica and not the real cave, there’s a good reason. The Chauvet cave was discovered in 1994 and sealed off to the public the same year. Why? Scientists discovered from the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne that CO2 from  humans breathing creates mold that deteriorates cave drawings. The destruction within the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne was not to be repeated here.

The Aurignacian Gallery

While at the cavern plan to spend a few minutes … or hours, especially if you’re with children, at the Aurignacian Gallery. There you literally step back in time as you walk past life-sized humans and creatures that roamed this part of the world 30,000 years ago.

Easy Day Trips from Uzès

Easy Day Trips from Uzès: A Holiday Special Occasion

Visitors to the Cavern du Pont d’Arc December 27 and 28, January 3 and 4, 2018 are in for a big treat. You can meet the discovers of the Chauvet Cave, Eliette Brunel, Jean-Marie Chauvet and Christian Hillaire.

The cavern and park are open year round. If you want to skip the line, be sure to order tickets in advance.

https://m.facebook.com/cavernedupontdarc/

House Hunters International Uzés: The Inside Story

If you’ve been following the adventures of the Barefoot Blogger’s life in France, you might remember my brush with fame and the TV show, House Hunters International.

Well, it wasn’t exactly me on the popular show, but now I’m friends with the couple who brought the story to Uzès.

It all started with this email:

We’ve been waiting a long time to email you! In a little nutshell, my husband and I started researching the South of France and Uzes in particular last fall and discovered your blog. We fell in love with the area and made an offer on an apartment in Uzes that we now own!…We would love to meet you if are free at the end of June.

I couldn’t wait! House Hunters International is one of my favorite TV shows. I was going to get “up close and personal” with celebrities.

House Hunters International Uzés
Erin and Stuart at our first meeting

Over the months, between the first email and our dinner together, Erin and I exchanged emails. She told me about her husband Stuart and their blended family that includes four children. We clicked. As Erin said:

“We have loved learning about Uzes through your blog and feel a special connection because you are from the southern US as well. We are also weak on our grasp of the French language!

Now that I know Erin and Stuart, I’ve had a chance to learn a bit more about their TV experience. I asked them to tell me what it was like moving into their new place in France. A “behind the scenes” view to share with you.

House Hunters International Uzés

Here’s the story in Erin’s own words.

Why Uzés?

“We found out about Uzes on a general Google search. I put in ‘French Fractional Ownership’ because I thought that was all we could afford. One was available in Uzes through International Property Shares.

House Hunters International Uzés

I had never heard of the town, so I started watching Youtube videos and reading blogs. We liked the history of Uzes, the location: proximity to the coast, vineyards, mountains, and airports/train stations.

House Hunters International Uzés

Once we had fallen in love with Uzes online, we decided to look at the real estate market for a full purchase opportunity, and VOILA!”

How did House Hunters International get involved?

“We approached House Hunters via an introductory email about our plans to look in Uzés for a second home. The show directors contacted us and set up a Skype interview to learn more about us. It moved forward from there.”

Did you buy your new French home “as is?”
“We bought the apartment fully remodeled.”

House Hunters International Uzés

House Hunters International Uzés

House Hunters International Uzés

House Hunters International Uzés

House Hunters International Uzés

House Hunters International Uzés

You have four young adult children. What did they think?

House Hunters International Uzés

“The children did not have any clue of our plans until the actual filming of the show. We announced our plans on camera for the full effect of their reactions. They LOVED it!”

During the course of your House Hunters adventure, what was your worse day?

“Our worst day was on our first visit to our apartment in Uzés.

The day started with a trip to the local Carrefour store to buy a full list of things we needed to outfit our home. After what seemed like hours, scouting through the huge store, trying to read signs and language that made no sense to us, we headed to the checkout aisle. The store manager was there to meet us. He didn’t leave until he was convinced we could pay the bill.

Next we raced off to Nimes to buy a mattress and portable air conditioner. Thinking we would enjoy a nice lunch with a view before resuming our shopping, we looked for a cafe near the Arena. No parking. By the time we found a spot and walked back to the Arena in 95 degree heat, it was 2pm. The restaurant was no longer serving lunch.

We grabbed sandwiches and set off to finish our task. It took longer than we imagined to buy a mattress and an air conditioner in sign language, so when we headed back to Uzés we were pushing it. We’d planned to have time to freshen up, enjoy an aperitif and spend a relaxing evening at one of Uzés’ finest restaurants.

It didn’t happen that way. A wrong turn took us miles out of our way. We were on the road to Barcelona.

House Hunters International Uzés

We made it back to Uzés; rushed to the restaurant, sweaty and exhausted; but happy to relax with an elegant French meal.”

That was quite a day! What was your best day?

“Our best day was when all the kids were in Uzés with us the summer of 2017. On Saturday we went to the Uzes market, each with a mission. Using euros and a poor grasp of the French language, we were each to purchase food items for a picnic: cheese, bread, veggies, charcuterie. The next day we picnicked on the bank of the Gardon and canoed to the Pont du Gard.

House Hunters International Uzés

The kids had the best time. Alex jumped off a huge rock into the river. It was a wonderful experience!”

House Hunters International Uzés

Erin and Stuart admit their dream to live in France is just beginning. They are busy professionals and have many obligations at home. They’ll be “empty-nesters” soon. Their lives will change. Their getaway home in France is ready and waiting for them.

Welcome to France!

House Hunters International Uzés

For more of the story: House Hunters International TV Show Spotlights Uzes

They Chose Uzes! House Hunters International Update

Aix-en-Provence in One Day

It’s surprising to me that when people come to Provence their tours are often so short. Traveling from the Côte d’ Azur to Marseilles, to Aix-en-Provence, to Montpelier, to St. Rémy, to the Luberon, to Avignon, and all the quaint villages in between is a pretty tall order.

One destination that seems to be on everyone’s travel list is Aix-en-Provence. Simply known as “Aix,” the city has a bit of everything that makes Provence special: history, art, amazing architecture and charming Provençal markets.

Aix in one day

What if you had only one day in Aix-en-Provence? That was our challenge when planning this year’s South of France Memories Tour.

Aix in One Day: The Market

Market days in Aix-en-Provence are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Our Memories Tour visited Aix on a Saturday. The market, as expected, was packed. Fortunately, the wide avenue that cuts through Aix, Le Cours Mirabeau, easily accommodates large crowds of tourists, vendors and traffic. It’s seen more than its share since the seventeenth century road was built where the medieval ramparts once lay.

Aix in one day

Food markets, flower stalls and vendors with traditional and new Provençal merchandise filled popular downtown streets and plazas.

Aix in one day

The day we visited, the area was more congested than usual due to road construction. Torn up streets are not uncommon in cities with a growing population like Aix. Whenever roads are ripped up for repair or expansion, often ancient ruins are unearthed. All construction work stops until special teams of archeologists come in to access the findings. After all, a Roman city once stood and prospered here two thousand years ago.

Aix in One Day: Cézanne

Aix in one day

A “must” for a one day visit to Aix-en-Provence is a stroll through town along the footsteps of Cézanne. Square metal medallions literally mark the way.

A two-hour tour along the marked path with our brilliant guide Jennifer gave us an overview of the life of Paul Cézanne: the places he frequented around town: his father’s millinery store, his favorite cafe; and the neighborhood where he lived.

Aix in one day

Cézanne’s work spanned more than forty years, from roughly 1860 to 1906. He produced more than 900 paintings and 400 watercolors, some which were never finished.

Picasso said of Cézanne, “he’s the father of us all.

Interestingly, there are only a few of Cézanne’s art works in Aix. Or anywhere else in France for that matter. Cézanne was rejected personally and artistically by the art communities in Paris and in Aix. Towards the end of his life he was “discovered” by the Germans and Americans. Most of his work can be found in the great museums and galleries in those countries.

Aix in one day

Obsessed with Montagne Sainte-Victoire. Cézanne painted the mountain near Aix more than eighty times.

Cézanne is said to have inspired cubism.

Aix in one day

Two hours is hardly enough to explore all the life of Cézanne in Aix, but it was a start. Another day, another reason to visit …

Aix in One Day: Tourist Train

As the Barefoot Blogger suggests for first-time visits to a city, a hop-on-hop-off bus or tour train is a great way to get an overview.

It’s an especially good idea in Aix where landmarks can be obscure and far away from each other.

Aix in one day

During our one day visit to Aix, Memories Tour co-leader Patricia Sands and I carved out time to do what we love most: shop, eat and drink! I must come back, indeed.

Aix in one day

South of France Memories Tour 2018

Day 1: South of France Memories Begin in Nice

Day 2: Around and About Nice: Memories Tour Day 2

Day 3-5 Hot Spots on the Côte d’Azur: Memories Tour Day 3-5

Day 6:Aix-en-Provence in One Day

Day 7: A Perfect Day Trip to Sete: Gourmet Tour and Oyster Farming

Day 8: Memories tour/18 ~ Day 8 ~ Arles

Day 9: Memories Tour/18 ~ Day 9

Day 10: Memories tour/18 ~ Day 10 – St. Rèmy and Les Baux de Provence

Day 11: Memories tour/18 ~ Day 11(part 1) – Pont du Gard and San Quentin la Poterie

Day 11: Memories tour/18 – Day 11, part 2 – Uzés

Day 12: Memories tour/18 ~ day 12 – Wine Harvest

Memories Tour Interrupted

 

 

 

Aix in one day

Memories Tour Interrupted

When the Barefoot Blogger sets out for a new adventure, it’s hard to predict the trouble I might get into. On the eighth day of the South of France Memories Tour with author Patricia Sands and sixteen lovely ladies, I ended up in a French hospital.

Broken bones! 

A tour of the French medical system was more than I bargained for, yet, here I am.

French hospital tour

French Hospital Tour

It all started in Aigues-Mortes, the ancient walled city near the Camargue. Patricia and I were on our way back to the bus after finishing our guided tour and our lunch. We were running a bit late.

When we walked out of the main gate of the town, we saw the tour ladies had already boarded the bus. They were waiting for us. As we hurried across the busy street, laughing that it was the tour leaders who were holding things up, Patricia stumbled and fell. Out  of the corner of my eye, I saw her falling.

Next thing I knew, I tripped on the street curb. My face was headed straight for the sidewalk. I threw out my left hand to catch myself, then rolled to the right. My shoulder and hip pounded the pavement.

Immediately, I knew I was hurt. I was nauseous. It was just like I’d felt seven years before when I fell off the countertop in my kitchen.

French Hospital Tour

Since that fateful day in Aigues-Mortes, I’ve had surgery to put pins in my hip. My right arm is strapped to my side so the broken shoulder will heal itself, without surgery.

I’ve spent twelve days in the hospital. First the university hospital in Nimes. Now I’m in a rehab hospital that’s in a field somewhere between Nîmes and Uzés. Really. That’s all I can see.

French hospital tour

View from my private room at the rehab hospital

The medical care I’ve received — from ambulance to emergency room, to surgery and aftercare– has been superb. I couldn’t ask for better. The rehab hospital where I am now is brand new and modern. I’m in a private room.

Promise, I’ll write a post about the whole hospital experience later. Like me, some of you who travel worry about accidents. She far, so good.

Clipped Wings

Needless to say, I was really sad to leave Patricia and the Memories Tour. We were having a ball. The group of women that joined us from the US, Canada and Australia were an extraordinary bunch. It was like we were made to travel together.

French hospital tour

Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France, who made all the arrangements for the South of France Memories Tour, dropped all she was doing to stand in for me the last 3 days of the trip. Along with Patricia, they made certain that everything went along as planned.

The good news for the ladies was that they gained the benefit of a seasoned travel pro on their tour. In addition to her destination planning company, Nancy is known for her walking tours in Sete, Montpelier, Pezenas and more, and she teaches classes at the university in Montpellier to future travel agents.

French hospital tour

Sad News All Around

As discouraged as I was about my plight, I was distraught to hear of the damage done by Hurricane Florence back in the US. The storm hurled through areas I’d called “home,” causing friends and family to flee to safe places. To any of you who were affected, I pray you are faring well now.

Memories Tour Continued

Now that I know I can type with the thumb of one hand on my iPad, I plan to pick up where I left off on documenting the Memories Tour. My accident is not the memory I want to leave you with. Instead, it’s the friendships and experiences we had that I will be remembering for a lifetime.

Stay tuned …

French hospital tour

South of France Memories Begin in Nice

Around and About Nice: Memories Tour Day 2

Hot Spots on the Côte d’Azur: Memories Tour Day 3-5

 

France Travel Guide

A Travel Guide to France

Travel enriches us. Sometimes it literally changes our lives. This is a travel guide to France and to some of the towns, villages and regions the Barefoot Blogger has visited, along with stories on each. Check back often as places will be added as quickly as I can pack my suitcase! Bookmark the page for future reference and pass it along to your friends if you’d like.

Enjoy your journey!

A Travel Guide To France

 

Albi

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

Amboise

3 Days in the Loire Valley: Amboise

Anduze

Halloween Train to the Cevennes

Antibes

Antibes in Two Days: Moonlight and Absinthe

The Doors and Windows of Antibes

Arles

Arles’ Feria du Riz: Bullfights and Fanfare

Day Trip from Uzes: Arles, Saintes-Maries-De-La-Mer and the Camargue

Romans in France: The Mini-Series

Avignon

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont Du Gard, Avignon

What’s So Special About French Brocantes?

Beaucaire

Revisiting Van Gogh

Beziers

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 7-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Bordeaux

3 Perfect Days in Bordeaux

Bordeaux Day 1: The Secrets of Great Wine

Bordeaux Day 2: La Cité de Vin

Bordeaux Day 3: The Magnificent City 

Brantome

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

Bouziques

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 7-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

Carcassone

Trip Ideas You Can Steal From a 10-Year-Old’s Visit to France

A Visit to Carcassonne Through the Eyes of a Child

Caromb

Caromb and the Pipinette

How Can One Fine Day Go So Terribly Wrong?

Chenonchaux

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

36 Hours of Wine and Roses in Provence

Clermont Ferrand

Hanging Out In The Loire Valley

Collioure

Collioure: A City of “Special Light” for Artists

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 9-10 Port Vendres and Collioure

Corsica

Travel Corsica: From Sea to Snow-Capped Mountains

Domme

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

Gordes

Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

Goult

Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

Gif-Sur-Yvette

Living Like a King and Wallace Simpson

Juan-Les-Pins

Antibes Again? It Just Gets Better

La Grande Motte

Move in 7 Days or Bust!

La Grande-Motte: A Thoroughly Modern French Holiday

La Rogue Gageac

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

Les Baux de Provence

36 Hours of Wine and Roses in Provence

L’isle sur la Sorgue

Revisiting Van Gogh

What’s So Special About French Brocantes?

36 Hours of Wine and Roses in Provence

Lyon

What Does a Southern Gal Think of Lyon? “Hog Heaven!”

Lyon, France: Behind Closed Doors

Lyon’s Musee des Beaux Arts: “The Most Elegant Woman in Paris”

Lyon: A Feast For the Eyes

Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse and New Chaussures

Lyon Day One: Hog Heaven

Marseille

The Doors and Windows of Marseille

Marseille is for Foodies

Marseilles: A Stormy Past. A Brilliant Future.

Marquay

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

Menerbes

Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

Mont Montmartre

5 Things You Should Do in Montmartre

Montignac

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

Nice

Nice is Nice. Marc Chagall Makes It Nicer

Heading for a Beach in France? Nice!

City Side of Nice: Favorite Finds

Uzes to Nice: Nice!

Nimes

A Bridge To The Past: The Roman History of France Revisited

Nimes Arena: The Great Roman Games

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont Du Gard, Avignon

Jeudi de Nîmes: J’aime Nîmes!

An Insider’s Guide to Shopping in Nimes

The Feria’s in Nimes. Let the Party Begin!

In Awe of the French: History Preserved

Oradour-Sur-Glane

A Personal Journey Back in Time

Orange

Three Very Good Reasons to Visit Orange, France

In Awe of the French: History Preserved

Paris

Paris Night Lights

Christmas in Paris

A Photo Guide to the SNCF/TGV Trains at Paris’ CDG Airport – Updated

Paris Through Your Eyes

Back to France. First Stop: Paris

Travel Tips for Passing Through CDG Paris

Paris: Fiddlers Rock the Château

Look What’s Cooking on Sunday in Paris

Pezenas

Saturday Market in Pezenas, France

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard: Architecture or Art?

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont Du Gard, Avignon

A Bridge To The Past: The Roman History of France Revisited

How to Make French History More Fun

Romans in France: The Mini-Series

Uzes in November: A Two-Day Tour

Port Vendres

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 9-10 Port Vendres and Collioure

Remoulins

Revisiting Van Gogh

Rocamodore

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

Roussillon

Roussillon: For Art and Authors

Why Roussillon is “Red”: Fact and Fable

Fall … In Love With Provence

Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

Travel Guide to Dordogne: Hints, Finds and Faux-Pas

Saint-Bertrand-De-Comminges

French Spa Tour and Cure: Through the Pyrenees

Saintes-Maries-De-La-Mer

White Horses on the Beach: Festival d’ Abrivados Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Day Trip from Uzes: Arles, Saintes-Maries-De-La-Mer and the Camargue

Saint Jean Du Gard

The Cevennes: Saint Jean du Gard

Saint-Paul-Les-Dax

French Thermal Spa: The Cure

San Quentin la Poterie

Oh La La Poterie!

Sunday Fetes in France: Wine Tasting and Pottery

Uzes in November: A Two-Day Tour

It’s Time for “La Tournée du Père Noël” in San Quentin la Poterie

A Dream Vacation in the South of France. It’s All in a Day’s Work.

Shopping Finds in San Quentin la Poterie

Off the beaten path: Part 2

San Quentin la Poterie for Art and Lawrence Durrell

The Best Ever Le Chocolat Chaud

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Revisiting Van Gogh

36 Hours of Wine and Roses in Provence

Sete

7 Reasons To Visit Sete This Year

Sete or Marseille? Which Has the Best Fish Soup?

A Day at the Beach in Sete: That’s Life!

Next Stop: Sete France

Barefooting in Sete, France

The Bad Girls in Sete

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 7-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Sete: Abbeys and Vineyards

By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sete

Sete: Eat, Pray (to eat), Love (to eat)

Final Days in Sete: Parties, Artist Friends and Days at the Beach

Strasbourg

The Very Best Christmas Markets in France

Best Christmas Markets in France: Strasbourg

Uzès

Uzes on your Mind?

100’s more… Type “Uzes” on the Search bar to find out all you want to know about Uzes

Vaison-la-Romaine

Three Very Good Reasons to Visit Orange, France

Versailles

Living Like a King and Wallace Simpson

Special regions of France

Camargue

7 Reasons You Should Go To The Camargue

Back to the Camargue: The White Horses

A Most Unusual Place for a French Vineyard

Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

Travel Guide to Dordogne: Hints, Finds and Faux-Pas

Loire Valley

Hanging Out In The Loire Valley

3 Days in the Loire Valley: Amboise

3 Days in the Loire Valley: Wine Caves and Parties

3 Days in the Loire Valley: Château Clos Lucé and Leonardo Da Vinci

Loire Valley: Château Villandry and Living Large

Luberon

Fall … In Love With Provence

Why Roussillon is “Red”: Fact and Fable

Roussillon: For Art and Authors

Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

Lost in the Luberon Part Two

 

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Nice city break

Nice City Break: Marc Chagall Makes It Nicer.

If your Nice city break is all about fancy Côte d’Azur beach clubs, great French and Italian food and the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean, you’d be right. It’s all that…

Nice city break

… and more. 

Nice city break

Musée National Marc Chagall

Nice city break

Marc Chagall

Nice was the home of artist Marc Chagall during the last part of his life and the largest collection of his work is permanently enshrined in the Musée National Marc Chagall, specifically, his “Bible” series. The museum is a bit hard to find, nestled in a park-like setting in a residential neighborhood of Nice, but it is every bit worth the effort to go there if you’re an art lover.

Nice city break

Musée National Marc Chagall

In addition to the  paintings which Chagall offered to the French State in 1966, he created the stained glass windows facing the garden and in the concert hall.

Nice city break

The Blue Rose

Nice city break

The Creation of the Word

Chagall’ surrealistic approach to his subject and bright basic colors is what delighted me with the exhibit. His deep understanding of the Bible, which came from his roots and from years of study as a Hasidic Jew growing up in Russia, is more than obvious in his work. Yet the simplicity of his characters makes the stories easy to grasp for all.

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I did not see the Bible, I dreamed it. Ever since early childhood, I have been captivated by the Bible. It has always seemed to me and still seems today the greatest source of poetry of all time.

Marc Chagall

Nice city break

 

Next time you plan your Nice city break, work in a morning or afternoon at the Musêe National Marc Chagall. Spend some time in the garden and stop for a coffee and dessert. It’s a favor to yourself you won’t forget.

Nice city break

 

More about Nice:

Heading for a Beach in France? Nice!

City Side of Nice: Favorite Finds

Uzes to Nice: Nice!

Nice city break

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Wish for France

Day 2: Wine Tour Bordeaux Cité de Vin

Three days is the perfect length of time to spend in Bordeaux if you want to get a taste for the city. On this visit I spent Day 1 learning about the secrets of great wine

Day 2: Wine Tour Bordeaux Cité de Vin

The ultimate museum for wine lovers! Immerse yourself in wine history, wines of the world and more in this ultra-modern experience made for learning and fun.

 

Wine Tour Bordeaux

La Cité de Vin

If you ever imagined a Disney World for wine lovers, La Cité de Vin would be it. 

Wine Tour Bordeaux

La Cité de Vin entrance

From the grand front entrance to the wine bar that is at the top of the towering 8-story building, there are visual and sensual activities throughout. 

Wine Tour Bordeaux

The Belvedere where you can taste a selection of the world’s best wines

For the ticket price of 20 euros, you can spend hours wandering through the massive exhibition spaces or focus on your area of interest. Twenty themed spaces — some within bottle-shaped stations, others with audiovisual productions — enable you to self discover the influence of wine on world culture, history, geography, arts and sciences.

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For a special occasion, imagine lunch or dinner here. It is accompanied with a 360 view of the nearby area of Bordeaux and the Garonne. 

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Dinner with a 360-view

Looking for a favorite vintage? The circular”wine cellar” has a collection of 14,000 bottles on display and for sale.

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Wines from around the world

Simply follow the map

Wine Tour Bordeaux

“Map” of wines for sale at La Cité de Vin

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Expensive wines for expensive tastes

Architects from Paris won the design competition for imaging La Cité de Vin and the building was opened to the public June 1, 2016.  The shape of the futuristic museum symbolizes “knotted vine stocks, wine turning in the glass, the swirls and eddies of the Garonne river.

Wine Tour Bordeaux

At the top, movable glass panels aid in ventilation. A marvel of ingenuity and sustainability!

Wine Tour Bordeaux

Glass panels that move for airflow

If you think it can’t get any better that to visit Le Cité de Vin, it can! There are temporary exhibits such as “Bistro” that are scheduled throughout the year in the art gallery.

Wine Tour Bordeaux

“Bistro” Exhibit

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Ready for Day 3 in Bordeaux?  Stay tuned …. 
Wine Tour Bordeaux

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Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux Day 3: The Magnificent City

What can I say about the city side of Bordeaux other than “I love it!”? 

If I was in the business of designing a modern city, it would be just like Bordeaux.

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Perhaps that’s why the mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Marie Juppé, is thought of like a rock star. He is considered a monumental player in promoting and revitalizing the city — from infrastructure to visionary new projects such as the La Cité de Vin.

Bordeaux city tour

La Cité de Vin

Throughout its existence Bordeaux has been a city fraught with war and nation-changing. From 300BC when a Celtic tribe settled Burdigala through the eighth century, Bordeaux was ruled by Romans (the capital of Aquitaine), the Vandals, the Visigoths, Franks and marched on by the Muslims, Basques, and the Vikings. (Click on the highlighted links for more history information.)

Port Cailhau, shown below, is part of the city wall from 1496

 

Bordeaux city tour

Porte Cailhau

In the 12th Century, Bordeaux gained importance throughout Europe with the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to the heir of the French throne, Louis VI who became King Louis VII. Eleanor later divorced Louis and married Henry of Anjou, aka King Henry II of England.

Some girls have all the luck!

OK … right … Eleanor also spent a good amount of time fighting in the Crusades and years in prison, but still …

Cathédrale Saint-André is the site of the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII, the future king of France, in 1137.

Bordeaux city tour

CATHÉDRALE SAINT-ANDRÉ (Bordeaux Cathedral)

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Bordeaux city tour: 19th Century Architecture

Bordeaux hit its stride in the 1800s when most of the city’s downtown buildings were built with such elegance that it became the model for transforming Paris to a “modern” capital.  Today many of those structures still frame the boulevards, pedestrian walks, neighborhoods and parks.

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From the fine details of art and color found on private homes and public buildings, to the massive and ornate statues and churches, Bordeaux is a masterpiece of art and architecture.

Bordeaux city tour

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Church of Saint-Louis in Chartrons

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One of the places I walked past dozens of times was the Opera House. My hotel was only a few steps away. I didn’t plan ahead and there were no tickets available for the current performance; however I sneaked into the lobby to take a few photos. Photos inside the Opera area were not allowed. (Be sure to check out the Opera’s website)

Bordeaux city tour

Opéra National de Bordeaux

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A memorial to the Girondins, a political faction during the French Revolution, is the centerpiece at the Place des Quinconces and one of the most vivid reminders of the French Revolution. 

Bordeaux city tour

Monument aux Girondins at Place des Quinconces

And who isn’t amazed at the Miroir d’Eau — the Water Mirror created in 2006 along the UNESCO sited Port de la Lune between The Place del la Bourse and the River Garonne?

Bordeaux city tour: Food and shopping

Restaurants, food and places to shop are just as diverse and colorful as the rest of the city. Here are some of the stops I made through the city.

A cheese shop here …

Bordeaux city tour

Goat cheeses

A canele store there …

(a pastry that’s a legend – read more here)

 

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Canele de Bordeaux with macaron and almond treat

Unique shopping galleries, big name brands and charming boutiques fill the town.

 

Bordeaux city tour

 

Bordeaux city tour

 

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour: At night

Perhaps the most memorable is Bordeaux at night.

 

Bordeaux city tour

Opéra National de Bordeaux

Bordeaux city tour

Bordeaux city tour

Place de la Bourse

This isn’t a fraction of the sights and sounds of Bordeaux. I could go on and on. Now you know why I must return! 

 

More about Bordeaux:

3 Perfect Days in Bordeaux

Wine Tour Bordeaux: The Secrets of Great Wine

Day 2: Wine Tour Bordeaux Cité de Vine

 

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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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