Châteauneuf-du-Pape, just north of where I live in Provence, is famous for its wines. The town’s name means “the pope’s new château” because many centuries ago a summer papal palace was built here. Popes need good wine to drink, so vines were planted, barrels were crafted, and the town’s fame for great wine began.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is known for more than its wines, though. It’s also known for a law that bans UFOs from taking off, landing, or even flying over the town. How did this strange law come to be? It’s an interesting story of a famous movie, some invaders from outer space (or mass delusion, take your pick) plus a clever mayor with a nose for publicity.
Read all about it in The Good Life France!
How would you like to taste some of the world’s greatest wines for a mere 10 euros? If that sounds appealing, then come to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine fair, the Salon des Vins. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a charming village in northern Provence, famous both for its wines and for its law banning flying saucers (more on this later).
To attend the Salon, you can a buy ticket ahead of time or just show up at the door. You pay 10 euros and receive an engraved glass which entitles you to unlimited tasting. This lets you wander from winemaker to winemaker, holding out your glass for a pour, and buying bottles of anything that strikes your fancy. Doesn’t that sound like a pleasant way to spend the day?
When you get hungry, there is a large outdoor food court with specialties from all over France. Would you like some foie gras from the Gers? Truffles from Ventoux? Or maybe oysters from Brittany? They are all there, along with plenty of simpler (but still delicious) fare.
Read all about it at France Today!
If someone asked you to name the most expensive foods in the world, you might come up with caviar and truffles and that sort of thing. But potatoes? POTATOES? No, you probably wouldn’t think of potatoes. But you should.
Yes, there is a type of potato that is so rare and delicious that it sometimes fetches a whopping $300 a pound—as much as Kobe beef! And it comes from France, from a little speck of an island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Read all about The World’s Most Expensive Potato in The Good Life 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.
If someone asked you, “What are the wines of Popes and Presidents?” what would you say? You might guess Bordeaux or Burgundy or maybe even Champagne. But the right answer is the wines of the Rhône Valley.
The mighty Rhône River bursts forth from Lake Geneva in Switzerland and flows 500 miles south to the Mediterranean Sea, passing Lyon and Avignon along the way. Along its shores are grown the grapes that make some of France’s greatest wines.
Many of these wines are produced near where Val and I live in St-Rémy and we just love them. I’ve written an introduction to the wines of the Rhône Valley that you might enjoy…and maybe you’ll discover a new favorite!
Read all about it in The Good Life France!
From drinking glühwein in Germany to Lambrusco in Italy, each country has its own holiday traditions and it’s fun to learn about them.
The wine writer Jill Barth has written an interesting article in Forbes about wine and winter holidays around the world, including recommendations on what to drink. It might come in handy for New Year’s! And I’m thrilled to be quoted—about France, of course.
You can find Jill’s article here.
Nothing dresses up a meal like a cheese course. It’s classically French and who doesn’t love a meal à la française? But many of us don’t serve a cheese course because it’s intimidating. How many cheeses should I get? What kind? And what do I serve with them?
I’m here to help. I spoke to Patricia Hughes-O’Brien, the head of the cheese department at Draeger’s Market, a gourmet food store that’s been serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1903. She shared her advice on how to present a beautiful cheese course that’s easy and fun to put together (and to eat).
Read all about it at Frenchly!
I was asked recently by Taste of France Magazine to name my favorite restaurants in Provence. “Well, that’s easy,” I thought, until they told me to limit my list to five. But there are so many wonderful places to eat! Even in my village of St-Rémy I can easily come up with more than five.
But rules are rules so my wife Val and I put our heads together and came up with our list. It’s a mix of styles and prices and you might want to check it out for your next visit to beautiful Provence.
You can read all about it at Taste of France.
France might have the best bread in the world – baguettes, croissants, brioches, and much more. And don’t forget the pastries! Is there anything better than a rich French éclair?
But what if you can’t eat any of it? An estimated 7% of the population has a gluten intolerance of one sort or another. Can those unfortunate people eat safely in France? How do they navigate food stores and restaurants?
I faced this dilemma a few years ago when I was diagnosed with celiac disease, the most severe form of gluten intolerance. Given that my wife Val and I live part of the year in Provence, this was shocking news indeed—what would I eat? The good news is that we figured it out and now I eat very well! Let me share some of what we’ve learned.
Read my top tips for avoiding gluten in The Good Life France!
My wife Val and I live part of the year in Provence and we love all the great local wines. They come in any color you like—red, white, and pink—and range from inexpensive quaffers to bottles you’d be proud to serve to anyone.
Over time we’ve visited many of the local wineries and some of them we go back to year after year. I’ve put together a list of our favorites, all of which have nice tasting rooms and (usually) English-speaking staff. If you are looking for some tasty bottles and a fun experience, check out my recommendations at Perfectly Provence.