Moscow on the Med: The Russian Cathedral of Nice

There are so many fun things to do in Nice—you can walk along the Promenade des Anglais, enjoy the view from one of those famous blue chairs, and dig into a salad niçoise  in the Old Town. Now here’s one to add to your list: visit the most Russian spot in France, the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral.

This magnificent structure was built in 1912 in memory of Nicholas Alexandrovich, the one-time heir to the Russian throne who died in Nice of meningitis. It was designed in the classic Old Russian style, with five beautiful onion domes. Seeing the cathedral you think you’ve somehow stumbled into Moscow. Today the cathedral is a National Monument of France and one of the most visited sites of the French Riviera.

Read all about this unique site in Perfectly Provence!

Hilltop Villages of the Côte d’Azur

When most people think of the Côte d’Azur, they think of glamorous spots like Cannes, Antibes, and Nice—beautiful cities, all of them. But this glorious corner of France is also home to charming inland villages that are well worth a visit.

There’s high Gourdon, the Eagle’s Nest. And Saint-Martin-Vésubie in the so-called  Little Switzerland of Provence. And let’s not forget the “Tibetan village” of Saorge.

You can see a garden designed by the same architect who designed the famous gardens of Versailles, a monastery famous for its ancient sundials, and visit a park where wolves roam free. It’s a fascinating region of France.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

7 Favorite Villages and Vineyards in Provence

My wife and I spend part of every year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, a charming town nestled up against the northern slope of the Alpilles mountain range. It’s our favorite town in the area but there are others we love as well. There’s tiny Les Baux-de-Provence, for example, sitting just below a great fortress. Or rustic Eygalières, where I sometimes see horses at hitching posts, waiting patiently for their riders.

There are plenty of vineyards as well, because Provence is famous for its wines. Would you like white, pink, or red? We’ve got them all and they are terrific.

Let me tell you about some of my favorite villages and vineyards near where I live. You might like to visit some on your next trip to Provence.

You can read all about them at Perfectly Provence!

Bring French Culture into Your Life…Virtually!

Oh, to be in France in the spring! My wife and I live part of the year in St-Rémy-de-Provence but, like a lot of people, have had to cancel our travel plans. Now we are sheltering-in-place and yearning for sunny days in the South of France.

But all is not lost! We are still connected to la belle France virtually and you can be, too. There are plenty of books, movies, and TV shows that can transport you to that magical land. You can whip up dinner a la français and imagine you are in a cozy Paris bistro. And if you’d like to combine tourism with murder mysteries, I’ve got just the show for you.

Check out the resources I’ve put together for you in Perfectly Provence!

A Delightful Trip to Middle-of-Nowhere France

Oh boy, I love books about France and this is one of the best.

France is full of fascinating places to visit, like Paris, Provence, the Riviera, Normandy, and more. There are so many that it’s hard to decide where to go! Well, it just got harder because Janine Marsh’s description of her tiny village in “middle-of-nowhere-France” is so delightful that you’ll want to go there, too. I know I do.

Fifteen years ago, Janine and her husband Mark bought a wreck of a house in the Seven Valleys region of northern France. They didn’t plan to buy a house; they were on a shopping trip from their home in London and stumbled into a real estate office to get out of the rain. The next thing they knew they were looking at a place that cost “less than a Hermes handbag.” They bought it as a bit of a lark, thinking it would make a nice place for vacations and the occasional weekend getaway.

But life had other plans. The little village captured their hearts and soon they packed up and moved to France. The next dozen years were spent refurbishing the house (including a septic tank explosion that earned Janine the nickname Madame Merde), collecting a vast collection of farm animals (including a demented chicken named Ken) and settling into the local community.

Janine and Mark are those rarest of birds, expats who have really become members of a French village. They drink at a local bar that looks like someone’s living room circa 1955. They play charades with their neighbors, where everyone fights to play Johnny Holliday or Edith Piaf. They chat with the bread delivery man—their village is too tiny to support a boulangerie—who occasionally has questions about English (“What means the expression, ‘It sucks?’”)

The best part of the book is the way Janine writes about of her neighbors, a friendly and occasionally eccentric crew who have welcomed Janine and Mark with great warmth. There’s Jean-Claude, who teaches them how to trim hedges and make crow pâté. And Claudette, always ready with a hot cup of coffee and a plate of something tasty. And “Miss Pepperpot,” the tiny lady who occasionally needs help getting wayward cows out of her flowerbed, and offers jars of homemade jam as thanks.

I love Janine’s writing and laughed when she described a young couple falling in love over a shared passion for mushroom hunting (“one fungi led to another…”) And her description of a strong local drink (“Calvados can blow your socks off, and after a couple of hours we were all pretty much sockless.”)

If you are stuck at home and looking for something to brighten your day, think about taking a trip to this delightful corner of France. I just loved this book and I think you will, too.

You can find My Four Seasons in France on Amazon.

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!