The Best Beaches in Marseille

No trip to Provence is complete without a stop in Marseille, one of France’s largest cities and a major port. It has long been a point of entry for immigrants, making for a rich and varied local culture.

Marseille is the home of some of France’s most important churches and museums, and has tempting food establishments around every corner. And don’t forget the views! Gazing out at the Château d’If, perched on its little island surrounded by the sparkling blue sea, is nothing short of spectacular.

One of the downsides of Marseille is that it can be oppressively hot in the summer. Luckily, its long coastline means that Marseille has plenty of beaches, several close to the city center. Most are free and have services like bathrooms and first-aid stations, as well as lifeguards on duty during the summer months.

Read all about the beaches of Marseille in Frenchly!

Favorite Picnic Spots in Provence

Val and I live part of the year in St-Rémy, a little town at the base of the Alpilles Mountains. One of our favorite things to do is taking a picnic lunch as we explore Provence’s beautiful little nooks and crannies. Over the years, we’ve discovered many lovely places to eat outside, and nothing is better than picnicking with our friends…and our dog Mica, of course.

I’ve written an article about seven of our favorite spots, like the one on the shores of a lake created by the Romans. And the one with the best view of Avignon. And my favorite, the one so high up you look down on the hilltop village of Bonnieux, with a fabulous view of the Luberon Valley.

Read all about them at Perfectly Provence!

Provence: Insider Tips

This past spring I was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Alliance Française of Pasadena, one of the most active groups in the US. I gave a Zoom presentation about Provence and answered questions about the life that Val and I live there.

It was a fun session, with lots of good back and forth, and you can watch the recording if you’d like. There are a few minutes of club business at the start that you can skip if you want; I come on at about the four-and-a-half minute mark.

Here’s the link!

Visiting St-Rémy-de-Provence

Val and I live part of the year in St-Rémy, a charming town at the foot of the Alpilles Mountains, and we’ve learned a lot in our years here. I’ve written a series of six articles that will be helpful to visitors: the must-see sights, our favorite restaurants and wineries, our favorite places to hike and bike, and more.

If you are thinking of visiting St-Rémy, or just want to dream a little, please give these articles a look. You can find them right here in My French Life!

10 Historic Jewish Sites in Provence

France has a thriving Jewish community, the third largest in the world after Israel and the United States. And while today Paris is the center of French Jewish life, this wasn’t always the case. For centuries, that center was Provence, thanks to a surprising protector: the Pope! I’ve written about ten historic Jewish sites in Provence, most of which you can visit today.

Would you like to visit the oldest synagogue in France? Or a museum rich with Jewish and Provençal history? Or maybe you’d like to attend a Jewish music festival!

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence! And Happy Hanukah!

Biking Among the Vines in Burgundy

Burgundy is home to some of the world’s greatest wines, where names like Montrachet and Nuits-St-Georges set wine lovers’ hearts a-flutter. The wines are produced in a region of almost otherworldly beauty, where you’ll find one charming village after another nestled among the vineyard-covered hillsides. For anyone who loves great wine and beautiful scenery, Burgundy is a must-visit part of France. 

Not only is Burgundy a mecca for oenophiles, it is also wonderful place to go for a bike ride. Val and I recently rode along the Voie des Vignes (Vineyard Way), a route that runs through some of the most famous vineyards in the world, starting in Beaune. We pedalled along a 22-km portion and it wasn’t too hard because we rented electric bikes. You can do it, too!

Read all about it in France Today!

Only in Provence: An Insider’s Guide

Provence is a magical corner of France, with unique sights, surprising legends, and a rich Roman, Jewish, and Catholic heritage.

Would you like to walk through a rainbow? See magic inside a mountain? Learn about the “Babylonian captivity” of the Popes? You can do it all in Provence.

Maybe you’d like to explore France’s best Roman sites, or the country’s oldest synagogue, or visit the grotto where Mary Magdalene spent her last years. Again, you can do all that in Provence.

To learn more about this most distinctive of French regions, read my series Only in Provence in My French Life!

Secrets of St-Rémy #6: Animal Traditions

My wife Val and I live part of the year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, a charming town between Marseille and Avignon. I’ve written a guidebook about the area, An Insider’s Guide to Provence, where I share some of our favorite things to see and do. This series of articles is based on my book.

Many Traditions

The people of Provence have a deep respect for nature and for the animals that have long been integral to their rural life. And they maintain their traditions, many of which have to do with animals.

One is the transhumance, where thousands of sheep march through town, baaing all the way. Bands play as they go around the town’s ring road, accompanied by shepherds, sheepdogs, and the occasional goat. It’s like a river of sheep!

Another is the festival of St. Eloi, the patron saint of horses. On his day, plow horses are cleaned up, brushed, and wear flower and colorful harnesses. Then they are blessed by the village priest and march through town in a big procession so everyone can admire them.

And let’s not forget the course camarguaise, where little doodads are tied around a bull’s horns and brave young men have to run up and take off the doodads. It’s very exciting and surprisingly, no one gets hurt!

Read all about it in My French Life!

The Apt Market in Provence, One of France’s Best

If you’d like to visit one of the best markets in France, don’t miss the one in Apt, the capital of Provence’s Luberon Valley. Don’t just take my word that Apt’s market is something special: it’s been named one of France’s 100 “exceptional markets” by the French National Council of Culinary Art. Not bad!

The market is the biggest in the Luberon Valley and is also historic—it goes back to the 12th century. It has everything you want: wonderful fruits and vegetables, olives, cheeses, wines, honey, flowers, colorful tablecloths…the list goes on and on. During the peak summer months, nearly 500 vendors sell their goods—if you can’t find what you are looking for, it may not exist!

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

The Beating Heart of St-Rémy

St-Rémy has a lot of great cafés and restaurants, but there’s one that really stands out: the Bar-Tabac des Alpilles.

It’s not just that the food is good, it’s also that it’s comfortable any time of day. Whether it’s a coffee and croissant before hitting the weekly market, a glass of wine in the afternoon, or a delicious meal, you can find it here. And even more, it’s an important part of the local fabric of St-Rémy, while also being welcoming to tourists.

Sitting at your table, you might hear Americans on one side of you discussing their travel plans and, on the other side, there will be workers unwinding after a long day. Patrick, the owner, calls his place “A mix of modern tourism and local identity.” It’s family-friendly, and I often see kids there with their parents, having a Coke or a juice. It’s a must-stop for your next visit to St-Rémy.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!