Author Archives: Provence Escapes

Two Must-Haves Gadgets for Summer Travel

Kanex DoubleUp ESB ChargerPower when you need it – Dual USB Charger

Tired of traveling with two device chargers – one for your iPad and one for iPhone or iPod? Kanex makes this dual USB charger (called DoubleUp) that features two full-power 2.1 amp USB charging ports for fast charging for your smart phones and tablets. And the best part is its LED indicators let you know when each is done charging. Available in white and black. $49 @ www.kanexlive.com/doubleup.

 

Lifeproof iPhone CaseLifeproof your iPhone

This is the case to take when you’re traveling everywhere. It’s waterproof, dust-proof and shock-proof. So you can take it where you’re never taken it before – the ocean, a lake, or even the shower or tub. Plus it’s sleek low profile barely increases the size of your device. Protection and cool looking. $80 at Best Buy, Target.

 

 

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French Words To Travel By: At the Market – Les tomatoes

les tomates

Tomatoes in a bowlIn the summer, the local French markets are teeming with vendors selling big juicy tomatoes right off the farm. They smell and taste just like the ones I remember from my youth and it’s impossible to get back to the villa with them all in tact. But we do save enough to stuff and bake for Les Tomates Provencal or to make a Tomato Tarte.

les tomates, f, (tomatoes) from the Spanish word “tomate.”

Pronunciation:

Illustration by Judi Janofsky

Finding The Great Gatsby in Paris

Hemingway and Fitzgerald in Paris

Getting ready to see the remake of the film “The Great Gatsby,” I’m reminded of the Jazz Age, a term coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald himself for the period of time in the 1920s just before the Depression when jazz music and dance became popular in the U.S. and Europe.

During most of the era, Fitzgerald lived in France, primarily in Paris. Back then Paris was the rage for ex-pat American writers, painters and intellectuals who would hang out at cafes and bars and attend private salons, many hosted by Gertrude Stein.

One of the biggest relationships that was forged in Paris during that time happened when Fitzgerald was introduced to Ernest Hemingway in the Dingo American Bar on 10 rue Delambre two weeks after Fitzgerald published “The Great Gatsby.” By then, Fitzgerald had already written to his publisher about the American writer that all of Paris was talking about. But what sealed the friendship was the uncorking of a champagne bottle and the evening spent together in the bar.

Hemingway would write about that meeting in “The Movable Feast.”

Today, The bar where Hemingway met Fitzgerald L’ Auberge de Venise, an Italian restaurant, occupies the address, but the wooden bar where they met, sat and drank remains and continues to pay tribute to two great American writers.

French Words To Travel By: In the Café – le café au lait

le café au lait

French coffee served at a cafe
No matter where we are in France or home in the states, we love to go by a cafe and have a rich and creamy café au lait. It’s the perfect drink to sip while we’re doing some people watching along the village streets in Provence.

le café au lait, m. (coffee with milk), a French coffee drink made with espresso coffee and steamed milk and usually served in a white porcelain cup or bowl.

Pronunciation:

Illustration by Judi Janofsky

Walking in the Footsteps of Cezanne

Jas de Bouffon, Paul Cezanne Home

Jas de Bouffon, Paul Cezanne’s house in Aix-en-Provence

“When I was in Aix, I thought I would be better off elsewhere. I miss Aix. When you’re born there, that’s it. Nothing else appeals.   – Paul Cezanne, July 23, 1896.

Inspired by deep blue skies, bright red poppies and quaint honey-hued villages, Van Gogh, Renoir and Monet came to Provence to capture on canvas the intense light on the bucolic scenes of this beautiful region. They all traveled south from Paris to paint coastlines, villages, mountains and vineyards. 

All but Paul Cezanne. For him, this beauty was just outside his door. Born in Aix-en-Provence, Cezanne had only to step out of his home to capture tree-lined avenues, ochre-colored houses and the mountain that loomed over the town and surrounding countryside. Mont Ste. Victoire was such a draw for Cezanne that over the years he painted and sketched it 88 times.

During our Provence tour this year, we’ll be spending a day in Aix walking in the footsteps of Cezanne, visiting his home, studio and the quarry where he painted.

Jas de Bouffan
“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”    – Paul Cezanne.

Our tour starts in Jas de Bouffan, the house where Cezanne lived for a number of years. The red-roofed house and lush grounds set back from the street is as picturesque now as it was when he lived there more than a century ago. Walking through the house and grounds is like stepping into some of Cezanne’s paintings. Between 1866 and 1895, Cezanne painted 36 oils and 17 watercolors of the house, farm, groves, chestnut-tree lined paths, the ponds and its statues.

The Bibemus Quarries
“I have to know the geology. The geological colors.”   – Paul Cezanne on the Bibemus Quarries.

Eleven million years ago, Aix-en-Provence was under water. The area where the Bibemus Quarries now stand was the beach. Over the millions of years that followed, the sand was transformed into calcified stone ranging in colors from grey white to deep ochre. The Romans were the first to extract the stone and for almost 2,000 years the quarries’ limestone was used to build homes and churches. The quarries were abandoned at the end of the 18th century and what was left is a maze of arches and valleys. Deep within the quarry the walls of warm-colored rock are marked with long rectangular striations – evidence of blocks of rock being extracted by picks. Cezanne found the angular stones inspirational as he moved toward cubism, creating 27 paintings within the quarry and beyond to his beloved Mont Ste. Victoire.

The Studio
“Little Marie has cleaned my studio which is now finished and I am settling down there little by little…”     – In a letter by Cezanne written to his niece Paule Conil.

Of all the places to track Cezanne, it’s in his atelier (studio) that you’ll find him easiest. Hanging on hooks, sitting on tables and propped against walls are many of the objects he used in his still lives. A glimpse of just a few invokes many of his paintings. Scattered across the room are his tools of the trade – brushes, easel and flasks. At the end of one long wall is a tall narrow door through which Cezanne slid his oversized canvases so he could work outdoors. Dozens of works, many his masterpieces, including his last “Large Bathers,” were painted here. After his death in 1906, the studio was bought by Marcel Provence who lived there until his death in 1951. To save the studio, 114 American donors rescued it by buying the property and giving it to the Universite d’Aix-Marseille.

More info at http://www.ProvenceEscapes.com.

French Words To Travel By: In the Café – a croissant

Le Croissant

French CroissantOne of our favorite things to do in Provence is to go to a local café for breakfast (le petit dejeuner) and order a coffee and a croissant, the wonderful fragrant and decadent pastry that literally melts in your mouth. Life is good.


le croissant
, m, (croissant) a flaky, buttery crescent-shaped French puff pastry often served with jam for a continental breakfast.

Pronunciation:

Illustration by Judi Janofsky

French Chocolate Bombs in Asheville

French Chocolate Pastry
Chocolate bombs are these wonderful ganache covered cakes that often have a cream filling – kind of like a truffle with a layer of cake between the rich filling and ganache covering.  We found this version of the chocolate bomb at the Donatelli Cafe and Bakery in Asheville, NC. Not only are they beautiful but they taste just as good as the ones we’ve had in France.