Iconic Bonnieux, one of the famous Luberon Golden Triangle villages

Iconic Bonnieux, one of the famous Luberon Golden Triangle villages


France’s tourist trump cards
France has a great deal to offer tourists, ranging from its geography (coastline, town, countryside, mountains) to its attractions and facilities (accommodation, activities, catering). This enables it to develop many dynamic sectors:
– With 55 million skier days sold, France is the world’s top skiing destination
– Business tourism is also a crucial sector for France, with over 7,000 events annually
– France is positioning itself as a cultural destination, with many international events being hosted there (Marseille Provence 2013, Lille3000), many museums opening (Pompidou Metz, Louvre Lens, Fondation Maeght, the MuCEM in Marseille), as well as the new cultural tour A journey to Nantes. Major events generate spin-offs in terms of the economy, society, public relations and regional development. By combining French know-how and individual expertise, it is vital for an effective policy to be created which makes it possible to attract the regular events which countries take turns to host throughout the world, develop the existing events and create new ones. The Comité France Evénements, supported by Atout France, is working on developing, as a matter of priority, a marketing campaign to attract new partners, international benchmarking and criteria for branding major events.
– Wine tourism is one of the most dynamic industries. 24 million people visit the wine regions.
– Destinations such as Paris, the Provence and Côte d’Azur region, and Mont-Saint-Michel are veritable showcases for the richness, quality and diversity of what France has to offer.

Atmospheric villages abound in Provence, the jewel in France's tourism crown. Her is the Dora Maar House

Atmospheric villages abound in Provence, the jewel in France’s tourism crown. Here is the Dora Maar House – home of Picasso’s lover for over 40 years and now an artists’ retreat.

83 million tourists, 7% of French GDP
France is the world’s top tourist destination, with 83 million foreign tourists. It remains the global leader, with the dynamic tourism sector boasting a surplus and rapidly transforming under the combined effect of a new, emerging clientele and a broader range of activities on offer to international tourists.
Indeed, the sector is radically changing, with a new clientele arriving. Today, Europeans and Asians account for the growing number of foreign tourists in France. Germans make up the greatest number of foreign tourists in France, ahead of the British. Tourists from the first countries to be hit by the economic crisis, such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece, are also returning to France for their holidays.
The Chinese account for the highest proportion of Asians choosing France for their holidays (1.5 million). Meanwhile, the influx of Brazilians and Russians is greatly increasing.
Tourism makes an essential contribution to France’s foreign trade. Since 1999, it has accounted for the main balance of payments surplus. The tourist trade has shown a marked progression, achieving a balance of nearly €13 billion in 2012, as compared to €7.5 billion in 2011. Longer stays and more nights spent in commercial accommodation have led to increased spending by foreign tourists in France, amounting to a total of €35.8 billion.

A poppy field near Chateaublanc Golf Course in Avignon. The actual field is about three rugby fields in size.

A poppy field near Chateaublanc Golf Course in Avignon. The actual field is about three rugby fields in size.

A recent plat du jour - fresh Luberon asparagus, gambas and

A recent plat du jour – fresh Luberon asparagus, gambas and creamy sauce, drizzled with pesto and adrned with roasted vine tomatoes.

2015’s restaurant success story, Le 5 in Ménerbes has returned.
Glitzy Saint Tropez has the iconic Le Club 55 (Club Cinquant-Cinq), but the Luberon boasts its own version – Le 5 in the hilltop village of Ménerbes. No relation to the Riviera institution, Le 5 is situated on a panoramic terrace in the centre of the village.

The brainchild of La Veranda owners and their team, Hubert Tarbouriech and Aurelio Rochat, Le 5 serves bistrot-style meals for lunch and dinner. Throughout the afternoon, there is a bar service as well as pastries and cakes from the Le Veranda chefs. Last year, Le 5 surpassed everyone’s most ambitious expectations and quickly earned a 5-star Trip Advisor rating for the quality of its food, friendly service and stunning location. This year, the menu has increased with more pastas, the famous salad selection and a variety of main courses, along with the quintessential plat de jour.

A firm favourite - the Caesar salad

A firm favourite – the Caesar salad

Le 5 has one of the most magnificent views in the Luberon and, in fine weather, all the seating is outside on the terrace. If the weather is inclement, or ‘turns’ during your meal, there is a quick shift upstairs to the ‘old pub’ Also, there is a selection of linens, fragrances and fabrics for sale.

As the weather warms up, we recommend strongly reserving your table early. For reservations and more information, call Le 5 on +33 (0)



Home of the de Stael family.

Home of the de Stael family.

Nostradamus once said that the vilage of Ménerbes was  ship floating in a sea of vines. Taking this analogy, a bit further, right in the bow of the Ménerbes ship is the home of the famous French artisitc family – the de Staels.

Original patriarch, Nicolas de Staël was born Николай Владимирович Шталь фон Гольштейн (Nikolai Vladimirovich Stael von Holstein) in Saint Petersburg, into the family of a Russian Lieutenant General, Baron Vladimir Stael von Holstein, (a member of the Staël von Holstein family, and the last Commandant of the Peter and Paul Fortress) and his second wife, Lubov Vladimirovna Berednikova (his first wife was Olga Sakhanskaya). De Staël’s family was forced to emigrate to Poland in 1919 because of the Russian Revolution; both his father and stepmother died in Poland and the orphaned Nicolas de Staël was sent with his older sister Marina to Brussels to live with a Russian family (1922).

Career beginnings
He eventually studied art at the Brussels Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts (1932). In the 1930s, he travelled throughout Europe, lived in Paris (1934) and in Morocco (1936) (where he first met his companion Jeannine Guillou, also a painter and who would appear in some of his paintings from 1941–1942) and Algeria. In 1936 he had his first exhibition of Byzantine style icons and watercolors at the Galerie Dietrich et Cie, Brussels. He joined the French Foreign Legion in 1939 and was demobilized in 1941. Sometime in 1940 he met one of his future dealers Jeanne Bucher, whom he married.

But by 1953, de Staël’s depression led him to seek isolation in the south of France (eventually in Antibes). He suffered from exhaustion, insomnia and depression. In the wake of a disappointing meeting with a disparaging art critic on March 16, 1955 he committed suicide. He leapt to his death from his eleventh story studio terrace, in Antibes. He was 41 years old.



Our new BBQ has been finished and inaugurated. Situated at Maison Blanc, it boasts a wide grilling area and a cast metal baking oven – created by Master Blacksmith Kashief Booley in Prince Albert, Western Cape, South Africa. Hence, the name – Prins Albert.

Our maçon was excellent. There are two brothers in the Luberon who specialise in all things fire, fireplaces and chimneys. Jen-Yves Gaudin is the maçon; Jean-Pierre Gaudin is the master chimney sweep. They hail from Caseneuve.





The New York Times reports that passengers who suffer from airlines losing their luggage may be getting their rights back.

Buried in the new bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration are a few sections addressing the fees that many of us pay to fly. And while the Senate and the House bills still differ a bit, one likely result is going to be this: The carriers are going to have to refund the fees you pay when your luggage isn’t on your flight and you have to wait a long time to get it.

Refunding those fees may not seem like a big deal, but airlines in the United States took in about $3 billion in fees for checked luggage last year. So plenty is at stake. And if you’ve ever tried to get your money back after an airline botched its baggage delivery, as I did recently, you’re acutely aware of the following facts:

■ Any attempt to reason with the airline begins with the discovery that it may have declared all baggage fees nonrefundable in nearly every circumstance.

■ A refund, if you get one, may come in the form of a voucher that requires you to fly that carrier again — and to remember to use it.

■ If you dispute the charge with your credit card company, you may run into resistance.

While the bill contains other improvements for traveling families, people in wheelchairs and others, those baggage fees are the ones that airlines have been charging for a longer time and are particularly noxious. If the bag doesn’t come spinning around the carousel, you shouldn’t have to pay, right?

The Luberon Valley in all its beauty

IMG_2077 IMG_2055 IMG_2041 IMG_2041 (1)

Every year, we wonder at the beuaty of the wisterias as they adorn buildings all over the area.

Here, in Ménerbes, it is no different.


Cherry blossoms in full flower in the Luberon valley

Cherry blossoms in full flower in the Luberon valley


Close up!

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