An Insider’s Guide to Provence

I am thrilled that my new book has just been published! It’s a guide to all the “insider secrets” that Val and I have discovered during our years of living in Provence.

An Insider’s Guide to Provence has our favorite restaurants, wineries, outdoor markets, picnic spots, hiking and biking trails, you name it. There is dining advice for the gluten-intolerant, vegans, and vegetarians, and special sections on Roman Provence and Jewish Provence. And with hundreds of links to maps and websites, it is perfect for the on-the-go traveler.

Here’s what others have to say…

A must-have for every visitor looking for local advice”–Carolyne Kauser-Abbott, Perfectly Provence 

A super add on to any general guidebook of the area”–Janine Marsh, The Good Life France.

“You will not be disappointed with this modern guidebook—it is a bottomless treasure!”–Judy MacMahon, MyFrenchLife 

“If you’re looking for an expert guide to show you the ins and outs of beautiful Provence, look no further”–Tuula Rampont, Belle Provence Travels

“I’ll be using this guide every time I go back to France”–Janice Chung, France Travel Tips

“A must-read for anyone planning a trip to Provence”–Annette Charlton, A French Collection

An Insider’s Guide to Provence is the perfect gift for the Provence lover in your life, and is available from Amazon as a paperback or e-book.

I hope you enjoy it!

Favorite Biking Routes in the Alpilles

Val and I live part of the year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, a charming town that sits at the foot of the Alpilles mountains. We love to bike in and around the Alpilles on routes that range from easy to moderately difficult.

If you stay off the busy main roads, biking in the Alpilles is easy and safe. The availability of electric bikes has exploded in the past few years, so even those who haven’t been on a bike in years can enjoy riding through the area. There are some new bikes-only routes being built that will make it even easier to ride without worrying about cars.

I’ve written an article with some of our favorite routes, from flat ones to others that go in and through the mountains. I even describe how to bike to hell and back! (ok, it’s the route to the Val d’Enfer, a beautiful, rocky area that translates as Hell Valley.)

If you might like to bike in the Alpilles, or just want to see some nice photos, check out this article in Perfectly Provence!

How to Drink Like a Roman

Near the town of Beaucaire is something unique in the world. Built on the site of a Roman villa, it is a faithful reconstruction of a Roman winery. Visitors learn how winemaking was done back in the days when Rome ruled the world, and sample wines made using ancient recipes—fenugreek, anyone?

Fine wine has been made on the site of Mas des Tourelles for millennia. They have been praised by Rabelais and served by French kings. Such fine wines are still made at the Mas des Tourelles, but one day owner Hervé Durand decided to try something new.

Working with archaeologists, he recreated a Roman vineyard and wine cellar and decided to try Roman winemaking. Today the Mas showcases Roman winemaking techniques, along with those “interesting” samples. There are Roman games to play and grape juice for the kids, so it’s a place the whole family can enjoy.

Learn more about it at Perfectly Provence!

Visiting Maussane-les-Alpilles

Just south of where Val and I live in St-Rémy sits a charming town that more people should visit, Maussane-les-Alpilles.

Maussane is in the middle of olive growing country, and local producers occasionally take home “Best Olive Oil” awards in world competitions. So if you want olives, olive oil, tapenade, or anything olive, you definitely want to come to Maussane.

The town has a comfortable central square, lined with cafés around a big central fountain. It’s a great place for a meal or a drink. Just off the square is an award-winning chef at one of my favorite restaurants.

Maussane has one of the area’s best boutiques selling Provençal foods, a wine shop with a multilingual owner (try to stump him!), and three medieval towers that used to protect the southern edge of the Alpilles Mountains.

For more on Maussane, including some fun pictures, read all about it at Perfectly Provence!

The Best View of Avignon

Avignon is a distinctive city. Sitting on the banks of the Rhône River, it has some of the most extensive medieval fortifications in Europe and is dominated by its massive Papal Palace. There is so much to see! And if you want the best spot to view this beautiful city, it’s not in Avignon itself, it’s across the river on Barthelasse Island (Île de la Barthelasse.)

Barthelasse Island, one of Europe’s largest river islands, is just minutes from Avignon by ferry, foot, or car. From there you have a clear line of sight to Avignon, with nothing blocking your view. You can see the stone cliffs that protect the city and the thick walls built in the Middle Ages. And above them all is the Papal Palace, topped by its golden statue of Mary, sparkling in the Provençal sunshine. If there’s a better view of Avignon, I haven’t found it.

Barthelasse Island is easy to reach and is a great place for eating, biking, and tasting eau de vie. And it is the place where people actually danced in that famous song about the Pont d’Avignon!

Read all about this little-known corner of Provence in The Good Life France!

Driving in French

France is an easy country to drive in but, like every country, it has its quirks. So I’ve written a guide to French driving, including these helpful topics:

  • How to avoid disaster at the pump
  • A special leasing program that can save you money
  • How French toll roads work
  • An important setting on your GPS
  • French traffic circles
  • And, of course, French drivers

Read all about it at My French Life!

Wine Tasting in Provence

Provence is a wine lover’s paradise, and wines have been produced here for thousands of years. Val and I live part of the year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, near many excellent wineries.

I’ve written an article about some of my favorites (all with English-speaking staff.) Would you like to sip some wine near a medieval Court of Love, where noble ladies once ruled on “questions of gallantry”? Or perhaps at a winery that the famous seer Nostradamus said would be the edge of the earth when the seas rose to great heights. And then there’s the place where you can drink like an ancient Roman! (toga not included)

Read about my favorite wineries in France Today!

Gigondas: Wine Village with a View

Are you looking for a place with beautiful views, excellent food, and fabulous wines? Then consider Gigondas in the southern Rhône Valley.

This region has been producing excellent wines for over 2,000 years, from when it was part of the Roman Empire. The Romans liked the wines from Gigondas so much that they named it Jocunditas, or “delight,” and the name evolved into the modern Gigondas. Gigondas wines are similar to those of its famous neighbor, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but much more affordable.

Perched on a mountainside, the village overlooks its famous vineyards. Above it are the jagged, rocky crests of the Dentelles de Montmirail, a small mountain range. Even in a region known for its natural beauty, Gigondas stands out. There is a walking trail above the  town, with a viewing platform, and the views from it are spectacular.

The town hosts special artworks every summer, and has excellent restaurants and one of the best wine-tasting centers anywhere. Find out what to see and do, and where to eat and drink, at Perfectly Provence!

This article is taken from my upcoming book An Insider’s Guide to Provence, available for pre-order on Amazon.

 

 

Favorite Restaurants of St-Rémy

My wife Val and I live part-time in St-Rémy-de-Provence, and over the years we’ve discovered lots of wonderful places to eat, including some that are off the beaten path. And, of course, we have our favorite boulangerie, cheese shop, and all the rest.

Would you like to dine while gazing at the Alpilles mountains, with horses in the field next door? Or while sitting under leafy sycamore trees in a beautiful park? Or maybe you’d like to try the specialities at Provence’s best chocolatièr.

I share my insider secrets with you at The Good Life France!

This article is taken from my upcoming book An Insider’s Guide to Provence, available for pre-order on Amazon.

Underwater Provence

Let’s go underwater this week!

The Underwater Museum of Marseille (Musée Subaquatique de Marseille) recently opened its doors, so to speak, with ten newly-created sculptures near a popular city beach. Admission is free, and guided tours are also available.

The museum’s founder was inspired by Mexico’s underwater sculpture garden near Cancun. Such sculpture gardens have begun to pop up worldwide, and Marseille’s is one of the first in France, along with two others near Cannes and Corsica.

Learn more about visiting the museum and see some great underwater photos at Perfectly Provence.

Further east along France’s Mediterranean coastline lie the remains of Olbia, a Greek colony founded in 325 B.C. It once had a bustling port that eventually sank beneath the waves. The port broke apart into hundreds of stone blocks, strewn across the sea floor. Today no one knows what it looked like or how it was used.

But never fear, an intrepid group of scientists is virtually recreating the port. They are using sophisticated imaging technology, plus software that helps them put it back together–kind of like solving the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle.

Find out how they are doing this, plus see a great video of the Olbia site, at Perfectly Provence!