November 13, 2017

The Lubéron: Peter Mayle's Provence

With his 1991 memoir A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle put this picturesque region in southeastern France on the radar of travellers. Once I began reading his books I too dreamed of visiting Provence, and all the beautiful photos I saw of endless rows of lavender stretching away to the horizon only reinforced my dream. So the day we journeyed into the Lubéron countryside was the most anticipated day of our tour.

 
The Lubéron Countryside


November 06, 2017

St. Rémy de Provence: Van Gogh's Asylum

One of the most productive periods of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh’s life was the time he spent in the south of France. He’d hoped to establish a community of artists in the town of Arles with his friend, Paul Gauguin. Following an absinthe-fuelled argument with Gauguin, van Gogh sliced off his left earlobe with a razor blade. He then sought refuge from his inner demons at Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery in St. Rémy de Provence.



Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, Vincent van Gogh (1889)
Courtauld Gallery, London


October 30, 2017

Carrières de Lumières: Art in a Quarry

If you enjoy art and would like to experience creative talent in a unique environment, consider a visit to a quarry dug deep into the foothills of the Alpilles Mountains of Provence. Carrières de Lumières is a venue for high tech multi-media shows that in past years have highlighted the works of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustav Klimt and Vincent Van Gogh. The art featured in 2017 is The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel & Arcimboldo.



The Fantastic and Wonderful World of Bosch, Brueghel & Arcimboldo
Carrières de Lumières, Les Baux de Provence

October 23, 2017

Market Day in St. Rémy

The first day trip out of Avignon on week two of our tour of southern France was to the town of St. Rémy de Provence. Our visit was planned for Wednesday – market day. This lively Provençal market features not only heaps of local produce and pans of steaming paella but also clothing, linens, housewares and crafts. Come along with me through the streets of St. Rémy’s Old Town and browse the market stalls.


St. Rémy de Provence on Market Day

October 16, 2017

Avignon, City of the Popes

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Avignon during a stop on a Rhone River cruise through Provence. The annual Avignon Festival was on and a brisk mistral wind was whipping through the streets –a whirlwind much like my visit. But last summer I spent a whole week there, staying at a hotel just outside the medieval ramparts only steps away from the historic city centre. This longer visit allowed me to see a quieter side of the City of the Popes, Avignon.



Medieval Rampart of Avignon



October 09, 2017

Aix-en-Provence: Cézanne's Hometown

The city of Aix-en-Provence is the mid-point between other major cities in the south of France. As such, both of my visits there have been little more than brief lunch stops on the way to somewhere else. The first time, while travelling from Arles to Monte Carlo, we arrived a little early so I had trouble even finding a proper lunch (but I had no problem getting a glass of rosé).



Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence

October 02, 2017

Picasso Museum, Antibes

In the years following World War II, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso spent a happy period of his life living and working in the south of France. He established a studio in Antibes at Château Grimaldi and in just a few months he created 23 paintings and 44 drawings. In 1966 the chateau became the first museum dedicated to Picasso’s work.



Musée Picasso, Antibes


September 25, 2017

Market Day in Antibes

I'm back on track after being without my computer for a month, and continuing with posts about my recent trip to France. My week on the fabulous Côte d’Azur was coming to an end and the last daytrip on this portion of our itinerary took us to Antibes. First settled as a Greek trading post named Antipolis, this ancient town is 20 kilometers west of Nice on the Mediterranean coast.



Antibes, France


September 23, 2017

Princess Diana Remembered

I've had some issues with my computer lately so this post, which I'd planned for the anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, is quite a bit late. When August 31st came around I couldn't believe it had been twenty years since I heard about that fatal car crash in Paris. I must've watched at least a dozen TV specials about her tragic life and the conspiracy theories surrounding her untimely death. It got me thinking about the places I've been that played a role in the story of a woman still remembered around the world, and known with fondness as the "People's Princess".



Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed


August 21, 2017

Monaco-Ville: Take Two

As with my morning visit to the French hill town of Eze, my afternoon in the nearby Principality of Monaco was also a repeat visit. Would I see anything that I hadn't seen before in what may be the most glamorous of locales on the very glamorous Côte d'Azur?



Tour Bus at Monaco's Palace Square

August 17, 2017

Eze: The Exotic Garden

Eze Village on the Côte d'Azur has an amazing Jardin exotique, Exotic Garden, at the summit of the hill on which the town is perched. To my regret I didn't venture quite that far on my previous visit to Eze. On my recent trip to France, I got a second chance.



Exotic Garden, Eze Village



August 10, 2017

St-Paul-de-Vence

After a morning spent touring Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, we moved on to visit some of France's famed perched villages. Of the many hill towns scattered throughout Provence and the Côte d'Azur, picturesque St-Paul-de-Vence is one of the most popular. The medieval town also attracted many of the twentieth century's most notable artists.


St-Paul-de-Vence, France


July 31, 2017

Grasse: Perfume Capital of the World

The town of Grasse isn't quite as picturesque as many others along France's Riviera coast but it is considered the capital of the world's billion dollar perfume industry. I spent a fragrant morning touring the local factory of Parfumerie Fragonard, one of the oldest in Grasse, to learn about the history of perfume and traditional production techniques.


Parfumerie Fragonard, Grasse


July 24, 2017

Chagall Museum, Nice

Marc Chagall is one of the great painters of the twentieth century, known for his simple scenes, biblical themes and brilliant colours. The Musée national Marc Chagall was inaugurated in 1973 on the artist's 86th birthday and it's the first time a French national museum has been devoted to an artist while he was still alive.



Song of Songs III, by Marc Chagall
Musée national Marc Chagall, Nice


July 17, 2017

Promenade du Paillon, Nice

There's a coastal river that runs from the Alpes-Maritimes through the French city of Nice. But you won't be able to see it at the point where the Old Town and the modern city meet. This river, the Paillon, now flows beneath a 12-hectare public park, the Promenade du Paillon.



Gardens of the Promenade du Paillon, Nice

July 10, 2017

Nice: the Resort

Nice is more than just a large city in France – it's also a major Riviera resort. With its prime location on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea it was only a matter of time before people fled the cold climate of northern Europe for the sun and surf of the Côte d'Azur.





July 03, 2017

Vieux Nice, the Old Town

During the first week of our tour of southern France we stayed in the Old Town of Nice, Vieux Nice. The city’s past under Italian rulers is reflected in the sunset colours and contrasting shutters of its buildings, and its scenic location between the Alps and Mediterranean has drawn sun-seeking tourists since the 19th century.




Vieux Nice, the Old Town of Nice


June 26, 2017

My Latest Trip to France

I’ve been absent from the blog for a few weeks but for a good reason – a visit to the sunny (and very, very hot) south of France, specifically Provence and the French Riviera. It’s taken a while to recover from my travels and the change in time zones so I haven’t sorted through all my photos yet but I couldn’t wait to share a few favourites with you.


Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera


May 22, 2017

5 Traditional British Beverages

In my last post I looked at seven traditional British foods, including the ubiquitous fish & chips and that favourite from the West Country, Cornish pasties. Today I'm featuring five beverages that are not only beloved by the Brits but have become part of the nation's social fabric. And what better place to start than with tea?



Tea at The Orangerie, Kensington Palace


May 08, 2017

7 Traditional British Foods

The traditional food favourites in Great Britain may not be as well regarded as those of its neighbour across the Channel but they're more down to earth than the haute cuisine of France. Think family meals, comfort food and sustenance for the hard working man.



The Neighbourhood London Pub


April 30, 2017

"Z" is for Zone



The World's 24 Time Zones, Based on the
Prime Meridian, 0º Longitude, at Greenwich, England


Related Post:
Cruising the Thames to Greenwich

April 29, 2017

April 28, 2017

"X" is for Xerophyte



Xerophyte: Succulent Plant Adapted to Dry Growing Conditions,
Minack Theatre, Cornwall


Related Post:
Coastal Marvels of Cornwall

April 26, 2017

April 25, 2017

"U" is for University



Radcliffe Camera, Reading Room of the Bodleian Library,
University of Oxford


Related Post:
Harry Potter Studio Tour

April 21, 2017

April 20, 2017

April 19, 2017

April 13, 2017

"K" is for Knight Bus



The Knight Bus from Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets,
Warner Bros. Studio - The Making of Harry Potter, Leavesden


Related Post:
Harry Potter Studio Tour

April 11, 2017

"I" is for Isis



Sculpture of Isis, Inspired by the Egyptian Goddess of Nature,
Kensington Gardens, London


Related Post:
Kensington Palace & Gardens

April 10, 2017

April 08, 2017

"G" is for Greenwich



Statue of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the First Human in Space
Royal Observatory, Greenwich


Related Post:
Cruising the Thames to Greenwich

April 06, 2017

April 04, 2017

April 01, 2017

England from A to Z

April's here and with it, the annual A to Z Challenge. I won’t be taking part officially this year but I love trying to come up with a topic for each letter of the alphabet (especially those difficult letters: x, y and z). I’ll take a break from my regular posts and play along with the challenge by sharing a photo from England each day (except Sundays), starting with "A" for Agapanthus.



Agapanthus (or African Lily), Tregnothan Estate, Cornwall


March 27, 2017

London's Royal Parks

It’s been a mild winter but I’m never sorry to see this cold, dark season come to an end. I’m definitely more of a summer person. Now spring has arrived and I can’t wait until leaves fill out the trees and grass sprouts up everywhere in fresh shades of green. Thursday is Take a Walk in the Park Day so I’ll take a look back at a few of London’s Royal Parks, at their summer best of course.


Hyde Park, One of London's Eight Royal Parks



March 20, 2017

The 3 Best Free Views of London

Like many of my fellow travellers, I like to include panoramic views of the places I visit when making my sightseeing plans. Rural vistas can be sweeps of breathtaking scenery while urban views help me get my bearings in an unfamiliar city. Here are my picks for three of the best views of London that won’t cost you a cent.



Soaring – but pricey – views from the London Eye



March 06, 2017

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Last fall I did a post about our visit to Greenwich but I didn’t tell you much about the exhibits at the National Maritime Museum, the largest of its kind in the world. Like many of London’s best museums, admission here is free. And the star of the collection is Admiral Horatio Nelson, the man who defeated the French and Spanish fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar and put an end to Napoleon’s plans to invade England.


National Maritime Museum, Greenwich