Friday, January 23, 2015

Touring in The Luberon : Bonnieux

Bonnieux is only located about 4 km from Lacoste and you can even see the village from Lacoste.
Its name might come from "Bon Oeil" i.e. good eye for its spectacular view from many spots in the village.

Bonnieux is of course well known for being the "shopping and eating place" of Peter Mayle. Slightly larger (1 500 inhb) than Menerbes Peter Mayle was often going there.

If you like to climb street, that's the village for you !
However watch out the traffic since Bonnieux has one of the only road linking the Norht Luberon to the South Luberon.

The FRIDAY MARKET is a must. It stretches from the square in the village down to the new church by the road at the bottom of the Village. Rather big it's best to go early around 9am before the crowd.

What to see in Bonnieux :

- The Old Church at the top of the Village dating from the 12th C,
- The walls protecting the village from the 12th C,
- The close by "Pont Julien" a roman bridge (down in the Valley),
- The "Jardin de la Louve", one of the most remarkable garden, By booking only (min 10 people) some visits are also arranged by the Tourist Office.
- The "Musée de la Boulangerie"(well it needed a bit of dusting and modernising last time I went).

You might bump into John Malkovitch who owns a property nearby.

Where to eat :
Bonnieux Offers a good selection of restaurant. You will get a nice panorama from one of the bar located in the upper part but those bars are on the main road....

*- Le Fournil in the centre.
 The restaurant is partly carved in the rock.
2 courses set lunch around 21€, 2 course set dinner around 41€
closed on Monday Tuesday
Best to book
Nice terrasse

*- Le Café de la Gare
One of my fav.
A bit tricky to find in the "Quartier de la gare" (old train station neighboroud).
It is like what we call a "routier" i.e a restaurant designed for truck drivers, providing a nice set menu at a reasonnable price.
The new owners (2014) expanded the garden terrassse and are probably working right now on the main dining room but kept the 14€ 3 courses lunch formula (2014).
Only open for Lunch Monday to Saturday only.
Compulsory to book.

Bonnieux from Lacoste

That's how stip the streets are

Market day in Bonnieux on Friday

Love that pottery stand by the church

The Fournil Restaurant Yum Yum

The Jardin de La Louve

Also known as Mrs Pillsbury garden

The Café de la Gare

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Marquis de Sade and Lacoste

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade was born in Paris on June 2nd 1740.
His most famous ancestor “Laure de Sade” (1308-1348) is known as the life love of the Poet Pétrarque. She is also linked to the Sade branch that will establish in Saint Remy.
He is the first heir of Jean Baptiste Comte de Sade, Lord of Saumane and Lacoste in Provence. Raised in Paris amongst royalties he is sent to his uncle, an abbot, from the age of 4 to 10. He spends his life between the Abbaye of the little village of Ebreuil in Central France (about 10 miles from where I was myself born) and in the Castle of Saumane in Provence, Castle which, according to historian, is “more a brothel than a harem”. The note is set.
Back to Paris in 1750 he integrates the most famous schools and joins the Army for the 7years war from 1756 to 1763.
In May 1763 he marries Renée Pélagie Cordier de Launay de Montreuil who will stick to him most of his life despite... In October of the very same year he is arrested for molesting a pregnant woman and visits the jail of Vincennes. He is out a month later, his wife’s family probably arranged to get him out in order to avoid the outrage.
From then on he will visit many of Paris Jails until he dies on Dec 2nd 1814. Prison time is the time where he will write most of his novels, not much else to do! (well I have stories on the side for you).
In 1768 he is arrested in Lyon in early April. He is released by mid November with the order to stay in his Castle of Lacoste who was given by his father as a wedding gift.
A new scandal arises in 1772 in Marseille and he runs to Italy with his new mistress, his wife’s sister.
He’s eventually arrested again in 1777 by order of his mother in law and will spend most of rest of life in Jail. He is at the Bastille just before the revolution but is transferred to Charenton on July 4th, 10 days prior Bastille Day.
Ruined he has to sell the Chateau de Lacoste in 1796 in order to live.
Altogether he was in Lacoste :
-          For several months in 1765
-          From 1769 to 1772
-          For the summer 1778
Castle of pleasure, the Marquis invested a lot in Lacoste, building a 120 seats theatre for example.
The Castle of fame in destroyed in 1792 and stones are reused for other houses. André Bouër owner from 1952 till 2001 does his best to restore the ruins. But it’s only in the early 2000 that the Castle is up for its new life when French designer Pierre Cardin becomes the new lord of the place.
The Marquis de Sade has still heirs alive…..

One of the very few portrait of the Marquis

Art by the entrance of the Castle. The Marquis de Sade in Jail.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A fun and gourmet week in Provence

If you want to avoid the hassle of organising your stay in Provence, I highly recommend  joining one of the tour I escort/guide with France... off the Beaten Path (Best Adventures in Provence Tour).

1 - Firstly you'll have the pleasure to spend every day with me (including most of the dinners).!!! lol
2 - You wont have to worry about deciding where to go and what to skip since we've made the choices for you.
3 - No driving involved (well I mean, no risk of getting lost in the middle of nowhere and gettting right to the point). Just seat back in our dedicated Merdeces Sprinter 19 seater van with leather seats and enjoy the view).
4 - We've selected the best of the region for you which I call the "Readers Digest condensed version of Provence" with Market, hill top villages, sea side wine growing village with a short cultural cruise, picnic in the country side, Michelin star bistrots and restaurants, cooking class, a hearty wine allowance, visit of an Olive mill.... And some of the nicest walks for you to loose all those calories..
5 - Plenty of history about Provence, our traditions, how wine is made....  But not done by "historian teachers" (see what I mean?).
6 - Plenty of fun.
7 - No packing and unpacking since you will be staying at one of our favourite hotel in St Remy for the whole trip.
8 - Small group filled with fun people with whom you'll mingle with pleasure and become fast friend with (just learned yesterday that one of guests Claire will be spending New Years in Hong Kong with  another guests Mary who she met on one our September Provence tour).

I could go on forever but instead I prefer to add some pics of some of our groups. I have to admit that making a selection was pretty hard....

On  a 2000 years old Roman bridge

One of the walk

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Fashion Week in Provence

Meeting with Van Gogh in St Remy (I do wonderful tour of the hospital!)

Not to forget the Lavender, should you come in June/July


Meeting with the locals...

Love Moments

On our boat trip the Captain can be very nice

Other fun moments.
picnic under the pine trees

Cooking classs

 Meet our Dedicated driver Philippe Number 2

And my wild co guide David

I had to finish with a pic of me with my Fan club....