From the cloud formations of yesterday, here’s a jet vapour trail aiming straight for the clock tower of the Ménerbes City Hall (Mairie).

Wonderful cloud formations over Ménerbes in the spring sunshine

Springtime and it’s time to switch the fountains ON!


Madame rather fancied this – gambas over champagne risotto

Consistently good food, superb service, a calm ambience ensures that La Veranda Restaurant in Ménerbes is full the year round. Again, Michelin recommended, we sampled their early Spring menu last week and, as usual, were not disappointed.

Gambas perched on top of scallops in a most divine sauce.

If you’re in the Luberon, don’t deprive yourselves of a treat – lunch or dinner at La Veranda!

To reserve, click here.

A few weeks ago, we discussed the ancient walls and the spicatum method of walls and roads. Here’s another example of an ancient skill made modern – plastering the outside of stone walls with a modern plaster substance to replace the ancient mud used.

The chap on the right sprays the plaster on to the walls with a high pressure hose, and his mate smoothes it out giving a beautiful sheen. Ageing comes naturally – good for another few hundred years.


At this time of the year. the Luberon Valley (the world’s ‘glacé fruit capital), is ablaze with cherry blossoms which erupt for a precious week after the almond blossoms have disappeared.

Lone splendour near Ménerbes.

An ornamental cherry in the Bastide les Amis garden

Looking down from the hill top village of Ménerbes onto cherry orchards

Another view. is a great website for comparing a multitude of fares and also picking up some hand travel tips. Here one about How to Avoid ‘Crappy’ Food when travelling by air.

Farecompare takes over:

A friend once told me, “Food consumed in the air has no calories.” I like the way she thinks but alas, it’s not true. Here’s the question: Can you avoid crappy food and find the healthy stuff while traveling? Sure you can, and here are some ideas. Be sure and see the update below.

Disclaimer: We are not doctors, nutritionists or even restaurant reviewers. If food is an issue, consult a health care professional. This is for those who try to avoid crappy food when possible and might want a little guidance.

1. First, Find the Cheapest Flight Possible

Why? You’ll have more left over to spend on anything from great food in wonderful restaurants to fun events at your vacation city. So start by getting the best flight deal possible and that means comparing airfares. Tip: If you’re don’t have to travel on a specific date, you can often find very cheap flights year-round on the Getaway Map.

2. Eat the Free Food on Planes

Yes, free food is making a comeback – on a couple of airlines anyway.

Delta: As of March 2017, Delta began offering free meals in coach class on several long-haul routes and more are coming. Healthy stuff: Turkey and vegetarian wraps, plus fruit and cheese plates (and certain overnight flights feature a breakfast bar).
UPDATE: One air travel industry insider believes American and United may join Delta in free economy meals, if only to maintain their competitive edge. When this could happen isn’t known.
Hawaiian: Flights from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii also offer free meals in economy. Example: Ginger chicken with peas, carrots, corn and steamed white rice.
International flights: Most offer free food in economy including a wide range of chicken and pasta dishes; Emirates Airlines, for example, serves a chicken and herb-seasoned dish or sweet and sour fish; both come with vegetables.
International flights with no free food: Ultra-discount carriers such as Norwegian and Wow only provide food for purchase but it includes plenty of healthy (and tasty-sounding) options like salmon salad and bags of nuts.
Free snacks: Both Southwest and JetBlue have reputations for a wide array of free snacks that include healthy-ish type items like JetBlue’s dried cranberries and popcorn chips.
3. Bring Your Own Food

Make a sandwich the night before you leave; you’ll have something cheap to eat you know you’ll like. It can be healthy – and filling – and maybe you’ll be less tempted by those overpriced bags of candy and chips in the airport news kiosks. More ideas:

Hummus or peanut butter-smeared rice cakes
Small plastic tub of salad
Granola bars, fruits and vegetables
Remember, no liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces through security so bring an empty bottle to fill up past the checkpoint or get a free drink on the plane. Note: You have to pay for soft drinks on most of the super-discount airlines including Frontier, Ryanair and Spirit.

4. Avoid the Crappy Food – Fast Food

Many food-conscious travelers already know this stuff; it’s kind of common-sensical, but it may be news to some.

Fast food burgers: Tasty? Absolutely! But if you’re looking to cut calories, might want to go with a fast food salad and skip the fries. And the milk shake.
Pastries: Yes, sometimes you do deserve a treat and those giant sweet rolls with white icing are delicious. On the other hand, they are not necessarily ideal for dieters. One popular airport-and-mall bakery franchise offers a pecan/caramel treat that sources say is 1,080 calories but these shops also offer donut-hole snacks for 260 calories.
Pizza: What would the world be without pizza? But for the health conscious, it’s all about the toppings. One popular airport pizzeria’s site says a slice of its extra-meat pizza has 600 calories but they also offer a tomato & spinach slice with just 370 calories.
5. Avoid Crappy Food – Airport Restaurants

Most airports aren’t foodie destinations but that could be changing thanks to an explosion of good dining options. We’ve got some examples of good food at good airport restaurants around the world but please not that menus can change without notice. Tip: Click the city to find a cheap flight.

Hong Kong: This award-winning airport has a wide array of Asian and Western options including Chinese, Greek, Italian, French and numerous establishments serving vegetarian dishes. Try the fish balls or get a taste of home at McDonald’s. See more restaurants here.
London Heathrow: So many restaurants but we like the sound of Leon because one reviewer wrote, “Fast food that’s good for you might be a confusing concept, but a quick look at what’s on offer [at Leon] proves it’s not an impossible dream.” Rhubarb sounds good too; it offers “a welcome alternative to the ‘stodgy’ full-English breakfast.” See more here.
Los Angeles: Try Petrossian for caviar; it’s only about 40 calories per tablespoon and heck, how much can you afford to eat? Plus there are lots of salads at Lemonade. See more here.
New York (JFK): Deep Blue Sushi has – well, sushi – and Piquillo is recommended for paella and ceviche. See more here.
Frankfurt: Okay, so maybe Deustch doesn’t top the list of healthy options thanks to all those wonderful sausages (reviewers say they’re really good) but sauerkraut is kind of light. See more here.
San Francisco: Napa Farms Market offers a changing seasonal menu but usually includes a yogurt bar, rotisserie meats and fresh berries, while fans of Cat Cora’s Kitchen love the oysters and artichokes. If you overdo it, you can always visit the airport’s yoga room. See more here.
Sydney: The airport’s website lists a bunch of ‘healthy eating’ options including Little Bok Choy and Soul Origin. See more here.
Safe travels – and savour the journey.

We spotted the spicatum walls outside the Chateau high up near Saint Saturnin-les-Apt.


L’opus spicatum – is an ancient method of paving or bulding using stones and interleaving them in a zig-zag fashion. The joints go both horizontal and vertical.

The technique was developed during Roman times as a means of paving roads, but then in the Middle Ages, artisans tried the technique on walls with great success – particularly retaining walls as the interleaving of the stone created a strong structure.

Then, in Medieval times, the French artisans used to clad the outside of noble city houses with spicatum laid bricks and encased them in wooden frames – designs houses made famous in cities such as Carcassonne. Way down in the south-west in the Dordogne, there are many versions of spicatum clad homes.



An ancient art – sadly practiced no longer.


Launching to-day 13th March 2017, Footsteps. Provençal Paradise. is launching on world-wide Amazon sites. This is the Second Edition of the popular Luberon, Provence guide. Now updated; further tours included and many other features. It’s available in print or on e-book via the Kindle store.

To purchase, lend or browse, click here.

Start the fire!


The best way to describe the Braserade is that it is a mini-BBQ which you light outside with charcoal and when the doals are glowing and just about white-hot, you bring inside (or to a terrace table) and start the fun.

An Alsace tradition, the Braserade is great for cooking strip of steak or sliced duck breast. A multitude of dipping sauces accompany the meats – we had a special BBQ sauce, horse radish (a nod to the British for the beef), bernaise, mustard, tomato sauce and a buttery lemon sauce. Our plates were garnishedwith a perfectly baked potato and then you cook your own. An Alsatian fondue without the boiling oil! A side salad rounded off the feast.

It’s delicious!


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