Here’s a delightful little series on how the French view all sorts of people – and themselves. Merci bien – Regine!

France - as viewed by the world

Menerbes, one of the most beautiful villages in France shimmers in the morning sun

Summer heat....

We spek often about a 'colossimo' that friends need to to excess shopping at the markets - here is one!

Classic - Mont Ventoux in the background with the lavender fields of Sault in the foreground

Jenny and Madame cleaning up the farmer's lavender fields

Up on the Sault plateau

Le picnique - Sault plateau : John and Jenny with yours truly

Nicolas and his brother help us to place the dolls house mansion in the cave prior to leaving

The fleet is parked in Le Renard for the summer months. Au revoir.

A kind of an itsy-bitsy week/s. With the season in full swing and the Bastide ready to welcome its full complement of guests it’s been a bit of a social whirl, guest in and out, visitors from South Africa and England and not to mention the fact that around every corner is a music festival, antique fair, collectables sale – you name it, the Luberon has it at this time of the year.

We kicked off with one of the enjoyable and laid-back Jazz Apero evenings at the Maison de la Truffe et Vin, in Menerbes. This was followed with drinks at the Bastide. A hearty throng. Late summer evenings, warm and dosy.

In full cry - a bit of Orpheus

Racey, the producer and brains behind Jazz apero hammers the skins. Don;t you just love the French word for drums - batterie.

Many visitors have asked us about Madame’s famous Paris evening snack. The name came from a Parisian street food vendor we met way back in the 1980s. He was concocting these delectable creations and we asked him n our non-existent French what they were – “a Paris” he replied (on reflection, he probably thought that we were asking him where we were!). And, a Paris has been a firm favourite in our home ever since.

How to make a Paris? Take a baguette, cut it in half and half again ( this time, lengthwise). Smear the flat surfaces with mustard (preferably, Maille 1717); cover the mustard with ham (the Herta ‘Paris’ brand is fabulous); take some warmed vienna (‘Knackis’ to the French), cut lengthways and place on top. Then, grated cheese sprinkled on top and plonk the lot in the over grill and allow to melt.

This is it.

Serve warm – come hungry. A dash of tomato sauce on top (or in Will’s case, Tabasco) rounds off the experience. Great with beer or wine.

There’s a great new landscaping development going on in the Menerbes village as part of the continuous upgrade of the village – suffice to say you can rely on a French builder to find an innovative way to shield himself from the sun!

Behind the brollies, they labour away laying the stones for terrace walls

This is how the digger-loader got there!

Jenny in fine fettle at the Isle sur l'Sorgue market

We finished off our stay with a short visit from Jenny and John, dinner with Casey and Jen, then a trip to Robeyland in the village for another dinner and, predictably, said our sad ‘au revoirs’ to everyone via a long lunch at Cafe Verandah.

Editor’s note: Since this blog began in 2009 as a fun way to communicate to a ‘few’ mates how we were doing in Provence it has grown to the extent that we are now over 7,000 readers, growing at 22% per annum (thanks to Google Analytics!). Normal transmission will slow down a little for the next 6 weeks as we venture over the waters to South Africa and work on some really exciting developments for Living Stylishly Well and Bastide les Amis. We have new services, new layouts, content, restaurant reviews, a book, and other additions to add to the total package. Even an iPad app is on its way!

Thanks to you all who enjoy your daily/weekly/monthly dose of Provence. We appreciate your interest and thanks too to all our wonderful friends, family and guests who have enhanced our lives and become more than just guests, as you pass through our beautiful village. Merci bien! Bisous xx

Au bientot! Lovonne and Simon x

Bastille Day is the French National which is celebrated on 14 July of each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) and commonly le quatroze juillet (the fourteenth of July). It commemorates the 1790 Fete de la Federation, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First, during the French Revolution. Festivities and official ceremonies are held all over France. The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs- Elysses in Paris in the presence of President Sarkosy, French officials and foreign guests.

Vive la France – Liberty; Equality; Fraternity!

High levels of heat and some fairly challenging humidity have conspired to turn 2011 into a rather hot summer in Provence. We have been hearing from the local farmers that they could well be harvesting the grapes in August or the first time in 75 years. We wonder if that means that beaujolais will be be earlier in 2012?

With harvesting in mind, we thought we would pop into a rather famous Chateau not far from us near to Bonnieux – Chateau la Canorgue. Famous for its wine, but perhaps even more well-known for its ‘starring’ role in the latest Provençal chick-flick A Good Year. The DVD is one of the most watched at the Bastide by our guest who revel in sitting surrounded by the very scenery and locations in the movie.

The Chateau is only 1km from the village of Bonnieux. Take the ‘Pont Julien’ directions from the village (near to the bottom Church), and you will see the signs for the Chateau. Access to the actual building is restricted to invited guests but the gardens, vineyards and Cave are all acessible.

Worth a visit!

Corner of the Tasting Room

The wine in the baskets is their 'garage wine' - CP

The 'CP' garage wine which formed one of the sub-plots in the movie, alongside its more commercial and stylish mates

Old water colour of the Chateau in its glory days

The swimming pool which provided some hilarious moments in he movie

Part of the garden and the fountain - prominent too in the movie

The fountain and pond

Chateau gates

A view of the vineyards - Bonnieux is up on the top left of the picture

A real local favourite in the Provençal markets is a paella

Lavender field a mere stone's throw away from the Bastide

Something simple - Bastide les Amis, Luberon Vally

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