Photo Day: La Camargue

One thing my husband and I have discovered in our many travels together is how differently we can perceive the exact same thing. Such is the spice of life! La Camargue was one of those places for us. Located where the Med meets the Rhone River Delta, this marshy region is hardly the France advertised to the American tourist. When I think of France, I picture the grand streets of Paris, the dramatic Cote d’Azur, castles and gothic churches, old stone farmhouses set in vineyards. For my husband, the grand streets of Paris are… meh. He grew up seeing them, so they don’t awe him the way they do me. And while he appreciates the beauty of the things I’ve listed, they aren’t foreign nor dramatic to him. La Camargue, by contrast, fascinates him. On our visit, he energetically spouted out all he had learned about this region and kept pointing and saying things like, “Wow! Isn’t that amazing?” Much the way I do in Paris. For me, it was a bit… meh. His enthusiasm did rub off on me after a while, at least enough so that I will post these photos. For him. And for those who appreciate things differently than I do.

513 Le Camargue

515 Le Camargue

A home with a large fishing net along the Petit Rhone

A home with a large fishing net along the Petit Rhone

A Guardienne (French Cowgirl) and her herd. This was pretty cool.

A Guardienne (French Cowgirl) and her herd. This was pretty cool.

528 Le Camargue segulls

Egret

Egret

Egret

Egret

536 le Camargue

537 le Camargue

Couldn’t resist this one: Our view during dinner in Carry-Le-Rouet, on our way back to Antibes.

Gotta love 'em, those Frenchies in their speedos

Gotta love ’em, those Frenchies in their speedos

By the way, this region produces some amazing salt. It’s a staple in my kitchen:

IMG_7365

Photo Day: Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and Villefranche sur Mer

Happy first day of spring! Dreaming of warm days, tank tops, flip flops, and a cool glass of rosé after a hot day at the beach. Here are some pretty pictures with lots of pretty flowers, all taken a few years ago in the south of France. Ooh la la!

A short train ride from several villages on the Mediterranean coast, these two destinations are worth a visit.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat was built in the early 1900s by the Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild (architect Aaron Messiah). When she died in 1934, she donated it to the Institut de France, and it is now open to the public.

334 Villa Rothschild on Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

330 Villa and Jardins Ephrussi de ROTHSCHILD

Peek inside at the chairs for her little dogs.

Peek inside at the chairs for her little dogs.

Foyer

Foyer

Nine themed gardens surround the home.

339 Jardin

342 Stone garden

Views of the surrounding areas, including Villefranche-sur-Mer, are stunning:

340 View west of Villeneuve sur Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer is a colorful village located near to the Villa (one or two train stops apart):

139 Villefranche Sur Mer

144 Villefranche

148 Stef in Villefranche

151 Villefranche

154 Villefranche

Some trivia: Many villages in france have names that begin with “Villefranche.” Translation: Free town. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the bourgeois settled in these areas and were freed from the feudal lords and also freed from many financial obligations to those lords. This allowed the bourgeois to use their resources to develop, among other things, the banking system in France.

Hope you enjoyed a little armchair traveling and perhaps are inspired to make some summer travel plans! I know I am!

Photo Day: Arles and Pont du Gard

Arles and Pont du Gard (the latter you may recognize, the first perhaps not) are both in the south of France, but enough off the beaten path that we, as American tourists, don’t always have the time to see them. Understandable, with the limited vacation time we get! When people ask me for advice on where to go in France, I usually ask them what they are interested in. Seeing the sites you are “supposed” to see? Nothing wrong with that. There’s a reason places like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, St. Tropez, and Nice are so famous. When time is limited, I hate to miss those major attractions. What if you never get back to Paris, and you didn’t grab your chance that one day to see the Eiffel Tower or the Mona Lisa? But when people want to get away from the throngs of tourists, get a more “authentic” experience, I have tons of suggestions there, too. Arles is perhaps in the middle. It’s still a tourist destination, but less crowded than many others.

Arles

Arles

Entering the midieval portion of Arles

Entering the midieval portion of Arles

Here’s one of Arles’ main claims to fame: It’s where Van Gogh painted Cafe Park By Night:

453 Place where Van Gogh painted Cafe Park by night

While we were in Arles, we attended a bull fight. It wasn’t the fight to the death kind, I couldn’t stomach that. In this type of fight, the bull has a thick collection of yarn laced around his horns. A team of players tries to distract the bull, while one of them uses a special tool – a rigid (and aggressive looking) extension of his hand – to tear at the yarn. If all the yarn is torn before the timer goes off, the players win. Otherwise, the bull wins. The bull always lives to be tormented another day. The players display an impressive array of acrobatic skills as they run, dodge, then leap from the bull pen to cling for their lives to the surrounding barriers.

458 Look out!

461 Run!

Just on time!

Just on time!

467 going for the yarn

469 Mad bull

477 Yikes!

Awards Ceremony

Awards Ceremony

Here are some photos of Pont du Gard, a well preserved aqueduct from ancient Roman times:

498 Pont du Gard

The Rhone at the Pont du Gard

The Rhone at the Pont du Gard

502 Pont du Gard

Inside the Aqueduct - we were able to walk through from one side to the other

Inside the aqueduct – we were able to walk through from one side to the other

Photo Day: Christmas in the Alps

I haven’t been to France in over two years (a toddler and a preschooler on a plane… I wish I were so brave), so many of my photos are older. These are from a Christmas we spent in the French Alps, in a small mountain village called Samoens. A beautiful, charming place, where we stayed in a cozy converted farmhouse, read books (the house had quite an Asterix collection), and indulged in Raclette after days spent on the slopes. It was my first Christmas away from my own family, so I learned of some of the French traditions my husband grew up with. Midnight mass (3 hours! We Presbyterians shudder at the thought), bûche de noel (yule log), and real chestnuts roasting on an open fire served in the village at their Christmas carnival – it was charming and so different from my own traditions. It was here, too, that I first saw Le Père Noel est une Ordure. I sat there, perplexed and not understanding, while my husband, his brothers, and my sister-in-law rocked with laughter and called out lines before the characters. Now that my French is better, as is my understanding of French humor, I find it pretty hilarious, too.

Here’s the charming farmhouse we stayed in, taken before the snow came:

035 Le Ferme

137 Le Ferme

Some photos of Samoens:

025 Fountain in Samoens

026 Samoens

139 Samoens

Twelfth century church where we attended mass . We sang Angels We Have Heard on High, one of my favorites, in French:

141 Samoens

The Alps, near Samoens:

045 Alps

075 Alps

055 Alps

060 Alps

070 Alps

Early morning frost:032 Frost

A visit to the nearby village of Annecy, with me obviously American in my running shoes:

091 Annecy

093 Annecy

097 Annecy

100 La Roche sur Foron

La Roche sur Foron

098 Annecy

And skiing in Alvoriaz:

130 Carol

135 Alvoriaz

Photo Day: Les Villages Perchés en Provence (Part II)

Part II of those charming perched villages:

Tourette-sur-Loup

Tourette-sur-Loup

St. Paul de Vence

St. Paul de Vence

Moi, in St. Paul de Vence, 2008

Moi, in St. Paul de Vence, 2008

St. Paul de Vence

St. Paul de Vence

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

St. Paul de Vence - this place is made for photos

St. Paul de Vence – this place is made for photos

Newer part of St. Paul de Vence

Newer part of St. Paul de Vence

Photo Day: Les Villages Perchés en Provence (Part I)

As I gaze out the window on falling snow and a ground covered in blankets of white, my thoughts drift to warm places. So now, I’ll sip my hot tea and take an armchair trip to the South of France. Care to join me? On y va !

The steep, rocky mountainsides of Provence create not just natural beauty, but lend to stunning, charming architectural wonders perched high above the Mediterranean.

Pottery in Vallauris

Pottery in Vallauris

Mougins

Mougins

Mougins

Mougins

More of lovely Mougins

More of lovely Mougins

Mougins

Mougins

Gourdon

Gourdon

Gourdon

Gourdon

Gourdon

Gourdon

Perfume distillery in Gourdon

Perfume distillery in Gourdon

I have a fascination with doors and doorways. Loved this one.

I have a fascination with doors and doorways. Loved this one.

Photo Day: Ile de Porquerolles

The Ile de Porquerolles is just off the coast of southern France, an easy boat ride from the mainland. We visited this lovely place a few summers ago when we were working/playing on the Cote d’Azur. We spent a day there, walking the dusty trails that led through olive tree groves, vineyards, to a lighthouse, a windmill, and spectacular views.

Arriving at the harbor, and look: there's an ice cream boat! What a fantastic idea!

Arriving at the harbor, and look: there’s an ice cream boat! What a fantastic idea!

Gorgeous bougainvillea

Gorgeous bougainvillea

Olive tree grove

Olive tree grove

Not a bad place to be a cat

Not a bad place to be a cat

View over the cliffs from near the lighthouse

View over the cliffs from near the lighthouse

300 Carol and Stef

Moulin

Moulin

Plage de la Courtade

Plage de la Courtade

Walking back toward the Bay

Walking back toward the Bay

The Bay, with the fort in the background

The Bay, with the fort in the background

Photo Day: Aix en Provence and the Abbaye de Sénanque

I’ve never been to Provence in the fall, but summers there are magical. Here are some more of my favorite photos:

 

Aix en Provence

Aix-en-Provence

Place du General de Gaulle, Aix-en-Provence

Place du General de Gaulle, Aix-en-Provence

Fresh fruit of Provence

Fresh fruit of Provence

Abbaye de Sénanque, from the road above

Abbaye de Sénanque, from the road above

Abbaye de Sénanque and lavender field

Abbaye de Sénanque and lavender field

Me in a lavender field

Me in a lavender field

I adore sunflowers!

I adore sunflowers!

Vineyard tucked into the hills of Provence

Vineyard tucked into the hills of Provence

Another view of the Abbey, with lavender fields

Another view of the Abbey, with lavender fields

Lavender

Lavender

Je t'adore, belle Provence!

Je t’adore, belle Provence!

Photo Day: Avignon

These photos are from a trip we took while spending summer in the south of France a few years ago. “South of France” – even the words themselves  evoke beauty and romance, n’est-ce pas ?

Le Palais des Papes - The Popes' Palace, temporary home of the Popes during the 14th century

Le Palais des Papes – The Popes’ Palace, temporary home of the Popes during the 14th century

Hotel de Ville, Avignon

Hotel de Ville, Avignon

My hubby, at the Grand Escalier D'honneur in the Palace

My hubby, at the Grand Escalier D’honneur in the Palace

Gothic Arches in the Palace

Gothic Arches in the Palace

My kind of gift shop!

My kind of gift shop!

The Palace from the Pont d'Avignon

The Palace from the Pont d’Avignon

Sur le pont d’Avignon

On y danse

On y danse

Sur le pont d’Avignon

On y danse tous en rond

This is a charming children’s song that I happily sang for the rest of the day.

Pont d'Avignon

Pont d’Avignon

View of Avignon from across the Rhône

View of Avignon from across the Rhône

A man tends to flowers on his balcony in Avignon

A man tends to flowers on his balcony in Avignon

Me at the Waterwheel in Avignon

Me at the Waterwheel in Avignon

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