Armchair Travel in France with Robert Louis Stevenson

Bored at home? Missing France? Here’s a pleasant way to while away a few hours.

Known for his classic novels like Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson was an adventurer. Born into a family of lighthouse designers in Scotland, as a young man he longed to see the wider world. As he put it,

“I have been after an adventure all my life, a pure adventure, such as befell early and heroic voyagers.”

His first great adventure was in France, in the wild and rugged region known as the Cévennes. At the age of 27 he made his way to the tiny village of Le Monastier, where he gathered (too many) provisions, had a sleeping bag made, and bought a donkey named Modestine. Then he set out—admittedly, not really knowing what he was doing—on a 12-day march into the unknown.

Read all about this fun book in France Today!

5 Top Hilltop Villages in Provence

Provence is famous for its hilltop towns, known in French as villages perchés. These lovely villages, with their winding, narrow streets, were situated as high as possible back in the old days, as protection against brigands and invaders. Today we can take advantage of their lofty perches to enjoy their charm and their fabulous views, while the only invaders are tourists.

Want to discover some of the best of these villages perchés? Then read my article in The Good Life France!

A Small-Group, Women-Only Wine & Food Tour in the South of France

I know I’m biased, but I think the South of France is the most beautiful place in the world. And springtime is the best time to visit—it’s warm and sunny and the markets are full of succulent fruits and vegetables.

If you have always dreamed of visiting this lovely area, here’s an idea for you. A friend of mine, Sarah Covey, is organizing a small-group, women-only wine and food tour that starts on June 1. Sarah is a wine professional, a food lover, a French speaker, and a thoroughly delightful person—you can’t help but like her!

There are a few spots left on Sarah’s next trip, so maybe it’s time to make your dream come true! If you’d like to learn more, here’s her website: Vibrant Travelers.

Bon voyage!

How to Spend a Day in St-Rémy-de-Provence

It may be the middle of winter, but what better time to plan a trip to sunny Provence? And if you go, you won’t want to miss St-Rémy-de-Provence, where my wife and I live for part of the year.

Provence has so many great places to visit that you may only have a day for St-Rémy. I’m here to help you plan that day, with ideas on art (Van Gogh!), markets, restaurants, nature, and more.

You can read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

The Most Beautiful Villages in Provence

My friend Annette Charlton is a part-time Frenchie like me, splitting her time between homes in Australia and Brittany. She has a wonderful website called A French Collection that you should definitely check out.

Annette recently asked me to write an article about the most beautiful villages in Provence. “But they’re all beautiful!” I protested. “Yes, yes, I know,” she said, “but please try to keep it to under 10.”

So I wrote the article, reluctantly leaving out gems like Egalières and Oppède-le-Vieux. And of course I led off with my own St-Rémy-de-Provence. All of these towns are worth a visit on your next trip to la belle Provence.

Check out my article at A French Collection!

The Most Roman City in France

Just west of Provence, across the mighty Rhône River, lays the Gard Department of France. Gard and Provence share a deep Roman history, from the days when both were part of the Roman region of Gallia.

Because it is so close to Provence, a visit to Gard makes for a nice day trip from Avignon or St-Rémy-de-Provence or wherever you might be staying. And one of the highlights of a visit is the city of Nîmes, once called Nemauses and known as “the most Roman city outside of Italy.” Emperor Augustus made Nemauses his local capital and today Nîmes is filled with sites and monuments that make it a must-see for any lover of Roman history.

Read all about it at Perfectly Provence!

What to See and Do in Beautiful Beaujolais

France is full of gorgeous wine regions. They range from Alsace, with its fairy tale villages, to Cassis, with vineyards that nearly touch the sea. And then there’s Beaujolais. Its vine-covered hillsides are as pretty as any in France. You’ll find it in the south of Burgundy, a region that’s world famous for its wines.

My wife and I recently spent some time in Beaujolais and it was wonderful. If you are curious about what it’s like to visit there, read my article in The Good Life France!

A Great Website for You

Caroline Longstaffe is a British lady who lives in California and owns a house in Provence. Talk about an international life! A few years ago she and her husband fell in love with the village of Lourmarin, one of the prettiest in France, and bought a place there.

Caroline has a website, Shutters and Sunflowers, where she writes about all things Provence. I love her wonderful photos–they make you want to be there so badly! If you haven’t seen her website before, I encourage you to check it out. I’ve included a couple of her photos here.

Caroline recently reviewed my book so I’ll include a link to that as well. As someone who, like me, splits her time between California and Provence she has a special appreciation for what each has to offer.

Here’s her website and here’s the link to her book review. Happy reading!

A Guide to the Chateaux of the Alpilles

If you’ve spent time around the Alpilles, the small mountain range near St-Rémy-de-Provence, you’ve probably spotted a medieval chateau or two. Some are hard to miss, like the one above the fortified city of Les Baux. Others are little more than piles of rubble.

The Alpilles were once dense with chateaux of all shapes and sizes. But why so many? And what happened to them? Here’s some history, plus a guide to the chateaux that you can still visit today.

Read all about it at Perfectly Provence!

What Did the Pont d’Avignon Originally Look Like?

Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le Pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond

Many of us learned that song as kids, about the famous Pont d’Avignon in Provence. For those of us lucky enough to see the real bridge in all its glory, we are often surprised because it’s rather short—only about 100 yards long and ending partway across the Rhone River.

Much of the original Pont d’Avignon tumbled into the Rhone centuries ago, a victim of inadequate construction and poor maintenance. Today it’s hard to imagine what it looked like when it was nearly a mile long and spanned the entire river. Was it straight or curved? Was it fortified? Did it have a drawbridge in the middle?

Luckily, a group of scientists and historians has discovered what the bridge looked like and has created a full 3D model of it. There’s even a video that shows what it was like to cross from one side to the other and back!

Read all about it at The Good Life France!