Category Archives: France

A Cinema Masterclass by Clint Eastwood – Festival de Cannes

I love the Cannes Film Festival. I’ve been twice to it, and I am ready to go again as my creative work is moving along.

Hello from my daughter Doc Emma in Cannes 2017.

News from Cannes 2017.

http://m.festival-cannes.com/en/festival/actualites/articles/a-cinema-masterclass-by-clint-eastwood

My new book “Shifting Sands ” Short Stories is coming out on June on Amazon.

It is a collection of short stories from Main Street America and beyond.

Shifting sands cover

You’re welcome to pre-order next week on kindle Amazon.

Copyright  (c)2017. Emma Blogs LLC. All rights reserved.

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In Retrospect 2016

Looking back at the second half of 2016

Note: This is the second post on the Daily Post theme “Retrospective” on https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/retrospective/

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- The second half of 2016 rocked and we rocked with it. We rocked the Milky Way as we elected the 45th president, Mr. Donald Trump by the vote of the Electoral College.

We’ve seen stars rise, shine and fall; both on the human scene and in the sky. Most recently we marked the death of Carrie Fisher better known as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Her mother Debbie Reynolds, the star of the 1952 “Singin’ in the Rain” musical died one day later.

They joined a string of deaths of famous personalities in 2016, starting with David Bowie in January and Prince in April.

We proudly watched the summer Olympic Games in Rio 2016.

We lived through nature’s wrath at us in tornadoes and fires, as we ran human stampedes in malls seeking deals after Christmas.

Finally, we were so disappointed after the much coveted “Hatchanimals” that didn’t hatch.

It was a year to remember, personally and nationally.

Things lost, things found in 2016

Summer breaks rediscovered 

In July, I rediscovered the magic of the summer break as our granddaughter Ella Chavent, 6, of Fixin’, France spent her first summer on our three-acre ranch in northeast Kent County.

Starting in July, every morning I took her to the St. Pat’s summer school in Parnell, MI so she can improve her English.

“Grandma, tell me one of your stories,” she asked.

During our brief ride, accompanied by the music of Queen, I told Ella about “that dude with the fancy Corvette,” who almost ran over a boy.

Together, we celebrated Christmas in July after I bought Santa and rocking horse ornaments at an estate sale in Fallasburg for quarter a piece.

“Who died?” I asked at the sales tent which featured lovely items like a black J. Marco Galleries dress with a perfume bottle pattern.

“Our sister did,” said the lady at the dress tent. “We miss her.”

We went to the Picnic Pops concert in Canonsburg to listen to the music of Queen. We beat the heat on the beach in South Haven and explored Ella’s first fairs: the Ionia Free Fair and the Kent County Youth Fair in Lowell.

We gardened and picked red currant to make currant pies, we bought tart cherries at H&W Farms in Belding and made tart preserves and syrup.

Ella went on her first field trips to local farms.

Motivated by Ella who was going to a catholic school, I returned back to church after a 10-year long sabbatical.

And a new journey has begun. I still have on the fridge Ella’s paper star with these words:

“You were made for greatness,” Pope Benedict.

August, Burgundy revisited

 Ella and I headed back to France in mid-August. I had her on a leash and she carried in her backpack a collection of stuffed animals.

“They are my tain tains,” Ella said passionately. I could only feel what tain tains mean.

“Grandma, hold on to me, I need you,” she said.

We held on together as we landed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris after a sleepless flight.

“Nice to meet you,” said a woman in a short skirt.

“Selene, this is mom,” Doc Emma introduced us. “Mom, this is our friend and au pair, Selene.”

Selene was the first of a colorful set of characters, I was to meet during my third stay in Burgundy.

From my studio on Rue Magniens in the peaceful wine village of Fixin’ I wrote about the “Climates” aka vineyards in the aftermath of the Bastille Day killings in Nice.

September, things new. .Podcast platform

 Upon my return from France, I dedicated my studio time to new accounts, such as the Americas Community Voices Network as we headed into the election.

It was a feverish time of exploring and discovering on both the WordPress and Podcast platforms.

The fall at the Pala ranch means preservation of pickles and tomatoes. Why? Because you have to answer to winter when she asks.
“What did you do in summer?” so goes the old Czech saying.

October, things old, things new

October delivered a bang in many different ways, on many different levels. My cousin Brona Pink of Stipa, maintenance manager for Zoo Lesna, visited the USA for the first time. He stayed at my parents’ Ella & Vaclav Konecny in Big Rapids.

Today, I wish we had spent more time together.

We also celebrated our wedding anniversaries, Ludek and mine, along with our son’s Jake & Maranda.

On Oct. 21, the Rockford Ambulance took me to the Metro Hospital on M-6 aka “Hotel.” I passed out from exhaustion and dehydration, and I started a new path to better health and wellness.

November ushers in president-elect Trump

 In spite of my better judgment, I voted for Mr. Donald Trump on Nov. 8th. As a lifelong Democrat I voted Republican for the first time. Doc Emma missed the election by one day.

“Good, at least she couldn’t vote for Trump ,” my mom Ella said angrily.

Tired of old Washington tactics, much like the rest of the nation, I was ready for a change.

A spiritual and physical change in everything.

I started with myself; I did a thorough inventory of my mind and my physical belongings.

I have fiction manuscripts collecting dust on the shelves in my studio. They’re good stories. I was the bad one.

I stopped the rut of yo-yo dieting and overeating. I cleaned the shelves of my pantry and threw out a lot of old things.

If perfection exists in this world, the family Thanksgiving 2016 was next to perfect. As a family we got together, we didn’t fight, nobody got drunk and we didn’t burn the turkey.

After the holiday, my parents left for their winter stay in Venice, Florida, as fires blazed in Kentucky and tornadoes whipped Alabama.

December whips and shakes

 Dec.7, 2016- On the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I tied yellow ribbons of hope around our ranch.

On Dec. 7th, I  published the first installment of the 2016 IW Inspiring Women series featuring artist Linda Kropf Phillips of Lowell at https://emmapalova.com/2016/12/07

Dec. 8- I started marketing a brand new account for Costa Rica on ETravel & Food at https://etravelandfood.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/visit-jaco-costa-rica/

Dec. 10- Together with the Fallasburg Historical Society, we celebrated the biggest “Christmas at Fallasburg” party ever, thanks to the power of the social media.

“Thank you Mr. Zuckerberg, your Facebook helped me make the party a huge success.

No pun intended, but it was a party for the “history books.”

On Dec. 17, I passed the Czech Christmas baking tradition on to granddaughter Josephine Marie Palova, 3. She joins the gallery of the Palova bakers spanning generations of traditional Czech baking.

Yesterday on Dec 28, I mourned the loss of my doggie friend, Annie. Annie was the neighbor’s dog who filled in the gap after my dog Haryk died almost three years ago.

“We’re heartbroken,” our neighbor announced Annie’s death.

“I loved her like my own dog,” I responded in tears. “Goodbye, Annie.”

As we close on this year, and the red dogwood twigs in Christmas bouquets have new shoots, the yellow ribbons are still hanging around the house.

Dec. 29- Today is my brother Vas’ birthday. He has completed 55 trips around the Sun. May he enjoy many more.

“Happy birthday, Vas.”

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

END

Orderly Chaos

Seems like an oxymoron? It isn’t. Just remember Dali, VanGogh or Russian painter Chaim Soutine. And I must mention one of my favorite author’s Nobel Prize winning piece of literature “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

This photo is in response to the Daily Post
Chaos  prompt “Chaos.”

Dressing up for
“Dress rehearsal” for “Chaos” in me.

I was inspired by Soutine’s chaotic paintings of a wild game catch and his twisted villages.

I threw my three summer dresses haphazardly on the bathroom floor along with the yellow ballerina flats that walked 10 kilometers through Paris to the Musee de l’Orangerie in the Tullerie Gardens near the Place de la Concorde.

Inside the gallery, I was flabbergasted by Soutine’s twisted chaotic paintings. The orderly chaos stayed in me.

1921_soutine_view_of_ceret
Chaim Soutine’s “View of Ceret”

The little girl Ella in the featured photo is confused in the little garden by the house not recognizing any of the plants or berries in the plot.

The left photograph shows the chaos in my EW studio, where I can find everything in its place. Next to the studio is the chaos in the nearby woods with broken tree limbs and trunks rolling in the bed of leaves.

How about the chaos in the upcoming election on Nov. 8th? There are so many different forms of chaos in the world, in nature and in the society.

Take a bite at this “Chaos” assignment. You can’t go wrong with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed how different bloggers treated this encompassing subject.

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

WordCamp US 2016 comes to Northeast

WordCamp comes to Northeast, brings technology evolution

Lowell, MI- Since one of my goals for 2016 was to stay up to date with technology, I would like to go to the WordCamp in Philly from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4.

First of all, the camp is close to home and I’ve never been to Philly or to a WordPress Camp. That in itself is very exciting for me.

I have recently completed a large Podcast Website project for Americas Community Voices Network (ACVN) based in Tampa, FL with founders Ronald & Donald Brookins. It was a very interesting project on the cutting edge of British developers changing under continuous development.

I finished one phase of the project during a recent stay at my daughter Emma’s house in Fixin, FR. The Internet in my studio wasn’t working half of the time, so I had to use my son-in-law Adrien’s studio overlooking the wine village.

 

The view from the window of the vineyards or the “climats” of Burgundy was awesome and inspiring.

Even though, I arrived back at home in Grand Rapids on Sept. 6  with a smashed computer screen, I still feel inspired by the stay in France. Travel has always fueled my writing, design and photography. It doesn’t matter if I go three miles east from my home to take photos in Fallasburg, Lowell or 4,000 miles to Paris, or even to visit my brother Vas Up North in Paris, MI.

Thoughts on fear in the wake of Paris attacks.
Paris from a rooftop restaurant with the view of the Eiffel Tower.

I keep my eyes open for new angles, new stories as everything changes in the flow of time. Whenever I look at the grandfather clock that says “Tempus Fugit,” I get scared. I am afraid of time. The clock was one of the first things I bought here in the USA in 1990.

Now, we don’t even need watches anymore because we have cell phones. Long before cell phones, I never had a watch. I didn’t want one. Not wearing a watch has sharpened my sense of time and dimensions.

I was comfortable using the clocks on church and cathedral towers. While hiking in Burgundy, I used the church steeples to orient myself in the “climats.”

This morning, I discovered the news about WordCamp on Facebook and I got a kick out of the fact that the after party “A Night at the Museum” will be at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

My husband Ludek and I organized “A Night at the Museum” Thanksgiving party at the Lowell Area Historical Museum in 2012. Ludek wanted to alleviate the stress on women during the holiday season.

What a great coincidence.

Last year in November, I participated in the 30 Day Content Challenge by Learn to Blog. On Day #3  I posted the following article:

“Thoughts on fear in the wake of Paris attacks.” And that was the end of my blog on Gateway Media. Some corporate brass didn’t like my thoughts.

While respecting both, my passion and fear of time, I love history. I always have. All the history, I don’t pick and choose. So, Philadelphia is the perfect location for an all time history lover and a technology user.

For more info on WordCamp go to: https://2016.us.wordcamp.org

For “Thoughts on fear” go to: https://emmapalova.com/2015/11/19/30-day-bloggigng-challenge-3/

or go to www.sentinel-standard.com/article/20151120/opinion/151129832

For Americas Community Voices Network go to: http://www.americascommunityvoicesnet.org

For Podcast Websites go to: https://podcastwebsites.com

 

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Following Van Gogh in Saint Remy

In Van Gogh’s footsteps “What I should like to do, Van Gogh writes to his brother Theo in Paris in 1889, is to go there as an inmate patient at the end of the month or early in May…let’s try thre…

Source: Following Van Gogh in Saint Remy

Following Van Gogh in Saint Remy

In Van Gogh’s footsteps

“What I should like to do, Van Gogh writes to brother Theo in Paris in 1889, is to go there as an inmate patient at the end of the month or early in May…let’s try three months to start with, and we’ll see how it goes..it is very likely that I am yet to suffer much.

The landscape of St.Remy is very attractive and I shall gradually become acquainted with it.”

Vincent Van Gogh

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Saint- Remy de Provence, FR- Leaving our beloved bastide near Cheval-Blanc behind, we headed further south for Saint- Remy, a city that proudly carries Van Gogh’s heritage with its Saint-Paul asylum.

We drove through alleys of stately plane trees lined by olive and almond groves, cypresses and cornfields at the foothills of Alpilles that have all inspired the master of post- impressionism.

Saint Remy de Provence
Saint Remy streets

Saint- Remy, whipped by mistral from the Mediterranean Sea, bustled with tourists.

A large painting of Van Gogh’s self-portrait without the straw hat greets the visitors at the 18th century Hotel Estrine. Van Gogh’s museum is located inside. He created more than 150 paintings during his stay in Saint Remy.

My French granddaughter Ella, 6, immediately recognized the famous painting.

“Our teacher showed us that,” she said all excited.

The French nation has immortalized its artists and scientists with busts, sculptures, in schools, museums and gardens scattered all over the country.

However, the lively town of Saint-Remy did not partake in any of Van Gogh’s pathos, who also painted the gardens of the asylum. Hundreds of boutiques, souvenir shops, bistros and cafes vibrated with l’art de vivre, known as the art of living prevalent in France.

Estrine Museum in Saint-Remy de Provence
Estrine Museum in Saint Remy is dedicated to Van Gogh.

Throughout our stay in Provence, our ladies “international squad” sampled this l’art de vivre on every corner of the tiniest streets, in regional dishes, in gourmet cafes, and in the Provencal architecture of churches, bastides and mairies.

All French city halls carry the motto of the French revolution: liberty, equality, fraternity.

Saint Remy de Provence
Saint Remy in Provence

To this day, it remains a mystery to me, why the People’s House aka Lidovy Dum in downtown Vizovice, Czech Republic, has the French national motto engraved in its coat-of-arms.

After exploring local shops with Provencal herbs, yellow and blue linens, lavender soaps, perfumes and candles along with the l’Occitane line of body products, we found a reasonable restaurant on Boulevard Mirabeau.

Fashionable Bistrot des Alpilles sits on the Mirabeau loop around the medieval city with the massive Roman catholic church Collegiale Saint Martin as its anchor.

“You should try their local soup,” said daughter Emma.

Wherever my writing takes me, I always make it a point to sample the local fare and drinks. In Provence, the regional dishes feature different variations of fish soups depending on where you are. It is the royal bouillabaisse in Marseille and fish pistou in the rest of the region, ratatouille or vegetable stew accompanied by a glass of pink wine from the local caves. Desserts in France always include an assortment of cheeses or you may opt for gourmet café.

Fish soup St. Remy style
Cassoulet de poissons St. Remy style

So, the entree cassoulet de poisson was a natural choice for me with a glass of the house wine, the “Lovely IGP Alpilles”, 2015.

Bistrot Les Alpilles
Bistrot Les Alpilles menu in Saint Remy

Daughter Emma chose the lighter sweet aperitif Kir. The kids of course had the syrup –dissolved- in- water fruit concoction that I despise from my childhood years in Czechoslovakia.

As I write this, I realize that I haven’t tried the “Eau de Vie poire”, the water of life  pear liquor or the pastis.

“It’s nasty,” Emma said about the pastis liquor made from licorice.

At the adjacent newsstand, I bought “Van Gogh in Provence” English Edition booklet with photos of major paintings created during the master’s stay in Arles and Saint-Remy.

As we embarked on the long road up north back to Fixin, we got stuck in the traffic jam, called “bouchon” in France due to the returning vacationers from the Mediterranean resorts.

“They all go for their vacation at the same time to the Med,” Emma said. “They use the only highway that goes from north to south, the A7.”

Saint Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy
Saint Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy

But being stuck in a “bouchon” in France is not necessarily a bad thing, because it’s another opportunity for more sight- seeing and treats for the palate. We stepped out at the Aire- de- Montelimar rest stop and I bought the real French white nougat with hazelnuts, the local specialty from Montelimar. At first Ella refused to taste the nougat.

“I don’t eat that.”

“Ella, you’re like an old person,” I laughed. “Don’t be afraid to try something new.”

“It’s delicious,” she said.

In the Lyon “bouchon” I admired the renaissance buildings on the banks of the river Rhone, reminiscent of the Prague riverside on Vltava. Emma pointed out the Museum of Confluence built on a peninsula in the river, where the Saone meets the Rhone.

“I love being stuck in traffic,” said sarcastically our driver Selene. “Give me some coke, please.”

Hundreds of cars stood still on the major Paris bound thoroughfare going through downtown Lyon, pop. 2.2 million. Only the colorful trams crossing the bridges and the boats navigating the Rhone were moving.

To the right, I noticed a girl waterboarding on the massive turquoise-colored river that originates from the Rhone glacier in the Swiss Alps.

The boat pulling the girl was full of young people having the time of their lives, while the nervous drivers drummed their fingers on the steering wheels. We were melting in the late afternoon heat in front of the tunnel.

Thanks to the obsolete infrastructure in Lyon dating back to the advancement of the automobile, I finished reading the Van Gogh booklet intended for the transatlantic flight home to Chicago. Two hours later, the youngsters were still waterboarding on the Rhone.

“Thank you Lyon, Mr. Van Gogh and Doc Emma for great entertainment, as always.”

Notable mention for Van Gogh lovers:

Van Gogh in Europe

The Estrine Museum in Saint-Remy de Provence is part of Van Gogh Europe, a vast European project associating places and museums concerned with the life and work of the painter.

The objectives of the Partners of Van Gogh Europe are to value the life and works of art by Vincent van Gogh by developing cultural, educational and touristic projects of the highest quality.

Some images are from the Commons at https://www.wikipedia.org

To be continued………..A Bohemian afternoon in Paris

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Exploring Lourmarin & Ansouis in Provence

I am back home in the USA from a writer’s retreat in France. Follow me on EW Emma’s Writings on http://emmapalova.com for stories from Provence, Burgundy and Paris. Pictured is Paris from a rooftop bar in the historic Le Marais quarter. To the right is the flashing Eiffel Tower. Every full hour the Eiffel sparkles in lights along with the blue beam that illuminates parts of Paris near the river Seine.

The fabulous panoramic “Les Nympheas” paintings inside the L’Orangerie Gallery were a gift from Claude Monet to the people of Paris.

Stay tuned for stories from Provence, Burgundy, Jura region and Paris on EW Emma’s Writings on http://emmapalova.com.

St

Villages of the Luberon Mountains Continued from Provence most beautiful villages at  By Emma Palova EW Emma’s Writings Provence, FR- After a morning writing session on Sunday in the large Provença…

Source: Exploring Lourmarin & Ansouis in Provence

Exploring Lourmarin & Ansouis in Provence

Villages of the Luberon Mountains

Continued from Provence most beautiful villages at https://emmapalova.com/2016/09/02/provence-most-beautiful-villages-2/

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Provence, FR- After a morning writing session on Sunday in the large Provençal social room with a view into the garden, we relaxed by the pool surrounded by the Aleppo pine forest with rosemary shrubs at the base.

The “girls” Emma & Selene had just completed a 10 kilometer hike to the Gorges de Regalon. The network of gorges and canyons plunges 30 meters deep and  a magnificent forest of oaks, maples, Aleppo pines, cherry and fig trees shelters it.

“We met a guy who had flip-flops on and asked us how far of a walk it is,” laughed Emma. “Then he asked if his t-shirt was alright for the hike.”

Gorges Regales in Provence
Gorges Regales near Cheval-Blanc in Provence.

In the afternoon, we explored another village of the Luberon, the artsy Lourmarin with population of 1,300. Lourmarin lies in the triangle formed by Avignon, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.

Provencal town Lourmarin
One of arched entries into the center of Lourmarin.

The new château in renaissance style was restored by industrialist & philanthropist Robert Laurent Vibert in 1920. He was killed in an accident in 1925 leaving behind a foundation for young artists. The château overlooks the delightful Lourmarin with three belfries reflecting on the diversity of religion.

The right wing of the castle is fully furnished according to the renaissance period. We walked up the wide stone stairs leading into the main chambers of the castle. I especially loved the music room with music instruments from four continents, the library and the ladies room.

The castle serves as a major venue for the annual summer music festival from July 11 through Oct. 8th.

The kids delighted in the castle garden with sculptures and a pond with koi fish. A short walk down the hill led us into the bustling village with tourists, a festival and a market.

Lourmarin in Provence
A Lourmarin water fountain.

Fashionable shops and galleries lined the streets in the center of Lourmarin along with wine caves, endless restaurants and cafes.

Sitting at a sidewalk café on Place de l’Ormeau, I did as the Lourmarions do every day; I watched the pedestrians and an occasional car navigate the cobblestone narrow streets Mediterranean style.

A chic proprietor of a bed& breakfast sporting high heels was awaiting her guests at the cobblestone l’Oarmeau square adorned by sculptures with a water fountain. The water fountain with fish kept our youngest team member Sam, 2, calm. Ivy completely overgrows many of the bastides  at the Place de l’Ormeau.

In one of the galleries, I found an amazing 3-D bluish yellow collage picture of the Last Supper. Emma loved the slick modern lamps, as well as the retro art in a gallery across the street. I didn’t want to leave Lourmarin.

Chateau Lourmarin
The music room inside the Lourmarin castle.

But, we had one more village on our schedule: beautiful Ansouis, pop. 1,057, with French terrace gardens and the dominating castle at the top.

A jazz band used an opening in the castle walls as a stage with the setting sun behind for their light effects. Behind the spectator crowd, a couple danced Charleston on a sloping street.

Ansouis in Provence
French terrace gardens in Ansouis.

And there was a syrup stand; not a wine stand but a booth selling the old elixir, which Emma and I know so well from the Czech Republic. Long before coke, sprite and other pop arrived massively in Eastern Europe, there was an equivalent: the good old home-made syrup from local fruits.

“Syrup is big now in France,” Emma said.

No, kidding. I encountered the syrup-diluted-in-water concoction at our other tour locations such as St. Remi-de-Provence and Poligny in the Jura region of France.

St. Remy square
A square in St. Remy-de-Provence. Vincent Van Gogh made St. Remy his home for one year. He created his greatest works here.

For more info on Provençal villages go to www.provenceweb.fr

For info on the Lourmarin château go to http://www.chateau-de-lourmarin.com

To be continued. Stay tuned for more stories from Provence in “Farewell to Provence” and from the Jura region, home to yellow wine, Comte cheese and Louis Pasteur.

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Provence most beautiful villages

Step back in time in Provencal villages

My summer writer’s retreat in France takes me from Burgundy 450 kilometers south into the heart of Provence. Continued from “In Provence” https://emmapalova.com/2016/08/31/in-provence-aug-26-aug-29-2/

By Emma Palova

Provence, FR- Our trip to Provence took us 450 kilometers south of the home base in the wine village of Fixin in Burgundy. After lodging at the Provençal bastide no. 23 on Chemin de la Font du Pin located between Cheval-Blanc and Merindol, we were ready to explore the most beautiful villages of France.

They are: Ansouis, Gordes, Lourmarin, Menerbes, Roussillon, Seguret and Venesque.

Provencal villages
Chateau de Marquis de Sade in Lacoste, Provence.

Hugging the slopes of the Luberon mountain range or its foothills, these charmers share common elements of more than a century of history & arts, cafes, connecting trails, fortifications and majestic châteaux.

At the bastide, our international “ladies squad” loaded up into one car to make the trip up treacherous narrow roads framed by the Luberon easier.

“I hear that you need a Mexican to drive you,” joked versatile Selene who changed her hat from a chef to a skilled driver.

Driving on the narrow roads through the villages of the Luberon is a true art that I have never mastered.

“Do you know who Marques de Sade was?” Emma asked me.

“They didn’t teach us that in Czech,” I laughed.

“The word sadism is derived from his name,” Emma said. “You haven’t seen the Federico Fellini movie “120 Years of Sodomy?”

Now, that grabbed my attention. I love Federico Fellini and until now, I only knew about sadistic dentists and their scary assistants in not so sterile, white offices.

Provencal most beautiful villages.
The view from château in Lacoste.

Well, I was just about to find out the story of this exiled aristocrat from Paris.

“An exile in Provence, must be nice,” I thought.

“Yes, he had all these servants and poets on the chateau with him, what an exile,” said sarcastically Claude.

“He spent 30 years being locked up,” Emma said.

Our roadside attractions were olive groves, vineyards, old farm and wine growers homesteads and vegetable plots. Further on in the villages of Les Beaumettes, Goult, Bonnieux, I admired the boulangeries, patisseries and endless restaurants such as the Fuming Cow Café.

The medieval village of Lacoste, pop 450, was built into a steep hill in several levels, a typical fortified structure from the 11th century.

At the peak sits the ruin of the castle of the notorious Marquis de Sade. I took in the surreal view breathlessly.

The beauty of Provence with its fields and “Climats” or vineyards, broken by an occasional road or a village, laid at our feet. The 11th century castle is now home to stylist designer M. Pierre Cardin.

It is not unusual in France, that the castles are privately owned.

From the top we headed through the ruins down the “calade” cobblestone path to the base of the village. The path was busy with tourists. We passed abandoned boulangeries, open terraces with belfries, and old stone houses, some of which are being restored.

Chateau Marquis de Sade
The walk through the chateau ruins in Lacoste.

You closed your eyes and you could imagine the life in this village in the time of Marquis de Sade, live with horses, coaches and escorts that he abused.

The sunset cast soft light on the ruins and sculptures by Greco and other artists. The amazing black“Arms” sculpture embraced the visitors on foot, bikes or on horseback from all over the world.

The café de Sade offered colorful smoothies, regional wines and Provençal cuisine.

Among the activities held in most of these Provençal villages are markets, concerts and festivals.

We prepared our own Provençal dinner at the bastide that featured apero from the olive vendor in Merindol with cheese and olivenade, olives, local bread, beef and turkey brochettes and wine rose from a cave in St. Tropez.

Chateau in Lacoste.
Belfry at chateau de Marquis de Sade in Lacoste.

The dry heat persisted into the evening lit by colorful lanterns and other “lumiere” creations. The conversation carried both in French and English languages. The topic: the beauty of Provence still waiting to be explored tomorrow.

For more information on villages of the Luberon go to: www.provenceweb.fr

To be continued…………… Lourmarin, Ansouis and St. Remy-de-Provence

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

In Provence Aug. 26- Aug. 29

International “ladies squad” explores L’art de Vivre in Provence

Note: My summer writer’s retreat 2016 in France takes me from Burgundy south to the heart of Provence for magical four days. Our international “ladies squad” explored three of the seven most beautiful villages in France: Lacoste, Lourmarin, Ansouis and the town of St.Remy-de-Provence. For one year, Van Gogh made his home in St. Remy inspired by the Alpilles.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Provence, FR- Provençal bastide no.23 sits on Chemin de la Font du Pin between the villages of Cheval-Blanc and Merindol. The mansion with seven bedrooms nestles at the foot of a beach pine forest.

Provencal mas or mansion.
Provencal bastide near Cheval-Blanc.

Typical architecture for this southernmost region of France embraces traditional elements of stone washed walls with tall French doors, large gathering places on the main level and sleeping quarters on the second level. Arches instead of doors open the space between different rooms.

The yard with the garden caters to relaxation and function with  a cafe-style  gazebo lit by sun energy lamps, a large dining table and an iron wrought bed. White Mandeville plants and Hydrangea decorated the gazebo.

The large pool with a colorful cabin is near the house on a cleared terrain in the  white pine beach forest with rosemary shrubs.

Our international “ladies squad” found their bedrooms each equipped with a bathroom and a view into the morning sun bathed beach forest. Tiles are a must in the hot dry climate of Provence.

I shared room no.7 dipped in hues of purple and decorated with butterflies with granddaughter Ella. After a recent conflict, I find solace in the peaceful Provençal atmosphere of farm markets, wine caves, cafes, cobblestone streets, olive groves and deserted châteaux lit by magnificent sunsets.

Interior of a French Provencal bastid.
Inside the bastid. A large living and dining room with French doors into the garden.

The first night we picked ripe grapes in the front yard. Vendange or wine harvest has already started in this part of France. There was also a lime tree and plentiful rosemary shrubs that grew both at the base of the beach forest and in it. To my surprise, on my “balades” through the forest, I also found shrubs of holly.

One morning In the middle of my walk, I stopped dead when I heard a rattling sound.

“A rattlesnake,” I thought and hurried back to the bastide.

Two days later by the pool, Claude pointed out the rattling sound.

“C’est une tone de Cigale de olive,” she said. “That’s the sound of the cigales.”

I laughed at my paranoia originating in my early childhood years while living in Texas.

Mornings, before the heat of the day breaks, are fresh. You wake up to the roosters’ crowing and to the sound of the Cigale in the olive groves and in the rosemary bushes.

Provence landscape.
Beach white pines near the Provençal bastide.

Instead of a Provençal breakfast of hard-boiled eggs with figs, we ate Lyon festive brioche with pralines, compliments of Mrs. Claude Chavent, Emma’s mother-in-law.

Each lady from the squad contributed her own tastes and flavors to the full gourmet experience. The traveling squad consisted of Captain Dr. Emma Palova of Fixin, Chef Selene Alvarez of Veracruz, Mexico, former anesthesiologist Mrs. Claude Chavent of Lyon, FR and journalist, writer Emma Palova of USA. Both Emmas were born in former Czechoslovakia.

On a late Saturday morning, daughter Emma and I headed out to the Merindol market.

Instead of a marche extravaganza,  we only found an olive and cheese merchant  along with a straw hat and a bag vendor.

“It’s the summer break,” said the olive vendor.

Marche in Provence
Olive merchant in Merindol, Provence.

“It’s all about the love for life here in France, not about money,” Emma educated me. “It’s called l’art de vivre.”

 

For our apero that night, Emma bought an olive spread “olivenade”, a dried tomato spread, cheese, spicy olives with pimento and olives in brine with Provençal herbs at the market in Merindol.

Wine tasting in Provence near Merindol.
Wine tasting stands at the markets in Provence.

Walking a narrow street up the hill, we stopped at a local hangout spot for coffee and tea on the sidewalk. I love watching people in these quaint villages not occupied by tourists. The locals were already drinking wine and beer.

A woman wearing an apron dress with a large grocery bag hurried past the abandoned tobacco shop. A chic woman overdressed in a black T-shirt with long sleeves pedaled uphill, while a youngster on a bike with fresh bread in his backpack closely followed her.

I wasn’t alone watching the action. A Provençal old-time villager was sitting in his chair right in front of his house on the street. Of course the woman haltered her hurry to exchange gossip with the old-timer. There’s always time for gossip in these villages.

Provence cafes and brasseries.
Cafe in Merindol, Provence.

We also came across a reformed church, an anomaly in  the mainly catholic France.

We stopped at a farm market on our way back to the bastide to get fresh strawberries and mangoes for the planned Daiquiri drinks by the pool.

We tasted wine from a local wine caterer stationed right by the market stand.

Even though pink wine known as rose is the wine of choice in the Provence region, I bought a bottle of white wine for the apero. Nothing like Burgundy whites, but it tasted better than the rose.

 

To be continued…………………The most beautiful villages of France

 

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