Off the TGV, a day in Menerbes to do some cooking and washing and off to Megeve to help provide some salve for a certain girl’s lonely heart.

Megeve is close to Mont Blanc on the French Alps – it’s upmarket. Many of the boutiques only have two branches – St Tropez and Megeve. In fact, when you see the paparazzi on the cobbled streets and traverse the snow polo field (sponsored by the Rothschild family), you know you’ve gone up a notch. Add to this the fact that this is Brigitte Bardot’s favourite wintering hole and Sasha Distel was the ‘king’ of Megeve, you’ve actually arrived.

We had been invited by Jean-Pierre, Genevieve, Robert and Sylvie. JP and Genevieve have a long history in the village (JP was born ‘over the hill’) and have had their most recent chalet for five years.

It’s chocolate box territory. It’s ‘promenading’ down the snow swept streets. You can ski into the village on specially groomed ski tracks. The biggest furriest hat and the ultimate snow sunglasses allow you to stroll and be up there with the best – Paris Match, Hullo and OK! magazine here we come.

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[Sylvie, Lovonne, Erica, Genevieve with Mont Blanc in the background]

We arrived for lunch on Friday. Raclette (an upmarket fondue with cheese under a grill which you pour as a melt on to Swiss ham / jambon cru, half a gherkin, a half-baked potato all seasoned with Swiss salt-and-pepper mix (eat your heart out Woolworths). And this does not happen once – you go on and on and on. Amazing! The Swiss salt-and-pepper is so good that plans for a Geneva supermarket buying trip were being hatched ‘for next time’.

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[Cigars in hand – the afternoon promenade : Robert, Martine, Genevieve, Lovonne, Jean-Pierre. Missing in action: Erica, Bernard and Sylvie]

We moved on to watch a snow polo match in the gloom and then back to the chalet for a hint of dinner – salmon mousse, salmon etc. Jean-Pierre has discovered de Phazz…….. oh dear …. after champagne, vodka (to cleanse the fish oil in the stomach,we’re told), juniper liquor, wine and Sylvie’s lemocello…………

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Our dance spectacular was rounded off with a wonderful fireworks display which was being put on by the Rothschilds in our honour (and for the polo players) – not a bad sight from the lounge window.

Late to bed – early to rise. A quick promenade with Dick under the guide of Robert (JP had a meeting) turned into quite long one as Dick found a girlfriend. He decided that a little pug (ironically called ‘vodka’ after the night before) was the love of his life and we had to plunder through the snow to discover him and bring him back home safely.

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[I think I know a little boy ………what Erica can do, I can do better]

 

A short car trip up the local mountainside and we were able to view the majestic Mont Blanc.

 

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[the classic shot – under the shadow of Mont Blanc]

Lunch – a Daube spectacular finished off with Brandy tart. Robert enjoyed it – Genevieve mentioned the cholesterol.

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After lunch our hosts had what the French so aptly call a ‘meditation session’. We went into the village for more promenading and a deeper investigation of the retail.

We discovered the village Christmas tree. It’s sponsored and decorated by Swarovski – only in crystals. Nothing cheap here.

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In the village centre we found the village church – 1622. We wandered in to light the candles and look at the sights when we discovered a wedding in progress.

We sat and watched the marriage mass and then went outside to see members of the prestigious French Military College formed up for the ‘legion of honour’ sword salute to the bride and groom. We gleaned from a bystander that the bridegroom had been at the College and this qualified him for this honour.

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[preparing for action]

 

Although Jean-Pierre had threatened credit card meltdown, the girls showed remarkable restraint and only postcards (and a tiny bit of bling) filled the handbags.

Back to the polo. We watched a ladies match between Paris and an unknown (to us) team – exciting to watch close up and Paris triumphed.

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The French have a saying when you have had to much to eat and drink – ‘your teeth are swimming’.

Undaunted we finished off our dream weekend by swimming down to Martine and Bernard’s apartment to feast on soup and quiche. Very little was drunk : I wonder why?

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[the scene from Jean-Pierre and Genevieve’s lounge window]

Merci…….. nous amis:

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Au bientot….. Lovonne and Simon xx

Paris. The City of Love. The most visited city in all the world – and it beckoned… for love, for the sales, for a visit.

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[Will he be there – or won’t he?]

A couple of hours on the TGV from Avignon and it’s a breeze to Gare de Lyon, on the Metro to Tuleries and into Dennis’ flat. E? No, next door in the Hotel Brighton to await the arrival from the wintry climes of Cornwall.

Eager anticipation, room made ready, iPod cued up, candle ready : horror! : the Brighton lounge (pre-arranged meeting place) was brighter than St Thomas’ Hall with a bunch of Bishops and Herschel girls all lusting for each other. Solution! L’Imperial cafe – the only hitch was we had to wait outside on the pavement in minus however much degrees.

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[make up; hair; styled; fragrance; tension – countdown!]

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[what can we say? The moment critique]

The spare parts drifted off to the restaurant to await the lovers. Bets were placed if they would arrive but that they did.

The next few days passed in a blur : leisurely (?) starts to the day; walking tour of St Germain; walking to Boulevard Haussman (Madame had to drop a few euro in the Galeries Lafayette sale); tea in the Galeries tearoom being regaled with stories of Michael’s past and how ours intertwined; trips down memory lane (remember The Colony? The Flames? The Hedgehoppers? Capital Radio 604?); a walk through the Tuleries gardens up the Champs Elyss and then on to Montmarte and the Sacre Coeur; the compulsory photo op under the Eiffel Tower and down the Left Bank back to the Rue de Rivoli.

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[through the Louvre museum arch to the famous pyramid]

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[Tourists crossing the Pont Neuf often wonder at the locks clipped to the wire mesh : they’re placed there by lovers to denote their undying love. Unfortunately, E and Michael had no locks on their suitcases otherwise the lock population of Pont Neuf would have grown by one]

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[you’ve all been wanting to see what he looks like – E; Michael and Madame under the Eiffel Tower]

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[Oh dear!]

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[Aah – the Left Bank. Note Madame’s Galeries Lafayette purchase, quite swish]

Mention must be made of a great eating place – Cafe Ruch (part of the famous Hotel Costes family : situated in the heart of the Louvre district. Try the cheeseburger – E22 (thats AU$44 or ZAR450!), very good!

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[All good things come to an end, I’m afraid. TGV at Gare de Lyon]

A quick day in Provence and then off to Megeve- that’s for another post!!

Au bientot: Lovonne and Simon xx

Through the marvel of Google Analytics (thanks Will!) the blog writer is able to see what excites his/her readers.

LSWZone is nearly at 1,000 readers! Small cheese when you consider how much Pantene we used to sell in a week but it’s a great feeling. Thanks.

What Google Analytics has told me is that you all want to know more about the food/travel side of life – and ours in particular. That’s not a problem. My IT guru, Chris Mills has slipped in two new pages: Pleasant Places to Stay and Pleasant Places to Eat. I’ve decided to concentrate on the UK, France, SA, and Australia (who can not stress the importance of the pork chop at Donovans in St Kilda?).

It’ll build as I work my way through the business cards/memories/articles which Madame has so assiduously collected over the years.

Enjoy!

The sun has finally come out. It’s still minus C in the mornings but the snow is melting, the ice is everywhere and slippery slidy is the order of the day. Even a passing motorist deposited himself amongst one of the farmer’s vines, wiping out six of them with his Nissan 4×4.

La Poste has started to operate again and the roads are teeming with trucks belonging to electricity, internet, gas, water etc as they speed from one crisis to another. Chain saws are drowning out the hunting guns as people hack their way out of blocked roads and gardens.

Thankfully, we have had minor damage. The only major upset in the garden was our favourite little red squirrel whose winter hibernation cypress buckled under the weight of the snow and he landed near to the front door. Madame put some walnuts out for him in case he was peckish but he scurried off to another tree and is back fast asleep!

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[That’s the squirrel’s tree on the left hand side]

Erica arrived on Monday. Michael telephoned Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – twice? thrice? No! – many more; and, then thank goodness La Poste is now delivering : fine fragrance delivered by mail……… we all now drip with essence of rose.

So, the week has been spent nursing E towards our departure via the TGV to Paris on Sunday – Michael will arrive later in the evening. Alma has lent the black negligee, we have lent the swish black wheelie case (and emotional support), Vicky has lent moral support throughout the week with plenty of Kent cigarettes and rose wine.

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Although the village is very quiet – Benji is back! The Lothario of the Luberon Valley made one of his all too rare (these days) visits to the village. Local gossip centres around the fact that there is a new Golden Retriever in the village – Benji came to check her out. The mind boggles at the off-spring potential. Erica would probably be the manager of this romantic liaison.

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Down Roussillon way and in keeping with the canine theme, here’s our mate Max gazing out at the farmlands and absolutely loving the snow. Problem is that his ‘mother’ doesn’t enjoy Max’s comings and goings into the kitchen – the Dyson is worn out, we believe.

We’ve found a great Greek restaurant in the Valley!! Greek? Yep, sorry to say this but sometimes you yearn for other food than the French (sounds terribly crass, doesn’t it!). We found Les Cyclades in the Coustellet Industrial Area as we toured it to kill time before Sunday (you have to keep the love-struck amused and entertained.

Les Cyclades is the real deal. Micau the owner (he owns other restaurants in Crete and Paris) does the waiting, cooking, washing up, and general entertaining. You know you’ve been in a good Greek restaurant when your clothes smell of garlic and olive oil the next day. Ours did – and still do.

To-morrow we’re off to Paris for the BIG sales (Madame can’t wait) and the BIG meeting (Erica can’t wait). Me – the spare part. It’ll keep us all amused.

Au bientot : Lovonne and Simon xx

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This is the headline from the local Toowoomba newspaper. If you haven’t been to Toowoomba, then not only have you not missed anything but also you probably won’t understand this headline.

The drink takes pride of place. The drinking habits of Australians has emerged as the most popular silly season story of the year. A day does not go past without some paper or other making a big thing out of binge drinking. The current favourite is the call by police in New South Wales for liquor stores to sell only light beer on Australia Day. If the stores were silly enough to do so there would not be enough police in the state to control the riots!

Not that Australia is alone in featuring the problem of alcoholism. From this morning’s Moscow Times:

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[thanks Crikey]

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The players were found guilty of losing the 17th end of a pool game against Thailand when they dropped four shots to go from a 15-12 lead to trail 15-16. The judgment said the players then tried to retrieve the situation on the final end but lost 17-15. New Zealand’s loss allowed Thailand into the playoffs and eliminated Canada from the medal chase and the Canadians protested.

[thanks Dominion Post]

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[thanks, Crikey]

Overindulge over Christmas? Can’t shake those extra kilos? Is your arthritis giving you trouble or are your hot flushes getting you down? Could it be your sex life needs a little help? Perhaps your Qi needs boosting or your charkas need balancing. Have no fear! There’s a product or two that maybe just right for you and they’re government approved — but does that really mean that they work?

Search the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s Public Summaries for fat and cellulite reduction and you’ll find 26 ultrasound and radio frequency machines.

Many of these are described as “non-invasive alternatives for liposuction” that reduce fat cells by emulsifying them with heat producing energy waves. Costing upwards of $2000 for treatments, they are used by doctors and cosmetic therapists and they do seem to give a “temporary improvement in the appearance of cellulite”, but do they really remove your fat?

If your s-x life needs a lift, there’s a “penile rigidity device”, which claims “to help overcome impotence and incontinence”. Consisting of four pieces of plastic with two metal bits (which you join together to clamp around your wedding tackle) they sell for more than $600. Apparently, as you walk, the galvanic current generated between the metal bits, supposedly improves your libido.

If “period pain for pre- and post-menopausal women” is your problem then magnetic therapy might help. For other symptoms there’s black cohosh, dong quai, red clover and soy-based complementary medicines, that are meant to reduce them.

Despite all these products having TGA’s approvals there is no evidence to support any of these claims. Energy generating machines can’t remove fat or cellulite, magnets are a placebo and the concept of Qi, meridians and reflexology are all based on pseudoscientific nonsense.

For the symptoms of menopause there is no convincing evidence that any natural product can help and some may even cause liver damage, bleeding complications or “harmful effects on hormone-sensitive tissue”.

With the real Provence swamped under a blanket of snow, there’s a little bit of Provencal magic in the Magaliesberg region of South Africa.

Called La Provence D’Afrique, it’s the brainchild of sculptor Charles Gotthard and his wife Marguerite. The third hospitality string to their bow (they own and manage the Out of Africa cottages and Goblin’s Cove restaurant in the area as well), La Provence has been built as a typical medieval street within Charles’ old studio.

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En-suite rooms branch out from the centre street. Each of the seven suites are individually decorated and furnished true to the Provencal style, however, Marguerite’s eclectic heritage pops through now and again with some traditional decor.

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Outside Charles has renovated an old Chevvy truck (no suitable De Chevaux could be found, apparently) and acts as a bar and serving hatch for breakfast.

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Keeping up with the juxtaposition of cultures, there is a spa on the property where qualified masseuse’s and beauticians can make it a pamper weekend.

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If you can’t face the prospect of multiple body searches, airline security abuse and erratic airways timetables, pop on down to La Provence D’Afrique for a weekend in France.

For rates and more details, call Marguerite on +27 14 57 71 12 6 or go to www.goblins.co.za

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