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The Luberon

Every year the Luberon National Park attracts hordes of hikers for its majestic beauty. The mountains between Cavaillon and Manosque are thick with garrigues ( scrublands) and olive groves and are dotted with caves, castles, abbeys and perched villages with magnificent views.

If you spend a week in the Luberon, here are my suggestions of where to go and what to do.

Like antiquing?

stop by the flea market of L’Isle sur La Sorgue ; A tree line path and a little bridge lead to an island with 40 bric-a-brac sellers. Unexpected treasures can be found , from knick-knacks to large pieces of furniture.

Lavender.

Les Agnels, route de Buoux. Learn how essential oils are distilled from Lavender, cypress and parsley seed.

Un Dimanche au jardin / Simiane La Rotonde. Abbaye de Valsaintes

Surrounded by lavender fields is a beautiful rose garden, in the grounds of an abbey founded by Cistercian monks. Nurseries with 250 rose varieties, sold bare rooted.

Worth the stop!

La Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

The springs of one of the most powerful water sources in the world. One myth claims that a nymph removed seven diamonds from the rocks, one by one, to release it. Finally in the 7th century the torrent suddenly emerged, watering the fig trees above the chasm and feeding the river Sorgue. This is truly spectacular after heavy rain.

The cliffs of the Roussillon

Legend has it that the wife of a noble man threw herself from the top of the cliffs after her husband forced her to eat her dead lover’s heart. The earth turned red with her blood and rocks and village were left with a permanent glow.

Village of Les Bories

Very interesting because this hamlet consists entirely of restored Bories ( dry-stone igloos) , where inhabitants of the Vaucluse and Luberon  lived from Ligurian times ( 6th-century BC).

Chateau de Lourmarin

The older part of the castle is an austere fortress- like place called Chateau vieux was built between 1495 and 1525. In 1526, Mme Agoult added the more attractive Chateau Neuf  ,  dedicated to pleasure. It has spacious rooms , floors paved with hexagonal, red Renaissance tiles, and is filled with Provencal furniture and Chinese musical instruments.

L’ Abbaye de Senanque

Built in 1148, this is one of a trio of primitive abbayes, known as the Cistercian sisters of Provence . To allow the monks to meditate without distractions, according to the rule of St Benedict , the only ornamentation was the natural play of light on stone. Really worth the stop, not far from the village of Gordes.

Le Prieure de Salagon

Fontaine de Vaucluse

Fontaine de Vaucluse

Le Roussillon

Le Roussillon

Village des Bories

Village des Bories

Abbaye de Senanque

Abbaye de Senanque

Abbaye de Salagon

Abbaye de Salagon

Chateau de Lourmarin

Chateau de Lourmarin

L' Abbaye de Valsaintes

L’ Abbaye de Valsaintes

The Prieure and farm built in the Middle Ages on Gallo-Roman site, continued to expand until the 19th-century. The church contains Medieval Frescoes and the excavations of a first century villa are seen through a grille in the floor. Exhibitions are staged in the barns, while the gardens are devoted to historic and scented plants.

Join us for Thanksgiving in Provence, 2016.

Departure Dates are :

11/19/ 2016 – 11/26/2016

12 guests are invited. ( All inclusive) Airfare not included.

$ 3,370 pp.

http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com

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Nice I love you!

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Nice , from glam and sunshine to tragedy,I will never forget what took place on July 14th, my heart goes out to the families who died that day or lost a loved one.

In the 19th century the European aristocracy colonized the place, drawn by the beautiful Bay of Angels and the mild winter weather. A lot of film stars have endowed France‘s fifth city with a legacy of luxury. A lot of artists have found their niche in Nice as well and have left a legacy of culture, Chagall and Matisse were inspired by the light and left their mark here with their abstract works. Alongside the opulence there  is another Nice , rooted in the Mediterranean  history and fiercely independent. The city of Nice voted to join France in 1860 ( It had been for centuries the kingdom of Savoy) and until today Nice retains its own dialect, cuisine and traditions.

Nice is also known for the famous ( Promenade des Anglais), this seafront promenade owes its name to the English community which funded the initial construction in 1852, the community very often gave work to the local poor. Now the promenade is flanked by traffic lanes and sweeps majestically the Bay of Angels. Belle epoque edifices, notably the very magnificent hotel  are the symbols for when Nice was the magnet for European nobility.

Museums to visit on a Sunday afternoon.

Musee Matisse.

Just shortly before his death Matisse donated a collection of paintings to the city in which he had lived for 37 years. They have found a superb home in a 17th-century Italianate villa on Cimiez hill. The Matisse collection affords affords a comprehensive overview of the artist’s work. 164 Avenue des Arenes de Cimiez. ( open 10am -8pm) . Free.

Musee d’art moderne et d’art contemporain.

The collections trace the story for the avant garde from the 1960s to the present day. Particularly notable are the US pop artists and European New Realists . Promenade des Arts. ( open 10 am – 6pm). Free.

Musee des Beaux Arts.

This 19th-century townhouse was originally built for a Ukranian princess, holds collections of art from the 17th to the early 19th centuries. 33 avenue des Baumettes. ( open 10am-6pm). Free.

Palais Massena.

This 19th-century Italianate villa houses the Musee d’art et d’histoire. A very interesting collection of diverse objects covering from Bonaparte to the 1930’s, worth the stop!. 65 rue de France, open ( 10am -6pm). Free.

Cimiez Hill and Musee National  Message Biblique Marc Chagall.

European nobility colonized Cimiez Hill with magnificent villas. The most impressive of all is the Excelsior Regina Palace , where Queen Victoria once stayed. Also the museum houses Chagall‘s 17 great work on “the biblical Message”, the artist also created stained glass windows, a mosaic and tapestry for the museum.

Port Lympia.

Built in the mid eighteen century , the port never really took off commercially and remains much quieter than most Mediterranean city harbors. The port is surrounded by beautiful Italianate villas. The Russian writer Chekhov loved this quieter part of Nice.

Cathedral St Nicolas.

The Russian community was as prominent as the British community in the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. This Russian Orthodox church was finished in 1912 as the community’s focal point.  Rue Nikola II. Open daily, not sure it is free!.

Nice is a special place in my heart, my parents used to vacation there in September.

Luxury Travel Consultant2 is an independent affiliate of  Cardoza Bungey Travel.

For more information regarding our private tours and International Travel please contact us at anne@luxurytravelconsultant2.com. We are part of Virtuoso , luxury Travel online.

Anne Suire

Provence in the Fall 2016imgres-2

 Musee Matisse.

 

 

 

imgres Musee D’art contemporain.imgres-3 Mansion , Cimiez Hill.imgres-1 Old Nice.

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A beautiful one day drive on the massif des Maures

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Between Frejus and Hyeres, the coast  bulges out and up again to form the steep rolling heels and arcadian amphitheatres of the ancient massif des Maures. This mountain range is a geological oddball; The name Maures is derived  from maouro, Provencal for black describing its dark deep forests of umbrella and Aleppo pines ( pines native to the Mediterranean region), chesnuts and cork. For a few centuries the latter two trees provided the main source of income of the few inland villages.

If you take a drive in the morning.

You will start in the village of Grimaud and take the D558 up to La Garde-Freinet . Continue 4 miles before turning left before Gonfaron and make a stop at the Village des Tortues to see the very rare Hermann tortoise ( Quartier plaine – Open 9am – 7pm daily and 6pm ( December – February). After that take D39 towards Collobrieres At the col des Fourches head up to Notre-Dame -des-Anges , The Maures ‘s highest  point. There is an amazing chapel with outstanding views. Two miles before Collobrieres you will make a turn left ( D14) to the Chartreuse de la Verne , a Carthusian monastery of local stone ( Quartier Verne, 11 am -5pm ; Wednesday-Monday) . Then head back to Collobrieres . There is a place called La petite Fontaine, stop by for a drink or dinner, try the soupe au pistou or game in season , no thrills regional cooking. Place de la Republique. No credit cards – $$

If you take an afternoon drive.

Leave towards Pierrefeu, 1 mile later you will make a turn left towards Bormes Les Mimosas. This is a dramatic drive , between wooded slopes and plunging valleys will take you over the Col de Babao to the N98. You will have to make a turn left towards  La Moleimgres, make a stop at the arboretum de Gratteloup , a forest garden with 50 tree varieties.

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Then you will continue to La Mole and make a turn right to the Col du Canadel and stop at the domaine du Rayol gardens. Upon return to Grimaud , enjoy a wonderful dinner at Le Coteau Fleuri , Place des Penitents. $$

Anne Suire / http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com

Provence.Fall 2016

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Another walk to take

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Walking through Medieval Vence.

Giant ash trees,( Les Frenes ) will be part of the landscape as you stroll through the old quarter of Vence.  The walk will take about a couple of hours and you will enjoy Vence very much with its old stone -paved streets and medieval houses huddling inside a ring of 13th-century battlements. Before you enter the walls through a sixteen century Porte de Peyra  pay a visit to the Chateau de Villeneuve ,  which is a host to different programs of contemporary art and design exhibitions.

After walking through the gateway, make a turn right and allow half an hour to walk through La rue du Marche where rows of shops selling herbs, fruit, fresh pasta and fish will make your mouth water. If you want to see the cathedral, walk to the end of Rue du Marche ,you will turn left and walk across Place Surian and Place Clemenceau  and there it will be. Look out for Roman inscriptions dating back almost 2,000 years back on the masonry of the buildings either side of it carved when Vence was the Roman settlement of Ventium . Also you will see the oak choir stalls carved with little satirical figures , commissioned by a witty 17th-century bishop. Leave the square by its north side underneath the arched Passage Cahors  , then you will walk up Rue du Seminaire and you will turn left to follow the old walls along Rue de La Coste. If you leave the old quarter by the Levis Portail which takes you back to Place du Frenes, you will come across several cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy lunch or a drink and snack.

Anne Suire

http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com

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A walk through the Calanques

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15390676.jpgThe soaring limestone cliffs known in the south of France as Les Calanques are a dramatic coastal feature, which can be explored by boat trips for a couple of hours or by foot . People who decide to walk have the advantage of time to stop and enjoy the different flora ( more than 900 species cling to the sun-backed rock) and a multitude of seabirds that make their home here. From the Calanque de Port -Miou just outside Cassis harbour to the Calanque de Callelongue at Les Goudes south of Marseille. The 12.5 miles long coastline is criss-crossed with different walking trails. The walk from Cassis takes about 3 hours for the round trip.

From Cassis you can park at the very end of the road. Walk along the length of the Calanques of Port Miou-Miou , through the old quarry. Port Miou-Miou‘s entire length is taken up with yacht berths. You can climb up the terraces over quite a long ridge to reach the calanque de Port-Pin named after the Pins d’Alep that once covered the domaine de La Fontasse. If you continue up and climb the plateau de Cadeiron , there are amazing views stretching from the magnificent cliffs of the montagne de la Canaille rearing up above Cassis wether on foot or by boat. the grounds start to fall away until you reach a view point over the Calanque d’En – Vau, one of the most spectacular of all the Calanques. Beneath the dramatic chalky  white cliffs and needle like rocks , there is a small sandy beach, with rocky steps leading down. the cliffs continue down into the limpid depths, sheltering a vast marine life. From here you can always continue to les Goudes ( be prepared for a full day’s walk) or just turn back along En – Vau out towards the pinnacle known as Le doigt de dieux ( God’s finger), and then around the headland back to Port-au-Pin and Cassis. In the summer month ( June-September) it is very advised not to stray off because of the risk of fires in the region.

Anne Suire

http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com

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Les Calanques d’En Vau

Top Picture is God’s finger near Cassis.

 

 

 

 

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The seasons in Provence

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search-2Despite modernization , country life in Provence still continues according to the cycle of the seasons, a calendar that alternates periods of very intense work with equally intense festivities to celebrate the earth and its fruits.

Spring.

Spring unfolds very quickly and by February mimosa is out and almond trees start to bloom in March, soon followed by wild flowers growing everywhere. Olives and vines must be pruned and cereal crops sown.

By April, plums,peaches, apples, apricots, pears and quinces are in blossom, and fires are lit in the orchards to stop the frost, killing the delicate buds. The sheep are sheared, and Easter is celebrated with the first spring lamb. The very first nightingales (known for its beautiful and powerful song) and swallows appear. In Arles ( Camargue) Pain de St-Georges is baked to celebrate the feast day of the patron Saint of Camargue on 23rd of April.

search-3Summer.

May 1st is considered the beginning of summer. Primeurs are (early fruits and vegetables ) that you will find on vegetable stalls as well as asparagus, cherries,peas, apricots, melons and strawberries with amazing aromas and a taste of sunshine, they come from nearby market gardens. The flocks are shepherded back to the hill pastures, following the traditions of the Transhumance ,( a seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures ; a movement between higher pastures in summer and lower valleys in winter). The autumn sowing of wheat is ready for harvesting in June. On the summer solstice, St John’s day ( June 24th), bonfires are lit to celebrate the end of the harvest ( Fete de la St Jean). Other harvest festivals include a great deal of wine, music and dancing and among them are St Eloi or St Roch and also huge banquets in village squares with the famous Aioli. As summer progresses the lavender fields are beautiful with color and thyme, rosemary, marjoram and sage can be culled from the wild. Melons, peaches and almonds are in abundance. August is the perfect time for ratatouille with courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines, garlic, onions and peppers, all of them overflowing in the markets. Honeysuckle, clematis and myrtle blossom on sunny walls or trellises.

Autumn.

September is dominated by the grape harvest, Les Vendanges, a perfect time for friends, neighbors and families come together to pick grapes and spend long evenings drinking jugs of wine and relaxing after the day’s arduous labor. The countryside is a patchwork of red, gold and rust coloured tones as the leaves turn in the vineyards and forests. Mushrooms and particularly sought after Cepe, begin to spring up in woodlands and everybody is out at weekends  collecting sticks and bags for turning over leaves to seek them out. Figs are in season and the rice harvest is in full swing in Camargue. A less peaceful harvest is under way as the hunting seasons open and you will find wild Boar ( sanglier) and walnuts appearing in the markets.

 

Winter.

The last major harvest of the year is picking olives, it starts in November, in his twilight years Frederic Mistral named his last work ” The olivades” since he knew too that his season was over.The first bottles of wine go on sale. The cold weather is the signal that the transhumance of sheep back down to the mountains and hunting begins for the famous black diamond in the forests nearby. The countryside seems to hibernate and many people only venture forth to warm themselves with hearty, nourishing soups and stews in the local taverns. Christmas is a major celebration in the depths of winter.

Anne Suire

http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com

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The region of the Luberon in Provence

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The park national of the  Luberon was created in 1997; It covers around 140,000ha ( 345,940 acres in the Vaucluse and the Alpes de Haute Provence, the greater part is in the Vaucluse.
The Natural setting.

Between Manosque and Cavaillon, the Durance river flowing westward towards the Rhone.It takes a mighty loop within which the Luberon range lies. Stretching 65 km ( 40 miles) from East to west. The mountains are divided in two by a wooded valley, the combe de Lourmarin. To the west is le Petit Luberon while to the East is the Grand Luberon, it reaches its summit of over 3,280ft at the Mourre Negre.
One of the most striking features of the Luberon is the contrast. To the south the rich agriculture land slopping down to the Durance river is very Mediterranean; to the north the very steep ravines and abrupt cliff faces are much cooler and forested with oak trees.

Wild life.

The variety of natural features in the Luberon region has created a very rich environment where plants such as the fragrant honeysuckle, aspic lavender,and downy rock roses thrive. Predators have disappeared in the rest of Europe, such as Bonelli’s eagle, the ( white Egyptian vulture), the eagle owl, and the migratory eagle Circaete Jean Le Blanc, manage to retain a foothold here.

The human impact.

The Bories are the most curious example of habitat that goes back to the 18th

century but many date back to the iron age. The middle ages left the Luberon with many perched villages, positioned high above the valley floors. Many of these villages ( particularly those on the northern slopes ) went into decline with the changing agricultural patterns of the 19th century. They were revitalized in the 1950’s by a large influx of bohemians and artists who rebuilt many ruined houses. Now the enchanting

Circaete Jean Le Blanc

Circaete Jean Le Blanc

The white Egyptian vulture

The white Egyptian vulture

Rock roses in the Luberon

Rock roses in the Luberon

Luberon villages are facing a new threat to their identity, that of being swamped by tourism.

The best time to enjoy the Luberon is in the Fall.

Join us at the end of September and enjoy the beautiful Luberon!

http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.comProvence. Fall 2016