At the back of the Cote Parc shop in L'Isle sur la Sorgue is one of the many canals in thevillage - the owners have decided to add to the flowing water.

At the back of the Cote Parc shop in L’Isle sur la Sorgue is one of the many canals in thevillage – the owners have decided to add to the flowing water.

Madame spotted this in the La Vie et Belle shop in Ménerbes - she wants it!

Madame spotted this in the La Vie est Belle shop in Ménerbes – she wants it!

La Vie est Belle is situated on the Rue de la Fonteine in Ménerbes – next to the parking lot – and is crammed with objets d’art, decor and gifts. A great browse!

For more information, click here.

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The new 2016 South of France Summer ‘must have’ – an inflatable swan. This one is called ‘swannie’ and is already in high use over the now hot summer.

Thanks to Michelle, Ed and Steve for providing us with one!

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It’s July and the lavender is out – as good as always and everyone turns into a postcard photographer.

Fine Lavender grows on the arid mountains of Provence over an altitude of 800 metres.Only a single flower grows on its small stem, and it reproduces by seeding. It has always been used for its medicinal properties and has been called the ‘blue gold’ by perfume manufacturers. 130kg of flowers are needed to to obtain 1 litre of essential oil by the distilling process. In a good year, a one hectare plantation can yield up to 25 litres of essential oil.

Lavendin, however, grows at much lower altitudes (0-800m). It is a tall plant with two branches and grows in large clumps. It is a hybrid between fine lavender and ‘spike’ lavender. To reproduce, you have to take cuttings – it is sterile. Growing of lavendin started in the 190s and it has great commercial properties. Often confused with fine lavender, it is used not only for medicinal properties but also for cleaning, detergent and other industry products.
The iconic sachets found at every Provencal market contain lavendine (or lavendin). 40kg of flowers are need to provide 1 litre of essential lavendin oil.

Seen near Roussillon

Seen near Roussillon

La Petite Maion in Ménerbes has been garnering quite reputation with the local artisans for heavy lifting, complicated furniture removals etc. The latest challenge to be presented was how to place the new stone trough (weighing in at about 400kg), in the farthest part of the garden. a ramp, two sets of steps, cobbled paving and a slight slope all had to be negotiated in a place where mechanical help was impossible.

In times like this, we turn to Nicolas, our maçon, painter and fixer extraordinaire. Quick calculations meant that six men would have to carry at least 60kg each and then a bit more. Off he went to the quarry to collect the trough which was easily loaded on a pallet and inot his van via a forklift. The last mechanical help!

This is how it unfolded…..

There she is - in the closed van on a quarry pallet.

There she is – in the closed van on a quarry pallet.

Boards placed and nailed for a hand jack to be able to slide the trough down on to the pavement.

Boards placed and nailed for a hand jack to be able to slide the trough down on to the pavement.

5 Frenchmen and an ex-pat (me!) start to move it out of the van.

5 Frenchmen and an ex-pat (me!) start to move it out of the van.

Easy does it

Easy does it

That's Nico in the blue t-shirt

That’s Nico in the blue t-shirt

Now the steps!

Now the steps!

Prepare to lift! Plenty of "attentions" emanating from the men.

Prepare to lift! Plenty of “attentions” emanating from the men.

Up she comes

Up she comes

Back on to the jack and then into place. Formidable!

Back on to the jack and then into place.
Formidable!

The Hotel du Forum, Place du Forum, Arles

The Hotel du Forum, Place du Forum, Arles

 

Arles is the quintessential Roman city and, as such, steeped in history. For  the first time, we decided to spend the night and were recommended the staely ‘old lady of Arles’ Hotel du Forum.

Room with a view

Room with a view

Dont be fooled by your GPS – it takes you down one ways the wrong way, through lanes, dodging maotorcyles and pedestrians and you arrive at the Place du Forum.

The public bathrooms!

The public bathrooms!

The hotel is old but charming. The owner, resplendent in braces, sits in his office with a reel-to-reel tape recorder (remember them?) providing the muzak for the hotel.

Chico and the Gypsies - a huge mural at the entrance to El Patio

Chico and the Gypsies – a huge mural at the entrance to El Patio

In the heart of the Camargue and the city of Arles, is the home of one of the area’s most famous residents – Chico of Gypsy Kings and now Chico and the Gypsies fame.

Dinner came, literally, rolling in.

Dinner came, literally, rolling in.

Dinner unveiled - a delicious paella

Dinner unveiled – a delicious paella

Le Patio de Camargue is his doman – 3 hectares alongside the banks of the Rhone river and a conference, entertainment and general meeting venue.”El Patio” as the locals call it, hosts concerts by Chico and the Gypsies during the summer months with dinner served pre-concert to 1,500 people! We popped along to the first concert of the 2016 season.

What would a gypsy spot be without a caravan!

What would a gypsy spot be without a caravan!

The crowd - 1,500 revellers. And did they party!

The crowd – 1,500 revellers. And did they party!

Chico and his band in full cry. Bambolero!!

Chico and his band in full cry. Bambolero!!

What fun!

 

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Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution.

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Bastille Day 2016 also marks the day that the Tour de France tackles the King of the mountains stage over the Giant of Provence – Mont Ventoux

The offical TDF website reports as follows:

The Mont Chauve (bald mount) doesn’t carry its name that well when the Tour comes to visit with its hundreds of thousands of spectators coming along. The French National Day will really be a moment of truth for the candidates to Yellow Jersey glory, whether they’re French or not. To reach the Observatoire as a winner is the best possible preparation before the remaining part of the event.

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Our big late winter and spring project is complete! The Enchanted Garden with its little house, fully equipped kitchen, easy chairs, bench area and all encircled by those magic bamboos! Already, children have delighted in their trip down fantasy lane – away from ipads, touch screens and the like. Holiday bliss!

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To view the Bastide les Amis website, click here.

 

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The 2016 show is the best ever – showcasing the works of Chagall and entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For this writer who cannot profess to be an art expert, the ‘filler’ show between breaks of Chgall is alice in Wonderland – a personal highlight.

The show is held in an old quarry – near to the tourist hub of Les Baux de Provence. 20 million years ago, it is believed that the bauxite stone was first formed. Why bauxite? The stone extracted in the south of France is generally named after the town where it is exploited (Les Baux stone, Fontevieille stone, etc.). Also known as the ‘stone of the south’, Les Baux stone is a slightly calcareous limestone, fine-grained, and usually white or blonde in colour. It results from the compaction of calcium carbonate on calcareous sand. Marine fossils have been found in the rock.

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During the early 19th Century, Fontvieille, the neighbouring village to Les Baux benefitted greatly from the growing demand for stone at this time, as its white stone was said to be of better quality than Les Baux stone. However, the number of quarries in operation in Les Baux at this time attest to the town’s increased production. One such quarry was Les Grands Fonds, known today as Les Carrières de Lumières.

In 1935, following the First World War, the demand for stone for construction purposes declined. New building materials such as steel and concrete emerged. More economical than stone, these new materials threatened the future of stone quarries. The quarry was eventually forced to close.

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In the 1960s, the quarry found a new function thanks to the visionary genius of Jean Cocteau. Entranced by the beauty of the place and the surrounding environment, he decided to film The Testament of Orpheus on the site.

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he site was further transformed through the creation of a new project inspired by the ideas of Joseph Svoboda, one of the greatest scenographers of the second half of the 20th century. This project was designed to enhance the space: it was decided that the huge rock walls of the quarry would form the backdrop for a new and unique sound and light show that would completely immerse the viewer. For over 30 years, the quarry has been hosting audio-visual performances of this kind.

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