Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Summer Wind

"Like painted kites, those days and nights/They went flying by" --Johnny Mercer, Summer Wind

Labor Day Weekend...with all of my reveling in the post-Provence afterglow, the end of the season snuck up on me. Admittedly, I'm not too happy to see summer come to it's unofficial end.

A few things I'll miss: Fresh berries for my morning yogurt, blue hydrangeas, garden roses, long days, breakfast on the porch, bare feet, sundresses, sandals, big straw hats, being warm, the smell of sunblock, poolside gossip, picnics, fresh tomatoes, dinner on the lawn, bottles of rosé, beach reads, peaches... the list is as long as a summer day. 

What will you miss most?

I'm wishing you all a happy Labor Day Weekend a little early, determined to enjoy every last moment of summer! Back next week with more warm memories from Provence. XO

Monday, August 26, 2013

Provence: Hidden Away at La Bastide de Moustiers

We wanted to disappear for a few days, hidden somewhere behind old stone walls and olive trees...


With the first glass of rosé in the garden of Alain Ducasse's La Bastide de Moustiers, we knew we had chosen the perfect hideaway. Charming, peaceful, warm and welcoming. A place to take a deep breath and get into the slower rhythms of life in Provence. Lush gardens. A view of the striking limestone cliffs. Old plane trees to shield us from the afternoon sun. We easily lost an hour or two to the luxury of doing absolutely nothing.

In our own little cottage filled with antiques, we slept off the last cobwebs of jetlag, the shutters open to welcome the morning sun.

And did I mention the food? A new menu each day, serving up delights plucked from the gardens just beyond our doors. Edible flowers, fruits and vegetables (40 varieties of tomatoes!) on a terrace with a stunning view of the surrounding hills. Michelin-starred dining may be a serious matter, but here relaxed elegance is on order. Nothing fussy or overdone, just beautiful Proveçal food glorifying the seasons and the local produce.  

And I can't imagine a better way to start the day than a leisurely breakfast under the plane trees, sipping a big bowl of café au lait and watching the shadows dance across the courtyard.

After just a few days and nights of listening to the cigales sing, we were fully under the spell of Provence, breathing a bit deeper, our pace slowing to a stroll, all of our senses heightened, taking joy in each sun-soaked moment, and ready for more...

And even though today is a gray Seattle Monday morning and I'm drinking espresso at my own breakfast nook table instead of café au lait under those plane trees, I can still hear the cigales. There will be bit of Provence in my step as I take on the day.

Happy Monday to you, hope it's a lovely week! XO

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Week in Provence

"Is it any better in heaven... than you found it in Provence?" - William Carlos Williams

Provence welcomed us with a dramatic light show. Lightning flashed and rain pounded as we touched down in Marseilles. After a soggy drive, we found ourselves safely wrapped in chintz at the Villa Gallici just outside of Aix-en-Provence, too cozy and tired to pay much attention the the thunder that rattled the windows.

A good night sleep, some coffee, croissants (served up on Limoges plates), a little sunshine, and we were ready to explore...

It was market day in Aix, perfect for a leisurely wander - and an even longer lunch - before it was time to make our way to the foothills of the Alps where the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie nestled snugly in the limestone cliffs.

Just below the village, the romantic La Bastide de Moustiers promised a delicious stay. Formerly the home of chef Alain Ducasse, and responsible for one of the Michelin stars in his firmament, with acres of gardens supplying the table - clearly we wouldn't go hungry.  

We could have stayed forever, but would have need new pants - the buttons on ours were near defeat after just two days of gluttonous bliss. So off we drove to Noves to meet up with dear friends waiting in a charming villa at the Moulin de La Roque, which boasted hills to hike, a big green lawn for chasing after the younger members of our set, a perfectly chilled pool and a boules pitch - just what we needed to work off five course meals.  

Even better, Noves proved the perfect launching point for expeditions, only 20 to 30 minutes away from just about any bit of Provence we wanted to visit, and allowing us to always be back in time for a swim, a pastis on the terrace, a game of boules and a dinner cobbled together from the spoils of the markets.

All of these fantastic points on our escape deserve posts of their own, and each day served up enough loveliness to keep me typing away for weeks. So I hope you don't mind staying in Provence a little longer. Sit back, pour yourself a glass of rosé and please join me. There's much more to share.

Happy weekend, everyone! XO

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Long, Slow Days in Provence

"Time passed in a haze of well-being; long, slow, almost torpid days when it was so enjoyable to be alive that nothing else mattered." -- Peter Mayle, A Year In Provence

Provence! Worried that summer was slipping away too fast, we packed our bags and disappeared for a week or so. The feast for the senses that waited demanded we slow down a bit to take it all in. The intense sun and heat that prickled our skin. Rows of yellow sunflowers bobbing their heads against the bluest sky. The scent of purple velvet wafting from new-mown lavender fields. The perfectly ripe tomato exploding on our tongues. The symphony of cicadas and clinking glasses as we finished another day with a bottle of rosé on the terrace. Time almost stopped.

Almost. The only less-than perfect part of our trip was the Seattle-bound flight at the end... I could have stayed another day, month or year.

There's lots more to share of our lovely time in Provence...hope you'll come along! XO

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back from the Garden

Can you guess? The location of the garden path that we lingered on...

A hint - I've never seen a bluer sky or found a better place to go slow and enjoy the simple pleasures.

Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a beautiful start. XO

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stopping To Smell The Roses

And speaking of gathering rosebuds and savoring summer while it lasts...

I think I'll take some time to do just that! Please excuse me while I wander the garden path a bit.

Hope you are able to soak up summer's sweetness.XO


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