Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonderful Marseille!

Last weekend we took advantage of the warm autumn sunshine and spent 24 hours in France's  second biggest city Marseille.
The Saturday evening was taken up with the 'Fiesta des Suds' an informal music festival in the former docks, where you can wander from venue to venue in between which are numerous food stands (including champagne and oysters), everything  to satisfy a Frenchman's stomach! 

On Sunday morning we became tourists taking the train which at 7€ is great value.

Before setting off though we enjoyed  Petit dejeuner - breakfast- in this famous old establishment on the Vieux Port

The train takes you on an excellent tour through various parts of the city and then along the coast, past some rather splendid houses,
And this stunning war memorial
And finally to one of the best places in Marseille - the Notre Dame de la  Garde.

Standing proudly at the top of the City and dating to 1214 it a a stunning building with a wonderful interior and breath taking views over the city.
At the top of the Notre Dame is the Virgin Mary erected in 1870.

And the views are magnificent, here towards the docks and over the Vieux Port.

Looking South towards the Ile du Frioul where you can take lunch in the Harbour restaurants.
And in land, it really is a huge City.

Inside the interior is beautiful and very colourful.

The detail is incredible.

Any guesses on the date?

Model boats hang from the ceiling representing those lost at sea. Many wives of Fishermen and sailors come here seeking the blessing of Mary.

And so from here we head back, past one or two fabulous buildings, to the Vieux Port!

Where the fish market is in full swing.

Over looking the Harbour - the Hotel de Ville.

A quick beer before lunch....

The Vieux Port
And finally taking the new tram back to our hotel.

Marseille is just 90 minutes drive from home, it is bustling, diverse and exciting and well worth a visit!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

End of season blues!

Our last gite clients have just left, and we can look back on a great season with clients from all over Europe, the USA & Canada, Australia & New Zealand, many of whom have re booked already for next year.
We are delighted to be listed No 1 on Tripadvisor for  B&B's in Saint Saturnin Les Apt, No 2 in the Luberon and No 5 in the Vaucluse out of over 340 properties. 
So a huge thank you to all our guests who have added just great feedback and comments.
We are so pleased our gites are what you are looking for!

Normally we are looking forward to time in the garden to prepare for Autumn & Winter but it has been dampened buy a run of bad luck!

First our normally efficient German heating system has suffered a little self combustion! 
The 500 Litre tank will be replaced we hope this week !

Next I managed to prang the car! Squeezing through a gap that was clearly too tight.
We are now looking very French!

But the biggest disaster of all is our pride and joy - the green lawn that (was) by the swimming pool.

We awoke last week to find the grass torn apart by the Sanglier.
The animals are  becoming a huge problem, and despite our electric fence they just came in! searching for water, which they found as we were irrigating the grass.

And despite increased defenses they returned to finish the job two nights later.
We are truly devastated. 
Thank goodness our guests have left and of course it will all be repaired ready for next year.

In need of a little refreshment this seems the most appropriate wine to drown our sorrows with!

Friday, October 07, 2011

A day out in Gigondas

We are fortunate enough to live under an hour from one of the most famous and arguably best wine regions in the world - the Rhone valley producing such classic and robust red wines like  Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueras, Gigondas to name but a few.
And with the ongoing hot autumn weather we decided to spend a day out purely so we can give best advice to our clients!

We took the route from St Saturnin to Sault, which is pretty spectacular in itself, the sight of Mont Ventoux is incredible. I have taken this shot many times before and will continue to do so! 
At 1912 metres she is impressive!

We drove to the top, notice the extraordinary change in scenery and vegetation .

Remember this is granite - not snow.

Another shot I have taken before, but it is truly stunning.

One way to prepare for lunch - walk to the summit!

We then drove via Malaucene and onto Gigondas where we took lunch at the restaurant L'Oustalet.

My entree of salmon, lightly cooked in tea hit the spot

Whilst Karen started with seasonal wild mushrooms 

For main course I had the confit de canard

And Karen the cod with lemon risotto.

A coffee gourmand rounded the meal off perfectly

Washed down with a splendid white wine.

Followed by a little wander round this hill top village.

Not bad for the first week in October!

The Dentilles are really worth seeing , fabulous scenery, wine and restaurants. 
And under 60 minutes from home - how good is that!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Our sixth Anniversary of Living in France

At 4 am on Friday 30th September 2005 Karen and I drove from away from our old lives in Surrey to start our new adventure in Provence.
We didn't speak French but were excited at the prospect of a new challenge.

One thing we had promised ourselves was to drink champagne and watch the sun setting from the top of our village, and for six years we have never quite got round to it until last night, the 30th.

From here there are stunning views to the East & West  over the Luberon Valley and mountains.

And it was a perfect warm evening and sunset.

We initially settled in our village house, but it soon became clear we needed outside space, if for no other reason than our boys who were rather shocked by the lack of a garden.

And so we purchased Les Cypres which required just a little refurbishment throughout - this is when we first viewed it.

And on our second day after moving in a huge storm deluged the pool with mud!

There was some work to do but we were ready for the challenge.

After some work it was looking a little better!

A new coat of render and painting the windows and shutters made quite a difference.

We loved living at Les Cypres, and from the number of repeat visitors our clients do too!

But for us, it was time for our next project

On the 6th November 2005, just 5 weeks after arriving we stumbled across this piece of land, and as the say in France it was a 'coup de coeur' or instant love! a blow to the heart - we had to have it!

And because of the access issues it became necessary to buy the adjoining land where we went on to build Le Chene.

April 2008 Le Chene under construction.

You may well be aware of all this if you have followed my blog over the years.
But we are still frequently asked  three questions.What was here before we built? See above!

The second question is did we build all of  it? Yes, this is February 2008.

And February 2009 - note we were parking on the terrace outside the gites and our first clients were arriving in May!

The third question - does it get cold here?

Yes it sure does! whilst blue skies are the norm, temperatures can  fall to as low as minus 15 at times.

And today, gradually the gardens are getting more and more established as we had planned.

And the gites are increasingly popular.

Le Chene also has a loyal client base with many repeat clients already booked in for 2012.

We have had a wonderful six years, our client base is worldwide allowing us to meet and make friends with so many interesting and friendly people.

Here is to the next six years!