France Women’s Adventure 2017: Provence & Paris – May 5 – May 23, 2017

TO PARIS AND PROVENCE!
SPRINGTIME IN FRANCE:

Imagine yourself strolling through streets in villages in the Luberon Valley of Provence.   Goult, Gordes, Lourmarin. Imagine sipping a lovely wine from the region, crumbs of a fresh croissant on the tip of your tongue. Imagine the smell of lavender, herbs de Provence, the baked goods waiting in the shop on the corner. Antiques at the market in Isle de sur La Sorgue. Visits to castles, abbeys, picturesque towns in the Provencal hills. Cafes and shops abound.

Roussillon DSCN1658

The red cliffs of Roussillon

We will begin with a week at a beautiful Provencal villa in Roussillon, with swimming pool, and garden benches, patios overlooking the Provençal hills. Day trips to Isle-sur-le-Sorgue, Aix-en-Provence, St. Remy, area wineries, Gordes and Goult. Springtime in Provence brings wildflowers, and the cherries are in season. Day-markets are in every town. Longer daylight allows for an evening’s relaxation outdoors with a glass of wine. Delicious meals are prepared with ingredients fresh from the village markets, enjoyed at area restaurants or by a personal chef at our own villa.

On to Gigondas and ParisThen three nights at Les Florets, a favorite and beautiful little inn just outside the town of Gigondas, north one hour from our villa. As we depart from the villa, we will stop in Sault, the lavender capital of Provence, and though it will be early for the lavender, it is in the air, everywhere.   A drive over Mount Ventoux affords us a spectacular view all around the valley from above.

Les Florets’ owner, Thierry, will serve us wine his family makes on the property, cheeses to die for, and dinners that will leave your palate watering for a week. Though we can certainly explore the village, this three-day respite from day-trips allows us to sit, read, write, become even cozier with our cameras, and relax into our next week in Europe’s great jewel, Paris!

At the end of our time in Provence, we will board the TGV, the “fast train” to Paris, one of the most stunning cities in Europe. With museum passes and Metro passes, you are free to wander wherever you want, whenever you want, visiting some of the most famous paintings in the world, or finding the tiniest galleries in back streets. Paper stores, button stores, bookstores, artwork sold on the Pont Neuf . . .  Just sitting outside the Louvre transports you to a different world. We will choose some sites to see together, including two walking tours of specific areas of Paris, the Montmartre and the Marais Districts. A trip to Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny is spectacular with all the flowers in bloom.

TO PARIS AND PROVENCE!

We will stay in a beautiful boutique hotel in the Rue Cler district, the 7th Arrondissement. The owner, Catherine, and her daughter, Charline, always welcome our group! From there, your feet or the metro or a cab will take you anywhere you want to go. Our hotel is just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Sometimes lit in red, sometimes blue, the tower is an especially spectacular vision at night, walking through the park from our hotel!

Our trip will include AIRFARE FROM DENVER, 17 nights’ lodging**, train from Paris to Avignon and back, rental cars, gas and tolls, transfers to and from our Paris hotel, a 6-day museum pass, a 6-day metro pass, nine exceptional dinners, eight breakfasts, Paris Street-wise map, two Paris Walks walking tours, travel journals, and ME, your planner, guide, and all-around fire-extinguisher!

Cost for above, (including airfare from Denver) is $6450.00** A $500 non-refundable deposit holds your space. An early bird OR referral discount of $250 is yours for paying your deposit before August 31, 2016 OR for bringing a friend not on my list.

For questions, please contact Joannah L. Merriman, Lifeprints, 970-481-6339. E-mail me at woodswoman@alumni.colostate.edu and check out my travel blog, www.woodswomanabroad.com for samples of previous trip adventures!

**Double occupancy. Single occupancy available for additional cost.

Travel insurance is a must, I’ve found, but I will offer a policy for the full cost of your trip as well as for lost luggage, trip delays, medical coverage etc. Details about that upon registration. Bon Jour!

 

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France Women’s Adventure 2015: Provence and Paris, April 28-May 16, 2015

SPRINGTIME IN FRANCE: PROVENCE AND PARISImagine yourself strolling through streets in villages in the Luberon Valley of Provence.   Goult, Gordes, Lourmarin. Imagine sipping a lovely wine from the region, crumbs of a fresh croissant on the tip of your tongue.

Imagine the smell of lavender, herbs de Provence, the baked goods waiting in the shop on the corner. Antiques at the market in Isle de sur La Sorgue. Visits to castles, abbeys, picturesque towns in the Provencal hills. Cafes and shops abound.

We will begin with three nights at Les Florets, a favorite and beautiful little inn just outside the town of Gigondas, north one hour from our villa. Thierry will serve us wine his family makes on the property, cheeses to die for, and dinners that will leave your palate watering for a SPRINGTIME IN FRANCE: PROVENCE AND PARISweek. As we depart from Gigondas, headed for our villa, we will stop in Sault, the lavender capital of Provence, and though it will be early for the lavender, it is in the air, everywhere.

Then a week at a beautiful Provencal villa awaits you, with swimming pool, and garden benches in the courtyard. Day trips to Aix-en-Provence, St. Remy, area wineries, the red hills of Roussillon. Springtime in Provence brings wildflowers, and the cherries are in season. Longer daylight allows for an evening’s relaxation outdoors with a glass of wine.

Delicious meals are prepared with ingredients fresh from the village markets, enjoyed at area restaurants or by a personal chef at our own villa.

At the end of our time in Provence, we will board the TGV, the “fast train” to Paris, and spend the next week immersed in the beauty, excitement, tranquility (and food!) of one of the most stunning cities in Europe. With museum passes and metro passes, you are free to wander wherever you want, whenever you want, visiting some of the most famous paintings in the world, or finding the tiniest galleries in back sTO PARIS AND PROVENCE!treets. Paper stores, button stores, bookstores, artwork sold on the Pont Neuf. Just sitting outside the Louvre transports you to a different world. We will choose some sites to see together, including two walking tours of specific areas of Paris, the Montmartre and the Marais Districts. A trip to Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny is spectacular with all the flowers in bloom.

We will stay in a small hotel in the Rue Cler district, the 7th Arrondissement. From there, your feet or the metro or a cab will take you anywhere you want to go. Our hotel is just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Sometimes lit in red, sometimes blue, the tower is an especially spectacular vision at night, walking through the park from our hotel!

Our trip will include AIRFARE FROM DENVER, all lodging (double occupancy), train from Paris to Avignon and back, rental cars, gas and tolls, transfers to and from our Paris hotel, 5-day museum pass and metro pass, nine dinners, eight breakfasts, Paris Street-wise map, two Paris Walks walking tour, a day-trip to Giverny, travel journals, and ME, your planner, guide, and all-around fire-extinguisher!

Cost for aboLago d'Orta - Our Final Three Daysve, (including airfare from Denver) is $6200.00** A $500 non-refundable deposit holds your space. A referral discount of $250 is yours for paying your deposit by December 31 OR for bringing a friend not on my list . . .

For questions, please contact Joannah L. Merriman, Lifeprints, 970-481-6339. E-mail me at jetlost@lamar.colostate.edu and check out my travel blog, www.woodswomanabroad.com for samples of previous trip adventures!

Bon jour!                                                                                                                                                                 **Double occupancy. Single occupancy available for additional cost. If you are located somewhere other than Denver, I arrange a deep discount for you getting your own airfare to coordinate with the rest of the group.  Travel insurance is a must, I’ve found, but I will offer good policies for the full value of your trip as well as for lost luggage, trip delays, medical coverage etc. Details about that upon registration.

Market Week in Provence, Part 3

May 9 and 10, 2012.  Mid-week in Provence found us in St. Remy, and to our surprise, Wednesday was Market Day in this town famous for the fact that it is the home of the mental hospital at which Van Gogh spent about 15 months.  Down the path to the hospital and surrounding it are eighteen plaques, what I call the Van Gogh Stations of the Cross . . . on each plaque is a reproduction of one of his paintings, along with an excerpt from his journals, or a letter to his brother, or some other bit of his writing which helps put each painting in context.

No matter how many times I enter the hospital, I am always struck again by the austerity of the room in which he slept, the simple horror of the tub where he received his shock treatments, and the beauty he created despite his tortured mind.  The hospital is still functioning, and the young patients take great inspiration from Van Gogh’s dedication to his work despite his mental illness.  Many of the patients’ paintings are for sale in the inevitable gift shop.

The presence of the street market made today’s visit to St. Remy even more full of color and the buzz of the local shoppers.  Fresh fish, vegetables, eggs, jams, sausages, olives as well as table linens, purses, dresses, and street musicians filled the streets from downtown to the visitor’s center.

What’s for lunch??

Though we are beginning to recognize some of the vendors, the variety of booths and tables of merchandise never stops surprising me.

Next time I come to this intriguing little city, I won’t even look for a restaurant.  I’ll just graze ecstatically among the market’s offerings!

On our way back to our villa after lunch, we spotted a glowing field of poppies, so we pulled off the side of the road, walked to the field, all of us with cameras in hand, and clicked and clicked until we thought we might have had our fill of the view.  Incredible!

Brilliant poppy field with a backdrop of the Luberon Mountains

Our days are full and lazy in that order.  Plenty of places to see while it’s sunny, and then back to the villa to relax, read, swim, graze at a table full of market fare, and sleep, sweet sleep before we begin again.

Thursday’s market venture found us in Aix-en-Provence, where the market stretched down long avenues and wound through alleyways and plazas.  After a morning of shopping and lunch in front of the merchandise market, we returned to the villa in anticipation of our dinner, prepared for us on site by Chef Ronald, http://www.chefronald.fr, and we were not disappointed.  You can check out his website (click on “English”) and go to the menus for a mouth-watering list of possibilities, with photos.

More on that in the next post!

Market Week in Provence, Part 2

May 8, 2012.  Today we had breakfast at the villa, since Anne and I finally found the coordinates for an open grocery store last night.  Coffee, tea, toast, fig jam (from yesterday’s market), and my infamous garbage omlettes, mixed with fresh cheeses (also from the market yesterday), onions, fresh red peppers and mushrooms.

By 10:00 a.m. we climbed into the enormous van we rented, and headed north for Gordes, a lovely hill town where the very well-to-do have their summer houses.  Beautiful stone residences climb the hillside, somewhat like a very upscale Mesa Verde.  VERY upscale.  And the village at the top is pristine, with the requisite museum and church, as well as several boulangeries, cafes, and shops.  Not much in the way of tourist junk, thank goodness.

We were routed to a parking lot a few blocks away from the town, because it was VE Day, a national holiday, and there was to be a ceremony in the large square at the top of the hill.  In addition, we stumbled on Gordes’ weekly market, much smaller than the one in L’Isle Sur La Sorgue, and again, definitely the higher end of market fare.

At noon a ceremony was performed in the square, with the French version of our color guard standing tall.  All the bustle of the market stopped, in memory of all who lost their lives in WWII.  After about 15 minutes, everything resumed as before, but I felt honored to be on the sidelines of this solemn moment.

Exquisite lunch in Gordes

Our group ate a delicious lunch on the outside patio of L’Estaminet, took a last look around the market booths and the permanent shops.  I bought a lovely turquoise pashmina from one vendor, a large linen tablecloth and runner from another, and the requisite lavender soap, a must in Provence, where the lavender fields are not yet in flower, but definitely rounding out their greenery already.

By mid-afternoon, we were ready to pile back into the van and head toward Robion and our villa.  We created a delicious and widely-varied dinner out of the things we had bought during the past two days . . . cheeses and sausages from the markets, salad greens and roasted chicken left over from the day before, and wine from the Cave de Luberon.  All in all, a beautiful day!

Market Week in Provence: Part 1

May 7, 2012. When I created the schedule of activities for most of our week in Provence, I didn’t deliberately choose to visit my favorite towns — Cassis, Gordes, Roussilon, St. Remy, Aix-en-Provence — each on the day of the local market, but four days out of five, that’s what happened.  I must admit that Sunday’s outing (see the previous post) was a deliberate market choice, and our timing was better than in the past.  Earlier in the day, the colorful booths explode out of the pathways around the Sorgue river, full of everything from tableclothes to shawls to baskets to cheeses, olives, roasted chickens, antique threads and tapestries, furniture, and schlock souvenirs (though thankfully there isn’t much of that).

Monday’s journey was to the Cote d’Azur, the French Riviera, specifically the beautiful little town of Cassis.  The U-shaped harbor is lined with cafes and what else . . . shops.  And at the water’s U-shaped edges are rows and rows of sailboats and motorized touring boats, which carry their passengers in and out of the Riviera’s calanques, fjords, the watery fingers of this part of the coast.

Since I have a strong tendency toward motion sickness, and have braved the waters the first time I traveled to this part of the area, I choose to send my traveling ducklings down these beautiful passageways without me.  The turquoise sparkling surface of the water reflected a magnificent sky today, and in my mind, the weather was perfect.

While my travelers cruised the calanques, I scouted out a restaurant where I could sit down and have my favorite boat-waiting meal . . . steak tartare!  Glass of red wine, basket of delicious French bread (there is NO bread like French bread from France, no matter HOW much I love Italy!), and a plate of fresh raw beef, parmesan cheese shavings, arugula in the center.  An on-shore meal to die for . . .

When the cruise boat returned to the dock, everyone was hungry, so of course we scouted restaurants and menus again until we found a place that offered something for everyone in our group.  I was happy with a glass of ice water and lemon, but the women had their fill of delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches after their time on the water.

Getting out of Cassis is always a challenge, and even with a GPS, the first few turns are very tricky  Who knows where we might end up?

After returning the women to our villa to enjoy the late afternoon sun (and a glass of wine, of course!), Anne and I went to the neighboring town, Coustellet, to find a Super U grocery store, to stock our barren refrigerator and cupboards.  Cheese, fruit, bread, coffee, salad greens, roasted chicken, fig jam, a bottle of Port, among our goodies, and accompanied by the wine we purchased at the Caveau de Luberon, a wine-tasting bar and wine store, we were set for at least half the week.

Back at our villa, we arranged our food purchases from the Sunday market and those from today’s grocery outing onto platters and carried everything out to the table in our courtyard, set to relax until bedtime.

Have Resurrected Computer, Will Post!

May 17, 2012.  Why is it that the best laid plans of mice, men and women, really do come apart at the seams sometimes?  After transferring this blog to WordPress so I’d be really ready to keep track of our travels, I found myself with a completely dead 9-year old laptop last weekend, and nothing I could do would bring it back to life . . . until I completely left it alone for four days, removed and repositioned the battery several times, etc. etc.  For no particular reason, yesterday morning, voila!  I heard that distinctive chime that only means a Mac is booting up . . .

So, though I felt clearly lost without the electronics, I noticed several things:

1)  I reminded myself that despite the rain in France for a month before we arrived, and despite the forecast for several days of rain during our 16 days here, we have had simply beautiful weather, but for Tuesday, when we walked through the Marais District with a walking guide, umbrellas up against rain and gusts of wind . . .

2) I wrote a bit more in my paper journal about our activities, rather than try to deal with the French computer keyboard layout . . .

3)I finally made a firm decision to buy a new Mac as soon as I return home.

The writing and posting could be done at home, worst case, and my photos won’t go on this site, probably because of the ancient and now really dying system I have.  BUT . . . we definitely wouldn’t be enjoying our activities nearly as much if our weather had shown up as predicted.

So . . . there’s my introduction.  Now on to our adventures, which I will post in pieces, so you won’t have to make a sandwich before you settle in to read:

Provence, cont’d:  When last we left this website, Sunday, May 6, we had settled into our first day at our villa in Robion, in the Luberon Valley of Provence.  Indeed, we went to the market at L’Isle Sur La Sorgue, returned to our villa for relaxation near our swimming pool, and returned to L’Isle, etc. for dinner at Le Jardin du Quai.  It’s a beautiful place, and though the main course that particular night was a pork roast, not the best thing I’ve eaten here, the accompaniments were delicious, the garden cast a glowing light on all of us as the sun set late in the evening, and we enjoyed ourselves completely.

The drive back to the villa was under 30 minutes, and we eased ourselves into our respective villa bedrooms for a good night’s sleep.


France Women 2012 Part I – Provence

May 6, 2012.  We’ve arrived and settled in to the villa St. Roch in Robion, a little village in the Luberon Valley of Provence.  The new village is one block to our right, the old village perhaps a 10 minute walk to the left, and the Luberon Mountains protect our backs and the back of the property.  It is a gorgeous day, we’ve been to the old village for cafe au lait this morning (our villa owner, the darling Sebastian, walked to the boulangerie for our just-out-of-the-oven croissants), and enjoyed the early part of the morning watching the townspeople stream into the Hotel de Ville to vote for the French president.

This afternoon we are heading to L’Isle sur la Sorgue for the Sunday Market.  It’s a beautiful day and we’re getting an earlier start than we usually do on these trips, so perhaps half of the vendors won’t be packing up already!  This evening we will return to the restaurant Le Jardin du Quai, right across from the train station, within a high iron fence.  The beautiful garden areas welcome the restaurant’s customers, and the chef, Daniel, prepares fresh dinners from what he gathers at the markets on Saturday and Sunday.

The women are chattering already, as though they’ve known one another for half a century, and indeed three of them have done just that.  Anne, Penny and Etta met in New York in the 60’s, married men who were all friends, and the rest, as they say, was history.  Kathy and Ingrid are delightful additions as well, so I’m looking forward to an excellent week.

My photos (I know, I say this every time) are giving me trouble, so at the moment I can’t transfer any of them to this post, but I promise I’ll insert them as I can.