With the roar of a powerful motor car and a cloud of cigar smoke, the Cannes Advertising Festival disgorged one Chris John Savage for a pork chop and foie gras last Tuesday evening. Looking every inch the communications professional, the doyen of Asia-Pacific’s PR industry came for his now annual, and most welcome, stay.

The doyen and yours truly

Cote de Boeuf anyone?

Some roasties, of course

The now signature vegetable wheel

We chatted long into the night about this and that and hearing the latest in the world of communications; Chris caught up with all the village gossip and, naturally, pork chops and a cote de boeuf slipped down after the foie gras and Beaumes-de-Venise sweet muscat wine.

All too soon and after a highly strenuous walk around the mountain, he was gone, back to the bright lights and glitz of Cannes. As always a privilege and pleasure to hear his words of wisdom.

Wednesday evening and we were off to Apt to visit some friends for a ‘casual BBQ’ -well, it turned into  wonderful gathering of French and ex-pats. No pics, I’m afraid but you’re sure to get to know some of the characters as they unfold!

Scarves are a big purchase item this summer in Provence and we seem to be continually tripping off to this market or that to make the purchases, wrap up and mail off a la colossimo. Friday was no different but this time we were invited by Denise and her daughter, Tam, to savour L’Oustalet in Louramin. Apparently, “you have not lived if you haven’t tasted the gambas” – well, that’s exactly what Madame did and even got a lesson from Madame Gambas in how to unwrap the package.

Starting the big unwrap...

Concentration with some last minute instructions from Denise


Madame Gambas did not approve and came to show the 'right' way

We said the service was cheery...

The accompaniments..

Now this is a typical Provençal recipe –

three slices of lime, three slices of ginger, pink peppercorns and coconut milk. Take the large gambas, make a tin foil packet and seal and bake in oven. Service in tin foil package to retain the juices. Order ahead, it’s popular! The restaurant specialises in some traditional accompaniments – in this case, an asparagus, corguette and leek in a curry sauce, along with some boiled potato and lettuce. Definitely, for me, the highlight of the meal. L’Oustalet is affordable, cheerful, great location and terrace if the service a little erratic and slow – but then, it’s summer in Provence. Don’t rush, take it slowly!

The happy lunch bunch

Good food, cheerful but slow service, and forget about the ice! - Lourmarin

Au bientot – Lovonne and Simon xx

More from behind Sue Botha’s lens:

Up on Mount Ventoux

Chilled - only in Menerbes

Sunset over the edge of Mont Ventoux – this was taken two days after the summer solstice. Time approx 22h00!

Sunset in the Luberon Valley - taken from outside our lounge/salon/sitting room. Picture: Madame (not bad!!)

As the Provençal lavender season rolls on, the sunflowers are now starting to appear. We haven’t quite cracked a full field yet but they’re in all the markets.

The Mother way down there in Stanford, Cape, South Africa sent in this contribution about the sunflower. It makes interesting – and uplifting – reading:

Coustellet market, Luberon Valley

The Sunflower – A stately flower of God. One tiny seed is planted in the dark of Mother Earth.  It is watered by the rain from Heaven, blest by man and other and often grown as tall as six feet, just like man.   When they become mature and in harvest season, so rich from God’s blessings, they often become, like man, stooped with age. The main stalk is strong which is the life center and often seven branches or twigs symbolizing the seven days of the week..Also, it has 12 green leaves representing the 12 months of the year.   The branches often have three nice sunflowers symbolizing the Blessed Trinity. Each flower has 52 golden yellow petals, which represents the 52 weeks of the year, in the centre of the yellow frame of petals are 365 rich seeds representing the days of our calendar year.   These seeds are protected from weather by husks and contain a sweet meat and oil for the nourishment of our bodies.  Even the birds of the air feed on them.

Each morning the sunflower faces the rising sun to the East, as to say: ” Good morning to the Great Spirit”.   The flowers are often planted in a cluster or a long row and act as a fence or barrier from storms and shade from the hot Summer sun. Amazing it it not?

Coustellet market.

Weddings are quite high on our list of consciousness these days so it was with a certain degree of excitement that we spotted a wedding carriage, suitably adorned with lavender (symbolising good luck, long life and life) outside the Protestant Church in Lourmarin last week.

The wedding carriage awaits the newly weds

Having a little chat with the horses

The ensemble with the guide lady at the head

Guarding my mom's car in Juan le Pin

Juan-le-Pin. Pics: Sue Botha

Nearly finished for the peak season – our Menerbes roads!

A pictorial essay taken by Colin Jeffery of a short de Chevaux trip to see the lavender near Roussillon, Luberon Valley.

Pretty as a picture!

A few weeks until perfection

The lady of the road

Every once in a while along comes a singer or musician who rises above the crowd. Visitors to the Bastide have long enjoyed our collection of contemporary French music – we love it too. Even though she is not a really recent discovery, it’s about time that we gave Zaz a bit of a punt.

Here self-titled CD, Zaz was released in 2010 but like all goodies it’s been a bit of a sleeper and is soaring to diamond and now platinum status world-wide. It has topped the charts in Europe and is now even heading up the Australian and other antipodean charts.

Isabelle Geffroy was born on1May 1980 in Tours France and is known for her mixing jazzy styles, French variety, soul and acoustic. We call the genre Gypsy Jazz. She is famous for her hit “Je veux”. She has been called the new Edith Piaf.

Listen out for Zaz – you’ll be glad you did!



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