Thursday, July 21, 2011

le tour: up close and personal

Yesterday we hopped in the 7-seater with our friends and their two boys and drove to Serres to watch a spot of the Tour. What an experience. Although it was raining on the way, and drizzling during the stage, it was just perfect. We had a perfectly french lunch of steak and frites before staking a claim by the road. The atmosphere was so unique and typically french. Have a look at the faces on the kids - very happy indeed!

Even le French chien appreciate a baguette for lunch!

At either end of the town of Serres bikes were strung up - just in case we'd forgotten why we were there. It was just lovely how the people of the town seemed to be so into the tour.

Whoo hooo! I can't tell you how exciting it was to see the riders whoosh down the hill - after a massive build up.

Look at this friendly gendarme - honestly, why can't our policeforce wear cool hats like these?

The day started off with loads of sponsors vans driving the route with music, dancing - and people throwing freebies into the crowd. We had a "madeleine cannon" shoot packets of madelienes at us, caught a packet of 'saucisson' {like salami - not lollies as I first thought...} and loads of lollies, caps, and the great big green hands the boys are holding in the first shot.

My fave vehicle with the great big rider. Fabulous isn't he? Really got the crowd in the mood. Then we had helicopters circling overhead, loads of sponsored cars {the gorgeous Skoda} and then gendarmes a-plenty. About an hour after all the festivities the pelotons and riders sped through. 

Wow. Just wow.

My husband and two of his school friends headed off at 6am to go to the Alpes today where they're watching two days of the tour, and then the time trials before we head off to our next holiday house in Provence - I may not return I love it so much.

My crazy husband rode the Aple D'Huez today - in an hour and 28 minutes bless his frosty socks. What an experience.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

lavender in provence

After our trip to Verdon Gorge {see previous post} we went to check out the lavender fields. We were a bit worried that we'd be a bit late, as a lot of the lavender is harvested early to mid-july. Luckily we saw quite a few gorgeous sites. Love this doorway with a lavender posy.

Every poster is an item of beauty. Look at this one covering an old mural on the wall. Fabulous isn't it?

Every town seems to have a central fountain - and loads of flowers. Isn't it a lovely idea?

The deep purple fields of lavender against the deep blue mountains and the milky blue provencal skies.

The lines of lavender are so precise, and the mounds so perfect. It's just picture perfect. And oh, the scent! There were also lots of bee hives by the lavender fields, just to help create the delicious lavender honey {I had some on toast this morning, along with the butter with salt crystals...}

Provencal perfection.

gorge du verdon

Provence is managing to do the impossible and be even more beautiful in real life than in photos. This is the Verdon Gorge - a place where we lay on the beach, paddle on boats and swam in the impossibly green water. It was so spectacular - we were all agog. The kids enjoyed swimming and paddling, and we just enjoyed soaking up the beauty.

This is the beach where we popped some towels on the sand, and lay back and soaked up some beautiful provencal sunshine. Oh my.

This is the gorge. Such an incredible colour. The cliffs were just breathtaking. Two families hired a paddle boat each and explored this glorious area. Nine euros for an hour of bliss.

One thing we've all commented on is that not only is Provence so much more gorgeous than we'd expected, but so much cheaper. Our lunch today was purchased at the local markets: tapenade, ham, beefsteak tomatoes and my favourite butter with fleur de sel flakes. I keep buying "one more thing" to pop into my suitcase. Luckily I've only bought four pairs of shoes so far so I have a fair bit of space...

perfectly provence

Oh my, there's so much to love about Provence. Like our local village - Tourtour - one of the most beautiful villages in France. This is the view from the restaurant where we had lunch on our first full day. I had the most divine rabbit in a mustard sauce. Mmmm.

One of the cute items outside an antiques store in the next town over from ours. There was an antiques market on the sunday and we gals went along. I scored a beautiful piece of antique linen, trimmed in lace and embroidered with my gal's initials!

Look at this. Isn't it just sublime. Villecroze has loads of pretty little vintage stores underneath the gorgeous homes. Love it.

A quelle heure et-il?

This little alleyway was quite a find - and one I'd like to explore again. Look at the fabulous items hanging outside on the walls. I think I need to go back and buy that bag.

We found a beautiful cafe and had three cafe au lait and a victoria sponge with three forks. Have a look at the fresh raspberries and marscapone cream filling. T'was delicious.

This is the café. Perfectly provencal non?

The alleyway we stumbled upon - and oh, what delights it offered.

The view from our villa, up the hill is studded with other villas, and surrounded by lavendar, olive trees and just sheer beauty.

The view from our terrace - we're spending a lot of time here drinking rosé and eating cheeses, french meals and desserts. Yum.

Yep, that's our terrace. Gorgeous non?

And the lavender path leading to the pool. Okay, off to Tourtour markets today to buy the ingredients for tonight's dinner. Last night's slow roasted shoulder of lamb with rosemary and lavender was lovely - but I'm sure we can top it again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

lovely lyon

We overnighted in Lyon en-route to Provence. Gorgeous town. We stayed in the old town - across the road from this vision in the window of Dior.

This incredible laneway filled with eateries is just one of the reasons why I want to head back to Lyon - no wonder it's famous for food. It was like Melbourne on steriods.

Love everything about this place - divine. The whole french culture around food is just brilliant. It's something special, something to share with friends, and something to enjoy. I've enjoyed every, single mouthful - let me tell you.

paris: the finalé

Paris turned on its full charm offensive for our final day. We walked around and spied sights like this. Breathtaking isn't it?

Sigh. The apartments. The flowers, the colours, the balconies. Honestly, it's just ridiculous.

Look at this pretty stack of coffee cups and saucers in a café in the Marais. Pretty, pretty, pretty.

 My new favourite shop: Le Nom de la Rose. All it sold were roses: real ones, perfume, syrups, lollypops, lollies. So divine. After a full day of shopping: three pairs of shoes for me and one frock and one cardigan. One pair of shoes for my gal, we then headed to Gare de Lyon to catch the TGV to Lyon.


Oh my.

Next post, then Provence...

Friday, July 15, 2011

bastille day in paris: part one

We took the Metro from the Louvre station to the George V and arrived at 9.30am to stake out our spot. The crowds were still pretty thin at this stage: two deep at the barriers. We walked up to about two blocks from the Arc de Triomph and sat on a store's deep window sill {wide enough to stand on and watch too - only 30cm high}.

The tanks were lined up down the Champs Elysee and by the time the parade started at 10.30am the crowd had swelled dramatically.

The parade started with highly decorated horses marching. Gorgeous. Then jeeps - including one with the president. Then the planes!


Sorry, pics out of order here - this is on our way to lunch. A glimpse of the Tour Eiffel between gorgeous Parisian buildings.

Check out that crowd.

Lunch at Cafe Trocadero - great food - and a lovely catch-up with friends who are LIVING in Paris for three years. Yes, I may have cried green tears - especially when we saw their divine Parisian Apartment. Exactly what you'd expect - parquetry floors, high ceilings, french doors in EVERY room.

This is MY Parisian apartment. Just need someone to buy it for me...

Strolling home was topped off with a wild strawberry tart from Lenotre - such a pretty store. And oh, what a tasty morsel.

Home for a quick shower and a change before dinner at the Musee D'Orsay and the fireworks. Next blog!

We're leaving Paris this afternoon - SOB. Two weeks next time I swear! We're off to Lyon on the TGV tonight, picking up the Motorhome the boys are going to watch the Tour in. I have to drive it to Tourtour in Provence to our Villa. Wish me luck. The biggest thing I've ever driven is a Kombi.

A bientot.