Unique Provence Blog
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Provence and The Riviera . . .



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Each day over 100 water shuttles run between Saint Tropez and Saint Maxime managed by the company Les Bateaux Verts. Serge (left) is a very friendly and smiley skipper who was honored to strike a pose for my camera, alongside his coworker Dominique, visibly amused to see Serge treated like a star. Born in Brittany but raised in the Var, Serge did not seem to be too knowledged in the way of Internet, but who can blame him? Who needs Internet when you've got the sea breeze and beautiful views of the Mediterranean coast to occupy your time? Oh and here's a best kept secret for all you St. Tropez goers, there is free parking in Saint Maxime and the water shuttle with Les Bateaux Verts is a 15 min ride..... Here's the Bateaux Verts Facebook page:https://goo.gl/3RWIW9

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If you know what the Mont Ventoux represents to a bicyclist, you might be interested to know that the challenge also exists for... unicyclists! Last Sunday, a group of unicyclists of all ages descended the Montagne de Lure (exactly 86 meters less high than its neighbor the Ventoux) on a 15 km (9 mile) course down to the village of St Etienne les Orgues. This ride is organized each year - along with a bunch of other fun activities - by the local association "Roue Libre" and its hard-working President Yvon. This year was the tenth anniversary of this weekend long event they call "Y'a du Jeu dans ta Roue", hence the champagne and silly outfits! Check out the organization's website to find out more about unicycling for all ages... http://goo.gl/lQ7YYV My 8 year old son can assure you that it is fun to try!

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Georgette is a real human of Provence and my sweet little old lady of a neighbor. Now, I speak French fluently but her words are so mixed with words and expressions in Provençal that I often times have to ask her what they mean. She watches my kids as they carefreely jump from the roof of the shed in our garden and screams "Attention, tu vas t'escagasser!" which means "be careful, you're going to hurt yourself!" in Provençal. The kids enjoy great conversations with her and she and I have good laughs. Her parents moved to Forcalquier from the small village near Sisteron where she was born, in 1940. She went to school until the age of 13 when she stopped to help her mother at home. Later, she trained to be an assistant nurse at the hospital, where she worked for 30 years before retiring in 1987. Yesterday, Georgette and I happily picked cherries from the beautiful tree in my yard.

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Arthur has a creative side that he shows to a select few. After dabbling in art classes as a child, he recently took up the paintbrush again and I have heard through the grapevine that he has incredible talent. "I enjoy reproducing artwork originally painted by such painters as Dali because I like the idea that I may attempt to go beyond the experience of just observing their work.... By reproducing a painting by Dali, I can also imagine the way he may have felt while he was painting and when he had finished." Painting is only a pasttime of Arthur's though... This 24 year old native son of Sanary is driven by creativity in his day job too, working in the 2* Michelin chef Christophe Bacquié's restaurant at the Hotel de Castellet. Not in the kitchen, but in the dining room as he oversees the restaurant's waiting staff and interacts with guests, taking great pride in sharing his passion for food, wine and his native region. In a future life, Arthur sees himself assisting private individuals to create their own wine cellar collections based on their taste and with his guidance.

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Back in the 1950s, a young Julia Child researched part of her best-selling 1961 cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in fish markets along the Vieux Port. She compiled her recipes in a tiny apartment overlooking the inner harbor. Then and now, every day from 8 am to 1 pm, the city's harbour bustles with the sound of the exuberant old ladies like Mireille who sell their fish, practically right out of the water, to the delight of passersby, local and foreign alike.

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Jean François Mutzig

At least twice in his life, the warmth and colors of Provence's landscapes have served as an awakening to photojournalist Jean François Mutzig. First, when he arrived many years ago from his native Lille. And then, once again, in 2014, following an episode of serious illness. The calling of the lavender fields in bloom last year were the inspiration for Jean François' latest photo book "Femme Lavande". Provençal author René Fregni wrote the book's preface: "For the past ten years, every time he opens his shutters, from his window he sees the sun rising on the Valensole Plateau. From the Verdon Canyon to the dark forests of the Var, there is an extraordinary land, a veritable kingdom of stone, lavender and light." After spending one month in the hospital last year, Jean François doesn't have the strength to leave his bed. Until one morning he wakes up and peeks outside to a glorious spectacle of unending lavender fields and says to himself "Now you are going to grab your camera and get outside!" Find out more about the resulting photography and book at Les Clichés de l'Aventure.

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Petanque players

The equivalent of a Labor Day barbecue for the Provençaux. Here are a few humans of Provence enjoying a game of pétanque.

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A very sweet encounter I had today with Helen and her troop. This 26 year old, her boyfriend and their two beautiful horses left Switzerland on foot last August, with Provence as their destination. After spending the winter in the Gorges du Verdon, they just recently started walking again. When they left the Verdon area, the friendliest little lamb followed them and has not left their company ever since. I ran into Helen & company during a grass eating stop in the park in Forcalquier and we talked about their amazing and wholesome adventure. It's so refreshing to see people making the most of their time on this planet. Truly an inspiration for us all. Ready to pack your bags and start walking? This is little Anastasie. She was abandoned by her mother this winter after a transhumance. When a few weeks ago Helen got ready to pursue the walk she started last August with her boyfriend and two horses (from Switzerland to Provence, by foot), Anastasie made it clear that she was going with them.

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After 30 years in Los Angeles and a career in architecture and design, Yves moved in 2014 to Reillanne where he and his wife invested in an old coaching inn which they are restoring to its glory, as a restaurant/lounge/B&B featuring concerts and themed evenings. The Domaine de Pradaous is open for lunch and dinner Wed-Sun and will soon have its first three rooms ready for guests by this July, along with a pool and all the hospitality bells and whistles. Yves chose this project as the best possible compromise between his wife's job as a chef and his job as a builder / designer "This way, everyone is happy!" Check out the Domaine de Pradaou's upcoming events onhttp://goo.gl/1O5A9v

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