During a delightful 3-day visit to Aix-en-Provence, we enjoyed the added benefit of the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales.” Aix is famous for its many fountains and talented favorite son Cezanne, so it’s not surprising that artisans are celebrated here.
At any moment Cours Mirabeau offers an enchanting, tree-lined boulevard; but the fair magnified the magic. Elegant hand-painted scarves danced in the breeze, while artisans warmly greeted visitors explaining their crafts, demonstrating the potter’s wheel and generally serving as welcoming ambassadors in this dynamic city.
Hand-crafted shoes and sandals, exotic jewelry, perfumes and pottery spread all along the boulevard. The cobbler followed generations of the art of shoemaking; the silk scarves were painted by hand.
After a pleasant stroll to examine the many gorgeous crafts, we stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes. Ummm – delicious ham and cheese galette, a pichet of wine and a strolling guitarist made for a relaxing Aixoise experience.
We would offer a hearty thumbs up to any planning a trip to this lovely area. An easy drive from Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding area immerse you in an enchanting landscape, exceptional architecture and abundant dining choices.
You might wander through Cezanne’s landscape and stop for dinner in Greoux-les-Bains or take in the grand Pont du Gard aqueduct; but parking yourself at a café along the boulevard provides plenty of enjoyment!
We’re all aware of the Garden of Eden, but I believe I’ve discovered the “Island of Eden”! Tucked away in the Dordogne department of southwestern France, the small village of Brantôme en Périgord enjoys unparalleled natural beauty. Just imagine with me. Beyond a fascinating history and appealing architecture, the village is situated in the middle of the River Dronne and often is referred to as the Venice of Périgord.
Naturally the perfect setting calls for extraordinary accommodations, and Le Moulin de L’Abbaye fulfills that desire without hesitation. This member of the prestigious group of Relais & Chateaux luxury hotels has entertained guests for well over thirty years, offering a picturesque and enticingly refined base from which to explore the beauty of the Dordogne. Spacious and well-appointed rooms are split between the three historical houses that make up the hotel that is poised alongside the original mill pond. The main reception and gourmet restaurant are located in the inviting ivy-covered mill that was the center for milling the village’s grain, weaving its wool and ultimately providing electricity to the 2,000 inhabitants. Today, the weekly market each Friday imbues the provincial village with the quiet buzz and color of local artisans and farmers.
From a variety of accommodation sizes and types, guests look out over the 16th century Pont Coudé Bridge and the medieval garden and Abbey founded by Charlemagne. With no effort, I can picture dinner on the terrace with the lights of the bridge and village illuminating the evening … walking about the village to explore galleries and boutiques … a lazy boat tour or canoeing along the river.
And history abounds in this part of the old pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Over more centuries than we can contemplate, inhabitants included the Celts, Romans, early Christians and the very monks whose early monastery evolved into the remarkable abbey present today. After wars and plagues, Brantôme emerged, established notably by Charlemagne as a leading religious destination.
Should you choose to explore the surrounding landscape, the area is home to many ‘plus beaux villages de France” …Saint-Jean-de-Cole, Saint-Amand-de-Coly, Limeuil, Beynac …the charm seems endless. When you return, stop in for pizza and wine on the outdoor terrace of the popular Bar du Marche in the main square. If you share our partiality to delectable crepes, stop in at the hospitable and savory L’authentique.
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It’s time to break out those Bausch & Lomb Aviators between the 17th and 23rd of June and head to Le Bourget for the 50th anniversary Paris Air Show. Since its first show at the Grand Palais in September 1909, hundreds of thousands have seen the latest and greatest the aviation world has to offer. As always the show will be a showcase for both military and commercial companies in their quest for success in this highly competitive industry.
The show moved from the Grand Palais to Le Bourget in 1953, the sight of many historic events in its own right – most notably, the landing site of Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo transatlantic crossing in 1927. In the years since the move, the public has seen both triumph and tragedy.
In 1969 the first supersonic commercial airliner “Concorde” was presented to the world along with the jumbo Boeing 747. In 1973 Airbus displayed the A300 celebrating the Franco-German collaboration. It was that same year that tragedy struck when a Tupolev Tu-144 crashed destroying 15 houses, killing 14 people and injuring 60 others.
In 1989 at the “38th Paris International Air and Space Show” or “1989 Paris Air Show”, the Soviet space shuttle and its transport made an appearance. However the show will be most remembered for the spectacular crash of a MiG 29. After a bird strike, the pilot Anatoli Kvochur managed to avoid a repeat of 1973 ejecting at just 400 feet resulting in no loss of life.
This year is fully booked and looks to be as popular as the record-breaking 2011 show, when 151,000 visitors attended. On the military side the Russians are coming with the Su-35. With the U.S. F-35 and F-22A both absent, the Soviet plane will “dominate the skies.”
The hometown Airbus will display its new A350XWB to the commercial industry. Boeing will bring the 787 Dreamliner, hoping to show that its problems are over.
“Pilot? What pilot?” There will even be unmanned vehicles from Dassault and BAE Systems. Open to the public June 21 – 23, the show will be visitor friendly with free Wi-Fi and an airshow map app to help you find what you are looking for. Getting there will be aided by a dedicated radio station for drivers giving traffic conditions. So put on your flight jacket and enjoy the world of aviation for the weekend.