A little more Provence

The past few days in Provence can only be described as delicious……………delicious scenery, delicious food, delicious smells from roses, lavender, orange blossoms, jasmine and the burning leaves.  That is an awesome memory smell for me – burning leaves and branches from the olive trees – for me that is the smell of Palestine and it evokes some of the best life memories.  The sun is so bright and the past few days the sky has often been cloudless.

We visited a huge Friday market in Valbonne where they sell clothing (mostly Italian), soaps, pottery, linens, herbs and some vegetables and fruits.  I bought an Arnica cream(Baume a l’Arnica pour les Articulations Douloureauses) that is effective on aches and pains – great for my creaky knee.  I also bought some lavender soap and some mountain honey (Miel de Montagne).

window in Valbonne

Greta is an awesome tour guide and has made sure that I get to see everything.  She has taken amazing care of me. Hmmmm…..how can I possibly say thank you enough?!?!?!?

I took a leisurely walk through the village of Bar Sur Loup – there is not much there but it is just so picturesque.

Bar Sur Loup 4it Bar Sur Loup 9Bar Sur Loup 8Bar Sur Loup 18

Today we had lunch at a neighbour’s home.  This villa is exquisite and I could not do it justice with my words but it was exactly how I would imagine my dream home………pictures of ships and beach scenes, African art and furniture, beachy, breezy, and comfortable. The table set outside was just beautiful and the food and wine….ahhhh….delicious and abundant.

lunch in Provence

In true Provencal style we ate and ate and ate….and then ate some more.  The starters were tomatoes and cheese on toothpicks with a salad of cucumber and creamy cheese similar to sour cream.  Everything made with fresh herbs from Greta’s herb garden.  We had garlic bread hot from the oven, bread with green olives, and another baguette.  Then came the main course….I thought we had it…..forgetting the multitude of courses.  We had a delicious Italian pasta covered in olive oil, basil and parmesan cheese.  We then grated more parmesan over it.  Next was a platter of cheeses and a salad of mixed leaves.  Wine and more wine…………. and then dessert which was a beautiful platter with a variety of pastries.  We were almost too full to walk home and naps were all we could manage.

More Provence, My birthday

My 58th birthday and I am just where I want to be –physically (in Provence with friends), mentally and emotionally.  Ahhhhh………..so Blessed. I always enjoy living in community.  This week I am doing just that.  We are 4 women  in this magnificent villa.  We range in age from 58 to 80.  We have a lot in common – radical crazy- ass activists, independent, self supporting, mothers, travellers, passionate about all we do.  Greta is the perfect host -so generous of her time, her home and her spirit. The days seem to flow organically with everyone moving at their own pace. Yesterday Greta drove me to Gourdon –a breathtaking village set high up in the mountain.  It has little touristy shops and a few lovely cafes.  I bought  jasmine eau du toilette –an  intoxicating fragrance that I love and always reminds me of the Mediterranean.

view from Gourdon
view from Gourdon

2014-05-12 14.20.03 Earlier in the morning we went to a nearby Farmer’s Market.  We bought fresh fruit, vegetables, sausage, bread and cheese.  I am shopping for the perfect market basket – serious business that will probably take me the whole visit to find!

Shopping in the farmer's market
Shopping in the farmer’s market
Perfect market basket
Seeking the perfect market basket

Today we had a beautiful birthday breakfast with Greta’s famous Swedish scrambled eggs ( a recipe from her Grandmother), crusty baguette, and delicious melons with banana slices. Of course, the usual pots of coffee and glasses of juice.  The table was covered with a very traditional Provencal print with matching cloth napkins in the outdoor dining area where we seem to spend a lot of our time.

Villa dining area and master bedroom balcony
Villa dining area and master bedroom balcony

My friends – Greta, Audrey and Mary gifted me with a huge bottle of pure lavender essential oil that I will have great fun when I get home making bath salts and bath bombs, eau du toilette and other cosmetics, room fresheners and cleaning products.   I will scent my  homemade beeswax candles and look through my book that my daughers, Raya and Tovah, gave me for my birthday more than 10 years ago “Lavender and Lovage” for more ideas.  At midday we drove to Juan les Pins – a sea resort where I swam in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in 3 years.  The water was cool but not for a Canadian from the east coast…..pure bliss!!!  Cold beer in a cafe outside under the bright spring sun………………can you feel my JOY?

On my way to Provence

I chose to start this blog at a time when I am turning a new page in my life story.  It is time for that change and I am calling this holiday to Europe the first chapter, the first page of my new life story.

There are so many things that I love and that bring me pleasure and those are the things that I want to write about and that I wish to share. For me it is important to embrace things I love, acknowledge them and share them.  I love to travel, I love great food, I love my daughters and my grandson, I love new adventures and I love to embrace life!

Provence isn’t just a destination for me – it is a place that I have fantasized about, dreamed of, read books about, watched films about and always knew that one day I would visit.  I never doubted it but I wasn’t sure how I would manifest it. When Greta invited me last year, I knew it was closer to my reality.

Provence – the lush gardens, mountains, forests and water.  Provence – farmer’s markets with delicious foods – baguettes, cheeses, sausages and delicious melons and other fruits and vegetables.  Provence – villages playing Boule, friendly shop keepers, unforgettable dining experiences, meals a la fresco.  I have come here to find it all.  I want to feel, touch and taste every experience.

I flew overnight from Toronto and arrived at 7a.m. in Paris.  A few hours later, I boarded a train to Antibes in the south of France.  The trip took about seven hours.  I could have flown to Nice but I wanted to experience that train ride across the country.  I really enjoyed it watching the French countryside pass by and the scenery changing.

When my daughters were young, they had a story book called “ Orlando and His Little Friends”.  Orlando went on holiday with his parents and he met new friends along the way – his little while friends.  My girls have teased me for years about being Orlando because I love to talk to people and make my own “little while friends”.  Checking in at the airport, I met a woman and we started up a conversation in the line.  We found we had things in common and we were both on our way to Paris.  We decided to give the special Air Transat lounge a try.  The airline had a special on and the lounge was $36 for 2 hours.  It included alcohol, a buffet meal and a quiet calm atmosphere.  It felt like traveling first class and was a great start to the holiday.  I  traveled to the airport by TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) – I recommend it because it is cheap and easy – subway to Kipling and then the express bus to the airport all for a $3 ticket.

I am visiting my friend Greta Berlin who owns this magnificent villa in the south of France.  It is so beautiful – 3 large bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, large living and dining room and a view that catches your breath every time you look.

View from my bedroom window
View from my bedroom window
The patio off the gourmet kitchen
The patio off the gourmet kitchen