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Provence and The Riviera . . .



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Yves Rousset

A biography of Yves could be called 'Of wine, theater, politics, truffles and corkscrews'. And even with that, the title would be limiting. A few days ago my friend Linda and I ventured into the Luberon and stumbled upon a most curious place - a museum filled with one man's personal collection of over 1200 corkscrews, the oldest of which is commonly acknowledged to be one of the oldest in the world (late 17th century). Much to our surprise, the visit wound up being seriously interesting and as a bonus, we had the pleasure of meeting the man behind the collection who was busy working on the blue prints of his latest endeavor - a vast botanical garden just behind his vineyard, featuring over 500 specimens organized into three sections - aromatic, medicinal and magical plants (no, he would not disclose more information on the third type; you’ll just have to go visit this summer!). Yves impressed us with his stories of past lives and projects including being mayor of his town for almost 20 years, Grand Master of the Luberon Wine and Truffle Brotherhood, winemaker in the vineyard he bought and entrusted to his equally friendly son Alexis…. but little did we know who exactly he was. As I am (regretfully) quite illiterate on the subject of French cinema, I politely declined when Yves said to me "You have probably seen some of the films I have produced?" Later on that day, I took the time to look up Yves’ work and found out that he had produced more than one hugely cult French film. Now that I have looked up his public profile, I know more about what he has done in his life, but at the end of the day, what marked me most was his response to my commenting on how many different projects he had undertaken in his life, “Et bien, il faut bien vivre!”… Loosely translated, that’s “I’m just living, that’s all!” If you look up Yves Rousset Rouard and his vineyard in Ménerbes, the Domaine de la Citadelle, you can find out more. But whatever you do, don’t miss out on the corkscrews.

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Pierre Roche

Pierre has dedicated a large part of his life to inventing games, one of which is "Rushball" - a new racket based sport which he designed "to complete the human being, whose development is not finished at birth." Left brain and right brain come together to reach a level of coordination that most other sports cannot develop. With one racket attached to each hand, every part of the player's body is needed to play this sport. Pierre has invented many games over the years - all of them designed to enhance both mental and physical development. Meanwhile he paid his bills working as a singer in cabarets (he spent 10 years in Paris) and working as a farmer. Pierre was born in the very small town of Caderousse, near Avignon, otherwise known as the "Green Island" due to the fact that it is entirely surrounded by 3 meter high flood walls that were built in the 19th century to protect the town from the frequent flooding of the Rhone River. Raised on a farm, Pierre remembers having to go to school sometimes by boat as a young boy. Today, Pierre hopes to create a professional club for Rushball, to develop the sport in Provence. But in case you haven't tried inventing a new sport anytime recently, I can tell you that it's no easy path to choose. In fact, one of his public challenges - thus far unmet - is to play a game of Rushball with ANY professional athlete of ANY other sport.... He guarantees that he will win the game! (Did I mention that this wonderful person just turned 66?)To kick off the new year with the same joy and hapiness that Pierre expresses continually, here's a man whose life epitomizes the idea that "Life is a game!!" Find out more here:www.rushball.fr

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Didier Saba

When I think of Biot glass, I think of beautiful bubble glass, and a vase that was given to my parents as a wedding gift 39 years ago. In actual fact, there is more to Biot glass than the classic air bubble technique used by its glassmakers. The Riviera town of Biot is renowned the world over for its glasswork of all styles and techniques. This is the town where Didier was born, and before him, his father, his grandfather, and so on. Didier first put his artistic flair to use via music, working as a DJ and a radio host… but eventually he followed the family legacy and took his rightful seat in front of his father’s furnace. In his free time, Didier is an avid runner and has already run the New York marathon twice. Didier’s glasswork shop and glassblowing workshop is going to be leaving Biot soon though, as he will be opening the very first glassmaking shop and workshop in Antibes, starting next March. Not only will he be the first glassmaker in Antibes, but his workshop is going “all electric” thereby considerably lowering the workshop’s carbon footprint. His workshop will be located in the Galerie Bains Douches right in the heart of the town. The decision to move was not actually triggered by the massive flooding that took place last October causing considerable damage to Didier's shop.. though it's safe to say that he is looking forward to starting a new chapter in Antibes. Good luck, Didier!

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Nadim woke up on January 1st, 2000 with a name and a vision, shortly thereafter brought to life in the form of "Oliviera", a restaurant and olive oil shop happily settled on the corner of Rue de Collet in picturesque old Nice. If you think wine pairing is a sport, try olive oil pairing. Each (incidentally, delicious and fresh) dish at Oliviera is paired with a different oil which Nadim proudly serves with a full description of flavors and attributes. (Bouteillan was my favorite, though Vallee des Baux is a close competitor!). Friendly Nadim is Mediterranean born, like all the olives in his oils... In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he had an interesting blend of olive oil running through his veins.

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A flute-playing human of Provence

A flute-playing Human of Provence under the Pont Julien, a Roman bridge which only closed to traffic in 2005... after over 2000 years of faithful service! Now a haven of calm... The perfect spot to practice playing your flute.

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A native of Frejus, Eric was French socialite Francine Weisweiller's nurse. He began working for her in her home in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat in 1992. When Francine passed away in 2003, her daughter Carole asked Eric to stay in the villa to take care of the house. This was no trivial task seeing as artist Jean Cocteau himself had covered every wall of the villa with his paintings. As the story goes, Cocteau was a dear friend of Francine's and after painting his famous Apollo fresque (as shown, behind Eric), his friend Pablo Picasso told him that he should not stop at one wall, but rather that he should paint every wall in the house. Which is exactly what he did. An amazing visit of the Villa Santo Sospir in Eric's company, is available on appointment. A blast into quintessential mid XX century French Riviera style and decor, not to mention a truly unique experience for fans of Jean Cocteau. Definitely a must see...

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If you're looking for the best coffee in Aix-en-Provence, look no further. "Coffee To Go" is a coffee shop that serves coffee "Australian style", owned and operated by Adrien. After working as a barista in an Italian restaurant in Brisbane, Australia, this friendly 27 year old born-to-be-entrepreneur and native of Vitrolles set up shop in Aix upon his return from Australia in 2011. Very well located just a few steps away from Aix's international student exchange programs as well as the Saint Sauveur Cathedral, "Coffee To Go" was immediately a hit with students and tourists alike who come to get their daily dose of iced coffee and homemade cookies. Passionate about coffee and cycling in his free time, Adrien is looking forward to the return of the international student crowd in Aix starting next week. Hurry to Coffee To Go AS in the rue Jacques de la Roque and try Adrien's signature Espresso. If you're lucky, you'll see he is a talented latte artist too....

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Ollivier Augier

Ollivier learned to ride a horse before he learned to walk. This native of Roussillon represents the 7th generation of farmers in his family. His father developed the first organic farm in France (1967) and dabbled in biodynamic farming as well for a number of years. Ollivier wears many different hats (that's figuratively speaking... since literally, you will mostly see him wearing his trademark beret), his greatest passion being horses. Just before creating a business to offer horse carriage rides in the gorgeous surrounding countryside, he spent 3 years, 3 months and 3 days riding a tandem bicycle around the world making stops in such places as the American Far West and Chile where he embarked on unique equestrian projects such as training wild horses. Further to his passion for horses, Ollivier is a naturalist specialized in the microbiology of soils as well as an ornithologist (bird watcher!). A lot going on under that beret...! smile emoticon Find Ollivier @ Provence Hipposervices

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Olivier Bauza

Naturally I took this picture of Olivier in front of a row of giant coloring pencils on purpose... Comics are Olivier Bauza's (alias "Oh-leev" for friends) passion, and more specifically the kind that make you laugh out loud. Comic strip writer and illustrator originally from Marseille, Olivier is especially known for his humorous albums about life in Provence, bringing to life the customs and rituals of living in Provence. Kind of like a Peter Mayle for comic strips, though in French. Olivier's characters are both fictional like "Superpepette" as well as non-fictional ("Paul Cézanne, un rebelle en Provence", "Dinia"about the town of Digne les Bains, etc). And all for all you expats out there looking to live like a local, check out Olivier's album "Bienvenue chez les Provençaux!" I asked Olivier the classic journalistic question "how did you get started?"... and he replied that as a child his parents' choice of a vacation spot was a chalet in the middle of nowhere in the Alps... where they would spend weeks at a time and where the only available remedy for childhood boredom was... drawing! Something to keep in mind as we all plan our summer vacations.... You can check out Olivier's website here: Artis... https://goo.gl/L0hRPF Today his albums are pretty much all available for purchase on Amazon.

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I like this picture because in actual fact, a kitchen is generally speaking one of the least likely places you will find my dear friend Gaëlle. It just so happens that this kitchen is located in the cabin of her family's boat - a place where Gaëlle can in fact be found quite frequently. There was even a time when her entire family - her three younger brothers and parents - all lived together on their 75 year old ketch rig. Docked in Toulon, the JLD'Ahttp://goo.gl/IGD1yb (one of only four French ketch rigs in all of the Mediterranean) was home to Gaëlle from the age of 14 to 18, as well as to her family and their faithful dog and cat. Gaëlle lead a normal teenage life (as normal as they get when your home is a 75 ft wooden ship) every day, studying literature at Dumont d'Urville high school and playing piano in the boat's cabin under the watchful eye of her musical mother. Gaëlle has seawater in her veins - her grandfather was an Admiral in the French Navy and she has never lived far away from the sea. In fact when she visits friends in nearby Aix-en-Provence, just 50 miles north of Toulon, she brings an anorak. Gaëlle and I share a love for Brazil through our family heritage. She and I met 19 years ago in the amphitheater of the University of Aix where we were both attending the University President's welcome speech for first year students. I first walked into that amphitheater registered to study English Literature... by the time I walked out, I had cancelled my major and switched to the Portuguese Literature department to follow my new friend's lead. Today is Gaëlle's 35th birthday - Happy Birthday amiguinha!

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