I know, I know, it’s early but we’re excited!

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The Birthday Girl (right).

 

With apologies to William Shakespeare for some abject plagiarising:

“Her life is gentle; and the elements
So mixed in her, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, THIS IS ONE HELLUVA LADY!”

Happy Birthday, darling – and many, many more.

 

Notice to these two ladies from the residents of Ménerbes - we miss you!

Notice to these two ladies from the residents of Ménerbes – we miss you!

11th November is Remembrance Day throughout Europe. Poppy Day.

For my darling, here’s another kind of remembrance….

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For more information on Bastide les Amis, click here.

 

Poppy field about to burst open near Avignon.

Poppy field about to burst open near Avignon.

The association between commemorating war dead and poppies arises from the famous opening lines of Canadian army officer John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Field, which begins: ” In Flanders fields the poppies blow; Between the crosses, row on row”.

McCrae wrote the poem during the Second Battle of Ypres, the day after he helped to bury a close friend. He had noticed the way poppies bloomed around the graves and included the observation in his poem, which was written from the viewpoint of the dead soldiers.

McCrae was promoted to Acting Colonel and moved to a position behind the lines, but died of meningitis in a military hospital on 28 January 1918. His poetry, however, lived on. Published in December 1915, In Flanders Field quickly became known as one of the defining poems of the First World War.

American humanitarian worker Moina Michael was one of the millions touched by the imagery of poppies growing on the battlefield. To raise money for her work helping disabled servicemen, she came up with the idea of selling silk poppies to be worn as a tribute to the fallen.

By 1921, her efforts had led to the poppy being adopted as the official emblem of remembrance by both the American Legion and Royal British Legion, with poppy sellers an established fixture in many nations.

Armistice Day (Poppy Day), when we remember the fallen in World War 1 is on Friday 11th November 2016.

 

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.

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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?

 

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As you get to know French culture better, you might wonder what the customs and history of French Valentine’s Day are. Actually, you might be surprised to find out that Valentine’s Day might possibly have started in France.

To some it will be no surprise that a country regarded as one of the most romantic in the world (France) should have invented Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, the history of the holiday is not clear enough to say with certainty that the holiday originated in France.

History of French Valentine’s Day
There are two reasons why many people link Valentine’s Day with France. One is that it was commonly known, in both England and France, that birds and other animals paired off and mated ‘in the middle of February’. Coincidence? Most likely not, since February 14 is exactly the middle of February. It is thought that people began celebrating this as the special day for lovers because of this association with ‘love’ in nature.

In addition, a Frenchman, the Duke of Orléans, is thought to have written the first love letters that later became Valentine’s Day cards. The Duke of Orléans, Charles, was captured in 1415 and taken as a prisoner to London; while imprisoned in the Tower, he is thought to have written love letters to his wife back in France. These are thought to be what became cartes d’amitiés, now known as French Valentine’s Day cards.

St-Valentin, France
In France, in the department of Indre (Central France), there is a village called St-Valentin. Although nobody really knows anymore who St. Valentine was historically, there’s no doubt that the village of St-Valentin has capitalized on its name and marketed itself as le village des amoureux! Of course, with a name like that, one can’t help but make the association.

Create a Valentines Day à la française
Looking for a new way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Create a French theme for your special day and surprise your loved one with a French evening. Use the opportunity to try out a delicious French dessert, serve French bread and cheese between the dinner and your delectable dessert, and have some romantic French music playing in the background all evening. Don’t forget to set the table in a French way, which is to say that the table should look like art: complete with a tablecloth, cloth napkins, a tasteful centerpiece, and an array of cutlery and glasses suitable for each course you will serve. Your valentine will never forget the year you made the most romantic day of the year even more romantic!

Have a great day with your loved one!

 

27th December is Madame’s birdie.

Bon Anniversaire…

The joy of her life

The joy of her life

 

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