The Sunday Review: A Virtual Week in Provence

If you have been friends with me for any length of time, you already know that I was lucky enough to have a fabulous vacation in France just about a year ago. I traveled in a group of eight friends and family and it was an amazing trip.

The France Frolickers

We started our vacation by flying into Nice in southern France; I wrote about it here on our vacation blog. I feel very sad that life got in the way and I abandoned our online record of the trip. Maybe I have time now to work on that…

Image Credit

Image Credit

Anyway, since I was feeling nostalgic for our trip, I checked one of my favorite “set in Provence” films out of the library — again. A Year in Provence is a British made-for-television adaptation of Peter Mayle’s book of the same name. Both the book and the television series chronicle Peter and his wife’s first year of retirement after buying a beautiful home in southern France. Starring veteran English actors John Thaw and Lindsay Duncan, the episodes are a relatively faithful adaptation of Mayle’s book.

I have probably watched A Year in Provence ten times, but this time, I saw it in a new light. In fact, I posted a photo of my television on Facebook to show the France Frolickers that we had essentially the same photo that was in the the film.

The village of Gordes in the movie

The village of Gordes in the movie



There were comments and scenes about Provençal institutions, such as the filmmaker Marcel Gagnol and the ubiquitous game of boule (here in the United States, we usually call it bocci — an Italian game that is very similar). And then there’s the story of the truffles, a theme which follows the entire year portrayed in the book. Thinking about truffles brought me back to the fabulous meals we shared while in France — day after day of gourmet cuisine that I’ll never forget.


If you are planning a trip to Provence or have already been there, give yourself a treat and watch A Year in Provence. It’s got its faults — not everyone loves Peter Mayle and his bumbling behavior, but there’s a lot to love in this series.

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Travel Diary: Tips for Your Next Trip

Linda Dini Jenkins from Travel the Write Way

Linda Dini Jenkins from Travel Italy the Write Way


This post contains affiliate links; see my Advertising Disclosure policy for details.

Tips From Traveling Friends

I have a blogging friend whom I have never met, yet our thinking trains seem to often run along the same rails — and it happened again this week. I had planned to write a post about some items I’m adding to my travel closet stash, and Linda also wrote a post about the things that are on her travel must-have list.

Linda Dini Jenkins is a travel writer who blogs at Travel the Write Way. She offers tips about tourist destinations, and plans tours in Italy for small group travel. Here’s what she says about this week’s post.

“It’s trip planning season again. At least that’s what all my travel blog colleagues are writing about in their columns lately. This is the time of year, they say, when people start to plan for their annual holiday, especially if that holiday involves crossing oceans. To help potential travelers in their search, all kinds of lists are appearing to promote the top 10 beach destinations, the best European bargain spots, “undiscovered” this or that, and what you should or shouldn’t pack on said trip.” Continue reading

Travel Diary: Provencal Linens at La Victoire

We all have our things that we want to buy when we travel. Some of you buy art, and some buy jewelry. My thing is linens.

I was determined to bring home at least one gorgeous Provencal tablecloth when we went to France in April. Normally, I settle for interesting tea towels and pot holders when we travel, but there was no chance I wasn’t going to bring home a special keepsake from our Provence trip.

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Lined Tablecloth

I won’t keep you in suspense; this is the one I bought.

On our first full day in Aix-en-Provence, I spotted La Victoire on the Rue Vauvenargue. While the men hung out at the market on the square, I made a beeline for the shop with my female traveling companions.

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Front Door

It did not disappoint.

There were tablecloths…

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Tablecloth Wall

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Tablecloths…and bolts and bolts of charming fabrics.

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Fabrics GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Animal Print Fabrics GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Fabric WallThere were tea towels and aprons…

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Towels and Aprons GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Tea Towels GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Patisserie Apron… and bags of all sorts made from Provencal fabrics.

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Purses

I didn’t have nearly enough room in my suitcase to bring home everything I wanted to buy, but I was really coveting the coated fabrics — so practical!

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Waxed and Coated Fabrics GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Coated Fabrics

There was also a charming English-speaking storekeeper and her equally charming grandfather (I think). He did not speak English, but he allowed me to take his photo after I explained that I was going to feature their shop on my blog. 🙂

GotMyReservations -- La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence Owner

If you want authentic Provencal linens, I highly recommend La Victoire in Aix-en-Provence. You can order from them online but a personal visit is more fun. 🙂

La Victoire 
34 Rue Vauvenargue
Tel: April 42 23 14 36
Fax: 21 58 00 April 42

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford. 
Like a child in wild anticipation, 
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)


Welcome Winter

With the onset of cold weather in Chicago — FINALLY!– I decided to feature some of my favorite places covered with snow.

Lake Michigan at Evanston, Illinois


It’s hard to believe that I will be seeing those hills in Provence in just a few months — and they won’t have snow on them then. I’m also pretty excited about planning a trip to Edinburgh and northern England for a tour group; you’ll be hearing more about that as the plans progress.

Happy New Year (and make your reservations!)

January Header Images Credits: Provence, Lamb in snow, Stonehenge, Paris


Cheese, Glorious Cheese!

I’m on a brief hiatus while I enjoy my out-of-town company, but I just couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful post about the Roquefort region in France.

Our House in Provence is one of my favorite finds among the French bloggers I follow; Michel lives in the United States with his family and also owns a home in Provence. I love the travelogues that are presented and every story makes me more and more eager to experience Provence for myself!

People either love or hate “moldy” cheese; does this photo of aging Roquefort make you hungry? Or do you hate it?

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Provence Week: Hot, Hot, Hot

Many painters have tried to capture the effect of Provence’s clear light.

While strolling through the many photos in the Cezanne in Provence book, I ran across these two paintings with similar subjects.  Since it’s forecast to be yet another triple digit day, I figured I might as well show some pictures of naked men swimming. 🙂

This one is obviously painted by Cezanne and is called Les baigneurs au repos (Bathers at Rest). Cezanne did many paintings of bathers, both men and women.

On this painting of bathers by Frederic Bazille called Scène d’été (The Bathers) you can clearly see the date — 1869. Both Bazille and Cezanne are considered Impressionists, but which painting was created first?

Make your guess first, and then look here for your answer as well as some other Cezanne bathers. Were you right or did you cheat?

And just in case you haven’t had enough of almost naked men for the day, click in here to see Matthew McConnaughey in his current starring role. The Impressionists may have painted naked men, but now we can see them on the big screen!

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Provence Week: Anthony Bourdain in Provence

Provence “looks like the inside of Martha Stewart’s head.”

Thus says Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations. Although I had totally forgotten that I had seen this before, I got all excited about an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations that was filmed in Provence. My brother even texted me to tell me it was airing, I’m that obviously hooked on both Tony and Provence.

This episode actually makes Bourdain seem normal and almost humble.

As Tony learns to make aioli from an elderly Provencal woman, he is respectful of both her process and her experience.

It’s very gentle, the process…You gotta be careful.  You have to keep your voice down.  Show a little respect for the process…

It makes me want to learn how to make aioli.

Sorry, I had to delete the video because it’s no longer available. 🙁

There are lots of good scenes in this episode.

Tony and friends do a wine and charcuterie tasting.

He tours a winery.

His friends tell him that if you ask for Ricard instead of pastis, the locals know you know what they drink.

It’s really funny to see the usually brash Tony worrying about cooking for his Provencal friends.

Apparently I’m not the only person who’s dreaming of Provence; this remains my top post of all time because of the beautiful photo of Provence I used. I guess it’s time to use it again!

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Based on the Book: Cezanne in Provence

I love movies, even if they are documentaries.

While not precisely based on the book, Cezanne in Provence is a wonderful background documentary to start my study of Cezanne’s work. Stemming from the National Gallery of Art’s  2006 exhibition of Cezanne’s paintings, the documentary film gives a lot of background information about Cezanne’s life in Paris and Provence and about his painting style.

The catalog from the exhibit has also been published in a 350 page coffee table book and shows Cezanne’s paintings in more detail. I’ve been slogging through it during cooking down time — you know those times when you are stirring something or waiting for something to come out of the microwave. I have to admit that I kind of skimmed all the really good stories and text in the beginning to get to some of the art and I’m feeling a little guilty about it. It’s really a gorgeous book and I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with it this week!

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