Bill Nye the Science Guy Explains the French To You

You might know Bill Nye The Science Guy from his TV shows. He’s kind of goofy and is always explaining things like magnetism and volcanoes and how blood flows through the body. And he’s a big fan of bow ties.

But you wouldn’t think of him as someone who would give you deep insight into the French. That would be the Existentialism Guy or the Postmodernism Guy, not the Science Guy, right?

Wrong.

You can read the full article at Frenchly.

Secrets of St.-Rémy: The Best Place for a Picnic

Just ten minutes from the center of St.-Rémy is a shady picnic spot known only to the locals. It sits along the shores of a lake created thousands of years ago by the Romans.

When hordes of tourists crowd into town, it’s nice to take a break in a quiet spot. So grab some wine and cheese and let’s go!

The Lac du Peiroou is a small reservoir, the result of a dam that spans two rocky outcroppings near the ancient city of Glanum. While the present dam was built a century ago, the original dam dates back to the first century B.C! The Romans put it there to supply water to Glanum and it may have been the first vaulted (curved) dam ever built.

The dam is at the bottom of the V

The lake has a wide, grassy area at one end, with trees that provide welcome shade on a sunny Provençal day. It’s the perfect place to spread out a blanket and enjoy a lazy afternoon. And stocking up for your picnic is easy – you can get everything you need at St.-Rémy’s Jardin des Alpilles. 

Dogs love it, too!

You can splash around in the small beach area to cool off, but don’t try catching any fish – you need a special permit for that.   So just relax, read a book and think about where you are going to have dinner.

 Is that a fish?

 

Getting There

Head south out of St.-Rémy in the direction of Glanum. About half a mile past the Tourist Office make a right turn onto Avenue Antoine de la Salle. There’s a small sign marking the route to Lac du Peiroou but go slowly and look carefully because it’s easy to miss.

After about a quarter of a mile, the road will fork and there won’t be any signs telling you which way to go. But have no fear! Turn left and go about 2/3 of a mile. At this point there will be a little road leading off to the left and you’ll see a small parking lot. The lake is just beyond.

If you drive, be careful along the last stretch because the road is narrow and a bit twisty. You can also bike or walk to the lake but beware – there are some hilly spots that you might want to avoid on a hot day!

What Would You Like to Read?

Hello!

One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence has been out for six months and has been gratifyingly well received.  Thanks to everyone who has read it and an extra-special thanks to those of you who have written a review.  I really appreciate it!

I’m planning to write a second book, continuing the story of the adventures Val and I have been enjoying in France.  Before I do, I would love to get your thoughts.  I have a few questions and would be very grateful if you would let me know what you think.

 

What did you enjoy about One Sip at a Time?

What would you have liked to be different in the book?

What did you expect but not find in the book?

What would you like to see in a second book about our life in France? How would you like it to be different from the first book (if at all)?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Or you can email me directly at author@keithvansickle.com.

Thank you!

Keith

The Best Value Wine in France? (and a secret picnic spot)

Just ten minutes from one of France’s most famous sites, the Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard, sits the tiny village of Estézargues.  There’s not much there – no charming cafés or famous monuments.  But on the edge of town you can find some astonishingly good wine— wine that you might consider the best value wine in France!

You can read the full article at France Travel Tips.

The Alpilles from the Air

Many of us love the Alpilles, the “little Alps” that rise between the famous Provençal towns of St-Rémy and Les Baux. Their craggy beauty dominates the surrounding landscape. But outside of taking a plane ride, it is impossible to appreciate them from the air.

Until now.

Gilles Lagnel’s new book, Les Alpilles Vues du Ciel, includes over 100 magnificent photos of the Alpilles and their many attractions.

You can read the full article at Perfectly Provence.

 

A Story of Franco-American Friendship

Today is Bastille Day, with presidents Macron and Trump joining together to recognize America’s entry into WWI a century ago. No matter what you think of the politics of these two men, it is heartening to see this recognition of the long friendship between our two countries.

It reminded me of a story from a few years ago, when my wife and I were living in France…

We were walking through town with our dog Lucca when an older gentleman asked what breed he was. We stopped to talk and he quickly figured out from our accents that we are not native French speakers.

“Are you English?” he asked suspiciously. Relations across the English Channel are not always the friendliest.

His frown became a smile when we explained that we are Americans. He shook our hands warmly and thanked us for “saving” France in 1944.

It wasn’t the first time this had happened. It was always gratifying to know that American sacrifices during the war are still remembered and honored.

When someone thanked us for 1944 we always tried to return the favor.

We would express our gratitude for France’s essential support during our war of independence. We would point out that France is America’s oldest ally.

And we would tell them something that even most Americans don’t know.

There are only two portraits in the House of Representatives, one of the centers of American government. These large paintings hold pride of place, flanking the Speaker’s rostrum. On the left is the father of our country, George Washington; on the right, French general Lafayette.

And the painting of Lafayette came first.

 

20 Books That Have Changed French Lives

France is one of the most literate and literary countries in the world – the average French person reads 15 books a year and French authors have won more Nobel Prizes than those of any other country.

But what if it’s all an act? What if, instead of reading Proust and Zola, the French are really binge-reading romance novels while eating pain au chocolat?

I decided to investigate.

You can read the rest of the article at Frenchly.

Benvengudo means Welcome

Just below the famous hilltop fortress of Les Baux sits the boutique luxury hotel Benvengudo.  The name means “welcome” in the local language and it couldn’t be more appropriate.

Walking onto the manicured grounds of Benvengudo is like stepping back in time, to a more simple and gracious era.  The hotel provides a rare mix of traditional and modern, and you’ll be reluctant to leave when your stay is over.  You’ll ask yourself – can’t we linger just a bit longer?

Benvengudo began fifty years ago as a simple, four-room country inn and restaurant, built by Daniel and Maryse Beaupied.  Daniel had trained as a chef under the legendary Paul Bocuse before earning a Michelin star of his own.

You can read more about Benvengudo here.

Secrets of St.-Rémy: Parking

The Wednesday morning market in St.-Rémy is one of the best in Provence. And it is very popular, which makes parking a challenge. There are a few spots available in the pay lots and on the street, but they tend to fill up early. So most people have to park far from the market.

This is fine on the way in, but trudging back to your car with everything you bought at the market can be a pain. Isn’t there a better way?

Happily, the answer is yes, and most people don’t know about it.  And it’s free!  It’s a series of parking lots that you wend your way through and you can find parking even on busy market days.

The series of lots is called Parking de la Libération. It’s on Avenue de la Libération, just off Boulevard Mirabeau. But it is not well marked and can be hard to find, even with a GPS.  Here’s how to find it.

If you are coming from out of town, you will probably find yourself on the D99 at some point. This is the East-West road between Cavaillon and Tarascon. Get off the D99 onto the D99A on the East side of town (there are two such intersections.) Go 1.5km, until just BEFORE you dead end onto Boulevard Mirabeau. On your left will be something that looks kind of like extra space between buildings but is actually a driveway. Here’s what it looks like.

Alternatively, if you are coming from St.-Rémy itself, you will probably be on the ring road that circles the downtown. It changes names several times and at one point becomes Boulevard Mirabeau. When you get there, stay in the right lane and take the exit towards Cavaillon.

After 70 meters, at the crosswalk, the parking lot entry will be on your right. Go slowly or you will miss it! Here’s what it looks like.

Turn right and go slowly. You’ll end up in a small parking lot that is always full. Don’t worry, go to the far end of the lot and follow the “Sortie” sign.

Now you will be in a larger parking lot that is also probably full. Drive out the exit on the far side (that is, to the right as you first enter the parking lot.) As you drive through the parking lot, keep your eye out for this sign on your right – it’s the walking path into town.

As you exit this second parking lot, going up a little ramp, you will enter a third parking lot that looks like the second one. On market days it is usually full. Never fear! Keep going, out the far side of this lot and up another ramp.

Now you’ve hit the big lot, with lots of dirt and grass and plenty of parking. I’ve seen it get crowded but never full. You will almost certainly be able to park here.

Now go back to the walking path into town and enjoy the market. But be sure to note the end of the walking path so you can find it on the way back. The path is on Rue Marius Jouveau and here’s what it looks like from town.

When you go back to your car, don’t try to exit the way you entered, as this is a “one way” parking lot. Instead, continue on the dirt road in the parking lot to the far side and go out that way.

When you exit, you can go right (towards Maussane), left (back to town) or straight (other directions). If you go left, be aware that this is a narrow road with two-way traffic and periodically one car will need to stop in a wide spot to let another pass.

Enjoy St.-Rémy!

Meet Provence Artist James Jaulin

James Jaulin spent decades as an antiquaire, a dealer in antiquities, traveling the world in search of rare and beautiful treasures. He now travels the world as a photographer, capturing the beauty of life through his lens.

So what does he consider himself to be first and foremost, a photographer or an antiquaire?

“I am a voyager,” says Jaulin, “and I have been all my life.”

His voyaging began early, as his father was in the French military. Part of Jaulin’s childhood was spent in France, part in Vietnam, and part in Algeria. He found beauty and wonder everywhere.

You can read the rest of the article here.


For those of you who would like to try your hand at French, here’s a translation of the article that was kindly done by one of my friends in France.

James Jaulin a passé des dizaines d’années de sa vie en tant qu’Antiquaire, voyageant dans le monde entier à la recherche d’objets exceptionnels. A présent, il parcourt toujours l’univers, mais en tant que Photographe, capturant ainsi la beauté de la vie avec son appareil photo.

Aussi, lorsqu’on lui demande s’il pense être avant tout photographe ou Antiquaire, il répond : Je suis d’abord un voyageur !

Ses périples ont commencé dès le plus jeune âge, car son père étant dans l’Armée Française, il a vécu une partie de son enfance en France, puis au Vietnam, enfin en Algérie. Partout il a trouvé matière à s’émerveiller. Son premier appareil fut un simple Brownie qui lui servit d’abord à photographier le désert algérien et ses habitants. Il appréciait les photos de paysages, mais était surtout fasciné par les « gens », femmes et hommes au travail, en conversation ou partageant des scènes de vie quotidienne. C’est cette fascination qu’il cherche à exprimer dans ses clichés.

Durant toute sa vie d’Antiquaire et en voyageant dans le monde entier, il n’a cessé de photographier. En tant que marchand il se faisait un point d’honneur à rechercher des objets qui n’étaient pas simplement beaux, mais également qui exprimaient une émotion, une histoire, une âme. Aussi son choix s’effectuait en fonction de « ce que je vois et ce que je ressens »

C’est également son approche sensible de la photographie.

Depuis sa retraite prise il y a quelques années, James Jaulin continue les voyages, appareil photo en bandoulière. Comme dans sa jeunesse, il s’intéresse surtout à la vie de tous les jours, aux coutumes et traditions. Après avoir visité des dizaines de pays et vécu dans plusieurs d’entre eux, il apprécie toujours les différences des peuples. Il les fixe sur ses clichés, mais exprime également l’humanité que nous avons tous en commun.

James Jaulin se considère comme un « reporter », cherchant par ses images à raconter une histoire et à la partager. Ce qui le passionne c’est d’arriver à nous faire ressentir une émotion vécue à l’autre bout de la planète. Ainsi ses photos nous transportent et nous amènent à connaitre d’autres façons d’appréhender la vie.

Le prochain voyage de James Jaulin l’emmènera en Ethiopie, dans les pas de Rimbaud.